Joe Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 29, 2014
A blisteringly intense, compelling and very powerful movie. Director, David Gordan Green finally returns to form with this southern drama that's gritty, gripping, deeply moving and brings us one of the best performances of Nicolas Cage's career.Green's best movie in years. Nicolas Cage has never been better, finally a return to greatness performance that shows he still has the goods. Cage is a total powerhouse, this movie is a must-see for his performance alone. An unforgettable piece of work by a great director and a tremendous star. Tye Sheridan gives a great and effective performance. This movie digs deep in all the right ways and hits you emotionally and hits you hard in the gut. This is strong drama at its very finest, its brilliant, riveting and haunting. A knockout. One of 2014's most impressive films by far. Bravo to all the work they put in on this one.
Super Reviewer
August 3, 2014
A grimy, dirty story of an ex-con named Joe (Nicolas Cage), who is running a successful tree poisoning business, until he slowly starts to become a father figure to an abused young boy (Tye Sheridan) who desperately wants to work for him and get away from his dangerous father (the late Gary Poulter). This film resembles "Mud" in many ways, especially by the presence of Sheridan who was in that film as well. However, what made "Mud" special was how the plot unfolded in a natural way and there seemed to be some direction behind the plot narrative. Here, the direction seems scattershot, like it does not know where it is going or what the point of the story is outside of "abuse is bad". The real treat here is the absolutely outstanding acting, especially from Cage who shows once again why he is one of the best actors on the planet when he is not doing stupid, silly blockbusters. Sheridan is special as well, and Poulter (an actual homeless man discovered and casted by the director) is Shakespearean level terrifying in his portrayal of a man with truly no soul. The movie has good intentions, and David Gordon Green is usually a solid director, but the way the plot unravels seems a bit contrived at times. Still, it may be worth seeing just for the performances alone, which are as said fantastic all-around.
Super Reviewer
July 6, 2014
The highlights of this film truly are the standout performances by the entire cast involved, and although "Joe" may seem a little slow moving at times, it is necessary to capture the emotion that each character shows in almost every scene here. To me, the film shares many elements from other from it's Texan tone to it's rundown families in need of money. As great as Ty Sheridan is, his performance last year in "Mud" is clearly showing once again here, as he played a very similar character. This is why I think actors (although they should do what they are good at) should try a bit more broadness to their careers. Again, he is just starting so I give him props for his great performance in this. Nicolas Cage has always been up and down with his films, but this is his best performance since "Bad Lieutenant." With a very solid story and fantastic performances, "Joe" is a very well-made film that I appreciate, but will probably never find myself watching again. The underlying tone was very off-putting to me and some of the shocking moments did not really need to be so graphic. Overall, it's a good movie that I am sure many will love.
Super Reviewer
½ June 8, 2014
With Cage's best and most nuanced performance since Bad Lieutenant and a solid, sensitive direction by Green in what seems like the finest drama of his career to date, this bleak film also offers outstanding performances by Sheridan and (especially) non-actor Poulter.
Super Reviewer
April 28, 2014
Brilliant drama, I was pleasantly surprised by Joe, a film that ranks among Nicholas Cage's finest performances. This is a well crafted drama, one that ranks among the most entertaining and riveting. Nicholas Cage in recent years has made a few bombs, but on the occasion he is able to make a great film and Joe is easily his finest on-screen performance since Kick-ass. The film manages to be a compelling piece of cinema, and boasts great performances by its cast that elevate the film's story. There are different elements at work that make this a unique film, one that goes in depth of its subject, and makes you feel uncomfortable, yet you cannot turn away from what you see. Joe is an accomplished drama, and has a plateau of rich characters that are well written, and it's rare for a drama to have terrific characters like this. Like I said, Cage delivers a powerful performance here and this ranks among his best films. For me, it's great to see him making another film that really showcases his talents because the guy can act when the right project comes along. Joe is that project and it's a dark, riveting picture that tells a truly engaging story, one that is truly well written and is aided by the skillful direction of director David Gordon Green. If you want to watch a blistering top notch performance by Nicholas Cage, this drama is a must watch. The subject is dark, violent and unforgettable, but it also manages to be a fine return to form for an actor that has lost his touch in the last few years. Joe is a near perfect picture, one that manages to be a truly riveting picture from the first frame right up to the unforgettable climax.
Super Reviewer
June 28, 2014
Morose and pointless, Joe tells a meandering tale that goes nowhere. Starring Nicolas Cage, the story follows an ex-con named Joe who takes a young drifter under his care. Unfortunately, the characters aren't very interest and seem more like stereotypes. And while the performances are alright, they don't do anything to elevate the material. A poorly made character drama, Joe is a dull and monotonous.
Super Reviewer
April 18, 2014
Nicolas Cage resume proves regardless of how a film turns out he tends to be a bright spot in them. Whether it be good or bad a Nicolas Cage performance tends to be worth seeing. Either be it energetically over the top or as in "Joe" Cage restraint helps him disappear into the role like the talented actor can be in the right role.

