Posts Tagged ‘independent’

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I’m tickled by Taika Waititi’s sense of humor. Yes, tickled.

After watching Boy, I didn’t need to be sold on Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

But a grumpy, bearded Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) as a gruff outdoorsman was enough to make me ecstatic before the movie even started. As with Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is about an eccentric youth in New Zealand, which is yet another fabulous opportunity to show off that stunningly beautiful landscape. While Taika makes a cameo in this movie as well, he doesn’t get near the screen time or juicy role that he gave himself in Boy.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople is the story of Ricky Baker—a troubled foster youth in New Zealand.

Oh, and Ricky is a wannabe gangster. Hilariously so. He keeps it gangsta.

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The movie starts with Ricky being dropped off at the doorstep of Bella (played by Rima Te Wiata) and Hec (played by Sam Neill). Once Ricky takes a look at this backwoods hole in the wall, he turns right back around to the Child Services vehicle. Ricky gives no fucks—even though this is his last stop before juvy.

Rima Te Wiata is an incredibly endearing presence as Bella, who just loves Ricky unconditionally from the start. Ol’ “Uncle” Hec isn’t quite as caring and nurturing as Bella. Hec is much more comfortable in the bush than he is around other people. His interests don’t exactly align with Ricky Baker.

Sam Neill is an actor with surprising range. Of course, everyone recognizes him for his role as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. However, Sam Neill was spectacular in Seasons 1 and 2 of Peaky Blinders—where he plays a corrupt and menacing authority figure with misguided morals and a grudge against Cillian Murphy. In Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Sam Neill shows off his comedic chops as Hec.

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While the life of a kid in foster care isn’t exactly uplifting material, that’s the brilliance of Taika Waititi. With his outlandish, sometimes twisted sense of humor, Waititi’s exuberance finds the silver lining to turn a negative into a positive. I truly can’t wait to see more of Taika Waititi’s work.

Julian Dennison holds his own as Ricky Baker. He’s not in the same stratosphere as James Rolleston’s performance as Alamein in Boy. But there are some similarities between those characters. Instead of an adoration of Michael Jackson, Taika Waititi has the young male character infatuated with Tupac—naming his dog after the infamous rapper. Although Julian embodies this particular character well, I’d be surprised to ever see him again. I think it’s a credit to Taika that he’s capable of getting such great acting from young kids.

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How can you not feel relaxed and comfortable around that guy?

If you are one of the few who has watched Boy, then Hunt for the Wilderpeople is more of the same. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but Boy was a superior film. Each movie shows off a different aspect of New Zealand and their sense of community. The audience is given a glimpse into what life can be like with the support of family or friends on that beautiful, sprawling expanse of wilderness.

It’s pretty majestical.

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4 out of 5 stars

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As a person, I love Rob Zombie.

As an artist, I appreciate his aesthetic.

As a director, Rob Zombie is a mixed bag trying to make an impact on the industry.

With his movies, I feel like a heroin addict chasing the dragon. It’s been more than 10 years since Rob Zombie’s best and only good movie, The Devil’s Rejects. I remember watching it in theaters when I was in high school, and I can’t tell you how many times I have watched it since. The Devil’s Rejects was fun, funny, and violent with a purpose. For the last decade, it feels like Rob Zombie has been trying to re-capture that magic. While Rob Zombie and John Carpenter have buried the hatchet regarding the recent “feud” regarding Zombie’s Halloween remakes, I agree with Carpenter’s sentiments—those movies were uninspired and unnecessary. I had no idea Rob Zombie’s Halloween II even existed.

After the success of The Devil’s Rejects, Rob Zombie was a hired gun on those Halloween remakes. It failed miserably, but Zombie still has talent as a director. In order to make his fucked-up vision a reality, I believe it needs to be an original Rob Zombie creation. Lords of Salem had promise as a story written by Rob Zombie, but it was so dreadfully boring and bogged down with exposition.

