Friday, January 5, 2024

Night Swim

My View: Night Swim (2024) PG-13  Ray (Wyatt Russell) and Eve (Kerry Condon), along with their daughter Izzy (Amélie Hoeferle), have just moved into a house with a pool that has been drained and looks in bad shape. They decide to fix the pool, not knowing that something evil is living there, just waiting to come out and play. January is considered the worst month for movies as studios then dump’ films that they don’t think will do well. So we tend to get horror films during January, and occasionally, we get a good one like Me3gan (2023) or Warm Bodies (2013). Unfortunately, Night Swim isn’t one of them. Based on an excellent short film of the same name, this is a film where one great idea can’t be sustained for an entire hour and a half. Ray is a baseball player who has been diagnosed with MS, and his career is over. He and his family fall in love with a house with an abandoned pool in its backyard. They decide to do some repair work on the pool (it turns out it’s spring-fed), and things start out great, including Ray’s MS gets better. It’s a miracle of the pool! Then things go bad, including a lot of near-drownings and a missing cat. I think you can see where this is going. The film throws in some mystical stuff to explain the pool, but the reasons are murky (pun intended), and the film goes from bad to worse. Night Swim is a production of the new combination of Jason Blum’s Blumhouse and James Wan’s Atomic Monster companies, and it’s not worthy of either of them. So maybe stay out of the pool and visit a better horror film from January’s past, like From Dusk to Dawn, Cloverfield, or The Mothman Prophecies.   My Rating: Cable  Night Swim Website   Now playing in theatres.

Indiefest: Memory (2023) R   Memory is about Sylvia (Jessica Chastain), who leads a simple and structured life as a social worker and a mom. She reluctantly attends her high school reunion, and a man named Saul (Peter Sarsgaard) follows her home. Their encounter will affect both of them as they open the door to memories of the past. Memory is a film about two characters: one who wants to forget the past and another who can’t remember it. Sylvia is a damaged woman who is an alcoholic and hasn’t talked to her mother in over 13 years. Saul is a man who is suffering from dementia. Saul can remember some things from the past but has trouble with the present. The two meet unexpectedly, and this chance encounter changes both of their lives. This is a film that only works if you have two strong actors that can make you instantly root for them, and filmmaker Michel Franco (Chronic (2015), New Order (2020)) has chosen two actors in Chastain and Sarsgaard who are more than up to the task. Both give us heartbreaking and profound performances that touch on how memory can make up so much of your personality. Chastain gives a moving rendition of a woman who has had her memory questioned by people close to her, and her character finds solace in a man who lives in the present and not the past. Sarsgaard gives us Saul, a man who, at first, we don’t know what to make of him, but regardless of his failing memory, he is good-hearted. Memory is a film to let wash over you and get to know two people as they get to know each other as best as they can.   My Rating: Full Price  Memory Website   Now playing in theatres.

My View: Good Grief (2023) R  After his mother’s death, Marc (Daniel Levy) jumped into a relationship with an older man and got married. However, that did not last, as his husband unexpectedly died. A year later, Marc takes his two best friends (Ruth Negga and Himesh Patel) on a soul-searching trip to Paris, revealing some hard truths about love and relationships. Good Grief is a film about how grief can dominate you as long as you let it and how relationships are often messy and complicated. This is Daniel Levy’s directorial debut, and it’s a good, though not great, start. The film follows three friends as they go to Paris for a weekend of fun and remembrance. Marc, who after a year is still in shock over the loss of his husband, is determined to put the past away. Sophie (played by the always vivacious Ruth Negga) has just broken up with her boyfriend right after he proposed. Thomas (played by Himesh Patel), who once was Marc’s boyfriend, is convinced he will never find someone to love. The three go to Paris to start anew, but things from the past have a way of rearing up to confront the three, and they will have to work through this before moving on. I liked this film, but I needed a bit of lightness and comedy to break up all the sadness that this film has from almost start to finish. Levy has a nice touch with the camera, letting us get to know the characters and how they react to each other so that we know where they are coming from and where they are going. Hopefully, to a life that is filled with some happiness. Because they need it.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee  Good Grief Website  Now playing on Netflix.

