Friday, 30 November 2018

Film Review: "Nothing Like a Dame" (2018).

"You're invited" in Tea With the Dames. This British documentary film directed by Roger Michell. Together, they're 342 years old. They're in their seventh decade of cutting-edge, epoch-defining performances on stage and on screen. Funny, smart, sharp, competitive, tearful, hilarious, savage, clever, caustic, cool, gorgeous, poignant, irreverent, iconic, old, and unbelievably young. Special friends, special women and special dames: a chance to hang out with them all, at the same table, at the same time, and enjoy sparkling and unguarded conversation spliced with a raft of archive. The film stars Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright, and Maggie Smith.

It's enjoyable watching them engage in witty banter but it's also fascinating seeing them talk about their prestigious careers. Have a sip of tea and enjoy! I'm sure I will see better, more elaborately structured and edited documentaries this year than Michell's film, but I doubt any will fill me with as much pure, elated joy. The film also makes points - sometimes subtle, sometimes very frank - about the ways in which women, especially older women, are overlooked and underestimated. No one goes to a movie like this in order to bask in its visual opulence. No, they go to see four legends dish about their professional and personal lives and in that respect, it is undeniably entertaining. The real meat of the film is how respectfully it portrays their insane level of talent and knowledge and how refreshingly realistic it is in how it portrays their advanced age. The premise sounds like a bit of a snore. Four octogenarians get together at a quiet country estate. They have tea in the garden, then go into the house when it starts raining. The end. There's very little action. But there's plenty of drama. This is for you if you enjoy gorgeous homes, crisp accents, and great pashminas during moments where Dench has a reason to call herself a "menopausal dwarf" in the context of being cast to play a legendary beauty. Candid, insightful and unpredictable, Atkins, Dench, Plowright and Smith are not only acting legends but also great friends. And a treat to hang out with. The film peters out as a conversation, given there's no real beginning, middle or end to the film. It's a privilege, however, to have been given a tableside seat to listen to this foursome reminisce and ruminate for an hour and a half. Gathered outdoors in Plowright's garden for a bit of a gossip and a stroll down memory lane, they entertain each other and the crew as well as us, then the rains come, driving them inside for a wee bit more. Here's a good one. We're offered the precious illusion that we're close enough with four pillars of English theatre that they're chatting to us about their memories and feelings; that we get to see them as people and as friends. It's an intimate and unpretentious opportunity to sit down with a quartet of incredible talents outside of standard, static talk show settings.

Simon says Nothing Like a Dame receives:

Also, see my review for My Cousin Rachel.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Film Review: "Creed II" (2018).

"It may not seem like it now, but... this is more than just a fight." This is Creed II. This sports drama film directed by Steven Caple Jr., and written by Juel Taylor and Sylvester Stallone. It is a sequel to Creed (2015) and the eighth installment in the Rocky film series. In 1985, Russian boxer Ivan Drago killed former U.S. champion Apollo Creed in a tragic match that stunned the world. Against the wishes of trainer Rocky Balboa, Apollo's son Adonis Johnson accepts a challenge from Drago's son - another dangerous fighter. Under guidance from Rocky, Adonis trains for the showdown of his life - a date with destiny that soon becomes his obsession. Now, Johnson and Balboa must confront their shared legacy as the past comes back to haunt each man.

In early January 2016, it was confirmed by Sylvester Stallone and Gary Barber, CEO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, that a sequel to Creed was in development. Although due to both Coogler and Jordan's involvement with Black Panther (2018), the film was delayed. Coogler would serve as executive producer. In July 2017, Stallone completed the script and announced Lundgren would be reprising his role as Drago. In October 2017, it was announced that Stallone would direct and produce the film. However, Stallone backed out of directing the film. Ultimately, in December 2017, it was reported that Steven Caple Jr. would instead direct the film with Tessa Thompson confirmed to reprise her role of Bianca, Creed's love interest. In January 2018, Romanian amateur boxer Florian Munteanu was cast in the film to play Drago's son. In March 2018, Phylicia Rashad, Wood Harris, and Andre Ward were confirmed to reprise their roles from the prior film. In the same moth, principal photography began in Philadelphia, lasting through July.

