Friday, December 9, 2016

Movie Review: London Road

London Road
Directed by: Rufus Norris.   
Written by: Alecky Blythe.   
Starring: Olivia Colman (Julie), Clare Burt (Sue), Rosalie Craig (Kelly McCormack), Anita Dobson (June), James Doherty (Seb), Kate Fleetwood (Vicky), Hal Fowler (David Crabtree), Linzi Hateley (Helen), Paul Hilton (Tim), Nick Holder (Ron), Claire Moore (Counciller Carole), Michael Shaeffer (Simon Newton), Nicola Sloane (Rosemary), Paul Thornley (Dodge), Howard Ward (Terry), Duncan Wisbey (Gordon), Tom Hardy (Mark), Rosie Hilal (Hayley), Amy Griffiths (Sarah), Gillian Bevan (Colette McBeth), Anna Hale (Jessica).
 
You have to give the new musical London Road credit for trying to do something completely different – and if it doesn’t quite pull it off, well, they tried. The film is an adaptation of the stage musical in which the writer – Alecky Blythe – tells the story the Ipswich Ripper – a man who murdered five prostitute in the working class London Road area of Suffolk in 2006 – and was convicted two years later. Yet, this isn’t really a story about the Ipswich Ripper at all – he isn’t a character in the play (I believe his first name is mentioned in the movie, but I don’t remember hearing his last name) – but rather of the area that it took place. Blythe interviewed the people in the area over the span of a few years, from before the killer was found, until after he was convicted. She then took their actual words – awkward phrasing, ums and ahs in all – and made it into a musical. There are a few numbers which are actually quite brilliant – and they happen often enough that the movie strings you along, as you continue to hope it’s all going to come together in some sort of interesting way. That never really happens – there are too many characters, and the film kind of peters out as it goes along, and I don’t think it ever really provides any real insight into the crimes – or the areas they took place in. I cannot even tell if the film is sympathetic to the area – or criticizing the residents for their rather cold attitude towards the prostitutes, who made up the victim pool. The film is an interesting experiment, but little more.
 
The film tries to weave together the multiple stories of everyone who lives near London Road – which the residents say was always a nice place to live. Then a few years before, prostitutes moved into the area, which had a negative impact on the area – which the residents tell you about. Then bodies of all those prostitutes start showing up all around the area – which horrifies the residents, who do not know what to do.
 
At its best, the film taps into the fear. The best single song is It Could Be Him – sung by a duo of high school girls, who start out giggling their way the song, until as the song progresses, and their terror eventually comes through. Another highlight is Tom Hardy, mumbling his way through a song as a cabdriver, who is obsessed with serial killers, who wants to make sure you know that doesn’t make him a serial killer.
 
If there is a problem with the film it’s that none of the character ever really come into focus. Many of them (like those two teenage girls), only show up for a few minutes, before they disappear from the rest of the film. The ones who do start standing out are more because you recognize the actor than anything else – like Olivia Colman’s Julie, a local woman who tries to help the neighborhood rebuild after the trauma it has gone through. Some songs work, most are forgettable – and the film rushes through the arrest and trial, and then tries to end thing on an up note that doesn’t really make sense.
 
I don’t think London Road really works – but I’m wondering if there is a way for a film like this ever to work. The goal of transcribing what people actually said and using that for dialogue would seem to be for realism sake – but then setting it to music goes in precisely the opposite direction. It Could Be Him is the rare example where the combination works brilliantly – but mostly the artificiality of the construct shines through more than anything else.
 
Still, I have to say this for London Road – it’s not quite like anything I’ve ever seen before. Sometimes there’s a reason for that – and I think London Road definitely does show that reason. It’s still something I’m glad I saw though.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Movie Review: Tower

Tower
Directed by: Keith Maitland.
Starring: Violett Beane (Claire Wilson), Louie Arnette (Ramiro Martinez), Blair Jackson (Houston McCoy), Monty Muir (Neal Spelce), Chris Doubek (Allen Crum), Reece Everett Ryan (Alfred(Alfie) McAlister), Josephine McAdam (Rita Starpattern), Aldo Ordoñez (Aleck Hernandez Jr.), Vicky Illk (Brenda Bell), John Fitch (Billy Speed), Karen Davidson (Margaret C. Berry), Jeremy Brown (Jerry Day), Séamus Bolivar-Ochoa (John Fox), Cole Bresnehen (James Love), Timothy Lucas (Kent Kirkley), Cole Bee Wilson (Tom Eckman), Lee Zamora (Anthony Martinez). 
 
