Posts tagged with “viggo mortensen”
ANIMAL KINGDOM (2010/DVD) One commenter on the net notes that: “Writer/Director David Michôd’s debut film still flies under the radar of most U.S. filmgoers.” This is certainly true. The Australian film Animal Kingdom had very short runs in indie film houses in the states and happily now is available through NetFlix on DVD. If you like gritty, dark crime dramas, this is a movie for you. A bit of a slow start, but be patient and you will be rewarded. The story centers around 17 year old “J” Cody (an excellent performance from James Frecheville as a typically withdrawn teen) who opens the film by telling us that his mother had always kept him away from her family. For good reason. When his mom dies from a heroin overdose, J has no where else to go and he phones his grandmother “Smurf” who arrives to collect him. A great nick-name, Jacki Weaver is truly strong in the role of the family matriarch—short, with piercing blue eyes and bottle blond hair—she kisses her three sons often and too long, giving us a creepy feeling. I had wondered just why Weaver got that Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but by the end of the film, I understood. She plays what a friend of mine would have called “a chocolate covered spider.” Equally convincing are Ben Mendelsohn as Pope, the oldest son and the leader of this family of thieves and drug dealers; Luke Ford, as Darren, the youngest; Sullivan Stapleton as a heavily tattooed Craig—unhinged and into drugs in a big way; and Joel Edgerton, as Baz, the family friend who looks most responsible and is nice to J. Watch for Guy Pearce as Nathan Lechie, the good cop, trying to help but making matters worse for young J. This movie won the Sundance 2010 Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema (Drama) and Stephen Holden of the NYT rightfully says it “…could be the Australian answer to Goodfellas.” Worth watching.
Grade: A- Slow start and the film is sometimes hard to follow.
Recommended Double Bill: The Young Americans, a 1993 B-Movie from England, with Harvey Keitel in the good cop role and Craig Kelly as the teen caught up in another den of thieves. Thandie Newton plays the love interest and a young Viggo Mortensen is the ultimate bad guy. Great rental for a slow Saturday afternoon.
THE ROAD (2009/ IN THEATERS) has been coming for well over a year—it was originally expected to be released last year in time for the Toronto Film Fest–and that kind of delay in a release causes real worry for people who are hoping for a great film from a great, but difficult-to-film novel. I have been in that category for over a year now. So I entered the theater last Saturday with some serious apprehension. (BTW: I am fortunate to be in one of the 31 early release cities where the film opened on November 25th. Others are taking to the net to complain about this limited release, but the latest word is that the Weinsteins will add 53 more cities on December 18th.)
My report is simply this: the film is not disappointing. It is well done and will stick with you. Salon.com noted a “heart breaking honesty” to the performances and I agree. Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee really hold the film and that’s tough when you’re on screen literally ALL the time. In addition, I found the film to be both less violent and surprisingly less depressing than I had expected. Sure, it’s no action flick—there is no resolution and no rescue for The Man and The Boy. They just slog it out, as in the book. But there are actual moments of humor in the film that caused the audience where I was sitting to laugh (or at least chuckle). This is truly surprising, given the subject matter and the tone of the book (and film). I will admit that parts of the movie do seem to drag. But what can we say? It’s THE ROAD.
With a nod to artistic direction. How to work with nothing but grey?? And very little CGI—nice counter to 2012. Read more on the approach in the LA Times.