Green Room

MV5BMjU1ODQ5NzA0N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDg5MTA5NzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,675,1000_AL_Green Room is a bleak, ultra-violent and unrelentingly dark film: it is the stuff of nightmares. Those sensitive to horrific, realistic violence should not watch this.

At the start of the film, a series of mishaps leads a punk rock band to accept a gig at a secluded white supremacist bar, where one of the band members witnesses the aftermath of a murder. The band members are locked in a room with a hulking, armed neo-Nazi guarding them. The band turns the tables on the guard and a deadly, brutal cat-and-mouse game ensues with lethal results.

The violence is brutal, pervasive and meant to be visceral and disturbing. In particular, the neo-Nazis turn  a vicious pit bull on one of the members of the band; the camera does not shy away from showing the dogs ripping the band member to shreds.

Much like Jeremy Saulnier’s previous effort, Blue Ruin, Green Room deals with the real-world violence and and the effect that it has on people who are in way over their heads. Green Room ups the ante with an onslaught of brutality that is hard to watch at times. The strength of the film is that real-world violence is not sanitized nor glorified; the violence is shown to be truly what it is: ugly, vicious and permanently life-altering.

The film stars Anton Yelchin (in one of his final roles), Alia Shawkat, Imogen Poots and Patrick Stewart. Stewart is particularly compelling as the leader of the white supremacists. He gives an understated, but chilling performance as a man who casually orders the vicious deaths of those who might expose his criminal enterprise.

Worth a look for the compelling story and the strength of the lead actors.

Skip it if unsettling violence bothers you.

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Green Room

-Steve

 

 

 

 

Quirky Movies: Mr. Right

mr rightMr. Right is a quirky movie, sometimes self-consciously so, but the strength of the two leads, Sam Rockwell and Anna Kendrick make for an eminently enjoyable viewing experience. The writing is crisp and witty and at just over an hour and a half run time, the action never lets up. Kudos to the writer, who remained on point and didn’t waste any time on unnecessary sub plots.

Sam Rockwell (in fine form as always) plays Mr. Right/Francis, a hit man who is on the run from his employers. It seems he has developed a conscience and no longer wants to kill people for a living, except those who have hired him. He becomes sort of a “reverse hit man.”

Anna Kendrick plays Martha, a woman who has just recently gone through a painful breakup. Martha is flighty, even exhibiting Manic Pixie Dream Girl(TM) tendencies. Martha meets Francis and they hit it off; she seems to think that he is the “perfect” guy. Of course his fatal flaw is that he is a hit man (albeit a remorseful one) but once she finds out his secret, she decides that what they have is real and wants to make it work. When Francis jokes about killing people it isn’t clear whether Martha just doesn’t believe him or just doesn’t care.  Of course, Francis’ past catches up with him in the form of Tim Roth, a former partner and current hit man with unclear allegiances. Roth turns in a fine performance.

One criticism is that there is  17-year age gap between Martha and Francis. However, the chemistry between the two actors is so palpable it never feels creepy or inappropriate. The cutesy dialog would have been unbearable had it been delivered by lesser actors but astonishingly, Rockwell and Kendrick make it work.

Although it is a fairly violent movie, most of the violence is played for laughs. Rockwell’s patented dance moves are incorporated into the movie as a bizarre unarmed hand-to-hand combat style.  Because Francis is a hit man, there is a fair amount of shooting and killing.

Worth a look if you like offbeat, quirky rom-coms about offbeat, quirky characters.

Skip it if quirky Manic Pixie Dream Girls(TM) are not your thing.

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Mr. Right

  • Steve

 

 

 

Broadcast News

MV5BMTkxODk0NzExOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjQyODQyNA@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_Broadcast News is the story of a love triangle between a dim-witted but good looking news anchor, Tom Grunick (played by William Hurt), a cynical, smart but average looking reporter, Aaron Altman (played by Albert Brooks) and a flighty, neurotic news producer Jane Craig (played by Holly Hunter).

Tom isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but he has the looks and ability to remain cool and calm on the air, so he is on the fast track to becoming the next big news anchor.

Aaron is smart (even intellectually arrogant) and an accomplished writer, but is average looking and worse, he can’t remain composed on the air. He is also in love with Jane, but lacks the confidence to tell her.

Jane is a neurotic mess;  a driven workaholic which makes her an effective news producer. She falls for Tom because of his looks and charming personality but unfortunately he represents everything she despises about network broadcast news: Tom is mostly style over substance and is none-too-bright.

Although Broadcast News was released in 1987, its central theme of trend of style over substance in the evening news is still timely. Sharp dialog and smart writing make this a wickedly funny movie:

Tom Grunick: What do you do when your real life exceeds your dreams?

Aaron Altman: Keep it to yourself.

In another wickedly funny scene, Aaron is given a chance to read the nightly news, but fails miserably: he sweats so bad that his viewers call in expressing concern that he might be having a heart attack.

Underlying the comedy is a serious subject: dumbing down the news to the point where flash and style win out over substance, which is done by the gradual but constant eroding of standards bit by bit. This film was a harbinger of what televised news would become.

Worth a look if you like smart, intelligent comedic movies with a timely, serious subject.

Skip it if you are expecting a screwball comedy.

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-Steve