Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thursday Movie Picks: A Disappearance


Since last week I've put up flyers, alerted the authorities, and organized search parties. I've even made a phone call to potential abductors and warned them about my particular set of skills. Since that failed, we've been combing wooded areas with flashlights in the daytime. I mean, who wants to be wandering around the woods at night. The flashlights just seemed like the right thing to have.  Anyhoo, we've  been searching in vain for Thursday, until now. We've finally found it.

It's time for Thursday Movie Picks. As usual, we're hosted by Wanderer at Wandering Through the Shelves. That entire first paragraph was just my way of saying that this week's topic is movies about a disappearance. After all the awesomeness I showered you with last week, I figured I'd play it fairly straight this week. In other words, no so bad it's awesome stuff, this week. These films are legitimately excellent.


Brick
(2005)
The Disappeared: Emily
Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a high school kid who keeps to himself, and might even be depressed, after breaking up with his girlfriend Emily. He's still got love for the girl. Therefore, when she calls him frantic and desperate for help after apparently getting herself into a dangerous situation he wants to what he can to get her out of it. Her phone call gave only vague clues about her whereabouts so he goes into investigation mode and finds himself in some precarious positions. Before you sit down to watch this, I must give you a warning on the style. The dialogue is written as if it's a 1940s film noir while being set around modern-day high school students. It's fantastically done. It's the directorial debut of Rian Johnson. If you're not familiar with that name, you should be. He would team up with Gordon-Levitt again in 2012 for the amazing Looper. If that doesn't ring a bell, chances are you will probably his next project when it comes out in December: Star Wars: The Last Jedi.


Winter's Bone
(2010)
The Disappeared: Jessup
Jessup is a deadbeat dad who also happens to be known for cooking up crystal meth. The local sheriff stops by the house where is family lives looking for him. To no one's surprise, Jessup hasn't been in quite some time. The family hasn't even seen him. The sheriff then informs the family that Jessup has a court date coming up really soon. If he doesn't make it the family will lose that house since it was put up for collateral when Jessup was bailed out of jail. With mom in a catatonic state, completely oblivious to what's going on, it's up to eldest child Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) to find Jessup and drag his ass to court. This is one engaging and tense piece of film. Lawrence gives a stirring performance while John Hawkes and Dale Dickey are downright scary in their roles. Debra Granik wrote and directed this wonderfully bleak film. The shame is she hasn't done another narrative feature since. I hope she gets the chance to do more. (Click here for my full review)

The Imposter
(2012)
The Disappeared: Nicholas Barclay
In 1994, a fair-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed 13 year-old boy named Nicholas Barclay disappears from his family in Texas. Three years later, the family receives a phone call telling them Nicholas has been found on the streets of Spain. Eldest sister Carey flies out there and brings him back to Texas. What we already know, and Carey seems not to pick up on, is the person she picks up is not Nicholas at all, but an adult con-artist named Frédéric Bourdin. I know what you're thinking. It's been three years, maybe the guy looks like what she imagined her brother would after several years. Nope, no way, no how. This dude is a dark-skinned, brown-eyed Frenchman. Nevertheless, the family all accepts him as Nicholas and the entire town celebrates the boy's triumphant return, doing television interviews with him. Mr. Bourdin spins some fantastic yarns to keep up his ruse, even enrolling in high school. However, it eventually falls apart. Understandably, many questions are raised. The big one that emerges is was the family truly duped or did they just go along with it for more nefarious reasons? This is a documentary that's far stranger than anything you can make up. If you did make this story up, you'd be told by anyone with any sense at all that there's no way this would work. It's just too ridiculous. (Click here for my full review)


22 comments:

  1. 2 amazing films in Brick and Winter's Bone as I have the DVD in the former. I heard about The Imposter but I haven't seen it. I hope to soon. I went three completely different choices in my picks.

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    1. So glad you're fan of Brick and Winter's Bone. Great flicks. Hope you get to see The Impostor, soon.

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  2. I haven't seen any of the movies, but the way The Imposter goes, it's hard to believe it's a documentary.

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    1. It is one incredible story, for sure.

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  3. Brick looks like its going to be one of the titles of the week. Deservedly so since it's a unique spin on 40's noir pulled into the present. JGL is terrific in the lead and the film has a wonderfully absurdist attitude.

    It would be stretching things to say I liked Winter's Bone, it was far too grim and nihilistic to like, but I appreciated its bleak storytelling. Jennifer Lawrence is amazing in the lead, she's never been this good again yet, as is John Hawkes. I can't envision watching it again but I'm glad I caught it in the theatre on its initial release.

    I've heard of The Imposter but haven't gotten to it yet, I'll have to make a point of that it sounds fascinating.

    The last few weeks themes have been loaded with choices and while this week the pickings have are leaner there are still good films that fit. My first is one that is among my top 20 favorites.

