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‘Lean on Pete’ Review: Andrew Haigh’s Boy-and-His-Horse Tale Hits Hard

  • The Wrap
‘Lean on Pete’ Review: Andrew Haigh’s Boy-and-His-Horse Tale Hits Hard
When a European director makes his or her first movie in the United States, you can pretty much rely on two things: the camera’s awe at the wide-open spaces and big skies, and a downbeat story of how the Land of Opportunity so often lets its most helpless citizens fall between the cracks.

So on the American Miserabilism shelf at your local shuttered video store, you can put Andrew Haigh’s powerful and poignant “Lean on Pete” alongside such other classics of the genre as Werner Herzog’s “Stroszek” and Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey.”

Lean on Pete” calls to mind other greats as well — one imagines a pitch meeting where it was described as “The 400 Blows” meets “Wendy and Lucy” — but writer-director Haigh, working from the novel by Willy Vlautin, has his own way of telling this kind of story. While the film’s semi-picaresque, road-trip nature might seem antithetical to the maker of such intimate dramas as “Weekend” and “45 Years,” Haigh brings his gifts as a filmmaker with him to the great outdoors, always capturing little moments of character and emotion even in an expanse of seemingly infinite American desert.

Also Read: 'A Quiet Place' Film Review: Make Some Noise for John Krasinski's Nerve-Racking Horror Tale

Teenage Charlie (Charlie Plummer, “Boardwalk Empire”) has just moved to Portland, Oregon, with his ne’er-do-well dad Ray (Travis Fimmel). Mom is long-gone, and Charlie’s only other family is his loving aunt Margy (Alison Elliott, “20th Century Women”), who he hasn’t seen since childhood after she and Ray had a squabble about how he’s been raising Charlie. (When Charlie was 12, Ray left the boy alone for several days to spend time with a woman.)

Their new house is near a racetrack, and Charlie ingratiates himself with small-time horse owner Del (Steve Buscemi), working with him at the stable and traveling with him to seedy races on the state-fair circuit. Along the way, Charlie befriends Bonnie (Chloë Sevigny), a jockey who rides Del’s horses from time to time. Bonnie tries to tell Charlie that the horses aren’t pets, and that he shouldn’t get attached, but it’s too late — he’s already bonded with an aging Quarter Horse named Lean on Pete, even though the racer is coming to the end of his career, likely to be “sent to Mexico” (where horses can be legally slaughtered) once his use to Del has run out.

Also Read: 'Boiled Angels: The Trial of Mike Diana' Film Review: Neil Gaiman, George Romero and Others Reflect on Free Speech

When the husband of Ray’s latest conquest beats Ray bad enough to send him to the hospital, Charlie has to elude Family Services while still earning money to keep up the household. But as Ray’s condition worsens, and Lean on Pete seems destined to be destroyed, Charlie steals Del’s truck in an attempt to save the horse and to look for Margy in Wyoming.

As you might imagine, Charlie’s journey gets more and more bleak as he faces starvation, thirst and eventual homelessness. But while “Lean on Pete” certainly has its dark moments, and its 119 minutes seem like it’s never going stop throwing obstacles in Charlie’s way, there’s ultimately a sense of hope here, much of it being communicated by Plummer, in an extraordinary performance. There’s so little calculation or actorliness in his work that I thought Haigh had found a 15-year-old non-actor; I was surprised to learn after the fact that Plummer is an experienced pro with an ascendant career. (He’s about to play kidnap victim John Paul Getty III in Ridley Scott’s forthcoming “All the Money in the World.”)

Also Read: 'Tyler Perry's Acrimony' Film Review: Taraji P. Henson Is Furious, But Is She Right?

The anguish and determination that Plummer can display with just a look or subtle motion is heartbreaking; this is the kind of naturalistic acting that can just kick you in the stomach. He’s part of a strong ensemble: Buscemi’s Del makes an honest mentor, but he doesn’t sugarcoat the character’s darker side. (And it’s fun to see the easy chemistry between Buscemi and Sevigny: she starred in his feature directorial debut “Trees Lounge” two decades ago.) Steve Zahn turns up as a mercurial homeless man who offers Charlie some help along the way, and Elliott (an indie stalwart since her breakout role in “The Spitfire Grill”) radiates a warmth that makes you realize why finding Margy is worth Charlie’s Herculean effort.

