Tag Archives: Ryan Eggold

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) Review

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Never Rarely Sometimes Always

Time: 101 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Sidney Flanigan as Autumn
Talia Ryder as Skylar
Théodore Pellerin as Jasper
Ryan Eggold as Ted
Sharon Van Etten as Mother
Director: Eliza Hittman

Faced with an unintended pregnancy and a lack of local support, Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) and her cousin, Skylar (Talia Ryder), travel across state lines to New York City on a fraught journey of friendship, bravery and compassion.

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I only knew a little bit about Never Rarely Sometimes Always. I heard that the plot had something to do with a teenager who is travelling somewhere to get an abortion, and that a lot of people have been calling it one of the best movies of the year. Really didn’t know what to expect going into it but it’s quite great and one of the more surprising movies from 2020.

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First of all, you should know going into Never Rarely Sometimes Always that it has a slow pace. It did have my attention throughout its 100 minute runtime however. It’s also a movie that’s not that so focused on dialogue, there’s definitely dialogue but a lot less than you’d expect. The movie makes a lot of use out of silence and it ends up speaking volumes by saying little. It really does tell a story through subtext and silence, from the character’s actions, the performances and the direction. As a result of this subtle approach, it actually makes the movie feel all the more real. The director resists going all in on unwelcome melodrama or larger ‘dramatic’ and overtly emotional moments, and instead focused attention more on feeling and being natural. It’s quite empathetic and honest too, and ends up being very powerful. The highlight of the whole movie was a scene where the title Never Rarely Sometimes Always actually is brought up, I won’t reveal the context of the movie. In terms of flaws there weren’t many, but I did want more development and characterisation of the leads. With that said, it’s a subtle movie so more might be picked up on a second viewing, and it is the sort of movie where you deliberately aren’t given the full context of everything, or know for sure why certain characters do what they do.

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The acting is great from everyone but ultimately it comes down to its two leads with Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder who are both impressive in their roles as cousins, who are going on this trip to get Flanigan’s character an abortion. The first time performance from Flanigan was particularly fantastic, and it’s among the best from 2020. Both performances are subtle and powerful, the two of them really do feel like friends and cousins on their journey together. The direction deserves credit with regard to the performances too, especially with how natural and genuine they felt. The subtle approach to the story also goes towards the acting, with the performances saying a lot without needing to actually say much, or even anything.

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Eliza Hittman is the director of this movie, and having seen her work here, I do want to check out her other movies now. Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a brilliant exercise in visual storytelling. The whole movie feels incredibly authentic from the sets to the sound and the lack of music for the most part. The simple yet effective cinematography and camerawork plays a big part too, especially with the choices of what to focus and linger on. An example is that prior scene I mentioned where the title comes into play in the movie. In that scene, most of the camera is just watching Sidney Flanigan’s face and expressions, and that was so effective and powerful. The decision not to cut away often just added so much to that scene.

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Never Rarely Sometimes Always is a raw, nuanced and powerful movie, it’s incredibly directed, and is fantastically acted by its leads. I do think that you sort of need to know what to expect going into it, and the slow pacing and the more quieter approach to the whole movie might turns some people off. However, I think that it’s definitely a movie you should see, and it’s among the best movies released in 2020.

BlacKKKlansman (2018) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language, sexual references & content that may disturb
Cast:
John David Washington as Detective Ron Stallworth
Adam Driver as Detective Flip Zimmerman
Laura Harrier as Patrice Dumas
Topher Grace as David Duke
Jasper Pääkkönen as Felix Kendrickson
Ryan Eggold as Walter Breachway
Paul Walter Hauser as Ivanhoe
Director: Spike Lee

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington), an African-American police officer from Colorado, successfully manages to infiltrate the local Ku Klux Klan with the help of a white surrogate (Adam Driver), who eventually becomes head of the local branch.

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BlacKKKlansman is a movie I had been hearing about for a while: a black police officer successfully infiltrates the KKK is definitely a memorable premise with potential. With that premise and Spike Lee helming it, it looks like it could be something fantastic, and it certainly is that and more. However it still surprised me at how phenomenal it turned out to be. Excellent in its writing, acting and direction, BlacKKKlansman is entertaining, masterfully done and really is an essential viewing, and one of the best films of 2018.

