Brian Formo

Brian Formo

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  • Wendy and Lucy

    Wendy and Lucy

    ★★★★

    One of the most compassionate films you'll ever see about how being poor sets up a potential avalanche of financial consequences for attempting to do something to better your situation through moving. There is a cost attached to every moment. For that to register, though, the entire film rests on Michelle Williams performance and she succeeds.

    I want to share a story because it overlaps so much with this film, down to the very year and route. In 2008 I…

  • Morvern Callar

    Morvern Callar

    ★★★★★

    Morvern Callar has one of the bleakest cold opens of any film. We see the titular woman (played by Samantha Morton), as she wakes up with her boyfriend dead from suicide on the floor and a computer screen that says "READ ME." The note instructs her to "be brave" and to send his novel to various publishers he's listed. That's the plot portion of the opening, before we even get there we lay with Morvern on the floor, her fingers…

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  • Diary of a Chambermaid

    Diary of a Chambermaid

    ★★★½

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    “Sexual perversion repulses me, but I can be attracted to it intellectually,” Luis Buñuel once said. His first French film, pulled away from Mexico for the rest of his career, lets the surrealist master use perversion as power structure in his most grounded and least surreal take on the bourgeoisie. The head of an estate desires sex with his wife twice a week, and wife and the priest agree that that's far too much (and that she mustn't derive pleasure…

  • Dark Victory

    Dark Victory

    ★★★

    I love 1930s cocktail hour acting but Bette Davis takes it to a whole new level here when she holds the house band hostage for her play it again, Sam moment. (Really want to watch a movie of just Humphrey Bogart horse training opposite Davis' horse rider; the illness angle wasn't revving me up like their horse-flirting interactions.)

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  • It Chapter Two

    It Chapter Two

    ★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    Stephen King makes a cameo in It: Chapter Two as an antique dealer in Derry, Maine. Although the sequel makes numerous jokes about grown up Bill (James McAvoy) being a popular horror author who can't find the right endings to his books—seemingly an obvious self-aware dig with King's counting-his-money blessing—but it's the antique setting that's actually most appropriate for King. Because It: Chapter Two is a too faithful adaptation of King's work it not only carries the author's excessive busyness,…

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    Bohemian Rhapsody

    ★½

    When rock critics hear Queen’s improbable hit single “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the first time, Bryan Singer’s film (of the same name) flashes a bunch of dismissive critical quotes. One quote outstretches all the others and ends the sequence, that’s “perfectly adequate” and it perfectly describes the adequate rock biopic of aha musical moments, backstage drama, and 15-year reflections from backstage framing. But the problem is that where it isn't perfectly adequate and vanilla it's actually painfully safe and somewhat erasing,…