Watch the whole thing HERE!
Posts Tagged ‘All is Lost’
Don’t let the title fool you. “A Most Violent Year” doesn’t have fight scenes, much gunfire or even a Steven Seagal cameo. The violence implied in the title refers to the time. Set in 1981 New York, statistically one of the most brutal years in the city’s history, it’s really the story of a man trying to sidestep violence and grab the American Dream by the tail.
Oscar Isaac is Abel Morales, a young man in an old and dangerous game—the oil business. His distribution business is successful and about to expand, but there are problems. An aggressive city attorney (David Oyelowo) is sniffing around his finances while someone—a business rival perhaps—is systematically hijacking his trucks. Each time a truck loaded with oil disappears it erodes his bottom line and puts his dream of a waterfront distribution depot further out of reach. At home the violence and corruption of the times seeps into his personal life as his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain) the daughter of a Brooklyn gangster, gets restless.
Director J.C. Chandor is unafraid to take his time telling this story. Some will find his deliberately paced film a bore, others a slow burn. He concentrates on the characters, not the situations, putting Abel’s honesty and entrepreneurial spirit front and center. Much time is given to overcoming setbacks through sheer strength of will. His iron resolve is the character’s cornerstone, and much dialogue is devoted to it, but Isaac’s nicely delivered, understated performance keeps it from becoming repetitive.
The fireworks (such that they are) come later when Abel is at the end of his rope. Chastain (in a far more interesting performance than her work in “Interstellar”) on one side, corruption and violence on the other, the film pushes Abel, building to a satisfying climax. Still, Chandor doesn’t allow “A Most Violent Year” to live up to its name. A truck chase is pulse racing and a sub-plot about driver traumatized by a hijacking adds a hint of character-driven action, but the real tension comes from the fraught atmosphere Chandor creates with ruthless efficiency behind the camera and the restrained performances in front of it.
Watch the whole thing HERE!
Redford is a nameless sailor on a solo yacht trip on the Indian Ocean. When his thirty-foot boat collides with an abandoned shipping container he must use all his resources to survive.
That’s it. The old man and the sea… and a yacht with a hole in the side. Like “Gravity,” the other recent “adrift in the great yonder” movie, “All is Lost” is an exercise in immersive cinema. Story is secondary to the character’s journey. There is virtually no narrative, just a boiled down man-against-nature plot and a growing sense of desperation as the sailor’s supplies dwindle.
The drama comes from the surroundings, the harsh world recreated by director J.C. Chandor (whose last film “Margin Call” was an overlooked gem). It’s claustrophobic, made doubly intense by watery sound effects and a building feeling of helplessness portrayed on Redford’s face.
The actor is in every frame of the film and although he only speaks a dozen or so lines—many of which are the monosyllabic utterances of distress you’d expect—he manages to create a compelling persona despite the lack of backstory, context or any of the traditional hangers characters get hung on. He is the essence of the film, a man hell bent on survival against increasingly difficult odds.
“All is Lost” is probably more audacious than it is entertaining, but it showcases Chandor’s nimble footed technique and Redford’s effortless star power. Alone and figuratively naked, he holds the screen for the entire 106 minutes, eloquently commenting on the human condition with no words, just action.
“He has a good ego on him, so he loved it,” says Chandor. “Just kidding. Actually he does have an ego, but he knows it, which is partially what makes him great.”
In All is Lost Redford plays a character called “our man,” a sailor on a solo yacht trip on the Indian Ocean. When his thirty-foot boat collides with an abandoned shipping container he must use all his resources to survive.
The actor is alone on camera for the entire film, battling the elements and facing his fate.
“I think he realized it was a wonderful time in his life to get rid of all the distractions,” says Chandor. “He has an unbelievably complicated and interesting life with Sundance, the Sundance Institute, his non profit work and directing.
“His life is a bit of a race but he came to Mexico for two-and-a-half months [to shoot the film]. His personal secretary was the only one who knew how to get in touch with him so all that other stuff faded away and for a two-and-a-half month period we went on this very intense journey.
“By the end of it we had gone someplace together, as a crew, an actor and a director. He really loved exposing himself both emotionally and as a performer more than he ever had.”
Critical reaction has been strong and Redford’s name is being tossed around as a shoo in for a Best Actor Oscar nomination.
“He was able to do these very complex emotional transitions but you don’t just see the shift [as a viewer] you actually feel like you’ve been on a little bit of the journey with him.”
It is a raw, emotional performance unlike anything Redford has done before on screen. In his virtually wordless performance the actor becomes a blank canvas that viewers may project their own notions of the meaning of life death and everything in between.
“If the film is working for you you’ll see the man go, ‘Don’t freak out, pull yourself together,’” Says Chandor. “[Redford] and I talked a lot about that. We are not people that have that kind of dialogue out loud so we internalized it. Our hope was that by internalizing it we would create a far more open book for the audience to bring their own hopes and fears to it. What you’re dealing with is one person coming to grips with death, alone.”