Louder Than Bombs


Father and son.

Father and son.

(2015) Drama (The Orchard) Gabriel Byrne, Isabelle Huppert, Jesse Eisenberg, Devin Druid, Amy Ryan, Ruby Jerins, Megan Ketch, David Strathairn, Rachel Brosnahan, Russell Posner, Maryann Urbano, Donna Mitchell, Harry Ford, Leslie Lyles, Luke Robertson, Peter Mark Kendall, Paul C. Kelly, Sean Cullen, Charlie Rose, Marielle Holland, Bridget McGarry. Directed by Joachim Trier

Florida Film Festival 2016

We sometimes underestimate the effects we have on our children as parents. Our presence can be destructive if we do or say the wrong thing – but not nearly so destructive as not being there at all.

Isabelle Reed (Huppert) was one of the most decorated war photographers on the planet. However her job took her away from her husband Gene (Byrne) – an actor – and her two sons Jonah (Eisenberg) and Conrad (Druid). Gene left his career in order to raise the kids while mom was away, which was often. However, she finally announced her intention to give up the life of a war correspondent and spend more time at home with her family. Shortly after that, she died in a tragic car wreck.

Now four years later a prestigious New York art gallery/museum is doing a retrospective on her work and Gene enlists the help of Jonah – who is now married and expecting his own first child in the near future – to help sort through her last photographs, which Gene has never been able to look at. He also needs help with Conrad, who has become combative with his father, blaming him for his mother’s death or at least using him as a target for his blame. Conrad spends a lot of time playing Skyrim and wandering the streets aimlessly and alone; his father has taken to following his son discretely. Or maybe not as discretely as he thinks.

As we find out through flashback footage, Isabelle had secrets of her own and as Gene finds out that one of them is about to be revealed in the pages of the New York Times which will devastate Conrad even further, Gene doesn’t know how to soften the blow, which is the worst thing he could possibly do is continue to keep secrets from his son. As all this comes to a head, the dysfunction of all three of the members of this family will start spinning wheels that will change their lives forever.

This is the first English language feature (and third overall) by up-and-coming Norwegian director Trier. Like many of his films, the undertones here are grim for the most part, dealing with abandonment issues, the pain of betrayal and the dysfunction of a family that has had one member torn from it.

Gabriel Byrne is one of the most reliable actors out there. He’s never flashy, but he always brings dignity and gravitas to his roles. Here he plays a very nice man who has lost his rock and his having trouble finding his own spine because of it. He avoids and avoids and avoids but at the end of the day, that does nothing good. He loves his sons with a passion and misses his wife with an ache that never goes away. The portrait of Gene is heartbreaking to say the least.

No less so is Huppert’s portrayal of Isabelle, a driven woman who finds fulfillment through her muse and less through her family, which makes for a certain amount of resentment and guilt. The dead are no angels in life; Isabelle does some things that will make a few people recoil. And that’s what happens from time to time in life; people who seem decent and good do things that are not. And sometimes it is others that pay the price, but more often, the price the transgressor pays is much higher than one could imagine.

Druid plays the angry teen a little too well – there are times you want to scream at him “You selfish PIG! Do you not understand that you aren’t the only one who’s grieving? That you’re not the only one who’s hurting?” But the truth of the matter is that kids that age often can’t see beyond their own pain. They haven’t the tools to. Time gives us that, and time can be a cruel teacher. Be that as it may, Conrad is so thoroughly unlikable that I had trouble watching him. I probably hated the character more than he deserved. Maybe not, though.

There are some real moments of poetry here but this is mostly an examination of pain, and that can be…um, painful. It’s not always an easy thing to watch people dealing with the absence of a loved one and trying to find the answers to questions that may not be answerable. We can only know those around us so well, but sometimes it turns out that we don’t even know them at all. Louder Than Bombs (not to be confused with the Smiths album) turns out to be a very fine film that is often hard to watch but is worth the effort to do so.

