Tag Archives: Ethan Hawke

Predestination (2014)

16 Jan

Which came first: the chicken or the egg? It’s a question that has plagued philosophers for centuries, but never been presented quite so vividly as in the Australian thriller Predestination.

Directed by the Spierig brothers and starring Ethan Hawke, Noah Taylor and newcomer Sarah Snook, the film takes place at an unknown time in the future where time travel is illegal but certain men called loopers travel to the past in order to take care of crimes before they have been committed.  OK – wait, that’s a different movie – but the setup is the same. Ethan Hawke plays the unnamed time traveler who travels back to take care of one last job before retiring. A terrorist known only as the Fizzle Bomber has killed hundreds and it’s up to our nameless hero to travel back in time and kill him before he can strike again…  thus resolving a terrorist act before its even committed.

Despite its high-minded ambition and “R” rating, Predestination has the look and feel of a major studio blockbuster aimed at young adults. The film’s first act is set up through an unnecessary framing device which acts as an audience conduit for the tricky time travel puzzles that await the last half. It’s a cool concept (something Christopher Nolan would be proud of) that grips the audience’s attention in the moment, but it’s only when thinking about the film afterwards when one realizes how preposterous it all is.

There are some half-hearted attempts to introduce some deeper material here, particularly with themes involving personal identity and gender roles, but they get washed out in the great semi-cerebral time/puzzle stuff. Your characters mostly exist for Inception-esc exposition; Noah Taylor’s character seems to pop up at just the right times to answer the audience’s questions and reassure everyone that what we are seeing does make logical sense afterall. Films like this always have their own set of rules and logic to follow and Predestination is no exception, and as with all time travel films, a great suspension of disbelief is required. It’s a fun trip overall, but there is some really interesting character material that should have been fleshed out more in the film’s third act. Despite it being mostly a surface level puzzle film that gains it’s awe from a cheap reveal (The Usual Suspects anyone?), Predestination is still a notable and ambitious film that showcases the talent of a new face (Sarah Snooke). It’s a good time travel film thats just teetering on the edge of being a great one – if only it wouldn’t pride itself more in its concept than execution.

Rating – 6/10 

Similar to: Looper (2012), Timecrimes (2007), Minority Report (2002) 

Boyhood (2014)

23 Sep

Also known as “Richard Linklater‘s 12-year Project”, Boyhood follows a young boy through his childhood form ages 6-18. Linklater literally spent a few weeks every year shooting the film one scene at a time, using the same cast of actors. This incredible test of patience enables audiences to see characters literally mature and grow years before their eyes in a few hours.

The passage of time itself becomes a recurring theme in Boyhood. We see new friendships form, develop and dissolve; hair grows out and gets cut and dyed. Linklater pays particular attention to the little details which also clue us in as to what year the story takes place in (most notably, the clever use of soundtracks – featuring everyone from Soulja Boy to Arcade Fire). A child sitting at an older-model Mac playing oregon trail lets us know we are somewhere in the early 2000’s. Later, the same child is stealing a lawn sign that reads MCCAIN/PALIN in order to appease his liberal father. Ellar Coltrane plays our star boy Mason, and though his acting skills understandably are a bit rough at first, he quickly finds his unique voice and character. Mason’s sister Sam (played by here Lorelai Linklater) is also great, and Supporting work is provided by the always-excellent Ethan Hawke, and an Oscar-worthy performance by Patricia Arquette.

Rather than adding extra melodrama or building up to some heart-stopping climax, Linklater finds pleasure in the little things, and lets the simple beauty and heartbreak of life speak for itself. The result is a sort of memory montage of various defining moments experienced in the life of a child turning into a man.There is a pure truth-ness to the film that Linklater really expands upon. When viewed in it’s entirety, watching boyhood is an incredibly nostalgic, moving, and overall rewarding experience.

Rating – 10/10 

Similar films: Before Midnight, The Tree of Life, The Squid and the Whale

 

Top 10 Anticipated films of 2014

5 Jan

Well hats off to a new year. In the midst of all this awards season talk (you can catch my top 15 list of 2013 here) I’d like to present the films I’m most looking forward to seeing this next year. If available, I’ve provided the trailers and release dates. Make sure to let me know what films you are looking forward to seeing and if there are any I missed.