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When I heard about the premise of 31, I admit to being excited. The only thing I knew was the very basic ideathat some sadistic clowns kidnap a group of people and play a game to kill them one-by-one. Simple enough to catch my attention. Unfortunately, Rob Zombie doesn’t capitalize on the promise of that premise because the set-up is convoluted and full of tired old horror cliches.

Essentially, this movie feels like The Purge: Circus Clowns. Throw in a bit of the campy nature of the “stalkers” from The Running Man, and then you have the end result of 31. There are elements here that could have and should have made this an entertaining gore show. It’s pure speculation, but I imagine Rob Zombie’s decision to crowdfund this project impacted the bottom-line and his ability to translate this vision to film. But maybe that’s just an excuse that I’m making for him.

By setting the movie in the mid-70’s, Rob Zombie immediately gives 31 the same exact vibe of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects. That was not a wise decision, in my opinion. I understand if that was out of necessity to make the film cheaper, but it only comes across like Rob Zombie going to the ol’ familiar well yet again. I’ve had enough of this style—I wanted something new.

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My expectations for 31 weren’t unreasonable. Is an original horror movie too much to ask?

I have no explanation for the goofy self-imposed rules of the game that restrict the movie’s creativity. Case in point: the captured group of traveling carnies has to survive 12 hours in this compound against these killer clowns from nowhere. Do you know what movie franchise also has a 12-hour time frame of trying to survive a murder romp? The Purge! It’s the foundation of the whole franchise.

It’s a moronic decision that helps the audience continue to draw lines to other, better movies.

There’s also no reason for Malcolm McDowell to be in this movie other than the fact that he’s Malcolm McDowell. That’s enough of a reason most of the time. In 31, Malcolm McDowell (as Father Murder) is dressed up like a tranny with a powdered wig and makeup as if he is a British aristocrat. Along with Sister Serpent (played by Jane Carr) and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson), the audience is led to believe that these three family members play the annual game of 31 where they employ sadistic clowns to murder the captives while they gamble on the odds and what happens.

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None of that makes any fucking sense, but I could have still forgiven 31 if the movie delivered its share of gruesome deaths and campy horror. Why couldn’t the set-up be simplified to a mysterious haunted house that pops up and opens the night before Halloween for a freak show of horrors? Since it’s Devil’s Night, the haunted house only invites 31 people and then they play their game.

A haunted house is fertile ground for weird, crazy shit to happen in a horror movie. Funhouse mirrors, strobing black lights, confusing mazes, and so many more opportunities to scare the audience. With the approach Rob Zombie actually employs, this movie comes across as a bad survival-horror video game. When the captured group of carnies wake up inside the game, they’re separated and each person is given some type of weapon—table leg, baseball bat, crowbar, and so on.

Despite dedicating a significant portion of the movie on these carnies, I had no emotional investment in any of them. Kevin Jackson played Levon, Meg Foster played Venus, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs played Panda, Jeff Daniel Phillips played Roscoe, and Sheri Moon Zombie played Charly. Many will have an issue with Sheri Moon’s casting, but she is a serviceable actress in a horror movie.

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In 31, she’s miscast as the main character, but I had several more important issues with this movie. Personally, I find it hard to blame Rob Zombie for wanting to put his wife in everything. However, an easy potential improvement would’ve been to make her play the character of Venus.

While the acting left a lot to be desired, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs’s portrayal of Panda was probably the biggest offense. The Jamaican accent that Hilton-Jacobs utilizes is horrendous. It’s a worthy entry in the Pantheon of Shitty Movie Accents. I wanted Panda dead as soon as I heard that accent.

Among the captured carnies, Jeff Daniel Phillips is the most likeable character—no surprise since he’s also the best actor out of the bunch. Roscoe was deserving of a substantially larger role, but the actor did an impressive job with the material. Count his relegation as another missed opportunity.

