Tag Archives: Casey Affleck

Light of My Life (2019) Review

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Light of My Life

Time: 119 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium Level Violence
Cast:
Casey Affleck as Dad
Anna Pniowsky as Rag
Elisabeth Moss as Mom
Tom Bower as Tom
Director: Casey Affleck

Parent (Casey Affleck) and child (Anna Pnlowsky) journey through the outskirts of society a decade after a pandemic has wiped out half the world’s population. As a father struggles to protect his child, their bond, and the character of humanity, is tested.

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I heard about Light of My Life for a little while, all that I knew going in was that Casey Affleck was directing and starring in a post apocalyptic movie, and I heard some pretty positive things about it. I wanted to see what it would be like, and I’m glad I checked it out. While it be rather slow paced at times, generally I was invested in the central story, it’s directed well, and features a couple of outstanding lead performances.

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People have often referred to this movie as being like Leave No Trace meets Children of Men and The Road, and while I haven’t seen The Road yet, those comparison are fairly accurate. Light of My Life movie moves at a pretty slow pace and that will turn some people off. It’s character driven and isn’t particularly thrilling outside of a few scenes. The opening is one long scene of dialogue with Affleck telling a story to his daughter, it really set the tone for the rest of the movie. At that point it should establish whether the rest of this movie will work for you or not, for me it did. I was invested with these two characters as they are trying to survive and live their lives in this situation. It has a beautiful written script, with some believable dialogue (while also refraining from exposition), and the story is very well put together. The setting is bleak and chilling but there’s a real emotional core and humanity to the story. In terms of flaws, it is a little overlong I will say, at about 2 hours, and some of the few flashback scenes don’t really work all that well. While there are some periods during the movie where it slowed down quite a bit, it wasn’t to a point where it took me out of the movie or anything.

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Casey Affleck and Anna Pnlowsky both lead this movie essentially, they are so believable as father and daughter, and their relationship is touching, human and feels authentic. Pnlowsky here (who hasn’t really acted much) is a revelation in this movie, truly fantastic here. Those two drive the movie, and they (both the performances and their characters) are the strongest parts of the movie. You also have small supporting appearances from the likes of Elisabeth Moss and others, who do their parts and add quite a bit to the movie.

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Casey Affleck also directed this movie exceptionally well, working well behind the camera as well as in front. It’s a stunning looking movie, the cinematography from Adam Arkapaw is beautiful (the use of long takes was particularly effective), the environments are showcased very well, and it really created a believable post-apocalyptic setting. With the intimate way he approaches this story, you get the feeling he picked up some notes after starring in David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, especially on a visual level. Speaking of A Ghost Story, Daniel Hart also composes a great score for Light of My Life, and it fitted the movie very well.

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Light of My Life isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s a good movie overall. If a slow paced, subdued post apocalyptic family drama with an intimate story appeals to you, then I say that it’s well worth checking out. As for me, I found it to be a touching, beautiful and emotionally nuanced film, well directed and featuring some great performances.

The Old Man & the Gun (2018) Review

Time: 93 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Robert Redford as Forrest Tucker
Casey Affleck as John Hunt
Danny Glover as Teddy Green
Tika Sumpter as Maureen Hunt
Tom Waits as Waller
Sissy Spacek as Jewel
Director: David Lowery

At the age of 70, Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) makes an audacious escape from San Quentin, conducting an unprecedented string of heists that confound authorities and enchant the public. Wrapped up in the pursuit are detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck), who becomes captivated with Forrest’s commitment to his craft, and a woman (Sissy Spacek) who loves him in spite of his chosen profession.

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The Old Man & the Gun was a movie that I was interested in. Not only is it a film by David Lowery (A Ghost Story, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon) and having a cast that features actors like Casey Affleck and Sissy Spacek, it’s also said to be legendary actor’s Robert Redford’s last performance. I will admit watching it, it really wasn’t quite as great as I was hoping it would be given all of what I just mentioned. However, there were still some pretty good parts to it and the movie was decent enough overall.

There’s nothing that the movie does particularly wrong, it’s just not as memorable and I wasn’t entertained/interested as I hoped I would be. I don’t even have that much to say about it except that it’s fine. You do need to go in expecting a bit of a slow burn throughout, because that’s what it really is. It took me a while for me to get really into it, after a certain point I was somewhat interested in what was going on. I guess knowing that this movie is based on a true story and real person does make the movie more interesting at least.

