What was the last film you saw and how would you rate it? Pt. 18

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Thought I'd post this here until I hear we're doing it somewhere else....

Post the name of the latest movie you've seen and your rating out of 10. 
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Sunshine Boys (t0073766) - 7/10 - loved Burns, hated Matthau.
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Jen, Champion

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Posted 3 years ago

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Kirk-Picard

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I am not your Negro 10/10

Have they started allowing users to edit the OP?
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Kirk-Picard

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Girlfriends Day - 5/10
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Kirk-Picard

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Friend request -3/10
Sleeping with other people- 4/10
Amateur Night -3/10
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Kirk-Picard

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It's been two weeks since I last saw a film
(Edited)
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leavey-2

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The Name of the Rose (1986) - 9/10 - To be rewatched every 10 years, so I'm 2 years overdue :-)
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Jen, Champion

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Have you read the book? Interesting contrast with the film.
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dgranger

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I did read the book and was blown away by it. The film, though still good, doesn’t compare to the book. I got Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum” but I never finished it because of my work schedule at the time. Lost interest.
(Edited)
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15yearsIMDber aka ElMo

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I don't know how much I'll give to Toy Story 4, but I'm already taking 1pt away, for a reason: because of its existence, we just lost what was one of the greatest endings to a movie series, the Toy Story saga won't end with that magical "So long, partner!" anymore...
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NarniaisAwesome

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Oh yes, Forky was very Olaf!  Gabby Gabby made me cry. ;)  I liked Bo, mostly because she was finally reunited with Woody and because she was voiced by Annie Potts, who I've been seeing a lot of on Designing Women reruns, lol.  But I think they were trying to make her character a bit too "awesome!"  :)
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15yearsIMDber aka ElMo

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Indeed, and we all loved Gabby because she had that vulnerability inside, and I didn't hate Bo because she was too awesome but because her awesomeness in basically everything reflected Woody's own limitations, she lived the great life but he remained faithful to his owner because that was his reason to be... that could be questioned but the film made it sound that Bo had everything to teach Woody and nothing to learn from it. I would have accepted that from any character except one who's just popped up out of nowhere. 
(Edited)
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albstein

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Man, what you write makes me realize why I couldn't be a good storyteller. I would analyze again and again what message could be taken from each action, instead of just going ahead with the story and leave open the interpretation. So Disney is on that way, apparently.

Yeah to your last paragraph. When stories try to mirror real-life (agendas) too much, they become empty. Once you understand the message, everything is finished. If they are more open thematically, even at the sake of being 'problematic' when examined closely, the impression goes deeper.
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15yearsIMDber aka ElMo

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Al, in French, they would say "too much 'message' kills the message"

I've always tried to distance myself from all these Internet malcontents who fuel their rants with words such as agendas, SJW, millennials etc. But Disney movies aren't helping, I gather that their intentions are noble but the road to hell can be paved with good intentions.

I meant it when I was talking about 'common denominator', that's what universality is about, something we can all relate to, something that transcend the barriers of gender, religion, ethnicity, sexuality... now, Disney and Hollywood in general are so obsessed with these themes that there's not a mainstream movie anymore that doesn't speak a statement about gender, ethnicity and sexuality... and the problem isn't necessarily in the message but the treatment that can be divisive.

And that's the whole irony of it, each movie now tries to tell you "things have changed" , fair enough, but since they're all with the same mindset now, they create the awkward feeling that creativity-wise, nothing is changing.

Another thing is that people should be allowed to have conservative views, but by continuously throwing messages that say "today is better than yesterday", you alienate a part of the population who could enjoy the stuff you made before, you can make movies that viewers would disagree with, but leave them enough rope to think and try to figure out a way to agree with you and I'm sorry but Disney movies should learn to be more consensual, not to rub viewers in the right direction, but to make the story the priority, not the message. A great story always has an Aesop, something to learn about life and relationships anyway.

I gather that what I said in my review was rather conservative but only in the sense that I wished the spirit of "Toy Story" to be conserved the way it was in the first 3 films, I enjoy a progressive film like anyone, but I wish Disney could do that with new characters, not with series whose arcs were perfectly closed.

