Magical, genuine, sweet, emotional, simple, true. Brilliant.
Blue Jay (I) (2016)
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Magical, genuine, sweet, emotional, simple, true. Brilliant.
It's the gem I always hope to discover when I go to TIFF, and it's ironic that the large costly studio films seen earlier in the week fell flat and here's this little two-character indie film shot in just 7 days and it blows the heavyweights out of the water.
Sarah Paulson is at the top of her game. She should be nominated and win many awards for her portrayal of Amanda. Yes, she is that good.
The direction, acting, cinematography, editing, script, music... all coalesce to create this perfect little gem. It is bliss to watch and experience.
Jim is back in his childhood home sorting through family belongings after this mother's death.
Amanda is back in town to visit with her sister who's expecting a baby.
Jim and Amanda run into each other at the local grocery store and have a difficult and awkward time acknowledging each other's presence. What is making them so uncomfortable? Grab your popcorn and watch their story unfold.
That's it. That's all I'm saying about the film's story line. The less you know, the sweeter the experience of finding out about these two. But I fell in love with both of them.
An emotional story that develops between old school friends who meet again after 20 something years after their ways part. Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson have an amazing chemistry together and deliver high class performance. With well-written dialogues, relatable story line, and good music, it is the one of the best Indie movies of 2016.
Expect to be amused, sad, melancholic, and nostalgic throughout the movie.
I gave it 10 and would recommend it to everyone who appreciates good movies.
One can hardly but integrate with the wonderfully true performances of Sarah Paulson and multi-talented Mark Duplass through the firm-yet-relaxed direction of Alexandre Lehmann's unique cinematography, cemented ever so subtly by Christopher Donlon.
Clu Gulager reminds us that true talent, like love, is ageless.
Getting to take part in and leave a legacy like Blue Jay would be a dream come true for almost any actor, filmmaker or expressive artist.
But anyone can take a trip into their own Universe of emotions with this masterpiece.
Simple and beautiful, it is worth the watch. 7 days of filming - without colour - puts the blockbuster generation to shame.
So much yes.
A bearded Mr. Duplass stars as Jim, a seemingly normal guy who has returned to his small hometown to pack up his mother's house after her passing. While at the local market, he bumps into his old high school sweetheart Amanda, played by Sarah Paulson, who just happens to be in town visiting her expectant sister. Their awkward grocery aisle reunion leads to a very unusual and yes, awkward evening.
First time director Alexandre Lehmann uses his extensive experience as a cinematographer, and a black & white motif, to create a beautifully filmed story that is both simple and layered. Only one other actor appears in the movie one scene with the great Clu Galager ("The Virginian", The Last Picture Show) as a local merchant who provides a link to the past for Amanda and Jim. The bulk of the time is spent in Jim's mother's house – a literal time capsule that allows for reminiscing for the two former lovers.
Amongst the old familiar clothes, photos, letters, books and audio tapes, Jim and Amanda somehow progress to a bizarre form of role playing/play acting as if they had married young and were now celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. You guessed it awkward. Dinner, dancing, acting silly, jelly beans, Annie Lennox and cutting loose leads them to an awkward bedroom encounter. This moment finally produces an explosion of emotion which uncovers the long-buried source of their break-up shutting down their fantasy game of recapturing the past.
It would be pretty easy to compare the film to Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise (1995) or Before Sunset (2004), and though it has more in common with the latter, this one comes across more raw and melancholy than those more celebrated films. We never once doubt this situation could play out, but the only word to describe two former lovers exploring "what could have been" is awkward. It's a captivating movie to watch and yet another feather in the cap of Duplass Productions.
I will buy this film or it will pass like a mandala.
Either way, It is quietly beautiful, I hope someone reading this can enjoy it in new ways.
Our characters are full of that common, but hard to capture on screen, insecurity and awkwardness that makes adulthood so difficult. They clearly want to spend time together but are unsure of the "rules" that they must follow. Their past weighs heavily on them but their affection overshadows, at least for a time, a dark corner of it.
Duplass and Paulson have a fantastic and organic chemistry, saying more with their eyes and body language than most actors can say with a speech. You follow their trepidation with interest and root for them to find some closure or happiness, whether with or without each other, and aren't left unsatisfied. The movie's melodic rhythm drives its duration so smoothly that before you know it you are saying goodbye to characters who seem more like family than friends, both to each other and to the viewer.
