Fantasia 2017: Tilt (2017)

Tilt (2017)

Tilt poster

Director & co-writer: Kasra Farahani

Cast: Joseph Cross, Alexia Rasmussen, Jessy Hodges, Kelvin Yu

An unemployed documentary filmmaker’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic in the months after his wife becomes pregnant. – IMDB

A mind’s control over a chaos. Tilt is a movie about exactly that. Also, it stems from possibly the main character, Joe’s first documentary called Tilt and its tagline about control and chaos and skill in regards to pinball which could easily be carried forward to how we watch him slowly spiral towards his urge of becoming someone that he doesn’t recognize. The best way to describe Tilt would be a slow-burn character study of a person who slowly changes as perhaps their subconscious desires take a path they try to resist.

Tilt is an interesting one. We love horror thrillers and slow-burn movies and honestly, those types of movies are possibly the hardest to get right. Tilt does a decent job at setting up the stage. The technicalities from sound design to production set to the cast were done very well. It was captivating in parts and intriguing in others. Tilt’s first and third act were all of these things, wrapped up in a lot of questions and slowly gives the audience pieces to put together and wonder whether our main character Joe, played by Joseph Cross, will eventually spiral to. Where the film may fall a little short is in the incredibly dragged out second act that we can understand the purpose of watching our character, his observations and his resistance come into full force however, it also was a grinding experience to get through falling into the tedious territory for a few brief moments. What does redeem this movie is the unknown and the unsaid. Things happen and we can only wonder and link and imagine some, (at times) disturbing ideas.

It is hard to do a film like Tilt where it combines the thriller genre with a character study. For all its intrigued and ideas executed well most of the time, perhaps one of the harder things to invest into would be the characters themselves. The cast did incredibly well with how these characters are scripted, particularly our main couple, Joe and Joanne. We see the stress and the sacrifices and the tears that the pregnancy and upcoming addition to their family has caused. Perhaps this is what causes these issues to arise subtly in Joe’s personality as he spends many hours by himself.  However, as impressive as Joseph Cross and Alexia Rasmussen portrayed their characters, it is hard to be rooting for any one of them in particular. Perhaps that isn’t the point because it does feel like these characters were created to not truly be likable as they struggle with this new stress that has entered their lives as they have to face a new reality.

With that said, Tilt does a lot of technical aspects right. The scenes, moods, atmosphere are done incredibly well. They help create that sense of fear and dread as well as danger and intrigue. The script itself tells just enough to make us wonder and link things but never truly know if our guess is correct or not. That is what makes a thriller fun as the finale pulls together masterfully. It has some disturbing scenes and ideas and all this is thanks to a great performance by Joseph Cross. However, the downfall of this film lies in characters we can’t seem to get behind and that make sit harder to truly feel invested into their outcome and also a second act that could’ve been perhaps executed a little better in various parts. Not a perfect thriller, however one that executes many things well enough to deserve a watch.

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Netflix A-Z: Last Weekend (2014)

Continuing on with the Netflix A-Z mad dash to the finish line, I have to say that this choice was made for a few reasons. One of them is trying to find family-based movies. Then there’s Patricia Clarkson and she is always a fantastic actress. That is how Last Weekend ended up in the L selection, pushing the close second Laggies aside. I’ve never heard of it and don’t know what its about but hey, why not, right? The spontaneity is what makes Netflix A-Z so fun to do!

Let’s check it out!

Last Weekend (2014)

Last Weekend

Director: Tom Dolby (writer) & Tom Williams

Cast: Patricia Clarkson, Chris Mulkey, Joseph Cross, Zachary Booth, Rutina Wesley, Fran Kranz, Alexia Rasmussen, Jayma Mays, Devon Graye

When an affluent matriarch gathers her dysfunctional family for a holiday at their Northern California lake house, her carefully constructed weekend begins to come apart at the seams, leading her to question her own role in the family. – IMDB

Last Weekend is full of familiar faces. Perhaps that may be one of the first things you will notice. Leading with Patricia Clarkson, we follow through with smaller supporting roles from Rutina Wesley (also known for her role as Tara in True Blood), and Fran Kranz (known for a ton of stuff including Dollhouse and Cabin in the Woods) and then we have Jayma Mays (from Glee) and personally for me, Alexia Rasmussen (from Listen to Your Heart). Lots of talent and potential just looking at the cast. Except, Last Weekend leaves me feeling a little empty. In some ways, I can get what the story is trying to portray except it executes the idea not well enough especially when the ending is rather empty with not a whole lot of resolution. Perhaps that is the depressing point in the finale, that family isn’t clear cut and for many issues, there is no resolution. In my mind, there should be less focus on the kids and what happens to them in this “last weekend” and more on Patricia Clarkson and her husband and her interactions because that would be more to see, except how long would a movie taking that angle take before its audience might find it monotonous. But then, in this case, I don’t agree with putting in scenes that never get addressed ever again, rendering them pointless.

Last Weekend

One of the standout of Last Weekend is Patricia Clarkson and the setting. The house, the decor and the scenery is captivating to look at. Patricia Clarkson’s portrayal of a mother who can’t seem to and doesn’t want to let go of her kids and the fact that they have grown up and has left her care or let go of this last weekend of making a decision of whether she has made the right decision to sell this vacation house and all the things that she has grown attached to. It is a mother’s journey for the most part and Patricia Clarkson does a beautiful job and portraying it and making it believable as we try to understand her character. In many ways, it is the scenes that she is involved that make the movie shine the most, even in its most disjointed moments. One of my favorite ones is the one above when we finally see the connection between her daughter in law Vanessa (played by Alexia Rasmussen) and her, who she doesn’t have much fondness for, finally see something in common and she opens up to her a little more. As the audience, we can actually see the similarities between their personalities and its probably the nuance that her son chose someone similar to his parents.

Last Weekend Probably the hardest thing to like in Last Weekend are the characters as well. Contradicting to the top? Maybe a little. Because the sons here, Roger (played by Joseph Cross) and Theo (played by Zachary Booth) are incredibly annoying characters. In a way, you can see that they don’t want to be under the wings of their parents and they want to show that they have grown up but in many ways, they also lack the sensitivity to try to understand her or remember to check up on her once in a while. It could also be a statement of grown-up kids and the changed dynamic and different point of views from being away. Whatever its trying to say, it seems to start off in some way and never quite gives any resolve or redemption. It feels a little incomplete to me. Granted it is set over a weekend, perhaps it wasn’t mean to have a lot of character development and its more about their mom’s acceptance of the situation. Although, why there was such attention on their relationships baffled me at the end. Maybe it kind of highlights something a bit more favorable about their personality.

last weekend

I feel like I’m being tough on Last Weekend or maybe it just needs a few more viewings or I’m just not the target audience. I somehow don’t quite get what the movie was trying to do. It seems to have a message but it doesn’t seem to execute the idea well enough. While there are some solid performances, there is also a lot of unappealing characters (which is usually normal in dysfunctional family movies) and a lot of disjointed and unresolved moments. Perhaps that is what turns me off more. Plus, it doesn’t help that as I was trying to find meaning in Last Weekend, I ended up seeing it having a pretty negative message and kind of put me in a rather bad mood afterwards. Last Weekend has merit, just not enough to make it worth a second watch, however, maybe you will find something that I didn’t. If you did, please come back and tell me about it. I really wanted to like this one more.