Film Review: JOKER (USA 2019) ****

Joker Poster
Trailer

In Gotham City, mentally-troubled comedian Arthur Fleck is disregarded and mistreated by society. He then embarks on a downward spiral of revolution and bloody crime. This path brings him face-to-face with his alter-ego: “The Joker”.

Director:

Todd Phillips

It seems unlikely that the director of mostly comedies like WAR DOGS, THE HANGOVER movies and OLD SCHOOL be the one to create this odd but original DC comic Batman villain JOKER.  But is this really the JOKER villain that challenges Batman so many times, or is he the inspiration for the real villain.  The age difference between this joker and  Bruce Wayne appears so, but director Phillips leaves the answer ambiguous.  As such, JOKER is an intelligent enough alternative Marvel Universe movie that concentrates on a villain as the protagonist.  The graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke (1988) was the basis for the premise.

The joker is a real loser in life.  Born poor with a mental disability, this sorrowful soul (Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker) is a mentally ill, impoverished stand-up comedian disregarded by society, whose history of abuse causes him to become a nihilistic criminal.  The illness causes Arthur to occasionally break out into uncontrollable laughter.

Phoenix has starred before in movies with a similar character, a loser as in YOU WERE NEVER REALLY HERE and INHERENT VICE, films that did not make great money but with this character immersed in a Marvel Universe, JOKER has made Warner Bros. an unexpected amount of money.  Arthur’s inspiration is talk show host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro) who allows Arthur on his show though later berates him causing Arthur to take immense offence and revenge.  De Niro is superb here.  When De Niro and Phenix appear together, De Niro steals the scene from Phoenix ( as evident in the first scene together, showing him to be what can be classified as a great actor.  The script takes De Niro from an early character in Martin Scorcese’s THE KING OF COMEDY where De Niro plays an upcoming comedian stalking successful comedian star played by Jerry Lewis.

JOKER is not a pleasant watch, since the often disturbing film deals with mental illness, depression, violence and the underworld of Gotham City (the film is shot in New York).  But it is a superbly crafted film going deep into the recesses of Arthur’s demise.

The camera work is nothing short of stunning.  Arthur’s chase of the young hooligans who steal his sign down the streets of the city is expertly shot.  The segment where the ambulance carrying Arthur’s mother Penny (Frances Conroy) screeches through a tunnel with the shearing lights doubles up on the madness of the situation and Arthur’s mental state.

Director Phillips gets the audience on Arthur’s side when he kills three yuppie criminals who beat him up on the subway train.  The audience feels sorry for Arthur, a vigilante at this point, but his behaviour also prevents the audience to feel sorry any further.

JOKER won the Golden Lion when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival.  It is also the number 1 R-rated box-office champion of all time.  JOKER is a film that demands to be seen, especially for cineastes.  The film should come away with a few Academy Awards in 2020.

Trailer: https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-dcola-005&hsimp=yhs-005&hspart=dcola&p=trailer+joker#id=1&vid=b8d5e4cd2b8612f20aaba3cc8156ea6d&action=click

Film Review: MIDWAY (USA 2019) ***

Midway Poster
Trailer

The story of the Battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the sailors who fought it.

Director:

Roland Emmerich

Writer:

Wes Tooke

It was 1976 when Jack Smight’s BATTLE OF MIDWAY starring Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda opened in the then sensational Sensurroud. Forty years later, INDEPENDENCE DAY’s director Roland Emmerich has another go at making a film on the decisive Pacific naval battle during WWII.  Though both films centred on the MIDWAY battle, the focus of both films are different.  The heroes of the first film were ridiculous fictional characters a father (Heston) and son (Edward Albert) involved with a Japanese/American immigrant while the latter, a clear improvement centred on real life heroes of the War.  Their real portraits are revealed during the film’s closing credits.

Ememrich’s MIDWAY opens a few years before the start of World War II.  The US Naval attaché in Tokyo and his counterpart discuss the US and Japanese positions in the Pacific Ocean during a state function. Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa) quietly informs intelligence officer Edwin T. Layton (Patrick Wilson) that they will take action if their oil supplies are threatened.  The film fast forwards to the morning of December 7, 1941with a 15-minute extravaganza on the shocking Japanese bombing of Pearl harbour.  This feels like Spielberg’s D-Day landing in Normandy in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN.  The goal is clearly to get the audience riled up against the Japanese.  Both films show the planning that goes into both the Japanese and American sides, though clearly the prejudice is against the Japanese.