A throwback to the Golden Age of Hollywood, this movie is a gem to any movie lover who appreciates the art of storytelling. 7.5/10
It is an awkward situation at first. But soon it develops into a very memorable day for the both of them. There are moments of immense joy and pain as they revisit their past through their present. It's like experiencing catharsis. Indie films, when they are really good, can really pack a punch because they are not bound by the liability to placate the Studio bosses, thereby allowing greater liberty to the filmmaker. And, Blue Jay is a very well made indie film and certainly one of the better indies that I have ever seen.
One of the greatest strengths of the film are the acting performances of Mark Duplass and Sarah Paulson. The two of them look so natural (the choice monochrome of course helps... color would have drastically toned down the intensity). Both the actors demonstrate a great range of emotions. Duplass looks the more volatile of the two but it is as per the demand of the character. As for Paulson, her smile seems capable of speaking a thousand words. Together, they create magic, which, I daresay, most Hollywood A- listers fail to create these days.
The film has its share of flaws but overall it makes for a wonderful movie viewing experience. If you are a hopeless romantic then this film is certainly for you
For more on the world of cinema, please visit my film blog "A Potpourri of Vestiges".
Amanda seems to have her life 'sorted out' or at least on track whilst Jim does not look very certain about his. He seems very lonely and looks like he is going through a difficult patch in his life at the moment and running into his closest friends is exactly what he needed.
Every time Amanda mentions her husband it ruins the mood, any time they refer back to their present, the mood completely gets ruined, you can tell Jim gets a bit frustrated and quiet when she brings him up and it is obvious there is no likeness between them. There are moments that I feel they have nothing, but then there are moments where I know there is something, It is very strange, when films like The Notebook try to do something like this it ends up looking like bullshit rom com clichés because it didn't come from anywhere, the main characters of the Notebook suck and have no depth, these two characters have a personality, they have lives, they exist and I can see and understand that, I am willing to know these characters and that is what good writing and directing is. They have a moment where they are looking through his diary and she realises the past, she remembers again what it was like back then, reminiscing about when they used to be 'lovebirds', she finds a letter that is addressed to her and takes it before Jim finds out she had it, at this point I am heavily interested in what is happening, these character's pasts and their relationship, their lives and who they are now, when she finds the letter I am even more intrigued by what is in it, they kept me invested.
At this point they find some old tapes and listen to them. It is an incredibly touching scene where they remember role playing and they have two kids, Jessica and Jason and at this point they remember who they thought they were going to be in the future, they remember the good days where they just had a good time, Amanda looks into the void and thinks of what it all was back then and what changed since, the expression on Jim's face when he hears them talking about their imaginary kids always gets to me because of how close they were to that reality but something changed.
You can get the subtle hints that their personalities have changed, the people around them have changed who they are, Jim more or less stayed the same but just lost his footing, Amanda seems like she has it under control but it doesn't feel like she is truly happy. There is a moment where they are outside looking at the stars and Amanda finally tells the truth, she has been taking anti-depressants and claims she should be happy and that her life is fine, there have been hints from the very beginning that Amanda was not truly happy with her life, who really is but she just felt closed up, similar to Jim at the beginning. She discusses how things are changing, and how she has not told anyone about this, she feels this inner sadness and she is unaware of where it is coming from, I think it is because they are aware of the cruelty and the hardships of living within society, the constant changes and having to deal with life's constant issues and stresses and growing up, it is hard and challenging, hard to move past.When reality steps in and it starts to kick in that this is not going to last forever, this peace is going to fade and it will fade fast. Things have not been the same for them and things are changing quickly and ever since things moved forward, life hasn't been that way for the both of them.
This entire film felt very improvised because it just felt so raw and genuine and that it is hard to come by nowadays in modern cinema, actual people on screen. Even TDOER felt disingenuous once or twice, this movie nails it from beginning to end.
Beautiful, emotional, funny, reflective, sincere, honest.
This is an incredibly intimate film, in all the best ways. People often confuse intimacy with sex, so let me clear, I don't mean sex. There is a kiss and miss, but the words, and the emotions these two bring to life are deeper, and more meaningful than what some couples share in an entire life time. The chemistry is perfect, their interaction is superb as it burns you down and takes you back through memories of the life you once had, or always wished you had. It was like sitting by a stream on a quiet summer, day and letting the flowing water hypnotize and soothe you.
