Review: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

Dark times. The Resistance is hanging by a thread. The loss of the Republic has General Leia’s band of fighters in a corner and with limited resources and allies beyond reach, hope is dwindling.

Despite the destruction of Starkiller Base, the First Order is poised to seize military control of the galaxy and they are hot on the Resistance’s heels ready to snuff them out. General Leia’s last hope is the return of her brother, Luke Skywalker, the Last Jedi, to spark hope renewed and unite the galaxy against Snoke’s tyrannical rule.

Rey finally meets the legendary Jedi Master face-to-face, resolute to urge him back into the fight but her first encounter with Skywalker results in a door slammed in her face. Rey must convince Luke that the Jedi are not meant to die out; Luke and the Jedi Order are needed in the galaxy now more than ever.

I’ve waited so long for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. I went into the theater with a clear and serious mind, free of expectation ready to take whatever writer/director Rian Johnson threw at me. This was hands down, the best Star Wars movie I’ve ever seen!

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Image by LucasFilm

Johnson promised to take this franchise in a direction that has never been explored, used techniques that have never been seen, turn the franchise to a very dark and somber place while still retaining the delight and wonders a galaxy far, far away had to offer and Johnson hit a grand slam! (Most of) The questions I had after watching The Force Awakens, were answered in this film, we saw the young trope of characters including Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Kylo Ren take their own journeys to become characters to take over for the old guard of Luke, Leia, Chewbacca, Han Solo, some of the events that took place in the film stretched credulity but it’s Star Wars! This franchise was built on stretching the imagination and showing audiences the world over ideas and concepts that have never been seen before! I was immersed in everything this film had to show me and it was an emotional ride!

After seeing this film, my excitement for Rian Johnson’s standalone Star Wars trilogy was not only reinvigorated but heightened! Disney and LucasFilm assuredly put their faith in the right man, regardless of what he intends to do with these movies. He did a stupendous job writing and directing The Last Jedi!

We saw the characters of Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Joonas Suotamo, Jimmy Vee evolve to become stronger, more anchoring figures in the Star Wars franchise, essentially carrying the torch that was passed down to them from Mark Hamill, the late Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels, James Earl Jones and so on, and players such as Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Frank Oz and Lupita Nyong’o make their mark on this franchise, the performances in total were very good.

The visual effects were outstanding, John Williams’ score and composition for this movie? What more can I say about Williams’ legendary career and the mark he has made on these films? Steve Yedlin’s cinematography was awesome, Bob Ducsay’s editing did a grand job at piecing this film together although, it did feel elongated in the final act, Rich Heinrichs’ production design was gorgeous, the art direction was superb and the set decoration courtesy of Richard Roberts was on point, Michael Kaplan’s costume design and the makeup department did a superb job!

Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi was a remarkable achievement. It put your emotions through the ringer, it messed with your mind in parts, it answered some questions, it was an amazing adventure, it allowed audiences to say goodbye to Carrie Fisher, it brought hope to the future and if the opportunity presented itself, I would see it again just for the sheer pleasure of it all!

Now, the ball is back in J.J. Abrams’ court. How, oh how is he going to bring this new trilogy full circle with Episode IX?🤔

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The Nominees for the 75th Annual Golden Globes Are:

Golden-Globe

Image by HFPA

This morning, the entertainment industry woke up to a buzz as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association declared their highest prize for the biggest accomplishments in film and television. The Golden Year for the Golden Globes is upon us as the nominees for the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards have been revealed. The nominees for the film categories are:

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • A Fantastic Woman
  • First They Killed My Father
  • In the Fade
  • Loveless
  • The Square

Best Original Song:

  • “Home”-Ferdinand
  • “Mighty River”-Mudbound
  • “Remember Me”-Coco
  • “The Star”-The Star
  • “This is Me”-The Greatest Showman

Best Original Score:

  • Carter Burwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
  • Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
  • John Williams, The Post
  • Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Screenplay:

  • Guillermo Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Liz Hannah & Josh Singer, The Post
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game

Best Animated Feature:

  • The Boss Baby
  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Ferdinand
  • Loving Vincent

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Arnie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Christopher Plummer, All The Money in the World
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Hong Chau, Downsizing
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Performance by an Actress (Musical or Comedy):

  • Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
  • Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes

Best Performance by an Actor (Musical or Comedy):

  • Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
  • Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver
  • James Franco, The Disaster Artist
  • Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Best Performance by an Actress (Drama):

  • Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Meryl Streep, The Post
  • Michelle Williams, All The Money in the World

Best Performance by an Actor (Drama):

  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Tom Hanks, The Post
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
  • Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Best Director:

  • Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Ridley Scott, All The Money in the World
  • Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Picture (Musical or Comedy):

disasterartist

Image by A24 and New Line Pictures

get out

Image by Blumhouse

greatshow

Image by 20th Century Fox

tonya

Image by Clubhouse Pictures

ladybird

Image by A24

Best Picture (Drama):

cmbyn

Image by Sony Pictures Classics

dunkirk-poster

Image by Warner Bros. and Syncopy

thepost

Image by 20th Century Fox & DreamWorks Pictures

tsow

Image by Fox Searchlight

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Image by Fox Searchlight

You can click here to see the full list of nominees for the Golden Anniversary for the Golden Globes! The festivities kick off on January 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM in Beverley Hills. Seth Meyers will be the Master of Ceremonies and my personal predictions will be up in the next few weeks. We are well on our way into Awards Seasons ladies and gents! 😆

Movie of the Week: Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

My most anticipated film of the year arrives in theaters this week and all I can do to contain my excitement is breathe. Just breathe. The First Order and the Resistance have sustained heavy losses in the aftermath of The Force Awakens but Rey has gained a major victory. The scavenger from Jakku has taken her first steps into a larger world and she is on her way to continue down her path, which leads her to the mythic Luke Skywalker himself. The battle between the light and darkness wages on and Rey must pull Luke out of the shadows and into the light, both figuratively and literally. This is the movie the entire galaxy has waited for. This is Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

Director: Rian Johnson

Written by: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, Carrie Fisher, Gwendoline Christie, Domhnall Gleeson, Benecio Del Toro, Laura Dern, Kelly Marie Tran, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Jimmy Vee and Lupita Nyong’o.

What am I expecting to see?: Where to start? The Star Wars franchise holds a significant and special place in my heart but writer/director Rian Johnson promises that this film will forever change everything we think we know about Star Wars and take the franchise in a direction that has never been ventured before. I don’t even know if I’m ready for what’s coming but I am certain that whatever will come, The Last Jedi will shake me to the core.

Review: The Disaster Artist

Gather round! Gather round! For a tale must be told about an uncommon thespian who made a film that was certainly “bold”.

Once upon the 1990s, an aspiring actor named Greg was working through a wall, trying to break through to his own talent. Greg’s efforts yield unsuccessful fruit and he finds himself lost until another aspiring performer with an uncommon skillset and a fearless attitude lays it all on the stage!

Greg meets an enigmatic and unconventional character named Tommy, they become friends, they bond over their dream to make it big, move from San Francisco to LA, but it isn’t until every door is slammed in their faces when they conjure up the idea of making their own film. The confines of Tommy’s imagination produces the idea of a film called The Room, the film is somehow put into production and the rest as they say is history. The Disaster Artist is a film that explores the origins and the production of The Room.

Actually, I should say that The Disaster Artist is a love letter to the “unforgettable” Tommy Wiseau and his labor of love of a film that would eventually become a cult classic. It’s also a movie that praises the ideal of following your dreams and never giving up that is also very funny, deep, resonating and delectable from start to finish.

James Franco behind the lens, has crafted a film that is just impossible to look away from. In front of the camera, his immersion into the mind and skin of Tommy Wiseau is utterly magnificent; Franco went to great lengths for his film to pay homage to the people and events that made The Room possible and whenever he is on screen, he is absolutely owning his performance, which not only ranks as one of the best performances of the year but also the best of his entire career!

Credit must also be given to writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. They certainly take great care in adapting Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell’s book and turning into one of the year’s most entertaining and excellently written films.

The cast certainly has a ball in this movie! Dave Franco is excellent as Greg Sestero, Seth Rogen, Jacki Weaver, Ari Graynor, Allison Brie, Paul Scheer, Zac Efron, Josh Hutcherson, Megan Mullally, Jason Mantzoukas, Sharon Stone, Hannibal Burress, Melanie Griffith, Bob Odenkirk are all solid and the surprising appearances of Kevin Smith, Keegan Michael-Key, Ike Barinholtz, Kristen Bell, Danny McBride, J.J. Abrams, Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Judd Apatow, Zach Braff, Bryan Cranston; I think the appreciation for The Room really brought in a lot of star power and the enthusiasm of this cast certainly shined through.

Brandon Trost’s cinematography is great, Stacey Schroeder’s editing is crisp and coherent, Dave Porter’s music is excellent, Chris L. Spellman’s production design is fantastic, Rachel Rockstroh’s art direction is good, Susan Lynch’s set decoration is superb, Brenda Abbandandolo’s costumes were on point, the makeup team did an excellent job and overall the quality of this production truly wanted to go for authenticity and I think they nailed it!

The Disaster Artist was probably the most fun I had in a movie theater since Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2! Bravo to James Franco, who put nothing but love and dedication into every facet of his responsibilities as director and star of this picture which pays homage to a cult classic and the men who made it.

Rejoice! The Critics Choice Nominations Are Here!

