Tag Archives: Raffey Cassidy

White Noise (2022) Review

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White Noise

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Adult themes
Cast:
Adam Driver as Prof. Jack Gladney
Greta Gerwig as Babette Gladney
Don Cheadle as Prof. Murray Siskind
Raffey Cassidy as Denise Gladney
Director: Noah Baumbach

College professor Jack Gladney and his family’s comfortable suburban life is upended when a nearby chemical leak causes “The Airborne Toxic Event,” releasing a noxious black cloud over the region that forces the Gladney family to evacuate.

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I had been hearing about White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s next movie which would star Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig. From brief glances, it looked a little weird and I didn’t pay attention to it much. However, it seemed to be having some split reactions from audiences and I was curious enough to check it out for myself. It surprised me and I’m glad I decided to watch it.

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White Noise is based on a novel of the same name from Don DeLillo, and I read some comments from people who read it saying that it was near impossible to do an film adaptation for it. I’m not familiar with the book so I can’t comment on that, but clearly Baumbach had a specific angle with how to adapt it, especially with how off kilter it is. It is definitely an ambitious film and takes a lot of risks. White Noise is one of those movies where you’ll figure out if you like it within the first 10 minutes, it is firmly in the “not for everyone” camp. It is a difficult movie to explain; it starts out with an initial plot focussing on a family’s lives being disrupted by an airborne toxic event, but that’s just the start, and the plot isn’t really consistent. As I started the movie, I found it to be very messy, absurd and strange; it was perplexing and I had no idea where it was going. However, there was something intriguing, unpredictable and exciting about it that had me curious enough to see where it would go, and I got more into it than I was expecting. I’m not quite sure I understood everything that it was going for, but I got the main points of the story, and I’m sure things will be clarified upon rewatch. It begins as a pure satire before evolving into being more character focused. The first thing you’ll probably notice about White Noise is the dialogue, which will probably make or break the movie for some people. The dialogue is strange, overwritten and overintellectual, that paired with the line deliveries makes it feel unnatural. It’ll particularly throw you off if you’re familiar with Noah Baumbach’s other movies, which had otherwise very naturalistic dialogue. However, it is intentionally written and delivered this way, and eventually I got used to it. There really is a mix of tones throughout, jumping between different genres over the 2 hours and 15 minutes runtime. As a dark comedy it is very off kilter and dry, and I found it quite funny. It also gets dark at points, mainly towards the end of the movie, to the point where it leans towards thriller in the third act. This might also throw people off since it is so different from the previous two acts, but it worked for me. There are plenty of themes at play, including existentialism, mortality, modern anxieties and especially fear of death. Some ideas aren’t as expanded on or fleshed out as they could’ve been, but not doubt they are conveyed better in the book.

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The film benefits from a strong cast who deliver in their roles. Adam Driver plays the main character; it’s a difficult role to pull off, but he is fantastic here, particularly nailing the dry humour. I think this is up there as one of his best performances. Greta Gerwig is great too, especially in the latter portions of the movie. The actors who play Driver’s children including Raffey Cassidy are also on point. The rest of the cast are good, Don Cheadle is also excellent in a supporting role and is a scene stealer.

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One of the more surprising aspects was Noah Baumbach’s direction. From the movies I’ve seen of his, his directing is good, but usually just works to serve the performances and writing. With White Noise however, there is a very distinct style that really added to the film. Noah is working with a bigger budget, and you can feel that throughout. Baumbach does very well at getting the right feelings through visuals alone. There’s a lot in that which feels off kilter, everything is too colourful including the production design, and much looks artificial and unnatural (deliberately so). The cinematography is great, visually stunning and remarkable at points. There are some very stellar and wonderfully filmed sequences, a standout being during the credits. Finally, the score from Danny Elfman is great and really adds a lot to the atmosphere.

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White Noise is a darkly humorous, absurdist, satirical, and wonderfully weird dramedy, with fantastic performances especially from Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and Don Cheadle. It’s definitely one of the more unexpected and surprising movies from 2022. I admit that there’s a lot that I didn’t understand and much of my liking of it comes from its boldness and uniqueness. Still, the end result just seemed to work for me. It is both awesome and funny that Netflix actually decided to finance such a strange and polarising film, however it is definitely not for everyone. Still, it worked for me, and I am really looking forward to rewatching it.

