After stumbling with Downsizing, Alexander Payne bounces back with a gentle & witty comedy-drama.
The artist Dmitry Samarov one said to me that the ratio of good to bad late periods in an artist's life was depressing to consider. For every Sir Edward William Elgar there was an Eric Clapton (my example, not his), and that it was rare to see someone sharpen as they aged. Now, I like Dmitry and certainly respect his opinion, but I can’t help but feel that when film overtook painting as the dominant artwork that people engage with, the ratio shifted towards bizarre experimentation and welcome self-reflection as much as dull self reflection.
Take for instance 62 year old Alexander Payne, who, after the biggest disaster of his career (2017’s confused parable Downsizing), has started his fourth decade as a director by leaning hard back into what he knew (and what the royal “we” enjoyed) and rediscovered himself with The Holdovers, a movie no one can seem to stop comparing to Hal Ashby. No mean feat, of course, but even that sells its virtues short. This is no mere homage, no mere return to form, this is the movie that Payne’s been hoping to make since his 90s heyday, a film that earns both its jaundiced gaze and its catharsis. Continue Reading →
TAYLOR SWIFT | THE ERAS TOUR
Make no mistake, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, the highly anticipated film version of the career-spanning spectacle the singer-songwriter-popstar toured stadiums with this summer, is essentially a victory lap for her in the wake of massive critical and commercial success. Despite that, it still works because it never feels like what it could have been—a final cash grab for a show that already pulled in enough money to rival the GNP of several developed nations. Instead, it plays like a summation of Taylor Swift and her ever-expanding artistic ambitions. It makes a definitive case for her as one of the most significant musical artists of these times. And it has a lot of sparkly, sassy fun while doing it. Continue Reading →
The Last Letter from Your Lover
While author Jojo Moyes doesn’t confine herself to the romance genre, her works do share a rosy bloom. Light-heartedness and melodrama and historical settings and yes, love, all abound. So without even reading it, you’ll probably have some idea of what to expect from the newest adaptation of her work, The Last Letter from Your Lover. There’s the French Riviera and 1960s fashion and mystery and a torrid love affair—the works. And director Augustine Frizzell doesn’t seem too interested in taking this tale off the tracks.In short? It’s your classic Netflix weepie, though perhaps a little more star-studded than usual. Felicity Jones (Rogue One) stars as Ellie, a modern London reporter with a bad case of heartbreak and a crappy attitude. While researching a basic assignment, she stumbles upon an old love letter that’s so intoxicating she becomes determined to track down who it belongs to and what happened to the couple in question. In between scenes of Ellie’s search, we see the romance play out. Jennifer (Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies) is a 1960s housewife with a husband who doesn’t seem to know or care that she exists. So when she meets dashing reporter Anthony (Callum Turner), it isn’t long before the two become swept up in each other and fall madly in love. But you won’t know if their romance ends in tragedy or happily ever after until Ellie gets to the bottom of it. Continue Reading →