The film stars Jordan, Stallone, Thompson, Lundgren, Munteanu, Rashad, Harris, and Ward. The cast gave terrific performances that extended their characters logically and grippingly, preserving all the traits that made their characters work so well.

Creed II is a movie that dares you to root again for the ultimate underdog - and succeeds due to an infectiously powerful climax. In its boxing and training scenes, the film packs much of the punch its predecessor did, complete with an exciting pugilistic finale that has even more emotional weight than its predecessor. What is most remarkable about the film is that it recalls so many scenes from the Rocky films and its predecessor, and yet - amazingly - it works. Almost every bit of it. However, in an attempt to tell the new story - that of Adonis' adjustment to near-success and an attempt to live a non-boxing life - the plot tends to drag and the picture takes on a murky quality. The film has a waxy feeling, and it never comes to life the way its predecessor did. It slavishly repeats the plot of Creed and Rocky II achieving differentiation only in dubious forms: soap opera detours, delaying tactics and an ugly new mood of viciousness surrounding a rematch between the boxers.

Simon says Creed II receives:

Also, see my review for Creed.

Film Review: "The Front Runner" (2018).

"Gary Hart was going to be President. Instead he changed American Politics forever." This is The Front Runner. This political drama film directed by Jason Reitman, written by Reitman and Jay Carson, and based on the 2014 book All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai. The film centres on Gary Hart, a former senator of Colorado, who becomes the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1987. Hart's intelligence, charisma and idealism makes him popular with young voters, leaving him with a seemingly clear path to the White House. All that comes crashing down when allegations of an extramarital affair surface in the media, forcing the candidate to address a scandal that threatens to derail his campaign and personal life.

In 2003, Bai, a political columnist, became interested in American Senator Gary Hart after writing a profile of him for The New York Times. In 2014, Bai published the book, All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid. Bai would later go on to pen the script for the film with Reitman and former Hillary Clinton press secretary, Jay Carson. In June 2017, it was reported that Hugh Jackman would portray Gary Hart. By late September, Vera Farmiga, J. K. Simmons, Alfred Molina, Kaitlyn Dever, and Sara Paxton rounded out the films' cast. At the same time, principal photography commenced, and wrapped in early November. Filming took place in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia. The real-life Donna Rice, now using Donna Rice Hughes as her married name, the woman with whom Hart was alleged to have had an affair, was given a private screening of the film a few months before its release. To this day, Hart and Rice Hughes deny they had an affair. In interviews about the film, Rice Hughes has credited Paxton with an authentic portrayal of her 29-year-old self, has said she appreciates how Reitman, treated her character with compassion and dignity.

The film stars Jackman, Farmiga, Simmons, Molina, Dever, and Paxton. The performances are superb, particularly Jackman as Hart. Jackman is excellent as the charming but shallow Hart. The movie is at its best when examining the complex character of Hart.

Reitman's The Front Runner tries to recreate those muddied times for 1980s America, but leaden film that's held together only by Jackman's strong performance as Gary HartThe greatest virtue of the filmmakers' straightforward approach is that it avoids the obvious pitfall of pretentiousness. Reitman is not the most stylistically assured of filmmakers, but his ability with actors is obvious. For this project, that is enough to turn the flat conventions of the docudrama into something resembling life. A quality cast, polished writing and the atmospheric evocation of 1980s American political landscape sleaze make for a powerful depiction of Hart's fall from grace. If you're familiar with the scandal in question, this does an excellent job in unravelling what it was actually all about. It's surprisingly wise about the complexities of the human heart.

Simon says The Front Runner receives:

Also, see my review for Tully.

