Thursday, 22 February 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Black Panther", "The Square", "My Happy Family", "Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool", "Winchester", "The 15:17 to Paris", "Brawl in Cell Block 99"

Julien Faddoul

Black Panther *

T’Challa, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king.
As Marvel movies go, this one yearns to be taken seriously, with its scrutinizing, though compromised, inspection on modern political problems and its stunning design work. But the hosannas the film has received in certain circles is embarrassing, much of it a reaction to said representational issues that have more to do with the lack of diversity in modern-day big-budget cinema, rather than the film’s accomplishments with plot, character, performance or aesthetic. The problems that plague all these cookie-cutter superhero movies remain here, with no real conceptual originality (borrowing narrative trajectories from Star Wars and James Bond), inelegantly edited action set-pieces, dim humour and, in regards to life and death, zero stakes. It’s disconcerting what people will settle for nowadays.

d – Ryan Coogler
w – Joe Robert Cole, Ryan Coogler
ph – Rachel Morrison
pd – Hannah Beachler
m – Ludwig Göransson
ed – Michael P. Shawver, Claudia Castello
cos – Ruth E. Carter

p – Kevin Feige

Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong'o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, Andy Serkis, Ashton Tyler, Seth Carr, Denzel Whitaker, Florence Kasumba, John Kani, Atandwa Kani, Sterling K. Brown

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Fifty Shades Freed", "Lady Bird", "Last Flag Flying", "Roman J. Israel, Esq.", "Faces Places"

Julien Faddoul

Fifty Shades Freed

Anastasia and Christian get married and then stuff happens, I guess.
Lifeless, psychologically absurd, ineptly plotted ruin of a movie that possesses no justification to be of interest to any thinking human in an age when internet porn is so easily accessible. Johnson seems so ready to wash her hands of her own participation at this point, while Dornan’s performance is so stiff and awkward it’s as if his only piece of direction was “Now remember, stick is lodged in rectum.”

d – James Foley
w – Niall Leonard   (Based on the Novel by E.L. James)
ph – John Schwartzman
pd – Nelson Coates
m – Danny Elfman
ed – Richard Francis-Bruce
cos – Shay Cunliffe

p – Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, E.L. James, Marcus Viscidi

Cast: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eric Johnson, Arielle Kebbel, Brant Daugherty, Fay Masterson, Max Martini, Eloise Mumford, Luke Grimes, Rita Ora, Marcia Gay Harden, Andrew Airlie, Dylan Neal, Gary Hudson, Tyler Hoechlin

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Crisp Criticism - "Phantom Thread", "Song to Song", "Princess Cyd", "Wonderstruck"

Julien Faddoul

Phantom Thread ***

A renowned dressmaker in 1950's London, has his fastidious life disrupted by a young, strong-willed woman who becomes his muse and lover.
Unsettling, accentuated, circuitously recounted (as if it were some kind of affected biopic) depiction of both the benevolence and the non-conformity of intimate relationships. Despite the setting, it’s clearly its director’s most personal film yet, and one with equal measure prickly distress and stunning humanity.

wd – Paul Thomas Anderson
pd – Mark Tildesley
m – Johnny Greenwood
ed – Dylan Tichenor
cos – Mark Bridges

p – Megan Ellison, Paul Thomas Anderson, JoAnne Sellar, Daniel Lupi

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville, Richard Graham, Harriet Samson Harris, Camilla Rutherford, Jane Perry

Sunday, 4 February 2018

The 15 Worst Films of 2017

Julien Faddoul

Welcome to the bottom of the barrel of 2017. Of all the films I sat through in this past year, these were the 15 worst. Each placement is accompanied by my original short review.

Enjoy, but please under no circumstances see these movies if you haven’t already.

15. The Dark Tower

The fate of the world all depends on a bunch of boring idiots bla bla bla.
Utter rubbish: Ridiculous themes, incompetent action, bad acting and an incomprehensible plot, peppered with self-referential nods to the author of the source material. Stay away.

d – Nikolaj Arcel 
w – Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, Nikolaj Arcel   (Based on the Novels by Stephen King)
ph – Rasmus Videbæk
pd – Christopher Glass
m – Junkie XL
ed – Alan Edward Bell, Dan Zimmerman
cos – Trish Summerville

p – Stephen King, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman

Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Abbey Lee, Katheryn Winnick, Jackie Earle Haley, Tom Taylor, Dennis Haysbert, Alex McGregor, Nicholas Hamilton

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "I, Tonya", "Molly's Game", "The Commuter", "Maze Runner: The Death Cure"

Julien Faddoul

I, Tonya *

Competitive ice skater Tonya Harding rises amongst the ranks at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, before becoming infamous for a possible involved in sabotage.
The idea that Tonya Harding’s circumstantial position in pop-culture is heedful enough to warrant a statement about the inherent demoralization of America is more than a little odious. Like so many other proclamations on the American Dream, this feels the need to rip-off Scorsese with non-linear interjections of analysis, characters breaking the fourth-wall and non-stop referential music on the soundtrack. The whole feels very superficial with not much of interest outside of the performances.

d – Craig Gillespie
w – Steven Rogers
ph – Nicolas Karakatsanis
pd – Jade Healy
m – Peter Nashal
ed – Tatiana S. Riegel
cos – Jennifer Johnson

p – Tom Ackerley, Margot Robbie, Steven Rogers, Bryan Unkeless

Cast: Margot Robbie, Allison Janney, Sebastian Stan, Julianna Nicholson, Bobby Cannavale, Paul Walter Hauser

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

My Reactions to the 90th Academy Awards Nominations

Julien Faddoul

Below is the full list of nominees for the 90th Academy Awards with my written reactions.