But I think I see where they're coming from, they're probably preparing a spin-off prequel that will center on Bo Peep, so maybe "Toy Story 4" is only a vehicle for Bo. Ironic that in the film it was a skunk :)
(Edited)
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NarniaisAwesome

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You're very right - nothing wrong with forward-moving messages, but let's not forget the wonderful things of the past!  Yes, I think it's very easy to make a film that is sweetly in the middle, without offending anyone.  Just keep things neutral!  :)
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albstein

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It Chapter 2 (2019) 6/10. Slight spoilers ahead. Clowns are scary because they are uncanny - they resemble something we know, they have bodies and faces, but something is off. It is about an evil clown alright, but for most of the second chapter we see spidermothbabymonsters or whatever. The effects are as good as possible, but not effects can make me afraid of such stupid things if they are so grotesque and far-fetched that they can't feel real.

I was startled a good number of times, but it was all due to cheap jump scares. The effect lasts for one second and is gone, without any lasting horror. The audience actually laughed during some scenes. Just mentioning naked grandmas and creatures that resemble gollum or a giant troll doll.

The first version of It wasn't perfect but it was much more restrained. Less is really more. The new film tried to link the supernatural powers with the everyday horrors of family relationships, homophobia, bullying, etc. but the attempt pretty much fizzles out.
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albstein

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Also, sorry if the warning about "everyone will tell me about the book and new movie!"; I'm just used to that with people I talk to.  If I see a movie based on a book, the first thing outta their mouths is "Oh, the book was way better!"  I guess I've got scars.  :D

Oh, I can imagine.

From what I read on Wikipedia (spoiler if you haven't read it), in the book, It also appears in the form of a werewolf, the Frankenstein monster, and Dracula. Also, It's antithesis is a space turtle that created the universe by literally vomiting it out. So I guess that sometimes it's better to deviate from the source material, lol.
(Edited)
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NarniaisAwesome

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 It's antithesis is a space turtle that created the universe by literally vomiting it out. So I guess that sometimes it's better to deviate from the source material, lol.

Yeah, sounds like, haha!

Anywho, in the movie it felt like the thing was some kind of supernatural creature left unexplained, which is fine.  It was from the point of view of the characters, and they were just innocent bystanders witnessing it and doing what they could.  It wasn't a mystery, it was a horror.  Too much explaining would make it feel less scary.  The way I saw it, it was just an evil thing that took the form of people's fears, and since it worked through people's heads, it could only be scared away pshychologically (unless you tear out it's heart).  :)  
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albstein

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Exactly my view. Horror is like comedy in the way that if you explain it, it doesn't work anymore.
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dgranger

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What was
Issuing from the movie was that the child is father to the man or childhood experiences never really leave the adult theme of the book. The whole book turned on that point. If you had noticed that childhood traits were returning to the adults in the book. There was a whole section in the book about the image of two separate libraries buildings (adult’s and children’s) connected by a tunnel or corridor, like an umbilical cord, that gets blown up in the end.
Also what was left out of the film was that Pennywise turns out to be a female monster that laid eggs that were about to hatch. One of the final scenes is that the adults are destroying the eggs. What Stephen King himself had missed is “What if they had missed one?”
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dgranger

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That should have read as “What was
Issuing from the movie was that the child is father to the man or childhood experiences never really leave the adult theme of the book.”
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Joker (2019) - 7/10. Somewhat disappointing. (spoilers)

The trailer promised a mix of Taxi Driver and King of Comedy, and as far as premise and aesthetics are concerned, the movie delivered. Arthur Fleck is one of those desperate guys, you don't know whether he's weird because he's lonely or the other way around. Like Travis Bickle, he projects his personal failings to the outer world, which is shabby and corrupt to be fair. Like Rupert Pupkin, he aspires to be loved for his (nonexistent) charm and talents.

Unlike Travis and Rupert, Arthur does have a fully fledged backstory. His mom is delusionary; he was mistreated as a child; he grew up fatherless; he is mentally ill and takes many pills. We can see Rupert and especially Travis as mirrors of our own hidden evils, but Arthur's evils are explained as purely pathological and entirely personal. We can't really relate to him and let us be challenged by his actions. Even the brilliant idea of the sudden, unwanted, depressed laughter is insistently reduced to a medical condition.