Haigh adjusts to a different kind of storytelling here: “Weekend” was fairly dialogue-heavy (as was, to an extent, his little-seen debut “Greek Pete”), and unlike “45 Days,” he can’t substitute dialogue with a meaningful glance from Charlotte Rampling. Still, he manages a lot of quiet here — with the exception of some exposition dumps that Charlie gives the horse in conversation — and his storytelling is no less powerful. Danish cinematographer Magnus Nordenhof Joenck (“A War”), also working in the States for the first time, collaborates with Haigh to place the characters into a very specific context, finding both beauty and horror in the American sprawl.

Your gut will be wrenched by “Lean on Pete,” but it’s also quite likely that your heart will be touched. It’s a powerful new entry for a director who is ever more deserving of attention, and it provides a spotlight for a talented young actor who would appear to be going places.

Read original story ‘Lean on Pete’ Review: Andrew Haigh’s Boy-and-His-Horse Tale Hits Hard At TheWrap
See full article at The Wrap »

Steve Buscemi: ‘In some ways I feel I haven’t fulfilled my true potential'

From firefighter and bar fly to Hollywood superstar, Steve Buscemi has populated his films with lovable oddballs and cold-blooded killers. But, as Aaron Hicklin finds, it’s all been driven by his need to fit in

Like Tommy, the aimless barfly he plays in Trees Lounge, the melancholic 1996 indie film he also wrote and directed, Steve Buscemi found himself in a spiral of hopelessness after leaving school, jumping from one part-time job to another: cinema usher, ice-cream seller, petrol station attendant. There were many long nights in bars. “I really had difficulty there [on Long Island] in my last couple of years because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing,” he says. “I felt my life was going nowhere.” His father had pushed all four of his sons to take a civil service exam, in Buscemi’s case as an avenue to a career with the fire service, where
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

NYC Weekend Watch: Jean-Pierre Léaud, David Lynch, Wesley Snipes & More

Since any New York City cinephile has a nearly suffocating wealth of theatrical options, we figured it’d be best to compile some of the more worthwhile repertory showings into one handy list. Displayed below are a few of the city’s most reliable theaters and links to screenings of their weekend offerings — films you’re not likely to see in a theater again anytime soon, and many of which are, also, on 35mm. If you have a chance to attend any of these, we’re of the mind that it’s time extremely well-spent.

Film Society of Lincoln Center

The single greatest filmography of any living actor is celebrated in “Jean-Pierre Léaud, from Antoine Doinel to Louis Xiv,” including an all-day Doinel marathon on Sunday.

Metrograph

More seminal sci-fi in “The Singularity,” some of Buñuel’s best films, the Donnie Darko restoration (read our interview with Richard Kelly here), rock music,
See full article at The Film Stage »

Steve Buscemi: 'I hope people remember the shutdown in the next elections'

The Boardwalk Empire star on how the Republicans have held the Us hostage and why the pursuit of money is not a worthy goal

Dressed in dark colours and a black baseball cap, in person the 55-year-old Steve Buscemi cuts basically the same slight, rumpled figure we met a quarter-century ago in Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train. He might be a roadie coming off a world tour. His famously exophthalmic eyes are a washed-out blue and he's tired, back home in Brooklyn after staying at his house in upstate New York. He likes to go there and hang out and do nothing, he says, maybe take a walk or do a bit of yardwork: he spent the weekend raking leaves. Self-effacing, friendly, polite, it's clear he's here under low-grade sufferance; interviews, he says in his quick, metallic, slightly strangulated way, "aren't my favourite thing to do".

He is a patient
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Steve Buscemi: 'I hope people remember the shutdown in the next elections'

The Boardwalk Empire star on how the Republicans have held the Us hostage and why the pursuit of money is not a worthy goal

Dressed in dark colours and a black baseball cap, in person the 55-year-old Steve Buscemi cuts basically the same slight, rumpled figure we met a quarter-century ago in Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train. He might be a roadie coming off a world tour. His famously exophthalmic eyes are a washed-out blue and he's tired, back home in Brooklyn after staying at his house in upstate New York. He likes to go there and hang out and do nothing, he says, maybe take a walk or do a bit of yardwork: he spent the weekend raking leaves. Self-effacing, friendly, polite, it's clear he's here under low-grade sufferance; interviews, he says in his quick, metallic, slightly strangulated way, "aren't my favourite thing to do".

He is a patient
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Steve Buscemi's Unexpected Move

Steve Buscemi's Unexpected Move
New York -- Steve Buscemi (boo-shem'-ee) will direct a live stream of a Vampire Weekend concert to debut a new season of "Unstaged."

