REVIEW: “ROOM” Q & A w/Author/Dir/Prod/Actor/Composer

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At the start of Room we find “Ma” (Brie Larson) and her son “Jack” (Jacob Tremblay) living in a backyard shed they call “Room” and being held by their captor “Old Nick” (Sean Bridgers). Since Jack has never known there to be an outside world, he has no idea that anything exists outside of Room.

From that moment on it’s a ripped-from-the-headlines Law & Order:SVU episode, which isn’t to say that’s bad as I watch the show faithfully. I’m truly not giving anything away to state the obvious that Ma and Jack escape Room, as the movie is more about the ability of each to cope with the outside world. For Jack, everything from that point on is a completely new experience. Ma, despite having lived for 17 years in the ‘real world’ before being kidnapped as a teen, being held captive and having a child, encounters different obstacles – as the world has moved on, and she also encounters doubts about her own ability to be a mother to Jack.

I’d been expecting a suspenseful drama-thriller about a daring escape, and what it would entail and the follow-up to this as the movie is based on a novel by Emma Donoghue. As the first half of the film concentrates on life inside Room for Ma and Jack as all she has told and convinced Jack for five years that all is well and that what they have is a normal life, that what they see on television is not real, but everything from the single bed to the lidless toilet tank is definitely their reality. She does sacrifice much as she tries to keep Jack happy and safe, even to the point of giving herself over to her captor on a regular basis in exchange for food and other items for Jack and herself.
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To say that this first half moves slowly would be to understate things. We don’t just get a slice of the life that they lead in Room – we actually get the entire pie, and most of it just isn’t all that exciting or intriguing. We do get to see a little into the characters of the characters but in any event, it’s just way to much time spent watching their every move which gets a bit monotonous and leads to some impatience with where they are heading with the film.

As we finally build up to the escape you have the only brief moment of suspense of the entire film. Once they do escape the focus quickly shifts from a struggle for survival to a struggle to understand. Ma’s parents, “Nancy” (Joan Allen) blink-and-you- miss-him William H. Macy as her dad “Robert”, have different reactions to the return of their daughter and the arrival of their grandson whom they didn’t even know existed. In the years since her abduction, her parents have separated; her mom now lives with her boyfriend “Leo” (Tom McCamus). Add in to all this the slew of media hype, lawyers, and so much more adding in to the stress of adapting to all of it sorta gives the impression that escaping may have been the easy part.

The acting is good..not great, but Larson’s has a few moments though can also be awkwardly annoying at times and the same can be said for young Jacob Tremblay though he carries himself very well and holds his own here.

But truly nothing can overcome what’s basically a tedious script and film. The movie is mostly a series of plodding events and could honestly have been titled as such as packs no punch at its core. Usually when there is no action, you look for meaning, but when there is no meaning or action, you look for the exit. The film suffers from spending too much time contemplating things and not enough time doing them – or even at the least discussing them.

Grade: C
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Monday, October 12, 2015 – Courtesy of the A24 & PGA
In Theatres Nationwide

POST Q & A with Author/Screenwriter: Emma Donoghue, Director: Lenny Abrahamson, Actor: Jacob Tremblay, Composers & Producers

With a very full stage of everyone behind the movie including the young Jacob Tremblay who as an 8 year old..should have been in bed at 9:30pm on a weeknight..:D But they did go into some depth of how they made the film of getting Brie & Jacob to spend time together so as to get to know each other so as a child, Jacob would feel more comfortable. Directors & Producers talked about location shooting and the Composer on his musical choices for the film. Poor Jacob had the longest question I’ve ever heard asked to anyone at a Q & A, adult or child, to the point where the audience started to laugh..since not even I could keep up with the length of it, it was mostly about being a child actor and what he brought to the table..and I must say he answered as best he could. All in all, they did seem a great group to work with. Just wished I liked the film more.

