Sunday, October 11, 2015

2015 Reviews, Part 1

Goodnight Mommy ★★★ 
Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

A woman (Susanne Wuest) comes home from an auto accident wrapped in bandages. Twin brothers Elias (Elias Schwarz) and Lukas (Lukas Schwarz) become increasingly skeptical when the woman begins
behaving in a manner contrary to expectations, and begin to suspect she is not really their mother. So, they plot to force her into confessing through a series of rather disturbing events, during the course of which a "twist" is revealed about the true nature of the situation.

This film is slow-to-start, but gradually leads to a series of engrossing confrontations between the "mother" and the boys. Despite the very horror-like scenario, it is not a scary movie. Rather, it builds a kind of creepy suspense. Some may find it hard to stay patient through the first half, but most should be interested enough to see it through. A worthwhile effort. (from Austria, and spoken in German with English subtitles)

Boulevard ★★½
Directed by Dito Montiel

Middle-aged bank clerk Nolan Mack (the late Robin Williams) decides to change his monotonous life by reaching out to a troubled street hustler named Leo (Roberto Aguire), which forces Nolan to confront his suppressed sexual identity. A chain of events ripples through his life, both professionally and in his marriage to Joy (Kathy Baker), which is loving but distant.

Robin Williams provides a solid turn as a lonely man who decides that he can't just go through the motions anymore. Unfortunately, despite an earnest cast, the film that surrounds him only occasionally comes to life. One is left feeling that Williams' final starring film was a missed opportunity.

The Water Diviner ½
Directed by Russell Crowe

Australian farmer and water diviner Joshua Connor (Russell Crowe) loses three sons in the WWI Battle of Gallipoli. Presuming their sons to be dead four years after being captured by the enemy, Joshua's wife Eliza (Jacqueline McKenzie, "Romper Stomper") can't handle the loss and commits suicide.

Vowing to reunite his family, Joshua sets out to find his sons' bodies and bring them home. Along the way, he enlists the help of Turkish officer Major Hasan (Yılmaz Erdoğan), who persuades military officials to assist. While staying at a local hotel in Istanbul, he begins a tentative relationship with war-widow Ayshe (Olga Kurylenko) and her young son Orhan (Dylan Georgiades), suggesting that there may be a better future ahead.

Beautifully photographed by the late Andrew Lesnie ("The Lord of the Rings" trilogy)
and well-acted, this is a worthy directorial debut by Crowe.

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