Saturday, May 12, 2018

Withdrawn (2017)

Withdrawn is a depressingly sobering film about lonely white middle-class roommate life in Toronto and subconsciously evading purpose day to day.

In Withdrawn Canadian director Adrian Murray tells a true to life tale of Aaron, a twenty something in Toronto, Canada who spends his days swindling his drug dealer and everyone else around him, playing video games and figuring out the wonders of the oh-so-hard Rubik’s cube. When Aaron finds a lost credit card on a bike ride, he redistributes his time figuring out the pin to the newly found card.

Adrian Murray’s film is essentially about the YouTube generation who believe that everything they say and do matters and must be known, and with that have every reason to never work a real job and to turn their current existence in a money making possibility, at least for the character of Aaron. Adrian Murray truly understands the personality of the revamped shy slacker of the 2010’s. Shy and awkward due lack of constant human interaction from consistent at home activity and therefore a creation of narcissism hearing ones of voice. Adrian Murray also understands the vibe of Toronto and the daunting expensive spectacle of a big city like Toronto that would withdraw one into reclusion without the means to fund one’s self. With a perfectly mundane directing style, Adrian Murray accurately depicts the setting in dread of aloof boredom and self involvement, staying on a single shit to let you sink into every moment of YouTube watching, trashing pushing, Rubik’s cube contemplating, money negotiating and bong puffing numbing-ness. Also, Adrian Murray touches upon the idea of non-territorial relationships of the current generation as with a scene where Aaron smokes weed with his roommate’s girlfriend while he’s passed out drunk, maybe in hopes to subtly make her his girlfriend.

Aaron Koegh plays Aaron it a very unseen way. He’s condescending but nice, and awkwardly manipulative in a very “Fuck boy” so of way that seems very inspired by a real-life person.

Withdrawn is Canadian film making at its best; raw, real and poignantly unapologetically Canadian.

- Maurice Jones

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

You Were Never Really Here (2018)

Vicious, brutal, engrossing, visceral and sad - You Were Never Really Here is a violent crime vigilante drama by Lynne Ramsay that has more to say within the “Taxi Driver” genre. About a man whose past as a war veteran lends itself to his career as a contract child tractor and predator assassin.

As many will say, You Were Never Really Here is excitingly reminiscent of the film “Taxi Driver”, but ironically more so realistic coming from such a surreal take on mental illness as You Were Never Really Here portrays.

Though the film is exactly as you would imagine based on its trailer, Lynne Ramsay manages to make Joe and his atmosphere gritty, dark, dull and scary, while being reflective, beautiful and hypnotically wandering and melancholy. With an original score setting the tone for outside of Joe’s head and inside Joe’s mind. The film isn’t afraid to portray real relationships and real violence and its consequences but also wants us to understand how Joe got to where he is and the deep psychosis that would riddle a veteran whose become a contract killer. Interestingly so, the moments where we get to understand Joe are disturbing but freeing.

Joaquin Phoenix is eagerly made for this role, immersed in menace struts, childish angry and psychopathic brute force but Joaquin Phoenix being the only one to express the pain beyond the physical pain of a character whose choices are directly influenced from his past of violence and fear.

Lynne Ramsay makes a beautiful looking film from two extremes of gore and enlightenment and makes it work. Understanding the fun of stylized film making without drowning or confusing the reality and plot of a rough, dull, brutal atmosphere within a film.

You Were Never Really Here does everything right visually, audibly and creatively and surprisingly leaves you emotionally present making it definitely one of this years best if not the best.

-          Maurice Jones

Monday, April 9, 2018

Outside In (2018)

Outside In is a needed progression from Lynn Shelton who can’t make a satirizing film to save her life apart from Laggies though that movies message for women to find a rich man to lean on and though outside ins portrayal of imprisoned men being painfully and wrongfully white, outside in delivers us what Lynn Shelton should been doing it the first place.

