Tag Archives: Snow Angels

Snow Angels: A Review by Nate Hill

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“Some will fly, some will fall..”

Snow Angels is an agonizing film to put yourself through, as it determinedly focuses on two people who are losing track of their path in life. Their emotional and psychological clarity is dimming, blinded by possible mental illness and lingering tragedy, mentally snowed in, so to speak, like the ironically idyllic Midwestern town they call home. Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell are Annie and Glenn, a couple wading through a bitter separation that is taking a damaging toll on their little daughter (Gracie Hudson). Glenn embarrassingly clings to Annie and what they had, leaning on the crutch of alcohol and making a pitiable fool of himself. Annie is lost and fragile, unsure of appropriate action at this particular crossroads in life. Their story is laced with that of other residents in the town, and you’ll be pleased to know it’s not all doom and gloom: a budding romance plays out with the talents of Michael Angarano and the wonderful Olivia Thirlby. There’s also work from Griffin Dunne, Nicky Katt and the excellent Tom Noonan in an extended cameo that bookends the film’s  enigmatic emotional climate. Rockwell seeths with regret and heartache, lashing out passively at first until his behaviour becomes very destructive to himself and those around them. Beckinsale has never been better, downplaying Annie by bottling up her feelings, and letting them corrosive erupt in a third act of unimaginable tragedy that demands courage and compassion from the viewer. A highly complex, grounding story of lives gone off track and the not always so simple way in which we humans conduct ourselves with each other. A must see.

CINEMATOGRAPHER SPOTLIGHT: TIM ORR — BY NICK CLEMENT

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Tim Orr is one of the busiest cinematographers currently working in Hollywood, having amassed 40 credits over the last 15 years, putting his distinct touch on both comedies and dramas, always knowing how to approach every visual situation with an organic and naturalistic quality. He’s the director of photography of choice for eclectic, can’t-pin-him-down filmmaker David Gordon Green, having shot all of the versatile director’s films, along with pairing up with a diverse field of directing talent on a terrific mix of studio and indie material. Tim has worked on some of the best comedies over the last few years, including the instant stoner classic Pineapple Express from DGG, Jody Hill’s brilliant satire Observe and Report, the underrated end-of-times comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, and Mike White’s charming black comedy The Year of the Dog. He’s also no stranger to dramas, having collaborated with DGG on the gritty Nicolas Cage film Joe, the dreamy Zooey Deschanel romance All the Real Girls, the Terrence Malick produced southern thriller Undertow, and film festival favorite George Washington. He’s also dabbled in television, with credits that include HBO’s hilarious water-cooler sensation Eastbound and Down, and he recently shot the pilot for the upcoming comedy Red Oaks for Amazon Originals, which was exec produced by Steven Soderbergh. In late October, his newest feature film hits the big screen – the highly anticipated Sandra Bullock political comedy Our Brand is Crisis – which was produced by George Clooney and Grant Heslov, and could be a factor in the year end awards season. He’s also got the Netflix original film Pee Wee’s Big Holiday, which marks the return of Paul Reubens as Pee Wee Herman(!), which is set for release in March of 2016. Orr is one of those tremendously talented cameramen who can switch back and forth, effortlessly, between genres and styles, and it will be exciting to see where his career goes from here after establishing such an interesting and varied body of work.

Snow Angels is certainly a bleak, sad film, with an uncompromising ending that’s both upsetting yet somehow cathartic. This isn’t a film I would recommend if you’re easily upset by realistic tragedy and tough stories about familial dysfunction. Orr shot with hand held cameras, draining the image of eye-popping color, and in tandem with the snowy and extra-cold atmosphere which worked perfectly with the story’s themes of anxiety and desperation, the film feels lived-in and entirely convincing. In the unique item Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Orr brought his usual brand of on-the-fly camerawork to the story but had the chance to shoot in vibrant widescreen, stressing bold color saturation in an effort to heighten the emotional fragility of the panicked characters. Nobody gave this movie any credit for having so much odd charm and looking at the end of the world with a unique and funny spin, and Orr was able to craft a film that felt big even though it always remained intimate. Filmmakers have been obsessed with capturing the mood and spirit of young love for years, and with the poetic, sad, and beautiful film All the Real Girls, director David Gordon Green tapped into the heartstrings of a young, inexperienced woman who is learning to love for the first time (Zooey Deschanel in her wonderful breakout performance) and an older lothario who just so happens to fall in love with the sister of his best friend (co-writer Paul Schneider). This is a small-town movie with perfect, small-town flavor, and Orr brought a lyrical, Malick-esque sense of visual poetry to this boldly romantic film via exquisitely framed compositions, naturalistic lighting, and an emphasis on long takes that heighten the dramatic mood at almost every turn. Anyone who has ever fallen in love, had their heart broken, been excited by the possibilities of a new romantic partner, or been confused as to what they want in life, will find this movie to be a potent summation of all of our fears, desires, and longings when it comes to finding that special someone. And a huge reason for its success is the dynamic way in which Orr captured every singe scene, stressing an inherently homespun quality that makes the film feel all the more believable and honest.

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