MIDWAY works at both educating on the details of a history lesson that lasts over two hours as well as entertain as a WWII super hero flick.

The superheroes are real life WWII planners and fighters.  These combatants are played by a stellar cast headed by Ed Skrein as LTA Richard Best, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Nonas, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore as Bests’s wife.

Performances-wise, Skrein (GAME OF THRONES) is sufficiently cheesy as the gum-chewing maverick fighter pilot.  Patrick Wilson is the one who steals the show delivering the best performance of a worried but super bright Intelligence Officer.  There are hardly any women in this picture and Mandy Moore has the usual under-written role as the supportive wife.

The history lesson takes the audience through the several battles including the Doolittle Raid and the Coral Battle before culminating with the crucial climatic battle of MIDWAY.  The latest version clearly highlights the progress CGI and special effects have made compared to the 1976’s cheesy Sensurround.

The battles are well executed and exiting enough, though it often looks a video game.

MIDWAY costs Lionsgate a whopping $100 million to make and to date has grossed close to $80 million.  MIDWAY has garnished mixed reviews so far, but MIDWAY is more entertaining because the heroes are real who lived on the Planet Earth and not fictional heroes with made-up superpowers in some alternative Marvel Universe.  Despite a few flaws here and there, MIDWAY delivers the thrills as well as intricacies involved in strategic planning of battles in a war.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfTYY_pac8o

Film Review: WAVES (USA 2019)

Waves Poster
Trailer

Traces the journey of a suburban family – led by a well-intentioned but domineering father – as they navigate love, forgiveness, and coming together in the aftermath of a loss.

WAVES unfolds the drama of a black family of a son trying to connect with his strict father.  It is surprisingly and to the director’s credit that he is white and one would never expect such an emotional tale of black folk be told by none other than non-black folk.

Cracks begin to show in the perfect façade of a young athlete, Tyler’s (Kevin Harrison Jr.) life.  Tyler is a talented wrestler living in a  comfy wealthy residence courtesy of his business oriented father.  He and his sister live wth him and their step-mother after their biological mum overdosed.  But the future is still bright.  Tyler has everything he needs: a wealthy family to support him, a spot on the high-school wrestling team, and a girlfriend (Alexa Demie) he’s head over heels in love with.  Committed to greatness and under intense scrutiny from his father (Sterling K. Brown), Tyler spends his mornings and nights training. But when pushed to the limit, life changes dramatically.

Tyler sustains a shoulder injury forcing him to quit wrestling.  He gets his girlfriend pregnant.  He wishes the baby aborted but she refuses resulting in a huge fight.  It does not help that dad is a real bully but sustains his actions by believing he is doing good.  “I am doing this not because I want to…. but because I have to….”  chastising Tyler.

To the film’s credit, Shults’s film is filled with such visual splendours like the colourful night run through the lawn sprinklers during one night scene, with rainbows visible in the images.  There is one scene with the couple with the camera at chest level that looks like Shults is paying homage to MOONLIGHT.  The scenes in the river with the fish are also stunningly shot.  His soundtrack is occasionally loud and boisterous, obviously made so to be annoying and to display Tyler’s state of mind – but subtlety could also be practiced.  Warning: those susceptible to headaches be best to stay away rom this movie where audibility is set several notches up, and too often in the film.

Shults’s film is a wild ride that initially takes you on and not let you get off.

The message of the film, among other things can be summed up with the statement: “The road to hell is paved with Good Intentions”.  Clearly the patriarch of the family had done what he had though was best, all full of good intentions.  But things do not always turn out the way they should and things can quickly go awry.  Ironically, the same can be said of Shults’s over long 135-minute film.  The film could have been cut 30 minutes instead of  propelling on with he father’s redemption process.  The message has already gone through, hard and clear and there is no need to haul the audience into the redemption process.  Also the switch from the main character from son to daughter disorientates the audiences a great deal.  Indeed, the road to a failed movie is also paved with similar good intentions.
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5z3cr8AB5g

Film Review: THE REPORT (USA 2019) ****

The Report Poster
Idealistic Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones, tasked by his boss to lead an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program, uncovers shocking secrets.

