Film Review: Greta (dir by Neil Jordan)


I always worry a little bit about Chloe Grace Moretz.

Seriously, it seems as if every film in which she appears features her either losing her entire family or getting stalked by some psycho or both.  It’s rare that she ever gets to play someone who is happy with their life.  Even when she was cast against type as a spoiled, vacuous brat in Clouds of Sils Maria, she still came across as being the saddest spoiled, vacuous brat imaginable.  Obviously, Mortez has the dramatic talent necessary to play these type of roles and, out of all the young actresses working today, she seems the most likely to still have an interesting career 30 years from now.  Still, it’s hard not to wish that she could just do a nice, romantic comedy at some point in the future, if just to give her a break from constantly being menaced on screen.

This year’s Chloe Moretz Gets Stalked film was Greta.  In this one, Moretz plays Frances McMullen, a waitress living in New York City.  Frances lives in a nice loft, has a fantastic roommate and best friend named Erica (Maika Monroe), and a strained relationship with her wealthy father (Colm Feore). As is typical of any character played by Chloe Moretz, Frances is still struggling to come to terms with the recent death of her mother.

After Frances finds an expensive handbag on the subway, she returns it to its owner, a piano teacher named Greta Hibeg (Isabelle Huppert).  Greta claims to be French and says that she’s been lonely ever since her daughter left home to study music in France.  Frances needs a substitute mother.  Greta needs a substitute daughter.

Can you tell where this is going?

If you said, “Together, they solve crimes!,” — well, you’re wrong but you’re still my hero.  Instead, what all this leads to is Greta becoming rather obsessed with Frances.  When Frances discovers that Greta has a whole closet full of handbags and that she’s not even French, Frances decides to end their friendship.  However, Greta will not take no for an answer.  Soon, Greta is following both Frances and Erica all around New York City.  Greta even goes to Frances’s place of employment and makes a scene that leads to Frances losing her job.  (Considering the amazingly ugly waitress uniform that Frances was required to wear, I’d say that Greta was doing her a favor.)  Eventually, it all leads to a kidnapping, a drugging, and an unexpected visual gag involving the Eiffel Tower.

About 30 minutes into Greta, there’s a scene in which Isabelle Huppert spits a piece of chewing gum into Chloe Moretz’s hair and it was at that moment that I knew that I was going to absolutely love this film.  I mean, there have been a lot of films made about people being stalked but it takes a certain amount of demented genius to have one of the world’s most acclaimed actresses actually spit a piece of gum into someone’s hair.  Brilliantly, the film follows this up with a scene of Frances and Erica trying to press assault charges against Greta, all because of the gum incident.  The cop is so cynical and unimpressed by their story that you just know that Frances is probably like the hundredth person to get attacked by chewing gum in just that day.

My point here is that there’s absolutely nothing subtle about Greta and we’re all the better for it.  As directed by Neil Jordan, Greta is a thoroughly excessive and deliberately campy little film and definitely not one to be taken too seriously.  Everything, from the lush cinematography to Greta’s sudden rages, is wonderfully over-the-top.  While Moretz wisely underplays her role (because, after all, someone has to keep things at least vaguely grounded in reality), Maika Monroe and especially Isabelle Huppert dive head first into the film’s melodramatic atmosphere.  Huppert, especially, deserves a lot of credit for her ferocious performance as Greta.  Whether she’s cheerfully celebrating a murder by doing an impromptu dance or suddenly screaming in Hungarian, Huppert is never less than entertaining while, at the same time, remaining credible as a very threatening individual.  One of the great joys of Greta is watching this masterful French actress play a Hungarian who is obsessed with Paris.  (It’s also probably not a coincidence that Greta is obsessed with someone named Frances.)

