Things I saw in February

toomuchhed

Silence (2016) I talked a little about this great film Here (4 stars out of 4)

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) Hitchcock’s remake of his own film he made in 1934. A great thriller of Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day who are ordinary people who stumble upon a political assassination plot. Hitchcock is up to his usual tricks and this makes for an effective if not essential thriller. However it’s difficult to say which film is better, this one or the original. Stewart is the self-assured everyman, while Doris Day has some great scenes as his wife. Crowd-pleasing entertainment. (3.5 stars out of 4)

Jackie (2016) I’m not really a fan of the type of acting Natalie Portman displays here in “Jackie” though it garnered her an Oscar nomination. Portman gets the voice and presence of the former first lady, but it becomes too distracting, and I never forgot I was watching an impression. The story itself feels repetitive and poorly structured going from flashback to flashback of Jackie talking to a reporter, to talking to a priest, to preparing for JFK’s funeral. Thankfully Peter Sarsgaard gives the film a strong presence. (2 stars out of 4)

Manchester by the Sea (2016) One of the big winners at the Oscars was on my top ten list. A great acting showcase for all the performers. Big, long, but all involving. I was never bored with this film and I found it one of the most touching, funny, and honest portraits about death and moving on. (4 stars out of 4)

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) Charming comedy by the director of “We Live in the Shadows” which I loved. This one could’ve been a very sentimental tale, but it’s anything but. An orphan child living in New Zealand goes on the run with his adoptive father in the bush which turns into a madcap, hilarious chase. This film has a great dry sense of humour and winning performances. Don’t forget to check this out. (3.5 stars out of 4)

Sunset Song (2016) A beautiful, quiet, and tragic account of a young Scottish woman and her hard life at the turn of the century. Directed by Terrence Davis, this hearkens back to classic Hollywood women’s pictures particularly those by John Ford. The film boasts extraordinary cinemtography and great performances by everyone. This is epic filmmaking at its best. (4 stars out of 4)

Hidden Figures (2016) The sleeper hit of the season became an Oscar contender and a box office winner. Telling the story of three black women who helped with put the first American in space. The story is very formulaic, you can see the cliches coming a mile away, but you don’t really care because it’s executed so well. The three women played by Tajari P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monae are great characters, and they receive great support particularly by Kevin Costner as Henson’s supervisor. Even though the story beats are nothing new here, the subject matter is. (3 stars out of 4)

Torn Curtain (1966) One of Hitchcock’s latter day films isn’t classic, but does hold your interest in a lot of ways. The story concerns a man (Paul Newman) who pretends to defect into the iron curtain to get government secrets, but his unsuspecting wife (Julie Andrews) comes along. They must then try to get back to America without getting caught. The script is at times all over the place and Newman and Andrews feel out of place, Andrews in particular is given nothing to do in the second half of the film. However Hitchcock does deliver some memorable set pieces that do show why he will and always be the master (3 stars out of 4)