A few notes:

Didn’t do so well in predicting as I did in the past two years…my average was 4/5 correct this year.

Nomination Tally:
13 (The Shape of Water),
8 (Dunkirk),
7 (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri),
6 (Darkest Hour, Phantom Thread),
5 (Ladybird, Blade Runner 2049),
4 (Call Me by Your Name, Get Out, Mudbound, Star Wars: The Last Jedi),
3 (Baby Driver, I, Tonya)
2 (The Post, Beauty and the Beast, Coco, Victoria and Abdul)

Over-performers this year include Darkest Hour and Phantom Thread, while the under-performers include I, Tonya, The Florida Project, The Big Sick and, despite making it into the top category, The Post, which only snagged two nominations…

The Shape of Water did even better than I thought it would, appearing in categories that were totally unnecessary like Supporting Actress and Original Screenplay.



Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

8/9 correct, missing Phantom Thread for I, Tonya.

I was feeling 7 or 8 nominees this year but they went with the typical 9.

The Post’s thrashing can be attributed to multiple factors: the film’s release was rushed and people probably assumed other branches were supporting it. Also, perhaps peer group voters found it to be genuinely undeserving…

Monday, 22 January 2018

My Predictions for the 90th Academy Awards Nominations

Julien Faddoul

The nominations for the 90th Academy Awards are tomorrow morning. Despite their nonsensicality, I always have fun predicting them every year. Here are my final predictions.

I have made the necessary amount of predictions correlating to the limit of each category – 10 for PICTURE, 3 for MAKEUP and 5 for everything else – after which I list my alternates which I have limited myself to only 3. Also, this year, I abstained from the 3 SHORTS categories.

BLUE = A lock at a nomination. Bet some money.


The trickiness of this category always has to do with the number of nominees. I’m thinking 8 is the number this year. Call Me by Your Name and The Post have both waned through the guild awards and thus are in jeopardy, while I, Tonya started weak and has grown stronger. The other 5 have all been up and down.

This is an unusually uncertain race this year and I wouldn’t be surprised by any inclusion and/or exclusion.


1.     The Shape of Water
2.     Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
3.     Get Out
4.     Ladybird
5.     Dunkirk
6.     Call Me by Your Name
7.     The Post
8.     I, Tonya
9.     Darkest Hour
10.  The Big Sick


11.  Phantom Thread
12.  Mudbound
13.  The Florida Project

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "The Shape of Water", "Paddington 2", "Professor Marston and the Wonder Women"

Julien Faddoul

The Shape of Water *

At a top-secret research facility in Baltimore in the early 1960s, a lonely, mute janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.
Yet another imaginative fable from Del Toro that I found utterly hollow. A sentimental tale on the lack of love for the marginalized – a mute, a closeted gay man, a black woman, a communist, a fish monster – but uses them only as signifiers, with none of these ideas really coming together outside of the director’s sketchbook, as well as his own cinephilia (in particular Creature from the Black Lagoon). Injecting the film with blood and sex doesn’t provide any gravitas either, with each story point culminating in either thematic lip-service or a lack of commitment.

d – Guillermo Del Toro
w – Guillermo Del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
ph – Dan Laustsen
pd – Paul D. Austerberry
m – Alexandre Desplat
ed –Sidney Wolinsky
cos – Luis Sequeira

p – Guillermo Del Toro, J. Miles Dale

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lauren Lee Smith, Nick Searcy, David Hewlett

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "The Post", "Darkest Hour", "Breathe", "Kedi"

Julien Faddoul

The Post ***

The Pentagon Papers: A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country's first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.
Obvious allegory to the modern malpractice by the US government on the First Amendment and their relationship with the free press. It’s that kind of flagrance that shows its director at his least dauntless. However, everything else – compositions, pacing, dramaturgy, performance – is superb.

d – Steven Spielberg
w – Liz Hannah, Josh SInger
ph – Janusz Kaminski
pd – Rick Carter
m – John Williams
ed – Michael Kahn, Sarah Broshar
cos – Ann Roth

p – Steven Spielberg, Amy Pascal, Kristie Macosko Krieger

Cast: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Sarah Paulson, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts, Matthew Rhys, Alison Brie, Carrie Coon, David Cross, Bruce Greenwood, Jesse Plemons, Michael Stuhlbarg, Bradley Whitford, Zach Woods

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Crisp Criticism - "All the Money in the World", "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle", "Pitch Perfect 3", "Thelma", "The Greatest Showman"

Julien Faddoul

All the Money in the World *

The kidnapping of 16-year-old John Paul Getty III and the desperate attempt by his devoted mother to convince his billionaire grandfather Jean Paul Getty to pay the ransom.
Supposedly a film about greed, but one that confuses the issues it attempts to explain. The whole thing is peculiarly old-fashioned and is of interest chiefly for some fun performances and for production turmoil that unfortunately materializes on screen.

d – Ridley Scott
w – David Scarpa   (Based on the Book by John Pearson)
ph – Dariusz Wolski
pd – Arthur Max
m – Daniel Pemberton
ed – Claire Simpson
cos – Janty Yates

p – Chris Clark, Quentin Curtis, Dan Friedkin, Mark Huffam, Ridley Scott, Bradley Thomas, Kevin J. Walsh

Cast: Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Romain Duris, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Andrew Buchan