LAFF Movie Reviews: CYRUS, THE NEW YEAR, DOWN TERRACE
The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival has a pretty impressive lineup this year. And even though I’m not 100% loving the new location (Downtown LA is not a place I like to find myself at when it’s midnight, just saying), I got to see quite a few good films. And it’s time to share some thoughts on a few of them including Cyrus, The New Year, and Down Terrace, with plenty more coming.
Synopsis: John C. Reilly plays John, a down-in-the-dumps L.A. guy still licking his wounds from a failed marriage. His luck takes a miraculous turn when he meets Molly—played by Tomei—at a party. She’s warm, smart, beautiful and happy to welcome him to her cozy hillside house. What she hasn’t told him is that she shares her home with her 21-year-old son Cyrus, a gregarious aspiring musician. Under his smiling exterior, however, lurks a passive-aggressive momma’s boy who has no intention of sharing his mother’s affections with any interloper. The territorial battle that ensues is both hilarious and unsettling.
Director: Mark & Jay Duplass
Cast: John C. Reilly, Jonah Hill, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener, Matt Walsh
Thoughts: Cyrus was at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, but I never got around to seeing it there, so after hearing lots of positive things about it, I decided to go see it at the LA Film Fest. So what’s the verdict? Well, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either.
Some parts worked for me and were funny and some others not so much. A lot of it was very cringy, which is not really humor that I usually enjoy. In addition, some of the storyline didn’t really make too much sense to me, for instance why would John (John C. Reilly) go through so much trouble to be with Molly (Marisa Tomei) when she obviously has some issues. But maybe that’s just me.
But let’s be real here, did I enjoy myself? Why, yes I did, and I think that’s the most important part. So if you are a fan of the Duplass brothers and/or are into the cringy-type humor you should definitely check out Cyrus, which is currently out in limited theatrical release.
The New Year
Synopsis: Trieste Kelly Dunn plays Sunny, who left school when her father fell ill and returned to her suburban Florida hometown to care for him. That was two and a half years ago. Today, her life still on pause, she watches the world go by from behind the shoe rental counter of the local bowling alley and tells herself that she’s content. But when a former high school rival returns to town for the Christmas holiday, his presence prompts her to reconsider what she wants—and needs—to do for herself.
Thoughts: The New Year started off so-so for me, but then I really got into the story and ended up loving it. It is such a simple yet very sweet and perfectly told story, that comes alive thanks to really great performances by the cast and more specifically Trieste Kelly Dunn, who plays the main character Sunny. She is someone to watch without a doubt.
I think what makes The New Year work is that you really get to experience the life of Sunny, including her hopes and dreams, and everything that she had to give up to take care of her father. It’s also an interesting character study that looks into the choices she has to make going forward.
If you get a chance, and are someone who enjoys character studies, I think you’ll enjoy The New Year and should definitely check it out at the LAFF.
LAFF Screenings: Wednesday, Jun 23rd 7:30pm – Regal 13
Synopsis: Around the midpoint of Ben Wheatley’s seriocomic debut, Bill and Karl, a father and son recently released from jail, decide to have the person they suspect of snitching rubbed out. Only things don’t go quite as planned. Their hit man shows up with his three-year-old in tow, their intended victim locks himself inside a bedroom like a sullen teenager, and Maggie, the lady of the house, needs everyone to keep the noise down because she wants to go to bed. It’s just another quiet night at home for the residents of Down Terrace.
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Robert Hill, Robin Hill, Julia Deakin, Kerry Peacock, Tony Way, David Schaal, Michael Smiley, Gareth Tunley
Thoughts: I decided to go see Down Terrace because its was described as a deadpan English dark comedy in the LA Film Fest schedule, and although it’s more dark than comedy, I did end up enjoying it.
Most of the action happens in Bill and Karl’s house but the director, Ben Wheatley, was able to create a compelling story and interesting character study about this family of crooks dealing with daily issues in the crime world, such as getting rid of a potential snitch.
The cast is wonderful and works so well together it really feels like you are watching the inner workings of a real family (although it looks like the actors playing Bill and Karl are also related in real life, which must help).
There isn’t much action in the film, although there are some violent scenes, but the best part has to be the ending, I for one didn’t see that coming and thought it was a pretty great way to end things.
So if you get a chance make sure to check out Down Terrace at the LA Film Fest.
And finally, I think this film is even more impressive when you know they shot the whole thing in 8 days, yep take that Hollywood!
LAFF Screenings: Thursday, Jun 24th 10:15pm – Regal 10