Film Review: A Ghost Story

David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is a poignant meditation on grief, and indeed life itself. The film covers an expansive subject, but does so with style.

A couple who live together are beset by a tragedy. C returns in spirit form hoping to comfort M, but he struggles to connect with her. His new form takes him on a metaphysical journey…

Written and directed by David Lowery, A Ghost Story is an extensive exploration of themes delivered in a simple cinematic form. This is none more distinct than in the depiction of C as a ghost. The film does not rely on special effects, instead C wears a white sheet to depict his ghost form. At first instance this is humorous, yet the lack of technical effects is disarming. It promotes a lack of distraction from the film’s central themes that perhaps a more sophisticated rendering would not.

Akin to Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, A Ghost Story unfolds at a relaxed pace, allowing for atmosphere to develop. The most striking thing about the film is not the individual characters featured, but how the film speaks about life as a whole. On one level the film is about grief; the loss of a loved one and the effect this has. On a broader level however, this segues into the wider theme of loneliness of existence, and indeed each person’s place in both their time and wider history. The film becomes more compelling as it progresses, thanks to the questions that it asks. There is a section of the film which features a diatribe by a throwaway character. Although this serves to verbalise the film’s key themes, it feels an unnecessary intrusion. A Ghost Story performs best in its subtlety.

Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara both offer good performances in the film. Nevertheless, the highest praise goes to David Lowery for creating such an honest and compelling film.

Film Review: Pete’s Dragon

Pete's Dragon

Pete’s Dragon takes a departure from its live action-animated musical roots in this new version. Director David Lowery offers a well-rounded and pleasing tale.

When young Pete is orphaned in the forest, he finds an unlikely ally in a dragon. Pete and Elliot are enjoying their adventures when Pete stumbles across ranger, Grace. Pete is intrigued by another human, but wants to protect his dragon friend…

Pete’s Dragon is another in a line of Disney remakes. This version of the film, however, is quite different to its predecessor. There are some aspects of the film which indicate alignment with the studio. The manner in which Pete comes to be isolated in the forest, for example, is more of a Disney trope than the earlier version. Nonetheless, other traditional aspects are missing, such as the songs.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints director David Lowery helms the film. Pete’s Dragon seems quite distinct to his previous film, yet both operate on an emotional level. There is a level of sentimentality perceivable from the outset. The theme of family and belonging is played out in a conventional way. Notwithstanding, the film offers shades of grey in its characterisation. The sharp contrasts often found in children’s films are not present here. Instead, the film promotes an antagonist with redemptive qualities.

Pete’s Dragon has a twee quality, one that matches its period setting. Some may find this old fashioned, yet this is a charming aspect of the film. The themes of friendship and belonging, as well as the environmental concerns, are a good combination. There are moments when the film feels a bit too sentimental, but overall Pete’s Dragon does well to add heart to its narrative.

Special effects in the film are excellent. Elliot feels like a real character, and not just a CGI image. Oakes Fegley does well as Pete, whilst Bryce Dallas Howard is believable as Grace. Robert Redford and Karl Urban are well cast in their respective roles.

Pete’s Dragon is a worthy remake, and one that goes beyond its source material. An enjoyable family film.

Previews: Pete’s Dragon Trailer, The Witch and more!

Lots to see in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including the new Pete’s Dragon trailer, a featurette on The Witch, and more…

Pete’s Dragon Trailer

Here is the new Pete’s Dragon trailer. The film is a remake of the 1977 live action-animation adventure. Starring Robert Redford and Bryce Dallas Howard, the film is an interesting next feature from Ain’t Them Bodies Saints helmer David Lowery. Pete’s Dragon hits UK cinemas on 12th August 2016.

The Witch Featurette

The Witch looks like a genuinely unsettling film. In this featurette, writer-director Robert Eggers speaks about creating a New England horror story. Viewers will be familiar with the setting from films such as The Crucible; it will be interesting to see what Eggers does with this. The Witch is released on UK screens on 11th March 2016.

The Hunstman: Winter’s War Poster

The Huntsman Winter's War Poster

It appears that Snow White and the Huntsman prequel The Hunstman: Winter’s War will have the same visual flair. The film sees the return of Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth, who are joined by Emily Blunt and Jessica Chastain. The Huntsman: Winter’s War is out in UK cinemas on 4th April 2016.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer

This is the final trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Zack Snyder’s highly anticipated film sees the return of the Man of Steel cast, plus a host of other DC characters. Ben Affleck is this incarnation’s Batman; it will be interesting to see how he fairs against previous portrayals of the iconic character. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice hits UK screens on 25th March 2016.

Zootropolis Trailer

Well this looks enchanting. Zootropolis is the latest animated feature from Disney. The film is about a police officer bunny who teams up with a scam artist fox to solve a case. If this isn’t enough to convince you (which, frankly, it should be), the film features the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman and Idris Elba. Zootropolis releases in UK cinemas on 25th March 2016.

Film Review: Ain’t Them Bodies Saints

Ain't Them Bodies SaintsWriter and director David Lowery’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is an absorbing drama.

Convicted outlaw Bob Muldoon escapes from prison in order to reunite with his wife, and the daughter that he has never met…

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is character-focused, rather than being a plot-driven film. There is not much too the plot. Instead, Lowery’s film concentrates on its two protagonists. Emotions in the film are conveyed acutely.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is a slow burner. It takes a while for things to get going, and even then proceedings move at a near-glacial pace. As a result, the film is not likely to appeal to or please all viewers.

Those that give Ain’t Them Bodies Saints a go will be rewarded with a film that takes its time to develop characters. It is this evolving of the main characters that leads to an intense conclusion.

There is a melancholy to the film which is palpable. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is successful in generating atmosphere. This is aided by the remote setting. However, it is the style of the film and its themes which create the sense of passion that permeates the film.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints evokes Bonnie and Clyde; there are a number of parallels between the two films. Both romanticise the outlaw as a complex figure. Furthermore, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints places a love story within the confines of violent crime, just like the 1967 film.

The cinematography in Ain’t Them Bodies Saints is fantastic. Bradford Young’s visuals are most attractive. The film’s sound is also highly effective.

Casey Affleck delivers a strong central performance. Affleck is entirely believable as Bob Muldoon. Rooney Mara is also convincing as Ruth Guthrie. Other performances, such as Ben Foster’s Patrick are also decent.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints immerses viewers in its sumptuous but haunting atmosphere. An impressive second feature from David Lowery.