Kenneth Feinberg, a powerful D.C. lawyer appointed Special Master of the 9/11 Fund, fights off the cynicism, bureaucracy, and politics associated with administering government funds and, in doing so, discovers what life is worth. (Letterboxd)
A smooth and well-balanced mix of compelling legal procedural and emotive drama that ends nicely with the climax of Ken’s character arc (“You’re nothing like him”). Some of the script is a bit on the nose, some supporting performances slip up, and the dead screen-space for some of the dialogue scenes is strange, but it’s made up for by some moments of cinematic excellence (see the gradual realization on the train), great performances by the main trio, and some cool camerawork in other places.
The story of 7 people on trial stemming from various charges surrounding the uprising at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. (IMDb)
It’s a dialogue-heavy courtroom drama with all the humour, high-stakes intensity, and fiery one-liners (“What’s your price?” “My life”) of an action film. The script and editing masterfully ramp up the pre-, during-, and post-protest tension simultaneously (adding in Abbie’s stand-up was a cool touch) and the cast is excellent (Rylance and Cohen are standouts). The prominence then disappearance of Seale’s poignant sub-plot is the only real misstep here (the ending is schmaltzy but effective).
Batman returns to the big screen when a deformed man calling himself the Penguin wreaks havoc across Gotham with the help of a cruel businessman. (IMDb)
The recurring secret vs. public identity dynamic for all four of the main players makes for some intriguing tension and drama (see Bruce and Salina’s battles and flirts; Shreck and Oswald’s campaign). Batman’s fall from grace is another compelling, if brief, plot thread. Unfortunately there’s still lots of cheesiness here too (see the penguin suicide bombers, penguin pallbearers, penguin duck boats?). The one-liners are hit (“life’s a bitch and now so am I”) or miss (anything by gross Penguin).
Peter Parker balances his life as an ordinary high school student in Queens with his superhero alter-ego Spider-Man, and finds himself on the trail of a new menace prowling the skies of New York City. (IMDb)
A well-executed mix of goofy teen comedy (see the hilarious school news reports), wild superhero action, and authentic coming-of-age drama (see the breakdown beneath the rubble). It’s the most down-to-earth MCU film yet thanks to its blue-collar, nuanced villain (see his slight post-credits redemption) and the continued interplay (dramatic but also humourous: see Cap’s instructional videos) between the mature but distant Avengers and our eager but juvenile hero (“I’m nothing without the suit!”).
The story of Ray Kroc, a salesman who turned two brothers’ innovative fast food eatery, McDonald’s, into the biggest restaurant business in the world with a combination of ambition, persistence and ruthlessness. (IMDb)
The familiar rising business biopic is given a bit of an interesting twist with the compelling Kroc vs. McDonalds dynamic that pits the former’s growing greed and business savvy against the conservative and sympathetic simplicity of the latter, but it still feels a little conventional and skimmed-over. All told though, it’s a solidly acted story that expertly fleshes out its main characters with well-crafted scenes (see Ray’s bookending monologues; the brothers telling their story at dinner).
7.5/10 (Really Good)
The true story of how the Boston Globe uncovered the massive scandal of child molestation and cover-up within the local Catholic Archdiocese, shaking the entire Catholic Church to its core. (IMDb)
The dense dialogue doesn’t dumb anything down, to the film’s initial detriment (it’s tough to latch on), but ultimately giving it a welcome mature feel as the Spotlight team continues to determinedly dig their way to the disturbing truth. A no-frills story, solidly acted (Ruffalo’s passionate Mike and Schreiber’s calm and calculated Marty are two standouts) maintains this tone, dispensing with unnecessary character explorations and pushy pathos on the way to its subtly sentimental final scene.
The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being the clownishly homicidal Joker. (IMDb)
This take on Batman is less than mediocre, with a thin plot (barely boosted by a couple funny lines) and uninspired main characters (Keaton’s Batman is dry and Nicholson’s Joker feels more silly and contrived than evil) thrown into a childish, ill-paced, and painfully awkward script (see the awful scene with Wayne and the Joker). The quasi-campy vibe just doesn’t work here–it’s not written and directed seriously enough to be compelling, and it’s not intentionally goofy enough to be funny.
Keaton, Norton, and Stone all put forth amazing performances that scream for their close-up shots, while the continuous-style cinematography is mesmerizing and creates an incredible and unique pace for the film, pulling you along like a fish on a line, right with the characters. The ending’s a little cheesy, but the film still stands as a wonderful work of art about artistic integrity and ego that’s only occasionally tainted by a couple of side plots that feel a little unnecessary.