Posts Tagged ‘Domhnall Gleeson’

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Definitely mark The Revenant in the category of Good Movies I Never Want to See Again.

The Revenant is a beautiful movie. I can recognize and appreciate The Revenant as another technical achievement by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. It is very well-directed, but the story itself is rather lackluster. This is an endurance test that exceeds 2 hours and 30 minutes.

It’s almost a shame that The Revenant is the performance that will finally get Leonardo DiCaprio his first Oscar for Best Actor. The outcome has been preordained, which seemed like the intention from the outset. DiCaprio is solid as Hugh Glass, but he’s constantly overshadowed at every turn by the phenomenal performance of fellow superstar actor Tom Hardy. While John Fitzgerald is a one-dimensional bad guy, Tom Hardy brings an undeniable spirit and charisma to this shitbag.

However, you can never forget that Hugh Glass is Leonardo DiCaprio. It’s hard to blame DiCaprio. Leo delivers everything written in the script, but the man doesn’t exactly melt away into a character. For a vast majority of the movie, DiCaprio does his classic What’s Eating Gilbert Grape Face where he juts his lower jaw and chin out while breathing heavily and slobbering all over himself.

Slobber

The only humor in The Revenant comes from the racism of Tom Hardy’s character and the unintentional comedy of Leonardo DiCaprio’s nonverbal acting. Without any real dark humor or additional entertainment value, The Revanant is (at times) an arduous slog. I could have really gone without the philosophical/existential flashbacks—especially those scenes filmed at the burnt church. It was all too reminiscent of Gladiator. After the opening hour, it’s an exceedingly dry revenge thriller short on thrills.

But holy shit, The Revenant is incredible for that first hour. Inarritu is a visionary director, which should be evident from the marvelous, hypnotic camera movement in the opening action sequence. It is violent in the most visceral fashion. You can feel the desperation of those trying to stay alive.

About 20 minutes into the movie, an amazing thing happens—one of the most astonishing scenes I’ve ever witnessed occurs. Leonardo DiCaprio gets raped by a bear…or so some idiots would lead you to believe. What you do get to experience is a realistic bear mauling. I don’t know how they managed to pull off such a stunt with a blend of practical effects and an impressive CGI grizzly bear.

Bear Attack

Unfortunately, it was mostly downhill from there. The next half hour of Hugh Glass’ struggle to survive that vicious bear attack is surprisingly engaging. I think a lot of actors would have been just as capable, but DiCaprio does a great job portraying that emotional journey. It just gets to be way too much after the initial hour since there’s still another hour and a half left of the same shit.

I understand The Revenant was designed as an epic, but I can’t help believing this would be much improved by shortening the second and third acts with a more direct cat-and-mouse routine between DiCaprio and Hardy. After the first hour, these characters don’t really share any screen time together until the very end. I don’t know how the last-minute reshoots impacted the final cut, but the second half of the movie feels like it could have been entirely different at one time in production.

Tom Hardy

I wish there was something more to hang onto than just solely beautiful visuals and those two great scenes in the beginning. Granted, those scenes were unparalleled in their greatness. But I wanted a tighter narrative and more room for these phenomenal actors to breathe.

While I can enjoy this movie and appreciate its place in the grand scheme, I cannot envision a scenario where I will ever watch The Revenant again. This movie might even win Best Picture. DiCaprio will probably win Best Actor and at least Tom Hardy is nominated for Best Supporting Actor. None of that changes the fact that this story is largely bleak and dreary—making it difficult to endure.

DiCraprio Jaw

Coming off of Birdman, my expectations for The Revenant were probably too high. Apparently, Inarritu was prepared to exceed expectations. His insane idea (at least initially) to set the bar high was to film this movie in the same single shot style. Inarritu had enough difficulty with an exploding budget and frozen conditions that made so many staff members quit. It would have been an unbelievable feat, but it would have merely been another layer to an already well-directed movie.

I admire the ambition. Unfortunately, the subject matter doesn’t quite match Inarritu’s ambition. Ultimately, The Revenant fails to be transcendent because of the storyline—not the execution. This movie is missing an element to the story that makes it re-watchable. Years from now, I doubt most will remember this for more than the movie that got Leonardo DiCaprio his Oscar. Hopefully the 22-year-old blonde model-sized hole in his heart will be filled with that goofy gold statue.
Oscar Handjob

3.5 out of 5 stars

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The very first words spoken in Calvary are from an unseen character in confession:

“I first tasted semen when I was 7 years old.”

