post

Out in Theaters: ‘KONG: SKULL ISLAND’

Like Godzilla before him, King Kong has since the 1930s become a culturally permeably mainstay. A piece of cinematic iconography, King Kong is the USA’s equivalent to Japan’s giant fire-breathing lizard and both have served to define our country’s spotted history in cinematic terms. But their reach extends beyond the borders of past rivals. Each have become so ingrained in the global zeitgeist that if you plucked a child from just about anywhere on earth, they would likely be able to put a name to a photo or toy of the recognizable giants. Kong, the ape who famously fell, has found his story told a number of times but none have approached the movie monster with quite the same bombastic chutzpah and total IMAX-friendly insanity as Jordan Vogt-Roberts has with Kong: Skull IslandRead More

post

Out in Theaters: ‘ROOM’

In the crippling solitude of a padlocked garden shed, Ma (Brie Larson) and Jack (Jacob Tremblay) bestow meaning unto mundanity. Just as Max’s world is fire and blood, their world is bondage and fantasy. Each item in their life’s limited pantry becomes a proper noun. There’s Bucket, Melty Spoon, Chair 1 and Chair 2. There’s Wardrobe in which Jack sleeps, when Old Nick comes. And of course, there’s Room. Ma, unable to yet explain to her recently 5-year old son that their life is one of mere captivity, spins a wild yarn about all life existing in Room. Everything outside of Room (Jack learns of the outside world via a janky television set) is make believe. Up until now, this fiction has been their salvation, providing an insular bubble wrap for the horrific situation in which they’ve found themselves. But as the tides turn with their captor, Ma and Jack must find the fortitude to free themselves or risk spending the rest of their existence in a 100-square foot space. Or worse. Read More

post

Out in Theaters: DIGGING FOR FIRE

*This is a reprint of our 2015 Sundance review.

Displaying the kind of laid back candor that sums up the mumblecore founding member, Joe Swanberg revealed that once you have kids, “life is a clusterfuck.” And so is Digging For Fire. Kinda. A lesser effort in the aftermath of two eruptively sweet victories (Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas), Digging for Fire takes on the humps and bumps of marriage and the battle of young parenthood with an enviable cast for any director. Read More

post

Out in Theaters: TRAINWRECK

*This is a reprint of our 2015 SXSW review

Take it from the effervescently crass mouth of Amy Schumer, “The title was always Trainwreck. Trainwreck or Cum Dumpster.” Oh Amy, you are such just so…you. From talk radio appearances to gross-out Twitter posts, the Schum has crafted her image on being unapologetically, oh-so-adorably crude and in the context of Trainwreck, it’s miraculous to take in. At last night’s premiere, when an audience member inundated her with compliments, she barked, “Stop trying to fuck me.” She has swiftly become the epitome of 21st century feminism-as-middle finger; the crème de la crème of vagina jokes and reverse slut shaming that will melt the lipstick off housewives and zap the calories off your finger sandwiches with her gloriously nasty one-liners and hysterically sexual non-sequiturs. Read More

post

SXSW Review: TRAINWRECK

trainwreck-amy-schumer-bill-hader-judd-apatow-001.jpg
Take it from the effervescently crass mouth of Amy Schumer, “The title was always Trainwreck. Trainwreck or Cum Dumpster.” Oh Amy, you are such just so…you. From talk radio appearances to gross-out Twitter posts, the Schum has crafted her image on being unapologetically, oh-so-adorably crude and in the context of Trainwreck, it’s miraculous to take in. At last night’s premiere, when an audience member inundated her with compliments, she barked, “Stop trying to fuck me.” She has swiftly become the epitome of 21st century feminism-as-middle finger; the crème de la crème of vagina jokes and reverse slut shaming that will melt the lipstick off housewives and zap the calories off your finger sandwiches with her gloriously nasty one-liners and hysterically sexual non-sequiturs. Read More

post

Sundance Review: DIGGING FOR FIRE

digging-for-fire.jpg

Displaying the kind of laid back candor that sums up the mumblecore founding member, Joe Swanberg revealed that once you have kids, “life is a clusterfuck.” And so is Digging For Fire. Kinda. A lesser effort in the aftermath of two eruptively sweet victories (Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas), Digging for Fire takes on the humps and bumps of marriage and the battle of young parenthood with an enviable cast for any director.

 

Swanberg has never really made anything bad (though mediocre wouldn’t be a huge stretch with this one) but with all the talent gathered, Swanberg’s narrative wanderlust  oses focus, leaving Digging for Fire feeling the strain of Swanberg’s scriptless tendencies. According to the director, Digging for Fire had a more complete, “bigger” script than any of his other projects – mostly because he had so much talent involved and needed to schedule like a really Hollywood dog. In true Swanberg fashion, his final treatment was about ten pages. Famous for crafting just the barebones of a story before shooting, the mumblecore man demands his actors to make choices once the camera are rolling to get from an established Point A to an established Point B. All that middle ground is fair game for improvisation.

At times, his distinctive make of cinematic vagrancy allows for some great unscripted scenes – Jake Johnson‘s hindmost digging moment, Chris Messina‘s unscripted pool nudity, Sam Rockwell doing any and every thing, Swanberg’s adorable baby boy doing any and every thing – but also opens the door for some less compelling episodes – Rosemarie DeWitt‘s beachside interlude with Orlando Bloom, Anna Kendrick and Brie Larson‘s casual disppearance from the action, unsatisfying relationship arcs.

digging-for-fire-3.jpg

Digging For Fire opens with a familiar Swanberg platitude; stressed out adults talk about stressed out adult problems; strong women trying to gain the reins on their less-than-model husband; secret undertones of dreaming about the highlife of the young freewheeler. Tim (Johnson) and Lee (DeWitt) have just arrived at a client of Lee’s to housesit their upper-decker mansion and get a vacation from their less-than-model home. In between bouts of nagging about preschools and taxes, Tim discovers a rusty gun and a human bone buried in the backyard (a story idea culled straight from an odd incident in Johnson’s life.)

When the couple soon after separate for a weekend, each decide to pursue a side of themselves that has seemed to snuff out in the face of marriage. After dumping their kid with Grandma and PopPop (Sam Elliot), Lee meets up with an old friend (Melanie Lynskey) to air out their marital snafus. Obsessed with the mystery of the gun and the rusty bone, Tim calls together a posse of friends old and new to put shovels to dirt over beers and a few lines of cocaine.

Each half of the couple contents with the ghost of their old selves, opening doors that uncover new demons. Problem is, those doors sometimes seem as random as briefcases on Let’s Make a Deal. Many of Swanberg’s characters work in their own right but don’t add enough to the makeup of the final product to legitimize all their erratic appearances. Although Swanberg seems to be dipping his toes in more mature, less jejune waters, he’s able to maintain his very distinctive voice and worldview. If only he could have equally inserted the tangy sharpness and sweet comedy of his last films in this creation by man at crossroads.

C+

Follow Silver Screen Riot on Facebook
Follow Silver Screen Riot on Twitter