(Note: it's not that it's hard to relate to Arthur because he is mentally ill, but because he is only mentally ill. There is not much room for a personality beyond that, and no unexplainable rest which we could fill with our own dispositions)

Yes, the movie touches upon social issues here and there but doesn't delve into much. Rich people are out of touch and greedy, poor people are sick and violent, that's to what the social "critique" amounts. There is the interesting notion that the Joker might be a vigilante, which would make his roots similar to that of his "good" foe, Batman. It is discarded quickly. One scene I did like involves Thomas Wayne, just after having insulted poor people as clowns, watching "Modern Times" in the movie theater, presumably intrigued by that poor, clown-like schmuck on the screen.

Arthur, or rather the Joker, has many followers, which we as the audience see precisely the way Thomas Wayne would: they are rioters who hate the rich. Who are they? What do they suffer from? What do they do, except for exerting random acts of violence? The movie isn't interested in all that.

At least the movie tried something radically different from most superhero movies, and I appreciate the effort. It could have amounted to more. Dark and gritty does not equal subversive.
(Edited)
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15yearsIMDber aka ElMo

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JOKER 9/10

Todd Philips’ “Joker” has spread so many comments and controversy that I don’t know exactly where to stand. The film reminded critics of Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” and while Joaquin Phoenix’ performance channeled the inner angst and alienation that drove the driver Bickle to an extreme –and bloody- corner, I found so many other sources of inspiration that if anything, “Joker” is the best tribute to the New Hollywood period.

I found “Network” in the film, “Death Wish”, references to “The King of Comedy”, Marty’s underrated movie about a man who wished to exist through the only talent he felt being endowed with... and naturally, there’s something of “A Clockwork Orange” in the obscene stylishness the Joker embraces his new persona with. In a way, that the film met with controversy is logical, you can’t make a social comment about violence and its dangerous appeal by sugarcoating it, violence like its enemies, use symbols and slogan, in fact, revolt is a mask that violence uses to operate undercover or is it the opposite? “Joker” is the slap today’s audiences needed and that it used the Joker mask in our superhero era makes it even more relevant and accessible. But truth be said, any controversy the film should stir mustn’t distract from the real deal.

Indeed, any viewer familiar with one tenth of Phoenix’ filmography knows the actor’s ability to portray enigmatic and troubled characters with a dark side barely hidden, but even with that in mind it’s impossible not to be blown away by his performance and compelled by his suffering. He shouldn’t be the dark horse of the awards season but the frontrunner because his performance is so rich, so powerful, so intense and so bizarre and grotesque in a captivating way that it’s almost like watching a movie within a movie, as if his distortable face was the operation theatre to his acting force, as if his nervous smile slowly turning into cries made a true symphony of pathos and anger. That actor is a treasure to Hollywood and here he’s given the kind of rangy performances that can’t do without earning awards. His snubbing would be controversy material if you asked me.

Now, to the film. The first act immerses us in the life of Arthur Fleck, a clown and wannabe stand-up comedian. At first, I was afraid that the manic laughter scenes would be too redundant and turn themselves to cheap gimmicks, to remind us that we’re dealing with the Joker, but no, Phoenix plays his Arthur as a man who’s not a bad person. Raised by an over-protective and sickly mother, brutalized by kids who sees in a clown a living sign saying “kick me”, humiliated by people who can’t understand his medical condition, the point isn’t to portray Joker as a martyr but a product of a specific environment and education, or lack thereof. Like anyone, he’s got dreams, projects, but he’s entrapped in a condition that makes it impossible to communicate or connect with the others except through hallucinations and would-happen moments, he’s a misfit with a fragile condition that keeps worsening until it offers a platform for his dark psyche to perform.

