Review: ‘Blue Caprice’ 11.10.14

Like I did with “Bastards” 2 reviews ago, I wanted to revisit “Blue Caprice” because like it, it was a film that I really liked and had such a strong reaction to, that I wanted to get a review of it up on the site. Now since it “technically” was released last year and its DVD release date wasn’t until very early on in this, I can’t say that it makes the cut for 2014. So even though considering how amazing I thought it was, I can’t consider it to rank among the films I’ve seen this year since it was clearly a last year release. Which is unfortunate because it certainly would have popped up on one of my 2 end of the year lists.

The film opens with a montage of real footage from the aftermath of the DC Sniper case. A true story that took place in 2002. Cut forward (or backwards) and we are introduced to a young man (played by Tequan Richmond in a brilliant debut performance) who spends his days wandering around the Caribbean island in which he lives in aimlessly who seemingly is lacking any guidance or parental presence in his life. That is until a chance encounter when he meets Isaiah Washington’s character, John, who more or less takes him under his wing and starts to mentor the confused and misguided young man. The young man writes in a diary that’s told in voice over narration where he talks about how enamored he is of his new father type figure. John brings this young boy from the Caribbean with him back to the States. Once there, John schools the young man on his extremely radical doctrine and rhetoric of how he views the world. John introduces him to Ray, played by Tim Blake Nelson, who appears to share similar viewpoints of the world in which John seems to see himself surrounded by and who also teaches the young man how to shoot a rifle. We get a bit more back story on John and why he may have become to align himself with such radical political views on the state of his country. His interactions with the young boy growing steadily from what at first seems like healthy mentor/father figure into a brainwashing extremist. From there their relationship only grows stronger, as does the young boy’s vulnerability and grip that John has on him. Which the story just continues to build and build on from there, resulting in a shocking yet totally believable revelation in its final act.

I guess I didn’t know what I was expecting but the film certainly exceeded whatever that expectation was. It’s a great character study of a true “anarchist” led by the amazingly talented Isaiah Washington in what might be his best performance to date. Also, continuing on the acting thread, is the genuine on-screen relationship between Washington and the young Richmond. It does a great job depicting a man on the brink of insanity, and how and why he eventually winds up going to the lengths that he does. Also, I was equally as impressed by the way in which it was shot as was I with the film’s ominous score. I thought it lended itself perfectly to the images I was being shown on the screen. Which brings me to my next point. There are some images in this film that are so bleak, so incredibly haunting, that they’re difficult to shake after the movie comes to a close. Never has a tracking shot of the mere image of just a car rolling up the highway in slow motion elicited such a threatening emotional response. It’s images like these that were similar to how I felt about the ones in Sean Durkin’s film about cults and buying in to radical beliefs in 2011’s “Martha Marcia May Marlene”. A film that I drew a lot of comparisons to, not only in terms of content, but by which the film made me feel. Along with a great supporting cast of the above mentioned Tim Blake Nelson, Joey Lauren Adams, and a nice cameo by “Kids” (1994) and “The Wire”‘s (2002-2008) Leo Fitzpatrick. This is one highly worth renting and sadly enough one that got overlooked entirely for Washington’s incredible performance in last year’s awards season. This is a gripping, thought-provoking, dark, psychological film based on a true account that will leave you rattled and thinking about for days following. It’s too bad the film got sandwiched right smack in-between 2013 and 2014. Because if it had been released this year I can pretty much guarantee it would be making my Honorable Mentions list, if not for a spot on my coveted top 10 itself.


Review: ‘Enemy’ 3.29.14

I’m really, really glad this movie met my expectations. Rarely do I feel like a movie, especially these days, lives up to its (or maybe I should say my) hype. I think the less I say about this film the better. But what I will say, while filmed at the same time as ‘Prisoners’, and both starring Jake Gyllenhaal, I can see the reason why Villeneuve released ‘Prisoners’ and then ‘Enemy’ after. Had they of been released the other way around a lot less people would have seen ‘Enemy’ (well, a lot less than even the number who did). He needed the street cred of ‘Prisoners’ first (even though some may say he got it in the form of directing 2010’s Academy Award nominated ‘Incendies’). But since that was a foreign film, most likely it only caught the attention of the international community and didn’t really catapult him into the public’s consciousness. But then he made ‘Prisoners’ which caught the attention of many not only because of it’s raw, brutally stark tale of child abduction, but because to some it felt like we were seeing something new, a filmmaker with something to say. Anyways, the 2 aforementioned films could not be any more different other than that they star Gyllenhaal who, along with ‘Prisoners’, puts in his 2 best back-to-back performances to date. Here’s a very loose synopsis of the film. A sort of downtrodden, isolated, slightly depressed, middle-aged college professor, who appears to be just going through the motions in his dismal day-to-day existence, comes across a film under the recommendation of a colleague, where he winds up seeing someone who looks just like his exact self. This sets off a series of events where he begins to investigate his look-alike (or is his look-alike investigating him?). Both have significant others, one a wife and the other a girlfriend (played by the fantastic Melanie Laurent of ‘Inglorious Basterds’) who both become entagled in the web of the story. At a turning point, the 2 Gyllenhaal’s decide to exchange indentities, which is when the plot really starts to thicken and the story picks up steam. From a filmmaking standpoint it’s impecaably shot, using the cityline of Toronto in multiple shots to convey a number of different things, filtered in a brownish hue color (someone called it “cigarette stain” in another review), added in with yet another brilliant Gyllenhaal performance, and an incredible score by the team who did both ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ and ‘Simon Killer’, and a story that will have you putting the pieces together not only throughout but far after it’s over. Unnerving, disturbing, paranoiac, while also giving thought-provoking a new name. ‘Enemy’ I can assure you will not dissapoint. This is the kind of material I live for. And one that should earn itself a place on the mantle of my top 10 films of the year.

Grade: A-