In film or on stage, performance is a strange thing. Sometimes, the audience values showmanship and wants to see the raw talent of a performer laid bare under the lights. Sometimes, we crave realism – some indefinable feeling that the thing we are seeing on screen is genuine and true, their soul laid bare instead. To achieve one of these is rare, the stuff of chilled spines and tears. What then when an actor pulls off both, simultaneously? And, what when both leads of a film do so? Well, that’s A Star is Born. That’s magic.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not a kind film, and it is not an easy one. It is thoroughly dark and more than a little sad, but has some comedic moments. Perhaps the best way to think of it is as some kind of demented moral play – a grim farce meant to explore the depths of human depravity and whether there is any potential for absolution. As such, the film sets up a horrible situation, doubles down a few times, and then challenges the spectator. Along the way, the performances are outstanding, and though some of the characters feel stereotypical or one-dimensional, that’s the point. Three Billboards is a poignant look at despair and hope, hatred and forgiveness, and prejudice and love.
Call Me by Your Name is a tender and warm coming of age story that beautifully captures that peculiar mixture of melancholy and exhilaration that so often accompanies a first love. Set in Italy in the 1980s, it is a subtle, sensuous, and gorgeous film. The pacing is pastoral and languid, lending the characters a lived-in and complex feel as they explore their surroundings. It sports a timeless plot about self-discovery and sexual exploration, with impeccable performances. Director Luca Guadagnino has perfectly executed one of the most heartbreaking and satisfying films of recent memory.
As promised, here is a quick, play-by-play style recap of last night’s 90th Oscars (AKA: 90 Scars). I’ll comment throughout now that it is the next morning, and I will finish it all up with a neat and tidy summary so that we can all move along with our lives in a timely fashion.
I started a stopwatch so I wouldn’t have to keep looking at the clock, plus I don’t really understand time zones too well. So, these are the things that happened and the way I felt about them . . .
The Oscars turn 90 later today (AKA: 90 Scars), and I’ve finally seen every single film nominated in the Best Picture category. So, it is time to reveal the Oscar plans over here at Plot and Theme. Overall, I think this (read: 2017) was a strong year for film, and I am excited to start unraveling everything. So, let’s start by discussing what you’ll be seeing on Plot and Theme with regards to the Oscars, Best of Lists, and the like.
Here at Plot and Theme, March promises to be an especially exciting month, especially compared to the relative doldrums of the year so far. There have been extremely strong stand-outs so far (see Get Out), but like most Januaries and Februaries, there is much more trash than anything else. So, for this State of the Blog, I’ll be a little more forward-looking. I’ll definitely remark on the best films I saw and reviewed in February, and briefly discuss the tedious and unremarkable Oscars night. But I’ll spend most of my time in anticipation of the movies releasing this month and the pieces I will look to write.