In Review: “Brigsby Bear”

In Brigsby Bear, Kyle Mooney plays grown man-child James, coping with being reunited with his birth family after a lifetime spent in a idyllic bunker with his captor-parents. Having believed that the outside world was inhabitable, his life was spent with the singular obsession with a children’s educational program starring the cuddly (and creepy) creature of the film’s title. Discovering that the program was just one of the lies created by his benevolent captors (played by Mark Hamill and Jane Adams) is just the beginning for James’s adjustment into the real world. It’s not as icky or depressing as it sounds, but it sure is as affected.

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Keep Up With My Work at The Film Experience!

Greetings, readers! Things have been mostly light here at filmmixtape, as I’ve been a steady contributor to The Film Experience and focusing on generating freelance work. I will continue to post regular reviews, but be sure to read my news pieces and reviews over at TFE as well! September will possibly be a light month on this site as I will be attending the Toronto International Film Festival and helping cover it for TFE.

ICYMI I started a regular series at TFE called Soundtracking, writing about soundtracks and music in the movies. It’s quickly become the work I’ve been most proud of and enjoyed writing, so I hope everyone enjoys! I’ve come up on ten installments, so I wanted to share them here in case there are readers who haven’t caught up:

In Review: “Atomic Blonde”

Atomic Blonde is an amalgam of tired and unsavory tropes – cult graphic novel adaptation, Cold War spy thriller, breathlessly brutal real-time actioner – that after one to many beige retreads, any one facet of its personality should tell us exactly what we’re in for. But this aint beige, it’s neon – and all those cliches are tossed out for something quite inspired. Surprise: with slithering freshness, the film is both the most chic and thrilling film of the summer.

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In Review: “A Ghost Story”

David Lowery’s A Ghost Story was filmed in secrecy last summer, both in a response to and with the financial aid from Lowery’s experience creating the big-budgeted Disney remake of Pete’s Dragon. That off-the-grid air is present in the film, feeling like a found artifact or talisman from beyond. But what makes the film really register is the deep well of feeling that made Lowery’s Disney effort more than a retread into familiar emotional territory. Here, Lowery delivers something more than the cosmic and intellectually minded. What surprises in A Ghost Story is that it comes from the heart.

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In Review: Maudie

Like Mike Leigh’s Happy-Go-Lucky several years before it, Aisling Walsh’s Maudie proves to be an remarkable showcase for the subtle gifts of actress Sally Hawkins. In the lead role, Hawkins stars as famous Nova Scotian folk artist Maud Lewis who grew in notoriety while maintaining a humble lifestyle in the tiny home she shared with her husband. Plagued by rheumatoid arthritis, her paintings were modest in size though loaded with imagination. The film is true to both that humility and charming spirit, especially thanks to the absorbing performance by Hawkins and Ethan Hawke as her grumbling husband Everett.

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In Review: “Dunkirk”

On a grand scale, Christopher Nolan has tinkered with time and its experiential malleability to mine morality, regret, self-deception, and hope at the core of the everyman. With his latest, the World War II nightmare Dunkirk, he crafts a film where trauma is time’s displacing agent. While the director usually favors working your brain, Dunkirk is felt in the body.

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To tell the tale of the week-long evacuation of 300,000 troops from the french shores, Nolan interweaves the battle on land, sea, and sky into one streamlined thread of formative daring. This provides an authentic experience of each individual branch of battle’s unique struggle while providing a unique way to present to the audience their disconnected efforts as one united front. The audience tries to keep on their toes much like the soldiers, but they’re never left in the dark. For as many films that purport to be all action sequence these days, Dunkirk is essentially that but with more than your amazement on its mind.

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In Review: “War for the Planet of the Apes”

In War for the Planet of the Apes, the hero’s journey comes of great consequence to the resilience, the spirit, and the ethical foundation of the once infant ape Caesar. This third film in the series deals with the fallout of the the uprising of Caesar’s dissident Koba in Dawn…, with political and global ramifications and push the struggle between humans and apes to yet another tipping point. Caesar, as masterfully portrayed by Andy Serkis as ever, is a reluctant warrior pushed into circumstances far past what he has bargained with the entrance of a brutal colonel (Woody Harrelson) and his loyal military horde.

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In Review: “The Beguiled”

Smoke creeps in to Sofia Coppola’s southern landscape of The Beguiled, a girl’s school led by the stiff Miss Martha (Nicole Kidman) still functioning on bare bones. That encroachment reminds of the battle not too far off, the sounds of cannons just at the ear’s reach, and the potential for their secluded world to collapse. But the struggle inside this dusty mansion is both within and without, as a wounded northern soldier Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) tests both their will and his welcome through sexual and emotional manipulation.

These women are not so easily swayed as he believed.

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In Review: “47 Meters Down”

47 Meters Down is an oceanic disaster film so morose and shoddy that it begs for some levity. With only a handful of cliched jump scares and general lack of visual tension, there’s a lot of room for your mind to wander to lighten the mood over its lethargic 89 minutes. For example, which Mandy Moore track do sharks prefer: “In My Pocket” or “Candy”? What would the film be like with a commentary by Brian Fellows? “Does that shark have arms?”

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In Review!: “The Lovers”

A glance across the room, a shy gesture leads to awkward silence. Then the orchestra quickly stirs in as eyes meet, staying low until the sudden rush of requited love makes us exhale and catch our breath anew. If the love story we’re watching is worth its salt, it sweeps us away in both the minor movements of the build-up and the consummated passion. Azazel Jacobs’s The Lovers is that kind of breathless romance.

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