Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 42 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 

 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, August 28, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 35
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Baumbach's Mistress a theatrically charming comedy
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

MISTRESS AMERICA
Now playing


Tracy (Lola Kirke) is an introverted college freshman and erstwhile writer living in Manhattan. Urged on by her mother (Kathryn Erbe), she reaches out to her future sister-in-law Brooke (Greta Gerwig) to see how the pair of them get along. Soon they're spending every free moment together, traipsing through Times Square on a variety of wild adventures that only get more extreme and unbelievable with each passing day. Documenting all that transpires, Tracy begins to realize Brooke's escapades are going to make a fantastic story, and whether her new friend approves or not she's set on being the one who is going to someday tell it.

Mistress America is a modern day screwball comedy much in the same vein as Jonathan Demme's Something Wild or Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan flavored with a bit of Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress for good measure. Reuniting writer/director Noah Baumbach with his Frances Ha collaborator Gerwig, the film is an energetic, free-spirited adventure that takes pleasure in going in as many different directions as it can seemingly all at the same time. If not rising to the same stratospheric heights as the pair's last endeavor, this is still a wonderfully entertaining jaunt, the film a smartly constructed character study that's far more insightful and emotionally affecting than it initially appears.

The problem, and in all fairness it's a pretty minor one, is that as introspective and perceptive as this might be, the dialogue is so arch, so affected, so of a certain type and pattern (thus the Whit Stillman comparisons) that it's oddly hard to take things seriously no matter how authentic what's being said might in fact be. There was never a moment where I didn't forget I was watching a movie, that these were characters in a play going through their idiosyncratic motions strictly for their own amusement, and as such things never hit home in the way I hoped they would.

With that in mind, and even though I think this is a better, more intimately genuine motion picture than Baumbach's last 2015 venture, While We're Young, I admit to enjoying that Ben Stiller/Naomi Watts starring effort a tiny bit more than this. Even if the last act felt a little false, more melodramatic and artificial than everything else that preceded it, the dialogue and the performance crackled with an honest electricity this one doesn't quite measure up to, and as such I had a lot more fun with that film even though the revelations of the final act were hardly extraordinary.

Not that I'm dismissing Mistress America. As much as the stagy pitter-patter of the dialogue didn't sit as well with me as I'd have liked, that doesn't make the structural, character-driven cohesion of the plot Baumbach and Gerwig have constructed any less attention grabbing. Brooke could trade places with Susan from the 1938 Cary Grant/Katherine Hepburn classic Bringing Up Baby and I'd barely bat an eyelash. She's a whip-smart, intelligently fun-loving burst of energy and emotion blowing in and out of the lives of her friends like a rambunctiously free-spirited hurricane, the chaos she brings with her laced with equal parts kindness and love.

On top of that, there is a wholesomeness to both Brooke and Tracy that's wondrous. The former is finally coming to grips with her life, suddenly afraid that as she's about to turn 30 that she's failed to put down roots that could allow for her wild ambitions to blossom as she'd always fantasized they would. As for the latter, what she learns about her responsibilities as both a writer and as a friend are decidedly personal, the level of introspection required for her to take these lessons to heart breathlessly startling.

Even at a brisk 84 minutes, the places Baumbach allows this story to travel are far more expansive than I'd ever have expected before the movie began. There's a lot I'm not talking about, side characters and subplots that help build Brooke and Tracy into the women that ultimately emerge when the picture comes to its end. The way both navigate through this maze is the jubilant surprise the filmmaker goes to great lengths to conceal for as long as he can, the way the pair's relationship culminates a poignant joy in large parts thanks to its undeniable purity.

Gerwig is as wonderful as ever (even if she could probably play a character like Brooke in her sleep at this point), while Kirke is a divine spark of solipsistic ingenuity whose performance grew on me more and more as things progressed. Baumbach is in as solid and as confident a control as he's ever been, allowing events to progress with a naturalistic clarity that's invigorating. If only the dialogue had sat a little better with me, if the whole thing didn't sound so patently theatrical, it's possible we'd be talking about one of 2015's best. As it is, Mistress America is still memorably worthwhile, and even with this handful of caveats I still hope interested parties put forth the effort to give it a look.


Brutal No Escape a relentlessly bloodthirsty thriller
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

NO ESCAPE Now playing There's a lot one can say about director John Erick Dowdle. That he's a subtle filmmaker isn't one of them. For better and for worse, he and his co-screenwriter brother Drew Dowdle have shown a splendid job of being able to play upon an audience's most primal fears in low budget horror opuses like Quarantine (the pair's smashing remake of Spanish sensation [REC]) and As Above So Below. Now they up the ante with the somewhere-in-Southeast-Asia-set thriller No Escape, dropping stars Owen Wilson and Lake Bell into an unfathomable maelstrom of trauma and terror leaving no stone unturned as they ratchet up tension and force the heart to uncomfortably palpitate.