There’s an interesting subtext to the Greta and Frances relationship, one that goes beyond a girl who needs a mother and a woman who needs a daughter.  In many of the scenes where Greta stalks Frances, Huppert plays her as if she’s a spurned lover, crying out, “I love you!” and demanding that Frances return her phone calls.  As for Frances, she’s portrayed as being an almost absurdly repressed single girl who spends all of her personal time with two very different women, the accepting and fun-loving Erica and the predatory and destructive Greta.  (When Erica tells Frances that a guy who is interested in her is throwing a party, Frances says that she already has plans with Greta.)  Watching Greta, it occurred to me that the film was really about Frances coming to terms with her own sexuality, with Greta representing her fears and Erica representing the peace of accepting who you are.  The film may be about Greta stalking Frances but it’s also about Frances struggling to decide whether to give in to her fears or to accept her own identity.

Then again, it’s also totally possible that there’s no intentional subtext at all to this film.  It might just be an entertaining film about Isabelle Huppert stalking Chloe Moretz.  And that’s fine, too!  Either way, it’s a fun movie.

Here’s The Trailer For Greta!


So, the trailer below is a pretty good example of why people like me sometimes complain that some trailers give away way too much information.

The trailer starts out with Chloe Grace Moretz finding a bag on the subway and taking it back to its owner, who turns out to be Isabelle Huppert.  So far, so good.  Isabelle Huppert is a brilliant actress and Chloe Grace Moretz can be great when she has the right material to work with.

In the trailer, it appears that Moretz and Huppert quickly become friends.  However, a minute into the trailer, there’s a big twist.  And really, that’s where the trailer should have ended.  Instead, it goes on for another minute and a half and it reveals way too much.  To be honest, I felt as if I had pretty much seen the whole film by the time the trailer ended.

Oh well.  I’ll still see the movie.

Here’s the trailer!  You might want to stop at the one minute mark.

A Movie A Day #349: The Bedroom Window (1987, directed by Curtis Hanson)


The Bedroom Window opens with quite a quandary.  Sylvia (Isabelle Huppert) has just witnessed a woman named Denise (Elizabeth McGovern) being attacked by a serial rapist/killer named Carl (Brad Greenquist).  The problem is that the window that Sylvia’s standing at is located in the bedroom of Terry Lambert (Steve Guttenberg).  Sylvia is having an extramarital affair with Terry and she knows that there’s no way to tell the police what she saw without also exposing the affair.  Terry decides that he’ll go to the police and tell them what Sylvia witnessed but he will claim to have seen it himself.

Terry does well enough with the police that Carl gets arrested but, at Carl’s trial, Terry’s testimony falls apart when he is revealed to be so near-sighted that there was no way he could have seen what happened from his bedroom window.  Carl is not only acquitted but has now figured out that Sylvia was the one who witnessed him attacking Denise.  When the killings start up again, Terry becomes the number one suspect.

An underrated and overlooked thriller, The Bedroom Window was directed by the late and missed Curtis Hanson.  It’s not a perfect film.  Terry does an excessive amount of stupid things over the course of the movie.  But Hanson did a good job creating suspense and he got good performances from his entire cast.  Steve Guttenberg may seem like a strange choice to play the lead in a Hitchcockian thriller but he actually gives a credible performance and the fact that he is not a traditional hero creates some suspense.  Brad Greenquist is chilling as the killer and keep an eye out for the great Wallace Shawn in the role of Carl’s weaselly attorney.

Here Are The Oscar Nominations!


oscar trailer kitties

Here are the Oscar nominations.  La La Land tied Titanic’s record with 14 nominations and I’m going to predict right now that it’ll win nearly everything that it’s been nominated for.  Amy Adams was totally snubbed.  Meryl Streep was technically nominated for Florence Foster Jenkins but we all know it was actually for her Golden Globes speech.

