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A dispossessed, violent man's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.
Tim Blake Nelson,
A talented and successful actor retires at a young age due to a perceived mental illness. Now living in a small town with his deranged sister and his best friend, we watch as their Maladies intertwine.
A small group of Catholics led by an ailing priest believe that Satan intends to become man, just as God did in the person of Jesus. The writings of a possessed mental patient lead them to ... See full summary »
A playwright(Ryder) who begins to mentally unravel before premiere night. She is plagued by dreams and visions of being watched, but cannot decide if she is at the center of a manipulative plot or simply losing her grip on reality. Written by
Elizabeth McIntyre is named after the character Beth Macintyre from Black Swan (2010). Winona Ryder played Beth Macintyre and this film was inspired by that film. See more »
I'm not sure I know how it began. But in the midst of a life that I now barely remember, in the midst of those now-forgotten New York days and nights, something happened. I believe it's all true. But it started with a dream.
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If you saw the trailer and thought it was interesting then don't bother; you'll hate this film. I mean it. Don't even think about watching.
If, on the other hand, you saw the trailer and thought "oh great, another forgettable thriller about a creepy guy and clueless chick. When will anyone try anything new for chrissake??" then hold your horses because this movie might be just for you.
"The Letter" marks the 2nd pairing of the phenomenal acting/directing team of James Franco and his professor Jay Anania (the first being the excellent film "Vincent" aka "Shadows & Lies"). This time Winona Ryder joins the group and adds her own perfect eccentricity to the mix. Ryder plays the part of "Martine" a playwright who is putting on a production with 5 actors including a shadowy newcomer "Tyrone" (Franco).
As the play progresses, reality begins to wrap itself around imagination and vice versa. Some have compared this to other recent mindbenders like "Black Swan" and "Memento", but I would say this film outshines them all due to Anania's fierce, stylistic approach which really gets into your head. There aren't really any shocks, thrills, chills, gore or other cheapshots to make you spill your popcorn. Instead, it's a very insidious, unsettling visual approach, as well as disjoint audio, that draws you into the mounting tension and confusion of Martine's mentally unbalanced psyche. No monsters or broken mirror shards required. That's one thing to remember about this film: it doesn't stoop to cheap thrills but instead stands by its somber, anti-Hollywood approach.
Something else to know about this film; it moves at the speed of reality, that is "slowly" by movie standards. So if you get bored easily, you might want to look elsewhere. There are scenes of dialogue with actual pauses between people speaking, like in real life, how about that? Sometimes there are periods of silence that might make the audience feel uncomfortable if they're expecting some sort of rapid fire, scripted tit-for-tat. But if you're prepared for a voyeuristic experience of watching other people's lives, this nails it. Don't get me wrong; not a single scene is wasted and there's no fluff or filler. It's just that Anania allows the scenes to breathe a little. The pacing is similar to something you might get in from a European director (Kieslowsky, Tarkovsky, maybe Bela Tarr after a few cups of coffee) and the visual poetry is reminiscent of the Japanese masters Kurosawa & Teshigahara with a distinct, hip, modern look (extreme saturation, contrast and exposure) as you might see in Aronofsky or Paul Thomas Anderson. The overall package is distinctly Anania.
And how can I end this without a word about Franco. Although his role may strike you as being smaller than you'd expect (Winona Ryder is the star), each time he graces the camera it's done with so much poise and confidence you find yourself wondering who would win in a cool-off between Franco & Bogart. Hate to admit it, but I think Franco would win by a hair.
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