It’s the season of screeners, which we have the amazing good fortune to receive since my husband is a member of the CAS, which presents annual awards for Sound Mixing.
There has been a trend in the last couple of years of seeing wonderful, excellent acting performances in overall disappointing movies. Either the story is foolish or pointless, or at the end of two hours one feels like we’ve learnt nothing and our time was wasted. When movies fall into the latter category, I refrain from writing reviews.
This year it seems that there are fewer of those turning up in our mailbox.
The other night we watched A Monster Calls (directed by J.A. Bayona) about a little boy whose imaginary friend helps him cope with his mother’s terminal illness and his stern grandmother -Sigourney Weaver nice in a role that one would normally expect to see played by Maggie Smith in an English film. It’s sad but fulfilling.
We enjoyed Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood in a spare and straightforward way with no schmaltz. The story begins with the famous crash, but is really about the aftermath and investigation. Considering that we all know what happened that day, there is a remarkable amount of suspense and tension in the real events. It has elements of courtroom drama. The movie was over suddenly – and we both felt like the time had whizzed by.
We were very pleased to get Moana (Disney) and enjoyed the mythological eco-warrior story. It was fun, and very beautiful. As a musical, the songs are not ear worms like “Let It Go” – perhaps inevitably. It’s yet another story that in part deals with grief – loss of a grandparent – and also the now familiar Disney theme of a girl rebelling or rejecting parental or societal authority.
The animation field is pretty darn crowded this year. I suppose Zootopia (now playing on Amazon) and Finding Dory are front runners, which both have nice stories and beautiful animation. Netflix is pushing its tour-de-force of animation styles, The Little Prince, and other screeners we’ve received include The Secret Life of Pets which is a sweet story, Kubo and the Two Strings a mystical story in astonishing stop-motion, and Trolls, which I haven’t watched yet. Other contenders which we didn’t get copies of are Sing, still in theaters, Storks, The Angry Birds Movie, and a couple of other less visible movies. There is something of a theme of talking animals this year (also Kung Fu Panda 3). Even Kubo includes a talking monkey and giant talking beetle, but in fairness they are magical creatures.
Hell or High Water (directed by David Mackenzie) turned out to not be what I thought at first. I like having my expectations adjusted, even if it was a very testosterone heavy pic. I enjoyed Jeff Bridges’ performance, and even more so the performance of another supporting actor, Gil Birmingham, who weirdly resembles Jimmy Fallon from some angles, as the Bridges’ long suffering sidekick. Sometimes an understated naturalistic performance can be overshadowed by the star presence of a powerhouse. I’d love to see the various Awards bodies defy expectation and nominate Birmingham.