Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018)

Director: Marielle Heller

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Richard E. Grant, Dolly Wells

Screenplay: Nicole Holofcener, Jeff Whitty

106 mins. Rated R for language including some sexual references, and brief drug use.

 

Ben Falcone, the husband of Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Life of the Party), does not direct great films with his wife. His efforts have included Tammy and The Boss. That being said, he’s responsible for getting McCarthy locked for the film we are talking about today. For that, I’ll let him take a win.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is the true story of Lee Israel (McCarthy), a one-time writer who has fallen on hard times. She can’t afford to pay rent, she can’t afford to pay her cat’s medical bills, she can barely afford to drink, but when Lee strikes up a friendship with Jack Hock (Richard E. Grant, Gosford Park, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms) and turns to embellishing literary letters, things start improving for Lee. Soon, though, she finds her lies building up as she gets closer and closer to being caught.

Director Marielle Heller (The Diary of a Teenage Girl) seems to excel with character as she pulls such an interesting friendship out of Lee and Jack, aided of course by two career-best performances from McCarthy and Grant. Seriously, as great as the set design, pacing, and writing are, none of it matches the level of acting displayed by these two actors.

I really enjoyed how swiftly the film moves. I didn’t feel for a second like looking at my phone. I just sat along for the ride and enjoyed it as it went. Part of that goes to the tight edit of the finished film, and part of it goes to the great writing from Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty.

I think where Heller’s direction and the screenplay come together is their portrayal of Israel. She is not seen as a deviant or a criminal. She is seen as a human being struggling to keep up with a world seemingly hell-bent on keeping her down. She is struggling in a way I can connect with and empathize with. It’s a tricky task but one that Heller and McCarthy knock out of the park.

Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an incredible character study that connected me to people I understand and want to succeed, even when they commit crimes and perform shady acts to get there. The film is tied to two central characters and their friendship, and it’s there where it flourishes.

 

4.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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Kyle’s Top Ten Most Anticipated Films of 2019

Well, 2018 is done. What do we do now? Talk about 2019.

Just a couple of quick notes again this year:

  • This list is most anticipated, not what I think will be the best by any stretch. These are the films I’m most looking forward to as of right now, so there will be more blockbusters than indies because that’s just how it plays out. With that being said…

NOTE: I’M GOING TO TRY THE COUNTDOWN THIS YEAR RATHER THAN JUST A LIST.

 

10. Captain Marvel

-What excites me so much about Captain Marvel is its timing. This will be Marvel’s second true prequel in setting the film in the 1990s. I like the idea that this film could tie into Avengers: Infinity War and Guardians of the Galaxy. I love Brie Larson and I think her addition to this story is very exciting. This just feels like a great space adventure that we are less likely to get for some time now that the third Guardians film has kind of disappeared. This one is a blockbuster want for me.

 

9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

-I’m happy that Guillermo del Toro has a Best Picture under his belt so he can do what he wants. One of the exciting projects from him in 2019 is Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, based on the popular horror story collections for youths. I grew up reading these stories and they gave me chills and have kept me awake at night. I chose this over Nickelodeon’s big-screen version of Are You Afraid of the Dark? because I think del Toro will push the horror whereas I worry that Nick will not take the horror seriously. We are seeing a small possibility of scary children films due to The House with a Clock in its Walls in 2018. This one excites me.

 

8. Pokemon: Detective Pikachu

-This is the batshit crazy film of 2018. Until I saw the trailer, I was not looking forward to it. Why would you choose to make the first live-action Pokemon about Detective Pikachu instead of a traditional Pokemon story? Why would you select Ryan Reynolds to voice Pikachu? Why? Well, the trailer seemed like a lot of fun. I’m still not sure about the film as a whole, but I want to support a Pokemon film universe, and if that starts with Detective Pikachu, so be it.

 

7. Pet Sematary

-This new adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel (it’s my wife’s favorite King novel) is getting me very excited. As much as I enjoy the original adaptation, I have to admit that it didn’t follow the masterful source material as much as it could. This new film features the incredible Jason Clarke and John Lithgow, and the first trailer got me going. I love the look of Church the cat, and I love the visual look of the film overall.

