The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

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dda1996a
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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#26 Post by dda1996a » Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:55 am

mfunk9786 wrote:
Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:51 am
Brings me no particular joy (and surely no surprise to our forum's Lanthimos believers) to announce that I found this to be pretty terrible. One of the most excruciating sits at a movie theater is a film that finds itself smart and funny but is neither. One that throws around the word "cunt" like a flagging late-80s stand-up comedian who's being heckled, praying that the word alone will get a guffaw or two. Lanthimos insists on throwing in one fisheye lens shot per scene and trying to do his own Barry Lyndon lighting on lifeless hi-res digital, as though either of these things are suitable substitutes for a directorial point of view. Instead, it mostly looks kind of ugly - a good fit for the one-note blackhearted plot that heads nowhere particularly interesting. Emma Stone is the best thing here - because she's the most comedically gifted and can sell a whole island with her wide eyes and mischievous smirk. All the actors show up to one degree or another - it's surprisingly lively for Lanthimos. But unfortunately, when the jokes aren't landing and the shock (can you believe these royals are rolling around in the mud and puking? Wow) isn't either, the whole experience feels remarkably hollow. I'll keep trying with this guy, but if his writing wasn't the stumbling block, maybe it's just never going to work for me again.

Guessing I should never go back and re-watch Dogtooth.
You sort of answer it at the end, but maybe you just can't connect with his eccentricities and worldview?
Not to force or blame you, just because I do value your opinion. But I rather enjoyed Lobster and Sacred Deer, if I still didn't flat out love them I do find his methods effective on me.

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mfunk9786
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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#27 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 2:01 am

This is altogether different from his other work and he didn't write it, so. I don't think it's quite that simple. He's either not a very good filmmaker or just not making filmmaking decisions I find compelling, and considering how nearly everyone else I respect feels about the subject, I'm guessing it's the latter. But I can't really begin to comment on his own worldview, if anything one of my frustrations with his work is that little of his own motivation behind telling the stories he does comes across, and when it does it doesn't come across as sincere. Feels a little like empty provocation more often than I'd like.

The Favourite may be different, but the degree to which Lanthimos is sneering at his characters is pretty much the same.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#28 Post by dda1996a » Sun Oct 28, 2018 9:05 am

I see. I can't say much seeing I only saw his two English films and not his earlier Greek ones. I enjoyed Lobster to a degree, but found Deer to be a really compelling Greek tragedy/morality play, that aside from it's indifferent ending was really engaging.
What exactly of his decisions do you find unengaging?

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#29 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 10:23 am

The best way I've seen it described is his "door to door Marilyn Manson" shtick (h/t Glenn Kenny). Most directors who spend a nonzero amount of time flailing their arms at the audience grow out of it and I have no doubt that Lanthimos eventually will. But this screenplay has a lot of contempt for its characters, so there's a lot of room in which Lanthimos can play around with the sort of black cloud he typically likes to hang over them.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#30 Post by domino harvey » Sun Oct 28, 2018 11:41 am

I truly do not understand how you can feel that way and still like Dogtooth, the film where your criticisms most strongly apply

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#31 Post by mfunk9786 » Sun Oct 28, 2018 12:33 pm

Oh, that is absolutely why I'm in no hurry to revisit it. It's more likely than not that I'll be asking myself what I was thinking. But your early 20s are the perfect time to enjoy films that have the same adolescent contempt for humanity you've been carrying around, could have just been right film/right time

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#32 Post by DarkImbecile » Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:51 pm

The Favourite opened to the highest per-screen average of the year so far — $100k+ in four theaters.

Can’t wait to hear more discussion of this as people are able to see it, as I imagine there will be plenty of people in both my camp (very positive) and mfunk’s (nonplussed if not revolted), and the film and especially the performances will almost certainly be a major factor for the next several months of awards consideration.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#33 Post by Big Ben » Mon Nov 26, 2018 3:54 pm

DarkImbecile wrote:
Mon Nov 26, 2018 2:51 pm
The Favourite opened to the highest per-screen average of the year so far — $100k+ in four theaters.

