MOVIE REVIEW: AMERICAN BEAUTY (Sam Mendes, 1999)

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“It’s hard to stay mad when there’s so much beauty in the world.”

Annette Bening was phenomenal here, especially in that “Shut up!” breakdown scene. Such a shame that she had to go head-to-head with a brilliant Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry for that coveted Oscar.

Kevin Spacey’s real-life scandal further amped the creepiness factor that weirdly made the film even better. See you in hell, Lester Burnham.

Rating: ★★★★★

MOVIE REVIEW: A MONSTER CALLS (J.A. Bayona, 2016)

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About a boy that occasionally lived in a fantasy world to escape the harsh realities of his sad life that included a sick mother, a loathing grandmother, and an absentee father.

The transitions between the actual world and the glorious animated landscapes were superb. I was easily drawn to the fairy tales that may or may not have been manifestations of the boy’s depression.

In a cast that had such fine performances (Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, the voice of Liam Neeson), it was Lewis MacDougall that delivered the heartbreak and pain in a breakthrough role, reminiscent of last year’s Jacob Tremblay.

The humans here were indeed complicated beasts and by the time someone spoke the truth, I was sobbing loudly in my seat.

Bring a box of tissues.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published November 2, 2016.)

MOVIE REVIEW: DOWNSIZING (Alexander Payne, 2017)

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The central concept of shrinking people with the belief that overpopulation was mankind’s biggest long-term threat sounded like the kind of novel idea from a certified tree-hugger. Midway through, it turned into a commentary on social classes and capitalism before settling down as a saccharine “finding your purpose in life” enlightenment film.

As a certified fan of Payne’s social satires and a huge lover of cheese, I was a weeping mess by the time it ended.

Great performances from the cast, especially Hong Chau.

(Note: This is not a late April Fools’ Day joke.)

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published May 21, 2018.)

MOVIE REVIEW: THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL (Wes Anderson, 2014)

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My kind of whimsical entertainment from the fantastic Mr. Anderson. Truly beautiful!

P.S. Full disclosure: I absolutely abhorred the cloying Moonrise Kingdom.

P.P.S. Tilda Swinton only showed up for 5 minutes and she was amazing as always.

Rating: ★★★★★

(Originally published April 27, 2014.)