Movies: Destroyer, Replicas, The Aspern Papers

Destroyer

This film is exceptional but often difficult to watch.  It’s unique in many ways yet it seems familiar.  In some ways it’s a reminder my (Jim’s) childhood rearing in Southern California, the then brutal street gangs and underbelly of a city from LA to San Diego.

Nicole Kidman is amazing as she morphs into her unrecognizable character as an undercover LA cop. The core cast includes over twenty primary actors.  Representing the guys, mostly bad guys, all excellent, are Sabastian Stan, English actor Toby Kebbell, Scoot McNairy (gotta love the name), Bradley Whitford, Beau Knapp, Zack Villa and Canadian Shamier Anderson.

The story is gritty, often brutal.  It’s very intense with an abundance of conflict.  It’s dark with lots of bad people doing bad things. The film has been nominated for numerous acting awards.  It’s currently in wide release.

It’s rated R for language, violence, sexual content and brief drug use.  We are not recommending this film for children.  Its genre is listed as a Mystery/Suspense with a run time of 123 minutes.

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Replicas

Oy!  Where to start…stop…explain?!  We viewed this film at one of the local theaters closest to our home strictly for convenience.  We had heard about it but didn’t really know much about it.  It was officially released in the US January 11, 2019.  It has not been well received by most critics.

It’s the story about a “synthetic biology” scientist, played by Keanu Reeves, whose family is lost in a tragic accident.  Desperate to save his family the scientist uses company assets to clone his family members.

The cast is pretty small.  In addition to Reeves, Alice Eve plays the wife.  Emjay Anthony plays Matt, the son.  Emily Alyn Lind is the daughter. John Ortiz is the Boss.  Thomas Middleditch plays the coworker.

Ultimately, this film fails on several fronts.  It fails as a sci-fi thriller.  Much of the story line is laughable but it’s not a comedy.  The film was sold after a private screening at the 2017 Toronto International film festival for $4 million.  The buyer spent $10.5 million dollars promoting the film.  Worldwide gross to date is only $6.2 million.

It is rated PG-13 for thematic material, violence, disturbing images, some nudity and sexual references with a run time of 107 minutes.  It is listed as Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy.  We do not feel it is suitable for children.

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The Aspern Papers

This film is based on the Henry James novella published in 1888.  The film follows the story about Morton Vint who traveled to Venice to find the papers of the dead romantic poet Jeffrey Aspern.

Enter Juliana Bordereau, an acquaintance of Aspern, brilliantly played by Vanessa Redgrave.  Her performance may be the primary reason to seek out this film currently in limited release.

Other notable performances include Jon Kortajarena as Jeffrey Aspern, Jonathan Rhys Meyers who stumbles badly as Morton Vint.  Joely Richardson is magnificent as Miss Tina.  (Note:  Ms. Richardson is Ms. Redgrave’s daughter.)

The movie is beautifully filmed and captures Venice at a glamorous time in history.  Unfortunately, the disconnects in the story, inconsistent performances and the occasional bizarre scenes keep this film from being cohesive.

It’s rated R for some sexuality/nudity.  Due to some provocative scenes with multiple adults, we do not suggest this film for children.  Its genre is listed as Drama with a run time of 1 hour, 30 minutes.

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