Can’t wait to hear more discussion of this as people are able to see it, as I imagine there will be plenty of people in both my camp (very positive) and mfunk’s (nonplussed if not revolted), and the film and especially the performances will almost certainly be a major factor for the next several months of awards consideration.
The film might see an unforeseen boost due to...Taylor Swift.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#34 Post by Never Cursed » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:15 am

I think someone said in the thread for The Lobster that they found that movie funny in the sense that the concepts presented on-screen were "funny" things, and that's certainly an apt description of The Favourite for me. Lots of things, both big and little, happen that could or should be humorous in an all-out black comedy, but Lanthimos does his best to drain the energy from a lively but affectated script with a delivery so dry and dispassionate that it undercuts most of the foul-mouthed charms on offer. There's exactly one scene in the movie that I thought was funny, the one where Emma Stone is alternately flirting with and physically attacking Joe Alwyn, which only worked because it wasn't emotionally detached from its characters in the same way as most of the palace-set stuff. I intellectually get why Lanthimos presents the movie in this way (to mimic the artificial and socially mandated behaviors of the movie's setting), and it is no doubt a well-acted and beautiful movie, but the movie's pretentions are annoying in the total absence of anything funny or emotionally resonant.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#35 Post by Mr Sheldrake » Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:02 am

I think Weisz' Sarah Churchill is being overlooked, I enjoyed her intelligence and craftiness, she walks a fine line between disrespect and love for Coleman's Anne, and their relationship has a liveliness and wit one would not associate with Lanthimos' previous two movies. Stone's Abigail is initially interesting but once she becomes a full-fledged villain there's too much showy familiarity. Abigail and Anne's scenes have a sourness to them that one does associate with the director.

.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#36 Post by soundchaser » Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:23 am

If this doesn't win the Oscar for Production Design I will be astonished. It's one of the best-looking period pieces I've ever seen, and the contrast between it and something like Mary, Queen of Scots (although I'm only going off of a trailer there) is striking.

Also, the piece that plays under the ending credits is an inspired choice.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#37 Post by Murdoch » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:10 pm

I found this enjoyable if overlong and with a drawn-out and rather dull final act. The central three performers all do an excellent job, particularly Stone who elevates a shallow role that lacks the depth of Sarah and the Queen. As mentioned by Sheldrake, the production design is excellent here, with each frame populated by either exquisite interiors or vivid green exteriors

However, while I did enjoy the performances, the wit was a bit overwritten at times, with the one-liners and cutting responses feeling forced. I imagine in lesser hands the script would've fell flat, but in the capable hands of Weisz, Stone and Colman the material worked more often than not.

Still, l Ihink Lanthimos did much better with the Lobster, where the absurdity and cruelness were delivered in a deadpan manner that only highlighted the surrealness of its world. But like that film and the Killing of a Sacred Deer, the final act here doesn't live up to what came before.
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The Favourite concludes almost with a shrug, Abigail's wide-eyed innocent transformed into a sadistic manipulator. I think I was just disappointed that the plot was so straight-forward, without the complexity or absurdity of Lanthimos's previous films. It's also that Abigail was such an uninteresting character as she's written, and her arc plays out in a very predictable manner once the Queen's lust for Sarah is revealed.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#38 Post by HinkyDinkyTruesmith » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:37 pm

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Did anyone think the film overstated Abigail's villainy? Not that she isn't nasty, narcissistic, conniving, and whatever else––but who in this film isn't?

The biggest offense she commits, almost killing Sarah, was mostly an accident (she neither knew how strong the poison was, nor that Sarah would promptly go riding), and other than that, all she really wants is to be reinstated to her former rank. Her villainy consists of personal backstabbing and emotional manipulation, but rarely does she actually care about maliciously hurting other people (even her final acts to assure Sarah's expulsion are motivated by self-defense rather than any contempt for Sarah).

My biggest issue with the ruling class critique in this film is its laziness. If the easy target of the Victorian-era's is its prudishness and look-the-other-way attitude about indiscretions and violences, then the easy target of the 18th century is its ribaldry and excesses, which the film exploits with the pelting of grapefruits, whores and whorishness, and vomiting. These depictions however, as mfunk states, feel more connected to some shock factor, rather than any real critique of the way that the ruling class live their lives, as we barely see any other way of living (the servants pop in and out but rarely for any developed reason, and when Abigail is a scullery servant, her biggest tormentor is a fellow servant), and once Abigail returns to being a lady, we get Marie Antoinette visions of partying without any of the ennui of that film.

But Abigail has more in common with the characters in that film than this one. Her desires are banal and inconsequential, distinctly lacking any political weight. She wants to be a lady again, and will do anything to do that, including joining with Harley who wishes to end a war in order to maintain the wealth of himself and his type (so it seemed to me). Likewise, it's a key ambiguity of the film about whether Sarah explicitly loves Anne, or if she loves the power that Anne provides. The burning of the letters suggests the former, but not strongly enough to eliminate the latter from consideration. Likewise, it's hard to say whether she wishes to keep the war going because she believes in it, whether she wants to make her husband a war hero, or whether she wants to kill her husband or at least keep him from home (thus assuring her no issues to be with Anne).

