Beautiful Boy

November 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Steve Carell, Amy Ryan
Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen (“The Broken Circle Breakdown”)
Written by: Luke Davies (“Lion”) and Felix Van Groeningen (“The Misfortunates”)

The opening lyrics of John Lennon’s moving single “Beautiful Boy” off his 1980 album Double Fantasy are a bit too precise when comparing them to its namesake film: “Close your eyes, have no fear / The monster’s gone, he’s on the run and your daddy’s here.”

“Beautiful Boy,” a drama about drug addiction directed by Belgian filmmaker Felix Van Groeningen (“The Broken Circle Breakdown”), is a neatly packaged picture, for better or worse. It’s reminiscent of an episode of A&E’s “Intervention” — but one of those really dramatic shows where it takes the family forever to convince their loved one who is hooked on heroin to go to rehab only to see them quit the program the following day.

“Beautiful Boy” seems to have all the pieces it needs to tell a heartbreaking true story about a teenager on a downward spiral because of his dependency on crystal meth. The film is adapted from two memoirs — “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction” by David Sheff, and “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines” by David’s son, Nic Sheff. As the co-writers of the screenplay, Van Groeningen and Oscar nominee Luke Davies (“Lion”) consider both sides of the narrative and allow for David’s and Nic’s perspectives to get equal time to flourish and intensify.

It helps immeasurably that behind the characters of David and Nic are Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher”) and Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name”), a pair of Academy Award-nominated actors who portray a helpless father and dispirited son with such amazing conviction. It’s especially true for Chalamet, whose range in the film expands and leads him into some incredibly vulnerable places as a young man with no way of beating his addiction on his own.

As David, Carell gives his best performance since landing an Oscar nod for 2014’s “Foxcatcher.” Just as the lyrics to Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” reveal, Carell plays a devoted parent (as do Amy Ryan as his mother and Maura Tierney as his stepmom) who would do anything to save his son from his demons (in one scene, he snorts meth in an attempt to understand what Nic is feeling). Carell’s role speaks to the heart of what makes “Beautiful Boy” a powerful, albeit imperfect, account of a family’s fight for survival.

One could argue that to make a more significant impression, Groeningen and Davies should have pulled back the curtain to expose some of the darkest corners of drug addiction instead of simply showing audiences the scenarios that explore the hopes, disappointments and fears of the characters. With Carell and Chalamet at the forefront, however, “Beautiful Boy” is still an insightful and uplifting father-son story where unconditional love is the real star of the film.

Ep. 108 – Call Me By Your Name and our Top Ten Films of 2017

January 22, 2018 by  
Filed under Podcast

This week, The CineSnob Podcast returns to review “Call Me By Your Name” and Cody and Jerrod run down their top 10 films of 2017.

Click here to download the episode!

Call Me By Your Name

January 19, 2018 by  
Filed under Cody, Reviews

Starring: Timothee Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino (“A Bigger Splash”)
Written by: James Ivory (“Maurice”)

As the calendar turns to a new year and the quality of box office options are about the plummet, the one savior is the slow roll of award-worthy films slowly leaking their way to wider releases. Next up for audiences is the highly-acclaimed love story “Call Me By Your Name.”

In the Summer of 1983, Elio (Timothee Chalamet) is in Italy with his parents. His father, who is a college professor, has a student intern named Oliver (Armie Hammer) come to live with them in their summer home. As Elio shows Oliver around town and spends time with him socially, he begins to realize that he has deeper feelings for him. As he expresses this, he finds out that Oliver may feel the same way as the two head down the path of summer love.

The acting is across the board phenomenal, but much of the credit deserves to go the Chalamet, who plays the part to perfection. The role calls for much internal conflict and Chalamet has a piercing empty stare that is simultaneously expressionless and emotes deep agony. Beyond that, he’s magnetic and endlessly likeable, two qualities that will serve him well in almost any role in what is sure to be a bright future. Hammer, for his part, is great as well, as the confident Oliver. In a relatively low-key role, veteran actor Michael Stuhlbarg plays Oliver’s father. It’s a role that is solid throughout, but absolutely comes to life in a monologue later in the movie that is, hands down, the best scene of the movie and possibly the best bit of acting of Stuhlbarg’s career.

