Manchester by the Sea

manchester

There’s a truly splendid scene that occurs near the end of the first act of Silver Linings Playbook, in which Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) invites Pat (Bradley Cooper) to have sex with her, cries upon his chest, slaps him and walks away in the span of about sixty seconds. The scene is etched into my memory for being a flawless depiction of how we process grief, and so is Jennifer Lawrence’s indelible performance.

Manchester by the Sea lasts two hours and seventeen minutes, and about a third of the running time is devoted to characters acting out, coping, and dealing with pain the same way Jennifer Lawrence did. But while David O’Russell’s picture featured silver linings, Manchester by the Sea is not interested in grand romantic gestures of hope, or in characters saving each other from their pits of despair.
But it also does not punish its audience by being bleak or depressing, the way some movies dealing with death tend to do.
Agony does not mean the absence of humor, so the movie has some of that; death does not entail the loss of carnal desire, so the movie features some of that as well; some traumas are too painful to overcome in a two hour picture, so Manchester by the Sea gives us a protagonist so miserable that he becomes the most human character I have seen at the cinema in a very long time.

A+

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Wet Hot American Summer

wet-hot-logo-2013-webIt’s certainly fun to see household names like Bradley Cooper, Amy Poehler, Elizabeth Banks, Ken Marino, Paul Rudd, and Michael Ian Black, back when they were barely recognizable to the masses.
Could a director get such a talented and hilarious cast all in one movie today?

Yes!
The prequel series that will premiere on Netflix is the only reason I watched this comedy.
It’s incredibly stupid, although the film probably takes that as a compliment.

D

American Sniper

American_Sniper_posterMovies are never to be pitted against one another.
Each film should stand on it’s own; each a separate and unique entity, rising and falling solely on the strengths of its qualities, or lack thereof.
On occasion, a film comes along which possesses every quality that creates greatness, and automatically places itself as the “Best”.
The same is true of the opposite.

I bring this up because I do not usually like mentioning other movies but the one at hand.
After watching American Sniper, however, I feel compelled but to talk about two similar, if infinitely better pictures.

The first is Zero Dark Thirty, a superb war drama that remains one of the finest I’ve yet seen.
The other is Full Metal Jacket, which I won’t say much about for thousands upon thousands of words have already been written, and what good could I add to them?

I bring them up because they are what this movie aspires to be.
It fails.
It fails so miserably and spectacularly so, that I left the cinema upset at what I just had witnessed.
There’s a scene in which one of Kyle’s girlfriend’s tells him, shortly after cheating on him, “Don’t you get it? I do this to get attention!”

Is the audience really that dimwitted, that we need to be told what’s going on, when a simple look at Chris Kyle, as played wondrously by Bradley Cooper, would have informed us of the same?

After the up tenth time of seeing a fabricated marital discussion and what was supposed to represent a moral dilemma, I arrived at the conclusion that yes, this movie does think me the fool.

And while that may be so, today, I won’t give it the pleasure.

C-