Tag Archives: Ben Foster

Galveston (2018) Movie Review By Justin Aylward

Galveston Review

Director: Mélanie Laurent
Writers: Nic Pizzolatto (as Jim Hammett), Nic Pizzolatto (based upon the novel by)
Stars: Ben Foster, Jeffrey Grover, Christopher Amitrano

Ben Foster has become a silent man in the movies. In films such as Leave No Trace and now Galveston, a new film, he has disguised pain and grief under a veneer of stoicism. He is proving to be a terrific actor whose gifts of understatement are worth more than a million smiles offered by other actors of his generation.

Galveston, directed by Melanie Laurent, her first English language feature, is a perfect dramatic vehicle for Foster. He plays a gruff hitman called Roy whose quest for revenge is blighted after he inadvertently rescues a young teen-tearaway during a botched hit-job, orchestrated by his boss, Beau Bridges. Roy flees to his hometown of Galveston to tie up the loose ends of his life. Elle Fanning plays the teen, a girl who has learned to live a lie but soon loses the will to maintain the deception that has helped her through a difficult life.

The trouble for Roy is that he appears to be dying of a respiratory illness. All his actions seem to be in service of leaving behind a good legacy, or at least some decency to his name. But all the while his crime connections drag him down and tie him to his past deeds. Along the way he meets up with an old lover, one who he was less than kind to. There is a cloud of death and despair that hangs over the character’s lives, but the film is not totally morbid. I enjoyed the scenes of respite between Foster and Fanning. They dance aimlessly at a club and drive with the wind through their hair. These small moments seem to buoy their spirits before the hoodlums draw closer.

Laurent directs the film in a robust fashion intercut with scenes of shouty melodrama that offset the rhythm and tone of the film. But I do admire much of the work. The film is a mood piece and the moods go a long way to delineating the character’s personalities and shortcomings. It’s clear that Laurent found a lot of empathetic material in the script and it’s a story she obviously cares about. There is one lengthy sequence where a battered and bruised Foster escapes capture in a car. There is blood, sweat and plenty of skidmarks. It’s a brilliantly conceived set-piece. Later, a secret is revealed by Fanning that threatens to capsize the dramatic weightiness of the film but it is a twist that worked for me and felt real in the context of the story.

Galveston is an uneven film with moments of intensity and desperation sandwiched between slower passages prone to ponderousness and the odd gesture overdone in nature. I enjoyed and admire the film for its strengths, so much to the point that I can forgive its faults. I expect Laurent to improve in her next features, movies that are worth waiting for.

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Warcraft: The Beginning (2016) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

Warcraft

Director: Duncan Jones
Writers: Charles Leavitt, Duncan Jones
Stars: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Ben Foster 

Plot:  As an Orc horde invades the planet Azeroth using a magic portal, a few human heroes and dissenting Orcs must attempt to stop the true evil behind this war.

Running Time: 2 Hours 3 Minutes

Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 27%   Audience 77%

Why I Watched It: I heard a lot about it so I had to see for myself also it’s a good cast.

Random Thoughts: A lot to unpack here, first off the title it was Warcraft, then they added The Beginning to it, I think the reason is this film doesn’t have an ending it’s a start of a story a prologue if you will, an over 2 hour prologue at that.  Also yes it’s based on the game World Of Warcraft, never played it saw a ton of commercials for it but never played it.

Duncan Jones is an interesting director I really liked Moon and so did a lot of critics and movie goers but he’s lived off that for awhile now and if you’ve sat through Mute you might not be sure if he’s a good director or not.

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room or the rotten tomato if you will critics hated this movie and audiences liked it and they have a hug bridge between them, hard to say why critics like fantasy movies but true they are hard on movies based on games,  I do think the critics were so hard on it that when people saw it on streaming they thought well that wasn’t that bad.

What I Liked: Honestly not a whole heck of a lot, I didn’t hate the movie but nothing really stood out, this fantasy movie would have been cliched in the 80′s, it’s very text book and I’ll be honest this isn’t my favorite sub-genre.

This is tricky cause there was a lot alright about the film but in almost every department I wanted more.  Acting wise Paula Patton tries very hard and I have to say she’s easily the best thing in the movie, Travis Fimmel does try and does kind of flesh out his character, but it plays like a game character, someone with a few characteristics and nothing more.

This film doesn’t look great but they tired it’s clear they needed more money to do what they wanted and it shows it’s the old their eyes were bigger than their stomach or wallet in this case.

What I Didn’t Like: This film reminds me very much of John Carter, it was dead on arrival, they look the same, expensive but somehow still cheap.  The main problem with Warcraft is they wanted an epic story but what they did was retread every fantasy cliche they could think of.  To be kind the film is a watchable mess.

I don’t like picking on actors but I have to here, now I will say almost everyone is miscast and almost everyone has terrible dialogue to say.  Poor Ben Foster, he’s an intense indy actor and a very good one but here dear lord it was bad, not his wheelhouse for sure.  Dominic Cooper looked downright silly in all his customs, I actually laughed at him a few times, not his fault but still and it doesn’t help he gives a bad performance.

