REVIEW: Under The Silver Lake (2019)

Directed by: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace

Written by Sam Comrie

“Maybe there are people out there who are more important than us, more powerful, communicating things in the world that are meant for only them and not for us.”

Despite a troubling distribution schedule after hitting the festival circuit, David Robert Mitchell’s follow up to tantalizing It Follows has finally begun to see the light of day. Bringing back D.P Michael Gioulakis (Split) and composer Diasterpiece, Mitchell’s third feature-length endeavour is a left field swerve down a road that is as mysterious as the title itself. Stepping away from the anxious social horror of It Follows, Under The Silver Lake is a delirious suburban noir that brings us along on a spiralling web of underworlds, Illuminati style mysteries and a murder or two along the way.

Wearing its modern noir disguise in the open, Mitchell’s picks apart another agenda underneath the green grass and naive city smiles. It’s an agenda of hidden codes, intentions and goals that are only for those higher in the social hierarchy. Not for a greasy, problematic slacker that hasn’t paid his rent in god knows how long. Enter Andrew Garfield, giving a sleaze-filled performance that proves to be a career best, despite his troubling perspective on women that makes for an uneasy watch.

It’s uncomfortable and skin crawling but works to make Garfield’s “Sam” a vessel for all the cynicism and underworld brainwashing that he will ultimately endure to seemingly no real positive in his quest. And a quest it is indeed. When a woman from his flat complex disappears, with no explanation or trace to her existence, Sam takes it upon himself to uncover the real mystery behind her disappearance. His past and job history is never truly touched upon, only picked away at by other characters trying to uncover some human component inside Sam.

The clues begin to appear and bring an anxious sense of doubt with them. Are we actually finding a lead or we are actually going crazy the more we pull on the threads? Mitchell’s eerie and precise direction is on form once more in tandem with the dreamy wide lensed aesthetic that Gioulakis soaks the suburbia in. Palm trees and crosswalks are chosen favor of the glossy high rises that function continuously in the background.

Mitchell’s commitment to how truly unpredictable and oddball he takes the mystery is what really sold me on my experience with Silver Lake. It’s littered with brilliantly intriguing characters that add to contained lore that the film builds for itself almost unintentionally.

In the supporting cast, Patrick Fischler and Jeremy Bobb pop up along the way providing some of the best moments of strange character intricacies and sometimes reality shattering revelations. I particularly enjoyed spending time in the “lair” of Fischler’s simply titled “Comic Fan”, who has built his own web of messages. It adds to the continuous notion that Mitchell is painting a narrative that exists behind the scenes for anyone but Garfield.

Under The Silver Lake, in the end, proves itself to be another hazy passage through the unexpected, in the same vein of Mulholland Drive and Inherent Vice. I bet they’d make a unique triple bill.

SAM’S VERDICT:

5

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All Hell Breaks Loose In Brand New Trailer For A24’s ‘Slice’

“When a pizza delivery driver is murdered on the job, the city searches for someone to blame: ghosts? drug dealers? a disgraced werewolf?”

Directed by: Austin Vesely

Cast: Chance the Rapper, Zazie Beetz, Rae Gray, Paul Scheer, Joe Keery

Release Date: TBA

First Trailer For Jonah Hill’s Directorial Debut ‘Mid90s’ Released

Written and directed by Jonah Hill, Mid90s follows Stevie, a thirteen-year-old in 90s-era LA who spends his summer navigating between his troubled home life and a group of new friends that he meets at a Motor Avenue skate shop.

Directed by: Jonah Hill

Cast: Katherine Waterston, Lucas Hedges, Sunny Suljic

Release Date: October 19th, 2018

A Ghost Story

Year: 2017
Directed by: David Lowery
Starring: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, McColm Cephas Jr.

 

“What is it you like about this house so much,” asks M (Rooney Mara), insisting through her bemused expression that C (Casey Affleck) must respond. “History,” he says. They remain in disagreement. The ghost wanders through time, reflecting on past memories shared in their small countryside home. It’s a strange scene, and one that’s shot with the emotional sensitivity of a Spike Jonze movie, but it’s one of the only times that love and time were captured to such a moving degree.

