Office Manager/Classified Ads
“As I’ve only seen three new release movies this year, only one was in a movie theater and I only liked two of them, I’ll write about those two. I could write about the third movie I didn’t like but that would take up the whole column and as I feel there is already too much negativity in this world, I’d like to focus on positive reviews.
“First up is ‘Knives Out’—absolutely hysterical!!! So well written, with plot twists and turns, and with social commentary thrown in to boot. Normally, when watching ‘who done it’ movies, it’s pretty easy to figure it out, but with this one, no way. I just sat back, laughed heartily and enjoyed the ride. Great writing, acting and directing and an original, well-written story. What more could be asked for?
“Second up is ‘Dolemite Is My Name,’ a fun, fun, fun movie, and yes, Eddie Murphy is fabulous, but my winner for best supporting actor goes to Wesley Snipes—so completely over the top, who stole every scene he was in, and even the ones he wasn’t cause I kept thinking of his character and wanting more or him.”
“I have the advantage of being a member of the Malibu Film Society, where most all of the 2019 films were screened, often with Q and A following by the filmmakers. While I didn’t see all of the myriad of films released in 2019, below is my opinion of those that left an indelible impression (good or bad):
1. ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’—The writer, director and actors did a great job with a story that could have been maudlin and treacly, but instead demonstrated a great example of the power of acceptance and understanding.
2. ‘JoJo Rabbit’—Not difficult to understand why so many didn’t want to attend a movie that was depicted as a comedic approach to Hitler’s Germany. However, once seen, I felt that the film was important and memorable in that it provided a completely new perspective on that time (and ours?). Great direction and acting. A real piece of art.
3. ‘Judy’—Amazing performance by Renee Zellweger!
4. ‘Ford vs. Ferrari’—Good, old fashioned good guys pursuing excellence vs. corporate myopia. Wonderful writing, direction and acting. Fun, too.
5. ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’—Wonderful acting, cinematography and interesting, albeit sometimes difficult, storyline. Enjoyed the film until the last 10 minutes—but what did I expect from Tarantino?
6. ‘Downton Abby’—OK. I loved it. You probably had to be a fan of this enduring and beautifully produced TV series to appreciate the setting, story and characters. Wonderful acting, art direction and costumes. Looking forward to more.
7. ‘The Irishman’—Good story and fine acting but considerable editing would have helped.
8. ‘The Lighthouse’—Dismal. I couldn’t wait for the principals to kill each other so I could go home.
9. ‘Marriage Story’—I didn’t like the film as I couldn’t understand why such nice, creative and caring people couldn’t avoid splitting, putting their child in the middle of their conflict. Opinion on the film seems to split on generational lines: we older folks thinking they should/could have worked it out. Younger viewers being more accepting of their need to lead separate lives. Oh well.”
“The Best: ‘The Irishman’
The Worst: ‘Joker’
At three-and-a-half hours, ‘The Irishman’ is a bit long, and no, it may not be the best picture of the decade.
Maybe because I never looked at my watch. Maybe because when I was a news anchor at the CBS station in Vegas, I used to cover these wise guys. Maybe because I love De Niro, Scorsese and Keitel. Maybe because I could watch Robert De Niro tie his shoelaces for three-and-a-half hours. ‘The Irishman’ was a classic mob thriller, while ‘Joker’ was bleak, dark and depressing. Nothing I am looking for in a movie. I want to leave a movie with a character to root for, to be entertained, to be uplifted.
And that’s all folks…”
“I’m by no means a cineaste, but Bong Joon Ho is the auteur for our times and his ‘Parasite’ is a Godardian romp through contemporary issues of class and widening inequality. The film took twists and turns worthy of ‘Les Diaboliques.’
The year’s most overrated picture was the umpteenth iteration of ‘Little Women.’ Although Saoirse Ronan was transplendent, as always, the movie was simultaneously jejune and insufferably preachy regarding women’s equality, going so far as to rewrite the denouement of Louisa May Alcott’s masterwork. And don’t get me started on the woefully miscast Bob Odenkirk, which had me longing for the subtle thespian shadings of Rob Schneider in ‘Deuce Bigelow.’ People grouse that Greta Gerwig was not nominated for best director and yet the better-reviewed ‘Marriage Story,’ helmed by her partner Noah Baumbach, also failed to garner a best director nod. If Gerwig was on the best director slate, who should have been summarily tossed overboard: Scorsese? Tarantino? Sam Mendes? Todd Phillips? Or Bong Joon Ho?
