Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund talk about the weekend’s big releases, “The Light Between Oceans,” starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander and “The 9th Life of Louis Drax,” with Jamie Dornan and Sarah Gaddon!
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at “The Light Between Oceans,” starring Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander and “The 9th Life of Louis Drax,” with Jamie Dornan and Sarah Gaddon!
There’s accident-prone and then there’s Louis Drax. After surviving eight near-death experiences, the young boy almost meets his end on his ninth birthday when he tumbles off a cliff. What is his secret to survival? More importantly, why do terrible things keep happening to him?
Louis’s (Aiden Longworth) latest accident has left his family in tatters and him in a coma. As psychologist Dr. Allan Pascal (Jamie Dornan) delves into the strange case, piecing together the disparate aspects and weird coincidences of Louis’s life that brought him to the coma ward, the good doctor also begins a romantic relationship with the boy’s mother Natalie (Sarah Gadon). The details surrounding Louis’s case not only defy medical logic but believability as well. “I think that some people don’t want to wake up until they feel safe,” Pascal says to the comatose boy. Determined to get to the bottom of the medical mystery Pascal and a colleague, Dr. Perez (Oliver Platt), take drastic steps to get inside the boy’s head.
“The 9th Life for Louis Drax” rides the line between reality and fantasy, pitting perception against interpretation. Director Alexandre Aja ambitiously tackles a complicated narrative, switching the point of view between Louis and Pascal perspectives as he balances the story’s three-pronged attack. It’s part psychological drama, part mystery and part police procedural. Add to that a creepy sea monster that visits Louis and you have a film that feels like a novel.
Dornan makes for a good looking, if bland leading man, but Gaddon and Aaron Paul, as Louis’s father, hand in solid, interesting performances. They bring the human touch the story needs to keep the fantasy elements from overpowering the gothic narrative core. The movie flirts with the supernatural but it is more a look at how truth can be interpreted.
“The 9th Life for Louis Drax” is a handsome film that feels like Guillermo Del Toro Lite. Aja’s film isn’t quite as deep or magical as it thinks it is, but it’s a nice, mostly entertaining adaptation of a complex novel.
The names James Wan and Leigh Whannell may not mean much to you… unless you’re a horror fan, in which case the pairing will send a chill down your spine. The director – writer team brought one of the most influential horror movies of the last decade to the screen—“Saw”—and are back together for “Insidious,” a new exercise in eeriness starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne.
The “Insidious” trailer doesn’t give away much of the plot and neither will I. I can tell you that Wilson and Byrne play parents whose child slips into a deep trance-like state. He’s not in a coma, the doctors say, adding, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” Not exactly the words you want to hear from your GP. As the months pass strange things start happening in the house and when ghostly figures appear it becomes clear that something insidious is happening in the young couple’s home.
“Insidious” is one of those movies that requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief. For instance when Byrne’s character starts experiencing odd things—strange sounds, children appearing out of nowhere, faces in mirrors—they aren’t chalked up to the sounds of their new house settling or some kind of hallucination, nope, instead of looking for a worldly explanation this bunch’s first assumption is that something supernatural is happening. Luckily Wilson’s mother (Barbara Hershey) happens to have a psychic investigator on speed dial. Get past those leaps of faith and you’re left with a movie that is shrouded with loads of atmosphere but short on actual scares.
Eerie rather than scary, “Insidious” will play on your fears of displacement and feelings of helplessness, but the unless you find the idea of an otherworldly spirit listening to Tiny Tim’s “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” terrifying you won’t be crawling out of your skin. Wan puts away the torture porn of “Saw,” replacing it with lots of dry ice and creepy costumes but keeps the fear level on a par with that of walking through an amusement park’s haunted house.
Director James Wan may always be best known as the co-creator of “Saw,” the series of films that kicked off the torture porn, or gorno trend, but his subsequent films have relied more on creepy atmosphere than buckets of blood.
