Film Brief: The Disaster Artist

I was happy to see The Disaster Artist before it left theaters — and there was a nice crowd at the early Saturday evening showing a week or so ago.  It’s a good movie: entertaining and compelling.  8/10


I, Tonya Will Kick Your Ass. Literally.

Sometimes it takes a true story to make the best movie of the year.  This is one of those times.  The first half absolutely soars.  Once the movie shifts to “the incident,” it gets a little off track and bogs down, but is redeemed by the end.

I, Tonya opens with the following blurb:

Based on irony-free, wildly contradictory, totally true interviews with Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly

Like a Michener account, and the disclaimer above speaks to this, there is a sense that this is not necessarily the verbatim truth of everything exactly the way it happened — but boy it sure feels like it is.  It really puts you there — and it’s highly compelling.

Propelling I, Tonya is a glorious tour de force by Margot Robbie — clearly the best female performance of the year.  Allison Janney as her mother is utter perfection as well.  Both should be winning Oscars on March 4th — but sadly won’t.

With the Winter Olympics next month, the timing could not be better.  You’ll definitely come away with an understanding of the tricky triple axel that you didn’t have before.  And one final note: make sure to stay for the end credits.

Best of the year, but shy of a ‘perfect 9’.  8/10

Film Brief: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is too laggy and too pat to knock anything out of the park.  Still, it’s poetic and beautiful, often, especially in the early going, with the look and feel of a classic French film.  The City of Lost Children comes to mind.  And Sally Hawkins is great.

What we have here is a failure to communicate… no, that’s not the failure.  The failure is unfulfilled promise — so much is here except an original-enough story.  7/10

Comparison Notes: E.T., Splash

Film Brief: Wonder Wheel

Wonder Wheel has some nice attributes, but probably skip it unless you’re a die-hard Woody Allen fan.  The rhythm and cadence familiar to WA moviewatchers is there, but the story is not particularly original or deep.  The “Mapping” I wrote of earlier is definitely employed again here.

I blame Amazon Studios for the the shortcomings of this film, not WA.  Marginal thumbs-down with the standard caveats.  5/10