This Is a Movie Review: ‘All I See is You’ is a Sensuous Feast Hobbled by an Inconsequential Narrative

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CREDIT: Roland Neveu/Open Road Films

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Blake Lively, Jason Clarke, Danny Huston, Ahna O’Reilly, Wes Chatham, Miquel Fernández

Director: Marc Forster

Running Time: 110 Minutes

Rating: R for Sex Ranging From Passionate to Frustrated to Illicit to Voyeuristic

Release Date: October 27, 2017 (Moderate)

A couple is in the throes of passion, nearing climax. The woman is blind, but that does not mean she lacks vision entirely. For her, this moment is like a kaleidoscope of rapture, the embrace between her and her husband replicated throughout her entire field of perception. It is a euphoric start for All I See is You, whose aesthetic ambitions far outstrip its narrative ones.

Gina (Blake Lively, rarely better) is the victim of an accident that stripped her of her eyesight. Her husband James (Jason Clarke) has remained a steady presence during her time of darkness. The part of her brain meant to interpret the work of her eyes is still working, so instead of pitch black, she is treated to a constant laser light show. For about the first half hour, director Marc Forster and his design team revel in the opportunities to render the subjective experience of blindness in cinematic terms. But then, her doctor (Huston) promises a procedure to restore her sight, which proves to be a liability for both the film’s creativity and Gina and James’ relationship. Despite how trustworthy as his character is meant to be, it goes to show you that anyone played by Danny Huston cannot help but be ominous.

With Gina on the road to a full recovery, the film takes a swerve into a dour drama about love on the rocks, and not a very interesting one. James proves to be too prudish and unadventurous for Gina, but the real problem is his controlling nature. It was easier when he could be the steady hand when she was blind, but now he is practically useless. It does not help that they are struggling to have a baby, with James likely lashing out due to his own impotence. There is perhaps a story worth exploring here about how this relationship was kept afloat by a disability, but any conclusions drawn therein are rather vague. Besides, it feels pointless to even bother what themes the film is trying to touch on here (something about voyeurism?) when it abandons its best feature way too quickly.

All I See is You is Recommended If You Like: Terrence Malick-ian visuals, Leaving 30 minutes after the movie starts

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Lasers

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Marshall’ is an Electric Portrait of the Supreme Court Justice as a Young NAACP Defense Lawyer

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CREDIT: Barry Wetcher/Open Road Films

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Josh Gad, Sterling K. Brown, Kate Hudson, James Cromwell, Dan Stevens, Ahna O’Reilly

Director: Reginald Hudlin

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for the Dangers of Being And/Or Defending a Black Man in Mid-Century America

Release Date: October 13, 2017 (Moderate)

I almost feel like it is my Professional Critical Duty to take Marshall to task for its most straightforward biopic tendencies. In that vein, while Marcus Miller’s jazzy score that just won’t quit is agreeably toe-tapping, it does indeed make it consistently clear when you are supposed to feel angry, or concerned, or shocked, or stirred to pride. But I can live with one element being on the nose, especially if it is enjoyable in and of itself. Besides, Marshall mostly sidesteps biopic clichés (save for one silly moment of epiphany). It only just superficially feels cliché because justice prevails so rousingly. But it deserves to prevail because its subject is kind of one of the best lawyers in American history.

Reginald Hudlin’s film wisely opts for the surest path to biopic success, i.e., focusing on one chapter in the subject’s life. In 1940, more than two decades before he ascended to the U.S. Supreme Court, and twelve years before he argued before that same court in Brown v. Board of Education, Thurgood Marshall (Chadwick Boseman) was a lawyer working for the NAACP, whose mission was to represent wrongfully accused African Americans across the country. One of those wrongfully accused was Joseph Spell (Sterling K. Brown, cast both for and against his type of commonly decent men), a driver for a wealthy Connecticut family on trial for raping the woman he works for (Kate Hudson). Marshall’s co-counsel is insurance lawyer Sam Friedman (Josh Gad), but since Sam is the only one certified to practice law in the state, only he and not Thurgood can speak during the trial, thanks to the ruling of a possibly racist or perhaps just frustratingly strict judge (James Cromwell).

Marshall is not out to score liberal brownie points, though it could easily settle for that. What it is more interested in, and what makes it so valuable, is examining why systems and social norms exist, and exploiting them for the best possible solution. A man like Joseph can find himself unfairly fighting for his life not just because he is black, but also because he is not entirely innocent. He has been guilty of unfaithfulness, petty theft, and absentee parenting. None of this makes him a rapist, but it is the conflation of all crimes that has been used and continues to be used as faux justification for the endurance of institutional racism. Marshall the film, and Marshall the man, say that yes, there is racism here, but there’s more to it than that. When it comes down to it, judge, jury, and opposing counsel are all people, and they can be appealed to if you know how to wield the truth properly and effectively, and are willing to take a few shots from those who aren’t ready yet.

Marshall is Recommended If You Like: To Kill a Mockingbird, Conviction, Selma, 42

Grade: 3.5 out of 5 Pebbles