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I love ensemble dramas. Especially when they have the whole "stranger's
lives intertwined" thing going on. However, as much as I enjoyed this
film, it is not for everyone.
It is slow and heavy, but I can't find much wrong with it. There were a couple of scenes that were poorly developed or written, maybe. All in all, if you're like me, and you like superbly acted and directed films you will enjoy this.
I won't give too much away because I know many have not had the chance to see this yet; it is a simple story of how random lives are affected and forever changed by a pointless and tragic event.
What I liked is how each individual was affected differently. Each character acted and reacted in a different way, and it is watching these behaviors play out that make up the film.
I felt Kate Beckinsale stood out the most in a subtle role. She is going to win an Oscar someday. Of course Forest Whitaker and Dakota Fanning were good, which at this point goes without saying. (Maybe I should erase that last sentence then.) Jush Hutcherson and Jackie Earl Haley, as father and son also stood out. Troy Garity, as the county mental health worker was my favorite though. Again, a subtle performance and the one character I keep thinking about afterward.
This film won't win awards or break any new ground but I like it. It's a small movie about human behavior and getting through tough times and coming out the other end of the tunnel, with a bit of light breaking through.
This film is about how the lives of different individuals are affected
by a shooting in a local café.
"Winged Creatures" is not for everyone as it is a tough film to watch. Though the story is held together by an initial central event, the characters' reactions and coping mechanisms make the film seem fragmented. Maybe that's why the new title of "Winged Creatures" is "Fragments"? Each of the victim's reactions give much room for thought and reflection. Out of all the reactions, I find Dakota Fanning's detached and dissociated state the most dramatic; Kate Beckinsale's reaction is the most realistic; while Guy Pearce's reaction is scarily morbid.
"Winged Creatures" could have been a thought provoking and touching drama. However, it tries to show so many different characters' reactions that it becomes fragmentary. It would have been more satisfying to just concentrate on less characters but in more detail.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Certain events may be random, but their effect on the people they
touched are not. The random event serves as a catalyst to enhance
psychological and social conditions that have always been part of these
people. In some cases the end results are perilously close to getting
out of control. The event referred to is a random shooting in a diner
by a psychopath. The movie however is not a study of the traumatic
effect on the survivors (although it does look like one initially).
What it does is to intensify, heighten and sharpen the problem they
The case of the waitress (Kate Beckinsale) is perhaps the simplest and most common. Here we have a single mother who is too young and pretty to be tied down by a consistently crying baby. But as her tolerance shrinks, the baby becomes a useful excuse for her to make romantic approaches to Doctor Laraby (Guy Pearce) who has treated some of the victims (both physical and emotional, including herself) of the shooting. Disappointingly for her, the doctor's mind is elsewhere.
The doctor's situation is more complex. He is often troubled by his inability to save lives even though his buddy colleague keeps telling him that doctors are not God and there is a limit to what they can do. By sheer chance, he was at the crime scene just before it happened, buying a cup of coffee and even holding the door for the murderer to enter. Failure to save one of the victims sent to his hospital hit him really hard. To compensate for his feeling of insecurity, he administers to his wife (whom he loves) medication that, while treating certain symptoms, has a side effect of creating others (e.g. migrant). That way, he derives a sense of security from his wife always looking towards him as her saviour.
The man whom the doctor has failed to save was in the diner with his young daughter Anne (Dakota Fanning) her friend Jimmy (Josh Hutcherson). Losing the father in a random shooting is of course traumatic but the girl seems to have a nerve of steel, fortified by an evangelical religious zeal. She starts talks about her father's heroic bravery, first to small group, then larger assemblies. But the truth is bottled up inside her.
Jimmy has his own domestic problems. Introvert and timid, he has a brother in a coma from action in the Iran War and parents who simply do not understand him, as most parents with kids in early teens do. His is probably the worse trauma, with the gun pointed at his head as he and Anne were hiding under the table. What is most fatal, however, is Anne calling upon him to witness (in a religious sense) together with her the father's heroic bravery.
