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                          In the Bible, Yahweh God never says He regrets creating any of the animals He put on the earth. Rather, in God's new heaven and new earth, the stain of man's sins is removed and everything is made new again, the ferocious along with the meek. As the prophet Isaiah writes:

                          6 Wolves will live with lambs.
                          Leopards will lie down with goats.
                          Calves, young lions, and year-old lambs will



                          Original: https://apologika.blogspot.com/2019/12/yahweh-creator-vs-allah-destroyer.html
                          By: ApoLogika
                          Posted: December 23, 2019, 10:02 am

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                              Matt writes: As the days of 2019 grow short, let's take a look at the Best Films of 2019, as chosen by the writers at RogerEbert.com. Our combined list includes such celebrated titles as "Marriage Story," "Parasite," "The Last Black Man in San Francisco" and "The Irishman." You can find all the individual lists submitted by our writers (including your's truly) here. 

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                              Trailers

                              Tenet (2020). Written and directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring John David WashingtonRobert PattinsonKenneth Branagh. Synopsis: An action epic revolving around international espionage, time travel, and evolution. Opens in US theaters on July 17th, 2020.

                              The Woman in the Window (2020). Directed by Joe Wright. Written by Tracy Letts (based on the novel by A.J. Finn). Starring Jennifer Jason LeighAmy AdamsGary Oldman. Synopsis: An agoraphobic woman living alone in New York begins spying on her new neighbors only to witness a disturbing act of violence. Opens in US theaters on May 15th, 2020.

                              Promising Young Woman (2020). Written and directed by Emerald Fennell. Starring Carey MulliganBo BurnhamLaverne Cox. Synopsis: A young woman, traumatized by a tragic event in her past, seeks out vengeance against men who cross her path. Opens in US theaters on April 17th, 2020.

                              In the Heights (2020). Directed by Jon M. Chu. Written by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Marc Klein (based on the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes). Starring Corey HawkinsLin-Manuel MirandaAnthony Ramos. Synopsis: A bodega owner has mixed feelings about closing his store and retiring to the Dominican Republic after inheriting his grandmother's fortune. Opens in US theaters on June 26th, 2020.

                              Saint Maud (2020). Written and directed by Rose Glass. Starring Jennifer EhleMorfydd ClarkLily Frazer. Synopsis: Follows a pious nurse who becomes dangerously obsessed with saving the soul of her dying patient. Opens in US theaters on March 27th, 2020.

                              A Quiet Place: Part II (2020). Written and directed by John Krasinski (based on characters by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods). Starring Cillian MurphyEmily BluntNoah Jupe. Synopsis: Following the events at home, the Abbott family now face the terrors of the outside world. Forced to venture into the unknown, they realize that the creatures that hunt by sound are not the only threats that lurk beyond the sand path. Opens in US theaters on March 20th, 2020.

                              Antlers (2020). Directed by Scott Cooper. Written by Scott Cooper, Nick Antosca and C. Henry Chaisson. Starring Keri RussellJesse PlemonsJeremy T. Thomas. Synopsis: A small-town Oregon teacher and her brother, the local sheriff, become entwined with a young student harboring a dangerous secret with frightening consequences. Opens in US theaters on April 17th, 2020.

                              Buffaloed (2020). Directed by Tanya Wexler. Written by Brian Sacca. Starring Zoey DeutchJudy GreerJai Courtney. Synopsis: Set in the underworld of debt-collecting and follows the homegrown hustler Peg Dahl, who will do anything to escape Buffalo, NY. Opens in US theaters on February 14th, 2020.

                              Free Guy (2020). Directed by Shawn Levy. Written by Matt Lieberman and Zak Penn. Starring Ryan ReynoldsJodie ComerTaika Waititi. Synopsis: A bank teller discovers that he's actually an NPC inside a brutal, open world video game. Opens in US theaters on July 3rd, 2020.

                              Enter the Girl Dragon (2019). Directed by Ram Gopal Varma. Starring Dustin MilliganAngela SarafyanJulian Sands. Synopsis: The latest holiday-themed installment of Hulu's "Into the Dark" series. Now streaming on Hulu.

                              Darbar (2020). Written and directed by A.R. Murugadoss. Starring RajinikanthSunil ShettyNayanthara. Synopsis: A police officer on a chase to hunt down a dreaded gangster for fulfilling his own secret agenda. Opens in US theaters on January 10th, 2020.

                              Good Newwz (2019). Directed by Raj Mehta. Written by Raj Mehta, Jyoti Kapoor and Rishabh Sharma.Starring Akshay KumarKareena KapoorDiljit Dosanjh.Synopsis: Two couples with the same surnames pursue in-vitro fertilization and wait for their upcoming babies. Trouble ensues when they find that the sperms of each couple have been mixed with each other. Opens in US theaters on December 27th, 2019.

                              The Assistant (2020). Written and directed by Kitty Green. Starring Julia GarnerMatthew MacfadyenKristine Froseth. Synopsis: A searing look at a day in the life of an assistant to a powerful executive. As Jane follows her daily routine, she grows increasingly aware of the insidious abuse that threatens every aspect of her position. Opens in US theaters on January 31st, 2020.

                              1917 (2019). Directed by Sam Mendes. Written by Sam Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns. Starring Andrew ScottBenedict CumberbatchRichard Madden. Synopsis: Two young British privates during the First World War are given an impossible mission: deliver a message deep in enemy territory that will stop 1,600 men, and one of the soldier's brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap. Opens in US theaters on December 25th, 2019.

                              Onward (2020). Directed by Dan Scanlon. Written by Dan ScanlonJason Headley and Keith Bunin. Starring Tom HollandChris PrattOctavia Spencer. Synopsis: Set in a suburban fantasy world, two teenage elf brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. Opens in US theaters on March 6th, 2020.

                              Top Gun: Maverick (2020). Directed by Joseph Kosinski. Written by Peter Craig, Ehren Kruger, Justin Marks, Christopher McQuarrie and Eric Warren Singer (based on the characters by Jim Cash and Jack Epps Jr.). Starring Tom CruiseMonica Barbaro, Jennifer Connelly. Synopsis: After more than thirty years of service as one of the Navy's top aviators, Pete Mitchell is where he belongs, pushing the envelope as a courageous test pilot and dodging the advancement in rank that would ground him. Opens in US theaters on June 26th, 2020.

                              Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2020). Directed by Jason Reitman. Written by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan (based on the characters by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis). Starring Mckenna GraceCarrie CoonFinn Wolfhard. Synopsis: When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind. Opens in US theaters on July 10th, 2020.

                              Wonder Woman 1984 (2020). Directed by Patty Jenkins. Written by Patty JenkinsDave Callaham and Geoff Johns (based on characters by William Moulton Marston). Starring Gal GadotKristen Wiig, Pedro Pascal. Synopsis: A sequel to "Wonder Woman." Opens in US theaters on June 5th, 2020.

                              Our Lists for Best Films of the 2010s 

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                              Matt writes: After reading our writers' combined list ranking the Best Films of the 2010s, take a look at our individuals lists highlighting many of the decade's greatest cinematic achievements including "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Tangerine," "The Tree of Life," "The Babadook," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Certain Women," "The Florida Project" and "Under the Skin."

                              R.I.P. Danny Aiello & Anna Karina

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                              Matt writes: Two legends of cinema recently passed, Danny Aiello (1933-2019) and Anna Karina (1940-2019), both of whom were eulogized beautifully by our critic Peter Sobczynski (click on each name to read the obituaries in full).

                              Free Movies

                              Scrooge (1935). Directed by Henry Edwards. Written by H. Fowler Mear (based on the novel by Charles Dickens). Starring Seymour HicksDonald CalthropRobert Cochran. Synopsis: Scrooge, the ultimate Victorian miser, hasn't a good word for Christmas, though his impoverished clerk Cratchit and nephew Fred are full of holiday spirit. But in the night, Scrooge is visited by spirits of another color. Straightforward adaptation of Dickens

                              Watch "Scrooge"

                              A Family Circus Christmas (1979). Directed by Al Kouzel. Written by Joseph C. Cavella (based on characters by Bil Keane). Starring Anne CostelloBob KalibanMark Dermott. Synopsis: Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ try to behave as they prepare for Christmas and search for Grandad's Star.

                              Watch "A Family Circus Christmas"

                              The Snowman (1982). Directed by Jimmy T. Murakami and Dianne Jackson (based on the book by Raymond Briggs). Starring David BowieRaymond BriggsMel Smith. Synopsis: On Christmas Eve, a young boy builds a snowman that comes to life and takes him to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas.

                              Watch "The Snowman"





                              Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/ebert-club/370-december-24-2019
                              By: Matt Fagerholm
                              Posted: December 24, 2019, 6:01 am

                              • Entertainer
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                                "Just Mercy" tells the true story of Walter McMillian (played by Jamie Foxx), who was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. With the help of a young defense attorney Brian Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan), he is finally exonerated. 

                                Australian journalist Katherine Tulich spoke with Jamie Foxx on how he prepared for the role (including a visit to Death Row) for this exclusive video report.

                                 




                                Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/video-interview-jamie-foxx-on-just-mercy
                                By: Katherine Tulich
                                Posted: December 23, 2019, 3:47 pm

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                                  Just as the formidably accomplished lawyer Bryan Stevenson has a penchant for getting close to his clients, filmmaker Destin Daniel Cretton and cinematographer Brett Pawlak keep their camera fixed on the expressions of their characters, allowing their faces to tell the story. The new screen adaptation of Stevenson’s book, Just Mercy, marks the fourth consecutive feature-length collaboration between Cretton and Pawlak, and it contains numerous memorable instances of their signature visual approach, which was perhaps best epitomized by Lakeith Stanfield’s career-launching rap in 2013’s “Short Term 12.” Jamie Foxx plays Walter McMillian, the latest client represented by Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), who is on death row after being wrongly convicted of murder, thanks to the ruling of Judge Robert E. Lee Key, Jr., in Monroeville, Alabama, the town that inspired Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. 