I may have more to say about this later but until then, here are the noms:

Best Picture

  • “Arrival”
  • “Fences”
  • “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • “Hell or High Water”
  • “Hidden Figures”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Lion”
  • “Manchester by the Sea”
  • “Moonlight”

Best Director

  • Mel Gibson – “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • Kenneth Lonergan – “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Barry Jenkins – “Moonlight”
  • Denis Villeneuve – “Arrival”
  • Damien Chazelle – “La La Land”

Best Actor

  • Casey Affleck – “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Andrew Garfield – “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • Ryan Gosling – “La La Land”
  • Viggo Mortensen – “Captain Fantastic”
  • Denzel Washington – “Fences”

Best Actress

  • Isabelle Huppert – “Elle”
  • Ruth Negga – “Loving”
  • Natalie Portman – “Jackie”
  • Emma Stone – “La La Land”
  • Meryl Streep – “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Mahershala Ali – “Moonlight”
  • Jeff Bridges – “Hell or High Water”
  • Lucas Hedges – “Manchester by the Sea”
  • Dev Patel – “Lion”
  • Michael Shannon – “Nocturnal Animals”

Best Supporting Actress

  • Viola Davis – “Fences”
  • Naomie Harris – “Moonlight”
  • Nicole Kidman – “Lion”
  • Octavia Spencer – “Hidden Figures”
  • Michelle William – “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Original Screenplay

  • “20th Century Women”
  • “Hell or High Water”
  • “La La Land”
  • “The Lobster”
  • “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “Arrival”
  • “Fences”
  • “Hidden Figures”
  • “Lion”
  • “Moonlight”

Best Animated Feature

  • “Kubo and the Two Strings”
  • “Moana”
  • “My Life as a Zucchini”
  • “The Red Turtle”
  • “Zootopia”

Best Production Design

  • “Arrival”
  • “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
  • “Hail, Caesar!”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Passengers”

Best Cinematography

  • “Arrival”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Lion”
  • “Moonlight”
  • “Silence”

Best Costume Design

  • “Allied”
  • “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
  • “Florence Foster Jenkins”
  • “Jackie”
  • “La La Land”

Best Film Editing

  • “Arrival”
  • “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • “Hell or High Water”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Moonlight”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • “A Man Called Ove”
  • “Star Trek Beyond”
  • “Suicide Squad”

Best Sound Mixing

  • “Arrival”
  • “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
  • “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”

Best Sound Editing

  • “Arrival”
  • “Deepwater Horizon”
  • “Hacksaw Ridge”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Sully”

Best Visual Effects

  • “Deepwater Horizon”
  • “Doctor Strange”
  • “The Jungle Book”
  • “Kubo and the Two Strings”
  • “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Best Original Score

  • “Jackie”
  • “La La Land”
  • “Lion”
  • “Moonlight”
  • “Passengers”

Best Original Song

  • “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from “La La Land”
  • “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from “Trolls”
  • “City of Stars” from “La La Land”
  • “The Empty Chair” from “Jim: The James Foley Story”
  • “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana”

Best Documentary Feature

  • “Fire at Sea”
  • “I Am Not Your Negro”
  • “Life, Animated”
  • “OJ: Made in America”
  • “13th”

Best Foreign Language Film

  • “Land of Mine”
  • “A Man Called Ove”
  • “The Salesman”
  • “Tanna”
  • “Toni Erdmann”

Best Live Action Short

  • “Ennemis Interieurs”
  • “La Femme et le TGV”
  • “Silent Nights”
  • “Sing”
  • “Timecode”

Best Documentary Short

  • “Extremis”
  • “4.1 Miles”
  • “Joe’s Violin”
  • “Watani: My Homeland”
  • “The White Helmets”

Best Animated Short Film

  • “Blind Vaysha”
  • “Borrowed Time”
  • “Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
  • “Pearl”
  • “Piper”

Here’s What Won At The Golden Globes!


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Here’s what just won at the Golden Globes!  (For a full list of nominees, click here!)

Best Supporting Actor — Aaron Taylor-Johnson (a.k.a., the most boring actor on the planet) for Nocturnal Animals.  (I’m still in shock about this one.)

Best Original Score — Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Original Song — “City of Stars,” La La Land

Best Supporting Actress — Viola Davis, Fences

Best Actor (Comedy) — Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Screenplay — Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Motion Picture, Animated — Zootopia

Best Motion Picture, Foreign Language — Elle

Special Award — Meryl Streep (YAWN)

Best Director, Motion Picture — Damien Chazelle, La La Land

Best Actress (Musical or Comedy) — Emma Stone, La La Land

Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) — La La Land

Best Actor (Drama) — Casey Affleck, Manchester By The Sea

Best Actress (Drama) — Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Motion Picture (Drama) — Moonlight

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The Austin Film Critics Association Honors Moonlight!