Joe is about the title character, an ex-con who is the unlikeliest of role models, meeting a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin. The film flows through Joe and his friendship with Gary rather than jumping from plot point to plot point. Allowing its characters to guide the material through their words holding strongly to their principals that are challenged. Never does it sidetrack into anything other than what it is rooted in. Characterization is slow, but builds up over time learning about Joe and Gary through each other interaction. Both characters show the other flaws as well as compliment one another strong suit. Showing restraint in succumbing to violence as an easy resort, but show their kind hearts to do better. On other hand, the environment around them brings out the worst in them as both attempt to restraint from being violent in situations that makes it desirable. Characters are presented with real issues and their handling on the matter stays true to their nature. Sadly it plays familiar story beats ending with an all too familiar message we've seen before that the past will always catch up with you. Another rather small issue would be the peripheral characters that are only around to stir conflict with only one having having a petty fleshed out motivation. Wade (Gary father) being a peripheral as his characterization is little more than abusing his family and killing for a drink. It's familiarity leaves little surprises, but its engaging central protagonists makes it worth experiencing.

Nicolas Cage stars as Joe and disappears into the role. Joe states several times how important it is for him to restrain himself, that personal restraint is the only thing keeping him alive. Same goes with Cage performance. Nearly every opportunity he might have had to go big with this part, he subdued himself, plays it subtle, keeps it realistic, and exercises the same muscles of restraint in terms of his acting that the character himself must exercise against his violent impulses. Relaying the insecurity and indecision behind Joe's tough exterior while still remaining an imposing presence. Tye Sheridan character is written pure and perfect, but Sheridan emphasizes his boyishness and trepidation, finding rough edges in a character that could have easily descended into martyrdom. Giving his character allot more depth than the writing provides. Both Tye Sheridan and Nicolas Cage excel in their share scenes together playing off each other flawlessly. Gary Poulter characterization is wholly one sided in bearing entirely negative traits, however, he's as pitiful as he is monstrous. Showing an odd tenderness given from his loose appearance to bearing the emotions of man who's fed up with his broken life. David Gordon Green has a gift for balancing the abstract with the mundane. He isn't afraid of subtle visual flourishes: a bulldog's mouth dripping with another dog's blood; a hog, hanged vertically, being stripped of meat; the kitchen of a brothel, its windows boarded up, with everything aglow in red. Showing the ugliness of a rural America that correlate with its characters; the ugly outside that are just as beat up as the people who live their and the small changes in environments that go along with it characters mood.