In comparison to the charisma-free victims, the clowns infuse some amusement at various points. In 31, these clowns are called The Heads: Sick-Head, Psycho-Head, Schizo-Head, Death-Head, Sex-Head, and Doom-Head. Stupid names aside, the clowns are differing degrees of fun.

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For a bizarre reason, the first clown to enter the game is Sick-Head (played admirably by Pancho Moler), who is a midget dressed up like a tiny little Hispanic Hitler clown—complete with a giant swastika on his chest. Psycho-Head and Schizo-Head are chainsaw-wielding clown brothers. Death and Sex feel like a dumb tacked-on BDSM duo, but I was dumbfounded to discover that the voice of Tommy Pickles from Rugrats (Elizabeth Daily) played Sex-Head. This could be seen as an insult, but I just assumed it was an old, washed-up porn star when I heard her childish voice.

Without question, Richard Brake was the shining beacon of joy as Doom-Head. I was always creeped out whenever his ugly mug graced the screen. There’s a scene where Doom-Head is fucking a whore from behind while watching Nosferatu. I don’t think Richard Brake has an ounce of fat on him so he looks like a skeleton with skin tightly stretched over the bones. His silhouette is haunting.

Doom-Head delivers an intense, menacing monologue to open the movie. That introduction was the most memorable part of the movie, but 31 failed to capitalize on that momentum. The action doesn’t pick back up until the audience is re-introduced to Doom-Head much later. After watching this performance, I want to travel to the alternate universe where Richard Brake is playing The Joker.

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I wanted to love this movie. After watching 31, it was hard to find aspects to even like—let alone love. Although this was a massive disappointment and wasted opportunity, I’m still trying to mine the movie for positives. It hurts me to say such bad things about one of my favorite entertainers.

If you only look at the editing and transitions, 31 seems like a severe regression as a movie for Rob Zombie. I know he’s a capable director, but those freeze frames and fades were the hallmarks of an amateur filmmaker. Baffling decisions were abound in this movie.

But yet, Rob Zombie still had an ace up his sleeve. We’re talking about a movie that focuses on sadistic killer clowns that doesn’t use Rob Zombie’s best clown. Where the fuck was Captain Spaulding?

Even if you keep literally everything else the same, including Captain Spaulding could have increased the overall rating of the movie by 2 stars for me. I demand more Sid Haig in my life. Since 31 chronologically took place before the settings of House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, it was possible to make this a prequel of sorts to show what Captain Spaulding was up to before connecting with the Firefly Family. Captain Spaulding would’ve wiped his ass with both of groups of these sorry sacks of shit (carnies and clowns) before eating bucket of fried chicken and tutti-fuckin-fruity ice cream.

“What’s the matter, kid?

Don’t ya like clowns? Why? Don’t we make ya laugh? Aren’t we fuckin’ funny? You best come up with an answer. Cuz I’m gonna come back here and check on you and your momma, and if you ain’t got a reason why you hate clowns, I’m gonna kill your whole fucking family.” — Captain Spaulding

Despite being disappointed with the way 31 turned out, I’m not ready to give up chasing the dragon yet. The Devil’s Rejects represents the best of contemporary horror movies while 31 is an example of the genre’s worst offerings. I’m willing to give Rob Zombie movies one more chance.

If another fatally flawed film is exposed, then I’ll have to cut him off forever.

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1.5 out of 5 stars

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Taika Waititi is a name you need to remember. Boy is quite an achievement for Taika, who wrote, directed, and also co-starred in this movie. As a result of Waititi’s work, he’s now directing Thor: Ragnarok. That’s a monumental leap for this New Zealand director, but I have no doubt that Waititi will do a phenomenal job. You can tell the man has a fine-tuned yet frenetic mind for comedy. After watching this movie, I wanted to see his whole catalog, but I also have a strong desire to see more of Taika in front of the screen. I dare you not to like this man. Waititi exudes charisma.

