I’ve been seeing a deluge of posts online about how great Hidden Figures is. I like the movie, but it’s by no means as terrific as people say, in my opinion. Yes, it’s a good thing that this story has come to the surface, giving due recognition to these important people. But…
Full disclosure: I’m not black.
However, I do believe the film trivializes the African-American experience in the 1960s. There are nearly no hurdles for the women in the film to overcome. How can that be? They’re black in the 1960s South! Every obstacle is cleared in the same scene in which it’s presented. Three examples (minor spoilers ahead):
As the 53rd New York Film Festival wrapped with Closing Night selection Miles Ahead, a bio-drama on “social music” (don’t call it jazz) legend Miles Davis, starring and helmed by Don Cheadle in his directorial debut, it’s time to look back on some of the Festival’s best offerings.
BRIDGE OF SPIES
In Steven Spielberg’s Cold War-era drama, Tom Hanks plays a Brooklyn insurance lawyer who must broker a sensitive prisoner exchange with the USSR. Once again, Spielberg proves he’s at the top of his craft. Hanks turns in a solid performance, but it’s supporting player Mark Rylance who steals his scenes as a Soviet spy with his too-cool-it’s-unnerving performance.
Haunting. There’s perhaps no better word to describe the true story of DuPont chemicals heir John E. du Pont and his curious relationship with Olympic champion wrestlers, brothers Mark and David Schultz. In filmmaker Bennett Miller’s third feature, Steve Carell plays against type (superbly) to embody the eccentric—if not mildly psychopathic—du Pont in this 1980s-set true story. To call Foxcatchera “sports movie” is providing it a disservice. Yes, wrestling provides more than just a backdrop for the narrative, but the most compelling aspect of the two-hour-plus drama is the character study it provides, especially among the three leads. These include du Pont, a man who’s perhaps never heard the word no in his life, striving to gain his mother’s approval; Mark (Channing Tatum), a man, who despite his champion status, struggles to step out of his older brother’s shadow; and David (Mark Ruffalo), a family man who must balance what’s best for his wife and children with his brotherly duties.
Who would have thought the year’s greatest thriller would be a documentary? In the days following Citizenfour’s world premiere at the New York Film Festival last Friday, various news and entertainment outlets have been lauding filmmaker Laura Poitras’s achievement, and rightfully so. Of all the films this reviewer screened at the 52nd New York Film Festival, none has left an impact quite as deep as Citizenfour.
Set in the breathtaking Swiss Alps, veteran actress Maria Enders (Juliette Binoche) prepares to star in the revival of a play that made her famous many years earlier. The role that catapulted her into stardom, that of Sigrid, a savvy vixen who engages in a power struggle with her older boss, Helena, will be played by troubled “it girl” Jo-Ann Ellis (a mesmerizing Chloë Grace Moretz). Enders will be taking on the role of Helena, one that she is not mentally prepared to play. With the help of her loyal assistant, Valentine (Kristen Stewart), Maria reluctantly faces the challenge head on, and in the process must come to grips with themes of aging—both in terms of the play and in her own life.
Series: Main Slate (World Premiere, Centerpiece Film)
Movies like this make me feel stupid. I should have known better. Paul Thomas Anderson has made a career on inaccessible, heady, and masturbatory films. No doubt, his work is nothing if not polarizing, but it’s always superbly crafted and will inevitably find its cheerleaders.Inherent Vice is no different. Mind you, it’s not that I don’t have a penchant for deeper, thought-provoking fare. I do. But Anderson has a tendency of dialing it up to eleven. (Before moving forward, I feel compelled to express that I usually make a point never to write reviews in the first person, but with this particular film, I find it difficult writing otherwise, simply because I admit to not understanding what this movie is about, so I’ll tell you how it made me feel.)
Exotic locations. Defined characters. Sharp wit. It’s what you come to expect from the venerable, and oh so prolific Woody Allen. And it’s what you’ll come to find in his latest offering, Magic in the Moonlight. In short, if you hate Woody Allen, you’ll hate this film. But on the other hand, if you love this cinematic mastermind, you’ll be as enamored and enchanted by Magic as this reviewer was.
This is the one movie from the past three years that I’m still tweeting about. It’s rare these days that a film comes along and etches its mark in your mind quite the way Another Earth did to me. Stitched together using bubble gum and string (and green fabric and googly eyes—really), this super low-budget indie darling launched the careers of star and co-writer Brit Marling (Arbitrage, 2012) and writer/director Mike Cahill (I Origins, 2014). Believing that it would be near impossible for two unknowns to attract funding in order to make their film, Cahill and Marling took matters into their own hands. The two Georgetown alumni shot the film in Southern Connecticut with a tiny crew, ultimately earning it a place in Sundance’s 2011 official selection, where it won a Special Jury Prize and the Alfred P. Sloan Prize, which is awarded to a film that focuses on science or technology as a theme. It was distributed later that year by Fox Searchlight.
Man of Steel. Star Trek into Darkness. World War Z. These are the movies we won’t be talking about in this summer movie feature. For the fourth year, Limité is taking a look beyond the standard blockbuster studio fare to bring you some of the most-anticipated independent films with a summer release date. Proving that a $100 million budget is not a necessity—and is often a hindrance—to deliver a powerful story, these 10 films masterfully transform a small budget into a big punch.
1. FRUITVALE STATION
by Daniel Quitério
January 1, 2009. Oakland, CA. Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old black male, was caught in a physical altercation on a train a mere two hours after celebrating the passing of the new year with his friends. Held at the Fruitvale BART station by the police, an agitated Oscar was restrained by the officers, held with his face against the ground. One officer then pulled out his gun and shot the unarmed Oscar in the back, ultimately ending his life. (The officer claims he was reaching for his stun gun.) Fruitvale Station tells the true story of Oscar’s last day alive. A conflicted young father, he was just trying to get by, and although he didn’t always make the soundest choices, he was loved dearly by his family and friends—none of whom believed he deserved his ultimate fate.
It’s not often that I watch a movie and feel compelled to write about it (unless I have to)—that is, write beyond the 140 characters allowed by Twitter. But I recently watched Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pinesand instantly knew that I had to get the word out. Without knowing much about the film, I knew I wanted to see it (despite a trailer that did not interest me) for two reasons: 1. It’s Derek Cianfrance, and I LOVE Blue Valentine (which topped my annual Top 20 list in 2011), and 2. It stars Ryan Gosling, who, in my opinion, is one of the most talented actors alive today. Now, I watch a lot of movies. A LOT. And it’s hard to come by a truly great film nowadays that can compete with the purity and heart of those from the Golden Age of cinema. So rest assured that I am not half-heartedly slinging around superlatives when I say that The Place Beyond the Pines is one of my all-time favorite movies.