Does the film excuse him? No. Does it justify his actions? Hell, no. It just clarifies the need to perform that way. There’s a point of no return reached in that psychological journey, when one humiliation too many triggers a strong desire to express itself through a sort of showmanship, something relevant in our days where people seek any ways to reach posterity. Set in what seems to be the early 80s, it puts Arthur in the same urban alienation context than Travis Bickle but with a passion shared with Rupert Pumpkin’s and a “mad-as-hell” prophetic rage with Howard Beale’s role. Near the end, there’s a shot that follows one of the film’s most shocking moment and it’s an obvious nod to the anticlimactic finale of Lumet’s masterpiece. 

But I can’t insist too much on how good Phoenix his, one could see a few impersonations of Malcolm McDowell’s dance when he “punished” his fellow droogs or get vibes from the two only performances that earned a posthumous Oscar, Peter Finch and Heath Ledger, still, there’s something unique in that tormented role he inhabits with such a soul dedication that it makes Nicholon’s Joker worse than the cartoon counterpart. ,

“Joker” isn’t dangerous but brave enough to question violence in the way it seems like the only plausible answer, it might titillate a few demagogue instincts but that’s an unfair trial in the light of the recent events all over the world and that preceded the film. I walk often at night and see homeless people living in impoverished conditions, drowning their sorrows in alcohol and losing their manners once there’s nothing to lose...  and perhaps that’s leaders’ responsibility, praising democratic values while its application contradicts its own ideal. Anything is allowed when nothing is possible, is perhaps the biggest joke of all, and that it goes all downhill when the social budget is cut is perhaps the film’s boldest stance against the shift between leaders and people.

And that it used Bruce’s father Thomas Wayne to connect the final act with a canon we’re all familiar with is one of the many narrative delights of that character study and psychological thriller à la “Woman Under the Influence” where suspense doesn’t come from a bomb but a ticking bomb of a soul. If De Niro’s presence ties the plot with its chief inspirations, the film belongs to Joaquin Phoenix who gave a performance for ages, and a character who’s relevant in the way he pits democratic ideals against urban reality. And my wish is to see another connection with De Niro with Phoenix winning an Oscar, it would be the second time for a character who already won one after De Niro with “The Godfather Part II”.

 As for the glorifying violence trial... we’ve been there already.



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When I read your take on Phoenix in another thread, I wondered when you will write your review. Glad that came so quickly. Fully agree on Phoenix' performance.

Although I don't go as far as you in praise, Joker comes back to me again and again. for some reason I imagine myself put on a clown costume and dance on some stairs, all while listening to the Gary Glitter song.

It's funny, the day before my movie buddy and I went to see the movie, we were chatting about our depressed feelings, erratic paths of life, and how we fake it but don't make it. That guy had described himself as a crying clown before.

So the movie is certainly hitting a nerve, not just with the two of us, but with many people who feel so powerless and pointless. We also talked about Clockwork Orange right afterwards.

Joker has a tragic weakness that plagues origin stories but which is absent from masterpieces like Clockwork Orange: the protagonist is pathologized. Just when the social critique is about to become interesting, the movie does a full stop to tell us all about Arthur Fleck's childhood and Penny's insanity. What is the purpose of this? Isn't he "sick" enough already as a joyless meek little clown with weird antics and a hidden anger, and who is pushed around literally and figuratively by society?

I don't even know if I expected a deeper comment on the poor vs. rich issue, but this topic and Fleck's personality are devalued by the long psychological digression. Perhaps all the movie needs to be elevated to a higher status is cutting. There was one idea though that was worth exploring: the joker is called a vigilante in one scene, and there are traces of Death Wish. So what if the Joker has a similar motivation to Batman? Wouldn't that be subversive comment of the strongman fantasies that are present not only in politics but also in super"heroes"?

This is an old Hollywood routine, by the way: once a painful truth is uttered, Hollywood doesn't explore it, doesn't even want us to ponder on it, but quickly tells us something about the private evils of the villain who typically told this truth. This method is not necessarily a degradation of Arthur Fleck in Joker's case; but at least it's a distraction.

With all that being said... even with its faults, Joker is more relevant than any movie of recent years. It doesn't work better but it "stings" better.