Director:

Scott Z. Burns

THE REPORT is about the alleged report which exposes the CIA for their use of torture on suspected terrorists.  Most of what has been going on is already well known, including the inhuman torture methods as these have since been publicized following the Oscar Winner for Best Documentary, Alex Gibney’s TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE.

Gibney’s film examines the U.S. policy on torture and interrogation, specifically the CIA’s use of torture and their research into sensory deprivation. The CIA re-terms the word torture with the phrase enhanced interrogation.  The film includes discussions against the use of torture by political and military opponents, as well as the defense of such methods; attempts by Congress to uphold the standards of theGeneva Convention forbidding torture; and popularization of the use of torture techniques in TV series such as 24. 

Burn’s film is highly different and employs actors to re-enact real life characters in the true story.  THE REPORT plays as a political thriller that explores matters of vital importance to the present. THE REPORT takes a deep dive into recent revelations that have lost none of their capacity to shock and appall.

Dan Jones (Adam Driver) is the man assigned to research and submit a report.  He is asked twice during the movie. “Did you sleep?” to which he answers.  “I used  to but it gets in the way of my work.”  Jones, a staff member of the US Select Committee on Intelligence, is tasked with helming a Senate investigative report into the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11.  Some $80 million was spent; 119 detainees were interrogated. Hundreds of hours of recordings of those interrogations were destroyed. What happened? Who is accountable? Faced with one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another, Jones spent half a decade finding out.  The CIA expected Jones to do the study , uncover a few facts but never expected Jones to go through all the extreme lengths to find out the truth and to uncover it to the American people.

Burns elicits excellent performances from his entire cast.   Adam Driver and Annette Benning both deliver award winning performances.  One cannot imagine anyone else playing those two roles.

Some might complain about the film’s talkiness.  It is talky but that is not necessarily a bad thing.  The dialogue from the script, also written by Burns is sharp and witty, and able to carry ones attention throughout the film.  A few of the torture scenes are re-enacted to emphasize the terrible use of torture by the CIA.

Everybody knows the ineffectiveness of torture as a interrogation tool to get information from the enemy.  Which is basically the tortured person saying anything to get the torture to stop.  Most of the information surrendered are either information the U.S. already knows or lies.  The script offers little debate on the matter, as the fact is already well known and stablished inTAXI TO THE DARK SIDE.  The REPORT is an excellent companion piece to that film film and succeeds, despite all the bad stuff the American CIA has done, in extolling the United States as a democracy who can call out its bad people.  If only they would made these people pay for their crimes.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHmn9U3c0zA

Film Review: FROZEN 2 (USA 2019) ***

Frozen II Poster

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

Directors:

Chris BuckJennifer Lee

Writers:

Jennifer Lee (screenplay by), Jennifer Lee (story by) | 4 more credits »

After the phenomenal billion dollar success of 2013 FROZEN, directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee return with their sequel that will surely make more money for the already wealthy company Disney.  

The origin FROZEN was much well loved not only for its memorial musical songs but an incredible story – the type typically found in classic fairy tales.  The story involves two close sisters, princesses, Elsa and Anna, Elsa given ice magical powers that she is unable to control.  It is beneficial to recall the story of the first.  Though not necessary, the story of FROZEN II will make more sense thus enhancing ones entertainment.  So, before venturing to see number 2,  do a little homework and read on the original story.  Most of the characters in the original including the much beloved Olaf, the snowman and Sven the reindeer are present, so fans should not be disappointed.  Again, magic is the key and saving the Kingdom Arendelle is the princesses’ quest.

When the film opens, it is three years after the events of the first film.  Elsa (Idina Menzel) starts to hear a strange sound from the north calling her.  Together with her sister Anna (Kristen Bell), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad) and Sven , they embark on a new journey beyond their homeland of the Kingdom of Arendelle in order to discover the origin of Elsa’s magical powers and thus save their kingdom.

Kristoff is the iceman who plays Anna’s boyfriend, providing the romantic element of the story.  The sister-sister antics which made the original so enchanting is ever present in this one with the two girls always looking after each other.  

