In the brilliant opening scene of 2010’s The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg), argues with his girlfriend (Rooney Mara) over his obsession with obtaining membership to one of Harvard’s exclusive finals clubs. As hard as she tries to steer the conversation to another subject, his brain is laser-focused on being admitted as one of the best in the best club at the best university, until it spirals out of control when she breaks up with him and he insults her. “There’s a difference between being obsessed and being motivated”, she says, sensing the darkness behind his eyes, the inherent need for him to feel accepted. It’s that obsession, the film argues, that leads Zuckerberg to create one of the largest, most influential but toxic social media sites in the world. Continue reading →
Premise: A group of women take on Fox News head Roger Ailes and the toxic atmosphere he presided over at the network.
In the final title card before the credits roll on Bombshell, it states that Roger Ailes was the highest-profiled figure to be taken down from sexual harassment, “and he won’t be the last”. This message of hope is certainly earned after the film that preceded it, but it’s the overall way it was handled that prevents it from really sticking. The film opens with a fourth-wall breaking monologue from Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) to get us all up to speed on the inner workings of the Fox News network where she anchors her own conservative talk show – Bombshell begins in the early days of the Republican presidential primaries and runs roughly up to the election. Because this is 2019 and we’re living in a post-The Big Short world (no surprise that Bombshell was written by Charles Randolph, the Oscar-winning co-writer of the former), I suppose it’s now mandatory for all films with semi-complex true stories to include some direct to camera speeches, breaking down the ideas at work into easily digestible chunks. But after the beginning, these self-aware moments, including some internal monologues from some characters and a weird visual moment, fall by the wayside in order to tell a more straightforward story. Which ultimately end up being a wise decision from director Jay Roach because those moments just feel like dead weight. Continue reading →
EDITOR’S NOTE: 2019 was a big year for us at ObsessiveViewer.com. One of the big things for us was bringing on our friend Ben Sears as a contributor on the website and recurring guest on the podcast. We’re extremely proud of the work he has done throughout the last several months and can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for him and the site alike. Here, Ben reflects on his top 10 favorite movies of 2019. Enjoy. – Matt HurtContinue reading →
Premise: Behind Vatican walls, the conservative Pope Benedict and the liberal future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.
When you have an event in the Catholic Church that hasn’t occurred in around 700 years, it’s almost inevitable for a film depiction of that event. In the case of The Two Popes, that event was the abdication of the papacy by Pope Benedict XVI in 2013 and the ascension of Pope Francis. Director Fernando Meirelles, with a script from Anthony McCarten, depicts the event as a series of meetings between the Pope (Anthony Hopkins) and then-cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) as the two debate faith, and the role the church plays in helping its members. The film establishes within minutes, following the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005 and the election of a new Pope by the conclave of cardinals at the Vatican, the differences between the two and what is at stake for the church as a whole: one is all about reform, and one is more conservative. Pope Benedict (then-Cardinal Ratzinger) is the favorite, who is seen actively campaigning after the first vote, whereas Bergoglio is more reluctant and even seems relieved when he is not elected. Fast forward seven years and Bergoglio considers retirement when he is called to Rome. The bulk of the film takes place at the pope’s summer home in the Italian countryside where Bergoglio attempts to persuade Benedict to accept his resignation, and Benedict stalls, hoping that he will stay. The film is stripped of some of its drama because we already know the end result, but Meirelles uses these scenes to emphasize the differences between the two men; whereas Bergoglio sees himself as a servant of the people (a core teaching of the Jesuit sect to which he belongs), Benedict believes the church is a beacon on a hill, helping to steer people in the right direction while remaining at arms’ length. “Change is compromise”, Benedict states early in their meeting. Continue reading →
Premise: Two young British soldiers 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 soldiers’ brothers, from walking straight into a deadly trap.
Sam Mendes’ 1917 is an impressive faux single shot movie set during WWI with an immersive ticking clock plot. The tagline of “time is the enemy” couldn’t be more accurate as the movie follows two men tasked with delivering a message that will save up to 1,600 soldiers walking into a trap. Although it may appear at first glance to lack certain plot and character elements, 1917 offers a powerful message of duty, perseverance, and honor in an intentionally inglorious way. Continue reading →
Premise: A charismatic New York City jeweler always on the lookout for the next big score, makes a series of high-stakes bets that could lead to the windfall of a lifetime. Howard must perform a precarious high-wire act, balancing business, family, and encroaching adversaries on all sides, in his relentless pursuit of the ultimate win.