There is nothing I didn't love about this wonderful film. It's streaming on Netflix now, and if you have some down time this holiday season, I recommend spending it with Mark and Sarah. You can hear their souls singing in their performances, and in his writing, and to me that makes Blue Jay a piece of art.
Greetings. I just watched this MASTERPIECE. Not only of film, but of human creation, of human feeling.
It made me realize there is such thing as a crime against MAGIC. Letting the chemistry between two beautiful souls die.
It's like REALITY BITES meets Sex Lies and Videotape meets It's a Wonderful Life. And after all these years... there is still the most MAGNIFICENT power on Earth out there. If only hearts could turn on their WiFi.
Mark Duplass, Sarah Paulson, Alex Lehman: please find my gratitude and admiration enclosed.
From Paris with love
As may be commonly known, there was no script for this film. That is painfully obvious as we watch Sarah Paulson, an otherwise fine actress, fake her way through this, following Mark Duplass's meandering lead.
If we cared about these people and wanted to have an intimate look at their lives, this might have been a touching film. But because neither of them gave me any reason to care, all I could do was sit and watch in slack-jawed amazement.
Sarah (as Amanda) and Mark (as Jim) stumble into each other at a supermarket after apparently not seeing each other for 20 years. Although Sarah has purchased ice cream for her sister, in addition to other items, she agrees to join Mark for a coffee at a place called the "Blue Jay." This cafe does not have any other importance in the film and begs the question, "Why was this film called 'Blue Jay'?"
We follow Sarah back to Mark's mother's house as he attempts to pack it up after her death. During this process, we understand that Sarah and Mark have history, and as the film unfolds, they have a fantasy moment of what their lives would have been like had they remained together.
Although I will allow that there were several sweet moments during their imagining of "what if," we had to endure endless stupidity having to do with them both doing "rap" music, making stupid sounds, doing stupid dances, and making up stupid dialogue.
Again, if these two individuals were deeply engaging, I would have happily followed their story. Perhaps because I wanted a STORY (and not some out- of-control blabber-fest that felt like: Let's hit this point about 15 minutes in; let's hit the next point about 30 minutes in, ad nauseam...), it was hard to invest myself emotionally in the lives of two people that actually could have been interesting.
Things get borderline maudlin with the discovery of "the letter that was never sent" and the "confession" from both sides about the "tragedy that should have never happened." I'm sorry; for all of Mark's Oscar-winning (in his mind) crocodile tears, I didn't buy his performance for a minute. He seemed like a first-class wimp, a crybaby, an emotionally stunted a**hole who was apparently incapable of manning up for over 20 years and was, I guess, going to go on and live in anger and denial till the day he died instead of coming to terms with the past. Yes, there are people like that... and in the hands of a qualified actor, I would have felt those things. But Mark has a certain detachment about him that makes him come across as a failed stand-up comic or a serial murderer -- it's hard to tell. Bottom line: I could not like him. Sarah fared better, but because she spent the majority of the film under an absolutely ghastly ski cap, even her Hollywood smile couldn't help her in the wardrobe department.
As another reviewer said, it seemed that the Duplass Brothers (or whoever was involved in this amateur 80 minutes) scored a camera (and Sarah) for the weekend and said, "You know what? Why the hell not?" And so... they made this mistake. I do not think it was brave or fresh or emotionally moving. I always felt that they were just about reaching for straws as they tried to "improvise" what they were going to say next.
The further along it went, the more Mark dropped in my estimation (and I actually liked him in "Your Sister's Sister."). He said at the beginning that his face "leaked" -- "Leaked?" Give me a break; was that supposed to be funny? By the time he really was supposed to be crying (and I'm sure he thought he was brilliant), I was looking for my barf bag.
Last, who on earth goes around by the name of "Waynie" ? It's amazing that the prod co managed to press Clu Gulager into service as the manager of a liquor store. He actually seemed real and I would have much rather heard his story. But why did they have to name him "Waynie"? I found it borderline vulgar and insulting.
Sorry, I went into this with an open mind, struggled to get through it, found a few entertaining moments, maybe even a twinge of sadness during Mark's big "breakdown," but over all, this is like a demo of what the film COULD be following the FIRST draft of a screenplay. There could have been a much more polished version of it if some thought had been applied instead of saying, "Yeah, hell, sure, let's go for it."
Throughout the whole film, I kept asking my husband, "But what about the ice cream that she bought for her sister?"