As the theaters shift away more formally from their “summer” hours and we get things that fit into my schedule a bit more, some weeknight viewings are finally falling into place. This week I got to see the debut of Last Christmas from Paul Feig and Motherless Brooklyn from Edward Norton. And both are certainly quite different movies. I’ve never been one to pigeonhole myself to one genre, as much as I love my genre films, which is why I look forward to way too many films I don’t have time for. I keep hoping Parasite and The Lighthouse will show in my area, but next weekend will likely be one or two of these three films; Charlie’s Angels, The Good Liar, or Ford v Ferrari.
While Last Christmas won’t join my rotation of must-see romantic comedies during the holidays every holiday, Last Christmas is a film that will definitely get multiple viewings from me in the years to come. It’s a low-stakes romcom with a lighter approach but just enough somber material to ground it, whether with Kate’s issues or the homeless shelter that she ends up helping out in or the touches of Brexit that impact the main family here. I like how it plays with the familiar tropes of the genre and how well it executes them with its own twists and style. It’s a fun film that if you give into the emotion and manipulation of it, and accept just how good it can feel to let that happen, it’ll make an impact on you for at least a little while. Last Christmas touched my heart just right.
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While I really dislike that they find a way to use the title in the film, always an awkward moment, I really enjoyed Motherless Brooklyn. The pacing is one that completely fits here and the length is something that reminds you that if you want to tell a good noir-style story you have to give it room to breathe. Otherwise, you just end up with it being too fast in one direction or you might as well just make it a streaming series going the other direction. At 2 ½ hours, everyone gets fleshed out as needed and you touch on a lot of interesting subjects without making every single person that Norton meets into a villain or a caricature of one. There are certainly cliches at times but in the end, it’s a film that has a lot of talent in front of and behind the camera that made for an engaging story. It’s a fascinating look at the time and place with timeless issues that have likely played out cyclically over the centuries.
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