 

6. Glass

-Where the hell did Glass come from? How did this happen? When Split came out, nobody expected the [SPOILER ALERT] twist that Split was connected to Unbreakable. Nobody expected that this would further in a third film called Glass which would bring together Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, James McAvoy, and Anya Taylor-Joy for a final confrontation. Glass is one of the most unexpected films of the last few years, and I’m overjoyed to see what it brings.

 

5. It: Chapter 2

It was a film that surprised everyone. I enjoyed the trailer even though the first images were lacking that bite. Director Andy Muschietti brought a much more emotional experience to the film than I expected, and while it doesn’t contain literal translations of some of King’s massive tome, it does translate the feeling and tone of the book quite nicely. Breaking It into 2 films is strange because a bulk of the film is set during the childhood, so I’m curious where it could go with that. The second half of the 1990 miniseries is where it loses me, so Muschietti has a lot on his plate for this follow-up.

 

4. Avengers: Endgame

-Okay, this had to be on here somewhere, right. It’s a testament to the great plate of films we have before us in 2019 that Avengers 4 is below three other films. Yes, we have to find out how this thing finishes. We knew a lot of where Avengers: Infinity War was going to travel, but I have no idea where we go from here. Yes, I feel like we will have a lot of the third film reversed, but I cannot deny the palpable excitement for this one.

 

3. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

-When Quentin Tarantino makes a film, I get excited. When he sets it in the 1960s, I get more excited. When he compares it to Pulp Fiction, I lose my freaking mind. Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Margot Robbie star in this new film from the master which also features Al Pacino in his first collaboration with Tarantino. Not much is known still but I cannot wait.

 

2. Us

-In about 3 minutes, Us became one of my most-anticipated films of 2019. That trailer. That trailer! Oh! I was already looking forward to this follow-up from the director of Get Out, and then I saw that trailer. His usage of popular music in a horror setting with some oozingly creepy imagery is what made me most excited for this film, and it comes out on my birthday too. So much win.

 

1. Star Wars: Episode IX

-C’mon, you had to know this. It’s been called the culmination of the Skywalker saga, and it brings back J.J. Abrams who killed it with The Force Awakens. After The Last Jedi (my favorite of the new films), I simply cannot wait to see where this new film goes, and it just has so much riding on it. It has to be Star Wars. It’s my most anticipated film of 2019.

 

So there you have it. What are you most excited to see in 2019? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

-Kyle A. Goethe

Kyle’s Top Ten Worst Films of 2018

2018 has come to an end, and there were so many amazing movies. There were also some stinkers. Some real stinkers. There were a lot of surprisingly disappointing films and there were some that just didn’t work at want they tried to be. I kept thinking to myself that there were so many films that I liked in 2018 that coming up with ten bad ones would be tough. It was not tough. It was only tough whittling down to 10.

Just a couple of notes:

  • I didn’t see every movie in 2018. I didn’t see every bad film in 2018. This is a list of the worst films that I saw.
  • This is my personal list. You may have loved one or all of these. I did not.
  • I still have not seen The Emoji Movie from 2017. Just letting you all know.

 

Alright, let’s hold hands and get this over with…

 

10. Tag

-Well, one of them had to win. Game Night and Tag were released in the same year, and I honestly didn’t realize going into 2018 that they were different films until the first trailers dropped for each. Game Night was one of the better films of the year, and Tag was just…not. The film was over-the-top and unrealistic and I didn’t buy that the story was anywhere close to the true story that it was based on.  It becomes all the more apparent how bad Tag really is when compare to its obvious alternate in Game Night, but the real crime of Tag is its complete lack of comedy. I found myself hoping to laugh, praying. Nothing, though. Tag just isn’t It.

