MOVIE REVIEW: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs


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 130: A Star is Born

This week, Feelin’ Film contributor Jeremy Calcara joins us to discuss the a tale as old as time. No, not BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, but rather the fifth iteration of A STAR IS BORN. This beautifully tragic musical journey is one full of emotions that we enjoyed unpacking together and we hope that you enjoy as well.

* We apologize for the slight audio issues in this episode. Unfortunately the bandwidth gremlins got us for a portion of it.

What We’ve Been Up To  0:01:09

(Jeremy – The Good Place)
(Patrick – Magic For Humans)
(Aaron – Private Life, Venom, Free Solo)

A Star is Born Review – 0:12:33

The Connecting Point – 1:21:29

 

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Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

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By Request 006: Frozen

Aaron reacts to Disney’s mega-hit, Frozen, and comes away from this viewing with mixed opinions and some questions, too.

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Music: “Something Elated” – Broke For Free

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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.

You Should Be Watching: August 31 – September 5

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


What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

    — Coming September 1

Year: 1993

Director: Lasse Hallström

Genre: Romance, Drama

Cast: Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis, Mary Steenburgen, Darlene Cates, Laura Harrington, Mary Kate Schellhardt, Kevin Tighe, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover, Penelope Branning, Tim Green, Susan Loughran, Robert B. Hedges, Mark Jordan, Cameron Finley, Brady Coleman, Tim Simek

Johnny Depp plays Gilbert Grape, a twenty-something stuck in the small Iowa town of Endora working as a grocery clerk. Despite the presence of his two sisters, he bears the weight of the world as he alone is obligated to care for his morbidly obese mother Bonnie (Darlene Cates) and his highly autistic 17-year-old brother Arnie (Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his first roles). The whole family lives in an old rundown house that Bonnie hasn’t left in years due to depression from her husband’s suicide. Gilbert is losing the battle of trying to cope with his life when he meets Becky (Juliette Lewis), a carefree spirit who brings him happiness and draws his attention away from the drudgery of his responsibilities. Unfortunately, Arnie is one of those responsibilities, and unsupervised, he is a true danger to himself.

Between Lasse Hallström’s direction and Peter Hedges‘ script, the perfect balance is struck between melancholy and humor. The big surprise is DiCaprio stealing the entire show with his standout Oscar-nominated supporting actor performance. Through expression, voice, and mannerisms, there is nothing to differentiate him from an actual autistic person. He is truly dependent on others, providing genuine tension when he’s left to his own devices, whether getting stuck up on the town water tower or left alone in the bath, unable to help himself.


Gone Baby Gone

Year: 2007

Director: Ben Affleck

Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, John Ashton, Amy Ryan, Amy Madigan, Titus Welliver, Michael Kenneth Williams, Edi Gathegi, Mark Margolis, Madeline O’Brien, Slaine, Matthew Maher, Trudi Goodman

By the mid 2000s, Ben Affleck’s acting career was in a shambles after a string of major flops. Something needed to change. So why not go behind the camera for once? Affleck joined Aaron Stockard to adapt Dennis Lehane’s source novel and found his cast, including leads Casey Affleck and Michelle Monaghan, who play private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro, as well as big names like Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris. The result was the directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, a critically acclaimed neo-noir crime drama about the search through Boston’s criminal underground for a missing little girl named Amanda.

This is a bleak, depressing, and uncomfortable film full of unlikeable people. Even Amanda’s mother is neglectful and self-centered. But this is the world we live in. The stunning revelations and impossible moral dilemma thrust on our characters unmercifully puts the viewer’s ethical judgment and fortitude to the test. There’s also the sense that apart from the main cast, these aren’t actors; they’re real Bostonians living real life, rough and raw, for better or worse.


