Friday, October 7, 2016

The Girl on the Train

My View:  The Girl on the Train  (2016)  R  Rachel (Emily Blunt) is an alcoholic who recently divorced her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux), after catching him cheating on her.  She takes the train to work daily and often fantasizes about her neighbors, Scott (Luke Evans) and Megan (Haley Bennett). One day, she witnesses something from the train, and Megan ends up missing and is presumed dead. The biggest problem with this film is the time jumps. It seems every few minutes we go back five weeks, then suddenly we are in present time, then we go back two weeks.  With such a large cast and a very complicated and interweaving plot, it’s hard to keep straight what is going on. I liked Blunt's portrayal of a very damaged woman who tries to pin the pieces of a night back together. I didn’t like the performance of Haley Bennett (who could be Jennifer Lawrence’s twin in real life), finding her lifeless and unlikable. The script is just too much of a mess for Emily Blunt to overcome.   My Rating:  Bargain Matinee   The Girl on the Train Website
My ViewThe Birth of a Nation  (2016)  R   This is the story of Nat Turner (Nate Parker), an enslaved man and preacher, who led a slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia in 1831. The opening scene is magical, but the film spends too much time on Turner’s childhood, making the film seem too slow down to almost a stop.  Once Turner is a man, the film picks up again, and some of its best scenes are in the middle of the film. A caution: the film is very violent with some scenes almost too brutal to watch. Parker is charismatic on the screen as Nat Turner, but it’s the performance of Aja Naomi King, who plays Turner’s wife in the film. She is stunning in the role of the loving wife who will support her husband until the end. The film isn’t perfect. I didn’t like symbolism used continuously throughout the film, as in a shot of an ear of corn bleeding or a child dressed as an angel. The ending is powerful, and there are some powerful scenes throughout the film, but I don’t think this movie is quite strong enough of a work come Oscar time.   My rating: Full Price   The Birth of a Nation Website
My ViewDenial  (2016)  PG-13  Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) is in the legal battle of her life, when Holocaust denier, David Irving (Timothy Spall), accuses her of libel in a British court. The film is based on a true story, and that’s what makes it so riveting. Weisz masterfully plays the headstrong woman who makes a stand against a bigoted bully. Her performance is captivating, and, at times you can almost see the steam coming off her head when her character gets intensely mad. Timothy Spall is perfect as the smug so-called “historian,” as he portrays the man as someone who isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. Tom Wilkinson gives one of his best performances as the wine drinking lawyer who represents Professor Lipstadt in her case. It’s a compelling and engaging courtroom drama that will have you on the edge of your seat until the end.   My Rating:  Full Price   Denial Website
IndiefestGirl  Asleep  (2015)  Greta (Bethany Whitmore) is a 14-year old girl who wants to stay a kid for as long as possible. Unfortunately, her world will change when her parents give her a birthday party. Girl Asleep is part Adventure Time, part Napoleon Dynamite, and part Where the Wild Things Are. Writer Mathew Whittet (based on his play of the same name) and director Rosemary Myers, have imagined a very creative and whimsical look for this film reminding me of Wes Anderson and Monty Python movies. The film wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it is without the brilliant and subtle performance of Bethany Whitmore. She is perfect as the awkward, nervous Greta, who must learn to stand up for herself and take on life’s challenges head-on. She lights up the screen in each scene and has great chemistry with Harrison Feldman, who plays Elliott, the boy with the heart the size of Australia. Their scenes together are some of the best of the film, providing warmth to the movie. I loved this quirky little film (which, by the way, is only a fast and furious 77 minutes long), the way it delves into the life and dreams of a girl who is going on a journey of growth and adventure. Go on this strange adventure with Greta because you won’t be disappointed, but you just might have to do a dance number if you decide to stay.    My Rating: Full Price   Girl Asleep Website
Forgotten Film:  Come Early Morning  (2006)  R   Lucille (Ashley Judd) is a hard drinking, hard working woman who, on the weekends, picks up someone to sleep with and then gets rid of the man as soon as she can. She is trying to reconnect with her father (Scott Wilson), a shy alcoholic man who tries to make up for past sins. Lucille’s world changes when she meets and beds Cal (Jeffrey Donovan), who looks to be the perfect southern gentleman. The question now, is Cal as good as he seems and how quickly can Lucille mess this relationship up?  Ashley Judd gives a riveting and engrossing performance of a woman who has been hurt too many times to let anyone get too close to her. Judd dominates the screen and makes you want to root for her character even though she isn’t all that likable. Judd and Jeffrey Donovan have that instant chemistry, so we see right away that they are meant to be together. This is the best performance by Ashley Judd since she set the world on fire with her performance in Ruby in Paradise (1993)    My Rating: Full Price   Come Early Morning Info

Weird Credits:  From the credits of The Birth of a Nation:  Walla Mixer

Coming Soon  to a Theatre Near You:   The Eagle Huntress (2016)  G  I have heard nothing but great things about this documentary that follows a 13-year-old girl as she trains to be the first female eagle hunter. The trailer makes this film look like it is just magical.   The Eagle Huntress Website

Until Next Time

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