Keith Maitland’s Tower is one of the best documentaries of the year because it does something that is very hard for documentaries to do – make an event from the past feel vital and fresh – as if it’s playing out in real time in front of you. The film is about August 1, 1966 when Charles Whitman climbed the Bell Tower at the University of Texas, and opened fire at those down below – shooting for an hour and a half, hitting nearly 50 people, and killing 18 of them, before he was finally killed himself. Whitman is not a figure in Tower – the only image we see of him is as a kid, where he’s holding a gun in each hand. His name is not mentioned until the final moments in the film – when the film shows Walter Cronkite addressing the crime on TV. The film isn’t interested in Whitman, or why he did what he did – an incident that in many ways has become the prototype for all the angry, young, white men who open fire and kill dozens of people – something that happens with alarming regularity in America. Instead, it concentrates on what it was like to be one of those people on the ground – the victims who laid their bleeding, or watching as others bled. The cops and the bystanders who became heroes that day – and those who didn’t. It is a harrowing and heartbreaking film.
 
The way Maitland makes the film is key to its impact. Much of the film is animated – using the rotoscoping style that Richard Linklater used in films like Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly – where he animates over top of real people and locations. Some of the shots in the movie are entirely rotoscoped – sometimes, just parts of it are, overlaid against the real backdrop of the locations. He uses actors playing the parts of those on the ground – who tell their story, based on real life interviews for the survivors. There is no preamble to the film – it just gets started right away – with the first two people walking through the quad, hearing shots ring out and falling to the ground shot (one survives, one doesn’t). From there, the film tells the story of that victim – a pregnant woman, who is unable to move, as well as many others – people who got involved and helped the injured, and those who did not (as one woman heartbreaking says, it was the day she realized she was a coward – those around her went out to help, and she didn’t).
 
It’s clear from the outset that Maitland and company are not interested in making a gory film – one that exploits the victims, nor makes what Whitman did glamorous – in any way. The film never shows the gunman on that day – not even when the two cops and one bystander eventually get to the top of Bell Tower and kill him. When the bullets hit the various people, the screen turns almost all read – with the people being white silhouettes on that background. Maitland and company do not emphasize the blood at all.
 
The film eventually reveals the real people who survived that day – the people whose words are spoken throughout the film, by the actors playing them. Maitland doesn’t animate those moments – he lets them play out, as we see the pain and trauma these people felt. What happened that day only last 96 minutes – but it haunts everyone involved forever.
 
Tower joins a film like Waltz with Bashir (and Chicago 10 – which I didn’t see), which blends animation and documentary filmmaker to great effect. Often, there is not video footage that can be used in a documentary like this, but a more traditional re-enactment just seems cheesy – or exploitive. Tower does something remarkable with its animation – it makes the day feel more real, more immediate, than other techniques. It’s why it’s one of the best docs – and best animated films - of the year.

Movie Review: Things to Come

Things to Come
Directed by: Mia Hansen-Løve.
Written by: Mia Hansen-Løve.
Starring: Isabelle Huppert (Nathalie Chazeaux), André Marcon (Heinz), Roman Kolinka (Fabien), Édith Scob (Yvette Lavastre), Sarah Le Picard (Chloé), Solal Forte (Johann).
 
The films of Mia Hansen-Løve often feel like they are made up exclusively from those connective tissue sequences that other movies usually cut. Her latest, Things to Come, tells what is in many ways a familiar story – a woman in late middle-age has their life thrown into chaos. She has a sick, dying mother, a husband who is cheating on her – and eventually decides to leave and her career is reaching an end-point, and it’s not really the one she wanted. She is a teacher, and has a friendship with a much younger former student. She has two grown children, who she has a good relationship with, but who don’t need her anymore. Yet, while the story of Things to Come is familiar, it’s almost like Hansen-Løve uses our familiarity with the story as a way of getting out of doing the kind of kind of scenes that can drag a movie like this down. This isn’t about the emotional fireworks of dying parents and ending marriages – but about the quiet, day-to-day things in which the main character does to adjust to her new reality. And because the star of the movie is the incomparable Isabelle Huppert, Hansen-Løve is able to make a quiet, subtle film in which not a lot is said, but a lot if felt. No one does silent, subtle acting like Huppert.

