By: Henry J. Fromage –
A mid-work trip sojourn on the weekend in Los Angeles presented the opportunity to spin up my own personal film festival. Think I did well.
179. The Nightengale
Jennifer Kent’s long awaited follow-up to The Babadook is another form of horrifying- a truly brutal paean against Colonialism and the violence it engenders. There’s no need for ghosts when you have real monsters like Sam Claflin’s British officer, but there’s a rough-won grace to the way Aisling Franciosi’s Irish convict and Baykali Ganambarr’s Aborigine guide bond in their pursuit of them. Achingly beautiful and terribly stark. A Toast.
J.C. Lee’s adaptation of his own stageplay can sometimes come across as such, but he and director Julius Onah do a terrific job of bringing it off of the stage while a crackerjack cast including Octavia Spencer, Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and a truly breaking out Kelvin Harrison Jr. bring it to crackling life. While the twists and turns aren’t quite as crackerjack as they’d like to be, there is a surprisingly deep and insightful vein of what it means to be Black in America that will get you thinking from a new perspective. Two Beers.
181. Last Black Man in San Francisco
Speaking of which, this Sundance darling, about two best friends who commandeer a San Francisco house that one believes was built by his grandfather, is a utter and complete joy. Joe Talbot is a stunning talent, putting many a filmmaking trick on display, and Jimmie Fails and Jonathan Majors deserve to springboard to any project they please off of their utterly heartwarming friendship and dramatic range on display. You haven’t seen another film like this. A Toast.
182. Hobbes and Shaw
You have seen other films like this, and while I do very much yield to the efficacy of many of the actions scenes (anything involving that sweet-ass motorcycle or Idris Elba’s “black Superman” riding it is so goddam cool), the some lukewarm “family is everything” drama that screenwriter Chris Morgan keeps reheating is really starting to taste a bit off. David Leitch knows his way around the action, though, and Dwayne Johnson & Jason Statham’s constant quipping has its moments. Three Beers.
182. The Farewell
While being so completely culturally and familially specific to Director Lulu Wang’s experiences, this other Sundance standout also felt a touch familiar in its execution, but not enough to overwhelm a true standout ensemble’s family reunion dramedy anchored by a surprising (and likely to be awards-nominated) dramatic turn by Awkwafina. Two Beers.