The cast is all around talented and great. I know that this movie is based on a true story and a true person but this role seems perfectly tailed to Robert Redford, that I can’t imagine any other actor playing that role. As the titular Old Man with a gun, he’s basically the main event and this whole movie is surrounding him, and he’s definitely the best part of the movie. While admittedly I haven’t seen a ton of his performances in his career overall, I think this might be one of his best, and a pretty good one to end his career on. Sissy Spacek is good as well as someone who ends up being Redford’s love interest, the two of them have great chemistry throughout. Now 3 time David Lowery collaborator Casey Affleck is good as the cop who’s trying to track down Robert Redford, despite the amount of scenes that he gets however, his doesn’t quite have a resolution to his story. Other actors like Danny Glover and Tom Waits (both of them playing Redford’s accomplices) do well in their roles as well.

David Lowery has proved with his past few films that he’s a really great director and The Old Man & the Gun was again directed pretty well. There’s not a lot to say about the direction all round, I guess it feels like it’s in the 1980s, the production design, costumes and editing was pretty good and it was shot well, the music choices also worked really well for the movie. It’s a very lowkey movie, with the direction not being too flashy.

The Old Man & the Gun I’d say is definitely David Lowery’s weakest movie out of the ones I’ve seen from him but still is pretty decent and isn’t bad by any means. I’d describe it as a pretty good (albeit slow) movie to watch if you’re doing something while watching it. It’s not essential viewing by any means but it might be worth checking out for the performances, especially for Robert Redford’s last performance.

A Ghost Story (2017) Review

Time: 92 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive Language
Cast
Casey Affleck as C
Rooney Mara as M
Director: David Lowery

In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost (Casey Affleck) returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife (Rooney Mara).

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A Ghost Story was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, mostly because of Rooney Mara’s involvement. David Lowery is a good director, giving us Pete’s Dragon and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, which were very solid movies. He reunited with Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara (who he worked with on Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) to create a secret independent low budget film, which happens to be A Ghost Story. I had honestly no idea what to expect going in. After seeing it finally, I have to say that A Ghost Story is a very odd movie, I can’t really compare it to any other film I’ve ever seen. Talking about this movie is difficult, because its much more of an experience than a movie. I’m not entirely sure what I watched but I can say that I liked it a lot.

As pretentious and cliché as it sounds, A Ghost Story isn’t a movie, its an experience. This movie has a very slow pace, and despite it being under 90 minutes long it can feel very long. Some scenes can go on for a long time (sometimes nothing at all is happening) but for some reason, I was still glued to the screen. There is an infamous scene involving a pie, which will ultimately will be the tester of patience for audiences. There’s also not much dialogue, in fact most of the dialogue of the whole movie takes place closer to the middle of the movie in just one scene in one monologue. That monologue without giving anything away is really something great. This film isn’t structured like a conventional movie, it doesn’t have 3 acts. It’s just following Casey Affleck’s character (who most of the time is in ghost form). As for how I actually felt about A Ghost Story, I don’t actually know what to really say. It’s very hard to describe my thoughts and feelings from it. I definitely felt something indescribable, I wouldn’t say that I was overwhelmed by it like some of the other people who have seen it though. Oddly enough I wasn’t bored once, I was completely invested in the story that David Lower was telling. I honestly can’t say that I completely know what I think of the movie overall. I might need to watch it again at some point, maybe then I’ll really get the full effect of it. What I can say is that it is a unique movie and that I was intrigued from start to finish and watching it truly was an experience.

Even though its not the focus of the movie, we get some great performances here. Rooney Mara is unsurprisingly fantastic here, she really is one of the best actresses working today. She does so well in her small screentime. She’s so convincing as someone who is in grief, the aforementioned pie scene is an example of this, the scene partly worked so well because of Rooney’s acting (on another note, this scene is one of the best representations of grief in a movie). It’s the subtlety that she infuses into her performance, her subtle facial expressions allow you to tell what her character is thinking and feeling without having to say anything. Casey Affleck does good work here, most of the time he’s under a sheet (it really is Casey under the sheet for at least the majority of the ghost’s screentime) and not saying anything but he does very well.

