Indie Night Special

I always try to see as many movies as I can and review as many as I can. The problem is there are a ton of films that come out each year, and I either don’t have the time or the particular films I do want to see never make it to theaters in my town. So I’ve decided to try something new. I’m making a new segment on this blog called Indie Night Special. Basically what it is is a quick, four course rundown of independent or overlooked films that the general public may not know about. If I have a lot more to say about a certain one of them, then I’ll do a more traditional review. I just figured this was a good way to change things up a bit and give you what you might not expect. So without further ado, I bring you the first edition of the Indie Night Special!

  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer
    • If you’re familiar with director Yorgos Lanthimos’s previous works like Dogtooth and The Lobster, then you know what kind of strangeness you’re getting into. The film is about a successful surgeon (played by Colin Farrell) whose life starts to unravel in dangerous ways when he takes a young and disturbed young man (Barry Keoghanunder his wing. The trailers give the impression that the film is a thriller, and while it does have thrilling elements in it, I’d argue this is more along the lines of a slow-moving horror. Some plot elements don’t necessarily work- especially when it’s vaguely revealed how the bad things are happening- though the overall story idea is great, and its subject matter- the extremes to which we deal with loss- is explored in unconventional ways. The cinematography has a bright, almost laid-back look to it, which makes the subtle yet horrific scenes all the more disturbing. Every single scene is infused with Lanthimos’s trademark dryness, with the characters acting more through their facial expressions than through their monotone vocal performances. That aspect does get grading, making some portions a slog to get through. Unlike The Lobster, however, this style is kept until the last act, when things get so bad the characters’ voices are allowed to be heard. So if you’re every curious, I’d say give this one a chance.
      • Cosmic Grade: 3.7 out of 5 stars
  • Call Me By Your Name
    • Based on the novel of the same name, Call Me By Your Name tells the story of a highly intellectual 17-year-old named Elio (Timothee Chalamet) who falls in love with his father’s twenty-something-year-old research assistant, Oliver (Armie Hammer) in Italy during the summer of 1983. On paper, this sounds like a strange story to tell. A relationship between a kid and an adult shown in a positive light? Sounds ludicrous! But to my surprise, it works. The reason it works is the fantastic acting, director Luca Guadagnino’s gorgeous direction, and James Ivory’s simple yet emotionally poignant screenplay. The film puts you in Italy. Everything about the setting feels so romantic and real and pleasant. I felt really felt like I was there. Hell, I wanted to be there. The characters are so well-written and portrayed that you understand why the two leads would fall in love, despite the age difference. It feels real and not creepy in the slightest. They’re not two-dimensional either. Each is shown as being conflicted, whether it be about an acceptance of who they are or how they’re trying to comprehend the feeling of falling in love. I really liked this movie. The pacing can be slow at times, but it never distracts from my overall admiration for the beautifully crafted love story it gave me.
    • Cosmic Grade: 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • I, Tonya
    • Margot Robbie takes center stage in the darkly comedic sports biopic about disgraced figure-skater Tonya Harding. Director Craig Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, Fright Night) picks apart the life of Tonya Harding, from her difficult childhood with an absent father and abusive mother (played hauntingly by Allison Janney) to her equally abusive relationship with Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan), and then to the infamous attack on fellow teammate Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). Despite its horrible title, I, Tonya is a fascinating exploration of a tragic figure and how the ridiculous actions of a few stupid people essentially ruined her career. While she is sympathetic in some respects, the film also never shys away from the crossness of her personality. Although she’s not one hundred percent believable as Tonya Harding, Margot Robbie does a very good job transforming herself to match the essence of the character. Sebastian Stan is fantastic as the pathetic, shrill-voiced Gilloly, and Paul Walter Hauser is quite funny as Harding’s dim-witted bodyguard. Some of the music choices can be a little obvious, and at times it feels like that movie is trying very hard to be a quirky comedy. For the most part, it succeeds in doing so. I probably don’t need to see it again, but the ride was fun while it lasted.
    • Cosmic Grade: 3.8 out of 5 stars
  • Lady Bird
    • Now we get to the great stuff! Lady Bird is the directorial debut of Greta Gerwig, who’s no stranger to the indie scene. The film takes place in California in 2002, and follows a young woman named Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) as she embarks on a hormone-fueled odyssey of self-discovery in her search for independence. Along the way she’s forced to face the reality of her overbearing mother (Laurie Metcalf), boy drama, best friend drama, worries about getting into college, and all of the adolescent hardships you’d expect to see. Lady Bird does a lot of things right. The performances, the writing, the directing, all of it is fantastic. But the most significant achievement is its raw authenticity. Everything about this film feels real. The characters feel like real people, and the struggles each of them go through feel one-hundred percent legitimate. It’s as though you’re a fly on the wall in Lady Bird’s life. There’s not much else I can say about it. I love it and think it’s one of the best coming-of-age stories I’ve seen in a while. If you ever have the chance to see it, definitely do so!
      • Cosmic Grade: 5 out of 5 stars. 

1 Comment »

  1. Great reviews! The film’s rating (G, PG, etc.) would also help me decide to see it or not as well as your awesome input.
    Thanks Cosmic Night Owl


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