Anne is oblivious for the most part, a truly pathetic (in its original use) individual who is haunted by dead children and plagued by gout. Her scene with Abigail where it is revealed she keeps the rabbits for each dead child is the strongest moment in the film by far, perfectly understated. But she too is like a proto-Marie Antoinette, wishing nothing to do with the political duties her role places upon her, perhaps having grown so by Sarah's forthrightness about them. When Abigail replaces Sarah, and is uninterested in doing any of the work, Anne seems to pick it back up. So, where does that leave the characters? Abigail's actions have the most limited scope of anyone's, yet because this film ultimately is more interested in interpersonal violence and deceit rather than political or war violence, that's how it determines who the villain is.

It's perhaps an odd comparison to put this against Steven Spielberg's recent films, but, whether for better or worse, it highlights how even in his most talky recent films like Lincoln, The Post, or Bridge of Spies, he always has very brief scenes that depict violence or war that somewhat ground the film in the stakes of what the characters are doing (which works best in Bridge of Spies, in my opinion.) No such scenes here, because its not interested in history or politics. Its interested in backstabbing, manipulation, etc. I would have preferred if the film left out the on-the-nose critique of the excesses, as it's completely unrelated to what the film is really about. Everyone in this film is contemptible, regardless of class (or gender for that matter). Comparitively, Barry Lyndon has its cake and eats it too.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#39 Post by HitchcockLang » Tue Dec 18, 2018 12:54 pm

Saw this last night and generally agree with most of the contempt/apathy expressed above, particularly toward a meandering story with unclear motivations. The film's narrative seems both overly simple and needlessly obfuscated at the same time. And while the first half seems to nicely build some slow-burning tension, the final act wastes that tension and lets it fizzle out rather than explode. I also found it visually distracting. The gratuitous use of wide-angle lenses (their distortions even more apparent during the many clumsy pans) not only constantly reminded me I was sitting in a cinema watching a movie, but also just felt aesthetically anachronistic with the subject matter in a way I have never experienced in any film before (and to avoid any ambiguities there, I mean that in a negative way).

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#40 Post by liam fennell » Tue Dec 18, 2018 2:32 pm

I found the super wide-angle pans to be frankly offensive! I understand wanting wide-angle for focus reasons and for showing off the space, but once you pan that camera the distortions instantly become gross bordering on out-and-out nauseating. Strange choice in an otherwise mega-controlled and quite handsome movie.

I liked it more than The Lobster and less than Sacred Deer, and found it ultimately to be of a piece with those for better or for worse. Mr. Lanthimos tries too hard to be shocking I think, but he sincerely does want to shock/move you and does not pull punches or sugar coat -- he does not resort to easy cheapness or vulgarity, there are no short cuts in his quest to make an impression. He earns all the things that are successful and unsuccessful in this movie! If nothing else Mr. Lanthimos is a true and reliable weirdo and you can never have too many true and reliable weirdos making relatively high-profile movies!

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#41 Post by Magic Hate Ball » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:44 pm

I liked this overall, but I agree that it felt oddly under-written and straightforward. Olivia Colman is hugely good and it was fun seeing those 1700-esque fashions onscreen, I'll always turn up for nasty, childish fops in big hair, but it was hard not to miss what makes Greenaway's films so good, as well as Lanthimos's own sense of the grotesque. There's nothing in this as truly gloriously nasty as the machinations of Draughtman's Contract.

On the other hand, I did enjoy the wide angle lenses. The theater was full, so we were sitting really close to the screen and it was kind of a neat sensation - I also liked being able to look at all that film grain up close.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#42 Post by moreorless » Tue Jan 08, 2019 4:17 am

Mr Sheldrake wrote:
Fri Dec 14, 2018 10:02 am
I think Weisz' Sarah Churchill is being overlooked, I enjoyed her intelligence and craftiness, she walks a fine line between disrespect and love for Coleman's Anne, and their relationship has a liveliness and wit one would not associate with Lanthimos' previous two movies. Stone's Abigail is initially interesting but once she becomes a full-fledged villain there's too much showy familiarity. Abigail and Anne's scenes have a sourness to them that one does associate with the director.
.
I actually felt Weisz's performance was most reminiscent of the directors previous work, different as you say in that it had more active wit to it but with a bit of a knowing sense of the absurb to it as well.

