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Drama

The Glass Castle (2017)

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SumThe Glass Castlemary

A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.

Genre : Drama
Country : USA

Cast :
Woody Harrelson : Rex
Brie Larson : Jeannette
Ella Anderson : Young Jeannette

Director :
Destin Daniel Cretton

My opinion on “The Glass Castle”

“I never built the glass castle.
No. But it was fun to plan it. “

The Glass Castle” is the film version of a true story that will baffle and mystify you. A film that balances between a romanticized comedy and a serious drama. It’s like an adventurous road-movie in which an apparently normal family travel around as nomads. But, “Apparently normal” is an understatement, because they lead a rather unusual life. And this thanks to Rex, the pater familias of the Walls family (Woody Harrelson). On the one hand he thoroughly hates everything that smells like capitalism. And on the other hand there’s also a serious alcohol problem that causes a number of problems. An addicted man with manic-depressive traits who’s planning already for years to build a dream house in the most efficient place (an argument that he uses over and over again when they are moving again for the umpteenth time). This realization involves a futuristic glass house. A house probably as fragile as the family structure in which Jeannette (Ella Anderson / Brie Larson) grew up.

The Glass Castle

Parents who feel responsible but can’t act as responsible parents.

Rex Walls is without doubt an intelligent person, but has never used this intelligence in a positive way. Hence the chaotic life with a different destination every other time. From a poor home to spending the night under a starry sky in the desert. Rex and Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) are parents who feel responsible for the welfare of their children, but on the other hand they can not bear that responsibility. Rose Mary is a would-be artist with a hippie look who follows Rex unconditionally and goes along with his illusions. Even though she realizes at certain moments that they aren’t exactly leading a normal life, it’s still very difficult for her to leave Rex. Sometimes she acts as if she’s intoxicated as well.

The Glass Castle

Alcohol and how it dislocates families.

The Glass Castle” contains some heavy themes such as raising children, an addiction and the consequences, rebelling against established values in a capitalist community and psychological child abuse. Even though it sometimes feels absurd and light-footed, the whole left an everlasting impression. A family life with well-meaning parents who make everyday life almost impossible. I haven’t experienced similar circumstances. But the addiction element is something that touched me personally. It showed in a realistic way how someone’s dependency is destructive and how difficult it is to reverse such a process. Despair and guilt were played in a striking way by Woody Harrelson.

The Glass Castle

Ella Anderson. A truly remarkable performance.

Woody Harrelson plays his prominent role in a truly brilliant way. For me this was one of the best acting performances of this versatile actor till now. Brie Larson shows in a realistic way how the older Jeanette struggles with her inner feelings. There was this turnaround moment when she realizes that she doesn’t belong to the artificial world of the wealthy people and that the imaginary world of her father, she wanted to escape from so desperately, was the place where she felt at home. Perhaps it’s a bit too corny, but at the same time it’s really touching. The one who made the most impression, however, was Ella Anderson as the young Jeannette. The interactions between Rex and the young Jeannette were the most beautiful film moments. The father with his changing moods opposite that vulnerable girl whose unconditional love for her father is indestructible.

The Glass Castle

Alcohol addiction. A destructive lifestyle.

Even though it’s not explicitely about alcohol, I think this is the common thread throughout the film. I’m convinced that alcohol is the structural cause of the totally disrupted family situation and the reason for all kinds of incidents. Rex realizes that his family doesn’t get the regular life that they actually deserve because of his drinking problem. And when his favorite daughter asks the ultimate question to quit drinking, there’s that pained and guilt-soaked look. Most will see this parental behavior as unheard and irresponsible. But remember that an alcohol addict is trapped in a hard-to-flee compulsion pattern and most of times doesn’t have control over his behavior. However, I fear the film isn’t a reflection of how the situation was in reality.

My rating 8/10
Links : IMDB

Drama

Just Mercy | Official Trailer – HD

A powerful and thought-provoking true story, “Just Mercy” follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan might have had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson). One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx), who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds and the system stacked against them.

