Movie Reviews: “Mass” is a beautifully interpreted study on misery


MASS: 4 STARS

The story of “Mass”, a new drama from writer-director Fran Kranz, who now stars in theaters, is simple but the emotions it evokes are anything but.

A bland meeting room in an Episcopal Church in Idaho is the backdrop to the meeting of two couples bound by shared trauma. Years before, Hayden, the son of Richard and Linda (Reed Birney and Ann Dowd), killed eleven children in a high school massacre, including Evan, the son of Gail and Jay (Martha Plimpton and Jason Isaacs).

The intimate summit is supposed to bring clarity and closure, but mistrust and frustration guide the debates as they provoke anger and recriminations.

“Mass” often looks like a play transposed to the screen. Most of the “action” takes place in a room, around a table as the four chop up the events that shaped their lives in the aftermath of the tragedy.

A storm of angst, blame and forgiveness, it forcefully harnesses the emotion of the situation without resorting to sensational flashbacks or grim recreations of the film’s defining event. Instead, director Kranz trusts performances and words to get the job done.

“I loved Hayden so much,” said Richard, “but maybe he never should have been born.”

Questions about accountability, radicalization, gun culture, and mental illness are woven into the fabric of “Mass,” but the film is more concerned with human dynamics than answering these questions. It’s about the who, not the why.

To this end, the main players are never less than credible. Each explores a different path of mourning and remembrance, and each offers an acting masterclass. Sober and realistic, the actors go to the bottom, indifferent to flashy pyrotechnics or showboating.

“Mass” is raw and real, devastating, nuanced and dark, a beautifully interpreted study of misery that allows a ray of hope.

HALLOWEEN KILL: 2 ½ STARS

Halloween kills

Keeping track of the storylines of the various “Halloween” movies and their sequels can be a mind-boggling experience.

43 years ago, the original film directed by John Carpenter set many rules for the slasher genre and spawned a prolific franchise that has so far produced 11 additional films detailing masked killer Michael Myers’ unstoppable penchant for killing the good. . looking for teenagers.

There have been reboots, comebacks, prequels, sequels, and remakes. Laurie Strode, the heroine of the original film played by Jamie Lee Curtis, faked her own death, went into hiding, beheaded, shot and stabbed Myers and yet a new movie, “Halloween Kills” starring Strode and Myers, hit theaters this weekend. .

Director David Gordon Green sidesteps the labyrinthine whereabouts of the Mad Masked Killer by simply ignoring films shot between 1981 and 2009. His 2018 film “Halloween” is a direct sequel to the 1978 film of the same name.

Confused? No need to be.

All you really need to know is that after an extended flashback to 1978, it’s Halloween night in Haddonfield, Ill., And the action resumes within minutes of the sequel. from 2018.

Michael Myers, “the essence of evil”, is in the basement of a burning house, trapped by Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), his daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and his granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) . The Nightmare should be over, but this is a “Halloween” movie, which means the nightmare will never be over. Myers manages to escape, and as he resumes his killing spree, Laurie, her family, and motivated townspeople set out to end his reign of terror.

“You and Allyson shouldn’t have to keep running,” Laurie tells Karen. “Evil dies tonight.”

The best horror movies are never about the monster or the murders. It’s the gooey, bloody stuff that keeps us in our seats, ready to absorb the larger social messages woven into the script. “Halloween Kills” wants to make poignant and timely remarks about how anger divides us and fear separates us, but the problem is, “Halloween Kills” isn’t one of the best horror movies.

Far from there.

It’s brutal. Michael Myers is still so relentless and remorseful, maybe even more so. Green’s interesting shots of the victims, paired with nasty, squishy sound effects, provide several memorable moments of gory glee that horror fans will enjoy. Slash, slash, squirt, squirt! Oh my! He’s got blood on his shirt!

The first half of the film offers rather inventive kills. It’s funny when Myers is on screen, walking towards another victim. Unfortunately, it’s less fun when the vigilante mob is constantly chanting “evil dies tonight”. We understood.

And everything else about the plot.

For such a simple story, they certainly waste time explaining the same points over and over again. Add to that some over-cooked dialogue – “Let him take my head,” Laurie sneers, “as I take his.” – and too long an operating time and you will wish it was already November 1st.

THE VELVET UNDERGROUND: 4 STARS

The velvet metro

Fans of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones may disagree, but The Velvet Underground is arguably the most influential band of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“The Velvet Underground didn’t sell a lot of records,” said Brian Eno, “but everyone who bought one went out and started a band. “

They’ve shown the direction for everyone from David Bowie and Patti Smith to U2 and The Black Angels, and “The Velvet Underground,” a gripping new documentary from director Todd Haynes, and now airing on Apple TV +, aims to bring people to date on one of the most ahead of their time groups of the 20th century.

Told through interviews with friends, family, colleagues and most importantly the band, guitarist and vocalist Lou Reed, guitarist Sterling Morrison, bassist and violist John Cale, vocalist Nico and drummer Maureen “Moe” Tucker , the film is a trippy look at the tumultuous period in the New York art world that gave birth to the group.

“That shit of love and peace,” Tucker says, “we hated it.”

Using split screens, montages, and numerous archival footage, Haynes paints an impressionistic portrayal of influences – early rock n ‘roll, doo-wop, gay life in NYC, drugs, Andy Warhol and more. – which go a long way in reconciling how Cale’s experimental ‘drone’ – the ‘hum of western civilization’ he calls it – mixed with Reed’s more melodic sense to form a renegade sound no one had heard previously. Add to that lyrics that deal with heroin addiction, death, sadomasochism, and other topics that aren’t usually covered in three minute pop songs and the result is aggressive and hostile rock. on the radio, the echoes of which are still felt today.

“We didn’t put things out,” Reed said, “we took things out.”

Haynes meticulously guides us through the band’s history, rise, fall and ugly dissolution, lining the film with a visual onslaught of imagery that suggests the multimedia presentation Andy Warhol created for the live performances of the group. The pop artist saw these shows as an “opportunity to combine music, art and film,” and the documentary pursues that spirit to capture the excitement of the story. The storytelling is rather conventional, linear, but the visuals are an idiosyncratic nod that matches the ambitious nature of the music.

“The Velvet Underground” focuses on the heyday of the band’s classic line-up, giving later incarnations a bit of lightness. Nonetheless, the doc captures the vibe and spirit of a band that music journalists have struggled to categorize for decades.


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