FlixChatter Review: You Were Never Really Here (2018)

Lynne Ramsay’s movie making career could’ve ended after she abruptly quit Jane’s Got A Gun and sued that movie’s producers. That kind of public dispute between a director and producers probably would’ve ended many filmmakers’ career in Hollywood. But after a seven-year hiatus, Ramsay is back with another dark-themed film that could put her career back on track.

As the film begins, we see Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) finishing up some sort of a task and we later found out he’s rescued a kidnapped child from some very dangerous people. With small clips of flashbacks, we learned that Joe is a disturbed person who has a rough childhood. As a grown-up, his career as a military man also scarred him. He keeps hearing the voices of the dead people he’d witnessed while in the service and constantly contemplates suicide. The only thing that keeps him going now is caring for his elderly mother (Judith Roberts). To earn a living, he uses his special skills to rescue young children from sex traffickers. For his next job, his handler John (John Doman) tells him that a senator’s daughter has been kidnapped and he’s willing to pay big bucks to get her back. Joe took the job and was able to locate the senator’s daughter Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov). But once Joe rescued Nina, things went south quickly, and he realized he’s in over his head and some very powerful people wants him dead.

Based on the short novel of the same name by Jonathan Ames, Ramsay who also wrote the screenplay, kept the story solely on Joe’s point of view and his thoughts. Some scenes played out like a dream and other times, it’s something from Joe’s memory. This is my first time seeing Ramsay’s work and I do like her style. She’s obviously channeling the films of Kubrick, Malick and especially Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. In fact, some might call it a Taxi Driver for the 21st century. While I agree these two films shared similarities, I do think Scorsese’s version is a much better film. I’ve never read the book version, so I don’t know how faithful it is to the source material, but I felt like Ramsay could’ve expanded the story a bit more and give us some details of what’s really going on. I understand this is more of a character study, but I would’ve liked to see more characters’ involvement and thicker plot. I felt like when the plot finally gets going, the film is almost over. Now, maybe I think Ramsay just didn’t want to tell a straight-up revenge action thriller story and went the opposite of what was expecting. I respect her decision, but I still prefer to see story expanded a little bit more.

Performance wise, Phoenix is very good as the silent and violent character. He tends to mumble a bit too much though. It wasn’t an over the top performance and I appreciate that. He’s pretty on the screen 100% of the time and he kept my attention. The supporting characters didn’t have much to do since the story is all about Joe, but I did like Roberts’ and Samsonov’s performances.

I also have to give praises to Jonny Greenwood’s excellent score and Tom Townsend’s great cinematography. I thought the haunting score and beautiful cinematography really helped the film.

I really had high hopes for this film and even though it didn’t meet my expectations, it’s still a solid thriller. I found it to be a frustrating film but admired Ramsay for not going the generic thriller route. Maybe with a better screenplay, it could’ve been something special.

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So have you seen You Were Never Really Here? Well, what did you think?

Guest Post: Gender and Hollywood Scriptwriting – “Houston, we have a problem”

Happy Thursday everyone! Today we’ve got a special guest post from Yorkshire. Izzy is writing about a topic that’s dear to my heart and an important discussion point.

So without further ado, let’s dive into Izzy’s post…

GenderAndHollywoodScriptwriting

How many times in a day do you quote the lines of a TV program or movie? Personally I wouldn’t be able to count the number as my days are littered with “Houston, we have a problem” (Apollo 13, 1995) and “I’ll be back.”  (The Terminator, 1984) sometimes I don’t even realise I’m doing it and I bet you’re the same!

So, when this quiz landed in my inbox:  I thought nothing of it other than ‘I love quotes! I’ll be good at this!’ (As it turns out I didn’t score as well as I’d hoped but that’s irrelevant for now.)

It wasn’t until I was thinking about the quiz a few hours later that I put my literature degree head on (I only recently graduated) and began to analyse the quiz how I had been taught by lecturers, in a way that delves deeper than face-value.

What did I discover?

Well, after some further Googling I compiled this:

MovieMemorableLines

The most obvious revelation is that male characters are written more memorable lines.

My second discovery was that a high proportion (but by no means all) of the famous lines spoken by male characters are fueled with aggression, whereas five out of the seven most memorable female lines are projected through love of either a man or family life. 

The questions is, ‘Why?’

In 2014 only 15% of Hollywood film script writers were female (with numbers fluctuating around that figure, if not lower, for decades). Again in 2014, females made up only ‘12% of protagonists featured in the top 100 grossing films.’ Again, this percentage seems to have always been the norm.

Those stats can help to explain my findings.

• If 80-90% of Hollywood film script writers are male then it is understandable that they will write male-centric stories with male protagonists.

• If 80-90% of protagonists are male then they are likely to have the most lines in a movie, therefore increasing their chances of having a memorable one.

• We can also assume that 80-90% of characters in Hollywood have had their lines written by a man. This may explain why famous female lines are written with the intention of underlining their affectionate personality- because women are stereotypically affectionate and as a male writer it is easier to write stereotypes than it is to dedicate time to researching the female psyche.

My last thought is a little more obscure and far more open to debate.

