My Week in Review: Apr. 23-29

I’m in the final week of school now, thankfully it’s almost over. I only got to see two movies this week, one in a press screening, and the other on Hulu. Both were stellar.

First Reformed (2018)

Ethan Hawke in First Reformed. Courtesy of A24.

Paul Schrader’s latest is crazy. But that’s to be expected, from the writer of Taxi DriverRaging Bull, and The Last Temptation of Christ. It starts in silence (the critics in the screening were getting antsy, and asking if the sound was off), and then builds up in intensity until a white-knuckle conclusion. It was a powerful experience.

Ethan Hawke stars as Reverend Toller, an alcoholic with a dark past. Mary, played by Amanda Seyfried, asks Toller to talk to her husband, a rabid environmentalist who’s been depressed about the state of the world.

That’s all that can be said of the plot, without giving away delightfully dark twists. The movie was a blast, the performances were great (Seyfried’s lines were pretty weird at times, but she was still great), and the cinematography was beautiful. They shot it in Academy ratio, 4:3, and it works to create an intimate human story.

When it comes out later this month, check it out.


Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

Julian Dennison and Sam Neill in Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Courtesy of The Orchard. 

I’ve been a fan of Taika Waititi since What We Do in the Shadows and his work in Flight of the Concords. He’s funny, and his style feels unique. After seeing Hunt for the Wilderpeople, my appreciation grew tenfold. Not only can he craft a hilarious film, he can create genuine emotion. You’ll be laughing out loud, and then you’ll be hit in the heart by honest humanity. That’s not to say it’s jarring either, as the direction is pretty seamless and the story flows well.

A young kid with a rebellious spirit gets lost in the bush of New Zealand with his foster uncle, and a national manhunt is called in to find the kid. Then newcomer Julian Dennison plays young Ricky, and Sam Neill impresses as the foster uncle Hec. I always love a good “father-son” romp, so this seemed like a good film for me – and it was terrific.

It’s funny, sweet, and pleasant. Check it out.


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