The true hero is a compulsive gambler (Forest Whitaker) who could have been shot fatally but gets away with a scratch. Believing that luck is on his side, he lunches into a stint of desperate gambling, gets involved with loan sharks, and then more gambling, all this time with his daughter (Jennifer Hudson) frantically looking for him. While his story is not intended to provide comical relief or balance, it is comparatively lighter, and comes even with a twist that will get a chuckle.
On performance, Beckinsale's role is so commonplace that on the surface it offers little challenge. On the other hand, this makes the portrayal that much more difficult, and Beckinsale is convincing, which says a lot. Whitaker's versatility is amply demonstrated in his role here which cannot be more different from his Oscar winning performance as a psychopathic despot. As a compulsive gambler, he maintains an excellent balance between comedy and pathos. Pearce's is the most awkward role, lacking a clear indication of how much depth is there, psychologically speaking. Going into early teen-hood, Fanning continues to be eerily mesmerizing to watch. Hutcherson, who has been impressive in "Bridge to Terabithia" (2007), continues to show promises. In addition to these main characters, there is a large ensemble cast - aforementioned Jennifer Hudson, plus Jeanne Tripplehorn, Embeth Davidtz, Troy Garity, Jackie Earle Haley and others giving solid support.
This is not a movie that is entertaining in the conventional way, but satisfying to an appreciative audience.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This appears, to me, to be a film about how people react to a horrific
experience, both during but mainly afterwards. This is a very
interesting topic, and has many possible angles and ideas. The film
tries to deal with at least five of these at once: the closed, the
lucky, the selfish, the denier and the one who would have saved.
These characters are all very deep and complex, and could have - no SHOULD have a film each. I really do not think that an hour and a half is nearly long enough to explore and explain these characters sufficiently, and as such the film ends up leaving me feeling empty about each character, not engaging with them. This in turn means that I become very aware that I am watching a film, and as such start to question and criticize, and not live myself into the film and story.
I am left asking questions that I never get answered (why did Whittaker not just pay them a bit of the 100 grand he made - did he WANT his arm broken?, why did the gunman attack and who was he, what did Bekinsale do after the incident other than visit the doctor after the shooting).
Overall the movie becomes unenjoyable and I become uninterested, and in the final lines of the film, rather than a beautiful thought provoking poem it seems little more than meaningless drivel...
I hope you get more out of it :)
In an ordinary day, a deranged man has a rampage in a diner and
randomly shoots the costumers. The survivors of the tragic episode are
deeply affected by the shooting and have the most different reactions:
the youngster Anne Hagen (Dakota Fanning) becomes popular at school
telling her version of the shooting and shows a great faith on God; her
friend Jimmy Jaspersen (Josh Hutcherson) becomes mute and closes
himself to the outer world like an autist; the waitress Carla Davenport
(Kate Beckinsale) neglects her baby and has a vulgar behavior with men;
Dr. Bruce Laraby (Guy Pearce) loses his self-confidence and tries an
experimental treatment to the migraine of his wife; and the compulsive
gambler Charlie Archenault (Forrest Whitaker) believes that he is lucky
in the game and gambles all his money but he has a jinx.
"Winged Creatures" is a depressing movie about the aftermath of an urban violence that every now and then happens in North America shooting in a public space. There are rich characters developed in a short running time that deserved a longer time to explain their motives better. The bleak experiment of Dr. Bruce Laraby with his wife is weird and bizarre, and it is hard to understand his motives. Why Carla neglects her baby is also very strange since the viewer does not know her behavior at home before the tragic incident. Charlie deserves his fate since he is an addicted gambler. However the kids Jimmy and Anne are perfectly developed and have the best drama in the story, with a heartbreaking conclusion. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "O Efeito da Fúria" ("The Effect of the Fury")
Sorry, this film does not work. It will not be a classic, it will die onto the back catalogs for a buck a week and one day make GRAND CANYON look like a classic by comparison. Lame slow turgid predictable and worst of all boring. Don't blame the cast, they were laboring. The photography is flat and boring and fails to inform the plot. Looks like the shoot days were from 10 am till 3 pm with a long lunch break. The budget spent on the cast looks like it robbed the shoot of anything you'd like to see normally. The director should hang eastern block DPs before he makes a TV movie like this rubbish again. This is not Crash light crash2 or crash the early years its just crap. Would have been better with some decent art direction, photography, music and a re think of the story...IE. don't do any of it.
