Thursday, January 24, 2019

Stan & Ollie plus Short Takes about At Eternity's Gate

                Old Masters at Twilight Time

                                                 Reviews by Ken Burke

                        Stan & Ollie (Jon S. Baird)   rated PG
Executive Summary” (no spoilers): Here we have a biography of the famous comic team of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy who began their collaboration in the last days of silent film, then went on to continue/expand their success in the first decades of the sound era, earning universal acclaim for the building-complexity of their onscreen routines.  However, most of what we see here details a tour of Great Britain and Ireland in 1953 where they were in the process of reviving their fading careers by recreating some of their famous movie routines on stage, in the process keeping their faces before the public in anticipation of what they hoped would be a new movie for them, based on the legend of Robin Hood.  While they were still able to revive their old slapstick magic for live audiences their personal lives were growing more tense, based on mutual “sins” they committed against each other back in the late 1930s which we’re introduced to in the opening scenes of this film.  The performances of Steve Coogan as Laurel, John C. Reilly as Hardy are astounding in the way they capture the appearance, vocalizations, personalities of their subjects, a reason to seek this out even if you have marginal interest in the (admittedly) old-school-approach to cinematic comedy (with a lot of physical silliness); however, it’s not playing in many movie theaters so look for it quickly now or take note for a later retrieval from various video queues.

Here’s the trailer:  (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)

If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who’d like to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify such give-away sentences/sentence-clusters thusly: 
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.

What Happens: Opening graphics tell us what huge international stars Stan Oliver (Steve Coogan) and Oliver Hardy (John C. Reilly) were in 1937, successfully transitioning from silent shorts into sound features with their antic physical comedy—both of them getting bopped around in all manner of normally-painful-situations (which kept people laughing because—just like Wile E. Coyote in the later Warner Bros. Roadrunner cartoons who constantly suffered all manner of assault on his body but never even showed ruffled fur in the next scene—however much slam-bang occurred in their scenarios they never seemed to suffer any real agony from it) as well as the verbal humor of their banter, usually consisting of insults from Hardy, deflecting nonchalance from Laurel (I’m filling all this in; those opening intertitles don’t go into any such detail)—which was marvelous for their audiences and their dominating producer, Hal Roach (Danny Huston), but not so much financially for them (Stan was especially aware of the discrepancy they faced in terms of money and creative independence compared to Charlie Chaplin who was running his own studio by then) because Roach staggered the lengths of their contracts so both of them wouldn’t be in a position to seek employment elsewhere, encouraged to stay together for their continued success (as well as their loyalty to each other, having worked as a team for so long).  Hardy especially needed a steady stream of income, having to make alimony payments to 2 ex-wives while gambling away a good bit of other cash at the horse races.  During this early portion of the narrative we see them filming what would become their beloved dance routine (photo above) from Way Out West (James W. Horne, 1937) along with a brief look at how what we saw in the studio (everything in color except the black & white rear-projection of an old west town behind them) looked in final form to an audience watching the finished movie.  During this period we also see Stan refusing to renew his contract, trying to put pressure on Roach to cut the duo a better deal, but it just leads to Ollie going along with the status quo, attempting to make Zenobia (Gordon Douglas, 1939) with Harry Langdon (Richard Cant)—another holdover from the silent comedy days—in Stan’s place (it was a flop, bringing Laurel back to Roach, although we learn later he carried a hidden animosity toward Hardy for betraying their partnership by agreeing to be part of that brief, misbegotten new-team-concept).

