William Shakespeare solves his writer's block with an affair, inspiring him to write Romeo and Juliet.
Directed by John Madden
Starring Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow
Initial Review by Jon Kissel
A film that persists in the culture due to its upset win at the Oscars over presumptive favorite Saving Private Ryan, Shakespeare in Love is one of those works that Oscar voters love. Featuring a romance between one of history's great playwrights and a co-lead who'll put her life and position to risk if only to get on the stage, John Madden's film flatters the work of producing and staging theater, something plenty of Oscar voters are going to be far more familiar with than fighting in heavy combat. Combined with the aggressive marketing and lobbying of Harvey Weinstein, the big win becomes less surprising. If it makes sense that Shakespeare in Love could win Best Picture almost twenty years ago, that leaves whether or not it's one of those winners that is largely forgotten as soon as the envelope's opened (The Artist, Million Dollar Baby, A Beautiful Mind, Driving Miss Daisy) or a film that holds up and lives on long after its release date (Unforgiven, Titanic, The Silence of the Lambs, Amadeus). The latter is a much smaller group, and alas, Shakespeare in Love isn't making it any bigger. Madden and company are able to depict the creation and production of a primal work of art, but the greatness of Romeo and Juliet only serves to remind the viewer how mediocre the film surrounding it is.
The first thing that jumps out to me about Brooklyn is the lack of famous movie stars. This makes for a better movie because the characters don't appear to be acting. The second thing that jumped out to me was how clean the Brooklyn streets were, that's bullshit. New York City and its surroundings have dirty streets. They are way worse than any other large city in the United States.
Brooklyn fits into the Mediocre Movie Club's 'Best Actress' theme for Round 4.2. Saoirse Ronan has three vowels in a row in her first name, and did a splendid job playing Eilis in Brooklyn. Her range of facial expressions and general look made the movie feel like something actually happening, not a movie star portraying an actual person. The next best character was Julie Walters playing Miss Kehoe, the old cranky-hilarious-honest lady at the boarding house. Her comedic lines helped lift the spirits of the movie.
I felt for Eilis through her highs, lows, and tough decisions throughout the movie. Anyone who has left their hometown in spite of a parental guilt trip will love this movie. Side tangent brought up in our most recent podcast - we need more immigration movies from white characters if we want to expose "middle America" to an immigrant tale to which they can truly relate. Empathy is hard, but it's important. It's the most important moral quality in a person. Brooklyn helps us all with empathy. Great show.
We all have our criteria for what makes a movie a definitive A+. It could be as simple as just being entertaining. It could be because it has no discernable flaws in a precise checklist. It could be quotability and rewatchability. For me, an A+ is a movie that I keep returning to in my head days and even weeks later, pondering and re-analyzing scenes in my head, finding new takeaways and challenging initial conclusions. I watched “Moonlight” five days ago, and it continues to permeate my thoughts. By my own subjective measure, I believe that makes “Moonlight” an A+. Ultimately, what “Moonlight” does so perfectly is take, on the surface, a very unique and unrecognizable situation and turn that into a universal truth. “Moonlight” is a stark reminder of how much who we are is an influence of who came before us and our intensely human desire to belong and be accepted for who we are.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.