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Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Captain Fantastic, Midnight Special, and The Lobster.


Three Quick and Dirty Reviews

I've been meaning to write for weeks, but the culmination of a long stretch of educational consulting, a surprise presentation of my novel Condemned to Freedom, and TAXES, turned my head from this fun spot.  I got to catch up on some less recent movies with good reputations and mine the current releases for something worth seeing.

There are a few highly regarded indie darlings that even made a few "best of" lists that I never got around to reviewing when I saw them due to lack of time, distraction, or simply laziness.  They nonetheless tap my blogging responsibility--Captain Fantastic and Midnight Special because you may not have considered seeing them (and may not have even heard of them) and you should; The Lobster because critics, film snobs, and lemmings might encourage you to see this and maybe you shouldn't.

Captain Fantastic
Viggo Mortensen earned a Best Actor nomination as Ben, a throwback hippie-type father raising his six children off the grid in the Pacific Northwest.  His child-rearing practices mix spartan survival training and martial arts with Classical liberal arts and advanced scientific rigor, and a strong dose of anti-materialism and communism.  Their idyllic state is shaken when they are called by honor to a mission of mercy.  Ben loads up the family bus and the stirring bagpipe strains of Scotland the Brave bring the children face-to-face with modern America, and modern America face-to-face with them.  The journey tests the children's idealistic beliefs, and it is to the credit of director Matt Ross that it doesn't test ours.  While it veers around the corner of corny and maudlin at times, Captain Fantastic's earnest good intentions see it through.
8 out of 10

Midnight Special 
In this engaging and surprisingly star-studded sci-fi drama, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) is a boy with powers so strange and terrifying that a religious cult wants to worship him and the US Government wants him for their own nefarious purposes.  Alton's father Roy (Michael Shannon) wants to save him from both.  To this end, he enlists true believing State Policeman Lucas (Joel Edgerton) to help spring Alton from cult-leader Calvin Meyer's (Sam Shepard) ranch compound.  Director Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter, Loving) continues to build his resume for slow-boil suspense, action, and surprise with the rescue and ensuing chase across the rural South to help Alton find his way home.  Along the way, Roy enlists the help of his wife Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) as the fugitives try to stay one step ahead of pursuing cultists and the NSA, led by Paul Sevier (Adam Driver).  Close calls, narrow escapes, and a surprise convert lead to a thunderous and fitting conclusion.
8 out of 10

The Lobster
In a dystopian future, "Short-Sighted" David (Colin Farrell) is dumped by his wife, dooming him to a bizarre hotel where single people have 45 days to find a mate or they will be turned into the animal of their choice and set off into the wild.  We soon learn why guests have earned their single status--"Heartless Woman," Lisping Man" (John C. Reilly)--as they move from passionless mixers to deadpan dinners, their only real excitement being the dart gun forays to hunt down "loners," with each hit adding an extra day to their stay.  Unable to find a short-sighted mate, David pretends to be a sociopath, in hopes of matching up with "Heartless Woman." That ends, predictably (and horribly), and he escapes the hotel to live free among the "loners" whose despotic leader (Lea Seydoux) forbids loners to mate.  Of course, David finds a Short-Sighted Woman (Rachel Weisz) and ... well, what is there to add, really?  Writer-Director Yorgos Lanthimos' film has all the artsy trappings--the muted palette, limited settings, restrained performances.  All of which dazzled critics and art house audiences, and I'm sure they would argue that Guy Malone, Researcher, and I didn't "get" it.  Believe me, we got it: a Monty Python satire, but replacing the Python's good-natured wit with sadism and facile references to a Facebook/Match.com world.  The Lobster is a film more to be appreciated than enjoyed; even at that, we walked out of the viewing room and opened the fridge wanting anything but crustacean.
6.5 out of 10

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