MOVIE REVIEW: Wildlife


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.

You Should Be Watching: July 19-25

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.

This week I’m highlighting a change of pace food-focused indie film from Jon Favreau (expiring soon), a surreal mindbender from Denis Villeneuve, and another all-time classic from Charlie Chaplin.

This month is your last chance to see Finding Dory on Netflix, Gran Torino and The Hurt Locker on Amazon Prime, and classics like His Girl Friday, Rio Bravo, and Taxi Driver on FilmStruck. Now streaming are titles such as Room, Mary and the Witch’s Flower, and The Spectacular Now on Netflix and The Philadelphia Story and the Judy Garland version of A Star Is Born on FilmStruck.

 


STREAMING PICKS OF THE WEEK


Chef

Year: 2014

Director: Jon Favreau

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Cast: Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, Emjay Anthony, John Leguizamo, Scarlett Johansson, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Bobby Cannavale, Amy Sedaris, Robert Downey Jr., Russell Peters, Chase Grimm, Will Schutze, Gloria Sandoval, Jose C. Hernandez, Alberto Salas, Alfredo Ortiz

 

When he’s not busy making movies or in a past life, Jon Favreau—who plays main character Carl Casper—seems to have spent a fair amount of time in the kitchen and frequenting food trucks. As writer, director, and lead actor on this picture, his love for the world of food shines through, as does his frustration with artists being told how they have to make their art  and critics–professional and otherwise–putting down the art.

Casper is a head chef at a high-class restaurant in Los Angeles, but he’s fed up with being told how to make his dishes and blows up at a stuffy, influential critic both on Twitter and in person after receiving a scathing review. With his reputation now trashed and unable to make the dishes he knows would be loved, he leaves the restaurant and has to figure out what’s next for him career-wise and what to do about his relationships with his estranged son Percy (Emjay Anthony) and his ex-wife Inez (Sofia Vergara).

In all, Chef is a unique look at the classic middle age crisis but in the modern world of friendly divorces and social media, where emotions run wild, reputations are changed in a moment, and news today is gone tomorrow.

EXPIRING: Last day to watch on Amazon Prime is July 27


 

Enemy

Year: 2013

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mélanie Laurent, Sarah Gadon, Isabella Rossellini, Joshua Peace, Tim Post, Kedar Brown, Megan Mane, Misha Highstead, Alexis Uiga, Darryl Dinn, Kiran Friesen, Loretta Yu, Stephen R. Hart, Paul Stephen

 

Despite it being far more surreal than any of his other films Denis Villeneuve’s (Blade Runner 2049, Arrival) fingerprints can be seen all over Enemy, from pacing to atmospheric score to thematic color design. It is sublimely edited, attention-grabbing throughout, and terrifically haunting in its direction. For what it’s worth, even his use of nudity, while graphic, is limited and more artistic than titillating.

But none of it works without Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as two radically different characters who look the same, one a professor named Adam Bell, the other a small-time actor named Daniel St. Claire, who Adam stumbles upon after renting one of his movies. Unable to shake the reality that Daniel is a mirror image of himself, Adam becomes obsessed with him. And it only gets stranger and more challenging and confusing from there. It’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between dreams, reality, imagination, and symbolism, and why the heck spiders keep appearing. But despite the likelihood that the film will leave you in utter confusion, it’s a fascinating experience with knockout performances, an incredible score, and wonderfully creative visual design.


 

City Lights

  

Year: 1931

Director: Charlie Chaplin

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance

Cast: Charlie Chaplin, Virginia Cherrill, Florence Lee, Harry Myers, Al Ernest Garcia, Hank Mann, Albert Austin, Eddie Baker, Henry Bergman, Buster Brodie, Jeanne Carpenter, Tom Dempsey, James Donnelly, Ray Erlenborn, Robert Graves, Charles Hammond, Jean Harlow, Joseph Herrick, Austen Jewell, Willie Keeler, Robert Parrish John Rand, W.C. Robinson, Cy Slocum, Tony Stabenau, Mark Strong, Tiny Ward, Stanhope Wheatcroft, Florence Wix

 

A delightful film through and through, full of laughter, awe, and heartwarming goodness, but it also embraces the reality of the hard times. You can’t help but root for Charlie Chaplin’s character The Tramp. He has such a good heart and keeps finding himself a victim of circumstance, for better and worse. Virginia Cherill as his love interest is so cute and  great at playing blind. Their on-screen chemistry is special.

There is a lyrical quality to the film that uses the perfect choreography of movement and wonderful musical score to keep each scene flowing smoothly into the next. Incredible timing is needed to make the interactions work as they need to, but Chaplin is such an expert, he makes it all look easy.

There are diverse settings, and the film is chock full of gags, but one of the highlights is the boxing match. Its choreography is among the most creative of its type. And not only is that entire sequence laugh-out-loud funny, both before and during the match, it’s also thrilling and suspenseful. If you only see one Chaplin film, make it City Lights. It’s a true joy to experience.