Joe is a slow film that much like it central relationship is supported by the strong chemistry between Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan. Both the story and performances aren't anything new for anyone involve, but rather serve to compliment each other strengths which in the ends makes a great character driven film.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ July 10, 2014
"Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand?" They already shamelessly forced in that reference with the credits at the end of "Nymphomaniac: Part II", but hey, it's not too much less cheap than Nicolas Cage's character being an ex-convict named Joe [u]Ransom[/u]. I don't know if they were actually going something with that here, but that would usually be a good sign that this is going to be yet another cheesily lame Nicolas Cage film, but believe it or not, the critics are all about this film. Oh, they're just excited because David Gordon Green is getting back into independent dramas, rather than commercial comedies, and quite frankly, after "Your Highness" and "The Sitter", I suppose we all are. Really, I don't what's become more popular: Green's idea of pairing up an unlikely and eccentric duo, or southern neo-gothics featuring a dark figure named Joe. Well, there's "Killer Joe" and now this film, and, like, a dozen buddy films by Green, so I don't suppose that question was too much more suspenseful than this film itself. No, the film is just fine, but it still has its share of shortcomings in intrigue, even in concept.

Ultimately not much more than a study on a boy from a new-to-town family finding a role model in an ex-con as he wanders about some small southern territory, this film's story concept is minimalist, having some conflict, but not much, and even lighter scale, due to its intimacy with characters who are also questionably drawn. Some Unlikable Roles, & Some Thin Roles] [The film juggles many perhaps memorable characters, but it puts only so much work into truly fleshing them out, at least beyond their types, crafting some thin roles, if not a few somewhat unlikable ones, most of which are simply supporting and therefore not as seriously distancing as they would have been as lead roles, but nonetheless detrimental to the engagement value of the film. To make matters worse, the characters a little familiar, not unlike the plot, as this is a garden-variety southern gothic drama, which more-or-less does nothing new, narratively or, for that matter, stylistically. Among the tropes hit in this rather artsy independent drama is a heavy emphasis on atmosphere, at times, that is, which only occasionally punctuates sobriety with a lyrical tone that not only sees a stylistic and tonal unevenness, - particularly when tensions suddenly grow great in a film that, for a long time, seems to lack a sense of consequence - but stiffens a sense of momentum with etherea. When the film gets carried away with its atmospherics, it gets a little dull, and when it settles down on atmosphere, it doesn't get too much less dry, never seeming to pick up all that much momentum in direction, largely because it never picks up that much momentum in writing, because, at just shy of two hours, this film is longer than it should be, given its minimalist story concept, which is interpreted into seriously draggy, if not repetitious plotting. I suppose "plodding" is a more fitting term, as this film simply drags, and drags, and drags, keeping you engaged just fine throughout its course through many an undeniable strength, yet still shaking your investment every step of the way with tonal and pacing issues as it meanders down a thin and formulaic narrative. Still, the final product endears as a subtle drama, complete with subtle stylistic highlights.

Working with very indie film equipment and sensibilities, Tim Orr is not particularly impressive with his cinematography, but he does what he can, and delivers plenty, with a certain gothic grit and sparsity that, upon falling over the right visuals, is about as haunting as the musical artistry applied to this drama. Coming off of working on David Gordon Green's "Prince Avalanche", whose score tied with that of "The Place Beyond the Pines" as the best of this past year, David Wingo loses much originality and effectiveness with the departure of post-rock band Explosions in the Sky, but his efforts with Jeff McIlwain here remain very strong, with a creative ambient atmosphere which is often blanding, and more often lovely, if not admittedly effective in the context of this ethereal gothic. Style stands fair, but in order for it to truly impress, it comes down to David Gordon Green's orchestration, which is over-atmospheric and overly lyrical, to the point of dulling things down, even though there's a certain coldness throughout this quiet drama, but has effective, immersive highlights to reflect inspiration in Green's storytelling. Although there's only so much bite to this minimalist and lyrical gothic, when tensions and resonance rise, Green does, in fact, impact, not as much as he could have, but enough to draw on some genuine thematic and dramatic depth from this affair. More direct of an influence on the molding of this narrative is Gary Hawkins' script, which is both thin and overdrawn, so much so that it might not even be as commendable as Green's still thoroughly flawed direction, although it is wittingly convincing in its portrayal of a small, gritty town, complete with characters who, for all their thin and unlikable aspects, are memorable, or are at least made so by convincing performances. It's mostly charisma which drives this cast, but it is impressive to find it across the board, even though what is most worth waiting for is the dramatic highlights, whether it be in the chilling unknown Gary Poulter - taken from the streets he tragically passed away in shortly after the completion of this film - as a deeply disturbed and selfish family man, or the young Tye Sheridan as a good lad seeking respect as he comes of age, or leading man Nicolas Cage, who plays his usual role as well as he in quite some time, initially delivering on charm and eventually turning to subtle and powerful dramatic layers which sell the titular Joe Ransom character's instability as an ex-con who can stray only so far from a dark path. Seeing as how this film is so intimate with its characters, the performances are key in keeping this film going, for although the final product fails to consistently engage, it gets by as a decent, if flawed southern neo-gothic.