                                  Many of the film’s most powerful scenes revolve around McMillian’s interactions with another prisoner, Herbert Richardson (Rob Morgan), a war veteran battling untreated mental illness. When McMillian instructs the man to take a deep breath, the viewer is so intimately placed in the scene that we find ourselves doing the same. Even though their fate is largely at the mercy of a discriminatory system, the inmates vow to give each other strength, ensuring that none of them will die alone. Also featured among the film’s superb ensemble is Tim Blake Nelson, who undergoes a stunning transformation as Ralph Myers, a career criminal responsible for the false accusation that put McMillian behind bars. Karan Kendrick, an actress whose credits include “The Hunger Games” and “Hidden Figures,” tackles her role as McMillian’s wife with a fierce restraint evocative of both Stevenson’s Atticus Finch-esque composure and Cretton’s nuanced storytelling. 

                                  During their visit this past October to the Chicago International Film Festival, where “Just Mercy” earned the Audience Award for Best Feature, Nelson and Kendrick took time to chat with RogerEbert.com about their fact-based awards contender. Our conversation occurred just two days after the premiere of HBO’s brilliant series “Watchmen,” featuring Nelson in a pivotal role, and fans may note that my final question could easily apply to arguably the show’s best episode to date—namely its sixth, “This Extraordinary Being,” which traces the surprising origins of a celebrated hero.

                                  What freedom does this film’s use of close-ups provide for you, as actors?

                                  Tim Blake Nelson (TBN): That’s an interesting question, and I think it differs actor to actor. I think an actor’s relationship with a camera—if I’m to use mine as an example—changes over the years. I think my first professional job was when I was around 25, so I’ve been doing this for about 30 years, and I just have a different relationship to the camera now. I went from being hyper-aware of it to trying to abrogate from the process any awareness of it and just exist. I let the camera be where it was going to be and do what it was going to do rather than watch my work and understand that I wasn’t exploiting the rhetoric of the process of filmmaking, because it is a rhetoric. 

                                  Storytelling is rhetoric, and so, of course when the camera is closer, if you are going to—it is a weird word to use—exploit the language of a movie, it’s going to allow for a different type of performance. I realized that ignoring the camera doesn’t really work. Then I went into a phase of awareness regarding the camera, and when I looked at my performances, they occasionally would be suffused with a kind of self-regard that I didn’t like, so I started pulling back from that. Lately, I’ve come to the realization that it is project to project, and it really does depend on the nature of what the story is and how it’s being told. In a movie by the Duplass brothers or the Safdie brothers that’s more improvisation-based, there’s a sort of grit to it that extends back probably to Cassavetes in which you actually do want to ignore the camera, and almost be unaware of it. 

                                  A movie like “Just Mercy” has a formality to it, requiring a lot of sticks and dollies. There’s not much Steadicam and very little handheld camerawork, so it really does necessitate an awareness of the camera—where it is and what it’s up to. There’s a wonderful scene with Karan, which is one of my favorite of her’s in the movie, and it’s where Bryan has gone to Minnie’s house to meet her family. She’s in a medium close-up so that you feel the bodies around her, and somebody has just mentioned her husband’s infidelity. Minnie has to say, “It’s okay that you’ve brought that up,” and it’s not a tight close-up, it’s a medium close. It’s a perfectly sized image, and it just allows Karan to have one of my favorite moments in the movie. Were you aware of where the camera was when you did that scene?

                                  image(L-r) Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson and (seated to Michael's left) Karan Kendrick as Minnie McMillian in Warner Bros. Pictures' drama “Just Mercy,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Jake Giles Netter © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

                                  Karan Kendrick (KK): I was not. I love the way that Brett and Daniel work together. As an actor, I particularly enjoyed how this role enabled me to really cultivate an inner life. I think that, as a person, Minnie is not someone who is going to say everything, so for me it was important for her to still have all of these things going on inside of her that she may not have even been able to give words to. When I saw the scene, I realized that the things I had just been thinking about or knew about somehow came through on the screen. I haven’t learned how to work the camera just yet. I’m more aware of it if we’re working in a location as small as Minnie’s house, since we were all close. The kitchen was probably not as big as this hotel room we’re in right now. But even in the courtroom scene, I didn’t know what the camera was looking at, so I was just trying to be very present and very aware of whatever was happening in that moment. 

                                  TBN: A close camera certainly keeps you honest, that I can tell you.

                                  You’re both wonderful singers, as evidenced by Karan’s “Goddess” performance which I came across on YouTube, and by Tim most recently in “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.” Is there a musicality to acting for either of you?

                                  KK: Yes, it certainly helps me to hear people’s rhythms and cadences. Sometimes you can hear things in a way that helps to define where you’re going or how you’ll approach something.

                                  TBN: I absolutely think in terms of music, probably now moreso than ever because my oldest son is a composer in a conservatory, and music just dominates our house with all three of my sons. We’re constantly talking about music and listening to music and sharing music with one another. Then in my actor training during graduate school, which was four years after college—I was in school until I was 26 studying this stuff—I took singing constantly because I believed it was a part of the training for the reasons your question implies. I really do look at either a play script or a film script as a musical score. I’m a player and the director is the conductor—or the producer if it’s more of a rock ’n’ roll movie—and then, inside of that, you find truth through improvisation. 

                                  This is oxymoronic, and anybody listening to this who has a musical background will say, “What the fuck is he talking about?”, but I think improvisation, or maybe a better word would be latitude, can appear in a classical score. I would call this script a classical score because the words were the words, and a lot of them were from a transcript. I don’t think I changed a single word of the text on the page in playing Ralph, but there’s a lot of latitude, just like if you’re playing first or second violin in a Rachmaninoff concerto. There’s latitude in terms of the playing of it and how the piece is conducted. That’s where you, as an actor, are a player of somebody else’s score, but you’re finding your version of it. Hopefully you’ve been selected to do that and that’s why the director wanted you. 

                                  KK: I actually did change words in the script because of the rhythm, but I did that during the audition. I read it and was like, ‘We wouldn’t say it like this, we’d say it like this,’ because there’s a rhythm, a flow and a musicality to the speech. Making those changes helped me settle into Minnie a little more and not perform her, so I decided to take a risk in the audition. That was one of the ways in for me. I wanted to be true to that experience, that world, that time, that person, that social class, all of those things.

                                  What does To Kill a Mockingbird really mean to a community like Monroeville circa 1987, since this true story demonstrates they haven’t learned much at all from the literary work that they supposedly revere?

                                  KK: Something that Bryan does so beautifully in his work, and that has translated in this film through Ralph Myers, is that he introduces us to the whole of ourselves. He doesn’t allow us to be one side or the other, black or white, right or wrong. He forces us to embrace the whole of who we are, and I think that, as a nation, he introduces us to the wholeness of our identities—the glitz and the glamor, but also the parts of ourselves that we would rather not acknowledge. 

                                  In the context of what you’re speaking about, there is an irony there, but it’s also a common practice. You can acknowledge the book’s subject matter but not really acknowledge the details of it. It’s just enough to say that it happened, without painting anyone as a bad guy. There’s a level of romanticism in how we embrace these sorts of narratives. You handle the story without telling the truth. I think that what Bryan does is he forces us to look at ourselves, warts and all, and figure out how we are going to engage with this truth. What are we going to do next, now that we’re in this thing together? We don’t hate Ralph, we understand him.

                                  image(L-r) Michael B. Jordan as Bryan Stevenson and Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillian in Warner Bros. Pictures’ drama “Just Mercy,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Jake Giles Netter © 2019 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

                                  TBN: I think there’s an aspect to works of art when they become cultural phenomena that is akin to the Heisenberg principle, which means that something changes by being watched. If you think about a song like “Seven Nation Army,” which Jack White wrote about in defense of a woman—warning that if you insult her, then hell is going to come down on you—well, now it’s this sports anthem that’s always played at football games. It’s no longer really understood in the spirit in which it was written. It’s something completely different now, and incredibly impactful, probably in a salutary way for sports fans who chant it. 

                                  To Kill a Mockingbird is as important a literary phenomenon as you can name in American literature. It’s up there with Gatsby and The Old Man and the Sea and Beloved. That town, without blinking, understands it as this cultural phenomenon without turning it back on themselves and understanding the irony of their behavior, how it literally is the opposite of what’s being promoted in the book, because that’s what we do. We take stuff over and in doing that, it becomes something so large that we forget why it was written in the first place, and in many cases, we no longer even understand it or have it inside of us because it is too big. It is outside of us, and it is there for another purpose—in this case, as a tourist attraction in the town, and something that brings in revenue. People are just saying automatically, “Did you go over to the museum? You can stand right here where she stood,” without any understanding of how the behavior—going on right there—contradicts everything going on in the book.

                                  KK: But I think it’s more than that. I think it’s ‘yes, and…’ Yes it’s a revenue stream, but it’s also the act of turning a blind eye to someone else’s truth.

                                  TBN: The idea that I’ve got this base covered because I read that book and I can say that I like it, that kind of thing?

                                  KK: Not only that, but I can rewrite the book myself based on my experience and what I want to see and how I identify with it. So I can latch onto a character, one character, and identify with their experience without even considering anyone else in the book. I don’t have to acknowledge anyone else’s truth or humanity, and I think that parallels what happens particularly in the Deep South, so that no one else exists. When you think in terms of the fact that we, as African-Americans, live in a country where we historically have not even been considered whole human beings, how do you recognize the humanity in someone that you don’t consider human? So it’s easy to dismiss someone’s experience, rights, privileges—it’s easy to not even see them, not even consider them.

                                  So in a way, art isn’t enough. There’s humanity on the page, but it’s easy for some readers to discount…

                                  KK: You discount it, because humanity only exists for him—the character whom you identify with—not for everyone. 

                                  Header caption: Rob Morgan, Tim Blake Nelson, O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Karan Kendrick at the Premiere Gala of Warner Bros.’ “Just Mercy” at the Toronto International Film Festival, Toronto, Canada - 6 Sep 2019. Photo by Eric Charbonneau.




                                  Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/the-whole-of-ourselves-tim-blake-nelson-and-karan-kendrick-on-just-mercy
                                  By: Matt Fagerholm
                                  Posted: December 23, 2019, 3:44 pm

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                                      “Just Mercy” has the misfortune of hitting theaters at the same time as “Clemency,” a more daring and better film set on a prison’s Death Row. Though the lead characters differ in intent—Michael B. Jordan’s activist Bryan Stephenson is trying to get prisoners off the row while Alfre Woodard’s warden Bernadine Williams oversees their executions—the two actors each have moments of stillness where they seem to physically vibrate from the internal trauma they’re suppressing. This is built into Woodard’s character intrinsically, but for Jordan, it feels more like an actor doing his best to rise above the paper-thin characterization he has been given. Stephenson is so noble and flawless that he’s a credible bore unless you focus on Jordan’s physicality. You look into his eyes and see him trying to play something the film’s cautious tone won’t allow: a sense of Black rage.

