Tag Archives: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Cinema Dispatch: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

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Can You Ever Forgive Me? and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Marielle Heller

Have I mentioned that I really like Melissa McCarthy?  Because I REALLY like Melissa McCarthy.  The Ghostbusters reboot was one of the best movies the year it came out, The Happytime Murders is one of the best films of this year, and I even liked Life of the Party which may not have gotten QUITE as much negativity as the puppet cop movie, but makes up for it in just how quickly everyone seems to have forgotten about it.  Now she gets to star in a nice juicy biopic that doesn’t seem to have the over the top comedic tone of her usual output and is instead a much quieter and more character driven film.  Hey, it may not be what she’s known for but I have no doubt that she has the acting chops to pull off something much more serious and it’d be even MORE hilarious if she makes a movie that critics fawn over in the same year that they’ve quite harshly rejected everything else she’s done.  Does this biopic capture the importance of its subject matter along with giving Melissa McCarthy an interesting role to work with, or will this be a bigger disappointment than Bohemian Rhapsody?  Okay, chances are NOTHING could be as disappointing as that, but let’s find out!!

Back in the long ago time of the early nineties, biographer Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) was struggling to make ends meet with whatever profits she made from her earlier books drying up completely and her bitter attitude and sardonic wit making her not very popular in office environments.  This is made especially bad because she’s experiencing a rather lengthy bout of writers block and is being stonewalled by her agent (Jane Curtain), so with nothing else to fall back on a sick cat to take care of she starts to pawn off whatever memorabilia she has; including a letter she got from Katherine Hepburn.  It seems that letters like this can fetch a nice price from book stores and collectors, though when she just so happens to find two more letters from someone else who is famous she learns that they need to be… spicy as it were to fetch more than a few bucks.  Well hold on!  She’s a writer, isn’t she?  And she writes about famous people already, right?  Why, it wouldn’t be THAT hard to just make up some letters in the voice of those famous individuals and use old typewriters with old paper to more or less print money!  That will give her enough money to help her sick cat AND keep her drinking habit alive!  So she begins her life of crime which not only keeps a roof over her head but gives her a passion for writing that she hasn’t experienced for some time; not to mention giving her a little cash to spoil herself and her friend Jack Hock (Richard E Grant) who eventually joins her to help cover her tracks.  How long though can these two keep this scheme of their going before collectors and the authorities start to take a closer look?  Even if they can get away with it, will it help Lee understand and maybe even resolve the issues that have been plaguing her life and her writing up to this point?  Is it too early to start filling out my Award Card yet?  I know we’ve got another two months and I’m NOTORIOUSLY bad at picking winners, but this time I’m feeling lucky!

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What!?  Since she didn’t win for Bridesmaids, it means she’s due!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Shape of Water

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The Shape of Water and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Did it REALLY have to take this long for the darn film to show up in a theater remotely close to me!?  While EVERY OTHER film critic in the world got to check this out a few weeks ago, I’ve been sitting here on pins and needles; waiting for the studio to begrudgingly bring this film to the wider masses.  There have been a few movies that I’ve been looking forward to quite a bit as we were heading into Award Season, and at the top of the list was this freaky looking cross between Beauty and the Beast and The Creature from the Black Lagoon from one of the best genre filmmakers out there.  With only slightly waned excitement due to its slow rollout to general audiences, does this manage to live up to the high expectations set up not only by the wonderful looking trailers but by the ceaseless buzz from every other film critic on the planet BESIDES me, or was this a huge misstep that we’re all gonna look back on with less than favorable feelings once the hype has settled down?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Eliza Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who’s one of many janitors in a SUPER SECRET SCIENCE FACILITY that’s somewhere in Baltimore which presumably has REALLY specific NDA agreements as the place has been known to house strange and unusual specimens.  The latest of said specimens turns out to be some sort of Freaky Fish Guy (Doug Jones) who was captured and dragged out of the Amazon Forest by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon).  Said Colonel is now head of security in the SUPER SECRET SCIENCE FACILITY, at least until the government can figure out what to do with the Freaky Fish Guy, and both Eliza and her friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are stuck cleaning the room that the creature is housed in.  Eliza immediately takes a liking to said creature and the two of them begin an unlikely friendship as Eliza’s mastery of American Sign Language (which she learned due to her being mute) as well as her awesome record collection give the two of them a way to communicate and something to bond over.  Colonel Strickland on the other hand is less inclined to get friendly with the Freaky Fish Guy, preferring to use a cattle prod to get the creature in line, and eventually is dead set on dissecting it before it gets any funny ideas.  Eliza, along with her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) hatch a plan to try and save him as does the mysterious Dr Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) who has his own reasons for wanting the creature to be kept alive.  Will Elisa be able to protect the Freaky Fish Guy from having his internal organs removed and put into labeled jars?  What is Dr Hoffstetler REALLY up to, and how will Colonel Strickland react once he finds out that his own staff is working against him?  Seriously, who can look at that Freaky Fish Guy and NOT immediately fall in love with him!?

