The Guest (Review)

 

The Guest, on the other hand, is more reigned in, more polished. The conflict is character-based as opposed to situational and the characters themselves are altogether more likeable and real.”

 

 
by C. Rachel Katz

The Guest was programmed as the final movie at this year’s TIFF Midnight Madness and for the longest time my friends and I couldn’t figure out why; the trailer makes it look like a tense drama. But we were assured The Guest is a Midnight Madness film through-and-through so it was with slightly higher expectations that we sat down to watch.

We were not disappointed.

Still mourning the loss of their son who died in action, the Peterson family opens their home to David. David served with the Peterson’s son and he’s now visiting the home to pay his respects. It doesn’t take long for David to endear himself to each member of the family but his loyalty comes at a price—death surrounds the family and though no one suspects it, David is the eye of the storm.

The Guest
Directed by
Adam Wingard
Cast
Dan Stevens, Sheila Kelley, Maika Monroe
Release Date
17 September 2014
Rachel’s Grade: A

Director Adam Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are very upfront about the fact that The Guest is a melding of The Terminator and Halloween. David “comes home” to the Petersons and embarks on a mission to “protect” the family which involves a great deal of violence and death. Dan Stevens, who plays David, adopts a strong and calculating manner and his violence is carried out with almost robotic precision.

David’s mission to help the Petersons eventually turns into a mission to protect himself. Suspicious of David, daughter Anna does some digging and uncovers something completely unexpected. This is where the movie takes a sharp turn: David switches from benevolent to completely self-serving and the Petersons become a liability. The film keeps the audience a step ahead of the characters and the dramatic irony is delightfully thick. A few choice lines of dialogue really crank up the tension and the result is a tense third act in which David systematically eliminates all threats to his well-being.


The Guest, tense thriller though it is, is not without humour. In fact, the movie’s pretty funny but the humour never undermines the film’s serious tone. Rather, funny stuff serves to offset David’s menacing presence. Even at the end, in the midst of all the carnage, the script pulls off one more hilarious moment that only intensifies the horror for the characters.

Complimenting the movie’s look and feel is an amazing soundtrack and score. Keeping in line with The Guest‘s Halloween-inspired atmosphere of dread, the score was composed using the same brand and vintage of synthesizer Alan Howarth used back in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s a wonderfully moody sound that underscores the intensity onscreen. Even when David’s just driving around, the synth score creates a wonderful feeling of suspense. Paired with the score is a soundtrack of darkwave, goth, industrial, and alt rock that helps further reinforce The Guest‘s pensive atmosphere.

Personally, I didn’t much care for Wingard and Barrett’s previous outing, You’re Next. Overall I found it to be too contrived for my liking. The characters were too broadly drawn and the situation too outlandish to be taken seriously. The Guest, on the other hand, is more reigned in, more polished. The conflict is character-based as opposed to situational and the characters themselves are altogether more likeable and real. Somewhat amazingly, The Guest is based on a script Barrett started ages ago and scrapped. I think it’s safe to say that I and the rest of the Midnight Madness audience were so pleased to see it resurrected in this state.

Boardwalk Empire: Season 5, Ep 02 (Recap)

The Good Listener (Warning, Spoilers)

Nucky is now on the hunt for the person or person’s that ordered the failed Havana hit. He’s also looking for partners who can buy in with him on the Bacardi Rum deal, however, the former is a lot easier than the latter. We also catch up with the remaining cast members who didn’t make last week’s season premier, and Eli is first up. It looks like the intervening six years haven’t been good to Eli, who wakes up blurry from a drunken sleep, just in time to see the FBI raiding the liquor warehouse he’s supposed to be looking after. Unfortunately, the warehouse belongs to an unsympathetic Al Capone, with Van Alden being Eli’s immediate boss. Capone won’t listen to any excuses and demands Van Alden gets the $20 thousand back that the FBI confiscated.

