Bad Boys for Life
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From books to plays, to films, the Little Women story is one of those stories that just keeps getting updated, which isn't a bad thing, as long as they are doing it for a specific reason and not because they are out of ideas. Thankfully, it's very clear that this adaptation was updated for the modern age, which felt like a strong enough reason when watching it. Now, I'll be very upfront with this before diving into my review and state that I don't have any knowledge of this classic material, prior to viewing this movie, so it felt pretty fresh to me. For that reason, you may want to take this review with a grain of salt, but here's why I believe the 2019 version of Little Women is worth your time.
Flashing back and forth between time periods, the focal point of this film is Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) and her writing ambitions. The film begins and concludes with her story, but the rest of the movie places her sisters Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh), and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) at the forefront as well. All trying to find a man to love and discovering what love truly is, these young women strive to become something greater than how they grew up. Diving into very emotional struggles as the film goes on, there is quite a bit of depth to this story. Loss and relationships are what kept this film emotionally resonant with me and I believe the care that was put into the characters is what made it work so well.
It doesn't hurt that the cast was so well constructed, but I believe the shining star here is director Greta Gerwig. Although I feel that this is a very solid film like all of her previous works (as she has yet to blow me away), she definitely seems to be improving, every single time she steps behind the camera. This is her best film to date in my opinion. The way she was able to bring such raw and realistic performances out of these actresses was amazing. Timothee Chalamet is also an actor on the rise to super-stardom and his presence here was nothing short of fantastic either.
Little Women is filled with some very well-done cinematography by Yorick Le Saux and I also found Nick Houy's editing style to be pretty special as well. With that said, the main thing that deterred me from loving this film was the pacing. There are times, especially throughout the majority of the second act where the movie seemed to really slow down. Yes, these moments were buoyed by effective drama, but I found myself waiting for the next scene to come on a few occasions. This is a wonderful film that I just found to be a little too slow.
In the end, although the pacing of this movie did hurt my experience a little, which doesn't usually happen with slow-paced films, I still was able to really admire it. Little Women is a fantastic effort by director Greta Gerwig and many of the technical aspects stood out to me as well. Quick shout out to the set design and costume work as well, as those will probably be worth of awards very soon. This is a wonderful movie from start to finish and it deserves all the praise it's receiving, but I just didn't quite love it myself. Still, it's a very good movie nonetheless.
What a strange ride the Bad Boys franchise has been. While it didn't make a huge dent in the box office back in 1995, the first Bad Boys film is now revered by some as one of director Michael Bay's better films. That's not exactly what I believe, but there are some massive fans of these movies out there. I enjoyed one and two for what they were, but I never felt the need to rewatch them over and over. Upon the initial release of Bad Boys for Life, nearly 17 years since the release of Bad Boys II, I decided to revisit the previous two films. I still find them to be very entertaining, but lacking in many other areas. Maybe that's why this review may seem almost too positive for a film like this, but it's been a long time since a franchise has turned itself around this well.
Bad Boys for Life picks up in real-time, 17 years after the events of the previous film and nearly the entire cast has returned, which was nice to see. Marcus wishes to actually retire this time and the violence is what is keeping Mike going. Due to some unexpected circumstances, a vengeance plot is set in motion, which finds them on the hunt for the Aretas family. With a lot more drama than the last two to really make you care about these characters, this film, in terms of characters and story, is eons better than anything presented in the last two.
In many ways, Bad Boys for Life is the Fast Five of this franchise. It took the existing characters that you know from previous films, introduced a new team, made the family and friend aspect very strong, and those aspects in turn just made for a more enjoyable experience. It's still filled with cliches and moments that make you roll your eyes, but if the rest of the movie is well done, sometimes those moments can be likeable. It sounds weird to say this about a Bad Boys film, but I found myself shocked or feeling emotional on a few occasions, due to the plot twists. I didn't expect this movie to connect with me as much as it did, but I had a blast with it.