HeresJohnnyJack Nicholson came up with ‘Here’s Johnny’ (The Shining) on the spot, as did Robert De Niro with his famous line “You talkin’ to me?” (Taxi Driver). This opens the debate of if male actors embody their characters with more vigour and intensity than their female counterparts. Do they ‘feel’ their characters on a more personal level? Do they have a closer relationships with the people they are playing? Or, as only 2 out of the 18 male lines equals to 11% and 11% of the 7 female lines is 0.77, maybe an incredible, unscripted female line is yet to come…..

This article by Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Labrecque [in regards to Maggie Gyllenhaal being deemed too old to play the love-interest of a 55-year-old man – ed] highlights that male ‘tastes,’ i.e. a preference to date significantly younger women, is embodied across the cinematic world in terms of casting. It can then only be assumed that male scriptwriters also write female character’s lines in relation to their ‘taste’, as well as based on assumptions as mentioned earlier.

NannyMcPhee

I have great respect for the likes of Emma Thompson who write screenplays such as Nanny McPhee presumably so that she has the opportunity to play a leading Hollywood role regardless of her age, and most definitely without a male screenwriter’s sexual agenda. I cannot wait to see more of the same and experience Hollywood productions written by women for female actors of ‘a certain age’ or otherwise. Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith, writers of Saving Mr Banks, wrote their P.L. Travers beautifully- highlighting their female characters’ insecurities as well as defiance, likeability as well as unpleasantness. It is safe to say that they wrote a well-rounded and very human character, and the sooner this sort of female characterisation becomes the Hollywood norm the better.

Sources:

 


IzzyS


Izzy S. is a drama graduate with an interest
in literature and screenwriting

Check out Izzy’s blog
Follow her on Twitter


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Musings on Quentin Tarantino’s 12 Favorite Films

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Earlier this month, Sight and Sound magazine asked many of the well-known filmmakers today to list their favorite films, you can see the list here.

QT_cameraFor this article, I would like to just focus on Quentin Tarantino‘s favorite films. If you read most of my articles on this site (i.e. ranking favorite Tarantino’s films) then you know that I’m a big fan of QT. Sure I thought Django Unchained was quite disappointing but it’s still better than most films I saw in 2012. If not for Tarantino, I may not have seen some of the classics from the 60s and 70s. Because of his recommendation, I discovered the films of the great late director Sam Peckinpah and some of the lesser known spaghetti western and action films from said decades.

If I remember correctly, Tarantino tends to put out his best of list yearly but I think this list is his top favorite films of all time. I was surprised to see a couple of films on his favorite list, but before we get on that, here are twelve of his picks:

  1. Apocalypse Now (1976) – Francis Ford Coppola
  2. The Bad News Bears (1976) – Michael Ritchie
  3. Carrie (1976) – Brian De Palma
  4. Dazed and Confused (1993) – Richard Linklater
  5. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966) – Sergio Leone
  6. The Great Escape (1963) – John Sturges
  7. His Girl Friday (1939) – Howard Hawks
  8. Jaws (1975) – Steven Spielberg
  9. Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971) – Roger Vadium
  10. Rolling Thunder (1977) – John Flynn
  11. Sorcerer (1977) – William Friedkin
  12. Taxi Driver (1976) – Martin Scorsese

Out of the 12 films on the list there, the one I’ve never seen or heard of before is His Girl Friday. Otherwise I’ve seen all of them and four are on my all favorite list films: Apocalypse Now, Rolling Thunder, Sorcerer and Taxi Driver.

Ted_QTfourfaves

A couple of films that surprised me to see on his list are The Bad News Bears and Dazed and Confused; for the kind of films that he tends to make, I wouldn’t think he’d include a comedies on his list. Over all it’s a good mix of genre and it’s great seeing what kind of films he truly enjoy.

As mentioned earlier, the four films on his list that are also on my list, two of them are well known and highly regarded as some of greatest films ever made, Apocalypse Now and Taxi Driver. No doubt those two were excellent films and deserves all the praises from critics and fans alike. Now other two films were not as well known, Rolling Thunder and Sorcerer, both also came out in the late 70s but they didn’t garner any critical or box office success. I think these two films deserve to be seen by more people and if you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend you seek them out. Particularly Sorcerer which was a remake of a French film from 1953, Wages of Fear. To be honest with you, I prefer Sorcerer over Wages of Fear. It was well directed by the then hot director William Friedkin, who’d just made two very successful films, The Exorcist and The French Connection. I think the film failed because I believe audiences were expecting to see some sort of supernatural thriller not an action thriller about men versus nature.

Rolling Thunder on the other hand, was a gritty shoot’em up revenge action thriller, a genre that was quite popular at the time. For anyone who’ve never seen either of these films, the good news is that both are coming out on Blu-ray real soon. Friedkin has tweeted that he has raised enough money to do a digital restoration on Sorcerer so it can be release on Bluray.

I can’t wait to see it on HD and in widescreen!
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– Post by Ted S.
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So what’s your opinion on Tarantino’s favorite films? Have you seen some or all of them? If so, share your opinion on the comments section.