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Cinema Dispatch: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

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Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Martin McDonagh

To tell you the truth, I never really liked In Bruges.  It was fine I guess, but I never found it all that compelling and the ending is just a contrived mess that’s about as bad as sixty percent of the twists Shyamalan has come up with.  And yet, there are a lot of people out there that like that movie as well as McDonagh’s other work, so naturally the buzz around this film was huge right off the bat which only grew once the trailers started coming out and we got to see some of Frances McDormand’s acting.  At the very least, it manages to grab your attention with its unorthodox title (A COMMA!?) and even more unorthodox premise that will hopefully take advantage of the ideas that seem baked right into this material.  Does this manage to live up to the hype that its beloved director and solid marketing campaign has built up for it, or will this end up a huge stumble for everyone involved?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) driving down the same road she’s driven down for years and years; heading home after a long day at work and trying hard to deal with the grief over her daughter’s death.  Not just any death too!  She was raped, murdered, and burnt to a crisp, so forgetting about that is proving to be a bit difficult, especially since the cops never found the guy who did it.  That’s when Mildred comes up with an idea.  On this road she’s traveled many times before are three billboards that no one has used in decades, so she decides to purchase the ad space and put up signs reminding the denizens of this small town that the police still haven’t caught the murderer.  Now obviously this ruffles some feathers down at the station, particularly Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell) who’s about as dumb and racist of a cop that you’d expect from a story like this and to a much lesser extent Sherriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) who’s leading the stalled investigation and is the primary target of Mildred’s ire.  Things begin to get much more heated around town as several people begin to question (and stupidly try to attack) Mildred and her decision to put this spotlight on something that everyone would rather not think about and leave up to the cops.  Mildred is having NONE of this and starts kicking ass and taking names at everyone who looks at her sideways which only escalates tensions further in this ticking time bomb of a standoff with her on one side and the rest of the world on the other.  Will Mildred finally get justice for the death of her daughter whose killer roams free while the police do nothing?  Just how far will Mildred go in order to get what she wants, and will she lose touch between what can and cannot be justified in her righteous quest?  Just how much saltier will Frances McDormand get in this role before she wins that Oscar gold!?

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“I’d like to tell the Academy that they can kindly fuck off and die, even if I win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.  No wait, ESPECIALLY if I win for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Battle of the Sexes

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Battle of the Sexes and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

Well THIS is certainly a pleasant surprise!  I may not know all the details, but I’m certainly aware of the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Robbie Riggs which has always stuck with me despite only knowing about it by watching the back half of a TV documentary around fifteen years ago.  I’ve always liked tennis as a sport and the build up to the phenomenal match was ridiculous and felt like a flash in the pan moment in history which did end up having a big impact on everything simply for how much confident men were that she was gonna lose and then had that whole perception shattered on live television around the world.  Is there any way that a film can do justice to this once in a lifetime event and remind us all of how important this was in the first place?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about the infamous match between world renowned tennis player Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and world renowned FORMER tennis player Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) which was played up in the media as THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES and the match that would once and for all prove that women have no business competing in MAN PLACES like tennis; something that wasn’t helped by Riggs’s absurdly derogatory and over the top chauvinistic stunts.  Of course, there was a lot more to the story than the over the top theatrics leading up to it which includes the establishment of the Women’s Tennis Association, Billie Jean’s romantic relationship with another woman Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), and even Bobby Riggs’s financial woes that may have been the driving force for setting up this match in the first place.  So much was on the line for Billie Jean to succeed, yet with so much working against her, it was quickly becoming a task that seemed impossible to overcome.  Would she be able to find the strength to overcome the odds and prove herself once and for all?  How will she be able to maintain a relationship with another woman in a time when that was much more frowned upon and life destroying than it is today?  How can one person navigate all this nonsense being constantly thrown at them and STILL manage to keep from knocking all these jerkwads upside the head!?

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“I must break you…”     “Are you sure you won’t break a nail?”     “… I’m gonna enjoy this.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Gifted

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Gifted and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Marc Webb

Has anyone else notice that Marc Webb now has four movies in a row with Superheroes in them?  Sure the Amazing Spider-Man movie are obvious, but 500 Days of Summer had Joseph Gordon-Levitt (AKA Robin) and now he’s directing Captain America in a movie about a girl genius!  Hell, if he can get back on track now that he isn’t weighed down by Sony’s super petty pet projects, maybe he’ll be the one to finally get Hugh Jackman that Oscar in some heartfelt indie drama or something!  Speaking of which, the indie vibe is certainly strong with this one which I don’t particularly begrudge the guy for considering he spent the last five years on terrible films.  If he needs a film to rediscover his roots and remind us all why he was such a promising up and coming director, I’m more than fine with it!  Does this manage to be the movie that resuscitate his fledgling directorial career, or will this prove once and for that he’s not that strong of a director even when he doesn’t have a giant studio breathing down his neck?  Let’s find out!!

