A Simple Favor, 2018 – ★★★

The story itself is plain guff, a parody of sorts of the Gillian Flynn industry of thriller novels, and has a fatal misstep halfway through which ruins the tone of the film, which is already all over the place to begin with. It feels and looks like a comedy but is also a thriller, and it’s a credit to both Blake Lively and Anna Kendricks who deftly walk a tightrope over this mess. Both actors are just dazzling to watch. Kendricks is in her comfort zone, playing a repressed mommy blogger; Lively commands the screen in every scene like Terence Stamp does in Theorem. It’s a shame she then disappears for the middle of the film.

The two should reunite for a better film.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

High and Low, 1963 – ★★★★½

I have only one friend who can shame me with the classic “YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS MOVIE?!?!?” and not make me feel bad, and this is how I wound up finally watching High & Low and yes, my friend, you are correct. Amazing film, even among a filmography of other amazing films. Shifting protagonists for each section, each with its own masterclass for filmmakers: The ever changing, never-boring way of shooting many people in one location in the “Heaven” section; the tense and absolutely perfect train section (why isn’t this discussed in film school like the Seven Samurai rain sequence); the noir-ish squalor of the junkie den at the end, contrasted with the flower-surrounded hillside hideout.

The middle section is also a paean to the middle and working classes, as the police question dock workers, railroad workers, and such, and all offer their own expertise formed from years of work. (This sequence could never be filmed now, I think, everybody would be a part-time worker).

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills

Carnage, 2011 – ★★½

I’d be hard-pressed to call this as a comedy as it only produced a few mild chuckles from me and that’s was solely due to John C. Reilly. It was entirely how I thought this adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s play would go: two nice liberal couples reveal their prejudices as they get sicker and drunker during one hot-house afternoon. I think the problem lies in both casting (Waltz is too duplicitous from the beginning, Foster too brittle), and the director (Polanski, who is pretty pedestrian here in his choices, really it could be anybody) whose understanding of the characters is at odds with the satirical bent the play needs.

Vía Letterboxd – Ted Mills