WIFF’s Weekend Watch List — 03/12

JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH

(If you want to see a terrific Oscar-bound performance)

Vincent Georgie: Daniel Kaluuya is the front-runner right now to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in this film. And that suits me just fine because he dominates the story with a magnetic intensity that has become his signature. He impressed in both GET OUT and BLACK PANTHER, but I think his villainous menace in the ensemble film WIDOWS (a film I recommended back a few months ago) stole the show from bigger names in that cast. This time, as revolutionary Fred Hampton, he is once again who you talk about once the film is over. He’s a star. More to come from him.

Synopsis: Offered a plea deal by the FBI, William O’Neal infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gather intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.

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MRS. BROWN

(If you want to see Judi Dench’s breakout film performance)

Vincent Georgie: Prior to 1997, Judi Dench’s career had been heavily relegated to the UK stage and to supporting roles in some British import films of note. Candidly, she was often referred to as “Maggie Smith but not as famous” in some circles.  That all changed when global audiences got a look at the full range of her talents via her lead performance as Queen Victoria in MRS BROWN. It was as if a star was born before our eyes. This was the film that blew open the door on Dench’s Hollywood career, with a follow-up the very next year with her work in SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE (also directed by MRS BROWN helmer John Madden). When Helen Hunt won the Oscar that year (for AS GOOD AS IT GETS) instead of Dench, she stated in her speech how, when she first watched MRS BROWN in theatres, she assumed Dench would win the Best Actress Oscar. I invite you to discover if you think Helen Hunt was right.

Synopsis: After the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert, Queen Victoria withdraws from public life, so the court appoints a former servant of the prince, John Brown, to help her recover from her grief. Brown’s unorthodox ways and disdain for protocol draw the queen out of her shell, and the brash Scot becomes her sole confidant. However, their growing closeness causes a stir, as scandalous rumours begin circulating about the exact nature of their relationship.

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IMMORTAL BELOVED

(If you want to see the work of a genius)

Vincent Georgie: While the film beautifully captures the grand passion and tragedy of both the life and death of Beethoven, what it also does is put actor Gary Oldman’s talents on the fullest of display. I think Oldman did his most interesting work much earlier in his career. Coming off of BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992), what he brings to the table here as Beethoven is an absolute unpredictability and tempestuousness to the role. As expected, the music, costume design and production design are all top-tier. Look for a great supporting turn by Isabella Rossellini. This film is a favourite of our Director of Patron Services Jen Holson, and you will see that she has some very fine taste indeed.

Synopsis: Upon Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, a lifelong friend sets out to learn the name of the composer’s mysterious muse after finding their love letters.

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DOUBLE FEATURE

CRIME CAPERS GONE WRONG

This week’s double-feature is a piece of advice: If you stumble upon a suitcase full of money and assume you can keep it, please think again. Here are two high-quality, entertaining films about greed, vengeance, and the pursuit of wealth at fatal costs.

A SIMPLE PLAN

Vincent Georgie: A dark, profound morality tale of what happens when average people are tempted with newfound money and threatened by emerging danger. The tragedy of this thriller is that the central characters are in so far above their heads, that the corruption is not just external but internal as well. Bill Paxton, Bridget Fonda (who I wish was still making films) and an excellent Billy Bob Thornton star as the doomed trio. The (in)famous Sam Raimi (EVIL DEAD; later the SPIDER-MAN trilogy) directs, in what is arguably his best work.

Synopsis: While in the woods near their small town, upstanding local Hank Mitchell, his dim brother Jacob and their friend Lou discover a crashed plane with two things in it — a dead pilot, and a stash of more than four million dollars. Although Hank is reluctant to keep the money, Jacob and Lou convince him otherwise, and they devise a plan to split the fortune. Things quickly go wrong, however, dramatically affecting the trio and those around them.

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NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Vincent Georgie: 2007’s Best Picture Oscar Winner is a menacing, deliberate and dread-filled Texas slow-burn of a crime caper. Based upon Cormac McCarthy’s celebrated novel, the film centers on the disastrous intersection of a weathered sheriff (Tommy Lee Jones), an amateur thief (Josh Brolin) and an indescribable psychopath (Javier Bardem). A spectacular thriller on all fronts. If you find a suitcase full of cash at the scene of a desert massacre, keep walking.

Synopsis: A hunter’s life takes a drastic turn when he discovers two million dollars while strolling through the aftermath of a drug deal. He is then pursued by a psychopathic killer who wants the money.

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