Friday, April 20, 2012

Worth Mentioning - There's No Way Out

We watch several movies a week. Every Friday, we'll talk a little about some of the movies we watched that we felt were Worth Mentioning.

Jay's return to the cinema shakes him to the core and Cody digs three very different takes on criminals and law enforcement.


Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Starring Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, John C. Reilly, Jasper Newell, and Ashley Gerasimovich

Hands down the best film I've seen in recent memory, We Need to Talk About Kevin has stuck with me since my viewing last Friday and doesn't look to be going anywhere any time soon. This was my first theatrical experience in longer than I'd like to admit, and I'm glad that it was, because it made the viewing experience all the more enjoyable. I had to be in Birmingham last Friday afternoon for the 2012 Spring Sidewalk Scramble Kickoff Event, and our meeting place was a movie theater, so I took advantage. KEVIN is a film I've wanted to check out for a while, so when I saw it listed, I jumped at the opportunity and went down a few hours early. The theater was completely empty so I was able to enjoy a private screening, which no doubt makes a film like this even more haunting.

The film follows Eva Khatchadourian (played painfully well by Tilda Swinton) and her life with her family in a very non-linear way that pieces itself together over time. The first thirty minutes or so felt completely scrambled, but they work perfectly, then the film slows down into a more traditional back and forth during the middle sections. I can't stress enough how well all of this works, how perfectly put together it felt, as if they had done it without even trying. I'm sure it's a turn off to some viewers, but I love a non-linear story, especially when all of the elements are working as well as they are here.

KEVIN is really about Eva's first son, Kevin, who seems to hate his mother from the day he is born. We know something very terrible happens from the beginning, but the film takes its time in unraveling the chain of events that lead up to it. It doesn't try to hide what it is either, as glimpses and snippets are thrown in your face as part of the scramble.

I can't even put into words how well done this film is. All I can say is that you should see it as soon as you can. It left me feeling dead inside, not wanting to face the world that awaited outside of the theater, but it's well worth the downward spiral. All of the actors nail the performances, especially Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, but Ashley Gerasimovich is adorable as Eva's youngest child, and I found some of her scenes to be the hardest to sit through. This film pitch-perfectly nails some of  our most primal emotions, and they are beautifully captured during many key scenes here. The Halloween scene which digs into Eva's current state of mind was the first scene that really showed me just how great of a film this could be. It never let up from there.

One of the review blurbs states that, "this is an earth-shattering film" and I couldn't agree more. See if when you can, but be prepared to hate the world after you're done.

Cody's mentions:


In what feels like an Indonesian play and reversal on John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, a twenty man SWAT team infiltrates an apartment building owned by a notorious drug kingpin who resides on the top floor and has rented out the apartments primarily to dangerous criminals. The raid goes rather smoothly for the first six floors, but then an alarm is tripped and all hell breaks loose as the police officers find themselves trapped in the building and surrounded by an army of bloodthirsty attackers.

The cops' guns soon run out of bullets and with the building's residents having a predilection for using bladed weapons, the battles become hand-to-hand, and that's when the film's action really shines.

Our hero is a rookie cop named Rama, who has a pregnant wife to get home to and is recognized by someone in the building. Rama is played by Iko Uwais, who proves to be very capable at kicking ass on screen, as do several characters that he's pitted against.

This movie is filled with amazing scenes of people beating each other to a pulp, very impressively shot by director Gareth Evans.

LOCKOUT (2012)

In the late 21st century, a space station prison called MS One has been set up in orbit around the Earth, a place to send some of the worst of the planet's criminals. Unfortunately, the U.S. President's daughter (Maggie Grace of Lost) happens to be making a visit to the prison when the criminals manage to take it over. Snow (Guy Pearce), a government agent turned convict who speaks almost exclusively in smartass quips, is offered a deal: if he can rescue the President's daughter from MS One, he can go free. Snow takes the deal, but he's got his own agenda once he reaches the prison.

Not many people seem to be recommending this movie, which was produced by prolific man of action Luc Besson, but I will. The set-up draws obvious comparisons to John Carpenter's Escape from New York / L.A., but it really reminded me of the kind of low budget sci-fi action flicks that I would've seen on cable twenty years ago. Possibly produced by Charles Band, directed by Stuart Gordon, and starring Barbara Crampton in the Maggie Grace role, as memories of Fortress, Robot Jox, and Robot Wars, among others, danced through my head. As a throwback to those type of movies, I totally enjoyed Lockout.

RAMPART (2011)

In a story set in 1999 Los Angeles, Woody Harrelson stars as L.A.P.D. Officer Dave Brown. One of the film's taglines tells us that he's the most corrupt cop ever seen on the screen, but that's not quite true. He's no Bad Lieutenant, Keitel or Cage style. There are actually elements in the character that seemed like nods to the original Dirty Harry movie - a backstory where Brown killed a serial rapist (earning him the nickname Date Rape), a line where it's said that Brown isn't racist, he hates everyone equally. But he's no hero like Harry, he is certainly very corrupt.

Brown smokes and drinks his way through every day, dealing with almost everyone he comes across with a barely concealed violent distaste. There are a few people in the world that he cares about, he lives in a guesthouse behind the homes where his two ex-wives and children live. His ex-wives are sisters, which was a bit baffling to me - how could a woman see Brown with her sister and think he was also something worth having herself? He had a daughter with both wives, one is now a left-leaning teenager who is disgusted by her father's outlooks, the other is nearing the tween years and still has a love for being around her father, but doubts about him as a person are creeping in at the edges.

Brown's personal and professional lives begin to crumble around the time that a pedestrian speeds through an intersection and slams into his cruiser. The driver of the other vehicle attempts to run away from the scene, Brown chases him down and is videotaped beating the hell out of him with a billy club. Things are downhill for him from there; investigations, set-ups, robbery, murder... This film is really an examination of one man's complete disintegration.

Director Oren Moverman, who co-wrote the screenplay with crime novelist James Ellroy, may be on a mission to get Woody Harrelson an Oscar. Harrelson got a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Moverman's 2009 film The Messenger and though the Academy didn't nominate him for this one, Harrelson is award-worthy here. Brown is in every scene of the film, the camera is with him for all 100+ terrible minutes from his life that we're shown, and despite the fact that our focus is on a character who isn't even remotely likeable, Harrelson carries us through with the strength of his performance.

Harrelson is backed up by a great cast that includes Robin Wright, Ben Foster, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ice Cube, Ned Beatty (Ned, what is up with your fingernails? You should trim those claws!), and Brie Larson... Being honest, the presence of Larson is really what got me out to the theatre to see this. I've mentioned before, I'm a fan of hers.


  1. Lockout still looks good - despite it's mixed reviews. It just suffers from being cut down to a PG13 rating but I hope the heart, the intention of what that film wanted to be is still there.

  2. I didn't hear anything about issues with Lockout's rating until days after I saw the movie. Nothing stood out to me as an obvious cut.

    - Cody

  3. Kevin...yeesh, that film still give me the creeps...either in a good or bad way!