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Drama

Beautiful Boy (2018)

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Relapse is a part of recovery.

8 Years ago I found myself in a similar hopeless situation. With my back against the wall. Desperately searching for a way out. Knowing that I had to change my way of life drastically. Or else I would be admiring the roots of green grass till eternity real soon. The will to change was there. The courage too. Only I couldn’t do it. And now, after all those years, I’m happy I made the right decision back then. For me, “Beautiful Baby” was a bitter pill to swallow. I didn’t think I would have a hard time watching it. It wasn’t crystal meth or something similar I had problems with. But there were so many similarities with my situation in this impressive film that it seemed like the story was about me. You’ll see an avalanche of feelings in “Beautifull Boy”. Pride, trust, distrust, despair, upheaval, hope, happiness, grief and discouragement. A hopeless battle that demands inhuman efforts from both camps, leading to an unavoidable outcome. Either the person succeeds or those who surround him must passively watch as he drinks, injects, blows or swallows himself to death. Well, the movie shook me up.

 

 

Aggression, begging and promises.

The nice thing about this movie was that it didn’t only focus on the addict Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet), but also on the people surrounding him (his father David Sheff played by Steve Carell and stepmother Karen by Maura Tierney). As an addict, you don’t have any clue what grief you are causing to relatives during your heydays. Everything revolves around getting what your body yearns for. It’s not like in “Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” and “Animals” where you witness the gradual decline of the addict himself. Both physically and psychologically. It’s not that Nic looks spic and span the whole movie. Towards the end, you can see the terrible consequences of the daily use of methamphetamine. That hazy look and a gray, unkempt appearance. But mainly his changing moods and aggressive behavior towards others are terrible to look at. His begging and making promises are nothing more than an excuse to get some extra cash to buy the drug he needs.

 

 

I pray this will never happen to one of my kids.

The only thing I could say to my wife afterward was: “I hope we’ll never have to deal with this with one of our two kids. Because this is a real nightmare“. As a parent of two children growing up, the thought this could happen to us scares the hell out of me. No matter how much you try to protect them from the evil outside world and you overload them with love and attention, the moment they give in to the things that seem to make their life rosier, you know that you are going to have an unequal battle. A fight where, against all your parents’ feelings, you might have to throw the towel in the ring at some point and have to confess to yourself that you’ve lost the battle. Losing a child is terrible. But breaking the bond with one of your children, pretending that they no longer exist and hoping that they get out of that period unscathed, is dozens of times worse I think.

 

 

The acting was impressive.

Beautiful Boy” is impressive. And not only because of the theme. The acting of Steve Carell and Timothée Chalamet is also unparalleled. You simply feel the desperation of Steve Carell who tries to help his son and always realizes that this isn’t possible. A father who tackles the problem and like an investigative journalist tries to understand what the notorious drugs do to his son Nic. As a comedian, Steve Carell never convinced me. With this role, however, my respect for the actor has only increased. Timothée Chalamet’s performance is certainly Oscar-worthy. You don’t get the feeling that he’s the acting rising star in the Hollywood firmament. It feels authentic, sincere and unforced. These two protagonists may already prepare their tuxedo for the Academy Awards.

 

 

Proud to be a Belgian.

And director Felix van Groeningen (Yes, he’s from Belgium) can also join these gentlemen on the red carpet. Thematically, the film lends itself perfectly to make an exaggerated Hollywood spectacle. But he manages to keep it serene and realistic. Artistic images are processed in an idiosyncratic montage with a lot of back and forth jumping in time. Flashbacks follow each other and the memories of both Nic and Davis flow into each other. I sometimes didn’t know where the story was situated on the timeline. But that’s the only flaw that I can think of in this otherwise impressive film. And all this with a tasteful soundtrack. I never expected to hear “Territorial pissings” from Nirvana in a movie.

 

 

I was speechless.

Some film viewers will probably just say it’s a family drama about addiction. Maybe they also find it monotonous because of the endless cycle of reviving and relapsing. On me, however, it made an overwhelming impression that unleashed a lot of emotions. I hope that every person who falls into the trap of any drug also can fall back on a loving, supportive family full of understanding and support, so they can escape from it eventually somewhere in their lives.

 

My rating 10/10
Links: IMDB

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Crime

The Untouchables – A Retrospective Look

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I watched this in honour of Sean Connery who sadly passed away the day before. It must be 10 years since I have watched this, and I had forgotten how brilliant it actually was.

What is often overlooked with ‘The Untouchables’ is just how emotional it is in parts, from Ness (Kevin Costner) meeting the mother of a girl blown up by a cafe bomb to the touching climax between Ness and Stone (Andy Garcia). It is a film that is genuinely upsetting to see the end, you would be quite happy to spend more time with these people.

It is also undoubtedly a film about friendship and that is where the late great Sean Connery stands out from the cast. As supposedly past it beat cop Malone, he strikes as a man of lonely isolation, just trying to get through every shift alive. He is at first suspicious of Ness but soon warms to what Ness is trying to achieve and there the bond between the two starts. Malone’s relationship with Stone gets off to a less auspicious start but by the end of the film, the relationship produces one final emotional wallop that we all deeply feel. Throw in accountant Oscar Wallace, played for the comic relief by Charles Martin Smith and we have four disparate men bonding over their end goal, to catch and see justice brought again crime lord Al Capone, (played with menace by Robert DeNiro).

