Wednesday, December 23, 2020


 December 23, 2020


Director: Steven Soderbergh

Writer: Deborah Eisenberg

Alice (Meryl Streep) was a famous author who won an award in London. She refused to fly so her agent Karen (Gemma Chan) booked her on a trans-Atlantic cruise trip instead. To keep her company, Alice invited her old college friends she had not seen for years, Susan (Dianne Wiest) and Roberta (Candice Bergen), as well as her favorite nephew Tyler (Lucas Hedges). Alice and Roberta had to come to terms with an old unresolved issue that burned between them since Alice's best-selling book came out years back.

Apparently Soderbergh conceptualized this project that his actors would be able to spontaneously improvise and ad lib through their scenes. This conceit was definitely felt as this film had an unusual feel because the conversations would sometimes feel pointless and awkward. Of course it was a joy to see Streep, Wiest and Bergen in one film. I kept wishing they would have more substantial scenes together, but this did not really materialize as the film sort of meandered, instead of being smartly focused. 6/10. 


Director: Tate Taylor

Writer: Matthew Newton

Ava (Jessica Chastain) was an efficient assassin who worked for a black ops organization under her handler Duke (John Malkovich). When a mission did not go according to plans, Ava was forced to return home to Boston after her disappearance several years ago. She reconnected with her mother Bobbi (Geena Davis), sister Judy (Jess Weixler) and ex-boyfriend Michael (Common) who was now Judy's boyfriend. However, big boss Simon (Colin Farrell) was not going to let Duke and Ava go unpunished for breaking mission protocols.

Jessica Chastain did quite well in this unexpected role as a ruthlessly deadly killer fighting men much bigger than her, but she managed to convince us to suspend our disbelief for a while. I enjoyed watching Chastain and Davis as daughter and mother, too bad their interactions were brief and inconsequential. Malkovich can certainly sell any character of his. Overall, despite the big name cast, the story had nothing new to offer to its genre, and the head-scratching ending made no sense. 5/10.  


Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

Writer: Lawrence Michael Levine

In Part 1, Allison (Aubrey Plaza) was an actress turned film director who booked a remote lake house in the Adirondack Mountains owned by Gabe (Christopher Abbott) and his pregnant wife Blair (Sarah Gadon). Their post-dinner conversation became violent as their discussion was marred by jealousy. In Part 2, director Gabe was directing a film with the same scenario as Part 1. Actress Allison was very emotionally distraught with jealousy that her husband was having an affair with Blair who played her rival in the movie.

This quirky film was as indie as indies can get. It began one way, made a sudden unexpected midway switch and ended up totally another way. The first half of the film was the more straightforward story, but the second half was the more interesting one, both story-wise and production-wise. The second half brought us behind the scenes of a film shoot, with the same three actors in the first half, but now with totally different roles. Aubrey Plaza was really the central focus and energy source of this film. Her performance in that wild second half reached a level of passion that you'd never thought this film would hit. 7/10.  

No comments:

Post a Comment