Overall, a story concept of only so much momentum finds its bite further softened by thin spots in characterization, conventions, and dull atmospheric cold spells that are made all the more blanding by the dragging of the storytelling, whose shortcomings go challenged well enough by Tim Orr's often haunting cinematography, Jeff McIlwain's and David Wingo's consistently haunting score work, immersive highlights in thoughtful direction and convincing writing, and decent performances - the strongest of which being by Gary Poulter, Tye Sheridan and Nicolas Cage - to secure David Gordon Green's "Joe" as a fair and sometimes rather gripping drama, through all its shortcomings.

2.5/5 - Fair
Super Reviewer
½ May 2, 2014
Joe is likely the best we've seen from Nicolas Cage in ages. His character is a bundle of negative energy without outlets to release it. The ending is a let down but it is a powerful performance.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2014
A uniquely compelling experience, Joe is a film that takes chances, emboldens its characters, and places the emphasis on its lyrical sensibility and gritty realism. It's a film that validates the much-maligned Nicolas Cage, and introduces us to a string of other talented actors.

Set in a sort of backward town, the story revolves around an ex-con, Joe (Nicolas Cage), who suddenly finds himself in a deep friendship with a disadvantaged youth, Tye Sheridan. As a supervisor on an illegal tree-killing operation (clearing the way for the lumber industry), Joe meets the precocious, eager boy after successfully pleading for a job with Joe. As the film unfolds, we see more of Tye's tragic home life, as well as the inner demons of Joe. This sets the stage for a great character study, as well as a very successfully executed atmospheric piece. The film's strong writing and resistance toward clichés or easy answers speak to the maturity level of its production, headlined by the talented director David Gordon Green (Shotgun Stories). The film doesn't pander to the audience nor flinch away from the desperation prevalent in these characters lives, rather it does its speaking through its characterizations.

By far, the most unique aspect of Joe are the performances. Director Green made the bold decision to cast both professional, up and coming, and non-professional actors. What this creates is a tapestry of realism, we are enveloped with the naturalistic performances, the vivid explosions of emotion, the raw torment of the characters, and the general heft of the film. What was most impressive was the portrayal by Gary Poulter, a real-life homeless substance abuser who gives the strongest performance of the film.

If Joe has flaws, it because the film's so wildly unpredictable at times, that it gives the impression of being unfocused. The tone can be a bit jarring, and we're never really sure where it's going. In the end, however, this ends up being more of an assist than a detriment to the film.

4/5 Stars
Super Reviewer
½ June 15, 2014
Very heavy atmosphere drama directed by David Gordon Green and starring Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan and Ronnie Gene Blevins, will be remembered by anyone watching it - for good or bad, depends on the preferences. If you are "artsy" type who doesn't mind violence, this adaptation of Larry Brown's 1991 novel of the same name should be up you alley! Well, when I move premiers at the Venice Film Festival, you could expect that sort of "edgy" artwork.