CRITICS-CHOICE-MOVIE-AWARDS

Image by BFCA

I completely missed the announcements but what a wonderful treat to learn that they are here for all of us to see! The 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards are upon us and the Broadcast Film Critics Association has declared who they considered to be the best of the best films of 2017. Let’s take a look at the nominees, shall we?

Best Young Actor/Actress:

  • McKenna Grace, Gifted
  • Dafne Keen, Logan
  • Brooklynn Kimberly Prince, The Florida Project
  • Millicent Simmonds, Wonderstruck
  • Jacob Tremblay, Wonder

Best Acting Ensemble:

  • Dunkirk
  • Lady Bird
  • Mudbound
  • The Post
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Animated Feature:

  • The Breadwinner
  • Coco
  • Despicable Me 3
  • The LEGO Batman Movie
  • Loving Vincent

Best Visual Effects:

  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Dunkirk
  • The Shape of Water
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • Wonder Woman

Best Score:

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Shape of Water
  • Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
  • Dario Marianelli, Darkest Hour
  • Benjamin Wallfisch & Hans Zimmer, Blade Runner 2049
  • John Williams, The Post
  • Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk

Best Song:

  • “Evermore”, Beauty & The Beast
  • “Mystery of Love”, Call Me By Your Name
  • “Remember Me”, Coco
  • “Stand Up for Something”, Marshall
  • “This is Me”, The Greatest Showman

Best Foreign Language Film:

  • BPM
  • A Fantastic Woman
  • First They Killed My Father
  • In the Fade
  • The Square
  • Thelma

Best Costume Design:

  • Renée April, Blade Runner 2049
  • Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread
  • Jacqueline Durran, Beauty & The Beast
  • Lindy Hemming, Wonder Woman
  • Luis Sequeira, The Shape of Water

Best Editing:

  • Michael Kahn & Sarah Broshar, The Post
  • Paul Machliss & Jonathan Amos, Baby Driver
  • Lee Smith, Dunkirk
  • Joe Walker, Blade Runner 2049
  • Sidney Wolinsky, The Shape of Water

Best Production Design:

  • The Shape of Water
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Dunkirk
  • Blade Runner 2049
  • Beauty & The Beast
  • Phantom Thread

Best Cinematography:

  • Roger Deakins, Blade Runner 2049
  • Hoyte van Hoytema, Dunkirk
  • Dan Lausten, The Shape of Water
  • Rachel Morrison, Mudbound
  • Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name

Best Original Screenplay:

  • Guillermo Del Toro & Vanessa Taylor, The Shape of Water
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
  • Liz Hannah & Josh Singer, The Post
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out

Best Adapted Screenplay:

  • James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
  • Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, The Disaster Artist
  • Dee Rees & Virgil Williams, Mudbound
  • Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game
  • Jack Thorne, Steve Conrad & Stephen Chbosky, Wonder

Best Supporting Actress:

  • Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
  • Hong Chau, Downsizing
  • Tiffany Haddish, Girl’s Trip
  • Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
  • Allison Janney, I, Tonya
  • Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
  • Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Best Supporting Actor:

  • Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
  • Arnie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name
  • Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
  • Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Patrick Stewart, Logan
  • Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name

Best Actress:

  • Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
  • Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
  • Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
  • Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
  • Meryl Streep, The Post

Best Actor:

  • Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
  • James Franco, The Disaster Artist
  • Jake Gyllenhaal, Stronger
  • Tom Hanks, The Post
  • Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
  • Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour

Best Director:

  • Guillermo Del Toro, The Shape of Water
  • Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
  • Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  • Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
  • Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name
  • Jordan Peele, Get Out
  • Steven Spielberg, The Post

Best Picture:

  • The Big Sick
  • Call Me By Your Name
  • Darkest Hour
  • Dunkirk
  • The Florida Project
  • Get Out
  • Lady Bird
  • The Post
  • The Shape of Water
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The full list of nominees can be found right here! The 23rd Annual Critics Choice Awards will be televised on The CW Network on January 11, 2018 at 8:00. My personal predictions should be posted before then so stay tuned. So exciting!

Review: Darkest Hour

It is May 1940. Adolf Hitler and his tyrannical Nazi empire are rolling through Europe conquering everything in their path. France is poised to fall and the United Kingdom may follow suit if the French fall to Hitler’s forces. Parliament has lost faith in their Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, calling for his resignation, which he is obligated to deliver. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is ready to back Viscount Hallifax as the next Prime Minister but Hallifax himself is not onboard with the idea, so the alternative is a figure with an atrocious war record named Winston Churchill and the rest as they say is history.

Darkest Hour chronicles, the first month of Churchill’s tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, burdened with the task of confronting the threat of Hitler conquering Europe, wrestling with his own war party over what policy they should implement against Germany and how best to proceed.

Darkest Hour held my attention from start to finish. Director Joe Wright and writer Anthony McCarten have delivered one of the most compelling films of the year and at its heart? Gary Oldman at his most prolific!

