Rss

  • linkedin

Archives for : directorial debut

Movie Review: “The Outfit” is a Stylish Thrill

Zoey Deutch (left) stars as “Mable” and Mark Rylance (right) stars as “Leonard” in director Graham Moore’s THE OUTFIT, a Focus Features release. Courtesy of Focus Features

All is not what it appears to be in Graham Moore’s directorial debut, “The Outfit”.

The Academy Award winning writer takes a stab behind the camera and cuts out an intriguing gangster saga. “The Outfit” follows a quiet Englishman, Leonard (Mark Rylance), who tailors to the mob. His Chicago tailor shop is a “drop spot” location for the local mob Boyle Crime Organization, run by an intimidating senior boss, Roy Boyle (Simon Russell Beale).

Just when you think Leonard’s “business” is running smoothly, the contents of a simple envelope lead to an unexpected turn of events. Leonard witnesses an incident that now has him caught in an unfortunate situation. Now, if he wants to live, he must outwit the dangerous group of mobsters that won’t let him or his innocent secretary (Zoey Deutch) leave the store.

“The Outfit” does have a bit of a slow start. Moore has also co-written a film (Alongside Johnathan McClain) that almost reads like a stage play. The entirety of the movie takes place at the tailor shop, which at the beginning makes things a little stagnant. However, once two of the regular mobsters, Richie (Dylan O’ Brien) and Francis (Johnny Flynn), rush into the shop after Richie has been injured, things pick up really quick. From there the story keeps you on the edge of your seat and you can really see the fine threading in the plot. Every detail shot and written is well delivered. The film is a refreshing take on a beloved genre we rarely see anymore.

The shining elements to this dapper film are Moore and McClain’s sharp screenplay, AND the phenomenal performances by the entire cast. Dylan O’ Brien does a wonderful job as Richie, a cocky son of the boss, who’s constantly competing with his dad’s favorite employee. Johnny Flynn as Francis is witty, pompous, and terribly frightening. Zoey Deutch is fantastic as Mable, the secretary who knows more of the mystery than she lets on. And Mark Rylance as Leonard is a smooth operating tailor who masterly weaves the actions of that tragic night.

The less you know about “The Outfit” the better. Just sit back and enjoy this clever, nail-biting, twisted thriller.

“The Outfit” opens in theaters March 25, 2022.

Rating: B+

Share

Rapid Review: “Fresh” is a Deliciously Good Time


Mimi Caves directorial debut serves a familiar dish, but with a “fresh”, new taste. 

I hate to spoil anything about Fox Searchlight Pictures’ “Fresh”, so I’m going to keep it brief. 

The film follows, Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones), a young woman whose tirelessly looking for love through dating apps. The opening scene of the movie is an awkward, horrible first date. Noa is left feeling hopeless, and thinking that she’ll ever find a good guy. Her best friend, Mollie (Jojo T. Gibbs) is always by her side to console her and tell her she doesn’t need a man, but Noa still hopes for that special someone. 

On a random evening at the grocery store, a handsome, charming man named Steve (Sebastian Stan) hits on Noa by the produce section. Sparks fly and they begin to date. They seem to have a true romantic connection. After a few dates, Steve suggests taking Noa away for the weekend. Unfortunately, this dream vacation quickly turns into an unthinkable nightmare.  

Cave’s debut feature goes from rom-com to a dark, provocative horror. Audiences may think they’ve seen this story before, but it hasn’t been told quite like this. For starters, the film features a Grade-A cast. Stan’s character is unlike anything he’s played before. Between this film and “Pam and Tommy”, he’s proving his incredible versatility as an actor. And Edgar-Jones gives an unforgettable performance, as she brings a whole new level to the “damsel turns badass” story arc. 

Screenwriter, Lauryn Kahn carves out a sharp, witty, and thrilling script. Caves brilliantly brings Kahn’s words to life with her directing. The film’s images range from picturesque to beautifully grotesque. “Fresh” delivers the whole package. It’s a deliciously, twisted horror/comedy that leaves you craving more. 

“Fresh” is available to stream on Hulu on March 4, 2022.

