Manchester By the Sea
This is an updated review from Sundance 2016.
Casey Affleck stars in this drama as a man, who doesn’t quite have his life together, that has to accept the responsibility of guardianship of his 16 year old nephew, after his brother dies.
This film is no Curly Sue. It’s a heartbreaker through and through. Casey Affleck puts in a stunning performance as Lee Chandler, a broken, yet unaffected man. For a time, it’s almost impossible to relate to him until you see what brought him to this point in his life. Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler help to make this movie something special.
Throughout Manchester by the Sea, we see flashbacks spliced in with Lee’s current life. These flashbacks throw off the rhythm at first, but they soon enrich the characters and keep you hooked to a story that will surely make you cry. I have a cold chest cavity where my heart once was, but I was very close to shedding a tear. Manchester by the Sea is incredibly heavy, but it doesn’t take away from it being an unforgettable movie.
I originally gave this movie an A-. I had Sundance goggles on, where everything feels fresh, but you don’t want the festival atmosphere to skew your perspective on the quality of the movie. I’ve since had a chance to rewatch this film and still loved it. Yet even before the rewatch, I’ve reflected on it since January.
Be warned that there is little levity to be found in Manchester. The laughs that come are incredibly sincere and are a welcome relief to the situation these characters go through. Manchester By the Sea is not for everyone, but it is for anyone that wants to experience a master craft experience of acting, dialogue and direction. It easily fits in my top five for the year. A
Office Christmas Party
Work Christmas parties are generally known as lame events. It requires spending time with coworkers that you see for nine hours a day already and having to sit through an awkward acapella group singing Jingle Bells in a round. No one wants to be there. They just want the gift/bonus announced at the end. Now, we have Office Christmas Party, which has the least inspired title of the year, but fortunately provides slightly more fun than your average work party. Keyword – slightly.
We follow Josh Parker (Jason Bateman), a CTO in a shabbily run company. His boss, a trust fund slob (played by TJ Miller), has been given warning from his sister and CEO (Jennifer Aniston) that she plans to cut half of his employees over the Christmas break….unless his department can land a contract with a major client.
The Christmas party begins slow enough, but that all changes when you add cocaine, alcohol, prostitutes and Kate McKinnon mugging for the camera. Basically, things get crazy and it becomes a Christmas party that probably couldn’t be topped.
Nobody is acting in this movie and you just have to roll with it. Bateman is Michael from Arrested Development. T.J. Miller is as sarcastic and lazy as he always shows himself to be. Olivia Munn is a bright spot, but also plays a savvy geek that is far too attractive for an IT team. Jennifer Aniston has good comedic timing, but plays the role with the uptight edge that she typically displays.
Your tolerance of this Christmas party will depend on your interest in high school party movies like Project X. Debauchery and vandalism are the central themes. There’s little need for plot in a party flick and you won’t find one here. The ending of the movie is so preposterous and ham-fisted. They attempt to go full-circle on a plot element introduced early in the movie, but it doesn’t fit considering the movie has no significance at all.
At times, raunchy party movies can be absolutely dreadful, ala Sisters. On the high end, you have Superbad, which was incredibly crass, but still managed to be a great story of friendship. Office Christmas Party fits somewhere on the middle of that spectrum. It’s harmless, but also unnecessary. There is little annoying about it, but the crazy hijinks only merity a few chuckles at best. C-