Tag Archives: Alicia Silverstone

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

You either love him or hate him, and I am a big fan of director Yorgos Lanthimos. I feel like this is an important fact to disclose before launching into my review of his latest film, “The Killing of A Sacred Deer.” If you’re unfamiliar with Lanthimos’s work and you aren’t the type of viewer who appreciates the abstract or being challenged by film, you may want to stop reading here. For those of you who know the director (“Dogtooth,” “The Lobster“) and are fans of the grotesque and macabre, this one may be right up your alley.

Heart surgeon Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is happily married to his ophthalmologist wife Anna (Nicole Kidman) and dotes on their two perfect children, Bob (Sunny Suljic) and Kim (Raffey Cassidy). The family exists within their comfortable life in the suburbs until, after an unfortunate death on the operating table, Steven takes the deceased patient’s strange teen son Martin (Barry Keoghan) under his wing. It turns out that Martin is the incarnate of pure evil, and he issues a nightmarish ultimatum to the family that doesn’t end well for anyone.

Lathimos knows how to cast his stories with leads who have a flair for the bizarre, and even the supporting players (Alicia Silverstone, Bill Camp) add a distressing tone to the story. The acting is of note across the board, with Farrell slowly imploding as a rational man who is taken down by his own rationality in an irrational world (got it?) and Kidman deliciously understated as a mother with several emotional defects who also refuses to admit defeat. But the one to watch here is Keoghan, doing a 180 from his role in this year’s “Dunkirk” and stealing the show as a menacing, awkward, and brutal monster.

The story of domestic bliss that uncomfortably burrows into a horrific nightmare is destined to shock, offend, and disgust by design — that’s Lanthimos’s calling card after all. While this exercise is starting to get less and less jolting with each film, I’m not sure if that’s a criticism that reflects on the director so much as it reflects on the audience.

The sense of agonizing fear, formidable dread and discomfort is constant, and even more haunting is the calculated, almost inelegant pacing that’s punched up by the emotionally vacant characters. These people speak in monotones and go through the motions of life with rigid, robotic mannerisms, using as few words as necessary. It’s a bit of a genius move in the context of the story; an agitating and disquieting display that not only serves to keep the audience at a distance but builds distressing tension and suspense. You’ll not only have an emotional reaction to this film but a physical one as well.

For two hours Lanthimos pushes viewer’s buttons to the extreme, taking his time with a deliberate, slow unfolding of the story before he launches into a hypnotically idiosyncratic, disturbingly violent, savagely symbolic viewpoint that is drawn from the tragedies of Greek mythology, the harsh underbelly of human nature, and the consequences of bad decisions. This is an extremely cynical viewpoint that takes an unsettling revenge tale to a new level of alarming (and oftentimes darkly funny) absurdity (pay particular attention to the scenes in the principal’s office, a discussion about eating spaghetti, and an obsessive conversation about armpit hair).

The attention to detail is astounding, and the unnerving, stressful original score ramps up the tension to almost unbearable levels. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” certainly is not for everyone, but those who appreciate the director’s work will find the film, and especially its finale, greatly rewarding.

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul”

LOUISA: 2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

There’s a big elephant in the room in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and it’s one that the movie can never overcome: the recasting decisions. It’s true that the original group of actors has aged out of the story, but I really wish the studio had pushed for a lead with a bit more acting ability (I hate to be seen as picking on child actors, but the acting is this one is atrocious). Now, not one member of the Heffley family is even likeable, and that’s a huge barrier that the latest film simply cannot conquer.

Adults will find “The Long Haul” the perfect descriptor for what’s in store: never has 90 minutes felt so long. So very, very long. It’s packed with just enough PG-rated rude humor to keep the older kids engaged, and it’s balanced out with frequent poop gags for the slapstick-loving kiddos. The jokes will make you laugh out loud, but mostly because they’re relatable to adults and kids alike, not because they are particularly original or funny at face value.

It’s a “Vacation” rip-off for the middle school set, a family road trip where every little thing that can go wrong, does. Greg (Jason Drucker) is dealing with his dorky dad (Tom Everett Scott), sweet and well-meaning mom (Alicia Silverstone), doofus teenage brother Rodrick (Charlie Wright), and kid brother Manny (Dylan Walters). When the gang sets off on a 42 hour drive to Grandma’s house for her 90th birthday, everything starts to feel all too familiar.

Although there’s a certain tender sweetness to the ending, I found this movie to be very disappointing on all fronts. Even if your kids are begging to go see it, save your money.

“Space Dogs: Adventure to the Moon”

LOUISA: 1 STAR


LOUISA SAYS:

When I saw that an animated film from Russia was playing at my local theater, curiosity got the best of me so I went to check it out. I have to say it’s one of the latest in a string of “what the hell did I just watch?” movies. If you’ve ever wanted to know what a Russian animated film is like, let me assure you that it’s pretty much what you’d expect. How this managed a theatrical release in the U.S. boggles the mind.

Believe it or not, this is an actual sequel to the 2010 film “Space Dogs.” Part II assumes the audience is already familiar with the characters because in the introductory scenes, there’s zero set up as to who these characters are and what their backgrounds were. There are obvious references to the earlier film which make this movie strange from the get-go. In this one, adorable pup Pushok sets out to find his missing cosmonaut dad. The pup travels to the White House (what?) and climbs onboard a U.S. rocket bound for the moon. When he arrives on the moon he finds his mom, dad, a loud and obnoxious monkey astronaut from Texas (double what?) and an abandoned baby alien. Told you this movie is crazy.

The film is poorly computer animated and most of it looks very cheap and uninviting. There are jerky movements and blurry backgrounds, and the lack of detail is very distracting. The animals have no personality in the way they are drawn; no richness to their fur and no contrast in their coloring. I can’t imagine how any child would fall in love with any of these characters. International copyright laws have also been thrown out the window because there’s a rat named Lenny who is a dead ringer for Remy from the Disney/Pixar film “Ratatouille.”

I saw the U.S. theatrical release so the entire thing was dubbed in English by D-list American actors who will do anything to pay the rent, including Ashlee Simpson, Phil LaMarr and Alicia Silverstone. This meant the dialogue didn’t match the mouth movements of the animation. Sometimes the dogs’ mouths were moving when nothing was being said, making for an amusing yet confusing ride (I would have much preferred to see it in Russian with English subtitles). The most unintentionally hilarious scene is a god-awful musical number (scored with some random, ghastly original American pop song) where dogs Belka and Strelka are “singing” and performing. The song lyrics make zero sense and half the time the dogs don’t even appear to be talking at all!

There was also this bizarre ending voiceover about how Russia and the United States agreed to work together in the space race in an act of international cooperation — it felt false and tacked on and couldn’t have been in the original foreign version (especially because earlier in the film there’s a reference to “the Americans” being behind a laser ray that’s stealing objects to place on the moon).

Was some of the script changed a bit to suit American audiences? I’m not sure. There is one particular line that makes me think the perhaps not. A pet cat is lamenting that his person now loves her new dog more than him, so his rabbit friend begins to freak out that she will tire of her pets and “sell us for medical experiments.”

If that ain’t Russian, I don’t know what is.


Matt was unavailable for review.