 With the preceding situations in place (in much briefer form than I’ve been able to condense), we spend the bulk of this film’s 97 min. running time in 1953 when Laurel and Hardy had made few movies for quite awhile (replaced on screen by more contemporary routines of Abbott and Costello; Stan stops on a street once to stare quietly at one of their posters) but think they’ve got one in the works about Robin Hood (Stan’s writing the script during any spare time he has; we get the idea he was the creative force behind all of their routines, with Ollie simply doing—quite effectively—what he was told), so in order to keep themselves and their wives (Stan with Ida Kitaeva Laurel [Nina Arianda], a Russian who’ll tell anyone in earshot how she also used to have a career as a dancer back in the 1920s [Stan married her in 1946, had 4 other wives before her not noted in this script, despite the inclusion of Ollie’s 2 divorces]; Ollie with Lucille Hardy [Shirley Henderson], a former script girl at the Roach Studio) in material comfort they agree to do a tour of stage theatres throughout Scotland, England, and Ireland, revisiting old bits from their hit movies.  When they arrive in the Isles, though, they find tour manager Bernard Delfont’s (Rufus Jones) got them staying in cheap hotels, playing in small venues to half-empty-houses because their appearances haven’t been promoted well enough.  After agreeing to do various publicity stunts to drum up audience attention their shows become more successful, although as the tour makes its way toward London Stan’s having increasing trouble getting contact in that city with their proposed movie’s producer so when they finally do arrive Stan barges into the man’s office, insisting on a meeting.  Well, the guy’s not even there, but his associate finally admits there just isn’t enough interest in a new Laurel and Hardy picture for financing so the deal’s off, but Stan can’t bring himself to tell Ollie, instead continues working on new bits for their supposed project.  By this time, the wives have arrived to join them, they’re all staying at the ritzy Savoy Hotel, with a hugely successful opening night of their residency at the Lyceum Theatre.  At the post-show-party, though, tensions over past grievances erupt (especially Laurel’s simmering anger about how Hardy didn’t work with him to get them a better mutual contract), they argue, Ollie and Lucille storm off.  The show must go on, though, so at another publicity event where they’re to announce the winner of a beauty contest Ollie suffers a heart attack with the doctor telling him to not get on stage again (a bad knee and increased obesity over the years haven’t helped him either) at which point Ollie decides to retire, leaving Stan with the choice of continuing the act using a popular English comedian in Hardy’s place (putting him in the same situation he was so upset about regarding Ollie's "traitorous" Zenobia those many years ago).

 Before the revised act takes place, though, Stan visits Ollie, they mutually apologize for the hurtful things they said at the after-show-party, so when the new opening night comes around Stan has a change of heart, refusing to go on.  The show’s cancelled that night with Stan prepared to end the tour, return to the U.S.; he’s in the process of packing to leave when Ollie comes to his hotel room convincing Stan he’s ready to go on to Ireland for the final series of dates.  They arrive to a grand welcome, although during the first performance we’re given reason to worry because backstage during a brief interlude Ollie looks like he’s about to collapse again yet he manages to carry on, to the point of surprising Stan at the end of the act when—instead of singing "Trail Of The Lonesome Pine" (another famous part of their Way Out West heritage) which they’d been doing rather than dance in deference to Ollie’s bad knee—Hardy quietly insists he can handle the dance (which he does), of course to a final rousing ovation.  (On the trip to Ireland, Stan finally admitted there’ll be no Robin Hood movie, which Ollie acknowledged he’d already surmised but didn’t say anything because continuing to rehearse possible “business” is what gave meaning to their lives.)   Ending intertitles just before the credits tell us this tour was their last public performance together, with Oliver’s health never improving all that much prior to his death in 1957; Stanley lived until 1965, continuing to write sketches for them, despite the reality of their careers essentially reaching an end those many years before.⇐  The credits feature photos from the actual Laurel and Hardy 1953 tour.

So What? As with the film to be reviewed below, At Eternity’s Gate about Vincent van Gogh (another well-known-figure with plenty of information and images you can quickly find for free), you really don’t need to go to a movie theater to see a biography of the last years of the classic comedy team of Laurel and Hardy because there’s so much information easily available about them, clips or full movies of their routines easily found on YouTube or other sources (with The Music Box [James Parrott, 1932] often cited as one of their best because of the slapstick structure of several unsuccessful attempts to move a piano up a steep flight of stairs [you can see various versions of it; the official run time is about 29 min., but here's a short clip of the action before the chaos fully builds, oddly enough in a squeezed format from its original 4x3 ratio]); however, just because you can find other sources about this well-regarded-cinematic-comic-duo (I’m sure you could get arguments about their superiority in comparison to Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, but for me they [along with the larger troupe of the Marx Brothers] define what wacky physical/verbal comedy’s all about as a team [the singular accomplishments of Chaplin and Buster Keaton open up an entirely different discussion, especially the situation of creating/directing your own material instead of being under the control of movie-studio-assembly-line-managers]—including the documentary I’ve noted in the second reference for this film in my Related Links section much farther below), that shouldn’t prevent you from seeking out this marvelously-heartwarming-story even if you know nothing at all about Laurel and Hardy (hopefully what you’ll see here will give you some appreciation for their approach to humor—if the slapstick’s not too annoying, even if it is just fake, momentary pain).  However, unless the venues devoted to it notably increase in the very near future, you’ll probably just have to wait for video release because it’s now down to only 84 domestic (U.S.-Canada) theaters after 4 weeks, so its paltry $808 thousand gross isn’t likely to encourage numerous additional options.  If you do locate it somehow, somewhere, someday, though, I hope you’ll be touched by the true depth of caring these 2 men felt for each other (in a purely platonic manner), even when that sincere love born over decades of working constantly with each other is strained by personal choices that privately embittered them.  (You can even get a sense of this in an interview with Coogan and Reilly where the connection developed between these actors begins to mirror the professional/personal rapport of those men they portray.)

