Ep. 119 – Recapping the somewhat disastrous 91st Oscars

February 26, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod talk the mess that was the 91st Oscars, from highs like “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” winning best animated feature, to awful lows like any wins for “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Green Book.”

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The Favourite

December 17, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”)
Written by: Tony McNamara (“Ashby”) and Deborah Davis (debut)

“The Favourite” is unlike any costume drama you’ve ever seen. That includes filmmaker Sofia Coppola’s imaginative and underappreciated 2006 hipster biopic “Marie Antoinette,” where she uses the song “I Want Candy” in the soundtrack and sneaks a pair of blue Converse into one scene.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise if you know the eccentric and invigorating work of Greek writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos in films like “Dogtooth” and “The Lobster,” the latter of which earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay in 2016.

Although Lanthimos hands off script duties for “The Favourite” to Australian TV writer Tony McNamara and first-time writer Deborah Davis, who penned the initial screenplay over two decades ago, his fingerprints are all over it. “The Favourite” is an acerbic and abrasively funny period piece featuring three of the best female performances of the year. The film is like a formal curtsy but with a sharp knee strike to the groin.

Set in the early 18th Century, “The Favourite” is loosely based on the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), the sickly crowned head who ruled Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714 at the age of 49. Don’t expect a history lesson here, however. Lanthimos isn’t as interested in the Restoration of the English Monarchy as he is the darker and comically absurd relationships Anne develops with her close advisor Sarah Churchill (Oscar winner Rachel Weisz), and Sarah’s cousin, Abigail Hill (Oscar winner Emma Stone), who is hired to work in the scullery.

When Abigail proves herself to be more than a servant, her and Sarah’s political posturing comes to a head as they find themselves vying for Anne’s attention. With a kingdom’s power at their fingertips, Sarah and Abigail become the year’s most intriguing adversaries as they cut each other down at every turn in an attempt to keep their high-end status from waning.

At times voyeuristic in nature, Lanthimos uses a camera lens that allows moviegoers to witness the debauchery unfold as if we are peeking through a palace peephole. In “The Favourite,” hostility and deceitfulness have never been this wickedly entertaining.

Locke

May 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Tom Hardy, Olivia Colman, Ruth Wilson
Director: Steven Knight (“Redemption”)
Written by: Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises”)

If the only things you know actor Tom Hardy for are his growly role as Batman’s masked nemesis Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises” or when he slummed it in the painful-to-watch romantic comedy “This Means War,” then you might not think Hardy is one of the best actors of his generation working today. Simply put: he is. From his frightening and under-seen lead role in the 2008 crime drama “Bronson” to his emotionally-charged and underappreciated role in the 2011 sports drama “Warrior,” it’s no surprise Hardy’s stock is rising fast. Another highpoint in the burgeoning British actor’s career comes by way of a film practically set up as a one-man show – and what a show Hardy gives audiences.

In “Locke,” a film written and directed by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Steven Knight (“Dirty Pretty Things,” “Eastern Promises”), Hardy commands the screen single-handedly as Ivan Locke, a construction foreman who is facing a life-changing decision on the eve of the biggest day of his professional career. Only hours before what is considered one of the biggest cement pours in European history, Ivan gets into his car and drives away from the construction site and towards London where a woman he had an affair with is giving birth to his child. Ivan may be the only indispensable employee for this massive task his construction company about to undertake, but he’s decide he’s not going to be there. His decision kicks in to gear a series of phone calls that ultimately make up the whole of the movie and give Hardy an incredibly diverse scale of emotions to work from.

From making calls to his anxious co-worker who can’t believe what Ivan is doing to his phone confession to his distraught wife who is at home with their two sons watching a big soccer match on TV, Hardy takes on a collection of genuine personalities with each conversation. Some of the most compelling dialogue Hardy delivers is when he looks into his rearview mirror and speaks to his imaginary father, which gives audiences a sense of the deeper reasons Ivan has decided to abandon one responsibility for the other. It’s a tough choice and Knight sets up the conversational narrative effortlessly. While the 85-minute film takes place entirely in one car and in one position, the intense nature of the exchanges between Ivan and each person in his life feel like they are always surging forward. Not only is this real-time film experiment suspenseful, especially for a storyline that has its main actor sitting in the same spot for the duration, the more complex themes and metaphors Knight uses to explain how fragile life really is never feel overworked or superficial.

While there are a few spots where “Locke” may feel a bit tedious to some moviegoers (if you can sit through Robert Redford doing absolutely nothing in “All is Lost,” however, you can sit through this), Hardy’s wonderful portrayal of a logical man who is about to lose everything that is important to him is the reason stay for the entire car ride. It’s easily one of the best performances of his career.