6/28/2019

Film Movement Blu-ray Review: Heroes Shed No Tears (1986)


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Imagine starring in a movie so dangerous that it sends you to the hospital twice in one day. You tell yourself you can't quit because you started acting in your thirties and it's your first crack at a decent lead part so now you're more determined than ever to make the film count. Pushing yourself to the limit, you keep running and keep fighting despite live rounds of machine gunfire going off all around you that burns so hot it scars. And that's when you learn that the studio's decided to shelve the film for two years because they just don't think you're a big enough star.

Now imagine you're a well respected, lower rung director who finally gets the chance to make something besides a farce. Although it's not the gangster picture you've been dreaming of crafting for years, you persuade yourself that a war movie is the next best thing. Diving in to make what you consider your "first real film," you rewrite the script and inject it with a surge of emotion. The studio decides however to lead it astray. Seasoning the film with gratuitous nudity and sex, the new material is so against your principles that you refuse to to be involved and eventually, the absurd scenes are helmed by someone else. Miles away from the movie you hoped it would be, although it thankfully frees you up from your contract with the studio, the final cut is so upsetting that you refuse to ever watch the movie again, let alone discuss it.

Not just a game of What Ifs, there are names behind the respective hypotheticals; it's the story of Heroes Shed No Tears, or more specifically, the two men who worked on the picture and took its new title to heart in the form of leading man Eddy Ko and director John Woo.


Pulled off the dusty shelf at Golden Harvest studio in a rush after the smash success of Woo's subsequent effort A Better Tomorrow (which helped put Hong Kong filmmaking on the international map), Heroes Shed No Tears debuted in theaters four weeks after Tomorrow. Riding the cresting wave of Woo mania, although Tears had been shot under the name of Sunset Warrior, it was quickly given a more action oriented title, most likely with Heroes the victor because, as Asian film authority Grady Hendrix has pointed out, it started with the same Chinese character that A Better Tomorrow did when displayed on a marquee.

Working with a cast and crew that included members who spoke at least three languages that Woo did not — necessitating him to use gestures to convey to his Japanese cameraman the type of shots that he wanted — Heroes is an exploitative trashapalooza of over-the-top violence and laughably ridiculous sex awkwardly thrown into the mix.

It's also a major step down in quality for fans of the director's best work from the era as evidenced in A Better Tomorrow or the cult favorite The Killer. However, for patient viewers, there's enough here that you can still see flickers of the type of poetic filmmaking and cinematic storytelling that would soon become synonymous with his name as Heroes foreshadows the masterpieces he would make in the future.


A men on a mission movie, the film follows a group of specially recruited commandos — led by a crackerjack Eddy Ko — who've been hired by the Thai government. Sent to go after a drug lord (Lam Ching Ying) operating out of the Golden Triangle of Burma, Cambodia, and Thailand, which is responsible for 75% of the illicit drug trade around the globe, the operation goes sideways and Ko's Chan Chung ends up taking the kingpin hostage as they travel through the countryside and try to outrun another horrific group. After an attack at his home nearly took the life of his sister-in-law and young son, Chan Chung brings them along for their own protection, making the war on drugs all the more personal.

By adding in these emotional elements and especially in building up the relationship between Ko and his son — who communicate with one another during times of crisis with only their eyes like a visual Morse Code — Woo ensures that we keep watching long after we've been exposed to multiple scenes sure to make our eyes to roll. In fact, the father-son relationship is a strong one, not only because it sets up the film's strongest character arc but it's also a precursor to countless movies he would make that center on a bond or "love story" between two men.


Heavily reliant however on ultraviolence and gore, Heroes feels more like the product of '60s Hammer horror and Spaghetti Westerns mixed with '70s Blaxploitation than it does a traditional war picture. Using slow motion and montage effectively to punctuate a devastating standoff or shocking death, audiences can see Woo experimenting with daring visual technique as he develops his own individual filmmaking arsenal. And to its credit, Heroes is filled with flourishes and effects that Woo would fine tune as he moved into the '90s with Hard Boiled and eventually crossed the pond to make his American debut with Hard Target.

