Happy Friday the 13th! In honor of the day I was able to take in a couple of screenings for some smaller movies–not related to The Rock punching a building or Adam Sandler sucking in ways unrelated to his non-animated work–that you should be able to take a gander at beginning, well today (7/13/18). Leave No Trace stars the ever talented Ben Foster as a tortured vet who prefers living off-the-grid with his daughter until their all natural life is uprooted and they are forced to integrate back into society. Then, we’ll dip into the volatile world of found footage horror with The Devil’s Doorway, a scathing exploration of religion that dives into dark recesses of hell and the mysterious supernatural–good times were had by all. PS….children doing weird sh*t in the dark is never not scary.
Leave No Trace
Generally, when you consider the idea of a homeless individual one’s natural instinct is to assume that this is an individual with no means to secure a roof over their head. It’s not unreasonable to assume very few have ever considered the idea that the people they’ve encountered and assumed were homeless are choosing to live that way–and–if you choose to live out in the open, are you really homeless?
Such is the case with Debra Granik’s latest picture, Leave No Trace, which finds Will (Ben Foster) and his daughter Tom (Thomasin McKenzie) living out in the woods surrounding Portland, Oregon. Not struggling to survive, not out on the streets begging for money or shelter, but living off the land with the supplies they have–and buying goods from selling expired meds that Will was once given to ward off his PTSD. However, despite how carefully Will trained his daughter to be in the lookout for people roaming the woods they are plucked from their nook and forced back into society to try to assimilate back as productive normal on-the-grid schmucks. This proves to be too much for the tortured Will to bare and his insistence to go back to normal becomes the wedge that may drive he and Tom apart now that she’s gotten a taste of what it’s like to be a part of a normal society. (more…)
Busy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!
Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+
Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-(more…)
Life is a beautiful thing. It’s complex, subjectively fulfilling and in various ways, sad. Denis Villeneuve excels in conveying humanity and emotion in the most beautiful and hideous ways. Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario are incredible examples of just how dark the filmmaker views the human condition so it’s only right that with Arrival he introduces extraterrestrials to have a heady and heart-wrenching talk with us humans.
Arrival is high end science fiction. A thinking person’s genre flick. Villeneuve drops a handful of alien spacecrafts into our world and a less discerning movie-goer salivates while waiting for the eye-popping VFX and ariel dogfights. However, when your main character, Louise (Amy Adams), being a linguist and her side kick, Ian (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, sent to decrypt and analyze alien language to engage in deep conversation there just isn’t room for devastating city-wide explosions and laser beams. (more…)
Malevolent light sensitive ghosts, evil beds and invisible dads. This edition of the Tall Glass of Film Hangover touches some interesting points on the genre compass, two of which (Bed of the Dead and The Unseen) were screened as part of the 2016 Fantasia Film Festival. So sit back, relax and enjoy some of TGoF’s thoughts on a few upcoming flicks!
I’ve gotta be honest–I don’t think there was a chance in Hell that a three minute short would translate effectively into an 80 minute feature. Sure 80 minutes is lean and mean, but considering the lack of plot in David F. Sandberg’s original short for Lights Out was non-existent it’s reasonable to assume the feature wouldn’t remedy that to a significant degree. Luckily, I’m wrong a lot. Lights Out takes the smart route by setting up a simple story but hanging its success in the shoulders of a stellar cast and a relentless (but constantly recycled) barrage of scares.
Teresa Palmer stars as Rebecca, a concerned sister that has never had to shoulder real responsibility looking to possibly become the legal guardian of her brother, Martin (Gabriel Bateman). Martin hasn’t been sleeping because his mother, Sophie (Maria Bello), is on the verge of a mental break that has invited a dangerous specter, Diana, with deep ties to the family to enter all three of their lives once again. With CPS breathing down her neck Rebecca must find the secret to ridding the threat before it’s too late. (more…)
The most iconic and quotable line of Arnie’s career has been warning us for years- he would be back. Back he most certainly is, or has been, but in Henry Hobson’s debut feature we see The Governator like we’ve never seen him before…tender. The very idea of a soft spoken Schwarzenegger boggles the mind, but sure enough with Maggie, audiences will for the first time see the soft side of one of cinema’s most prolific tough guys. Rather or not its worth everyone’s time, that’s a whole different story.
Maggie takes place in an undisclosed near future where the world’s population has been ravaged by a deadly epidemic. The disease slowly spreads through the body of the infected, before turning them into the undead. Local law enforcement, burdened with keeping the residents safe, are vigilant in keeping tabs on the infected and taking them to quarantine before the final transformation. Wade (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is one of many farmers forced to burn their crops in hopes to slow the spread of the disease. When Wade’s daughter, Maggie (Abigail Breslin), is inflicted with the disease he brings her home in hopes to comfort her in her final weeks. He struggles daily with keeping his daughter safe as her last days quickly approach and what he may have to do to spare her the loneliness and fear of living her last days in quarantine. (more…)
Take a look at the title, PREDESTINATION, it is ripe with possibilities and they all have roots in science fiction. It’s almost a little on the nose that the Spierig brothers decided to go so blatantly sci-fi with it. What’s not nearly as predictable is what they decided to do with the film’s familiar premise. What’s even more exciting about this movie is that with it, Michael and Peter Spierig have skyrocketed to the top or near the top of directors that I- if I had the bankroll- would write a blank check to in order for them to create whatever their heart desires for their next feature. Names like Christopher Nolan and Rian Johnson were the previous names hovering in that top spot, and with PREDESTINATION their work is strikingly similar to those two filmmakers.
Without giving away too much, PREDESTINATION, at its base is a time travel movie. One that begins as an unnamed man (played by Ethan Hawke) travels back in time to catch an elusive terrorist known as, The Fizzle Bomber. It’s eluded to that this man has made several attempts throughout his career as a “temporal agent” to stop the many bombings perpetrated by this bomber and has always come up empty handed. The problem being that The Fizzle Bomber keeps changing the dates of the attacks and his latest is set to claim the lives of over 10,000 people. Hawke’s character decides that he is going to try one last time to stop The Fizzle Bomber before decommissioning his time jump field kit- will he succeed? (more…)
Maybe it’s just me, but the institution of marriage is really taking heavy fire from a cinematic standpoint this year. Or Maybe in previous years I just didn’t watch enough movies about marital relationships. I’ve been witness to a marriage plagued by a serial killer (A GOOD MARRIAGE), newlyweds prey to mysterious forces tearing them apart (HONEYMOON) and a dramedy featuring a marriage falling apart from infidelity and a past miscarriage (THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU). Now there’s GONE GIRL, a thriller from David Fincher featuring a marriage of two people so messed up that they are perfect for each other. Fincher’s film is haunting, tense and depressingly brilliant in how it presents, in extremes, what marriage can do to people and the faces we put on for those watching us.
Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) are a married couple about to celebrate their 6th wedding anniversary. When Nick comes home in the middle of the afternoon he finds his living room showing signs of a break in and Amy is missing. Amy as it turns out is the inspiration for her mom’s bestselling book series character Amazing Amy which helps to turn the investigation into an over-the-top media circus. Nick increasingly becomes the target of the investigation and villain in the eyes of the media even as he cooperates unflinchingly with the police. The question still remains though; is Nick the concerned husband he seems to be or is he hiding something that could be the key to finding Amy. (more…)