MOVIE REVIEW: A Star is Born


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: The House with a Clock in Its Walls

 

 

 


Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 127: Sunshine

Having already gone to the moon this month we are now taking a trip to the sun for our week three conversation in #SciFiSeptember. Sunshine, directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland, is frighteningly beautiful and contemplative in that way that the best sci-fi always is – giving us themes of spirituality, science, and humanity to consider while being thoroughly entertained in a tight, tense 100 minutes. All that makes for a fantastic conversation. We hope you enjoy this one as much as we did.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:01:26

(Aaron – Science Fair, A Simple Favor, The Predator, Unbroken: Path to Redemption, Five Fingers for Marseilles)

Sunshine Review – 0:15:19

The Connecting Point – 1:09:38

 

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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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You Should Be Watching: September 13-19

Welcome to You Should Be Watching, my weekly opportunity to introduce you to a variety of great films, gems of the past and present, available for you to stream from Netflix, Amazon Prime, FilmStruck, and anywhere else streams are found.


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


The VVitch

    — Moving from Prime to Netflix on Sep. 17

Year: 2015

Director: Robert Eggers

Genre: Mystery, Horror

Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson, Bathsheba Garnett, Sarah Stephens, Julian Richings, Wahab Chaudhry, Axtun Henry Dube, Athan Conrad Dube, Vivien Moore, Karen Kaeja, Brandy Leary, R. Hope Terry, Carrie Eklund, Madlen Sopadzhiyan

No doubt about it, The Witch is very, very dark, as many classic fairy tales are, but those willing to enter in will find a challenging tale providing much worthy of grappling with. Between the design, dialogue taken straight from period sources, and natural lighting of this debut feature film from writer and director Robert Eggers, this film feels intensely, oppressively of its time, like being taken back into the 1600s and being thrust inside a Puritan’s nightmare, the type of nightmare that led to the paranoia of the Salem witch trials. That’s not to say the Puritan lifestyle was inherently oppressive. But any fear, left unchecked can spin out of control.

The family in this story, headed up by the father William (Ralph Ineson) and mother Katherine (Kate Dickie) have left the leadership and community of their former church body, each claiming the other is false in their faith. Now isolated and with each member of the family struggling with their secret sins, they are especially vulnerable to evil oppression. It’s not that they aren’t putting up a fight. They pray. They discuss Scripture. Outwardly, they try to glorify God. But its unclear where each of their hearts lie.

As eldest daughter Thomasin and the one largely responsible for the younger children, Anya Taylor-Joy owns the film from the first frame to the last. She is who we as the audience focus on. We see her parents’ struggles through her eyes. We see the actions of the younger children through her eyes. She is convincing no matter whether she’s trying to express truth or spinning a lie until it’s unclear if her obvious lies are lies at all. One thing is certain. With her parents often being distracted and the family living in isolation, there’s little to keep her grounded.


The Queen

   — Coming Sep. 15

Year: 2006

Director: Stephen Frears

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Cast: Helen Mirren, Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Helen McCrory, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam, Sylvia Syms, Paul Barrett, Tim McMullan, Douglas Reith, Mark Bazeley, Robin Soans, Lola Peploe, Joyce Henderson, Pat Laffan, Amanda Hadingue, John McGlynn, Gray O’Brien, Dolina MacLennan, Julian Firth

It’s hard to believe now with the public obsession over the weddings of Prince William and Prince Harry and the massive popularity of television series such as The Crown as well as British television in generalbut the British royal family used to be of little interest to those outside of Great Britain itself. Regardless of the monarchy’s role in government, the lack of attention enabled them to live mostly insulated lives, free to make decisions apart from public pressure. What changed all that? Princess Diana. By marrying into the royal family, her celebrity spread far and wide, bringing deep focus onto the monarchy and the family as a whole. What complicated it further? Diana’s divorce and subsequent death a year later.

