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Showing posts from May, 2013

The Iceman

If you've seen the poster for The Iceman, you might not recognize the film's star, Michael Shannon.  It looks as though he's been given the Scarface treatment:  hair darkened, slicked back, those formidable eyebrows run to jet as well as a particularly bushy and badass goatee.  Mr. Shannon's facial hair often grows more fearful and plentiful as the body count rises in The Iceman.  But it's not a Latin gangster he's playing in the film.  Shanon is actually depicting a man of Polish descent, serial killer and mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski, whose real body count will probably never be known with certainty, much as it might have ranged into triple figures.
Just as the resemblance of actor to actual killer is slight, so does this version of Kuklinski's story constitute a more palatable distillation of events in the man's life than full disclosure would involve.  The screenplay by director Ariel Vroman and Morgan Land, seems intent on humanizing Kuklinski w…

Mud

Through the vagaries of 21st century film distribution, I happened to see Mud at one of Chicago's god-forsaken multiplexes.  This occurred after the heavy bombardment in Dolby Digital sound of coming attractions for the likes of Iron Man 3 and Pacific Rim practically shook the bones and before the more genteel trailers for Roadside Attractions - the company distributing Mud - followed:  a documentary from Sarah Polley; Joss Whedon's update of Much Ado About Nothing.

With writer/director Jeff Nichol's Mud, we're dealing with something far more subtle than most of those thundering mainstream films.  And yet, there's no lack of story with Mud.  Over the course of his three features, Mr. Nichols has established himself as someone who seems more of a skilled writer that directs than a director who just insists on filming his own stories.  Not a bad thing at all.  So Mud is ground in specifics of character and place as any good writer would do.  But Nichols has applied…

The Place Beyond the Pines

Compares favorably to Drive.  Both Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive and Derek Cianfrance's Place Beyond the Pines have in common the laconic, handsome, blue-eyed presence of Ryan Gosling.   So, for that matter does the film at hand and Mr. Cianfrance's first feature, Blue Valentine, though Gosling's  physical appeal was somewhat muted in that film at the service of character.

The Place Beyond the Pines, in its rangy 140 minutes, is, to some extent two films in one.  There is the past (presumably) in which the film begins, with it's converging fates of motorcycle ace turned bank robber Luke Glanton (Gosling) and law school graduate turned policeman Avery Cross (Bradley Cooper).  Then we are taken to the place beyond the past, some 15 years on, when the film ascends (or tries, it seems) into the mythological, with its sins of fathers visiting sons and the younger generation's attempt to break away from or follow suit in their way.
It is in that first part of The Plac…