Bottom Line Final Comments: Speaking of these actors brings me to the other chief reason I encourage anyone to see this film, which is to admire/appreciate the enormous talent Coogan and Reilly bring to these roles providing an engaging viewing experience even if you don’t know the specifics of Laurel and Hardy’s lives or the bygone era they lived in (just as you might not care about the sordid details of van Gogh’s final months in At Eternity’s Gate, but you can marvel at the quiet passion Willem Dafoe brings to his embodiment of this artist).  I encourage you, if necessary, to familiarize yourself with the screen presence of the actual Laurel and Hardy through the various clip options I’ve noted so far, then compare the amazing transformations of these current-day-actors in inhabiting this famous duo's screen-personas (with accompanying, oft-contrasting private lives, especially where Stan’s concerned).  While critical consensus has been very supportive of the film as a whole (Rotten Tomatoes reviews show a 92% positive trend, Metacritic responses are at a not-unusually-lower-for-them 75% average score), the focus of awards groups so far has been on John C. Reilly who’s been nominated by several critics’ groups as Best Actor (specifically in a comedy for the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards and the even-more-prestigious Golden Globes), winning at this point for the Boston Society of Film Critics and the San Diego Film Critics Society, while Coogan’s been nominated as Best Actor only for the British Independent Film Awards.  However, despite how well both of them brought their subjects to life (topped for me in this regard only by Christian Bale’s magnificent transformation into Dick Cheney in Vice [Adam McKay; review in our January 19, 2019 posting—a rare 4 ½ stars for me]), along with the plausible appearance of Hardy under an enormous load of fatty-prosthetics which Reilly commands quite well, I’m still moved even more by the fierce determination of Stan Laurel as embodied by Steve Coogan to keep this fading team together, until the point of breakdown followed by sincere reconciliation.  For me, Coogan’s among my top 5 Best Actors of 2018 (with Bale as #1; more on that in a future posting), as hard as it was to leave Reilly and Dafoe out of that group.  What’s not hard to do, though, is skew my usual review-finisher of a Musical Metaphor into territory trying to best appreciate what Laurel and Hardy were exploring in their cinematic careers without literally evoking the content of Stan & Ollie (say, with their "The Dance of the Cuckoos" theme song), so with that intent I give you the official music video for Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” (from his 1986 Graceland album) at bA where I ask you to ignore the lyrics in relation to this film, concentrating instead on the comic pantomime of Simon and Chevy Chase, which in its own silly way has a sense of that “Trail of the Lonesome Pine” video cited earlier.  Sometimes what makes the most sense is just pure nonsense.