It is the skilled directing which will make you to follow and support an ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, when he meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin. Outstanding acting was perfectly matched with the saturated atmosphere of the lost soul lives. The film circulated into the mainstream news when the film's actor Gary Poulter was found dead in a shallow body of water in September 2013 before the film was ever released. The demanding role of the alcoholic father in the film, was perfect for Poulter, because he was a real-life homeless man, who suffered from alcoholism and was already deeply ill. He wasn't a professional actor, and his only other acting credit was a cameo appearance in the sitcom Thirtysomething. Director Greem took the risk to work with Poulter, and it wasn't easy because of his lack of sobriety, however, Green stayed committed to allowing him to be in the film.

A film which is not for everybody, but for those who recognize good cinematographic art with style and flare!
Super Reviewer
½ June 23, 2014
For a thriller about broken people on the very fringe of society, the plot is just a little too neat and tidy (One character that arrives about twenty minutes into film might as well be wearing a t-shirt that reads "antagonist") but when David Gordon Green shifts the focus away from the plot and just lets these characters exist in their environment, the film becomes mesmerizing. And yeah, I can't argue with the enormous praise that's been heaped on Cage here. I've always known he was capable of being great, but what is surprising about "Joe" is how subdued this particular performance is. None of the inevitable outbursts of fury feel "Cage like", in fact each one hints at deeper, darker rage. Its remarkably complex work from an actor who I assumed had just given up. I hope to see more of this from him.
Super Reviewer
April 13, 2014
David Gordon Green returns to form with his latest drama, "Joe", about an ex-con who finds himself in the tough position between a young, innocent boy and his twisted, abusive father. Proving that his best days may still be ahead of him, Academy Award winning Nicolas Cage produces one of his best performances ever, as the title character. Joe runs a tree killing business with a bunch of work-for-hires, and meets Gary (Tye Sheridan) when he comes looking for work. Becoming a role model for the simple minded boy, Joe eventually meets Gary's father, Wade, played convincingly by first-time actor and actual homeless man (now deceased) Gary Poulter, who delivers one of the most frustratingly real villainous turns to ever grace a drama. Unable to control his temper, Joe must keep his distance while still seeking a better life for the young Gary. Tye Sheridan proves that his unforgettable performance in last year's "Mud" was no fluke, also proving to be the number one young actor to watch in the years to come. Finishing with a song by Ryan Bingham, a talented musician that finds his way into many of the films I love, "Joe" is, without question, my favorite film so far this year and will hopefully make it on some "best of" lists by the year's end. With a strong sense of conflicting emotion and with the entire cast at the top of their game, one cannot begin to fathom that the man that directed "Your Highness" and the man that directed "Joe" are one in the same.
Super Reviewer
½ April 13, 2014
David Gordon Green follows up his acclaimed 'Prince Avalanche' with Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch with 'Joe'. Another great one/two tandem in Nicolas Cage who returns to the screen with yet another role that feels specifically carved out for his craziness and Tye Sheridan who is gaining more mature roles as you continues to act.

Looking back at Green's movie list, many of them involve a friendship no matter how odd or deformed they may seem. His last two are his best. There's a great portrayal here of a hard life in the South. It's none descriptive on location, but you get the feeling you work or you suffer. Sometimes the bare minimum is enough.

While this film seems critically above average, and I'll agree, it's nothing that will win Cage an award, but it's nice to see in a role that fit only for him. It's really the first since 2010 he's been so compelling on the silver screen. Flashes like this show why he's one of the better actors of our time.
½ April 22, 2015
Surprisingly good. Cage is good here, as is this film in general. I'm glad he made much as I enjoy his bad films as of late, it's kind of sad at the same time. Good for him for a making a solid film like this. It's actually a good contribution to the film world for once.
February 24, 2015
Every once and while Nicolas Cage will turn a corner and remind us that he can be a damn good actor.
May 12, 2014
cage brought it! character driven, green rocked the direction. gritty. a bit harsh in places. and maybe i liked it more because i had taken codeine for a severe cough and it just fits that slow "lean" mood, but very good.
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