Film Review: "Border" (2018).

"Sense Something Beautiful" in Border. This Swedish fantasy film directed by Ali Abbasi, adapted by Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf and John Ajvide Lindqvist, and based on Lindqvist's short story of the same name from his anthology Let the Old Dreams Die. Customs officer Tina is known for her extraordinary sense of smell. It's almost as if she can sniff out the guilt on anyone hiding something. But when Vore, a suspicious-looking man, walks past her, her abilities are challenged for the first time ever. Tina can sense Vore is hiding something she can't identify. Even worse, she feels a strange attraction to him. As Tina develops a special bond with Vore and discovers his true identity, she also realizes the truth about herself.

Abbasi and Lindqvist wrote the first draft of the screenplay. Abbasi was influenced by a lot of Latin American magical realism including Gabriel García Márquez, Carlos Fuentes and Roberto Bolaño. Abassi then hired Eklöf to add more "psychological realism" to the story. 

The film stars Eva Melander, Eero Milonoff, Sten Ljunggren, Rakel Wärmländer, and Ann Petrén. The film is an intriguing, grounded and atmospheric tale thanks to the naturalistic and powerful performances.

Part fantasy, part magical realism and part social commentary, Border is an atmospheric and thoughtful chiller with real power. This notable sophomore effort from Abbasi will likely illicit comparisons to Pan's Labyrinth, but it's the early films of Guillermo de Toro that most directly inform the film. A risky and uncomfortable film, not suitable for sensitive people with the unusual virtue of not succumbing to the demands of a more commercial cinema. Maybe expecting a horror film to have a point is expecting too much. In any case, the cast give committed performances on the way to a veiled ending. Atmosphere and mood are the film's strong suit, both growing thickly heavy as time elapses and strange occurrences commence. A classy take on the magical realism category, with a subtle social critique underlying its neo-gothic texture. The difference between the film's first and second halves is stark in comparison, but thankfully it only gets better as the seconds pass. I'm not sure if the film is one that will appeal to everyone, but if you are looking for a film that will challenge as well as amaze, then this is the one to see. This is a wildly creative film that plays on your heart and your head, stunning in its rich imagery and ambitious in its themes. The film is one of those rare beasts, with a sense of genuine permanency. It beds down in your mind, like it is preparing to live there for a while. It is not pretty, but it is, sometimes, very beautiful. The story is a compelling and deeply involving one, and the film is both beautiful, exciting, and sometimes horrifying. The creature effects are superbly handled. In this magical and immensely moving film Abbasi presents both the narrative strands as equally real, equally plausible.

 Simon says Border receives:

Tuesday, 27 November 2018

'Once Upon a Time in Canada' Chapter 58.

I’m out of energy. No more energy at this point. So it took a little bit longer for me to get prepared for the Toronto Marlies vs. Cleveland Monsters Game after a long, hard day at work. One nice thing about going to a game like this is that I get to forget about work and just enjoy myself: access to pure fun. For some reason, the crowd atmosphere wasn’t as strong as the last hockey game. Don’t know why. Doesn’t really matter, I suppose. The important thing is that I’m here and I get to have fun for two hours or so.

I made my way through security, and then made my way to my seat. I was seated up right on the edge of the ground seatings, where I was protected by a thick sheet of Plexiglas. But this time, it was a better viewing than the last game. That’s great, but having said, I wanted to be seated a little further away, right up the balcony seats so that I can see the action from a distance. After about an hour, I decided to make my way to the bathroom and get a hot drink during the break, so that for the next round, I would be a little warmer and won’t miss anything.

