Unlike the titular nuptials, Marriage Story launches well and scarcely drops the ball. The performances are unanimously immaculate, bolstered by thoughtful and well-mannered direction from Noah Baumbach, who writes too, in his second Netflix gem. As with The Meyerowitz Stories before it, Marriage Story unreels its tale of kindly woe on the delicately handled juxtaposition of tenderest bitterness. Baumbach’s honesty in this warts and all exploration of contemporary divorce proceedings is commendable, fuelled, as it is, by personal experience as boy and adult; as third and first party.
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‘You know, it doesn’t normally snow on Christmas Eve.’ So says Joan Cusacks’ local, tin-foil wearing narrator as Let it Snow, Netflix’s latest entry to the festive canon, opens. Any slim chance that this might be some ironic nod to the fact that it always snows on Christmas Eve in films such as this dissipates rapidly. This is earnest, predictable material, carved from an algorithmic record of past successes. It’s woke Love Actually for the streaming generation, chockablock with YA stars and extracts from the Richard Curtis back catalogue. There’s no depth nor visceral meaning whatsoever here but it’s likeable enough in bite-size skits.
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It takes all of twenty-five minutes for the phrase ‘fake news’ to rear its ugly head in Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim sobering new documentary for Netflix. By this point in the film, a conspiratorial tone has already established humanity to be doomed, corrupted and likely on the fast track to thinly veiled authoritarianism. But it is our willing acceptance of such a fate that horrifies. It’s our fault. In the words of Dr. David Carroll, one of three de facto narrators here: ‘We were so in love with the gift of this free connectivity that no one bothered to read the terms and conditions.’ Fake news? No, this is an all too real project of fear.
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