2. Every story is a love story but not every story is about selfless love.
3. Korea does a better job with romantic comedies than any other country.
4. Like the main character, the movie is easy to find fault with. But if you commit to it, it will provide an experience you will never forget.
The significance of that is important.
Canada, since the launch of its film sector in in the 1980s via tax credits, has built a solid and reliable industry by being essentially the "Walmart" of the sector. Constantly undercutting Hollywood prices (because of the cheaper Loonie) has kept the cash flowing.
And the Canucks have also taken hostage obscure sectors of the business that no one else was paying attention to. For example, 90% of all the so-called "X-mas" films you have seen in the last 20 years were Canadian-made.
Finally, Canada is where most once-successful franchises go to die. When you see a horror franchise or action franchise on its very last legs -- think Freddy Kruger IX or something like that -- chances are it is Canadian made.
So, against this odd backdrop of entrepreneurial spirit, it is rare and refreshing to see an auteur express a vision that is not a knockoff of something else.
And that is the key. This film is an original, it is like nothing you have seen. It takes place in one of Canada's most picturesque (showcase) small towns but it is not a small town piece like Doc Martin or Gilmore Girls or even Corner Gas. It has elements of faith but it is not a "faith-based" movie. It has elements of a rom-com yet without the "rom."
Again, an original.
And it is technically perfect. The script is solid. The acting from the leads is excellent, especially the often-overlooked Jonathan Pryce. (Secondary characters are hit and miss, which unfortunately is the curse of Canadian film making.) The story holds the attention. The questions raised are interesting. In many ways the film revisits issues from the blockbuster hit Resurrection (1980) but in a much subtler way.
It is solid workmanlike entertainment and deserves a better rating than most members have given it.
He has manufactured a true guilty pleasure -- a film about a man making bad choices that is driven by brilliant characterizations, raw Adrenalin, and a compelling narrative that makes you watch no matter how much you know you should look away.
In the grand tradition of Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood, Vaughn, an actor once relegated to romantic comedies, does "the" physical role of his career and it is a barn burner.
There is no pretense at class. This is 1960s grindhouse from start to finish and if you have any doubts just listen to the closing music at the 2:05 mark --- a brisk orchestral piece that sounds more fitting to a vaudeville act than a melodrama. Zahler ends the show by signalling that he was messing with your head, overloading your senses, all along -- and moreover he was doing it deliberately and knowingly.
Don Johnson, an actor who continues to win SEXIEST MAN ALIVE awards for merely showing up at the ceremony, wanted to try something different and succeeded - his cigar-smoking, sadistic warden is a masterpiece. Unforgettable.
A hard film to review, a difficult film to classify, and an impossible film to ignore. The closest analog in this era would be the highly stylized, and highly violent, films from South Korea that glorify the individual over the system.
If that theorem is to be proved anywhere, it would be in this wonderful movie.
This may be a shock to the younger IMDb members, but at one time Redford and Fonda were not merely the biggest stars in Hollywood but also the biggest sex symbols in the biz.
If in 1967 -- please put on your time travel, butterfly effect, hats here -- you had suggested to these two that a full half-century later they would star is a laid-back but irrefutably charming rom-com where, in the very first scene, Fonda shows up at Redford's door and politely asks if he would mind sleeping with her ... well, let's just say that a raised eyebrow would be least you could expect in return
The script is so subtle (a word I have astonishingly used only a very few times in some 1350+ reviews here) that the viewer does not know whether to laugh or cry. Even the way Redford's character chooses to initially respond to the invitation -- not by a 411.com search, but by looking up Fonda's phone number in a handwritten address book his late wife had left behind -- brings an unavoidable smile to those who grasp the passage of time.
The dialog is a joy. It has ebbs and flows, ups and downs, and most importantly never quite heads in the direction you expect it to.
In fact -- this for film historians only -- it may be a true breakthrough in concept. Remember that in the 1970s scriptwriters tried to "take the rom-com up a notch" by deliberately cutting out the "boy meets girl" portion of the traditional formula. Dozens of rom-coms since that era have started with the very first scene taking place "the morning after," leaving the audience to wonder how the original romance blossomed, before getting caught up in the subsequent events.
In that context, the premise here, if this film resonates with people in the months and years to come, could become a milestone in rom-coms. And deservedly so.
That's my review.
This episode is the middle of a complicated story told via mini-series, but here is the rub: You don't need the other episodes. This instalment is so good you could watch it alone and simply be dazzled by the performances and the writing.
Rafe Spall in particular steals his scenes and makes even the Bond villains look friendly and amiable.
Butler, Foster, and Breslin between them generate enough electricity to power Manhattan or, in this case, at least a small island. They keep you glued to the screen in spite of the nonsense.
The story contains a brief scene where an overweight Australian boy, along with his parents, is briefly on the island. He not only sees Mim but tracks her down and makes a connection. Seconds later, he has to leave and disappears from the story.