 Before moving on to the countryside of late 19th-century France, though, I have to make one more mention of a Laurel & Hardy-related-anecdote involving my marvelous wife, Nina, because while I often mention her in these reviews this is a situation that’s direct to the topic instead of being tangential.  One recurring aspect of their work is at some point after something had developed into the usual situation of calamity Ollie would turn to Stan, saying “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into” (even though the mishaps usually had nothing to do with Stan’s character explicitly but Ollie’s character frequently tried to divert blame from himself for any pickle the boys encountered).  With Nina, though, it was a matter of humor in the midst of true tragedy (not the fake violence of Laurel and Hardy [or the later extremes of ongoing-onscreen-cruelty-for-its-own-sake with the Three Stooges]) because many years ago (before we met) as a friend was driving her to a wedding reception (in broad daylight) a speeding drunk slammed into the passenger side of their car seriously injuring Nina in the process, although she was fortunate to recover after a lengthy rehab (problems with her back continue to bother her today).  Yet, in the moment of the collision, as she regained consciousness her body surging with pain-restricting-endorphins, she tells me she turned to her friend, saying “That’s another fine mess you’ve got us into, Ollie.” (I think given the circumstances she can be forgiven for reversing the roles [maybe she subconsciously decided it was time for such, as Stan did occasionally]—or, as she admits now, maybe she only thought that to herself [hard to be sure in her mental state at the time].)  Real-life-ironies also add a touch of dark humor to this potentially-morbid-situation as the only way Nina got any financial compensation to help with her recovery process was to sue her friend for not seeing the oncoming car while entering the intersection (she was somewhat successful, despite the insurance company claiming her spinal injuries were congenital) so their friendship ended long before the duration of Laurel and Hardy’s careers, while the drunk would have gotten away scot-free because he refused a blood alcohol test and there weren’t sufficient skid marks on the pavement to justify the reality he was speeding (he did get charged with attempted assault on a police officer, though).  Fortunately, Nina’s still with us, but it’s amazing how aspects of life and art interact, allowing us to laugh at the misfortunes of others on screen when any of us may be just a split-second away from real tragedy changing everything we’ve ever known (as with a main character becoming a quadriplegic after a paragliding accident in The Upside [Neil Burger; review in our January 16, 2019 posting]).  Moral:  Keep your sense of humor but always be aware of the thin line between joy and sorrow possibly awaiting you. 
(as always, intended as) SHORT TAKES (despite longer actuality) 
(please note that spoilers also appear here)

At Eternity’s Gate (Julian Schnabel)   rated PG-13

A biography of painter Vincent van Gogh directed by another painter, so in many ways the cinematic style intends to capture the proto-Expressionist sense of this Dutch master’s art (disruptive as that may be at times) while probing the fragile mental state of this rejected-in-his-own-time-genius, an Oscar-nominated performance from Willem Dafoe.

Here’s the trailer:

       Before reading any further, I’ll ask you to refer to the plot spoilers warning far above.

 Why, you might reasonably ask, do we need another cinematic portrait of Vincent van Gogh?  (As a now-infrequent-painter myself, as well as a great admirer of this visionary-Post-Impressionist, I also asked this question, especially because it’s not been that long since we were treated to the marvelous Loving Vincent [Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, 2017; review in our October 26, 2017 posting], 1 of only 2 contemporary films to earn my 5-stars-rating in the 7+ years of this blog—the other, an adaptation of August Wilson’s play, Fences [Denzel Washington, 2016; reviews in our January 4 and 12, 2017 postings]exploring whether van Gogh committed suicide or was murdered, with each of its 65,000 frames an oil painting done in Vincent’s unique style.)  After all, if you want biographical info along with reproductions of his prodigious output you could consult sources like this extensive one or the official site of his museum in Amsterdam (I’ve been there; it’s fabulous) or this Internet gallery, as well as a good number of such options easily found through cyberspace searches; still, director Schnabel (another painter, also the director of artist-biography Basquiat [1996], while his The Diving Bell and the Butterfly [2007] won several directing/best film awards [and extensive nominations] including from the Golden Globes and the Cannes Film Festival) offers his explanation of his attraction to this topic, discussing why certain paintings—in this case, the oeuvre of van Gogh—connect to a viewer, getting further into how this creative process for an artist also plays out for her/his audience (adding to this is actor Willem Dafoe's [who portrays Van Gogh here, winning the Volpi Cup as Best Actor as well as the film receiving the Green Drop Award {for environmental consciousness} and Dafoe sharing with Schnabel the Fondazione Mimmo Rotella Award {for artistry} at the 2018 Venice Film Festival] explanations about how actually making paintings on camera [with some training from the director] got him more appropriately into the role of van Gogh [Oscar nominators agreed, giving him a nod for Best Actor—more on certain aspects of those noms in my next posting, after I finally see Cold War {Powel Pawlkowski}, closing out my available catch-ups of notable 2018 releases]).  So, while I agree it’s not strictly necessary for another van Gogh bio to grace our screens, I’ll note Dafoe does an excellent job of portraying this visionary, suffering from both mental illness and social isolation, a man whose insights (and visual expressions) mostly eluded art patrons of his time, with possibly the saddest image of the film being his body laid out in a plain coffin surrounded by many of his paintings as neighborhood onlookers prowled through these works, taking a few as they departed.

