21 December 2007

Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Genre: Musical / Morality Play

It was obvious from the very start of this project that it would take a tremendous amount of careful effort for Mr. Burton & Co. to finely winnow down Mr. Sondheim's classic dark drama from its more original sprawling length to a format more suitable for the screen, one less encompassing, less for a live audience, yet still equally as powerful, or dynamic. Songs would obviously have to be trimmed, if not hedged altogether; dialogue bundled; characters redirected; and even blocking smartly reshaped, to accommodate the comparatively limited window that is the frame (comparatively with the open stage). In short, the whole thing was to be chopped, condensed, as best as its varyingly shaped pieces could, to become a faster, tighter Sweeney Todd - o , wait: that's actually not a disastrous enterprise at all, but rather an extremely exciting venture: a faster, tighter Sweeney...hmmm. It would mean then more quickly delivered punches, more severely reverberating cadences, and just generally a more sharply rendered story; concisely, a probably would-be improvement on its staged blueprint. After all, the other effects of the change of medium could only be immensely beneficial (i. e., the huge, unlimited structures and locations, the possibility of smooth, unsequestered scenes thanks to editing, and the potential color-tinting variations of post-production, contemporary cinematography).
Such were my thoughts as I sat in the theater last night before the premiere, midnight showing of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and as I sat and thought I could only become more excited by the possibilities of it. Would it be beautiful? Would it be sharp? Would it be as good as it could be? And, when with the intoning gothic chords it finally began with a thrill I thought that, indeed, it may be.
Yet, I began to worry as the opening credits animation-sequence grew on, with its sickeningly overripe reddish hue whose texture existed somewhere among melted latex, candle wax, and blood. That was the first sign; the almost comically pop-culturated blood ominous indeed, for how seriously then could the film treat its most basic principles, its very groundwork, in morality? I hoped things would change and, as the animation fell away and Mr. Depp entered the frame, albeit behind a boy who looked more the gaunt, heroine-chic Dior model from Scandinavia than the innocently amorous sailor - but that's another story - I did my best to let the creeping suspicions of failure fall away. "No chorus?" No chorus - hmm, there was no hauntingly singing chorus to introduce him and his story to the audience, no moralizing catalyst by contrast and omniscience but we, the audience ourselves - bold decision, Mr. Burton. Let it be then and, his song finished, I was quickly torn away through the varyingly black streets of Todd's pit London, with hardly a second's hold to really ingest it all, the squalor and the picture-book scenes. The camera instead rode heavily on him, Mr. Depp, intensely close and scrutinizing - hmm, another odd choice: why decontextualize, especially when Mr. Todd is so emphatically a product of his environs; why alienate me, the audience, so so strongly from perspective, especially when we are now the moral adjudicants? Well, push on: mm, more flat grumbling from Mr. Depp but then, ah, a light: Ms. Bonham Carter, floured out and rolling quite deftly in her own private shoppe. It was clear, from her entrance, that this film could bear fruit after all. Undespairing, I settled in and listened.
What I found ensuing over the next forty minutes was much of the same: sparse, indelicate introductions and establishments, dissevering perspectives, and the wicked balm of Ms. Carter's Mrs. Lovett at pains to smooth it all. It was not at all the Sweeney Todd I had so hoped it would be. And I wondered, why wasn't it working? Yes, there was all I mentioned contributing to the shortcoming, and so, all right, Mr. Burton & Co. found their self-appointed task of inexiguous, concise adaption (at least in the first act) a taller order than they would muster; but there was something deeper turning wrong. And then I recognized it, so clearly that it nearly knocked me over: the performances, they were, none of them (except for Mrs. Lovett), anywhere near as crisp, as sharp, as raw as they should have been. Where they should have been steaming hatred, there was only a simmering seed; where a violent call to reaction, only a crusty obligation to deed; and, where a perfervid longing to break free, only a simpering, whimpering indolence to go. Mr. Depp's, whom I much otherwise admire, Mr. Todd was flat, undynamic, and distant. Mr. Rickman's and his Stupin's ward, played by Ms. Jayne Wisener, were much the same. And Mr. Baron Cohen's Sr. Pirelli, though indeed comedic, lacked a similar lustre. Mr. Spall seemed to be the only actor who really tried to add to his character and three-dimensionalize him from the page and from the otherwise stagnant stew of his castmates, but his efforts' product felt too caricatured to be genuine. Again, only Mrs. Lovett really stood out as a character of significant complexity and depth. But why? Why?