Seven Brides for Seven Brothers

 — Expiring September 7

Year: 1954

Director: Stanley Donen

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Musical, Western

Cast: Howard Keel, Jeff Richards, Russ Tamblyn, Tommy Rall, Marc Platt, Jane Powell, Jacques d’Amboise, Julie Newmar, Matt Mattox, Nancy Kilgas, Betty Carr, Virginia Gibson, Ruta Lee, Norma Doggett, Ian Wolfe, Howard Petrie, Earl Barton, Dante DiPaolo, Kelly Brown, Matt Moore, Russell Simpson, Marjorie Wood, Jarma Lewis, Anna Q. Nilsson, Dick Rich

Set in the Oregon frontier of the mid-19th century, this is the story of Adam Pontipee, played by the deep-voiced Howard Keel, and his six brothers, Benjamin through Frank. They’re all uncouth backwoodsmen who rarely see women much less have any idea how to treat them or how to have any kind of manners really. Nevertheless, Adam comes to town to find a bride, and find one he does in the beautiful Milly, played by the tough but lovely Jane Powell, who also has a beautiful singing voice. Milly accepts his offer not knowing of the rest of the family that awaits her or what kind of man Adam is.

Despite moments of discomfort and awkwardness brought about by its sometimes pigheaded characters, this movie musical is a pure delight with catchy and memorable songs, creative, can’t take your eyes off it large-scale group choreography–especially during the barn-raising sequence, laughs a plenty, and a no-nonsense, take-charge heroine in Milly.

When I say Milly is a heroine, I mean she is the most important character in the story. She’s the one who takes on the role of taming this group of brothers and teaching them what respect and true masculinity looks like. Ironically, despite being the oldest, her new husband is the one most in need of maturing, despite what he himself thinks. He’s as stubborn as they come, and Milly, while quick to forgive and generous in heart, is not a doormat and is more than ready to stand up for herself and for the other girls who end up falling into her protection.


COMING AND GOING


LAST CHANCE (last date to watch)

NETFLIX

August 31
Batman Begins (2005)
Casino (1995)
The Dark Knight (2008)
Dead Poets Society (1989)
The Descent (2005)
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (2009)
It Might Get Loud (2008)
Man on Wire (2008)
Wet Hot American Summer (2001)

September 4
PK (2014)
To The Wonder (2012)

September 13
Pete’s Dragon (2016)

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

September 15
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

September 27
The Imitation Game (2014)

AMAZON PRIME

August 31
Anthropoid (2016)
The Big Racket (1976)
Blazing Saddles (1974)
Capote (2005)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Death at a Funeral (2007)
A Fistful Of Dynamite (1971)
The Flowers of War (2011)
The Hurt Locker (2008)
Inferno (1980)
The Natural (1984)
Raging Bull (1980)
Red River (1948)
Stories We Tell (2012)
Training Day (2001)
Trees Lounge (1996)

FILMSTRUCK

August 31
Badlands (1973)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Diary of a Lost Girl (1929)
The Exorcist (1973)
Gun Crazy (1950)
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)
Kameradschaft (1931)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
The Searchers (1956)
They Live by Night (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Westfront 1918 (1930)
You Only Live Once (1937)

September 7
The Bad and the Beautiful (1952)
The Band Wagon (1953)
Giant (1956)
Grand Illusion (1937)
Home from the Hill (1960)
Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954)
Slacker (1990)
Some Came Running (1958)
Steamboat Round the Bend (1935)
Tea and Sympathy (1956)
The Thin Man Series (1934 – 1947)
Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954)

September 14
Advise & Consent (1962)
Easy Rider (1969)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Fruit of Paradise (1970)
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 (197
Night Moves (1975)

HULU

August 31
Across the Universe (2007)
A Beautiful Mind (2001)
The ’Burbs (1989)
Clue (1985)
Dead Man Walking (1995)
Escape from Alcatraz (1979)
Event Horizon (1997)
Hellboy (2004)
My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown (1989)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rain Man (1988)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Trainspotting (1996)


JUST ARRIVED

FILMSTRUCK

Captains Courageous (1937)
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Dead Ringers (1988)
Gunga Din (1939)
The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)
A Mighty Wind (2003)
North by Northwest (1959)
The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
Suspicion (1941)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Westworld (1973)

HULU

Crime + Punishment (2018)
Gangs of New York (2002)
mother! (2017)


COMING THIS WEEK

NETFLIX

September 1
The Breakfast Club (1985)
Bruce Almighty (2003)
Groundhog Day (1993)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
King Kong (2005)
Nacho Libre (2006)
Pearl Harbor (2001)
Scarface (1983)
Unforgiven (1992)

September 2
The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)
Lilo & Stitch (2002)

