All posts by casualviewer

The Hero – Review

Movies are other people’s dreams.

Walking the line between fiction and reality isn’t exactly something new, countless films and TV shows have done that job very successfully. The Hero is one of the latest of its type, playing with our perception of what is fiction and what isn’t. The difference between the two here is, seemingly, harder to spot than what you might think.

The film follows an ageing actor, Lee, who found great success during the Western Era of film, dealing with his terminal illness. To do so, he will try to reconcile matters with his daughter and trying to bring his dream film to life, a final stand-off for his former glory, whilst founding a new passion with a younger woman.

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The actor is played by Sam Elliott, the golden voiced performer who found great success with Westerns and, like many actors of that time, later struggled to make the jump and adapt to a post-Western Hollywood. However, if The Hero is any indication, Elliott has perfected his craft with every passing year. Here he delivers a truly sincere performance without which the film would tumble and fall, since the script is nothing we haven’t seen before, feeling quite raw in some places and overdone in others.

The supporting cast is also very good, specifically Laura Prepon and Krysten Ritter. The latter is in a relatively short amount of the film but delivers a heartfelt outing as Lee’s daughter, a woman who has distanced herself from her father (or was it the other way around?) to the point where the two became mere acquaintances, whilst the former plays the actor’s new love interest. Yes, unfortunately we are still writing plots about a young woman falling in love with an old man. Prepon’s character does make fun of that situation later in the film, however. The chemistry between Prepon and Elliott is great nonetheless and they do make their scenes together work and be some of the best moments of the film. Despite not liking how the relationship is written, I can’t deny that their last moment is moving, with Prepon reading out a poem whilst the camera focuses on Elliott’s reaction to it. It’s a powerful moment and by far the best scene of the film.

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The ending left me a bit confused. I understand what the film was going for: a sense of loop and repetition around Lee’s life, but we’ve never seen that repetition before, so the ending doesn’t feel earned, instead it feels out of place. Perhaps it is a scene too long. Perhaps I just didn’t get it.

Ultimately, The Hero is a story of a man trying to find a second wind. An individual that has to stop looking back on his former glories and face forward, even if what’s ahead of him is uncertain.

The Hero is out on DVD & Blu-Ray now!

The Weekend Binge: The Punisher

For years Frank Castle has been deemed as a character that could now be adapted to the screen. History itself was on the side of this argument, with three less than stellar feature adaptations with a big focus on the revenge side of the character and the blood and violence that follows after Castle. After Punisher: War Zone in 2008 the character was all but dead to the screen.

In comes season 2 of Netflix’s Daredevil.

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This time, the people behind the scenes understood what is so great about The Punisher: his code of conduct and sense of morality. By bringing Frank Castle as an antagonist (but not a villain) to Matt Murdock, it allowed to character to go beyond a blood thirsty man looking for revenge. The Punisher ended up being the best thing about that Daredevil season.

But could the character sustain a full season? Where do you go with Castle after his revenge is complete? Netflix thought they had something interesting to say and so The Punisher was reborn.

And, not unlike a phoenix rising from the ashes, Netflix’s Punisher finally gets the character right. In here, Frank Castle is a war veteran trying to make his quiet living after his revenge is complete when the past comes back to haunt and hunt him. The series is supported by clever, honest writing, fantastic performances, especially Jon Bertnthal’s career best appearance, and use of justified violence (at, my god, is this a violent show).

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The show starts right where Daredevil season 2 finished. Frank is out for revenge on everyone involved with the murder of his family and, after his mission is done, there is no need for The Punisher. Later on, after learning something more about Frank Castle’s past, the hard line between right and wrong becomes thinner and thinner. The show itself follows the Netflix formula: a great number of secondary characters with story that come together in the last couple of episodes. The big difference here is that the whole season feels like one ever revolving story, a nightmare that goes deeper and deeper from Frank’s point of view. And then the show turns into the most violent TV programme I think I’ll ever seen…but it’s all earned.

