Welcome back to my Home Movies! Today, the surprising power of Our Friend leads the way, but it’s hardly the only film hitting shelves of note. There’s Another Round, Wonder Woman 1984 (for some of you), and Defending Your Life joining the Criterion Collection. It’s actually quite a solid slate to go over today. Read on for more…
Joey’s Top Pick
With terrific turns from Casey Affleck, Dakota Johnson, and Jason Segel, Our Friend is impeccably acted. It’s a tearjerker, but much more than that. It had a beating heart, but also just a warmth that sets it apart. Be sure to check out our interviews with Johnson (here) and Segel (here), as well as enter for a chance to win a DVD copy (here). From our rave review here on the site, this is some of Kendall’s praise:
Our Friend will make you want to embrace those who are most significant to you. Having such a relatable, human movie at our fingertips during a time that can leave us longing for interaction is a wonderful thing that should not be overlooked. Simply put: Our Friend should not be missed.
Mads Mikkelsen is wonderful in this booze-fueled character study, and Thomas Vinterberg was a surprise Best Director nominee. I spoke to Mikkelsen (here) about this work, and it’s a surprisingly fun outing. As close to a comedy as Vinterberg is likely to ever do, it’s one of the more satisfying works of last year. Here’s a bit from my Another Round review (found here), which praises them both:
Mads Mikkelsen anchors the movie with a performance that’s incredibly effective. He’s truly a star here. This takes nothing away from the rest of the cast, mind you. Maria Bonnevie, Thomas Bo Larsen, Magnus Millang, and Lars Ranthe each do fine work. Mikkelsen just goes above and beyond. Especially considering his capacity for menace, the heart he displays is really something. Mikkelsen is always good, but this is some of his best work yet.
Thomas Vinterberg gets to have more fun as a filmmaker than he’s ever had before. This is still a seriocomic vibe, but Vinterberg and his co-writer Tobias Lindholm keep the vibe on the lighter side.
Also Available This Week
The Ten Commandments (4K)
Defending Your Life
From The Criterion Collection: “Is there love after death? Acerbic everyman Albert Brooks finds a perfect balance between satirical bite and romantic-comedy charm as the writer, director, and star of this wonderfully warm and imaginative existential fantasy. After he dies suddenly, the hapless advertising executive Daniel Miller (Brooks) finds himself in Judgment City, a gleaming way station where the newly deceased must prove they lived a life of sufficient courage to advance in their journey through the universe. As the self-doubting Daniel struggles to make his case, a budding relationship with the uninhibited Julia (Meryl Streep) offers him a chance to finally feel alive. Buoyed by a pitch-perfect supporting cast that includes Rip Torn, Lee Grant, and Buck Henry, Defending Your Life is a rare feat of personal, philosophical filmmaking that happens to also be divinely entertaining.”
Secrets and Lies
From The Criterion Collection: “An expert observer of unembellished humanity, writer-director Mike Leigh reached new levels of expressive power and intricacy with this exploration of the deceptions, small and large, that shape our relationships. When Hortense (Marianne Jean-Baptiste), a Black optometrist who was adopted as a child, begins the search for her birth mother, she doesn’t expect that it will lead her to Cynthia (Brenda Blethyn, winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s best actress award), a lonely white factory worker whose tentative embrace of her long-lost daughter sends shock waves through the rest of her already fragile family. Born from a painstaking process of rehearsal and improvisation with a powerhouse ensemble cast, Secrets & Lies is a Palme d’Or–winning tour de force of sustained tension and catharsis that lays bare the emotional fault lines running beneath everyday lives.”