With strong, believable performances across the board including Helen Mirren winning a Best Actress Oscar for her inhabiting the very look and essence of Queen Elizabeth II, Stephen Frear’s The Queen dives deep into the conflict immediately following Diana’s death, which speaks even to today’s society where the public routinely makes demands of the private lives of others, especially those with power. In this case, new Prime Minister Tony Blair–played by Michael Sheen–as the public’s spokesperson is pushing for the royal family to honor Diana with a show of mourning only a royal would receive. The queen and especially her husband Prince Philip are outraged that such a demand would be made of them, especially since it was their son from whom Diana divorced. James Cromwell as Philip exudes deep frustration. He is emphatic about protecting his wife the queen and their status as royals and all the heritage that comes with it, but he lacks control to do anything about the changes that feel increasingly inevitable.


White Heat

Year: 1949

Director: Raoul Walsh

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O’Brien, Margaret Wycherly, Steve Cochran, John Archer, Wally Cassell, Fred Clark, Paul Guilfoyle, Ford Rainey, Robert Foulk, Ian MacDonald, Robert Osterloh, Sherry Hall, Joel Allen, Claudia Barrett, Ray Bennett, Marshall Bradford, Chet Brandenburg, Robert Carson 

Cream of the crop when it comes to classic gangster movies. The script is full of colorful dialogue and creative plotting. James Cagney is at the top of his game as the gang leader Cody Jarrett. Despite his diminutive stature, he’s tough as nails–no hesitation in killing a man, even taking out one of his own who’s become an inconvenience or a risk. But he’s also a mama’s boy, though Ma (Margaret Wycherly) is just as ruthless as he is, albeit tender to him. And he’s vulnerable due to his penchant to trust those he is close to as well as due to recurring sudden, raging, debilitating headaches and a propensity towards insanity.

Virginia Mayo, plays Cody’s multi-faceted wife Verna. Her uncouth, free-spirited personality shines through along with her fear and duplicity. Finally, Edmond O’Brien is the undercover agent Hank Fallon whose job it is to quickly ingratiate himself with Jarrett so he can draw out an even bigger fish. There are great moments of suspense as any hint of the truth could get him killed in a flash. But the tension doesn’t only serve Hank. Others lives are in danger at one point or another also.

That other side of this film that makes it fascinating is the police work. Unlike the criminals, not much is revealed about the character and personal lives of the investigators. Instead, there’s a heavy focus on procedure, including detailed steps they take to track their suspects and tighten the noose, making for a unique time capsule and a lesson on the origins of today’s surveillance technology. It’s particularly surprising to see cell phones and vehicle bugs used for tracking show up in a film from the mid-twentieth century.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

September 13
Pete’s Dragon (2016)

September 14
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
Half Nelson (2006)

September 15
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

September 27
The Imitation Game (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

September 15
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)

September 17
The Witch (2016)

September 23
Shutter Island (2010)

FILMSTRUCK

September 14
Advise & Consent (1962)
Easy Rider (1969)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Fruit of Paradise (1970)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
The Night of the Iguana (1964)
A Patch of Blue (1965)
Queen Christina (1933)
Seven Days in May (1964)
Splendor in the Grass (1961)
The Thief of Bagdad (1924)

September 21
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974)
The Death of Mr. Lazarescu (2005)
Mean Streets (1973)
Night Moves (1975)

September 28
Accattone (1961)
Being There (1979)
Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1925)
Ben-Hur (1959)
The Breaking Point (1950)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
East of Eden (1955)
The Gospel According to Matthew (1964)
JFK (1991)
Kes (1969)
Local Hero (1983)
The Man Who Would Be King (1975)
The Pianist (2002)
Rain Man (1988)
The Right Stuff (1983)
The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Teorema (1968)
Winter Soldier (1972)

HULU

September 30
American Psycho (2000)
Angel Heart (1987)
Babel (2006)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)
Bound (1996)
The Brothers Bloom (2008)
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Field of Dreams (1989)
Hoosiers (1986)
The Ladies Man (1961)
Miami Blues (1990)
Rabbit Hole (2010)
The Rock (1996)
Sleepers (1996)
Spaceballs (1987)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Witness (1985)


JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Next Gen–NETFLIX FILM (2018)
On My Skin–NETFLIX FILM (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

Beyond the Lights (2014)
Lars and the Real Girl (2007)
The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
Pumpkinhead (1988)
The Return of the Living Dead (1985)
Stronger (2017)

