Captain Fantastic Review

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Portrait Of A Modern Family

 

Captain Fantastic Review

Directed By Matt Ross

Stars: Viggo Mortensen/Frank Langella/Kathryn Hahn

Year Released: 2016

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Running Time: 1 Hour 58 Minutes

You’re prepared for everything except for Spoilers

 

It’s almost impossible to tell what people really what because they want so many different things. Sill in my experience, what people want most beyond the thousand little things that come and go, is safety for their family, the ability to raise their kids how they want and the freedom to live however they choose. In today’s, modern world all three of these are hard to come by, but the third is the most elusive of all. “Captain Fantastic,” tells the tale of a man trying to have everything and what can come of it.

Our titular captain is Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen) whose disgust with the modern world and revolutionary beliefs led him and his wife Leslie (Trin Miller) to gradually abandon the civilized world to live in the forests of Washinton state with their six children. Here the children are raised to self-sufficient survivalists as well as politically minded revolutionary philosophers. This all comes to a halt when Leslie (who is already hospitalized by the movies beginning) commits suicide due to her bipolar disorder.

This devastates the family especially the rebellious young son Relian (Nicholas Hamilton) and the oldest son Bodevan “Bo” Cash (George MacKay) who hides a huge secret from his father. Ben’s father-in-law Jack (Frank Langella) arranges a Christian Funeral for Leslie in her home state despite the protests of Ben and Leslie’s own will. Jack despises Ben and says that if he sees him at the funeral he will have him arrested. Like any good revolutionary, this just makes Ben more determined as he and his family begin a cross-country road trip slash mission of liberation.

“Captain Fantastic” is an excellent film to talk about. You’re personal opinion on Ben and the life he’s made for his family you’re opinion can change radically. He is determined to teach his children to be self-reliant critical thinkers and this can make him seem extremely blunt and terribly harsh. When his youngest son Nal (Charlie Shotwell) ask him what a brothel or rape is he gives a completely honest answer and when Rellian slips during a climbing exercise he refuse to help. Depending on how you view these actions Ben is either the ultimate father or an abusive monster.

I don’t see him as either Mr. Rogers or Charles Manson but like any radical, I think that despite his noble intentions and convictions he undermines himself with his vanity and lack of foresight. Raising children to be more educated and less medicated is extremely noble if only to disprove the stereotype of the fat and stupid American child, but what would have happened if things didn’t go according to plan.

If one of his children had accidentally fallen down a hill and cracked their skull, they would have been doomed because there was no way that Ben could have gotten them to a hospital in time. This oversight wasn’t due to Ben not caring, he displays nothing but total love and devotion towards his family, he was just so confident in his himself and his abilities that he never thought what would happen if he failed.

With that in mind, I was still able to enjoy “Captain Fantastic” as a comedy even if it was quite dark at times. All the characters were fun and interesting and this was Viggo Mortensen’s best performance in years. It was great to see Frank Langella an actor who only seems to improve with age even if his role was small. Much of “Captain Fantastic” was filmed in either the Pacific Northwest or the southwest but fortunately, both settings had some gorgeous scenery, which the camera work excellently complimented.

My only complaints were that the two characters that could have been the most interesting were given the least to do. Kielyr Cash (Samantha Isler) and Vespyr Cash (Annalise Basso) were the two oldest daughters of the family and you’d think that they would have the most to complain about. Lady’s you think is sucks when your period hit’s well imagine having it while in the middle of the woods with the nearest drug store fifty miles away. While Vesper is part of one of the most important moments in the film most of the character development was given is Rellian and Bo. This doesn’t ruin the movie it just seems like a missed opportunity.

If there’s any overarching message to “Captain Fantastic” I think it’s how despite the best of intentions revolutionary fervor can destroy its self. Ben and his family went to the woods to escape the tyranny of big government and organized religion and to raise children that would change the world for the better. But while they became physical and mental marvels, they have no expense with other people. Strangely Ben himself has become somewhat of a king to his children despite his desire to foster their independence.

