Bradley Cooper pays respectful homage to Leonard Bernstein in this lavish passion project.
The problem inherent to most biopics is one of balance. Err too far on the side of worshipful and you get nonsense like Oliver Stone’s The Doors. Or you could swing in the other direction and you end up with an “oops, all warts” camp disaster like Mommie Dearest. Most linger somewhere in the middle, at a respectful distance, so that they’re ultimately kind of boring, and offer nothing new or particularly insightful about its subject matter.
Bradley Cooper’s Maestro, about the life of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein, isn’t boring. It’s too visually dazzling for that. It does not, however, leave one feeling like they’ve really gotten to know more about Bernstein other than he was a complicated, workaholic genius who struggled with his sexuality, which is all information that could be gleaned from his Wikipedia page. But it sure is lovely spending time in his world for a little while. Continue Reading →
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Cory Finley is obsessed with money. His characters have nice things or want them. They live in beautiful houses or enviously plot to get them. Even in the year 2036, with aliens living on (or, more precisely, about two miles above) planet Earth, people still fret over money and try to make scads of it. That’s the state of things in his latest, Landscape with Invisible Hand. It’s a title with the same bespoke aestheticism as the stuffed ocelots and oversized chess pieces his characters own. It feels seemingly designed to scare off less curious viewers. While the film has an awful lot of plot, the undergirding is the same. As in his 2017 debut Thoroughbreds, his follow-up Bad Education, and even his episodes of the abysmal miniseries WeCrashed, the drama comes from the idea of what money does to the soul. Continue Reading →
The immediate issue with Tina Slatter’s debut feature, Reality, is how disengaging it is as a movie. A direct adaptation from Slatter’s theatrical piece Is This a Room, the conceptual background is probably the more interesting part. That show took the recorded transcript of FBI agents and former veteran and NSA translator Reality Winner (Sydney Sweeney) about Winner's leaking of classified information on Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential election and used it as a verbatim dialogue. Everything uttered on the tape is replicated almost exactly in the play and, now, the film. The stutters, pauses, coughing, dog barking, doors opening. Everything. Recreated in minute detail. Continue Reading →
Pregnancy sucks. Though we do it all the time, because otherwise god forbid more women would choose to not subject themselves to it, it seems almost morally wrong to sugarcoat it. Even an “easy” pregnancy is uncomfortable at best, when foods you normally love become repulsive, and even tasks as simple as putting on shoes become a comedy of errors, if your feet can even still fit in them. Childbirth itself is the most excruciating pain the human body can endure, and the effort for such a “natural and beautiful” process can result in vaginal tears that can make future intercourse difficult. Mostly, we just get real weird about pregnant people. Pregnancy is perceived as a communal event, with everyone, even casual friends and co-workers pushing advice and suggestions, while often dismissing (if not shutting down outright), the pregnant person’s needs and concerns. Ilana Glazer and John Lee’s False Positive is a chillingly effective look at an expectant parent’s sharp decline from excitement to unease to paranoid terror. Her fears are brushed off as part of “mommy brain,” but there may be something to it. Continue Reading →
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
It’s easy to feel like time’s been stuck in an infinite loop recently. Especially when two movies are released within a year of each other that both ask the question, “What if we remade Groundhog’s Day, but with two people instead of one?”. Unfortunately for The Map of Tiny Perfect Things, a Y.A. drama streaming on Amazon Prime, it’s now the Volcano of time loop romances (the superior Palm Springs is the Dante’s Peak, of course). Continue Reading →