                                      Since the days of 50’s-era message pictures, the majority of films about African-American suffering have always been calibrated the way “Just Mercy” is, with an eye to not offending White viewers with anything remotely resembling Black anger. We can be beaten, raped, enslaved, shot for no reason by police, victimized by a justice system rigged to disfavor us or any other number of real-world things that can befall us, yet God help us if a character is pissed off about this. Instead, we get to be noble, to hold on to His unchanging hand while that tireless Black lady goes “hmmm-HMMMMM!” on the soundtrack to symbolize our suffering. There’s a lot of “hmmm-HMMMMM”-ing in this movie, so much so that I had to resist laughing. These clichés are overused to the point of madness. Between this, the equally lackluster “Harriet” and the abysmal “The Best of Enemies,” that poor woman’s lips must be damn tired from all that humming.

                                      Movies like “Just Mercy” spoon-feed everything to the viewer in easily digestible chunks that assume you know nothing, or worse, don’t know any better. They believe that, to win the hearts and minds of racists, you can’t depict any complexity lest you ruin the “teachable moment” the film is supposed to be presenting. It’s unfortunate that these teachable moments are so often delivered in the exact same, tired manner, as if they were meant for people who are perpetually having to repeat the same grade. Making matters worse, the White perpetrators of injustice are so often one-note villains that they allow for plausible deniability by the viewer: “I can’t be racist because I’m nowhere near as bad as THAT guy!” Granted, this is a period piece true story and the film can’t bend its real-life people too deeply into dramatic license, but director and co-writer Destin Daniel Cretton applies a way-too-familiar formula to their personalities.

                                      Despite my complaints, I have some admiration for how much “Just Mercy” is willing to interrogate. It’s a lot, and I feel some commendation is in order for bringing these issues up at all. Adapting Stephenson’s memoir, Cretton and his co-writer Andrew Lanham touch upon activists for Death Row prisoners, the value of White lives vs. Black lives, veterans whose PTSD is left unchecked, corrupt law officials, justice system imbalances and, in a subplot anchored by Tim Blake Nelson, the idea that poor people are victimized by law enforcement regardless of what color the impoverished person is.

                                      I remember watching the “60 Minutes” profile re-created here, where Stephenson takes the case of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) to the public. McMillian was on Death Row for a crime he swore he didn’t commit, the death of a young White woman. Despite having 17 witnesses vouching for his whereabouts at the time of the murder, an Alabama jury of 11 White men and one Black man convicted McMillian based on the testimony of an ex-con named Ralph Meyers (Nelson). Stephenson took his case to the CBS airwaves after his successful attempt to get McMillian’s case reopened ended with a judge named after Robert E. Lee discarding Myers’ admission that he’d lied under oath in the first trial. All of this is completely believable in reality, but here, both the corrupt Sheriff Tate (Michael Harding) and the district attorney are depicted as cartoon villains acting alone rather than in service to a far more racist and corrupt system. You have to wait until midway through the closing credits to discover that Tate was re-elected multiple times after his role in McMillian’s railroading was exposed.

                                      I should mention that this case took place in Monroeville, Alabama, also known as the home of “To Kill a Mockingbird” author Harper Lee. I bring up Lee because her book, and its subsequent cinematic adaptation, are ground zero for all the aggravating clichés I mentioned above. So it’s no coincidence that “Just Mercy” plugs Michael B. Jordan into the Atticus Finch role. Like Gregory Peck in that immortal performance, Jordan has presence, idealism and righteousness on his side. What’s missing is the commanding sense of authority Peck brought to the part, which isn’t Jordan’s fault at all. Stephenson is a somewhat naïve Yankee from Delaware trying to navigate the ways of the Deep South; Finch was an Alabama native with a paternal glow.

                                      As Stephenson’s co-worker Eva, Brie Larson reteams with her “Short Term 12” director but is given little to do other than to be threatened once she re-opens McMillian’s case. Still, she milks a lot of character out of the simple act of smoking a cigarette. Foxx’s McMillian is written in a similarly flat manner, but he shines in his few scenes with fellow Death Row inmate Herbert Richardson (Rob Morgan). Richardson’s arc is the one truly successful element of “Just Mercy,” and Morgan’s excellent, heartbreaking performance is being unfairly overshadowed by Foxx’s this awards season. A Vietnam vet with severe PTSD, Richardson caused the death of a young girl when a bomb he planted on her porch exploded. Unlike McMillian, Richardson is guilty of the crime and believes he belongs on Death Row. He was unable to get help for his mental issues before he committed his crime, and the prosecutor withheld this information during the trial.

                                      Morgan shades his small part with such beautiful, subtle gestures that he becomes the only character who feels fleshed out, complex and real. You feel not only his sense of guilt but the demons that infected his brain during combat. His last, horrific scene is so well acted that it still haunts me; it’s the only time the viewer is forced to be uncomfortably conflicted, to think about the complicated nature of injustice. I wish the rest of “Just Mercy” had that level of jarring complexity instead of relying on easy tropes to deliver its message.




                                      Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/just-mercy-movie-review-2019
                                      By: Odie Henderson
                                      Posted: December 23, 2019, 3:44 pm

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                                        What makes a great performance? People often conflate character with performance – thinking unforgettable characters must come from great acting. This is certainly partially true. There’s an art to crafting a character you’ll never forget. But why certain characters take up more real estate in our minds than others is still an issue that eludes a lot of people. One of the best ways to further the conversation about what makes a great performance is to highlight some of the best, picking out what works about them and why they’re so memorable. So we asked our staff to pick one performance from 2019 that they love enough to write about it. We did not demand that certain films or acting turns were included, so this is not a comprehensive feature, just a snapshot of great acting that shows not just the range of cinema this year but the varied tastes of the people who write about it for us.

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                                        Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide/Red in “Us

                                        Films often ask performers to play multiple roles as something of a gimmick. It’s been done for comedic effect in something like “The Nutty Professor” or for philosophical examination in something like “The Double” or “Enemy.” No one has ever asked as much of a double performer as Jordan Peele asked of Lupita Nyong’o in “Us,” and the Oscar winner delivered one of the best performances of 2019 in return. As Adelaide’s worst fear comes to life and she witnesses the shadow version of her family sitting across the living room from her, the actress doesn’t just play good and evil – she goes much deeper than that. She sells both the depth behind the fear of who we presume is the “normal” Adelaide and the wounded monster who has been tied to her. For some reason, great acting has often become synonymous with either a great impersonation or a great couple of scenes. What’s most often ignored when we discuss acting is physicality. Watch what Nyong’o does with her body to both distinguish and tie the two versions of herself in “Us.” They are distinct and yet also mirrors of each other in so many ways. It’s the kind of performance one can break down scene by scene and appreciate with greater depth and nuance with each viewing. It’s not just a great 2019 performance, it’s an all-timer. (Brian Tallerico)

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                                        Jonathan Pryce as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in “The Two Popes

                                        When we first meet him, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is trying to make an airline reservation by phone; he has just become Pope Francis. His soft voice doesn't portray frustration or anger when the person on the other end of the phone hangs up in disbelief. "The Two Popes" is based on script writer Anthony McCarten's play and is a series of conversations. In the movie, music has meaning. At the 2005 enclave where Pope Benedict XI is chosen, Bergoglio is listening to ABBA, but there's nothing in his step or posture that reveals a physical need to dance. His dancing is part of his Argentinian identity just like his devotion to soccer. What enfolds instead is a man who has given up much and believes the position of pope makes one a martyr. His demeanor is one of gentleness, of a grandfatherly embrace. One could imagine being at a milonga in Buenos Aires and being approached or approaching this kindly, gentle man and having a peaceful exchange, a flow of give and take. The subtext of the screenplay is not only the Old World of Europe versus the New World of the Americas (Bergoglio was the first Jesuit pope, the first from the Americas and the first from outside of Europe since Syrian Gregory III in the 8th Century), but also the American and European concept of what tango is. The secondary definition of tango in Merriam-Webster is "interaction marked by a lack of straightforwardness" and you'll often hear soundtracks resort to tango to suggest a con, spies in action or other nefarious doings. That is not what is going on here. Pryce's Bergoglio is open, honest and filled with compassion and an example of why the humble will inherit the earth. (Jana Monji)

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                                        Julia Fox as Julia in “Uncut Gems

                                        There seems to be nothing special about Julia Fox's character during the first act of "Uncut Gems." For a while, Julia, the girlfriend of Adam Sandler's hustling protagonist Howard Ratner, appears to be just another bad decision on Howard's part. Then, the two characters argue, and co-writers/directors Benny and Josh Safdie follow Julia in her walk of embarrassment, disappointment and sadness. In that moment, we realize there's much more to this character than her tough, street-smart attitude. She genuinely loves Howard—more than he would allow himself to admit and probably more than he actually deserves. Julia begins along the lines of a sexy, entitled and naïve moll for Howard's wheeler-and-dealer, but Fox's performance, playing a woman who knows exactly who she is and what she wants, contradicts and then destroys that stereotypical characterization.

                                        In a way, Julia becomes our last and, considering everything he does, only connection to the man Howard might have been, before his self-destructive nature overtook him. It's not because a woman loves him. It's because this woman—who doesn't have anything to specifically gain from Howard and whom we know won't put up with any B.S., unless she thinks it's worth something—loves him. Once Howard's final gamble to pay off his debt and satisfy the itch of his addiction begins, Julia becomes a key player in the character's ultimate gambit, maneuvering a casino filled with potential threats to her, as well as to the possibility of Howard's financial salvation. Fox commands as much attention as the climax of Sandler's career-best performance, and her presence in that sequence is what provides it with so much tension. This is a star-making debut performance. (Mark Dujsik)

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                                        Jonathan Majors as Mont in “The Last Black Man in San Francisco

                                        Any good actor can play characters who have great speeches and witty dialogue, who express extreme and expressive emotions like passion, fury, shock, and who determine the direction of the storyline. But Jonathan Majors had to find a way to play Mont, a character who is quiet, gentle, and observant, literally along for the ride -- he and his best friend Jimmie Fails ride one skateboard, holding on to each other. Majors showed us who Mont was with the subtlest expressions and gestures, all within the context of the film's delicate, poetic lyricism.

