My View: The Disaster Artist (2017) R Greg Sestero (Dave Franco) meets Tommy Wiseau (James Franco) in an acting class, and the two decide to make a movie. The movie they make together is The Room, considered one of the worst films of all time. I see a lot of bad movies, especially at film festivals, but I always remember that the movie that I hated was someones passion project, probably taking years of their life to bring it to the screen. That’s one of the messages of The Disaster Artist, while Tommy Wiseau created one of the worst movies of all time, it was his creative life up on the screen. The film is a comedy, but like a lot of good comedies, it has some serious moments that move you. James Franco gives an unbelievable performance mimicking Wiseau perfectly, playing a character that is oblivious to how bad an actor/writer that he is. This is a film that does, rightly so, make fun of a man who lives in his own world, literally, he believes he lives in ‘Tommy’s World,’ but it also knows that this man is someone who has feelings and is extremely isolated until Greg enters his life. This film is a fun ride from beginning to end, but it also has heart and that makes it stand out from the crowd, much like Tommy Wiseau does in real life. Be sure that you stay through all the credits for an incredible bonus scene. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again The Disaster Artist Website
My View: The Shape of Water (2017) R An other-worldly fairy tale set against the backdrop of the Cold War era America in 1962. In a hidden high-security government laboratory Elisa (Sally Hawkins) discovers a secret classified experiment that will change her world. This is an enchanting and fascinating film about a budding though strange romance and the man who wants to kill it (literally). Sally Hawkins is charming as Elisa, the mute cleaning lady who is desperate for love and is willing to do anything to get it. Hawkins gives Elisa a unique view of the world, and with the help of a neighbor, played by the soulful Richard Jenkins and a co-worker, played by the spunky Octavia Spencer, they take on one of the evilest villains in the history of cinema, Richard Strickland, played by Michael Shannon. Shannon’s Strickland is malicious, violent, and uncaring how he gets the job done, just that it is done. This is a gorgeous film and the cinematography creates precisely the right mood for each scene. This is a highly creative and imaginative fairy tale that will astound you in every scene. My Rating: I Would Pay to See it Again
My View: Darkest Hour (2017) PG-13 During the early day of World War II, the fate of Western Europe was being threatened by the Nazi war machine. Newly appointed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must decide to either make a stand or negotiate a truce that will surely break his country. Gary Oldman gives a dominant performance as Churchill, letting us see the man behind all the bluff, bluster and elegant words. The film lets us see that many thought Churchill would fail at the job and the man himself had doubts that he was up to the task. The legendary makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji did the prosthetic makeup to turn Oldman into Winston Churchill and it’s so good that I forgot it was Oldman in the part. Oldman is the reason to see this film and his portrayal is mesmerizing and a sure Oscar nomination. My favorite scene in the movie is when Churchill is full of doubt about if he should start terms to give up the war with Germany. He rides the London Underground rail and talks to the people of England, all of which tell him that England should never give up. It’s a wonderful film about a very dark time in England’s history and the man that pulled them out of that darkness. My Rating: Full Price
Indiefest: Tom of Finland (2017) Touko Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) returns home to Finland after serving in World War II. He makes a name for himself with his homoerotic drawings that bring him trouble both from his sister and the Finnish society. It’s hard to explain how important Tom of Finland (he signed his drawings with just Tom but an America publisher gave him the ‘of Finland’) was to the gay culture of the 50’s and 60’s. It was a time in Europe where gays were hunted down by the police, where even two men holding hands would cause a ruckus. Touko kept his drawings hidden for a long time, worried he would be jailed for them if discovered. The film is a little slow but Pekka Strang’s performance keeps the film moving along. It’s a hard film to watch because there was so much pain and hurt in Touko’s life, but it’s an interesting look at a man whom I knew nothing about. Just a bit of a warning, Touko's drawings can be very sexually graphic. My Take: Bargain Matinee
Forgotten Film: American Movie (1999) R Documentary about Mark Borchardt, a Milwaukee resident who for the past three years has been trying to finish his short horror film. Will he overcome his demons (alcohol, gambling, a family he doesn’t always get along with) and finally complete his film? This is an immensely funny but also touching film, where you root for Mark almost right from the start. You will fall in love with Mark and his band of merry filmmakers. My Take: Full Price
Weird Credits: From the credits of The Shape of Water: Sign Language Coach
Coming Soon to a Theatre Near You: The Greatest Showman (2017) PG P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) loses his job and decides to create the most amazing show that you have ever seen, a show soon to be called ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.’ With a cast that includes Zac Efron, Michelle Williams and Zendaya, and a musical score by the people that brought us La La Land, I think this could be a magical film.
Until Next Time!
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