Tag Archives: Ben Foster

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (2013) Review

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Ain't Them Bodies Saints

Time: 126 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Rooney Mara as Ruth Guthrie
Casey Affleck as Bob Muldoon
Ben Foster as Patrick Wheeler
Keith Carradine as Skerritt
Rami Malek as Will
Charles Baker as Bear
Nate Parker as Sweetie
Director: David Lowery

A man (Casey Affleck) takes the fall for his lover’s (Rooney Mara) crime, then four years later breaks out of prison to find her and their young daughter, who was born during his incarceration.

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I was initially interested in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints for the talent involved, especially with a cast that included Rooney Mara. I went in knowing nothing aside from this and the initial premise, and I quite liked it, even if the writing wasn’t anything special.

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At its core, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a poetic and melancholic crime drama. The story is predictable, simple and a bit cliched, the characters are archetypical and nothing special. Its very loose with the plot, and for the most part it doesn’t really land as hard emotionally as it was intending to. It is a slower paced movie, often meandering and particularly dragging in the second act. Not everything is explained, and much is left up for the viewer to interpret, very much high on atmosphere and low on explanation, but I kind of respect that. There is a melancholic and sad vibe that is effectively conveyed throughout. There is very little time spent on the actual romance between the lead two characters; we get early scenes with the couple together before they are separated and then there’s a time jump. After this point, for most of the runtime, they aren’t on screen together. Instead, much of the film is them yearning for each other and I thought that was effective. While the movie on the whole doesn’t succeed entirely, there are some powerful character moments.

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Much of what made the movie work as well as it did was the cast. Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara deliver great and powerful performances as their characters, they shared convincing chemistry together, which is important since much of the movie relies on their connection, and they have limited scenes together. Ben Foster, Keith Carradine and more also worked well in supporting parts.

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David Lowery’s direction was one of the strongest elements of the movie, I liked his style and handling of the movie. This film is beautifully shot by Bradford Young, with great use of natural lighting and really captured the locations and settings. There is also a great score from Daniel Hart which fitted the melancholic tone of the movie. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints really reminded me of Terrence Malick’s earlier movies, especially with the cinematography and locations, along with the fairly plotless approach.

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Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a good romantic crime drama. I wouldn’t say that it is a must see, it is slower paced, it can drag and feels like it is missing something with the writing and story. However, David Lowery’s direction and the solid performances were just enough to make it work, and I think it is worth checking out.

Leave No Trace (2018) Review

Time: 109 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Drug references
Cast:
Ben Foster as Will
Thomasin McKenzie as Tom
Jeff Kober as Mr. Walters
Dale Dickey as Dale
Director: Debra Granik

A father (Ben Foster) and daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) live a perfect but mysterious existence in Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve near Portland, Oregon, rarely making contact with the world. But when a small mistake tips them off to authorities, they are sent on an increasingly erratic journey in search of a place to call their own.

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I had heard about Leave No Trace a little bit before watching it, it had been getting some pretty good reception and had Ben Foster in it, but outside of that didn’t know much about it, I didn’t even really know what the actual premise of the whole movie was. While I don’t love the movie as much as other people, I do think that it’s pretty good, and the lead performances are nothing short of fantastic.

The story of Leave No Trace isn’t exactly given a particular structure or necessarily leading to something (outside of the ending), it’s more so just following the two lead characters for 110 minutes. I did find the movie to drag a bit but I’ll admit that I was in a tired mood when watching it, and that probably negatively affected my experience with the movie. It is definitely a slow burn movie, so you have to be in the mood to watch it. I will say though that I was expecting more from the movie though once I got a general idea about what the movie was about. For example a part of the movie is that Ben Foster’s father character has PTSD, which clearly has made an impact on him and the decisions that he makes. However the film don’t really touch upon it as much as they could’ve, like it’s stated that he has PTSD and that’s it, they don’t address it outside of that. Leave No Trace is definitely going for a more quieter storytelling method, and for the most part it works well enough. However I think that more dialogue between the father and daughter characters would’ve allowed us to learn about these characters more and therefore care more about what happens with them. I will say though that the ending of the movie is really good.