Once I did that, I got back to my seat feeling much better, with my hot chocolate. The hot chocolate came a reliable establishment, Tim Hortons, and was nice and hot, as any good hot chocolate should be. So I’m ready to enjoy the second round, but I’m still not exactly happy with my seat. My brother arbitrarily picked my seat since he paid for my ticket, so I was trapped in my seat until the game was over. I spent during the entire game trying to enjoy the game without getting too upset when the players would hit glass when they got tackled. I’d get a little jumpy when that happened until it ended. It kind of took me out of the game which kind of pissed me off. After the first couple of crashes, it got a little bit better.

Like the last hockey game, the Toronto Marlies won. And the crowd went wild, of course. After cheering, I then made my way out and made my way home. I’m sure the next game I go to will be just as great, if not better, than this one. No plans thus far, but we’ll see.

See videos of the game here. Also, see Chapters 57 and 59.

Film Review: "At Eternity's Gate" (2018).

"A Grain of Madness is the Best of Art." This is At Eternity's Gate. This biographical drama film directed by Julian Schnabel, and written by Schnabel, Jean-Claude Carrière and Louise Kugelberg. The film follows famed but tormented artist Vincent van Gogh as he spends his final years in Arles, France, painting masterworks of the natural world that surrounds him.

In 2011, Van Gogh: The Life was published. Its authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith challenged the conventional account of the artist's death. Naifeh and Smith argued that it was unlikely for van Gogh to have killed himself, noting the upbeat disposition of the paintings he created immediately preceding his death; furthermore, in private correspondence, van Gogh described suicide as sinful and immoral. The authors also question how van Gogh could have traveled the mile-long (about 2 km) distance between the wheat field and the inn after sustaining the fatal stomach wound, how van Gogh could have obtained a gun despite his well-known mental health problems, and why van Gogh's painting gear was never found by the police. Naifeh and Smith developed an alternative hypothesis in which van Gogh did not commit suicide, but rather was a possible victim of accidental manslaughter or foul play. Naifeh and Smith point out that the bullet entered van Gogh's abdomen at an oblique angle, not straight as might be expected from a suicide. They claim that van Gogh was acquainted with the boys who may have shot him, one of whom was in the habit of wearing a cowboy suit, and had gone drinking with them. Naifeh concluded that "accidental homicide" was "far more likely". The authors contend that art historian John Rewald visited Auvers in the 1930s, and recorded the version of events that is widely believed. The authors postulate that after he was fatally wounded, van Gogh welcomed death and believed the boys had done him a favour, hence his widely quoted deathbed remark: "Do not accuse anyone... it is I who wanted to kill myself." This would serve as the inspiration for the screenplay penned by Schnabel, Carrière and Kugelberg. In May 2017, Schnabel announced that he would direct a film about the famed painter, with Willem Dafoe cast in the role. By September, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, and Emmanuelle Seigner were cast. At the same time, principal photography commenced, and took place throughout the historical locations in France over thirty-eight days.

The film stars Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, and Emmanuelle Seigner. At first, Dafoe could be a little much, but that proves to be the right amount in the end.

Horrifying - but informative - tragic biography of Van Gogh, with a look at his painting technique and location filming of the places he lived. One of Schnabel's best pictures, a visually stunning portrait of Van Gogh, splendidly played by Dafoe. However, the film, attractive as it may be, never 'breaks through the iron wall' between what is felt and what is expressed, the very wall that van Gogh himself strove to overcome.

Simon says At Eternity's Gate receives:

Monday, 26 November 2018

Film Review: "Roma" (2018).

"There are periods in history that scar societies and moments in life that transform us as individuals." This is the story of Roma. This Mexican drama film written, co-produced, co-edited, photographed, and directed by Alfonso Cuarón. A story that chronicles a year in the life of a high-class family's maid in Mexico City in the early 1970s.