The appropriately short A Ghost Story follows the life after death motif in the sudden death of M’s boyfriend, C. And the thing about death is that some things remain unresolved, if maybe a bit more mysterious than urgent. Death has been depicted and questioned in different ways, even though nobody *really* knows what it looks like. We don’t even know what it sounds like. Which is why David Lowery doesn’t attempt to answer those broken questions, rather, he grapples with what it means to be dead, a ghost.

The film begins with the loving couple flirting on their small living room couch as they cuddle under the romantic darkness of their isolated home. M notes the abrupt noises of the house often heard at nighttime, as she glances over at the mysterious white glow by the living room door. It’s ignored, as though some houses naturally live under a ghostly atmosphere, considering the deep history of each family that has come before.

M wants to leave in search of new opportunities in the city, but C is fixed on staying because of their valuable history. Unfortunately, M would have her way in the disturbing event of her husband’s death. What follows is a tragic tale of reconciliation between love and time. C is resurrected from his deathbed as a Ghost, invisible to the naked eye (not for the audience but the people in the film), and is burdened with the grief of losing someone who’s still alive.

Normally, there is nothing more tragic than losing a loved one to death, but A Ghost Story bravely asks whether the grief of watching someone move on is more destructive than having to move on from death itself. This is best demonstrated in one of the film’s most talked about scenes in which Rooney Mara eats an entire pie within a five-minute take. In the background, a tall and frail ghost watches from a distance as though its heart is ready to leap out in the hopes of comforting the once loving wife. Some hated the scene for its long duration – seemingly lacking purpose – but the strong effect is that of climaxing grief and hopelessness.

A Ghost Story is at its best when it exercises patience, examining small bouts of naturalistic grief in the form of emotionally nuanced performances. It all builds into one great moment half-way through the movie in which the music swells as M drives away from home. The film could end as of that moment and still receive the same review. What comes next is similar to that of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in its provocative finale.

But really, A Ghost Story, even as it travels back in time, and portrays death to that of being a ghost, is a story about grieving the loss of a loved one and having to reflect on the relationship’s history. David Lowery has achieved what could only be described as a masterpiece, and one that explores love and time like no other film.

HUNTER’S RATING:

5

Hereditary

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Year: 2018
Directed by: Ari Aster
StarringToni Collette, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Gabriel Byrne

WRITTEN BY RHYS BOWEN JONES

A24, the production company that can seemingly do no wrong lately, are back with another unique horror that has gripped the world. Following successful releases like ‘The VVitch’ and ‘It Comes At Night’, ‘Hereditary’ arrives with hype and then some. It premiered at Sundance Film Festival back in January and has since received near universal acclaim, with its marketing proudly and consistently quoting reviews saying ‘Hereditary’ is the new ‘The Exorcist’ or ‘Rosemary’s Baby.’ Whether Aster’s film has the staying power of those two films remains to be seen, but ‘Hereditary’ is one hell of a film.

Annie Graham (Collette), a miniaturist artist who recreates moments from her own life in dollhouse form, suffers the loss of her mother, Ellen, and the film follows her and her family picking up the pieces left by Ellen’s departure. What follows is far darker than expected for Annie and co, as the legacy left by her mother appears to have left a strange curse on the family.

I can’t say more than that criminally short summary will let me. ‘Hereditary’, first and foremost, deserves to be seen as blind as possible. Thankfully, the trailers give nothing away about what you’re going to experience, but you should go in with only the barest knowledge of the plot. What unfolds is an experience like no other that still revolves around my brain days later.

‘Hereditary’ is the sort of film that relies on its actors. Owing to its fairly extreme concept, it requires total commitment at playing the film out as it was intended, letting debut director Ari Aster’s vision appear on screen as intended. Thankfully, Toni Collette and her co-stars are entirely up to the challenge, and more. The performances in ‘Hereditary’ are some of the best of the year, particularly from show-stealer Toni Collette.