There is so much to admire here, some of the setpieces are simply astonishing, the stakeout and subsequent battle on the Canadian border are sensationally choreographed, and a homage to the Odessa Steps sequence from Battleship Potemkin is nerve shreddingly executed. The violence is brutal and shocking at times and as stated previously the deaths are graphic and in one particular case deeply moving.

Kevin Costner was a star on the rise at this point, with big hits like ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘Dances With Wolves,’  ‘JFK’ and ‘Robin Hood’ to come, he is excellent as the clean-cut family man Ness. A young Andy Garcia is impressive as the sharpshooting Stone, but this is Connery’s film. It’s an exceptional performance filled with guile, wisdom and what is apparent from the get-go, anger. He would win an Academy Award for this film and few could argue against it.

Its an incredibly neat and tidy film, it never outstays its welcome or gets too bogged down in courtroom showdowns. It’s gritty and powerful and a reminder of just how good an actor and phenomenal screen presence Connery was. It doesn’t get much better than this.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Sir Sean Connery 25/8/1930 – 31/10/2020 – A true screen icon

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Comedy

On the Rocks (2020)

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You know what’s great about her?
She doesn’t talk. She just listens.
That sounds perfect for you.

 

Life is full of unexpected turns. As an 18-year-old, I rented the adult cartoon “Tarzoon: Shame of the Jungle” just for fun. Probably because of the titillating vamp on the cover, lying naked on a huge platter and carried by figures that looked like penises. No one could suspect that a voice actor in this cartoon would become one of my most popular actors. If there’s one comedian who manages to make me chuckle without any problem, it’s Bill Murray. Like in “Stripes” and “Ghostbusters”. Or the incomparable film “Groundhog Day”. However small his role may be in a feature film, he always manages to create an unforgettable scene, such as in “Zombieland” for example. Put Murray in a horror, and his typical way of acting makes it a completely different experience. Just watch “The dead don’t die” and you’ll know what I mean. In short, a versatile actor who takes a film to a higher level with his contribution.

 

 

Lost in Translation.

This year I came to the conclusion that I had never seen the movie “Lost in translation”. A film directed by Sofia Coppola (daughter of) with Bill Murray and the very young Scarlett Johansson in the leading roles. Even though there was something slightly comical lurking beneath the surface of this film, the subject matter was far from comical. A film about two individuals who are right in the middle of an identity crisis. A film about love and loneliness. Loneliness not only because of the life situation they both find themselves in, but also because of the fact that they are in a country where they don’t understand the language, culture, and general way of life. Two lost souls who discover, sense, and encourage each other. I admit, I was moved after seeing this masterful film. Finally, after a long time a film that rocked my socks off. A thought-provoking film that’ll resonate for a pretty long time. Yes, some movies do that to me.

 

 

A wild search for the truth.

And then 17 years after the release of this magisterial film, we get a renewed collaboration between Sofia Coppola and Bill Murray. “On the Rocks” is not as magical as “Lost in Translation“. But somewhere deeply hidden it does have points of contact with the latter. Here, too, Laura (Rashida Jones) is in the middle of a crisis. Both in terms of her marriage and her writing career. The suspicion that her husband Dean (Marlon Wayans) just pretends to have lots of work since starting his own company, just to cover up an affair, grows stronger. And writing a new book isn’t easy either. The day she tells her father Felix (Bill Murray), a charismatic wealthy art dealer with an untameable flirtation habit, about her suspicions, he throws himself wholeheartedly into the case with full dedication. Before Laura realizes it, she is embroiled in a wild search for the truth.

 

 

Murray nails it.

On the rocks” isn’t such a depressing and melancholic story as “Lost in translation“. There’s more humor in it. How another mother at school tells Laura every morning about her love life. The interesting facts about human behavior and the evolution of relationships between men and women Felix tells about every time unexpectedly. The wild chase in a “not so suspicious-looking” red, noisy convertible through the streets of New York. Perhaps it’s rather light, uncomplicated humor. Still, it’s subtle at the same time. The chemistry between Laura and her father feels unforced and authentic. And this won’t come as a surprise: Bill Murray nailed it once more. He demands full attention every time he comes into the picture. His characteristic acting and the way in which he can charm random people with his smooth talk is simply superb. And it’s not just the female population that falls for his smooth-talking. The way he manages to turn a police officer’s mood from being reprimanding to being helpful is just sublime.

 

One more time.

“On the rocks” is about marital troubles, a complicated father-daughter relationship, and also about how people get lost in the turbulent and chaotic society in which they live. It’s not another masterpiece of Coppola, but surely it’s another successful cooperation between Coppola and Murray. I quietly hope that they will work together again in the future.

My rating 7/10
Links: IMDB

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Drama

The Craft: Legacy | Official Trailer – Sony Pictures

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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Genre:

Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Release Date:

October 27, 2020

Director:

Zoe Lister-Jones

Cast:

Michelle Monaghan, Cailee Spaeny, David Duchovny, Gideon Aldon, Lovie Simone, Hannah Gordon, Nicholas Galitzine

Plot Summary:

An eclectic foursome of aspiring teenage witches get more than they bargained for as they lean into their newfound powers.

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