“We can’t change ourselves, only what surrounds us.” Sylvie (Anouk Grinberg) says to her son Abel (director Louis Garrel) in the opening minutes of The Innocent. Louis Garrel has appeared in movies since he was 6 years old, making his debut in a movie directed by his father, Philippe Garrel, the last French New Waver, and his mother, actress Brigitte Sy, (1989’s Les baisers de secours aka Emergency Kisses) about a director and his actress wife. Louis Garrel appeared in seven of his father’s films, several directed by his former partner Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, directed movies with ex-wife Golshifteh Farahani and current wife Laetitia Casta, and played his father’s peer and champion Jean-Luc Godard in Le Redoubtable, based on the memoirs of Anne Wiazemsky, whose niece Léa is in The Innocent. Continue Reading →
Michael Bay, whose 1990s actioners are—for good and ill—iconic parts of the decade’s cinema, and whose 2000s and 2010s work is reliably fascinating (from the terrific Pain & Gain to the baleful Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) delivers a bombastic chase movie that doubles as a damn good character study. Loving but criminal brothers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) take an ambulance hostage to escape a heist gone sideways. Along for the ride are a masterful EMT (Eiza González) resigned to personal apathy, and a critically injured cop (Jackson White). Amidst the carefully shaped chaos of burnt rubber and bullets, Bay makes space for Gyllenhaal (frenzied and in denial about how badly everything’s gone) Abdul-Mateen II (trying to keep cool even as that becomes impossible) and González (who must break out of her self-built walls if she is to survive) to bounce off each other in a pile of compelling ways. [JH] Continue Reading →
Something in the Dirt
Remember when conspiracy theories used to be fun? Well, maybe “fun” isn’t the right word, but entertaining? Once, they were limited to harmless weirdos who would gladly give a presentation on chemtrails or how many different assassins were actually at Dealey Plaza when JFK passed by, but could also at least maintain some veneer of normalcy. Then the internet made it easier for people to spend most (instead of just some) of their time discussing their favorite conspiracies, without anyone telling them that they were getting obsessed, or that what they were saying sounded insane. And then, of course, QAnon turned conspiracy theories into a kind of religion, one in which its followers were willing to kill to prove their belief. It stopped being entertaining a long time ago, and now, like a lot of things about the world in its current state, it’s just bleak and terrifying. Continue Reading →
A game cast can't save Abi Damaris Corbin's misguided, manipulative account of a real-life tragedy.
(This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.)
In a long line of recent movies that are desperate to say something important about our society today, 892 takes an ideologically muddled approach to racial and social politics. Abi Damaris Corbin's film functions similarly in its structure and tone to a few other past Sundance offerings like Fran Kranz’s Mass and Gustav Möller’s The Guilty, a lot of it stemming from the use of a single location for the majority of the action. Unfortunately, 892 is the weakest of these movies, a limp social-issue thriller that suffers from an uncontrolled eagerness to say everything all at once. Continue Reading →
What Josiah Saw
Another week, another showcase of the latest and greatest from Montreal's Fantasia International Film Fest -- including some real barn-burners this time around from Canada and Japan, respectively.
First up is a heaping helping of Southern Gothic menace with Vincent Grashaw's What Josiah Saw, a film that throws its viewers into a kettle of water and slowly turns up the temperature one degree at a time until you don't even realize you're boiling. Set among four diffuse chapters whose connections only truly unravel in the final act, What Josiah Saw tracks the estranged, diasporic Graham family, three children haunted by the suicide of their matriarch decades prior. It was an act presumably precipitated by the various and sundry sins of their despotic, controlling father Josiah (a menacing, magnetic Robert Patrick), a man who's long touted his disbelief in God and who often took his earthly rages out on his family.
The kids' childhood traumas bleed through into adulthood: Eli (Nick Stahl) is an unscrupulous criminal fresh out of jail, in debt to an unscrupulous bar owner played by Jake Weber; Mary (Kelli Garner) has ostensibly escaped to normalcy, but her anxieties about potential motherhood create rifts between her and her husband (Tony Hale). Then there's Thomas (Scott Haze), the comparatively simple-minded brother who stayed, the only one still in thrall to Josiah's whims. He seems happy to be there, quietly accepting of his fate as Josiah's lapdog. This becomes especially clear when Josiah announces one morning that his mother came to him in a vision the night before: She's burning in Hell for killing herself, and Josiah knows the only way to save her. The two fix up the house and prepare for guests -- just as Eli and Kelli get word that an oil company is ready to sell their childhood home, the source of all their grief and pain, for loads of money. Continue Reading →