Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: MARRIAGE STORY (Netflix, no spoilers)

MARRIAGE STORY is Noah Baumbach’s best film. If you’ve been a long time reader of my reviews, or know me in person, I probably haven’t said too kind a word about most of Baumbach’s filmography including (but not limited to) Greenberg, Frances Ha, The Meyerowitz Stories or even the critically acclaimed The Squid And The Whale. I just thought his films were a little bit too quirky and they were trying to be quirky without being subtle with any of it, trying to shove it in your face and scream in your ear, “Hey, I’m a really quirky independent film, look how fucking quirky I am, you must love me because I’m different and quirky.” No, that shit doesn’t work for me. Marriage Story is his most real and down to Earth film, some parts being quirky, but they earn their quirkiness for being real and not shoving spoonfuls of it into your face. The dialogue is crisp, the acting is fucking phenomenal, both Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deserve to be nominated, and I would not raise one concern if they ended up winning. Marriage Story is actually a pretty great film. But I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever watch it again. Ever. Have I said ever?

Not to rip on the film, it’s trying to be as real as possible, and I appreciate that in the best way possible, but this film is so fucking hard to watch. And I can’t imagine how hard it is to watch for couples/individuals going through a divorce, already been divorced, thinking about divorce, right at the end of a divorce, fuck, even for people going through a small rough patch in their relationship/marriage. It really fucking feels real. Oh shit….did I forget to mention what the film is about? Well, the title is a little misleading isn’t it? The movie is called Marriage Story, but it’s really the story of a couple going through a divorce with a kid. And no, it doesn’t go through flashbacks with them to show their marriage through the years (that is done tastefully and authentically well represented through fantastic dialogue), it is just saying that divorce could be part of a story about marriage. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson’s characters are medium profile successful people. Driver’s a director who’s play that he co-developed with Johansson is about to launch on Broadway without her (because of the divorce) and she is a small time actress whose TV pilot got picked up to series, and she had a huge teen movie hit in her past. She moves to L.A. for the show and wants Henry to be with her. Driver wants to stay with his career in New York. They both want to do the divorce without lawyers, but suddenly she’s getting one, which forces him to get one…as you can see, it turns into a giant messy mess, which I’m guessing is what a lot of divorces are and what they do to people.

That’s all I’ll tell you about the story film. The film is a hefty 2 hrs and 15 minutes of just depressing sadness. But there isn’t a slow minute to be found. The dialogue is crisp, clean, interesting to hear, real and comes at you at rapid pace. There are some genuinely funny scenes that try and relieve you somewhat of the trauma these two are going into but don’t be fooled, this movie is a straight one way ticket to Depressed Town. The ending? Hopeful yet real yet still made me sad. It’s just a sad sad sad sad movie. And I think the reason it is so sad is because of the acting and that these characters seem like people you might know in your own lives. Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson deserve all the acting nods and possible awards they are going to get in this. They are absolutely fucking incredible, the best performances I’ve seen from either of them, and Scarlett was fantastic in JoJo Rabbit just a month ago as well, Driver great in The Report on Amazon Prime. I love how the film paints neither as a bad guy, they are just wanting something different out of their lives, and think that this divorce will finally un-tether a cord that has long been frayed. The movie doesn’t choose sides at all. It chooses a side on certain situations, but these two characters aren’t despicable or ugly or mean, or unforgivable. They are just normal people.

Other fantastic performances include the always amazing Laura Dern and the fiesty Ray Liotta, who play their lawyers. Very good bit parts for them. Marriage Story is an excellent film. I can’t even deny it. There was hard work in writing it I’m sure, and hard work in directing it as Noah Baumbach has stated he took some of what happened with his divorce with Jennifer Jason Leigh into account with this story. It’s very well made and Netflix was very smart into picking this up for their platform. This did not need to be a theatrical release as I think the subject matter wouldn’t have people flocking to the theaters. It’s a perfect little awards film. But I don’t think I could get through it again with how fucking sad and depressing it is. Am I recommending it? If the subject matter doesn’t bother you at all, then I say you absolutely give it a watch. People that cry during movies a lot? No. Depressed individuals? Are…are you kidding? Happy couples or people in a happy marriage? Well, I mean, sure as long as you don’t think it is going to start exposing the little shit layer by layer and then you end up pausing the movie and fighting yourselves. People going through or have been through a divorce? As Leo said in The Wolf Of Wall Street, “Absolutely fucking not.”


Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE REPORT (Amazon Prime)

None of my theaters had a great late evening show of Queen & Slim, and add to that a bit of Abuelo’s food poisoning, and I didn’t end up seeing that (but will this week), and instead caught up with a new movie that was just released on Amazon Prime called THE REPORT, starring Adam Driver. In the vein of Spotlight and the also recent Dark Waters, The Report details one man’s quest for the truth when investigating into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. Needless to say if you cover politics heavily or are familiar with these events, this man discovers some shocking secrets indeed. This isn’t an action film or even really a thriller, it is very dialogue heavy, but don’t worry, the screenplay is very tight, giving the audience all the main important information needed and in a way everyone over the age of 18 could probably understand. Some of these filmmakers in Hollywood really want ordinary citizens to know the truth of what went on behind the scenes of some of the most famous debacles in history, and they fear (and rightly so) the only way to do so is turn it into a feature length film, but hopefully entertaining enough so no one is nodding off at home streaming it. Hell, they’re right. I wouldn’t have searched into this if there wasn’t this movie telling me all this shit that went down. They also did their due diligence with this film: I did not get sleepy once, and I watched it pause free until the end credits.

With Adam Driver being in everything under the sun this past year, from Star Wars, to Marriage Story, to this, to other shit I’ve probably forgotten about, how in the hell did he have time to film this? Well, considering the fact that there isn’t that many locations shown during the movie and it’s basically him in a room looking over paperwork for half of it and then in his boss’ office for the other half, I’d say this took no more than two weeks to film. But no matter, I didn’t expect an actioner, I expected an informative film to keep my eye lids open and on my tippy-toes, provided that the movie also delivered with the acting. It did, as Adam Driver is again at the top of his game, throwing some semblance of a conscience into the proceedings when his character is told time and again not to make the investigation personal. There are other actors in this as well, such as Corey Stoll, Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall, and Annette Bening, but they are all just window dressing to Driver’s building, which was fine, because the movie would’ve made a mistake if it focused on anybody other than him.

The movie is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, who is more of a screenplay writer than he is a director. I think this is his first big feature to flex his directing muscles. He’s definitely an actors director and would make a solid one moving forward if he stuck to the informative projects he’s been involved with. He also wrote The Informant!, Contangion, Side Effects, The Bourne Ultimatum. Don’t really see him ever directing an action-er considering a lot of this film was just point and shoot but am willing to give him a chance considering he’s a very strong writer and knows what he’s doing. I am not going to dive into my own opinion of these torture reports and my view on politics as A. I don’t want any of you political afficianados ripping me a new one if I don’t see eye to eye with you and B. I need to stick with my view on movies, as that is what I love to do and what I think I’m good at talking/writing about. And as a movie, The Report was shocking, informative, entertaining, with very impressive dialogue, impressive acting and an impressive way to get this vast amount of information (we are told the initial report is 7,000 pages long) into just a 2 hr film. Gets a solid B+ from me, a good report indeed.