Tagged Joan Allen

The Devastating Motherhood of Room

Room. 2015. Directed by Lenny Abrahamson. Screenplay by Emma Donoghue, based on her novel of the same name.
Starring Brie Larson, Jacob Tremblay, Sean Bridgers, Joan Allen, Wendy Crewson, Amanda Brugel, Joe Pingue, William H. Macy, Randal Edwards, & Justin Mader. A24/Element Pictures/No Trace Camping/TG4 Films.
Rated PG. 118 minutes.
Drama

★★★★★
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I’ve not yet seen director Lenny Abrahamson’s 2014 film Frank, but awhile back I had the chance to see his earlier film What Richard Did and found it incredibly thought provoking, as well as intense and visceral. Abrahamson certainly has a knack for tackling darkness, and from the looks of Frank he also traffics in weirdness, too. Which is great because his latest directorial effort, a screen adaptation of Emma Donoghue’s novel Room, is equal parts odd, heartwarming, and boasts a heap of darkness (though not in a horror-ish sense). With a true story serving as the jumping-off point for Donoghue, her story tackles the life affirming relationship between a mother and her son, despite all odds. And yet, as I’ve said, the dark aspects of the plot are constantly worming in and out of the story as it goes. I’ve never read the novel, but I hear great things. If it’s even half as good as the film (luckily the author adapted the screenplay herself; usually a plus), the book is bound to make me run the gamut of my emotions. With a sparse yet engaging style, Abrahamson takes us through this whirlwind story, finding aid in an incredible pairing of Brie Larson and child actor Jacob Tremblay. If you’ve heard lots of hype about the film there is a reason for it. The hype is very real and every last bit is well deserved.
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Loosely inspired by the real life case of Josef Fritzl, Room tells the story of Ma (Brie Larson) and her son Jack (Jacob Tremblay) who live together in a small ten-by-ten room; a shed, essentially. Inside, they live out life one day at a time. They have the basics: a place to use the bathroom, to cook, to wash dishes, a place to sleep, too. That’s about all, though. Their keeper, a man they simply call Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) – the one who kidnapped Ma and brought her to Room – comes down from time to time to sexually abuse Ma, as Jack hides in the closet. Occasionally, when needed, Nick brings supplies like food and other things to the family of two. It is a bare, horrible existence. Jack doesn’t know anything of the outside world, except what he sees on television.
After he turns five-years-old, Jack begins to learn about the world outside Room. But he doesn’t exactly like what he hears, as it breaks down his preconceived notions of what the world is, being the four walls around him. As Ma tries her best to help Jack understand, she also formulates a plan. She wants her boy to help trick Old Nick.
Thus begins the hopeful escape of Ma and Jack. And it’s only the beginning.
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One impressively tragic moment early on is when Jack tells his mother “next week when Im 6” she’d better get real candles. She has to correct him that he means next year. Right then and there we understand how blatantly obvious the damage done to him is, as in he’s unable to determine between a week, a month, a year. Because in Room, time is nothing, it is a measure of something the child can’t begin to comprehend. Outside, time goes by, but in there they’re stuck living the same day, over and over. Only minor changes happen. I love that within such a short frame of time we’re already able to understand the isolation.
Later, when Ma has to explain to her boy about the outside world it is intense and sad. It hurts to see Jack unable to get “what the world is.” He thinks it’s all a part of an awful process called growing up. He doesn’t get that the world is out there, they’ve simply been shut off from it by the hideous man known only as Old Nick.
My heart officially broke, yet opened wide, as Jack finds himself for the first time in the outside world beyond Room. Laying in the pan of a pickup truck, he looks directly into the sky and watches as the vast blue ocean above him passes by. It is one of the most emotionally intense scenes I’ve watched in awhile. At once, you’ll be so happy and simultaneously you’ll feel everything shatter. Honestly, it’s rare a drama gets to me so thoroughly and deeply. The way Abrahamson shoots this sequence is so powerful; it plays with your emotions, though, not in a way which tricks you. It is a pure and raw scene filled with beauty of the deepest kind.
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The writing is incredible. I’m sure the novel is a powerhouse, because Donoghue adapts it well for the screen. One part I enjoyed so much is the narration by Jack, especially after they make it out of Room and into the world. He talks about being “in the world for 37 hours“, as if he was never actually in the world locked in that shed, which of course he really wasn’t, I suppose. But the way Tremblay talks, his way of expression, the inflection of his voice, it is so crazy to imagine he’s a child. It’s as if a grown man is inside him acting. And Donoghue’s words shine through him. The way she explains things via the Jack character is exposition, but it doesn’t feel that way. We really get life from his perspective, as it would likely be if a kid was hidden away for his entire first six years then suddenly released into the outdoors. Even the way we literally see shots from Jack’s perspective, it holds the excitement and wonder of a little kid, something we all can remember looking back on the early years. So combine Donoghue and her writing with Abrahamson’s directing style, and everything converges into such a perfect mix. The screenplay’s basic and honest storytelling is complimented by the way Abrahamson pushes things forward with an equally honest, compelling view into the life of all these people affected by tragedy. It is not an easy story to tell, in any sense, yet these two artists, along with a great team, make Room into one of the best movies of 2015.
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A flawless 5-star film. Perhaps it isn’t everyone else’s cup of tea. Maybe others may expect more outright darkness, but that’s just not this movie. Room tackles a difficult story, one loosely based in real events. It tackles the difficulty with grace, subtlety. The main actors, Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, knock their characters out of the park; their chemistry is unreal at every moment, in every last scene, and you’d swear they lived together for a year before filming. All cylinders pump from the moment Room begins, to the minute the credits roll. Not often am I visibly affected by a drama, though, every now and then one comes along that captivates me, takes me to another place emotionally, mentally. Room is one of those very films. It won’t be soon that I forget it, either. Neither will you, I suspect.

