Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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The true story of Christine Chubbuck is not a happy one, but it is an important one. Her story is lensed out in Director Antonio Campos' bio flick "Christine" (no there is not a creepy red car in this one). Christine Chubbuck was a 1970's reporter in a Sarasota television station who infamously & sadly committed suicide in a live television news broadcast. Chubbuck's story inspired Peter Finch's character in Sidney Lumet 70's classic "Network". I do have to report that Rebecca Hall's performance as Christine is the best one I have seen on screen by a lead actress since Jessica Chastain's work in "Zero Dark Thirty". And if you disagree with me, I will be "mad as hell and will not take your disagreement anymore". All kidding aside, Rebecca Hall totally transformed herself into Christine Chubbuck, from her quirky mannerisms to her isolated depression; it was worth a million bucks to see and hopefully come Oscar nomination time, the Academy will be hailing Hall with a Best Actress Oscar nomination. I still have my Hall pass, so I will be speaking about another Hall; that would be Dexter himself, Michael C. Hall. He delivered quite admirably with his portrayal of the station's main television anchor George; who is semi-narcissistic but also semi-caring; like most anchors these days; hence Brian Williams; just kidding, just kidding this is not the "life of Brian". Also superb with supporting thespian contributions to "Christine" is Tracy Lett as the station manager Michael, and Maria Dizzia as Jean the station's camerawoman and also a Chubbuck confidante. Now, Campos does excel in orchestrating "Christine" but the mood of the film is very gloomy as also its look. But this was most of all Rebecca Hall's showcase, and one that should not be tuned out by the movie going public. Signing off.
The melodrama "Freeheld" is not an easy watch, and it wasn't a critical easy watch to many critics, as it was not held free as a solid flick by many film reviewers who posted very negative critiques on the picture. However, I am free to say that I actually thought it was a credible picture, without its few flaws of course. Director Peter Sollett's "Freeheld" is based on a melancholic, though justice-seeking related, true story of Laurel Hester; a cancer-stricken New Jersey police lieutenant who fought tooth & nail with the New Jersey freeholders to transfer her benefits to her domestic partner Stacie Andree. Julianne Moore provides yet again one "Moore" astounding performance as Hester. Ellen Page also freeholds her own with a worth performance as Stacie. Now, this is not a perfect movie. Ron Nyswaner's screenplay seemed a bit too dry at times, but still holds his own. The "when he is not good" thespian Michael Shannon delivers again here with his work as Hester's devoted police partner. However, Steve Carell's supporting work as a gay marriage advocate lawyer was too cartoonish for my taste. "Freeheld" should hold your interest enough to benefit your cinematic taste.
This is going to be a "mine"or review of the movie based on the true story of the Chilean miners who were in 2010 trapped underground for 69 days after a gold & copper mine collapsed, it's called "The 33". And I will insert 33 puns in it! Sorry, that was coal! I mean cold! Director Patricia Riggen did not rig it and did a modest job in paying tribute to the bravery & resiliency of the 33 miners. However, the film's screenplay was filled with many formulaic clichés that did not provide enough authenticity to the characters. The mining crew included performances from Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Jacob Vargas. An awful and miscast Juliette Binoche played the sister of one of the miners, and Riggen showcased her character way too much than it deserved; with all due respect to the family members of the miners. Rodrigo Santoro played the archetype government employee who rebels against government protocol in order to save the day; or something like that. Now, don't get me wrong, I did think the homage to the 33 miners was well played out, but I was not grounded with the film's other components. The movie is also way too long; it should have been trimmed 33 minutes. Anyways, coal it what you want, but I think "The 33" is OK to see for its bravery.
Mockumentarian King Christopher Guest is mocking around again after a long hiatus with his latest mockumentary "Mascots". However, I just don't think he will be our or your Guest this time around. "Mascots" is set in poking satirical mock fun at the world of portraying Mascots; personally, I have been a Mascot myself for twenty years so I was eagerly awaiting this. However, it did not reach expectations. Once again, Guest brings into the mock arena zany, obsessed characters but this time it focuses in a Mascot competition. The Mascots are diverse and they do have their comedic moments, but not enough laughs for me to cheer for them constantly as I did with the dog owners in "Best in Show" and the folk musicians in "A Mighty Wind". Guest regulars are back including Jennifer Coolidge, Parker Posey, Ed Begley Jr. Bob Balaban, Jane Lynch, and Guest himself; who were all just mediocre compared to their mocking acting classic performances in Guest's past mockumentaries. Nonetheless, one that still stood in "scene stealer" variety was Fred Willard, who here plays a mascot trainer. Willard, in vintage Willardesque mode, gets his character to poke fun on everything and everyone around him. "Mascots" had some character in it, but not enough for my mascot communication expectation.
Acclaimed African-American filmmaker Ava Duvernay who helmed the critically-acclaimed movie "Selma" tries her hand at documentary direction with "13th". And no, this has nothing to do with Jason Voorhees, or Dan Marino for that matter. With "13th", Duvernay takes an in-depth look at the prison system in the United States and how it reveals the nation's history of racial inequality. It is a very cerebral & important documentary and Duvernay's directorial effort should be lauded. Now, is it the most riveting documentary I have seen? Not really. But it's definitely one that should be seen by all.