It’s certainly a startling opening line.

The man confesses to Father James (played by Brendan Gleeson) that he was orally and anally raped for several years as a child by a Catholic priest. But he’s not interested in getting revenge on the priest who raped him. He’s dead now anyway. There’s no point in killing a bad priest. No, he wants to kill a good priest. The man tells Father James that he is going to kill him because he has done nothing wrong.

An innocent life for the loss of his innocence.

Father James has a week to get his affairs in order and make his peace with God. The man says he will kill him on Sunday down at the beach. Father James definitely knows this man and recognizes him as a member of his parish. While he can see his face, the man’s face remains unseen by the audience. Don’t worry, the voice is distinctly distorted to ensure ambiguity and maintain the mystery.

Father James

The first 5 minutes of the film focuses only on Brendan Gleeson’s face and his reaction to this man telling him that he’s going to kill him this Sunday. Gleeson gives a great acting performance going through the gamut of emotions as Father James tries to process and understand what this man is saying.

Is he serious or is this an idle threat? Why does he want to kill him?

Would telling the authorities violate his sacred oath as a priest?

You cannot expect a more intriguing set-up than essentially developing a countdown of the days leading to impending doom. Immediately, the tone is established and the story is injected with tension. Unfortunately, Calvary doesn’t quite capitalize on this thrilling, suspenseful introduction. Calvary suffers from a roving pace that takes several stops along the way to contemplate life and the importance of our relationships.

To the credit of Calvary and writer-director John Michael McDonagh, the movie is always interesting.

Hiya

During the week that Father James has to prepare for Sunday, he continues all his priestly duties visiting parishioners and throwing out life lessons. One of the aspects of Calvary that makes it enjoyable is the cast of colorful supporting characters. Aidan Gillen (best known as Tommy Carcetti from The Wire and Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) is outstanding as the sick, twisted, and often sadistic Dr. Frank Harte. Chris O’Dowd is wonderful as gleeful Jack Brennan who may or may not have hit his ex-wife. Isaach De Bankolé is equally good in his small role as Simon—a silently dangerous man who now dates Jack’s ex-wife. Dylan Moran is fucking magnificent as eccentric rich guy Michael Fitzgerald. The man literally takes a framed piece of art off his wall so he can piss all over it. Killian Scott is a name that I now know after his hilarious performance as Milo Herlihy—a young man who wants to join the Army to quench his thirst for killing after not getting laid. It’s also nice to see character actor M. Emmet Walsh still alive and working.

Gleesons

But holy fuck, Domhnall Gleeson is the best supporting actor in Calvary as Freddie Joyce. Domhnall is convincingly creepy and slightly menacing as a serial killer on death row. And his awful haircut just completes the look. If Domhnall’s last name is familiar, that is because he is the son of Brendan Gleeson. Their characters (Father James and Freddie Joyce) share maybe two scenes, but Domhnall steals the show from dad during their time together. It is a rather remarkable father-son acting performance.

Unfortunately, the movie spends too much time delving into the relationship between Father James and his daughter, Fiona, who is fresh off an unsuccessful suicide attempt. While it provides more existential fruit, I felt that this storyline fell flat. I don’t blame Kelly Reilly because she tried her best playing Fiona. But the character herself doesn’t come across as mildly interesting. She did not need to occupy more screen time than the other supporting characters. Why is she worth more of my time than the entertaining mish-mash of misfits, misanthropes, and miserable fucks that are Father James’ parishioners?

Kelly Reilly

Although the obsession on the father-daughter relationship doesn’t ruin Calvary, every scene they share kills the momentum and grinds the pace to a shrieking halt. By cutting 10-15 minutes of those scenes, Calvary immediately becomes a more enjoyable movie. As currently constructed, this Irish film serves as a perfect encapsulation of Ireland. Like many Irish people, Calvary is beautiful, bleak, bitter, angry, murderous, darkly humorous, and often dramatic while prone to drunken fits of rage and rambling.

Even as an often agnostic and occasional atheist, the religious themes touched upon in Calvary are thought-provoking. In particular, the idea of forgiveness is a central touchstone. Because of the slow calculated paced, Calvary will be overlooked because many will assume the story is dry, boring, and overly serious. But for those fortunate souls who brave the dense slow burn, Calvary will linger in your brain for a while.  For me, it creates many questions about the meaning of life without an overly religious feel.

