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Monday, 16 November 2020 15:26

‘The Nest’ mostly empty

Crafting a good domestic drama isn’t easy. One has to balance the necessity for dramatic tension and elevated stakes with the desire to maintain a level of verisimilitude, all while being sure to tell a compelling story. All movies require a degree of investment from the viewer to be effective, but family-driven drama particularly needs that buy-in. When it all works, it makes for a fantastic film.

When it doesn’t, well … that’s when you might get something like “The Nest.”

The film – written and directed by Sean Durkin – wants to be about the escalating disintegration of a family whose entire world is built on smoke and mirrors, a phantom foundation of security whose crumbling reveals wounds and resentments both old and new. And it is – kind of. But while those elements are present, the film as a whole feels like something of an empty vessel, an interesting package with nothing inside.

In a way, it seems as though style and atmosphere were used in lieu of storytelling, rather than to enhance the story. Because while “The Nest” has some brooding and foreboding vibes, the truth is that not much actually happens. Thanks to a pair of exceptional actors in the lead and an undeniably evocative aesthetic eye, there’s engagement to be found here, but again – there’s an absence at the film’s core that I found tough to shake.

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 04 February 2020 10:58

‘The Rhythm Section’ is out of sync

There’s something deeply satisfying about a good revenge thriller. There’s a visceral enjoyment that comes from watching a wronged person exact vengeance upon those who wronged them. Sure, it can be a little formulaic, but if the formula is executed well, it doesn’t matter – it’s brutal, bloody fun.

But if it is executed poorly, well … that’s a whole different story.

Poor execution is just one of the many problems with “The Rhythm Section,” directed by Reed Morano from a screenplay by Mark Burnell (adapted from his own novel of the same name). It is meandering and convoluted, with a thin narrative that strains the credulity of even the most forgiving audience member. There are some talented performers here – and they even seem to give a s—t – but that’s not enough to salvage a film that is utterly familiar and ultimately forgettable.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 13 March 2019 13:07

Marvel at ‘Captain Marvel’

There’s no disputing that the Marvel Cinematic Universe rules the box office like nothing the entertainment industry has ever seen. Film after film drawing massive numbers, with grosses in the middle nine figures AT WORST. The MCU has produced some of the most globally popular movies of all time.

As we near the end of Phase Three – set to culminate with next month’s “Avengers: Endgame” – we are finally introduced to one of the characters who promises to be a major player in how that arc ends: Captain Marvel. The superpowered spacefarer stars in her own eponymously-titled outing, serving as the first female character to headline an MCU movie.

You may have heard about efforts from certain elements to undermine the film before its release. You may have also heard about how ultimately ineffectual those efforts were. Because a LOT of people saw this movie on opening weekend. And what they saw was pretty darned good, a quippy, zippy origin story that manages to stand on its own merits while also serving as connective tissue for the rest of the MCU out of necessity.

“Captain Marvel” could have floundered under the storytelling load it was asked to shoulder, but instead manages to (mostly) soar, giving us a fun and engaging narrative, some decent gags and some solid action set pieces (along with a killer ‘90s soundtrack). Excellent performances (particularly from star Brie Larson) serve as the glue that binds it all together.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 13 February 2013 14:19

Side Effects' may include drowsiness, confusion

Thriller tries to do too much

Steven Soderbergh has spent the past twenty years as one of the premier directors Hollywood has to offer. He has directed over 30 films, including award season darlings like 'Traffic' and 'Erin Brockovich' and popcorn fare such as the 'Ocean's' trilogy. He made an action movie with an MMA fighter in the lead, a two-part biopic about Che Guevara and a movie about strippers.

His latest is 'Side Effects,' and according to him, it's also going to be his last.

Published in Movies

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