Tag Archives: Casey Affleck

Light Of My Life (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

 

Light of my Life

Director: Casey Affleck
Writer: Casey Affleck
Stars: Anna Pniowsky, Casey Affleck, Tom Bower

Based on his onscreen persona, Casey Affleck could possibly be the most miserable guy on the planet. I don’t recall the last time he played someone who wasn’t the walking definition of melancholy. But hey, it won him an Oscar, so I guess it’s working for him.

So it should come as no surprise that his first film as a writer-director would be conducive to his attributes. Light of My Life is a relentlessly gloomy post-apocalyptic drama in which a plague has killed almost every female in the world and civilization is more-or-less in shambles. Affleck is the fiercely-protective father of a young daughter, Rag (Anna Pniowsky), who he disguises as a boy for her own safety.

A majority of the film has them trekking through the stark, cold wilderness, occasionally finding abandoned homes for temporary shelter and only venturing to populated areas when necessary. Most of what we learn about these two – as well as the cataclysmic plague – come through conversations when they’re alone together. Rag has a lot of questions, mostly about human nature, some of which Dad can answer, others he can’t. He is also increasingly aware that as she approaches womanhood, it will increasingly difficult to keep up their ruse.

Very similar in concept, tone and pace to The Road, Light of My Life is relentlessly bleak and pessimistic, the only respites from the constant despair being Dad & Rag’s bedtime stories. In fact, the opening 10 minutes in which he puts his spin on the tale of Noah’s Ark is about as sunny as things get. Elsewhere, the narrative advances very slowly, which is effective when showing how society has pretty-much come to a stand-still.

However, there are long stretches where nothing really happens. Affleck’s typically laconic performance suits the mood and young Pniowski is a revelation, but aside from a few flashbacks, we learn little about these characters. That might be deliberate, but misery for misery’s sake can be a challenge to endure without more personal investment in who’s doing the suffering.

Still, Light of My Life is well made and, despite its languorous pace, comes to genuinely suspenseful, unexpectedly violent climax. Affleck also makes good use of locations to paint an effectively dreary picture, sort of reshaping the world as an extension of his own image. It definitely feels derivative of The Road, but if that film gave you hankering for more hopelessness, here’s a second helping.

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Triple 9 (2016) Movie Review by Darrin Gauthier

TRIPLE 9

Director: John Hillcoat
Writer: Matt Cook
Stars: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie

‪Plot:  A gang of criminals and corrupt cops plan the murder of a police officer in order to pull off their biggest heist yet across town.‬
‪Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes ‬
‪Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 53%   Audience 42%‬

‪Why I watched it: The cast.  Pure and simple.‬
‪Thoughts: This film is loaded cast wise, it’s funny how this doesn’t seem to work, truly not enough time for everyone, when movies have this kind of cast someone always gets short changed.‬

‪What I liked: The main set up that cops are trying to pull off a heist and would kill one of their own to make it happen.  Very film noir like that is.  The film is dark and dirty and the technical stuff is good, it’s shot well and the sound is good.‬
‪Sadly there’s not many actors who I can point out to giving good performances most are fine but I guess the one stand out is Woody Harrelson, he doesn’t need good writing he’ll flesh out a character on his own, his character is a tad over the top but he’s the best thing in the movie he’s the one guy you’re not sure of, everyone else is a stock character, he’s the wild card and the most fun one to watch it.‬

‪What I didn’t like: I really didn’t care for this movie and it kind of pissed me off, it’s a mean spirited and really cliched film.  How can you make a boring film with all those actors, I lay the blame at the feet of director John Hillcoat, it’s clear he didn’t know what to do with some of the characters, Gal Gadot is merely eye candy here, she’s barely got a role, she’s a plot point at best, the future Wonder Women and they give her nothing.

Mackie is wasted here as well, he’s a good actor and is given nothing to do, I have no idea what he was about he was just there to move the plot along.  The worst performance has to be Kate Winslet with her “Moose and Squirrel” Russian accent, she’s almost laughable, she’s trying so hard to be the villain here and fails better bad.  Ejiofor seems lost, he has two facial expressions in this movie, confusion and anger, that’s it.  His character makes the least amount of sense, he wants to see his son, and he’s corrupt  for who knows what reasons. ‬

‪The script is a mess and by the end it makes no sense, characters turn, people die and for what?  I haven’t a clue and the sad thing is I didn’t care the film was over long and boring, you can’t have this type of movie and have almost every character unlikable, it doesn’t work, the tension isn’t there cause we don’t care what happens to these people.‬

‪Final Thoughts: This film kind of came and went and for me it was a huge disappointment, I really liked the cast and the set up but man it was just a bad film from start to finish.‬

‪Rating: 2/10‬

Manchester By The Sea (2016) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

MACHESTER BY THE SEA

Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Writer: Kenneth Lonergan
Stars: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler

Affleck is on point, Williams will break your heart and you’ll be looking out for Lucas Hedges in years to come. Kenneth Loregan’s subtly beautiful and sneakily tragic film is gentle and brutal in equal measure.