Fortunately, by the end, Ben has been confronted with his mistakes and is making changes. What’s even better is that unlike so many other Ben emerged with his family and Ideals intact. What makes Ben fantastic is not only that he wants’ to change the world but that he’s shown that he can change along with the world, a rare man indeed.

 

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F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: No

What’s the worst thing about new years: I just got done with 365 days, but now I have to go thru another 365, it’s exhausting man.

 

 

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Don’t Breathe Review

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They Picked the Wrong house

Don’t Breathe Review

Director: Fede Alvarez

Stars: Jane Levy/Stephen Lang

Year Released: 2016

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 88 Minutes

Spoilers are right behind you

        More than any other genre, horror films are hit and miss for me. For every great horror film, I see it seems there are half a dozen others that bore me to tears .It might be that it I’m harder to scare than then when I was a kid. Or maybe the way to make a truly great horror film is something that Hollywood has lost. Either way, there are a lot of horror movies out that just don’t interest me at all. So in order to find out what I really like in a horror film and to celebrate Halloween, October going to be all horror movies. Let’s start this month off right with a movie that was just recently in theaters and did a lot of things right.

“Don’t Breathe” is the latest film Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez who broke into the American market with his remake of the cult classic “The Evil Dead.” It follows a group of three young thieves in Detroit. There’s our heroine Rocky (Jane Levy), the obnoxious street thug Money (Daniel Zovatto) and cautious nice guy Alex (Dylan Minnette). The three doing well as Alex’s dad works for a security company and has codes to the houses alarms. However, their fence is short changing them on the stolen goods and Alex insists that they not steal cash as that comes with a higher charge. This is especially bad for Rocky as she’s only stealing to get her and her sister out of Detroit and away from their abusive mother. A sudden windfall comes, when Money learns of a house in a nearly abandoned, part of the city that may be the answer to all their problems. Even better, is that the house only occupant is an old, blind war veteran (Stephen Lang), who recently get a massive cash settlement when his daughter was killed by a rich, drunk driver. What starts out as a simple plan quickly goes to sh#$ when the blind man catches them in the act and proves to be a ruthless badass who’s more than capable of overpowering them with ease. Even worse it that their harmless looking victim has a dark secret that he’ll gladly kill to protect.

I wasn’t planning on seeing “Don’t Breathe” at first as I have been disappointed with most of the recent horror films in theaters. But, I heard good things about “Don’t Breathe” so I decided to give it a shot and I was pleasantly surprised. It’ wasn’t just the fact that “Don’t Breathe” was a good horror movie, but that it was a good slasher movie. For those of you who don’t know, the slasher was a particular brand of horror movie that used to rule the theaters back in the eighties. They were started by classics like “Friday the 13’th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” but these days there mostly just a subject of mockery, due to how formulaic their plots became. Tell me if this sounds familiar, a bunch of sexy teens (who are mostly assho%$s) go someplace that has an evil reputation and get killed off by a huge freak until the soul surviving girl (and it’s always a girl) manages to kill the monster and get away. Slasher movies eventually became so dumb that the only reason to watch them was so you could root against the stupid teens. Fortunately, while “Don’t Breathe” has teens running from a killer, it avoids the other pitfalls of slashers.

The cast of “Don’t Breath” is what helps separate it from most horror movies. While it does have Money the token jerk, he actually contributes to the plot. More importantly, he does the audience a favor by getting killed off very early (thank God). Even better are Rocky and Alex. Both are likable characters with extremely relatable motivations that help the audience understand them. Even though their way out of poverty involves robbing a crippled veteran. Speaking of him, the blind man (that how he’s listed in the credits) is an excellent antagonist. Stephen Lang is in tremendous shape for his age and every time he and teens fight, he’s so quick and brutal that he seems unstoppable. More impressive is the blind man’s motivation. Most horror movie villains have little to no motivation but the blind man is a huge exception. Even after we learn about his horrible crimes, you can still understand why he did them. In the end, he’s just a broken man that’s trying to find something to live for in a world that’s taken everything from him.