The songs are present but occasionally not well spaced out – the first two songs appear too close to each other leading to a a rather slow start for the film.  The humour is only slight at best, provided by Olaf, but nothing extremely goofy or funny.  

FROZEN 2 is heavy plodding while the original is heavy plotting.

Song-wise, no song in FROZEN 2 can match the famous “Let It Go”  of the original, though not for want of trying.  Each character in FROZEN 2 appear to have a song of their own from Elsa’s “Into the Unknown” to Olaf “When I Get Older” to  Anna’s “The Next Right Thing” and lastly to Kristoff’s “Lost in the Woods”.

Directors Lee and Buck keep to the successful formula of the first in terms of mood, atmosphere and  animation effects.  But the film, though visually stunning lacks the innovation and fresh ideas of the original thus leaving it, sorry for the pun, frozen in its delivery.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwzLiQZDw2I

(Cinefranco 2019): LE MYSTERE HENRI PICK (The Mystery of Henri Pick) (France 2019) ***1/2

The Mystery of Henri Pick Poster
Trailer

An editor discovers a novel that she considers to be a masterpiece, in a library whose particularity is to collect the manuscripts refused by the publishers. The text is signed Henri Pick, a Breton pizza maker who died two years earlier.

Director:

Rémi Bezançon

Writers:

Rémi Bezançon (dialogue), Rémi Bezançon (screenplay) | 3 more credits »

A bold inventive comedy that is ripe for Hollywood to remake.  While conducting a television interview with the widow of pizza restaurateur Henri Pick, who is the posthumous author of a bestseller, talk show host Jean-Michel Rouche (Fabrice Luchini) attracts the wrath of his employer and the spectators by suggesting the book could be a sham. The same evening, his wife leaves him and he is fired from his job at the network. This double disgrace reinforces his desire to prove that he is right.  As Rouche acts not only like a know-it-all proud peacock but an asshole, the audience is only too glad to witness his downfall.  But Rouche is not without charm.

He is joined in his investigation by the late author’s bookworm daughter, Josephine (Camille Cottin), after convincing her the book couldn’t have been written by her father. Echoing Agatha Christie, false leads and literary fun abound in this charming French affair.  There is no romance here not even a little hint, but the story works as both a clever whodunit or rather whowroteit as well as a study of characters in a French literary setting.  Luchini exhibits charm as the disgraced host who eventually redeems himself. A mysterious pleasure of a film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbyBzbTYw5s

(BITS Film Festival 2019 Review): SHE NEVER DIED (Canada 2019)

She Never Died Poster
When a girl goes missing, a woman with a mysterious past tracks down the people responsible.

Director:

Audrey Cummings

SHE NEVER DIED is the female companion piece to the 2015 similar horror feature HE NEVER DIED that was written and directed by Jason Krawczyk.  It follows an immortal, cannibalistic loner who has withdrawn from society to protect both himself and other innocents from bad people.  

In SHE NEVER DIED, the loner is now a girl.  Lacey (Olunike Adeliyi), a socially detached loner is cursed with immortality and a never-ending tedium of existence. In her attempts to keep her compulsions in check, she seeks out the darkest souls humanity has to offer.

Lacey must now face her own inner demons while simultaneously finding her next meal.  But Lacey is not the film’s most interesting character.  This honour belongs to the middle-age detective who uncovers her path and learns of her ‘powers’.  

Nothing is explained in the film as to how the girl obtained her powers.  The film is a blood fest with lots of torn body parts, if you like this sort of thing.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHq9o5BGSys

TIFF Cinematheque Presents – The films of Nagasi Oshima

This rare retrospective of Japanese New Wave director runs from November 14th to December 5th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

the series is entitles IN THE REALM OF OSHIMA – the Best of Japanese Mater Nagasi Oshima.  The title is taken form his most notorious and famous work IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES. I guarantee you would not forget the film, at least of its explicit sexual scenes.

The retrospective is made possible thanks to Nobi Nakamura,The Japan Foundation; Yukiko Wachi, Kawakita Memorial Film Institute; and Brian Belovarac, Janus Films.