The audience feels much the same way by the time the curtain closes. But it was a fun ride while it lasted.
The pity is that Hollywood itself totally lacks any of these abilities, most especially the "watchers." Otherwise someone would have noticed that the great ideas in the story were steam-rolled under a chewy and wandering script.
As I have said in some 1350+ reviews here, the key to a good movie is audience connection. It is that simple. In the opening of the Matrix for example we connect with Neo and he carries us through the film.
Here all the characters are in a "connection vacuum" save for Fanning who holds the attention by star power alone. It is ironic how the script makes such a fuss about her "being 13 years old" when typical of Hollywood she was at the time 15 "playing younger." Turns out the strange world presented in the movie is quite normal and boring compared to the inner workings of Tinseltown itself.
This film could have been something special. Instead it will go into the annals of film history as merely an oddity.
(See, for example, my review of The 24 Hour War (2016), the tale of an infamous feud between two car companies. The movie made you FEEL LIKE YOU WERE RIGHT THERE AT THE TRACK.)
Which is not the case here. Here, Director Micah Brown made the most serious mistake any film-maker can commit going into a project. He believed his own "spin." Brown went out of his way, bent over backwards, performed filmic contortions, all to "de-sensationalize" this tale.
Fully aware that the fighting aspects could overpower the core story, and believing that the moral, ethical and existential aspects of the piece were far too important to trivialize, Brown presents the viewer with a story that overall seems more like a Sunday morning sermon than a boxing film.
The "proof" of the core flaw here becomes obvious when the actual fight finally arrives, after every possible moral nuance of the story has, by that time, been dug up and analyzed under a microscope.
Suddenly, as the bell sounds for Round 1, the ever-patient viewer realizes that he has no concept of the fighting capabilities of either man; there has been no attempt to present that information in the exposition; there is no colour commentary; the rounds (the culmination of the movie) are edited like a highlight reel and do not flow; and (surprise!) one of the opponents has a major size advantage that no one told you about.
Here is a tip to aspiring documentary makers: surprises are great for birthdays and anniversaries; story-telling requires keeping the viewer fully informed as we move along, so there can be "connection" with what is happening on screen.
But copying genius is still genius.
The Spencer Tracy movie dealt with issues of religion. This deals with issues of morality. Difference? Not much.
The audience, the characters, pretty much know what happened "factually." But the law is an odd animal. It is man's attempt to grasp at something greater than himself. Messing with evidence is wrong. But using the law to get back at your brother for a lifetime of perceived wrongs is no better.
Also the way the producers set up entire episodes with flashbacks that initially make no sense is becoming almost a trademark.
Brilliant. Just brilliant.
Which of course is the insanity of the modern entertainment business.
As a film, as a narrative, as a story, as entertainment it is perfect.
Perfect as to script, casting, acting, direction, editing, the whole 9 years.
In a parallel universe somewhere this film made it to theatres around the world and was cherished.
In this is universe, it is actually hard to find a copy.
But for every dozen or so indies that hit a brick wall, one soars. This is the one that soars.
Indeed it aims high, turning what looks like a basic "sci fi experiment gone wrong" into an existential crisis of the soul.
But it succeeds, astonishingly, at being both entertaining and bemusing.
I was glued to the screen from the beginning to the end. That seldom happens.
The actors, the script, the direction, all remind me of Hitchcock at his peak. YOU CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO THESE PEOPLE.
And the editing, OMG. This is the first film I can recall where aggressive editing was used instead of complex SFX. The editing is beyond brilliant, it moves the audience at a visceral level from scene to scene.
This episode is technically perfect in terms of craftsmanship and execution. It pushes all the buttons and show what might have been if the show had been allowed a proper run.
The moral issues are astonishing.
I think there is a corner somewhere in Beverly Hills, don't know exactly where. There is a man waiting there, well-dressed, he looks like he belongs.
After dark, you casually saunter up to this man and as you pass you discretely hand him a folded up $100 bill; and, at the exact same moment, he passes you a carefully folded up script.
Of course, you cannot look at the script until you get back to your car. And by that time he man has disappeared. But you still have the script. And you look at the script, and, lo and behold, it is a complete ready-to-shoot (on video) script that has characters just like a real script; and dialog just like a real script; but virtually no SFX except maybe for paint and putty and basic stuff you can get at a hardware store; and even the locations are re-used here and there, all to save money.
And you say to yourself, OMG, this script is so cheap to make that it is a sure thing I can find the cash and, if I make it and it finds a distributor, then everyone is into profit after the first week or two.
Anyway, that is a backstory as good as or better than the real backstory to this film. The young actors gave it a go, but from almost the beginning, the characters are so unsympathetic that you almost feel, hey, if Satan doesn't arrive soon and take these guys out, maybe I will...