Monday, December 30, 2019
Saturday, December 28, 2019
|A live image of people getting ready to devour Douglas Laman's Twenty-Five Best Movies of 2019 list|
Not changing from year's past is that this list will be done in alphabetical order sans one title that I've picked as the absolute best of the year. It was immensely tough to whittle down just 25 movies to represent the best of 2019 cinema, but it is done, I've achieved just that. Let's begin this Twenty-Five Best Movies of 2019 list with...
Friday, December 27, 2019
Thursday, December 26, 2019
Lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) has just graduated from Harvard with a law degree, which means there’s only one clear course of action to take one. That’s right, Stevenson is going to move down to Alabama and create a non-profit law firm that specializes in providing free legal services to death row inmates. It’s a crusade that’s highly unorthodox, to put it gently, especially considering Stevenson is a Black man trying to fight against a justice system that inherently sees people of color as immediately guilt. However, Stevenson wants to use his lawyer's gifts to help the most underserved of American citizens. After all, these are not inhuman monsters, but people who could be anybody. Heck, Stevenson himself observes to his Mother at one point that “It could have been me, Mama”
Wednesday, December 25, 2019
There's a really interesting idea for a Yuletide family movie nestled within Noelle, one of the first original films made for the Disney+ streaming platform (it was once set for a November 2019 theatrical release). But much like a Christmas present tucked away at the very back of the tree, it remains out of grasp of writer/director Marc Lawrence. Well, mostly out of grasp I should say. There is a stretch of the third act where Noelle actually manages to hit upon something special and unique. Unfortunately, too much of it settles for being derivative, a hodgepodge mixture of Elf, The Year Without A Santa Claus and Arthur Christmas.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019
We've come to the end of another year, my friends. How does all the time go by? In addition to completing two more semesters of college (just one more and I'll have a Bachelor's Degree!) and getting my first three paid writing gigs, I also managed to watch a whole slew of classic movies for the very first time. The amount of acclaimed classic cinema I managed to finally catch up on 2019 was vast, making it hard to par down a Top Sixteen Cinematic Discovers of 2019 list. Despite its daunting nature, I managed to get such a list made and looking back on these sixteen specific titles fills me with oodles of joy, both because of the quality of the titles themselves and also for how many of these movies are connected to happy memories of mine in 2019. Cinema and my life have always been permanently intertwined and 2019 was no different.
Let's begin this look back on my Top Sixteen Cinematic Discoveries of 2019 (done in alphabetical order) starting with...
Let's begin this look back on my Top Sixteen Cinematic Discoveries of 2019 (done in alphabetical order) starting with...
Monday, December 23, 2019
Saturday, December 21, 2019
The first word that pops into my mind when thinking about The Nightingale is "uncompromising". Jennifer Kent's new film, her follow-up to her horror movie sensation The Babadook, is the farthest thing one could imagine from a cookie-cutter major studio production with its bleak examination of how English settlers dehumanized members of marginalized populations, like women and Aboriginal Australians. It's something that evokes Au Hasard Balthazar in numerous moments in its unflinching darkness. Kent's filmmaking is wall-to-wall misery but it isn't just empty gruesomeness. This is an extremely appropriate tone, especially in the way she executes it, for the bleak story she's seeking to tell here.
Friday, December 20, 2019
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
I've mentioned this in prior reviews, but when I'm watching a movie, I tend to live in the present. Sometimes I can predict plot beats coming a mile away if a movie is really just tedious, but usually I'm like a horse on a racetrack; stuck with blinders on that keep me focused on only what's in front of me. I'm not sure if that's something related to my particular form of Autism or if that's just a Douglas Laman thing, but this means twists and turns in movies tend to hit me extra hard. This means the barrage of already clever surprises that make up the crux of One Cut of the Dead were like a revelation to me. Going into this movie totally unaware of what it was beyond just being the newest acclaimed zombie comedy made this such a rich and exciting cinematic experience!
|Max Rebo, one of the greatest Star Wars characters of all-time|
Star Wars discourse is toxic. It's been that way ever since the Phantom Menace backlash caused Ahmed Best and Jake Lloyd to receive relentless bullying and the ever-growing presence of the internet in the modern era has only accelerated that level of toxicity for the modern Star Wars movies. With The Rise of Skywalker just two days from release, the Star Wars discourse is about to get revved up into overdrive and inevitably, a large sum of that is gonna be virulent. In an effort to combat that, I've decided to make a positive Star Wars essay for this weeks In Laman's Terms column. I've decided to run down six background/supporting Star Wars alien characters I adore. Basically, this is The Definitive Ranking of the Six Best Star Wars Characters!
No Han Solo to be found here, but plenty of distinctively designed aliens are ahead, starting with...
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Monday, December 16, 2019
We get about five or six Blumhouse Productions movies a year that get major theatrical releases, the likes of Get Out, The Purge and Halloween (2018) but what about the rest of Blumhouse's annual output? The Jason Blum-run production outfit actually releases more films annually than you might realize, they just end up getting way less prolific direct-to-video bows after brief film festival runs. Such a fate is the one seen by their 2019 feature Sweetheart, a new directorial effort hailing from J.D. Dillard, the filmmaker behind the 2017 film Sleight. After debuting at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, Sweetheart basically vanished before getting dropped on digital retailers in October (currently, there is no physical home video release for the title).
Sunday, December 15, 2019
Saturday, December 14, 2019
Unless you’re Paul Schrader, chances are you have fond childhood memories connected to cinema if you’re an adult devotee of movies. For me, it’s my faint memories of being an expert in inserting and ejecting VHS tapes in my families VCR player before I even learned how to talk! That kind of childhood connection to cinema can have long term effects that are felt well into adulthood and Giuseppe Tornatore’s Oscar-winning feature Cinema Paradiso isn’t just aware of this, it’s the foundation on which the entire story is built. Unlike sand, the experience of youthful love for cinema turns out to be a great foundation on which to build something.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
|An image from Little Women, a movie not worthy of awards because it stars fleshed-out women rather than a dude in clown makeup dancing down a staircase.|
There have only ever been five women nominated for the Oscar for Best Director.
Lina Wertmuller, Jane Campion, Sofia Coppola, Kathryn Bigelow and Greta Gerwig are the only ones to break into the category. Looking over to the Best Picture Oscar category, only fourteen movies directed by women have been nominated for Best Picture in the 91-year-history of the Academy Awards. Of those fourteen movies, only one (Selma) has been helmed by a woman of color. Clearly, this stunningly low level of recognition for women is not representative of actual Hollywood, where women have been directed films since Alice Guy-Blanche was helming motion pictures in the earliest days of Hollywood.
Monday, December 9, 2019
whose comedy is so tired that he resorts to transphobic humor hosting a major award ceremony? There are so many better options to choose from! Rachel Bloom! John Mulaney! Tiffany Haddish! Oooo! We could go full chaos and have Eric Andre and Hannibal Buress host! Let's do that instead of having Ricky Gervais host the Golden Globes once again.
Sunday, December 8, 2019
If you’re watching a Steven Soderbergh movie, it’s likely gonna have a burning contempt for the wealthy. That's been an especially notable fixture in his most recent cinematic works, even the one psychological thriller he did in 2018. There also might be heist movie elements, though there are plenty of titles in his filmography (like Contagion) devoid of influences of that genre. Still, there are a number of entries in Soderbergh’s canon that do manage to combine those two central thematic elements, with one such example being his 1997 motion picture Out of Sight.
Friday, December 6, 2019
It started out as a relatively normal day. Well, as normal as it can be behind enemy lines in World War I. Still, soldiers Lance Corporal Blake (Dean Charles-Chapman) and Lance Corporal Schofield (George McKay) were not expecting their day to go like this. They’ve both been suddenly recruited to deliver a message on foot to another battalion informing them to call off tomorrow’s attack against enemy forces. Turns out the whole battle is a trap. In order to get to their destination, Black and Schofield will have to walk across all kinds of terrain, from No Man’s Land to an abandoned farmhouse to a demolished city, all of which are packed with deadly obstacles.
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Monday, December 2, 2019
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Friday, November 29, 2019
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Wednesday, November 27, 2019
I may have an obsession with box office figures so passionate that even Box Office Mojo's self-destructive revamp can't dilute, it must be said that box office has no correlation to the actual artistic merit of a motion picture. Box office figures are so much fun to pore off and geek out on, but they're a wholly separate conversation from determining whether a movie is good or not. Maybe that sounds obvious, but unfortunately, movie studios, the entities tasked with actually creating cinema, tend to conflate the two. To most movie studio heads, a box office bomb is immediately something terrible to be avoided while a box office hit is something to be replicated at all costs. It's why we have so many more Happy Madison comedies than Donna Deitch films, it's all a financial game rather than the more prevalent one being inherently better for the art of cinema.
Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Monday, November 25, 2019
It’s amazing what a difference a hat can make. Like a pair of glasses, a person can look totally different whenever they’re wearing them. Take Tom Hanks in Road to Perdition for instance. When he’s wearing a low-tipped hat covering the upper part of his face in this movie, he totally looks older, weary and menacing. Those aren’t words one usually associates with Hanks, but they totally come to mind when his character, Michael Sullivan, dons a hat. Whenever he takes that hat off, though, a magical transformation occurs. Suddenly, Hanks is back to looking boyish and charming, like it hasn't been a day since Turner & Hooch. What a difference a hat can make.
Saturday, November 23, 2019
Wednesday, November 20, 2019
You can't help but root for Motherless Brooklyn, that rare modern-day adult-drama movie released by a major American studio. A two-and-a-half-hour long homage to noirs featuring nary an explosion in sight? It's a welcome surprise to see a studio like Warner Bros. financing and releasing this type of title. Unfortunately, noble artistic ambitions can't actually make Motherless Brooklyn a good movie. On the contrary, this is a shockingly disposable feature film with only brief glimmers of actual entertainment or quality to be found. Despite having spent two decades in development, Motherless Brooklyn is still a movie that could have used a whole lot more work.
Apologies for this being the second week in a row where In Laman's Terms has focused on Disney content. Lord knows there's plenty of that out there both on the internet in general and in the news cycle, I promise to deliver something more original next time over the holiday week.
In 2019, the idea of Princesses being a crucial piece of the Disney