Van Alden and Eli need to pull a job to make up the money, and in a nice touch of irony, the pair simply rob a speakeasy owned by Capone. We learn it belongs to Capone after the robbery gets a bit messy and Van Alden and Eli shoot and injure two hoods who were uncooperative. “You’re dead you son of a bitch; that’s Al Capone’s money!” one of the wounded men shout, just before Eli turns back and shoots them both in the head. Eli looks rough and even a disgusted Van Alden complains, telling him “you smell of urine.” Was this act of violence Eli ridding himself of pent-up rage? When Van Aldan returns to Capone, who’s busy admiring a huge pile of money in front of him, with the $20 thousand and adds it to the heap, their accomplishment in getting the money barely even gets noticed.

Boardwalk Empire
Directed by
Timothy Van Patten
Cast
Steve Buscemi, Shea Whigham, Michael K. Williams, Stephen Graham, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon
Release Date
14 September 2014
Ed’s Grade: A-

Gillian is no longer in prison, although, when first we see her it looks as if she’s a free woman. She isn’t. Gillian is now in a loony bin, where a severe-looking woman, who turns out to be the warden, wants something from her. Like most other folk (and don’t bother trying to deny it), I expected the warden to be a sex-starved lesbian rapist, but her only interest in Gillian is with Gillian’s expensive dress collection that’s in storage in the “booby hatch” basement. Gillian wanted writing material from the warden but who she plans on writing to is unclear. Tommy? Maybe.

Like last week’s episode, this week returns to Nucky’s childhood and the death of his sick sister, but unlike last week, it felt a lot less like padding. We also catch up with Willie Thomson, as he looks for a job at the DA’s office. During the interview, when it’s noticed he’s from Atlantic City and shares the same surname as Nucky, Willie is asked if he’s related. Unable to lie about it, Willie tells the DA he’s Nucky’s nephew. The DA then dismisses him but Willie gives a rousing speech, that actually gets him the job. Later, when Willie meets with Uncle Nucky and tells him about his new position, Nucky asks Willie if his name came up. “No, of course not” Willie tells Nucky, “I wouldn’t be ashamed if it did.” Liar, liar, pants on fire!


Nucky has a number of meetings, and his first is in New York with the retired Johnny Torrio. Nucky is trying to find out if Maranzano put Lansky up to killing him. Nucky also asks if he thinks it was Capone who moved on Torrio six years previously. It’s clear that Torrio does know and it’s also clear he wants nothing more to do with it. He does however, arrange a sit-down with Maranzano, where he offers to be the go-between. At the meeting Luciano and Maranzano deny any knowledge of the hit, with Maranzano further assuring him “you have nothing to fear from me.” “Who said I was afraid?” replies Nuck. Leaving, Nucky asks Torrio if he should believe Maranzano, with Torrio telling him “believe whatever it is that gets you of this mess.”

Still in New York, Nuck meets with the group of men who make up the Mayflower Grain Corporation. They’re impatiently waiting on Senator Lloyd, but Lloyd ends up a no-show, meaning the meeting shouldn’t take place. Nucky talks the men into listening to his Bacardi Rum importation proposition, but with only one man interested enough to even hear him out, Nucky doesn’t stand a chance. It turns out the lone interested man is none other than Joe Kennedy Snr. It would be interesting if Kennedy played a part in some or all of the six remaining episodes.

While Nucky was at the meeting with Maranzano, he saw a face from the past, Gyp Rosetti’s buddy from season three. Later, Nucky and Tonino meet up at a busy club, and after telling Nuck everything he knows about the hit in Havana and more importantly, what Lansky and Luciano are up to, Tonino hints that he’d like to work for Nucky. Instead, Tonino ends up with one of his ears missing, and a knife sticking out of his back, that’s pinning a “Greetings from Havana” postcard to his corpse. This was an overdue payment for the death of Billie Kent.

By Ed Blackadder

Next Week’s Details

Episode #51: What Jesus Said

Debut: SUNDAY, SEPT. 21 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)

Other HBO playdates: Sept. 21 (11:30 p.m., 1:00 a.m.), 22 (12:15 a.m.), 23 (11:00 p.m.) 24 (8:00 p.m.), 25 (10:00 p.m.) and 27 (1:45 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Sept. 22 (9:00 p.m.), 24 (10:00 p.m.) and 28 (12:15 p.m.)

