Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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Taking on a well worn mutant story line that's been part of the mighty Marvel universe from day one, where the line between good and bad is hazy grey, "Freaks" is less about showy CGI but more about familial relations. And that's why it works. The daughter, mother, father and grandpa family tree that forms the film is a messy tangle of branches and unwieldy roots, which slowly align as the plot unfolds.
Lexy Kolker as single digit aged Chloe, brings a charming naiveté of someone new to life, who might have access to a mysterious super power. The movie rests on her tiny shoulders, and she pulls it off. Whether dealing with her sketchy dad (Emile Hersh) who may or may not be crazy, or her ghostly mom (Amanda Crew) who may or may not be real, or her sketchy grandpa (Bruce Dern) who may or may not be the neighbourhood ice cream man, Chloe is the central magnet and is damn easy to root for.
Adding another late career feather in his well worn acting hat, Dern is devilicious in his rambunctious retiree role, offering equal doses of creepiness and blood line dedication. Chloe's confusing and changing allegiances to her dad and grandpa is a clever device that spices up this top notch thriller.
My biggest problem with Emile Hirsch is that he looks and acts like Jack Black. It's distracting. But that's a personal qualm, and one that shouldn't detract from the performance, which is manic good.
Yes the story gets a little wacky, after all we are talking about an apocalyptic mutant scenario, so wacky is par for the course. There's enough heart, relatability, and thankfully a lack of superhero posturing (no silly costumes!) to make "Freaks" a winner.
Escaping from different circumstances, teens turning adult find a common path for survival. "Twin Flower" employs a typical movie plot that switches between the struggle for survival and the developing relationship, moving at a lanquid, steady pace. Our couple is not so much on the run, as on the stroll, favouring realism over sensationalism in a well crafted slice of life.
As Basim and Anna, newcomers Kallil Kone and Aniello Arena nail the right balance of awkward attraction, uncomfortable wariness, loss of innocence and accepting of trust of any new companionship. The first time actors' develop on screen as the story unfolds, which takes it's bloody time, but never strays from the goal.
Though Europe's immigration issue is at the core of the conflict, this is really an age old story about kids forced to grow up way too fast, in a slow series of events. Like most rewards, It demands patience.
CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
Set in the dilapidated remains of a Mexican city ruined by brutal drug cartel oppression, "Tigers Are Not Afraid" follows a handful of orphaned kids clinging to what is left of their lives. Leaving all politics in the background, this absorbing and harrowing adventure proceeds from the childrens' point of view, mixing blunt violence with dreamy sequences, with just enough shocks to evoke a Guillermo Del Toro palate.
Astounding turns from its two leads, Paola Lara and Juan Ramon Lopez, keep this film from careening off the tracks, instilling an innocent believability to what's going on screen, blurring the lines of physical reality and adolescent imagination. "Tigers" is a three wish fairy tale littered with corpses, ghosts and animated stuffies, but by cleverly leaving the adults out of it, it succeeds.
Sap alert: yes this is a geriatric romance of the old fashioned variety, but it has enough little detours to make it work. The exceptional acting from John Lithgow and Blythe Danner doesn't hurt.
As an aging, secretive survivalist know it all, Ed spends most of his time on conspiracy internet boards, that is until he spies Ronnie at the local grocery store. Courting ensues, with all the magic and hurdles that come with any relationship.
Turns out there's more than one secret to be revealed which threatens a future for these lonely souls, and though the plot line is paint by numbers, there's a sweet innocence that saves this film. A bit of an unexpected ending helps wrap the whole thing up with a lovely bow.
SO LONG ...
With his original muse on her death bed, Leonard Cohen penned her a lovely letter, closing a full circle for both. Yet besides her song, and a stark photo on the back of an album cover, Marianne remains a mystery to most.
Until now. As with other Cohen docs, there is more than enough juicy material to choose from. We receive a nice historic overview, but it is with the early idyllic, bohemian life on hippie isle Hydra, that "Marianne & Leonard" works best. The Canuck poet of the day escapes to fantasy island to soak in the ocean, the weather, the wine, the women. The woman. Norwegian Marianne Ihlen becomes his muse, and Cohen's wet dream becomes dry reality.
With shaky super 8 footage and grainy photographs (there's some great shots of Lenny with a cheesy moustache), their little odyssey is perfect documentary fodder, augmented nicely with vivid recollections from the scenesters of the day. Cohen's subsequent return to Montreal and transition into music, closed the chapter on Hydra, but his complex connection with Marianne remained a constant, and a story well worth telling.