Sean's Film Diary 2018

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The Killing Of A Sacred Deer
Yorgos Lanthimos 2017


What I Like: I think I may just love Lanthimos. On the surface he doesn't feel like my kind of director but this is his second film in a row that will make my yearly top ten, so there you have it. On a technical level he is spectacular. I love the cinematography in this film. The way the camera moves is beautiful but I took special notice of how Lanthimos allows negative space in his frames. I think it takes a special eye to make this work. Lanthimos not only makes it work but makes it beautiful. I also love the score here, very simple string composition that sets the tense tone perfectly.

I am glad not every director or writer decide to use dialogue the way Lanthimos does but his style works great for his subjects. Everything is so matter of fact and blunt. Gives you the feeling that things can turn on any character at any time. I have heard the word clinical and antiseptic both used in reference to this film. Both are appropriate and apply to both his script and compositions.

The acting is fantastic. Farrell and Kidman are not exactly my favorite actors but both fit Lanthimos's style perfectly. There is a melancholy and uneasiness that both settle into very easily. Keoghan as the antagonist is also brilliant. In no way is he imposing but because of the way the character is written and performed he is a constant threat.

I highly recommend going into this film spoiler free. I wasn't spoiled in a major way but I was aware of the nature of the central relationship and it would have been fun to see that unfold during the course of the film.


What I Dislike: Not much here. I was telling @Swan that I think I have become better about not letting how I feel about a film thematically color my opinion as much as I used to. That mindset worked in my favor here because I love this as a stylistic thriller but I don't think it speaks to me on any other level. It is a straight revenge narrative that may speak to people a bit about guilt, but didn't do much for me in that way.

Once again Lanthimos takes a very matter of fact approach to sexuality. I enjoyed that aspect of The Lobster, but here it didn't engage me much. In particular there is a story Farrell's character tells to his son after a very cruel moment. It certainly left my mouth agape but it didn't add anything for me. Small gripes in an otherwise great viewing.


Overall: A film that I won't recommend to everyone but I certainly do to those who are interested in unique visions in film making. Technically a perfect and engaging film that makes me anxious for the director's next project. Also check out The Lobster if you haven't and enjoy this.




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Brawl In Cell Block 99
S. Craig Zahler 2017


I really loved Bone Tomahawk so this was one of my more anticipated movies of the year. Took me a bit longer to get to it than expected...I could have waited longer. I don't even know where to start with my laundry list of complaints. I guess I will start with the script which was possibly my favorite aspect of Tomahawk. I really love how Zahler took his time in that film and let you get to know the characters, that script was also really funny. I think he was trying the same approach here but it was a complete misfire for me. It is possible that some of that was in the casting. Vaughn appears to be cast simply for his height. Jennifer Carpenter, who plays his wife, has been one of the worst actresses working since her Dexter days. Whatever the reason I never engaged with this story and I believe the poor writing is one of the big reasons.

I never got any sense of time and place in this film. There were points where I thought this was supposed to take place in the early 90's but the phone tech told me that wasn't the case. It is definitely NY despite Vaughn's character being Texan. I think Zahler wanted the main character to feel different in manner than those around him by making this distinction but that feeling far from lands. Vaughn's character says "howdy" a few times and get called a hick once. That's it, like everything else in the film that aspect is way under developed.

The story structure is just dumb from beginning to end. From how he gets into crime to how he ends up in jail to how he moves around in jail as the character needs. It is just lazy writing. It doesn't feel like Zahler cares about anything but keeping his protagonist quiet till he can unleash the violence. I don't like to use the word insulting, but it is the only word I can think of for how this story moves. The set pieces are all unbelievable, not in the good way, just actually unbelievable. The jail is unimaginative beyond being dirty. They are complete with guards who I can't even begin to know what is supposed to be going on with any of them. I think Zahler was going for humor, but can't be sure. This film has the worst shoot out I have ever seen and I watched old Westerns with my dad every Saturday for years. Worse than any CBS crime show. Worse than the old west show at Disney.

I am so disappointed by this film. Total non-recommend from me.







I really enjoyed Cell Block 99 but my opinion has lowered since it finished. That's the opposite of what usually happens and not a good sign.

I liked Dogtooth and The Lobster so I'm looking forward to Sacred Deer.



