Jaime’s Film Diary: February 28, 2020

In order to continue keeping this site as active as possible while I have not been able to write as many full-length film reviews as I had planned initially, I figured that another solution would have come by in placing my Letterboxd entries starting from the week before here as a placeholder for eventual full-length reviews that are set to come by, if I were able to find the time to write another one. But as is, these are quick thoughts that I figure would be nice to keep afloat so that the site will remain active on a regular basis.

First-time viewings are noted as such. You can follow me on Letterboxd right here.

Continue reading →

‘Joker’ TIFF Review: Joaquin Phoenix Highlights This Terrifying Yet Flawed Supervillain Origin Story

✯✯✯½

Todd Phillips’s origin story for Batman’s famous archenemy has already been called many things, from being a deranged film all about everything that can push a man too far to a dangerous film that would do more harm than good purely from the reputation of its lead character alone. Yet unlike most other comic book-based films of its era, it’s also unique on the count that it’s played at the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion at the former. But given the sort of character that the Joker was known to be among moviegoers of all sorts and those who have closely followed the comics, it was always set to be difficult to try and explore how he had come to be for he was simply known to be a character that always enjoyed violence for the fun of it. Yet knowing that writer-director Todd Phillips never took any direct inspiration from the comics when crafting a story of how he had come to be, seeing how he would experiment around a character of this sort was set to be quite the ride – and it turns out rather worthwhile too.

Continue reading →

The Yards Review: The Understated Richness of James Gray’s Crime Drama

✯✯✯✯½

The Yards is a very personal statement from director James Gray, but it also shows where the American filmmaker’s delicate and painterly style has found itself more fully realized. It’s a personal testament for him, especially in its own setting within the train yards of New York City – but how the backdrop even plays a big factor in allowing something so grand and cathartic to come forward also says a lot for what the filmmaker can be like at his very best. This only being the American filmmaker’s sophomore film, The Yards is a very special sort of crime drama, one whose most beautiful moments have went completely understated, yet there’s always something to be drawn into. If there’s ever a more fitting description for the work of James Gray, you can already feel as if the core of what makes his films so beautiful is there, but maybe it’s not flashy – though I think they’re better off that way. And fittingly enough, I felt convinced enough that I had for the longest time been underestimating his work.

Continue reading →

2018: Another Year of Cinema Come and Gone

This year was a real game changer for a person like myself. To kick things off, it was the first year in which I was able to attend TIFF as a press member rather than as any other audience member. It was a defining moment for myself, though I don’t want to brag a little too much about what happened there. It was just a good year for cinema in general. That’s all I can really say, and I want to bring more attention to the many films that I absolutely loved this year – and so many of them came around this year and so forth. We’re already nearing the end of a decade, and through the good and the bad, the cinema has always been able to provide nothing but the greatest pleasures through and through. Although as we look through the films that have come to define 2018 as a whole, there were many surprises that came along the way just as there were disappointments – all of which came in between the very best and the worst in cinema through the year. So without further ado, let us begin. Continue reading →

The Sisters Brothers Review: Fun Western That Doesn’t Quite Boast the Most of Its Talent

✯✯✯½

I’ve always found it difficult to get into the films of Jacques Audiard which is one among many reasons I was unsure of what to expect from The Sisters Brothers. But this being so different from his past films already had me wondering if this could be an instance where he would click with me, because his films have always remained distinctive for being so unflinching – if also quite emotionally hollow. So how exactly was this sort of style supposed to work not only for a western film in the English language, but also a dark comedy? I think it’d only be fair to say that maybe it opened my eyes to see Audiard’s sensibilities working better as Hollywood productions than they do outside, because The Sisters Brothers only ever made itself out to be an entertaining ride.