                                        Co-writer/director Joe Talbot told me that Majors improvised one of the movie's most striking scenes, when Mont approaches a group of men standing on a sidewalk taunting those who walk by. They are a sharp contrast to Jimmie and Mont, who may not be realistic in their plans but who are always focused and active.  Their constant commentary also functions like a Greek chorus.  In the initial script, Mont was supposed to distract the group with a magic trick. But Majors suggested that Mont surprise the group by critiquing them as though they were in an advanced acting seminar with a shared vocabulary of dramaturgy. This reveals a lot about what Mont has been thinking and the way he sees the world. And it beautifully sets up a climactic moment near the end of the film.  Mont finally speaks up, fittingly, first through a play and then directly, with a message he knew would be devastating for Jimmie. Majors shows us that Mont knows he risks ending the most important relationship he had, but knows it is essential for Jimmie's well-being.  Majors made Mont more than a sidekick, a fully-realized character of his own, ultimately someone we care about and root for -- and perhaps wish we could be lucky enough to have as a friend ourselves. (Nell Minow)

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                                        Da’Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed in “Dolemite is My Name”

                                        When Rudy Ray Moore meets Lady Reed for the first time in “Dolemite is My Name,” she is sitting at the club bar looking dejected. A scene earlier, Moore watched her in a violent altercation with her ex-boyfriend—he slapped her and she hit him back with the force of at least 2-1/2 Mike Tysons. Moore is more impressed by her presence than her punches. “Some people come with their own spotlight,” he tells her. It’s a fitting description for Da’Vine Joy Randolph, the actress who embodies Lady Reed with sincerity, humanity and a flair for profanity that matches her co-star, Eddie Murphy. Everything you need to know about Lady Reed is in this sequence showing her evolution into her singer/comedian alter ego, Queen Bee. Like Moore’s Dolemite, Queen Bee is as ribald and confident as her portrayer is humble and determined. Randolph expertly plays both sides of this in that introductory bar scene.

                                        It starts with her calling bullshit on Moore’s offer to “buy the pretty girl a drink.” “I know what I look like,” she scoffs. “I ain’t pretty and I goddamn sure ain’t no girl. Then there’s this beautifully timed pause before she softly says, “I’ll have a daiquiri.” Her delivery is not just funny, it’s achingly vulnerable. These two have an immediate chemistry; she coaxes an unusual amount of charity out of Murphy’s performance and he encourages her confidence. As profane as their dialogue is, there’s an underlying sweetness that radiates so much love and support for one another. These two are kindred spirits, unconventional looking people who fearlessly put themselves on the big screen so that others may see themselves represented.

                                        Randolph says as much in her poignant moment of thanks before the opening night of “Dolemite” in Chicago. At first, I thought this scene was extraneous, a verbal description of her performance. But then I realized that this dialogue needed to be heard. Because how often does one see big, beautiful, dark-skinned Black women onscreen? Director Craig Brewer gives Randolph the old-school glamour treatment and she gives “Dolemite is My Name” a beautiful dose of heart, soul and hilarity. To paraphrase Moore, she snaps into the performance and it’s magic. (Odie Henderson)

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                                        Paul Walter Hauser as Richard Jewell in “Richard Jewell”

                                        There are some performances that take over movies, rocketing past the instincts of whatever director was hapless enough to ask some of our best talent to do better work than the movie deserves, and then there are performances that are given the perfect runway for an actor to take off. Richard Jewell is, blessedly, one such movie. Clint Eastwood films his star Paul Walter Hauser like he’s anybody ordinary, and it may even take you a scene or two to notice that this performance is as good as it is. Hauser plays a man so desperate to fit in that the movie doesn’t act as though it’s watching anyone special. Hauser’s Jewell is husky, nervous, thin-skinned, and loyal; the thing that’s so wonderful about the acting, from the way he stands, walks, even breathes (it’s a very subtly physical performance), is that Hauser is able to calculate Jewell’s unspoken desires. He wishes he had confidence, and believes that having his dream job in law enforcement will give it to him. Hauser’s performance is of a man trapped in a life, a house, a job, a body, a bad situation, who wishes with every part of his being that the trap reflected what he wants to believe he deserves, but can’t muster the ego. It’s some of the most assured and unassuming work by any actor this year, a guy who wanted to help people but lost his way and yet is possessed of the richest inner life thanks to the man playing him, and without Eastwood’s relaxed, generous direction picking up everything he does like Hauser were a dancer working for Vincente Minelli, we might not know just how incredibly talented he is. (Scout Tafoya)

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                                        Gabriela Cartol as Eve in “The Chambermaid”

                                        Rigorous and repetitive is the work of Eve, who toils away day in and day out cleaning rooms at an opulent Mexico City hotel in Lila Avilés’ debut “The Chambermaid.” In this humanistic portrait of a determined young woman, actress Gabriela Cartol (“La Tirisia”) found a character without pretentions whose unspoken optimism to surpass her circumstances radiates truthfulness.

                                        Cartol, a revelation of natural acting, constructs Eve’s life beyond the boundaries of her workplace via endearing and often downhearted phone calls with a son and his caretaker, both of whom we never see on screen. There’s also, on both a tangible and a metaphorical level, another source of motivation: a bright red dress kept away in the lost-and-found symbolizes a reward for all her dedication. Getting it is of crucial important for Eve. 

                                        She’s a model employee who aspires to move up and get an education, but above all Eve is observant. With a subtle smirk or a bright-eyed stare, Cartol imbues her with a mix of curiosity and guarded skepticism in her every interaction with guests and other employees. Eve won’t say much, but she registers it all.

                                        It’s refreshing to watch Cartol personify a working-class mother who, despite of her socioeconomic circumstances, is not reduced to victimhood. Through Cartol’s measured rawness, Eve exhibits multiple layers of her intricate personality, from her sexual desires to outburst of anger, charming moments of levity, and even platonic affection with fellow chambermaid Minitoy (Teresa Sánchez), who encourages get rid of her serious expression.

                                        But the most resonant aspect of what the how Cartol interprets Eve comes from her unwavering dignity. No matter how her time at the hotel concludes, she’ll thrive outside those doors because what defines her is not the job she holds, but her strength to remain unchanged through it all. Her red dress is still in the making. (Carlos Aguilar)

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                                        Franz Rogowski as Georg in “Transit”

                                        Many have noted Franz Rogowski’s resemblance to Joaquin Phoenix — the wiry frame, the cleft lip, the general haunted nature. But where Phoenix, whether he’s going big or dialing it down, is a walking exposed nerve, Rogowski’s character in “Transit” is more reserved, a man who always seems to be holding back what he’s thinking or feeling to better protect himself. This allows other characters to project what they’re thinking or feeling onto him, and that’s key to “Transit’s” success. Georg becomes a sort-of surrogate father to a young undocumented immigrant boy and a lover to Paula Beer’s Marie, the wife of an important political writer whose identification papers Georg has taken as his own. At first, we see only fleeting glances of what he’s actually feeling (as in this lovely scene of him fixing the boy’s radio and singing to him and his deaf-mute mother). It’s not immediately clear whether he’s purely opportunistic or whether he simply doesn’t have the heart to tell Marie that her husband committed suicide; all we know is that he’s quick on his feet and desperate to get out of Europe with her. It's only gradually that Rogowski’s expressive eyes and body reveal a man whose survivalist instincts are overcome by guilt and need to do the right thing. Much like director Christian Petzold’s earlier “Phoenix,” “Transit” tells a story of looking for the right role to survive and the guilt that comes with survival, and Rogowski beautifully conveys what happens when self-preserving detachment falls away and a person’s humanity, the very thing worth preserving, takes over. (Max O’Connell)

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                                        Florence Pugh as Amy March in “Little Women”

                                        In the 1950s, adult performers regularly played children. It was awkward and obvious, to say the least. So when it was announced that Florence Pugh, at 23, would play the teenage Amy March in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women,” skepticism set in. But what Pugh does with the role of Amy is to quite literally transform in front of an audience’s eyes. Like the Amy March of Louisa May Alcott’s tome, Pugh is introduced as a vain teenager, worried about her nose and making moony-eyes at Laurie (Timothee Chalamet). She conveys the insecurity that comes from being youthful and fearful of being disliked, as well as the impetuousness and rash decision-making. When she burns Jo’s (Saorise Ronan) manuscript only to delicately try to ice-skate with her, the transition between the two scenes shows a teenager desperate to make right the bond she’s ruined.

                                        Even more impressive is when Pugh illustrates Amy’s transition from naive girl into dignified young woman. Where Amy March has often been a character despised for her selfishness and childishness, Pugh shows the stress of being deemed the one who will secure everyone’s safety. Because Amy is told she’s the only marriageable prospect in her family, Amy uses that knowledge to be smart about her heart. She genuinely loves Laurie but realizes he isn’t serious about his own life. Her confrontation scene opposite Chalamet, where Pugh lays out that a woman’s worth in marriage is to be property, her children included, emphasizes her stakes. She can marry for love, but only if that spouse understands her internal logic about marriage itself.

                                        Florence Pugh’s Amy March shows a progression of time within a person, transitioning from a little girl into her own woman. She’s funny, relatable, and charming – the perfect Amy! (Kristen Lopez)

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                                        Kelvin Harrison Jr. as Luce in “Luce”

                                        Beginning with Julius Onah’s “Luce,” a provocative film that follows a Black teenage track star and top student suffering through issues of identity and Black Excellence, Kelvin Harrison Jr. began a heavy year that would go on to include “The Wolf Hour” and “Waves.” In “Luce,” Harrison Jr. plays the title character in a full-tilt yet controlled fit of incredible acting.

                                        In “Luce,” nothing is ever what it seems. The film and actor operate purely on a subconscious level, a side we’re rarely privy to except in brief flashes. In fact, part of the suspense arrives through us slowly realizing the character’s intent, and then doubling back when our initial read is proven wrong, and then doubling back again when we’re proven correct. When “Luce” premiered at Sundance, during the Q&A, Onah recounted his lone instruction to Harrison Jr. He ordered him to lose all of his Blackness. The young actor does so to startling results. Harrison Jr. purposely portrays this immigrant student from a war-torn African country as robotic, the idealization of the excellent Black student in the eyes of his white teachers and parents. But like “Get Out,” when the subconscious breaks into the conscious in a cry for help, Harrison Jr. portrays both cold suppression and hot bursts of anger with ease. The effect is a tête-à-tête between the performative and urgent reality of the character. A boy torn apart by expectations, by the pressures of lost identity.

