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Posts Tagged ‘Mel Gibson’

Andrew Garfield

Andrew Garfield as Desmond Doss

“HACKSAW RIDGE” My rating: B+

131 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Old fashioned” in the best possible sense, “Hacksaw Ridge” is a real-life World War II combat drama that has it both ways.

It may be the most violent film ever released by a major studio, being horrifyingly realistic in its depiction of combat in the South Pacific.

At the same time it is soul-shakingly inspiring.

Brutality and spirituality are unlikely bedfellows, which makes the ultimate triumph of “Hacksaw Ridge” all the more remarkable.

In fact, the film instantly elevates director Mel Gibson back to his one-time status as a major filmmaker. Say what you will about Gibson’s misbehavior and misplaced beliefs, the guy has got the stuff.

Like “Sergeant York,” the reality-inspired classic about the World War I hero, “Hacksaw Ridge” centers on a conscientious objector who ends up winning the Congressional Medal of Honor. It even follows that earlier film’s basic narrative, dividing its running time between our hero’s life Stateside and his grueling combat experiences.

The difference is that unlike Sgt. Alvin York — who finally put aside his C.O. status and became a one-man juggernaut, killing at least 28 German soldiers and capturing 132 others — Desmond Doss practiced non-violence even in the midst of the most ghastly carnage imaginable.

With bullets whizzing around him — quite literally up to his knees in blood and guts — this Army medic singlemindedly went about his business of saving his fellow soldiers.

We meet young Desmond (Andrew Garfield) in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Dad (Hugo Weaving) is an unshaved alcoholic still tormented by the sight of his friends being blown to bits during the Great War. Mom (Rachel Griffiths) is often on the fist end of her husband’s anguish.

As a boy Desmond is traumatized after losing his temper and striking his brother  with a rock. Swearing to never again harm another human, he joins the the Seventh-day Adventist Church, whose pacifist doctrines prohibit its members from carrying weapons.

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%%%, Mel Gibson

Erin Moriarty, Mel Gibson

“BLOOD FATHER”  My rating:  C+

88 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Blood Father” is a comic book crime thriller — pulpy and superficial.

Yet it also features an arresting (if not precisely compelling) performance from Mel Gibson as a weary ex-con who suddenly finds his estranged teenage daughter violently thrust back into his life.

We first encounter Gibson’s John Link at an AA meeting in a windswept desert burg. He runs a tattoo business out of his rusting mobile home, pees weekly into a cup for his parole officer and with the help of his sponsor (William H. Macy) tries to stay clean after a lifetime of excess and crime.

Enter 17-year-old Lydia (Erin Moriarty), the child he hasn’t seen since her infancy.  Lydia has run away from home, gotten involved with Jonah (Diego Luna), the jerk scion of a family running a Mexican drug cartel, and is now on the run from her boyfriend and his murderous associates.

She’s spoiled, arrogant, and stupid.

In fact, with the exception of Macy’s character, there’s not a genuinely likable figure in Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff’s screenplay (an adaption of Craig’s novel). If Gibson’s Link eventually emerges as semi-heroic, it’s only because our options are limited. And because Gibson was born to play this sort of character.

Needless to say, Lydia’s presence brings down all sorts of woes on Link, who to protect his daughter must go on the run, thus breaking his parole. And that’s not even counting the bodies that start piling up.

 

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Mel Gibson: good guy beloved of coworkers...or raging sphincter?

There’s a scene in Martin Scorsese’s “Mean Streets” (1973) in which the Italian American protagonist, Charlie (Harvey Keitel), holds his hand over a candle flame, testing whether he’ll be able to endure the fires of damnation that he is sure await him.

Mel Gibson has been doing the same thing — metaphorically speaking — throughout his career.

The actor is a curious case, a man who for years was widely regarded as a swell fellow, bon vivant, clever cutup and God’s gift to women. And yet there’s a darkness beneath his capering that comes through loud and clear in his movies.

Has any other actor so frequently used his films to probe his terror of  hell, an eternity of both physical and emotional anguish?

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“THE BEAVER”  My rating: B- 

91 minutes | PG-13

Adore him or abhor him, Mel Gibson is the reason to see Jody Foster’s “The Beaver.”

As Walter Black, a toy company executive sliding into a paralyzing world of depression, Gibson registers a degree of mental anguish that is shocking.

In his eyes there is so much hurt, fear and weary resignation that your first impression is that his recent public humiliations (drunken driving, anti-Semitic remarks, crazy violent telephone rants to the mother of his youngest child) have done a devastating number on the formerly cocky movie heartthrob.

Here’s another explanation: Maybe Gibson is just a really good actor.

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