Movie Reviews: C’mon C’mon | The Hand of God | The day after Christmas

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Joaquin Phoenix and Woody Norman in C’mon C’mon PIC: Tobin Yelland/A24 Fi

Go go (15) *****

The Hand of God (15) ****

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After playing a string of misfits, loners and psychotic eccentrics in recent years, Joaquin Phoenix demonstrates his remarkable range with an ordinary guy role in go! Go on it’s as good as anything he’s done. He plays Johnny, a New York radio producer working on a This American Life-style documentary series that requires him to travel the country interviewing children about their hopes, dreams, and fears for the future. Johnny is an attentive and sensitive broadcaster, with a keen understanding of human nature, but he also has a lot of personal baggage, mainly related to his estranged sister Viv (the formidable Gabby Hoffman), whom he spontaneously calls on the birthday of the death of their mother. . Soon after, he finds himself volunteering to care for his nine-year-old nephew Jesse (Woody Norman) as Viv deals with a crisis involving Jesse’s (Scoot McNairy) bipolar father.

On paper, it’s a pretty melodramatic setup, but writer/director Mike Mills (Beginners, 20th Century Women) has quietly established himself as one of the leading chroniclers of American cinema’s family life and approach here. is nuanced and truthful. Shot in brilliant black and white, what follows is in part an elegy for the kind of youthful honesty and openness that is all too easily corrupted by the complex systems of denial we develop as adults. But more simply, the film’s monochromatic look speaks to the many gray areas that exist when it comes to dealing with family: nothing is truly black and white and you can never really know everything about the people you are. supposed to be closest. Mills also adds texture to the inner lives of his characters by quoting books and essays and noting his on-screen sources – a technique that taps into the idea that instead of a definitive parenting manual, the most families are just getting by. , sewing on the fly a patchwork of random advice in the vague hope that it’ll be enough to hold things together overnight.

Mills presents all of this with unusual depth for a film that is also essentially about a cute child who bonds with a stunted adult. Yet it scrupulously avoids all the clichés and pitfalls of this mini genre, approaching it with unflinching honesty, humor and a refusal to serve easily resolved emotional issues. It also helps that Norman – who co-stars with Phoenix and Hoffman – is blessed with a child actor who can exist in the moment. Jesse is not an easy kid; he’s smart and kind, but he’s also plagued with insecurities that manifest in insane bedtime routines and irrational offers of autonomy that scare Johnny, but also force Johnny to start putting his own ego on. aside and have a little more empathy for Viv’s situation. Phoenix, a former child actor himself, creates a believable bond with Norman that doesn’t let either character get away with it, but also never slips into sentimentality. Instead, it taps into something interesting about how children rely on the adults in their lives to not only keep them safe, but also to remember their own history for them, giving them a sense of… themselves long after the details of those formative years have passed. disappeared from their own rapidly developing minds. What movie.

Opening with an epic aerial shot over the Bay of Naples, followed by a surreal scene involving a buxom woman kissing a dwarf while being groped by the city’s patron saint, Paulo Sorrentino’s latest film, God’s hand, wastes no time channeling the spirit of Federico Fellini. It’s appropriate for this semi-autobiographical coming-of-age film. Stylishly dramatizing Sorrentino’s own tragic adolescence, it turns out that a brief encounter with the 8 1/2 maestro is what puts his hitherto football-obsessed alter ego, Fabietto Schisa (Filippo Scotti), on the path to becoming a manager – but not before Fabietto’s closeness to Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona unexpectedly saved his life. Maradona’s divine intervention comes when he arrives in Italy to play for Napoli. There’s no way Fabietto would miss his play, but this simple act of teenage devotion changes the course of his life and he gradually becomes obsessed with the escape offered by cinema. Sorrentino has always been a maximalist director and what he presents here is a sort of teenage fever dream filtered through the decadent perspective of a filmmaker who is overly styled and willing to throw everything at this time in his life to show how the worst moment of his childhood also freed his imagination. It’s a crazy, fun, and unexpected ride, with a chaotic cast of larger-than-life characters and a gripping Timothée Chalamet-esque Scotti twist at its heart. Toni Servillo’s regular co-stars in Sorrentino.

Filippo Scotti in The Hand of God PIC: Gianni Fiorito

Richard Curtis’ Worst Fuel Excesses The day after Christmas, an unapologetically sentimental rom-com made nearly unassailable by an abundance of Christmas characters and poorly designed characters. Writer/director/star Aml Ameen takes the lead as Melvin, a Los Angeles-based novelist who returns to London for the first time in two years to see his once close-knit family. Made on the cheap, the film lacks the gloss needed to sell us on an absurd setup involving internationally acclaimed pop stars, glamorous Hollywood careers, and various love entanglements. The gags are pretty tired too.

C’mon C’mon and Boxing Day are in theaters starting Friday; Hand of God is on select release from Friday and streams on Netflix from December 15

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The day after Christmas
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