I am a movie recommendation fiend. You’re an action person? Check out “1917” (2019). You want an indie film with twists and turns? Netflix US still has “The One I Love” (2014). You want to watch movie films directed by women? “The Farewell” (2019), duh! There is something special about giving a recommendation and them landing. Both of my parents are movie people. My dad used to work at 20th Century Fox doing IT and my mom worked at Amblin when I was little. I was raised by film. Even now, when I can share a movie I really liked with either of them and they, in turn, enjoy it, I’m elated. I am still overjoyed that my dad saw “Annihilation” (2018), going to the theater by himself, to support a film with a female-fronted cast.
Can you recollect those moments from your life that become exceedingly significant for you and your memory, although they don't seem vital for your life path? I, for example, often think about that time when my wife and I got stuck on West Magnolia Boulevard and North Niagara Street. Her car broke down; hence we had to wait for a tow truck. It took a couple of hours to organize this. Not wanting to waste time, we went to buy a sandwich in a little Italian-styled restaurant and waited for a rescue.
“1917” was one of the biggest hits of this year’s awards season. It has made almost $300 million at the box office and counting. The film won Best Drama at the Golden Globes, Outstanding British Film and Best Film at the BAFTAs and... well let’s just say I’m glad I waited until after the Oscars to write this article. Regardless, this WWI film wowed audiences with its teeth-grinding tension and “HOW DID THEY DO THAT?!” one-shot cinematography. But you know what would have made it better? If it were gayer. I’m probably going to have to justify that. Spoilers ahead. The core relationship of the film is between the two protagonists, Lance Corporals Blake and Schofield. Through their perilous mission across the war-torn fields of France, they display openness and intimacy rare from male leads in action films. The single-take aesthetic heavily emphasises their closeness, almost always placing them together in the frame. Their bantering dialogue makes them feel like they’ve been close friends for years. They need each other, they save each other.
Genres set certain expectations for a film’s narrative. While yes, the characters and plot most likely differ for each film—audiences know what to expect based on genre. Horror should scare, a documentary should inform, and comedy should cause laughter. Undoubtedly then, a romantic-comedy should have two characters who seemingly shouldn’t be together, end up together. Right? They meet, they usually don’t like each other, they end up falling in love—then, there is some type of conflict that separates them, but by the grace of the genre, the love overpowers any type of reality. In the end, the two romantic characters end up together, falling in love—happily ever after, just like the fairytales told us so. The genre presents an expectation, a safe space. But—what if it doesn’t?
The second the opening titles start Guy Ritchie’s latest film “The Gentlemen” (2020) sets itself up as something sophisticated, colourful and bleeding with style. And it was. The story veers from one twist to another, punctuated by side quests and violence. The soundtrack was sharp as a knife, the characters were larger than life. Nothing about this is supposed to be serious, it’s a drug dealing gun toting romp. Except for the attempted rape. At this point the film went from a lot of fun to deeply disturbing in a split second. But even more galling was that it went straight back to being fun again. Is rape really that much of a throwaway plot point?
January 20th, 2020 is a date that will go down in infamy as the end of one the greatest eras in modern television : the brief but powerful reign of "Bojack Horseman", star of screen and book. Five and a half moving, funny, poignant, brilliant seasons have left little doubt that Raphael Bob Waksberg and friends will knock the final six episodes out of the park but there are many questions left about how our dubious hero will say his final goodbyes. Besides "The Office" ( the soundtrack of my life) there are few shows I have examined as carefully or studied as intensely as "Bojack Horseman". It is the only show I’ve ever loved enough to consider a fan tattoo. My careful examination of a show that rewards careful examination has revealed the following : Bojack Horseman’s (Will Arnett) life is in danger.
"Marriage Story" is actually a tale about a divorce - that of two successful theatre artists, Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). Initially, the film appears to be entirely Charlie’s story but without Nicole, there would be no movie. In the beginning, he is unable to see his wife for who she really is but he grows to see her so clearly that he can fully appreciate the extent of what he’s lost. That theme - of appreciating women as fully formed human beings, equal to their male partners and counterparts - is what makes "Marriage Story" a feminist love story.
For me, 2019’s most divisive film was “Bombshell.” which chronicles the downfall of right-wing propagandist Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). Ailes, a well-known predator, was eventually ousted at Fox News, the 'fascist' juggernaut he created. Numerous women came forward with horrific stories of sexual harassment and abuse. “Bombshell” highlights the story of three characters - two real women and one who is the amalgamation of stories. The real women Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) have a history of perpetuating the far-right ideology of Fox News. Kayla (the stellar Margot Robbie) is a fictional portrayal of many women who encountered Ailes.
Sometimes, we simply need to pause and reflect on a film, and if you can’t stop thinking of it then it’s worth returning to it. I’m not sure whether I want to see any of Hogg’s other films, or even see “The Souvenir Part II” but I do know that I am grateful that I gave “The Souvenir” another chance.