Title: A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood
Director: Marielle Heller
Starring: Matthew Rhys, Tom Hanks. Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, Christine Lahti
As the Mister Rogers revival tour continues, it's clear that we as a species may not have deserved him. And I don't think we deserve Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers either. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood frames a redemption story, around the show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, along with the titular character. While the framing is a bit unconventional, this is 100% sold on Tom Hanks' performance as Fred Rogers. Sure, Hanks may not totally look like Mister Rogers, but his performance melts it all into one big package. Hanks is pitch perfect here. He's mesmerizing on screen, and he embodies the soft, kindness that Mister Rogers brought to millions of people around the world. I have no doubt, that Hanks, will be nominated for an Oscar here. While a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a good film, there are some things that don't quite always equal 100. For starters, the character of Lloyd, is really unlikable. While I get that is pretty much the point, I think they went a tad too far depicting that here. Ultimately, it all works out in the end, but sometimes it is hard for us to root for Lloyd. This whole thing is told from his point of view, so at times it can be a challenge. However, as the film progresses, we do end up in Lloyd's corner, so all is not lost. Matthew Rhys, is solid as the character, so that helps a lot. The entire cast is great here. This is a crowd pleasing film. Its heart is in the right place, even though some of the gears may be a bit rusty. There's a lot of stuff to like, and Tom Hanks, is just too good to ignore.
Title: Ford v Ferrari
Director: James Mangold
Starring: Christian Bale, Matt Damon, Josh Lucas, Jon Bernthal, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe
Ford v Ferrari is an enjoyable look at this true tale. Both Christian Bale and Matt Damon, carry this thing all the way to the finish line. While James Mangold does a great job here, it's in the racing scenes where he really gets to flex his muscles. The Le Mans sequence alone, is among the best racing stuff I've ever seen on screen. However, the story here can feel really cliche', and it tends to bog down quite a bit of the pacing. That being said, it is indeed Damon and Bale, who sell the lulls in the film with their charismatic performances. It's a shame really. It probably doesn't help matters, that Josh Lucas, is such a one-note caricature here. Both his character, and the Henry Ford II character, are so damn unlikable, that it can be hard to root for the main cause. On that note, the story becomes one of Bale's Ken Miles, and rooting for his cause. Whether on purpose, or by accident, it works either way. By the time we end, it's a poignant look at this rivalry, and the men and women who helped make it so.
Title: Jojo Rabbit
Director: Taika Waititi
Starring: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Archie Yates
While sitting through the first fifteen minutes of Jojo Rabbit, I'm not going to lie, it was a bit uncomfortable. It was quite jarring, and I wasn't exactly sure how to feel, or how to take it. However, as the film progresses, everything that is going on here starts to make sense. Jojo Rabbit is a bold film, that makes bold decisions. It's masterfully crafted by Taika Waititi, and as everything unfolds, you practically feel yourself getting pulled along by him. Every performance in this is pitch perfect. Scarlett Johansson, is fantastic here. The young cast, is so, so good. This thing practically rides on all of their shoulders, and they nail it. Sam Rockwell, gives a superb, understated, funny, but important role here as well. Everyone gets what they are doing, and they understand what is trying to be said. While some elements of the story can feel a bit heavy-handed, the unconventional nature of the storytelling, helps sell it all. There are moments that are laugh-out-loud funny, and there are moments that wrecked me. Most importantly, Jojo Rabbit is extremely entertaining to watch, and because you are along for the ride, Waititi knows when to pull the strings out from under you. The film understands that what it is doing, may not be the most...conventional. However, the powerful nature of the message here, outshines everything else. Jojo Rabbit isn't just a great film, but one of the best of the year. Seek it out, and go in with an open mind. You may be a bit surprised.
Title: Doctor Sleep
Director: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Ewan McGregor, Kyliegh Curran, Rebecca Ferguson, Emily Alyn Lind, Cliff Curtis, Zahn McClarnon
What a ride. There are going to be aspects to Doctor Sleep, that will drive die-hard fans of Stanley Kubrick's film nuts. My feelings on Kubrick's classic are pretty well documented, but I will re-share briefly here. I like his film. I'm a bigger fan of the book, but the film has been forever ruined for me. While in film school, I had to endlessly study The Shining. So much so, it tarnished the film for me forever. I can never watch it the same way again. One aspect to Doctor Sleep that I enjoyed immensely, is that it invigorated something new and fresh, into The Shining for me. Mike Flanagan, has made something that is completely his own, but still feels like it belongs with the original film. While Doctor Sleep has a few issues here and there, this thing took me on a journey. Sometimes that journey annoyed me. Sometimes that journey excited me. Sometimes that journey bored me. Sometimes that journey scared me. I went through a myriad of emotions while watching Doctor Sleep. However, I enjoyed the ride immensely. Flanagan directs the shit out this film. The visual style here, helps keep this thing floating. Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson, are fantastic. Ferguson, especially, is so deliciously chewing the scenery here. She is so much fun to watch. Young Kyliegh Curran, is also great. The score to this, is fantastic. It has its own flare, and calls back to the original nicely. Doctor Sleep is a slow burn, much like the original. Sometimes that slow burn though, can be a problem. The flick can feel its runtime here and there, and that's unfortunate, as when this thing is firing, it's firing on all cylinders. I like this film a lot. I may even love it. It's one of those that I am still thinking about. I can't wait to see this again. What a ride.