By Will Ashton | firstname.lastname@example.org| @thewillofash
I’m a little late this time around, but here are my latest batch of reviews from the film festival. I am not even going to pretend that these movies have much in common with one another, so let’s just get moving on the show here.
Last Call | Directed by Enrico Cerasuolo | Not Rated
Although the topic itself may be a very important, a majority of the documentaries, and even narrative films, that have been made on environmentalism and world preservation can’t help but be a bit dull. The most interesting one we have—probably—is An Inconvenient Truth, and, even for as scary as that movie is, it drags at times.
So it was with that initial thought-stream in mind that I was pleasantly surprised how pulpy the first moments of Enrico Cerasulo’s documentary Last Call were. There were slight element of flair and spunk throughout, even though the subjects of the film are well past the age of sixty, and it gave me hope that, in addition to the compelling pieces of information the filmmakers were going to be throwing our direction, they were going to make the ride an enjoyable one along the way.
However, after the first 30 minutes or so, despite compelling narratives and engaging topics throughout, the movie begins to fizzle a bit due to uneven pacing and a lack of urgency. It’s always well-made, and there is a great understanding of the topics provided through graphics and visual effects throughout. But there’s not too much here that really, truly pulls the investment of the audience’s attention in for its full running time.
But, when Last Call is interesting, it’s very interesting. It is the segments with Dennis Meadows, one of the many co-authors of The Limits of Growth—the film’s overarching topic of choice—and one of the film’s primary figures and talking heads, that brings some much needed life into the movie. There is something captivating about Meadows and his presence, especially when he is speaking to a room of people, that draws you in immediately, and he knows how to play with this pull too. As do the filmmakers, thankfully.
There is also a sorrowful, oddly engaging score throughout that keeps things on its thoughtful toes, as are there some well put-together segments that make this a documentary that is worth admiring. Just don’t expect the most enthralling film you’ve ever seen when you watch it.
Koinonia | Directed by Andrew Finnigan | Not Rated
Perhaps, if one were to have missed seeing I Am Legend, The Road or any other post-apocalypse film ever made, especially of late, they would be entertaining by Andrew Finnigan’s Koinonia.
Bottling up just about every cliche there is in the genre, Koinonia is a film that, for all its low-budget goals, is earnest in its production, but can never, ever get over the hurdle of being anything original whatsoever. The voice-overs throughout are deathly familiar, as are the flashback segments centered on the main character’s previous life before the destruction of humanity hits him, that the movie can’t help but be just boring.
Cinematography and direction throughout are never outright bad, and there are moments were it, and the editing, work in small doses. Perhaps that is what saves this movie from being a train wreck. But, truthfully, I believe what keeps this movie in mediocrity is the commitment of its lead actor, Tony Doupe. While his performance isn’t especially great, it’s committed, for better or for worse. Despite the troubled script he is given, he gives the movie all he’s got, even when that backfires on him. There are moments that are meant to be serious, but are just silly or, worse, awkward. But, through thick and thin, Doupe makes the most of it all.
Which he should, as he is primarily the only actor on screen for the majority of the running time.
Had I not seen this at the film festival, I feel like the only other place I would come across it would be at the bargain bin at Wal-Mart. Perhaps, even, in a combo pack with other forgettable B-movie knock-offs. Although his efforts are commendable, and he has an actor willing to push himself, Finnigan and his film can’t do anything with this material that hasn’t been done before and, especially, done much better.
Le Week-End | Directed by Roger Michell | Rated R
The power of watching two great actors perform together can be all that a movie needs.
When you have veteran greats like Jim Broadbent (who is always, always welcomed to come onto any screen I am looking at) and Lindsay Duncan together in Paris, that is all you need to get me into the theater. But, when you have a good script, good chemistry and beautiful scenery to boot, the trip becomes even more of a delight. And, while Le Week-End, the movie they share the screen together, does have its bumps on the road, this trip to Europe is still a treat that puts a smile on your face.
As these characters are three dimensional and complex, they are not without their flaws. But the flaws these characters carry do not always make for an enjoyable time at the movies. Duncan’s character, sometimes for reasons that are not fully explained, is a bit of a bitch, and Broadbent’s character is occasionally too mild mannered for his own good.
Additionally, the movie—especially in its third act—starts to unravel a bit due to its unevenness tonally and its over-desire to be too cutesy for its good. Perhaps in a ditch attempt to keep pleasing the senior citizen crowd it is attempting to pull in.
But, despite these reservations, Le Week-End is a wickedly funny movie throughout, thanks primarily to Broadbent and Duncan’s easy chemistry and the witty script by Hanif Kureishi. Another huge factor in this movie’s success is a scene-stealing supporting performance from Jeff Goldblum, who, while he may be playing himself, gives one of his most enjoyable performances in some time. Through all its up-and-downs, this trip to France is a breezy, pleasant time at the movies, especially for those of us who don’t get to go Europe anytime soon.