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Posts Tagged ‘George MacKay’

George MacKay, Amanda Stenberg

“WHERE HANDS TOUCH”  My rating: C

122 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

Initially intriguing but ultimately ineffective, “Where Hand Touch” is an odd blend of “Romeo and Juliet” romance and “Pianist”-style Holocaust horror.

Its heart is in the right place. Alas, good intentions aren’t enough.

While the film mines a real-life situation rarely recognized by the arts or the history books — the plight under the Nazis of mixed-blood Germans whose mothers were Aryan  and fathers African — “Where Hands Touch” is tough going. And not just because of the downbeat subject matter.

Writer/director Amma Assante rarely opts for subtlety when a heavy hand can be employed. The result is a film that, in theory anyway, should move us deeply.  Except that it doesn’t.

Sixteen-year-old Lenya (Amanda Sternberg) comes to Berlin with her mother (a dowdied-down Abbie Cornish) and little brother (Tom Sweet) in the hopes of becoming lost. Back in their provincial burg the authorities are looking for Jews and mixed-race children. Perhaps Lenya, whose father was an African soldier with the occupying French at the end of WWI, can hide her racial heritage among the city’s masses.

The irony here is that Lenya considers herself 100 percent German…and so does the law, which defines citizenship as being passed down from mother to child.  But mixed-race children are widely viewed as a blemish on the Reich, so Lenya must be very careful where she goes and who she sees.

It’s a small miracle, then, when she is befriended by Lutz (George MacKay), a blonde Hitler Youth who is not only prejudice free but romantically taken with his exotic new neighbor.

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Viggo Mortensen

Viggo Mortensen

“CAPTAIN FANTASTIC” My rating: B- 

118 minutes |MPAA rating: R

There’s something phony…or at least seriously muddled…at the heart of “Captain Fantastic.”

Which doesn’t keep it from being intermittently entertaining and even borderline charming.

Matt Ross’ dramedy stars Viggo Mortensen as Ben Cash, the hippie-dippie/drill instructor Dad to six kids he’s rearing deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest.

A typical day for these youngsters — they range in age from 5 to 17 — consists of rigorous physical exercise, survival training, hand-to-hand combat and some serious hitting the books. (And I do mean books…there’s no Internet or electricity out in the bush.)

They bathe in streams, grow food in a greenhouse and hunt the local wildlife, and at night hold family jam sessions around the campfire (Ben plays a mean guitar, not to mention the bagpipes).

Ben is what you might call a left-wing survivalist. He’s convinced of the immorality and uselessness of most modern society, and has trained his kids to parrot his views. The family doesn’t celebrate Christmas; the big day on their calendar is Noam Chomsky’s birthday, which Ben marks by presenting each of his offspring with their own very wicked-looking hunting knife.

They’re like a military unit, moving in perfect harmony whether running down a deer or shoplifting groceries.

Just because they’re growing up in the boonies doesn’t mean the Cash kids are intellectually deprived.  The  youngest of them can recite the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, and the 12-year old is reading Middlemarch. The oldest, Bodevan (George MacKay), has a handful of acceptance letters from Ivy League schools; he’s trying to decide when to inform his father of this latest triumph (since it will mean leaving the fold).

Where is Mom, you ask? We never see her — alive, anyway. We learn that she’s been gone for several months for hospital treatment. And the bulk of the film consists of the clan’s road trip to Albuquerque to attend her funeral.

The opening scenes of “Captain Fantastic” are kind of idyllic — if you can ignore the fact that Ben is raising a brood  largely unequipped to deal with contemporary society.

But once the family members find themselves dealing with the outside world — in the person of Matt’s sister-in-law (Kathryn Hahn) and her husband (Steve Zahn) and his wife’s very rich, very opinionated, and (one suspects) very Republican father (Frank Langella) — we realize just what fish out of water they are. (more…)

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