They do this with malevolent, borderline xenophobic glee, showcasing their Asian prowlers as bloodthirsty, cravenly sadistic heathens who aren't above raping women, dismembering children and forcing fathers to watch as all they love is ripped to shreds. Director Dowdle uses every trick in the book including slow motion shots of a mother reaching to the heavens to catch a falling child and overlapping quickly cut montages of murderous mobs callously hacking and slashing their way through defenseless foreigners. He slathers Marco Beltrami's (The Hurt Locker) and Buck Sanders' (Warm Bodies) dynamic, rhythmically propulsive score over the action as if it were peanut butter looking to mate with gallons of raspberry jelly, manipulating the viewer's emotions with a confidence bordering on demonic.

And it works. Knowing the best thing to do is to hit the ground running, leave exposition to a minimum and keep the focus on the central players and upon them alone, the filmmaker can't help but manufacture tension so palpable my blood ran cold during the first 15 minutes and proceeded to freeze right over during the subsequent hour. There are few explanations as to what is going on and why, quick monologues by supporting players the only insight we have as to why this country is falling to pieces. This is a ticking clock race to remain alive, nothing more, and certainly nothing less, the only question being just how far the protagonists are going to be willing to go to ensure they and their two children make it across the border to safety.

The plot is simple. Engineer Jack Dwyer (Wilson) has come to this unnamed country to build a water processing plant for a large American corporation. He has brought along his wife Annie (Bell) and their two children Lucy (Sterling Jerins) and Beeze (Claire Geare), each curious to see what this foreign adventure has in store for them. But hours after landing chaos erupts with volcanic fury, homicidal mobs taking control of the military, rampaging through the streets obliterating all who they come into contact with. With survival the only option, Jack and Annie use any and all means at their disposal to get themselves and their children out of the country, the family aided by a secretive British traveler (Pierce Brosnan) who knows more about what's happening than he is willing to say.

What follows is ferociously visceral, and not for a single second do either Dowdle coddle the audience into believing anything warm or fuzzy is going to take place. This is a meat grinder movie, a motion picture that wraps itself inside the blood and viscera of its central characters, asking the audience to sweat, cry and bleed alongside of them. There are no greater points being made, no insights into the global questions involving corporations, poverty or religion. This is a saga of parents fighting for the lives of their children, that's it, and as such it can't help but connect on an innately personal level hard to not be affected by.

Wilson, delivering his first purely dramatic performance since Marely & Me, does a great job of folding into the skin of a dumbstruck father trying to grasp the full extent of the peril he's inadvertently put his family in. But as good as he is, and he's excellent, it is Bell who steals every scene she's a part of. The actress is sensational, doing more with less, exuding a mixture of emotions throughout. There's a terrific scene where she battles her own fears of certain doom realizing she must put all of that aside in order to do what she must to give her children a shot at living, literally leaping across into the unknown in hopes doing so will lead to some modicum of safety.

There are points where I couldn't help but wonder if I should be offended by all of this. The Dowdles play things almost as if they were constructing a '70s-style exploitation film, channeling Wes Craven's Last House on the Left and Meir Zarchi's infamous I Spit on Your Grave at the most uncomforting of moments, intentionally or unintentionally I do not know. By and large the Southeast Asian mobs are depicted as cutthroats and marauders, the only thing missing being blood dripping from their fangs and long Fu Manchu mustaches for them to twirl as they pursue the Dwyer family to the Vietnamese border.

Even so, John Erick Dowdle is just too talented and the film just too well made for me to feel like those sentiments are enough to derail the motion picture as a whole. No Escape got under my skin, forced me to sit up straight as I squirmed in my seat wondering what was going to happen to Jack, Annie and their two small children next. Not for the faint of heart, and certainly not for the easily offended, this riotous thriller knows what it's doing, maneuvering me into an emotional whirlwind of suspense and heartache I couldn't have set aside even if I'd have wanted to try.


Bughuul's return not Sinister enough to matter
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

SINISTER II
Now playing


Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) has come to a secluded farm in the middle of Illinois along with her two twin 9-year-old sons Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) to hide from abusive and vindictive husband Clint (Lea Coco). Walking into their midst is a stranger, a former Sheriff's Deputy (James Ransone) now moonlighting as a private investigator looking into the property's sordid and tragic history. Once upon a time, a god-fearing family, their patriarch a small town preacher, was murdered in the tiny church standing next to the house. All of them down to the last child were slain, all save one boy who mysteriously disappeared never to be seen again.