The acting was fine but the story was just not that good. This movie just seemed odd. All of the characters have their own story, yet as a whole it is unrealistic - too many unlikely reactions to an event happening at once. I can see that one or two people would loose it a little after going through a traumatic event, but all of the people involved going crazy in their own way just seems overdone. I was bored and wondering how long the movie was, and was shocked to find out it was only an hour and a half long because it felt like it went on forever. I hate to be so negative because I think the actors did the best job they could have given that the story just drug on. I probably wouldn't recommend this movie... regardless of the title they give it!
It's hard to be an ensemble drama in a time when the other films in
this sub-genre have a very sturdy track record, with "Crash" being a
Best Picture winner, "Babel" and "Traffic" being Best Picture nominees,
and "Magnolia" being a cult favorite, among many other popular
multi-storied films. Yes, these ensemble pieces all are quite
distinctive from one another, but it's very hard to not compare them to
each other, as their common goal is the same: to tell many stories and
convey one focused message.
In my opinion, films like "Crash" and "Babel" are hurt by the fact that they are forced to cheat the viewers in order to come to the film's end message, whereas a film like "Magnolia" or "Traffic" arrives at it through brilliant film-making and storytelling.
Luckily, this adaptation ensemble piece manages to land itself far closer to the likes of "Magnolia" or "Traffic" than "Crash" or "Babel." While I consider that a very good thing, some may not. Some may want a film that focuses on leaving a strong emotional impact more than telling its many stories as well as possible, and they may in fact be disappointed by "Winged Creatures." But if you appreciate low-key films that are effective without hitting you over the head in any way, this film is definitely a must-see.
One of the first things praise-worthy in this ensemble film is, of course, its terrific ensemble cast. Many of these actors provide performances that prove they have more potential than I had previously thought. The film is about numerous characters who witness a murder, and the PTSD that follows them around afterward, and most of the actors have to portray a different PTSD side-effect with his or her performance, and all of them do it very well.
I never believed that Kate Beckinsale had anything to her name besides hot looks, but she plays a stressed-out mother very convincingly. After his ridiculous over-performance in "Vantage Point," I thought that Forrest Whitaker's fabulous performance in "The Last King of Scotland" may have just been a fluke. But his portrayal of a man whose luck is all over the place after the event is spot-on. As Dakota Fanning moves towards adulthood, she handles a particularly tricky (and religion-heavy) performance with ease. Heck, even Jennifer Hudson (how the hell did she win an Oscar?) gives a performance that indicates some talent, even though her role is small.
Then you get to the direction, and all that goes with it. The film moves between its stories just as well as the higher-budget, more mainstream ensemble pieces, transitioning very well without ever killing the mood with a sudden shift. The film's score adds to this , as it keeps the same feel throughout the movie, giving the film an unchanging pace and mood, so even though you're watching a bunch of stories at once, it's one wholesome experience.
I don't know if this will get recognition come Oscar time, but frankly, it doesn't need to. This is a movie that shows talent out of a lot of actors about whom you may have been skeptical, and is a very worthy addition to the ensemble piece genre.
FRAGMENTS (AKA Winged Creatures) is an uncomfortable movie: the subject
matter of spontaneous unsuspected violence and the subsequent impact on
the lives of those who survive a near death situation is terrifying.