The Punisher is more of a character piece than any of the other Netflix Marvel shows, it raises more questions, it feels more timely, it has some of the best directing Netflix has put out there.  The Punisher is, in many ways, the best Netflix Marvel show. Not bad for a character who, for years, was known as “mad dog with guns”.

Punisher is available on Netflix 

Golden Globes 2018 – Film Winners!

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has always put on a great show when it comes to the Golden Globes ceremony. This year was no different, even if the tone was vastly unlike any other. The winners themselves were somewhat a statement, with the Frances McDormand-led Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri bagging the most awards, for example. There were some surprises and, if you read my predictions, you’ll see that I was vastly wrong on some of them. I look forward to being wrong again come March 4th.

Here are the winners of last night:

Cecil B De Mille Award: Oprah Winfrey

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First of all, we have to talk about the incredible 9-minute long speech by Oprah upon receiving the Cecil B. de Mille Award (“what an incredible honour…for Cecil B. de Mille”, joked a a spot-on Seth Meyers). The speech was exactly what you would expect from Oprah, with a gravitas and power that is all-inspiring , thanking the women who have been fighting against the powerful monsters in the world, and ushering men to listen and play their part in the battle. This is how leaders should speak.

Best Motion Picture – Drama: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

This was a surprise. I was sure The Shape of Water had this award in the bag, but subject matter and the way it is handled ultimately made Three Billboards the winner. That and, obviously, the quality of the film.

Best Motion Picture – Comedy Or Musical: Lady Bird.

Even though I was hoping Get Out would take it, I was also rooting for Greta Gerwig’s film to snatch it. I’ve gonne of record saying how much I love this film, so it was great to see it being recognised.

Best Performance By An Actress – Drama

Frances MacDormand – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

What a moment this was. Frances MacDormand’s performance is probably the best the actress has ever been, and she is supported by an incredible ensemble cast.

Best Performance By An Actor – Drama : Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

We all saw this coming. Right now, the Oscar for Best Actor is Gary Oldman’s to lose. I have no doubt in my mind that the British actor will take rightfully so, I might add.

Best Performance By An Actress – Comedy Or Musical: Saoirse Ronan – Lady Bird

Such a joy to see this one happening. Like I said in my prediction: Saoirse Ronan needs all the awards.

Best Performance By An Actor – Comedy Or Musical:  James Franco – The Disaster Artist

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Worthy of this award, James Franco’s performance continues to gather steam ahead of the Academy Awards. Could this be the year that finally sees Tommy Wiseau’s prophecy come true?

Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role: Alison Janney – I, Tonya

With all due respect for Alison Janney, I was shocked that Laurie Metcalf didn’t win. This was one of the two biggest snubs of the night.

Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role: Sam Rockwell – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Well…I didn’t see this coming. I like it though! It’s very nice to see Sam Rockwell, one of the most underrated actors working today, get some recognition.

Best Director: Guillermo Del Toro – The Shape Of Water

This was a long time coming and I am so pleased. Hopefully a sign of things to come for this legendary director.

Best ScreenplayMartin McDonagh – Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

And this, to me, was the snub of the night. How Greta Gerwig did not win this is beyond me. Fair play to Martin McDonagh, though, his script has some real power, going from his trademark dark humour to a very dramatic place.

Best Animated: Coco

Here’s the thing: Everytime Pixar releases a film, unless that film is called Cars, you have to assume it will win everything it gets nominated for.

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language: In The Fade

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I actually thought the festival darlings The Square or First They Killed My Father were going to get a shot at this award, but it was a pleasant surprise to see the French-German film win the award.

Best Original Score: Alexandre Desplant – The Shape Of Water

Beating out veterans John Williams and Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat’s score is yet another element that makes The Shape Of Water one of the best films of the year.

Best Original Song: This Is Me – The Greatest Showman

I would just like to thank the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in behalf of everyone here at We Make Movies On Weekends, for making the right choice in this category.

What do you think about the awards? 

Golden Globes 2018 – Film Predictions

We are now full swing into award season. The Golden Globes ceremony is just around the corner and, obviously, I had to get my predictions out there! So, without further ado, let us start!