Meet Howard Ratner. He’s Jewish, in his 40s, married with three kids but is in the midst of divorcing his wife. He runs a successful* jewelry business to the stars in Manhattan, and has what can laconically be described as a gambling addiction. Almost everyone is tired of Howard’s shtick as soon as they come into contact with him, including his wife and daughter. The only people he has genuine connections with are his teenage son and his girlfriend Julia (Julia Fox, a breakout star in the making). Physiologically speaking, he has to sleep at some point, but there is no evidence to suggest he does. His mind is constantly racing, moving from one deal to the next, trying to get ahead and hit the jackpot. He’s a machete juggler where all of the machetes are on fire, and he’s prone to dropping them a little too frequently. Continue reading →
Merry Christmas! In this episode, Kyrsten and I review Tom Hooper’s abysmal adaptation of Cats in a non-spoiler review. Then we cover Bong Joon-ho’s incredible Parasite in a full review. We also discuss Mike Birbiglia’s 2016 film Don’t Think Twice and have our usual nonsense.
Premise: The surviving Resistance faces the First Order once more in the final chapter of the Skywalker saga.
In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tells Rey “Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.” The line, along with many other plot developments, was read as director Rian Johnson’s overt message to fans to let go of any preconceived notions of what a Star Wars movie should be. It was a bold move, considering fans have done nothing but look to the original films, hoping to reclaim the glory and joy that they felt when Star Wars was at its peak. Continue reading →
In this week’s episode, Evan Dossey from MidwestFilmJournal.com and the IFJA joins me to talk about the Indiana Film Journalists Association award winners for 2019. We also touch on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, my disconnect with the franchise, and its connection to The Last Jedi.
Premise: A tribe of cats called the Jellicles must decide yearly which one will ascend to the Heaviside Layer and come back to a new Jellicle life.
When the trailer for Cats was released earlier this year, it became ensnared in a viral bloodbath of ridicule on social media. Of course, it’s a film adaptation of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical about cats holding a talent show to gain entry into cat heaven in a seemingly deserted city. It stands to reason that any version of it would look bizarre and invite ridicule. However, being a cat owner myself, I felt obligated to give Cats a whirl.
Earlier this year I was accepted into the Indiana Film Journalists Association. It has given me an opportunity to see more movies, take part in lively discussions within the group, and inspired me to stretch my film criticism more than usual. Most notably, I’ve been writing more reviews for the website this year than usual.
At the end of each year, the IFJA meets to hash out the award winners in various categories. We met Saturday and spent several hours discussing films and selecting winners. It was my first year as a voting member of the group and I am very pleased with what we awarded and the films and talented individuals we recognized.
Below you’ll find the press release with all the winners and runner-ups. This has been a strong year for movies and I am already looking forward to next year with the IFJA. Continue reading →
In this week’s episode, we welcome back our friend and OV contributor Ben Sears to help Tiny and I with double Adam Driver review of Amazon Studios’ The Report and Netflix’s Marriage Story. We also lightly touch on the Golden Globe nominations and the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Then, in Potpourri, we talk about Little Women, Netflix’s Unbelievable, Dickinson, Servant, and Truth Be Told.
Premise: A rebellious stoner named Moondog lives life by his own rules.
The Beach Bum is my second outing with a Harmony Korine film after watching Spring Breakers on a whim back in January. Even though I didn’t like Spring Breakers, I enjoyed the abstract editing and overall strange and indistinct tone of that movie. It was as though Korine was making a statement about debauchery and youth in revolt flirting with crime. Continue reading →
Premise: Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.
Look. When you’ve got one of the most profitable films of all time like Frozen in your back pocket, there’s bound to be talks of a sequel. This is 2019 after all, and the studio that made Frozen is Disney, who’s never met an original property it couldn’t shoehorn into a prequel, sequel, or spin-off. Not to mention the untold millions Disney has raked in from merchandising ever since – if you’ve gone a single Halloween since 2014 without seeing an Anna or Elsa or Olaf costume, you’re either lying, or weren’t paying attention. None of this is surprising. Continue reading →
Happy Thanksgiving (to those of you in the US)! In this special double parking lot special episode, Kyrsten and I have a laid-back non-spoiler review of Knives Out and then Tiny and I go into a spoiler review of the film! Then, to close out the episode, we have the remaining Red Carpet recordings from last month’s Heartland International Film Festival!
For a movie that's almost 90 years old, the effects in King Kong are still impressive. Sure, they look dated and the stop motion work is awkward, but the scope of the movie is still impressive. The wide shots that use perspective to show the scale of Kong and the dinosaurs in relation to the humans still look pretty good and make the set pieces gripping […]