Small Slivers of Silver Screen 3

Time for the next round of short and maybe sweet movie reviews:

1) The Messenger  (Oren Moverman)

Starring: Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson, Samantha Moreton, Jena Malone

Run Time: 113 mins

Oren Moverman’s directorial début is sharp, bleak and heart-wrenching as we follow Sgt Will Montgomery (Ben Foster) fresh out of active duty and assigned to complete his enlistment carrying out casualty notifications to next of kin. The depictions of Will and his supervisor, Tony Stone, (Harrelson) are detailed, troubled and often uncertain. They are never at ease, the psychological aftermath of war is never far below the surface, but they are unable to shake their desire to help others and follow orders.

This is a brave and dark subject to tackle but is ultimately timely. The film never shies away from it, the confrontations with family are heart-breaking to watch. The script and directing is raw and unpolished but feels real, a particular highlight is Steve Buscemi’s small cameo as a father to be notified. Also a closing scene between Will and Stone, detailing the ”heroic” fire-fight which ended Will’s active service really brings to light the struggle these two men are still going through.

Will develops a relationship with one of the next of kins, Olivia (Samantha Moreton), and while this is a very sweet, innocent relationship, the scenes do at times tend to drag a little.

This is a wonderful debut for Moverman, with a strong story and grounded performances. Interestingly, the score is very reminiscent of Apocalypse now, especially it’s opening song ”The End” by The Doors with exotic sounding soft guitar. Plus Tony quotes from the film, providing some much needed relief.

VERDICT: ”CHARLIE DONT SURF!”

 

2) 10 Cloverfield Lane (Daniel Trachtenberg)

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, John Gallagher Jr

Run Time: 103 mins

A spiritual sequel to Cloverfield… whatever that is? This film was shrouding in secrecy from start to finish so lets take a look!

The trailer gives little away but all you need to know is Michelle (Winstead) wakes in an underground bunker having been saved by Howard (John Goodman) in the wake of her car accident. Howard is unable to let her leave due to a perceived chemical warfare attack above ground rendering the air unbreathable. GOING IN BLIND IS BEST FOR THIS FILM! (so this will be spoiler free).

This film is a prime example of carefully and slowly built tension, it is always building and while there are minor reprieves and moments of levity the tension and sinister tone always creeps back in. This is the combined result of several factors. A sharp, clever and pointed script,  a score that ranges from classic songs with pointed lyrics to sci-fi synthesizers. But most of all it is down to the acting. Winstead acts as our POV throughout the film and delivers the right mix of spirit, fight, scepticism and terror. But this film rests squarely on Goodman’s shoulders and he is phenomenal, honest, bitter and unsettling. All the adjectives you associate with classic thriller characters. This is one of the best performances I’ve seen him give, as he swings unpredictably from gracious host to pompous saviour to controlling voyeur.

You never know where you stand with this film; is it one man’s paranoia or his extreme preparedness. Is it the generosity of a lonely family man or the lure of a troubled isolation. Is it the cynicism of Michelle’s youth or refusal to accept a new uncertain reality. This is what makes this film so good, you never know who or what is the truth. Which is why the ending left me a little disappointed. Not to say the ending was bad, the final act of the film is exciting and visceral and showcases Michelle’s strength and ingenuity. But the FINAL 10 minutes, whilst continuing this showcase ending, offer, what I feel, is too much explanation. It felt like these final 10 minutes were attached to set up this film’s world for a potential sequel. This could explained by this project becoming related with Cloverfield in its later stages of development so there was some shoe-horning.

Personally I would have preferred ending the  film 10 minutes early on Michelle’s face as she looks terrified saying, ”You’ve got to be kidding me”. But as I said even the final 10 minutes were exciting and well made and as such this film is well worth the watch. Creepy, original and exciting.

VERDICT: GO IN BLIND AND ENJOY THE SUSPENSE!

”Crazy is building your ark after the flood has already come.”

**SPOILER** highlight below to see it

Also perchloric acid features in the film, DO NOT LOOK UP WHAT IT CAN DO TO A PERSON IF YOU VALUE YOUR DINNER! AND TOMORROWS DINNER!

I’ll leave you with that pleasant thought! Until next time!

 

 

 

 

 

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