In terms of new direction, it was nice to see Michael Bay stand back and support a new vision. Directed by the duo of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, they presented a film that was not short on action but also felt very laid back in comparison to the previous films, which also worked with the story, as Mike and Marcus are now ageing. Most of their work is on foreign projects that I have not seen, but I may actually seek some of it out. These two guys seem to be very talented behind the camera. I will gladly see another Bad Boys movie, directed by them or anyone else, as long as they stick to this new direction.
I didn't bother mentioning Will Smith or Martin Lawrence off the top, because if you're a fan of either of them and like the last two films, then there's no change here. They both share the same charisma and chemistry that they did over 20 years ago and I don't see that going away any time soon. Bad Boys for Life injects drama into an overblown action franchise and grounds it in reality. I can actually see newcomers liking this one more than the previous films and due to some new backstory revealed throughout this movie, the previous two aren't exactly necessary, even though there are some great callbacks sprinkled throughout. I would definitely recommend checking this one out, especially if you liked the last two. This is a much better movie than I was expecting.
Being someone who watches many movies and television shows, Anime films and shows are things that I just never got around to watching much. After watching my first few shows back in 2012, I began to love them. Still, I don't watch nearly as many as I would like, but I do seek out the highly talked about ones. When Your Name hit theatres back in 2016, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed it and I was eagerly awaiting director Makoto Shinkai's next project. Weathering with You is his latest work and although I haven't seen most of his filmography, this may be his finest work yet.
Weathering with You follows young Morishima Hodaka runs away from home and finds himself in Tokyo, Japan. Meeting young Amano Hina, they form a friendship that grows stronger and stronger as he realizes she is known as a "Sunshine Girl" and can control the weather. Tokyo, on the verge of flooding, is not benefitted by the fact that she has chosen to use these powers to clear the skies for money, but also to make people happy. Learning some brutal truths about what her powers lie in store for her, this film takes a turn that feels very much earned by the end.
I'm a sucker for a good fantasy film and although you do have to suspend your disbelief in order to believe abilities like this exist (since there's no real explanation as to why she has these powers, to begin with), I found myself incredibly engaged from start to finish. It's the simple moments like when the core characters would be fleeing from the law and settling down to enjoy each other's company that really stood out to me. Yes, the fantastical elements are very much present and are obviously where the movie ends up, but it has a lot more going for it than just that.
If I had to complain about something though, I would have to admit that there were two occasions where songs took me out of the movie. Not to rip on composer Radwimps, because his work here is absolutely wonderful, but the songs themselves were a little overbearing in a few scenes that felt like they should've been slightly quieter and more intense. His score is absolutely stunning and I was swept up in it, but a couple of songs just felt slightly out of place to me. With that said, I really don't have any huge complaints about the film overall.
In the end, Weathering with You is a film that sets up a fantasy storyline and follows through on it from start to finish. It has very likeable characters and I truly cared about each one of them by the time the credits began to roll. For being as grand as it is, I really just found myself appreciating the simpler moments. That's hard for a film to do when so many other things are going on. I loved watching this film and I would even call it one of the best films to hit theatres in 2019, even though it's only reaching certain countries now. Weathering with You is an absolute delight.
If you're ever in the mood to watch a war film, there's an over-abundance of them throughout history. You can almost always find one that you haven't seen before. For this reason alone, I find myself being very cautious when one is about to get a wide release. With recent releases like Hacksaw Ridge or Dunkirk, my faith in the genre is always rejuvenated. Well, 1917 is yet another war film to come along and surprise me. For all the technical reasons to love this film on top of the powerful story itself, here's why I believe 1917 is one of 2019s very best films.
The premise is nice and simple. Two young soldiers are given the task of sneaking through enemy lines in order to deliver a message to their commander, which will, in turn, save thousands of lives if received in time. This premise makes for a very tense ride. On top of being an engaging story, this movie is filmed in such a way that it makes it feel like one continuous take, for the most part, which ultimately begs the core actors to deliver the performances of their career.