Hannibal – Season 3, Episode 12: “The Number of the Beast is 666”

800px-The_number_of_the_beast_is_666_Philadelphia,_Rosenbach_Museum_and_LibraryNBC’s Hannibal
Season 3, Episode 12: “The Number of the Beast is 666”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro
Written by Bryan Fuller/Angela LaManna/Steve Lightfoot/Jeff Vlaming

* For a review of the next & final episode, “The Wrath of the Lamb” – click here
* For a review of the previous episode, “…And the Beast from the Sea” – click here

DISCLAIMER: THIS IS SPOILER FILLED! TURN BACK OR BE FOREVER SPOILED.
IMG_1480Will: “I look at my wife and I see her dead. And I see Mrs Leeds and Mrs Jacobi lying where Molly should be.
Bedelia: “Do you see yourself killing her?
Will: “Yes. Over and over.
IMG_1481An excellent opening scene between Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson). Finally, we’re seeing Graham come around to what has been happening between himself and Hannibal. The repartee between Will and Bedelia is something to behold. Two excellent actors giving it their all, always. Anderson is enormously talented and I think Dr. Du Maurier has been a significant and excellent addition to Hannibal, which gives more depth to Lecter, and is also proving to add further depth to Will. In these last two episodes, we’re going to see all the full effects of the Hannibal-Will relationship come together in front of us. At least that’s how I think it will play out. Because Will was blind but now he can see, the blinders are slipping from his eyes and all is revealed. He has long ago since discovered the true nature of Dr. Lecter. What he has yet to see the entirety of is the way in which Hannibal has made him into a different person. He saw the immediate effects, now he’s coming to discover there’s much more beneath the surface.

Will: “Is Hannibal in love with me?
Bedelia: “Could he daily feel a stab of hunger for you and find nourishment at the very sight of you? Yes. But do you ache for him?
IMG_1483An excellently tense scene with Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) and Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). There’s no clear reason why Jack is there, other than he wants more information out of Hannibal. Meanwhile, Dr. Lecter sees fit mostly to taunt his former dinner companion. A lot of talk about the Great Red Dragon, the Lamb, God. Very good stuff and I like that we’re still getting scenes between these two. While the focus of the series is obviously the Hannibal-Will dynamic, we can’t forget the history and intensity flowing between Hannibal and Jack. They were quite close, right from the beginning. So much has happened between these men, there can only be an ending of massive proportions coming.
IMG_1482Hannibal: “The seals are being opened, Jack. The lamb is becoming a lion.

