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Posts Tagged ‘John Hawkes’

“MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE” My rating: B (Opening Nov. 11 at the )

102 minutes | MPAA rating: R

One of the great thrills of moviegoing is coming across a young performer and realizing, within the space of just a few moments, that this could be a major star.

That’s what happens with Elizabeth Olsen in “Martha Marcy May Marlene,”  writer/director Sean Durkin’s moody, almost unbearably creepy look at a survivor of a Manson-type cult.

Durkin’s tightly-wound feature debut follows our titular protagonist as she surreptitiously slips away from the farm commune where she has lived off the radar for the last couple of years. She phones her older  sister Lucy (Sarah Paulson), who drives three hours to pick her up. Soon she’s living in the guest room of the posh lakeside vacation home of Lucy and her husband Ted (Hugh Darcy).

Martha and Lucy share a troubled history. Lucy is ambitious, well-educated; Martha a  rootless drifter.

But whatever sibling issues they’ve been through, it’s clear that the last few years have done a number on Martha.

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Vera Farmiga in "Higher Ground"

“HIGHER GROUND” My rating: B- (Opens Oct. 14 at the Tivoli and Glenwood at Red Bridge)

109 minutes | Audience rating: R

The loss of religious faith is a challenging, hot-button topic for a filmmaker’s directing debut.

So much could go wrong.

“Higher Ground,” from actress Vera Farmiga, doesn’t go wrong, exactly, but it never really adds up.

Working from a screenplay by Carolyn S. Briggs (adapting her memoir This Dark World), the film chronicles the gradual falling away from Christianity of Corinne (Farmiga), a young wife and mother.

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Gwyneth Paltrow...not feeling so good

“CONTAGION’’ My rating: B (Opening wide on Sept. 9)

105 minutes |MPAA rating: PG-13

There’s no shortage of big names in the cast, but the real star of “Contagion” is filmmaker Stephen Soderbergh.

His latest is a hypnotic juggling act, a carefully calibrated mashup of characters and situations that proves him a master storyteller.

This time the maker of “Traffic,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Che” and “Out of Sight” (and, yes, the “Ocean’s” flicks) delivers a “what if?” thriller about a killer flu pandemic that puts mankind on the ropes.

“Contagion” paints a grim but fully-detailed picture of how we’d react in such circumstances, and it’s not pretty.

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