Things to Come works even better when you see it around the same time as Huppert’s other brilliant 2016 performance – in Paul Verhoeven’s Elle. That film does a lot – not all of which anyone can agree with – but one of the things it does is act as almost a parody of French films – indulging in the clichés of French art house cinema, to flip them. In some ways, Things to Come does something similar on a lower key level. This is, after all, about a woman who is a philosophy teacher, married to another philosophy teacher, who drops quotes during a casual dinner, and spends time at an anarchist commune, discussing revolution, authorship and other heady subjects – the type of conversations that only really happen in French movies (do they happen in real life, and I’m just hanging out with the wrong people? Is this why I never understand what the hell Godard is talking about in any of his recent movies).
 
Yet in many ways, that is just the foreground of the film – what happens, not really what it is about. Like she did in a film like Goodbye First Love, which charted the rise and fall of young love, Hansen-Løve uses audience familiarity with the setup and incidents of the movie to concentrate more on quieter scenes – scenes of Huppert walking alone in the wilderness, running to catch a train, quietly rocking her new grandchild, etc. Huppert never truly lets her feelings explode out of her – she doesn’t yell at her husband for leaving her – she clearly isn’t surprised that he’s having an affair, just that he’s actually leaving her for the other woman. When her mother finally dies, she doesn’t cry – she goes for a quiet walk by herself.
 
This is a film that needs an actress like Huppert at its core. Huppert does more with a look – a slight movement of her head, the hint of smile, than most actors do with their whole body. The camera hardly ever leaves Huppert in the course of the movie (I remember just a few moments without her) – and she carries us along through this quiet film.
 
I don’t think Things to Come is quite as good as Hansen-Løve’s last two films – 2015’s Eden was an electronic music version of Inside Llewyn Davis, which continued to grow in mind for months after seeing it, and Goodbye First Love was so sweet, without being mawkish or sentimental. Things to Come does contain a brilliant performance by Huppert though – and a subtle one. For those who think Elle is too much (and there are a lot of you), Things to Come will work as a reminder of just how brilliant Isabelle Huppert is – and that Hansen-Løve continues to be a director to watch.

Movie Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Directed by: David Yates.
Written by: J.K. Rowling based on her book.
Starring: Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Katherine Waterston (Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein), Dan Fogler  (Jacob Kowalski), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Colin Farrell (Percival Graves), Carmen Ejogo (President Seraphina Picquery), Samantha Morton (Mary Lou Barebone), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Ron Perlman (Gnarlack), Jon Voight (Henry Shaw, Sr.), Josh Cowdery (Henry Shaw, Jr.), Ronan Raftery (Langdon Shaw) Faith Wood-Blagrove (Modesty), Jenn Murray (Chastity).
 
The current era of blockbuster filmmaking requires that ever successful franchise has to keep producing sequels, prequels, spin-offs and other stories as part of the “expanded universe” of the original hit series. In that way, it’s actually a little surprising it took them 5 years to come up with something to keep the Harry Potter franchise going following the 8th and final film in that hugely successful franchise. You can be cynical about this new series – which is promised to be five films – all you want, and yet I think that if more of these expanded universe films did what Fantastic Beasts does, perhaps we wouldn’t be so hard on them. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for this fun adventure, set in New York, not England, in 1926 and not really featuring any characters from Harry Potter at all (although there are name drops you’ll recognize). The film is directed by David Yates – who took the Harry Potter series home, directing the last four films and that stylistic continuity is welcome. The film feels familiar, and yet different. It’s certainly not a great film – but it’s a promising first entry in the franchise – and if I would have preferred that they didn’t drop in so many hints of what was to come in future installments, I have to admit that’s pretty much par for the course these days.
 
