Movie Diary 12/16/2018

Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018). Alternate-reality nuttiness that manages to have at least one daft thing going on every three minutes or so. Some of the stuff is channeled from other sources (it would seem Riley is a fan of O Lucky Man), but it’s brought off with a lot of kick. (As you can see, I’m catching up with 2018 movies I missed along the way.)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, 2018). This is a fascinating true story, but the insightful thing Heller does – she directed the terrific Diary of a Teenage Girl – is emphasize that this is a film about loneliness and the prison of personality, rather than a plot-driven thing. Melissa McCarthy is excellent as the author Lee Israel, who forged letters from famous people, and Richard E. Grant is great fun as her unexpected drinking buddy. But the smaller roles are also spot-on, a sign of the director’s care: Dolly Wells, Stephen Spinella, Jane Curtain.

The Sisters Brothers (Jacques Audiard, 2018). The Old West feels decidedly European in Audiard’s version of the mythology, with John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix as bounty-hunting siblings and Jake Gyllenhaal and Riz Ahmed as their quarry. Reilly’s gentle killer is a real original, and the film’s thoughtful manner stays with you. I think this is another of those genre-associated roles that Phoenix doesn’t seem to get, but he has his moments. It begins with some startling Western imagery, including gunshots at night and the shocking sight of a galloping horse on fire.

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