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Genre:

Drama

Release Date:

December 25, 2019

Director:

Destin Daniel Cretton

Cast:

Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, Tim Blake Nelson, Jamie Foxx, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Rhoda Griffis, Rafe Spall

Plot Summary:

A powerful and thought-provoking true story, “Just Mercy” follows young lawyer Bryan Stevenson (Jordan) and his history-making battle for justice. After graduating from Harvard, Bryan might have had his pick of lucrative jobs. Instead, he heads to Alabama to defend those wrongly condemned, with the support of local advocate Eva Ansley (Larson). One of his first, and most incendiary, cases is that of Walter McMillian (Foxx), who, in 1987, was sentenced to die for the notorious murder of an 18-year-old girl, despite a preponderance of evidence proving his innocence and the fact that the only testimony against him came from a criminal with a motive to lie. In the years that follow, Bryan becomes embroiled in a labyrinth of legal and political maneuverings and overt and unabashed racism as he fights for Walter, and others like him, with the odds and the system stacked against them.

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Drama

Adopt a Highway: Melancholic And Endearing Film That Will Touch A Sensitive Nerve

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When you commit a third violent crime,
you will be put away and put away for good.
Three strikes, and you are out.

 

Every now and then you come across such an unknown, idiosyncratic film, which was probably made with a modest budget and for which no huge marketing budgets have been made available. A film you don’t really expect too much from. That’s “Adopt a Highway“. It’s not a cheerful or action-rich film. I really expected a depressing drama. And even though there’s a moving moral in it, you can say there’s also another hidden message in this film. A message of hope, compassion and modesty.

 

Adopt a highway

 

Three strikes.

The introduction shows how Russell Millings (Ethan Hawke) leaves prison after being imprisoned for 21 years. Reluctantly. Somewhat anxious and timid. A man who’s alienated from society and who struggles to keep up with the contemporary pace. Someone who has never used a mobile phone, the internet or e-mail. And all thanks to a short-sighted policy in which someone is sentenced to a heavy sentence when he gets involved in something for the third time. No matter how small the criminal offense is. The so-called “three strikes” legislation. In Russell’s case, it is about owning a few grams of marijuana in the state of California. Something that has become virtually legal after those 21 years. An unreasonable punishment that ensured that he wasn’t given the opportunity to develop into a decent citizen.

 

Adopt a highway

 

Ethan Hawke’s brilliant performance.

Ethan Hawke probably demonstrates his best acting performance here. The way he plays Russell is simply breathtaking. He’s in the spotlight almost constantly. And his clumsy way of conversing and interacting with others is simply sad and pitiful. It’s not clear whether Russell used to be mentally deficient from a young age already or if he got numb from the years of imprisonment. In any case, he’s treated by the official authorities as insignificant and is left to himself a bit. He tries to live an honest life and tries to avoid following the wrong path again. A simple life where he earns a living as a dishwasher in a fast-food chain and sleeps in a motel. Until he discovers the adorable Ella (Savannah Sucher) in a garbage container.

 

Adopt a highway

 

A baby’s gratitude.

Even though from the outset he realizes that it’s almost impossible for him to take care of a baby, he still hesitates to hand over the lovely baby to the authorities. What follows are touching moments that he experiences with the few-month-old Ella. His ignorance about taking care of a baby and the sense of responsibility that he suddenly experiences, take away the attention of the depressing life that he led until then. Even though Ella’s discovery brings a turning point in Russell’s life, this wasn’t the central theme for me. This helpless and innocent little girl shows gratitude in a spontaneous way. No disinterest, impatience or incomprehension as adults treat him. The most emotional scene is the one on the beach where Russell tells a part of his life story.

 

Adopt a highway

 

A second chance.

