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.
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?
"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.
Let me make it clear up front that I really like “Elf” (2003) and no Christmas is complete without it. It’s consistently ranked among the top Christmas films of all time and is screened at cinemas every year. With that in mind, I want to talk about the way the film treats women.
Every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) hosts the Golden Globes. The Golden Globes are used as a predictor for Oscar nominations. As always, there are only so many slots for each category. Not every actor, filmmaker, or movie can be nominated. But the Golden Globes typically proves to be pretty white and male dominated. This year, five male filmmakers were nominated for Best Director. Bong Joon-Ho, who directed “Parasite” (2019), is the only non-white person nominated. The other nominees, Sam Mendes, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino are all white dudes. And, in my frank and honest and personal opinion, it is comprised of mediocre white film bros. Sue me. (Actually, please don’t. I have lots of student loans.)
With all of the Scrooges out there bashing “Last Christmas” (2019), it seems that it is important to remind people that feel good movies are something we all need. The flack “Last Christmas” is receiving is from Tarantino/Scorsese/Kubrick Film Bros (my assessment of the situation), who think that every movie needs to be riddled with piousness, plot points that make no sense, and toxic masculinity. So, when “Last Christmas” (2019) hit theaters, it certainly did not please this crowd.