REASONS TO GO: Strong performances by Byrne and Huppert. Heartrending subject.
REASONS TO STAY: The teenage character is accurately portrayed – and thoroughly unlikable.
FAMILY VALUES: There is some sexual content and nudity, violent images and a fair amount of foul language.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The movie that Conrad and Jonah watch together with their dad is Hello Again which actually starred Byrne and Shelly Long.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 6/12/16: Rotten Tomatoes: 68% positive reviews. Metacritic: 70/100.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: Harrison’s Flowers
FINAL RATING: 7/10
NEXT: Midnight Special

Advertisements

New Releases for the Week of April 22, 2016


The Huntsman Winter's WarTHE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR

(Universal) Charlize Theron, Chris Hemsworth, Emily Blunt, Jessica Chastain, Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sam Claflin, Sophie Cookson, Sheridan Smith. Directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan

This prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman pits Queen Ravenna and her sister the Ice Queen Freya, at odds over the magic mirror. Following a tragic heartbreak, Freya retreats to a remote ice castle where she works on training an army of huntsmen with one rule; harden your hearts against love. When her two best break that law, they are banished but when Freya is betrayed by her sister, only the banished Huntsmen can save her.

See the trailer, clips and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Fantasy Adventure
Now Playing: Wide Release

Rating: PG-13 (for fantasy action violence and some sensuality)

A Hologram for the King

(Saban) Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw, Tom Skerritt, Sarita Choudhury. A businessman, down on his luck and desperate, goes to Saudi Arabia to close the deal that could save him. However the inevitable culture clashes stymie his attempts to make the deal happen. He is forced to rely on a wise-cracking taxi driver and an alluring Saudi doctor to help him win through.

See the trailer and a clip here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for some sexuality/nudity, language and brief drug use)

 Compadres

(Pantelion) Eric Roberts, Kevin Pollak, Omar Chaparro, Joey Morgan. A Mexican cop, framed for a crime he didn’t commit, is released from prison and sets his sights on Santos, who is the one who framed him. However, Santos has kidnapped the cop’s girlfriend and taken her across the border to San Diego. The cop’s one chance at getting his girlfriend alive is to work with an unlikely ally – a teenage American hacker who stole $10 million from the crime boss. But it will take all their disparate skills to stay one step ahead of Santos who wants the both of them dead.

See the trailer here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Disney Springs, Regal The Loop

Rating: NR

Elvis & Nixon

(Bleecker Street) Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville. It’s a legendary photo; rock legend Elvis Presley and President Richard M. Nixon shaking hands at the White House. But what were the circumstances for this historic meeting? This film is a fanciful and funny supposition as to what really happened.

See the trailer, clips and a featurette here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Historical Comedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for some language)

Everybody Wants Some!!

(Paramount) Blake Jenner, Juston Street, Ryan Guzman, Tyler Hoechlin. Doing for the 80s what Dazed and Confused did for the 70s, director Richard Linklater goes to college in that decade, following a bunch of freshmen trying to navigate the social minefield that is higher education while trying to make the baseball team. As is usual for a Linklater film, expect an awesome soundtrack.

See the trailer and clips here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Period Dramedy
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, Regal Waterford Lakes, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for language throughout, sexual content, drug use and some nudity)

Louder Than Bombs

(Paladin) Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Amy Ryan, David Strathairn. When a famous war photographer passes away, her sons and their father drift apart. When they reunite for a celebration of her life several years later, the fractured family is forced to confront their feelings about the woman who spent so much time away from them, and each other. This played the Florida Film Festival last week.

See the trailer and a clip here.
For more on the movie this is the website.

Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Drama
Now Playing: Enzian Theater

Rating: PG (for language, some sexual content, nudity and violent images)

Miles Ahead

(Sony Classics) Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emayatzy Corinealdi. After a period of inactivity jazz legend Miles Davis is returning to the limelight with an album that would eventually take its place among the greatest ever recorded. He spends a few lost days with a writer from Rolling Stone conspiring to recover stolen master tapes and reminiscing about his romance with Frances Taylor.