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The Austin Film Critics Association have announced their picks for the best of 2016!

Best Film: Moonlight (dir: Barry Jenkins)

Best Director: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Actor: Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Best Actress: Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis, Fences

Best Original Screenplay: Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Best Adapted Screenplay: Eric Heisserer, Arrival

Best Cinematography: Linus Sandgren, La La Land

Best Score: Justin Hurwitz, La La Land

Best Foreign-Language Film: The Handmaiden (dir: Park Chan-wook)

Best Documentary: Tower (dir: Keith Maitland)

Best Animated Film: Kubo and the Two Strings (dir: Travis Knight)

Best First Film: The Witch (dir: Robert Eggers)

The Robert R. “Bobby” McCurdy Memorial Breakthrough Artist Award: Keith Maitland, Tower

Austin Film Award: Tower (dir: Keith Maitland)

Special Honorary Award: To the ensemble cast of Moonlight and casting director Yesi Ramirez for excellence as an ensemble.

Special Honorary Award: To honor Anton Yelchin for his contribution to the cinema of 2016, including performances in Green Room and Star Trek Beyond. His was a brilliant career cut profoundly short.

Special Honorary Award: To A24 Films for excellence in production in distribution. Their work gave us Moonlight, Green Room, Swiss Army Man, The Lobster, The Witch, and 20th Century Women, among others.

Special Honorary Award: To filmmaker Keith Maitland and his film Tower for revisiting a tragic event in Austin, Texas history in a sensitive and unique manner.

AFCA 2016 Top Ten Films:

  1. Moonlight
  2. La La Land
  3. Arrival
  4. The Handmaiden
  5. Manchester by the Sea
  6. Elle
  7. Hell or High Water
  8. The Lobster
  9. Jackie
  10. Sing Street

Here Are The Nominations Of The Online Film Critics Society!


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The Online Film Critics Society announced their nominations today.  Along with the usual suspects, the 7 and a half hour documentary OJ: Made in America also picked up a nomination for best picture.

Best Picture

Arrival
The Handmaiden
Hell or High Water
Jackie
La La Land
Manchester By the Sea
Moonlight
O.J.: Made in America
Paterson
The Witch

Best Animated Feature

Finding Dory
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Best Director

Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Pablo Larraín – Jackie
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester By the Sea
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Actor

Casey Affleck – Manchester By the Sea
Adam Driver – Paterson
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actress

Amy Adams – Arrival
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Supporting Actor

Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Tom Bennett – Love & Friendship
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Supporting Actress

Viola Davis – Fences
Lily Gladstone – Certain Women
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester By the Sea

Best Original Screenplay

Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
Jackie – Noah Oppenheim
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
The Lobster – Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthymis Filippou
Manchester By the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Adapted Screenplay

Arrival – Eric Heisserer, Ted Chiang
Elle – David Birke, Philippe Djian
Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins, Tarell Alvin McCraney
Nocturnal Animals – Tom Ford

Best Editing

Arrival – Joe Walker
Cameraperson – Nels Bangerter
Jackie – Sebastian Sepulveda
La La Land – Tom Cross
Moonlight – Joi McMillon, Nat Sanders

Best Cinematography

Arrival – Bradford Young
Jackie – Stéphane Fontaine
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Moonlight – James Laxton
The Neon Demon – Natasha Braier

Best Film Not in the English Language

Elle – France
The Handmaiden – South Korea
Neruda – Chile
The Salesman – Iran
Toni Erdmann – Germany

Best Documentary

13th
Cameraperson
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Weiner

Best Non-U.S. Release

After the Storm
The Death of Louis XIV
The Girl With All the Gifts
Graduation
Nocturma
Personal Shopper
A Quiet Passion
Staying Vertical
The Unknown Girl
Yourself and Yours