While the case is listed as unsolved, the former cop has a good idea what happened, events comparable to another vexing murder involving true-crime writer and friend Ellison Oswalt and his family a few years prior. The former copy was going to destroy the house, burn it down to ashes. But now that Courtney and her boys are living there he can do no such thing because, the moment they move, that's when the true horror begins, the demonic presence haunting the farm eager to see its evil migrate to another location taking all it touches straight to Hell in the process.

In many ways Sinister II is a better film than its predecessor. Scott Derrickson (Deliver Us from Evil), writing once again alongside fellow scribe C. Robert Cargill, returns to the world he helped create back in 2012, turning over the directorial reins to CiarĂ¡n Foy (Citadel) so he could go off and make Marvel's Doctor Strange. Freed from having to set up this world and its rules, he and Cargill can instead focus on giving the audience a reason to care about what is going on and why, centering things around a very real story of anger and abuse that's easy to digest. The pain the two boys feel, the punishment and bullying they have faced at such a young age, it's what makes them attractive to the demon Bughuul, their two souls ripe for feasting upon.

At the same time, even with the return of Deputy So-and-So, it isn't like there are a lot of unexpected places for this sequel to go to, and even though his knowledge of the evil assaulting the Collins family shakes things up a little, they don't do so enough to make anything that transpires any less obvious. More, Clint is such a one-dimensional monster, such a cartoon version of the stereotypical abusive husband, caring what happens to him isn't even a passing possibility. Worse, his presence dilutes the core emotional components to an almost debilitating degree, watching him suck the life out of the proceedings a frustrating annoyance.

All the same, other than a handful of cheap jump scares that add little to the overall narrative arc, there is a remarkable amount of structural control on display, Foy's confident, self-assured hand easy to see. Also, for anyone who has seen his micro-budgeted debut Citadel (which is a superior horror effort, make no mistake), the director knows how to get the most out of creepy murderous kids, playing upon primal fears of children descending into unfathomable darkness magnificently. While the script does let him down, while things are too clever and too cute for far too much of the running time, the filmmaker shows a masterful ability to make the smallest gesture monumental, the little raise of an eyebrow or the tremble of a lip horrifying.

It is also key that he's assembled a crackerjack technical team, most important being cinematographer Amy Vincent (Hustle & Flow). Her effortlessly surreal camerawork is a delicate, unsettling waltz of tense revelation, one that only grows in visually hypnotic intensity as things progress. She's ably assisted by a cadre of editors (three are credited) who do a crackerjack job of assembling things together into a cohesive whole, while Bill Boes' (The Smurfs) production design is eloquently eerie in its delicately lived-in simplicity. Tom Hajdu and Andy Milburn, a.k.a. tomandandy, reunite with Foy after their sensational collaboration on Citadel, achieving a sonic elegance that, while not rising to the same heights as It Follows or Backcountry, is still pretty darn impressive in and of itself.

As true as all of this might be, as good as Ransone is and as nice as I find it to see Sossamon back on the big screen, there is no escaping the fact that the climax Derrickson and Cargill have concocted for this second chapter in Bughuul's ongoing demonic story is hardly satisfying. Foy has talent, but not even a director as promising as he is could probably have come up with a way to make the mind-numbing silliness of the last 15 minutes work in ways that would be anything other than unintentionally humorous. It's a bunch of running around where the rules of the mythology change for no apparent reason other than they need to or the last few seconds cannot come to pass, and as such it saps fear, tension and emotion out of the picture replacing it with something decidedly pointless.

Which is sad because, in so many ways, Sinister II is a horror sequel with real potential. It has a central conceit that's inherently intriguing, building on the disturbing premise of its predecessor with real ingenuity. Yet in the end it's nowhere nearly as satisfying as it might have been, and while glimmers of chilling astonishment can be found, it just isn't enough to make Bughuul's return anything memorable.






Matilda is magnificent
------------------------------
Paper Angels a beautifully written and compelling story
------------------------------
Captain Smartypants presents 'Zero Brides for Seven Brothers'
In three performances only at The Triple Door

------------------------------
Bumbershoot loads up on LGBT-friendly acts
------------------------------
WHAM BAM, THANK YOU, GLAM
------------------------------
September theater: Ready, set, OPEN
------------------------------
An American Dream - Opera based on community outreach
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Calling in our allies and potential allies
------------------------------
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis performing Sunday night on MTV VMAs
------------------------------
Baumbach's Mistress a theatrically charming comedy
------------------------------
Brutal No Escape a relentlessly bloodthirsty thriller
------------------------------
Bughuul's return not Sinister enough to matter
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1605 12 Ave., Ste. 31
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News 2015 - DigitalTeamWorks 2015

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News