Emma Stone and Olivia Colman in the film THE FAVOURITE. Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. © 2018 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

A look at a ‘Favourite,’ ‘Incredibles 2,’ ‘Tully’

With the Golden Globe Nominations announced, there are a couple of extra DVD recommendations in this week’s reviews.   “The Favourite” (Limited Release) This Golden Globe-nominated period piece set in the early 1800s takes place in Britain. The film centers around the relationship between Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill, and how such relationship is affected when the cousin of the latter arrives seeking employment. The film offers an eclectic mix of dark comedy and great cinematography, but doesn’t completely hold together, which was slightly disappointing. Lanthimos’ unique cinematography is outstanding throughout, as are many of his commendable aesthetic choices that help enrich the film’s unique quality and tone. The acting is strong throughout, with the distinct nature of each performance among the three lead actresses enhancing the viewing experience. Unfortunately, however, the film’s script has a number of concerns. The film’s writing attempts to be witty and funny much of the time, but such lines of wit and humor do not always land. Some of the more raunchy moments are well-placed, but others just feel childishly silly or ridiculous. For a prestige film from an acclaimed director revered by many serious film buffs, the film can end up feeling quite unsophisticated at times, which can alienate the viewer from some of the more serious commentary of the time period Lanthimos is depicting, particularly with regards to the issue of gender roles and the patriarchal nature of the society and culture. The total shifts can be quite jarring, even more so when one stops to consider that not all scenes played for comedic effect are particularly funny or even amusing at face or literal value. A majority of the film is well-paced, yet the third act can come off as anti-climactic. Ultimately, while I didn’t dislike the film, I did expect a bit more from what some critics have determined will likely be a top Oscar contender.   DVD Recommendations: “Tully” (2018) (Also available to rent or buy on Prime Video) (Nominated for Golden Globe: Charlize Theron, Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Music or Comedy) Director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody first collaborated on the filming of Cody’s debut script “Juno” in 2007. Four years later, they made “Young Adult” with Charlize Theron, and now all three reunite for this latest tip of the cap to motherhood and self-care. Simpatico is the word that comes to mind here with the perfect lineup of writer, director and actress. The biggest question is how to label it. Some will call it a comedy, while others will proclaim it a serious drama. As with much of life, there is a bit of laughter, a touch of drama and a dash of most every emotion. Theron stars as Marlo, s mother of three. There is 9 year old daughter Sarah, 6 year old son Jonah who lands on the autistic spectrum, and now an unplanned newborn that threatens to rock a family already barely getting through each day. Jonah gets booted from mainstream kindergarten by a principal who labels him “quirky.” Marlo’s husband, Drew, is a traveling businessman who, though a nice guy and loving father, is clueless to the stresses of running the household. Also in the mix is Craig, Marlo’s brother who is equal parts wealthy and smug. Charlize Theron proves again that she is truly an elite actress when she commits to a role. Her 50 lb. weight game adds the necessary realism, but it’s her emotional teetering that is most impressive. She is like a supermodel who also plays rugby – a rare blend of beauty, talent and skill. Mackenzie Davis, as Tully, is a revelation. She holds her own in every scene and it’s quite interesting to see her as a free-spirited modern day Mary Poppins. If a previous movie has dealt with the challenge and stress of motherhood with this level of depth and realism, it doesn’t come to mind. The movie kind of creeps up on you with a message regarding the importance of dealing with lost youth, while also never losing sight of yourself as an individual … all with incisive humor and pulling no punches on being an overwhelmed mom. Just don’t call it quirky. Incredibles 2 (2018) (Also available to Buy or Rent on Prime Video) (Golden Globe Nomination for Best Animated Movie) In 2004, “The Incredibles” became the sixth Pixar film in a row to dominate the box office, and also to “WOW” us with a combination of animation, story, action and characters. All these years later, Brad Bird, the creative force behind the original, is back with the much anticipated sequel. Bird’s career over those years has featured a blend of other animation (“Ratatouille, 2007) and live-action (“Mission Impossible-Ghost Protocol.”   Filled with the beautiful colors and art design we’ve come to take for granted from Pixar, the film also features some of the best action sequences you’ll see in any movie. The train sequence with Elastigirl is simply spectacular – as is the final action sequence. It’s also nice to see the flip in gender roles as Mom (Holly Hunter) takes the lead. Family films don’t get much better than this, and even though it runs 2 hours, the closing credits feature the theme song for each of the superheroes, and could easily have been a short film unto itself.   Isle of Dogs (2018) (Also available for streaming on Prime Video) (Golden Globe Nomination for Best Animated Motion Picture and Best Original Score, Alexandre Desplat) Many directors have their own style, though few are as immediately recognizable as Wes Anderson.  “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, “Moonrise Kingdom”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “Rushmore” all share a tone and style … a cinematic personality, if you will, that places them squarely in “Wes World”. Beyond the similarities, there is also a level of innovation and creativity in each of his projects. He consistently delivers a “Wow” factor, or in the case of his latest, a “bow-wow” factor (my one and only pun, I promise). In addition to the humor, political corruption and conspiracies are at the core of what could be described as an animated rescue adventure comedy. Narrator Courtney B Vance ensures we are following along with the story, although the artistic beauty of Trash Island – a garbage strewn wasteland – is enough to hold our interest. It’s a bad dream tale … well it is if you happen to be a dog. Cat lovers probably view this as paradise. An all-star cast of voice actors keeps us interested even when the story bogs down at times, although the look of the film always seems to be priority one. It’s such an easy movie to respect, however, one that’s a bit more difficult to speak passionately about. To me, the film is creative and appears to be against unkindness and discrimination and corruption. But not everyone will get that message. With the Golden Globe Nominations out and the Screen Actors Guild Nominations out on Wednesday, the race for Oscar gold begins. I am excited to get into the thick of this season and see what the next few weeks hold. I’ll be at the movies every day.


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