Admin
Monday, 27 September 2021 15:08

‘The Starling’ is for the birds

There’s nothing inherently wrong with tonal variance in a film. In the right circumstances, that can allow for a wider net to be cast with regard to the themes and ideas explored. A well-executed balance of laughter and tears can result in something greater than the sum of its parts.

If it ISN’T well-executed, however, you might be left with an ineffectual mishmash.

Such is the case with the new Netflix drama “The Starling.” The film – which is directed by Theodore Melfi and stars Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd – never seems able to find any kind of tonal consistency, punctuating its family drama intentions with moments of avian-flavored slapstick. Again, it’s not that such vacillation CAN’T work, but here, it definitely doesn’t.

That isn’t to say that the participants aren’t acting in good faith. In truth, McCarthy and O’Dowd – as well as a number of supporting players – are putting forward solid efforts. It’s just that the script and the overall lack of emotional coherence undermines those efforts, resulting in something that comes off like a Lifetime movie crossed with a Looney Tunes short.

Published in Movies

Expanding one’s horizons is usually a good thing. Getting out of a comfort zone and trying something new can be a rewarding journey. It’s the sort of experience that can prove refreshing to one’s creative spirit.

A perfect example of said horizon expansion is when a noted comedian or comedic actor opts to make the leap into a more dramatic role. There’s something admirable about someone who is willing to take their talents in one sphere and explore whether those talents transfer to another. Now, it doesn’t always work, of course, so it’s an interesting crapshoot of sorts.

“Fatherhood,” newly streaming on Netflix, is the latest entry in the “comedic actors tackling dramatic roles” canon. Starring Kevin Hart, it’s a movie about the struggles of a single father dealing with grief and loss while also trying to ensure the best possible life for his child. Directed by Paul Weitz from a script he co-wrote with Dana Stevens, the film is based on Matthew Logelin’s 2011 memoir “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love.”

While there’s no denying that the film is a touch formulaic, it definitely has a surprising heart. And a surprising Hart, as far as that goes – he leads a solid cast with a performance that is considerably deeper, subtler and more nuanced than you might expect from him. Honestly, the film’s plot and narrative beats won’t surprise you, but the emotional impact just might.

Published in Movies

Being out in the world can be difficult. So often, we find ourselves wanting nothing more than to forget about what’s out there and bury ourselves into the insular realms that we have built for ourselves. Some believe that all the connection we need can be found within our own four walls.

But what if the ones we love want more? And what if we’re forced by circumstance to venture forth and engage, even if it’s the last thing we want to do?

“The Outside Story” offers answers to those questions. Written and directed by Casimir Nozkowski – his feature debut in both capacities – and starring Brian Tyree Henry, it’s a quirky and intimate look at urban life reflected through the eyes of an introvert who is forced by circumstance to engage with his immediate surroundings in a way he never has before.

Driven by thoughtful, grounded performances, it’s a story of what it means to be a part of the world. It’s about what can happen – both good and bad – when we are forced out of our comfort zones. We can struggle against it or fully embrace it, but either way, we will be changed by the act of engagement.

Published in Movies
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

Advertisements

The Maine Edge. All rights reserved. Privacy policy. Terms & Conditions.

Website CMS and Development by Links Online Marketing, LLC, Bangor Maine