I considered the question seriously and in doing so I was forced to go back and reconsider, not only my opinion of the performances, but also and moreover my entire starting point for opining in general. This is a morality play, it was clear, and perhaps I had therefore approached the thing all wrong. I had been looking for plot prominence, character depth, and audience integration, but perhaps i was entirely misguided thus, way off and utterly daft to do so. Could these characters have been meant to be so flat, undynamic, and distant, so singularly motivated and two-dimensional on purpose? Could there be a finer, more complex innerworking here than I had previously considered or even dreamt of realizing? And, as the aforementioned forty-minute introductory period tapered off into the rest of the film, I was pushed deeper into my thoughts, because all of a sudden, and very surprisingly to me, everything just clicked. I wasn't sure whether it was because the songs had gotten better or I had learned to disregard those aspects of the film that I had previously conceived as faults; but truly everything just fell exactly into place. Tempo was perfect, balance ideal, plotline deepening; it was all really moving, even humming merrily along like clockworks, to an until-then unseen drummer (for I had the distinct feeling that that abstract master had always been there, the course of flow hadn't changed, I just hadn't found its font yet). I was astounded. And it hit me, far more strongly than my earlier recognition, this was a morality play. Its breed and nature exist entirely outside of the world of now traditional film as something older, almost archetypical, and certainly governed by its own set of rules. Characters did not have to be rounded, plotlines did not have to be of a certain depth; in this type of play it could make perfect and absolute sense to be at haste in getting over the mere introductory formalities, because they and the details of the plotline are so subordinate to the being and the details of the moral or conceit they exemplify. And at once what I had initially seen as the crumbled, poorly effected structures of the early portion of the film took on new life, as naught but the rickety unembellished framework jogging into play, accomplishing everything it needed to, cleanly and simply. And, as I pared down my interpretations of the characters, I also recognized that the reason why Mrs. Lovett (at her basic, on-the-page form) had stood out from the rest for me is because her sticking point and singular motivation is by its nature necessarily more "complex" (as the word is ordinarily considered); active emotion and conscience manifest her, as she was designed to be the only player who has inklings of self-awareness about her, as she is the sage, the augur, the portent. It is through her that the true moral grappling is worked and exemplified, and so she is the keystone of the entire piece. I fell back in my seat and absorbed it all.
The film had been completely beguiling, and I was confounded by how a film that seemed to be so lacking in so many ways could pick itself up and turn itself around, almost entirely reoriented in my mind, to become so lucid and full and hard-hitting. Of course, it was unequivocal how visually beautiful it had been. Colleen Atwood is endlessly talented at her craft, and her costumes meld perfectly into the alternately bright and dusky hues of the art direction and production design. Mr. Sondheim's songs were also enchanting, and so the audial part of the film was too decidedly lovely. Yet, the meat of it...so tricky. Of course, praise again to Ms. Bonham Carter and to her director husband, Mr. Burton, who so cleverly manipulated my mind into this half-in-awe, half-in-question state; but my final grade? What to do? For, not all the shortcomings of my early review did improve. The cinematography especially remained an erratic con for the film; so much better could have been done with wider shots, fewer tight close-up, and more parallel, flatter (if you will) angles. But what of the rest? I confess, I have never before deliberated so headily on the exactitudes of my grade for a film. Usually it is very apparent to me before I even begin to write my review where (within at least a plus or a minus) my grade will be. Yet, here the range was so wide that I still, even now, am unsure of where I've arrived, for despite its apparent myriad and variable flaws or inexiguities I cannot think of Sweeney Todd other than by majority greatness. Congratulations, Mr. Burton & Co.; I keep my doubts but I just cannot condemn you.