The Shape Of Water
Guillermo Del Toro 2017


I think this is only my third Del Toro film. I hated Pacific Rim. I always say I really like Pan's Labyrinth but I honestly need to see it again because I remember the visuals really well but the plot has totally left me. I kind of feel like that's how Shape Of Water will shake down for me. I think the film is absolutely stunning. I love the color palette and the feel of the world. You would expect Del Toro to make much use of water in the aesthetic and he does. The last half hour is pouring buckets and it's a pleasure to watch.

The film is a fairy tale and it wears that on it's sleeve. The poetic narration and score let you know immediately that is the kind of world you are in. With it being Del Toro it becomes a bit of a fractured fairy tale of course and it's fun waiting to see where and when that hard edge will show itself. I enjoy the style a lot, the film feels very fresh and unique.

A lot has been made of the performances and I think they are pretty great across the board. I haven't heard much about Richard Jenkins though, and he is the stand out for me. There is quite a bit of needed humor in the film but I found myself looking forward to Jenkins reappearing. I love Spencer and Shannon but Hawkins and Jenkins together was the highlight of the film for me.

That's a lot of praise for a film that I really don't feel like I will ever be in love with. I wish I had something more specific to point out but I really don't think the film has many missteps. I just didn't connect with it emotionally. I love the thematic through line of being accepting of everyone and finding relationships that enrich your life. Maybe at the end of the day I just can't go to the other worldly places in my heart that Del Toro wants me to. I went there in my head though and that made for a very enjoyable theater experience.







Phantom Thread
Paul Thomas Anderson 2017


What can I say about Paul Thomas Anderson that I haven't 100 times already. You know you love a director when his last film is one that you watched 4 times in two years, gave a 4/5, and put in your top ten of the year, yet somehow you feel underwhelmed by it. I was more than ready to fully embrace another PTA film and Phantom Thread did not disappoint.

Immediately I feel transformed into the world PTA has created for me. The soft grainy palette and the way the camera glides wraps me in and never lets me go. Greenwood's score is wonderfully different from his others but somehow the same as well. I love how front and center the piano is here. It sets a romantic tone. There is still a subtle harshness that existed in There Will Be Blood and The Master as well. Music always plays a heavy role in PTA's films and this just might be the best score yet.

The aesthetic is pleasing. I think most of us think of PTA and we think of Los Angeles. He has proven his eye for framing extends to period pieces and western vistas as well. Here he is working mostly within lush upscale London interiors. Every setting is beautiful to look at. Costume design plays an important role here and despite myself I really admired not only the well designed dresses but the way Lewis's character is dressed as well. He is always put together perfectly with one exception that is used to great comedic purposes.

The quality of the performances can't be over stated. PTA is one of those directors that always seems to get the most out of actors. I find myself both excited and disappointed that this may be Daniel Day Lewis's final film. He is astounding as Reynolds Woodcock. There really isn't a way to put into words what he is doing here. Every glance, smirk, and sigh matter and demand your attention. He is every bit as good as he was as Daniel Plainview. As great as he is he never dwarfs Vicky Krieps or Lesley Manville.

Krieps plays Alma who is the woman that Woodcock makes his muse. Similar to Phoenix in The Master she needs to feel the equal of Woodcock in order for the dynamic of the story arc to work. She does that and it makes her staying with Woodcock believable which is essential for the story not to fall apart.

Manville plays Woodcock's sister Cyril. She has a very tough job as well. She is a refined aristocrat who must come across as Woodcock's assistant but also his equal. Cyril is a wonderfully written and performed character who shares in many of the films most pivotal scenes. All three of these performances are getting critical acclaim as they should. It would be nice to see them get some love at Oscar time.

As with most directors who consistently get great performances from their actors I think what makes Phantom Thread special is the script. I really feel that some of the people who found The Master frustrating despite the great performances will find more to love here. It is a straight forward story with scene after scene of great relationship building and confrontation. That doesn't mean it is without its mystery though. What I think PTA always does masterfully is give you just enough character to keep you wanting more. I always feel like I am just another scene away from figuring out everyone's inner most intentions. I never get there though. Always left wanting just a little bit more to help me fully grasp the themes and humanity of his story.

I really love the last third of this film. The story arc seems so simple for so much of the film that I found myself wondering how exactly PTA would wind it up in a satisfying way. There is a turn that I think very few will see coming and it makes a perfect film even more perfecter.







Glad you liked it so much dude. I can see myself giving it the same rating in time.



Great spoiler-free review, Seanc!

I can't wait to discuss this film with you in about 25 days.

I'm a huge fan of Greenwood's music score for The Master, by the way, which is truly a hypnotizing piece of work. I already heard a few seconds (literally) of his score for Phantom Thread and it seems like it will be exactly my cup of tea as well.

