Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Haigh’

Charlie Plummer

“LEAN ON PETE” My rating: B+

121 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Lean on Pete” will leave audiences emotionally wrecked.

This despite the miscasting of a couple of key roles.

At first glance the latest from Brit writer/director Andrew Haig (“45 Years,” “Weekend”)  may look like a-boy-and-his-horse story.  But no.  The equine Pete of the title is less a character than a symbol of everything that the movie’s young human protagonist lacks.

When we meet Charley (Charlie Plummer, last seen as John Paul Getty II in “All the Money in the World”) he’s living in borderline poverty with his loving but generally hapless father Ray (Travis Fimmel). Early on they discuss Ray’s latest squeeze over a breakfast of Fruit Loops (which are kept in the fridge to frustrate the roaches).

Charley: “I like her better than Marlene.”

Ray: “Marlene was smart for a stripper.”

Virtually by accident Charley falls in with Del (Steve Buscemi), who might best be described as a used car salesman of the horse set.  Del has a small stable of nags he runs at nickel-and-dime tracks around the Pacific Northwest. He puts Charley to work grooming the exercising the animals, and the kid soon picks up that Del isn’t above scamming or cheating to make a buck, leading occasionally to quick dead-of-night getaways.

Still, the kid loves working with the  horses, especially the aging Lean On Pete, who becomes  his personal favorite.

“You can’t think of them as pets,” warns Bonnie (Chloe Savigny), the young woman who is Del’s in-house jockey. “They’re here to race and nothing else.”

Indeed, Del is no sentimentalist when it comes time to cull the herd.  Thus when Charley, already reeling from a tragedy at home, learns that Lean on Pete is “going to Mexico” — Delspeak for being sold to the glue factory — the kid puts the horse in a trailer, revs up Del’s junker pickup truck, and heads out for parts unknown. (more…)

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Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay

Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay

“45 YEARS” My rating: B+

95 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Everyone has a few secrets. Usually it’s a case of no harm, no foul.

But for the couple at the center of Andrew Haigh’s “45 Years,” long-kept secrets threaten a decades-old marriage.

Kate (Oscar nominated Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are retirees living in a bucolic and green corner of England. They’ve never had children, doting instead on a series of dogs. They are comfortable and reasonably happy.

One day the postman brings a letter that upends their placid existence. Geoff learns that melting glaciers have revealed the body of his long-ago girlfriend, who was hiking Europe with him when she fell to her death in an alpine crevasse. Now, more than 50 years later, the authorities want him to come settle matters.

Kate knew of this shadowy woman only vaguely. Geoff has never talked much about her. But now she learns that way back then Geoff identified himself to the authorities as the dead woman’s husband. Actually they never married, but as far as the Swiss police are concerned, he’s still next of kin.

This revelation gnaws at Kate as she goes about arranging a party to celebrate her and Geoff’s 45th wedding anniversary (Geoff was ill for their 40th, so this is to make up for lost time).

But even as she must deal with renting  a banquet hall, selecting music for the dance, and creating a menu, she’s gnawed by doubts.

Just how well does she know this man who has shared her life?


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“WEEKEND”  My rating: B- (Opening Nov. 11 at the Tivoli)

97 minutes | No MPAA rating

Andrew Haigh’s “Weekend” is a sort of gay “Brief Encounter” about two British lads who hook up on a Friday night and hit it off.

The problem is that on Sunday one of them is relocating to the U.S.

Tom Cullen, Chris New in "Weekend"

There’s some sex in “Weekend,” but for the most part this is a talkfest.

Russell (Tom Cullen) is out to his friends but tends to soft-pedal his sexuality in public.

Glen (Chris New) is just the opposite. He’s not the least bit shy about being a homosexual and bitterly resents being part of a society where straight people can be affectionate anywhere, any time, but gays are expected to tone it down.

The two men’s conflicting views provide most of the dramatic heat. The film works well enough as a boy-meets-boy romance, but it’s their different approaches to being gay that generate the piece’s real substance.

Haigh takes a fly-on-the-wall approach: handheld camera, matter-of-fact dialogue, unhurried pace and low-keyed performances.

“Weekend” won a grand jury award at this year’s L.A. Outfest; it’s a serious film that embraces the differences in gay thought and feeling.

That it should appeal to thinking gay audiences is obvious. Don’t know whether it will find favor with straight viewers…it may be too much of an insider’s look. And those thick Brit accents…maybe subtitles?

| Robert W. Butler

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