Fantasia Festival 2017: A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story (2017)

A Ghost Story 2017

Director and Writer: David Lowery

Cast: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara, Will Oldham, Sonia Acevedo

In this singular exploration of legacy, love, loss, and the enormity of existence, a recently deceased, white-sheeted ghost returns to his suburban home to try to reconnect with his bereft wife. – IMDB

Perhaps one of the first things to start off is that A Ghost Story is not a horror movie. It shouldn’t be expected to be one as it is a fantasy drama. David Lowery crafts up a passion project that brings to life an old perception of a ghost covered in a bedsheet who lingers for their loved one in the background. This character may seem like a goofy concept and the movie may have its quirky moment however it isn’t meant to be funny. A Ghost Story is a slow burn movie, more than possibly anything else you will encounter. It has lingering shots before it switches, teasing the audience perhaps to expect something to happen that often doesn’t. It has almost no dialogue but focuses heavily on its soundtrack and its subtle noises in the surroundings. It doesn’t give the characters any names which creates a world where we see only this ghost, a ghost of a husband who has come back to console his wife however not making contact but stirs up memories throughout. A Ghost Story is for those extremely patient because this movie may make you wait for things that won’t happen and answers that you might not get. It seeks to dig a little deeper and expands farther than its star-studded main characters, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara. Whether the slow-burn works for you or not, this is an odd but unique experience. One that makes you question where the line falls for the audience between tedium and depth.

A Ghost Story is shot in an almost square aspect ratio. Its something that native moviegoers may notice right away. However, what the movie lacks in dialogue is greatly made up by the perfect cuts and transitions between scenes. The ghost moves at a slow pace and frequently shots are taken from his slow movement as he enters a new room or observes something different. He may simply turn and the scene will change. All this is done slowly and seamlessly. The first part of the film focuses on the husband and wife relationship and the love and loss as well as the moving forward and holding on in two people. Despite the silence, we feel the connection between these two characters in the pieces scattered as the time moves on after C (played by Casey Affleck) dies in a sudden accident. There is a great use of time moving forward particularly in the fluidity of creating a scene where M (played by Rooney Mara) goes day by day, carrying on with life.

This fluidity of transition shifts through time as the story turns to a second act of various future tenants. While the technical scenes work well, the second act moves forward and we can only wonder how David Lowery will wrap this story up and how do you end something as random as the scenes he has linked together. This question will lead the audience straight to the final act which unfolds what can only be described as a masterful story writing that somehow does lead this story to giving us a lot of the answers that we’ve been wondering with the bits and pieces.

A Ghost Story is not the conventional way to make a movie. In the final Q&A session of this movie, its apparent that this project turned out as he would like. The slow pace, the sound design and the voiceless and nameless man under the bedsheet all serves its purposes. However, this is an incredibly experimental piece that is definitely not for everyone. Its for those with incredible patience, especially when this movie requires a few minutes watching someone eat pie, as well as attaching to a bedsheet ghost, that will oddly seem to start feeling like they are emoting by just standing there and the camera angles.

For what this movie accomplished, it is one that gets better the more you think about it. It is also one that best seen with as little knowledge as possible. The best movies create discussion and it certainly feels like this one will have that kind of impact.

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

Next up in the recommendations was after my review of Gone Baby Gone from Tyson at Head in a Vice to check out The Killer Inside Me.

the killer inside me posterDirector: Michael Winterbottom

Cast: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Ned Beatty, Elias Koteas, Tom Bower, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, Liam Aiken

West Texas Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is asked to evacuate a woman, Joyce (Jessica Alba) due to her involvement with the powerful man Chester Conway’s son, Elmer.  Little did he know that she would attract him and drag him into this mess, causing him to show a hidden serial killer self.  As he pulls himself out of the situation, Joyce and Elmer both dies.  DA Howard (Simon Baker) is sent in to investigate.  Lou has to try to continue on as he usually does despite all the suspicions cast on him and put on a facade especially in front of his girlfriend, Amy (Kate Hudson).  As things get more serious, he starts to lose himself bit by bit as he tries to keep the situation from spiraling out of control.

