The Farewell Fondly Remembered…

…just not by me.

The Farewell is one of those indies that seems to have legs, still showing in first-run theaters for the eleventh week as of this post date.  Legs always get me to see movies that I otherwise would skip — I feel if a movie is going to have staying power, there’s a reason for it. A 100% Tomatometer score among Top Critics and the amiable, energetic charm of Awkwafina sealed the deal.  As a bonus, I got to finally see a film at the local art-film screening/media center known as the Digital Gym.

There’s obviously a lot of heart in The Farewell. Naturally, with the whole death theme, there was some poignancy that ran throughout. This was not missed on me. Sadly, the story is mostly non-existent.  It’s basically Awkwafina moping around for an hour and a half. Her spirited presence in Crazy Rich Asians has been left far behind, forgotten on a distant continent.

The tone is off too. I thought about how much better Woody Allen handled material like this. Even the comic moments mostly played very flat. There’s no spark here.  Shame on those who think the art and hard work of thousands upon thousands of people involved over the decades in Woody Allen projects should be thrown in the toilet.


The Farewell is not without a bright moment or two, but this true story is a yawner. A documentary, as hinted at upon the conclusion, would have been more enlightening. More lecturing about the differences between Chinese and American culture, ideas I’ve already heard a million times, does not move me. 4/10

Comparison Notes: The Big Sick, Crazy Rich Asians, Terms of Endearment, the incredibly tragic documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, shown as a Frontline episode.

Feign-Fighting with My Family

Fighting with My Family may have heart, but the mind and the soul are nowhere to be found.  It’s a yawner, both pedestrian and trite, obviously designed as an extended promotional video for WWE.

The movie is handicapped from the outset by being based on a true story — normally a good thing — which by all appearances is itself not particularly interesting.  One wonders whether a documentary on the subject would have been even less compelling.  Certainly, embellishment of the story via more adept filmmaking would have resulted in an improved product.

The film’s star, Florence Pugh, is good, of course, but she was a lot more interesting in Lady Macbeth.  And despite her performance, the whole thing felt artificial.  I never felt like “Paige” had nowhere else to turn.  A far cry from The Wrestler, or even Patti Cake$.  Her claimed passion was not conveyed.

At one brief moment near the end, Fighting with My Family did strike me on an emotional level, but by then it was too late.  An easy skip; two weeks later and I had completely forgotten watching this one.  3/10

Comparison Notes: (all much better): The Wrestler, Patti Cake$, Honey, 8 Mile, The Fighter, Flashdance, The Pursuit of Happyness; not recommended or better: Soul Surfer

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PS on RT:  Fighting with My Family has a preposterous Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%.  So — another broken meter incident.  Anyone who thinks this is a good movie should not be wasting their time looking at my blog.  And they should definitely not be a movie critic, professional or otherwise.

Innocence Lost: Making a Murderer Part 2


Almost exactly two years ago I wrote: “Making a Murderer on Netflix is a magnificently compelling, gut-wrenching, and heartbreaking series.”  Part 2, released in October last year, doubles down on being among the most riveting television ever aired.  And where Part 1 might have been shortened by a couple episodes, that is not at all the case in Part 2 — every minute is used to its full value.  For fans of true crime, this is as good as it gets.

SPOILER ALERT! — Referring back to my previous spoiler comments, I will add that the Avery case, in the absence of anything to contradict the evidence raised by Kathleen Zellner —  is even more solidly, and clearly, on the side of his innocence.  Zellner is in a different league than the original defense; we will see where she can take it.  Does this mean a Part 3 is in the offing?

[End of Spoilers]

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So I never was able to produce a TV 2018 part 2 post as intended.  Those items, including Roseanne without Roseanne, are hereby tabled for a future post.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? struck a chord with me — it brought back those times being down-and-out and/or drunk in New York City.  I wanted a little more plot-wise with this true-life story, but then it is a true-life story.  I would have welcomed more about the earlier parts of our heroine’s life and career.  Still: this is one of the better movies of 2018, on the high end of 7/10.

PS Kudos again to Fox Searchlight.

Comparison Notes: Norman, The Visitor (2007)

Film Brief: American Animals

American Animals mixes actors and the real-life characters they portray in a sometimes very effective and other times distracting suboptimal way.  On top of that, the movie dragged out too much.  There’s no reason for it not to have been 30 minutes more compact.  But the performances were good and compelling, and the movie redeemed itself at the end.  The climax and immediate aftermath swung American Animals back into positive territory.  6/10

Comparison Notes: every heist film ever, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels, Bernie, Donnie Darko