FAREWELL (2019)

A film by  Lulu Wang

Cast:  Shuzhen Zhao, Awkwafina, X Mayo 

When they learn that Nai Nai, their beloved grandmother and mother, is suffering from an incurable disease, her relatives, according to Chinese tradition, decide to hide the truth from her. They then use his grandson’s wedding as a pretext for a family reunion to share together her last moments of happiness. For her granddaughter, Billi, born in China but raised in the United States, lies are harder to respect. But it is also a chance for her to rediscover her origins, and the intensity of the ties that bind her to her grandmother.

The Farewell announces at the beginning that the story is based on an actual lie. For Lulu Wang is a personal film and a powerful one. The crisis was actually Wang’s crisis when she actually found out that her grand mother was dying of cancer. The family in China does not tell her grand mother that she is dying it is up to the family to spare her from the fear and to protect her so they plan a grand wedding of her grand son so all the family will be there one last time to see her. However when Billi finds out by her parents that her grand mother has terminal cancer she wants to go with her parents to china to see her but they don’t think it is a good idea because Billi can’t hide her emotions. Imagine their surprise when she shows up at her grand mother’s apartment.

Billi is shock that the family does not to tell her the truth, she is having a hard time with it. On the other hand the family has not problem with it due to the fact it is a tradition of sort. Wang here explore cultural differences between China and the United States without judgment. it is a kind hearted and delicate film, she makes you fell part of the family. It is all there the usual suspects at the wedding, the photo shoot, the dances, the guests who are a little drunk well you get the picture. She avoids the clichés to make this light bearded film. Great performances from this actors, a superb ensemble cast. Of course there is the perfect ending. A great film not to be missed.

A HIDDEN LIFE (2019)

A film by Terrence Malick

Cast:  Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Nyqvist, August Diehl 

Inspired by real facts.Franz Jägerstätter, an Austrian peasant, refuses to fight alongside the Nazis. Found guilty of treason by the Hitler regime, he is sentenced to death. But carried by his unshakable faith and love for his wife, Fani, and his children, Franz remains a free man. A hidden life tells the story of these unsung heroes.

Here Jagerstatter is portrayed as an unblemished 20th-century saint. Is the matter of fact that the catholic church Jagerstatter was beatified by the Catholic Church in 2007. It is a different kind of war movie, it is beautiful to look at with some near perfect postcard photography. In the Austrian Alps where Franz (August Diehl) and his wife Fani (Valerie Pachner) live with their three children in this little beautiful village. The music is flowing and you will see the perfect picture happy family. It is all very good until the war comes in . Franz goes into basic training for a while and comes back to farming soon after. But the people in the village are starting to change and have Hitler fever. Franz however is going against it, war is wrong. Resisting to the Nazis the villagers calls him a sinner, start to spit at his wife with their dirty look even throwing things at her. In 1943 Franz is called up for military service, once there he refuse to take the required oath of fealty to Hitler and yes he is locked up. The film takes off where Franz is still free by thinking of his wife and children of the love he has for them. Here is a beautiful war movie with a love story told by Malick.

MOTHERLESS BROOKLYN (2019)

A film by  Edward Norton

Cast:  Edward Norton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alec Baldwin, Willem Dafoe, Bruce Willis

New York in the 1950s. Lionel Essrog, private detective suffering from Tourette syndrome, investigating the murder of his mentor and only friend Frank Minna. Thanks to the rare clues in his possession and his obsessive mind, he discovers secrets whose revelation could have consequences on the city of New York … From jazz clubs from Harlem to the slums of Brooklyn, to the upscale neighborhoods of Manhattan, Lionel will face the most powerful man in the city to save the honor of his missing friend. And perhaps also the woman who will assure him his salvation …

Based on the Novel from  Jonathan Lethem, Ed Norton took on the adaptation , directing , acting and producing this film. It took 20 years to be able to lift off this project. Here Lionel played by Norton is a character with Tourette syndrome where he is going to investigate the murder of his boss who was on something big. The story takes place in the 50’s. Moses Randolph, (Alec Baldwin) is a builder and will crush anyone who gets on his way. Randolph wants to displace a neighborhood mostly where black people lives, to put hospital and new houses. Here comes in the picture Laurie Rose ( Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who is political activist  helping African-Americans resist displacement. Lionel has colleagues who were in the orphanage with him. Norton here was able to play this character with skills . He also make the choice to make it a film noir like the old days. Here is a man who plans to rebuild New York his way but has a secret that he wants buried. Alec Baldwin here shines as well playing this politician who is hungry for power but is a racist, he did have to look to much further for research as he played Trump on many occasions in Saturday Night live. The film is a smart slow burner but to me is a little too long.