I have no idea how to write this synopsis.  The Killer Inside Me is a decent movie.  I did find it a bit slow in the beginning but it is an attractive little movie because of its cast and the charming music they use in the background that really helps set the mood.  However, something didn’t click for me in the beginning of the movie.  I don’t really know what, maybe some connection was missing and that had me a little less engaged in the first half of the movie.  Maybe after the review, I’ll see it a bit more clearly.

the killer inside me casey affleck

The best thing about this movie has to be its cast.  First off, we have Casey Affleck as the main character Lou Ford.  In the beginning of the movie, his character seemed a bit boring and empty but as the movie progressed, you can tell he was seriously out of his mind.  The expressions he makes in his quiet tone of voice is so creepy and deep.  His sexual encounters with both the lovely ladies, Joyce played by Jessica Alba and Amy played by Kate Hudson was pretty hot and steamy and downright passionate.  Quite a convincing act but even through that we saw the “killer inside” that was leaking out.  The mystery of his character was what made it very intriguing to watch.

the killer inside me jessica alba casey affleck

The movie does have a lot of style and visually, the shots of the area are pretty nice to watch.  The scenes are well- balances and attractive to the viewers.  The only thing that I didn’t really get was the story itself.  I understand what they wanted to do and how it was about Lou Ford losing control of that killer inside him and his deep dark secrets.  Casey Affleck did a fantastic job with that as mentioned in the previous paragraph.  The only issue I had was the fact that I felt this story was going in circles.  It just kept doing the same thing over and over and in a really slow way.  There were parts in the middle that I was just bored.  I had to split this movie in half and I usually don’t do that.  Maybe its because this movie had something more profound to think about, I don’t know.  I never really understood why he did any of it.  Was that the point? To show that he was just a crazy unrational cold-blooded killer in the first place?

the killer inside me howard

A lot of questions are still going through in my head about this movie about the plot.  Maybe thats whats missing…the motive for all this and what means it was to obtain? I probably just need to watch this again.  That aside, this movie was packed with a bunch of awesome actors aside from the main ones.  We have Simon Baker in the role of the DA and he is totally awesome! Maybe its because I already like him as an actor a lot so he impressed me.  There was also an appearance from Bill Pullman.  Although he’s somewhat changed from when I last saw him (aged a bit), he was a nice addition.  Oh, and I was happy that Liam Aiken (the kid from A Series of Unfortunate Events) was in this also.

This movie is a bit confusing for me.  I will recommend it if you want to see an outstanding performance by Casey Affleck.  If you want a movie with style, this also has a lot of that.  The music really does mesh well with it, making it quite an enjoyable experience.  I just can’t help but feel like I’m missing something from the plot.  Maybe I need to pick up the novel and read it to fully understand better what was really going on.  Or maybe, there was a storyline setup that didn’t work out too well.  I can’t help but think that the script/story could’ve been just a little stronger.

Thanks to Tyson for this very mind-boggling movie experience.  I haven’t had one of those in a while.  Check out his site with great movie reviews and his awesome Desert Island segment 🙂 I linked his site on the top when I first introduced him.

Paranorman (2012)

I’ve been working hard on watching all those unseen movies..but I did end up getting this one at a decent price recently at Walmart.  This one had a lot of positive reviews last year and being made from the same company as one of my favorite animations, I had to check it out right away!

paranorman posterDirector: Chris Butler & Sam Fell

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin

Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) lives in a little town called Blithe Hollow.  He is a bit of an outcast and everyone thinks his weird because he talks to empty space.  However, the real deal is that he can see and talk to ghosts.  Some ghosts stay around because they have unresolved business and he can talk to them and get along with them even better than with live people around him.  At home, his parents especially dad (Jeff Garlin) doesn’t believe these things and just wants him to normal and cut out all the pretending that grandma is still alive. At school, he gets bullied by  a guy called Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).  As much as he learns to ignore everyone and just be alone, a little chubby boy, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), who also gets bullied wants to be his friend.  He gets approached by his uncle’s ghost to go look for a book to read the story in order to stop the witch from rising from the dead, however, he is too late. Along with his sister Courtney, Neil and his brother Mitch(Casey Affleck)and Alvin, Norman goes to find a way to stop the witch and the undead from destroying his town.  To do this, he has to figure out where the witch was buried and the get the whole story.

