Day 320 & Day 321 – Hearts Beat Loud & Mandy

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Movie Title: Hearts Beat Loud

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 1 hr. 37 min.

Rated: PG-13

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Hearts Beat Loud puts forward an easily lovable cast that captures the imagination while forming a family drama for the modern age. Frank Fisher (Nick Offerman) is a single father that runs a record store in Red Hook, New Jersey. On a side note, this movie gives it a very different feel than The Strain which is an awful show also set in Red Hook. Frank’s wife is dead and he has had to raise his daughter alone for a long time. Sam Fisher (Kiersey Clemons) is off to UCLA when the next semester starts to begin her medical career. Both of these characters feel like they are going to be losing a lot. Frank wants to support Sam, but he has many sacrifices to make for her dreams to work out. Sam doesn’t want to leave behind the people she loves and harm them in the process.

All of the characters are intertwined into what feels like an authentic web. Frank needs to take care of his aging mother who will be taking Sam’s room when she moves out. Mom just can’t stop shoplifting and has early signs of dementia. Frank had a music career that ultimately failed, but he is trying to rekindle a musical project with his daughter. This collaboration produces some great songs that make up the heart of the movie. Frank doesn’t want Sam to leave, but refuses to put too much pressure on her. Frank is also pursuing a relationship with his landlord (Toni Collette) and shuttering his failing record store to work at a charcuterie. He needs to pay the bills for Sam to go to college after all. He works a lot of this out with his bartender friend played by Ted Danson. It feels like a real life.

At the same time, Same feels like she is hurting others by pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor. She recognizes that she has musical talent, but is concerned about pursuing it. She has a girlfriend that she truly loves and doesn’t want to leave behind. She also really misses her mother and wants to get away to see if she can make it on her own. It is not clear until the end what path she will take.

The acting is great. Nick Offerman shows off his acting chops in a fairly serious role. Kiersey Clemons is a phenomenal talent that should take off in the near future. There are nice performances in small roles by Toni Collette and Ted Danson. Jeff Tweedy from Wilco makes a nice cameo appearance. It is a great cast of characters.

Verdict:

It is a great drama with beautiful music a la The Postal Service. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Mandy (2018)

 

Movie Title: Mandy

First Watch / Repeat Viewing

Running Time: 2 hr. 1 min.

Rated: Not Rated

Who did I watch with?: Flying Solo

Where did I watch it?: Home

Review:

Mandy is a surrealist trip about a couple trying to survive a cult leaders devious machinations. Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) live in a cabin in the woods in a secluded forest. Everything is nice and peaceful until an insane cult obsessed with drugs, sex, and worshiping evil forces beyond human understanding. The cult’s leader clearly seems to modeled after the recently deceased Charles Manson. The role itself seems like it would have been perfect for the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The movie is broken down into vignettes each of which have their own bizarre elements. Initially it seems like there might not be any other people int he world aside from Red and Mandy. Their home has all the feel of a closed environment. This environment is interrupted in the second act when the lunatics arrive. The cult is not only extremely high, but also has access to evil materials. These artifacts are literally used to summon demon bikers from hell.

I was initially disappointed because I thought that the movie itself would be campier, but after I got over my disappointment the movie is truly the pinnacle of grindhouse movie making. It blends movie making styles, has a crawling pace with sparse dialogue, and great character performances. Nicolas Cage is fantastic once he takes over the screen. Character actor Bill Duke also makes a nice appearance. At the end it becomes a surrealist revenge flick and it is great at that too.

Verdict:

It is a great movie if you go into it expecting a slow burn. See it.

Tomorrow’s Movie: Intolerance: Love’s Struggle Throughout the Ages (1916)

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