An insecure teen girl, Annie (Liana Liberato), starts a relationship with Charlie, a boy whom she’s never met but after a couple of months of online and phone correspondence, she agrees to see him in person. She’s been convinced by Charlie that he is a 20-something college student. When she finally sees him face-to-face, he is far from the young, twinkly-eyed boy in the photos Charlie has sent to her – he’s a 35 year old man. Still, she goes to a motel with him and ends up being sexually assaulted.
Directed by David Schwimmer and starring two brilliant actors as Annie’s parents (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener), Trust didn’t receive a nationwide release, probably due to its heavy subject matter and a very un-Hollywood like ending, one that doesn’t deliver that warm and fuzzy feeling. Most people have no idea the movie even exists. If you’re a parent of a teen/tween, do yourself a favor and watch it.
Although the performances were spot-on, it did creep into that weepy Lifetime/Hallmark Hall of Fame territory every so often. I admit, it worked like a charm. I cried like a baby. Sometimes, the film lost its focus, bouncing back and forth between the criminal investigation and the father’s increasingly neurotic behavior and lust for vigilante justice. There were some scenes that stood out, reminding me of the misconceptions so many people hold about rape.
Despite what the trailer at the official site may lead you to believe, the film’s message is not that the internet is evil. David Schwimmer is a long-time anti-violence advocate for women (he’s also on the board of the Rape Foundation) but he’s careful not to get too preachy or overbearing. Don’t view Trust as a lesson to be learned. In this technologically advanced age, we’re well aware of the dangers, of the predators, of the steps we have to take to protect ourselves and our children. Instead, consider it an opportunity to explore the reactions of the characters on screen and reflect on your own emotions, both positive and negative.
Mary and Max is a multi-award winning animation that chronicles the relationship between Mary Daisy Dinkle (Toni Collette), a young, insecure girl in Australia who is the only daughter of an alcoholic mother and a neglectful father, and Max Jerry Horowitz (Philip Seymour Hoffman), an overweight, panic-ridden man in New York. One day, Mary picks the first name she finds in a phone book and sends a letter, along with a chocolate bar, prompting a decades long correspondence of letters and chocolate treats. Although Max has longed for a real friend (his imaginary friend sits on a stool reading all day), Mary’s sensitive questions propel him into anxiety attacks, one so severe he ends up in a mental institution.
Many years pass with no mail from Max. In between waiting for word from him, Mary becomes smitten with the next door neighbor boy, Damien (Eric Bana), and continues helping her agoraphobic neighbor, Len. Considering advice from his therapist, he finally writes to Mary and confides in her that he has Asperger’s Syndrome which affects his social interaction. She decides to enter into university to study mental disorders and ends up penning a highly acclaimed book with Max as her case study. The news is not well-received by Max and he cuts off communication with her, which sends Mary into a drug-induced, drunken stupor (after shredding her hard work to pieces and damning her career). On the verge of suicide, she wonders if Max will ever forgive her.
Let me immediately point out that this is not for young children or tweens. Don’t be wooed by the cartoon cover art or pictures of adorable Mary Daisy Dinkle with her clunky glasses and red barrette. It’s a complicated tale meant for adults. If you are unable to process rather gloomy, disheartening material without being able to bounce back emotionally, avoid this movie. Aside from the celebration of enduring friendship, there isn’t much to smile about. Alcoholism, mental illness, loneliness, pill popping, heartbreak, four deaths, overeating, involuntary manslaughter, schoolyard bullying… a small list of the obstacles the characters struggle to overcome.
The animation is beautifully done and the characters are a peculiar, quirky bunch with a myriad of flaws but endearing in their own ways. The stop-motion figures on the screen breathe life, full of raw, human emotion in such a profound manner, it can be a distressing, suffocating experience. That’s balanced with some incredibly kooky humor. The storyline flows effortlessly but, ultimately, it won’t appeal to a wider audience. High praise for writer and director, Adam Elliot, for having a unique vision and sticking to his guns. There has been mixed reviews on Barry Humphries’ narration. Personally, I found his voice very soothing.
This film appeases two long-time love affairs, claymation and stop-motion. It tickled my funny bone at the right moments but it was too melancholy, even for me.
Hanna Heller (Saoirse Ronan, Atonement) lives in solitude in the Finland wilderness with her father, Erik (Eric Bana), an ex-CIA agent. For the past 16 years, he has been training her to be the perfect assassin. She is a skilled hunter and fluent in many languages but she longs for the outside world. Realizing that she is finally ready, he gives Hanna a transmitter box which she uses to dispatch her location to Marissa Wiegler (Cate Blanchett), another CIA agent.
Leaving his daughter behind, Erik sets out to Berlin where Hanna is to meet up with him after she has killed Marissa. She’s captured, taken to Morocco, and interrogated by a double for Agent Wiegler. Believing the double is the real Marissa, Hanna snaps her neck and flees from the facility, but not before getting her hands on classified files about her own DNA. An intensive manhunt for Erik and Hanna begins.
You should know that this isn’t your typical action film fueled by crazy spurts of adrenaline. No car chases through busy streets, superhuman stunts, or fiery explosions. In fact, it’s more of Hanna’s coming-of-age story – her first real friend, experiencing the power of music and dance after wondering about it for so long, encountering technology and electricity after a decade and a half of kerosene lamps, being with a boy. This is a bit of a Euro Art House film so if you’re looking for a movie like Salt, you’ll be vastly disappointed.
As a David Lynch fan (director Joe Wright cited him as a major influence), I give Wright props but The Chemical Brothers score is invasive at times. As a stand-alone soundtrack, it is freaking awesome. What Daft Punk does for Tron doesn’t always work in Hanna. Take Hanna’s escape from the CIA safe house in Morocco, for instance. The blaring track and flickering lights are enough to put the average person into a rockin’ epileptic seizure.
Recommended to those who have the patience to let their tea steep but not to action junkies looking for a quick adrenaline fix.
Willa Holland plays April who runs off to Hollywood to escape from her sleazy step-father. There, she is introduced to an even sleazier fellow, a photographer who offers her cash to pose naked for the camera. She does what she has to in order to survive, as do Nathan, a farm boy from Nebraska who dreams of being a dancer, and Sammy, an aspiring singer.
The only person to make this film interesting is the gorgeous Vinessa Shaw. She plays Sally St. Clair, Internet nudie turned tough-as-nails real estate agent who has a soft spot for teenage drifters, especially ones who will tend to her marijuana plants. The other characters seem to wander through life aimlessly, casting shame and good sense aside while avoiding, entertaining, or humoring their predators.
Garden Party is a plain movie with equally plain characters that starts off painfully slow. It never fully satisfies. Certain vignettes end abruptly and new ones are introduced haphazardly. If anything, this film serves as a warning to young people with dreams of making it big in Hollywood. It isn’t a fairytale journey and the Big Bad Wolf is lurking around every corner.