Pixar’s brilliant romp through human psychology (honestly, they cover more in this movie than my freshman psych course did), Inside Out, is another feather in the cap for the studio’s most accomplished director at this point: Pete Docter. The film won a much deserved Best Animated Feature Oscar last year. It’s not as funny a film as some of the Pixar classics, but it is endlessly imaginative and at times packs as big an emotional punch as any film in Pixar’s canon. The number of people who have told me that Bing Bong messed them up for days is stunning. That’s not to say that the film isn’t hilarious in parts while exploring human thought processes. The pinnacle of the look inside our minds is the dinner scene in which Riley’s parents do a pretty fine job of exemplifying the difference between how the genders think in a three-and-a-half minute sequence. It doesn’t just work for Inside Out, though. I found this brilliant smash-up of the dinner scene with Walter, Jesse, and Skylar from Breaking Bad cut together with the same mind processes and it’s just as good and just as funny. Pixar recently announced that the sequelizing of their previous films (with Cars 3, Toy Story 4, and Incredibles 2 on the horizon) will end and they’ll be back to making original features. That’s good news for all movie fans, because when they’re on, Pixar pushes the bound of imagination like no other studio can.
Something happened to Pixar post-Toy Story 3…..it became just another animation studio. Whereas (with the exception of the abomination that was Cars 2) Pixar has been cranking out some of the best animated films ever created since 1995’s original Toy Story, the last few years have been just…good. But good isn’t good when great is the expectation, and ever since I heard the concept for Pete Docter’s (Monsters Inc, Up) film, I’ve been longing to see Inside Out. Docter does not disappoint and delivers Pixar’s most imaginative triumph to date. I’m not saying Inside Out is Pixar’s best film, but I can’t think of any other title in their catalog that has so many literally mind-blowing ideas stuffed into one movie. Continue reading My Favorite Scene: Inside Out (2015) “Family Dinner – Inside and Out”
Sunday night, Spotlight was named Best Picture of 2015 by the Academy, and I’m still blown away. It’s not often that the best picture is actually the best picture nominated. The film is powerful and well-done. It’s a story of journalistic investigation that can only be compared on film to All the President’s Men (click here for my review of Spotlight). The investigation into the Catholic Chuch priest abuse scandal could have been easily exploitative or anti-Christian, and the film is neither. It simply lays the facts out of a systematic, institutionalized streak of sin (no other word for it) in what is supposed to be a place of joy, comfort, solace and safety.
The most powerful scene, and I don’t think this will in any way ruin it for those who haven’t seen it, is the last one. After the publication of Spotlight’s investigation, The Boston Globe was anticipating picketers, crowds and a tsunami of calls to the front desk. The scene picks up with Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo arriving at the Globe’s offices and finishes with a gut punch that left everyone in my theater (including myself) dumbstruck.
Michael Keaton and director Tom McCarthy with the real Spotlight team.
So let’s talk about race. You can’t talk about Straight Outta Compton without talking about race, because that’s the issue that drove the music that drove the controversy that is still driving a dialogue today. Spike Lee isn’t organizing a boycott of the Oscars because Will Smith didn’t get nominated for Concussion. It’s happening because Straight Outta Compton, one of the best-reviewed films of the year, was all but ignored when handing out nominations. Should it have been nominated for Best Picture? The Academy had two slots it could have used, but didn’t. It’s one of the strongest years for film in a decade, so is there a real snub in F. Gary Gray’s biopic of the rap group, NWA, not being a bigger part of the Oscars? After seeing it, I have to say, yes. This is a better film, a more compelling film, than at least two of the films the Academy chose to nominate for Best Picture. I could also list several others that are better than both those films and this, but I can see the reason for the anger. It’s a mirror of the anger that the film chronicles. Continue reading Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton (2015) *Incendiary Music Biopic*
There’s little doubt that The Revenant is the odds-on favorite to capture 2016’s Best Picture Oscar (likely Director and Actor, as well). Director Alejandro Inarritu’s take on the Western is unlike any film ever seen in the genre. It’s stark, unsparingly brutal, unspeakably beautiful, impeccably acted, and is Inarritu’s finest direction to date. In a film as stacked with perfect to near-perfect films, this one is the latter, but in any other year I would have no problem with it Best Picture (it’s actually #11 on my list; that’s how strong this year is).
Continue reading Movie Review: The Revenant (2015) “Innaritu Makes an Unforgettable Western All His Own”
Both the Washington DC and Los Angeles Film Critics Associations have named Spotlight the Best Picture of 2015, and – I have to tell you – after having just watched it, I think this is your Oscar-winner, as well. 2015’s fall has been the best fall for movies (even with Spectre and Hunger Games falling flat) that I can ever recall. Spotlight is an “important” film that is actually important. Spotlight tells the story of the 2001-2002 investigation by the Boston Globe into allegations of child abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston archdiocese. Powerful, heartbreaking, balanced, non-exploitative, Spotlight is on par with All the President’s Men in showing journalism at its best and humanity at its worst. Continue reading Movie Review: Spotlight (2015) *Heart-wrenching, Important Cinema*