LAFF 2013 Reviews: ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,’ ‘Only God Forgives’ & “The Spectacular Now’
In our final round of reviews for the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival, I grouped up some unconventional films, which all focus on character developments in different ways.
Set in 1970’s Texas Hill Country, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints tells the story of Bob Muldoon (Casey Affleck), who takes the fall for his wife’s, Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara), crime. He asks her to wait for him. In the midst of their seemingly doomed love story, we also meet Skerritt (Keith Carradine), the man who took them in as kids and a local sheriff named Patrick Wheeler (Ben Foster).
Ain’t Them Bodies Saints doesn’t have a very extensive story, in fact the best way that I can describe it is that it’s the exploration of a moment in these people’s lives driven by a specific set of events. The film is definitely slow paced and more about moments and characters, but it benefits from very strong performances and great scenes.
I personally enjoyed it, but if you need more action and story development, this might not be it for you. On the other hand if you enjoy characters study, you might want to give it a shot.
The movie will be released to theaters on August 16th.
Ratings: 6 out of 10 stars
You can watch the trailer for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints below.
Only God Forgives is the new film from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and I think the best way to describe it is by using the director’s own words: “it’s like an acid trip, but not the kind where you go crazy jumping up and down, one where you’re the chair and things are going on around you”. Yep, that’s a great description of what Only God Forgives feels like.
The movie follows Julian (Ryan Gosling), who runs a Thai boxing club which also serves as a smuggling ring he operates with his brother, Billy (Tom Burke) in Bangkok. However, when Billy is murdered, their mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) takes a trip to Bangkok from London to seek revenge on her son’s killers. On the other side of it all, we meet the head of Police, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), who is determined to keep the city free of crime.
There is no doubt about it, Only God Forgives is not a film for everyone. It’s really weird and slow paced, but I actually found myself oddly enjoying the journey it takes you on. The performances are really great (no surprises there), but I have to mention Kristin Scott Thomas in particular because she went through quite a radical change to play the part and I loved watching her character come to life on screen.
I should also mention that it can be pretty graphic, but apart from one scene, I was able to watch it all. Oh and I have to talk about the music, which is probably the best part of the film.
Only God Forgives is one of those movies that take you out of your comfort movie zone and shows you something different. If you’re up for discovering something different, then I would encourage you to check it out.
Only God Forgives will be released nationwide on July 19th.
Ratings: 7 out of 10 stars
You can watch the trailer for Only God Forgives below (it gives you a pretty good idea of the feel of the film, and you hear a bit of that score I mentioned).
The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story that follows Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior and charmer, who starts an unlikely romance with “good girl” Aimee Finecky (Shailene Woodley).
I had very different expectations going in to see The Spectacular Now from what the movie actually is, so that might have contributed to me not loving it as much as I wanted to, but there is no denying that it is a good film. We’ve seen plenty of coming of age story, but I personally don’t get tired of them especially when they are made as well as this film.
I first saw Miles Teller in Rabbit Hole and was blown away by his performance, he is definitely someone to keep an eye on and he once again shines in The Spectacular Now. Shailene Woodley also proved her worth in The Descendants and continues to do so here. These two have great chemistry and that’s what makes the film compelling to watch.
The film also feature an incredible cast including Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.
Something that I also welcomed was the humor. It’s so easy to make these types of movies very heavy sometimes, that I really appreciated some of the lighter moments.
So if you enjoy coming of age stories, with a bit of romance and some humor, you should definitely give The Spectacular Now a chance.
The Spectacular Now will be released to theaters on August 2nd (limited).
Ratings: 7 out of 10 stars
You can watch the trailer for The Spectacular Now below