Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Big Sick

Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter
Director: Michael Showalter
Running Time:2 hours
Rating: R

This movie is so good. It's kind of flying under the summer blockbuster radar right now, but if you're like me, and not really into summer blockbusters, "The Big Sick" is the perfect ticket. It's clever, not your predictable romantic comedy, and the chemistry between main and supporting characters is palpable. It's a comedic take on a sensitive topic - a Pakistani boy and a white, American girl fall for each other, to his family's dismay. The film was actually written by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, chronicling their real-life romance. I'm glad it worked out for the two of them. This film is fantastic.

Kumail plays a modern-day version of himself: Uber driver by day, stand-up comic hopeful by night. He meets Emily, a graduate student, NOT interested in dating. Hangouts and hookups turn into dates (obviously) and soon enough, they are "official". Things take a turn when Emily finds a box of headshots of potential wives for Kumail, while tries to explain that it's his mother's doing, not his. Tensions that had been simmering are now bubbling over the pot. Things fall apart and the two split up.

When Emily falls terribly ill and is put into a medically-induced coma, Kumail is at the hospital nearly everyday with Emily's parents. Ray Romano and Holly Hunter are a romantic comedy match made in heaven. I guess you could pair Ray Romano with anyone and they would be funny, but I am so impressed with Holly Hunter's comedic chops! Note to self - go back and watch more of her films, even the dramas! Emily's parents don't like that Kumail is hanging around the hospital - he did hurt their daughter after all - but the three bond over this tragedy and soon friendships are formed.

It's no spoiler to say that Emily survives the coma and ends up with Kumail. But there are several one-liners, plot twists and cameos that I won't reveal. Though it gets a little slow in the middle (most of the scenes take place in a hospital waiting room), stick with it. I'll remember this heart-warming story of love overcoming all for a long time.

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Beguiled

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning
Director: Sofia Coppola
Running Time: 1 hour, 33 minutes
Rating: R

I had a lot of mixed thoughts going into this film. Reviews weren't great, but the trailer intrigued me to no end, not to mention the all-star cast. And with the gorgeous sepia shots of an old, moss-covered mansion, I knew this film would be a feast for the eyes. As my viewing partner remarked, this film is a slow burn, that never really catches on fire. So much potential and so many moments could have built into a riveting climax, but it just doesn't really happen. Save this one for a rainy day Netflix binge.

Nicole Kidman, exquisite as always, stars as Miss Martha, a headmaster at a girls' school in Virginia. We're nearing the end of the Civil War when young Amy comes across a wounded soldier in a nearby meadow. The more I see Colin Farrell's work, the more I enjoy it, and this film is no exception. Needless to say, Corporal McBurney's appearance at the school is quite startling to the 7 women who haven't been near a male in quite sometime. Even the younger girls are taken with him, most notably in a scene when they try to "one up" each other when he compliments the apple pie after dinner.

Edwina (Kirsten Dunst, in a welcomed return to the screen) catches the Corporal's eye, and the two share a few private moments and frequently exchange glances, though Alicia (a fabulous Elle Fanning) is the most forward and flirtatious of the bunch, thus catching his eye as well. And we can't forget Miss Martha, who enjoys a nightly brandy with the Corporal after the girls have retired to their quarters.

The Corporal (and the audience) are very aware that everyone wants him, but none of them are quite aggressive enough to go for it. Until one night, when things don't go the way anyone expects. What could have been a tremendously climactic moment just lingers in the air, and the last quarter of the film just turns into an odd 20 minutes. It's as if no one really knew where to take the characters after this incident, so they just made it up on the spot.

Too much exposition and too little pressure around the later scenes left me feeling pretty unsatisfied. The most satisfying thing was the gorgeous cinematography, but this film kind of leaves me thinking "what a shame."