                                        By film’s end—we’re not sure if Luce knows who he is—he appears to accept the title of top student again, buying into its rewards while knowing the alternative punishment (failure) arrives in the form of an unforgiving outer world away from the safe suburban sprawl of his home. While Luce might not be unsure of himself, I’m completely conscious of Harrison Jr. He’s unforgettable. (Robert Daniels)

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                                        Adèle Haenel as Héloïse in “Portrait of a Lady on Fire”

                                        For the first twenty minutes of Céline Sciamma’s fourth and finest film to date, we never see the face of its titular heroine, Héloïse (Adèle Haenel). When the reluctant bride-to-be charges up to the precipice of a cliff, if only to approximate the sensation of freedom, we are viewing her through the eyes of Marianne (a shattering Noémie Merlant), the artist assigned to paint her portrait. Haenel was romantically involved with the filmmaker for a period of time, and appeared in Sciamma’s first two directorial efforts, yet she—and Héloïse—are so much more than a muse. Just as Héloïse’s mother (Valeria Golino) notes that “it takes two to be funny,” an intimate meeting of the souls must occur between painter and subject in order for the latter’s inner life to be vividly etched on the canvas. The closer Marianne gets to Héloïse, the more Haenel allows us to glimpse the vulnerable, vibrant, fiercely passionate woman concealed within the embittered shell.

                                        All of this leads to a glorious two-and-a-half minute close-up of Héloïse as she listens to an orchestra perform Vivaldi’s “Violin Concerto in G Minor,” a composition Marianne had once played for her, likening it to “a coming storm.” As the music mirrors the heightened memories of her affair with Marianne, Héloïse’s face transforms into a symphony of raw emotions. She closes her eyes and then dares to open them, breaking down in tears before smiling in exhilaration. Like a fleeting glance frozen in time, whether preserved via brush strokes or one’s subconscious, the suddenness and lasting impact of the storm echoed by Vivaldi is channeled through every nuance of Haenel’s astonishing performance. With fiery grace, she conveys how art can lend newfound clarity and closure to fragments from our past that would otherwise be too painful to bring into focus. (Matt Fagerholm)

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                                        Joe Pesci as Russell Bufalino in “The Irishman”

                                        It is always interesting to watch performers show an unexpected side of their talent, and Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s latest film “The Irishman” is one of such cases. As a calm, no-nonsense crime boss, Pesci looks much more understated than his volatile Oscar-winning supporting turn in “Goodfellas”, but there is also considerable intensity and authority lurking beneath his seemingly avuncular appearance, and we are always reminded of what his criminal hero is capable of. Sure, he prefers to handle troubles as sensibly and peacefully as possible, but, if there is not any other option as far as he can discern, this wise, thoughtful criminal does not hesitate to order whatever is necessary. At one point later in the movie, he talks quietly and discreetly as usual, but his final decision on his latest problem feels intractable and adamantine to us nonetheless, and his firm demand is expressed with the bitter sense of inevitability and resignation as Pesci phlegmatically delivers that recurring line in the film: “It’s what it is.”

                                        After “Lethal Weapon 4,” Pesci was in semi-retirement status during next two decades while appearing in only a couple of feature films, but he surprises us here, demonstrating that he has not lost none of his talent and presence yet. I do not know whether he will go further after “The Irishman”, but, considering that he still can be at the top of his game as before, I hope there will be several more movies to interest him in the future. (Seongyong Cho

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                                        Elisabeth Moss as Becky Something in “Her Smell”

                                        Were we to look at the year’s performances on a purely technical level, few would measure up against the work Elisabeth Moss does in Alex Ross Perry’s frenetic, quietly terrifying “Her Smell.” Take one of the film’s best punchlines, arriving near the point in the film’s second act in which dread crests like a wave. Moss’s Becky Something, a spiraling punk rock icon/addict in freefall, sizes up the three young members of new band The Aker Girls; she smells them, caresses them, bites them. Then finally, having somehow convinced them to become her backing band, she opens the door to the recording studio and says, with confusion, impatience, and humor, “Inward, ho!” It’s a perfect joke, delivered perfectly by Moss, but it’s also an indication of the mental capacity of this absolute trainwreck, a brief glimpse of the brilliant mind that led her to such heights—she’s not proud of the joke; it’s just another piece of cleverness. And on top of all that, it’s also an act, and Moss lets us see the greasepaint. Becky’s playing Becky the idol, making a discovery instead of grabbing desperately for one last rung on the ladder.

                                        There are many such moments in “Her Smell;” Moss also learned to play guitar for the film, the kind of thing that typically has award-granting bodies salivating. But what really makes it among the best performances of not just the year but the decade is the stuff that feels a lot less technical. The moments when Becky stops tearing through life and stares herself down in the mirror. When she stands at the end of a hallway, frozen by fear, and just the slightest sway of her arms makes it appear something could be very wrong. The hair tossing, the stumbles, the lightning-fast switches in focus that seem too instinctive to be planned. These two incredible qualities can be glimpsed in one brief moment of the unforgettable “Heaven” sequence, when Becky stops singing the most beautiful, heartbreaking rendition of a Bryan Adams song ever committed to film to turn and nod gently to the daughter she barely knows. A beautiful song and a simple, human, undeniably human moment. Craft and all that can’t be taught, glimpsed in one. (Allison Shoemaker)

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                                        Adam Driver as Charlie in “Marriage Story”

                                        Charlie, the Brooklyn theater director whom Adam Driver plays in writer/director Noah Baumbach’s delicate and devastating “Marriage Story,” seems indefatigable to his soon-to-be ex Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). That’s one of the things she loves about him, writing a letter at a mediator’s request, a kind start to the end of their relationship as a couple: “He rarely gets defeated. I feel like I always do.” But as dogged as Charlie is in negotiating their separation and divorce, he’s also making up the route as he goes along.

                                        Both Driver and Johansson turn Charlie and Nicole into fully realized, three-dimensional characters that Baumbach treats with empathy, but Driver stayed with me longer afterward. “Marriage Story” feels more like his journey because Driver portrays Charlie not as a narcissist but as a guy who genuinely didn’t realize how much he took for granted. Nicole’s unhappiness truly blindsides him, and he cycles through every bit of denial, anger, depression, and eventual forgiveness—not just for Nicole but for himself as well. Charlie would be easy to dislike, the partner who’s unfaithful in this painful pas de deux, who uses the f-word at his eight-year-old son, insists on trick-or-treating way past bedtime so he gets in time with the boy, but he’s also barely holding it together, trying too hard, and humiliating himself. He says, “We’re a New York family” like a mantra, until they’re not; wants his son to know he fought for him; punches drywall, crumples in tears, bleeds, even sings. I cried too watching this movie, mostly because of Driver, who becomes tremulous when he hears the words Nicole meant for him, feels defeated after all, and learns to start anew. (Valerie Kalfrin)

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                                        Jessie Buckley as Rose-Lynn in “Wild Rose”

                                        In "Wild Rose,” Jessie Buckley’s natural sense of timing overrides situational acting tendencies, and pinpoints what drives the best music-themed dramas: authentic moments that imply the lead fully understands all the performative nuances of not only just the subject, but also the subject’s craft.

                                        “Wild Rose” begins with a message moment, as Buckley’s Rose-Lynn Harlan leaves jail with so-called “swagger.” To reinforce a message of personal empowerment, the title character shakes her fist with all the might of a late ‘70s punk rock star. However, Buckley seems to favor her character’s confidence over appearance. It’s all about the timing of Rose-Lynn’s movements; how the lead actress lives in the moment rather than reacting stiffly to script dialogue.

                                        For example, Rose-Lynn seeks financial support from a woman who has good intentions, but also clearly doesn’t understand the grind. Buckley, fully in tune with the “wild” aspect of her character’s persona, excels during a “Three Chords and the Truth” tattoo reveal; a harmonic moment that at once conveys Rose-Lynn’s awkwardness and a sense of conversational intelligence that speaks to her ability to connect.

                                        “Wild Rose” doesn’t require a proper stand-out performance from Buckley to succeed, as the protagonist’s persona caters to a specific group of people, while the music itself appeals to various demographics. Yet Buckley doesn’t simply deliver a PG-13 passable performance. Instead, she pinpoints all the nervous energy of a truly flawed social outcast who thrives on confidence in unique social situations. She’s natural and believable; she’s someone’s neighbor from every block around the world. (Quinn Hough)

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                                        Mark Ruffalo as Robert Bilott in “Dark Waters”

                                        In Todd Hayne’s "Dark Waters," Robert Bilott (Mark Ruffalo) shrinks. Aloof and confident, as we meet him, Bilott is the type of man to drive hours across State lines for his grandmother. He’s not imposing and might fade into the background of any crowd, but he is proud of his accomplishments. Throughout the film, as he pursues a decade-long legal fight against the Dupont chemical company, though, this pride fades. For a lawyer, Bilott doesn’t talk a lot. He spends more time listening, and the emotional weight of those testimonies crush him smaller and smaller. A man who once knew where he was going, turns inward; his body becomes stiff, almost contorted. He develops a tremor in his hand. Rage festers below his quiet exterior and paranoia encroaches into his home. His pursed lips that once seemed relax, tense-up. But even as he pulls up carpets, sorts through pots and pans in the middle of the night, it’s done quietly.

                                        "Dark Waters" isn’t a celebratory tale of heroism. This film doesn’t celebrate individualism, even if Bilott is an exceptional person. It is what happens when corporations are allowed to act according to their nature, putting profit margins above everything else. Bilott has to be small in comparison to the monster that keeps growing and growing. Ruffalo’s performance not only works as a portrait of a man on the verge of disappearance but works within the scope of a film bigger than any individual fight. The corporations like Dupont have not only changed our body chemistry but the way we think. There’s little outrage, even tired resignation is too much to ask. Bilott keeps fighting even if it’s clear that Dupont has already won. (Justine Smith)




                                        Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/balder-and-dash/the-great-performances-of-2019
                                        By: The Editors
                                        Posted: December 23, 2019, 3:44 pm

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                                            Dennis A Muilenburg out, David L Calhoun in as Boeing president & CEO

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                                            The Boeing Board of Directors has named current chairman, David L Calhoun, as chief executive officer and president.