paranormangroup car

Paranorman is a stop motion comedy thriller animation with zombies and ghosts.  However, its not very scary.  Its done by the same company who put out Coraline.  Coraline is one of my absolute favorite animations.  It was creepy but fun to watch, mixed with a bit of humor.  I really looked forward to Paranorman for those exact reasons.  This one was pretty fun.  It was suitable for kids because the ghosts and the undead aren’t too scary looking but then it got the message around.  Maybe a few jumps here and there.  It was some fun witty humor matched with a pretty well-written story.  I loved it! Maybe not as much as Coraline, but this one is less tense, its much  more awesome family fun.

paranorman ghosts

This whole animation was done very beautifully.  The visuals were outstanding from the backgrounds to the ghosts, the animated sceneries.  The characters were designed very well.  It focused on not only the adventure and mystery of saving the town from ghosts and zombies, but featured the family element of bond, understand, and support for each other, brings in hints of friendship and of course, the biggest issue was about bullying.

paranorman neil

Norman was a pretty cool character.  I loved how he was stubborn about his own beliefs.  I may never have met any kid that can talk to ghosts but he has some believable aspects.  One of my favorite characters has to be Neil.  He was hilarious. He had some of the best dialogue that would just crack me up. The voices were done very well and it was just an extremely entertaining movie in general.

Wonderfully animated, funny characters, some ghosts and zombies with an evil witch, this movie had it all for me to pull it out at Halloween (or even before that) to watch again. I definitely recommend it 🙂

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Following Argo winning best picture at the Oscars last week, I decided to watch this flick.  Ben Affleck‘s directorial debut Gone Baby Gone.  I actually saw this one in the theatres with my best friend when it came out in 2007.  Of course, I didn’t know that Ben Affleck was the director but I was intrigued by the trailer. I know I’m a week late but I’ve been running a bit slow on these reviews and hopefully I’ll catch up soon enough.

gone baby gone posterDirector: Ben Affleck

Cast: Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman, Ed Harris, Amy Ryan, John Ashton

This place takes place in where a little girl, Amanda McCreedy has been kidnapped and the police have been trying to find her with all their forces.  This is when the aunt and uncle of Amanda, in desperation, goes to hire a private investigator, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his partner, Angie (Michelle Monaghan) because they are known to have connections to the criminal side of Boston.  Much to the police’s disapproval, the captain (Morgan Freeman) however still is obliged to assign two officers, Remy Bressant (Ed Harris) and Nick Poole (John Ashton). In their investigation, they learn that Amanda’s mother, Helen(Amy Ryan) is involved in a messy situation because of her way of living and people she connects to.  The further they investigate, the more secrets get revealed and it drags them deeper and deeper into a situation that they can’t turn back anymore.  (Did I make that sound really dramatic? But thats how I felt it was..)

This movie is all about the secrets so I had to be really short with the summary so you get an idea but not really spoil this flick if you haven’t seen it.  I’ve seen The Town and I probably won’t end up catching Argo until a few months later when it might *crosses my fingers* drop a bit in price. This is an intriguing suspense drama.

gone baby gone 2

Its packed with awesome performances from the cast.  Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris was amazing as usual.  This is the only movie I’ve seen of Casey Affleck and man, he’s a pretty good actor.  He had me intrigued the whole way, dragged me into every tight situation and carried every intense moment on his shoulders.  Michelle Monaghan looks really familiar, I think she was the chick in Eagle Eye and maybe some other ones that slip my memory.  She was good too although I’d have to say that she didn’t really have much to say in my recollection of it now.  I still think she did pretty decent.  I really need to start digging up some more of Casey Affleck’s roles.  Any recommendations?

gone baby gone 3

This was adapted from a novel (from what I’ve read) with the same name by Dennis Lehane.  It has now been added to my to-read list.  I’m sure that if the movie can be this intriguing, the source material is probably going to be 20 times better.  At least thats the usual case, we’ll see when I get to check it out. The story was just so captivating and mysterious.  The intensity was over the top crazy.  At the end of the movie (for those who know it), it had me and my boyfriend thinking a lot.  We even engaged in a discussion about the ending at 1am  or something, which is not very often that it happens.

gone baby gone 1

I would definitely recommend this movie.  I don’t know if Argo can beat it but this movie ranks higher than The Town to me so far.  The story is suspenseful, the cast is fantastic and it’ll bring you for an unpredictable and intense ride and possibly leave you with a good amount of thinking at the end.  Affleck’s career as a director is one that I respect a lot right now and I hope to see more movies from him that are as great as this one.