Jack, Hannibal, and somewhat Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), are hatching a plan in order to lure and catch Francis Dolarhyde (Richard Armitage) – who is going PROPER INSANE as the claws of the Dragon come out and tear at his skin, at the painting, looking to get out.
At the same time, Dr. Frederick Chilton (Raúl Esparza) is more than pissed off with Lecter. Their professional lives are jamming up against one another, the former doing all he can to mess up Chilton’s reputation. We can get the sense Hannibal is ready for another round of murder, as Frederick yells and rants – quite rude, no? We’ll see.
IMG_1484Hannibal: “Fate has a habit of not letting us choose our own endings, Frederick.
IMG_1485Getting a scene straight out of Michael Mann’s Manhunter, and of course Red Dragon by Thomas Harris, we watch as Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) is recruited to do a piece featuring Chilton and Graham. As Chilton comes up with things to taunt Dolarhyde out of the shadows, Graham aggravates them and makes them nastier by using words like pervert and impotent and ugly, all in an effort to make the Dragon angry enough to be lured into a trap. This is where we’re seeing shades of Hannibal in Will Graham.
When Will puts his hand on the shoulder of Chilton, it is a turning point. Mr. Graham has ultimately become bottom barrel desperate. Everything is pushing him – he sees the dead eyes of the women around him, Molly (Nina Arianda), Alana, bloody and stuffed with shards of glass. His world is falling down around him again, he does not want to go plunging further down the rabbit hole like he last went under the drive of Dr. Lecter. I think now, Will would do absolutely anything in order to get away from it all.
IMG_1486 IMG_1487Bedelia comments on this later saying “the touch of others makes us who we are“. Will calls it a plea of authenticity. Unfortunately, Dr. Du Maurier digs deeper wondering if Will did so on purpose, perhaps wanting to put Chilton in the Dragon’s way. What we’re watching is Will becoming slightly too much like Lecter – he did this all in curiosity. Like Bedelia says: “That’s participation. Hannibal Lecter does have agency in the world. He has you.” An interesting turn earlier when Will said the same thing, minus the last bit. We’re officially watching the evil of Hannibal come to bear on Will Graham, big time. Possibly the worst it ever has. Even in a prison cell, Lecter will always affect Will deeply.
IMG_1488Big time Red Dragon/Manhunter feel here in this episode.
Poor Chilton – switched from the source material where it was Lounds in this predicament – finds himself taken, kidnapped by Francis Dolarhyde.
This scene went incredibly well. Not only is the acting incredible, the mood and atmosphere – as is usual for the series – feels so dark and ominous. Some people hate that Chilton and Lounds have been switched out. However, where Chilton was made a bigger character in the Bryan Fuller adaptation, I think it’s appropriate there’s a changed adaptation for this part. Lounds has served her own purpose. Chilton needs to get what is coming to him – he lead Abel Gideon into believing he was the Chesapeake Ripper, he didn’t divulge everything he knew about Dr. Lecter and his love of the unorthodox, and so on. I mean, I LOVE THE CHARACTER!
I think Fuller and Co. have done a great job taking the character and fleshing him out, but I love where it has ended up. I don’t worry that him and Lounds have been swapped, I found it incredible. Plus, every incarnation of Chilton is such a snivelling little bastard, I’d almost expect Lara Jean Chorostecki’s version of Freddie Lounds to be a tough woman; not that she wouldn’t scream once the Dragon took hold, however, I doubt she’d do much pleading.
IMG_1489Chilton: “I am scared. Man to man, I am scared. It is very hard to concentrate when you are scared.
IMG_1491Then we see Armitage in fine form. He has a bit of Tom Noonan, a bit of Ralph Fiennes, and every bit of Harris going on. Dolarhyde, his face covered in the stocking-like cap, wears a kimono and sits behind Chilton. His voice feels deeper, changed now. Is he becoming, more and more now? Has his becoming pushed him to the next stage? I think so. We watch as Francis Dolarhyde slowly slips into the darkness. Who/what emerges, pushing itself into the foreground, is the Great Red Dragon. His becoming is nearly complete now.
Richard Armitage is a blessing. I love to see a role that’s already classic to so many film fans/book readers become a fresh, new vision in the arms of an actor. It just goes to show that many of these modern literary characters and villains we come to enjoy and love so much are similar to stage characters – just as actors, like Armitage and many others who have graced the stage before and continue to do so, play the characters of Shakespeare over and over yet actors bring new things to the role, nowadays actors on television and film can do the same. We have people like Hannibal Lecter, Francis Dolarhyde, and so many more (I won’t go on with all the great literary characters brought to life in film/television – you know there are tons). Here, we get to see Armitage bring that type of sensibility to the small screen. That’s a huge reason of why I love Hannibal, we get highly gifted actors like Armitage, Mikkelsen, and Dancy tackling these well-known characters and giving them new life.
