Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:27 am 
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A 'meh' and a 10-out-of-10

Watch for the full review of Marriage Story in Filmleaf's coming New York Film Festival coverage in October; it's the NYFF Centerpiece Film.

I just saw both that and Ira Sachs' Portugal-set Frankie in press previews at the state of the art Dolby Labs cinema in San Francisco, and they were just about what I'd been led to expect. Both looked and sounded great in that setting, of course. Frankie is a posh, beautiful European production with a cocktail of Euro-stars. It's one of those things where people wander around having encounters and minor revelations. Very minor. It's pretty, but Isabelle Huppert has looked a lot better and so has Jérémie Renier. The whole thing seems like why? As Owen Gleiberman writes in Variety, "Even Eric Rohmer might have watched this movie and said, 'Nice! But is that all?'" A misstep.

On the other hand, I liked Baumbach's Marriage Story a lot. Warmly accessible and insanely enjoyable, it's his tenth feature, and a ten out of ten. Even as I was watching it I was already looking forward to seeing it again.

Marriage Story is really about a divorce, and contrasts with the directors sly, more parochial 2005 take on that topic, The Squid and the Whale, by how much more fluent, powerful, and at ease it is, how much more accessible and stronger emotionally. This is a specific and instructive movie that's also touching, tough and frequently hilarious. It works on an almost Shakespearean richness of levels.

There is fantastic work by Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as the splitting couple, top notch support from Laura Dern and Ray Liotta in key supporting roles as divorce lawyers. Look forward to this movie at awards time, see it whenever or wherever you can in November or December.

Marriage Story, 136 mins., debuted at Venice 29 Aug. 2019 and was featured in 8 or 10 other festivals including Telluride and Toronto; showing as the Centerpiece Film at the NYFF Oct. 4. Theatrical release Nov. 6, 2019, followed by digital streaming by Netflix Dec. 6. Metascore currently 95%.

Frankie will be released on October 25, 2019, by Sony Pictures Classics. It also stars Pascal Greggory, Brendon Gleeson, Marisa Tomei, and Greg Kinnear. Its current Metascore is 56%.

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