Boy is the story of Alamein—an 11-year-old boy who lives in a small New Zealand town with his grandma, younger brother (Rocky), and various little cousins. Everyone refers to Alamein as “Boy.” He hates it. Boy was named after his father, Alamein, who left when he was young. Forget about good memories, he doesn’t have any memories with his dad. While he still worships his estranged father, Boy’s other idol is Michael Jackson, which makes a little more sense since this movie is set in the mid-80’s. Seeing him try to impress a girl and miserably failing at moonwalking is a subtle, delightful highlight.

The movie is just pure childish enjoyment. It’s like bubbles being blown in your face.

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Boy tells fantastical stories of his father, which are acted out in these hilarious daydream-esque sequences. When a kid in school claims his dad is in jail with Boy’s father, Boy tells him that Alamein tunneled out and killed two guards with only a spoon to escape. This movie utilizes humor to distract and somewhat transcend what is actually an extremely sad situation of desperate poverty. Boy is basically an orphan being raised by his grandma and he’s constantly being picked on.

One of the only things that has stuck with him is when a teacher says he has potential.

Boy doesn’t even know what potential means. Oddly, his grandma suddenly leaves for a funeral, which (as the oldest) puts Boy in charge of all the little kids in their shanty. However, Alamein happens to come back home out of nowhere with two guys from his “gang”—The Crazy Horses.

Crazy Horses

Hijinks ensue. It’s clear Alamein is a total shithead. But in a fun way.

Alamein occasionally dons an army helmet with Shogun written on it, which is what he wants everyone to call him. No one takes him seriously. However, Boy still sees the best in him—to the point of delusion. Boy wants to connect with his father, but Alamein really just wants to find his old stash of cash he hid in the backyard before going to jail. Although this movie is an absolute treasure cove of comedic gold, there is beating heart at its core that makes this all possible and feel real.

To Taika Waititi’s credit, this movie is incredibly well-written and the story feels genuine. I always smiled whenever Taika was on the screen. But James Rolleston is the other standout star as the titular Boy. Even the adorable Te Aho Eketone-Whitu is memorable in his role as Rocky. This movie employs a colorful cast of bit characters (amazingly, mostly children) that leave their little marks on the movie.

Rocky, Boy, and Alamein

I’ll concede that this movie isn’t for everyone. Very few can satisfy the whole range of people.

Boy lacks that widespread appeal—especially since some people are completely opposed to any type of cuteness or quirk. This movie also meanders a bit in the second act, but Boy is a remarkable independent film that’s already helped Taika Waititi’s career explode. I’ve been awaiting an opportunity to watch his most recent movie, Hunt for the Wilderpeople—seemingly another zany comedy-drama set in New Zealand. After Waititi knocks Thor: Ragnarok out of the park, I can only hope that success opens more doors for him while also guiding others to watch his smaller independent movies like Boy. I hope Boy finds the audience it deserves because it strikes a chord that warms the cockles.

Boy has been a difficult movie for me to describe. It is intrinsically unique. I don’t know how to really frame this movie and put it into words. It’s a leap of faith. I had no idea what was in store for me when I decided to watch this movie on Netflix. But I’ll never be able to forget it. If you are in the mood for a heartfelt comedy, then take the leap of faith with me and watch Boy streaming on Netflix.

Alamein might disappoint you, but Boy never will.

Taika Kitty

4.5 out of 5 stars

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All I needed to hear from The Film Vault was that there’s a foreign movie about a dog uprising.

SOLD! That tasty tease was enough for me to immediately add White God to my queue on Netflix. One of the many reasons I love the movie podcast The Film Vault is because I find out about these gems. You have never seen anything like White God before, which should be enough to sell you as well.

However, White God opens with an annoying pet peeve of mine by flashing forward—basically to the end of the second act. In this case, I believe that choice is made because the director wants to reassure you that the movie is going somewhere. I can understand it to an extent since this is a very hard watch. The entire first act of White God is brutality befalling a poor innocent dog who is thrown out on the streets for no fault of his own. Although the opening shades everything you see in that light, it’s not the worst setup for this movie given the difficult nature of seeing an animal abused by nearly everyone except the girl.