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                                              In this blog, we will discuss how to Schedule an Email in Outlook App and how to hold a message in the Outbox for a specified time even after clicking the send button. This feature will be applicable for Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013, Outlook 2010, and Outlook 2007. 

                                              How to Schedule an Email in Outlook App?
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                                                What made Alfred Hitchcock’s criminally underrated 1948 masterwork “Rope” so compelling wasn’t only the visual trickery it utilized to make the story of Leopold and Loeb-esque killers appear as if it unfolded largely in an unbroken take. It was the substance informing the style that kept the audience’s attention rapt, as the claustrophobic sequences mirrored the limitations of the characters’ corrupted worldview, as well as the coffin-like perimeter of their growing entrapment. Sam Mendes’ new WW1-era thriller takes the latter idea and literally runs with it during the entirety of its two-hour running time, following two young British privates, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman), as they navigate their way through enemy territory. They have been ordered to deliver an urgent message entrusted to them by General Erinmore (Colin Firth) that will prevent a massacre of soldiers, one of whom happens to be Blake’s brother. 

                                                Though the film’s premise is evocative of “Saving Private Ryan,” its style is a hybrid of the Dunkirk-set tracking shot in Joe Wright’s “Atonement” and the battle scenes in Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” two pictures in which time is of the essence. Mendes and his frequent cinematographer Roger Deakins make their film appear as if it is occurring entirely in one epic take, and the results are not only jaw-dropping, but a poignant representation of what the director has dubbed “a war of paralysis.” In the following two-part conversation, I speak with MacKay and Chapman as well as Mendes and his writing partner Krysty Wilson-Cairns (who also co-authored the screenplay for Edgar Wright’s upcoming film, “Last Night in Soho”). When I told them that this is the sort of marvel that will get audiences excited about seeing films on the big screen, Mendes sighed, “You’re in the minority, we’re fading past.” Let’s hope moviegoers will prove him wrong.

                                                PART I: SAM MENDES & KRYSTY WILSON-CAIRNS

                                                You’ve always excelled at holding on an image long enough for it to evolve and take on new meaning before the lens, going back to the “dancing” bag in “American Beauty” twenty years ago. Even a Bond film like “Skyfall” has memorable instances of this approach, such as the silhouetted fight scene and Javier Bardem’s eerie monologue he performs while creeping toward the camera. With “1917,” you’ve taken your mastery of long takes to its fullest expression.

                                                Sam Mendes (SM): Now you mention it! That’s a very good observation, and this is why you people are best placed to write about film, better placed than the filmmakers sometimes. I wouldn’t have described it like that, but I actually really liked the way you described it because there is something that happens at a certain point when you hold a shot for a long time where it changes the way that the audience is watching it. There’s a particular shot in Kubrick’s “Clockwork Orange,” and several in “2001” where you simply enter the image. It gives you time to enter the image, and you don’t wait to be presented with things. You’re sort of pulled in, and the gravitational force of the image shifts from coming out at you to sucking you into it. For me, it’s just a taste thing and I don’t know that I’m on a crusade to do it, but I find myself more and more drawn in by shots like the one in “Clockwork Orange” where Alex and the Droogs are driving endlessly in a car. 

                                                It’s actually a process shot, and it just goes on and on and on. As it plays, you go through various stages of watching it. At first, you think, ‘Yeah, it’s a good shot.’ Then you think, ‘Why is he holding on this shot so long?’, and then finally, you’re like, ‘Oh my god, I’m never gonna forget this shot.’ [laughs] It’s a sort of mind game, in a way. I’m not sure I’m as bloody-minded as Kubrick is about it. There is something utterly fearless about his approach, but also, his sense of how long it takes before a shot enters your long-term memory is uncanny. It’s the same as the shot in “The Shining” with the boy on the tricycle. Every corner he takes, the tension mounts more and more. I thought about that a couple times while making “1917,” since there are moments where it observes the rules of a horror movie as much as it does a conventional war movie. The characters are often reluctant to go around that next corner, yet they realize they have no choice, and have to take it whether they want to or not because they need to get to their destination on time. 

                                                So that feeling of being pulled by an image is something that I really like, and I really enjoyed doing it again at the beginning of “Spectre.” I was very determined to drop an audience down into the middle of an existing atmosphere and make them try to find their own way through it. You watch it and think, ‘Which one is Bond? Oh that’s probably him. Yes it is! Where’s he going? Who’s the woman? Where are we?,’ etc. That is exciting. Of course, you get a lot for free in a Bond film because the audience goes in knowing that somewhere in that first reel, Bond will likely show up, and there are probably going to be some nefarious deeds being done. It’s a genre where you have twenty minutes for free at the beginning, and you can riff on it. You don’t have to explain who the central character is. 

                                                A film like “1917” is more difficult because it centers on two characters you’ve never seen before, and they aren’t played by movie stars, so you’re already untethered. We don’t appear to be in any rush to explain who they are or why they’re here, which makes it trickier, but once the story gets going, it becomes really exciting. Someone once asked me which is more difficult, a Bond movie or this, and I was like, “This is more difficult because with Bond, you’ve got so much given to you already.” Doing “Skyfall” isn’t exactly easy, but look at what I got for free—Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Q, Moneypenny. I’ve already got a huge train kit everybody knows and everybody is going to come see it anyway. You don’t have to fight for an audience. But with “1917,” you have to fight to get everyone to come into the cinema because movies like these are increasingly difficult to make.

                                                imageScript supervisor Nicoletta Mani (left) and co-screenwriter Krysty Wilson-Cairns (right) with Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes on the set of Mendes' new epic, "1917." Photo Credit: François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

                                                How vividly were certain details explored in the script, such as the flies buzzing over the corpse of the horse?

                                                SM: Anything really grizzly in the movie was Krysty’s idea. 

                                                Krysty Wilson-Cairns (KWC): He’s not joking, I’m very twisted. [laughs]  

                                                SM: Hands in dead bodies, that’s the younger generation…

                                                KWC: My mom literally jumped out of her seat at the premiere when she saw that scene, and she called me some names, so I was pleased with that.

                                                Details like those give the audience a sensory experience akin to virtual reality.

                                                KWC: Absolutely. Everything about the film is designed to feel like reality and because so much of the film is visual, it had to be in the script. Otherwise, we would’ve never gotten to the film if we had just written the dialogue because the script served as a proof of concept for how it was going to work. When I first sat down at my kitchen table to write it, I don’t know if I was 100% sure whether Sam was just mad or a mad genius—turns out a mad genius—but the craft in a script like that obviously took a lot of writing. It took a visionary level of visual expertise, and working with Sam was such a privilege as well as absolutely crucial. It couldn’t have existed without a director/writer who knew what he wanted.

                                                What attracted you both to collaborating on this script? I know you’re a history nut…

                                                KWC: I totally am, but I love working with Sam so much that if he asked me to write menus, I’d have said yes. 

                                                SM: Because if nobody comes to this movie, I’m opening a restaurant. Honestly, without Krysty, this would’ve remained an unfinished project. I’ve got a few files on my laptop that have names like “Proposed Sci-Fi Project” and “A.I. Idea.” They just sit there festering, gathering whatever the computer equivalent of dust is—pixels?

                                                KWC: RAM? [laughs] I like the idea of them gathering pixels… 

                                                SM: And then you have to blow off the pixels. Krysty was the catalyst who brought it into script form, which I think was really pivotal with this one. I did say to her, “Look, if you can do this, I will make this film,” and I don’t think I’ve ever said that before. I had an absolute certainty that it was what I wanted to do, and then the collaboration after that was daily. I did a lot of rewriting, and the wonderful thing about that was that I didn’t feel guilty or have to explain or apologize, which I have had to do somewhat in the past because it’s just not my words. 

                                                Don’t get me wrong, I love working with great writers, and I’ve worked with a lot. In the theater, I wouldn’t dream of rewriting anyone, but film was different. I wanted the freedom that this project provided. Krysty was there every day on the set, so sometimes I’d use her a lot on the day, even if it was just for an extra set of eyes to determine whether something worked or rang true or felt awkward. I’d ask for her thoughts, and she’d give me some alternatives for that moment. Other days, there was no conversation at all. She’d just come up and go, “It looks great,” while bringing a large bag of sweets.

                                                KWC: I was really happy to be there most days, though occasionally I was incredibly stressed because Sam would ask, “Can we get some lines for this?” Sam, Roger Deakins and Colin Firth would be over there and I’d be on my laptop in a tent going, “Oh god, oh god, I’m just gonna write fifteen and they might only need ten.” But it was such a privilege as a writer to be brought on a set like that and to feel like a trusted collaborator. To be treated like an equal from the word “go” on this was incredibly special, especially when you are working with someone like Sam Mendes. When your phone rings and Sam’s name pops across it, you answer on the first ring. He’s a dream to work with.  

                                                How did you go about mapping out the entirety of the action?

                                                SM: There were two things going on simultaneously. We were writing a conventional script, and though it was a very unusual one, there was nothing in it that spoke to the camera. It didn’t say, “Camera moves through this,” or, “We pan from there to there,” or, “We float across this.” It didn’t describe what we were doing, it only described what the men were doing, what they were saying to each other and what the space looked and felt like. Then we had another script, which was a 45-page document with maps which tracked the physical journey of the film, and that was developed over six months with me, Krysty, Roger, the actors and every department head. We started out by walking on empty fields, marking out the journey with poles. Before any trench was dug or farmhouse was built, every step of the journey was accounted for.

                                                imageGeorge MacKay as Schofield in "1917," the new epic from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

                                                Then we began building, so by the time we got to shooting, the actors and crew had taken the journey multiple times in different ways. We watched the sets evolve, and then the job was to figure out where the camera goes. We needed the camerawork to have an immense precision, and I wanted the actors to feel like they’ve never been there before. I wanted the opposite of rehearsed, the opposite of robotic. I just wanted them to exist in the space, and I encouraged spontaneity and accidents and changes in atmosphere, which are practically guaranteed when working with weather, animals and babies, not to mention people falling over and slipping in mud. We are looking for that sense of living it rather than acting it, and that combination or balance between precision and spontaneity was the most difficult thing to achieve. The root was written into the script, it just wasn’t in the conventional script.

