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Posts Tagged ‘Jena Malone’

Jena Malone, Pablo Schreiber

“LORELEI” My rating: B 

111 minutes | No MPAA rating

A shroud of been-there-done-that is draped around “Lorelei,” the feature writing/directing debut of Sabrina Doyle. At times the film seems to have been assembled from leftover parts of other movies.

But the show has been magnificently anchored by Pablo Schreiber and Jena Malone, performers who usually get supporting roles but here waste no time in seizing the material and making the most of it. In the end, they put “Lorelei” across the finish line.

The film opens with Wayland (Schreiber) leaving prison after a 15-year sentence for armed robbery. He’s met at the gates by members of his old motorcycle gang; by keeping quiet and taking the fall he spared his buddies jail time.

Now he returns to his small town in rural Oregon, moving into a church-run halfway house.  But it’s all too clear that he could easily slide back into his old criminal ways; moreover, the tough-love preacher who is housing him (Trish Egan) and his parole officer (Joseph Bertot) aren’t about to cut him much slack. They’ve seen too many ex cons return to stir.

And then Wayland  spots Dolores (Malone) attending the church’s support group for single moms.  He and Dolores were high school lovers, and after some tentative verbal sparing (the film’s sexual subtext could raise blisters) they pick up where they left off.

Well, sorta.  Dolores seems to have spent the last 15 years sleeping around. She has three kids by three different men; she gets by with a part-time gig changing sheets at a sleazy motel and collecting welfare.

So while she’s at work the reluctant Wayland is forced into the role of father figure.

Yeah, it’s a familiar narrative. Practically a cliche.

On one level “Lorelei” is a brutally honest examination of desperate love among the struggling class.  The pleasure Wayland and Delores take in each other is infectious; at the same time it is diluted by the constant battle  to survive and the daily indignities of poverty.

But Doyle’s screenplay should be called for excessive wokeness.  Dolores’ oldest child (Chancellor Perry) is mixed race; the middle kid (Amelia Borgerding) is a furiously angry tweener; the youngest (Parker Pascoe-Sheppard) is clearly trans.

Lets see…are there any hot-button social issues we’ve left out?

But here’s the thing: It works. I got caught up in the love story and the family dynamic…so much so that not even a wildly improbable third act development (it’ll explain where the title “Lorelei” comes from) could dilute my pleasure.

Whatever Doyle’s shortcomings as a scenarist, she shows terrific control as a director.

In the end “Lorelei” emerges as a flawed but deeply felt piece of humanistic cinema, heart-tugging without sticky sentimentality.

| Robert W. Butler

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Miles Teller

I’m not sure I like Amazon Prime’s “Too Old to Die Young,” but I’m damned if I can stop watching it.

Of course, you could say that about any effort from the supremely downbeat Nichoas Winding Refn.

Over the last 20 years Refn has gone from nihilistic Danish productions like the “Pusher” series, “Bronson” (Tom Hardy) and “Valhalla Rising” (Mads Mikkelsen)  to nihilistic American productions like “Drive” (Ryan Gosling) and  the much-despised “Only God Forgives” (Gosling again), with a sidestep into nihilistic pop culture in “The Neon Demon” (Elle Fanning).

Note the recurring word “nihilistic.” Get used to it.

“Too Old…” is Refn on steroids, a 10-part crime drama (each episode is about 90 minutes) that takes all the things people love (and hate) about his  oeuvre and pumps them up to the exploding point (though it rarely explodes; mostly it simmers).

Augusto Aguilera, Cristina Rodlo

Our protagonist (hero is way too strong a word) is Martin Jones (Miles Teller), a deputy with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.  Martin is, to put it bluntly, corrupt (but then so is just about every law enforcement officer depicted here).  He has a side job as an an enforcer/assassin for a Jamaican gang. Also, he’s dating a high-school senior, Janey  (Nell Tiger Free), whose creepy billionaire  father (William Baldwin in a career-high perf) can barely communicate through a bad case of the cocaine sniffles.

Martin’s nemesis is Jesus (Augusto Aguilera), the son of a beautiful cartel queen Martin assassinated before the series begins. The entire second episode is devoted to Jesus’ sojourn with his mother’s family in Mexico, where he gets steeped in the clan’s culture. He returns to the U.S. with his new wife (and adopted sister/cousin) Yaritza (Critina Rodlo), who claims to be a powerful witch. Naturally they’re sworn to exact revenge on Martin.

In the fourth or fifth episode we’re introduced to Viggo (John Hawkes), a terminally ill former FBI agent now devoted to vigilantism. He gets his targets from woo-woo woman Diana (Jena Malone), who as a counselor for victims of crime has a long list of child rapists and other offenders who require elimination.

Eventually Martin decides to stop killing mere gangsters and join Viggo in going after the real monsters. (more…)

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