 Regarding Schnabel’s artistry in At Eternity’s Gate (title taken from an 1890 van Gogh painting of an old man facing his mortality)—mostly exploring the final couple of years of this now-famous-Dutch-painter’s life in France (Arles 1888-’89, a mental-health-clinic in Saint-Rémy 1889-‘90, Auvers-sur-Oise 1890) before dying at age 37 during which time his output was amazing (hundreds of paintings and drawings in his bold style [with thick impasto paint on the canvases] confounding most of his contemporaries except like-minded-rebel Paul Gauguin [Oscar Isaac, shown above], whose singular friendship nurtured Vincent for a short time until Gauguin left Arles after a quarrel, leading in some manner to van Gogh’s infamous self-mutilation of his left ear [oddly enough, self-portraits show it as the right one—?] in response), although not accepted in the art marketplace of the time, requiring brother Theo (Rupert Friend) to continuously support Vincent with a monthly stipend—there’s clearly an attempt to recapture van Gogh’s sense of a singular vision, using a good number of extreme closeups; some hand-held-camera movements, which can get a bit dizzying; odd-if-not-fully-disorienting-angles at times; equally-odd shifts in dialogue from some French (with subtitles) to mostly English (for the benefit of probable target audiences as it’s unlikely anyone in these scenes would be speaking English at all) then unmotivated shifts back to a little French; plenty of landscape shots, reflecting frequent subjects of van Gogh’s works; as well as populating the film with Vincent’s paintings from his late period hung in his living quarters, showing how he surrounded himself with his own work (possibly as reassurance of his singular vision, more likely because he had nowhere else to put them, given their lack of sales) ⇒Through all of this we get a compelling sense of insight into the troubled mind of this lonely, rejected individual (attacked at one point by men in the street in Arles, seemingly because they interpreted his actions at trying to rid himself of harassing-youngsters as akin to molestation of their children; their actual assault leaves the essentially-innocent-victim in the hospital, visited/comforted by rapidly-arriving-from-Paris-Theo, always emotionally as well as financially supportive of his suffering sibling) who couldn’t even buy the companionship of women due to his paltry resources, seemingly every cent spent on paint and canvas.  Another definitive aspect of At Eternity’s Gate is Schnabel’s clear (although unelaborated) depiction of van Gogh being shot by a young assailant (who then oddly buries the painter’s possessions from his outdoor work that day before throwing the gun into a river), leaving none of the great ambiguity about van Gogh’s demise that drives the narrative of Loving Vincent.⇐

 In addition to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ recognition of Dafoe’s outstanding performance in this film (a close-but-not-final-choice for me in my top 5 Best Actor kudos for 2018 releases; my #5 for that group, Steve Coogan, noted in the review above; more details on such to come soon in a posting dealing with all the Oscar nominees), the critical consensus for At Eternity’s Gate is consistently supportive, with the RT positive reviews standing at 80%, the MC average score at a surprisingly-close 78%; however, such encouragement hasn’t translated into audience embrace as the film’s now down to 26 domestic theaters (from a high of 178) with a measly $2.2 million in gross receipts after 10 long weeks in release so unless Dafoe surprises everyone by winning that Best Actor Oscar (don’t count on it with the much-showier-competition from Christian Bale in Vice [Adam McKay; review in our January 10, 2018 posting—where it gets a rare-from-me-4½ stars], Rami Malek in Bohemian Rhapsody [Bryan Singer; review in our November 7, 2018 posting—he’s clearly the best thing in this movie], and Viggo Mortensen in Green Book [Peter Farrelly; review in our November 29, 2018 posting]) I’m sure At Eternity’s Gate will soon vanish into video-access-only, so if you’d like to indulge yourself with a heartfelt look at the final years of a self-driven-but-socially-ignored-artist (while in that mental hospital Vincent tells the priest [Mads Mikkelsen] responsible for granting his release: “Maybe God made me a painter for people who aren’t born yet” [How true!], along with noting Jesus Christ wasn’t known in his lifetime either: no mention in Roman records of the time despite his supposedly-miraculous-presence in occupied Israel/Palestine [I make no determination on what this ancient region should be called], with the priest choosing to address that latter statement at some later time)—or just want to see a marvelous collection of van Gogh’s striking images woven into this film—I encourage you to seek out At Eternity’s Gate sometime (although my cited links above serve much of that same purpose).

