Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for an even more offbeat drama about the afterlife. A ghost story in which the lead character is a guy under a sheet feels like it should be funny, and yet this is a resolutely arthouse movie, inventive but pretentious and high-minded. Yes, the silly imagery makes us giggle, but Lowery strikes such a somber tone that we can't help but take it seriously.
Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara reunite to play a couple whose happy life comes to an end when he is killed in a car crash. Now he wanders around their small house, watching his wife grieve, only able to communicate to another ghost who's haunting the house next door. After his wife packs up and moves on, this sheet-clad spirit sticks around, trying to communicate with a single mother (Sonia Acevedo), then a partying mob of ravers, including one guy (Will Oldham) who launches into a diatribe about the meaning of existence. But since he's dead, this ghost has only begun to experience his own journey through time and space.
Yes, as it goes along, the film spirals out into the kind of epic exploration of eternity that Terrence Malick keeps making (see The Tree of Life or To The Wonder). The central conceit of having Affleck performing under a white bedsheet is very clever, because it undercuts all preconceptions about ghost movies, offering a refreshingly earthbound approach that avoids swirly digital effects. But the fact is that, no matter how dark the film's tone is, it looks rather ridiculous. And Lowery only just barely gets away with walking this fine line between corny self-indulgence and meaningful drama.
Continue reading: A Ghost Story Review
After his break-out drama Ain't Them Bodies Saints in 2013, filmmaker David Lowery took an unexpected turn into Disney blockbusters with the 2016 live-action remake of Pete's Dragon.
Director David Lowery is back in indie mode with his deconstructed horror movie A Ghost Story. When asked how he got the idea, Lowery says, "Everything I do is very personal. I don't really think too much about why it is. I'm an atheist, so I don't believe in the afterlife, but I do believe in ghosts."
A Ghost Story artwork
The film's most notable characteristic is that it depicts its ghost as a man with a sheet draped over him. This may initially elicit giggles from the audience, but it's played seriously to create a haunting arthouse movie. "The joke pitch for the project was Beetlejuice as remade by Apichatpong Werathesakul," Lowery laughs, referring to the Thai filmmaking master. "It didn't turn out like that, but still that's sort of the spirit in which we made the film."
Continue reading: David Lowery Got Personal For A Ghost Story
C and M are a married couple who love one another very much, they live together in their little detached suburban home where C composes his music. The pair are incredibly close and when C is killed in a fatal car accident M is left with only the memories of their time together.
M goes to the morgue to identify her husband and confirms that the body is him and returns to their little home. M is alone but not quite as alone as she thinks. C didn't cross over to the spirit world, he remained on Earth and is now living in their house. M is full of grief for the loss of her husband and often listens to his musical compositions, particularly the song he wrote for her.
Whilst M is living in the real world, time and space are a completely different case for C as months and years feel like minutes and seconds. When M attempts to move on with her life and finally brings a man back to her home, C becomes angry and his manifestation and causes the power to go out as well as throwing books around the home.
Continue: A Ghost Story Trailer
This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended cartoon and live-action. By contrast, this movie feels almost unnervingly realistic, with seamless effects that bring a gigantic green furry dragon remarkably to life. With strong characters and a pointed story, this is a great movie for kids. And grown-ups might find themselves getting caught up in it as well.
Six years after being lost following a car crash, 12-year-old Pete (Oakes Fegley) is still living in the deep forest, playing happily with his dragon companion Elliot, who's like an enormous cuddly green puppy dog. But sawmill worker Gavin (Karl Urban) is travelling deeper into the woods. His brother, the mill's owner Jack (Wes Bentley), is urging caution, perhaps because his fiancee is the park ranger Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard). Then one day on the work site, Grace spots Pete in the trees and brings him back to civilisation. No one believes his fanciful tales of life with a dragon, just like they didn't believe Grace's father (Robert Redford) decades ago. But Grace's sparky daughter Natalie (Oona Laurence) does. And she decides to help Pete get home.
What follows is a fairly low-key adventure, as various factors come into play, mixing threats against this primordial forest with threats against Pete's bond with Elliot. It's a simple structure that immediately resonates with the audience, mainly because director-cowriter David Lowery keeps everything within the realm of believability. And the actors deliver similarly authentic performances as people trying to grapple with a rather startling discovery. Urban has the most thankless role in this sense: the hothead who immediately makes all the wrong decisions for selfish reasons. But he brings some complexity where he can. And he's nicely balanced by Howard, Bentley and a seriously twinkly Redford. Meanwhile, both Fegley and Laurence deliver solid turns as believably resilient kids.
Continue reading: Pete's Dragon Review
Pete is a young boy who lives in the forest, not many little boys would survive in the wilderness alone, but Pete has a HUGE force on his side, one that most people wouldn't ever believe. Pete is constantly accompanied and protected by his dragon Elliot.
Grace is the forest ranger who's grown up hearing her father's stories about a fierce dragon in the forest but to her his stories are nothing more than the fairy tale, as most would surmise. However, Graces views on the whole situation might just start to change when she crosses paths with the little forest boy.
As Pete regales Grace with his adventurous way of life accompanied by his green friend, some of his stories start to ring a bell with her father's tales. With the help of Natalie, a local girl similar in age to Pete, Grace begins to try and trace back Pete's roots.
Continue: Pete's Dragon - Teaser Trailer
Although set in the 1970s, this dramatic thriller has a distinctly Western vibe to it, digging into the darker emotional corners of characters who are trying to make it through life on their own terms. It's moody and evocative, focussing on internal feelings rather that big action beats, so it feels dreamlike and a bit sleepy. And also strangely mesmerising.
When we meet Bob and Ruth (Affleck and Mara), they're hopelessly in love. She knows he's not good for her, but she's pregnant so makes the most of it. Short of cash in rural Texas, they plot a messy bank robbery, during which he injures police officer Patrick (Foster) and is sent to prison. Four years later, she's now living on her own with her young daughter, watched over by Bob's old mentor Skerritt (Carradine). But she's also struck up an awkward friendship with Patrick. So when Bob escapes from prison and comes back for her, he's in for a rather nasty shock.
Writer-director Lowery uses striking visuals and minimalistic dialog, shooting scenes with an unexpected sensuality to explore each point where these people interact. Everything is understated (the title is never explained at all), which allows the actors to give delicate, transparent performances that catch us off guard with their honesty. Affleck, Mara and Foster are fascinatingly complicated as three parts of an untidy triangle that only hints at romance. Carradine adeptly provides both wit and gravity to his scenes, while Parker gives a beautiful performance as Bob's reluctant buddy.
Continue reading: Ain't Them Bodies Saints Review
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are a young couple desperately in love but living a dangerous life of crime. When one day they are cornered by a group of cops after Ruth seriously injures one of them, they are arrested and Bob insists it was he who fired the shot. Ruth is let off to carry on with her life, intent on waiting for her lover while pregnant with their first child. Four years later, Bob manages to make an escape, and sets out on a journey to be reunited with Ruth and the daughter he has not yet had chance to meet, while being pursued by every cop in the county. He has had a lot of time to yearn for things to be back the way they were, but life has changed for Ruth; will Bob's return be the repose she's been hoping for, or will it just bring more drama?
Continue: Ain't Them Bodies Saints Trailer
Filmmaker David Lowery reunites the stars from his offbeat Western Ain't Them Bodies Saints for...
This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...
Pete is a young boy who lives in the forest, not many little boys would...
Although set in the 1970s, this dramatic thriller has a distinctly Western vibe to it,...
Bob Muldoon and Ruth Guthrie are a young couple desperately in love but living a...