FRAGMENTS takes a moment in time and then reveals how that moment
alters the psyche and behavior of numerous people from children to
adults. It is disconcerting to watch, but at the same time it makes us
face the possibilities of how isolated cracks in the universe can alter
our lives. As the tag line suggests 'You have to lose your way to find
The film opens with a day in a Los Angeles diner where a gunman enters and randomly opens fire on the customers at the tables and the staff serving them and then kills himself. We are forced to watch this happen but through the eyes of the people attempting to dodge the attack. Among these are a waitress (Kate Beckinsale), a man seated at the counter being denied attention as he glances at his new brochures on dealing with cancer (Forest Whitaker), a doctor (Guy Pearce), a young girl (Dakota Fanning) who witnesses the murder of her father, a young boy (Josh Hutcherson) whose terror results in his becoming mute, among others. The film then abruptly clips to the fragments that remain - the lives as being lived by the survivors as well as their families - a cast of brilliant cameos by Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jackie Earle Haley, Robin Weigert, Jennifer Hudson and Embeth Davidtz. While none of the characters seem to be people about whom we would care under normal circumstances, the fact that the writer and director (Roy Freier and Rowan Woods) have placed us in the midst of the initial incident allows us to watch the strange transformations that happen to these people as a result of being struck by post traumatic stress - maladaptive behavior toward spouses and children, hiding behind becoming an instant religious zealot, gambling as a disease, and the other splinters the impact of murder and suicide observed at close range can cause. Very little is resolved by film's end but the film does force us to witness something that could happen to any of us and make us re-evaluate our values and abilities to cope with trauma. This is an ensemble cast film, strongly projected, and if the producers and creators of the film merely allowed us more time to get to know each character better the film probably would have been a success in the theaters instead of going straight to DVD. A provocative work. Grady Harp
I love ensemble movies with intertwined plots. I thoroughly enjoyed
'Crash' (even though it was heavily flawed), really liked 'Babel' and
'The Hours', 'Happy Endings' and 'Magnolia' are among my favourites.
Even though 'Winged Creatures' (a.k.a. 'Fragments') does not reach the
level of the aforementioned movies, it was an interesting watch (better
than 'Powder Blue'). The link between the characters' lives is shown in
the very first sequence and the stories follow thereafter.
'Winged Creatures' is a very subtle film. This is both a strength and weakness. There are certain actions that the characters commit the reason of which is understood by the end. However, some of them seem a little too far-fetched and hard to believe. For example, why is Laraby checking up the side-effects of medicines on the Internet when he's an accomplished doctors? Even for someone who's affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (a key theme in the movie), this is a little too out there. It would have been more convincing if the story was more developed and the viewer was allowed to see Laraby's inner struggle. Guy Pearce does a good job. In a small role, Embth Davidtz makes her presence felt.
The Kate Beckinsale track is quite well-handled. There's a sequence in the film where one can register the disappointment on her face after she was about to answer the reporters' questions when they immediately switch to the family of the dead guy who just walked out of the hospital. This hints Carla's struggle for attention which leads to her promiscuous behaviour and to a form of Munchausen's syndrome such that she deliberately starves her child for the doctor's attention. Beckinsale delivers a first rate performance.
Jimmy and Anne were two teenagers who were witnesses of the shootout in which Anne's father was murdered. Here there is an uneven balance between drama and subtlety. I found Anne's sudden religious devotion and Jimmy taking the gun to the crime scene (to threaten Anne?) hardly believable and her mother is the typical mom while Jimmy's father is the typical dad who hates shrinks. Jackie Earle Haley and Jeanne Tripplehorn are strictly okay. Dakota Fanning is wooden except in the final scene where she plays by the formula. Troy Garrity is good but the real star here is Josh Hutcherson who draws the viewer with Jimmy's restraint and mental anguish.
Charlie's storyline is poorly presented. I found the gambling scenes to be repetitive. The scenes of his daughter and the detective could have easily been left out. The prostitute scene was a cliché that has been repeated since 'Leaving Las Vegas'. Forest Whitaker is alright. Jennifer Hudson is forgettable. Marshall Allman shines.
After the shooting sequence, 'Winged Creatures' initially moves at a sluggish pace. At times , it feels too fragmented because of lack of story development. The execution is pretty ordinary, if anything. The cinematography is flat. The soundtrack is far from outstanding. The film could have used some more editing. Give then plusses and minusses, it is a movie at least worth a one-time watch.
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