Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

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When a massive fire kills their parents, three children are delivered to the custody of cousin and stage actor Count Olaf, who is secretly plotting to steal their parents’ vast fortune. (IMDb)
The best scene is the letter-reading and the epilogue that follows (“what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may, in fact, be the first steps of a journey”) but the emotional release is not what it could’ve been thanks to a slapdash (a word which here means way too fucking rushed) script that never sits with any of the suffering, and it’s unfortunately never sharp or coherent enough to work as a quick and quirky dark comedy either. Some performances and CGI are a tad iffy yet too.
5.5/10 (Poor)

 

Little Women (2019)

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Jo March reflects back and forth on her life, telling the beloved story of the March sisters – four young women each determined to live life on their own terms. (IMDb)
The timeline hopping is cleverly and masterfully executed (see the warm vs. cold tones, mirrored shots) and adds remarkable emotional depth (see Jo walking down the stairs x2) to what is an already extremely well-written (and acted) web of characters (to the big emotional moments are added many brilliant little overlapping quips and quibbles). Often hilarious (“I’m making a mould of my foot for Laurie to remind him I have nice feet!”) and always heartfelt, with a delightfully cheeky ending.
9.5/10 (Breathtaking)

 

Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)

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Ted Kramer’s wife leaves him, allowing for a lost bond to be rediscovered between Ted and his son, Billy. But a heated custody battle ensues over the divorced couple’s son, deepening the wounds left by the separation. (IMDb)
On the one hand Joanna is a fascinating character–an enigma, full of pain and repressed desires. Yet at the same time I can’t help but wonder if the film, by leaving her to the bookends, reduced her to the mere emotional and irrational woman trope, saved at the end by the easily redeemed (it is admittedly a poignant journey through parenthood) formerly absent husband and father. This issue aside, it’s certainly clear at least that each and every individual scene is written and acted marvelously.
8/10 (Great)

 

Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)

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An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers’ retaliation. (IMDb)
Every scene is a delectably detailed diorama, brought to life by endlessly creative animation, perfect voice acting, and marvelous music (a fun soundtrack plus tear-jerking classical crescendos-see Rat’s redemption), while a tight script (the wolf encounter is a real cherry on top) showcases remarkable characterization (see the angsty Ash), thoughtful drama (see Mr. and Mrs. Fox’s standoff), and a fascinating anthropomorphic vs. wild animal thematic thread alongside its heaps of quirky humour.
9.5/10 (Breathtaking)

Adaptation. (2002)

A lovelorn screenwriter becomes desperate as he tries and fails to adapt The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean for the screen. (IMDb)
A film about its own screenwriter (Kaufman, played by Cage) trying to write its own screenplay: It’s head-spinning-ly brilliant and fascinating to watch, and is propelled forward by a wonderful double-turn by Cage (his self-deprecating internal monologues are priceless), along with solid support from Cooper and Streep. The action-packed final few scenes seem a bit out of place in what is mostly a mellow film, but they do offer a fittingly odd climax to the twisted character interplay throughout.
8/10 (Great)