Generally the film gave me the impression of Lanthimos looking to bring a lot of his style into a more accessible format for a wider audience. The drama is I'd say less disturbing and political(despite ironically having politics in it) and theres more of a sense of fun plus a heavy focus on eye catching visuals. I did feel in a way though this actually made the film "meaner" as in his previous work which for all its cruelty did still feature characters I found easy to empathise with, indeed I would argue that's a lot of what made the films feel so cruel.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#43 Post by aox » Thu Jan 17, 2019 1:06 am

I personally liked the film very much minus the final 5 minutes. I feel there was a much better way to end the film. Even if they cut to black/credits with
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Weisz saying, "what if we didn't live in England anymore". Or, having Queen Ann request sex to drive home the point that this is the role Abigail sought to replace, and it sucks. I didn't understand the composite with the bunnies over the concluding sex scene.
Another thing I didn't understand was the use of the fish eye lens. I found this immediately distracting and ultimately (seemingly) arbitrary. Is there something I am missing with the fish eye? Was its use random? I didn't even find his composition of those scenes to be that great and were off-balanced.

This is his most conventional film, IMO, but I found the stylistic flourishes with the fish eye unnecessary. I disagree with many of you in that I found the film to be very funny. The theater I was in laughed out loud throughout, myself included.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#44 Post by dustybooks » Mon Jan 21, 2019 12:23 am

I found The Lobster totally delightful and this, to me, was better yet... though I do basically understand everyone's problems with it. Maybe I'm juvenile myself but I thought the film's gleeful vulgarity was a great joy. It made me feel like I got to be Michel Simon in Boudu, rubbing his dirty hands all over the lives of his wealthy benefactors, simply by watching as the "separateness" of the ruling class gets deconstructed.
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In fact, Emma Stone's voyeur scene early on, when she spots the weak point she can use to her advantage, pretty well encapsulates my experience watching the movie, even though Stone stops being an audience vessel for a long time afterward.
It's all pretty adolescent and obvious, sure, but Lanthimos' approach is so weird, imaginative, strange that it still felt fresh. I loved everything other people singled out as derailing it for them, like the odd lenses, the music and
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the closing bunny montage, which I thought a perfect assertion of Anne's continued control
; it's probably significant that Coppola's Marie Antoinette is one of my favorite films of the century.
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I saw traces of other things I love here too, from Phantom Thread (probably just its mood and amusingly detached attitude toward sexual proclivities and subtle power plays not typically depicted in mainstream films) to Network (Emma Stone's handjob monologue) to the obvious nod to Barry Lyndon (the scene of Mary's return).
I'd been on the fence about seeing this projected because theatrical screenings are such a crapshoot in my area but I'm very glad I did. In addition to being tightly written and performed, it's just such a gorgeous film.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#45 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 11:23 am

Image

Great cover!

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#46 Post by cdnchris » Wed Jan 30, 2019 5:40 pm

My wife just pointed out to me they kept the "U" in the title, which I did not notice. And I just realized I have lived in this country 13 years and I still use Canadian spelling in everything, even "cheque" instead of"check."

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#47 Post by PfR73 » Wed Jan 30, 2019 6:19 pm

Seeing the cover reminds me of something I commented on to a friend after we saw it, how I was rattled at how justifying the end credits typeface made them feel very difficult to read. It was a strange cognitive experience every time it changed to the next block of credits.

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#48 Post by TMDaines » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:38 pm

I thought this was all kinds of great. The script, the three main performances, the costumes, the sound. Loved it all. A few random thoughts:

1) Emma Stone even had me checking she wasn't schooled in the UK or anything, as her accent was that tight.

2) One thing that occurred to me whilst watching was that Colman's performance seemed quite transformative, and it's usually been male leads in recent leads who either partake in massive weight gain or loss for leading roles, i.e. Jake Gyllenhaal, Christian Bale, etc. Maybe I'm being dim and there's a long list of leading female roles in recent mainstream English-language films that I am overlooking.

3) The film is kind of vulgar, but we do engage in a lot more swearing in most of the UK. If you're particularly moved by the word cunt or find it to be an outdated sign of trying to be edgy, then that might say more about you and your milieu. Outside of the BBC or a man using it directly to denigrate a woman, it's just another swear word. Discriminatory terms would be more likely to prickle over here than the good old c-bomb nowadays.

4) Don't know if there was problem with my screening or anything, but the film seemed awfully dark. The blacks weren't being crushed but they really stood in contrast to other more washed out colours. Maybe the use of natural light?

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#49 Post by nitin » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:36 pm

Charlize Theron is the one that obviously springs to mind (Tully, Fury Road, Monster etc)

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Re: The Favourite (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2018)

#50 Post by Lost Highway » Mon Feb 11, 2019 4:13 am

Patricia Arquette gained and then (for the flashback) lost a lot of weight for last year’s mini-series Escape at Dannemora.

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