Tag Archives: Christopher Abbott

Black Bear (2020) Review

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Black Bear

Time: 100 Minutes
Cast:
Aubrey Plaza as Allison
Sarah Gadon as Blair
Christopher Abbott as Gabe
Director: Lawrence Michael Levine

A filmmaker (Aubrey Plaza) at a creative impasse seeks solace from her tumultuous past at a rural retreat, only to find that the woods summon her inner demons in intense and surprising ways.

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I didn’t know much about Black Bear going into it. All I knew that it was a sort of thriller with some unexpected twists, it starred Aubrey Plaza in the lead role, and it had been receiving some pretty positive responses. Black Bear wasn’t quite what I expected it to be, but I liked it quite a lot, it was great.

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I can’t talk too much about the plot, otherwise I’d give too much away, and I really do recommend going into Black Bear as blind as possible. What I can say is that I liked the first act with its initial premise about a filmmaker in a cabin along with a couple. I liked the atmosphere, I liked the interactions that the three characters had, and I was interested to see where it was all leading towards. There’s a certain point in the movie where it takes a distinct turn to say the least. Some other reviewers have been openly talking about that aspect, however for the sake of your viewing experience, I’m going to hold back on that. I’m also not going to go into much of the themes that the movie touches upon. What I can say was that it was quite surprising, and I wasn’t expecting it. Now, I do think the turn was good and I was on board with it. However, it was also a lot to take in, it does admittedly detach you from the narrative, and as a result it loses a bit of its momentum following from that point onward. Also, it does feel like it is missing something towards the end, like it needed another section to tie everything together. With that said I have a feeling it was leaving room for interpretation, because that seems to be what the ending was going for. I’m not exactly sure what the ending was implying but I’m interested in reading peoples’ interpretations. One thing about this movie is that it is very meta and the line between fiction and history is blurred, and when the film takes its turn, whether or not it works for you will make or break the movie. The dialogue is nothing short of chaotic and razor sharp, with some very memorable lines throughout. As said previously, there is an effective atmosphere and uncomfortable tension throughout the movie, you do feel uneasy and it has you riveted.

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The acting is great, but it’s really Aubrey Plaza who is the standout in the lead role. Her performance is nothing short of captivating and intense. She delivers the dialogue expertly and emotes greatly with whatever her character is doing or feeling. This might be the best acting work I’ve seen from her, and she was already fantastic in Ingrid Goes West. The supporting cast are good too, especially Christopher Abbott and Sarah Gadon who deliver some great work here that shouldn’t be overlooked. However, it really is Plaza’s movie through and through.

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Black Bear is directed by Lawrence Michael Levine, and his work here is great. It’s quite beautiful to look at, and the way everything is shot with the intense camerawork gave the film a dynamic and real feeling throughout. The use of handheld was particularly effective. The sound design is great and sharp. The bleakness of its cinematography and the haunting score both matched the tone of the movie, and really helped to create a foreboding sense of dread.

Aubrey Plaza in "Black Bear."

Aubrey Plaza in “Black Bear.”

Black Bear is an mindbending, unexpected and well directed drama thriller, with effective tension, and some great acting from everyone. To a degree I’d say that it’s not for everyone, but even if it doesn’t completely work for you, it’s definitely worth watching for Aubrey Plaza’s performance alone.

Possessor (2020) Review

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Possessor

Time: 104 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, explicit sex scenes & content thay may disturb
Cast:
Andrea Riseborough as Tasya Vos
Christopher Abbott as Colin Tate
Rossif Sutherland as Michael Vos
Tuppence Middleton as Ava Parse
Sean Bean as John Parse
Jennifer Jason Leigh as Girder
Director: Brandon Cronenberg

Tasya Vos (Andrea Riseborough), an elite, corporate assassin, takes control of other people’s bodies using brain-implant technology to execute high-profile targets.

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All I knew about Possessor (also known as Possessor: Uncut) going in was that it was a horror movie directed by David Cronenberg’s son Brandon, and that it was meant to be quite good. It was quite an experience, and I was not prepared for what I was about to watch to say the least. At this point I’d say that it is one of my favourite movies of the year thus far.

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Possessor is a pretty creative movie, packed with so many ideas. What makes it particularly unsettling is that everything from the setting to the characters and the premise with corporations hiring people to possess people to assassinate targets felt dystopian. The futuristic setting is so bleak, especially when it comes to surveillance, the information age and psychic warfare, with the use of advanced technology. So that adds another level of being disturbing, and this is even before considering the brutality and shocking images you see in the movie. It really does make sense that Cronenberg’s son directed it given the body horror and sci-fi with big ideas. Cronenberg doesn’t hold your hand throughout the movie, you have to put the pieces together yourself of what’s happening. It is an hour and 40 minutes long and generally I was intrigued with what was happening. For example, even though Andrea Riseborough’s task is to kill someone essentially, she has to learn how to mimic the person she’s possessing and try to set things up in a particular way. It also shows the mental strain and effect it has on her from doing all these jobs. It is worth going into the movie not knowing too much. Possessor is very unapologetic and ambitious, and with that comes risks and sometimes some parts don’t always work out. The movie is very deliberately paced, which is good and definitely better than feeling too rushed. However, a couple scenes are a bit too slow and drawn out.

