Posts Tagged ‘guy pearce

25
Feb
10

Movie Review: The Road

Falling trees, cannibalism, suicide, and a long walk across post-apocalyptic America.

Starring Viggo Mortensen, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Charlize Theron, and Robert Duvall. Directed by John Hillcoat. Based on the book by Cormac McCarthy.

Oh future, why are you so bleak? What happened to flying cars, food pills, jetpacks, or anything on “Star Trek?”

The apocalypse has come and Man (Mortensen) lives in a cabin with his pregnant wife(Theron). Something catches woodland areas on fire and the world goes to hell in a handbasket. She has the child, a son (Smit-McPhee), and for a while they make it while the world outside is in chaos. Eventually she can no longer make it through the desolation and, late one night, strips down to nothing and disappears into the winter night.

“The Road” is a “road movie” by most standards (people traveling across America for a singular goal) as much as it is a post-apocalyptic movie in the vein of “Road Warrior,” and “Children of Men.” This is a world in which the sky is set on gray overcast all day, every day; a world in which trees are dying and falling left and right while horrendous fires consume forests. Men have taken to cannibalism by gathering in large groups and killing any outsiders and eating them, especially any children. There is no fuel left to find and no birds fly in the sky. The place is as depressing as it is desolate.

Through the movie we have no real background on Mortensen’s character; he doesn’t even have a name (then again, neither did the horse in that America song). He’s just a man standing against the end of days; a savage Grizzly Adams who keeps the fire inside him going for reasons known only to him.

His son travels with him but aside from being his son, there’s not a lot of connection between the two. The son, just born in the beginning of this Armageddon, doesn’t remember or know days of sunlight, or birds, or any of the happier days that his father can call upon during sleep. He desperately wants to meet another kid, to go out and play, to see his mother again, or just to be happy.

Following his wife’s last words to go south and get to the coast, the two do just that. With the only narration being Mortensen’s feelings on the oblivion surrounding him we piece together now so much what happened as what the world became: animals mainly out for themselves, or just to be left alone. The duo is cold, hungry, dirty, and want to part ways with the other but need to stay together to survive. Along the way they meet an old man (Robert Duvall), packs of marauders, and a guy who steals their stuff but spares them. And the road they’re on is long, cracked, and barren.

This is more of a visual-intellectual movie than say “Children of Men,” or the “Mad Max” movies. As shown in his previous film, “The Proposition,” Hillcoat uses long takes and exposures to give the audience a feeling of being there. And also like his previous film he likes pitting characters on a quixotic quest across the barren wilds.

The film is a journey. It’s a brutal, honest character study of two people as they make their way across the landscape for the purpose of getting to the ocean. There’s nothing else to do and nothing else to live for but they try to not let it on. Meanwhile, Death itself surrounds them in the form of houses where groups host cannibalism and farms where entire families have committed suicide. It’s a story of struggle and survival between man and man and man and a crumbling environment.

Did I like this film? Yes. It’s cerebral, bleak, but beautiful in its portrayal of oblivion. Mortensen has always been a good actor and this film showcases how great he really can be. Impressive as well is newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee whp plays his son.

Watch for “Proposition” alum Guy Pearce in a small role at the end, as well as Molly Parker playing his wife.

My grade: A-

26
Feb
09

Movies on DVD Review: First Snow

first_snow

A taut little thriller.

Starring Guy Pearce, J.K. Simmons, Piper Perabo, and William Fichtner. Directed by Mark Fergus.

When New Mexican salesman Jimmy Starks (Pearce) breaks down in the middle of nowhere -and I can’t emphasize ‘nowhere’ enough- he dawdles around a quaint pit stop while his car is being repaired. After a beer and an attempt to sell a bartender on buying a Wurlitzer, he pokes around and finds Vacaro (Simmons), a man who makes his money telling fortunes. Giving him 15 bucks, Vacaro has a reading that scares himself. Starks is given his money back and sent on his way.

The small seed of Vacaro having a “seizure” while holding his hands is planted in Starks’ head, but he continues dismissing it. It’s all just salesmanship, right? Starks returns to his life with girlfriend Deidre (Perabo) and fellow salesman Ed Jacomoi. When a losing team wins a basketball game and a “predicted” windfall of money really is coming from Dallas, Starks begins to have second thoughts. What was it that Vacaro wasn’t telling him?

Piece by piece Starks begins to unravel. He receives phone calls with no one answering on the other end. An envelope comes in the mail and contains a target that has a few bullet holes in it. Digging through the skeletons in his closet he decides to check up on his old best friend Vincent McClure (Shea Whigham). Vincent was Jimmy’s former partner in a business that was raided by the Feds. Jimmy got free while Vincent went in for three years. Could it be Vincent calling, wanting revenge? Or was it Andy Lopez (Rick Gonzalez), a fellow salesman Jimmy had to fire?

Tension builds as Jimmy makes excuses for work, spying on Vincent and confronting Andy. He makes a special trip out to see Vacaro who tells him that everything will be okay until the ‘first snow.’ Not satisfied with the answer Starks leaves, but continues down his road of madness.

Overall, a good movie. Fergus makes the atmosphere of the film dark, brooding, and tense, and it works. This is a film more about the journey than the actual destination. Is Vacaro right? Or can Starks change the future? I’ll let you find out. While it is true that this does not really add anything to the thriller genre, it’s a worthwhile escape that may make you ask yourself the question, “What would you do if you found out your tomorrows were up?” Fergus may not be Brad Anderson, but at least he’s in good company.

I suggest this one for those interested in mystery/suspense, and for those who like Guy Peacre.

My grade: B