At its core, White God is a movie about a girl and her dog.

Zsofia Psotta

The girl is Lili—played by Zsofia Psotta. I can’t overstate how great this little girl is in White God. As the single sympathetic human being, Zsofia carries the movie in every non-dog scene. She’s adorable and is astounding in how well she personifies the character. You feel her love for the dog, which only makes everything more heartbreaking. Everyone else is an asshole and deserves their comeuppance.

The dog is Hagen. And Hagen will steal your heart. He stole mine, that’s for sure.

Partners in Crime

I don’t know how you get a dog to act. Creative editing has a lot to do with it, but there are reaction shots of Hagen and other dogs—particularly his little partner in crime—that overwhelm you with emotion.

It is a phenomenal accomplishment for writer/director Kornel Mundruczo.

White God is a foreign film that was the Hungarian entry (though not nominated) for last year’s Oscars in the Best Foreign Film category. Aside from Wild Tales, I would probably say White God is better than the rest of the actual nominees. This is a very ambitious film that has some depth touching upon class and cultural issues. While it delves into the absurd at time, this is a very harsh look at how we treat others. Humans and animals alike, everyone looks down upon those on the streets.

In this movie, the country is overrun by wild, unwanted dogs.

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Of course, they are unwanted because they aren’t pure. A heavy “mongrel” fine has been imposed by the government, and people are encouraged to report anyone who has a mixed-breed dog. There’s a cavalcade of evil, mostly nameless faces in White Dog. The government, dog-catchers, dog-fighters, dog pound, a homeless man, and even Lili’s music teacher are all absolute assholes in this situation.

Arguably, the worst villain in this situation is Lili’s father, Daniel—played by Sandor Zsoter. Daniel doesn’t directly inflict the most despicable damage on Hagen, but he makes it all possible and he’s the one who causes the most harm to his own daughter with his dickish indifference. Lili’s parents are divorced and her mom is leaving on a trip, which is why she is staying with her dad in the first place.

His nosey neighbor reports Hagen and Daniel refuses to pay the “mongrel” fine, which leads him to just letting Hagen loose in the middle of the fucking street. It’s a sickening exchange to see Hagen confused and running after the car when Daniel starts to drive away. The way these shots are presented is hauntingly beautiful. The transformation of Hagen will be forever emblazoned in my brain.

Hagen

White God is far from perfect, but it is a movie that I will never forget.

Large, coordinated packs of dogs are running wild through empty streets in the second half of this movie. Managing to film coherent scenes that rely solely on the actions and movements of these dogs is a phenomenal achievement. When the movie finally catches up to the flash forward shown in the opening, all hell is breaking loose and it builds tension to set up a terrific ending with everything at stake.

White God isn’t the easy viewing experience, but this is a movie that deserves your attention.

Good Dog

3.5 out of 5 stars

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Look at the poster and treasure it because that’s better than anything in this movie.

Cooties is a massive disappointment on so many levels.

I was eagerly anticipating the release of Cooties, a zombie horror comedy set in a school where the children are the zombies. Even if the zombie genre has you sick and tired (and running a fever and stumbling around looking for brains), you have to admit that is a promising premise. Fruitful ground to explore ways to bend the genre and bring something new to the table. No such thing occurs in Cooties.

I regretfully inform you that this movie is boring and forgettable.

Zombie Children

Not living up to my expectations isn’t such a horrific offense, but Cooties fails to meet any expectations or self-imposed standards. Although there are laughs and worthwhile moments, those scenes are few and far between—practically buried under a mountain of shit that not even Andy Dufresne could crawl through. So many gags or intended jokes fell flat. Sadly, this is a run-of-the-mill movie.