But what do I know?”
“Holy Ebert and Siskel! I’ve missed out on watching a smorgasbord of 2019 movies. Presumably, there were a lot of great films and a lot of trash films.
I had to fight my inner fanboy to not declare ‘Avengers: Endgame’ as the greatest movie in history. So, in my opinion, ‘Queen & Slim’ was the best movie of 2019.
The film about two African Americans going on the run after the deadly finality of a questionable police traffic stop caused a range of emotions within me. The story is original and appropriate for the times we live and the acting is phenomenal. ‘Queen & Slim’ is a movie you should watch.”
“Last year was a mother lode of great filmmaking—with way more good movies and performances than the allotted number of Oscar nominations. As a result, a lot of fine works that might have been nominated in other years missed out this year, including ‘Just Mercy,’ ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ and ‘Harriet.’
The best film, ‘Joker,’ makes almost no reference to its comic book origins. It takes a deep psychological look at a creepy but sympathetic character marginalized by society. ‘Joker’ gradually descends into his own personal hell of mental illness after a lifetime of cruelty and violence. He emerges from that hell as a completely different, in-charge person. The story is brilliantly acted, directed and written.”
“Let me get it out of the way and say ‘1917’ was by far the best video game of 2019. State-of-the-art graphics, thrilling plot, fun cameos…
But as movies go, it almost had to be the most overrated film of 2019. Hard not to be when everyone was tripping over him- or her- (but let’s face it, mostly him-) self to praise it.
Good films? I saw so many, including the incredibly moving and underrated “The Farewell” by master storyteller and essayist Lulu Wang. But my favorite must be ‘Little Women,’ the only movie I’ve ever paid to see in theaters twice. Scenically splendorous and rich in laugher, love and heartbreak—but not saccharine—I recommend it to anyone who’s ever been a teenage girl, and I especially recommend it to anyone who’s never been.”
“As a dad of two daughters, I have to sometimes endure some sappy kid movies, but ‘Frozen II’ was a pleasant surprise. The story was engaging and the animation was as good as it gets. The music was very good but, thankfully, didn’t have the mind-pounding equal to ‘Let It Go.’ All the main characters were happily there, along with some beautifully articulated characters representing wind, fire and water. The movie was so heartfelt that one of our girls’ eyes started leaking. I highly commend ‘Frozen II’ as very entertaining.”
“‘Parasite’—though predictable as a top movie of 2019—is by far the must-see movie of the bunch. Director Bong Joon Ho crafts an intricate tale of class relations, one that takes a journey from amusing to clever to downright terrifying. The individual portrayals from the likes of, for example, Song Kang Ho and Park So Dam, mesh together for a wonderful, award-winning ensemble performance. In Malibu, a place where most residents have more in common with the Parks than they might like to believe, the movie should be required watching. (That is, should they allow themselves to cross the ‘one-inch tall barrier of subtitles.’)
The worst movie of the year was ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.’ Weird plot points (twists?) aside, how many times can we possibly use Carrie Fisher’s footage posthumously? Let the nostalgia go, people.”
Arnold G. York
“I’m going to pass on the best picture because, although I’ve seen Tarantino’s movie ‘One Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ I haven’t seen the other major contender, ‘1917.’ I believe ‘JoJo Rabbit’ is also certainly up there as a contender if it’s possible to imagine a movie about a kid in Nazi Germany with Adolph Hitler as his imaginary playmate and it’s all kind of a black comedy. Actually, they should give an Academy Award to whomever pitched that story and managed to actually get the money to make the movie.
The worst of the year is much easier. This seemed to be a year for some very bleak movies filled with angst, but tops—or really the bottom, in my opinion—was a movie called ‘The Lighthouse,’ which carried away some prizes at the Cannes Film Festival that made me wonder about the deep strain of masochism in the French. It’s a story of two lighthouse keepers set in the late 1900s with two very good actors, Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson, playing the two of the most dismal, unlovable, angst filled characters, in a movie so bleak that if I had a knife I would have opened my veins in the first 20 minutes. which is about as long as I lasted.”