Posted on Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 by Angie Han
If you’ve heard of What Richard Did, there’s a good chance it was in the context of a conversation about Transformers 4. A few months ago, Irish actor Jack Reynor was plucked from relative obscurity to become Michael Bay‘s new Shia LaBeouf, and What Richard Did was one of the few films on his resume. If Transformers 4 does well, this young star has the potential to become one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars overnight. But as he moves on to higher-profile roles, his sensitive turn in What Richard Did makes me hope he won’t leave indies behind completely.
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(Note: This is a reprint of our Mud review from Sundance 2013. The film opens in a limited run today.)
For his follow-up to Take Shelter, director Jeff Nichols smartly casts Matthew McConaughey as a violent drifter who slides into the lives of two young boys whose families eke out a bare existence on the Mississippi River. Using the gift for gab that any character played by McConaughey must automatically possess, this outlaw wraps the boys up in his plan to achieve true freedom.
While Take Shelter trafficked in heavy ambiguity, Mud does away with uncertainty, at least with respect to the story. This is a straightforward tale that rides on the shoulders of McConaughey and two excellent young actors, Tye Sheridan (The Tree of Life) and newcomer Jacob Lofland.
Mud is a riff on Mark Twain, and an exploration of the relationships between generations of men. It could be a Tom Waits song, perhaps a long-lost cut from Swordfishtrombones, revolving as it does around a man with a dark past who seeks to build an escape engine out of cast-off parts, with love as his fuel. The film casts a keen eye on people living a mostly bygone lifestyle, and wraps those observations in a rollicking little adventure that you might find in the yellowing pages of an old pulp novel.
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The lineup for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival was released this morning, and as ever it is a list that represents great promise and potential for the coming year in film.
A number of films that we fully expected to see on the list are here: Only God Forgives from Nicolas Winding Refn, Inside Llewyn Davis from the Coen Brothers, Behind The Candelabra from Steven Soderbergh, along with opener The Great Gatsby and Sofia Coppola‘s Un Certain Regard headliner The Bling Ring. There are also The Immigrant from James Gray and The Past, from A Separation director Asghar Farhadi.
But there are some surprises here, too, such as the new film from Roman Polanski, in which he adapts David Ives’ stage play Venus In Fur, and Alexander Payne‘s Nebraska. And there are plenty more potential gems, including films from Denis, Ozon, Miike, Kore-eda, and To. Check out the full list, along with this year’s Cannes poster, below. Read More »
What a beautiful thing, Upstream Color. Shane Carruth‘s second film is a melange of surprises and delights. For an audience familiar with Primer, Carruth’s time-layering ouroboros of a debut, one element may be more surprising than all others: simplicity. Though the telling of this new film is by no means conventional, the core is an elegant idea, yet one rich enough to foster myriad interpretations.
Crafted with an awe-inspiring confidence, Upstream Color establishes a strange and frightening sci-fi framework, then works within that frame to probe the nature of human relationships, and our proximity to and power over the forces that define us. The wild elements of the plot allow Carruth to examine love and destiny with unexpected sensitivity. Upstream Color belongs in the company of 2001 and Solaris; it stands with the very best that speculative fiction has to offer.
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The big recent roles from Sam Rockwell have been comedic — think of his turn in Seven Psychopaths, his work in The Sitter, hell, even his Iron Man 2 performance had a comic tinge. And when audiences get a chance to see The Way Way Back later this year, they’ll see a very endearing and funny turn from the actor.
A Single Shot appears to have only the smallest funny bone. It is an adaptation of a novel by Matthew F. Jones, in which a man (Rockwell) loses his family farm, and poaches game to survive. But things go bad when he takes aim at the wrong target. The trailer is very much in a sort of post-Malick mode, with a bit of dialogue setting the stage for a cascade of imagery backed by tense, insistent violins. It gives a sense of danger more than it conveys a full story. Read More »
Briefly: By far the best movie I’ve seen in 2013, Destin Daniel Cretton‘s Short Term 12, is making its way to your local theater. (Or, in all likelihood, your favorite VOD platform.) Cinedigm acquired the film, which won both the Grand Jury and Audience Awards at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival, and is planning a late Summer release.
Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson and John Gallagher Jr. as a young couple who have to balance their own personal issues with the issues of the displaced kids they are in charge of at a foster home. Read my full review here. It’s a glorious, special film. [Deadline] Read More »
Sometimes you watch a movie and, at the end, can’t think of anything in the film that could have been done better. The whole thing just feels perfect or magical, a shining example of what cinema is all about. Short Term 12 is one of those movies.
Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton based on his award-winning 2009 short film of the same name, Short Term 12 stars Brie Larson as Grace. She’s young woman who spends her days overseeing a huge group of foster kids in a group home, many of whom are mentally ill. They suffer from depression, have suicidal tendencies and OCDs. It is Grace’s job — and that of her boyfriend Mason (The Newsroom‘s John Gallagher Jr.) and a new guy (Rami Malek) — to try and keep the kids content while they go about their lives. This is easier said than done when Grace is probably more messed up than everyone else in the building.
Funny, moving, surprising and emotional, Short Term 12 is an awards contender from top to bottom. The performances are mindblowing, the writing sharp, and the direction beautiful. It’s a very special movie, and worthy winner of the 2013 South by Southwest Grand Jury and Audience Awards. Read More »
Oddly enough, everything you need to know about Spring Breakers is represented by its two credited music composers: Cliff Martinez and Skrillex. Martinez is a veteran, a regular Steven Soderbergh collaborator who recently did the score to Drive. He’s known for pulsing, tense, dramatic scores. Skrillex is the world’s best known dubstep DJ, known for grimy, catchy party anthems infused with a certain soul and savagery. Those two sounds, traditional and modern, are Spring Breakers in a nutshell. It’s a wild, entertaining and vibrant movie with an underbelly of tension and purpose.
At times Spring Breakers pops with energy and excitement. It then dives into much more intense drama. The tones, like those of the score, sometimes clash. But often the oddfellows mesh beautifully, making us question why this film is the way it is: a fever dream of drugs, sex and violence. The answer brings to light some tough questions about society’s core beliefs. Read More »
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