IMG_1492 IMG_1493Having Reba McClane (Rutina Wesley) show up during the middle of Francis beginning to terrorize Chilton was a nice touch. That part of him grabs hold for a moment. In the end, it’s too late. There is no hope any more for Reba to bring Francis back from the edge. Like I said before, the Dragon has snatched him up completely and there’s no letting go. His becoming has moved past the point of no return.
There is a viciousness present in “The Number of the Beast is 666” which I feel hasn’t come across so present ever before. While a ton of macabre visuals and situations have struck us, in many an episode, there’s something so brutal about the scenes involving Chilton and Dolarhyde. When Francis becomes the Dragon and lurches towards Chilton, I knew what was coming, I just didn’t see it coming so savage! This was downright gory. But it’s the whole build-up towards this which makes it feel so nasty.
The makeup effects here were out of this world. Seeing Frederick Chilton scream in pain, his mouth basically gone, only teeth and meat left… what horrific joy.
IMG_1494 IMG_1496 IMG_1497Francis: “I am the Dragon and you call me insane. Before me, you are a slug in the sun. You are privy to a great becoming. You recognize nothing.
IMG_1498 IMG_1499MADNESS! HANNIBAL ATE ONE OF THE LIPS!
The editing on this show truly helped this moment. As Jack asks “Where’s the other one?”, we see such a quick cut to Hannibal – before Alana or anyone could get into the cell and snatch up his newly delivered mail – and he greedily slurps down one of Dr. Chilton’s bitten off lips. I could not believe it. The obviousness of it might be there, I just never saw it coming. Especially how they didn’t show it immediately. Another reason I love the visual storytelling of Hannibal because it likes to stutter step and give things up at intervals, even if they’re quick ones. It’s a great technique, which has paid off over and over for the series.
This is the first time we’ve seen him consume uncooked human meat, in its pure form. Undeniably and unbelievably chilling, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The dark look, always taunting, on Lecter’s face. Probably my favourite moment EVER on the series.
IMG_1500 IMG_1501After the video of Chilton reading the Dragon’s words, then having his lips chewed off bloodily, Graham gets worse. Even more so once Chilton turns up – set on fire and wheeled down a park lane into a fountain. He goes to see the unfortunate doctor, whose entire body is burned and his face mangled. AMAZING MAKEUP EFFECTS AGAIN! Brutal and well-done.
Frederick knows Will basically set him up for horror during their Lounds interview/the photograph. It’s sad because there is a part of Will which intentionally made that gesture, knowing full well it would draw the ire of the Dragon. So while Chilton’s own hubris and rudeness brought him to his destiny, and many other horrific situations along the way, it ultimately was Graham who did this to him. While Will is the hero in a sense throughout the series, he finally becomes the full-on antihero at this point.
IMG_1502In the source material, Reba McClane is ultimately safe. This adaptation sees Francis Dolarhyde with Reba in his claws much the same as Tom Noonan’s Tooth Fairy had Joan Allen cornered in Manhunter. We’re not sure exactly what might happen – especially as Reba utters the name Tooth Fairy, to which Francis shushes her with a finger to her lips. It’s an extremely tense, suspenseful way to cliffhang this penultimate episode.
While the episode finishes, Francis tells Reba “I am the Dragon“, and his wings open up, spreading about the room and filling the air with darkness. Love the visuals, as always. We get a couple Dragon shots in this one and I love them. Foreboding and creepy.
IMG_1503 IMG_1504This episode gave us so much. A ton of impressive makeup effects, a saucy Hannibal the Cannibal getting his first taste of human flesh in about THREE WHOLE YEARS, and most importantly Will Graham has begun to fall apart but at the same time he is coming together and recognizing himself to be more like Lecter than he’d ever cared to admit.
The final episode is upon us, Fannibals. Can we still #SaveHannibal or is it a lost cause? Watching City Tv last night, they called it a Season Finale. Is there hope yet? We shall see. Next week is “The Wrath of the Lamb” directed by series regular Michael Rymer. I’m beyond excited to see this finale.
Stay tuned, my fellow horror hounds, Lecter lovers, Graham groupies, and the all the wonderful Armitage Army who’ve joined us for the Hannibal swan song!