Grade: A-

O, and as for the photo, I'm saving myself for a shot of Mr. Todd and Mrs. Lovett "By the Sea," which was just brilliant.

13 December 2007

Review: Atonement

Genre: Drama (Historical) / Romance

Atonement, if you remember correctly, reader, was the last film on my list of Most Eagerly Anticipated Films of 2007. I called it almost a sure thing, to be recognized by the major awards associations as one of the year's best films, not only because of its sweeping historical romance or its talented cast and crew, but also because it seemed to be built on a genuinely good premise. It is needless to say, my dear reader, that these are thing which I no longer believe.
Atonement was the second time Mr. Wright, the director, has sought to revitalize and restore a much gone over and much regurgitated storyline. His primary effort, the brilliant Pride & Prejudice (2005), accomplished the task completely and, apart from four Academy Award nominations, including two for collaborators who returned to work with the director in his sophomore try, the film garnered a clean A- from this blogger, who still thinks very highly of the work. The sophomore attempt meanwhile barely cleared the hurdle of decency and should consider itself very lucky if it garner any similar critical praise at all (with at most two exceptions). Weak where it should have been strong, chapped where it should have been fluid, and tranquil where it should have been passionate, the film was a clattering of high-gloss, silver-polished banalities and stale, brittle by rote recitations. Clearly the whole thing could have been marginally re-edited and out would have popped The English Patient or another such high-brow, 'seriously dramatic' drudgery, where the combination of stifled ambiances with cloistered musings, pitched against a backdrop of war, apparently indicate a sort of badge of merit. Where was the burning love that was supposed? Prove it me. Where was the coruscating passion made winnowingly the elegiac sense of loss? Play it me. Where was the thetical binding of all the various parts of the film by common cause and argument (more than just "Let us take responsibility as best we can for our actions")? Persuade it me. At the absolute least let me feel something, for I so badly wanted to find that singular redemptive feature of the work for which I could say, indeed, it was not a great work but at least there was this ___; but there was no such thing.
Mr. Marionelli's score was gimmicky at best. Sounding like no more of an effort than a grafting on or substituting in of the mechanical sounds of a typewriter where percussion used to be, the theme was a huge step down from the glowing tones of his Pride & Prejudice score. Ms. Knightley's performance had too that reissued feeling, not of her own previous work but the work of another actress in a similar past role, except her performance was certainly a lot duller. She barely spoke or appeared in other than a state of subdued consternation and her torrid romance with the groundskeeper boy that figured so much in the storyline felt hardly as sincere and credible as it was meant to be. The costumes and art direction were spiffy at best, and the cinematography slathered the whole thing other in either the tones and lighting of a Clinique commercial or the overly painterly hues of a person who's trying to hard. And God help the screenplay, whose feeble foundation is likely the cause of most of this horrible distress. Fluffy, erratic, and too coy for its own good, the play moved along as though it were in the process of trying to deliver a whopping punchline that would set all its initial potential misgivings right and astound the general public and film-making industry alike but, instead, could only muster a vague sort of toddle towards the truth (which to everyone was glaringly self-evident from the very start and title). I mean, it wraps up with Ms. Redgrave's Briony Tallis' speech as smugly as though it had just nailed the final answer on Jeopardy's Tournament of Champions and elucidated the shocking reality of what had happened to its characters for the apparently confused and still puzzling audience. I gathered that we, the audience, were supposed to feel first gratified that the record of the tumultuous and impetuous first night would be set straight by the young Nurse Briony, then suddenly betrayedly upset by the news that the aforementioned restoration never occurred and because of death C and Robbie's love never had had the chance to survive, and finally recomforted by the small, exceedingly passive reprieve Briony has granted them in her last novel. Well, what a presumptuous iteration of crap that is. The awkward shiftings and the extremely distant atmosphere sapped any and all emotion from that restorative scene; the blatantly obvious descent into physical and mental unfocus swiftly undercut any inkling that Robbie might have survived the war; and the meager and not-to-mention fictional deliverance of C and Robbie into a place of happiness (which cannot for the consistently realistic, almost legally so, nature of the film be construed as their afterlives) is nowhere near the gracious and gravitous atonement one would expect of a Briony who has committed her whole life toward correcting her (entirely understandable) youthful mistake.
Still Ms. Redgrave strives to make the most out of it, and her chronological counterparts do their individual bests as well to wrap themselves around the bizarrely square character they share. For the flightiness of her innocence as a youth, Ms. Ronan has the least arduous task and makes the most of it. Her performance is noteworthy, as is Mr. MacAvoy's, who by his talents as an actor manages to effect cohesion and depth out of his almost exiguous Robbie. Hybridizing his flat and cold public personality of politeness, practicality, and honor and his fanciful and jejune private one of playfulness, day-dreaming, and young-male sexual urgency, MacAvoy invents a three-dimensionality in Robbie that is wholly credible for the character's identity; and he reacts consistently in such a way that maintains this hybridized interlacing of his character. He is postured but to a point and he is furious in reaction toward young Briony's manifested rescue scenario. He is playful but not beyond decorum and he brings home the two lost young boys with one on his shoulders. He is sexual but still respectable and he only slowly steps away to right himself, back turned to camera, when discovered in coitus with Ms. Knightley's C. It is a smart, real understanding of a person, a living current beneath the placid surface; and his lines are the only ones that felt emotionally actual and unrehearsed. His work and Ms. Ronan's are probably the only truly redeeming features in the film.
Ugh, by now I just feel exhausted by the whole affair, as if I'd just been trying to issue a considered opinion on onion preserves. (The implications of the stagnant, bland, and disappointingly predictable content of that simile were not unintentional.) Now I'm just anxious to see whether any established film authority will see it in the same way I have, or will the 'serious grandeur' of it all overdouse them into praise?