Yet as intriguing as Heroes is for longtime fans of the director (like yours truly), there's a reason why Woo hasn't seen the film in over thirty years that goes well beyond his reputation as a perfectionist who's never satisfied with his own work. Frankly, it's just not that good. Worth watching once, if only on a scholarly level for Woo devotees, although it's easy to get caught up in the plot involving Chung's son, when contrasted with moments of extreme carnage, the amped up emotions in the film's final act give off an air of Mystery Science Theater 3000 worthy camp.


Released onto North American Blu-ray for the first time as part of Film Movement's Classics label, Heroes Shed No Tears has been given a barbed wire sharp 2K restoration that cleans up any remaining traces of live M16 gunfire left in the frame. Of particular interest to film buffs, this edition features an eye-opening interview with Eddy Ko as well as a dynamic Heroes essay by Asian film expert Grady Hendrix that is wonderfully informative.

A movie you're honestly better off renting than owning, much like the film served as a stepping stone for Woo to make stronger fare, hopefully the release of Heroes will inspire Film Movement to seek out other Hong Kong movies that fans definitely won't want to leave on the shelf. And who knows, they could always replicate Golden Harvest's favorite 1986 Woo double feature, thereby making us forget about the lackluster Heroes of today while releasing a brand new restoration of the currently out-of-print A Better Tomorrow.


Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

6/21/2019

Blu-ray Review: Between the Lines (1977)


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Ignoring the instructions to arrive with two scenes prepared like everyone else, when Jeff Goldblum auditioned for Joan Micklin Silver's Between the Lines, he had the entire script up his sleeve. Not content to merely act out the scenes involving Max, the rock critic that he would go onto play in the film, Goldblum went through the rest of Fred Barron's screenplay, commenting on the rest of the characters as a combination of himself and Max. Impressing Micklin Silver with ease, the filmmaker let him know at once that he had the role.

A great anecdote included in an interview with Micklin Silver on this brand new 2K restored Blu-ray release, Goldblum's bold choice might have won him the part of Max but it fits the filmmaker's approach to the movie as well.


American Graffiti set at an alternative weekly newspaper in Boston, Micklin Silver's episodic comedy Between the Lines moves freely between the characters as friends, lovers, and above all creative professionals navigate deadlines, job opportunities, and romance (or lack thereof) while the rest offer their opinions and advice, whether solicited or not.

A terrific hang out movie where the people in the frame routinely usurp the plot just for being there, Lines marked Micklin Silver's return to feature filmmaking following her acclaimed Hester Street debut and a stellar adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's story Bernice Bobs Her Hair crafted for PBS.

With a knack for the material given both the authenticity of the script from Boston alternative newspaper veteran Fred Barron as well as the filmmaker's background as a reporter for The Village Voice, Between the Lines takes us to work and then loses us in the surroundings.


Sitting in on cramped editorial meetings, pleas for raises, and near fights between the advertising salesman and editor, we feel like we're about to get caught eavesdropping during a slightly heightened but otherwise real week in the life that doesn't end at the office as we join the staffers after hours to their bars and homes.

From an employee hawking papers during morning traffic — complete with a different come-on for each car — to the on-again, off-again romance between reporter Harry (John Heard) and photographer Abbie (Lindsay Crouse), Micklin Silver's obvious affection for the film's characters fills each scene of her comedic ensemble piece with wit and warmth.


With so many spinning plates and bowling pins thrown into the air for our amusement, however, there are times when we lose our focus on the circus overall. Caught up in the plight of Laura (Gwen Welles), a reporter who's never sure if she wants to leave the man (Stephen Collins) in her life or not along with other minor players such as Bruno Kirby's aspiring investigative journalist, we wish we could stay with characters a little longer to learn more. Quickly paced and handsomely shot, however, it's such a fun big chill (made before The Big Chill) that when Micklin Silver's circus moves on to the next attraction, we happily go along.

Featuring songs by Steven Van Zandt, the 1977 film might have inspired a short-lived TV series but it's as overlooked today as the vital independent filmmaker at its helm. A light piece of entertainment, Micklin Silver's work looks and feels just as vibrant in 2019 thanks to this flawless restoration. And while there's no doubting its appeal overall, writers in particular are sure to gravitate to this portrait of freelancers, reporters, editors, and authors we either are or probably know, commenting on the goings-on as we read Between the Lines from scene to scene like Jeff Goldblum.


Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

Blu-ray Review: Crypto (2019)


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Having written a compliance report that ruffled feathers on Wall Street, anti money laundering officer Martin (Beau Knapp) is sent back home to Elba, New York like a kid who acts out at summer camp.

Not bothering to change out of his department store suit the entire time he's home — or even when he goes hiking with Alexis Bledel — it's no surprise that his sudden return to audit a local bank rubs people in as wrong of a way as his report.


Confronted by his tough, veteran big brother (a strong Luke Hemsworth) who later picks a bar fight with him, Martin has enough to deal with on the home front even before cryptocurrency, the Russian mob, and money laundering are added to the mix.

A film that seems like screenwriters Carlyle Eubank and David Frigerio — working from a story by Jeffrey Ingber — tried to squeeze as many buzzwords as they could into the otherwise oddly passive movie's plot, Crypto is a family drama, a cyber thriller, and a crime film unconvincingly rolled into one. With at least three different storylines wrestling to see which one gets to take the lead, aside from knowing that our lead will always be in a suit for no reason whatsoever, we never quite know which version of Crypto we're going to get from one scene to the next.


Still, after a weird introduction to the mob through a campy, sexually aggressive art gallery owner who seems to have wandered over from a David Lynch set, the film settles into a nice groove for awhile.

Playing like a watered down, abridged version of the John Grisham movie The Firm to the point that we almost want to call Martin Mitch McDeere (I mean he's got the suit and all), just when it starts to get interesting, Crypto veers off once again.

And while the Grisham approach might've served director John Stalberg Jr.'s film well enough if it'd been carried throughout, the film's A-list talent objects by hitting the screen and changing our mind with a vengeance.


As Martin's proud father hoping to save his struggling farm and son (Hemsworth), Kurt Russell turns in a terrific if all too brief supporting performance that makes you wish they would've focused on Martin's family tree and dropped the poorly developed Russian mob subplot once and for all.

Trying to tie it all together with yet another idea involving cryptocurrency and Martin's convenient hacker friend, by the time we reach its increasingly illogical third act, the sleepily directed Crypto has all but fallen apart.

The only upside? Luckily, Martin's suit holds up.


Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

6/14/2019

Movie Review: American Woman (2018)


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"You're not fat, sweetie, you're stuck in a rut."

Rather than wish for things to go back to the way they used to be, in American Woman's opening scene, Deb (Sienna Miller) tells her daughter Bridget (Sky Ferreria) to make the most of the way things are.

Two single women who both had a baby in their teens, Deb and Bridge are the type of mother and daughter whose similarities transcend DNA, who not only relate to each other better as friends but like most friends, give each other the kind of advice that they themselves might actually need to hear.


And that's decidedly the case with Deb whom we watch flail around in her own rut as she goes on a date with a married man to a seedy motel and accepts that she's being used for his entertainment.

Essentially announcing the film's theme, these lines penned by screenwriter Brad Ingelsby reverberate in our minds shortly after once again when Bridget fails to return home from her own date and Deb tries to keep standing amid the aftershocks of life's cruelest earthquake.

Left to raise her young grandson after a search for the Pennsylvania teen yields no results, American Woman follows Deb's journey over an eleven year period as she navigates ruts in work, life, and love, decides when she's had enough, and searches for a break in her daughter's case.


Using anamorphic lenses to widen the cramped rooms of the on location shoot, cinematographer John Matheison and director Jake Scott utilize a "you are here" approach to place us in the crowded homes occupied by Deb and her supportive, saintly sister Katherine (Christina Hendricks) who live directly across the street from one another.

Set on a cul-de-sac, which again plays into the idea of a rut and makes the audience hope that Deb will be able to escape a life of dead ends, the emotionally harrowing character driven effort has less in common with twenty-first century filmmaking and instead feels like a work of 1970s Cassavetes style homage.


From the loss of her daughter to domestic abuse, while we're with Sienna Miller the whole way in a tour de force performance on par with Factory Girl and Interview, the litmus testing American Woman suffers at times from the same affliction that Niki Caro's North Country did in its need to pile on rather than build up our main character.
 
