Review: Sound of Metal

Learn to be deaf.

Ruben (Riz Ahmed) is in a metal band with his girlfriend Lou (Olivia Cooke) when he starts experiencing intermittent hearing loss. When he goes to a doctor, he finds his hearing at the 20% mark and a cochlear implant is 40k and not covered by insurance. Through his sponsor, he goes to see Joe (Paul Raci) a man who runs a program for deaf individuals. There, he teaches Ruben "how to be deaf" as he puts it, while Ruben comes to terms with his life completely changing.

I was lucky enough to see this early, it hits Amazon Prime in December and it's one I've been looking forward to since seeing the trailer. I've been a fan of Ahmed since he blew me away in The Night Of, and I knew he'd be wonderful here.

It's fitting that a film like this would be so quiet. It's somewhat of a slow burn, but I appreciated how the pacing did not lag when it came to Ruben working through his new way of life. They could've easily dragged out his acclimation, made him get angry and give up more than once, but they didn't. They keep a steady pace. They also touch on the very real rift within the deaf community about implants, which is something we don't see often.

Ahmed of course is wonderful but Paul Raci also really impressed me. He's not an actor I'm very familiar with but I was captivated by him on screen. Cooke doesn't have a lot to do, but you can see and feel how troubled she is by everything in her few short scenes. I liked her chemistry with Ahmed.

While the ending is somewhat predictable, and I personally wished it would've wrapped up one loose end that it didn't, I'm really looking forward to watching this again. It's very different from the other films I've seen this year. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Those moments of stillness, that's the kingdom of God" - Joe (Paul Raci)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Villains


This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is all about the times where our protagonist is actually an antagonist. It's not easy to tell your story from the villain's POV, but here are three films that do it well.

1) American Psycho

I'm sure this one will be popular today, but how can you not go with Patrick Bateman? Sociopath extraordinaire and frequent fan of video tapes.

2) Pretty Persuasion

This one might be a bit obscure, but Evan Rachel Wood's Kimberly puts the Plastics to shame. What she does in this film is some high stakes teenage fuckery. 

3) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

I love that Tim Burton went full gore with this musical. While it's easy to feel sympathy for Sweeney, the guy does murder a lot of people.

Review: Kajillionaire

 What's your share?

Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood) and her parents, Robert (Richard Jenkins) and Theresa (Debra Winger) have been scammers as long as she can remember. Stealing, haggling, trying to get by on the cheapest thing possible. That's their life. While doing an elaborate scam to get some insurance money, they happen across Melanie (Gina Rodriguez) who happily joins them on what she thinks will be a light hearted way to earn extra cash. But when Robert and Theresa start treating her very differently, Old Dolio starts to realize just how much love she's missed out on over the years.

Director Miranda July is a very interesting filmmaker. I loved her first feature, Me And You And Everyone We Know, but was far less impressed with her last, The Future. I'm happy to say that Kajillionaire is more in line with her first. I'm not even sure I'd call this "quirky" July's filmmaking is a bit beyond that. It's meticulously weird, but in a way that works. She showcases awkwardness in many different forms. 

Evan Rachel Wood is wonderful here. Many of her biggest acting moments are her simply observing and she says so much with her eyes. She speaks in a much lower register in this film than she naturally does, and it never sounds phony. Jenkins, Winger and Rodriguez are good as well. Normally I can get easily annoyed with characters who have a debt to pay, then frivolously spend on something else instead of paying said debt (which is 100% on me and just being careful with money) but I didn't feel that way here. The feel of this film was different enough to let it slide.

I will say, there is one thing that happens towards the end of the film, and I completely get WHY it happened. It's a great visual, but it was so illogical that both me and my husband were completely thrown off by it. I just could not suspend my disbelief enough for that to work. It reminded me a bit of how I felt about The Trial of the Chicago 7 honestly. One single scene I just hated in an otherwise great movie. It's not worth skipping because of it, but it might make you scratch your head.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "This is it. It's the big one." - Old Dolio (Evan Rachel Wood)

2020 Blind Spot Series: Jules & Jim


What I knew going in: That this was a popular French New Wave film

Jim (Henri Serre) a Frenchman is friends with Jules, (Oskar Werner) an Austrian living in Paris in the 1910's. They both fall in love with a woman named Catherine. (Jeanne Moreau) Catherine eventually marries Jules, and after WWI, the three meet again in Germany and Catherine starts falling in love with Jim. The film follows these three as they attempt to make a relationship work.

