Exposition can be tough to manage in a feature film. Either you give your audience too much and turn the movie into a mindless experience, or you don’t offer enough and leave viewers too confused to appreciate the narrative. In his latest film, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, writer-director David Lowery strives to hit the optimal balance so that you’re subtly directed towards what your eye should be looking at and also what your heart should be feeling.
The story hones in on a pair of married outlaws, Ruth and Bob (Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck). Their crime spree comes to a tumultuous end when Ruth shoots a local cop, Patrick (Ben Foster), but Bob takes the fall and gets hit with a substantial prison sentence. Years later, Ruth is busy raising their daughter while Patrick keeps a watchful eye over them. It’s a quaint existence until Ruth gets word that Bob escaped from jail and she knows that he’ll be coming for them.
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Movies are all about making your wildest dreams come true, right? Okay, only in some instances, but when you’ve got a film about an elaborate heist, I’d like to bet the real thing, if the real thing even exists, is far less exciting than what goes down when we catch a heist movie. So, naturally, Contraband falls into quite a few ludicrous plot holes, but thanks to strong filmmaking all around, they’re generally accepted for the sake of enjoying the adventure.
Chris Farraday was once into making runs, smuggling illegals items into the country via cargo ships, but now he’s got a wife, Kate (Kate Beckinsale), and two young boys. The problem is, Kate’s little brother, Andy (Caleb Landry Jones), picked up Chris’ old habit and when a botched run gets him into some major trouble with the man in charge, Briggs (Giovanni Ribisi), Chris has no choice, but to head back to work to settle Andy’s debt.
With his old crew by his side, Chris boards a cargo ship as a carpet cleaner. But, of course, when he isn’t keeping those carpets spick and span, he’s plotting to smuggle a Mini Cooper-sized stack of fake bills from Panama back into the US. Chris is confident he’ll be able to pull off the job, but when Briggs threatens his family, the stakes skyrocket and Chris is forced to reevaluate his plan.
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Wow, a movie starring Ben Foster in which Foster isn’t the freakiest thing in the movie! Even when he’s not a deranged lunatic like in 30 Days of Night or a lethal wacko like in Hostage, Foster is riveting on screen. Even his co-star Dennis Quaid performs well when out of his comfort zone. He doesn’t say things like “When all else fails, we don’t” like in G.I. Joe or “Mr. Vice President, if we don’t act now it’s going to be too late” like in The Day After Tomorrow. His character has depth, emotion and is extremely unnerving. You know what else is unnerving about Pandorum? It takes a brilliant concept and stellar performances and buries them in banality and mediocre scares.
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After chatting with Sean Patrick Flannery last week it was obvious that there was something special about Boondock Saints. I’m not referring to the fact that the film, which barely got a run in the theaters, managed to grow into a sensational cult classic; rather that the success of the film had a profound effect on the actors that made us love it. Norma Reedus emphasized his gratitude for Troy Duffy casting him as Murphy McManus in the 1999 hit, but it’s moviegoers that should be thankful for it let a talented actor share his craft with the world.
Norman may have held back when it came to divulging juicy Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day plot details and informed me that’s he’s never seen Titanic (gasp), but he’s still got a lot to say about the vast number of projects he’s so passionate about. It’s been ten years since we’ve seen Reedus as Murphy McManus and he’s kept very busy over the intermediary years. Not only does Reedus have Pandorum hitting theaters on September 25th and All Saints Day on October 30th, he’s also busy working on films through his own production company. The guy may be known as brother, kill and a saint, but there’s a lot more to him than that.
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