See the trailer and clips here.
For more on the movie this is the website
.
Release Formats: Standard
Genre: Biographical Drama
Now Playing: AMC Altamonte Mall, AMC Disney Springs, Regal Winter Park Village

Rating: R (for strong language throughout, drug use, some sexuality/nudity and brief violence)

Pick of the Litter – April 2016


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

The Jungle Book

The Jungle Book

(Disney) Neel Sethi, Scarlett Johansson (voice), Bill Murray (voice), Christopher Walken (voice). The Rudyard Kipling classic spawned a classic Disney cartoon; now director Jon Favreau Is bringing his sensibilities to a live action version, with an impressive cast voicing the various animals. The story, however is basically the same; a young orphan boy is raised by jungle animals and fights the evil Kaa to save the creatures of the forest that he loves. April 15

INDEPENDENT PICKS

Francofonia

Francofonia

(Music Box) Louis-Do de Lencquesaing, Benjamin Utzerath, Vincent Nemeth, Johanna Korthals Altes. From the director of Russian Ark comes this magnificent film that examines perhaps the most famous museum in the entire world – the Louvre in Paris. Through the centuries, from the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte to the Nazi occupation of Paris, the Louvre has struggled to protect the priceless art that resides therein. This film takes us inside, showing rare photographs and news footage as well as re-enactments of the most notable events in the history of the museum. April 1

Miles Ahead

Miles Ahead

(Sony Classics) Don Cheadle, Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lakeith Lee Stanfield. One of the great musicians in the history of modern jazz was Miles Davis. However, for several years he released no new music; many contemporary pundits figured his career was finished. What he was doing was creating music that would change the face of not only jazz but contemporary music overall. As he was coming out of what some have called his silent years, his difficult temperament and resolute perfectionism would get him into hot water as there were those who wanted to keep him silent. A passion project for Cheadle, this is listed as a biography – which may or may not be entirely accurate. April 1

Louder Than Bombs

Louder Than Bombs

(The Orchard) Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne, Amy Ryan, David Strathairn. When a famed war photographer passes away, her husband and two sons who are left behind are left to pick up the pieces, which isn’t easy when you have feelings of abandonment. Three years later, for a celebration of her life, they are all three together under the same roof for the first time since she passed, forcing them to confront their feelings. This will be a spotlight feature at the upcoming Florida Film Festival.  April 8

 Neon Bull

 Neon Bull

(Kino-Lorber) Juliano Cazarré, Maeve Jinkings, Josinaldo Alves, Roberto Berindelli. Iremar works in the rough and tumble world of the rodeo of Northeast Brazil, taking down bulls by their tail in a back-breaking and dangerous event. With an exotic dancer, her two children and a round compadre in the ring, they make up a tight-knit family. However, Iremar finds his dreams changing as he longs to design sexy new fashion and as the economy of the region begins to change as well, his new dream may eventually come true – at the expense of his family. April 8

The Adderall Diaries

The Adderall Diaries

(A24) James Franco, Ed Harris, Amber Heard, Christian Slater. A writer, plagued by writer’s block and substance abuse, is working on a book based on a lurid murder case, is suddenly confounded by the appearance of his father who claims that most of what the writer has written about his own rotten childhood are all manufactured lies. Starring new indie darling Franco and based on a bestselling novel, this has a good chance to make at least limited appearances in most metropolitan areas. April 15

 A Hologram for the King

A Hologram for the King

(Roadside Attractions) Tom Hanks, Ben Whishaw, Sarita Choudhury, Tom Skerritt. The latest from acclaimed German director Tom Tykwer is based on a novel by Dave Eggers. It concerns Alan Clay, an American businessman who has lost everything. Desperate, he goes to Saudi Arabia to pull off a deal that might just rescue his career. However, he finds that it won’t be so easy as he has to contend with major cultural differences, his own anxiety and desperation and the potential for a life-saving romance that might be truly forbidden. April 22

A Beautiful Planet

A Beautiful Planet

(IMAX) Jennifer Lawrence (narrator). This co-production between NASA and IMAX shows our planet Earth from a unique vantage point – the International Space Station. Capturing our planet using different cameras and filters, it gives us not only a bird’s eye view (if the bird happened to be orbiting the Earth) but a stark understanding of how what we do affects our planet and what can be done to conserve our home. April 29