Rating: A

Share

Movie Review: “The Rental” is a Chilling Weekend Getaway

In Dave Franco’s directorial debut, “The Rental”, two couples rent a vacation home for what they hoped would be a celebratory weekend getaway. Unfortunately, this relaxing trip turns into a nightmare.

After Charlie (Dan Stevens) and Mina (Shelia Vand) close a big deal for their company, they decide to rent an Airbnb for them and their significant others. Charlie seems to be in a happy enough marriage with an aloof Michelle (Alison Brie), but at the same time he is dumbfounded by the fact that Mina is dating his ex-convict brother, Josh (Jeremy Allen White). Needless to say, there is a lot of sexual tension during the weekend.

When the group arrives at the secluded waterfront home, they are impressed with the house; but not so much with the creepy and racist property manager. They don’t let that doesn’t stop their fun. They carry on with drinking, drugs, and sex.

The partying comes to a halt when Mina discovers a hidden camera in the shower, and suddenly, the couples must fight to survive the night.

“The Rental” is an easy horror to digest. The film is only 88 minutes long, and during that time you’re entertained by the complex relationships and intensity. There’s just a few moments of comic relief to ease the tension, but the thought of them being watched is constantly on your mind.

Franco and his co-writer, Joe Swanberg do a fantastic job with their character development. Right away we’re locked into engaging characters who start off with one persona and gradually reveal another. The writers manage to get through many different plot points, while still being cohesive. Less is more here. The set, the score, the character traits, and other small details enhance the story.

All four stars do a fantastic job, but it’s the women that steal the show. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Brie’s character, Michelle. She plays the happy and naïve wife so well. Unaware of the fact that her husband isn’t as great as he’d like everyone to believe. And we can only hope to see more of Vand after an incredibly strong performance as Mina. She’s the whole package– smart, beautiful, and not afraid to stand up for herself against a racist.

Now “The Rental” isn’t as inventive as Jordan Peele’s feature film debut, “Get Out”. There are some holes in the movie. And not everyone will be satisfied with the ending, but it’s a solid thriller that subtly goes from nerve-racking drama to shocking slasher. It’s a lot of fun, and is a promising start for Dave Franco’s filmmaking career.

Rating: 3.75/5

“The Rental” is available On Demand July 24.

Share

Movie Review: “Beside Still Waters” is a Promising Directorial Debut for Chris Lowell

Chris Lowell is most popularly known for his role on Veronica Mars and The Help.  But now he’s stepping behind the camera and taking a shot at directing/screenwriting.

After his parents’ recent passing, Daniel (Ryan Eggold) struggles to find closure.  He invites six of his old friends to visit for the weekend, so that they can say goodbye to the lakeside cabin they spent the majority of their childhood in.  Attending this somber reunion we have… the old flame (Britt Lower) who has brought her new flame (Reid Scott), the jackass (Beck Bennett), the free-spirit (Jessy Hodges), the high school sweet hearts (Will Brill and Erin Darke), and the TV star (Brett Dalton).  Needless to say, the weekend creates drama, rekindles a romance, and reveals “shocking” secrets.

I’m aware we’ve seen this many times before, i.e. The Big Chill, and even the recent indie, drama that came out this past August, About Alex.  So why is Beside Still Waters worth watching?  Because Chris Lowell manages to successfully portray a genuine group of friends who are struggling with their own issues while trying to be there for the one that needs them most.  This is not always the case with films that touch on the same premise.  Take About Alex; their reunion was forced because of a friend’s suicide attempt.  Sounds interesting enough, but sadly, About Alex chose to engage the audience with numerous, unresolved issues that lead nowhere versus any real character development.  This is where Lowell differs.  He keeps his storyline simple and does not veer from the growth of his characters, allowing us to care for each one of them.

Solid performances are given by the entire cast, effectively balancing their selfish tendencies with compassion.  In addition, the film fittingly includes subtle flashbacks of the group when they were kids playing in the cabin.

Beside Still Waters may not stand out as a significant film, but Lowell’s first attempt at writing and directing shows potential for great things to come.  Don’t turn your nose up at the familiarity of this movie, there’s enough authenticity and heart to make it an enjoyable watch.

Rating: 3/5

Beside Still Waters is now playing in select theaters and VOD.

“Beside Still Waters” Official Trailer HD