Vox Lux (2018) Review

Time: 110 Minutes
Age Rating: 2773-o[1] Violence, offensive language, drug use & sexual material
Cast:
Natalie Portman as Celeste Montgomery
Raffey Cassidy as Young Celeste Montgomery/Albertine
Jude Law as The Manager
Stacy Martin as Eleanor “Ellie” Montgomery
Jennifer Ehle as Josie
Director: Brady Corbet

Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) is a 13-year-old music prodigy who survives a horrific school shooting in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1999. Her talent shines through during the memorial service when she sings a song that touches the hearts of the mourners. Guided by her sister (Stacy Martin) and a talent manager (Jude Law), the young phenom transforms into a rising pop star with a promising future. Eighteen years later, Celeste (Natalie Portman) now finds herself on the comeback trail when a scandal, personal struggles and the pitfalls of fame threaten her career.

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Vox Lux was the one 2018 movie that I had been meaning to watch before making my best films of 2018 list. I had been hearing about this movie for a long time, from the point that Rooney Mara was originally cast in the lead role before Natalie Portman replaced her. While I would’ve loved to have seen Mara in the role, Natalie Portman is still a fantastic actress, Jude Law was also in the movie, the music is done by Sia, and so I was at the very least curious about the movie. The very polarising reaction to the whole movie just got me interested in it more. Having watched the movie, I can confirm that it’s not a movie for everyone but is definitely worth watching.

Vox Lux is split into two halves, the Raffey Cassidy half, and the Natalie Portman half. The Raffey Cassidy half is really great, I really liked seeing the rise of Celeste. There have been plenty of movies following the rise of musicians but Vox Lux is quite original throughout, touching on topics that you wouldn’t expect it to, there’s a lot to unpack with this movie. It’s so out there, ambitious and bold, and much of it won’t work for people, I loved it though. The Natalie Portman is a dramatic shift for sure, while I’m sure most people will like the Cassidy half, the second half is what will divide some people. I will say that it’s a step down from the first half and is the main reason why I don’t love the movie more, however I still really liked it. The problem with talking about this section is that I can’t exactly express why the second half just didn’t work quite as well. The first half I really was invested for the entirety of it. With the Portman half I still was interested in it but not as much as the previous half. While I liked the concert section at the end, there was something that was missing from the conclusion. Maybe if it was a little longer (the movie is only like an hour and 50 minutes long) it might’ve worked a little better. Maybe another viewing of the movie might make things much more clear for me regarding this section.

Raffey Cassidy plays Celeste in her teenage years and also plays the daughter of Celeste in the Portman half and is equally great in both roles, giving a really subtle and effective performance. I’d argue that it’s Cassidy who steals the show in this movie. Natalie Portman’s performance is something that I’ve heard mixed things about, mostly that it’s over the top. Having watched the movie, I do think that the complaints are exaggerated just a little bit, she really is great here and puts everything into her performance. Yes, her performance is larger than life (not sure whether it was her or Corbet’s choice), and maybe a slightly more subtle performance would’ve worked. Most of the problem with that is that Portman plays Celeste completely differently from Cassidy, so it’s very jarring. I get that 15 years later she might’ve been acting differently, but it was so distractingly different. Making it even more so was the accent, it may not have bothered me as much as it did others but it is a little too over the top (not to mention I’m not really sure how Celeste just suddenly gained a completely different accent). Nonetheless her hamming up her performance here was entertaining amd she really gives a performance that I’ve never seen her give before. The rest of the cast play their parts as well, Stacy Martin was really good as Celeste’s sister and Jude Law was also good as Celeste’s manager.

This is the first film by Brady Corbet that I’ve seen and on the whole, he’s really directed this film well. From beginning to end, it’s a great looking movie. The concert scenes were particularly great. The only out of place moment was a very weirdly directed sequence with Portman and Law, is sped up and has some weird looking effect to it. It’s very brief though, it’s just that it stands out a bit from the rest of the movie. The music is also really good, (it’s written by Sia), both Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman also perform the music very convincingly. The film also uses some narration with Willem Dafoe, and while I’m usually mixed about the use of narration, it actually works alright here (not to mention Dafoe’s voice really fitted this movie quite well).