Playing less like fully earned moments of drama than moments of torture porn, Woman is done few favors by the film's episodic structure which rewards the pain and sprinkles in moments of advancement in Deb's life as a mere afterthought.


Spending more time on peripheral jerks we barely understand than focusing on Miller, Hendricks or a terrific Amy Madigan and Will Sasso (as the women's mother and Katherine's husband respectively), just when it begins to introduce us to new characters, we're greeted with a shocking incident and a narrative slam of the door.

Disappearing from sight almost as quickly as they hit the screen, by the time Aaron Paul's Chris appears as an attentive new suitor for a tired-of-men Deb, we've already begun to say goodbye, which is a damn shame when we're treated with actors of this caliber.


And in fact, similar to the outcome of Jake Scott's previous picture Welcome to the Rileys with James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart, and Melissa Leo, it's the strength of the cast and their commitment to championing everyday American lives in the face of turmoil that keeps us engaged whenever Woman falters.

A powerful script nonetheless from the Out of the Furnace screenwriter and one that would perhaps fare better on the stage, while it's easy to accept it the way things are as far as the performances are concerned, as an overall film, Scott's American Woman never quite manages to get out of its rut.


Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

Movie Review: Being Frank (2018)


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Alternate Title: You Can Choose Your Family

Being Frank is a film for people who wonder about the road not traveled, who question what would have happened if they married their last sweetheart, or think about what their life might be like if they'd stayed in their old house... and like to laugh while they do.

Centered on a man who never has to ask those questions because he's living both answers, Being Frank is about a man with two families and the teenage son who finds out.

Framed as a comedy with Frank's high school senior son Philip (Logan Miller) as the central protagonist, from its earliest moments, director Miranda Bailey's Being Frank feels like the kind of independent teen movie that would've been playing at the local theater in spring break of '92, which is when events take place.

An understated work driven by its characters as well as the film's unique conflict, Frank finds Philip getting much more than he bargained for when he and his best friend sneak away without permission and go up to the lake for spring break.


Spotting his dad (the eponymous Frank played by Jim Gaffigan) chatting up a teenage beauty when he's supposed to be far away on business, Philip follows the pair only to realize that she's not his mistress but his daughter instead.

Living what (to the casual observer) looks like a duplicate life only to find that in this house his father's more trusting, laid-back, and attentive, Philip decides to drop by and blackmail Frank by giving him a taste of his own medicine.

A challenging premise to get right and one that makes it doubly difficult to know which tone to strike, perhaps owing to her background as a documentary filmmaker, Miranda Bailey deftly navigates the human terrain, balancing teen movie laughs with mature pathos.

While Glen Lakin's script does admittedly leap-frog over some of the film's messiest unseen but necessary conversations in a slightly rushed final act, the evolution of the relationship between father and son and the beautiful autumn coda to the chaotic days of spring break wins us over in the end.

Sure to appeal to fans of Little Miss Sunshine and The Way, Way Back, Being Frank features a surprisingly moving performance by Gaffigan as the conflicted dual family man. Also boasting terrific support by Anna Gunn and Samantha Mathis as Frank's two wives, despite a few narrative shortcuts here and there, as a tale of two families, Being Frank is a daring and mostly successful endeavor crafted with wit, sincerity, and heart.


Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

Movie Review: Vault (2019)


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A solidly made mid-range entry into an overcrowded genre, Vault charts the role that two small time crooks played in pulling off one of the largest robberies in American history at the height of organized crime activity in 1975.

Running out of plot in its anti-climactic final act, while it isn't nearly as successful as Raymond De Felitta's work from start to finish, Tom DeNucci's Vault plays best like a thematically similar B-movie cousin of fellow fact-based effort Rob the Mob.

From a scene where Don Johnson asks to get "made" to another where charming stick-up artist Deuce (Theo Rossi) brings the woman he held up hours earlier home to mama on the first date, the overly familiar Vault closely adheres to other genre fare.


Temporarily managing to shake the feeling that the film, which was written by DeNucci and B. Dolan, fell off the back of a better gangster movie's truck, Vault builds up momentum as Deuce and his partner in crime Chucky (Clive Standen) get tapped by a bitter Johnson to rob the mob care of a bonded vault.

