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Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Abbott’

“SWEET VIRGINIA” My rating: C+

93 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Jon Bernthal

Slickly made but essentially hollow, “Sweet Virginia” is a good-looking piece of neo noir that fritters away a good cast on a so-so story.

In the first moments of this moody effort from director James M. Dagg and scenarists Benjamin and Paul China, three men engaged in an after-hours poker game in a small-town Rockies restaurant are gunned down. The boyish killer (Christopher Abbott) makes it look like a robbery, but we soon learn that he was hired by local gal Lila (Imogen Poots) to murder her no-good cheating’ hubby.

Lila isn’t thrilled that two innocent lives were taken in the operation; she’s even more upset when she learns that her late spouse was insolvent. There’s no way she can pay the hit man, whose name is Elwood, the $50,000 she owes him.

Meanwhile Sam (Jon Bernthal), a beat-up former rodeo champ, runs his motel (the Sweet Virginia of the title) and tries to ignore the fact that all those times he was dumped on his head will probably leave him with a case of early onset dementia.

Ironically, Sam has been having an affair with Bernadette (Rosemarie DeWitt), the wife of one of the shooting victims.  He’s decent enough to feel bad about continuing their liaison…but he gives in to Bernadette’s entreaties.

It all comes to a head when Lila, desperate to get the nasty Elwood off her case, sics him on a likely home robbery target. The ensuing mayhem will involve most of the film’s main characters.

“Sweet Virginia”  takes a long time to go nowhere.  Especially irritating is the dialogue,  which often dips into pretentiousness by giving the characters cryptic mumbles when all we really want is a straight declarative sentence.

That said, the perfs are fine with Abbott’s moody, unpredictable and unprofessional killer talking most of the honors.

| Robert W. Butler

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Joel Egerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

“IT COMES AT NIGHT” My rating: B

97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The “it” of “It Comes at Night” doesn’t creep about on four legs or slither on its belly.  No fangs or claws. No growls or shrieks.

The subject of Trey Edward Shults’ sophomore feature (after last year’s devastating family drama “Krisha”) is fear. Fear of both the unknown, of whatever may be lying in wait for us, and fear of our own human selves which, given the right circumstances, can devolve into monsters far scarier than those lurking in the imagination.

As the film opens an old man is dying.  His eyes are black. Festering pustules dot his  body. Blood seeps from his nose and mouth. He breathes in gasps.

Whatever is killing the old man has spooked the other members of his family, who say their muffled goodbyes through biohazard masks. Then they load him up in a wheelbarrow and push him out to a pit where he will be dispatched with one bullet and his remains burned.

This is the new normal for Paul (Joel Egerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and their teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).  They live in a house deep in the woods. The windows are boarded up so that from the outside the place looks abandoned. They don’t venture outside any more than is absolutely necessary.  They are on constant alert for unwanted visitors.

What catastrophe has befallen mankind that they must live this way?  Schults’ screenplay never provides an answer and, anyway, that’s not what “It Comes at Night” is about.

Late one night the three hear someone trying to break in.  They capture the intruder, a young man named Will (Christopher Abbott) who claims he thought the house was empty when he began scavenging for supplies. Will says his wife and young son are waiting for him in a cabin nearly 50 miles away.

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Tina Fey...embedded

Tina Fey…embedded

“WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT” My rating: B-

112 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Despite Tina Fey’s name above the title, “SNL’s” Lorne Greene as a producer, and a trailer that makes it look like a barrel of yuks, “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” is not exactly a comedy.

Oh, there are some great laughs here. But this film from writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Sequa (“I Love You Phillip Morris,” “Focus,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love”) aims for bigger targets and generally hits them.

Based on journalist Kim Barker’s memoir of reporting on the Afghan war, “Whiskey Tango…” is about a more-or-less complacent American gal who gets bitten by the bug of high-intensity, risk-taking journalism.

As the film begins TV news writer Kim Baker (Fey) hasn’t a clue what she’s doing in the war zone that is Afghanistan. She’s naive about Muslim culture (particularly as it applies to mingling the sexes). She’s embedded with a unit of Marines who politely tolerate her ignorance (she discovers that a “wet hooch” is a tent with a shower), though they gradually warm up to her.

And she succumbs to the party atmosphere that explodes every booze-filled night as Western journalists — virtual prisoners in their frat house of a Kabul compound — let off steam through mass misbehavior.

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