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The cast were all great in their parts. Andrea Riseborough plays the assassin who overtakes bodies to kill targets, while I haven’t seen most of her work, this has to be the best performance I’ve seen from her yet. Christopher Abbott plays the person who is taken over by Riseborough to perform her job, and he was equally great. The supporting cast with the likes of Rossif Sutherland, Tuppence Middleton, Sean Bean and Jennifer Jason Leigh all play their parts very well too.

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Brandon Cronenberg directs Possessor, and his work here is outstanding. This is his second film, and his first is Antiviral which came 8 years ago, and I really want to check that movie if Possessor is anything to go by. It is a visually and aesthetically stunning movie, with a great colour pallet. The strangely hypnotic, surreal and nightmarish transition sequences are outstanding too. The violence is unbelievably brutal, even to the point where I got squeamish at times. I watched the Uncut version of the movie, and it was absolutely brutal NC-17 level stuff. It’s an assault on the senses from the very first scene onwards and gives you a hint for the type of movie that you’re in for. There is one scene in particular which stands out as being really gruesome. The practical gore effects are outstanding. The synth score from Jim Williams is filled with dread and fits the rest of the film perfectly.

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Possessor is a thematic, disturbing and gory body horror movie that has a lot going on with it. The cast are great, it’s very intriguing, and Brandon Cronenberg’s direction is fantastic. It’s definitely not for everyone, the gore at the very least will turn some people off. Otherwise if you think you can handle it and are interested by it, I highly recommend checking it out. I’m interested in seeing what Cronenberg makes next, hopefully we won’t have to wait another 8 years to see it.

First Man (2018) Review

Time: 141 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong
Claire Foy as Janet Shearon
Corey Stoll as Buzz Aldrin
Pablo Schreiber as Jim Lovell
Jason Clarke as Ed White
Kyle Chandler as Deke Slayton
Christopher Abbott as David Scott
Patrick Fugit as Elliot See
Director: Damien Chazelle

A Biopic on the life of the legendary American Astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) from 1961-1969, on his journey to becoming the first human to walk the moon. Exploring the sacrifices and costs on the Nation and Neil himself, during one of the most dangerous missions in the history of space travel.

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First Man was one of my most anticipated films of 2018. Not only is it about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and starring such actors as Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Kyle Chandler and Corey Stoll, but it also is directed by Damien Chazelle. I’ve loved Chazelle’s last two films (Whiplash and La La Land), and he really showed a lot of talent with them. So naturally I was excited for First Man. While it wasn’t entirely what I was expecting, First Man was really great and one of my favourite films of the year.

There’s something that people need to know going in, this is about the titular first man, but it’s not all about Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, that aspect happens much later in the movie. For the most part, this movie is more about Armstrong than it is about the whole final moon landing. A lot of the movie is focussing on him testing and training to be on the moon. It also features his family life with his wife and children, and how what he does affects them as well. The reason why I mention all of this is because I think a lot of people might be going into First Man with a certain expectation (and it’s not unreasonable, the first thing you think about a Neil Armstrong is about him landing on the moon), and that could take away from their enjoyment or disappoint them a bit. I didn’t have a problem with the fact that this is what the movie is about. The movie can feel stretched out at times, and it wasn’t me being impatient waiting for the final moon landing part, it does legitimately feel long (and this is me when I’m already having an idea of what kind of movie this is) and the issue isn’t so much the length. The pacing can be a little uneven, sometimes perfectly paced in some parts, other times being a tad too slow. It’s not annoyingly slow at any point, but it does take away from the experience. The last act with the actual moon bit however, I’m pretty sure everyone will like regardless of what they think of the rest of the movie. First Man is 2 hours and 20 minutes long and you can really feel its length at times, however as I said the length wasn’t so much the problem, it was more the pacing that was the problem.

Ryan Gosling gives one of his best performances as Neil Armstrong. He does do his very familiar silent acting that movies like Drive and Blade Runner 2049 have made him known for, yet it really works for him in the role of Armstrong. He also has some notable emotional scenes that Gosling does great, and even when in some scenes where he appears stoic, you can tell at times that there are more emotions there under the surface. He’s not the only performance that really shines in this movie, Claire Foy is also a standout, playing Janet, Armstrong’s wife. She has quite a number of great scenes and was all around fantastic. Both of them really were at the top of their game. The rest of the supporting cast is also great. Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Corey Stoll and a bunch of others all serve their roles well and added to the movie.

It’s no surprise that Damien Chazelle’s direction is fantastic, but it is especially great when you consider how different First Man is to his previous movies, he’s really shown himself to be a talented and capable director in any genre. Some of the highlight scenes of the movie are the space/cockpits/testing scenes, all immersive and absolutely captivating and thrilling . I think First Man has some of the best scenes set in space. When it comes to these scenes, you really feel like you’re right there with the characters. The camera movements, the sounds, everything just works incredibly well. And yes, the segment where they are actually on the moon are worth the price of admission with the largest screen available alone. Also making it even better is the score by Justin Hurwitz. It goes from having moments of wonder to absolute thrilling and tense and then to some truly emotional stuff. Really I’d strongly recommend seeing First Man on the biggest screen you can find, it’ll increase your overall experience with the movie.

First Man isn’t Damien Chazelle’s best film (I still rate both Whiplash and La La Land higher) but it’s still a great movie on its own. The excellent direction mixed with the great performances results in a really good movie that although slow, is well worth seeing as soon as possible (and on the biggest screen available). With Whiplash, La La Land and now First Man, Chazelle has proven himself to have a long and exciting career ahead of him.