Grade: C+

10 December 2007

Review: Juno

Genre: Drama

In another part of the film year, Juno would be hopelessly lost among the flotsam and jetsam of the studios, therefrom hopelessly unable of being elicited as anything more than just another like its sloppy company. In all its previews it hardly stands out - even to a filmically intelligent eye - as anything more than the average adolescent sex drama, in which unfortunate befallings proceeding from sex (i. e., pregnancy) force the children that the film introduces at its beginning to adolesce, to become the (at least partial) adults that the film sends off at its close. In practical terms, on the surface, it's the cinematic equivalent of the after-school special. And, even though such a concise plot description feels as dull as those typical briefs listed in a TV guide, in truth nothing further is really needed to inform the general audience member of the film's direction.
Why then, I ask, has Juno been released now, during the holiday season, when - with the minor exceptions that are the stifled holiday drivel - the films in release are nearly all the so called "Oscar hopefuls?" Why is this film worthy of such notice, of such high-brow positioning, and - most importantly - of such acclaim as that which it has received from critics high and low, touting all its virtues in "year's best" declarations? In this review, I shall attempt to answer these my questions and to, simultaneously, grapple with my answers, to determine whether or not Juno should be considered, as so many have, exceptional.
Primarily, it seems to me, Juno can be considered exceptional, because it is not a film that, like so many others in its cliche sub-genre, can be easily boiled down to its bare bones and then still retain the values and purposes that it, as a complete work, embodies. It cannot be simply "the teenage sex flick about the girl who gets pregnant by mistake and thereafter has to deal with it." Why not? There are several reasons:

