‘Cold War’ artsy fartsy, would be cooler if it weren’t

Images courtesy Amazon Studios.

4/10 After debuting in May 2018 at Cannes, where writer/director Paweł Pawlikowski won the festival’s best director award, and rolling out across several film markets overseas over a period of months, Polish- and French-language period drama Cold War has finally made it into more than 40 American theaters. In addition to being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, it’s earned Oscar nominations for Pawlikowski and cinematographer Łukasz Żal, which would indicate it as a shoo-in for the Foreign Language award were it not for Roma and its 10 nominations.

Cold War is meant to be a primarily visual feast, but I can’t get behind what it’s doing visually. It’s a neat idea, but the movie would have been stronger with more traditional choices.

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‘Serenity’ swallowed by its distributor over big dumb twist

Images courtesy Aviron Pictures, whether they want to admit it or not.

2/10 After acquiring the distribution rights to Serenity in February 2018, Aviron Pictures set a Sept. 28 release date, where it would have competed against nothing even vaguely memorable, and later pushed that back to Oct. 19, where it would have an early Oscar season date against Halloween.

Then, suddenly, Aviron pushed it all the way back to Jan. 25 and didn’t tell anyone. Marketing completely stopped – to be aware that Serenity was coming out, you would have had to already have seen trailers in anticipation of the Oct. 19 release, be the kind of person who actually pays attention to movie news and be the kind of person who goes to see movies that the studio clearly doesn’t believe in.

Aviron waited until the first big movie of the year, Glass, came out a weekend beforehand, and only then quietly slid Serenity onto screens. What’s behind the curtain that’s so bad that early January wasn’t a deep enough hole to hide it in? Anyone who’s seen Serenity, whether they hated it or even if they liked it, can easily tell you.

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The Möbius Strip- Confusing Oscar race is set as box office suffers worst Super Bowl weekend in almost 20 years

Super Bowl weekend is always bad news for the box office, but this was one of the worst weekends in history, with movies only making $73.4 million total, with no individual film making even as much as $10 million. Glass earned its third box office crown by default with $9.5 million, and The Upside hung around for its third second-place finish with $8.7 million. Newcomer Miss Bala failed to really get off the ground, earning just $6.7 million for third place. Christmas week superhero releases Aquaman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse continued to swim or swing around in fourth and fifth place with $4.9 million and $4.5 million, respectively- Box Office Mojo

The $73.4 million represents the worst Super Bowl weekend in almost 20 years- The Hollywood Reporter

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‘Beale Street’ a major step up for already stellar Barry Jenkins

Images courtesy Annapurna Pictures.

9/10 In 2017, I was unimpressed with Moonlight’s upset Best Picture win over La La Land. Two years later, now that writer/director/producer Barry Jenkins’ followup If Beale Street Could Talk has been strangely passed over in terms of Academy Award nominations, I’m still unimpressed with the Academy for again failing to recognize one of the year’s best films.

If Beale Street Could Talk is the achingly beautiful love story of Tish Rivers (KiKi Layne) and Fonny Hunt (Stephan James). The night they conceive their child, a woman on the other side of Harlem is raped, and a cop Hunt crossed earlier swears to seeing him leave the scene. The film opens three months later with Rivers telling Hunt they are pregnant through prison glass. The film follows the family’s impossible fight to clear Hunt’s name over the course of a turbulent pregnancy, but most of the runtime is made up of flashbacks to backfill their love story.

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‘The Favourite,’ and with good reason

The exclusive use of natural lighting and film accounts for what is frequently a very grainy movie. Images courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.

9/10 The Favourite is at once a fearsome period drama and a no-holds-barred, pitch-black  comedy about power, sex and sass. It queers a fascinating historical power struggle and brings it perfectly into the Trump era.

In 1708 during the War of Spanish Succession, Anne, Queen of Great Britain (Olivia Colman) presides over Parliament. Anne is uneducated, pitiful and self-pitying, and most of her decisions are really made by her lady of bedchamber, Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (Rachel Weisz). These decisions frequently come to Parliament out of nowhere and with no one knowing where the information came from, bewildering opposition leader Robert Harley, First Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer (Nicholas Hoult), whom Churchill has frozen out of Anne’s council – for example most of the plot centers on a proposed doubling of the land tax that is never publicly discussed. This dynamic gets turned on its head when Churchill’s cousin, Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), arrives at court and begins to replace Churchill as Anne’s favourite.

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