Certain lines here and there throughout the movie makes the films atmosphere feel realer and realer and express Lynn Shelton’s slight talent in creating realistic interactions with her characters. The real location of Granite Falls also lends its natural beauty and Mundane yet quaint infrastructure to sell the realism of this story with the differentiating housing structures of it’s characters. 

Lynn Shelton does her best writing here, subtlety exposing ones jealously and uncertainty with bursts of a character’s joyous explanation and opposing characters short handed questioning responses of disappointment accompanied with sharp core lines towards someone’s shaming truth. Lynn Shelton can’t hold back dialogue wise with this recent entry. 

Edie Falco plays her most vulnerable role yet being charming and rest assured while uncertain and broken at the same time. Jay Duplass, though stereotypical at times plays ex convict Chris with a painstaking sincerity, that’s hard to watch but believably so. And Kaitlyn Dever gives a bold portrayal as Edie Falco’s daughter, playing her confident and troubled but human is every way.

Outside In has a few flaws in its directing but considering Lynn Shelton’s past films and her unfinished style in general, Outside In is her most gritty film yet but just as satisfying as Laggies

- Maurice Jones

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Wexford Plaza (2017)

Joyce Wong makes an soberingly poignant debut with Wexford Plaza, about an overweight white 20 year old girl name Betty who takes a job as a security guard at a strip mall. Betty meets Danny, a Filipino male bartender, and through her attraction for him and a sexual misunderstanding, both Danny and Betty derail their lives even further.

Wexford Plaza does an excellent job at portraying the realities of online dating, dead end jobs, the struggles of getting a job without a degree and sexual misunderstandings, while using the location of Scarborough, Ontario, Canada as the perfect place to display those struggles. With its cracked roads, desperate plazas and characterless single homes, bringing familiarity to people from Toronto and outside of it.

Joyce Wong naturally understands the boredom of an Ontario summer in your early 20s and the hopeful yet surrendering of morals as a female trying to find love under the thumb of an unfair beauty standard. As well as the pointless pride of male culture and the pressure of a ethnic point of view to succeed above and beyond.

Wexford Plaza places every plot point of it’s story so carefully, thoroughly yet succinctly that when moments hit, its crushing and dragging with how real everything feels without music or over exposure. Presented in a style only to be described as a reality based Canadian “Memento”.

Though forced at parts Reid Asselstine does a self depreciating brave job as Betty. Playing her meek yet real and what happens to her during this film is beyond depressing. Darrel Gamontin is poignant as Danny, expressing his struggle to pretend and stay pretending and keep who he really is hidden to most yet barely succeeding.

Wexford Plaza has no problem being awkward, being gritty and all while just being human and giving a voice to people without one and who are too shy to share theirs anyway and is the best Canadian film of 2017 and one of the best of 2017, and with that it’s a must see.

Keep a look out for Joyce Wong.

- Maurice Jones

Friday, December 29, 2017

Top 6 films of 2017!

Top five favourite films of 2017 

  1. Get out - just as Scream is a horror movie a lot of us wish we could have witnessed in the theatre, Get Out that for this generation and then some. 
  2. Good time - Real grit. Real adrenaline. Truly perfect. 
  3. Lady bird - With a complementary score by Jon Brion, Lady Bird gets pitch perfectly the tone of 2002 and of mother daughter relationships, and Greta Gerwig is just the person to display it. 
  4. Creep 2 - truly creep and therefore fun and intriguing.
  5. Lady Macbeth - A dark replay of Lady Macbeth with no flinches of it’s reality. One of the darkest movies of 2017 
  6. Detroit - With realism to the point of importance. Detroit deliberately spotlights the extreme criminal acts of it’s cops for no other reason than that’s what really happened. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017)

Colin Farrell and Yorgos Lanthimos are back together again after the politely affecting film - The Lobster, with a purposeful stray from comedy with a sociological horror film – The Killing of a Sacred Deer.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is about a doctor played by Colin Farrell, who accidently makes an unfortunate mistake and kills a father during surgery. The father’s son Martin, played terrifyingly focused by Barry Keoghan, is guiltily guided by the doctor as a favor for the surgical accident. When the doctor decides to cut ties with Martin, the troubled boy decides to threaten the doctor with a threat of an unknown disease that will plague his whole family if he doesn’t kill one of the members.