Best Motion Picture – Drama

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Will Win: The Shape Of Water. The aesthetics, the setting, the matter at hand, all of these are elements that Guillermo Del Toro has explored in other entries of his filmography, but perhaps never better than here.

Should Win: Call Me By Your Name. Luca Guadagnino film came out of nowhere to conquer over our hearts in a way very few films have done. The coming-of-age story that Elio goes through is one of the most charming and heartbreaking tales of the year. Oh, and the Armie Hammer dance scene is gold.

Dark Horse: Dunkirk.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

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Will Win: Get Out. Feels so wrong for this film to be in this category, but you cannot deny that it is the best film of the lot (closely followed by Lady Bird, though). Jordan Peele’s directorial debut is an incredible achievement in story telling and, with films like these, the horror genre is in good hands.

Should Win: Get Out. It will honestly be the biggest shock of the night if Get Out goes home without the award.

Dark Horse: The Disaster Artist.

Best Performance By An Actress – Drama

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Will Win: Frances McDormand. While I’m not the biggest fan of Three Billboards, it’s hard to deny Frances McDromand’s performance is a highlight with its right amount of drama and comedy.

Should Win: Sally Hawkins. Part of the success of The Shape Of Water is due to the simplicity of Sally Hawkins’ mute performance.

Dark Horse: Jessica Chastain.

Best Performance By An Actor – Drama

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Will Win: Gary Oldman. The actor’s performance in Darkest Hour has been picking up steam since TIFF and doesn’t seem like it’s going to slow down anytime soon.

Should Win: Timothée Chalamet. This incredibly genuine performance from such an young actor deserves to be recognised by what is is: the best performance of the lot.

Dark Horse: Daniel Day-Lewis.

Best Performance By An Actress – Musical Or Comedy

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Will Win: Saoirse Ronan. I can’t begin to tell you how good this performance is. So sincere, touching on everything everyone has been through when they felt like an outsider.

Should Win: Saoirse Ronan. All the awards.

Dark Horse: Margot Robbie.

Best Performance By An Actor – Musical Or Comedy

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Will Win: James Franco. It would be very easy to deliver a caricature of Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist. It’s a lot harder to deliver a performance that humanises the actor and his dream.

Should Win: Daniel Kaluuya. His performance in Get Out has it all and, while more underplayed than Franco, it carries just as much power.

Dark Horse: Hugh Jackman.

Best Performance By An Actress in a Supporting Role

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Will Win: Octavia Spencer. Once again, she delivers an entertaining heartfelt performance, in a role which is somewhat different from everything else the actress has ever done.

Should Win: Laurie Metcalf. I’m trying not to let my admiration for Lady Bird show too much, but Laurie Metcalf’s performance is, perhaps, the core of the film and everytime she is on screen, the momentum is elevated.

Best Performance By An Actor in a Supporting Role

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Will Win: Christopher Plummer. The behind-the-cameras story will ultimately prevail here, I feel. Nontheless, Christopher Plummer delivers one of the best performances of his illustrious career.

Should Win: Willem Dafoe. In The Florida Project, he is the definition of a supporting actor, helping the film to remain focused and cohesive.

Best Director

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Will Win: Christopher Nolan. Dunkirk might be the most director-driven film of the year and I believe that will be enough to get the British director the award.

Should Win: Guillermo Del Toro. Again, every element of The Shape Of Water has the touch of the director, making for a film which feels like a single unit.

Dark Horse: Ridley Scott.

Best Screenplay

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Will Win: Greta Gerwig. Lady Bird is the film with most heart of the year. It’s one of the best coming-of-age stories of the decade and the screenplay was the foundation to it all.

Should Win: Greta Gerwig. Come ooooooooon!

Dark Horse: Aaron Sorkin.

What do you think? 

Oscar Contenders – Part 2: 10 to 6

If you are anything like me, the Q4 of the year is the most exciting period of the calendar in terms of release dates. This is when the studios are ready to bring out the big guns for their Oscar campaigns, when the festivals have previewed future films and awards buzz is now real. Q4 means the Academy Awards are almost here.