Can't say much more for now. I'm just really glad you enjoyed this so much.
Could you already rank it somewhere in PTA's filmography or do you want to see it a few more times and let it ripen a bit before you do that?
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Cobpyth's Movie Log ~ 2019



Great spoiler-free review, Seanc!

I can't wait to discuss this film with you in about 25 days.

I'm a huge fan of Greenwood's music score for The Master, by the way, which is truly a hypnotizing piece of work. I already heard a few seconds (literally) of his score for Phantom Thread and it seems like it will be exactly my cup of tea as well.

Can't say much more for now. I'm just really glad you enjoyed this so much.
Could you already rank it somewhere in PTA's filmography or do you want to see it a few more times and let it ripen a bit before you do that?
I want to see it a couple more times before I do for the simple fact that I would have put The Master at #5 after first watch. Right now I would still rank The Master, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood ahead of it.

I know Magnolia has soured a bit for a lot of PTA fans but I can't forget my first love.



I want to see it a couple more times before I do for the simple fact that I would have put The Master at #5 after first watch. Right now I would still rank The Master, Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood ahead of it.
Same here, bud.

I know Magnolia has soured a bit for a lot of PTA fans but I can't forget my first love.
Boogie Nights was my "first love" PTA film and I also still rank it as my #2. There's a reason why certain films give you that feeling of "love at first sight". They shouldn't so easily be replaced by new favorites.
I also remember instantly falling in love with Magnolia, by the way.



12 Strong
Nicolai Fuglsig 2018


Not a movie I planned to see in the theater but, hey, at least it's my first 2018 release. I have a weird relationship with war films. There are very few I love and also very few I hate. This film kind of sheds some light on that I think. By no means is this a great film and I am one hundred percent that many will call it rah-rah patriotic garbage like Lone Survivor. That's fine, I am sure there is an element of truth to that. The dialogue can be pretty wonky at times which leads to some eye rolling. It wears its heart on its sleeve in that way for sure.

I think it sets up some pretty good, even if cliched, characters. The scenes with the wives before the men go off to war were particularly well done in my opinion. They do a great job of showing all the different perspectives and the baggage that comes with being a military family. It is a life these men signed up for but the family dynamic makes it extremely difficult. I think I liked these scenes the best.

The war portion is solid enough. They do a good job of showing not only how hard it is to fight in the terrain of Afghanistan but also how difficult it is to come up with a solid strategy. Not only because of the uncertainty of the terrain but also the people there. Everything is impossibly divided and it makes even knowing what your objective should be very difficult.

There is a lot of humor in the film which helps. The performances are solid across the board even if not spectacular in any way. Michael Pena would be the stand out, as he tends to be. He brings the most humor and always seems to be all in on every single project he does.

Nothing ground breaking here. Just a solid January film that was a good theater watch.




Song To Song
Terrence Malick 2017


There really isn't a whole lot to be said about late career Malick. Yeah, outside of Tree Of Life these movies have stopped feeling unique. I still feel them worthwhile though and although I don't rush to see them I always like when there is a new one out there for me to enjoy when the proper mood strikes.

The negative to these films is that the narrative can be a little frustrating on a first viewing. Also, for me the last three feel about a half hour too long. The positives are that no one displays human intimacy on the screen better than Malick. No one better conveys how self destructive in our relationships we are better than Malick. If you don't believe that you have to agree that no one films and frames images more beautifully. It's absolutely astonishing. The man has my jaw dropping at the neon used at dance parties that I wouldn't be caught dead at in a million years. I don't want to go, they seem dreadful...he makes them look beautiful and enticing.

The camera is why I will continue to see these till Malick stops making them. Song To Song is probably the most beautiful yet to look at.






Have you seen The Thin Red Line? It's probably my favourite Malick
Sorry I missed this. Yes, once but it was in the theater so too long ago to remember a ton. I remember liking it but I believe it came out the same year as Private Ryan which I was blown away by. Deserves a rewatch for sure, as does Days Of Heaven.



Phantom Thread didnít look interesting to me but I just put in on my watchlist. I may as well; seen everything else from PTA and I do think heís brilliant.



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Phantom Thread didnít look interesting to me but I just put in on my watchlist. I may as well; seen everything else from PTA and I do think heís brilliant.

I'm exact same. If it was anybody else's film I'd probably give it a miss but because its PTA I'll watch it. And probably end up loving it.