SKY (2016)

April 16, 2016

sky Greetings again from the darkness. Remember that time you bashed your lover in the head with a lamp, left them bleeding on the floor, and then drove around for 3 days before turning yourself in to the police, confessing to what you assumed was a murder? And then remember how emotionally free you felt when it was discovered that not only was he/she alive, but they didn’t even blame you for the head injuries? Well that’s exactly what Diane Kruger’s character, Romy, goes through during the first part of the film.

Romy and her husband Richard (Gilles Lellouche) have travelled to the southwestern United States from their home in Paris. It’s pretty clear that their hope is that this vacation will reignite the passion they once had and break them out of their marital slump. A few too many drinks at the bar leads to some unwanted amorous advances, and in the heat of the moment, Romy starts whacking Richard in the head with the lamp.

Once she realizes that he survived and she’s not going to spend her life in prison for murder, she also decides that she’s not going to spend the rest of her life in a dead end marriage – a different kind of prison. Instead, she sets off on a journey of self-discovery. She even mentions how free she is, and can choose her own path.

Her self-discover phase takes her to Las Vegas – courtesy of a truck driver played by Lou Diamond Phillips. Within a short period of time, she has befriended a lady (Laurene Landon) who wears a bunny suit in order to pose for pics with tourists. Romy borrows the bunny suit and meets a mysterious cowboy (Norman Reedus) named Diego. It’s the relationship between Romy and Diego that dominates the final 2/3 of the film, and though they both create interesting characters, it’s a bit of a letdown after the story’s set up with the French husband.

Lena Dunham has an odd turn as Diego’s sister-in-law, and there is a dose of spirituality from Native Americans, but mostly this is Diane Kruger’s movie. She seems to be enjoying the wide range of emotions while showing off her talents, and she keeps us interested enough to keep watching … even when the pace slows to a crawl.

watch the trailer:




April 21, 2011

 Greetings again from the darkness. While not a historical expert, I commend writer James Solomon for his years of research into a fascinating, yet quite dark moment in America. Many have attempted to couch the film as presenting Mary Surratt as an innocent bystander. I would argue that the film is much less about her innocence or guilt, and much more about the state of our country’s leaders and the judicial system at the time of Lincoln’s assassination.

I found the two strongest elements of the film causing quite an internal conflict as I watched. First, the film is simply gorgeous. Costumes, props, sets and lighting all lead to a texture that puts the viewer right into the mid 1860’s. Second, the courtroom (and backroom) procedures generate a feeling of disgust. Although, we have had very recent examples of less-than-stellar judicial process in the U.S., we Americans still hold on to the belief that ours is the best and fairest system in existence.

 It was very interesting to see Kevin Kline as War Secretary Edwin Stanton. Stanton was the guy calling the shots during this time and evidently had quite a power hold on the military, as well as the government. His viewpoint that the country needed a swift and decisive conclusion to this tragedy makes absolute sense … unless you happened to be one of the accused, or their legal counsel.

The lead actors in the film do a very nice job of capturing their characters and holding us in time. In addition to Mr. Kline, James McAvoy plays Frederick Aiken, the Union war hero and reluctant defense attorney for Mary Surratt. Tom Wilkinson plays Senator Reverdy Johnson who, as Aiken’s mentor, recognizes all elements of the procedures. Evan Rachel Wood portrays Anna Surratt, Mary’s daughter. She has few scenes, but each is quite powerful. Danny Huston is Joseph Holt, the prosecuting attorney, who clearly has free reign to do whatever is necessary to ensure a guilty verdict. Other supporting work is provided by Toby Kebbell (John Wilkes Booth), Norman Reedus (from Boondock Saints), Stephen Root, Johnny Simmons and Colm Meaney. The two miscast roles are courtesy of Alexis Bledel and Justin Long.

 I found Robin Wright‘s stoic portrayal of Mary Surratt to be quite mesmerizing. Her strength and motherly insistence on protecting her son was absolutely believable. In my opinion she should gather consideration for an Oscar nomination when the time comes. This is not a showy performance, but rather the foundation of the story.

Lighting of the time was thanks to candles and lanterns, and director Robert Redford masterfully captures that on film. We are always hoping for a bit more light on the characters or in the courtroom. Instead we get the feeling of being present. I did find some of the “buddy scenes” to be unnecessary, but the scenes with Wilkinson and Kline more than offset this weakness.

This is the first film from The American Film Company, whose mission is to present historically accurate films on American history. If their initial entry is an indication, we anxiously await their next projects.

SEE THIS MOVIE IF: you are in the mood to be transported back to 1865 and come as close as possible to experiencing the conflict and grief of the young country just out of civil war.

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you find it difficult to see the flaws within what is basically a very strong and judicious system