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Posts Tagged ‘James Le Gros’

Bel Powley

“WILDING” My rating: C 

92 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Before it bogs down in overcooked horror film cheese, Fritz Bohm’s “The Wildling” pulls a clever narrative con job on its audience.

It’s one of those cases where you’re pretty sure of what the movie’s about until you realize you have it all wrong.

In a prequel Daddy (Brad Dourif) tends to his precious little girl, Anna. Except that there’s something odd going on here…Anna is never allowed to leave  her room and Daddy fills her with tales of the evil Wildling that lives in the woods outside their home and would like nothing better than to snatch and eat such a delightful child.

So, yeah, the kid grows up weird.  When Anna hits puberty Daddy starts giving her daily injections apparently meant to retard menstruation and other signs of maturation.

And then one day Daddy puts a gun to his head and BLAM. It’s pretty clear that he snatched Anna as a young girl and raised her in secret. Now he’s overcome by regret.

Discovered by neighbors who heard the shot, young Anna — now a young woman played by Bel Powley — is rescued by the authorities. The local chief of police, Ellen Cooper (Liv Tyler), takes the mysterious and befuddled girl (she’s never been outside her bedroom) into her own home with the intention of filing for full custody.

The sheriff’s  younger brother, Lawrence (Mike Faist), lives with them and befriends Anna, attempting  to guide her through the minefield of high school.

So the screenplay by Bohm and Florian Elder is all about this innocent learning to cope with real-world conflicts after a sheltered childhood, right? (more…)

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Jon Hamm

“NOSTALGIA” My rating: C-

114 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Nostalgia” is a points-in-heaven movie.

Basically it’s a little art film (well, it wants to be art, anyway) that has attracted an astounding cast of recognizable actors (Ellen Burstyn, Bruce Dern, Beth Grant, Jon Hamm, Catherine Keener, James le Gros, Nick Offerman, John Ortiz, Amber Tamblyn) who are working for little or no pay to be part of a noncommercial effort that they hope will have something to say.

Call it movie star penance. These actors are trying to rack up some points in heaven.

Let’s hope they do, because “Nostalgia” isn’t going to make a ding in either the box office or critical circles.

Written and directed by Mark Pellington (“Arlington Road,” “The Mothman Prophecies,” “The Last Word”), “Nostalgia” offers an interesting premise.  It’s about how humans connect with objects and how giving up or losing those possessions can result in both trauma and a positive re-examination of one’s life.

Plotted less as one contiguous story than as a series of interconnected shorts, the film begins with an insurance investigator (Ortiz) checking out the home of an old man (Dern) who is preparing to sell  everything to finance his last years.

Exactly what the insurance guy does is a bit vague. He says he’s there to see if there are items in the house worth bringing in an appraiser…but on whose behalf we don’t know.  Maybe an evaluation of home’s contents has been requested by the old man’s granddaughter and heir (Tamblyn).

Anyway, the insurance guy’s real job — narratively speaking — is to be a sounding board for other characters. (If “Nostalgia” were given to metaphysical musings, you might view the character as a sympathetic angel.)

His next “customer” is a widow (Burstyn) whose home has just burned to the ground.  She’s lost everything except her late husband’s most cherished possession, a baseball signed by Ted Williams.  Eventually the old lady will travel to Las Vegas and a sports memorabilia shop where the copacetic owner (Hamm) buys the baseball for mucho dinero.

Then we follow the sports memorabilia guy to his home town, where he joins his sister (Keener) in clearing out their late parents’ home. This reunion is marred by a family tragedy. (more…)

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Michelle Williams

Michelle Williams

“CERTAIN WOMEN” My rating: B-

107 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The cinematic minimalism practiced by writer/director Kelly Reichardt can be deceiving. Films like “Old Joy” and “Wendy and Lucy” creep up on you slowly…sometimes a bit of time has to pass before they set up shop inside a viewer’s head and a movie’s little moments coalesce into an overall feeling.

“Certain Women” is based on three Maile Meloy short stories, all set in a small burg in the Pacific Northwest and each concentrating on a woman struggling for a degree of independence and recognition. The stories  stand alone, but characters from one might pop up in a cameo role in another.

In the first a lawyer (Laura Dern) is called to help negotiate with a client (Jared Harris) whose workman’s compensation case is going nowhere. Now the poor schlub has taken extreme measures. He’s armed himself and invaded the offices of his former employer, taking a security guard hostage. The local sheriff wants the lawyer to get him to surrender.

In the second story a wife and mother (Michelle Williams) is pushing her foot-dragging husband (James Le Gros) to build a new family home on a few acres out in the woods. Much of the running time is devoted to her negotiations with a crusty old local (Rene Auberjonois) to acquire a pile of sandst0ne rocks that have been sitting in his rural front yard for at least 50 years.

In the third episode a loner stablehand (Lily Gladstone) becomes quietly obsessed with the new law school grad (Kristen Stewart) who weekly drives four hours each way to hold evening training sessions on education law for local public school teachers and administrators.

(more…)

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