Tag Archives: Robert Pattinson

Robert Egger’s The Lighthouse

I don’t really have a clever lead-in line to Roger Egger’s The Lighthouse for this review, partly because I’m still not sure just what the fuck I watched and partly because I’m processing the giddy traumas this thing inflicts on a viewer. One thing I’m sure of is the sheer elemental wonder of this film, it’s an intimate experience of immense power, a loving ode to black and white films overall, a pulverizing experience in off the wall horror, a terrific dose of briny black comedy, a dual character study for the ages, a gooey Lovecraft homage and one of the most hysterically intense viewing experiences of the year and perhaps ever.

From the moment Willem Dafoe’s Thomas Wake and Robert Pattinson’s Ephraim Winslow set foot on the rock that is to be their home for months, there is an oppressive maritime aura like no other, made so by several key factors. The haunting black and white photography by Jarin Blaschke is at once chilly, gorgeous and all encompassing, the creaky original score by Mark Korven has retro sensibilities and practically leaks dread off the screen and Eggers chooses to frame his story in the 1.19:1 aspect ratio used by early B&W filmmakers like F.W. Murnau. These aspects combined craft one unforgettable, deeply disquieting package, and I haven’t even raved about the performances yet. Dafoe and Pattinson give the kind of towering, monumental, thunderous turns that make you scared for them and want to yell cut before they’re lost to the maelstrom of their own mania. Dafoe is a creepy, crusty, brittle old salt who bellows, farts, berates and abuses Pattinson’s Winslow, a greenhorn who quickly loses his keen edge to the drink and the intangible, perhaps supernatural forces surrounding them. It’s a macabre treat watching these two poor sods race each other headlong towards madness helped by copious amounts of rum, the gnawing reality of isolation and the ever present wailing of seagulls which, as Dafoe makes clear, are bad luck to kill.

Word of warning with this one though: this is very much a bizarre, knowingly fucked up arthouse film and worlds apart from Egger’s hailed previous effort ‘The Witch,’ which for all its insanity actually had a coherent and decipherable story. With The Lighthouse he strives more for abstract, surreal and often impenetrable imagery and has no interest in providing concrete reasons or resolution for what’s seen, heard and felt. I myself prefer this style much more than conventional storytelling but it’s not for everyone and for better or worse there will be no viewer, however thick-skinned, left undisturbed. In any case this is one unique and impressive piece of work; Dafoe and Pattinson howl their way through impossibly long and intricate monologues (cue the original script and acting Oscars), the wind shrieks through the gorgeously designed set, a beautiful but terrifying mermaid (Valeriia Karamen) screams like a banshee out on the barnacle stained rocks and the ever present beam of the lighthouse (sometimes seeming eerily similar to the projector beam within the cinema itself) pierces the New England fog and sees all. A masterpiece and one of the very best films of the year thus far.

-Nate Hill

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The Safdie Brother’s Good Time

You probably won’t find a more kinetic, nerve draining film so far this year than Good Time, a neon saturated nocturnal fiasco that takes pages out of the same book you’d find stuff like Wayne Kramer’s Running Scared and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours in. Whether or not it’s a good time, as the title dryly advertises, is up to you. It’s well made, breathlessly paced and so realistically acted that we feel like you’re right alongside the mad dog characters running around seedy NYC, but you have to be willing to go with it’s often strange and unpredictable flow, as well as tolerate some unpleasant diversions. Robert Pattinson has beyond proved by now that he is indeed serious about acting and not just aimlessly riding the dollar sign tidal wave of his sparkly boi fame, not to mention he actually has some chops. He’s a wiry, resourceful bank robber here, trying to prevent his mentally challenged brother (Benny Safdie, also the director) from being sent to Riker’s Island after a heist ends up in disaster. Any and all means necessary are the functioning tools of this twitchy fellow, including assistance from his neurotic ex girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a corrupt bail bondsman (Erik Paykert), and a spunky teenage girl (Taliah Webster in a wicked sharp debut performance) who unknowingly gives them shelter from the law. Things just sort of… happen here, like they would in real life, a loosely structured series of snowball effects and plot turns that feel authentically influenced by choices the characters make as opposed to pawns in an obviously preordained narrative, a neat touch. The film has a visual mood-board that would make Nicolas Winding Refn jealous, one of those hyper-hued, soaked in colour palettes that pop off the screen like candy, accompanied by one striking synth score from experimental musician Oneohtrix Point Never. There’s a few plot points that take some thinking to really absorb, and an ending that may leave some in the dust of wtf-land, but overall it gels nicely together, and doesn’t run on too long either. I like those frenzied thrillers set all in one hectic night where the protagonists are put through a wringer, forced to jet all over some throbbing night-scape to right some egregious event gone awry, and this one holds it’s own with some of the best in the sub genre.

