Wednesday, January 13, 2021

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Streamers: 2020, Day Nineteen

A day late, but here they are:

The Life Ahead
dir: Edoardo Ponti
pr: Carlo Degli Esposti / Regina K. Scully / Nicola Serra / Lynda Weinman
scr: Ugo Chiti / Edoardo Ponti / Fabio Natale
cin: Angus Hudson

A former prostitute takes care of a young delinquent. I'm not saying it's bad, I'm just saying that if I didn't update a spreadsheet every time I saw a new movie, I would not have remembered this one. On Netflix.

dir: Niki Caro
pr: Chris Bender / Tendo Nagenda / Jake Weiner
scr: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver and Lauren Hynek & Elizabeth Martin
cin: Mandy Walker

Re-telling of the legend of the woman who disguised herself as a man to fight for China in her father's stead. Takes longer than necessary to get to where it needs to go, and the witch inclusion, while a theoretically intriguing way to compare/contrast Mulan with another "warrior" woman, over-simplifies rather than complicates the conversation. Jet Li is undoubtedly dubbed, a decision that is absolutely bizarre considering he's one of the most famous movie stars in the entire world; we know what he sounds like! All that said, overall, it's an entertaining way to spend two hours: terrific action sequences, beautiful costumes, beautiful score. On Disney+.

Sound of Metal
dir: Darius Marder
pr: Sacha Ben Harroche / Bill Benz / Kathy Benz / Bert Hamelinck
scr: Darius Marder & Abraham Marder, story by Darius Marder & Derek Cianfrance
cin: DaniĆ«l Bouquet

Heavy metal drummer struggles with hearing loss. Thoughtful, raw study, allowing the protagonist to panic, look for solutions, mourn, but without portraying deafness as a punishment or handicap; supporting ensemble of deaf, hard-of-hearing, and CODA performers helps, of course. The sound work here is expert, often allowing you to hear as he hears, with noises fading, muting, distorted. Riz Ahmed's performance is as terrific as you've heard, an anxious depiction of a recovering addict's struggle for control, finding the chase elsewhere. On Amazon Prime.

Let Them All Talk
dir/cin: Steven Soderbergh
pr: Gregory Jacobs
scr: Deborah Eisenberg

An author gathers her oldest friends and nephew for a cross-Atlantic cruise. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The score: Thomas Newman's warm jazz is a career highlight, a perfect fit for the quiet confusion among our ensemble, of a piece with the film's semi-improvised approach. The cinematography: that copper glow in the dining areas, the cozy sunshine of Meryl Streep and Lucas Hedges' breakfasts, the slow, fascinated push-in on Diann Wiest's stars monologue. The performances: quietly self-centered and  Streep; Candice Bergen, understandably bitter, but with a cutthroat opportunism that surprises; Wiest, whose aforementioned monologue really is the film's greatest moment; good listener Hedges; and Gemma Chan, so good at threading manipulative, flirtatious, and relieved at getting to talk, not find an angle. The story itself: it's funny and devastating and thoughtful and silly and, oh, just wonderful! On HBOMax.

The Prom
dir: Ryan Murphy
pr: Adam Anders / Dori Berinstein / Bill Damaschke / Alexis Martin Woodall / Ryan Murphy
scr: Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin
cin: Matthew Libatique

Broadway actors try to rescue their reputations by going to a small town to "help" a teen lesbian attend prom. Uneven adaptation defangs its source material, undercutting much of its messaging by being so genuinely in thrall of its (often miscast) stars, and unable to resist slathering on the sentimentality. It's somehow busy and inert, with a deliriously spinny camera and abundant edits doing little to hide the fact that the actors are clearly at sea with their parts, dwarfed by the vast, unpopulated sets. Costuming is campy fun, though. A disappointment. On Netflix.

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