Marriage Story

Life is full of relationships that at the time feel as if they will last a lifetime. As is natural, things change and people are pulled in different directions. These people we once knew intimately become distant and sometimes better off left as memories. This happens with friends and family, but the one we gamble on is the one we want to spend the rest of our life with. A relationship with a partner you love can go the same way and under the same roof. It’s here where love becomes complicated and leads to the divorcing of two people now out of sync. Divorce easily becomes about two perspectives that turn quickly into two different narratives exaggerating the essence of what was essentially the drifting apart of two people. And this is what Marriage Story is about.

Marriage Story begins with Charlie (Adam Driver) and Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) both talking about what they appreciate about the other. They say these things as if they’re still together, but we find they are actually separated. It’s amicable and without bitterness. Nicole moves to LA from their New York home with their son Harry so she can shoot a television pilot. While there people around Nicole move her in the direction of divorce lawyers. So Nicole meets with a divorce lawyer and Charlie, blindsided, gets served with divorce papers. The narrative of Charlie and the narrative of Nicole are presented with drama to which Charlie expresses that he feels like a criminal. The gauntlet gets worse and worse of a cautionary tale that happens to many people every day. This isn’t a story of two people that get together in the end, instead, it’s a look at two people transitioning through the ugliness of divorce. There is a lot of heartfelt moments, mixed with humour and sadness that will keep you endeared all the way to the end.

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Marriage Story is a likely Best Picture candidate for all the right reasons, and Laura Dern seems like a lock for Best Supporting Actress. This film will be healing to anyone that has experienced a divorce. The only successful marriage I’ve known in my years comes from my grandparents. Seeing the divorce of my own parents and many others makes you privy to vile perceptions given from each side. Quite often there is a villain in divorce, yet in Marriage Story I think seeing both perspectives shows it’s just about a relationship that has become distant like ones you’ve possibly experienced yourself.

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Marriage Story is available on Netflix and well worth your time.

Robert Ring

The Wife

I see one movie a week in theaters without fail since the first week of 2014. So I get to see most of the things I want to and feel apart of the conversation. Then there are weeks where I’m seeing something I have no real interest in. I’ll usually go to these alone and on a whim. More often then not I’m taken be these experiences. Earlier this year I saw Tully and it kinda floored me, I mean I was thinking about it for weeks, and of course, nobody saw it making it hard for me to unpack my thoughts on it.

The Wife is not officially released in the United States until August 18th so there haven’t been many reviews. While the reviews I glanced were generally positive most of them disregarded the core cast apart from Glen Close. This film is about Glen Close’s character, but it doesn’t mean she has any more screen time then her co-star, Jonathan Pryce. The Wife is the story of an award-winning writer, Joe Castleman finding out he is being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. While the focus is on Joe, it is his wife, Joan Castleman with whom we see constantly in the background watching Joe only paces ahead, yet always ahead of her. The relationship becomes understood throughout the film as to why she has taken the back seat to his acclaim. It’s the portrait of Joan that makes this simple film engaging. However, it is Joe who is the more interesting character to me, as I found the more we learn about their relationship the more my initial feelings for Joe changed over the course of the film.

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The Wife is a movie you would really enjoy if you are a fan of biopics like me. By the end of the film, I was convinced this was based on a true story. I quickly googled it as I exited the theater, only to find it was taken from a novel. It did specific things that made it remarkable by how much I believed it to be a true story. The secrets that are unearthed by the end are not unexpected, though they are executed very well. The ending was a mute one for me, that seemed too convenient for me. I hope there is some awards chatter for The Wife at the end of the year so more people will check it out. Currently, I would place it in my top three of 2018.

Robert Ring

2017, Say No More

2017 was a year that movie news and journalism really pissed me off.

Every movie news outlet is spending most of it’s time producing content surrounding DC, Marvel and Star Wars news. No joke, this appears to be eighty percent of the content on such sites as Screenrant. The content is mostly rumours and speculation for clicks. On top of that once the film comes out the backlash is unparalleled because all these fanboys have built up a comic book movie they don’t get in the final product. I cannot stand people defending the bad superhero movies for being “true” to the comics, or despising the good ones for deviating from the comics. Any excitement for comic book films now comes from the director helming the project, and even then I would rather their talents used elsewhere.

For now The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and Rolling Stone are about the best you can find for movie news, although this year Hollywood has been shaped by an actual movement and that is quite something indeed. Starting with Harvey Weinstein it became apparent that the untouchable hollywood echelon could indeed fall. Weinstein was always a bad guy and nobody would dispute it, however the shockwave that followed unveiled Kevin Spacey, John Lasseter, and Louis C.K., to name a few in a long and growing list of sexual assault perpetrators.

Not all was bad in 2017. Women have finally been given more of a stage on the long road to equality. On the screen people were cheering for the first superhero blockbuster starring a woman, and directed by a woman with Wonder Woman, while the indie film scene saw another female lead and director potentially looking to win Best Picture with Ladybird. Did I mention Mildred Hayes from Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri? I wouldn’t pick a fight with her.

I hope 2018 does a better job at celebrating film and film culture over the constant naysayers.

Happy New Year,

Robert Ring

The Revenant

The Revenant is brutal, it’s harsh, it’s a tale about man against nature, and boy is that bear scene great!

The story follows fur hunters who are tasked with coming into the wild and trapping grizzly bears for their fur coats. However, after an ambush by a tribe of Native Americans the hunters are the hunted as they make their way through the harsh terrain to return to civilisation. Due to great injury in a fight with a grizzly bear Hugh Glass is left for dead and he must overcome his wounds to trek through the wilderness by himself. These solitary scenes are where the movie shines and we get a look at some of DiCaprio’s best acting to date.

First off this film is beautifully shot. From the breathtaking scenes of the wilderness to the long takes resembling Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s last film Birdman. There is so much action in this film, especially the beginning which sees a Native American tribe ambush the hunting party of trappers in the 19th Century wilderness of Louisiana. The ambush is unsettling to say the least as we watch as there are no winners on either side of this war as bodies crumble to the cold earth. This is only a glimpse of what is to come as we latter see Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Hugh Glass shred to bits by a grizzly bear as seen in the trailer. The story is gripping and for the most part it stays true to the events the story is inspired from to give us a cinematic masterclass of filmmaking.

I will have no qualms if this movie wins the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Cinematography, or Best Director. It is easily one of the best films of 2015 and maybe the most technically groundbreaking of the year.

4.5/5 – Stars for The Revenant

Robert Ring