BARE BONES: THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017)

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THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (2017)

Intense drama tells the story of angry mother, Mildred Hayes (an amazing Frances McDormand), who sees, what she believes, to be a lack of effort on her local sheriff’s (Woody Harrelson) part in catching the man who raped and murdered her daughter, Angela (Kathryn Newton). In response, she puts up three billboards on the outskirts of her small town calling the police force out on their failings. This not only sets the town against her, as they sympathize with a sheriff dying of cancer, but also puts her, and those affiliated, in the cross hairs of his ignorant and hateful second in command, Dixon (Sam Rockwell).

Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, this is a powerful film, that not only illustrates what anger and hatred causes folks to do, but the consequences of those actions. The film is not really about Angela’s murder, but the effect it has had on her family and the town they live in, mostly on the rage coming from mother Mildred. The film also delivers some surprising transformations as the effects of all this anger and hatred changes people, some for the better, others for worse. McDonagh gets some fantastic performances out of his cast, especially McDormand and Rockwell and his script gives some intense dialogue and material for the cast to work from. Maybe the film isn’t perfect, one wonders if this town arrests anyone for anything at times, but it is a film that will stay with you long after the credits roll. Also stars Peter Dinklage, John Hawkes, Samara Weaving and Abbie Cornish.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: LADY BIRD (2017)

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LADY BIRD (2017)

Indie comedy/drama takes place in early 2000s Sacramento as strong-willed and opinionated Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) spends her senior year at Catholic school and has plans for her future in a New York City college. This plan causes her to butt heads with her money minded mother (Laurie Metcalf) who is determined she go to school locally to ease the financial burden on her down-on-their-luck family.

Enchanting indie flick is written and directed by Greta Gerwig, who has been in a number of indie films herself and certainly has paid attention. She creates a very spirited and rebellious character in the self-proclaimed “Lady Bird” without that character becoming a cliché. We are endeared to her and cheer her on, as her fire and determination to be her own person, rubs family and faculty alike the wrong way. Gerwig never steers the film into melodrama, yet also keeps the humor subtle so we take Christine’s journey, to walk to the beat of her own drum, seriously. She gets great performances out of her cast, especially Ronan and Metcalf and gives us real people to populate Christine’s world and not stereotypes. A fun and engaging story of a young woman coming of age in post 911 America. Also stars Tracy Letts as Christine’s father, Larry.

-MonsterZero NJ

three and one half stars rating

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BARE BONES: WELCOME TO ME

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WELCOME TO ME (2014)

Comedy/drama finds emotionally and mentally troubled Alice Klieg off her meds and obsessed with TV, namely Oprah. When she wins $86 Million in the lottery, she pays a down on his luck producer (James Marsden) to let her have her own TV talk show…one that stars Alice, is about Alice and the only guest being Alice.

Kristen Wiig is a brilliant actress and comedian and the only reason this flick is as watchable as it is, is because of her performance. The concept from Eliot Laurence’s script, as directed by Shira Piven, is interesting but the film never really takes full advantage of it’s premise. We follow Alice as she reflects back on incidents in her life, such as having make-up stolen out of her bag as a teen and cooking her own concoctions such as meatloaf cake with sweet potato icing…all in front of a live audience. Predictably, she becomes a cult hit until the whole thing starts to backfire as all those she blames for her problems in life take issue with her finger pointing. The filmmakers roll out these mundane and ludicrous set pieces, as Alice goes from one tangent to another, but miss the opportunity to really provide some satire and commentary on today’s society and it’s obsession with the lives of others. It also only weakly touches on the current trend of seeing ourselves as some kind of celebrities with our posts on social media, as if everyone cares what we’re thinking, watching or eating (says the guy with the movie blog. LOL!). It really misses a golden opportunity to skewer the notion that through reality TV and social media, we all have become celebrities in our own minds and can’t wait to share our most droll thoughts with millions of others. Instead we just get yet another indie flick about yet another self absorbed person learning some life lessons about being less selfish and thinking a little more about those around them. It’s a shame, Wiig is up to the task but not given material worthy of her talents or the story’s premise. Also stars Wes Bentley, Linda Cardellini, Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Joan Cusack.

-MonsterZero NJ

2 and 1-2 star rating

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