 

9. Winchester

Winchester is a film that should have been good. I like the Spierig brothers. I’ve enjoyed all of their films to this point. Winchester is based on the infamous Winchester haunted house. Starring Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, this just seemed to have it all put together. It just wasn’t scary and became rather dull. Just like Tag‘s lack of comedy, Winchester‘s lack of fright just kills it. It’s the kind of film that should have been more epic in nature being a house filled with the dead. It could have become a franchise built around a different spirit each go-around, but it just falls flat.

 

8. Early Man

Early Man is probably the only film on my list that I know many people loved. I spoke to many other reviewers who gave Early Man recognition. For me, the film started out strong as a film about the early periods in humanity, and then it devolved into a soccer movie. Ugh. I loved it until it became a soccer movie. I had no interest in the direction of the film at that point. Most of the jokes fell flat at that point and I just couldn’t wait for it to be over. This may be irrational distaste, but it is distaste nonetheless. I did not like it at all.

 

7. Life Itself

Life Itself didn’t really hit me until a day after I saw it. I remember being very confused about the whole thing. I couldn’t decide it I liked it or not until some time passed. Then, I started to really think about it, and not long after, I realized all the problems that existed in the film. Then, I remember hatred. It all became clear to me that the film was nothing but schmaltzy depression under the visage of a romantic drama. It’s so poorly constructed and manipulative. The more time I thought about it, the more it dropped to the worst of the pile for 2018. I’d prefer not to think of it anymore.

 

6. Mile 22

Mile 22 is just boring, which isn’t a good sign for an action film. It’s really unimpressive. The character of Alice (played by Lauren Cohan) is written really poorly, with most of the character arc being about her as a woman on this team. Lastly, the twist at the ending caused a really dumb and disappointing finale. The film without the twist might not have made this list, but the ending leaves such a bad taste in my mouth that it crossed the line into my least favorite films of the year. It might be time to end the Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg relationship.

 

5. I Can Only Imagine

-I caught some heat this year for claiming this movie looked terrible based on the trailer. Several of my followers claimed that I was against this film for being religious, so let me say it right here: this is a bad movie, and it has nothing to do with its subject material. The film, about the creation of the title song, is filled with bad writing. The leads in the film have nothing to do but read their lines and the performances become Lifetime-movie level because of it. I couldn’t wait for it to come to an end, and I found that it took far too long to get there. Overall, I Can Only Imagine is a bad film because of its writing and editing.

 

4. Den of Thieves

Den of Thieves is just too damn long. This is such a long movie and the finale twist doesn’t work. Gerard Butler is such an unlikable lead and there’s no reason for me to root for it. Pablo Schreiber is not an interesting or complex villain. Outside of these two and O’Shea Jackson, I can barely remember any of the other characters in this film. I found myself not interested in anything going on and I didn’t want to finish the movie. I did it for you, though. You are welcome.

 

3. Fifty Shades Freed

-If there’s one nice thing to say about Fifty Shades Freed, it’s this: at least the fucking thing is over. Thank God the Fifty Shades trilogy is done. Fifty Shades Freed is so boring and bland. This movie should have the hot and steamy film that it promises to be, and yet, it is empty of any worth. It’s too bad that this wasn’t a better series because the erotic thriller subgenre has virtually gone extinct and this had a chance to bring it back. Well, it’s based on a shitty book series, so there you have it.

 

2. 12 Strong

-There’s a central theme to this year’s bad films and it is that there were a lot of boring movies this year. 12 Strong was one of those films. There’s just no style to this movie and Chris Hemsworth is incapable of carrying this film. I like Hemsworth, but he does not save the film. 12 Strong just didn’t captivate me at all, and none of the characters were likable nor interesting. It’s just a forgettable film. That’s the gift it gives us.

 

1. Slender Man

Slender Man was the dumbest idea of 2018. First of all, it isn’t even based on the game that Slender Man appears in. It’s based on the flimsy urban legend. After that, it’s a shitty script with terrible performances, lost direction, and some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen. You can blame studio interference (and I do) or you can blame all the other faults I’ve mentioned (and I do), but it’s a mixture of just how bad this movie is. It’s easily the worst film of 2018.

 

So there we are. These are the worst films of 2018. Thank God it’s done.

