Currently browsing the "Paul Dano" tag.

Review: Okja

In his audacious new film, Bong Joon Ho (Mother, Snowpiercer) pits a little Korean girl and her beloved super-pig against a corporate food mogul (Tilda Swinton). Okja is the name of a giant pig hybrid that little Mija (Seo-hyeon Ahn) has brought up for ten years high in the mountains of South Korea. That Okja is a GMO experiment makes no difference to her. He’s just her enormously fun pet. And in the opening scenes of the film, they do have big fun. But when the owner of the pig sends an envoy to give Mija’s grandpa a prize for best pig and decides to take Okja back to the US, Mija isn’t having it. She’s out to save her best friend. It’s wacky and the second half doesn’t entirely work, but at its heart it’s a sweet story of a girl and her super-pig.

Love & Mercy

I will admit right up front that I was never a fan of The Beach Boys. So I put this film off and that was a mistake. While Brian Wilson may be the central character, Love & Mercy is much more than the story of a famous boy band. It’s a sweet redemptive love story wrapped in a harrowing tale of mental illness. It stars John Cusack and Paul Dano as Wilson at different key periods in his life. And both of them deserve high praise for their portrayals of the creative genius with enormous problems. Not being a fan of the music, I was surprised by how beautifully it was put together and ultimately how much I liked this film.

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is a film based on the memoir of Solomon Northup, a free middle class black musician who lived in upstate New York in the first half of the nineteenth century. It is the nightmare tale of his abduction and sale into slavery, and his 12-year fight to survive and rejoin his family. The film is filled with ugly brutality and Northup, who is forced by the slave traders to go by another name, is systematically dehumanized and has to hide his true educated self, since that could mean a death sentence for him. A lot of it is hard to watch, but the violence is integral to the story, and it is definitely graphic but never gratuitous.

Prisoners

This one’s tough. The performances are excellent, but I kind of wanted my two-and-a-half hours back. Prisoners is intense and plodding and psychologically taxing, and every parent’s worst nightmare. Hugh Jackman plays Keller Dover, a desperate father who decides to take matters into his own hands when his young daughter and a neighborhood friend go missing. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the lead detective whose entire life revolves around his job.

Ruby Sparks

I went into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, except that Mainstream Chick had seen it and thought maybe as the Arty One, I would get something from it that she did not. Sadly, that is not the case. It is simply one of those interesting concepts that never makes the leap to the screen. The movie stars Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) as Calvin, a “genius” writer who’s had one early mega-success, but now struggles with severe writer’s block. So his therapist suggests he write just one page, which he is given permission to do badly. And that night a vivid dream about a kooky girl he meets in the park inspires him to run to his old fashioned typewriter, and the prose just pours out onto the page.