  1. Though the structure of the play remains essentially the same - that is, the order of events of Juno remains fairly consistent with the way the 'stock' drama is supposed to play out - the finer details of that structure are often upturned in a way that provides for some new dynamism and as yet unexplored territory to creep about, revealing itself. Instead of the singularly minded characters and bland by rote occurrences of idle drama, the players of Juno have depth, vigor, that certain polymorphic human validity that encourages distinct, unpunctured credibility in the spontaneity, or unprescribed nature, of their actions. The impetuous sex, for example, is not motivated by the perennial uncontrollable male urge to fuck, as stock would have it; Mr. Cera's very George-Michael-ean Paulie Bleeker is hardly the kind of adolescent male to be afflicted by the age-old, stereotypical satyriasis. Instead, it is Juno herself who proposes and acts upon her sexual curiosities. Though the exact reasons for her doing so are never explicated, the fact stands, and the contribution to the argument that is her Diana-like personality - sharp-hewn, determined, forged but nevertheless chained by her childish fancies - is evidence in plenty: sex roles are not prescribed. And, though the play sort of recedes upon itself on this point by falling back upon the tried, Freudian-proffered (though subtly) explanation for this, her character, by absenting her biological mother, it still wards against the hackneyed-conventional by its
  2. [F]orcefully original dialogue. Juno and her friends and relations are admirably nearly endless spools of wickedly tight and allusive quips, quivers, and quotations, that the screenwriters seem to have invested in them with feverish delight, much as (though certainly to a greatly lesser extent than) Mr. Burgess, writer of A Clockwork Orange, or (perhaps more commensurately) Ms. Heckerling, writer of Clueless. The effect is a charming, flighty facility of dialect that both sets the characters high and away from their counterparts in the sub-genre and binds them as a group together, as a tight working wrestling pool of vitality and - tantamountly to the screenplay's success - self-awareness. When Juno automatically responds to her father's inquiry into her previous whereabouts by saying that she was out "dealing with things way beyond [her] maturity level," she both compounds and compresses her existential adolescent crisis in a wonderful double-headed turn of phrase, whose impact is greatly enhanced by the skill of
  3. [C]ompetent young actors. So often in the past have these teenage films been addressed to the audience by the mouths and tongues of actors and actresses unable to give much of their own, to add to the black-and-white material. Juno fortunately is not squandered in a similar case; the young people who play in it have truly found and increased the palpability of their characters, by either holding back or giving it all. Mr. Cera outfits himself in a character withdrawn into himself, voiced only when he need be, and somehow simultaneously both self-conscious and unconcerned with the criticisms of others, whoever they be. He seeks vigilantly the lighted path of honesty and valor and is not afraid to (at least internally) question the supposedly decided matters of hand. He is struggling, as much as Juno but in his own way, to manage the situation as well as possible. And, by merely looking askance, shuffling his feet in place, and speaking in a careful cadence (as if he were more trying to communicate than actually communicating), the actor brings his character out from where he otherwise could have been (i. e., in the periphery of the film as no one more than the somewhat gawky, mostly feckless, haphazard sperm-donor), to be where he ought be (i. e., in focus, in question, in responsibility, in study). Ms. Page does the same for her Juno, whose quirky forthrightness as outlined on the page is only by her work elucidated by innocence, uncertainty, and youth(!), where other actresses might have tried (undiluted) recalcitrance, intransigence, and misanthropy. Of course, there is no mistake that Juno is at heart the "uniquely rebellious [teenage] girl" that Not Another Teen Movie so deftly lampoons, but what is great about only her is that her character doesn't stop there, where it begins. Instead, like Mr. Cera's Bleeker, it spools out and spirals, gleaning complexities and ambiguities and a smartly applied, contrasting fealty to her age that does not have her, like so many other girls, waxing twenty-something and (trying to be) o so confident and mature, but does rather have her waning, flailing, and fighting to achieve those qualities which the others took for granted. She is a girl, and Ms. Page's facial expressions that pillow and support the lines that they form are the delights of the film.
These points break Juno from the brittle molds of concise and trite describability and inarguably float it above the awkwardly murky waters of the "teenage sex drama." To reduce it to such a stereotype is to injure, to unjustly dismiss all the good and important facts of its process.
Secondarily, what recommends Juno of acclaim is the stylistically aligned and consistent presentation of its cinematography. Though some may cavel and decry my opinion of the skill of this part of the film on the basis that it was not photographically 'correct' or otherwise artisitically meritorious, I stand fast and urge them to consider the criteria by which they judge such 'correctness' and artisitic merit. Do fine lines and tight colors, accurate points of focus and smart croppings, exist as absolute requirements for cinematographical achievement? Or may these points in seriousness be overlooked, as a master his formal training, in the sincere trying to let out something new? Obviously, reader, I am partial to the latter assessment, for Juno's cinematography seems to accomplish - to me - both what it was meant to accomplish (i. e., an optically engaging, visual recountment of the story) and what it was hoped to (i. e., an emotionally ripe, deeply personal exploration of the story's players). The intimate shots of the sex incident are the best examples of this achievement. Low camera positions, capturing the grounded but slightly wobbling feet of Juno in the dim yellow light of unbroken innocence as she undresses in front of Bleeker, whose patient and waiting legs rest in the near distance and whose naked body, attached to them, quietly suggests both mood and character dynamics as it is out of focus. Such is tenderness and brilliance, such is the film. However unpolished be it, be.
Finally, what compels Juno is its handy acting. I have already discussed the achievements of Mr. Cera and Ms. Page, and so here I have only to commend the beautifully distraught performance by Ms. Garner, whose earnest yet unembarrassed fragility as a woman so desirous of motherhood but piteously unable to conceive on her own was for me the unexpected (and immensely good) bonus of the film. With it her part of the story was able to speak well and deeply about the questions of being and purpose and continuity that are at the film's core.
I have only one complaint, or cause for feeling quizzical, of the film: the sketchy, drawn-out animation that introduced it and most of its credits. What was that about? Sure, it was fun for a little while, but then it just dragged on, intent on running the entire length of that introductory song, whose importance I assumed by its prominence but did not otherwise detect in its lyrics. And, other than the similarly designed titles beginning each seasonal chapter of the film, there was no relation to it in the entire rest of the film. It was exiguous, to say the least, and would have played much better in an abridged format, if it must play at all.
But, despite this bizarre inclusion, Juno still remains a fruitful and worthwhile film, one which I do recommend as, indeed, endearingly unusual for its sub-genre, exceptional, and one of the "year's best."