-Nate Hill

Review: Gray’s ‘Lost City of Z’ is a visual feast for the ages.

First featured on The Movie Revue, contributing critic Brian Wallinger and editor Ben Cahlamer sit down to discuss James Gray’s astounding The Lost City of Z.

BEN CAHLAMER:  Brian, thanks for joining me today.

BRIAN WALLINGER:  It’s my pleasure, Ben.

BC:  Is it safe for me to say that you enjoyed Gray’s effort overall?

BW:  Yes.  This 2016 release, based on the 2009 novel is a taught and tense adventure set in the jungles of Brazil.  All throughout the film lays an undiscovered land where danger lurks around every corner.

BC:  I too found the story telling to be riveting and adventuresome, filled with stunning locations and brilliant technical achievements.  I especially liked the acting in the film.

BW:  Both Charlie Hunnam and Robert Patinson are the true stars of the film, executing clear and sharp performances.

BC:  Hunnam as Percey Fawcett, British officer-turned-explorer and Patinson as Henry Costin were stunning, especially Patinson, who just completely immersed himself in his role.  Hunnam has a commanding presence about him, but Gray kept him in check.  Both performances are extremely strong.  They are complimented by several smaller roles featuring Ian McDiarmid of Star Wars fame, Franco Nero, Angus Macfayden, who has been nothing short of brilliant in both John Wick films, Sienna Miller who plays Nina Fawcett, Percey’s faithful wife,  and Tom Holland as Jack Fawcett. What did you think of Gray’s directorial efforts?

BW:  The direction proves that Gray is not yet a truly masterful film maker, but he surely is on the path to greatness.  The film has an uneven balance in its run time and with the overall script.

BC:  I confess to not having seeing his previous directorial efforts, but I found his direction here to be top notch, especially for something that is so reflective of glorious epic adventure films and characters of the past, such as The Bridge on the River Kwai or even, Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I didn’t have an issue with the run time, and as a matter of fact, I found it to be necessary to tell the full story.  John Axelrod’s editing kept the film’s pacing even. I felt as if I was watching a younger version of Indiana Jones thanks to Hunnam’s acting, Gray’s direction and his screenplay, based on David Grann’s novel of the same name….

BW: …The story is based on actual events depicting several attempts at an expedition ultimately leading to an unsolved mystery.

BC:  Yes, indeed.  It was David Grann’s debut novel, based on his 2005 visit to the Kalapalo Tribe that set the stage for his novel and this film effort.  The level of detail in all of the characters is a combination of the entire production’s efforts.

BW:  You have hit the nail on the head, Ben.  There is a unique style and theme that pays homage to classic adventure films you mentioned: a form that has since gone unnoticed, yet through this film, finds a breath of new life.  I found the cinematography to be visually stunning, providing a sincere essence of the peril the characters faced.

BC:  YES!  Academy Award-winning Darius Khondji’s work here is astounding, and is a hallmark of this film.  His use of shadows and light are simply stunning.  I recently watched Fincher’s Se7en on a cinema screen and fell in love with Khondji’s work there too.  He is just a magician with light in any setting and I’m looking forward to seeing his work on the upcoming Okja.

BC:  Any other thoughts, Brian?

BW:  The film has several minor technical flaws but is so much fun and sincere to its convictions that I can forgive them.  I’m Recommending The Lost City of Z.

BC:  This film was stuck in development hell for a very long time at Paramount.  I’m really glad that it got picked up by Amazon and Bleecker Street.  Although its box office was not very strong, word-of-mouth should propel this film into the minds of many moviegoers.  I also am Recommending this film. Thank you for joining me today, Brian.

BW:  Thank you, Ben.