 As for a fine Musical Metaphor to put this review to rest, the obvious choice would be Don McLean’s "Vincent" (sometimes referred to by its opening line, “Starry Starry Night”; this link illustrates the song with many van Gogh paintings [I know; I’ve already offered what could be seen as an overwhelming coverage of such with those earlier links, but in my mind you can never get too many of these engaging images], showing how McLean’s lyrics are well-considered based on the painter’s wide range of beautiful works) from his 1971 American Pie album, which is relevant, but I used that already with Loving Vincent (yet, as it's one of the sweetest songs I’ve ever heard I thought it at least deserved a replay here), so I’ll officially shift from sad to defiant this time with Fleetwood Mac’s raucous “Go Your Own Way” (from 1977's Rumours album) 
at YcbJBtjgE (minimal video, solid audio; not always easy to find a live performance of this song with all 5 of the iconic members of the band in place due to their various departures/returns) because at his most frustrated I can imagine Vincent van Gogh bellowing (but surely in French rather than English):If I could maybe I’d give you my world How can I when you won’t take it from me? [… so, assholes] You can go your own way You can call it another lonely day.”   Admittedly, this song’s written by Lindsey Buckingham during that traumatic 1976 period for the Macs during the creation 
of Rumours when he broke up with bandmate/lover Stevie Nicks, with his lyrics aboutPacking up shacking up’s all you wanna do” not going over well with her* during those many ensuring years they  continued to sing this song together, likely another nail in Buckingham’s current coffin as a member of the group (ousted in 2018, with his explanation of the situation here followed by one of his 1992 solo songs, “Turn It On”), but in my metaphorical turn with van Gogh belting this out I sense our painter’s sincerity with the passionate declaration of “How can I ever change things I feel?”  Fortunately for us, those “people who [weren’t] born yet” when he lived back in the late 1880s, Vincent refused to change, even though those steadfast-detractors (some to the point of being haters) in his time (as McLean notes) “would not listen, they did not know how […] But still your love was true […] But I could have told you, Vincent This world was never meant for one As beautiful as you [… because, like so much else crap in our lives where entrenched, combative attitudes are concerned] They would not listen, they’re not listening still Perhaps they never will.”  But you can always listen to the unmitigated opinions (certainly you'd also experience them as highly-informed, right?) from Two Guys in the dark, back with you so very soon.

*This choice also may not go over too well with my own “bandmate” (my lovely wife, Nina, back for another well-deserved-mention) who’s been dealing with it as an earworm lately (actually, hearing her frequently sing snippets of this tune is what got me thinking about using it for the official At Eternity’s Gate Metaphor), but maybe now she’ll get a chance to indulge herself in the whole song (as my most loyal reader, I can count on that) she may be able to purge it in favor of something else.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:

We encourage you to visit the summary of Two Guys reviews for our past posts.*  Overall notations for this blog—including Internet formatting craziness beyond our control—may be found at our Two Guys in the Dark homepage If you’d like to Like us on Facebook please visit our Facebook page. We appreciate your support whenever and however you can offer it!

*A Google software glitch causes every Two Guys posting prior to August 26, 2016 to have an inaccurate (dead) link to this Summary page; from then forward, though, this link is accurate.

AND … at least until the Oscars for 2018’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, February 24, 2019 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2018 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards 
and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists.  You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).

To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the current Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2018 along with the Oscar nominees for 2018 films.

Here’s more information about Stan & Ollie: (includes a link to the official Laurel & Hardy website) (57:06; a concise-but-informative-documentary on the careers of the real Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, including Laurel’s early connections with Charlie Chaplin, whose clips are shown frequently in the first third of this exploration [interrupted at times by annoying ads, at least in my viewing of this link])

Here’s more information about At Eternity’s Gate: (click the 3 little bars in the upper left to access more options at this site) (13:56 video exploring 15 things you [maybe] didn’t know about Vincent Van Gogh [this one has an interruptive ad also during my viewing of it, as well as being at some preposterous "luxury" site])

Please note that to Post a Comment below about our reviews you need to have either a Google account (which you can easily get at if you need to sign up) or other sign-in identification from the pull-down menu below before you preview or post.

If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my email address of if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website,, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)

By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken

P.S.  Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.  But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 31,057 (Our readership—especially from the wondrous Unknown Regionis again on the rise into 2019!  As always, we thank all of you for your support with our hopes you’ll continue to be regular readers.); below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week:

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