Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Movie review: The Dry

“Federal Agent Aaron Falk returns to his hometown Kiewarra after an absence of over twenty years to attend the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke, who allegedly killed his wife Karen and child Billy (sparing baby daughter Charlotte) before taking his own life. Luke's parents persuade a reluctant Falk to stay and investigate the circumstances of the crime. Falk and his father left the town 20 years ago to escape harassment when Falk was suspected in the death of his girlfriend. Now he is continuously harassed by the townspeople, though it has been 20 years since the death of 17-year-old Ellie Deacon, a close friend Falk was romantically involved with. With the help of the local sergeant Greg Raco, he begins to look into the events surrounding Luke's death. They discover that the bullets used in the crime were Remingtons while Luke only owned Winchesters.” (Wikipedia)

Eric Bana stars as Aaron Falk and does a fine job as a man tormented by the unsolved death of his childhood girlfriend. Old sins cast long shadows and the town has some unforgiving members of the community. Flashbacks fill the viewer in on the chain of events leading up to the young girl’s death, although the so-called clues that point to Aaron being the culprit are very circumstantial. While Aaron tries to focus on the current investigation and follow the clues, some of which are red herrings, he is still beset with thoughts of what happened 20 years ago.

I am a big fan of Eric Bana, who is an Australian actor. The cast of characters is excellent, an ensemble performance that viewers will enjoy. The story takes place in a small town suffering the effects of an interminable drought, which rubs on everyone’s nerves. It’s a slow burn from a directing angle and the unfolding of events is systematic as clues and motives are revealed. The flashbacks were overused, in my opinion, although necessary. I felt the director could have cut down on the number of scenes that did not add much and slowed the pace somewhat. I could not guess Ellie Deacon’s killer, nor Luke’s killer, and was stunned when the identities were revealed. It’s an excellent whodunnit that proceeds with methodical skill. I really enjoyed this movie, and I am sure Bana fans, as well as mystery murder aficionados will too.


Thursday, June 10, 2021

Movie review: The Comeback Trail

Movie producer Max Barber (Robert de Niro) and his naïve but starstruck nephew and partner Walter are in dire straits with yet another movie (Killer Nuns?) bombing at the box office. Trouble is, they owe a lot of money to a mobster called Reggie Fontaine (played by Morgan Freeman). Reggie wants his money. Now. While on another set, Max sees a terrible accident in which the leading man is killed by falling off a building during a shoot. No worries, he’s insured. Slowly but surely the seeds of a plot unfold as Max convinces ageing has-been spaghetti Western star Duke Montana (Tommy Lee Jones) to pick up his cowboy hat and star in a new movie. Duke, who was contemplating suicide, having nothing left to live for at an old age facility, agrees. The trouble is, Duke seems to be unkillable. And Reggie wants his money. Now!

The Comeback Trail is a remake of the 1982 film so is set in the era with the same movie making techniques, the same dinosaur attitudes to women – the director is a female – and the same old Western cliches which are evergreen and appealing. Don’t expect an Oscar-worthy film here but do expect a lot of laughs, some nostalgia for how it was way back then, and actually a kind of admiration for how they shot movies and somehow managed to pull together some very watchable stuff. Freeman, De Niro, and Jones have some memorable comic moments and there are screamingly funny scenes which they play deadpan and heaven knows how they do it. Make popcorn, sit back, and have a very good laugh. I know I shouldn’t but I’m rating this 5 stars for sheer chutzpah!