But, whilst is interesting to speculate who will win this year’s golden statues, today I propose a different exercise: if the ceremony were to happen next week, who would come out on top? More often than not, films released outside the specific “awards’ season” window get overlooked by the Academy (and everyone else, really…) when it comes to consideration. This is, perhaps, due to the fact that the best films of the year all come out around this time of the year, but 2017 has been a little different as some films have been creating a buzz since as far as January! So, with that in mind, welcome to the WMMOW Awards! (working title…)

First, a bit of house cleaning, I’ll be following the Academy’s rules, so my consideration are of films that were released in US cinemas between January 1st and October 15th 2017. Secondly, whilst I consider myself to have seen a reasonable amount of films this year, I haven’t seen all the films this year. Thirdly, whilst I try to have an objective view towards how films are made, they are, to their core, pieces of art that affect different people in different ways so this is, ultimately, a personal article. Now that we’ve done all the paperwork, let’s crack on!

mother! – Paramount Pictures

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Director: Darren Aronofsky
Staring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Michelle Pfeiffer
Producers: Scott Franklin, Ari Handel, Darren Aronofsky

And this is where I lose half the readers. Look I’m not here to convince you that this film is great. I actually find it easier to understand reasons why people don’t like mother! than the other way around. This film is insane, the howl of an artist who was in a very dark place and had to express himself in some way. But, more than that, mother! is a film that pushes the boundaries of what can and cannot be shown in a cinema and how it can be shown. It’s a film that can’t be summarised, a film in which no sequence can be explained without talking about everything that came before. Does it have too many metaphors? I don’t know. How many metaphors is too many metaphors? Do we live in a world in which everything exists isolated from everything else and nothing is connected? No. The same thing happens with mother!. I think your enjoyment of the film lies on what you think of the third act, which I can only describe as cinematic madness. If you’re on board with it, you’ll like mother!, if you’re not on board then you’ll probably zone out/leave the cinema/turn the film off by this point. But you can’t deny that, from the moment Bardem’s character starts giving autographs, you are experiencing something that you’ve never really experienced, something new, something that is breaking all the rules of what you thought cinema was. And that should be celebrated.

Oscar nomination? No chance in hell. Pun intended. Even though the film has been praised by some of the Academy members, the general audience’s reaction will ultimately kill mother!’s Oscar chances. Jennifer Lawrence might get a nomination, though.

A Ghost Story – A24

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Director: David Lowery
Staring: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck
Producers: Toby Hallbrooks, James M. Johnston, Adam Donaghey

There is something truly special and beautiful about David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. Whether it be the sense of post-horror or the progressive escalation from a personal tragedy to the cosmic poem, this is a film with an incredible, if uncomfortable, message. Not unlike mother!, A Ghost Story seems to be coming from a place of questioning Mankind’s place in the world but, unlike mother!, this film reaches a much more focused and beautiful message.

Oscar nomination? Unlikely. A Ghost Story simply hasn’t created enough stir amongst the industry. Maybe a Best Cinematography nod?

Wonder Woman – Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Patty Jenkins
Staring: Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Danny Huston
Producers: Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Zack Snyder, Richard Suckle

When all is said and done, Wonder Woman will be the most impactful film of 2017. To deny this is to not fully understand the extent of this film’s success. Patty Jenkins, who hadn’t directed a film in 14 years, when she led Charlize Theron to an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, was chosen to direct the first female-led superhero film in 12 years for a character who has been around since 1941. And the film blew everyone away. Wide critical acclaim, box office records and chatter about the possibility of Academy nominations are simply some of the accolades Wonder Woman has enjoyed since premiering back in June. But more important than numbers and milestones, legacy is what this film has going for it. The overwhelming messages that Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot received upon the release of the film, thank you messages, stories of how Wonder Woman had helped people and inspired them, how they finally felt represented, that’s something unlike anything in the genre. Is it the best superhero film of all time? No, I don’t even think it’s the best of the year (more on that later), but it’s undoubtedly the most important and we can only hope it will usher in a new mentality towards equality in the film industry.