 


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

July 29
Assassination (2015)

July 31
Finding Dory (2016)
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 19
Embrace of the Serpent

July 27
Chef

July 30
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)
Wild Bill (1995)

July 31
A Christmas Story (1983)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Hurt Locker (2009)

 

FILMSTRUCK

July 20
Blow-Up (1966)
Rififi (1955)
Thieves’ Highway (1949)

July 27
All the President’s Men (1976)
Ball of Fire (1941)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
His Girl Friday (1940)
The Killing Fields (1984)
Rio Bravo (1959)

July 28
Night and the City (1950)

July 31
Taxi Driver (1976)

August 3
All Quiet on the Western Front (1930)
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (1927)
Man with a Movie Camera (1929)
Marty (1955)
Network (1976)

August 4
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
The Phantom of Liberty (1974)

August 10
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)
Dogtooth (2009)
Magnolia (1999)
Nights of Cabiria (1957)
Rebel Without a Cause (1955)


 

JUST ARRIVED

NETFLIX

Enemy (2013)
Locke (2013)
Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017)
Obvious Child (2014)
Room (2015)
The Rover (2014)
The Spectacular Now (2013)
The Stranger (1946)
Under the Skin (2013)

 

AMAZON PRIME

The Doors (1991)
Return to Me (2000)
Walking Tall (1973)

 

FILMSTRUCK

Gaslight (1944)
The Philadelphia Story (1940)
A Star Is Born (1954)
Two Women (1960)

 

HULU

Cold in July (2014)
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (2008)


 

COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

July 20
Father of the Year—NETFLIX FILM (2018)

July 22
An Education (2009)

 

AMAZON PRIME

July 24
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)

 

HULU

July 20
Embrace of the Serpent (2015)

July 25
Black Cop (2017)

 


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.

MOVIE REVIEW: Roman J Israel, Esq

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)

Going to see a Denzel Washington movie is as sure of a thing as there is in the film world. Even when the movies he stars in are sub-par, you can count on his performance to always be top notch. I’ve never seen a performance from Washington that feels phoned in. His performance as the titular character in Dan Gilroy’s new film Roman J. Israel, Esq. is no exception. Denzel is fully committed to the role and even though he’s one of the most recognizable faces in cinema, he’s able to create a character that doesn’t simply feel like Denzel Washington playing a lawyer. Roman Israel is a brilliant legal mind who is admittedly no good in the court room. Having spent his entire career doing civil rights litigation work behind the scenes while his partner was the public face of their firm, he’s suddenly thrust out of his comfort zone when that partner is incapacitated. I’m not a doctor, and it’s never mentioned in the film, but Roman is almost certainly somewhere on the Autism spectrum. Washington gives him a cadence and tone along with distinctive ticks and mannerisms that lets us know it’s more than just a distaste with the court system that has kept him from the public eye all these years. What he lacks in social ability he more than makes up for in legal knowledge. He’s labeled both a savant and a freak by those who witness the extent of his knowledge of case histories, legal precedent and the code of law. He’s an engaging and intriguing character that I’d love to watch in a case of the week style lawyer show, brilliant and inadvertently funny.

The film’s main conflict lies within Israel himself. He’s torn between continuing his life’s work, an almost impossible task given his financial situation and the lack of interest in his services by people that matter, and enjoying the perks that come with “selling out,” which to him means life in a large and expensive firm. He’s pulled in both directions by Colin Farrell, a slick and successful lawyer offering a life of luxury, and Carmen Ejogo, the director of a civil rights non-profit and admires Israel for his years of work in the field.  Both are very solid in their roles, but Farrell stands out. As a former student of Roman’s idealistic partner, Ferrell’s George Pierce is too slimy to love, but too human to despise. It is with great regret, though, that I have to inform that these three solid performances are wasted on a film that is unfocused, uninspired and critically unsure of what kind of story it wants to tell.

When a movie comes out that stars Denzel, I know that it’s something I’m going to see, but it’s not always something I see right away. Flight, Fences, The Equalizer, etc. are all films that I had on my list, but waited to see until I could watch at home. Roman J. Israei, Esq. would have also fit into that category if it weren’t for the fact that it was written and directed by Dan Gilroy (well that, and Movie Pass and not having anything to wake up early for during the holiday weekend). Gilroy’s directorial debut, Nightcrawler, was an outstanding film that was as confident as it was creepy with a great story and career best performance by Jake Gyllenhaal. Unfortunately his sophomore effort suffers from a lack of focus, an abundance of contrivances, and a jarring change in tone for the final 20 minutes of the film.

There are 2-3 different movies happening simultaneously in this one, and a focus on any of these threads could have yielded a much better film. As it is, I found myself alternately confused and bored, spending much of the last hour checking my watch and wishing I had remembered to check the runtime. If you’re looking for a great performance and could care less about how it fits into the larger narrative, by all means, give Roman J. Israel, Esq. a watch. It’s a fine but flawed film that has its moments of intrigue. I’d recommend seeing something else on your holiday weekend though, and waiting on this one until it only sets you back $1.50 at the Redbox.

Rating:


 

Jeremy Calcara is a contributing member of the Feelin’ Film team. In addition watching as many movies as he can and writing reviews for Feelin’ Film, Jeremy consumes an unhealthy amount of television and writes about it weekly in his Feelin’ TV column.   Follow him on Facebook and Twitter  to be notified when new content is posted.

Episode 051: Life

This week we are talking about the newest film from the writers of Zombieland and Deadpool, starring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson, and Hiroyuki Sanada among others. Life is a fast-paced sci-fi horror/thriller in space that tells the story of what happens to a space station after they discover the first life from Mars. Not every movie needs to have incredible depth to be a fun viewing experience. We discuss that, why telling similar stories is okay, and more in this new episode.

What We’ve Been Up To – 0:02:12

(Patrick – O.J.: Made in America)
(Aaron – The Guest, James Bond Films)

Life Review – 0:16:05

The Connecting Point – 1:06:10

Download this Episode 


Intro/Outro Music – “Air Hockey Saloon” by Chris Zabriskie

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