In the film, Eddie Redmayne plays New Scamander – a former Hogwarts student, who has travelled to New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures, great and small (it’s really a roomy suitcase), for reasons he at first doesn’t want to reveal. What he doesn’t know is that he’s coming to a New York that has the wizarding world in upheaval. America isn’t England it seems, and they have different laws about dealing with Muggles – or No Mags as the unimaginative Americans call them. There is a lot of debate as to whether wizards should continue to hide, or whether they should make themselves known – and if this leads to war with humans, so be it. When a few of Newt’s creatures escape – and a few people die mysterious deaths – Newt is the prime suspect, although he insists his creatures are harmless. We tend to believe him, as we know that Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) – an Auror, is up to no good, and that it somehow involves a family calling for a “Second Salem” - especially the oldest son, Credence (Ezra Miller). Newt has to team up with Tina (Katherine Waterston) – a former Auror, who has recently been demoted, her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), who can read minds, and kindly No Mag baker Jacob (Dan Kowalski), who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time – to try and prove his, and his creatures, innocence.
 
Like the Harry Potter series before it, the film is a lot of fun – full of interesting creatures created with fine special effects. The creatures range from the enormous – like the creature that looks like a cross between a hippo, rhino and elephant, to the tiny, twig like creatures, Newt keeps in his pocket. The special effects are, as we expect, top notch throughout. I also quite like the period details throughout the film – the production design, costume design and in particular, the hair styles, were excellent, and made an interesting mixture between fantasy and the reality of that time period. For the most part, the performances were good as well. I haven’t been a huge fan of Eddie Redmayne so far in his career – but his shy, awkward weirdness works well for Newt – a character more in tune with his creatures than with other humans – who he struggles to make eye contact with. Even better is Katherine Waterston – getting her first chance in a big movie, after doing great work in Inherent Vice and Queen of Earth – and while this is nowhere near those two performances, she is quite good here – tough, yet sympathetic, and not a damsel in distress. The supporting cast is mostly good – Don Fogler and Alison Sudol have surprising chemistry together for example, Colin Farrell is appropriately villain-y and we spend the whole movie knowing that Ezra Miller is holding something back – and boy is he ever. He really is the embodiment of the films themes of repression – and he’s fine, although the film values surprise over character development, so he’s a little thin there. Not as thin as the always great Samantha Morton, who doesn’t get anything to do.
 
My biggest bone to pick with the film is that it spends too much time setting up future installments. There are a few celebrity cameos and name drops that we know will eventually become important to the film, but at this point are just there as filler. I get that they want to setup future installments – and if you’re going to make five of these, it’s nice to know they have a plan – but too often, these moments drag the movie to a halt, and don’t lead anywhere within the movie. And one reveal led to laughter in the audience – not a good sign.
 
But overall the film works – it’s fun and it’s a worthy addition to the Harry Potter film franchise. I hope the series gets better as it moves along – that it’s less interested in setting things up, and just get on with it – but even four more films like this wouldn’t be that bad.

Movie Review: White Girl

White Girl
Directed by: Elizabeth Wood.
Written by: Elizabeth Wood.
Starring: Morgan Saylor (Leah), Brian 'Sene' Marc (Blue), Justin Bartha (Kelly), Chris Noth (George Fratelli), Adrian Martinez (Lloyd), India Menuez (Katie), Annabelle Dexter-Jones (Alexa), Ralph Rodriguez (Nene), Anthony Ramos (Kilo).
 
There is nothing subtle about White Girl – Elizabeth Wood’s debut feature, least of all its title. You could rename the film White Privilege or White Guilt, and it would be just as accurate, but White Girl tells you pretty much the movie you are going to be seeing. Wood is out to shock her audience with her frank depictions of sex, rape, drug abuse, violence – and how the lead character, a pretty, young blonde woman gets to skate away from it all, while others do not have the same option. It is a film that is unflinching, harrowing, depressing and un-compromising – you will grow to hate the main character and not in an enjoyable way. It’s also, it must be said, more than a little obvious and repetitive – so that even at only 88 minutes, the film drags a little. It is made worthwhile by some very good performances – and a killer final shot.
 
The movie centers on Leah (Morgan Saylor) – who moves to a poor area of Brooklyn in the summer between University years. She is an unpaid intern at a magazine – and not a glamorous magazine that anyone would have heard of, but one of those sleazy magazines that hipsters think are great, and no one else has ever heard of. Her boss there, Kelly (Justin Bartha) is sleazy – all but forcing himself on Leah, although that doesn’t stop her from coming around whenever she wants money or drugs from him. On the street outside her new apartment, she meets a gang of low level drug dealers – including Blue (Brian “Sene” Marc), a good looking Puerto Rican guy she is immediately attracted. They hang out once – and when he makes move, she says “What kind of girl do you think I am” – and then the film smash cuts to the pair fucking against the wall of an alley, letting you know precisely the answer to that question.
 