Is there something I missed here? What did you think was the worst film of 2018? Let me know/Drop a comment below!

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

Kyle’s Top Ten Films of 2018

 

Hey there everyone!

What a year 2018 has been, both personally and in the world of movies! Now, as the year draws to a close, I’m ready to take a look back and see which films made the cut of my personal Best of 2018.

Now for some stipulations and notes:

-I did not see every film to come out in 2018. I tried my best, but I was very busy this year and some films just flat out were missed. So if you don’t see something on this list, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t belong. It just means I may have missed it…or it doesn’t belong.

-This is my personal selection of films from the year. These are not predictions for Best Picture at the Oscars or anything like that. Some films may have different placings than they would if I just ordered them by score, and some of them may have been flawed, but I just enjoyed them enough to look past it.

-Lastly, this is one of the first years in a while that my list feels so fluid. Don’t take my rankings too harshly as just about any one of these films could potentially have been a #1 film. It was a good year. Not a great year…a good year.

 

Alright, without further fluff, let’s dive right in…

 

  1. First Man

-Damien Chazelle knocks it out of the park again in this biopic of Neil Armstrong and the NASA Space Program leading up to that fabled first step on the moon’s surface. It’s a long movie covering many of the trials and tribulations of the race to space, but it spends most of its time with Armstrong, played brilliantly by Ryan Gosling. It’s a subtle nuanced performance that isn’t acting larger-than-life but stays true to its subject. The film spends some time asking the questions of value and cost in this race to the moon, and everything is a lens through which to understand our lead. We get great supporting work from Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, and Corey Stoll who plays to Buzz Aldrin’s particular brand of sarcastic wit quite nicely. For those of you that missed this one in IMAX, I feel very sorry for you, because the scenes on the moon’s surface took my damn breath away.

 

  1. If Beale Street Could Talk

-I loved Moonlight when it came out. I was so swept away in the style and simplicity of the story. Director Barry Jenkins has done it again with his character drama If Beale Street Could Talk. While not as strong as his previous outing, this is still top-notch filmmaking and incredible character-driven storytelling. The love story between Fonny and Tish is so emotional, and the performances from Stephan James and newcomer Kiki Layne bring that love out in such a beautiful way. The film is filled with terrific performances from Regina King, Colman Domingo, Michael Beach, Aunjanue Ellis, and so many more. The ending left me frustrated but not with the filmmaker for he did craft an ending meant to make you talk and get the conversation going. It’s a beautiful character piece.

 

  1. Green Book

-If there’s one thing to say about Green Book, it’s that the film from Peter Farrelly is wholly enjoyable throughout. That’s not a normal way to describe the story of two men from different races touring the Deep South in the 1960s, but it works. You can call it surface-level enjoyment if you wish but I call it great character-driven storytelling. Much like If Beale Street Could Talk, the performances are where this film thrives, particularly from its lead actors, Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali. They are both flawed humans with real fears and desires who come together with great chemistry to create a lasting friendship in this heartwarming tale. This is a movie that will make you think while it entertains you.

 

  1. Ready Player One

-Look, Ready Player One is perhaps more flawed than the previous films on this list, but it didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment with the film. It continues to grow on me the more I watch it and I find myself going back to it a lot in 2018. It’s a fun adventure dipped in nostalgia. This film is Steven Spielberg making a sundae and putting all the toppings on. The most important factor in the film is that it is just a damn fun time that captures the spirit of the source novel while going to some wildly different places. I enjoyed both the book and film as two sides of the same coin. Ready Player One leaves me with a big damn smile on my face every time I watch it.

 

  1. A Quiet Place

-I’m starting to see a theme in many of these films for my Top Ten. Character. Yes, there’s some high-concept in some, and A Quiet Place definitely has high-concept, but it’s all there to serve character and story. The family dynamic in A Quiet Place works so well, it would make the film watchable even if the sci-fi/horror aspects of the film did not. Thankfully, this is not the case. This is a tense film with real situations set against an impossible world, but it’s because I care about this family that A Quiet Place brings out just as many tears and shrieks. John Krasinski should be given for his terrific direction in addition to his work as male lead.