And I don't think there is a strong violent appeal, as some critics feared. Violence is never glorious in this movie but always dirty. Arthur Fleck stays a lonely schmuck even as a TV personality, and immediately after the cheering crowds, he finds himself in an asylum cell. Even if the murders were shown as fun and aesthetic in a certain way, that wouldn't mean the movie condones or incites violence. Let art be art and don't reduce it to a manual of how to behave upright. Speaking of Clockwork Orange.
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'Well said, alb. I don't have as many positive things to say about the movie yet I largely agree with your take on it, especially wondering if the editing room could elevate this and also this:

There was one idea though that was worth exploring: the joker is called a vigilante in one scene, and there are traces of Death Wish. So what if the Joker has a similar motivation to Batman? Wouldn't that be subversive comment of the strongman fantasies that are present not only in politics but also in super"heroes"? 

Indeed. At some point, especially during the first subway shooting, it reminded me a bit of 'The Brave One' and I thought that it was going to continue on the vigilante line. That would have heightened the social commentary considerably for the reason you so eloquently posited: "Wouldn't that be subversive comment of the strongman fantasies that are present not only in politics but also in super'heroes'?"
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rubyfruit76, Champion

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ElMo, 'well said, as well and as usual. I do agree with some of your review and I am going to take some time to seriously consider the rest because it was very compelling. I try not to read reviews before I see a film but I love reading them afterward and every so often, a review will change how I view a movie. I wonder if yours could do that. I love when that happens. Thank you for giving me something worth pondering.  
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By the way, I've just read about a take on Joker in which the main character is a woman working in retail or something, who is constantly told to smile and appear happy, until it makes her go mad. Now that would be an idea.
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15yearsIMDber aka ElMo

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Thanks for your replies, I think it's a credit to the film's subversiveness that it could inspire so many converting and diverging thoughts  (even if some critics might consider the subversive material  superficial and too flashy near the end to be truly effective).

I think we can all agree that the film's first act is an experience that challenges our usual perceptions of what makes a compelling antihero or antivillain for that matter, it's intense and gripping and for all his bizarre manners and manic laughters, Arthur is the kind of guy we want to empathize with, to understand... after all, understanding the roots of evil and violence allows us to better counter-attack them before they lead to chaos. I didn't mention it but I also found some elements of "Fight Club" in the way the whole thing escalated.

However, and that's why I couldn't give a perfect ten, the transition from Joker's soul exploration to the final act is both brutal and abrupt and leaves us with the feeling that there's was a kind of rush in the editing room and some precious ten minutes were missed. Maybe the film could do without the reveal of his pathology or troubled past but then again, I never considered his shyness or pathology as something innate but acquired in a context that many persons living in similar conditions could relate to and from my own experience meeting such people, I didn't feel it contradicted the whole psychological build-up of his personality though (I agree) it wasn't very subtle, but even "Taxi Driver" and "Clockwork" aren't immune to such criticism.

Did Travis really think he could take his girl to a dirty movie and get away with it? Isn't the chain of events that follows Alex De Large's immediate release too contrived to be believable? It's all a matter of plausibility and we either accept it or reject it. There's a moment where "Joker" ceases to be this journey in the hearts of darkness and become a more 'operatic' comment on urban violence, some could see a manipulative attempt to shock audiences under a veil of 'subversive intelligence', and why not? I guess a lesser performance would have harmed the film but Joaquin Phoenix'  impacted me so much that if there ever was a manipulation somewhere, I didn't mind being manipulated... this time. 
(Edited)
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Marriage Story(2019) 10/10
One of the best portraits of broken marriages in the cinema, one of the most mature films I've seen in years.

De Palma(2015) 8/10
Wanting to know more about Noah Baumbach I found this documentary about the life of one of my favorite filmmakers, directed by the Baumbach himself
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MARRIAGE STORY 9/10

40 years after “Kramer vs. Kramer”, here comes Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story”, a well-written, well-directed and certainly well-acted movie tackling the difficult subject of divorce and through it marriage, responsibility... and love. That the film is a major Oscar contender doesn’t surprise me but I like what that critical acclaim reflects: a movie about divorce must obey to higher standards of filmmaking than any drama subgenre; many are masterpieces such as Farhadi’s “Separation” or Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage”.

