Demolition (2015)

Directed By: Jean-Marc Vallée

Screenplay By: Bryan Sipe

Cinematography By: Yves Bélanger

Starring: Jake Gyllenhall, Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper & Judah Lewis

Runtime 101 minutes

I’m going to watch anything Jake is in so when Demolition came on HBO my viewing of this movie was bound to happen. To my surprise I found this movie to be extremely compassionate. I’m not exactly shocked at how terrible of a reception this movie received when it was released because of how sentimental it is, but call me sentimental because this is a much better film than the critics were giving it credit for. “Fuck the critics!”

Honestly this is a deeply rich film about apathy, grief, and life itself. As Jake’s character searches for a renewed view on life so do we. I found Demolition to be extremely effective to the point where the climax of the film had me teary-eyed. I found Demolition to give it’s characters (most of) the justice characters deserve but rarely find these days.  I found Demolition to have heart and humor, soul and passion.

Usually this kind of movie is melodramatic or standard indie fare; striving to be sympathetic with hints of comedy but ultimately leaving with everything feeling very thin and surface level. I think Demolition goes deeper than that and succeeds on many basic levels. I think that where most movies like this try and be profound and aren’t, Demolition doesn’t try to be and is.

Lastly, I believe my reception to this film was based on expectations. I was expecting a crappy film, thin with a weak plot and weak characters. I found something that was much richer and for that I thoroughly enjoyed my time and found Demolition to enhance my life experience. Demolition has something to say about life and we should listen.

God Bless America

 

Wild (2014)

Directed By – Jean-Marc Vallée

Screenplay By – Nick Hornby & Cheryl Strayed

Cinematography By – Yves Bélanger

Starring Reese Witherspoon

115 min.

Wild is a long depressing journey into Reese Witherspoon’s face. This movie is about how many problems one women can handle both emotionally and physically, and I got to say that after about seven I had had enough. Can nothing go right for this lady? Geez.

Okay, so the movie is about dealing with loss and how one woman, Cheryl Strayed, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail as her grieving process after her mother’s death and a series of bad personal decisions. Now, I can get behind this if this is basically a beautifully shot National Geographic movie with Reese Witherspoon somewhere on frame, walking up hills and climbing mountains, but instead of dwelling on the beauty that Cheryl is in, Vallée decides to venture into Reese Witherspoon’s (very beautiful) face. A good 50%, if not more, of this movie are close-ups of Reese, like I get it, she’s pretty.

Also a lot of the movie has do to with her weird interactions with men on her trail and how they find her so beautiful. So tons of close-ups and every encounter is about her being hot, I think it get the point, Reese Witherspoon is a babe. But we never really move on from that point and see her as a strong individual, except at the very end for a single moment.

Laura Dern plays Cheryl’s mother in the numerous flashbacks we get and Dern is by far the most captivating part of the movie. She’s the only character who smiles and laughs. Dern radiates everything that Wild lacks so much of that you can’t help but smile with Dern while she’s on screen.

Let’s recap, Wild is depressing and gives Cherly only a moment to dwell on her one accomplishment. Reese Witherspoon is a babe. There’s not nearly enough wide shots of the nature the protagonist is hiking through, probably because she’s crying about her past too much to notice the beauty herself. And Laura Dern is the single radiant spot in a dark tale of grief.

Wild isn’t exactly a bad movie but it will leave you feeling empty inside.

God Bless America