The plasma budget for his latest, “Insidious: Chapter 2,” must have been practically zero, but what it lacks in gore it makes up for in smoke, shadows and eerie red doors.
Once again the story focuses on the Lambert family—wife Renai (Rose Byrne), husband Josh (Patrick Wilson), kids Dalton and Foster (Ty Simpkins and Andrew Astor) and grandma Lorraine (Barbara Hershey). After the haunting events of the first movie they have moved in an effort to put the past behind them. Unfortunately they can’t escape the ghosts who are attracted to what Josh has—life! Increasingly terrifying encounters with spirits threatens not only Josh’s safety but of everyone who comes into contact with Josh.
The movie makes the mundane—Patrick Wilson suddenly appearing in a doorway offering to take the kids to school—feel weird and off kilter and Rose Byrne, with her delicate features and downturned mouth, does Shock Face like no one else.
All that stuff works well. Wan allows the tension and atmosphere to feed the shocks, which is a good thing, because they aren’t going to emerge on their own from this jumble of a story. Jumping around in time and between the realm of the living and the great beyond, the plot will be confusing to anyone who hasn’t seen the original.
But say what you will about the storytelling, no one else makes mainstream horror films like James Wan. Maybe it’s best to think of “Insidious: Chapter 2” as like taking a walk through a haunted house. The exhilaration comes from the scares, not the walk.
“Black Swan” is the sort of psychological thriller that doesn’t get made anymore. In a time when most filmmakers are playing it safe, pumping out movies that try to appeal to every single member of the ticket buying audience, Darren Aronofsky has followed up the Oscar nominated success of “The Wrestler” with the kind of emotional noir film that Brian DePalma and Roman Polanski excelled in 30 years ago.
Natalie Portman plays Nina, a “beautiful, fearful and fragile” ballerina who dreams of dancing the lead in “Swan Lake.” When she gets the chance the duality of that role — she’ll play both the pure Swan Queen and the sensual Black Swan — begins to bleed into her real life. Consequently it pushes her already brittle psyche to the limit.
As the pressure on Nina builds, so does the paranoia and Aronofsky subtly (and not-so-subtly) drops clues that Nina’s world is two parts perception and only one part reality. Slowly the psychological and body horror builds toward an operatic climax that redefines over-the-top.
I’ve kept the synopsis purposely thin. This is a thriller and as such much of the pleasure of the film will come from learning the details of the story when Aronofsky wants you to. I can tell you Nina is pushed and pulled by an overprotective stage mother (Barbara Hershey), a faded prima donna (Wynona Ryder), a demanding director (Vincent Cassel) and a neophyte dancer named Lily (Mila Kunis). Beyond that, you’ll get no spoilers here.
“Black Swan” benefits greatly from frenetic but beautiful camerawork that is as wonderfully choreographed as any of the dance sequences and the performance of Natalie Portman.
Aronofsky has pulled good performances from everyone — Kunis’s earthiness is a nice counterbalance to Portman’s otherworldliness — but he has pushed Portman to places we’ve never seen her in before. She’s in virtually every scene of the film, and even during the dance scenes, just when you think she isn’t doing her own pirouettes — when the camera cuts from her face to her feet, or when we see her dancing out-of-focus in a mirror — Aronofsky then pans up, or snaps into focus, showing us the dancing is not a cheat.
Neither is the performance. She has physically transformed herself into a twirling 95-pound bun head. But beyond the waifish appearance she throws herself into the emotionally complex role. Echoing Catherine Deneuve in “Repulsion” her grip on reality slowly disintegrates until there is nothing left to hold on to. It is riveting and brave work that sets a new benchmark in her career.
It’s easier to end by summing up what “Black Swan” isn’t. It isn’t understated, it isn’t strictly a horror film, nor is it just a ballet film. It is a wild, primal melodrama that resonates because of the fearless and unapologetically strange work of its star and director.