Turning his audience into willing co-conspirators, while Vault delights in getting the details of the heist right, like most criminal plans, it fails to account for variables or figure out what to do or how to keep the adrenaline going long after the job has been pulled off.


Trading Rhode Island for Nevada, Vault takes us out to the desert on the lam with an increasingly wound up and sometimes strung-out Deuce and his girlfriend Karyn (Samira Wiley). And as Deuce calls his contacts back east for updates, his sense of frustration is magnified as DeNucci's film drifts, leaving unanswered questions hanging in the air.

Weaving things together with a conclusion that's as jam-packed with information as the film's opening sequence, despite its haphazard narrative approach, Vault is awfully entertaining to watch.

With Chazz Palminteri doing an easy layup as Johnson's mafia rival, the film is undeniably heightened by Rossi's charismatic turn. As playful as he is grounded, though he easily dominates Vault, watching Rossi you wonder how many more mobs he'll have to rob before an A-list director taps him and he gets made.


Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

Movie Review: Hampstead (2017)


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Staking out her Hampstead Heath neighborhood with a pair of newly found binoculars, American widow Emily Waters (Diane Keaton) springs into action when she sees a neighbor being attacked. Calling the police to intervene, Emily watches from the window of her posh flat and waits for them to help the stranger who lives across the street in a shack.

Having never previously met the man (played by Brendan Gleeson) in all the time she's resided there, fate lends a hand a second time shortly thereafter when she crosses his path in a cemetery after yelling at the gravestone of her unfaithful departed spouse.


When their meet awkward morphs into a meet cute, he asks her to dinner by way of a sign left for her binoculars to find. Soon a tentative relationship begins as the two outsiders come together, united as much by any attraction as an overall cause to try and stop land developers from tearing down his seventeen year residence in favor of luxury apartments.

Written by In the Bedroom's Robert Festinger and inspired by the life of the late Harry Hallowes, Hampstead is far more interested in the plight of its characters than in endearing them to the audience as individuals let alone a couple. And of course, this approach means that a great deal of the film's success is dependent upon the strength of its stars.


Completely up to the task, while the two are missing any real chemistry and the relationship's romantic evolution occurs mostly offscreen, the sheer likability of Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson helps Hampstead coast along.

Wisely adding scene-stealers Lesley Manville and Hugh Skinner to the mix in order to liven things up, although it's entirely by the numbers, the humanism and sensitivity on display from both the cast and in the direction from Last Chance Harvey's Joel Hopkins make this a pleasant if forgettable diversion.

In other words? Never underestimate a woman with binoculars.



Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

6/07/2019

Blu-ray Review: The Kid (2019)


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Stripped down tales of good and evil where legends loom large and men even larger against backdrops of dust, no genre puts an actor on display quite like a western.

Cutting through artifice to show us the performer without their bag of tricks, just like it took watching Red River for John Ford to realize that the Duke could act, it wasn't until I saw Val Kilmer in Tombstone and Ben Foster in 3:10 to Yuma that I discovered just how crazily talented the two really are.


Stealing focus from the film's marquee stars, it was Ben Foster's feral performance as a Yuma villain in fact that came flooding back to mind shortly after I started The Kid and the film introduced us to its titular Billy the Kid played by Dane DeHaan.

A mesmerizing turn by an actor I've seen before (but now am sure I won't forget), whether he's spinning an epic yarn or escaping from custody in a scene just dripping with charisma, DeHaan sizes up and plays on his costars and the audience for maximum impact.


Directed by one of Generation X's most accomplished performers in the form of actor turned acting teacher and filmmaker Vincent D'Onofrio, although it's narratively forgettable, The Kid is an actor's picture all around.

Hoping to keep DeHaan from easily running away with it all, The Kid plugs a traditional coming-of-age storyline about a teenage boy's fight to save his sister from their evil uncle into the middle of the otherwise fact based standoff between Billy the Kid and the law.


With D'Onofrio's Newton Boys and Magnificent Seven costar Ethan Hawke wearing the badge as Sheriff Pat Garrett and elevating the film from some of its bland and predictable plot machinations, The Kid flirts with occasional greatness as first Garrett and later DeHaan's Kid recall the story of the first person they ever fatally shot.