Chalky heads in a new direction after assessing his latest partnership. In New York, Margaret finds herself in a quandary as a result of her association with Arnold Rothstein. Nucky hosts a prospective “big fish” partner from Boston. Luciano and Siegel meet with Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) in Harlem, promising business as usual, but encounter resistance. In 1884, young Nucky is privy to the passion of a hotel guest, and flirts with a young girl.

Written by Cristine Chambers and Howard Korder; directed by Ed Bianchi.

An Interview with Actress Marion Ross

I recently spoke with actress Marion Ross, who everyone will remember as Happy Days‘ very own Mrs. C, a character she would play in no less than 255 episodes. We discussed her work in the upcoming film A Reason, and her thoughts on the changes she’s seen in acting and directing since her career began in 1954.

A Reason was directed by Dominique Schilling, produced by Caroline Risberg, and made by Risberg Schilling Productions.

When we first began talking, we focused on filming A Reason, her experiences on set, and her recent win at the Hoboken International Film Festival.

Bethany Rose: Can you tell me about your role in the film A Reason?

Marion Ross: I get to play this wealthy old woman, and it’s kind of fun since I’m always so sweet and perfect, really to be kind of the villain of the piece. Except that she feels that she has her reason for being on the outs with her family. But there is a reading of her will and she is putting the children into the will, but she doesn’t think much of them. She is disappointed with everybody. You know what was fun? To see her turn around. She does turn around of course.

We were filming in Brentwood, part of LA here, and in a fine house that was going to be remodeled, so they said we could use it, and do whatever you want. It was the swimming pool, and the house, and so forth, so that was fun. And all these young filmmakers, it’s amazing how many people are making films now, so we just had a good time.

BR: I was going to ask about the house because it really was a stunning set piece and was a major part of the film.

MR: You have to look wealthy. You know. It was a very beautiful estate.

BR: What drew you to the role? Do you think it’s different from some of your other work?

MR: The producer, Caroline Risberg, is from Sweden. The director, Dominique Schilling, is from Switzerland. So you have these European people, the freshness of it. I got to know them all very well, and I just had a good time being that character and working with them.

BR: When you read it, did you think that fans of some of your other work would be surprised with this role?

MR: I’ve done a range of things. I did a series called Brooklyn Bridge where I played a Jewish matriarch. I’ve done several Holocaust movies, even though I’m not Jewish. Mrs. C, of course, my trademark, and of course that’s very much what I’m like. But I love acting, being somebody else.

BR: What were some of your favorite scenes to film in A Reason?

MR: You know what was interesting to me is you have all of these young filmmakers, and they would set up—like at the big dining room table, you have seven or eight people in that scene—they would set up this track that moved around the table. You can get a master shot, two shot, close-up, as they swing down this track.

I love the economy of the new filmmakers. In the old days, you’d stop, reset, set up, all the time. Now, they are fluid. They want to do it fast. It’s intriguing to me to see the technique of filmmaking change. You don’t have to stop and relight all the time. I love the fact that all the sudden, Hollywood filmmaking is wide open.

When I started, I started under contract at Paramount when I was 22 years old. I’d come from San Diego. I’d already been to college, did all the plays. In those days we just had MGM, Paramount, I don’t even know that we had Universal Studios. This was like 1952. Then television came in. And now, everyone and their uncle is making a movie down in their basement. It is wide open. So that is very exciting.

BR: That’s one of the exciting things about Influx Magazine, is that we talk to a lot of the new filmmakers, and it is interesting to hear how they are able to make their films now.

MR: And that’s, when you ask why I took this role, I want to help these young people. Of course I have Ron Howard, and Garry Marshall, and all those people that I work with, but these kids are coming up, and I like it. It’s fun to keep in the game. I feel very fortunate to be healthy, smart, fit, and able, so I can keep doing this.

BR: You clearly are able and capable, and for your work in A Reason, you won a Best Supporting Actress award at the Hoboken International Film Festival.

MR: I did. This is great. There’s so much going on with festivals, film festivals are everywhere. I attended the festival, and that was so much fun. Caroline Risberg and Dominque Schilling asked if I wanted to come and I said absolutely. And I came home with my trophy.

Marion and I then spoke about her children and some of the wonderful work they have done in writing and acting.

