Tag Archives: Rhys Ifans

Jaco Van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody 


Ever see a film that you actually can’t really, properly describe to someone? You often hear “it’s hard to describe”, but you know those ones where you really do find yourself short of a five second cocktail party summary, left with nothing to compare it to and no way to impart the contents in quick, succinct jargon? Jaco Van Dormael’s Mr. Nobody is exactly that type of film, an experience so dense, disorienting and thought provoking that one needs at least a few months after the initial viewing alone to ruminate, mull it over and meditate on what was seen before even a word of analysis is offered. On surface level it’s about a man named Nemo Nobody, played by Jared Leto in a jaw dropping, multifaceted encore of a performance. Nemo is over a hundred years old, the last mortal on an earth of now immortal humans, and he recounts his life, or many lives, rather, to a journalist. That’s the diving board that vaults into an intricate narrative full of love, grief, joy, tragedy and the peculiarities of being human. We see Nemo at hundreds of junctures of his life, penultimate crossroads where he could make either choice, but if he makes neither of them, can then see both outcomes, how they carry forward his trajectory into the future towards more crossroads, more lives, more decisions, like the infinitely branching tributaries of an ever flowing river. How would one make a film like this work onscreen, you ask? Well, not easily. The thing runs almost three hours and often gets a little caught up in itself, especially in the midsection, but it’s sheer ambition and uniquely structured storytelling carry it on wings of light, spanning through a hundred years and countless events that Nemo sees passing. He has three loves, or at least three the film focuses on: luminous Ana, played by an excellent Juno Temple and then Diane Kruger as she gets older, mentally unstable Elise (Sarah Polley) and Jean (Linh Dan Pham), all of whom help shape him or have key parts to play along the branches of his tree of life. There’s a lynchpin event from his youth upon which it all hinges though; faced with the decision to move away with his mother (Natasha Little) as her train leaves, or stay behind with his father (Rhys Ifans), the boy begins to run, but also looks back. This nano-moment is the key to eternity here, the introspective Big Bang that gives way to our story. At times the film lags, and the slack could have been pulled tighter during the development of the three relationships, but the first and third acts that bookend the whole thing move along like the forces unseen around us, using cinematic tools to compose a symphony of motion, music, scientific pondering and emotional resonance. No other film is like this one, and my attempts to describe it above still just don’t even scratch the surface of the dreams found within its runtime. There’s only a few other ones out there that have aspirations as cosmic as this one, and most, including this, have made it into my personal canon of favourites. Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain, The Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas and Terence Malick’s Tree Of Life are such films, and Mr. Nobody now sits at their table. 

-Nate Hill

Little Nicky


I’ve never been one to actively nab the Adam Sandler flicks off the rental shelf, but even he has made the occasional winner, one of the best being Little Nicky. For some reason it’s panned over other far worse ones he’s churned out of the gumball machine (ever re-watch Billy Madison? What the fuck were we/they thinking back then?), but when you part the curtains of Sandler Stigma™ and really just look at what the movie is in itself, it’s a hoot. What other film can boast Rodney Dangerfield playing Harvey Keitel’s dad in hell? That’s right, Keitel is the red beast himself, coming down off a ten thousand year unholy monarchy, with no plans to retire. This infuriates his two wicked sons, played by Tiny Lister (must have been a different devil-mom) and a slick Rhys Ifans. They depart the inferno and set up their own devilish franchise up in New York City, raising all kinds of hell, the most amusing of which is lowering the drinking age to ten (where were these guys when I was that age?) and forcing Regis Philbin to say naughty things on live primetime. Their younger, slightly retarded brother Nicky (Sandler) must pursue them on their haunts and trap them in a magic flask before it’s too late. Dumb concept, right? Sure it is, but try and tell me it’s not hilarious m, especially with the amount of inane visual gags and trippy production design these folks have dreamed up. Between Hitler dressed as a slutty maid getting a pineapple repeatedly rammed up his rectum to a giant gorilla massaging mammaries that have sprouted on a dude’s head like fleshy succulent pigtails, there’s no shortage of wtf moments. Sander picks an odd character mask as usual, sporting a metal-head swoosh of a haircut and lisping his way through his lines sounding like he had a stroke from watching Billy Madison dailies one too many times. Patricia Arquette is in it, as a sweet, shy girl he meets topside and the closest thing to a sane person you’ll find in this madhouse. Cameos abound, from usual Sandler cronies like Jon Lovitz, Rob Schneider, Kevin Nealon, Dana Carvey, Peter Dante and Allen Covert, to randoms like Michael McKean, Clint Howard, Laura Harring, Henry Winkler, Ozzy Osborne, Reese Witherspoon as Nicky’s angelic mom and Quentin Tarantino as a blind preacher. I don’t really know what else to say about the thing, because its it’s own thing and you either rock out with it, or you don’t. Visually it’s never boring, the script was conceived in the toilet and jumped straight to the gutter, the performances are all garishly obnoxious and the overall tone is that of an sixth grade birthday party gone rogue. 

-Nate Hill

Lasse Hollstrom’s The Shipping News: A Review by Nate Hill 

Lasse Hollstrom’s The Shipping News is two thirds of a great movie, but unfortunately has a first act which introduces it’s main character in the most heavy handed of ways, and sort of shoots itself in the foot. It helps that the rest of the film is lovely, but it takes some time to get the sour taste out of your mouth. Kevin Spacey is Quoyle, a meek milquetoast dude who has spent his entire life moping and whining, constantly being walked all over and never standing up for himself, starting right from his childhood relationship with his father (Jim ‘sippy poo’ Lahey, the glorious bastard). He’s so pathetic and such a loser that one wonders where can you go from here, and why did Spacey choose to start his arc at such a sad extreme, instead of livening it up a bit? By chance (and I mean chance) he marries Petal ( half mad Cate Blanchett), a wayward woman-child with barely an ounce of sanity or sensibility in her, and has a daughter with her. She runs off to a tragic self inflicted end, and he is left to raise the girl. Suddenly he receives news that a relative has passed in a small coastal fishing village his ancestral home of Newfoundland, so he packs it in and the two of them head on out there to begin anew. From there it’s an awakening for him, and bit by bit his character becomes believable and tolerable, two traits that were simply not there up until this point. He meets a long lost relative (a salty Judi Dench), befriends a local gal (Julianne Moore), starts working for the gruff local newspaper magnate (Scott Glenn, wonderful) and essentially finds a self within him that he never had before, a life to fill the pointless void he’s lived in for his whole existence so far. The town is charming, the atmosphere authentic and the acting terrific, including Rhys Ifans and the late great Pete Postlethwaite. I just wish the first act could have measured up to the rest and not stuck out like such a misplaced and noticeable sore thumb. Hallstrom has an ear for intimate, rural set family drama (check out An Unfinished Life with Robert Redford fpr his best work), and for the most part, this one delivers the goods.