"The Quiet" Looks to Make Some Noise

7/27/2014

"The Quiet" is a pulpy noir-ish drama that goes into some queasy taboo shattering places all while seeming like an surreal game.  Jamie Babbit directs this story of a deaf mute girl named Dot (played by Camilla Belle) who is forced to live with her God parents after the tragic death of her father. 

Dot joins the Deer family with Paul, Olivia, and their teen daughter Nina.  A small family with big secrets.  Paul (Martin Donavan) is a successful architect, while Olivia (Edie Falco) is a interior decorator.  Nina, played by Elisha Cuthbert, is your typical over privileged teenager, who manipulates her parent to get what ever she wants.  Dot is quite the opposite, she is every bit the tom boy.  She is an outcast at high school not only because she can't hear and doesn't talk, but because she doesn't give in to all of the phony high school culture bullshit.  She is just herself, but far from perfect.  Nina and her best friend Michelle are both cheerleaders and "cool" kids, but like all of the character in the movie are putting up a front to hide a painful truth.

*Spoiler Territory Ahead*


Dot awakes one night and wanders down to Nina's room but Paul is in there with her and he's not helping her with her homework if you catch my drift.  Dot runs back to her room and back to bed, wondering what to do with this new information.  Olivia is in denial about a lot of things in her life and medicates with sleeping pills and pain killers.   She tries to be a wife and mother, but is just not there.  On another night Paul comes into Dot's room while she is sleeping and confesses to her that he is a sick man in need of help. A number of times people confess their deep dark secrets to Dot knowing that she can't hear, or can she?  Dot plays the piano and while thinking she's alone curses when one the strings break.  Nina sees this and now can manipulate her just like she does her father.  Dot can also see how Nina is suffering in her situation but that would mean giving up her secret and she is not ready for that yet.  Her deaf mute charade is her way of grieving the loss of her own father who she was very close with.  She blames herself for his accidental death and also see this as a sort of punishment.


In the cafeteria, knowing Dot can hear, Nina lays out a plan to get rid of her dear ole dad once and for all.  Nina's cry for help doesn't land on deaf ears, so to speak.  Things don't go as planned so Nina goes to Plan B.  This doesn't last very long and sends Paul into a rage. Dot comes to the rescue while Olivia stands motionless as usual, but this event breaks the nasty cycle and finally allows her to take some sort of twisted responsibility. "Lies keep us safe from the truth" but in time will turn you into a shell filled with nothing but denial and self hatred.  "The Quiet" is a lot deeper than what appears on the surface all while being entertaining and somewhat dangerous.


"The Ballad of Jack & Rose" Hits All the Right Notes

7/25/2014


Daniel Day Lewis is one of the greatest actors of his generation.  His talent, craft, and commitment to his roles are second to none. Nominated for Best Actor five times by The Academy Awards taking home 3 golden trophies.  For "My Left Foot (1990)", "There Will be Blood (2008)" and "Lincoln (2008)".  One of his lesser known roles was in the small independent film "The Ballad of Jack & Rose (2005) Directed by his wife Rebecca Miller.  It's a story about the relationship between a father and daughter living off the grid on an island off the east coast.

Camilla Belle plays Rose the tomboyish teenage daughter who has spent her entire life on the island, sheltered from the rest of the world.  Her mom had left the family when she was only five years old and has grown up alone with her father all these years.  Jack is the last remaining hold out of an old hippie commune on which they live, unable to let go of the past and his strong ideals of how a society should behave.  It's1986 and land developers are starting to infiltrate his sacred island, his battle is mainly with Marty Rance (Beau Bridges).  For Jack this means War, but his declining health and lack of support make it an impossible task.  Nobody can stop progress.  The future will come whether you like it or not.


With Rose getting older, about sixteen or so, Jack is forced to think about the future and what will
happen when he dies.  He starts to feel guilty for keeping Rose away from modern society and what will happen to her when she's on her own.  Jack does go to the mainland now and then to shack up with Kathleen (Catherine Keener), a single mother of two teen boys, who is currently living in her mothers basement.  They've know each other a while but their relationship has never too serious.  To hopefully benefit Rose, Jack pays Kathleen to quit her job and move her kids to live with him on the island.  Jack's "experiment" is a bumpy road and awakens feeling and emotion that will change all of them.  Rose's emotional state becomes a little erratic to say the least, as Kathleen has now taken over most of Jack's time, this causes her to lash out and rebel in some extreme ways.  Not to mention the introduction of two teenage boys.  Rodney, is a self conscious and sensitive guy who is questioning his sexuality, while Thaddeus is a skinny womanizing rebel, played by Paul Dano, who also stars opposite Daniel Day Lewis in "There Will be Blood".  Jack is surprised and shocked by what he see's in Rose and has to confront the fact that nothing lasts forever and that he has to let her go and experience the world, even if she might get hurt along the way.  Operating on a budget of 1.5 million, this is prime example of how a strong story along with strong actors can make a great film.  




"Insidious: Chapter 2" Takes you into the Further

7/20/2014

You can see my review of the original "Insidious"
*This review Contain Spoilers from both movies*

Director James Wan, the creator of the "Saw" Franchise, had quite the summer in 2013.  His two films were released about a month apart and both made over $100 million.  With "The Conjuring" being the biggest hit of the summer and launching yet another horror franchise.  "Insidious Chapter 2" although not as successful as the original still will see many more Chapters.

Unlike a lot of horror sequels "Insidious: Chapter 2" has the entire cast back and continues the story of the Lambert family and their battle with the ghosts, spirits, and demons that lurk in the further.  The further being a purgatory like place for evil sprits looking return to the land of the living.  The first film saw their son Dalton become lost in the further and now it his father Josh (played by Patrick Wilson) who must escape.  The sequel definitely has it's inventive and creative good points, but its flaws are a little more visible than they were in the first film.