I picked this film as I wanted to see more work from director François Truffaut and this seemed like a fairly popular choice, but I have to admit I'm a bit perplexed after watching it. Jim and Jules together make a great pair of friends. Catherine is to put it blunty - kind of a flake, but I wouldn't say I disliked her character. I just found nearly every decision this trio makes to be kind of illogical and I never understood how these two guys would go to such lengths to keep Catherine. I also don't understand why Catherine even entertained some of these ideas in the first place. I won't go as far as to say these characters are underwritten, I'm just utterly unconvinced at their motives.

The film is shot beautifully and has moments I really enjoyed, but the climax felt like it came out of nowhere tone wise. I actually had to stop and rewind my DVD just to make sure what really happened, happened. 

Ultimately, this was just a bit weird. I still have a long ways to go with French New Wave and while there was much to appreciate here, I don't think this is a film I'll ever return to.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I'm afraid she'll never be happy on this earth. She's a vision for all, perhaps not meant for any one man alone." Jim (Henri Serre)

Thursday Movie Picks: Favorite Cinematography

 This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves was a suggestion by me! I wanted to talk about female DP's because we never hear enough about them. We didn't even have the first Oscar nominated female DP until Rachel Morrison was honored for Mudbound in 2018. So here are three very beautiful films shot by women

1) The Neon Demon

Shot by Natasha Braier, say what you want about this movie's plot but there's no denying that this neon drenched film is beyond gorgeous. Braier shots this like the candy colored nightmare its mean to be. 

2) Black Panther

Shot by Rachel Morrison, while Mudbound earned her that first Oscar nomination, Black Panther should've been her second. It's the most beautifully shot of all the Marvel films. 

3) Water Lilies

Shot by Crystel Fournier, She was director Céline Sciamma's DP on her first three features and as I've mentioned before, Water Liles holds a special place in my heart. It's such a wonderful coming of age film with the final shot of it being one of the most beautiful I've ever seen.

Review: Driveways

 An unlikely friendship.

Kathy (Hong Chau) has recently lost her sister and goes to another town to clean out her house. Unbeknownst to her, she became a hoarder in her life and Kathy has a ton of work cut out for her. Her young son, Cody (Lucas Jaye) comes with her and after a bad run in with some neighboring kids, forms a bond with the retiree next door, Del. (Brian Dennehy)

Think of it as Gran Torino, but without turning all the racism into comedic relief. This is a very quiet film anchored by the lead actors. There's nothing showy, though it's shot very beautifully. It also doesn't end in tragedy, which is someone unexpected in stories where a young person befriends an older one like this.

Hong Chau is a really interesting actress and I hope she continues to get a bunch of work. I really liked her character here. She's just trying to get through this, and do what's right for Cody. She's quick not to take shit from the micro-aggressions coming from her "new neighbors" and I really enjoyed her chemistry with Jaye and Dennehy. Jaye is a promising young talent in his own right and carries this movie well.

At 83 minutes, this is a very quick watch and while it may not be as exciting as other films out there, I think it's definitely worth your time.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Is my son bothering you?" - Kathy (Hong Chau) 

Review: Sorry We Missed You

 Be your "own" boss.

Ricky (Kris Hitchen) has just gotten a job as a delivery driver in the UK hoping it solves he and his family's financial woes. His wife Abbie (Debbie Honeywood) is a carer, and their two children Seb (Rhys Stone) and Liza Jae (Katie Procter) couldn't differ more academically. But the delivery job isn't what he expected it to be, and the added stress that comes with it leaves them worse off.

Director Ken Loach's last feature, I, Daniel Blake was the main reason I wanted to see this. That was a very hard hitting look at the lower working class in the UK, and Sorry We Missed You is no different. Ricky's family feels real. You might as well be watching a documentary, nothing about this feels artificial. If you've ever struggled with money, it can be a tough watch, but thankfully Loach isn't relentless with this content. There's a few laughs thrown in to break the tension.

What I appreciate most about this feature was the relationship between Ricky and Abbie. They're a couple that even though they're struggling and they do fight, they make a serious effort in truly listening to one another and talking about their problems. That's what sets this movie apart from others involving the same plot. It would be easy to write them with a ton of animosity for each other and to have them at each other's throats for the duration of the film, but I really enjoyed how much they attempted to hear each other out and work towards their shared goal. It's a rocky relationship, but one that has a strong foundation of love underneath and that's never lost on the viewer.

The actors were great. It reminded me a lot of how Katie Jarvis was in Fish Tank. That feel of someone plucked off the street and put into a film. It works so well.

The ending might be a bit off putting, I know my husband and I were split on it, but overall I thought this was a really solid film.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Nobody messes with my family." - Abbie (Debbie Honeywood)