Film Brief: Leave No Trace

Leave No Trace may be thought of as an antidote to Captain Fantastic.  There are some powerful elements to the film, but it’s not without its own issues and left me wanting for more.  Still, there’s a lot I did like about it, like walking across the bridge.  A marginal 7/10

Comparison Notes: American Honey, Into the Wild, 127 Hours, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, The Wolfpack, A Quiet Place, Swiss Army Man


Film Brief: Captain Fantastic

Captain Fantastic has a few cute moments, but overall it’s contrived and full of artifice.  A completely broken film; generously, 4/10.

On a related note — I’ve talked before about annual trends, and there’s an interesting one that’s developed this year: that of tongue-in-cheek survival in the wilderness: So far, Hunt for the Wilderpeople was the most successful of these; besides Captain Fantastic there was Swiss Army Man.

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Comparison Notes: Short Term 12

Film Brief: Swiss Army Man

Stephanie Zacharek, Time:

…essentially the movie is really just two guys talking in the wilderness for 90 minutes

And that’s the problem with Swiss Army Man.  I disagree with the 90 minutes part of that statement, but it’s certainly the case that the filmmakers too quickly ran out of ideas.  Again, I know not everything can be Being John Malkovich as far as inventing new ideas, but still, you have to continue on with your movie.  I can think of a number of interesting ways in which Swiss Army Man might have evolved, but the “Daniels” were content to stop short.

Even so, there’s enough fun novelty for a marginal thumbs-up.  6/10

Comparison Notes: the TV series The Greatest American Hero.  It’s the 4th of July, after all.

Note on the trailer: it gives away too much; watch at your own risk.

Indie Log: Metro Manila

Metro Manila - poster
For some reason — maybe the poster artwork — I thought Metro Manila was going to be a highly stylized, slick action pic.  But it’s hardly anything of the sort; rather, it is a brutal, straightforward depiction of a family attempting to survive abject poverty in a place where it is readily commonplace.

Especially regarding the wife, Metro Manila avoided plumbing the ultimate depths it might have.  But make no mistake: this is a great, suspenseful foreign indie.  8/10

Availability: Netflix

Film Brief: All Is Lost

All Is Lost - posterROBERT REDFORD STARS in a nearly dialogue-free tale of survival aboard a sinking sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean.  All Is Lost is straightforward and simple but effective.  I had a couple issues with this movie — I would have liked a little more depth, a point of transcendence — Runaway Train with Jon Voight and Eric Roberts flashes in my mind — and I picked up on a couple storyline glitches.

Redford delivers an impressive physical acting job that demonstrates he could handle probably any role thrown his way; maybe we’ll see more of him now?  Not likely, but who knows.

As I suspected aforehand, there are strong similarities between Gravity and All Is Lost — but Gravity is the better movie.  All Is Lost is good but not great.  If the trailer appeals to you then don’t miss it.  7/10