As with Milo’s conversations with Father James, I can’t say it’s been of much help in terms of providing answers, but I suppose that it’s good to get these types of things out in the open.

Aidan Gillen

4 out of 5 stars

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Frank is a weird fucking movie full of unbridled Michael Fassbender fun.

Some movies are made for mass consumption—dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Frank is not one of those movies. Many will not enjoy Frank. I am not one of those people.

Even in a paper mache head, you feel Michael Fassbender’s presence as Frank. I cannot imagine any other actor pulling off this insane performance. If you only know Michael Fassbender as Magneto in the recent X-Men movies, I have immense pity for your miserable existence. While Fassbender is the driving force, Frank is a phenomenal movie because of Domhnall Gleeson and the supporting cast.

Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson is an Irish actor who is the son of Brendan Gleeson—probably most known for his role as Walter “Monk” McGinn in Gangs of New York. It’s not a stretch to say that Domhnall Gleeson is already the greatest ginger actor of all-time. His recent stretch of ridiculously good performances in Black Mirror (a British television show), About Time, Frank, and Calvary have propelled his career into more mainstream movies as he’s slated to appear later this year in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

In Frank, Domhnall Gleeson perfectly plays the part of Jon Burroughs. From the opening scene, you can see that Jon is supremely ambitious, but he completely lacks talent. It doesn’t stop him from trying. Jon’s hilariously awful attempt at composing music resulted in a song titled “Lady in the Red Coat.”

As Tom Waits would say, he’s got the sizzle, but not the steak.

You can’t try yourself into being a good songwriter.

While Jon is relentlessly hopeful of creating something great, it’s obvious that his pursuit is hopeless. Jon is searching for inspiration at the beach when people are rescuing a man trying to drown himself. The suicidal man is the keyboardist for The Soronprfbs, who are in town for a performance. By happenstance, Jon ends up with a new job as the band’s keyboardist since he can play C, F, and G. That moment changes Jon’s life forever because he meets Frank, the eccentric lead singer of The Soronprfbs.

Dancing

Although Jon can’t manage to write a song about anything, Frank can write a song about everything. Frank even writes a song about a little tuft of carpet. And it’s fucking fantastic. Michael Fassbender’s voice is also an incredible fit for this freaky, eclectic electric folk music. At times, Fassbender’s voice is emotionally haunting. Fassbender should be applauded for his giant balls to star in this small independent film while wearing an oversized, creepy paper mache head. “Flattered grin followed by a bashful half-smile.”

In terms of the secondary characters, Scoot McNairy is superb in his limited role as Don—the band’s manager and former keyboardist himself. Don fucks mannequins. It’s a fetish of sorts. François Civil isn’t asked to do much, but I enjoyed his role as the band’s guitarist, Baraque. Without speaking a word of English, he manages to induce laughter in a few scenes. François was the best part of As Above, So Below, which was a rather unremarkable and mostly forgettable horror movie from last year.

Maggie Gyllenhaal puts forth the best performance of her career as Clara. Without her to guide Frank and collaborate in the creative process, The Soronprfbs would cease to exist. Don’t mistake Clara as a motherly presence. No, she’s a cold-hearted crazy bitch. Clara will fork-stab you without blinking.

The Soronprfbs

It’s easily the most range I’ve witnessed from Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Along with amazing acting performances, Frank is an in-depth character study that surprisingly touches on thought-provoking themes. What does it take to be an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? Are all artists troubled? You don’t necessarily have to go down a particular path to be a creative genius.

But you do have to accept that not everyone can be a creative genius. We all can’t be Frank.

Currently streaming on Netflix, I hope you will give Frank a chance. I’ve now watched this movie several times and each viewing goes down smooth. Like a nice scotch, it is not for everyone. If you are someone who enjoys Frank, then odds are we would be friends. Except you hipsters with your ironic t-shirts.

Frank proves there is surreal beauty in the wonderfully strange and weird of this world.

“Stale beer. Fat fucked, smoked out. Cowpoked. Sequined mountain ladies. I love your wall. Put your arms around me. Fiddly digits, itchy britches. I love you all.” – Frank

Surprise

4.5 out of 5 stars