Oscar nomination? History is against Wonder Woman. No superhero film has ever been nominated for Best Picture. That being said, I believe this year is the genre’s best chance at a main category nomination.

Raw – Focus World
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Director: Julia Ducournau
Staring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Laurent Lucas
Producer: Jean de Forets

In what may be the best year for horror films of the century, none has been more visceral than Raw, the French-Belgian silent hit about a vegetarian vet student forced to try meat for the first time. The name of the film fits it like a glove, as it has both meaning to the story and the way Julia Ducournau shoots it. This is an incredibly violent and sexual coming of age tale, framed around ever-present elements of red colour. Despite that, everything is cold and brutal, yet involving to the point of almost giving you a physical reaction you wouldn’t expect from a film. I am not surprised of the reports regarding people fainting during screenings at TIFF. The image of Justine, brilliantly and genuinely portrayed by Garance Marillier, doing THAT for the first time is the closest I’ve been to throwing up in a cinema. And whilst the gruesome elements are probably what stays with you long after the film is done, Raw is a powerful story even without them. There’s an idea of legacy and ancestry that the script explores in such an interesting and different way, and that is what makes Raw transcend its genre.

Oscar nomination? If the film is France or Belgium’s entry for Best Foreign film, I believe there’s chance for a nomination and potential win, but nothing beyond that.

What do you think? 

Star Wars: Where We Are and Where We’re Going

At the moment of this writing, I am about 16 hours away from watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi and witnessing what will be my third Star Wars film in cinemas. I am not that young, I simply missed the prequel trilogy’s cinematic release.

So, in anticipation of what will no doubt be a film that will make me cry from the moment John Williams’ first notes hit the speakers, let’s recap the state of a galaxy far, far away….

Full spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens follow.

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Firstly, where is our big four?

Rey Skywalker/Solo/Palpatine/Kenobi (depending on your theory) has been able to track the legendary Jedi Master Luke Skywalker in Ahch-To and presents him with his father’s long lost lightsaber, fully proclaiming her intent of becoming his Padawan.

Kylo Ren has been through a rollercoaster, having killed his father in an attempt to solidify his connection to the Dark Side, Kylo, after making some quick work on Finn, has experienced first-hand how powerful Rey is with the Force, and he has a scar to show for it. Supreme Leader Snoke doesn’t seem too pleased with it and has called upon his apprentice to complete his training.

So this means both our main Force-wielding characters are out perfecting her abilities. Keep that in mind.

Finn has, as mentioned, suffered a gruesome injury at the hands of Kylo Ren and is currently recovering. From what we know he will team-up with newcomer Rose to go on an undercover mission of some sort. Also, from the trailer, we know the former stormtrooper will square off against Captain Phasma at some point during Episode VIII.

Finally, Poe Dameron. Assuming Poe will have a story arc more connected with General Leia, I suspect they will both have different approaches on how they should respond to the First Order’s destruction of an entire star system.

So where is this all going?

My excitement is through the roof for this one. For one, The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film ever, and the more time I get to spend in these films, the better. Secondly, Luke Skywalker is back. The quintessential hero that gives me chills every time he says “I’m a Jedi, like my father before me” in Return of the Jedi, is back and I just can’t wait. Thirdly, Lucasfilm is so happy with the work Rian Johnson has presented, they offered him another trilogy of films. So yeah…bring in the popcorn.

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Expectations? Predictions? Anything?!

I have some predictions that will no doubt turn out to be inaccurate (Rey Palpatine, Empress of the Galaxy) but mostly I want three things out of Star Wars: The Last Jedi:

  1. Take risks and push the franchise’s boundaries towards something we have never seen before.
  2. A lightsaber duel and spaceship battle for the ages (see: Episodes III and VI for these)
  3. #IgniteTheGreen

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out 14th Dec