Like I said I’ve never played Warcraft and don’t know the game that well so maybe people who loved the game digged this movie, for me the story was bloated and so cliched it bored me and you feel like the running time here.  Also a heads up this movie is all set up so if you go in thinking there’s an ending, well not so much, getting ready to be disappointed.

I do think Duncan Jones had an idea and I think he had some passion but the film just doesn’t work on many different levels, the film also is very dour so there’s not a lot of fun to be had, it wants to be Lord Of The Rings and it hits closer to Dungeons and Dragons.

Final Thoughts: For the most part a watchable misstep.

Rating: 4/10

Hell or High Water (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

HELL OR HIGH WATER.png

Director: David Mackenzie
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Stars: Dale Dickey, Ben Foster, Chris Pine

A classic cop and robbers tale with a modern twist. Hell or High Water is a pacy, and at times, highly absorbing, neo-western drama from talented Scottish director David Mackenzie. We follow the escapades of two brothers, reunited against the bank that’s threatening to foreclose their families oil rich farm. It’s a simplistic story, that packs a punch, questioning the morality of today’s society, the greed of banks and the human effect of the economic decline in south west Texas.

Very quickly, it becomes clear that the dialogue in this film is a star in and of itself. Nigh on every person with a speaking part has a way with words and a level of wit normally reserved for characters with chunkier roles more central to the main story. Following the first heist, one of the bank tellers is asked the question “Black or white?” by the investigating officer “Their skins or their souls?” is her response. An old man complains “This is crazy, ya’ll ain’t even Mexican” before cheekily responding to a question about having a gun. Even a disenfranchised cattle herder gets to have his say a short while later and does it was some panache. Bemoaning his antiquated profession and sympathising with his kids unwillingness to follow in his footsteps.

Chris Pine gives perhaps his best performance to date as the scruffy, unkempt looking Toby Howard. “I’ve been poor my whole life, till my parents and their parents before them. It’s like a disease, passing from generation to generation” we hear him say. He’s a man with a past and he’s looking to make amends. It’s for this sole reason that he enlists the help of his ex-con brother Tanner Howard (Ben Foster). They face a race against time to save the family property, which if successful, will provide Toby’s sons with the financial security he never had. It’s Pine’s character that devises the plan to rob the banks and he’s the brains behind the brawn of the older Tanner. Famed for his role as Captain Kirk, he couldn’t be more unrecognisable here.

It would be fair to say that the Howard brothers are not your typical bank robbers, only hitting the registers and stealing fairly low sums of money in each heist. They target the small, local branches of Texas Midlands Bank, spread out across the south west of the state in a deliberate attempt to remain under the radar of the FBI. They are successful in doing so and the chase is left to veteran Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges) and his stoical partner Alberto Parker (Gil Birmingham). “You may get to have some fun, before they send you off to the rocking chair just yet” we hear Alberto quip to Marcus as news of the heists break. Just weeks from retirement, the grizzled, wily, old veteran, with all the detective traits of a Colombo and the determination of a Harry Callaghan, is in no hurry to accept the quiet life. He sees a pattern in the robberies and persuades his long suffering partner Alberto to join him. Jeff Bridges incidentally, is able to slip into the character of Marcus with consummate ease. Not many are able to do the hardened, grizzly character better than Bridges and he manages to do so whilst providing plenty of wit and sardonic humour to boot.

Taylor Sheridan and David McKenzie really weave a beautiful story together here. Blurring the lines of morality as the movie goes on, the violence starts to increase and things begin to take a turn for the worse on both the perceived good and bad side of the line. His punchy dialogue really brings the film to life, adding an air of authenticity to the bonds of both the opposing pairs, with some cracking banter at times. Marcus continually jokes about his half Comanche partners heritage and Toby takes delight in telling his brother to “Drink up” after he complains about being given Mr. Pep instead of Dr. Pepper as “Only assholes drink Mr. Pep”.

As the film enters its final act the ‘leading quartet’ for want of a better word continue to share equal screen time and a fantastic synchronous scene plays out to the beautifully, melancholic lines of Gillian Welch’s ‘I’m Not Afraid to Die’. Toby and Tanner spend what could ultimately be their final day together, playfully fighting with each other, drinking beers whilst reminiscing and contemplating the day ahead. Meanwhile, Marcus and Alberto, likewise spend their the day and night staking out a potential heist target in almost abandoned town, that harkens back to the ghost towns of the old westerns. A special mention must be given to the visuals during this scene. They are stunning and amongst some of the best in the movie.

Speaking of visuals. Giles Nuttgens does an incredible job of making the south west Texas landscape every bit as much of a character as any of the stars in the film. The use of a predominantly beige, brownish, earthy palette and oversaturated image really helping to emphasis the harsh heat and dustiness of the arid landscape. Nick Cave and Warren Eillis’ score provides slow, contemplative piano and string arrangements with a healthy mixture of country rock ballads from the likes of Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt interspersed between. The juxtaposition between the two creates a perfect balance that really adds some emotional depth to the story.