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Margot Robbie in Terminal
edy that presents Kathleen turner and Frances Fisher as feuding life partners
— with a flashback love scene, no less
— should be irresistible, but another
Kind of Wedding proves more irritating than charming. in his third feature,
actor turned writer-director pat Kiely presents the Montreal wedding weekend of Matthew (Jacob tierney) and louisa (Jessica parker Kennedy), and a confus- ingly presented series of plot twists in- volving Matthew’s family. louisa, it turns out, was once involved with Matthew’s younger brother, Kurt (Kevin Zegers), a revelation that cues the first of a series of awkwardly placed flashbacks. also earn- ing flashbacks are Matthew’s two moms, barbara (turner) and tammy (Fisher), who are separated, as well as his depressed sister, Carrie (Jessica paré), who has
a boyfriend (luke Kirby) but seems to
be vibing on roy (David la Haye), an uninvited guest who may have once been barbara’s lover. i’ve seen the movie twice, and still don’t understand roy. nor did i understand why wallace shawn agreed to play barbara’s crudely lecherous friend, though i did sympathize when his char- acter expressed confusion over who was connected to whom in the wedding party. so many characters, so little narrative logic! it’s a maddening shame because Kiely has composed a love letter to the city of Montreal, and given his gifted cast of young Canadian actors some well- written individual scenes. but alas, this
is a wedding where few will want to stick
around for cake. (Chuck wilson) ANYTHING the warm vision of love that
timothy Mcneil offers in his debut film is encapsulated in a scene when two suf- fering people expose their physical scars — and then cover them with concealer. Freda (Matt bomer) tries to shake early (John Carroll lynch) from a drunken stupor with an emphatic pep talk, telling him that no one needs to be defined by slashes on wrists or the despair that prompted the suicide attempt. it’s a moment of empathy and acceptance that also reveals some- thing key about Freda: she regards her identity as a cloak, a protective persona to shroud a traumatic past. portraying
a trans woman as masquerading rather than revealing her inner self feeds into destructive stereotypes (as does making her a sex worker), but Freda isn’t a mali- cious characterization, just a shortsighted one. the overall tone of anything is one of tender magnanimity. Mcneil’s adaptation of his play (named best of 2008 by the los angeles Drama Critics Circle) seeks
to put everyone in the best possible light, a point emphasized by cinematographer James laxton’s exquisite widescreen images, which make los angeles look as rosy as early’s Mississippi hometown, with its inviting, well-ordered charm. Mcneil depicts a cramped Hollywood courtyard apartment complex as a misfit haven, where residents reluctantly welcome straight-laced early, shattered by his wife’s sudden death. lynch’s exchanges with Maura tierney (as early’s prickly sister) showcase his calm strength and heart-
shattering fragility. He’s the ideal foil for
a volatile bomer, who expresses Freda’s self-protective hesitancy as pointed hostility. early absorbs Freda’s pain into his own, and Mcneil builds a delicate idyll from their defiant embrace of unexpected second chances. (serena Donadoni)
BEAST Michael pearce’s Beast is a quiet sort of thriller, a dark and disquieting mystery with its most pressing drama roiling beneath a comparatively placid surface. it has sensational elements common to its genre: as tv screens in the background remind us, a little girl has gone missing on this small island
in the english Channel, which means
we get the familiar sight of townsfolk tromping through heath or the floss or whatever they call fields over there, search parties rustling the weeds for
any sign. occasionally, pearce stages an out-of-nowhere assault, but those attacks quickly are revealed as the nightmares/ fantasies/memories of Moll (Jessie buckley), a 27-year-old misfit. any relief at the revelation that violence is not go- ing down in the film’s present-day reality, though, gives way to the deeper horror about what Moll might be hiding. Beast teases out the answers with a stubborn patience. writer-director pearce, making his feature debut, proves dedicated to a psychological naturalism. Moll falls for pascal (Johnny Flynn), a working-class hunk who might relish killing the occa- sional animal but proves the rare young man not to treat her like damaged goods. the only problem: He’s a suspect in that child’s disappearance. the suspense in Beast lies in us puzzling out who these two actually are. is he the killer? is she? is this a case of a small-minded town as- suming the worst about its aimless, alien- ated young people? pearce understands that we’re working this all out, and he cunningly makes all these possibilities seem likely at the same time. the cost, though, of creating the circumstances
