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I have now gotten so far behind in my film reviewing, I was despairing of ever finishing them for 2017. To remedy that, I will be writing quick and short reviews and include them all in this post as they are done.
Call Me By Your Name is an exquisite film with an exquisite story that has an unhappy ending because it wouldn’t be nearly as exquisite if it didn’t, and is based upon an exquisite novel by Andre Aciman (actually, I haven’t read it, so I’m just guessing). The exquisite screenplay, by James Ivory, the legendary writer/director/producer of the legendary films from the legendary Ivory/Merchant production company, is about an affair between a 17-year old Italian American from a scholarly family living in the Italian countryside and a 24-year old grad student visiting the family. It’s deeply felt, deeply emotional, and a deeply rewarding film experience. Deeply and exquisitely directed by Luca Guadagnino, deeply and exquisitely. With Timothee Chalomet as the teen, Arnmie Hammer as the older student and Michael Stuhlbarg as the empathetic father. Deeply exquisite.
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool has a certain biopic clunkiness at times, but it’s an emotional rollercoaster with impressive, perhaps outstanding performances from Annette Bening as the actress every film noir lover loves to love and hate, Gloria Grahame, and Jamie Bell as her lover. The story dramatizes her sometimes tempestuous affair with the much younger aspiring actor Peter Turner (the film is based on his memoir). Directed by Paul McGuigan, a long way from Lucky Number Sleven whose highpoint Josh Hartnett co-starring with a towel, and written by Matt Greenhalgh, who also gave audience the underappreciated films Control and Nowhere Boy. Highly entertaining, but bring your handkerchiefs.
Darkest Hour is the story of Dunkirk told from the viewpoint of the other side of the Channel, and quite possibly all the better for it. It’s the story of Winston Churchill having to decide whether to appease Hitler or keep waging war against him. The film starts off a little uncertain and takes a while to get going. It really picks up emotional steam the closer Churchill is to having a nervous breakdown. Gary Oldman gives a rich performance as Churchill. After years of playing second banana in underwhelming roles and films, it seems he’s found his niche as a lauded actor with this and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It’s almost impossible not to be emotionally overwhelmed by the ending. With Kristen Scott Thomas as the misses. Directed by Joe Wright who gave us a wonderful Pride & Prejudice and the overrated Atonement and written by Anthony McCarten, more than a step up from his earlier The Theory of Everything. You can go to the bathroom during the Henry V subway mingle among the masses scene; it’s a real clunker.