Young violent offender Eric Love (Jack O’Connell) is “starred up,” which is to say that he is transferred to adult prison from juvenile detention. After several violent altercations between Eric and both inmates and prison guards, he is put into rehabilitative treatment with volunteer psychologist Oliver Baumer (Rupert Friend). Serving a life sentence in the same prison is Love’s father Neville (Ben Mendelsohn), who does his best to protect the kid from Continue reading Starred Up (2013) Movie Review
A divorced mother of two (Kathryn Hahn) hasn’t seen or talked to her parents in 15 years. After all this time, they contact her online asking to see their grandchildren (Olivia DeJonge and Ed Oxenbould), whom they have never met. She reluctantly agrees on her children’s insistence.
Her children are a cute sibling pair, natural and appropriately childish. Tyler is charismatic and naive, free style rapping with a train conductor and purporting to “sext” with classmates. He desperately wants to live up to a masculine stereotype that he does not truly embody.
Becca is verbose and dramatic with her words as she narrates her way through exposition like a quick knife-stroke through butter. She has recently armed herself with cameras, hoping to tape their week-long visit in a style as close to a professional documentary as she can muster.
Shymalan channels an inexperienced auteur in Becca. Early interactions are light and bubbly as she sets the scene for her “documentary.” It also serves a meta purpose in its intended humor. She explains that with a camera you need to build tension and make people want to imagine what is lingering just beyond the frame. It sounds very much like Shymalan is Continue reading The Visit (2015) Movie Review
In Queen of Earth, old friends Catherine (Elisabeth Moss) and Ginny (Katherine Waterston) escape to a vacation home for a second year in a row to relax and strip away the taxing nature of urban life. Catherine, having recently suffered a loss, is distraught and distracted. She goes on walks that last for miles and lays in bed for hours, complaining that her face is hurting. Depression looms over her head, and it seeps into the world around her. Behind that depression hangs a patiently waiting fury.
Alex Ross Perry makes what we would expect to see–wide open natural spaces and the tranquility of the rural world–anything but Continue reading Queen of Earth (2015) Movie Review
Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine opens on a young, uncharacteristically nervous Steve Jobs being prepped for a television interview. There is an inherent humanism to his uneasy laughter as he explains that he might be sick.
We are then transported to a different world. A more familiar world. Swarms of people are mourning, weeping for Jobs, holding up iPads with candles on their screens. This is the setup for Continue reading Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine (2015) Movie Review
We Are Still Here begins atmospheric. Vacant. Long takes focus on empty sets. A homey living room. A snowy, rural yard. A stone-walled and dirt-floor basement. The house in the woods where a middle-aged married couple has just moved in following the tragic death of their son. A lonely picture of the boy rests on a table near the staircase. Some unnatural presence, or perhaps just an innocent rush of wind, knocks the picture face-down with a loud clap, and the ghost story begins.
The first thing that is noticeable in this film is its hyper-apparent score that come on strong in the early scenes. It meanders or drones, almost whirring a mechanical hiss at us. It implores us to Continue reading We Are Still Here (2015) Movie Review
“I want to be sex-in-the-bathroom people,” could be the working thesis of Slow Learners, the comedy from Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce. Platonic friends Anne (Sarah Burns) and Jeff (Adam Pally) aren’t successful in their personal lives. After many failed attempts at relationships, they decide to wholly change their image.
Sound conventional? Don’t worry, it is.
Continue reading [Quickie]: Slow Learners (2015) Movie Review
Director Jon Watt’s Cop Car opens on two boys (Hays Wellford and James Freedson-Jackson) walking through a field carrying walking sticks as big as their bodies. They alternate reciting swear words; one gleefully energetic and the other dourly reluctant. Both are confident in their juvenile assumptions.
The pair come across a police squad car parked in the woods with no one attending to it. They cautiously approach it as if it is some wild beast, throwing rocks at it and fearfully running up to touch it. Then, they realize that Continue reading Cop Car (2015) Movie Review