Captain Fantastic Directed and written by Matt Ross USA, 2016 …
Creating cool fight scenes has never been easier in the current age of filmmaking. Special effects have evolved to the point where the eye can rarely discriminate between what is real and what isn’t, while choreography is much more sophisticated than it was in the past, and there’s no shortage of cash to throw at action films to get everything done just right. So with all of these advances going in modern film’s favor, why aren’t more fight scenes memorable?
Guilt is a powerful motivator. Its nagging voice can corrupt even the noblest of intentions. In the case of The Two Faces of January, a son’s guilt leads him into a questionable alliance in which he becomes inextricably trapped. There are twists and turns, jealousy and lust, but the real pleasure of a film like this is watching how far people will go to silence those nagging voices. Even if it means losing everything they care about.
Patricia Highsmith is one of those authors whose body of work the film industry just can’t stop panning for gold. The Two Faces of January is the latest adaptation of one of her books, and it ticks off most of the drinking game check marks we’ve come to expect from her stories: a vivid locale, desire that turns deadly, antagonists bound together by circumstance, numerous double-crosses, and a general mood of darkness in the soul. This is also the directorial debut of Hossein Amini, whose genre screenplays (Drive, Snow White and the Huntsman, 47 Ronin) have become a hot Hollywood commodity in recent years. With the help of a capable crew, Hossein has helmed a thoroughly capable film.
Leaving his long studies of structure and work behind, Lisandro Alonso’s newest feature Jauja instead behaves like a dark fairy tale in a minimalistic universe of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It’s hauntingly slow, but only to the point that we can experience everything that needs to be said and done. In this respect, Alonso uses his small conversations and economic direction of space to solidify his particular brand of art-house contemplation without sacrificing a good-natured inquiry into the sort of visceral reaction his style can commandeer.
A Perfect Murder is anything but. Far from a complete misfire, Andrew Davis starts things off very nicely and definitely manages to cover some of the cracks in the armor with some slick direction and an impressive cast, but the script is woefully uneven, even unsure of itself at times. It makes for a decent thriller but all three leads have been in far better movies than this.
2005, judging by the theatrical releases, was an exceptional year for the neonoir sub-genre. Last summer, for the special Friday (neo)Noir series, reviews for Rian Johnson’s breakout independent hit Brick and Robert Rodriguez’s cinematic visualization of Sin City, both from 2005, were written. A couple of weeks ago another neonoir from the same year was put under the microscope, Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This week features, yes, still another entry from that illustrious year, one from the most lauded director of the bunch, David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence.