Here’s a quick sampling of my week’s watches. You can find more of my reviews at Always Watch Good Movies.
Escape From Tomorrow (2013)
Directed by: Randy Moore
Randy Moore’s writing and directorial debut, “Escape From Tomorrow”, depicts a family’s troubled last vacation day in Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort; filled with strange adventures and presented in capricious, dreamy tones. Jim’s day starts in a lousy manner. He was fired with no reason by phone, got stuck on a hotel balcony and his overwhelming wife seems to drive them into a despairing marital crisis. Among acting childish, having weird thoughts and showing paranoid behaviors, that day would become a tempting trip to Jim, since he spent most of the day following two French young teenagers but ended up in bed with a weird woman who was revealed to be a witch. Instead of having a great time with family, Jim will spend the day as if in a nightmare composed by intense witchcraft, futuristic scenarios, and sickness. Some creativity has to be recognized here but that doesn’t mean that every move has been achieved properly, especially after the film falls into a sci-fi thriller, losing some of the initial direction. The super-contrasting black and white photography was well chosen to reinforce the intended dreamlike atmosphere, while the mix of tension and humor worked fine in several occasions. Roy Abramsohn had a good performance as Jim, a curious character who, in my eyes, could have been even better availed. More visually attractive than intellectually challenging or funny, “Escape From Tomorrow”, still can provide some entertainment through its fantasies and ghastly dreams.
We Are What We Are (2013)
Directed by: Jim Mickle
Jim Mickle’s third feature film, “We Are What We Are”, gives continuity to the interesting experiences on horror/thriller that characterized “Mulberry Street” and “Stake Land”. Actually, the object of this review is much darker and moody than the two mentioned before. The story starts with the death of a woman whose body, when autopsied by Doc Barrow (Michael Parks), revealed to suffer from a very rare disease mostly present in particular tribes. This woman left a husband, the rigorous Frank Parker (Bill Sage) who also presents symptoms of sickness, and three children, little Rory (Jack Gore), the sensitive and angelical Rose (Julia Garner), and fearless Iris (Ambyr Childers). The family acts in a very reserved way, hiding a dark secret carried for long years. All this coincides with the discovery of human bones that are coming to surface after a big storm. The authorities believe they can be from one of the three girls who, in a span of 20 years, disappeared in town. Frank’s sense of family and tradition falls into madness and the story, in its final minutes, ends up in intensive gore, which impressed me somehow. Jim Mickle’s stupendous way of filming enhances the obscure atmosphere, creating a few mesmerizing images. The plot is surprising and its execution was able to extract all the coldness, agony, and suffering from the characters. With the sentence ‘It is with love that I do this. God’s will be done.’ as background, “We Are What We Are” is not so frightful as it could be, but surely is psychologically disturbing in many ways.
The Past (2013)
Directed by: Asghar Farhadi
Country: France / Italy
Asghar Farhadi’s first cinematic experience totally made outside Iran wasn’t so rewarding as his previous two masterpieces “About Elly” and “A Separation”. Set in France, there is no question about “The Past” being an adult film, but the plot didn’t shake me or intrigued me, and I felt a sort of distance towards the characters. I watched it with eagerness for some kind of astonishing revelation or a better twist, but the film let me dry in the end. The story follows Ahmad who travels from Teheran to Paris to finish his divorce procedure with his wife Marie whom he didn’t see for 4 years. He stays in Marie’s place, taking the opportunity to be with her two daughters from two previous marriages. But for his surprise, Marie is pregnant and has been living with another Arab, Samir, whose wife is in a coma due to suicide attempt. Samir also has a son, Fouad, who is showing problematical behaviors and reveals a clear need of attention. Marie’s older daughter, Lucie, becomes a key-character in the story’s climax, hiding a relevant secret that justifies her deplorable state of depression. “The Past” ends up being a modest family drama that, taking all the aspects into account, seemed more planned that complex. Nevertheless, and in the same line as his prior works, the film conveyed great simplicity of processes, composed with sharp images that were quite appealing to the eyes. Farhadi’s direction was never in cause, in a story about breaking up ties with the past, that despite likable, failed to enrapture.
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