Although I've seen him in great films like Captain Fantastic and Pride, George MacKay never really stood out to me as award-worthy, but I stand corrected. This may very well be the best performance he ever gives, but that's not a negative, because I'll always remember him for this role. Alongside him is Dean-Charles Chapman, who I've also liked in Game of Thrones and Blinded by the Light, so I knew to expect a solid performance from him. With that said, he also delivers one of the better performances I've seen in 2019, simply due to the devotion he has to his character.
Now, this would absolutely be an incomplete review if I forgot to bring up how incredible the technical aspects of this film are. Roger Deakins is basically a god in the cinematography world, so his work astounds me every single time he brings his vision to a project, and 1917 is no exception to that. The way this camera seamlessly follows these actors in and out of small or big sequences was simply astonishing. Layered on top of this jaw-dropping cinematography is the superb score by Thomas Newman. The combination of being swept up in these performances, caring about the story, being impressed by the camerawork, and then finally being moved by how well the music was composed for each scene, I found it very difficult to criticize anything here.
Overall, 1917 deserves a standing ovation for the technical aspects, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that this movie also wouldn't have been as good as it is without the careful direction by Sam Mendes. Between his work on American Beauty or Skyfall, it should come as no surprise that he would make a great film, but the crew around him took it to another level in my opinion. I was sucked in from start to finish and the two-hour run time flew by. I can't recommend this film enough. Easily one of my favourite films of 2019.
Whether you're looking at films like Gran Torino or American Sniper, you can call Clint Eastwood masterful even to this day, but you also have to look at his recent works in either Hereafter or The 15:17 to Paris. Although he still has a knack for directing at nearly 90 years of age, he's sort of hit-or-miss over these last 10 years. Richard Jewell is his latest directorial effort behind the camera and not only is it one of his best films in years, but it's also one of the better true stories I've seen in a while. Here's why I believe this film deserves to be seen.
During the 1996 Olympics, a bomb was planted in Centennial Park during a concert. Security guard Richard Jewell noticed it before it went off and ended up saving many lives. Due to coincidences in the story, Jewell was exploited as being the one who planted the bomb to make himself out as a hero. This film tells the truth about what went on and it's one of the more moving stories I've experienced this year. It's bad enough to be falsely accused of something you didn't do, but what this man had to endure was pure insanity.
Performed by Paul Walter Hauser in the titular role, I never once believed I was watching an actor portraying someone else. His performance is so authentic that it brought me to tears on multiple occasions. He absolutely deserves to be spoken about as one of the finest performers of 2019. On top of his incredible performance (which I hope to see much more of in the future), Kathy Bates portrays Bobi Jewell, Richard's mother, and although her character is slightly one-note throughout the course of the film, she brings a needed level of emotion and makes much more of this character than what seems to have been scripted.
Normally I don't praise a film for being slow in terms of pacing, but I believe the slow nature of this movie is actually what made me enjoy it more than I would have if it has been made in a more energetic way. The way Eastwood got calm performances out of the majority of this cast felt like a way of easing the audience into certain scenes. It doesn't hurt that performers like Jon Hamm and Sam Rockwell are in the supporting roles either. Richard Jewell is loaded with talent in front of and behind the camera, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that this story would work as well as it does.
In the end, Richard Jewell is a real triumph in terms of exposing the truth and what this man had to go through. From the screenplay by Billy Ray keeping it honest, yet light-hearted at times, to composer Arturo Sandoval delivering some very subtle pieces to make you feel a certain way, to the editing by veteran Joel Cox, who has been by Eastwood's side for a long time, everything about this film was well-done. It's very straight-forward, but that was clearly the intention, so it's not exactly a negative. Richard Jewell is a great film and one of my favourites of 2019.