Annie Graham feels real. Suffering the death of her mother, and the subsequent monologue at the funeral, you begin to see and feel the pain of her loss. But, it’s not the conventional loss you might expect. As they return to the house, Annie asks her husband “should I be more upset?” It’s a subtle line, but it’s filled with nuance because of their difficult relationship that Annie delves into as she attends a bereavement support group. They had a tumultuous relationship for years, one that linked directly to Annie’s children, Peter and 13-year-old Charlie (played excellently by Milly Shapiro), but she was still her mother. In one stellar monologue at one of the support group meetings – a monologue that you should pay attention to as it holds many keys to the film’s ending – Annie outlines their past conflicts and confrontations that build into who Annie becomes as the film progresses.

Collette has gone to great lengths to understand both Annie and Annie’s mother to create a performance that, if everything goes to plan, will surely earn her an Oscar nomination in January. At the dinner scene (yes, the dinner scene), the emotions of the previous hour or so on film come to ahead in a stunning confrontation between Annie and Peter, that honestly borders on the blackest edges of comedy. Annie’s frustrations all come to the fore and she struggles to get her words out, calling Peter a “little shit” and telling him to stop having “that face on your face.” In a lesser film, this scene would have dropped like a stone, but the film does a masterful job of establishing its characters, so this scene has a raw, emotional power not seen in horror films for years. Collette, for lack of a better term, nails this performance. She takes Annie by the scruff of her neck and makes her her own. It’s a performance that is going to be connected with Collette for the rest of her career, a role that no one else could have played.

Here’s a fact that I still can’t believe – ‘Hereditary’ is Ari Aster’s debut feature. Aster has been making short films since 2011, but the 30-year-old made the leap to filmmaking as a writer-director with ‘Hereditary’, and it’s entirely evident that this is Aster’s vision from beginning to end. The film has a level of confidence about it that I haven’t seen in 20-year directorial veterans. Consistently using tracking shots of his characters as they move around the Graham house, frequently losing track of them around corners owing to the slow speed of each tracking shot, you turn every corner genuinely not sure what you’re going to see. ‘Hereditary’ has shocks and surprises abound, and Aster appears to know exactly what each moment needs. Slow tracking shots, jarring cuts to horrifying images, following the eyeline of a character to offscreen horrors. Aster guides the gaze of his audience to exactly what he needs them to see, but maybe not what the audience wants to see.

‘Hereditary’ has countless scenes of genuinely unspeakable horror. Two spring to mind, but I could mention five or six here. The first is the film’s pivotal scene, the scene that truly launches the film from Act One into Act Two with a frightening, disturbing and upsetting sequence. We know what’s happened, we know how it happened, but Aster withholds showing the immediate aftermath by following a character as they come to terms with what happened, and the camera remains locked on their face or body for the entirety of this scene. Then, when the moment happens, we have one of those aforementioned jarring cuts, accompanied by equally horrifying sounds but horrifying for a whole host of different reasons, as the aftermath is finally revealed. I haven’t seen an audience react so viscerally to a moment for years. There were gasps, screams, elongated “no”’s, and loud “fuck off”’s. I couldn’t speak, I was near enough paralysed to my seat, both needing to look away but unable to take my eyes off the screen, and as I’m reliably informed by my friend, I started to curl up into a ball, a ball that tightened and tightened as the film reached its climax.

The second scene is far harder to describe. I’m sure everyone who has seen ‘Hereditary ‘knows which scene I’m referring to even without saying which it is. This scene is spine-tinglingly scary, causing that ball I was in to become entirely spherical as I seized up in paralysis. What helps it is that this is a scare I’m honestly not sure I’ve ever experienced before. It’s not an immediate scare, there are no sound cues and no cuts; the camera stays locked on a scene and watches it unfold, and the horror reveals itself at your own pace. Some of my audience saw it immediately, others didn’t see it at all, while I saw it after an easy 15+ seconds of it being on screen. I’m wholly serious when I say I’ve never experienced a moment like this in any film before now. It’s a scene that uses every element of filmmaking at once and trusts its audience to engage with the images presented to them. It’s nothing short of masterful and utterly genius.

