Tag Archives: Ron Livingston

Shimmer Lake (2017) Movie Review By Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Oren Uziel
Writer: Oren Uziel
Stars: Benjamin Walker,  Wyatt Russell,  Rainn Wilson, Ron Livingston

Shimmer Lake is the latest offering from film and television streaming service Netflix. The movie is written and directed by Oren Uziel and the story begins on a Friday morning. Andy (Rainn Wilson) is on the run with a bag of money hiding in his basement .

He’s being pursued by two police officers Zeke Sikes (Benjamin Walker) who is also Andy’s brother and Reed Ethington (Adam Pally) and two FBI agents (played by Rob Corddry as Agent Kurt Biltmoreand and Ron Livingston as Agent Kyle Walker)

The sequence of events are very much in the style of films like Pulp Fiction or more closely Christopher Nolan’s Memento in which we begin with Friday and work our way back through the sequence of events to get to the truth.

The audience are fed fragments of the story between Andy and Zeke but also supporting characters in Judge Brad Dawkins  (John Michael Higgins) who owns the bank, Ed Burton (Wyatt Russell) and wife Steph Burton (Stephanie Sigman) looking for a better life and accomplice Chris Morrow (Mark Rendall) who portrays a mixed up loser.

All but the Judge were pretty close friends growing up and obviously all went in different directions as time went by. The only connection they group all have now is the tragedy of Ed and Steph’s five-year-old son who died in an accidental meth lab explosion with most of the blame pointing at Ed for the tragedy.

The style of this film cannot be knocked as it is interesting on how each day we witness the characters build new relationships and get a little more back story (or should that be front story) as the story unfolds (backwards) now in filming terms it could be that this film was shot in sequence and then presented to the audience in this manner.

Nothing wrong with that and perhaps a clever way to keep a very simple and straight storyline interesting. Oren Uziel style is one thing and although character development is a little scarce, you understand the relationship between all of them by the end of the movie.

One thing I felt it was lacking was comedic value, yes this movie is supposed to have a dark humour about it and although there are a couple of laugh out loud moments I felt the movie just lacked that element of comedy. Having said that I’m glad it wasn’t forced. Recently a few of the Netflix “comedy” films have come off a little desperate and appear to be trying too hard to “split the audiences sides”

The casting for this movie is a decent one. Having Rainn Wilson and Ron Livingston in this movie should have made this movie more funny but Wilson’s Andy is too much in a difficult and serious situation as a desperate man to really go anywhere with apart from a few funny outbursts. On the other hand Livingston is just underused and I was a little disappointed with lack of screen time for the “Office Space” star.

Possibly the most predictable character is Steph played by Stephanie Sigman. Steph although is the quiet wife of Ed and portrays a woman and a mother tortured and haunted by the death of her son, you can see early on she is manipulating the whole scenario and I’ll leave it at that without spoiling too much. Characters Ed and Chris although are supposed to be different in the sense of the hierarchy of the group aren’t much that different to me.

Both appear to be not very bright and gave short tempers that makes them appear to be never in control. This came as a disappointment as we aren’t introduced to Ed in person until a good hour into the movie and although mentioned appeared to be the brains behind the robbery.

I have to admit that although there are flaws within this movie and I did at first, I thought this was going to be just another bank robbery movie. I was wrong in the sense of it’s style and presentation which I think saved it.

The movie had suspense, a decent written plot, and a few twists on the way that viewing the movie in backwards made the stolen money a secondary storyline and the real story was about revenge and justice.

It’s an okay film and for a duration of 83 minutes you won’t feel you have wasted your time. If anything it’s a one time viewing kind of a film.

The End of the Tour (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: James Ponsoldt
Writers: Donald Margulies (screenplay),  David Lipsky (book)
Stars: Jason Segel,  Jesse Eisenberg,  Anna Chlumsky, Ron Livingston, Joan Cusack

The End of the Tour begins in David Lipsky’s apartment whilst working on his computer receives a call with some devastating news. The first sound we hear in the movie is R.E.M.’s “New Orleans Instrumental No. 1” from their 1992 album “Automatic for the People. What a fantastic track to set the tone of this movie and right away I’m there…..

Lipsky rummages around his apartment looking for some old cassettes (and batteries) from his interview with acclaimed writer David Foster Wallace.

In 1996, Rolling Stone Magazine writer David Lipsky (Eisenberg) begged his superior played by Ron Livingston and credited as “David Lipsky’s Editor” for a chance to interview Wallace (Siegel) on a book tour about his 1000 page epic novel, Infinite Jest, which he agrees to. Lipsky makes the journey to Wallace’s house in Minneapolis where he finds Wallace doesn’t look at all like he imagined. Wallace is tired, haggard with grunge like long hair.

Both Lipsky and Wallace on their initial meeting exchange small talk and over the course of a few days their relationship grows quite a bit. Lipsky (on whose memoir the film is based) having to balance his respect for the writer but at the same time concede Wallace is the superior writer between both of them and not forgetting his job as an interviewer. Jesse Eisenberg to me is a limited range actor. That’s not slating his abilities as all the parts I have seen him play in various genres are incomparable. He has chosen his parts over the past ten years extremely well. Here is another of those broken quick thinking personalities at which he excels in.

Whilst wary of his success, Wallace is aware that he’s been wired to want it and suspicious of the journalist who comes to interview him, but aware that there is a connection there it must be said that “End of the Tour”  doesn’t play up to intellectual snobbery on Wallace’s part or in fact Segal’s part portraying the writer but instead tries to understand the isolation and lack of trust to other people Wallace is experiencing. Segel is a revelation in this movie playing a very underwhelmed character which is a far cry from the sitcom / romcoms we are used to seeing him portray to  embodying a conflicted writer perfectly.

The supporting cast of Anna Chlumsky (My Girl) Ron Livingston (Office Space) and Joan Cusack (High Fidelity) were exactly that. Chlumsky’s role as Lipsky’s girlfriend Sarah was sparingly to say the least and mostly in the first fifteen minutes of the movie and albeit a couple of phone calls later in in the movie. Livingston’s appearance is more a cameo playing a Rolling Stone Magazine Editor at the beginning of the movie. Cusack came into the film at the midway point as Wallace’s driver. As interesting as the one on one intensity of the majority of the film focusing on the two main characters  Cusack’s “Patty” gave a freshness at the right time and at no point took us out of the movie.

Donald Margulies’ writing for the screenplay captures the relationship between the two troubled writers perfectly and draws you in to their intense and sometimes intimate conversations. Aided of course by Lipsky’s memoir book tells the tale of tragic tale of two insecure male egos clashing and follows both of their journeys to and from the book-signing session in Minneapolis. Margulies’ previous work in writing is mostly in television and TV Movies.

Director James Ponsoldt is aided by the brilliant performances by Eisenberg and especially Jason Segel which must have helped him tremendously. But Ponsoldt’s approach to this project never undersells the drama or the storyline, but actually enhances it with its documentary style effect of being right in the actors faces and portrays as a real life interview. The up close and personal style of the interviews reminded me of the now famous and legendary interview between Jan Wenner and John Lennon in 1970 in New York for Rolling Stone Magazine with enough insight to the artists thoughts, beliefs, fears and hopes.

Running in at 1 hour and 45 minutes the movie flew by so quickly. I have to confess that I didn’t have a clue who David Foster Wallace was and never heard of his breakthrough book Infinite Jest. Nevertheless, knowing all this is not required at all to be enthralled by this fascinating and utterly compelling film.