Continue reading →

Finding a Sense of Comfort and Acceptance in Spike Jonze’s Her – A Review

✯✯✯✯✯

I have so many emotions running through my head right now, because this was perhaps what I needed most after having finished an entire year of college. It just felt so perfect for the moment because as soon as I finished, I felt a rush right through my head that was not like anything else that I had felt. After having gotten the chance to connect with so many other like-minded individuals that aren’t so far away, this final day almost feels like a blow – all of that has been taken away from me right on the spot. It feels like I have moved back into becoming the sort of person that I was always fearing I would be through my high school years once again, just a lonely, reclusive, sheltered person who had found the greatest joys one could ever feel through watching the movies for they have been my gateway to the world. Watching Her as I was about to enter this very moment almost felt like a bad idea because of what I still feel that I am not prepared for within my future. But if there were anything else that I would have wanted to say, I don’t know if I can be thankful enough that whenever I watch this movie, I always find myself in a state of comfort – one that I don’t know if I ever want to end.

Continue reading →

You Were Never Really Here – Review

✯✯✯✯½

I’ve always had a bit of an odd relationship with writer-director Lynne Ramsay. I remember disliking We Need to Talk About Kevin when I last watched it years ago but only recently have I found myself being grabbed by her own work, first with Morvern Callar and now this. This is a work that feels caught within the very feeling of trauma, much like the state of its main character – and builds itself slowly within that pain. To simply say that You Were Never Really Here had defied what I was expecting out of it would undersell the very experience of sitting through it, but from the very outline of such a work I don’t think that I can simply say that I would have expected anything close to what I had received on the spot. You Were Never Really Here is a film that evokes a feeling that is difficult to describe on the spot, but when you think of it – you can’t ever let it go, because we like to tell ourselves that “we were never really there.”

Continue reading →

Irrational Man – Review

✯½

Woody Allen’s career has only brought out highs and lows all over the different eras which he spans, for the days of thoughtful romantic comedies like Annie Hall and Manhattan are evidently long gone. Having consistently directed one film a year, there was only a point to which Allen’s experimentation doesn’t seem to find itself working nearly as much as it used to and at its worst, the redundance has only come to a point of annoyance and films like Irrational Man come out. But knowing Allen’s trademarks could have also called for Irrational Man to work in an almost self-reflexive manner, knowing how he writes the dialogue and exchanges between his characters. The case with Irrational Man could be that maybe what’s being sought here is far too on the nose and almost to the point of boredom, reminding its own viewers that gone are the days of Allen consistently offering an insightful perspective about the world around oneself and now he feels like a wannabe of himself.

Continue reading →

Inherent Vice – Review

✯✯✯✯✯

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice will certainly leave the most common moviegoer baffled with their own experience although given the source material that won’t turn out surprising at all. But it’s hard enough for me trying to describe what Inherent Vice will leave behind just from a single viewing because it almost feels like a hallucination as it moves by. Yet at the same time, we’re caught up inside of a web of lies almost like a Philip Marlowe story. Inherent Vice is a blend of eras and it’s the sort of experiment that only a filmmaker like Paul Thomas Anderson himself could bring to the table in such a manner. But in this indulgence, Paul Thomas Anderson also manages to summarize on the spot what exactly Inherent Vice is about, because of how much we can take in from one go to that point it’s so baffling yet it still keeps us watching. It keeps us watching because it’s absolutely wonderful in that sense, because it’s Paul Thomas Anderson at his craziest, and if that doesn’t signify something good I don’t know what will.

Continue reading →

The Immigrant – Review

✯✯½

There are so many things about The Immigrant that would almost ring as appealing towards my own sensibilities: whether it be from the setting or the film’s leading performances, and yet everything feels only as if half of a promise is delivered. This was my own introduction to the work of James Gray as a whole and from there onward, I’ve only run into a series of disappointments as I try my best to warm up to his own aesthetic but I can never find myself drawn into how they tell their stories. I recognize that James Gray’s films have their admirers but aside from a few exceptions I’m on the other side of the fence, for he has always remained a filmmaker that I try to warm up to rather than one whose work captivates me on the spot. Hoping I’d enjoy The Immigrant more after having been taken back by the theatrical experience of The Lost City of Z, what happened instead as a result was reaffirmation in regards to my general indifference towards Gray’s work.

Continue reading →