10 – Knight of Cups

This one is still a bit of a mystery as director Terrence Malick hasn’t officially said anything about Knight of Cups (or much else about his other projects). What we do know is that is stars Christian Bale, Imogen Poots, Joel Kinnaman, Cate Blanchet, Natalie Portman, Jason Clarke, Wes Bentley, and Antonio Banderas (wow!!). If the cast isn’t enough to get you excited, rumor is that Malick has a few additional films planned (though these are most likely to be pushed back to 2015 and beyond).  No release date yet.

9 – Foxcatcher

Director Bennett Miller made waves a while back with his Oscar-winning film Capote and 2011’s Moneyball. Next year he returns with a film based on Olympic Wrestling Champion Mark Schultz. Originally intended for 2013 (there was even a trailer released last fall), the film was pushed back due to editing issues and concern the awards season would be too crowded. Channing Tatum and Steve Carell (supposedly playing against type) star alongside Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, and Tara Subkoff.  Foxcatcher is rumored to be released in the spring, but could be pushed back to fall.

8 – Boyhood

This mysterious project from Richard Linklater supposedly has been in production for the last 12 years, chronicling the life of Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette’s son. As a huge fan of his Before trilogy, I can’t wait to see what frequent collaborators Linklater and Hawke have in store. No release date yet.

7- Transcendence

Wally Pfister, who is mostly known for his cinematography work with Christopher Nolan, makes his directorial debut next year with a mind-bending sci-fi about artificial intelligence. This looks like it has all the right ingredients to be the next Minority Report, and I’m excited to see Johnny Depp actually using his talent. Depp stars alongside Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Paul Bettany and Rebecca Hall. In theaters April 14.

6 – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Boasting an amazing all-star lineup of Saoirse Ronan, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law, Edwards Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, and Harvey Keitel (!!!), the film from Wes Anderson promises mystery, laughs, drama, superb music and Helvetica font. In theaters March 7.

5 – Enemy

After filming the Oscar-nominated Incendies, and last years incredible Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve is making a name for himself and this year he agian reunited with Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy. The thriller is supposedly about a man who goes after his look-alike after seeing him in a movie. I’m intrigued. In theaters March 14.

4 – Gone Girl

One of my favorite directors, David Fincher, gives us a film about a man whose wife mysteriously disappears while on honeymoon, starring Ben Affleck. Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, Gone Girl could become this year’s Girl With The Dragon Tatoo. In theaters October 8.

3 – Noah

Yes, you are familiar with the biblical story, but director Darren Aronofsky is sure to put a new spin on the tale. Staring Russel Crowe, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, and supposedly boasting some of the best digital effects ever to be done by Industrial Light and Magic, Noah arrives March 28.

2 – Interstellar

Christopher Nolan is back in action with a story about wormholes, space travel, and corn shortages. Yup. Staring Anne Hathaway, Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Wes Bentley, Topher Grace, and Ellen Burstyn, the film is out November 7.

1 – Inherent Vice

My most anticipated film of 2014 brings back Joaquin Phoenix and Paul Thomas Anderson into a thriller/comedy/crime story about a detective investigating the disappearance of an ex-lover.  Jena Malone, Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, and Maya Rudolph star. No release date yet.

The Purge (2013)

5 Jun

It is so refreshing these days to see a horror film get its thrills from a smart concept rather than relentless blood and gore. The Purge, though gaping with plot holes, is brutal, creepy and smart in its own special way.

Now, I don’t mean to say that the Purge is void of all blood and violence – in fact the premise is really built around the opposite idea: create one day out of the year where all forms of crime have virtually no legal consequences.  There are a few cringe-worthy moments of violence here, (most notably during the opening where we see CCTV footage from historical purge nights) but this film works because it leaves the real horror up to the imagination.  Ethan Hawke plays the leading man, and after the success of last years Sinister he proves he can handle the genre well.  There are some great twists and turns in the film, some more predictable than others, and while it does fall into typical horror conventions at points, it is still (surprisingly) thought provoking.

At a tidy 85 minutes, The Purge never overstays its welcome. In fact, there were a lot of ideas in the film that didn’t really get fleshed out like I wanted to, and with the wealth of material and ideas presented here, I wouldn’t be that opposed to a sequel. Which may be the biggest shocker to me above all.

5/10 stars

Similar to: Straw Dogs, Panic Room, When A Stranger Calls