This film is shot in 1:33:1, so the film seemed to be in a somewhat squared frame. It somehow worked for the movie, giving it an old timely look. There are so many long unbroken takes, sometimes nothing is happening at all but for some reason I never got bored or got annoyed. There’s something so real and lonely about some of the long takes makes it so effective. The decision to have the ghost as just a figure under a bed sheet sounds incredibly silly and goofy but there’s some melancholic about it that makes it work surprisingly well. It doesn’t feel silly at all. The production design, for a low budget film ($100,000 to be precise) was actually quite good. It mostly just takes place inside this one house and it helps to convey this feeling of confinement. The transition of time was also created and edited well, making the shift in time feel seemless. The score by Daniel Hart is great, one of the best scores of the year. There’s something about David Lowery’s direction that makes the film work so well and I can’t quite pin down what it is just yet.

A Ghost Story isn’t for everyone, I can understand people who don’t really like it. It’s very slow and unconventional. As for me, although it is difficult for me to describe how I felt about the movie, upon further thought it just might be one of the best films of the year. I can see myself revisiting it and potentially appreciating it much more. I recommend seeing it but it’s not a movie that you can enjoy while having expectations, which is why I’m not telling you to expect anything. Just give it a chance, you may end up having one of the most unique and emotional experiences with a movie ever.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) Review

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Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language and content that may disturb
Cast:
Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler
Michelle Williams as Randi
Kyle Chandler as Joseph “Joe” Chandler
Lucas Hedges as Patrick Chandler
Director: Kenneth Lonergan

Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is a brooding, irritable loner who works as a handyman for a Boston apartment block. One damp winter day he gets a call summoning him to his hometown, north of the city. His brother’s (Kyle Chandler) heart has given out suddenly, and he’s been named guardian to his 16 year old nephew (Lucas Hedges). As if losing his only sibling and doubts about raising a teenager weren’t enough, his return to the past re-opens an unspeakable tragedy.

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Manchester by the Sea was a movie that got a lot of attention, particularly from it being an awards movie. Much of the attention was on the acting. I was curious about this movie but not sure how I’d feel about it. I have to say that Manchester by the Sea deserves all the praise and attention. The story, the direction and particularly the acting was so great, all of it combining to make such an emotionally affecting movie.

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At first it may be hard getting into the movie. Early on, Lee is a character hard to like. But over time as you find out what happened to him in the past, you begin to empathise and understand why he is how he is. The film is a bit unconventional, it doesn’t really have a 3 act structure like most movies do. The flashbacks used were effective, sometimes it takes a while to figure out that the scenes are even flashbacks. The dialogue between the characters seems so natural, it almost feels like we are listening in on real life conversations between real life people. That’s one of the main takeaways from this movie, it felt so real. There is also surprising amount of humour in this movie, to offset some of the darker moments of the film. Something to address is that this movie isn’t for everyone. It is a very depressing movie, with characters going through some issues (especially with Lee). But I feel like this was done very well, it didn’t feel overdone and it felt so real. I will say that I didn’t really like the way this movie ends. It’s not bad, I just don’t really know what to think of it. It just sort of ends unexpectedly. Also at times this movie does feel a little too long. Those are really the only problems with the movie.

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There is no doubt that the acting is the highlight of the movie. Everyone was excellent in this movie, they felt like real people. Casey Affleck played his role incredibly well. He’s so subtle in his performance, it’s never showy. He might not be saying anything but you can tell whatever he’s feeling based on his expressions and through his eyes. Michelle Williams is not in the movie a whole lot but she really is great when she’s on screen. There’s a scene she shares with Affleck later in the movie, and both of them were absolutely excellent in it. Lucas Hedges is also great as the teenager that Lee may end up looking after, definitely looking forward to seeing more of this newer talent in future movies. Other supporting actors such as Kyle Chandler were also great in their roles.

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The direction wasn’t flashy and wasn’t the highlight of the movie but it was good. The cinematography is beautiful and the colour pallet fitted the tone of the movie. The soundtrack was also very effective.

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I think Manchester by the Sea is definitely worth checking out. It’s an incredibly emotional experience, powered by its compelling story and its pitch perfect acting. You just need to know what you’re getting into though. It is depressing to sit through. However I do think that despite that fact, you really should see it.