I was entertained and interested in BlacKKKlansman. As far as accuracy goes, while I’m not certain, from what I can tell I think most of it is accurate, save for certain aspects that have been changed (like Laurie Harrier playing a character based on multiple real people) to benefit the movie overall. This movie does have a lot of comedy, as to be expected with a premise about a black man infiltrating the KKK. One of the best things about BlacKKKlansman is that it knows how absurd and insane it is, it pokes fun at the things that happened (such as the fact that the lead character, Ron Stallworth used his own name when contacting the KKK instead of using a fake name). However at the same time it takes things very seriously. The scenes of tension, mostly consisting of whether or not the KKK will realise that they have been duped, are really done well. One criticism that I know a lot of people will have is the lack of any subtlety. Spike Lee is known for not being the most subtle of directors, and BlacKKKlansman is not really any different, however I do think it really works very well here. A lot of the absurd things that happens, really did happen, so it’s not like Spike exaggerated a ton of stuff for entertainment or anything. Also, it’s impossible to be subtle about a lot of what happens here, especially with everything that has been going on nowadays. And in case you haven’t figured it out earlier, yes, BlacKKKlansman is a very political movie, there’s a reason why this movie was released a year after Charlottesville. There are reminders throughout the movie amongst the comedy that what happened here is real and it’s not afraid to delve deep into the unpleasantness of what happened/is happening. There are some direct references between what happens here to what happens in present day, no a lot of them aren’t subtle but it’s hard to be subtle with all this. The ending is going to be a topic of discussion, without delving deep into it (it’s not really a spoiler), it connects things to real life. A lot of people are not going to like it but even though you could cut it out and the movie would still work, I feel it was warranted because it takes you right back to reality in an incredibly sobering way. It leaves you with an absolutely shocked reaction, reminding you that no matter that Ron Stallworth duped the David Duke and how fun the ride was watching it, we aren’t done with racism and bigotry today. BlacKKKlansman is sure to provoke a lot of controversy and discussion.

John David Washington plays Ron Stallworth, and he did a great job. He has such a great amount of charisma (yes there are times where you can really see a lot of his father Denzel in him) and gives everything to this role. One interesting aspect is when it comes to him being a cop and black at the same time, and how that can result in some conflicts sometimes. This is particularly apparent when it comes to his interactions with Laurie Harrier, who is also good in her role. Harrier plays an amalgamation of different people but in the movie she’s the president of the black student union, and there is a bit of conflict between them regarding cops, because of course with racist cops abusing black people, and it was an interesting dynamic to watch. Also, the film doesn’t give a definite answer whether black people being cops is right or not, it shows the debate and allows the audience to decide for themselves. Adam Driver is also good as the white police officer who meets with the KKK in person acting as Ron Stallworth, who’s more reluctant to get involved with it than Ron. Driver proves himself to be once again one of the best actors working today. Topher Grace plays David Duke, the grand wizard of the KKK and you don’t see a ton of him but he was great. He seems so unassuming and seemingly charismatic on a surface level, yet he is shown to be clearly reprehensible. Portraying such a person is not easy and as uncomfortable as it was, Grace pulled it off really well. The other Klansman members, played by actors like Jaspar Pääkkönen, Ryan Eggold and Paul Walter Hauser are also great in their roles. Other actors like Michael Buscemi and Corey Hawkins are also good in their roles as well.

Spike Lee really does a fantastic job at setting the movie in the time period, with the costumes, production design, locations, music and more, the movie feels right in the late 70s. His style, direction and the editing really added to this movie incredibly well, and that shouldn’t be overlooked. The editing in particular should be praised, it led to some great sequence. For example there is one instance where they cut between scenes of the KKK and the black rights movement in the third act and it was really effective and impactful.

BlacKKKlansman is funny, shocking, important, entertaining, gripping, and all around fantastic. All the acting, direction and writing come together to bring a great movie and one of Spike Lee’s best (and that’s a lot considering some of the films that he’s made). BlacKKKlansman is not just one of the best movies of 2018, it might actually end up being the best so far.