This article will have short reviews for the following films in this order: Matrimonio All’Italiana (Marriage Italian Style), I’m Still Here, You Were Never Really Here, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, and American Assassin
If the charming quality of Matrimonio All’Italiana doesn’t win you over in the first couple of minutes, the performances most certainly will. Sophia Loren played the different stages of her character’s life convincingly and was really able to showcase the development that she went through. It was nearly like she played two different characters because of how the character she plays changes throughout the film, though she managed to portray it brilliantly. Opposite of her there was Marcello Mastroianni who played his role equally as brilliant and he was the source of most of the comedy with his hilarious yet subtle facial expressions. Their chemistry was impeccable and formed the heart of this lovely romantic comedy. These two were able to deliver such fantastic performances due to the material that they were given. Their characters were developed thoroughly and shown to us in different stages of their lives, which gave the actors the ability to showcase their capabilities because the way these characters were in the past could contrast the way they’d act in the present. The non-chronological nature of the story also made the film a whole lot more interesting as we piece by piece got to know more about these characters and why they ended up being who they were. Visually the films very fun as well. The director told this story with beautiful cinematography, gorgeous long takes, creative camera movements, and zooms placed at the right moment to give the film that fun atmosphere. Most of the film’s flaws are due to technical shortcomings like some very obvious cuts when they’re trying make it seem like one continuous take, or scenes that are supposed to be taking place during a thunderstorm while you could clearly see that it’s a wonderful day, and the dubbing could be quite obvious as well.
I kinda felt like I had to see I’m Still Here after having checked out You Were Never Really Here just because of the title pairing, so I did and I liked the latter better than the former. I’m Still Here has an interesting concept that it explores pretty well, though the film never reaches the level of social critique it wants to achieve. Nonetheless, it’s impressive how they managed to fool the world by making them believe that Phoenix was really perusing a rapping career, which was mostly made possible thanks to his phenomenal performance. Everyone, actually, gave a very authentic performance making it feel as if it was a real documentary rather than a mockumentary. While some bits were funny, others were incredibly tedious to get through and there were certainly moments where the film dragged. Sometimes I also felt like they pushed the boundaries of comedy a bit too far which caused the film to stop being actually funny and end up being grotesque for the sake of being grotesque instead. The way the story was told could’ve been a bit better as well, since now it feels like it’s just a collection of clips that they tried to mold into a coherent story, but didn’t really succeed in doing so. I never got the sense that there was any proper build up to certain events taking place, or if there was an attempt to build up to something, it was very choppy and handled messily. In contrary, I did like how they set the ending up, which also concluded the film in a fitting way.
Lynne Ramsey takes this simple story that could’ve very easily been your standard low budget action flick and turns it into an interesting and depressing character study. With poetic imagery and very little dialogue, Ramsey shows us what type of person Joaquin Phoenix’s character is. What he is doing, what he has dealt with in the past, what he’s dealing with right now, and how this all influences who he is. She serves us a fully fleshed out character that feels incredibly real and surprisingly somewhat relatable, though he’s really brought to life by the fantastic performance of Joaquin Phoenix as Joe.
While You Were Never Really Here is a brutally violent film, the focus is never really on the act itself. Instead, Ramsey brings our attention to the build-up to the deed, the aftermath thereof, and how it affects the characters, which again helps to develop them in some way or form.
For how much this is a visual feast, it’s also an auditive spectacle. Ramsey plays a lot with the sounds of her film and uses them to make the viewer feel the same way Joe’s feeling. She places us in his head via the sound design alone and does so effectively. When he’s on edge, you’re on edge, when he’s going through a panic attack, you’ll notice that you have trouble breathing. The phenomenal score would also intensify the feelings evoked, though it’s never used to manipulate you into having these certain moods. There are plenty of emotional scenes where no score is used at all, which makes them even more effective. Another thing I liked was how Ramsey played with diegetic and non-diegetic music, due to which she made the experience quite immersive.
The editing, the visuals, and the sound design really make you feel how Joe’s feeling. They make you sympathize with him and understand his actions. You can truly get behind his motives. However, while I really – and I mean really – liked this film, there’s one bit I didn’t quite love as the rest, which was the performance of Ekaterina Samsonov. She wasn’t all that great and if she were replaced with a slightly better actress, You Were Never Really Here would’ve gotten an A+, while now it’ll have to do with an A.
While directing An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, Jim Hosking had a pretty decent visual style and certainly a vision in mind. He created this very odd world filled with weird characters who spoke with very stylized dialogue, which is something I usually tend to like. I love films that are a bit out of the ordinary, though unfortunately, Hosking’s effort does not always hit the right notes. Sometimes it’s trying too hard to be funny, and the film has multiple shots at very shallow, superficial humor, in the likes of haha this is sooooo random, or what if we’d curse a whole lot? The film also often relies on repeating the same jokes multiple times, which didn’t really make them a whole lot funnier, but rather annoying and boring. Though it doesn’t go without saying that there were quite a few moments that I found genuinely funny, which was mostly made possible because of Aubrey Plaza and Jemaine Clement their odd performances and chemistry. Outside of the performances, I also liked the production design. It helped to create this unique world via lots of tiny, weird details that could make scenes funnier. The music was great as well. The composition thereof was quite simple, though effective and it carried a distinct atmosphere. However, some plot points didn’t make a whole lot of sense and the reveal at the end of the film was extremely anti-climactic and I do not really see the point of it being anti-climactic if it were to be the director’s intention. The film also could’ve been shortened by quite a bit, because now we’re left with a few redundant or drawn out scenes.
Starting off with a pretty cool one take action scene, American Assassin somehow manages to drop in quality as every minute passed by. One, the story was predictable and the structure thereof was quite bad. The story the film sets up at the start already ends after half an hour and then they introduce a new one out of nowhere. The villain’s motivations were also lackluster and the dialogue was incredibly cheesy, but the performances were great from everyone, especially Keaton and O’Brien. I also quite liked the action sequences; they were pretty brutal and mostly filmed well. However, they never lived up to the expectations the first one set.