You cannot really call what follows as a descent in sex and drug use for Leah – she’s done that long before the movie ever began, although it clearly gets a lot worse in the film. It seems like it’s all going to be one big party until Blue is arrested – and is looking at his third strike if he gets convicted. Leah happens to have the 10 oz of coke Blue just bought on credit – and decides to sell it all to get Blue a good lawyer – George Fratelli (Chris Noth). But she keeps partying, keeping doing drugs, keeps fucking – and even when she gets some money, she loses it. All the guys in the movie – Blue aside – are basically the same as they use Leah for what they want, and discard her. Yet it’s hard to see her as too much of a victim (except for one scene that is undeniably rape). She makes mistake after mistake, and basically brings everything down on herself.
 
Blue is painted in a more sympathetic light than Leah is – and I have mixed feelings on that. He is a drug dealer after all – and the film never really gives us his backstory as to how he ended up where he does when we meet him. The film does make clear that Leah has, at the very least, a supportive family – and a future ahead of her, if she sticks with college – options that Blue doesn’t have.
 
The film wants to be a new version of Kids (1995) – although one more concentrated on one character, and more conscience of race (Kids doesn’t really address that, despite have a diverse cast). The problem is that the film plots repeats itself far too often. The film is essentially one party scene after another – with Leah getting drunk, getting stoned, getting naked and then stumbling around in a stupor the next day. The consequences get more severe as the film progresses, and perhaps the goal is to make a film where everything blurs together. The film does make up for some of this with a killer final image though – after a violent climax that is both inevitable and unexpected, the camera gives us just one image to sit with us, and it will. The meaning of the movie is encapsulated in that one image – and it’s a killer.

Movie Review: Our Little Sister

Our Little Sister
Directed by: Hirokazu Koreeda.
Screenplay by: Hirokazu Koreeda based on the book by Akimi Yoshida.
Starring: Haruka Ayase (Sachi Kōda), Masami Nagasawa (Yoshino Kōda), Kaho (Chika Kōda), Suzu Hirose (Suzu Asano), Ryo Kase (Sakashita), Kirin Kiki (Fumiyo Kikuchi), Lily Franky (Sen-ichi Fukuda), Jun Fubuki (Sachiko Ninomiya), Shinichi Tsutsumi (Kazuya Shiina), Shinobu Otake (Miyako Sasaki).
 
Hirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister is such a gentle film that it seems at risk of simply blowing away. The film runs more than two hours, and yet has almost no plot, almost no conflict between its characters, despite them dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. It’s a quiet film, a hopeful film and a melancholy film. As a consequence for some of this, the film can feel fairly lightweight – Koreeda has certainly tackled some heavy moral dramas in the past – like the switched at birth drama Like Father, Like Son or the child abandonment drama Nobody Knows, which even then he did without false dramatics and with subtly. Here, he’s abandoned even those weighty moral choices – and instead decided to concentrate on a period of time in the lives of four sisters. It’s a film where nothing much is solved or resolved. It is the type of film that almost feels inconsequential when you are watching it, but sticks in your mind afterwards.
 
The film centers on three sisters, all of whom are in their mid-to-late 20s. 15 years ago, their father left their mother, and they’ve haven’t really had much to do with him since. A few years after that, their mother left them as well – to be raised by their grandmother and Auntie. Now, in the aftermath of their grandmother’s death (which happens before the movie opens), their father has died as well. He leaves behind another daughter – this one only 13 – who now has no one. Her mother has already died, and her stepmother (yes, the father remarried again, and has an infant son) couldn’t care less about her. Now, even though they’ve never met her before, the older sisters invite their half-sister to live with them in the large house their grandmother left them.
 