Vox Lux won’t work for everyone, it’s very ambitious and different. However, I do think that it’s worth watching. The first half is definitely the stronger portion of the movie, but I still really liked the whole movie. I really liked what Brady Corbet did with the writing and direction, and the performances (especially from Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman) are really great. Definitely see it for yourself, and it might be a movie I need to rewatch at some point.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017) Review

Time: 121 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, cruelty & sex scenes
Cast
Colin Farrell as Steven Murphy
Nicole Kidman as Anna Murphy
Barry Keoghan as Martin
Raffey Cassidy as Kim Murphy
Sunny Suljic as Bob Murphy
Alicia Silverstone as Martin’s mother
Bill Camp as Matthew
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Dr. Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a renowned cardiovascular surgeon who presides over a spotless household with his wife (Nicole Kidman) and two children (Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic). Lurking at the margins of his idyllic suburban existence is Martin (Barry Keoghan), a fatherless teen who insinuates himself into the doctor’s life in gradually unsettling ways. Soon, the full scope of Martin’s intent becomes menacingly clear when he confronts Steven with a long-forgotten transgression that will shatter his domestic bliss forever.

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I didn’t know what to expect from The Killing of a Sacred Deer. I saw director Yorgos Lanthimos’s previous film The Lobster, which I thought was pretty good. I also could tell based on the trailer and reactions knew that it was going to be odd and I heard that it was a pretty bizarre and disturbing film which has divided some audience. I have to say that I personally really liked it, it’s such an original and bizarre movie with excellent direction and great performances, though I can see why it has divided people.

I didn’t know too much about Killing of a Sacred Deer aside from the brief premise and the trailer before watching it. Having finally seen the movie, I’m glad I didn’t know anything more about it, I recommend not knowing too much about this movie before watching it. Because of this, I don’t want to go into too much depth regarding the plot. The dialogue is off from what normal people say but something about it just works. It does have a slow pace but it had my attention and interested. By the time it reached the halfway point, after a lot of bizarre things have happened, I was completely riveted. The film is not extremely bloody but it gets under your skin. Personally I wasn’t uncomfortable for a large portion of the movie, I’m not easily disturbed. However I felt really unnerved throughout most of the film, there were some moments that really surprised me and had me on edge. There is particularly a couple of scenes which were shocking to say the least. I have a feeling I will need to rewatch this movie to fully get everything because its very metaphorical (if you don’t understand a lot of the metaphors you might be a little lost when watching this). However I will say that on my first viewing I got a lot out of it, and understood most of it. So I was satisfied with the story overall.

The acting is all around great. An interesting thing should be noted about the acting, Colin Farrell has said that Lanthimos doesn’t give his actors any direction and just allows them to act and play it how they want, so it’s a real credit to the cast for pulling off great performances with little to no direction. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman play husband and wife and they were great. Everyone in the movie does act and speaks a little unnaturally (that’s the directional style I suppose) but they get their chances to shine. Barry Keoghan is the highlight here though, as a teenager who has an interesting relationship with Colin Farrell (which I won’t reveal of course). Without going into too much depth, I will say that Keoghan is a real screen presence, being absolutely unnerving and magnetic when he’s on screen. I can tell that he has a long career ahead of him. The children of Farrell and Kidman played by Raffey Cassidy and Sunny Suljic were really good as well, as was Alicia Silverstone and Bill Camp in other supporting roles.

The direction by Yorgos Lanthimos was fantastic. It really felt creepy and unnerving throughout the whole movie. What particularly really stood out to me was the cinematography and production design, everything was well shot and really felt uneasy. There is a real emptiness that can be seen, it feels like something is off. There were even times where it felt Stanley Kubrick-esque. The music was also used incredibly well, really amping up the intensity. The loud pianos keys and the screeching violins makes everything all the more uncomfortable.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is definitely not for everyone, it can be very unnerving, disturbing and a little drawn out, also it might require deeper thought in order to understand. I also feel like this will be a movie that will require multiple viewings to fully interpret. However if this is something you might want to watch, give it a go with an open mind and try not to know too much about it beforehand. If you like Yorgos Lanthimos’s other films like The Lobster, you will probably like this. I personally had a great time with it and my experience will only improve with future viewings. However all in all I can’t say for certain whether you’ll like this movie or not.