The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them (R)

10 Stars

It’s not a story about a Beatles fan stumbling down a well.

I highly recommend The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby.

It’s completely character driven but beautifully written.

Many parts are wonderful, where to start?

Look for it in your local arthouse theaters…I can’t believe I just used that phrase. Yuck, what’s happening to me?

Anyway, hopefully it’s playing somewhere near you, because it only got limited release.

I hiked all the way to the Landmark Renaissance Theater, which doesn’t have ‘Regal’ or ‘AMC’ anywhere in the title.

So purchasing the ticket online does nothing; waiting in queue is still required to print the stub.

It’s a first world problem, I know, but a problem nonetheless. The more avoidable issue stems from the fellow coughing several seats down, forcing me to reposition nine rows up. But I won’t get into that.

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby is broken into three films: Him, Her and Them. All three films follow the same time period, but are told from the differing perspectives of Connor Ludlow (James McAvoy) and Eleanor Rigby (Jessica Chastain), a young married couple living in New York.

The version currently in theaters, Them, depicts the plot from both characters’ perspectives.

Him and Her will be released in arthouse theaters on October 10, 2014, so I’ll be schlepping back to the Landmark.

The pacing is smart, the stakes are high, the tension’s constantly palpable and the character development is elegant.

Romance isn’t my favorite genre, but I can’t imagine it being done any better.

Ultimately it’s a tale of moral ambiguity,

James McAvoy is just fantastic.

This fellow, along with his role in X-Men: Days of Future Past from earlier this summer, is turning into quite the prolific movie star.

Keep up the good work, James!

My favorite leading lady, Jessica Chastain, is lights-out. She looks good with short hair.

Her character is incredibly likable and sympathetic. Props to Rebecca Edmonston who did the costumes. All of Chastain’s outfits are fantastic.

Viola Davis kills it in this movie.

She’s great in Prisoners and Ender’s Game but this is probably her best role yet.

I cried several times throughout. This movie is incredibly touching.

Don’t let me oversell it, but TDOER is easily one of the best films released in 2014.

This may be the right candidate for ‘Best Date Movie’ ever. Or perhaps it’s the worst date movie ever. Depends upon your perspective.

See what I did there?

Just about as ‘meta’ as you can get in a film review.

Prisoners (R)

9 Stars

Suspense get you going? Dig thrills, do ya?

This flick’s got plenty of both.

I really enjoyed this film about kidnapping, and encouraged my parents to watch it about a week ago. I moseyed in about two-thirds the way through the film, when Hugh Jackman’s wielding a claw hammer and quivering with fury.

“What the hell are we watching?” my Dad asked from the edge of his seat.

“Yeah I know, it’s great, right!”

Love that sink scene. Think about how the theme of imprisonment relates to each character. How informed each party is, and in turn, the motivations that result.

Just from that little suggestion, you can tell you’re in for a quality picture.

For those who haven’t seen Prisoners: If you like great movies see this film.

Here’s what ‘great’ means. It means ‘great enough.’ If you leave Prisoners feeling genuine hatred, you’re being overly critical.

So check it out, but be careful of the spoilers below.

Hugh Jackman may be the best actor currently working in Hollywood. I’m biased because he’s been my number one favorite since X-Men (2000), but my dude’s quickly climbing the charts. He’s so prolific nowadays.

I’ve seen most his catalogue (except for Australia) and I stand by Swordfish and Van Helsing as great movies. I’ll argue to the death for either. I have no idea why their Rotten Tomatoes percentages are in the twenties. Baffles me, truly.

Anyway, my point is, Hugh Jackman delivers a spectacular performance as Keller Dover in this film. Keller’s a wildly compelling character with complex motivations.

Further acting prowess is displayed by his character’s wife, Gracie Dover, played by Maria Bello, who steers a powerful teary-eyed scene.

Viola Davis plays Nancy Birch, and also carries a tense scene without muttering a word of dialogue. She just delivers a long, dead stare.

Terrence Howard’s not my favorite, but he does a decent enough job here. I suppose I avoid giving him too much credit because I’ve heard some not so nice things about him.

He’s the second actor credited for Iron Man, after R.D.J. himself. And he was replaced by another black actor, Don Cheadle, after demanding too much money for the second installment in the series.

I didn’t even notice until well after 3.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Detective Loki has a wildly compelling discussion with a priest, and ties together the film in a pleasing way. Jake’s rather talented, I feel like I don’t see enough of him.

Detective Loki’s shirt is always buttoned to his chin but he’s never wearing a tie, which drove me nuts until someone pointed out the tattoo on his neck. The only plot hole is the scene in which Gyllenhaal opens the trunks full of snakes. His character isn’t the type to leave the lids ajar, allowing the serpents’ escape.

Before moving on, I must mention that David Dastmalchian delivers as a more capable deranged man than the role he plays in The Dark Knight. He’s a solid actor, and I bet we’ll see more from him in the future.

Lot of powerful gazing goes on in this film. From Viola D.’s deadpan, to the stare-down between Jake and Paul Dano, you get some strong gawks. When Dano signs his release from prison, it gives me the chills.

By the way, P.D.’s phenomenal in this film. So creepy. The dog-walking scene’ll make your spine crawl.

An easily avoidable thought to take away from Prisoners is that Paul Dano’s character is, ultimately, the worst victim of all.

But that’s a reality on which I’d prefer not to dwell.