The story of a zombie outbreak is a horror comedy doesn’t need to be remarkable. In this movie, it’s important only as the reasoning for why it is occurring in a school. That’s not the unpleasant part about Cooties. No, leave that load to the lead character, Clint—played by Elijah Wood doing Elijah Wood things. This annoying fuck is an aspiring horror writer and the movie tries to play up the horribleness of his writing, but it obviously feels like it is a gold mine of funny. It is not. It is obnoxious and difficult to endure.

Elijah Wood

I’m not sure why you would want your main character to be so grating. Normally, I like Elijah Wood. But I wanted to watch a herd of feral zombie children feast on him in this movie. Congratulations, you made me hate Frodo. I suppose that is an accomplishment. C’mon, he’s The Good Son! As an actor, Elijah Wood is fine in Cooties. Wood wasn’t given much to work with, but he does his job delivering the sub-par material.

He doesn’t embarrass himself. If you want to see Elijah Wood embarrass himself in a horror movie, then maybe you want to watch Maniac—mostly shot from the perspective of Elijah Wood as a serial killer attacking women and fucking mannequins. On second thought, never watch that movie. Maniac is legitimately one of the worst movies I have experienced. I have no idea why Elijah Wood agreed to do that movie when he has all of that sweet Lord of the Rings money in his bank.

Back to this other miserable pile of shit, the best part about Cooties was Rainn Wilson.

Rainn Wilson

Rainn Wilson perfectly plays Wade, the dickish PE teacher reliving glory days out on the children’s playground. Wilson deserves more respect for his acting chops. At his best, Rainn toggled between serious drama and ludicrous comedy in Super (directed by James Gunn). In Cooties, Rainn Wilson goes full-bore into the role—reluctantly running through children then gleefully dispatching the zombie demon children back to hell. He is a moronic loudmouth and a great source of comic relief.

Why weren’t there more character actors cast as fellow teachers with Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson?

You can’t convince me that this wouldn’t have been a better movie with something like a brief cameo of Betty White getting devoured by the little bloodthirsty bastards. Give me some David Koechner or Keegan-Michael Key to chew scenery. Sprinkle in Kumail Nanjiani as an uptight school administrator and you have an infinitely better movie. It seems like they may have had that intention with casting Jack McBrayer as one of the surviving teachers, Tracy. But then they gave him practically nothing to do.

Arguably the only other entertaining aspect of Cooties was Jorge Garcia as the crossing guard, Rick—watching the horror unfold while tripping on mushrooms in his van trying to ride out the high. Jorge Garcia is a loveable oaf and he’s a welcome break from the borefest that is this movie.

Jorge Garcia

I wish there was more to enjoy, but Cooties doesn’t give you much to relish during its 88 minutes. Unfortunately, the brief runtime could have been even more brisk if we’re being honest. Somehow, it still feels long as fuck. Through the first act, Cooties shows promise before completely falling apart when the children storm the school. You could probably trim the movie down to 70 or so minutes by cutting the characters themselves discovering the spread of the outbreak and subsequent tacked-on ending. It certainly could not have made the movie any worse. This is a cringe-worthy experience.

In retrospect, I was hoping for too much from Cooties. I wanted a goofier Faculty-esque fun horror with zombie children causing chaos. After grinding to a halt in the second act, the only thing I was eagerly anticipating was the merciful end. Cooties is the equivalent of a comedian laughing at his own jokes.

When people complain about the oversaturation of zombies in our culture, they can now point to Cooties as a prime example. This doesn’t even qualify as beating a dead horse. The zombie herd has consumed all of the dead horse’s entrails and its corpse barely remains. Mark this down as another entry in the constantly growing, already bloated genre of horror comedy genre. No one can compete with Shaun of the Dead so we should all stop trying if it’s just a rehash of the same shit we’ve seen a thousand times over.

The worst crime of Cooties is that is simply an exercise in going through the awkward motions.

Awkward Motions

1.5 out of 5 stars

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Locke literally consists of Tom Hardy driving in a car and talking on the phone for 85 minutes.