 Lee Chandler (Affleck) is a lonely, surly janitor who’s obnoxious to the tenants in the buildings he works in and awkward around anyone who wants more than a second of his time. He also gets drunk and picks fights in bars. Lee is called away from work because his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has a heart attack. He arrives at the hospital too late and didn’t get a chance to say his goodbyes. And he is…okay. He’s not ecstatic that his big brother has just died but he doesn’t react in a way you’d expect.

Lee is shocked to learn that he’s been named guardian for his nephew Patrick (Hedges) and, in a series of flashbacks, we begin to understand Lee’s strange mannerisms.

Lee wasn’t always like this. Once upon a time Lee was married to Randi and they had three beautiful children. One night after happy-go-lucky Lee had finished partying with his friends, he went out to buy some more beer and returned to find his house ablaze with his hysterical wife outside. When being interviewed by the police, it transpires that Lee and his friends were in the basement of his house drinking, smoking joints and doing coke. When Randi kicked his buddies out she went to bed and Lee, deciding that the house was cold and that central heating would give his daughter a headache, built a fire in the livingroom fireplace before going for his beer. It’s further revealed that when he was on his way to get his beer he questioned himself as to whether he put a guard in front of the fire or not.

Deciding it didn’t matter, he continued on his drunken quest. When the police tell him there’s no law against that, he calmly accepts their response before taking a gun from a cop’s holster and tries to shoot himself, being stopped by a crowd of cops.

This is where it’s clear why Lee is so shocked his brother made him his nephew’s guardian in his meticulously planned will. Lee is adament that Patrick should live elsewhere, either with relatives or his brother’s close friend and his wife. Anywhere, in fact other than with Lee himself or Patrick’s mother. It seems that the time between Joe’s diagnosis for his congenital heart condition and his passing, Patick’s mother had developed a drinking problem and spent time in a psychiatric facility, leaving them both long before Joe died.

Lee is forced to move back to his home-town, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and everything haunts him. He’s adament that if he’s to be Patrick’s guardian, it has to be somewhere else. But Patrick loves his life in the sleepy seaside town. He has two girlfriends; he’s on the hockey team; he’s in a band; he’s popular. But for Lee everything in this town reminds him of what he’ll never have and what he’s lost. He’s living in his dead brother’s house. His nephew is becoming an adult – something his own kids will never be. And his ex wife has remarried and is heavily pregnant.

To top it all off, the boat in which Lee, Patrick and Joe used to go out on the sea is falling apart and they can’t afford to maintain it.

The realationship between Lee and Patrick is where we see the real Lee. Patrick is stubborn, argumentative, challenging…a 16 year old boy. He’s also confident and funny, but it’s how he challenges Lee and how his uncle responds where we get to glimpse at Lee’s good soul. He’s gruff, foul-mouthed and abrasive but he’s also incredibly patient and kind.

He’s in hell in Manchester. Because of the time of year, it’s too cold and the ground is too hard to bury Joe. So, as is the custom in these circumstances, it’s not uncommon to have a church service at the time while the mortiary keep the cadaver frozen until the Spring and have the burial then. Lee explains this to Patrick, and although he understands the logic behind it it’s a constant source of friction between the pair. Lee’s patience in dealing with the headstrong Patrick is truly beautiful and when the latter has a panic attack when rooting around the freezer in his kitchen, Lee’s unorthodox and comical approach to comforting his nephew is just lovely.

It’s important to remember that Lee’s children died very young, so he never got to wade into these muddy teenage waters carefully. He was dropped in the middle of it.

The film progresses with more and more challenges for Lee, none more troubling than when, months later, Randi bumps into Lee in the street. She apologises to Lee, begging him for forgiveness for the things she said after their children died. What’s remarkable about this scene is that we don’t know what was said or how many times she said it but Michelle Williams will have you believing it was worse than anything you’ve ever heard before, but probably completely understandable given the circumstances.

Willams is in the film for only a few scenes in total but her performance , in that scene especially, will break you into a million pieces. Affleck’s reaction will grind those pieces into dust.

We know that Casey Affleck is an outstanding actor but he’s is in the process of refining his craft to the point that he’ll slip quietly into his role as one of the greats. His performance in Manchester by the Sea is beautiful, messy, ugly, relatable…a host of superlatives and oxymorons. Lee is a man lost and Affleck doesn’t play his character, he lets the devastating story wash over him.

If Michelle Williams is nominated there’s a great chance she could win an Academy Award as one of the actors with the least amount of screen time in the history of film.

But there isn’t a wasted second in her performance. She is astounding.

Lucas Hedges delights and frustrates in equal measure. Not his performance, you understand. His character is so…adolescent! He’s so combatative and beligerent, yet so vulnerable. It’ll be a delight to watch where he goes from here.

Kenneth Lonergan’s film is a treat for the eyes, as well as the soul. The coastal Massechusetts town has a lovely, cold winter glow. His long, lingering shots of his characters expose their vulnerabilities and flaws. Jody Lee Lipes’ cinematography lights up the entire film, literally. The raw, naked light is, at times, uncomfortable. But it’s the brightness of the film as it’s juxtaposed with the dark subject matter that brings everything alive.

Oscar contender? Definitely!