Tag Archives: michael stuhlbarg

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME (2017) – My rating 7.2/10

Call Me by Your Name is a coming-of-age drama directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory and based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman.  Call Me by Your Name chronicles the romantic relationship between a 17 year old Jewish-American Italian boy and a 24 year old  Jewish-American graduate student who meet and start a  romance in Italy.  At face value, I got very little from this movie but am certain many others found it very informative and touching.

Call Me By Your Name opens in Italy, 1983 at the family home of the Perlman’s.  17 year old Elio, (Timothée Chalamet) lives in the northern Italian countryside with his parents. His father (Michael Stuhlbarg), a professor of archaeology, invites a 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer), to live with his family during the summer to help with his academic paperwork. Elio, an introspective bibliophile and musical prodigy, finds little in common with Oliver’s carefree and exuberant personality and also resents vacating his bedroom for the duration of Oliver’s stay. Elio spends much of the summer reading books and hanging out with his girlfriend, Marzia (Esther Garrel), while Oliver is attracted to one of the local girls, much to Elio’s chagrin.

Elio and Oliver begin to spend time with each other, and a seductive courtship emerges—they swim together, go for long walks in the town, and accompany Elio’s father on an archaeological trip. Although Elio begins a sexual relationship with Marzia and brags about it in front of Oliver to gauge his reaction, he increasingly finds himself attracted to Oliver. During a trip to the post office, Elio subtly confesses his feelings to Oliver, who gently tells him that he should not act on them. Later that day, Elio and Oliver kiss, though Oliver is reluctant to go further but the two manage to cultivate a full blown affair.

With the end of Oliver’s stay imminent, the couple find themselves overcome by uncertainty and longing. Elio’s parents, conscious of the bond between the two, recommend they take a trip to Bergamo together before Oliver goes back to America. They spend three romantic days together, after which Oliver leaves, and a heartbroken Elio returns home.

Call Me By Your Name is truly a love story.  While I’ve left out most of the details of their relationship, I’ve tried to reveal the innocence and relevance of the relationship.  You will have to see this coming of age film to really understand the entire meaning of the story.  While I didn’t find it to be the greatest, you might feel differently.  I felt it took a long road to get to the point.

[Call Me By Your Name is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Original Song]


THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017) – My rating: 8.7/10

The Shape of Water is a dark romantic fantasy directed by Guillermo del Toro and co-written by del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. The film is set in 1962 BaltimoreThe movie has so many great messages that extend far beyond the obvious fantasy most of us will expect to see.  It’s strong, profound and worthy of all the upcoming nominations that have already started pouring in.  There’s no rose-colored glasses nor any hidden secrets to be discovered.  There’s just pure love and of course, good vs evil and I loved it! WARNING: there’s a fair amount of sex or sexual suggestion making it somewhat risque for the under aged.


The plot follows a mute female custodian named Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) who is employed at a highly-secured, secret government laboratory.  The facility receives a creature in a tank, which has been captured from a South American river by Colonel Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Curious, Elisa discovers that the creature is a humanoid amphibian. She begins visiting the creature in secret and the two form a close bond and later, fall in love. Her plan is to eventually free the creature from the facility where he is being abused.

Elisa was rendered mute by a neck injury she had sustained as an infant, and communicates using sign language. Her two closest friends are her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins), who is an advertising artist and closeted gay man, and Zelda (Octavia Spencer), an African-American co-worker who also serves as her interpreter at work.

Elisa and the creature may be in love, but the United States have other plans for the Amphibian, as do the Soviets, aided by an agent/doctor also working in the facility by the name of Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg).  With plans already in place, the US wants to exploit the creature for possible advantages in the space race; the Soviets want to steal it, study it then dissect it; Colonel Strickland wants to abuse it and Elisa wants to love it and set it free.  None of this is going to go the way anyone thinks.  “The best laid plans of Mice and Men often go awry”. The Shape of Water takes on the most bazaar direction in a non-comedy I’ve ever seen.  No one will be laughing as everyone ends up where they should be.  I see why the nominations are pouring in.

The American Film Institute selected The Shape of Water as one of the top 10 films of the year. It won for Best Director and Best Original Score at the 75th Golden Globe Awards, while also receiving Oscar nominations for Best Motion Picture – Drama, Best Actress – Drama (Hawkins), Best Supporting Actress (Spencer), Best Supporting Actor (Jenkins), and Best Screenplay.  At the 71st British Academy Film Awards, the film received 12 nominations, including Best Film.  It’s a worth while film with a worth while story and a worth while message.  Check it out!

[The Shape of Water is Oscar nominated for BEST: Picture, Director, Actress, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Costume Design, Film Editing, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Original Screenplay]