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payne’s picks

By Sarah Payne

Movie Releases —

Marriage Story – November 6 — Have you seen Kramer vs. Kramer (1980) starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep? Jacob Sarkisian of Gold Derby says Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson, is 2019’s version of Kramer vs. Kramer; it also deals with divorce and its aftermath and child custody. I’m a bit skeptical, since Marriage Story’s director Noah Baumbach also directed one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen – Margot at the Wedding, which was over-the-top sentimental. So it makes sense that the headline for NME’s review of the film reads: “tear-stained break-up drama will leave you in floods.” Who’s ready for a good cry?

The Irishman – November 27 — Martin Scorsese’s newest film The Irishman features an all-star cast, including Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. The film is a mob epic with a running time of more than three hours. It’s also one of the most expensive films Scorsese has ever directed, with a production budget of $159 million – much of which went toward special effects to de-age the cast, as the plot spans several decades. Most mainstream movie theaters are refusing to show the film, so your best chance to catch it will be to stream it directly on Netflix.

Move Reviews —

Ad Astra — Regular readers of my column know how much I love movies about outer space. I love to imagine what it would be like to explore the unknown and how humans would problem solve in life or death situations at the edges of the galaxy. I think Interstellar may have ruined all other space movies for me, though. That film is so epic in writing, music, and acting that it sets the bar higher, and I’m disappointed to say Ad Astra falls far short of that bar. What I like about Ad Astra is its imagination. We see what it might actually look like if Virgin Galactic had commercial flights to the moon (and you could eat at Applebee’s when you land). The details here are really interesting. But the film lacks heart. Brad Pitt’s character has very few lines and shows barely any emotion, so the central conflict with his Dad (Tommy Lee Jones) falls flat. Rather than rooting for their reconciliation, I found myself counting down the minutes until one of them died – I didn’t really care who.

Joker — You know all the “controversy” surrounding this film? Don’t let that stop you from seeing cinema magic. Go see Joker, but only if you’re okay with violence and you have at least a baseline level of nerdiness when it comes to the Batman universe. I’m about as far as you can get from being a superhero fanatic (I haven’t seen any of the Marvel movies), but Batman holds a special place in my heart. I also loved Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, like many Batman fans. But I might actually like Joaquin Phoenix’s version better, only because we get to see the character’s full evolution in Joker. Phoenix lost 60 pounds for the role and his performance is eerie and groundbreaking. One of my favorite aspects of his character is his interpretive dancing, something that was missing in The Dark Knight. The film is just over two hours long and I love that Phoenix doesn’t actually turn into “the Joker” until the final few minutes. It’s such a satisfying and terrifying build up.

TV Review —

The Righteous Gemstones – Season 1 — The first season of Danny McBride’s dark comedy The Righteous Gemstones wrapped last month on HBO. McBride is the show’s creator and also stars as Jesse Gemstone, a member of the fictional multi-million-dollar Christian televangelist family. John Goodman plays the family’s patriarch and Adam Devine plays Jesse’s brother. The hypocrisy and flaws in the family are what make the show so funny and some of the ridiculous and dangerous situations they find themselves in remind me of a lighter version of Breaking Bad. It’s definitely binge-worthy and was recently renewed for a second season.