In early September 2016, it was announced that Alfonso Cuarón would write and direct a project focusing on a Mexican family living in Mexico City in the 1970s. Cuarón has been talking about making this film since 2006. According to Cuarón, he has been building towards Roma since his debut, Sólo con Tu Pareja (1991). The film marks Cuarón's eighteen-year return to Mexico to make the film, a first for him since Y Tu Mamá También (2001). Cuarón calls Roma the "most essential movie" of his career. In the fall of 2016, production begin. The film was shot in sequence in 65mm black-and-white. Cuarón decided to shoot on location in Mexico City. This is one reason for the several appearances of airplanes, because they had a plane passing by every five minutes. Every scene of the movie was shot where the events depicted took place or on sets that were exact replicas. Roma is the first time that Cuarón became his own cinematographer on one of his own films. Cuarón originally intended for the film to be shot by his collaborator, Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki. Because of logistic reasons Chivo couldn't do it after he had already done some preparations. Also Cuarón didn't want to hire an English-language DP and have to translate his own experience which is why he ended up as a cinematographer. To avoid a "subjective depiction" of the period, Cuarón chose to shoot the bulk of the film in wide shots, slowing panning over a scene, taking everything in.

The film stars Yalitza Aparicio, Marina de Tavira, Marco Graf, Daniela Demesa, Enoc Leaño and Daniel Valtierra. Tour de force performances were given by the cast that conveyed life itself, with all of its sweet and bitter harmony, and chaos; and bonds and scars in an intimate and epic portrait interwoven that transcends space, memory and time.

Roma is a powerful, mature film. It is a serious and profound drama that has something to say. Beneath the typical family drama movie that the movie is happy to advertise is another level—and below that, a much more profound level. It is a drama with startling emotional depth and complexity, set against the backdrop of class differences in Mexico. Part family album, part history class, part meditation on class, mortality and intimacy, this extraordinary little movie might be the perfect harbinger of Mexican culture. The movie has an emotional kick that lingers like a primal memory. When the year is over, Cuaron's film will be remembered as one of 2018's finest. The film will also go on to become one of Cuarón's most fascinating work - and, increasingly, an outlier in his idiosyncratic filmography.

Simon says Roma receives:

Also, see my review for Gravity.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Series Review: "The Little Drummer Girl" (2018).

"Seduction. Manipulation. Betrayal. Never trust a spy." This is The Little Drummer Girl (2018). This British-American television series directed by Park Chan-wook, adapted by Michael Lesslie and Claire Wilson, based on the novel of the same name by John le Carré. Set in the late 1970s, it follows young, idealistic actress Charlie, whose relationship with the mysterious Becker, an Israeli intelligence officer, leads her into a complex, high-stakes plot devised by spy mastermind Kurtz. She takes on the role of a lifetime as a double agent, and as she is drawn more deeply into a dangerous world of duplicity and compromised humanity, Charlie falls in love with both Becker and Kurtz.

Inspired by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of the 1970s, John le Carré's controversial spy novel transcended the spy novel genre upon its publication in 1983. William F. Buckley, of The New York Times, wrote: "The Little Drummer Girl is about spies as Madame Bovary is about adultery or Crime and Punishment about crime." The novel went to become one of John Grisham's favorite novels. Grisham has said: "I love to read John le Carré, the British guy who's really probably my favorite writer. The Little Drummer Girl is a book I read about every four or five years. It's just so clever and brilliantly plotted. It's the kinda' book-and his writing is off the charts, the way he expresses himself and the way he describes people and dialogue - and every time I read that book, it inspires me to be better." The character of Charmian "Charlie" Ross, the novel's radical left-wing, anti-Zionist, English actress was rumoured to have been modelled after Vanessa Redgrave, but her personality was modeled le Carré's half-sister Charlotte Cornwell. The novel was adapted in 1984, directed by George Roy Hill and adpated by le Carré and Loring Mandel. It starred Diane Keaton as Charlie, Yorgo Voyagis as Joseph and Klaus Kinski as Kurtz. The film changes Charlie from an English twenty-something to a thirty-ish American. The film was met with divisive reactions.