Somehow, it is riveting. In a span of a month, I have watched Locke about 5 times. I can’t get this movie out of my mind. You can have your intricately choreographed fight scenes, insanely stupid explosions, and over-indulgent sense of self like the recently reviewed Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Locke is unlike any other movie. However, I want to be clear: this is not for most people. I’ve had a difficult time trying to review Locke because I don’t know who else is interested in this type of movie. With a simplistic story and approach, it’s difficult to imagine Locke resonating with a larger audience and achieving widespread appeal. The story is basic and bare, but the dialogue is exceptionally well-written.

Beyond all, it’s a phenomenal performance from Tom Hardy. One of our finest actors with incredible range, Hardy’s portrayal of Ivan Locke—a hard-working, blue-collar concrete foreman—is transcendent. If Tom Hardy can put forth a terrific understated performance loaded with nuances, then audiences should be legitimately excited for the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road.

There is nothing that Tom Hardy can’t do.

When presented with the same lose-lose situation as Locke, most men would have driven off the road and straight over a cliff. Ivan Locke is not like most men. Despite the potential consequences, Locke makes a decision and drives in one direction towards a destination that will likely alter his life. In many respects, this movie could’ve been easily called Ivan and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Tom Hardy

What sets this awful day in motion is the result of one lonely unfaithful night.

At the very beginning, Locke gets a phone call from the woman with whom he’s had an affair. On this fateful evening, a woman who is not his wife is giving birth to his child. With the biggest non-nuclear or military concrete pour scheduled early in the morning, Locke is abandoning his job so he won’t abandon his child. Although everything is crumbling around him, Locke is doing his best to keep it together.

As the movie rolls on, Locke’s sleeves are rolled up progressively higher as he wades through the shitstorm he has caused. Locke is a man on a mission to right his wrongs. Regardless of how bad something may seem, you can always get your hands dirty and make it better.

Even though Locke is clearly physically sick, he doesn’t use that as an excuse. While driving to the mother of his unborn child, Locke is going through his list and checking it twice to make sure he is doing everything he can to keep the morning’s humongous concrete pour on-schedule without complications. No one can see him sweat, but Locke takes great pride and responsibility in being accountable and serving as the rock for everyone else even while he’s crumbling to pieces.

Ivan Locke is a man that is all about practicality.

Once a mistake is made, you can’t go back in time and undo it. But Locke’s hope is that you can make it better. He has to believe it. He must. It is that hope that keeps him going.

Mirror

One of the more beautiful moments in Locke happens when Tom Hardy is describing what will happen if the foreman screws up the mixture of the concrete…

“My building will alter the water table and squeeze granite. It will be visible from 20 miles away. At sunset, it will cast a shadow probably a mile long. Now, if the concrete at the base of my building is not right, if it slips half an inch, cracks appear. Right? If cracks appear, then they will grow and grow, won’t they? And the whole thing will collapse.

You make one mistake—one little fucking mistake—and the whole world comes crashing down around you.”

It’s an allegory for Locke’s life.

While Ivan has taken great pride in his craft, he wasn’t as accountable in his personal life as he was professionally. The only time Locke stepped outside of his marriage has now resulted in a new life being brought into the world. That one (not so little) mistake has caused his life to slip beyond his control and now the rock-steady foundation he has cemented over years is crashing down directly on Locke.

As the Tom Waits of film, Locke is an experimental undertaking that is often uneven yet always captivating. Upon repeated viewings, there’s even more treasure to mine and more connections to make. While this Locke isn’t for everyone, this is my type of movie—cerebral, thought-provoking, and relatable in terms of being the type of man you want to be every day of your life.

A common theme in Locke revolves around what makes a man good.

Can Locke still be a good man despite cheating on his wife and fathering another child?

“The difference between once and never is the whole world.
The difference between never and once is the difference between good and bad.”

Good and bad, we are all a collection of our decisions and their consequences.

Frustration

4.5 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