‘A Ghost Story’ is a passionate exploration on life after death

Slow moving yet ambitious take on grief

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I’ll warn you up front, ladies and gentlemen: A Ghost Story is a slow moving yet ambitious piece of filmmaking. It takes aims at what we leave behind after death, and the idea that one could get the answers in death that he couldn’t find in life.

David Lowery recruits his Ain’t Them Bodies Saints team of Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara to portray C and M, a couple that go through a traumatic process when one of them dies unexpectedly. Without a ton of dialogue or moving parts, Lowery directs from his own script a tale about the many ways people grieve. Affleck’s C returns to his house as a ghost, complete with the white sheet and eye holes, to look after his wife and the home that he left. There are certain things that C needs to know before he can pass on, and they don’t have to do with M alone.

The great thing about ghost stories is the countless ways it allows a filmmaker to be inventive with. Once he returns as a ghost, C’s story line doesn’t have to deal in a pure linear form. He can visit his wife in the present, or go back to one of their existential fights, or battles over whether to move or stay in a home that carries special meaning to C. Continue reading “‘A Ghost Story’ is a passionate exploration on life after death”

‘Manchester by the Sea’: An uncompromising masterpiece

Manchester by the Sea doesn’t care about your feelings and that’s its greatest asset.

Manchester by the Sea doesn’t play by the rules and that is its greatest asset as a film.

Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan(You Can Count on Me) places his characters in a pot and puts the heat on low for his two hour plus film that is equal parts heartbreaking, compassionate, honest, and ruthlessly unconventional. If you want a film with a nicely tightened bow on the final act of the film, go elsewhere. Lonergan cares more about his characters than the audience’s feelings of complacency.

Lee Chandler(Casey Affleck, better than ever) is a sad man and you don’t know why. He’s unclogging toilets and fixing showers while his heart noticeably remains overstuffed and in need of repair. He keeps to himself, drinks like a fish, and gets into random fights that his fists dictate. He is one of those people who doesn’t mind if you place you burden on his shoulders, as long as you don’t ask him about his own. He doesn’t want to talk. As he tells another late in the film, “I can’t beat it.” What it is will break your heart? Continue reading “‘Manchester by the Sea’: An uncompromising masterpiece”

Out Of The Furnace: Casey Affleck standout

While falling short of the hype, Affleck’s work resonates.

When I exit a movie, I make an attempt to break it out into categories instantly.   Is it worth watching, worth fighting for or simply one you can miss?  Some movies are easier to review than others but more than a few movies are hard to put a rating on.  Letter grade or number style ratings can force a film critic into a room where he isn’t comfortable.  With Out Of The Furnace, I put myself in a predicament.  I liked what I saw.  There were some parts I even liked a lot.  Other parts I was okay with.  In the end, I can easily recommend Scott Cooper’s grim covered blue collar menace filled tale, but it didn’t blow me away like I thought it would.   Let’s break it down into great, good and average parts.

There’s a quiet sense of power that turns more conventional thriller layers of the movie into something more and I lend that credit to director Cooper.  He creates realistic people with his characters and works very well with actors.   You can’t build chemistry in a film school and in this film the ease with which the actors work is evident from the start.  The relationship between Bale and Affleck’s brothers, which is built up slowly over the film’s first half, is genuine and powerful.  This is the best part of the film.  Affleck’s Rodney, a torn apart Iraq soldier trying to make a living at home that doesn’t include giving his life to the mill, where his brother Russell(Bale) works and his father contracted a disease from.  A scene between the brothers where Russell pleads Rodney to get a regular job is punctuated by Affleck’s tenacity he brings to the broken man.  Continue reading “Out Of The Furnace: Casey Affleck standout”

“Out of The Furnace” is all heart and grit

Casey Affleck is the secret weapon in this deck of heart and grit. See it for the acting.

Out+of+the+Furnace+MovieWhen I exit a movie, I make an attempt to break it out into categories instantly.   Is it worth watching, worth fighting for or simply one you can miss?  Some movies are easier to review than others but more than a few movies are hard to put a rating on.  Letter grade or number style ratings can force a film critic into a room where he isn’t comfortable.  With Out Of The Furnace, I put myself in a predicament.  I liked what I saw.  There were some parts I even liked a lot.  Other parts I was okay with.  In the end, I can easily recommend Scott Cooper’s grim covered blue collar menace filled tale, but it didn’t blow me away like I thought it would.   Let’s break it down into great, good and average parts.

There’s a quiet sense of power that turns more conventional thriller layers of the movie into something more and I lend that credit to director Cooper.  He creates realistic people with his characters and works very well with actors.   You can’t build chemistry in a film school and in this film the ease with which the actors work is evident from the start.  The relationship between Bale and Affleck’s brothers, which is built up slowly over the film’s first half, is genuine and powerful.  This is the best part of the film.  Affleck’s Rodney, a torn apart Iraq soldier trying to make a living at home that doesn’t include giving his life to the mill, where his brother Russell(Bale) works and his father contracted a disease from.  A scene between the brothers where Russell pleads Rodney to get a regular job is punctuated by Affleck’s tenacity he brings to the broken man. Continue reading ““Out of The Furnace” is all heart and grit”