 The point of a divorce film isn’t to take sides, you’ve got to show two persons with their strengths, flaws, the qualities they take for granted and weaknesses they don’t suspect. The three-dimensionality you bring up to the characters and the way they interact through conflicts, tenderness or awkward moments have the challenge complexity of an emotional Rubik-cube game. A quote in “Marriage Story” says “crime lawyers see bad people at their best, divorce lawyers see good people at their worst” and that’s the point. Marriage movies insist on flaws that are only flipsides of goodness.

 And so the film starts beautifully with two monologues from each of Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlet Johansson), describing what they love best in each other. The descriptions insist on so many details that it’s impossible not to relate to both of them, I often brew tea I end up not drinking like Nicole and I’m a bad loser when it comes to games like Charlie. The opening monologues are exposition masterstrokes (with a twist at the end), allowing us to know about the couple, their roles as parents and their jobs: Charlie is a theater director who had found a muse in Nicole, she’s a previous TV star who abandoned her dreams for Charlie.

 Together they had a child named Henry (a reference to Justin Henry who played Billy in “Kramer”?), the kid well-played by Azhy Robertson, is obviously the sinews of the war. Since Charlie lives and works in New York and Nicole stars in a TV show shot in L.A., much more they married in L.A. and it’s Henry’s birthplace, there’s more at stakes than a matter of custody.  Charlie wants Henry back to New York but Nicole’s rising career is in L.A.. The battle goes from promises never to go to court, we know it’s a matter of inevitability. The trick is that no one wants to accuse the other of bad parenting, nor to brag about being the better parent, it’s all about saying what’s best for the kid.

 But can any parent be that objective when it comes to the child? Spending more time with his mother, Henry’s bias leans in her direction while Charlie becomes the stranger who does his best to accommodate his son. It takes someone who’s gone through divorce to understand Charlie’s situation. I see my own daughter twice every month during weekends and half the holidays, and whenever I see her I feel forced to satisfy her caprices, which is not the right way to educate, but since you’re put in a situation where you want to live the moment to its fullest and not spoil it, you spoil your kid.

 And when the kid behaves badly, you almost take it as an affront... and must endure people who pretend not to judge your parenting and you know they do. That’s the paradox of divorce, you try to display the best parenting and yet it might be perceived as the worst like in that sequence where Charlie is being observed and does his best to avoid complications... that ultimately happen. Divorce complicates relationships and I’m glad a film could show it so remarkably, with brutality or humor.

 I saw “Kramer” with my then-wife and she ended up (to my surprise) rooting with Ted and I kind of empathized with Joanna, especially her suffocation through marital commitment and wish to find herself. It’s important not to make a conflict binary and this is why the “character study”, why we should understand someone’s inner personalities. Charlie is an artist who’s dedicated to his art in a disciplined manner, Nicole is a dreamer who needs to be her own master. Together they love each other but here’s what I said about Bergman’s “Scenes from a Marriage”:

“While loving someone is a genuine feeling, being married implies duties whose applications might interfere with our inner personalities. Whether it's sex life, success and dreams, they can be undermined by marital life. The danger is to stop looking at the man or the woman of our life, but as the one who's sinking it into the abysses of routine and conventions.”

 That’s how Nicole started to look at Charlie and vice versa, that’s the way she describes him in a bravura speech where she tells her lawyer (a scene-stealing Laura Dern) how she feels about him, and a later moment where Charlie vents his anger on Nicole and culminates with a wish to see her die, before busting into tears. I love that he regained his composure and said “sorry” and that Nicole didn’t even take it badly, it’s for subtle moment like this one that I think the film should take home a few golden boys. Driver has a raw natural magnetism and Johannson is given  the most difficult role and both are perfect in acting naturally and also unnaturally. The best 'actors' being the lawyers.

As someone who went through these stages of bargains through love letters, these moments where we cry ourselves to sleep, anger when we blame the other for failing the marriage vows and we realize we won’t see our children, even our in-laws, the film is poignantly cathartic even when seen in a resigned state.

And I mentioned the double dimension of acting in the movie, well, maybe the real act of fidelity in marriage is to be faithful to yourself in the first place. What Charlie and Nicole achieve at the end.





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