MR: My daughter, Ellen, was a writer and producer on Friends, and she has an Emmy for that. My son is a wonderful actor, he’s on the internet and everywhere, Jim. He has a thousand things on Youtube.

BR: I have seen your son in many things. I’m a huge fan of his work. In the area where I’m from, we have the grocery store chain Schnucks, and he did a series of commercials for them that my dad and I loved. So we looked up who he was, and we watched just about anything we could find him in after that.

MR: Have you seen his Shakespeare?

BR: No, but that sounds interesting.

MR: Look it up, because he does a monologue from Richard III imitating 26 different actors. He’s fabulous. You must look it up.

BR: Have you worked with Jim before?

MR: He was on Happy Days once. He was in the episode on the beach when Fonzie jumped the shark!

Then we discussed some more of her work, including some stage work she continues to do.

MR: I always go to Overland Park, Kansas, also, to do theatre. I think the last time I was there was 2012, so I’m due to go again. I talked to them today, and they said they want me to come again. I said, OK, I will. It’s called the New Theatre in Overland Park. Lots of movie stars and television stars go there.

BR: Do you have a favorite between film, television, and theatre, or do you enjoy all of them equally?

MR: I must say film is really tedious unless you use a lot of new techniques. That’s what I liked about A Reason. I love the theatre. I love film in that you mustn’t act. You must do something, but don’t let them catch you acting. The joy of acting is when you forget you’re even acting, you’ve become somebody else. What a nice thing, to quit being you and go be somebody else.

BR: Absolutely! And do you have any upcoming projects?

MR: I think I could use a vacation. At Christmas time, I have three different shows I finished. One is Hallmark, and another one is a Christmas movie I’m sure will be on television. I have worked a lot. But I enjoy it.

I’ve had a wonderful life as an actor. Now there are so many actors. When I started, I was the only one in my college class at San Diego State University that was going to become an actor. Now it’s a full field, but there are more opportunities everywhere. It equals out. Film is our medium, our tool for everything: Education, travel, entertainment, everything. I would never say to somebody, “Don’t go into that.” I would never say that to somebody anyway. You should really have the freedom to follow your dream.

by Bethany Rose

Euripides’ Medea (Theatre)

LONDON‘S ROYAL NATIONAL THEATRE UPDATES EURIPIDES’ MEDEA FOR NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE

Euripides’ Medea, the classic Greek tragedy of a mother who kills her own children, has shocked audiences for over two thousand years. National Theatre Live provides us with a fresh, updated version by playwright Ben Power and director Carrie Cracknell. The result is deliciously evil. The new production is spine-chilling, particularly given the shockingly effective work of Helen McCrory in the title role.

In this spare and clear retelling of the Greek tragedy, a divorce drama comes into clear focus. No wonder the Greeks wrote these plays as cautionary tales for both Greek society in general, and for its leaders in particular. Medea is the tale of oppression and desperation, of what actions people take when pushed to their limits.

The play poses reasons for violence when people are oppressed, or are made to feel oppressed. Medea is clearly a woman with nothing else to lose. She has lost her homeland, her family, her identity, and her very self-worth. And while the play effectively portrays her seesawing debate between filicide or not, it shows us a sane, fully reasoning woman. And ultimately, this is what makes the play so unnerving to a modern audience.

Praises abound for this production. At the very top of my praise heap is Helen McCrory’s performance. Unquestionably, McCrory delivers the performance of a lifetime. She carries the work from start to finish in the most authoritative way. Breathtaking. Also noteworthy is Michaela Coel as the nurse/narrator. Regrettably, Danny Sapani as Jason and Toby Wharton as Jason’s attendant were not of the same caliber. However, the brilliance of McCrory’s performance overshadows these defects.


Kudos too to playwright Ben Power, who delivers an especially clear, cogent, and modern new version of the Euripides text. Designer Tom Scutt’s split-level stage design is compelling too, providing the audience with simultaneous views of both the claustrophobic private space of Medea and her family with the overall nuptials within the city of Corinth, where Jason, Medea’s “ex,” is soon to marry the daughter of the Corinthian king.