For the complete programming, dates and description of each film screened, please check the TIFF website at: tiff.net

Capsule Reviews of Select Films:

CRUEL STORIES OF YOUTH (Japan 1960) ***
Directed by Nagisa Oshima

The title tells it all in Oshima’s tale of a young couple who prey on older men to make a living.  Old men offer the girl a ride home but often take advantage of her by taking her to a bar for drinks or to a hotel.  That is when the boyfriend shows up, beat the older man up and rob hm of his money.  She falls for him and he slowly gets solve her.  But things start getting heated to a boil when she becomes impregnated by him, and has an abortion.  No one is to blame of these hard times.  Youth like these two are restless and look for trouble.  One problem could be the lack ambition of the two.  Regardless, the girl makes an attempt at redemption the she encounters a kinder older gentleman who owns a company.  CRUEL STORIES OF YOUTH has solid drama that depicts both the restlessness and rebelliousness of youth, but offers no solutions nor a way out.

Trailer: https://ca.video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-dcola-005&hsimp=yhs-005&hspart=dcola&p=cruel+stories+of+youth+trailer#id=1&vid=f81fd3743fc6148afdcd3592bcb1e7e1&action=click

IN THE REALM OF THE SENSES (Japan 1976) ****

Directed by Nagisa Oshima

Arguably Oshima’s best film but definitely the one that shot him to fame for its notoriety.   This is the first Oshima film I have seen.  In different countries the film was either banned, butchered, debated or denounced.  It was banned in Ontario when it was first released.  The film premiered in Cannes and was reported to cause quite a stir including riots.  The story is supposedly based on a famous crime in 1936, a tale of sexual obsession so incredible that it has to be seen to be believed and then unforgotten.  Sex and bondage take place between between man and woman, master and servant, individual and state, in which a maid murdered and castrated her employer after several days of sequestered lovemaking with him. The film is more disgusting than erotic and might turn one off sex for a spell.   Be prepared for segments depicting hardcore sex so audiences beware!

Trailer: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2k7bhw

VIOLENCE AT NOON (Japan 1966) ***1/2

Directed by Nagasi Oshima

 VIOLENCE AT NOON is the portrayal of a violent rapist as seen through the recollections of his wife and one of his victims. As the film starts, Eisuke (Kei Sato) encounters Shino (Saeda Kawaguchi), who works as a maid in a house.  She is a former coworker from a failed collective farm, whose life he once saved — only to rape her.  Soon, Eisuke’s criminal pattern of rapes and murders emerges as he goes on assaulting women (Shino being the witness of one of them, as Eisuke tries to violate her employer).  When cooperating with the police on making a description of the rapist, Shino withholds her crucial knowledge of his identity.  She prefers writing letters to Eisuke’s dutiful wife, Matsuko, a schoolteacher (Akiko Koyama — Mrs Oshima), in order to expose his true nature and perhaps induce her into turning Eisuke over to the police.  This film contains some intriguing discussions on the subject of suicide.  “Why kill yourself?  Why not kill someone instead?”  This one one which makes complete sense, is quite a dangerous argument.  Another: Can one die by staying awake?”  Obviously yes, as one can live like a dead person.  The VIOLENCE AT NOON are the acts committed by a serial killer who not only kills at that time, but leave similar markings.   An intriguing film and worthwhile but not so easy a watch.

Trailer: https://www.mymovierack.com/show/violence-at-noon

Film Review: THE GOOD LIAR (USA 2019) ***

The Good Liar Poster
Trailer

Consummate con man Roy Courtnay has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish, worth millions. But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes.

Director:

Bill Condon

Writers:

Jeffrey HatcherNicholas Searle (novel)

Nothing but excellence can be expected from GODS AND MONSTERS and THE FIFTH ESTATE director Bill Condon and British heavyweights Helen Mirren (Oscar winner for THE QUEEN) and Sir Ian McKellen(Two-time Oscar nominee),  But what is lacking here is a somewhat lack of surprise.

Before venturing out for the film screening, I was hypothesizing the film’s plot.  Con man McKellen entices Mirren for a date and aims at stealing all her money.  McKellen falls for Mirren while she discovers the truth and ends up milking McKellen instead for all his worth.  Not all of the above is true for the movie, but a fair portion is, and it is a good guess, from just watching the film’s trailer.