Beyond its excellent characters “Don’t Breath” is a relentlessly tense film. Half the movie had me on the edge of my seat, ready to panic. While “Don’t Breath” has a very brief eighty-eight minute run time, this actually helps it. No scene feels overlong or pointless. While a few parts of the story were difficult to accept, none of it was so bad as to ruin the whole plot. While it’s generally accepted that horror movie sequels are the worst kinds of sequels, “Don’t Breathe” actually made me hope that we get one. The ending perfectly sets up a sequel and it would be great to see a modern movie defeat an age-old trend. If you’re looking for a recent horror movie this Halloween, I’ve got one piece of advice, check out “Don’t Breathe”

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: Yes

Things you don’t want to hear from your kids: I’m going to get ice cream or commit a felony. I don’t know, I’ll decide in the car

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Never mess with a desperate man

High Rise Review

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A lot can happen in forty stories

Director: Ben Wheatley

Stars: Tom Hiddleston

Year Released: 2015

Genre: Thriller

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Spoilers From This Point On:

            “High Rise” takes place during the 1960’s in an ultramodern apartment building that provides its residents with every modern convenience. As the tenants spend more and more time isolated from the outside world, they eventually revert to brutal and primitive tribalism, with each group or social class jealously hoarding recourses while viciously attacking anyone perceived as an outsider. The actual plot is a bit random, due to the strange nature of the story and the fact that the movie is more about the building as a whole than any one character or storyline.

Still of the many people in the high rise and the ones we spend the most time on are: Dr. Robert Laing (Tom Hiddleston) a university professor of psychology who serves as our de facto main character and who slips into madness as the high rise slips into anarchy. Richard Wilder (Luke Evans) a liquor swilling, foulmouthed, perpetually horny, lower class cameraman, who is determined to ascend to the top floor of the building and confront the high rises architect, by whatever means necessary. Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons) the architect of the high rise who was crippled in its construction. He considers the high rises he has built to be his greatest works and observes the chaos with the detached eyes of a scientist, even as his own family descends into savagery.

I think I enjoyed “High Rise” a bit more than others, due to the fact that I read the book that this movie was based on and got quite a bit of background on the ideas that went into its creation. The book and the movie wears both its English values and its 60’s era fears on its sleeves and a better understanding of English values and the attitudes of that day, will help you understand a very weird movie. The most important thing to remember is that of all the things engrained in the British mindset, conformity and classism have the most influence. This was especially true in the 60’s and “High Rise” reflects this. The high rise is divided by class and the higher up you are in the building the higher your class is. There is competition between the floors for resources even before the collapse (blackouts and water shortages are common) and each floor is quick to blame the one above or below it for all the trouble.

Despite the carnage most characters are so interested in keeping up appearances, that they seem totally in denial. Many residents keep going to work even as bloody warfare breaks out because after all, what would the neighbors think if you started slacking off. I’m completely convinced that most of the high rise resident didn’t even want to become modern day cavemen; they’re just going along with the crowd.

Despite its faithfulness to the book (which is impressive, given how weird and random the book can be) “High Rise” is not a perfect adaptation. In the novel we never find out what causes a pair of death that begin the high rises slide into anarchy. In the move however we know exactly what caused it, thought to the movies credit this knowledge gives us an important plot point. A lot of people will be turned away by “High Rises” strange story, bizarre visual style and schizophrenic plot. Fortunately I’m a fan of weird stuff like this so I loved every bizarre thing the movie could throw at me. While the wall to wall weirdness will be too much for some people I hope those interested in a more unconventional story will give this a chance. After all fears of human desensitization due to isolation are alive and well, with the internet now making it so that you never have to leave your home, every house can be a high rise.

 

 

F.A.Q’s

Did I like the movie: Yes

Would I watch it again: Yes

Would I buy it: No

Look deep inside you self, what is it that you see: There are couple lungs and a stomach; I don’t recognize the other stuff. Meh, it’s probably just taking up space.

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