A chilling moment comes at the start, delivering the contrast highlighted by this effective stage design. As the play opens, the lights focus our sight on a small boy waking on his sleeping bag. He quickly rises up a flight of stairs to areas which, initially appearing as restricted areas for play given the child’s quick and hesitant steps, soon appear to hold preparations for a wedding party. Clearly, this is an area where children are restricted. And with a touch of naughty insistence, the child fingers the opening chords of the play’s music on an upright piano. This was a completely haunting scene, and serves well to encapsulate the unfolding drama before the audience.

Speaking of music, the soundtrack of this modern Medea is spot-on. With original music written by Will Gregory and Alison Goldfrapp, of the English electronic duo Goldfrapp, the musical score is haunting, jarring, and completely appropriate to drive the narrative forward. In sum, kudos to director Carrie Cracknell who delivers an original, 21th century woman who is head and shoulders above and beyond the traditional Greek society’s definition of femininity. Don’t miss a replay of this tour de force.

Check the website of National Theatre Live for details about US showings and for a cinema broadcast near you. http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

Armin’s Grade:  A

by Armin Callo, Theatre & Arts Critic

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An Interview with Yvonne Strahovski
An Interview with Yvonne Strahovski

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Brian's Brain: Stark v. Kennedy

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Hot on Influx Magazine:
An Interview with Actor William Sadler
An Interview with Actor William Sadler

From established A-listers to up-and-comers, from the names you know, to the names you will know, read INFLUX the latest Influx Interviews.

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Influx Magazine Presents:

Influx Magazine Presents:
King Lear (Theatre)
King Lear (Theatre)

Check out this featured article from Influx Magazine.

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Influx Exclusive Interview:

Influx Exclusive Interview:
An Interview with Actor Crispin Glover
An Interview with Actor Crispin Glover

INFLUX Interviews offer unique insight into the world of actors, directors, producers, musicians and many others in the various worlds of entertainment.

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INFLUX Interviews

Marion Ross
An Interview with Actress Marion Ross

I recently spoke with actress Marion Ross, who everyone will remember as Happy Days' very own Mrs. C, a character she would More→

Kristina Anapau
An Interview with Actress Kristina Anapau

Theatrically trained at London's Royal Academy, no less, model turned actress/writer Kristina Anapau, graciously spoke to More→

MaryB
An Interview with Actress Mary Elizabeth Boylan

Actress and writer Mary Elizabeth Boylan has been building up a steady and enviable list of film credits since 2008, when More→

GeoCast
An Interview with ‘Geographically Desirable’ Writer/Director Mike Kravinsky and Actress Blair Bowers

Interviews with Mike Kravinsky and Blair Bowers I recently spoke to writer/director Mike Kravinsky and actress Blair More→

Eric G
An Interview with Actor Eric Goins (AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire)

  Actor Eric Goins plays Larry in the new popular drama Halt and Catch Fire from AMC. The show features the talents More→

Uwe Boll 02
An Interview with Uwe Boll (II)

  "I think most filmmakers are like actors - basically whores who sit there and wait till they can get paid to just More→

Recent Articles

Medea
Euripides’ Medea (Theatre)

LONDON‘S ROYAL NATIONAL THEATRE UPDATES EURIPIDES’ MEDEA FOR NATIONAL THEATRE LIVE Euripides’ Medea, the classic Greek tragedy of a mother Continue→

Into the Woods
Into The Woods (Theatre)

RAVISHINGLY IMAGINATIVE PRODUCTION OF SONDHEIM’S INTO THE WOODS BEWITCHES AT SAN DIEGO’S OLD GLOBE Storytelling is the heart of theater.  In Continue→

Everybody Loves a List!

Camera
Top 10 Best Films For Cinematography (List)

We are accustomed to seeing a movie because a star, director or we have to see latest sequel, prequel or remake of a sequel More→

Cuckoo
Top 10 Best Picture Winners (List)

  The constant debate over what film won Best Picture, what film did not or which film got snubbed of a nomination More→

10 Supporting actors
10 Movies with Supporting Actor Oscar Nominees (List)

On many lists they concentrate on only the winners. Here, attention is drawn to the performances that helped escalate a More→

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