The 91st Academy Awards: Comments and Concerns

It has been an absolutely astonishing year for the cinema. But for as amazing a year as 2018 had been, we’re also left with facing one of the most insulting awards seasons to have come by in recent memory. You’d think that given last year’s set of nominees they actually would have been growing progressively better, especially having given a film like Moonlight the top honour for the 2016 ceremony (and a well-deserved one at that), but after the Golden Globes came by, I was already worried that we’d already be in store for one of the absolute worst in recent memory. To think that the Oscars would already have gone far beyond that “popular film” award in order to try and raise their viewership, as if the ceremonies themselves haven’t already been stale enough (i.e. overlong montages praising the industry and shallow activism that amounts to nothing), who knew that we’d be in store for one that was so out of touch – particularly in last year’s amazingly bad timing (with it being only barely ahead of the Olympics rather than in February like they usually were)? As a supposed celebration for the cinema comes by within the year, there are many things here to be concerned about.

Continue reading →

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen Brothers’ Western Anthology Hits and Misses, but Mostly Hits: Review

✯✯✯✯

The Coen brothers’s anthology The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a portrait of the many sides of the west, but like any other anthology film there’s always that challenge coming by as to how can all stories ever remain so compelling. You can only get so much charm out of the sort of wit that’s typical of the Coen brothers, but where the film already finds some of its very best footing it also comes right in between some of the weaker portions of the film. That’s not to say I was never entertained by The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, but I had only ever found myself susceptible to dozing off because certain stories didn’t capture my interest as much as another one did. But knowing that the Coen brothers had initially intended this as a miniseries, with every segment representing another facet of the American west, maybe it’s also reflective of what one could also expect from how each story mixes together here. You’ll already know which stories you would want to stick with, just as you would which ones you’ll also find yourself caring less about – but there’s always something entertaining to come out from each story.

Continue reading →

The Big Lebowski: The Dude Abides Twenty Years Later

✯✯✯✯✯

It’s hard to pinpoint where the brilliance of the films of the Coen brothers can ever find itself limited because even their weaker films still carry enough of a bite to prevent the experience from being wholly unrewarding. But in these early films they seem to be developing their cynicism all the more and how exactly does it manage to add up to create an endlessly rewatchable ride? First off, you only need The Dude, a soiled rug, and bowling to create the perfect template for a drug-induced neo-noir that only provides more laughs the longer it goes on. It takes only as much as an attitude to make The Big Lebowski one of the Coen brothers’ most distinctive features but at the same time it also proves itself to be their most entertaining movie with such ease. It’s their most entertaining movie because of how well it manages to stick inside of your memory, because it keeps to the attitude and never lets go for as it did say in its own words, “The Dude abides.”

Continue reading →

Suburbicon – Review

✯½

How exactly can one describe what Suburbicon is about? Is it a satire of the ideal “peaceful neighbourhood community” along the lines of Pleasantville? In some sense, but maybe you can also give Suburbicon the fitting name of Unpleasantville in the meantime. At the same time, it also happens to be a commentary on race relations in America, as they call themselves the “greatest nation on Earth.” But not until it is also a murder mystery about one family, and what it leaves on a mild-mannered man, his son, and the boy’s aunt. It’s easy to ask oneself how all of these three manage to tie up together with one another and the only way you can answer it is by saying that Suburbicon tries to be all three at once and ends up becoming a much bigger mess.

Continue reading →