Cinema Clash Podcasters talk Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, and the DC Film Critics Awards
Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya
Review: Mudbound
Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Mainstream Chick with Greta Gerwig @Middleburg

Quickie (Animated Feature) Reviews: Coco and Ferdinand

First things first. Disney-Pixar’s Coco is way better than Ferdinand and will probably win Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Oscar ceremony in March. So if you have to pick just one, Coco is the better bet, especially for anyone aged seven and up.

Spoiler-free review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Don’t worry Star Wars junkies. You’ll love The Last Jedi. Problem is, I’m not a Star Wars junkie – I’m just a casual fan – so (gasp!), I wasn’t as blown away by “Episode VIII” as the somewhat Comic-Con-obsessed crowd that I saw it with. Not that I didn’t enjoy most of my two-and-a-half hour visit to a galaxy far, far away. I just happened to like 2015’s nostalgia-fueled The Force Awakens a bit more. The Last Jedi picks up right where that one left off. The franchise’s young new heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) finds herself on a distant planet, face to face with the elusive Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). She’s there to return his light saber, get some Jedi training, and convince him to rejoin the Resistance led by his sister, Princess/General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher). You know the rest. I’m just kidding. You don’t, unless you’ve seen the film or read the spoilers. I’m not enough of an expert to know what constitutes a spoiler, so I’ll just err on the side of caution and keep it brief.

Review: Call Me by Your Name

What a beautiful film! It’s a coming-of-age story set in 1983. Elio (Timothée Chalamet) is 17-years-old, living in the bucolic Italian countryside with his parents in their 17th century villa. His father is an archeology professor who invites an American student to come work with him each summer. This summer’s student is the handsome and charming Oliver (Armie Hammer). Elio is initially put off by Oliver’s ease and charm, and by the fact that he took his room for the summer, but slowly the two of them become friends, and then much more. It is set in the years before men could be open about such things, even to one another.

Review: The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water is shaping up to be an awards-season contender, though it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea – or water. It’s a mesmerizing adult fairy tale co-written and directed by Guillermo del Toro (Pacific Rim, Pan’s Labyrinth). In a nutshell: the film is about a lonely mute named Elisa (Sally Hawkins) who falls in love with a fantastical sea creature (Doug Jones in a gilled wetsuit) being held prisoner in the high-security lab where she works as a cleaning lady. Sure, it all sounds kinds of weird, and it is – but it’s also a stunning film with some stellar acting.

Cinema Clash Podcasters talk Darkest Hour, The Shape of Water, Wonder Wheel, and the DC Film Critics Awards

Got an hour or so to kill? Like to listen to podcasts? If so, check out this super-sized edition of the Cinema Clash podcast with Charlie and Hannah (me) and special guest Christian Hamaker as we spar over: Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, Sally Hawkins as a mute cleaning lady who falls in love with a fish man in Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water, Woody Allen’s mediocre Coney Island period drama Wonder Wheel; Plus, the winners, losers, shocks, surprises, disappointments and debate surrounding the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Awards. [Note: You can also subscribe to the Cinema Clash on iTunes so you never miss an episode.]

Mini-Reviews: I, Tonya

Both of us chicks saw this one at Middleburg. Both of us liked it. Here are our mini-reviews:

Review: The Divine Order

The Divine Order (Die göttliche Ordnung) tells the story of women’s suffrage in Switzerland. I had no idea that the women there didn’t get the right to vote until 1971. As to the title, Swiss political and religious leaders of the time actually cited “the divine order” as the reason to keep them voiceless. Unbelievable! But fear not, this is not a heavy feminist screed, it’s a warm character driven dramedy about a group of women who buck the patriarchy and force their husbands to wake up and give them the vote. The film is Switzerland’s foreign-language Oscar entry and it’s a totally eye-opening and fun #GirlPower flick!

Review: The Disaster Artist (and The Room)

The Disaster Artist is a gift this holiday season to fans of the 2003 independent film The Room, a movie so dreadful it became known as the “Citizen Kane of bad movies.” Unbeknownst to me (until recently), The Room also became a cult classic. Now that I’ve seen it, I totally get it. The Room is so bad, it’s good, especially if you watch it with a raucous crowd, plastic spoons, footballs, and printed instructions (see photos below). It’s also essential viewing for anyone hoping to fully appreciate and understand the bizarre brilliance that is The Disaster Artist, a satirical yet fact-based film that explores how the very bad movie The Room came to be made in the first place. James Franco plays Tommy Wiseau, the aspiring filmmaker with an indiscernible accent who wrote, directed, produced/financed and starred in The Room. Franco and Wiseau are like kindred spirits in the quirky Hollywood landscape, so the casting is ideal – assuming you can embrace the quirk. If not, you’ll surely miss the point.

Review: The Square

Winner of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival’s Palme D’Or, The Square is a darkly funny satire set in the art world. Christian (Claes Bang) is the head curator at a prestigious Swedish modern art museum staging an exhibition calling for a trusting and compassionate society, who realizes how hard that actually is to accomplish. The film has less a story line than a series of tableaux one walks through ending up with an impression. It opens with an unseen artist building a square of brick right in from of the museum and laying a plaque in it saying,”The Square is a sanctuary of trust and caring. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” And everything that happens afterwards refers back to that statement, revealing modern society’s greatest failing.

Review: The Killing of a Sacred Deer

This is the second film I’ve seen from writer/director Yorgos Lanthimos, the first being The Lobster, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This one has the same altered-reality conceit, that the world is very nearly the one we live in, but has a few odd twists that set it apart. In The Killing of a Sacred Deer, a family lives a nice upper-middle class existence. The parents (Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman) are both doctors. The kids are attractive and smart. Things seem great, until Dad introduces them to a teenage boy he’s taken under his wing and then things go sideways.