 

  1. A Star is Born

-There’s something magical to A Star is Born. We are looking at the fourth official version of this tale, and yet somehow this incarnation has connected with the audience in such a special way. Maybe it’s Bradley Cooper’s strong first outing as a director, or maybe it’s his hauntingly powerful performance as Jackson Mayne, a struggling fading star, or maybe it’s Lady Gaga’s powerhouse work as Ally, a rising star. You can give me all the crap for praising Gaga’s acting in this film, and you can say that she plays herself, but I heard a colleague point out that she gets on the stage to perform her first song and she’s absolutely terrified, something that Gaga would not be or likely hasn’t been in some time. She’s acting her ass off here, and it shows. Yes, the film finds itself in a lot of the same familiar beats we’ve seen before, but it’s been said many times that all stories have been told and what matters is how you tell it. I love how this story is told.

 

  1. Annihilation

-Alex Garland’s follow-up to Ex Machina is a sci-fi/horror masterpiece. It’s a beautiful striking moving painting filled with horrific and dazzling imagery. The story, about a group of scientists exploring a strange area called The Shimmer where biology, chemistry, and physics are unlike anything known to human understanding. This is a thinker of a movie, but it haunted me for days and I couldn’t stop telling people to see this movie. It likely isn’t for everyone, but I would encourage you to seek it out and give it a try. This is a What-The-Fuck movie experience for the ages that I haven’t seen since 2001: A Space Odyssey.

 

  1. Hereditary

-You know something? Screw anyone who says there isn’t enough great horror these days. Horror is on such an incredible ride in recent years, and there’s probably enough good horror for its own Top 10 list for 2018, and Hereditary would be at the top. Led by a career-best performance from Toni Collette, Hereditary is a shocking and disturbing story of loss, grief, and madness, all centered around a family caught in something out of their control. Beyond the shock of some of the film’s more frightening moments, there are some truly horrific moments of character development. This movie’s strengths cannot be understated and it is truly sad that Collette’s more of a long shot to the Best Actress Nomination this year because she without a doubt deserves. The only tiny complaint I have with the film is that it over-explains itself at the end, but it is merely a nitpick and actually saved a friend’s enjoyment of the film, so what do I know?

 

  1. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

-As I’ve said before, the movies that will likely be most remembered in 2018 are the Feel-Goods, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is at the top of that list. This documentary about the life of Fred Rogers is stunningly heartfelt and masterfully executed. It is a viewpoint of the man’s life, his beliefs, his goals, and his dreams, and it brought me back to moments in my childhood, memories that I shared with someone through a television set. I welled up with tears at several points in the narrative and connected with the film on so many levels. What makes this film stand out from others this year is that it asks its audience to take part in it near the end, asking us how we can be more like Fred, and I think it connects us with an incredible human being on a personal level, a touching tribute to a beloved neighbor.

 

  1. BlacKkKlansman

-Spike Lee is the best he’s ever been with BlacKkKlansman. You heard me. The best he’s ever been. I loved Do the Right Thing, but this film just barely edges it out for so many reasons. It’s an incredible well-acted film, especially from John David Washington, Adam Driver, and Topher Grace. The screenplay and editing have turned this so-crazy-it’s-true story into something even more timely given the current state of the country. Lee makes it quite known what he wants his film to evoke and the finale of the film left my jaw on the floor. As soon as I left the theater, I wanted to turn back around and see it again. Spike Lee knows his craft so well that he is able to fuse lighthearted comedy into the shocking tale of a black cop infiltrating the Ku Klux Klan, and this film is his masterpiece. It’s the best movie of 2018.

 

So there you have it. These are my favorite films of the year. I’m looking forward to the #2019oscardeathrace to begin, and the list may change a bit once that happens. No one sees everything. What is your Top Ten of 2018? I’d love to hear it! Thanks again for a great 2018, and we will see you in 2019 (which is right now).

 

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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