A pastor’s sanity loosens as he struggles with his beliefs in the aftermath of the suicide of someone who went to him for help.
2018 has been a great year for film so far. Ethan Hawke’s performance as Toller is arguably his best, often calm and subtle in scenes where he is having tough conversations and when he is on the verge of breaking down. The way director and writer Paul Schrader shot these scenes is incredible, whether he uses long takes, wide angles or the standard back and forth editing of a conversation, each time it always works to benefit the mood of the scene. This also leads to some incredible shots on their own. In addition, Schrader’s screenplay, while being about the guilt of not being able to help someone, also touches on how we treat our environment, how far we can go as activists, and the fear of a bleak future. It’s a very tough and somber film, but that’s what makes it great.
You Were Never Really Here
A hired gun’s rescue of a senator’s daughter has repercussions for himself and his associates.
Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Jonathan Ames novel of the same name is brutal and beautiful. The film flows like fever dream with every moment, whether calm or frightening, always having the uncomfortable switch dialed up to 10. Joaquin Phoenix’s role, the war vet Joe, is quiet but still menacing, never feeling overdramatic in his actions. Jonny Grennwood’s score is haunting, but weirdly soothing as well, with its placements throughout the film used as a look into the mind of Joe during specific scenes. The film’s short runtime of just 90 minutes never comes off as rushed and allows the story to take it’s time.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
A documentary that demystifies Fred Rogers and his career, including the creation of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
What’s great about Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is that it shows many of Fred Rogers’ faults. He was unsure of how to approach some subjects, he had his doubts about himself, and was even not as accepting of a cast member’s sexuality at first. But he always drove to improve himself and to make everyone feel welcome. This is confirmed by the BTS footage on the set of Neighborhood, the b-roll footage of him with children, and even just him living his life. Each of the interviewees had something to bring to the film and revealed a new thing I had never known about Fred. But one of the best parts is how they handle the rumors about Mr. Rogers, and it’s both funny and heartwarming, much like most of this film.
Two friends in Oakland have their relationship tested during the last few days of probation for one of them.
Throughout Blindspotting, especially in its third act, there’s a ticking time bomb feeling, that any one mistake could completely destroy everything that Colin (Daveed Diggs) has been working for. His chemistry with Miles (Rafael Casal) is believable enough. In each scene that involves just the two of them hanging out, working or fighting, you understand both of their feelings. The politics of the film are also handled very well, as the title itself is about how one sees another individual on the surface, and we see how this affects several characters in the film. It’s a film that demands you pay attention, and you do. And like all good films, it leaves you thinking after the credits roll.
OTHER RECOMMENDED FILMS FROM THE PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL
– The Guilty (Dir. Gustav Möller)
– Summer of 84 (Dir. François Simard, Anouk Whissell, Yoann-Karl Whissell)
– Perfect Bid: The Contestant That Knew Too Much (Dir. C.J. Wallis)
– Eighth Grade (Dir. Bo Burnham)