September 4
Black Panther (2018)

AMAZON PRIME

September 1
Chinatown (1974)
Blow Out (1981)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
Hustle & Flow (2005)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Miami Vice (2006)
Primal Fear (1996)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Smokey and the Bandit (1977)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

HULU

August 31
The Terminator (1984)

September 1
13 Going On 30 (2004)
Adaptation. (2002)
Blow Out (1981)
City of God (2002)
Dressed to Kill (1980)
Field of Dreams (1989)
The Fly (1986)
Jerry Maguire (1996)
Primal Fear (1996)
Rushmore (1998)
Signs (2002)
Searching for Sugar Man (2012)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
There Will Be Blood (2007)
Unbreakable (2000)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

September 2
The English Patient (1996)


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 001: The Last Five Years

Aaron reacts to The Last Five Years, the Broadway to Big Screen musical starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan.

 

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Music: “Something Elated” – Broke For Free

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Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!

MOVIE REVIEW: Christopher Robin


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: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

MAMMA MIA! HERE WE GO AGAIN (2018)

1 Hour and 54 Minutes (PG-13)

Mamma Mia

premiered on the stages of London in 1999, then a little less than 10 years later it graced American movie theatres, so it was only fitting that another 10 years would pass before we were given the next iteration.

A prequel hidden in a sequel, “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” picks up with Sophie, the eve before she officially re-opens The Hotel Bella Donna in honor of her mother. As she prepares for the hotel’s opening, The movie is both a prequel and a sequel, the plot is set after the events of the first film but transforms into a montage of the moments that brought Donna (Meryl Streep) to the beautiful Greek island of Kolokairi and Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) to her womb. To show their support of Sophie and to mourn the loss of their friend, Tanya (Christina Baranski) and Rosie (Julia Walters) arrive to bolster Sophie, showing her how her mother’s past will lead to her future.

When the announcement came that they were making a sequel, some audience members had PTSD flashbacks of Pierce Brosnan singing and an impending sense of dread fell over them. Many arrived with low expectations, myself included, but most were strangely delighted by the overwhelming amount of silliness and self-awareness the film provided. The casting of the Young Dynamos was incredibly spot-on, I don’t think they could have chosen better actresses to portray them; Young Donna (Lily James), Young Tanya (Jessica Keenan Wynn), and Young Rosie (Alexa Davies) brought smiles to everyone’s faces and had instant on-screen chemistry.

Sophie’s potential fathers were a different story, the casting did well enough but it was clear their priorities were to find semi-decent voices attached to pretty faces, not necessarily actors who could physically mimic or grow into their older counterparts. Hugh Skinner managed the nervousness of Young Harry well enough but had too much confidence to truly sell his more anxious behavior. Young Bill (Josh Dylan) barely attempted any type of Scandinavian accent but at least he managed to be beyond charming in a surfer/sailor kind of way, Young Sam (Jeremy Irvine) was one of the bigger disappointments because, while he could sing better than his older counterpart, the lustful romantic personality one would expect to sweep Young Donna off her feet just wasn’t there.

Overall, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is an over the top film, full of unrealistic moments of grandeur, brilliant choreography, a Cher cameo (looking more like Lady Gaga’s rich aunt), and of course an overwhelming amount of ABBA music albeit some of their lesser-known hits. While I feel that more of the songs felt forced into the storyline this time around, I think this film targets a very specific audience. It’s a silly summer film that will leave ABBA lovers feeling like true dancing queens.

PS: If you’ve ever wanted to see Pierce, Colin, and Stellan in glitter spandex then stay through the credits! My my, how can you resist that?

Rating:


Erynne Hundley is Seattle-based writer and freelance film critic, currently writing and editing articles for Essentially Erynne. She prides herself on crafting spoiler-free film reviews that balance franchise history, stylistic approach, script interpretation, and the emotional turmoil the final piece creates. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram for article updates.

The Evolution of Eastwood: PAINT YOUR WAGON

PAINT YOUR WAGON (1969)

Take this in: Clint Eastwood. Lee Marvin. Western… Musical.

If that general concept strikes you as somewhat odd, you’re in the precise mindset to encounter 1969’s Paint Your Wagon. Directed by Joshua Logan based on the Broadway play by Alan Jay Lerner, Paint Your Wagon is an odd and apparently misguided venture from conception all the way to execution.

