Paul McGuire Grimes, creator of Paul’s Trip to the Movies, gives us his take on a new release and what he thinks you should be watching at home.
THE FAVOURITE (theatrical release)
Queen Anne is in frail health, often bedridden with infections and other ailments. Sarah, her lady in waiting, stands by in affection, not only for her but for a position of power. Sarah’s cousin, Abigail, is dropped off at the steps of the palace hoping for employment as one of the Queen’s servants. What the Queen doesn’t realize is that her new servant has her own ambitions for the crown. Abigail has to first charm her way through Sarah to get in the Queen’s good graces. She has a quick-witted tongue to her knowing just precisely what to say and what to do to get what she wants.
-Starring: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult and Joe Alwyn
-Set in early 18th Century England. Loosely inspired on the life of Queen Anne but with an All About Eve inspired bent to it.
-Elaborate costume, hair, and make up design that naturally comes with the period. Sandy Powell’s costumes are quite exquisite without looking too polished which fits to the overall atmosphere. There were many times I found myself gazing at the castle’s architecture and interior design
-If you like your period pieces prim and proper, you may be turned off by The Favourite given the vulgar/dirty juxtaposition against that notion of royalty.
-The trio of performances at the center of this story are three of the best performances of the year. They play off each other so well making each one better because of it.
-The rivalry between Sarah and Abigail is wickedly fun to watch play out, both conniving in their own ways using lust and sexuality to get what they want. We haven’t seen Emma Stone in a role like this playing against her cutesy, girl next door type.
-As Queen Anne, Olivia Colman is larger than life playing someone with an explosive temperament. She can fly off the handle at any random moment. She’s my pick right now for Best Actress of the year. You can catch her soon taking over as Queen Elizabeth on Netflix’s The Crown
-Will certainly divide audiences. Some with be turned off by the language and the non-traditional camera work. Others will dig the manipulative nature of these characters, the twisted sense of humor, the lush backdrops, and brilliant performances.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? One of the best and most unique films of the year
RATING: 4.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS
THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS (home/streaming pick)
The Coen brothers are known to be risk takers with every project they take on. They have turned their latest film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, into a collection of six short films posing up chapters of a book about the American frontier. The stories range from a singing cowboy with a quick shot to an old and lonely golddigger concluding with one about a stagecoach of strangers carrying two bounty hunters.
-Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Tyne Daly, Brendan Gleeson
-Written, directed, and produced by the Joel and Ethan Coen
-This is their first collaboration with Netflix and you can now find it streaming exclusively through that service.
-Each short varies in length so if you don’t care for one, you can either stick it out or jump ahead to the next one. The stories don’t connect with a through line but all have a similar look and feel to them.
-It’s not long before you notice how very Coen Brothers this movie is as the first segment “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” is about a singing cowboy who’s wanted around town. He’s got that goofy innocent grin, but quick on his feet and a perfect shot. He’s a quintessential Coen character memorably played by Tim Blake Nelson.
-Fun to see the Coens work in this short film format. A variety of these stories and characters are a bit odd and unpredictable as if Coens are testing out character ideas that may or may not work in a feature length movie. Some are downright funny, others are sad and lonely, but rest assured that in true Coen fashion, many get their comeuppance in the end
-Not every segment works in its entirety but there are little nuggets of gold in each one. The fifth one featuring Zoe Kazan runs far too long. The Coens bookend their film well after that one.
-If you enjoyed No Country for Old Men, O, Brother Where Art Thou? or True Grit, this is a welcome return for the Coens to the western genre.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – FALLOUT (home release)
Ethan Hunt is warned that a storm is coming. His previous mission dealt with a group only known as The Syndicate. Following the mission, only a few anonymous members remain taking on the code name “The Apostles” lead by someone going by the name John Lark. Their goal is to use three nuclear weapons full of plutonium to blow up the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Mecca. Hunt works under the covert group IMF (Impossible Missions Force), but the CIA wants to abort their mission and have their own agents take over. Hunt and his crew have their eyes on a The White Widow, a femme fatale with knowledge of where these WMDs are located. She has her own stipulations, and when the purposed exchange goes awry, Hunt’s allies and adversaries are tested in a race to find and disarm the nuclear weapons before The Apostles use them.
-Starring: Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames, Angela Bassett, Henry Cavill, Alec Baldwin, Rebecca Ferguson
-Now that Cruise, Pegg, and Rhames have starred together in the last few movies they bring a rich chemistry and banter to their characters in how they work together. There’s a nice balance between humor and heavy action.
-The sixth and best Mission movie to date following the original’s release back in 1996. There’s absolutely no slowing down for Tom Cruise and his commitment to this character and the legions of fans that have stuck by these movies.
-Full of the Mission: Impossible staples: rubber masks, death-defying stunts, twists/turns, double-crossing agents.
-Every action sequence is meticulously choreographed and easy to follow along with making you feeling right in the middle of the action. Utilizes the architecture and layouts of Paris, London, and Kashmir exceptionally well as Hunt and his crew weave through narrow streets, jet across the River Seine, and hang off cliffs in Kashmir. Showcases how cool and historical these locations are turning them into integral parts of the movie.
-Thrilling and edge of your seat the entire time. Director Christopher McQuarrie wrote the film and keeps the action escalating throughout; each action sequence gets bigger and better while keeping the characters and their stakes in check. It’s not just about blowing things up or running through the streets. There’s a thrill factor in wondering how Ethan Hunt will work his way through every seemingly impossible situation he finds himself in.