REVIEW: “CRIMSON PEAK” (2015) Universal

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Crimson Peak sets us in early 1900’s Buffalo, New York, where we meet Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) an ahead of her time writer who works for her father Carter Cushing (Jim Beaver), a powerful businessman who’s willing to hear a proposition from the desperate, in-need of quick financing, Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). The Sharpe estate in England, Allerdale Hall, sits on top of a valuable red clay mine, and Thomas is in need of funding to build a machine he has invented that will reach the minerals underneath. crimson peak 1Being tall, dark, and handsome, Thomas is able to win Edith’s heart as a means to the money, but he does seem to have genuine affection for her, much to the displeasure of his intimidating sister Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). It’s plainly obvious to everyone but Edith that Thomas & Lucille are up to no good from moment one. However, when she moves with Thomas and Lucille to Allerdale Hall, Edith discovers that it holds dark secrets and phantoms, and that the warning she received as a girl from her mother’s ghost to “Beware of Crimson Peak,” has started to come true. crimson peak 2

This may not be a ghost story, but ghosts are here, and they don’t really serve the story well. The mystery behind Allerdale Hall gets to be a bit tedious with oddly unnecessary stabbings up until the end when del Toro finally shows us what he’s seemingly been going for all along. And even though I’m quite good at predicting plot twists, the reveal showed itself early on, though it did work for me in it’s own way and is finally where the film somewhat clicked for me albeit a little late in the game.
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Crimson Peak never reaches the heights of some of del Toro’s earlier work, as I loved “Pans Labyrinth” and thought it was simply fantastic. The “Hellboy” franchise has it’s own sense of campy-ness fun and “The Hobbit” films aren’t 5-star, but they are watchable. In terms of the characters or plot, it at least surpasses the rock-em’ sock-em’ robots of “Pacific Rim” in that regards.
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There are three performances here that felt stand out some with the rest being almost what you’d expect again with exceptions. Chastain, who pulls out all the stops and makes her character wonderfully creepy. Jim Beaver, even though in a small supporting role, stands out and lastly and a bit surprising as his role is a bit bigger and juicier than I would have thought, is Charlie Hunnam as Dr. Alan McMichael. Mia Wasikowska doesn’t really do herself any favours here and is almost blissfully bland. Hiddleston is fair enough and really just stays stuck in middle ground.
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Though this old-fashioned ghost story is decidedly short on scares
Crimson Peak wonderfully crafted set & costume design is truly sublime and always pleasing to the eye, though its story and scare factor is often far less compelling.

Grade: C+
@pegsatthemovies

Screening: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 ~ Courtesy of Universal Pictures

REVIEW: “THE WALK” (2015) Sony Pictures

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Opening this film with Philippe Petit (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) standing atop the Statue of Liberty explaining to us, the audience, what the lure of the twin towers is to him and why it’s the perfect place to ‘hang his wire’. All this is done with Levitt speaking directly to the audience a-la documentary style..but with none of the panache of “Man on a Wire” the documentary film made in 2008 about this same event.

So why you ask did Robert Zemeckis make this dramatized version of events from as it seems fairly pointless. Well that is the question I asked myself while watching throughout the film. While we do get taken into the beginnings of a young Philippe maybe even a little to much so, but we meet Papa Rudy (Ben Kingsley) as the man who inspired Philippe to begin his career in high-wire walking, how he meets the woman who supports him throughout Annie (Charolotte Le Bon), his main photographer friend Jean Louis (Clement Sibony) along with math whiz/acrophobic Jean Francois (Cesar Domboy) as well as Americans J.P. (James Badge Dale) Albert (Ben Schwartz) and scene stealer insurance/inside man, Barry (Steve Valentine).
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Watching them plan the ‘heist’ is fun at best, though a bit long in the tooth for some scenes. It doesn’t build up the tension needed until Philippe actually begins ‘The Walk’ between the towers and it’s truly the main reason to see this film as to witness that spectacle itself which is delivered well with flair & excitement. The swooping and inventive movement of the camera does show exactly how daring this feat really was.
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I will add though as well as that part of the film came off, some of the CGI/green screen was so poorly done that for me, it just couldn’t compare to the actual footage shown in the 2008 documentary where you see the real Philippe smiling and pulling off the stunts he did while 1300 feet in the sky.

The performaces will get no awards and it’s a bit frustrating at times to realize they could have used so many amazing although yes, lesser-known, but actual French talent that is there for the picking rather than US actors in the respective lead roles as the accent use can be rather jarring at times. But I get it, you need a name to carry your film. For me and I recommend this to anyone – see ‘Man on a Wire’ as it will serve your needs much better than this version.
The film would have gotten a lot lower grade from me had it not been for the honorable way they show the Towers in the light they did and especially the lovely homage scene at the end.

Grade: C-

Screening: Wednesday, October 7,2015 ~ Courtesy of the PGA