Into the Forest
For some reason, Into the Forest failed to attract an audience. It was in and mostly out of theaters quickly. That is a shame because it is based on the popular novel by Jean Hegland.
It is a low budget film about a post-apocalyptic world that delivers powerful performances by its leading ladies, Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page, sisters in the story. Their father, played by Callum Keith Rennie, is the glue that holds the family together. They live in an expansive home, deep in the beautiful and remote Canadian forest.
Incrementally, conditions degregate and stress their family bond. It is a very good example that good storytelling, acting and cinematography can deliver a satisfying film experience. Rated R for violence, language and some nudity. Your best bet may be pay per view.
Hell or High Water
Two brothers in rural West Texas on a bank robbing quest to save the family ranch is both a reflection on the rural evolution in many parts of the country and the strong bonds that bind these families together. It is all delivered with a great script by Taylor Sheridan (Sicario) and solid acting by all.
The great cast starts with Chris Pine and Ben Foster as brothers, Jeff Bridges and Gil Birmingham as the Texas Rangers. Directed by David Mackenzie. The chemistry between each pair is the best of this seasons so far. It makes the movie work.
There is a also a host of other characters that add seasoning and humor in just the right amounts. You will come away feeling like you watched something more than a modern day Western.
Florence Foster Jenkins
What is remarkable about this movie is that it is based on a socialite lady in New York’s mid 1940s, her husband, and her dream to be a great opera singer. Like the real life story, the film is riddled with kinks and loopy scenes, sounds and a little slapstick.
Meryl Streep plays Florence whose love of music is her inspiration but she is really a terrible singer. Hugh Grant is the husband, Nina Arianda is the love interest (I know it sounds wrong but it will make sense). Simon Helberg (Big Bang Theory) is hilarious as the pianist. There are stories within the story that ultimately make this a very endearing production.
A couple of interesting notes. 1. The original recording of the Carnegie Hall Concert is the largest selling recording of all time for Carnegie Hall. 2. Another film was released earlier this year by a French production company titled Marguerite. That film is set in Paris but it is the same story. It came and went so fast we missed it. We understand is was quite good.
This Disney remake of the 1977 original takes some liberty with the original story. Little Pete is orphaned when loosing his parents and wanders into the woods. Five year old Pete is played by Oakes Fegley with skills beyond his years.
Great photography and solid acting anchor this film. The puppy quality of the giant dragon is just the right alternative to the animated version. David Lowery is the Director and screen writer for the film.
The tilt on the lumber industry is just a bit heavy handed along with some of the acting, but in general this is a charming story, well told, and still inspires the imagination of the child within all of us.
Robert Redford has a bit part as the Grandfather who tells the tales of dragons to the local children. Good performances are worth mentioning for Bryce Dallas Howard as the daughter and Forest Ranger, and little Oona Laurence as her daughter.
This is a powerful film based on true events about the Nazi takeover of Czechosolvakia in 1942 and the assassination of the third highest ranking leader of Hiltler’s SS, Reinhard Heydrich.
Anthropoid was apparently the code name of the joint operation between the remnants of the Czech underground and British agents who parachuted behind enemy lines. The acting is believable, though everyone speaks English. (The alternative would have been English, Czech and German with English Subtitles.)
It is generally historically accurate which makes it interesting. It is also told from the Czech/British point of view. The acting is good. Jamie Dornon and Cillian Murphy play the leading British operatives and Toby Jones plays the last leader of the Czech resistance.
It is a long two hours but worth a look for WWII and history buffs. There are a few twists and turns for added intrigue.