In the past year we’ve had two movies focusing on the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. Peter Berg’s masterful Patriots Day (click here for review) gave a macro view of the event and the manhunt for the bombers. Stronger serves as a companion film, focusing not so much on the bombing, but on the effect it had on the lives of one of the victims: Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal). Unflinching in its look at the price of recovery and the struggle toward redemption, Stronger sometimes errs on the side of making its subjects so “human” that the audience loses sympathy. Ultimately, though Stronger’s subjects and the film itself hit their stride and the lasting feeling is one of inspiration.
Following on the heels of last year’s outstanding Patriots Day is another film telling the stories of inspiration that spun out of the horror that was the Boston Marathon Bombing. Based on the book by the same name, Stronger tells the story of one of the victims of that 2013 attack. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a victim of the bombing who aided the police in the capture of the bombers and inspired the city of Boston in their darkest hour. I’m so glad that Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany is now getting some major film roles after the series has wrapped, and more people will get to see her astounding talent. Directed by David Gordon Green, Stronger opens in theaters September 27, 2017.
Each Thursday we look at what is going to be coming out in theaters this weekend, show you the trailers for the big releases, predict the box office winner and just generally give you enough of a carrot to pull you through the rest of the work week. Week 4 of the MONTH OF MADNESS brings an intriguing science fiction epic and two really unappealing updates of old TV series (TIME TO SEE LOGAN OR BEAUTY AND THE BEAST AGAIN!). Continue reading In Theaters This Week (3/17/2017): Life, Power Rangers, CHiPS
You have to be a little nuts to want to climb Mt. Everest. It’s a good kind of nuts; the kind that’s sent people to the moon and the bottom of the ocean, but it’s still nuts. I don’t think that mindset of the climbers and of the hardships involved in actually following in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary and summitting Everest have ever been better captured than in the self-titled film. However, if you go past the surface of the film, there are problems, the depth of which really depends on what you want or are expecting the film to deliver. Continue reading Movie Review: Everest (2015) *Towering Adventure Still Runs A Bit Shallow*
Surely there can be no greater horror in this world than harm done to a child. I don’t think of anything that raises more dread or horror in me instantly than the prospect of harm being done to a child. It’s late at night here in the States as I write this. I’m writing as much to try to cope with what I’m feeling as to review this movie, because no film has left me so disturbed, shaken and wrenched as this did in years. Probably since the last time Denis Villeneuve made a film (Incendies, which made a list I made a while back of Top 5 Best Movies I Never Want to See Again. I’ll have to revise that, because Prisoners was worse.
It’s hard to separate the feeling from the evaluation of the art, but Villeneuve has some kind of ability to tap into the darkest and vilest parts of human nature and peel them back slowly, as layers from an onion until you’re left starkly gaping at what humans are capable of becoming, of committing, of being.
Prisoners begins with a Thanksgiving between two families of friends, but quickly slips celebration to frantic tragedy as the two youngest girls in each family go missing. Police arrest a man in a RV who was seen near the disappearance (Paul Dano), but the lead detective (Jake Gyllenhal) has to cut him loose after a 48 hour hold turns up no evidence to charge him.
Convinced, beyond all doubt, that this man took his daughter, one father (Hugh Jackman), kidnaps the man and imprisons him, determined to get from him what the police couldn’t. The two parents of the other girl (Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) also become complicit in the interrogation. They continue to question Dano and Gyllenhaal searches desperately against a ticking clock for the missing children while balancing growing suspicions about the parents’ actions.
That’s all I will say about the plot. From that point, the spiral into unspeakable human behavior, pain and suffering in ways and from directions both predictable and completely unexpected, takes the viewers on a white-knuckled ride to a chilling and brilliantly executed finale.
Hugh Jackman has done plenty of films as Wolverine, and that’s what he’ll be most remembered for when his career is complete. Make no mistake about the level of his talent, though. Jackman in last year’s Les Miserables and here in Prisoners shows himself among the best actors in the world. The entire cast is stellar. Paul Dano, Melissa Leo, Gyllenhaal, Maria Bello and the entire ensemble deserve praise, but Jackman’s vengeful and desperate father is the razor this movie slides down.
It’s hard to recommend Prisoners. “Hey, do you want to be incredibly engaged and simultaneously shaken to the very core of your soul? Here’s Prisoners!” I’m sitting on my couch looking at our Christmas tree and the sight and the experience are so incongruous that the juxtaposition itself seems wrong. Prisoners may be the best movie I’ve seen this year, but it’s also a film experience so scarring that to give it a “10” somehow seems wrong. I don’t know why. I’m still working it all out as best I can. I don’t think I’ll ever quite get there.