‘PRIVATE LIFE’ (2018)
Now in their 40s, married couple Richard (Paul Giamatti) and Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) have both found success as writers living in New York City, but despite their fulfilling careers, there’s one thing they want but don’t have: A child. Between their attempts at artificial insemination and adoption, Rachel and Richard are chasing whatever chance they can find. Although they’re both reaching for the same thing, however, the stress of failing to conceive often pits them against each other. Private Life is a beautiful, honest drama, one that explores how relationships, even long-lasting ones, have their ups and downs, and that those peaks and valleys are simply part of life.
‘BLUE VALENTINE’ (2010)
Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine is the story of a relationship, its joyous beginning, and bitter end, told through a narrative that jumps back and forth in time. When they first meet, Dean (Ryan Gosling) is a high-school dropout working for a moving company, while Cindy (Michelle Williams) is a med student, but despite their different backgrounds, they end up dating, with Cindy drawn to Dean’s effervescent, romantic personality. After Cindy discovers she is pregnant (though likely with her ex’s child), they start a life together. The film examines them throughout their years together as the two, once so passionate, grow increasingly irritated and somewhat disinterested in each other. It’s a brutal look at the arc of love, and an honest one.
‘GONE BABY GONE’ (2007)
However one may feel about Ben Affleck’s body of work as an actor, his directorial career has been impressive, a string of acclaimed hits that began with 2007’s Gone Baby Gone, an adaptation of a detective novel by Dennis Lehane. The film follows a pair of private investigators — Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner (in work and romance) Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) — who are working on the case of a missing child, a case the Boston police are struggling to crack. As a PI, Kenzie can tap into connections in the criminal underworld that the police can’t, and he soon discovers that the child’s disappearance may be related to her own mother’s shady dealings. Gone Baby Gone is a tense thriller, one that skillfully ratchets up the tension until an unforgettable climax.
‘THE DEPARTED’ (2006)
An adaptation of the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs, Martin Scorsese’s The Departedmoves the story to Boston and follows a conflict between the Irish mob and the Massachusetts State Police. Mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) has raised a man named Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) from childhood to become a mole inside the police department. Meanwhile, the heads of the Special Investigations Unit pick Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), a recruit from the police academy, to drop out and go undercover in Costello’s gang. Once both sides realize they have a spy in their ranks, Sullivan and Costigan each race to uncover the other’s identity. The Departed has a long and winding narrative, and every scene is fraught with tension.
‘BLUE JASMINE’ (2013)
Late-period Woody Allen films are hit-or-miss — with a tendency toward misses, to be honest — but Blue Jasmine stands out. It’s a darkly humorous character study with more than a passing resemblance to the classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. The film begins with former socialite Jasmine Francis (Cate Blanchett) arriving in San Francisco to crash with her estranged sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Jasmine’s husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), was a financier who kept her in the lap of luxury until he was arrested for fraud. Now in debt, and disgraced, Jasmine is on the verge of a total meltdown. Blue Jasmine is a taut interpersonal drama, with Jasmine’s cultured haughtiness grating against the blue-collar sensibilities of the people she now lives among. Blanchett is incredible in the lead role, and Allen’s writing is as strong as it’s ever been.
‘GOD’S OWN COUNTRY’ (2017)
From director Francis Lee, God’s Own Country is a gorgeous tale of romance set amid the rough beauty of the Yorkshire moors. The film begins with Johnny (Josh O’Connor) living on a farm with his father, Martin (Ian Hart), and grandmother, Deirdre (Gemma Jones). As his father and grandmother are in no shape to handle the physical labor of the farm, Johnny takes care of it, stumbling each evening into drinking and loveless flings with other men. After the family hires a Romanian immigrant, Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), to help out with the farm work, he and Johnny grow close. It’s an intimate film, built around subtle performances and Lee’s appreciation for the vast, beautiful countryside.
‘THE HATEFUL EIGHT’ (2015)
In the midst of a blizzard, a group of strangers take refuge in a stagecoach lodge. Two bounty hunters, a murderer, and a Confederate-soldier-turned-sheriff are among the rogues assembled, and it doesn’t take long for their uneasy peace to crumble. That’s not to say The Hateful Eight is a fast-paced movie; director Quentin Tarantino takes his time, drawing viewers up a hill of tension before sending them hurtling into violence. With an all-star cast including Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and more, The Hateful Eight is a worthy addition to Tarantino’s sterling body of work……Read more>>