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

 

St. Vincent (2014)

Directed By – Theodore Melfi

Screenplay By – Theodore Melfi

Cinematography By – John Lindley

Starring Bill Murray, Jaeden Lieberher, Melissa McCarthey & Naomi Watts

102 min.

This movie has Bill f’n Murray in it! Do I really need to say anything else? No. But I will.

St. Vincent is an excellent movie, it really is. Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher have a terrific chemistry together, although Bill Murray is always great with kids (see Meatballs (1979)). But still Jaeden Lieberher plays his part as Oliver perfectly. He’s scrawny, a bit small for his size, and does a great job at being the son of newly divorced parents without any friends living in a new house in a new area with his mother (a terrific Melissa McCarthey in an un-obnoxious role).

As coming-of-age movies are concerned St. Vincent ranks right up there with the best of them as it is not just the story of the boy but the story of his mentor. In fact, the movie opens and closes with Murray’s character and there is definitely an argument to be made that this is a coming-of-age tale for both main characters. One might even go so far to say it is Vincent’s story and not Oliver’s, although I wouldn’t entirely agree with that sentiment.

The worst, worst, part of this movie is Naomi Watts’ character the Russian, or God knows what, pregnant prostitute Daka. Naomi Watts has the worst most obviously fake accent I’ve ever heard on screen. In a movie that has both laughs and cries, maybe the accent is suppose to be a joke, but unfortunately it is a joke and one that took me out of the movie more so than not. Her character also sounds so stupid, like she just got off the boat from who know’s where and has no idea how the english language works or how to formulate a complete sentence. Literally, her character does not say a complete functional sentence throughout the entire movie. Does she have mental disabilities? No. Then what the hell is going on? The problem is that the character is necessary for the story and for the flow of the movie.

Go see St. Vincent because it is a damn good movie, but beware of Naomi Watts. Lucky for us we have way more Bill Murray and Jaeden Lieberher in this movie than that terrible terrible accent.

God Bless America

Birdman (2014)

Directed By – Alejandro González Iñárritu

Screenplay By – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris & Armando Bo

Cinematography By – Emmanuel Lubezki

Starring Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough & Edward Norton

119 min.

Wow. Birdman. It’s hard to describe Birman. It’s hard to really explain how I feel/what I think of this movie. It was strange and weird and good and bizarre and interesting and original and creative and brilliant and disorienting and so much more.

Iñárritu must be a fucking madman pulling off what he does in Birman. It really feels like a continuous shot throughout, even knowing there is trick editing going on, but he pulls it off. I was actually surprised by how that style made me feel. It was more of a claustrophobic effect than I would have imagined but it worked with the material and tone of the piece.

The acting is superb from the entire cast. Keaton is able to take this movie to the next level but everyone in the cast helps him shine. If Keaton doesn’t get an Oscar nom there will be hell to pay.

Birdman is funny, dramatic, thought-provoking, shocking, intriguing, and again so so much more.

God Bless America