‘Hereditary’ is an experience. It’s an experience I haven’t had at the cinema for years, feeling a need to run away from the film and never look back while also being stuck to my seat, unable to move due to absolute, unabated fear. It’s a film that is going to divide people massively – walking out of the cinema, some hated it, some were unsure of it, and some loved it. I don’t think the pre-film comparisons to ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ did it any favours. You shouldn’t go into the film with these expectations, nor should you go into it expecting a conventional horror film. It’s a family tragedy story under the umbrella of a horror film. The tragedy only adds to the horror as the film escalates to its finale, and believe me, it escalates. The ending is going to cause discussion for years to come, with revelations coming out about the film on a near-daily basis. I and some of the Jumpcut team were up until stupid o’clock in the morning discussing aspects of the film that only heightened the experience and made me love it even more.

‘Hereditary’ requires your patience and your commitment to let the story unfold at the pace it does. Stick with it. The end result is immensely satisfying, terrifying, and completely brilliant.

RHYS’ RATING:

4.5

Weekend BO Predictions: ‘Oceans 8’ To Steal Top Spot From ‘Solo’, Which May Not Even Finish Second

 

Written by Dapo Olowu

What’s new?

Ocean’s 8’ hit the screens of over 4,000 U.S. cinemas on Friday, 11 years to the day since the last of the original trilogy opened to moviegoers. The gender-swapped crime caper joins a prestigious family of films boasting over $1bn worldwide, and with the average opening weekend gross being $38m, ‘Ocean’s 8’ looks to become the first to open above the $40m mark. Similarly, 2016s ‘Ghostbusters’, which famously swapped out an all-male cast for women, got off to a $46m start, but ultimately failed to get going at the Box Office with just $229.1m from a $144m budget. ‘Ocean’s 8’s more stream-lined $70m production cost means that a similar opening (and gross) would be solid return and has the added benefit of not being plagued with pre and post-release negativity. Regardless it’ll fall just short of the target, with an opening closer to around $41m.

Indie studio A24 release original horror ‘Hereditary’ this weekend, and its 94% on Rotten Tomatoes suggests they’ve yet again struck critical gold. However, it’s when attempting to reach the same heights commercially that A24 seem to falter, with their biggest domestic hit so far being last year’s Oscar-nominated ‘Lady Bird’, with only $49m. ‘Hereditary’ wants to buck the trend, and although it contains a cast not as star-studded as ‘Lady Bird’, it does include rising star Alex Wolff (‘My Friend Dahmer’, ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’) and Golden Globe winner Toni Collette. Another plus is its release size; ‘Hereditary’ looks to scare in a record number of theatres for A24 with a shade under 3,000, and from this should break A24’s opening weekend gross record of $8.8m, made by ‘The Witch’ in February 2016. Using that horror’s per-cinema average (and then some) gives ‘Hereditary’ a strong 3-day total of $13m, for the third biggest horror opening of the year, behind ‘A Quiet Place’ and ‘Insidious: The Last Key’.

Finally, we have ‘Hotel Artemis’ which, like the other new releases, also boasts an A-List cast, with Jodie Foster, Sterling K. Brown, Sofia Boutella, Jeff Goldblum, and Dave Bautista just some of the names gracing the film. Unlike the other new releases however, ‘Hotel Artemis’ is the only one housing a rotten rating on the Tomatometer (currently 57%), and its these middling reviews that’ll inevitably hurt its Box Office run in the midst of heavy blockbuster and audience competition. It’s a real shame, as ‘Hotel Artemis’ perhaps should’ve opened on a weekend where most of its audience wouldn’t be drawn to watching ‘Hereditary’, and when behemoths ‘The Incredibles 2’ and ‘Jurassic World 2’ wouldn’t open within days of its release. From all of this, it’s clear that ‘Hotel Artemis’, with dreams of opening with numbers similar to ‘John Wick’ and ‘Atomic Blonde’s grosses, will unfortunately flop like ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’, which opened to $6.3m in August 2014. Using a similar per-cinema average gives ‘Hotel Artemis’ an underwhelming start of around $5m.