Adapted by the legendary screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky, the production became troubled even from earliest developments. The location was remote, forcing the cast and crew to be helicoptered in every day. The original playwright micro-managed Logan’s direction, forcing frustrations and production delays. Lee Marvin, while regarded by everyone as a consummate southern gentleman, was also unfortunately drunk for nearly every scene of the film. Locals were used as extras who eventually became a coercive union, forcing the budget to bloat even further with unreasonable demands that had to be met rather than further delay production.

These complications don’t automatically shine through in the finished film, but something beneath the surface certainly feels strained. The result is a film that’s overlong, unfocused, and largely thematically confused. There are a couple of memorable songs, but even they feel somewhat forced amidst an ambling and disjointed narrative.

The story, in brief, centers around Ben Rumson (Marvin) who, after finding the wreckage of a wagon that left one man dead and the man’s brother (Eastwood) severely wounded, discovers gold dust and stakes a claim there. Eventually a town builds up around that claim, and into that town drifts a Mormon man with two wives (one of whom he rather casually sells off to the highest bidder – which, of course, winds up being Rumson). As the town continues to boom, a love triangle forms between Rumson, his “Pardner” (Eastwood), and the bride (Jean Seberg) which is set against the backdrop of the wild and fickle gold rush in California. Eventually the triangle (and the town) collapses, leaving our characters to decide for themselves how to tackle whatever comes next.

Eastwood again takes a supporting role here, following his strong presence in Where Eagles Dare. His acting is a bit less steady, and it is disarming on a fundamental level to hear him sing (he and Marvin both perform all of their own songs), but his character in this is far too aimless and reactionary to really anchor any of his performance choices. Where he had previously seemed to bring the full power of his expertise to the strong, silent type role of Lieutenant Schaffer, he now seems to feel out of sorts and confused, wondering both on and off screen (apparently) just where the hell everything is going.

Fans of large-scale movie musicals may find a handful of diamonds in the rough to cherish, but not being in that company myself, I found little to admire and even less to enjoy. The narrative is tedious, the comedy is too ham-fisted, the drama is too self-important. And the theme of the piece seems to confuse whether it wants us to be on board with our protagonists’ philosophies or not (it spends 2 hours bringing us on board with their frontier ways of thinking and living only to monumentally dismantle all of them in the last 30 minutes and ultimately justify the stark-raving preacher who condemned it all).

If I haven’t made it clear enough, I did not enjoy Paint Your Wagon. However, it is a vital entry in Eastwood’s catalogue for one gigantic reason: this is the film that made Eastwood want to become a director.

He would later reference Paint Your Wagon specifically as an impetus for him to move more firmly behind the camera. He said that being a part of this production taught him “how not to make a movie.” And it would only be a couple short years later before he would indeed step behind the camera for the first time, beginning a lifelong legacy that expanded beyond performance into the realm of Hollywood storyteller. If only for the push in that impressive direction, perhaps Paint Your Wagon should be thanked after all.


Reed Lackey is based in Los Angeles, where he writes and podcasts about film and faith. His primary work is featured on the More Than One Lesson website and podcast, as well as his primary podcast, The Fear of God (which examines the intersection between Christianity and the horror genre). Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook to receive updates on his reviews and editorials.

Episode 091: The Greatest Showman

We wanted to open up 2018 with a bang, so we called in That Guy Named John from the About to Review podcast to have a lively discussion with us about Hugh Jackman’s new circus musical. We all three enjoyed this show very much, but we do spend some time discussing criticism revolving around the real-life P.T. Barnum versus his portrayal in the film. The Greatest Showman is a film that brought us lots of smiles and joy, and we hope that listening to this conversation will do the same for you.

The Greatest Showman Review – 0:01:49

The Connecting Point – 1:06:54

Contact


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Download this Episode 


Music: Going Higher – Bensound.com

Support us on Patreon & get awesome rewards:

or you can support us through Paypal as well. Select the link below and make your one-time or recurring contribution.

Rate/Review us on iTunes and on your podcast app of choice! It helps bring us exposure so that we can get more people involved in the conversation. Thank you!