Indiefest: Society of the Snow (2023) R  In 1972, a Uruguayan rugby team was flying on a chartered flight to Chile when it crashed on a glacier in the heart of the Andes. Only 29 of the 45 passengers survived, and now they find themselves in one of the world’s harshest environments, forced to resort to extreme measures to stay alive. Society of the Snow is not an easy watch, and frankly, I don’t think it will play very well on Netflix, where you can easily quit watching or fast forward through the tough-to-watch parts. This film is an inspiring tale of survival and will; when things are the darkest, we look for support and comfort from our friends to get through. I am not as high on this film as some of my fellow critics. The film takes an ensemble take on telling the story, and it’s sometimes hard to tell who is who. It is more about survival than letting us understand the individual personalities, and we rarely get to know any of the character’s past. The film lags as the first third of the film is just the first few days after the crash, and the film is hampered because, most of the time, the survivors are stuck inside the shell of the plane. Still, this is a remarkable tale of survival and how to accomplish the impossible when the stakes are high. Society of the Snow is probably the best of the three films that have told this story. I think it’s a story that is too hard to tell in a cinema.   My Rating: Bargain Matinee Note: The Academy Awards has put the film on their short list for nomination for the International Feature Film Award.   Society of the Snow Website  Now playing on Netflix.

Indiefest: Anselm (2023) Anselm is a documentary on Anselm Kiefer, one of the greatest contemporary artists in the world. The artist works in different styles and shapes, sometimes in gigantic proportions, to comment on the world and its harsh realities, including fascism and war. Anselm is a film shot in 3-D and being shown in some theatres in that format. Regardless, this is a film you will want to see in theatres to grasp just how large and impressive the artwork of Anselm Kiefer is. Keifer is a man who has a massive warehouse that houses his collection. There is a shot early in the film where there is a shot of the warehouse floor from above, and a painting is being wheeled out. The size of the painting shocked me when the person pushing the item across the floor was dwarfed by the artwork he was moving. Kiefer is not only one of the most successful modern artists (his wealth is as massive as his artwork), but he is also someone who doesn’t mind being controversial, especially on topics such as war and Germany’s Nazi past. Wait until you see his 200-acre farm in France, where he has created artwork consisting of four-story towers and what seems like never-ending tunnels that open into rooms containing his artwork. Anselm is a fascinating look at an artist and his art, both of which are bigger than life.   My Rating: Full Price  Anselm Website  Now playing in theatres.

Indiefest: Monster (2023) PG-13  Saori (Sakura Ando) is a widow trying to bring up her son Minato (Soya Kurokawa). Minato is having a tough time at school, and Saori has noticed that his behavior has changed noticeably in the past weeks. Saori soon learns that Minato’s odd behavior is because of his teacher, who Minato says hit him. We soon realize that there are many sides to the same story. Much like Akira Kurosawa’s film Rashomon, this is a film where we get three separate viewpoints on the same story. One is told from the perspective of the mother of Minato, a woman raising her son by herself because of her husband’s death. She is a loving mother who gets frustrated with how her son’s story of abuse isn’t handled well by the school. The second side of the story is told from the perspective of the teacher, a young man whose life is turned upside down by being accused of bullying a student. Finally, we get the point of view of the student himself, Minato. I loved that this is a mystery that slowly gives us clues along the way, but we don’t get the full story until we see what happened from Minato’s viewpoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this film and loved the last third of the film, which answered all the questions we had from the other two stories. The performances are vibrant and nuanced, with a brilliant performance by Soya Kurokawa as the student who does the accusing. And yes, the title is explained by the film’s end, along with almost all of the mysteries.   My Rating: Full Price  Monster Website   Now playing in theatres.

Forgotten Film: I Know Where I’m Going! (1944)   I love this WWII-era British film from Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, known as The Archers (The Red Shoes (1948), A Matter of Life and Death (1946)). Shot to give the British a bit of a lift from the war, this is the story of a young woman on her way to get married to a wealthy man. She is going to be married on a remote island in Scotland. She makes the trip from London and is about to take the last leg of the journey, a short boat ride to the island, but the weather turns bad, and she can’t make it to the island for a few days. There, she meets a navy officer and sparks fly. I Know Where I’m Going! is a fun movie with great chemistry between Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey. The film has been restored, and the new print is beautiful. This is a film for fans of British romantic comedies of the 40s. It is notable that it utilizes the beautiful scenery of Scotland and two fantastic performances about two characters destined to fall in love.   My Rating: Full Price   I Know Where I'm Going! Info  Available to rent/buy on Amazon.

Weird Credits: From the credits of Night Swim: Creature Rigger

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You: How to Have Sex (2023) Three British teenage girls go on a holiday that promises to be filled with drinking, clubbing, and hooking up in what should be the best summer of their lives. Until one of them goes missing. The film has been a massive hit on the film festival circuit, and Mia McKenna-Bruce, as one of the teens, is getting praise for her performance, including winning the Best Lead Performance at the 2023 British Independent Film Awards.  How to Have Sex Movie Info  The film releases into theatres in early February. 

Until Next Time!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.