Adopt a Highway” is a melancholic and endearing film that will touch a sensitive nerve with many viewers. Well, in my case it did. Some will call it a corny ending. I thought it was a logical conclusion. An example of humanity. It’s also a film about getting a second chance in life. I was surprised by the Blumhouse logo and I already assumed that this would be a very sinister movie. That’s certainly not the case. The explanation for the Blumhouse connection lies with the director Logan Marshall-Green who appeared last year in the Blumhouse production “Upgrade“. “Adopt a Highway” is, therefore, his debut as a director. And as far as I’m concerned he can certainly direct such a gem again. I’m ready for it.

You can see “Adopt a Highway” on Vudu, iTunes and Amazon.com

 

My rating 8/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

Low Tide: It’s Quite Obvious That It Won’t End Well

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Low TideEight, nine, ten. A thousand.
You boys find any more coins,
give me a holler.

Once and a while I like to watch a well-made coming-of-age movie. Such a film about juvenile innocence in which a radical event shakes the pleasant life of one or more young people. A life experience many of them look back at when they are adults. Like in “Stand by me” where a group of comrades goes looking for a corpse to become famous. In “Mud” it’s about two rascals helping a fugitive. And “Rockaway” shows two brothers who come up with a daring plan to get rid of their violent father. In most cases, things get a bit out of hand, making the impact on the involved kids even greater. Or it should be such a fairy-tale story as “The Goonies” (also aimed at a youthful audience) with a whopper of a happy ending so that you can walk around for days with such a broad smile that people are convinced that a coat hanger got stuck in your mouth.

 

Low Tide

 

Let’s bully Benny’s.

Admittedly, “Low Tide” is a bit reminiscent of “The Goonies“. Here you have two brothers, Peter (JaedenThe Book of HenryMartell) and Alan (KeeanAlita: Battle AngelJohnson), who find a bag of gold coins while plundering beach houses of tourists. Golden coins of such value that it could be a way out of their futureless life situation. The whole story is situated in a remote region of Jersey Shore. A shabby neighborhood where fishery plays an important role. And tourism is also flourishing thanks to the wealthy day-trippers from the surrounding areas. The teenagers call those day-trippers Benny’s (residents of Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, New York). Alan, Red (AlexA-X-LNeustaedter) and Smitty (Daniel Zolghadri) hate them and therefore adhere to one rule during their raids. Homes of the local population are categorically shunned when they go looting once again.

 

Low Tide

 

A charming film full of frivolity.

There’s something charming about this film. It radiates frivolity and carefreeness when you see the three bosom friends joking at the fair. Acting tough and flirting with girls passing by. A summery atmosphere full of joy and mischiefs. Of course, their nocturnal escapades cannot be approved. For them, it seems like a game and a way to get money to sponsor their daily activities. Parental control is nil since Alan’s father has been at sea for some time. The rest seems to be parentless (no idea what Red’s family situation is) or their parents have no time or desire to worry about them. Even when Smitty loses a shoe and breaks a leg during such a nocturnal adventure, the three don’t seem to worry. It’s only when Peter is involved and a valuable treasure is found that the tensions starts to rise. Suddenly there’s discord within the close friends’ club. Distrust and greed arise. And when the local police officer Kent (Shea Whigham), who keeps an eye on one of the rascals, begins to meddle in their affairs, the real personality of some is struggling for dominance.

 

Low Tide

 

Not too bad but disappointing.

Despite the generally fascinating acting and the beautiful images presented in this film, there are a few shortcomings in this movie. First of all, the story itself is interesting, but on the other hand, it’s a bit too simplistic. You can easily summarize it all in a few short sentences. But most of all, there’s mainly a lack of tension. It’s quite obvious that it won’t end well. And that such a handsome guy like Alan will get some major attention from girls he meets, even though she’s a Benny, with a romantic tête-à-tête as a result, is not really a surprise and something you could expect. Red’s aggressiveness reaches a peak as his suspicion grows more and more. And they begin to feel the hot breath of Sergeant Kent down their neck. And yet the film fails to end up in an apotheosis. The outcome was actually disappointing, even though it was a logical conclusion. No spectacular firework (as can be seen at the end of the movie) and far too predictable. Unfortunately, because it still was a charming film.

 

My rating 5/10
Links: IMDB

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