                                                Your use of the folk song, “The Wayfaring Stranger,” is especially haunting in a way that reminded me of the final scene in Kubrick’s “Paths of Glory.”

                                                SM: I did lots of research for the movie, and I found a first-person account that talked about stumbling into a concert in the woods where songs were being played on a piano. What was moving about it was that the soldier who was writing it said, “I realized I hadn’t heard music for two years.” He had forgotten what it was like, and thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever heard. I figured there may be a way of feeding that into the movie at some point, though I decided it would be wrong to have a piano, which was alluded to have been from a French farmhouse. The soldiers in our film weren’t near any dwelling, so it wouldn’t have made any sense. When I heard Andreas Scholl’s version of “Wayfaring Stranger” while driving one day, I realized that song would be the perfect fit. So it was just good fortune. I knew the song, but I had never heard that arrangement, which is very, very beautiful, and we wrote our own simple, a cappella version of it.

                                                What attracts you to a circular storytelling structure in which the end mirrors the beginning? 

                                                KWC: When Sam first started describing it to me, I felt like it really spoke to WWI. People often found themselves back where they began. They would take 300 yards of land, and then they’d lose 300 yards of land. In fact, I remember reading a story that took place during 1917 where the British were moving forward and when they began digging trenches, they found bodies of their own soldiers from 1914. So, to me, that war was, in a way, very circular, and I loved that structural idea for the film. I thought it was a cool and very subtle metaphor.

                                                SM: I think you are always looking for a perfect shape of story. When asked about the statue of David, Michelangelo said the figure was always in the marble, and that it was simply his job to bring it out. Similarly, every story has a shape that has always existed and feels natural. In the case of “1917,” the story doesn’t observe any of the conventional rules of screenwriting. It’s very linear without having a three-act structure, parallel action or subplots, so it is actually quite a tricky thing to achieve that feeling of shape, that feeling that a movie can breathe in, breathe out, and like a piece of music, it knows how to balance a slow movement with a fast movement without becoming repetitive or metronomic.

                                                It seems right that our characters would end where they began, and yet be utterly changed. You want to articulate very clearly how the characters changed in just two hours of real time. Schofield has gone from not understanding why he’s there to knowing why he was put there in the first place. He started out with the company of a friend and ends the film alone. Only at the end does the film acknowledge what he wants, which is to go home. That’s the journey, and it becomes clearer if you’re able to compare the final image with the beginning image. Somehow the shape of it is more clearly revealed if you give it that sort of grace note, and it’s pleasing to me. 

                                                This is a name drop, but back when he was alive, Harold Pinter had encouraged me to go and see a production of “Old Times.” He was sitting with his wife Antonia at dinner, and she said, “It’s my favorite of Harold’s plays.” Then Harold and I had a couple drinks, and you could generally ask him some questions, so I asked him which of his own plays was his favorite. He said it was “The Homecoming,” and when I asked why, he replied, “Well, it’s all a question of shape.” I asked, “And what shape is ‘The Homecoming’?”, and he went, “It’s—[moves hand up at an incline, and then drops it straight down]—and that’s it.” I’ll never forget that shape he described. It’s like a wedge. So I often think of story in terms of shape. That’s as good a way of thinking about it as any.

                                                image(from left) Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay) in "1917," the new epic from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes. Photo Credit: François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

                                                PART II: GEORGE MACKAY & DEAN-CHARLES CHAPMAN

                                                My family still has the steel helmet worn by my great-grandfather, who was a high-ranking sergeant stationed in France during WWI, and as a kid, I was amazed by how heavy and cumbersome it was.

                                                George MacKay (GM): Though the helmets we wore for the film weren’t made of steel, the level of detail that was put into them is staggering. The costume team molded the few existing helmets that they had, and then they found, over the generations, that people have generally gotten bigger, taller and broader. So when the helmets were placed on ourselves and the background artists, the proportions didn’t look quite right. So they scanned the model they’d made and upscaled it—they made hundreds by 108% and hundreds by 110% so that they would proportionally match the faces to the helmets.

                                                Dean-Charles Chapman (DCC): What really surprised me is how restricting all of the soldiers’ gear was, and I know that sounds stupid, but you’d think that they would be equipped properly to go over the top and into battle. George and I each had a different webbing, which is kind of like a backpack. Mine was leather and his was—

                                                GM: It was made of bound cotton, but you were so smug about your webbing. [laughs]

                                                DCC: No, I wasn’t! I was like, “Look at me, I’ve got no webbing, it’s leather.” [laughs] I couldn’t move in it. Webbing has different compartments hanging off of it, and these men were literally sent over the top with their mess tin. That’s where they keep all their food—their knife, fork, salt, pepper—and I thought, ‘Why are you sending them over the top with a dinner plate, basically? Why do you need that?’ They had so much gear with them that it just made it hard, even in the No Man’s Land sequence, where we’re crawling on the ground. You’ve got your bag and your bayonet digging in you, and you’re still supposed to be able to fight. The heaviness of the gear surprised me, and that included the rifles. I remember the first day being given a real rifle to hold, and I was like, ‘Fuck!’

                                                GM: The wool, the layers, the leather jacket were all cumbersome, but it was good though because you felt the part. When you put the costume on, it definitely felt like we were heading into battle. The uniform changes how you move. You sit down and you sort of fall into your seat. Then you get up, and you feel like you’re wearing armor. 

                                                What freedom does this long-take approach give you as an actor? It seems like it would be evocative of theatre in how it lets you fully explore an emotionally complex scene from beginning to end.

                                                DCC: The one thing that I loved about our scenes in the film were the different beats you got to play. The rhythm of each scene and all the emotions that the characters have to go through without a cut were so complex. There was one particular scene where Blake and Schofield are given the news that they are going to be set on this mission. It was a really long take that was physically hard, because there were a lot of extras in the trench and we were trying to move past the camera, but also Blake’s emotions were so up and down. That was really hard to portray in one scene while always being on the move. Sam gave me a really good life lesson about acting that I’ll take with me forever, and that helped because there are a lot of scenes in which my character has multiple ups and downs.

                                                GM: Because we rehearsed for such a long time, most of it was in our muscle memory and we were really free to explore the scene. You weren’t reaching for the line or uncertain about where to go to next. It was all in there and you just had to sort of exist for those long stretches. We often found ourselves having to go a third of the way through the story, running all the lines and the movements with each other in order to make sure that we came in at the right rhythm for a particular scene. We’d go from the beginning or occasionally from Erinmore’s dugout and follow every beat that led up to our very next take.

                                                DCC: There’s obviously a lot of running and action in the film, but there are also some moments that allowed us to breathe as well, where our characters are just walking and talking. I love that because you don’t really see that sort of chit-chat very much in films.

                                                image(from left) Schofield (George MacKay) with Lauri (Claire Duburcq) and a French baby (Ivy-L MacNamara) in "1917," the new epic from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes. Photo Credit: François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

                                                GM: I could be talking up my ass here, since I don’t watch a huge amount of TV, but I think so much about the speed with which we receive everything now. The consumption of information, in general, is so quick that it’s oftentimes part of the thrill. There’s a certain kind of telly where it’s “story, story, story,” and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but every fifteen minutes it gives you a cliffhanger to make sure you keep watching. It was such a joy in this film to do scenes where the characters don’t seem to be talking about anything, and yet they’re revealing so much at the same time. There’s a bunch of stuff underneath all the chit-chat, as well as a lot of silence. One of the most fun things about doing those long sequences was when Sam would tell us to take a longer time to reach our mark. He’d tell us to actually read a letter or chew a sandwich, and it was lovely to realize, ‘Oh yeah, I don’t have to just get to the next line, I actually have to swallow first.’

                                                One of the quietest scenes Schofield has is the one he shares with the wonderful newcomer Claire Duburcq and a remarkably well-behaved baby.

                                                GM: Claire is amazing, and that kid was incredible. Like everything you see in the film, there’s no cut in that scene. The law is that you can only have the child for twenty minutes at a time, so we had a couple of babies on the set in order to complete a day’s filming. This one just came on, and she paused, she listened, she cooed at the right moment—I think she even cried as I left as well. It was really cool what that does to the vibe on the set because everyone was whispering. The whole crew would be like, [whispers] “There’s a baby on the set.” Everyone was so gentle and kind of captivated by this wee thing. 

                                                Dean, you portrayed Billy Elliot onstage, and when I interviewed Jamie Bell two years ago, he told me that he approaches dance in the same way that he approaches acting. Would you say the same, and does having that background help in a film as physical as this?

                                                DCC: I never thought about that, and haven’t really put the two together before, but with this film, I can see the connection because this really was a choreographed dance between the actors and the camera. That flow and rhythm was constant throughout the whole filmmaking process, and it was crucial. We all had to be in sync with each other, and as actors, you had to obviously be aware of that, but still be in the scene at the same time. With dance, you have to rehearse just like we did here. You had to be on top of the choreography, and there was one scene in particular that required a lot of movements. For six months, George and I were rehearsing every now and again. We’d be like, “Do you want to do that little block?”, and we’d say the lines and go through the blocking together.

                                                GM: That’s a cool point about the dancing because the journey for us was so physical, and there wasn’t a huge amount of dialogue. I think almost unconsciously, a lot of our acting was in the form of body language. It conveyed how tired we were while coming through the German dugout after seeing our comrades get blown to bits. I had plotted the journey in my script by specifying the different ways in which Schofield would run. I had the idea in my head of what my body would be doing—such as when he regained consciousness after being knocked out—in order to convey what he’s been through both emotionally and physically. I wanted that to change so that it wasn’t always the same sort of running scene.

                                                DCC: We could only shoot when the sun was behind a cloud, so when the weather was right, it was, ‘GO! GO!’ There was no time to be fuffin’ around. But when the sun came out and we couldn’t shoot, we’d be using that time to rehearse, so there never really was a down moment. There was a ten-minute period each day when we ate our lunch, and that was it. You were constantly in that headspace of trying to perfect the scene because, as with dancing, you have to get ten takes in to feel the rhythm of it.

                                                Were there certain stories you came across during your historical research that stuck with you?

