Fantasia Festival 2018: Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Under the Silver Lake (2018)

Under the Silver Lake

Director (and writer): David Robert Mitchell

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Riki Lindhome, Grace Van Patten, Patrick Fischler, Jimmi Simpson, Callie Hernandez

Sam, intelligent but without purpose, finds a mysterious woman swimming in his apartment’s pool one night. The next morning, she disappears. Sam sets off across LA to find her, and along the way he uncovers a conspiracy far more bizarre. – IMDB

Following the success of indie horror It Follows, David Robert Mitchell takes his unique vision to this project Under the Silver Lake and casts Andrew Garfield as the main lead Sam. Under the Silver Lake is ambitious to say the least. There are a lot of pop culture references in there used incredibly cleverly. The filming is done very well choosing some great Los Angeles backdrops. There are injections of comic strip moments as it follows the works of an author who tells the story of “Under the Silver Lake” and other legends hidden in the city. It has some colorful and whimsical characters who cross paths with Sam and truly embrace the black comedy effectively. Finally, the most outstanding quality of this film goes to its embrace of classic Hollywood in both the way certain shots are filmed in terms of lighting and framed up to the outfits of some of the actresses.

Under the Silver Lake

With Classic Hollywood and pop culture scattered cleverly throughout this film, it is hard to not like it. Except it also is easy to get a little lost because as offbeat as the story is meant to be, it lingers on feeling almost disjointed. Sam goes on this journey that almost feels like a lazy unambitious young man falling into his own version of Alice in Wonderland. His journey takes him from one set piece to the next with parties, cemetery screenings, secret tunnels amd even secluded mansions with an old man who claims he created all the most popular tunes of the last few decades. Oddly in this journey, as much as Andrew Garfield delivers a decent performance, Sam is honestly pretty unamusing to watch. It is hard to be invested in a movie where the main character is a focal point that we spend all the time from his point of view on this surreal journey and there never feels like a sense of investment. Even the moments of danger, usually end in some form of black comedy resolution and it never feels like he is in peril. On top of that, the audience might be the only person that questions why he gets into all these fancy parties when he goes there all scruffy and in simple t-shirts and even pyjamas. It is hard to root for someone who we can’t even see the appeal that all these lovely ladies seem to just see some charm in. Except there are hints also that Sam isn’t a shallow character and at parts, there is a hint of the sense of failure he feels and even the mask he puts on as he hides away the truth about his unambitious life and the regrets.

Under the Silver Lake

At the end of the day, Under the Silver Lake is a slow-paced ambitious piece of cinema. Its unique and surrealistic dive into the whimsical underbelly of Los Angeles has its charm but it isn’t going to be for everyone. Especially when the story itself feels disjointed and most of all, the main character is pretty unamusing to watch and there is no reason to fight for his search because at certain points it feels like even the story makes him forgets what was the main goal in the first place. Perhaps if you squint between the lines, Under the Silver Lake embodies a tale about the society and the lack of sense of direction in life and ambition and it just takes one little thing to change it all around and find motivation and commitment. For this one, maybe its ambition affected its overall storytelling just a little bit.  

The review was also posted on That Moment In.

Netflix A-Z: The Good Doctor (2011)

Have any of you wondered where Orlando Bloom went? Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean and then spotted in some romantic comedies then, he has kind of vanished. Apparently, he was in this drama thriller back in 2011 called The Good Doctor. Its kind of in the indie category on Netflix but then not really either. With $6Mil budget, it hardly is, I’d imagine. However, I didn’t know that before starting this up and with the heart of wanting the next movie to be a thriller, I chose The Good Doctor, not exactly sure whether the premise would interest me.

Let’s check it out!

The Good Doctor (2011)

The Good Doctor

Director: Lance Daly

Cast: Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Taraji P. Henson, Rob Morrow, Michael Pena

A young doctor goes to unconscionable extremes in order to remain in the service of a female patient with a kidney disorder.-IMDB 

Regrets. I’m going through regrets. The Good Doctor took me three separate sittings to go through. I guess I can see the merit in the movie but man, the execution and the pacing was like watching paint dry. I think it is my problem but at the same time, I do like a lot of slow-paced movies. In fact, some of my favorites, not guilty pleasures, are actually rather slow-paced movies. The Good Doctor was just not for me. There was a lot of quiet staring on Orlando Bloom’s character’s part. Plus, the ending of more than obvious what was going to happen eventually even if the finale was probably the best part because it gives the audience something to think about. There’s a message here about how selfish intentions can be destructive and dangerous but it never presents itself in an intriguing way.

The Good Doctor

My previous statement about Orlando Bloom has nothing to do with his range of acting. It really just goes to the point that the character was probably designed to be more quiet and reserved. The personality of Dr. Martin Blake was portrayed in a way that his actions and the way he interacted was awkward. There was something gravely and eerily wrong with him. He had issues interacting with others and when he meets this young female patient, she makes it seem natural. The scenes where they talk shows a level of two people with similarly awkward personalities in the things they talk about and ask randomly. Dr. Martin Blake’s character does develop as the lack of dialogue also helps us learn about him through his actions and takes a more suspenseful path. The fault may highly be that the movie isn’t paced well so his quiet personality drags on and near the finale seems to overstay its welcome.

The Good Doctor

 However, there are tangent characters that work well here. Rob Morrow plays as the presiding doctor over Dr. Blake. His character, Dr. Waylans is the person that Dr. Blake tries to impress. In many ways, the question is whether Dr. Waylans suspects the things that Dr. Blake is doing. His character observes a lot and sometimes causes a moment of tension as you wonder whether he knows more than he is showing. Another character that proves as an effective hurdle is Nurse Theresa played by Taraji P. Henson. She gives Dr. Blake a hard time for the most part. She questions him constantly and causes a small feud that runs throughout probably a good portion of the film on and off. While it doesn’t seem necessary to have those parts, the character was a welcome change.

The Good Doctor

Overall, there isn’t really much to say about The Good Doctor. It has a decent idea except the execution and the pacing is extremely lacking making it for a grating experience. Orlando Bloom does the best with what he can. Although his character is required to emote and has a lack of dialogue which has its challenges and he carries the emotions well enough. Riley Keough also carries a well performance although her character isn’t accentuated too much. The better characters here are the supporting one notably from Rob Morrow and Taraji P. Henson.

Have you seen The Good Doctor?

Next up is H selection! Any guesses? Hint: An Irish actress