What else is on?

This weekend sees ‘Solo’ close in on the $300m global mark, with a third domestic weekend total of $13.8m enough for it to drop to only second place. ‘Jurassic World’s recent international release means ‘Solo’ will drop like a stone outside the U.S., meaning its final gross most likely won’t even see $350m. Comparing this with ‘Deadpool 2’ makes for even sorrier reading, as a $12.8m gross this weekend will leave the merc with the mouth just $20m short of reaching that same $300m mark domestically. Currently the 2018s 3rd biggest film both in the U.S. and globally, I wouldn’t bet against ‘Deadpool 2’ doubling ‘Solo’s final gross.

The weekend drops for ‘Infinity War’ have lessened every weekend and this trend is set to continue. We’re predicting a gross of $6.8m, enough for the film to leapfrog ‘Jurassic World’ into 5th spot on the all-time domestic list, with $655m. ‘Adrift’ will follow closely behind, dropping by around 50% for a $6m gross. The hope here is that ‘Ocean’s 8’ doesn’t eat into its audience members, which also goes for the evergreen ‘Book Club’, that will continue its great run by only dropping 35% for a $4.7m total. BH Tilt’s horror ‘Upgrade’ won’t avoid its studio’s front-loaded trend and, coupled with ‘Hereditary’ being a director competitor, will see a pretty big drop to gross $2m, the same amount as our number 10, ‘Life of the Party’.

What do you think? Will ‘Ocean’s 8’ sink or swim this weekend? Will ‘Deadpool 2’ beat ‘Solo’? Let us know your thoughts and opinions – we’re on Twitter and Instagram at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

 

Rank Last Week’s Rank Film US Gross so far Budget Jumpcut’s prediction Weekend drop Week no. BoxOfficeMojo’s prediction Deadline’s Prediction Variety’s Prediction
1 Ocean’s 8 $70m $41m 1 $45m $40m $33m-$40m
2 1 Solo: A Star Wars Story $161m $300m+ $13.8m -53% 3 $14.5m $13m $11m-$15m
3 Hereditary $10m $13m 1 $12m $5m-$9m $5m-$9m
4 2 Deadpool 2 $265m $110m $12.8m -45% 4 $13m
5 4 Avengers: Infinity War $647.9m $300m $6.8m -35% 7 $6m
6 3 Adrift $16.7m $35m $6m -48% 2 $7.3m
7 Hotel Artemis $5m 1 $5m $5m-$9m $5m-$9m
8 5 Book Club $52.7m $10m $4.7m -33% 4 $4.6m
9 6 Upgrade $7m $3m-$5m $2m -57% 2 $2.5m
10 7 Life of the Party $48.2m $30m $2m -43% 5 $1.9m

 

First Trailer for Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed’ Released

“A pastor of a small church in upstate New York starts to spiral out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist and his pregnant wife.”

Directed by: Paul Schrader

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Amanda Seyfried, Cedric Kyles

Release Date: May 18th, 2018

Andrew Garfield Attempts To Crack The Code In First Trailer For A24’s ‘Under The Silver Lake’

“Sam (Andrew Garfield), an affable but aimless young man, becomes an unwitting detective who quickly finds himself in over his head as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful neighbor, with whom he has fallen in love. As he combs through East Los Angeles searching for any kind of clues he can find, he stumbles upon a larger, more sinister conspiracy than he ever imagined, involving billionaires, celebrities, urban myths, and even pop culture as we know it.”

Directed by: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace

Release Date: June 22nd, 2018

First Trailer For Bo Burnham’s Directorial Debut ‘Eighth Grade’

A teenager tries to survive the last week of her disastrous eighth-grade year before leaving to start high school.

Directed by: Bo Burnham

Starring: Elsie Fisher, Josh Hamilton, Emily Robinson

Release Date: July 13th, 2018