FILMSTRUCK

Billy Liar (1963)
Cluny Brown (1946)
The Doll (1919)
Hamlet (1996)
McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)
The Shop Around the Corner (1940)
Stroszek (1977)
The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927)

HULU

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)
Stronger (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 14
Bleach–NETFLIX FILM (2018)
The Angel–NETFLIX FILM (2018)
The Land of Steady Habits–NETFLIX FILM (2018)

September 16
Role Models (2008)
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)

September 17
The Witch (2015)

HULU

September 15
The Queen (2006)

September 16
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)


Jacob Neff is a film enthusiast living east of Sacramento. In addition to his contributions as an admin of the Feelin’ Film Facebook group and website, he is an active participant in the Letterboxd community, where his film reviews can be found. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with his latest thoughts and shared content.

By Request 005: The Mist

Aaron reacts to The Mist, the 2007 Frank Darabont adaptation of Stephen King’s creepy novella.

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Music: “Something Elated” – Broke For Free

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MOVIE REVIEW: A Simple Favor

Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: Five Fingers for Marseilles

Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

Now Available: September 11, 2018

Welcome to Now Available, where we’ll give you a quick review of a film we didn’t cover when it was released in theaters that’s releasing for home viewing this week, along with a list of everything else and where you can see our coverage on it. 

Superfly, Director X’s sleek remake of 1972’s Super Fly, tells us the story of Priest Youngblood (Trevor Jackson), an Atlanta cocaine dealer and career criminal. Wanting to get out of the game, he creates the perfect plan for one last big score to set him up for life so he can live in peace. As anyone who has ever seen a movie before could probably assume, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Complications put Priest at odds with his partner, fellow dealers, his supplier and the law. Can all of the loose ends be tied up in time for him to make his escape unscathed, or will he find himself sucked right back into the only world he’s ever known?

There is a lot to like about Director X’s remake of the classic blaxploitation film. He expertly updates the story for modern audiences with updated wardrobes, cars and music. In a nice touch, a few of the songs on the soundtrack are the same as in the original, but are remixed by rapper/singer/producer Future. The movie is sleek, stylish and while I found thought it started off a little slow, it expertly ratchets up the tension when the time is right. I had never watched a blaxploitation movie prior to seeing this film, but watching the original and other classics like Shaft afterward, I found it’s pacing to be quite consistent, though with a longer runtime, with the best that the genre has to offer. It also has a subversive sense of humor, with scenes of vengeful wish fulfillment involving dirty cops getting beat to a pulp and, in my favorite set piece, a car chase that ends with the creative demise of a confederate statue. Trevor Jackson shines as Priest, the calm, cool and collected career dealer who harbors secret dreams of another life. The rest of the cast is good, with a few brief appearances by Michael K. Williams being the highlight. Unfortunately, a long scene of sexuality that was completely superfluous made the film feel a lot cheaper than it would have otherwise. It’s easier to forgive these depictions of male wish fulfillment in the films from the 70’s that influenced this one because they’re quite literally of a different time. I don’t believe that this type of sex for the sake of showing skin sits as well with the modern audience. That scene, combined with a story that holds your attention but ultimately feels hollow, keeps the film from being something I’d recommend to others, unless I knew they were fans of the genre.

In the end, Director X’s SuperFly is a solid reimagining of the classic film for modern audiences. There is a good chance, though, that you’ll forget it pretty quickly after the credits roll.

Buy It, Rent It, Wait for Netflix or Skip It?

Wait for Netflix.

Also available this week:

Ocean’s 8- Aaron was a pretty big fan of this fiercely female heist film. See his thoughts here.

Hearts Beat Loud- There’s a good chance you’ll see this film on at least a couple of Feelin’ Film contributors’ top ten lists at the end of the year. Listen to Patrick talk about his love for the movie in the “What We’ve Been Up To” portion of episode 115 of the podcast here and be sure to subscribe to the Podcast because a full episode on this gem is coming in early October!

Other New Releases: Distorted, Watcher in the Woods


Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.

MOVIE REVIEW: Unbroken: Path to Redemption

 

Aaron White is a Seattle-based film critic and co-creator/co-host of the Feelin’ Film Podcast. He is also a member of the Seattle Film Critics Society. He writes reviews with a focus on the emotional experience he has with a film. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter to be notified when new content is posted.