in which we have room to wonder is that it leaves these characters vaguely sketched. (alan scherstuhl)
BOOM FOR REAL: THE LATE TEENAGE YEARS OF JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT there are two stories being told in the documentary Boom for real: The late Teenage Years of Jean-michel Basquiat. the first: How 1970s new York, that city of urban decay, run-down apartment build- ings, rampant crime and overwhelming scuzziness, spawned a hopeful, vibrant art scene. at the same time, graffiti virtuoso lee Quinones and savvy hustler Fab 5 Freddy (both interviewed here) were spearheading their own burgeon- ing movement, one that soon brought Quinones’ subway-car graffiti into the limelight, along with the rapping, DJing, b-boy dancing and what soon would be celebrated as the main components of hip-hop. the other story, the one that’s supposed to be this doc’s main focus, is not really as interesting. this one tells
of Jean-Michel basquiat’s ascent from spray-painting street vagrant to one of the icons of renegade new York art. the way sara Driver’s doc tells it, basquiat was a wandering vagabond, always looking for a place to crash for the night, hopefully
| Film //
Truth in Advertising
Courtesy rlje films
FDespite a villainous Margot robbie, Terminal lives Down to its title
By April Wolfe
or all Terminal’s The first-time director is done energy of the editing is dialogue style and flash, no favors by a script, his own, that muses mostly on long- writer-director that’s riddled with clichés; This winded ideas that don’t lend Vaughn Stein’s is the second film I’ve seen this themselves to any kind of visual meandering tale week that features a character representation. By that I mean of assassins and aiming a gun at someone, then not what’s known as see-and-say fatefully crossed saying “boom” instead of shoot- dialogue, where a director turns
paths lays out such a confusing ing. And I would be eternally the camera to an object or per- narrative that three quarters of grateful if no other man ever son, and then a character notices
the way through, I couldn’t have passed a quiz about the char- acters’ goals or why they were doing anything that they were doing. From what I could gather, an assassin (Margot Robbie) promises that she can kill her competition, and then a bunch of people somehow connected to this end up at an all-night diner outside a train station. But time jumps back and forth, so the story could be taking place three weeks earlier or in the present. Mike Myers shows up as an elderly British janitor, and the people in the diner talk a lot — endlessly — and the assassin for some reason waits tables. Bear with me. I also don’t know what’s going on, and I saw it.
Despite the story’s dire incoher- ence, Robbie’s reasoning for taking on the lead role of Annie (an assassin, waitress and exotic dancer) seems obvious: How often do female stars get the opportunity to play a multifac- eted villain? But Stein’s direction — which favors harsh, blinding backlighting and funky Dutch an- gles over visibility of performers’ faces — creates a vast distance between actor and viewer.
writes the line “leaving marks on little girls’ panties.”
It seems Stein wants to mimic the kinetic flair of Edgar Wright.
ThE firsT-TimE dirEcTor
is donE no favors by a scripT, his own, ThaT’s riddlEd wiTh clichÉs.
He even cast longtime Wright collaborator Simon Pegg as din- er customer and schoolteacher- with-a-terminal-diagnosis Bill. But Stein mistakes successive frantic editing for purpose-
ful action and refuses to allow cinematographer Christopher Ross to simply shoot an actor
— any actor — head-on. At one point, I pleaded with the film, “Stop shooting this scene from overhead!” and “Don’t cut while people are talking!”
Compounding the manic
that object or person and makes a comment, thereby reacting to their environment. With that kind of dialogue, a narrative
is driven by that interaction between character and setting. But in Terminal, the settings seem to be designed simply for their cool, noir comic book style, not for how the characters will live in them.
The most successful scene comes when Annie-as-waitress and Bill sit at a diner table, talk- ing about how Bill might kill himself before his mysterious ill- ness takes his life. While they’re talking, the walls of the diner are pulled away using movie magic and suspension of disbelief, and we see these possibilities — get- ting hit by a car, pushed in front of a train, etc. — acted out in the space behind the actors as they chat. There are minimal cuts, the actors are vibing off each other and the characters seem part
of the world they inhabit rather than just posed against it. Now if only that was the whole movie.
TERMINAL | Directed and written by Vaughn Stein | RLJE Films Monica Film Center
|| // May 11 - 17, 2018 // LA WEEKLY

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