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