The series stars Florence Pugh as Charmian "Charlie" Ross, Michael Shannon as Martin Kurtz, Alexander Skarsgård as Gadi Becker, and Charles Dance as Commander Picton. Solid performances were given by the cast. Pugh, especially, lives it up. Unlike Keaton in the 1984 incarnation, Pugh is young and passionate to capture the idealistic actress-turned-spy that le Carré imagined.

Speed, suspense, and surprises, all combine to make The Little Drummer Girl one of those agreeable thrillers that can beguile the idle hours of the television screen. Mystery experts will enjoy the whole thing, I think. Intriguing, complex, and entirely satisfying, Park Chan-wook's version of le Carré's novel succeeds from the strong performance of Florence Pugh in the lead role, who perhaps was perfectly cast. International spy stories are most always good, and this is one of the best, smartly cut, with sufficient humanity. Like a brilliant escape artist, director Park Chan-wook has pulled off that rarest of feats -- the thriller of ideas.

Simon says The Little Drummer Girl (2018) receives:

Also, see my review for The Handmaiden (아가씨).

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Film Review: "Widows" (2018).

"Left with nothing. Capable of anything." This is Widows. This heist film directed by Steve McQueen, adapted by McQueen and Gillian Flynn, based upon the 1983 ITV series of the same name by Lynda La Plante. The film tells the story of four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica, Linda, Alice and Belle take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.

In late March 2015, it was announced that a project based on the 1983 British TV series was in development, with a script written by McQueen and Flynn, with McQueen attached to direct. Originally set in London, England, McQueen and Flynn moved the setting to Chicago, U.S.A. In September 2016, Viola Davis joined the cast as Veronica. In November, Cynthia Erivo joined the cast as Belle. In February 2017, Elizabeth Debicki and Michelle Rodriguez were cast as Alice and Linda. Originally, it was reported that Jennifer Lawrence was approached for Alice, but, due to scheduling conflicts, had to decline. By May, Daniel Kaluuya, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, Garret Dillahunt, Jacki Weaver, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Lukas Haas, Brian Tyree Henry, Carrie Coon, and Jon Bernthal joined the cast. In the same month, Principal photography began in Chicago, Illinois. Principal photography began on May 8, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Davis, Rodriguez, Debicki, Erivo, Farrell, Henry, Kaluuya, Dillahunt, Weaver, Coon, Duvall, Garcia-Rulfo, Bernthal, Haas, and Neeson. The cast gave poignant and gripping performances, especially from its four leading ladies who proved that anything a man can pull off, they can do it too. The ladies carrie the film from start to finish with utter beauty and badassness.

Widows is a sleek, accomplished piece of work, meticulously controlled and completely involving. The dark end of the street doesn't get much more inviting than this. The film  is uncommonly literate, with its psychological insight into the symbiotic relationship and fractured intimacy between women and men. It's not just an action picture. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they're thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, poetic when necessary. They're not trapped with cliches. Of the many imprisonments possible in our world, one of the worst must be to be inarticulate - to be unable to tell another person what you really feel. Stunningly made and incisively acted by a large and terrific cast, McQueen's ambitious study of the relativity of women and men stands apart from other films of its type by virtue of its extraordinarily rich characterizations and its thoughtful, deeply melancholy take on modern life. McQueen's action scenes have an existential, you-are-there jitteriness, but the heist-planning and political-talking scenes are just dry and talky. Overall, it is one of the most intelligent crime-thrillers to come along in years.

Simon says Widows receives:

Also, see my review for 12 Years a Slave.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Film Review: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald" (2018).