Grade: A-/B+

09 December 2007

Review: The Savages

Genre: Comedy (Black)

I was finally able tonight, after much anticipation, to see one of the latest films that has achieved a level of critical dignification that only could enhance the excitement I had already had for its release to a near-boiling point. I was expecting sure-fire stirrings and other urgent and solid metaphysical probings to emerge from the lights of the screen, a sirene from Ms. Linney, a precision from the writers, and a genius hold from the director; and for the first moments of The Savages I thought, well, at last I shall not be disappointed. Now, if you, my reader, be any sort of intelligent being, you probably will have already guessed that the thoughts which are to follow will show my initial expectations to be smartly rebuffed by the truth of the film - and it is to your credit that the direction that I am about to take is that which you've anticipated: negatory in fact - but in defense of myself and of the film itself I must say that, despite my complaints, The Savages is not an unpolished, or unskilled, effort. Rather, it was merely less of one than I had expected it to be.
First and foremost, the writing, which is the undiluted ground of a movie such as this one, was accomplished; it set out to recount a specific tale to its audience and in that quest it did not in any measure fail to succeed. However, its accomplishment is not quite the "being accomplished" that one would ordinarily expect. Although epithets may be well said, the fact of their eloquence does not do much, nay anything on its own, to encourage their theses; indeed there may be many a well-written paper that says little, if anything at all. And the screenplay of The Savages may be counted among them - granted counted in their better ranks but counted nonetheless. Though both Ms. Linney's and Mr. Hoffman's characters achieve that subordinated end of the rainbow that is the fullness of the character arc in typical classical writing style, those achievements feel somewhat contrived, forced, a little too perfect. Though they were subordinated, subtle, they wore still too crisp of an air to be believed thoroughly as such; they were perhaps very similar in manner to paper that has been artificially aged to look as parchment but that, one can still tell, is just new paper all the same underneath. Though not quite the same as false notes, the denouements of their travails stand as the significant examples of the writers' lack of acuity and consistence in presenting a story that echoes both as real and as cinematic.
The direction, I feel, compounded this writing issue by too frequently blocking the sibling characters as two idle strangers encountering the rest of the world together. Perhaps this isolation caused them to feel too strayed, too separate from others, to truly come to the closes that they were supposed to have had. I mean, they were hardly ever evenly situated across from another character, however minor, when in conversation; always sidelong glances feigning intimacy or at least awkward distances, emphasized by the cinematography, partitioned their own privately kept and inhabited little world from the swim of the rest of it. Ms. Linney's Wendy, even when in serious, cinematically 'turning-point' or 'recognition' discussion with a hospital nurse, is placed next to her partner and barely looks at him as they speak. It felt sterile, unnatural, and despite the type of person she was presented as being, even considered her introversion and social awkwardnesses.
That said, the cinematography was not bad, not bad at all. Although it was primarily used as a vehicle to drive home the point of the characters' isolation (even from the audience) almost at times ad negatum, it was remarkably smart enough not to do the opposite, as so many films today do and suffer therefrom, (i. e., crush them by being too close). The distance helped the film-viewers remain aware of context and continuum, presences other than and perhaps relevantly greater than the characters, and bear witness to the anesthetized and internally demoralizing reality that is the space between - whether it be temporal, physical, or emotional. Furthermore, its handling of the lighting, the way in which it maintained a regular, natural, and consistent tension between the glow of daylight and the artificial fluorescence of light sources like those of the Valley View, the "rehabilitation clinic" to where the siblings' father is importunately sent, was nearly brilliant. Mr. Hupfel should definitely feel pleased by the results of his work.
As for the work of Ms. Linney and Mr. Hoffman themselves, I have only one thing to say: would that they were so strongly grounded in firmer soil, they should have been high-exceptional.

Grade: B+