The movie begins on the first day of school for Mary Adler (Mckenna Grace) who’s been home schooled by her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) up until now, but he’s determined for her to have a normal childhood which includes interacting with other children instead of just grownups like him and their helpful neighbor Roberta (Octavia Spencer).  Of course, Mary isn’t exactly a normal girl as she has SUPER impressive math skills which doesn’t go unnoticed by her teacher Miss Stevenson (Jenny Slate) or anyone else in the school which unfortunately leads to Mary’s grandmother Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan) finally tracking the two of them down.  So why is this bad thing?  Well since Mary isn’t technically Frank’s daughter (her mother is his sister and Evelyn’s daughter who died some time ago), she feels she can get a court to give her full custody of Mary and make sure that her brain is put to good use; mainly studying advanced calculus every day with college professors instead of going to grade school.  Fair enough I guess.  I mean, it’s not like she’s getting THAT much out of the first grade curriculum.  Then again, as we learn more about Evelyn and ESPECIALLY her relationship to Mary’s mother, things get a bit less clear cut and Frank is certainly not about to back down on trying to give Mary a normal life.  Will Frank get to keep Mary from a sheltered academic life, or is he simply holding her back from reaching her true potential.  What exactly happened that led to Frank having Mary in the first place?  Does anything from this movie look familiar to anyone else?

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Wait, are we sure this isn’t the Marvel Studios version of Logan?  So that would mean… she’s American Dream!! MC2 Universe confirmed!!

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Cinema Dispatch: Table 19

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Table 19 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Jeffrey Blitz

Table what now?  Has anyone heard of this movie before like a week ago?  Hell, did anyone see a trailer of this or is its target audience people who couldn’t see Beauty and the Beast because it was sold out but made the effort to get out of the damn house anyway so are going to see something else?  I don’t know about you, but that seems like a pretty niche market to go after!  Well just because no one has heard of the damn thing doesn’t mean it’s a BAD movie.  Hell, Shawshank Redemption was a HUGE flop and now it’s one of the most beloved and overexposed films of all time!  Okay, so this probably isn’t gonna be THAT good, but maybe it’ll still manage to be rather enjoyable.  Let’s find out!!

The table in question refers to a table at the wedding reception, and the nineteenth one is the LAST table in the hierarchy of wedding guests.  While all the important people are at the first few tables and all the REAL guests are in the latter ones, the ones who were invited but weren’t expected to show up were placed at the TABLE OF INFINITE SHAME!!  The guest list includes the brides former babysitter (June Squibb) which seems kinda mean spirited, a couple who worked with the one of the dads of the married couple many years ago (Lisa Kudrow and Craig Robinson), a family member who screwed someone out of A LOT of money (Stephen Merchant), and… some teenager (Tony Revolori).  Honestly, I don’t remember why he’s even there in the first place, but his shtick is that he’s horny all the time so maybe he’s on hand to fill a cliché quota.  ANYWAY!  There’s still one more person at the table.  The best friend of the bride (Anna Kendrick)!?  SAY WHAT!?  She’s ALSO the former Maid of Honor and is personally responsible for the seating arrangements!?  As it turns out, there was a major falling out, particularly in regards to the brother of the bride (Wyatt Russel), and while she ultimately decided to still go, she’s stuck with the losers and rejects who probably resent being considered losers and rejects.  Will shenanigans inevitably ensue now that a Molotov cocktail of resentment has landed at the table with people who pretty much have nothing to lose here?   Just what exactly happened between our heroine of sorts and the happy couple’s family?  WHAT ARE THEY GONNA DO TO THE WEDDING CAKE!?

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“We’re all in agreement.  The cake had it coming, and we will never speak of this again…”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Birth of a Nation

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The Birth of a Nation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures

Directed by Nate Parker

To tell you the truth, I was not looking forward to seeing this and was up until the last minute figuring out if I wanted to take a pass on this considering the controversy surrounding the filmmaker’s past deeds.  Ultimately, I am a film critic and decided that I might as well have an informed opinion on something rather than avoiding the topic.  Not to say that someone choosing not to see this is making the wrong choice as it’s not anyone’s place to tell anyone else what to go see at the theater (I avoided that last Dinesh D’Souza film like the plague despite it sticking around for an embarrassingly long time at one of the theaters I frequent), rather I’m just letting you know what my reason was for deciding to review this film.  Does it manage to be a great film even with the controversies surrounding it, or will this be so bad that we can easily dismiss the film and its director?  Let’s find out!!

The movie is about the life of Nat Turner (Nate Parker who also writes, directs, and produces) who famously led a slave rebellion in 1831 that killed a bunch of slave owners before… well go read the Wikipedia page or watch the movie to find out what happened.  But what about his life BEFORE killing white people?  What drove the man to commit such acts of violence, especially considering how deeply religious he was?  After all, wasn’t one of the commandments THOUGH SHALL NOT KILL?  Well we get those answers as the rebellion itself is the climax to a character study of one man who faced indignity after indignity throughout his entire life and even saw it first hand when his master (Armie Hammer) had him go around to other plantations to preach the word of God to those slaves to keep them nice and complacent rather than rebellious and stabby.  What other challenges did Nat have to face before turning to the sword?  Well, you’ll just have to see the movie to find out!

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“I’ll go for the gut, Ax Guy can sweep the legs, and Hammer Bro?”     “Yes Nat?’     “Smash their fucking skulls in!”     “You got it!”

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