The main reason to watch this movie is for the performances by Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie, their characters and their father/daughter connection are what hold the movie together. They are very subtle and feel real in their performances, McKenzie is particularly great. This movie was basically relying on them being great, and it wouldn’t have worked at all without them, thankfully they were more than up for the task. As mentioned earlier, giving more dialogue between these characters would’ve made us care about them more, but their performances does elevate them above the material that they have.

This film was directed by Debra Granik (who directed Winter’s Bone, a movie I haven’t seen but heard is pretty good) and the whole movie was very directed well overall. Whenever it goes into forest locations, it really does feel like it’s deep in the forest, with the cinematography being fantastic. Granik also keeps the film throughout pretty low key and grounded, there aren’t any large, loud or flashy moments that are out of place at all, which works well with the type of story that she’s going for.

Leave No Trace is a solid film, with good direction and great performances. You definitely need to be in the mood to watch it, it is a slow burn film just following two characters and you need to know that going in. However it still is worth watching, at the very least for the performances of Ben Foster and Thomasin McKenzie.

Inferno (2016) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Tom Hanks as Dr. Robert Langdon
Felicity Jones as Dr. Sienna Brooks
Omar Sy as Christoph Bouchard
Ben Foster as Bertrand Zobrist
Sidse Babett Knudsen as Elizabeth Sinskey
Irrfan Khan as Harry “The Provost” Sims
Ana Ularu as Vayentha
Director: Ron Howard

Famous symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows a trail of clues tied to Dante, the great medieval poet. When Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), a doctor he hopes will help him recover his memories. Together, they race across Europe and against the clock to stop a madman (Ben Foster) from unleashing a virus that could wipe out half of the world’s population.

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The Da Vinci Code/Robert Langdon movie series were pretty good, they weren’t by any means great, but they were enjoyable mystery stories. 7 years after the last movie, Angels and Demons, there is another instalment that I’m not sure even the die hard Da Vinci Code fans were asking for with Inferno. Inferno is such a massive step down from the previous films. Despite Ron Howard returning to direct along with talent like Felicity Jones and Irrfan Khan involved, this film just isn’t good. It’s not one of the worst movies ever but it is incredibly mediocre.

The story is incredibly forgettable. I’ll admit, I can’t even remember what this movie is completely about. I found it so difficult to care about what was going on. I didn’t care about the story, I didn’t care about the characters, I wasn’t really that interested in what was going on. Honestly I don’t think I can comment about the actual story as I wasn’t paying that close attention but it really says something when I’m so not invested in this movie, and I was trying really hard to focus on it. I haven’t read any of the Robert Langdon books and I haven’t read Inferno so I don’t know if there had been any changes or not but either way, I didn’t care much for the story. From start to finish its on a constant unwavering line of meh.

Tom Hanks returns as Robert Langdon and you can definitely tell that he is trying his best here. The problem is that his character operates heavily using his brain as shown in the previous movies. Robert in this movie has amnesia and we don’t get to see what he’s like before the amnesia, so it feels like a completely different character. And no, we don’t get to see much characterisation for Langdon in this movie. Credit to Hanks for trying his best. Other actors like Felicity Jones, Ben Foster and Omar Sy do a decent job with what they have but aren’t used to their fullest potential and aren’t enough to elevate the quality of this movie. The one actor who seemed to effortlessly steal the show was Irrfan Khan but unfortunately he didn’t play that big of a role. He definitely elevates this movie however.

I cannot believe that Ron Howard directed this, he’s done so much better than this. At times the direction is basic and serviceable enough and at other points it feels like an amateur filmmaker tried to make a movie but failing miserably. The dream sequences are done terribly, during these scenes it looks like a made for tv movie with awful CGI. So not even Ron Howard’s direction can improve this movie.

Although it had some potential, Inferno is just not a good movie. Despite some talented people involved, for some reason it just didn’t come together to actually work. The best part of this movie is the performances, and even then its only really Irrfan Khan who shines. I guess if you’re curious enough you can check it out but don’t expect something that great. It’s not terrible, just quite underwhelming and mediocre, there’s not much to really say about it to be honest.