The stream will launch the fourth season of "American Express Unstaged," an online series that pairs notable directors with popular music acts. Vampire Weekend's concert at the Roseland Ballroom on April 28 will stream live on Vevo and YouTube.

American Express was to officially announce the live stream Tuesday.

Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig in a statement called Buscemi "a wonderful actor, a NYC legend and a great director." Buscemi has directed four feature films, including 1996's "Trees Lounge," as well as several "Sopranos" episodes.

Vampire Weekend will release their third album, "Modern Vampires of the City," on May 14.

___

Online:

. amexunstaged.com http://www
See full article at Huffington Post »

Sundance: 'The Spectacular Now' is a lovely and original teen movie. 'A.C.O.D.' is the comedy that Adam Scott fans have been waiting for

Sundance: 'The Spectacular Now' is a lovely and original teen movie. 'A.C.O.D.' is the comedy that Adam Scott fans have been waiting for
Remember how Elvis Presley looked when he was young? The perfect pompadour, the eyes a-twinkle, the smile so brightly and absurdly cocksure it seemed lit from within? Imagine Elvis reincarnated as a very tall and brainy American high school dude, with a quip for every occasion, and you’ll have an idea of the fresh yet slightly skewed charisma of Miles Teller, the gifted star of The Spectacular Now. He plays a high school senior about to graduate named Sutter, who would, at a glance, seem to have it all. Sutter already knows how to talk to the ladies — he
See full article at EW.com - Inside Movies »

Moved Back To La So 'I Can Yell At The Top Of My Lungs'

Moved Back To La So 'I Can Yell At The Top Of My Lungs'
Story comes courtesy of Los Angeles Magazine

By Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as told to Elina Shatkin

I am a third-generation Angeleno. My grandpa grew up in South-Central, and my grandma grew up in Boyle Heights. When they were young, South-Central was a Jewish ghetto, and Western was the western edge of L.A. They had a soda pop wagon, but I think they made most of their money selling liquor during Prohibition. My grandpa started working when he was 12. He was a hustler. I get a lot of my work ethic from him. He used to take the Red Car, and he remembers when it got dismantled. It’s fascinating to me: How different would L.A. be if public transportation had been allowed to flourish? We’d probably be a more classically designed city, spend less time in cars, and all be happier. I love old Los Angeles. If you
See full article at Huffington Post »

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Zooey Deschanel Is My Fun Movie Date

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Zooey Deschanel Is My Fun Movie Date
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel may have shared great chemistry in 2009's (500) Days of Summer, but their romance only exists on-screen. Despite fans' wishes for the two to become an item, the costars are just friends, Gordon-Levitt, 31, insists in the September issue of Playboy . "We've been friends for 10 years. She loves movies, music and art, and she's incredibly knowledgeable about that stuff," he says. "She's turned me on to so many movies and so much good music. It's fun just so have conversations, watch movies with her." Although Gordon-Levitt landed a role on 3rd Rock from the Sun at an
See full article at PEOPLE.com »

Geek shows and movies on UK TV in the coming week

British television is showing Gremlins, The Goonies, Blue Thunder, Red Heat, Tango & Cash and Innerspace this week. How can you argue with that?

Unless you're a fan of Warehouse 13, which starts its third season on Syfy this coming Thursday, August 4th with The New Guy, the summer lull continues through the next seven days, with an absence of brand new shows on the schedules.

That leaves only series that are midstream, such as Torchwood: Miracle Day, which nears its halfway mark between ten episodes on Thursday August 4th as well, with episode 4, Escape To La on BBC1 at 9:00pm. You can follow our coverage of the show here.

Also on BBC1, the repeat of the final episode of Sherlock's first series, The Great Game airs on Wednesday, August 3rd at 8:30, if you want a refresher before the second series launches this autumn. We have a few details
See full article at Den of Geek »

Live blog: The Golden Globes – live! | Hadley Freeman

Catch up on all last night's awards action with Hadley Freeman

• News: Firth crowned while Social Network cleans up

Peter Bradshaw's reaction

• Gallery: quotes of the night

• Gallery: Globes arrivals

• Gallery: TV winners

• Full list of winners

12.15am GMT: Greetings all, and welcome to the preview to tonight's Golden Globes liveblog. While I may not actually be on the red carpet in Los Angeles, I will be reporting to you live from my red sofa in New York. Truly, no expense is spared in the Guardian liveblog department. This is journalism in action, people! Suck on it, Woodward and Bernstein.