FORD V. FERRARI (2019)

A film by  James Mangold

Cast:  Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Jon Bernthal 

Based on a true story, the film follows a team of eccentric American engineers led by the visionary Carroll Shelby and his British driver Ken Miles, who are sent by Henry Ford II to build from scratch a new automobile that will dethrone the Ferrari at the 1966 Le Mans competition.

Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), is a champion racer whose hypertension forces him to retirement. After hanging up his gloves and his helmet, Shelby goes into car sales with a sideline in modification and design, and he also manages some racers, including the eccentric Ken Miles, played by Christian Bale. Ford was not too crazy to have Miles on board which created some friction there but Shelby insisted that Miles was the best man for the job. It is the story of those two Miles and Shelby who are going to be friends and the struggle that Shelby had to endure to have Miles stay as Ford’s driver. Great camera work here where Mangold put you in the driver seat. It is you basic story which will be a bit predictable but who cares you are going to have a good time watching this. And don’t get me wrong Ferrari even back in the day and now is a hell of a car. . It is a fine machine that drives like a dream.

BIGGER THAN LIFE (1956)

A film by Nicholas Ray

Cast: James Mason, Barbara Rush, Walter Matthau

A  sick schoolteacher becomes dependent on this  drug  called cortisone that begins to affect his sanity.

At the time this film caused a big splash because of this new drug that was on the market.  It is about this drug called cortisone and the effect that it has if taken.  Unfortunately the film was released in 1956 to a largely negative reception.

Ed Avery (Mason) is a middle class schoolteacher, who lives in a big house on a beautiful street with his wife Lou (Barbara Rush) and young son Bobby (Christopher Olsen). Plagued by mysterious recurring pain, he is prescribe cortisone but the doctor tells him to be careful with it. But soon after his friend wally (Walter Matthau) and his wife even his kid become aware of the changes of Ed. The thing is that Ed is under pressure and working two job to support his family. When he came down with this illness after taking the medicine things are getting a little bit out of hand. It does not take long that Ed’s personality is going to change. It is like he has double personality, Ed here is trying to be his old self but the drug takes control. This drug called cortisone has been  on the market since then. The doctor prescribes it even today. Keep it mind this film was made in 1956 and that 63 years later it is still on the market. And what a terrific actor is Mason in this film. the film here demonstrate the effect of the drugs if taking a little too much and the struggle with this married couple where their marriage are in the balance. A nice little drama that is worth seeing keep in mind that is a 50’s film so don’t be surprise of the ending. 

JOKER (2019)

A film by  Todd Phillips

Cast:  Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz 

The film, which tells an original story focuses on the emblematic figure of the sworn enemy of Batman. He paints the portrait of Arthur Fleck, an uncompromising man despised by society.

Little problem this film feels a little too much like Taxi Driver and the King of Comedy combine to me. it has a lot of similarities of this man who is alienated with mental issues. Ok Nice story telling here no doubt because most people love this film which have great performance from Joaquin Phoenix and even Robert de Niro. The story takes place in the 1980 in Gotham where the garbage truck strike makes big news on TV. Arthur Fleck played by Phoenix takes care of his mother. Here is a man who is broken by the system and where the world is rejecting him and in order to channel his anger is going to take it on people who has done him wrong. He meets his idol a talk show host similar than the one on the tonight show with Johnny Carson. It is dark as it is going to get. the violence is meant to shock here and it does. And yes the film belongs to Phoenix with a terrific performance.

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (2019)

A film by  Marielle Heller

Cast:  Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells 

It’s the early 1990s and Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is already well past her sell-by date. An author specializing in biographies (she once landed on the New York Times bestseller list for one she wrote about Dorothy Kilgallen, Lee is finding it difficult to find anyone interested in her work and her latest project about Fanny Brice is getting old. She has almost no friends except her flamboyantly gay best friend, Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant), whose claim to fame is having pissed in a coat closet after mistaking it for the lavatory. Here Melissa McCarthy does an exceptional performance as Lee to my surprise because her comic role were getting a bit old.

McCarthy is give a sympathetic approach humanizing  a bit her character. A woman who was a bit desperate for money because she loves to write and does not want to do anything else . She is nice to her cat but has struggle in the social circle, she is on the defensive and struggle when on the date with a bookshop owner. Lee was good with one thing forging letters and did she make her money into it. Lee adapted her writing skills into creating fake letters from famous names and selling them for hundreds of dollars to collectors . But it attracted the FBI. Grant has done an outstanding performance as well playing Lee’s gay friend and I didn’t recognized him at first I haven’t see him in a long time. The chemistry was there between the two of them and a delight to see them drinking in a gay bar joking around. overall a terrific film with a dynamic duo. By the way remember back in the day there were type writer.