The ever evolving relationship between Elio and Oliver is at the center of the film and takes a more slow-burn approach. This allows for the film’s earlier moments to showcase gorgeous views of Italy and all of the care-free summer activities it has to offer. Even though they drift apart for various reasons (some of them intentional), Elio and Oliver eventually find themselves drawn back to one another, which is where the film takes off. The film almost takes a different tone altogether at that point, switching from a snapshot of summer life and fun to the intricacies and courtship of a new relationship, especially one which features so much self-discovery.

So often in modern “forbidden” love stories, the relationships feel more lustful than full of love and thus the films emotional moments feel unearned. That is not the case with “Call My By Your Name.” Perhaps it’s the slow build and push and pull of Elio and Oliver’s relationship, but there is not one false note between them in the entire movie. Sure, their sense of attraction is palpable, and there is plenty of sexual discovery, but their sense of true connection is even more powerful as the relationship feels less like a summer fling and more like two souls uniting. Elio and Oliver’s relationship is almost doomed to fail just by design and circumstances. There is something intrinsically beautiful, however, about two people who put their entire beings into a relationship they know can’t work. That pure display is exactly why “Call Me By Your Name” is a transcendent love story.

SXSW 2015 Review – One & Two

March 16, 2015 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Starring: Kiernan Shipka, Timothée Chalamet, Elizabeth Reaser
Directed by: Andrew Droz Palmero (“Rich Hill”)
Written by: Andrew Droz Palmero (debut) and Neima Shahdadi (debut)

Around 20 minutes into Andrew Droz Palmero’s narrative feature length debut, the film hints towards something entirely different than its initial moments. The audience doesn’t know the cause, reasoning, or consequences behind it, but it is an intriguing mystery that brings up a lot of curiosity and an equal amount of questions. Unfortunately, like many other pieces of story throughout the film, it is never fully paid off, which is a common theme in the visually impressive and narratively frustrating “One & Two.”

Walled off from other civilization, siblings Zac (Timothée Chalamet) and Ava (Kiernan Shipka) find themselves with unexplainable special abilities. With an ailing mother who encourages these abilities and an overbearing father who forbids them, Zac and Ava feel trapped and isolated and begin to wonder about life outside the confines of their farm.

Palmero, who after spending years as a cinematographer burst onto the scene as a director with last year’s acclaimed documentary “Rich Hill,” makes his mark in his narrative feature film debut with a keen visual eye and a strong ability for tone. Evoking filmmakers such as Jeff Nichols, Palmero is able to cultivate a quiet and unsettling atmosphere, matching the teenage angst and family frustration of his characters. There is also some solid, albeit slightly repetitive usage of special effects, with which Palmero is able to show restraint, doling them out sparingly without sacrificing effectiveness.

The faults of “One & Two” come at the hands of its storytelling and its refusal to answer many of the questions that come up. Palmero keeps his mysteries close to the vest, which is not inherently a bad thing, but so little is divulged throughout the course of the film and as a result, the conclusion or any of the events leading up to it lack any true satisfaction. The difficulty of latching onto anything in the narrative also leads to a collateral effect of blunting the brother/sister relationship and some of the thematic elements.

There’s a lot to admire about “One & Two,” and more specifically, about Palmero’s future as a filmmaker. He has an incredible ability to develop mood and atmosphere that should give him a prosperous career and make him a unique voice. On a micro level, however, “One & Two” never delivers on the potential of its set up. Palmero is clearly more interested in the journey than the destination. Consequently, this makes for a an unbalanced cinematic experience. As the minutes tick by and little of consequence is happening, interest beings to wane and one can’t help but feel like there should be more to it all.

For more coverage of SXSW 2015, click here.