Following The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is very much about the existent and the extremes of cultural tradition within mainstream societies beliefs; as in The Lobster dealing with the extreme feelings towards marriage, love and the naturally cultural trajectory of democracy towards cultism, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer is therefore about the extremes of the nuclear family, patriarchy, job hierarchy, classism and the powerful ease of boyhood compared to girlhood that most of society is at the mercy of, e.g. – Martin. Every family member, doctor, male and female do exactly what you’d think they’d do within the confines of stereotypical behaviour when push comes to shove. As such the doctor’s wife played by Nicole Kidman having to sell away her dignity to save her kids, and Colin Farrell’s doctor character seeming calm and control but selling himself into brutal masculine tactics to get his way. Yet Martin is a blank slant saying things threateningly in a calm way, being exactly what he is, an enigma, untouchable and unaffected as a teenage white male who will eventually become a white grown man in charge, as Colin Farrell’s character precedes him. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is absolutely about the banality of male hierarchy, class hierarchy and the banal submissiveness expected of women. Though it’s said this film is based on Greek folklore, it is much more effective as a modern message of what our so called progressive society still perpetuates with gender politics. Further more the film also expresses underlining thoughts about the North American healthcare system, and it’s robotic disconnected, indifferent quality towards the very people it’s created for.

Barry Keoghan portrays a hypnotic creepy performance that oddly goes hand in hand with Yorgos Lanthimos short cut and sometimes comedic directing style, and that metaphorically and accurately portrays the relentless blankly removed/sinister intentions of a trouble teenage male out for revenge in Martin. Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell give thoughtfully quick cut while naturalistic performances, making some of their best acting in the past few years. All this cut together with a suspicious, darkly ominous Kubrick -esq score and steadied shots, and it’s wonderfully intriguing how Yorgos Lanthimos style can switch to funny then horrific.

-          Maurice Jones

Monday, November 27, 2017

Lady Bird (2017)

Lady Bird is the debut film from awkward performing independent actor Greta Gerwig, writing and directing a realistically well-meaning dramedy about a girl who calls herself Lady Bird played by Saoirse Ronan, attending her last year of High School before she goes off to college.

Greta Gerwig who started her film writing career with Frances Ha, does a great job at portraying the scattered desperation of a seventeen-year-old eager live a life other than her own, by using cut away scenes to display the harshness of reality and lingering shots to display the precious realizations of western society. These are coupled with the always whimsical and always emotionally effective musical score of Jon Brion. Whose music immediately elevates Lady Bird from being a typically independent film about a depressed white teenage, by breathing humanity into the films characters and locations yet all the while underlining the unfortunate results of a regrettable decision. Lady Bird is also elevated by a poignant script highlighting the tension of homophobia, racism, sexism, classism and war of the early 2000s that even more so existed back then. Saoirse Ronan effortless sells the desperate belonging and stubborn unawareness of Lady Bird and easily displays her pain with a quiet removed quality. Laurie Metcalf does an equally fantastic job as Lady Bird’s mother, just as stubborn and unaware, both actors brilliantly portraying the functioning of a dysfunctional passive aggressive mother/daughter relationship with a true to life script.

Lady Bird is an important watch and an enjoyable one as well, though slighted by it’s undetailed portrayal of it’s time period of the early 2000s, and of it’s characters personal interests hovering through the film, Lady Bird still accurately portrays the oppression of a female American teen, the working class and the culturally ignored yet manages to be funny, heart warming and unapologetically to it’s protagonist all the same. Greta Gerwig clearly used her life story as the inspiration for Lady Bird, and it shows for the better.

-          Maurice Jones