If I had to compare Oldman’s transformation into Winston Churchill, I’d say an apt comparison would be Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance in Lincoln. Completely immersive, powerful and utterly masterful in every detail; Oldman hands down delivers one of, if not the, best acting performances of not only this year but perhaps his entire outstanding career!

I fully expect Gary Oldman to run away with every Best Actor in a Leading Role victory in the foreseeable future. He is the epitome of outstanding as Winston Churchill!

Darkest Hour could best be described as a resounding tribute to a historical figure who refused to back down in a time of crisis. I left the film with a greater sense to who Churchill was as a man and a leader; in films like Darkest Hour, if I can leave with greater understanding of what I thought I knew going in, I consider that a victory.

Also in watching this film, I made connections to other films that occurred in the same time period such as The King’s Speech and Dunkirk and found Darkest Hour to be a very fitting companion picture for the two films, especially Dunkirk, since Darkest Hour touches upon how Churchill initiated Operation Dynamo.

Oldman is certainly the star of the show but the supporting cast certainly holds their own as well. Lily James, Ben Mendelsohn, Kristen Scott Thomas, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Richard Lumsden and Samuel West are all very good in their respective roles and do their part to bring out the best in Oldman.

Bruno Delbonnel’s cinematography is solid, Dario Marianelli’s score is fine, Valerio Bonelli’s editing is rock-solid and smooth, Sarah Greenwood’s production design in superb, Nick Gottschalk, Oliver Goodier and Joe Howard’s art direction was strong, Katie Spencer’s set decoration is fine and Jacqueline Durran’s costumes were beautiful!

Darkest Hour is undoubtedly Gary Oldman’s finest hour! This movie was a riveting historical portrait into the perspective of one of the world’s most recognizable leaders in a time of crisis and his fighting spirit which would propel his country into the path of victory. A must see, if I say so myself!

Review: Call Me By Your Name

André Aciman‘s moving novel is adapted to the big screen by filmmaker Luca Guadagnino and screenwriter James Ivory. For the last few months, I’ve had my eye on and heard the very glowing whispers of Call Me By Your Name and recently I had the opportunity to witness this acclaimed feature for myself to determine whether or not it holds up to the excellent tidbits I heard and the standards I hold for myself.

It’s the summer of 1983 somewhere in Northern Italy. The family of 17 year old Elio Perlman will play host to a research assistant named Oliver, a 24 year old graduate student who is temporarily working for Elio’s father, an expert on ancient Greco-Roman culture. Oliver’s arrival spurs something of an awakening in Elio, who finds himself in the infant stages of his exploring his sexual identity and it is over the next six weeks, Elio and Oliver’s relationship slowly blossoms into something intimate and sensual.

I wanted to see if Call Me By Your Name lives up to the hype and I will be frank, it wasn’t until after the end credits, when I felt the impact of Luca Guadagnino’s picture. It is remarkably slow-paced but exquisitely captured on camera and the subject matter is rather intense. This is a rather powerful romance with two very strong performances by Arnie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet.

This was my first time sampling Guadagnino’s work as a director and he definitely gave me something to wrap my head around and follow but in retrospect, I was not lost. I was certainly mesmerized by the picturesque Italian setting and I was wondering if the plot could have been quicker, it did seem to lag for my taste, but Call Me By Your Name is a very scintillating film and the aftershock of the picture yields a very satisfying experience.

James Ivory adapted Aciman’s novel and crafted a story with serious substance. This film probably reads like a novel and leaves the audience to use their imagination as to what is happening under the surface. Ivory and Guadagnino definitely hit what I like to imagine as a high mark for what I like to see when I watch a movie.

Arnie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet are fantastic! Their on-screen chemistry is strong and when their characters’ relationship blossoms, it charges the screen, especially in the third act of the film. Frankly, I would have liked to have seen their characters wear a shirt for more than five minutes but I was very captivated by their performances and I believe audiences will be as well.

The supporting cast, including Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel, Victoire Du Bois, Vanda Capriolo, Peter Spears and Antonio Rimoldi, all fine players. We don’t see them on screen a lot, much of the film focuses on Chalamet and/or Chalamet and Hammer, but they do fine.

Sayombhu Mukdeeprom’s cinematography is simple but very stunning, Walter Fasano’s editing is very cohesive, Samuel Deshors production design is amazing, Roberta Federico’s art direction is superb, the set decoration team of Muriel Chinal, Sandro Piccarozzi and Violante Visconti di Modrone did a fine job and the costumes of Giulia Piersanti were fine.

Call Me By Your Name was one of the most stimulating experiences I had at the movies so far this year. I went in wondering if it lived up to the hype and acclaim it has been getting for the last few months and despite the fact that it moves rather slowly, it does. It is a beautiful picture.