After the events of the first film, the Lambert family is now living with Josh's mother (Barbara

Hershey), hoping the worst is behind them they try to resume their lives.  The plot is heavy on back story with Josh's experiences with the Further as an 8 year old boy and the origins of his nemesis the bride in black.  Back in the present more strange happenings continue to frighten his wife Renai (Rose Byrne).  Josh also has been acting strange and not really himself.  After a few scary incidents she contacts the paranormal hunters from the first film Tucker and Specs, one of them played by script writer Leigh Whannel.  These two morons almost single handedly destroy the film with there terribly cheesy one liners and hammy acting that stopped any tension as soon as they appear.  We find out that the real Josh is trapped in the further, while his eathly body is being taken over by a serial killer named Parker Crane, who also has some pretty shocking ties to the bride in black.  The group of ghost hunters and his family have to battle some pretty nasty forces to get him back.  The medium Elise (Lin Shaye) is back, but only as a helper in the further, as she was murdered at the end of the first movie.  She gave the paranormal hunters the credibility it needed in the original, and is sorely missed here.


In a bit of creative genius while Josh tries to escape the further the filmmakers manage to work in and explain a lot of the noises and scenes from the first film through a different perspective.  All while making it relevant to this film and not just used as filler as a lot of other movies do.  The creepy scares are still there and its a very accomplished sequel but still not as good as the first.  A third film the series is guaranteed with the final scene being ghost Elise, Tucker, and Specs visiting a new family and her staring into a corner of the house, her mouth wide open "Oh my God" Indeed.


"Broken (2006)" British Torture Porn That's Rusty and Dull

6/30/2014

Not to be confused with the other film called "Broken" I reviewed back in April of this year.  This "Broken" was released by Dimension Extreme back in 2006 at the height of the torture porn craze.  Riding the coattails of the "Saw" and "Hostel" Movies, this low budget British import is all kinds of nasty, but in the end is not all that interesting.  The film is also supposedly based on a true story. 

Like a lot of horror movies were given a gruesome opening scene that gives you a taste of what's to come.  We are then introduced to Hope (quite the metaphorical name), a young woman out on a date having a good time.  She returns home to say goodnight to her 6 year old daughter and goes to sleep only to wake up buried underground.  The story is then structured into days she is held captive my a mysterious psychopath.  After Day 2 she is dug up and tied to a tree, similar to another victim from the opening scene.  A razor blade has been sewn up in her abdomen leaving her not choice but to dig it out, and cut her self free from the tree. The make-up and effects are supremely disgusting all through the film and are the main reason to watch it in the first place.  Unfortunately like a lot of horror movies the story and characters are weak and poorly drawn.  The plot is very thin and predictable with only the final scenes being somewhat original.


The unnamed male psychopath takes his victims into the woods and sets up camp.  He chains Hope to a tree and trains her to be his slave but not in any sexual way.  After a few days he tests her loyalty and another few times she tries to escape but all things lead back to the camp and Hope being physically and mentally beaten and abused.  About 10 days in the Man brings back another girl, a teenager who won't stop whining and crying, she really tests the viewers patience.  This is kind of strange in that you really want the girl to die, just so she would shut the hell up.  The man does gets fed up with her and cuts her tongue out.  It's only a matter of time before the women hatch a plan to escape and the Man's reign of terror come to an end.  Like I mentioned before the ending is a little different that what you'd expect, as it takes an extremely cruel twist in the spirit an extremely cruel movie.


Peter Dinklage Shines in the "Station Agent"

6/19/2014

One of the great independent films of 2003 and one of my personal favorites, "The Station Agent" introduces us to the exceptionally talented Peter Dinklage.  Although upon first impression most people will only notice his 4 foot 5 inch frame, his deeply brooding and thoughtful performances rival any actor working today. 

Finbar McBride, or Fin, is a solitary man who works at a hobby shop repairing and working with model trains.  One day his friend and the stores owner Henry falls over dead, presumably of a heart attack.  Fin is lost in despair, Henry however has left him a small but abandoned depot station to him in his will.  With nothing tying him down Fin moves into to the Newfoundland depot station.  Just across the way is an oddly placed food truck called Gorgeous Franks and its lone operator Joe, played by Bobby Cannavale.  Joe is a friendly and energetic man who's intrigued by Fin arrival.  Although not looking to make friends Fin eventually comes around and allows him to hang around with him.  Also upon arrival Fin has a few run ins with Olivia, played by Patricia Clarkson.  She doesn't make that good a first or second impression for that matter as she almost runs him over with her car, twice.  Olivia is a friendly but slightly frantic, painter who is separated from her rich husband, Joe however has had his eye on her for quite some time.

Writer and director Tom McCarthy creates this world for these characters that is based in small town reality.  Fin has a number of encounters with a curious little African American girl as well as a possible girlfriend in the form of the young and beautiful librarian, played by Michelle Williams.  Although the heart of the story is the relationship between the three friend Fin, Joe, and Olivia.  All are damaged in their own way and looking for something real.  Finn fights with loneliness and alienation, while the return of Olivia's husband throws her life into an angry spiral.  Joe is full of life and charisma, but misses his son, who lives with his mother. "The Station Agent" is a wonderful film, skillfully acted on all fronts with a deeply heartfelt story of a marginalized man trying to find his place in the world.


Although a lot of people now know Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister on "Game of Thrones", please take a moment to watch "The Station Agent".  It is currently available on Netflix Streaming.