Oh, I do love the Golden Globes. So much more fun than the Oscars, because the nominees tend to be more what my cousin Catie calls "loosey goosey", or what I call "drunk". The usual explanation for this is that it's because there are so many more acting categories
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Live blog: The Golden Globes – live! | Hadley Freeman

Catch up on all last night's awards action with Hadley Freeman

• News: Firth crowned while Social Network cleans up

Peter Bradshaw's reaction

• Gallery: quotes of the night

• Gallery: Globes arrivals

• Gallery: TV winners

• Full list of winners

12.15am GMT: Greetings all, and welcome to the preview to tonight's Golden Globes liveblog. While I may not actually be on the red carpet in Los Angeles, I will be reporting to you live from my red sofa in New York. Truly, no expense is spared in the Guardian liveblog department. This is journalism in action, people! Suck on it, Woodward and Bernstein.

Oh, I do love the Golden Globes. So much more fun than the Oscars, because the nominees tend to be more what my cousin Catie calls "loosey goosey", or what I call "drunk". The usual explanation for this is that it's because there are so many more acting categories
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

First Footage From The Goon Online

It's a trailer for Friday's Comic Con panel as much as for the movie itself, but this teaser for The Goon, based on the Dark Horse comic, is our first glimpse of the supernatural slapstick noir animation.So what have we got? Vintage cars, tommy guns, a buxom barmaid right out of a Western, a zombie alcoholic propping up the bar like Billy in Trees Lounge, lots of speed, lots of action... It's looking great! There's not really any sense of the actual plot yet, but primary opposition certainly comes from The Priest and his undead horde.Clancy Brown voices The Goon himself, an enforcer for a mob boss, and Paul Giamatti is sidekick Franky (short for Francesca). You'll find no mention online of who has actually directed the thing, which is very mysterious. David Fincher is producer though, and Goon creator Eric Powell has been hands-on all the way through development.
See full article at EmpireOnline »

Talking With Mike Leigh on Indies, 3-D vs. Reality and 'Happy-Go-Lucky'

Sitting down with Mike Leigh was a little intimidating. Strange considering he's about half my height (exaggeration), but he's an accomplished filmmaker and not from Hollywood stock so I felt I had to be on my A-game. The main reason I sat down with him was to talk about my thoughts on his fantastic film Happy-Go-Lucky (my review here), my theories on its protagonist, Poppy, as played by Sally Hawkins and see if my idea on what the film was all about was up the right alley or way off base. As it turns out, I was on the right track, which meant we were able to move onto more interesting things such as independent filmmaking versus Hollywood and even better, a recent quote from DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg saying how he felt all films would soon be shot in 3-D, a ridiculous statement of course and Mike had
See full article at Rope Of Silicon »

Spc doesn't pass on this 'Interview'

  • One of the more cerebrally pleasurable films showcased at Sundance (read my review) has just been acquired by Sony Pictures ClassicsSony Pictures Classics
[/link]. Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Dylan Leiner from Sony Pictures Classics acquired the film from Cinemavault Releasing in Canada and Spc is set to release Steve Buscemi's battle of wits between the sexes this coming July. Based on the late director, Theo Van Gogh’s film, Interview is also part of a planned trilogy of Van Gogh remakes - Cinemavault should be shopping Blind Date and 1-900 at Cannes and/or the fall festival season. This is set in present day New York City, Pierre Peters (Buscemi) is a fading political journalist who at one time found success as a highly respected war correspondent. After a falling out with his editor, he is assigned to interview Katya (beautiful Sienna Miller), one of the country’s hottest young actresses.
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

Interview: Steve Buscemi

[/link] moves at a deliberately slow but tolerable pace. It’s one of those films that critics will not appreciate much because it isn’t challenging enough for an American director and it’s hard to find a reason why a film like this should be made. Well this film is for anyone who has tried and failed, which is probably more than have tried and succeeded. So it’s undoubtedly identifiable. It’s about a writer and it’s for writers, filmmakers, actors, musicians, chefs, whoever, who had to try and find something else that made them happy when the daily grind of trying to “make it” becomes too hard to deal with alone. Lonesome Jim is autobiographical and it is not afraid to be. The screenwriter is James Strouse and the character is named Jim who is a writer. The whole script was set in
See full article at IONCINEMA.com »

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