Manchester by the Sea

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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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La La Land

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During the past four years I’ve had the enormous privilege of witnessing a handful of performances that transcend the merely indelible and are etched into my memory as examples of the sublime.
Reaching back in time I conjure up Felicity Jones’s heartbreaking gaze in The Theory of Everything, Adele Exarchopoulous raw emotion in Blue is the Warmest Color, and Jennifer Lawrence’s aching desires in Silver Linings Playbook.

It is perhaps telling of the state of my heart that these performances display emotions associated with the joy, longing and disenchantment of romance. It makes sense then that the latest performance to join such ethereal ranks is one that broke my heart with a single, final smile.
La La Land, as magical a film as one will ever see, blesses the audience with two fantastic performers in Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. But it is Gosling’s Sebastian, and the way he drives to Nevada from L.A. to revive the dreams of the girl he loves, that has forever cemented his performance in my memory as truly unforgettable.

A-