Oscar contenders make strong debut




Tragedy meets comedy in Tonya Harding biopic “I, Tonya”

Witness the tragic life of Tonya Harding being transformed into a comedy in “I,Tonya.” Through the sit down interview style which depicts Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding reflecting on her rough and tumble upbringing, you gain a sense of love and protection for Tonya. It is fairly possible that the Harding Robbie is portraying is glossy and victimized, but the stellar performance provided makes you completely disregard that.

Robbie makes the viewer feel everything Tonya Harding was supposedly subjected throughout her life. Through scenes on glory and failure it is difficult not to root for her, even after she supposedly orchestrated the bashing of her competitors knee.

Oh and that’s another fabulous directing decision, while Kerrigan is shown she never actually speaks. I’m being dead serious, she does not utter a single line in the entirety of the film.
The spotlight is completely on Tonya and it makes me happy to see her shine in the limelight after over two whole decades of disgrace.

The in character interview style of directing in I, Tonya is novel for a biopic and provides the plot and character with a great deal of dimension making it all the more enthralling to watch.

The interviews are actual transcriptions of Gillooly and Harding’s own words, just read off by Robbie and Stan. This decision is in much better taste than just keeping the original interviews, it allows for the breaking of the third wall mid-script and intensifies the comedic factor among all the tragedy and pity.

The humorous outlook Tonya has on her rough past is what defines “I, Tonya” as a comedy and of course the outrageous portrayal of her accused abusers, such as LaVona Harding played by Allison Janney. Janney takes on the rough around the edges character with an extreme lack of grace and it is perfect for LaVona.

It is unlikely she is seen without a clove cigarette in hand or dropping an f-bomb in every other sentence. This is all apart of her charm and exactly why she steals every scene she’s in.

Of course the telling of Tonya Harding can’t occur without Jeff Gillooly who is even given his own perception of how he remembers his relationship with Tonya leading up to and following the takeout of Nancy Kerrigan’s knee.

Sebastian Stan plays Gillooly as a meek and timid character through his own account and rampid abuser through Tonya’s. Stan takes the dichotomy of his character and plays one Jeff just as perfectly as the other.

Tough I,Tonya is nearly perfect I have a problem with the great deal of character development and backstory in the first half and how absolutely nothing is done with it in the second. The pacing is fast and not bad but not exactly great either, the middle, which is pretty much the main focus of the film, just seems to lag and lose poignancy.


Great performances, directorial vision make “Call Me by Your Name” a masterpiece

Just to lay all my cards on the table, “Call Me by Your Name” is on the same shelf as “There Will Be Blood”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Spirited Away” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. It’s one of the greatest films of the 21st century and a true cinematic achievement.

Centered around 17 year-old Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet), the film tackles the narrative heft of first love as our protagonist becomes infatuated with 24 year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), a doctoral student that has come to work with Elio’s father for the summer of 1983. When Elio discovers that his feelings are mutual, their secret love affair begins.

Both Elio and Oliver combat their sexual identity in a way that is genuine. The time period, however, doesn’t play as big a role in their struggle as religion does.

The characters truly have an incredible relatability in this film and none of their traits are lazily thrown together for the sake of moving a plot along. Although Elio might know about everything from literature to classical music, he’s emotionally clueless. His cluelessness paired with Oliver’s ultra suave personality make for unrivaled chemistry as they riff off each other’s weaknesses.

The chemistry gets even better with great performances from both Chalamet and Hammer. Chalamet in particular as he exudes a sense of accessible naivety while switching between Italian, French and English sometimes all in the same scene.

Screenwriter James Ivory’s script doesn’t hit every turn and twist when it needs to, and in the time of cookie cutter three act structures this makes the picture all the more enjoyable to watch. For over an hour a slow (I mean slow) burn persists as the two main characters make unsure advances toward one another.

When everything comes together it felt like every moment was escaping me I wanted every scene to be an entire feature in and of itself but it couldn’t be. On first viewing I thought this was basically just manipulative, but on the second viewing I realized that this was truly masterful filmmaking.

Director Luca Guadagnino brings you into this world with these characters, making you feel as they do. You want every moment of their love to last, but it can’t.

An amazing narrative and performances aren’t the extent of Call Me by Your Name’s beauty though. the music, cinematography and production design also shine. The lovely production values amplify the emotions present in the movie.

“Call Me by Your Name” practically wrecked me, leaving me thinking about the film for days after my first and second viewings. It acts with enough conviction to not give you the emotion release you want as it gut punches you with one devastating scene after another.