If you were to make a list of the things you thought you’d see happen in the film, you’d pretty much be wrong on each one. The youngest sister is quiet and respectful – she excels at soccer, makes a few new friends, and develops an awkward teenage romance – it’s hardly the problem child scenario you’d expect. The three older sisters all have love live of their own – the youngest actually has a steady boyfriend, who seems nice, even if he looks silly with his fro – while the oldest is stuck in something with a married man (whose wife has been institutionalized), and the middle daughter has been dumped again – which always throws her life into chaos. Eventually, their mother will arrive, and the conversation there will be awkward and stilted, until she leaves them on their own again.
 
It’s tough to know what to say about a film like Our Little Sister. It so slight and subtle, contains so little of what you would normally consider to be drama, that any accurate description will make it sound boring. While I will admit that the film could have been a little bit shorter – it is far from boring. For one, this is a stunningly beautiful film – tranquil and serene. It’s a subtle film, about life little joys and sorrows, even more than about the large ones. It has a rhythm of its own. It’s certainly not one of the year’s best films – nor even one of Koreeda’s best films. But is a beautiful, subtle, melancholy film that was quietly moving – and sticks with you. On that level, it does everything you could want it to.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Movie Review: Man Down

Man Down
Directed by: Dito Montiel.
Written by: Adam Simon.
Starring: Shia LaBeouf (Gabriel Drummer), Kate Mara (Natalie Drummer), Jai Courtney (Devin Roberts), Gary Oldman (Captain Peyton), Clifton Collins Jr. (Charles).
 
Man Down is a film that never settles down long enough for what could conceivably have been a powerful story to truly have an effect on the audience. It jumps back and forth in time, seemingly for no rhyme or reason at times, other than conceal information that most in the audience already would have guessed anyway, so it can try to pull the rug out from under you in the final act. This is so clumsily handled however, that it never really works. It doesn’t help that other than a very committed Shia LeBeouf (who may not be good in the movie, but he’s certainly something), everyone else in the film appears as bored as the audience is. The result is a messy, clumsy, cheap looking film that feels far longer than its 90 minute runtime.
 
The movie centers on Gabriel (Shia LaBeouf), a US Marine who we see at various times in his life over what is probably only a couple year period. There are scenes of him before he joins the Marines, with his wife Natalie (Kate Mara) and their young son, there are scenes of him at basic training, alongside his childhood best friend Devin (Jai Courtney), scenes of the pair of them fighting in Afghanistan together, scenes of Gabriel talking to an army shrink (Gary Oldman), about some sort of “incident” we are sure will explain everything when the film finally decides to let us in on the secret (and we’re right!), and there’s scenes back home in America, after something has wiped out most of the people, and Gabriel and Devin are searching for his wife and child. There doesn’t appear to be much rhyme or reason to how the scenes are edited together – just as long as they provide as little information about anything that has actually happened to audience to keep them on their edge of their seat as possible for as long as possible.
 
Through it all, Shia LaBeouf’s unhinged performance is at the center of nearly every single shot of the film – and you have to admit, LaBeouf is really giving it his all in this performance. Unfortunately, LaBeouf lets the audience see all of that effort going into the performance – it’s the kind of twitchy, manic performance that gives method acting of this sort a bad name. Like the movie itself, LeBeouf never settles down long enough to create a complete character – it’s all just nervous energy and ticks. To be fair, that is preferable to what everyone else in the movie appears to be doing. Gary Oldman has made other paycheque movies – but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him more disinterested in a performance before. He spends his entire performance seated, and looking at LaBeouf with feigned concern, that I believe in the context of the movie is supposed to be genuine, but comes across as fake. Kate Mara is saddled with the role of one dimensional wife/mother and there is little she can do with it – especially a late movie twist that appears to come out of nowhere for her character. And once again Jai Courtney proves why I keep referring to him as the poor man’s Sam Worthington – I don’t think I need to say much else about that.
 
The film was directed by Dito Montiel, who has been a strangely prolific director in the past decade for someone who hasn’t really had a big critical or commercial hit. On one level, I have to admire Montiel – much like his star, he’s giving it his all behind the camera, trying to tell what he clearly thinks is an important story – especially considering how heavy handed he gets in the last act, which literally calls says at one point “America, We Have a Problem”. On another though, the result is so shoddy, so haphazard and cheap that it angered me. I don’t mind twist ending – if they’re handled well. I do mind when films seem to arbitrarily be holding back informantion for no other reason than to shock me in the end. That really all Man Down has going for it. And it’s why it’s one of the year’s worst films.