"Who will change the future?" The ultimate question presented in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. This fantasy film directed by David Yates and written by J. K. Rowling. It is the sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), and the second instalment in the Fantastic Beasts film series, and the tenth overall in the Wizarding World franchise. Since the last film, Gellert Grindelwald was captured by MACUSA with the help of Newt Scamander. But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In October 2014, a second Fantastic Beasts film was announced, and, in July 2016, Rowling confirmed she had completed the script. In October, Rowling has confirmed on Twitter that Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Ezra Miller would return. In addition, she confirmed that Newt Scamander is still going be the main character in the following movies. In November, Depp was cast as Grindelwald, which caused some controversy due to domestic violence allegations recently made against him. Rowling, however, defended the casting choice. In April 2017, Law signed on as Dumbledore. Other actors considered for the role included Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, and Jared Harris (son of Richard Harris, who played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films). In July, principal photography began, and concluded in December. Filming took place at the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England, as well as London, Switzerland, and Paris. For the characters, Rowling had the cast and crew refer to them by code names due to the top secret nature of the script. In addition, Rowling gave all of the cast members extremely secret details about their characters individually and in private. As for the creatures, a set of puppeteers physically took the place of the animals which were then finalized in post production thanks to the visual effects. The puppets were of different sizes and materials depending on the beast: for example, small bags of marbles were used to double the Niffler and his babies. And the enormous Zouwu required no less than three puppeteers, one manipulating his large sculpted head while the others moved his body and tail nearly three meters long that they swayed at the end of a pole. As with the first film, animal making required months of graphic, pattern, and animation testing to determine the appearance, behavior, movements, attitude, and personality of each creature. 

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Redmayne, Waterston, Fogler, Sudol, Miller, Zoë Kravitz, Callum Turner, Claudia Kim, William Nadylam, Kevin Guthrie, with Law, and Depp. Despite terrific performances, this time round, the cast suffered from unsatisfactory character developments and/or characterizations largely thanks to the confusing character histories conjured by Rowling.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald benefits from an increased emphasis on thrilling action. However, they're undercut by a convoluted plot and underdeveloped characters.

Simon says Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald receives:

Also, see my review for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

'Once Upon a Time in Canada' Chapter 57.

Yesterday was boring. I somewhat knew that it wasn’t going to be like WWE wrestling, but I didn’t expect it to be this tedious and uneventful. My day nearly was almost wasted watching the entire show. If I had stayed for the entire thing, I would have fallen asleep right then and there. But luckily I didn’t, and I only stayed for half the show, as one would expect. Looks like I had attended my first worst sports event during my time here. It would have been more awesome if there had been more action, maybe even a little bit of suspense.

I got up a little late in the morning. Everything was fine. If only I had slept a little better the night before, a good night sleep had been evading me for some nights for sometime. It was a pretty sunny but cold morning. If there was to be a sunny but cold morning, this was it. I was freezing as I made my way to the Ryerson Gymnasium, and I was relieved to get inside as fast as possible.

I decided it was a good time to go to the bathroom, and getting the camera set up. I got out the camera and decided to use my 35 to 70mm lense. Like every other sports event, this, other than my 70 to 200mm lense, was the only lense to use. Then I made my way around and above the gymnasium to capture the best shots possible despite the underwhelming subject matter.

I’m out of energy. No more energy by the end of the day. So I had a heavy and long sleep after I’ve attended another university wrestling event and a York University theatre production. One nice thing about going to events such as these to have something to photograph and write about it, as well as get out of the house: a reason to not stay locked away. But for some reason, the crowd atmosphere for the York Wrestling event was a little bit better than the Ryerson Wrestling event. Don’t know why that is. Does it really matter? The important thing is that I’m here and I have something to do for the day.

As for the theatre production, it was interesting play entitled Rochdale. The play examines Rochdale college, an experimental, student-run alternative education and co-operative living that opened in 1968 in downtown Toronto. As the largest co-op residence in North America, it provided space for eight-hundred-and-forty residents. It was also a free university where students and teachers would live together and share knowledge. The project ultimately failed when it could not cover its financing and neighbours complained that it had become a haven for drugs and crime. The play explores the legacy of Rochdale, in all of its compelling fictions and sometimes difficult truths.

Also, see Chapters 56 and 58.