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Sunday, 19 July 2020 22:51

Norway out – ‘The Sunlit Night’

What do you do when the muse abandons you? How do you get your art back on track when things are stalled? To what lengths would you be willing to travel to escape stagnation and experience revivification?

“The Sunlit Night,” directed by David Wnendt from a screenplay by Rebecca Dinerstein Knight (adapted from her own novel of the same name), takes a look at how one artist attempts to answer these questions. It’s an exploration of the ramifications of allowing our callings to define us at the expense of all else – and what happens when we’re forced to address any shortcomings in that regard.

Set against the stunningly beautiful desolation of an isolated Norwegian island – a place where the sun never sets, populated by an odd collection of strange and quirky characters – it’s one woman’s journey to rekindle her creative fires and rediscovering her ability to connect. It’s a sweet, albeit slight story, one greatly elevated by a strong central performance by Jenny Slate and some absolutely stunning scenery.

Published in Movies

Coming across an unexpectedly good movie is a lovely treat. The blockbusters tend to take up most of the oxygen, making it a little tougher to discover smaller, more idiosyncratic films. One of the many joys of my job is that the gig makes it just that much easier to find the less obvious gems.

“Sometimes Always Never” is no one’s idea of a blockbuster. It’s an intimate, offbeat family dramedy, the feature directorial debut of Carl Hunter, who might be best known as a member of Liverpool pop band The Farm (say what you will, but “Groovy Train” remains a bop), with a script by noted British screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce. It is smart and sweet and incredibly stylish, a mélange of retro aesthetics and family dynamics.

Again, this is not a big movie. Instead, it is constructed of intimate moments, relying on vivid visual choices and heartfelt performances to tell a simple, delicate story of what it means to love and the myriad ways in which we try to move on from loss. It is a clever and quietly, quirkily moving piece of cinema.

Published in Style
Wednesday, 19 February 2020 13:53

‘Downhill’ an uphill battle

A good comedic pairing is something to cherish. When two talented and funny people are brought together onscreen for the first time, our expectations are really elevated. We can’t wait to see how their respective talents react with one another. And when the filmmakers bringing them together are acclaimed talents in their own right, well … what could go wrong?

Quite a lot, as it turns out.

So it is with “Downhill,” the new film starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Written and directed by Oscar-winning duo Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, the film is a remake of the 2014 dark comedy “Force Majeure.” Unfortunately, despite the tremendous talent involved, “Downhill” goes downhill pretty fast.

This new film never manages to recreate the same delicately unsettling balance of its predecessor, resulting in a movie that is constantly at odds with itself regarding the sort of movie it wants to be. The erstwhile dramatic moments feel forced and false, while the ostensibly comedic bits come off as disingenuous and get lost in the morass. Tonally, “Downhill” never stays in its lane; it gets out over its skis, leaving its cast (and us) tumbling helplessly down the mountain.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:39

Mother’s milk – ‘Tully’

One of the downsides to the bounteous excess of summer blockbuster season is the fact that it’s extremely difficult for a smaller film to gain any real traction. More thoughtful fare can be drowned out by a wave of superheroes, sequels and CGI explosions.

In the case of “Tully,” the latest product of the director/writer partnership of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, that would be a real shame. This weird little funny/sad film is a lovely piece of storytelling that deserves to be seen, a meditation on motherhood that is genuine and bizarre and driven by an outstanding performance from Charlize Theron (who previously teamed with Reitman and Cody on 2011’s “Young Adult”).

Published in Movies

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