When the film begins, the audience sees the pub date between two who have met using ‘computer services’.  They immediately confess they honour the truth though each are superb liars, fooling notably each other, but the audience as well.  This is the more fun part of the script.  Consummate con man Roy Courtnay (Ian McKellen) has set his sights on his latest mark: the recently widowed Betty McLeish (Helen Mirren), worth millions.  And Roy means to take it all.

  From their very first meeting, Roy begins plying Betty with his tried and true manipulations, and Betty, who seems quite taken with him, is soon going along for the ride.  But this time, what should have been a simple swindle escalates into a cat-and-mouse game with the ultimate stakes—revealing more insidious deceptions that will take them both through a minefield of danger, intrigue and betrayal.

The quite too incredible to be believed story is based on a widely acclaimed novel by Nolas Seattle adapted for the screen by Jeffrey Hatcher who also penned MR. HOLMES also directed by Condon.

The supporting cast fare well.  Russell Tovey (THE HISTORY BOYS and QUANTICO) plays the supposedly grandson of Betty while the excellent Jim Carter last seen in DOWNTON ABBEY plays Roy’s friend and conman.

The script’s story takes the audience back to World War II Germany where credibility becomes the issue where background on the real Roy Courtney is dumped on the audience.  The film also contains some brief nudity but a quite a bit of violence.  The struggle between Roy and Betty at the film’s climax is rather laughable and could have been due eliminated.

A few continuity problems exist, that many might not be aware of.  One segment has Roy enter the London Underground through Piccadilly Circus station.  Once inside, the tube walls indicate Charing Cross Station.

THE GOOD LIAR ends up a cheesy thriller, with some really nasty bits – not entirely boring but lacking more solid substance.

Trailer: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5563334/videoplayer/vi1183235865?ref_=tt_ov_vi

Full Review: FORD V FERRARI (USA 2019) ***

Ford v Ferrari Poster

American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford and challenge Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

Director:

James Mangold

Right out of the headlines on November the 14th, 2019.  Ferrari unveils their 5th latest car for their 2019.  So the question is who is thermal winner in the phrase FORD V FERRARI?   On Ford’s side, they are investing a lot of money into the smart car.

One of the big films opening this week is FORD V FERRARI, from 20th Century Fox now owned by Disney, that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

FORD V FERRARI features two of the finest looking actors working in movies at present – Christian Bale and Matt Damon  Bale discards his good looks, looking sufficiently grimy to portray an expert auto-mechanic/race car driver eventually working for Ford.

FORD V FERRARI represents the kind of movie 20th Century Fox finances that Disney does not know what to do with.  This is what was reported.  To Fox’s credit, it takes guts to finance a film like this one, when car race movies are seldom financed.  This could be the reason this big production is released at this odd time in November.  But it is not a bad film and definitely worth a look for its excitement and drama.

Director James Mangold (3:10 TO YUMA) and the 4 film writers tell the story of real-life superheroes Carroll Shelby (Damon) and Ken Miles (Bale), race car engineers who commandeered the resources of the mighty Ford Motor Company in the 1960s to go head-to-head with the gods of Italian auto racing, Ferrari.  

This is one car racing movie that shows the mechanics and marketing and business that goes behind the scenes of a race.   The mechanics at the race’s pits tops are just as important as the race car drivers.  Everyone has an input to who or which car wins the race from the families of the race car drivers, to the company to almost everyone connected to the race.

But it is the Ford motor company’s owner Henry Ford and marketing chief that the two have to keep fighting in order to beat Ferrari.  So the title of the film should be Underdogs V Ford.   At worst the film descends a bit into cliche territory, especially in two manipulative segments (the fight and the ride Ford takes in the race car) that got the audience at the TIFF screening I attended applauding.  D.P. Phedon Papamichael shoots the race sequences, particularly the night ones spectacularly as if putting one in the driver’s seat. 

Christian Bale excels in his role as maverick Ken Miles.  Nothing in the film is mentioned of the reason his speaking wth a British accent.  Reading up on Miles, he is described in Wikipedia as a British born American race car driver.

FORD V FERRARI is the type of crowd pleasing action packed movie that critics generally dislike and audiences cheer to.  That said, it is definitely worth a look!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3h9Z89U9ZA