Two thematically similar monologues in two different sections of the movie that — when performed by these stars — sound like two choruses to the same song, the script by 2010 Nicholl fellowship winner Andrew Lanham might revolve around a familiar arc but it's punctuated with bright spots.


Bolstered by promising newcomers Jake Schur and D'Onofrio's daughter Leila George as the two siblings on the run from their menacing uncle played to sneering, unrecognizable effect by D'Onofrio and Hawke's Magnificent Seven costar Chris Pratt, the film struggles to find a balance between its A and B plot.

Relegating the two characters we know the best to the sidelines while simultaneously strengthening them with great speeches and star power, The Kid seems as torn as Schur's character is regarding which man's side he wants to be on.


Helping to heighten excitement and quicken the pace at precisely the right time, during The Kid's bold escape from custody, editor Katharine McQuerrey cuts on action repeatedly. Beautifully lensed by Cop Car cinematographer Matthew J. Lloyd, in the bravura sequence we follow DeHaan's character off a roof to the ground to the stirrups and over a horse in a series of inventive edits which give the film a much needed booster shot.

Pushing and pulling us from fact and fiction to and fro throughout, while we are never as fully invested in Schur's coming-of-age plight as I'm sure D'Onofrio (who helped conceive the premise) would have liked, The Kid's enviable star roster — especially MVP Dane DeHaan — ensures that our attention never strays from the old west for long.



Text ©2019, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I may have received a review copy or screener link of this title in order to voluntarily decide to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique. Cookies Notice: This site incorporates tools (including advertiser partners and widgets) that use cookies and may collect some personal information in order to display ads tailored to you etc. Please be advised that neither Film Intuition nor its site owner has any access to this data beyond general site statistics (geographical region etc.) as your privacy is our main concern.

Blu-ray Review: Gloria Bell (2018)


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Related Review:
Gloria (2013)

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Gloria Bell (Julianne Moore) is a woman who doesn't wait to be asked to dance. Looking out at the world with a hunger for life as big as her glasses, she joins in, as happy to move to her own beat as she is to follow someone else's lead.

Literally blending into the scenery during dull days at her nine to five office job and bad nights, the divorced fifty-something comes alive on the dance floors of the L.A. clubs she frequents.

Often dressed in something shimmery, she sways to the music with an energy so infectious that others feel pulled to her side, including a train wreck future beau (played with warmth and pathos by John Turturro) who seems to hope that a relationship with Gloria will set him back on the right track.


A remake of the 2013 Chilean film Gloria, which was also directed by Sebastián Lelio, Gloria Bell finds the filmmaker translating the film for an American audience in a surprisingly seamless way.

And while much of it feels like a scene-by-scene remake, the film's cool, slightly blown out, '70s album cover meets Punch Drunk Love reminiscent cinematography (from Argentinian lensman and Neon Demon veteran Natasha Braier) draws us into the new world of Gloria by giving it an everyday yet ethereal classic California look.


Featuring another luminously revealing turn by Julianne Moore, the actress honors Paulina García's original performance while still managing to make the role her own. Losing herself completely in the part, one of the reasons Bell works as well as it does for those already familiar with Gloria is because Moore's selfless, understated turn makes us acutely aware of the film's outstanding ensemble cast.

Although still every bit a one woman show in English as it was in Spanish, by chronicling not only her new relationship with Turturro but her dynamic with friends and family as well, Bell makes the ordinary extraordinary and highlights the film's supporting roles.


From talented chameleon Turturro reading Chilean poetry to Gloria to scene-stealing moments by Brad Garrett as her ex at an awkward event to Rita Wilson's turn as her opinionated best friend, the characters on the screen and the world they inhabit feels consistently grounded, lived in, and real throughout.

A humanistic tale about a single senior woman's quest to live life on her own terms with or without a partner and on or off the dance floor, it goes without saying that Gloria Bell's plot arc won't surprise anyone who's seen the recently released original. However, it's hard not to get caught up by the music made by Moore and Lelio in the type of American film — centered on real, actual adults we feel we know — that we rarely see on the screen anymore.


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