                                                GM: There were loads of stories, and we just cherry-picked bits and bobs from all of them. It is alluded to that Schofield has gone through some battles, and there were a lot of first-person accounts detailing what they were like, and the stuff that the men would’ve seen. One thing told to us by our historical advisor that I found terrifying was this idea that it wasn’t just the shells, the shrapnel and the explosions that would kill men, you could actually be killed or wounded by the concussive blast itself. Being that close to that amount of air, it could go into your lungs in a way that was lethal. There are a few scenes where Schofield is struggling for breath, and I thought that could be a sort of trauma that he knew.

                                                imageCast and crew members on the set of "1917," the new epic from Oscar®-winning filmmaker Sam Mendes. Photo Credit: François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.

                                                I also remember learning about a fellow who’d collect his four day’s ration of cheese in order to make his favorite breakfast on his mess-tin. He would grill his ration of bacon and use the fat from it while adding a little bit of water from his bottle to grill the cheese he had saved. Then to complete the meal, he’d get his ration of biscuits or a slice of bread if he had it. Just knowing what their day-to-day routine would’ve been like was so important. For soldiers in the three lines of trenches, they’d do four days in the third, four days in the second, four days at the front, and then have two weeks behind the lines. When they’re on the front line and they’re on watch, it’s two hours on, two hours off. That helped me mentally understand when would I sleep, when was the last time I had a bath, how long am I awake—all of that allowed me to build up Schofield’s life to the point where we first see him.

                                                DCC: In the costume department, I had a massive wall with reference photographs of soldiers and the landscape upon which their battles were fought. There was one particular black-and-white photo that showed three soldiers. The men on either end resembled your average WWI soldier—all buttoned up with their backs straight while holding their rifles and looking very serious. But the soldier in the middle was leaning against a truck, and he was so relaxed. All the buttons on his coat were undone, his shirt was twisted and he had a ring on his pinky finger as well as his middle finger. He was smiling, and I don’t even think he had any teeth. The personality that this man had really reminded me of Blake. Even though he’s in the middle of a war zone, Blake’s still able to be optimistic and tell his mate a funny story about the man getting his ear bitten off by a rat. That’s why Blake’s pinky finger and middle finger each have a ring on them. 

                                                Was there a consistent tone Sam Mendes maintained on the set to ensure that the very first second of the next shot would be consistent with the preceding one?

                                                GM: There was consistency of focus. We didn’t really talk about the chronology too much. The one note that he’d give us now and again was, ‘Just remember that you’ve never seen this before,’ because as much as we talk about being able to be free and in the moment, there were a few times where you would start to know the path too well. Sam’s direction would snap us back into remembering that we’ve never seen this before, and we can’t lose the tension in our bodies. Our characters still don’t know what’s around the corner. It was genuinely the most mutual team effort I’ve ever had on a job, and it was really wonderful to have everyone on the crew be gunning for this story, for the final piece. That kind of focus was what drove us, really. The days went pretty quick, I’d say.

                                                DCC: There’s a scene where Blake has to rescue Schofield, and it was really hard for me because it was very physical, and like I said before, the weapons were really restricting. Also, Roger Deakins wanted to use natural light, and the only light source in that scene was Blake’s torch. So not only was I doing the movements at the correct pace, I had to light the set as well. We had to do that scene so many times because it was really, really tough. After a while, Sam pulled me aside and said, “Your fucking friend is gonna die if you don’t fucking save him. Your friend is under there and he can die. Save your fucking mate!” Sometimes when you do a scene repetitively, you’re just thinking more about what you’ve done before and you sort of forget what your character is going through. But when Sam gave me that note, it shook me up and like that [snaps fingers], it got me right back where I needed to be. 

                                                Header caption: (from left) Director Sam Mendes and George MacKay on the set of Mendes' new epic, "1917." Photo Credit: François Duhamel / Universal Pictures and DreamWorks Pictures © 2019 Universal Pictures and Storyteller Distribution Co., LLC. All Rights Reserved.




                                                Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/interviews/a-choreographed-dance-sam-mendes-krysty-wilson-cairns-george-mackay-and-dean-charles-chapman-on-1917
                                                By: Matt Fagerholm
                                                Posted: December 24, 2019, 3:28 pm

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                                                    “Courage doesn’t grow overnight,” Greta Gerwig told me in an interview at the 2017 Telluride Film Festival, on the heels of the rapturous world premiere of “Lady Bird.” “That first mountain is probably the hardest, but it definitely needs to be crossed,” she added, emphasizing her continued desire to pursue her calling as a director, after finally putting herself out there with a solo effort. How right she was about that calling and how immensely satisfying it is to see her courage take an even more confident shape in a major Hollywood production with scale and scope! A cozy, polished and masterly cinematic rendering of Louisa May Alcott’s immortal 19th-century novel (originally published in two parts in 1868 and 1869), “Little Women” solidifies Gerwig’s one-of-a-kind voice on the page and behind the camera, opening up the classic in a blissful and innovative screen adaptation that feels ageless and vastly of today.

                                                    Considering the text’s countless iterations as TV series, stage productions and feature films—including a pair of silent-era editions, 1933’s magnificent Katherine Hepburn-starrer by George Cukor and Gillian Armstrong’s excellent 1994 version (Gerwig’s film is easily on par with those latter gold-standard two)— that noticeable freshness of this new “Little Women” is no small feat. But it also shouldn’t come as a surprise, should it? In truth, Gerwig has always possessed a distinct auteurial stamp in her artistic expression; a disarming uniqueness she shined through in mumblecores and Noah Baumbach collaborations alike, that predates even her semi-autobiographical directorial debut.

                                                    Here (and there will be spoilers ahead), the filmmaker generously pours her signature buoyancy into a novel she clearly knows inside and out, infusing the yarn with the lived-in intimacy of “Lady Bird” and the womanly resilience and camaraderie that defines much of “Frances Ha.” Moreover, she successfully turns the authority she has over the book into gold, orchestrating the tale’s segments both melodically and in a non-linear fashion. In doing that, Gerwig taps into a radical proposition—she unearths a reflective sense of memory and nostalgia within the conversation she fosters between the film’s two timelines. Her structure of well-paced flashbacks, laced with emotional peaks and soothing cadences, is first a surprising puzzle and then a source of awe, but never disrespectful to Alcott’s intentions. It is a smart twist for “Little Women” loyalists as much as an inventive way-in for first-timers.

                                                    And the essence of the March Sisters Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth is still very much in tact, with the siblings’ hearts and souls preserved in the right place. Reuniting with Gerwig after their Sacramento-set outing, the inimitable Saoirse Ronan of “Brooklyn” (among the greatest actors of her generation) plays the rebellious and ever-energetic Jo, an Alcott surrogate of sorts. When we meet the strong-minded, career-focused tomboy, Jo is already seven years into the future—not residing in “New Hampshire where writers live in the woods,” but at a boarding house in New York, pursuing her dreams to become a novelist. In these early moments, she has a vibrant spring in her step, despite already having heard a “no” (or, a “yes” with conditions) from an editor (Tracy Letts, as fatherly and charmingly sarcastic as he was in “Lady Bird”) who instructs her to give her female characters the conventional happy ending of marriage. And she has also met her harshest (but most honest) critic—the quietly charismatic Professor Bhaer (Louis Garrel), Jo’s intellectual equal she is destined to fall in love with later.

                                                    The future also gives us a glimpse of the artistically inclined, Europe-touring Amy (Florence Pugh, Ronan’s match as a force of nature) and her chance encounter with the Marches’ beloved ex-neighbor Laurie, expressively played by a feather-light, floppy-haired Timothée Chalamet, among everyone’s favorite young crushes with his soulful depth and sharp-edged cheekbones. Completing the picture is Emma Watson’s Meg—the headstrong, clothes-conscious sister who sets aside her monetary temptations and marries for love regardless of financial considerations—, the lesser-known Eliza Scanlen’s shy but talented pianist Beth, Laura Dern’s loving, sacrificing Marmee, as well as Meryl Streep’s feisty and practical-minded Aunt March. With well-considered shuffles between timelines edited by Nick Houy, Gerwig caringly feeds the clan’s Massachusetts history to the viewer in increments. In that, a turned down marriage proposal, a romantic affection that brews in secret, divergences in class, a sisterly rivalry and a devastating illness lurking in the corner all receive their proper due within Gerwig’s adventurous but disciplined assembly. Knowing what the girls are destined to informs our gaze into their adolescent years; and similarly, witnessing their youthful struggles amplifies the immediacy in which we engage with the ladies’ future selves.

                                                    Gerwig’s command on “Little Women” doesn’t stop at her ease with this configuration. Equally important is how she grasps and transposes the pleasant nature of the story that resembles the inviting warmth of a blanket on a cold winter day. Like its predecessors, Gerwig’s “Little Women” is comfy when the Marches gather by the fireplace or convene around a dining table for their Christmas lunch. And it’s a joy to watch this welcoming temperament (always aided by pitch-perfect costumes, Yorick LeSaux’s snug cinematography and a richly textured production design) gradually lend itself to something desperately romantic. Yes, on one hand, Gerwig’s film gently critiques the old-fashioned perception of marriage as an institution where men are financially expected to look after women. But on the other, it also celebrates love and matrimony as choices equal to career dreams—Meg does, after all, choose to start a family and defend the validity of her decision to Jo in an understatedly feminist scene.

                                                    But the crown jewel of “Little Women” is the fundamental update Gerwig gives to Jo in a way Alcott would have approved, maybe even adored. By the end of it all, our Jo grows into not only a love-struck, zesty young woman of a classic romantic comedy but also a fearless author with ink-stained hands, unafraid to negotiate her worth and proud to watch the birth of her hardcover, gold-lettered baby. It’s a glorious conclusion that will earn your tears with its optimism and deep respect for Alcott, who had to compromise her ideal “Little Women” ending. Gerwig captures her ahead-of-its-time spirit and turns it into something infectious for a new generation with their own aspirations, whatever they may be.




                                                    Original: https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/little-women-movie-review-2019
                                                    By: Tomris Laffly
                                                    Posted: December 24, 2019, 3:27 pm

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                                                      Having duplicate items is always annoying for users. Whatever email client you’re using, be it Outlook or IBM Notes (formerly known as Lotus Notes), duplicate items can easily be included in your mailbox without you noticing. Duplicate items are always harmful to any type of mailbox, be it PST or NSF database. Here in this blog post, we’ll learn why duplicate items occur in the NSF database and how we can remove duplicate emails in Lotus Notes.

                                                      How To Remove Duplicate Emails in Lotus Notes?

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