4 Shots From 4 Summer Films: Ride With The Devil, Hitch-Hike, The Last Shark, The Impossible


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films.  As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Today is the first day of summer so these 4 shots all celebrate films about summer vacation!

4 Shots From 4 Summer Films

Race With The Devil (1975, dir by Jack Starrett)

Hitch-Hike (1977, dir by Pasquale Festa Campanile)

The Last Shark (1981, dir by Enzo G. Castellari)

The Impossible (2012, dir by J. A. Bayona)

 

 

Playing Catch-Up: A Monster Calls (dir by J.A. Bayona)


a_monster_calls_poster

As our regular readers are undoubtedly aware, I was born in Texas and I grew up all over the Southwest.  I don’t believe in trigger warning and quite frankly, I lose respect for anyone who I hear whining about having to have one.  That’s the way we are down here.  If you can’t handle potentially being upset by something or someone, that’s you’re own damn problem.

That being said, I do feel like I should give everyone a heads up about A Monster Calls.  Don’t consider this to be a warning because a warning suggests that something bad is going to happen and A Monster Calls is actually a very good movie and one that I highly recommend.  But I do think I should say that I sobbed almost all the way through A Monster Calls and I wasn’t alone.  When I saw this movie on Sunday, there wasn’t a dry eye in the Alamo Drafthouse.

That’s just the type of film it is.  It’s a movie that deals very sincerely and very forthrightly with what it means to lose someone who you love.  It’s a coming-of-age story that deals with fear, loss, guilt, and those moments when — even while dealing with unbelievable pain and sadness — we can still find happiness in the moments that we have and in the imagination that all people — especially young people — possess.

Technically, A Monster Calls is a fantasy though it actually deals with very real emotions and events.  Conor O’Malley (Lewis McDougall) is a shy and introverted 13 year-old who is haunted by nightmares, one in particular.  His parents are divorced.  His father (Toby Kebbell) lives in America and is barely a presence in Conor’s life.  His mother, Lizzie (Felicity Jones, giving an amazing performance), gave up her own artistic ambitions when she became pregnant.  Now, she’s sick and every day, Conor is told that his mother is starting yet another new treatment because she’s “not responding as expected” to the previous treatment.

With Lizzie growing more and more ill, Conor finds himself living with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver).  To Conor, his grandmother appears to be overly strict and unemotional but, as the film makes clear, she’s not.  If she seems strict, it’s because she knows that she will soon have to take over as Conor’s guardian.  If she seems unemotional, it’s because she’s trying to stay strong for both her daughter and her grandson.

Meanwhile, at school, Conor finds himself targeted by a strange bully named Harry (James Melville).  The scenes with Harry are some of the oddest in the film.  At times, Harry seems to look at the perpetually miserable-looking Conor with almost an expression of empathy and you wonder if he feels some sort of guilt over what he’s doing.  But whenever Harry approaches Conor, a viscous sadism emerges.  Though Harry always seems to be the one who is staring, he continually demands to know why Conor is always looking at him.  When another student tries to hit Conor, Harry announces that only Harry is allowed to hit Conor.

And then there’s the Monster.  At night, the Monster visits Conor.  A gigantic, humanoid tree, the Monster speaks in the voice of Liam Neeson and he alternates between being threatening and being almost paternalistic.  When Conor gets angry, the Monster encourages him to destroy things.  When Conor gets sad, the Monster taunts him for thinking that his sadness is somehow different from everyone else’s sadness.  The Monster is frightening but, at the same time, he seems to be the only thing in Conor’s life that he can depend on.  The Monster’s words may be harsh but there’s also something oddly comforting in their harshness.  It helps that he sounds like Liam Neeson.

The Monster tells Conor three stories, all of which are full of ambiguity and end with uncertain lessons.  The Monster tells Conor that, after he finishes the third story, Conor will be required to tell him about his greatest nightmare.  Conor finds himself both frightened and fascinated by the Monster but, as quickly becomes clear, his main fear is talking about his nightmare.

A Monster Calls is a beautifully done story about dealing with loss, one that will make you cry but, at the same time, will leave you feeling almost grateful for those tears.  The Monster is a truly spectacular creation and Liam Neeson does a perfect job voicing him.  What makes A Monster Calls so special is the way that director J. A. Bayona deftly balances Conor’s apocalyptic encounters with the Monster with the small, every day details of real life.

It makes for a powerful film.

Just make sure you’re ready to shed some tears.

The Las Vegas Film Critics Society Take A Gamble With Their 2016 Nominees!


Let’s take a gamble with the nominees of the Las Vegas Film Critics Society!

(Ha ha — I’m so cute.)

Anyway, the winners will be announced tomorrow!

Best Picture
Moonlight
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Nocturnal Animals
Hell or High Water

Best Actor
Chris Pine – Hell or High Water
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nocturnal Animals
Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actress
Emma Stone – La La Land
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Taraji P. Henson – Hidden Figures
Amy Adams – Arrival
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women

Best Supporting Actor
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water

Best Supporting Actress
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Director
Garth Davis – Lion
Theodore Melfi – Hidden Figures
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
J.A. Bayona – A Monster Calls
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals

Best Original Screenplay
Manchester by the Sea
The Witch
Hell or High Water
Moonlight
La La Land

Best Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures
Lion
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
A Monster Calls

Best Cinematography
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
La La Land
Rogue One

Best Editing
La La Land
Moonlight
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge

Best Score
Jackie
Nocturnal Animals
Arrival
Lion
La La Land

Best Song
“City of Stars” (La La Land)
“How Far Will I Go” (Moana)
“I See Victory” (Hidden Figures)
“The Great Beyond” (Sausage Party)
“Finest Girl (Bin Laden Song) (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping)

Best Action Film
Deadpool
Captain America: Civil War
Rogue One
Hacksaw Ridge
Doctor Strange

Best Documentary
8 Days a Week
Weiner
OJ: Made in America
13
The Eagle Huntress

Best Costume Design
Jackie
The Witch
Fantastic Beasts
Love & Friendship
La La Land

Best Visual Effects
Jungle Book
Doctor Strange
Fantastic Beasts
Arrival
A Monster Calls

Best Art Direction
Jackie
La La Land
Arrival
A Monster Calls
Fantastic Beasts

Best Animated Film
Kubo and the Two Strings
Sausage Party
Finding Dory
Zootopia
Moana

Best Foreign Film
Elle
Neruda
The Handmaiden
Toni Erdmann
The Salesman

Best Comedy
Deadpool
Don’t Think Twice
The Edge of Seventeen
Sausage Party
The Nice Guys

Best Horror/Sci-Fi
The Witch
The Neon Demon
Arrival
10 Cloverfield Lane
Don’t Breathe

Best Family Film
The Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Moana
Zootopia
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings

Best Ensemble
Hidden Figures
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Fences
Hell or High Water

Breakout Filmmaker
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Robert Eggers – The Witch
Kelly Fremon Craig – Edge of Seventeen
Daniel Kwan & Daniel Scheinert – Swiss Army Man
Nate Parker – Birth of a Nation

Youth in Film
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Lewis MacDougall – A Monster Calls
Lucas Hedges – Manchester by the Sea
Hailee Steinfeld – Edge of Seventeen
Alex B. Hibbert – Moonlight