REVIEW: “MASS” (2021) Bleeker Street

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Stepping away from acting and putting on a directors hat instead, Fran Kranz gives us a truly heart wrenching movie that is so well written from start to finish and carrying along with it, an almost gut wrenching amount of weight within it’s dialogue in “MASS”.

The film begins perfectly with a sense of something equal to tense energy and yet some awkwardness at the same time. It opens with church volunteers Judy (Breeda Wool), and Anthony (Kagen Albright), along with Kendra (Michelle N Carter), who is in charge of making this all happen. These three are are preparing an private room for what is clearly a high-stakes meeting. The four guests arrive, and it’s two couples – four people – all looking uneasy and unsure about the meeting. As we watch the initial small talk we start to realize what is happening and why they are here. This meeting is taking place six years after a devastating tragedy, and the parents have gathered in the room of a church to come to terms with the events of that time. We finally learn Evan, the son of Gail (Martha Plimpton), and Jay (Jason Isaacs), was shot by Hayden, the son of Linda (Ann Dowd) and Richard (Reed Birney). It’s been six years since the school shooting and both couples are seeking closure to the immense grief they’ve carried. There is also the overwhelming burden of guilt and the weight of blame, finger pointing, and as to be expected, real emotional chaos at times. Some of the issues being discussed reminded me of the documentary ‘American Tragedy‘ wherein the mother of one of the Columbine shooters tries to speak from her POV. But this gives us the difference of having both sides speaking to each other. Here all four leads brings something something different to the table, but put it all together as director Kranz did, and you have yourself one very good film that will stick with you for some time.

To put it quite bluntly, ‘Mass‘ is an acting masterpiece. Martha Plimpton’s performance is like time bomb that devastatingly yet also politely explodes at the finish. Ann Dowd shows someone who is truly drained, but is trying her best to put herself back together while expressing the complicated emotions being held within her. Jason Isaacs takes on the role of a devastated father with the energy of a broken man full of anger all while trying to hold back his hurt. Everyone it seems gets their huge powerful moment except for Reed Birney who is quiet and calm throughout. We only get a peek at his heartbreak, regret and horror, and at times it feels like he gives off such insolence as though he almost just doesn’t care.

Every once in a while you come across a film that doesn’t need any bells and whistles or a Marvel superhero in it, just actors giving raw, heartfelt performances. One that I have rarely seen in this form and one that will stay with you for a very long time. It tells a tragic story that will break you in many different ways. Their ability to convey a wide range of emotions will absolutely tear you apart, taking you on a roller coaster of a ride until arriving at a stop where you are satisfyingly put back together. While not for everyone, it does leave you better for having watched.

Grade: A

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“MASS” from Bleeker Street Films – is playing in theaters now – look for VOD release dates upcoming

REVIEW: “A CURE FOR WELLNESS” (2016) FOX

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Where do I even start this review. With the running theme of eels? The numerous Octagenarian nude scenes? The torture scenes? The cryptic mystery of the Spa? Yes, I think I will start there. Or maybe not, maybe I will start with the absolute insult to our intelligence that this movie actually is.
We join the De Haan character Lockhart, in his quest to figure out what in the bejesus is going on at Dr. Volmer’s (Jason Isaac) Swiss spa. As he spends a great amount of the film on squeaky crutches wandering the estate and trying to figure out..well..nothing really. Needless to say, he sees and is subjected to a lot of dark and twisted stuff.
Our main character Lockhart (Dane DeHaan), who is the exact sort of morally bankrupt young financial hotshot you’ve seen in a bunch of other movies. His bosses are so cartoonishly evil that they may as well be counting wads of cash as they tell him he’s being sent off to stay at a remote wellness center in the Swiss Alps to fetch a wayward executive “Pembroke” (Harry Groener) whose signature is needed to allow a merger to go forth so as to allow them to rake in more millions.
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When I review a film, I find it difficult to walk the fine line between discussing it and revealing spoilers, so you’re lucky that even if I wanted to, I couldn’t reveal the spoilers because absolutely NOTHING made sense in this ridiculous film. Except I will let you know it’s long..very long..and painfully slow.

So what exactly is the sickness that “the cure” is treating? Who is the mysterious girl Hannah (Mia Goth) that wanders around a pond all day, yet sneaks away with Lockhart for her first beer in town? Why does no one ever leave? What’s with the eels? What’s with the water? Why are teeth falling out? Why are the townfolks so off-put by those on the hill? What is the Center’s dark past and can it be uncovered. What are the real reasons as to why the guests keep staying there, longing for the Cure? What answers do the puzzles bring? Is Lockhart himself insane? Seriously.. do you notice this whole review is just questions with no answers and by the end of this long, arduous film, you just don’t even care. Gore Verbinski – you’re better than this dammit.
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The only thing I can give this film is a kudos on is the cinematography, as it was excellent. The acting is not very well done by anyone and there was absolutely no big moments of suspense though they make you think it’s full of it. There is zip-nada-zero-nothing. And nothing was explained at the movie’s conclusion and you’re left with way too many unanswered questions. But then again, at this point you just want it to end and be able to leave. A much needed and decent synopsis of what I really saw would be helpful at this point.

Grade: D-
@pegsatthemovies

Media Review Screening: Wednesday, Feb 1, 2017 ~ Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
NATIONWIDE RELEASE: Friday, February 17. 2017