    Missing (1982)-A young American couple Charlie and Beth Horman (John Shea & Sissy Spacek) are living in Chile while he works as a freelance writer observing the political situation. Suddenly they are caught in a coup and when Beth returns home one day their house is ransacked and Charlie is missing. When word reaches the States his disapproving father Ed (Jack Lemmon) arrives looking for answers. Despite assurances by the authorities that everything is being done an unbelieving Beth and increasingly doubtful Ed begin their own search, as they come to understand each other at last Ed’s eyes are opened to facts that go against everything he believes in. Riveting fact based drama directed by Costa-Gravas earned four Oscar nominations-Best Actor & Actress for Lemmon and Spacek as well as a Best Adaptation and a Best Picture nod.

    Without a Trace (1983)-Susan Selky (Kate Nelligan) helps her six year old son Alex get ready and watches him set off on the three block walk to school in their affluent New York City neighborhood but he never makes it. When he doesn’t return home at the appointed hour she slowly comes to the realization that something is terribly wrong and contacts the police. Both she and her husband (David Dukes) are immediately suspected, when it becomes clear they aren’t involved the police follow other leads but the case soon turns cold. For everyone that is but Susan who becomes so determined in her pursuit she pushes almost everyone including her husband and good friend (Stockard Channing) away. However with the assistance of one detective who also won’t give up (Judd Hirsch) she presses on determined to have some resolution whatever that may be. Exceptionally well-acted but a tough watch.

    The Seventh Victim (1943)-Mary Gibson (Kim Hunter) arrives in New York City intent on locating her sister Jacqueline who has disappeared. As she starts searching she meets resistance from all quarters including her sister’s husband. As she delves deeper into the mystery she discovers a connection to devil worship and begins to fear for her own safety. Low budget noir produced by Val Lewton has a nice sense of dread and looks at a provocative subject for a forties film. This was future Oscar winner Hunter’s screen debut.

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    1. The Impostor is very fascinating. Actually, bizarre might be a better word.

      Of your picks, I've seen bits and pieces of your first two picks, but never gave either a proper viewing. Haven't heard of your last pick. Sounds pretty good, though.

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  4. I also chose Brick! I love that movie. I feel like one of the only people who didn't like Winter's Bone. It was just meh for me. I've always meant to watch The Imposter. I need to get around to that.

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    1. Yes, Brick is fantastic. I'd love to get your thoughts on The Impostor.

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  5. Dude, the Imposter is so wiggity whack...literally the only way I can describe it. It's literally insane.

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  6. John Hawkes really gave an incredible performance in W'sB and Lawrence hasn't been this good since this movie. Hawkes out acts her but still, given that I don't like her, even I have to admit she was very good there.

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    1. Hawkes is very underrated. He's a phenomenal talent and I wish we got more from him.

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  7. I really wanted to like Brick a lot more than I did. I think it was one that was built up for me so much that it couldn't live up to its hype. I found it really emotionally detached, so parts of it didn't work for me at all. That said, we have the same taste in pictures--I used the same one for my review.

    I loved Winter's Bone. Jennifer Lawrence may be oversaturated right now, but this is evidence that she's not all hype. Hell of a strong performance from her.

    I'll second Joel's mentions of Missing and The Seventh Victim. The latter is odd, but it's a Val Lewton-produced film, so it has a lot in common with things like the original Cat People and I Walked with a Zombie, and that's not a bad thing. Missing is a film that comes out of nowhere. Lemmon gives a tremendous performance as a terrified but optimistic father, one of the best of his storied career. Completely worth tracking down.

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    1. Fair points about Brick. That is a great pic, ain't it?

      I'm a bit of a JL apologist, but yeah, this is probably her best work.

      Guess I need to check those out.

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  8. There are no words to adequately describe my love for Winter's Bone (both the book and the movie). I didn't enjoy Brick and, to tell you the truth, I don't really know why. It was certainly not a poorly made film. I think the melding of a high school setting and a noir movie, while clever and innovative, just didn't work for me.

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    1. I haven't read the book Winter's Bone, but the film is phenomenal. As for Brick, it's a really oddball piece of cinema. The verbiage of the 40s in a 2000s film that mixes the attitudes of both decades is bound to be quirky and not work for somebody.

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  9. Winter's Bone is such a great film! I haven't seen the other two but Brick sounds good.

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    1. Brick is excellent and pretty unique.

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  10. Winter's Bone is an amazing xcellent film even though, as you say, it is bleak. Jennifer Lawrence was excellent in this role and shows how great she actually can be. I have not seen the first film and the last one sounded preposterous u til you said it was a documentary....it still is crazy

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    1. JLaw was excellent. No argument, there. The Imposter is preposterous. You have to see it to even get an inkling of why this might have happened.

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  11. The Imposter is just strange...I can't wrap my head around the fact that they accepted this adult Frenchman as their 16 year old son.

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    1. Not sure if you've seen it, but there are some possible reasons why. However, the just make things even more interesting.

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