Tag Archives: Bryan Cox

I Believe I Can Fly

Mending the Line

by George Wolf

Mending the Line certainly has its heart in the right place. It gives us wounded warriors and grieving souls, all finding some peace for battered psyches through the Zen of fly fishing.

There are some beautiful and serene Montana landscapes, and a message of caring respect that’s easy to get behind.

It’s also smart to get behind it, because anything in front of that message is in the path of some dramatic box-checking with little thought of subtlety.

Marine Sgt. John Colter (Sinqua Walls from the recent White Men Can’t Jump remake and next week’s The Blackening) is making good progress on recovering physically from a deadly firefight in Afghanistan. “Colt”‘s mental state is more fragile, as he’s plagued by memories of losing good men on their final tour before coming home.

Their final tour. And Colt’s best friend in the Corps was about to be married. And Colt was to be the Best Man.

Colt wants to get back to the front lines asap, but his V.A. Dr. (Patricia Heaton) isn’t sure his head is right, so she sends him to see old Ike Fletcher for fly fishing lessons.

Ike (Bryan Cox) is a battle-scarred Vet himself, and begrudgingly puts Colt through some Mr. Miyagi-approved training while Colt gets to know the locals. There’s Lucy (Perry Mattfeld), who’ still mourning the loss of her fiancé, while Harrison (Wes Studi) is the requisite best friend who needles Ike about what an old coot he is before imparting a nugget of wisdom and walking off.

The cast is fine, and director Joshua Caldwell follows up the in-your-face cliche fest of his Infamous with a appropriately gentler hand, but Stephen Camelio’s debut screenplay offers more good intention than authentic emotion.

Pivotal changes of heart land suddenly without being earned, while the heavy-handed plot turns walk hand in hand with Bill Brown’s paint-by-melodramatic-numbers score.

Veterans care, survivor’s guilt and life after trauma are worthy issues, and Mending the Line wants badly to respect those involved and provide enlightenment for the conversation.

The respect is never in doubt, but the conversation ends up treading water.

My Back Pages

The Bay of Silence

by George Wolf

You know those films that make you think, “Man, I bet this was a great book”?

The Bay of Silence is one of those. It has the intrigue, the mystery and the performances to hold your attention, but it feels as if something’s missing. Something like several pages, or even a chapter or two from Lisa St. Aubin de Terán’s 1986 novel.

Design firm exec Will (Claes Bang) and photographer Rosalind (Olga Kurylenko) are enjoying an idyllic getaway in Italy, where Will pops the question with a pull tab (don’t worry, he’s good for a real ring). An opening prologue gives us a glimpse of some trauma in Rosalind’s youth, but it seems like Will, Rosalind and her 8 year-old twin daughters can look forward to happiness as a blended family.

Months later, a very pregnant Rosalind falls from a balcony. Though baby Amedeo is delivered healthy, Rosalind has changed. She’s convinced that she actually delivered another set of twins, and that everyone involved (including Will) is in on the deception.

Ros returns to her photography and her erratic behavior continues, until Will returns home to find his wife, the children, and their nanny (Shalisha James-Davis) all gone.

Will turns to Rosalind’s mother (Alice Krige) and manager/former stepfather Milton (Bryan Cox) for answers, but the mystery of Rosalind’s past, present and future only deepens.

Are we dialing M for madness of murderousness? Director Paula van Der Oest (Oscar nominee for 2001’s Zus & Zo) nails a Hitchcock vibe in spots, but the adapted screenplay from Caroline Goodall – or an editing hachet job order from the studio – leaves too many dangling threads for a completely satisfying payoff.

Rosalind’s fascination with twins is just one of the questions nurtured and then forgotten, apparently in service of a quicker trip to the resolution which is telegraphed pretty early on.

The cast is uniformly splendid (especially Cox, natch) and the locales ooze sophistication. But while The Bay of Silence qualifies as perfectly acceptable adult fare, you can’t help wishing it would have said a little more.

Come to the Lab, See What’s On the Slab

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

by George Wolf

An unidentified body is found buried in the dirt at an unusual crime scene. The county coroner and his assistant/son begin an autopsy, immediately discovering unsettling things. As they dig for more answers, unsettling gradually turns to terrifying.

In 2010, director Andre Ovredal made Trollhunter a fresh blast of B-movie fun. He brings a similar vibe to The Autopsy of Jane Doe, a film with enough wry smarts and acting chops to deliver more satisfying scares than you might expect.

Ovredal, along with screenwriters Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing, knows the payoff is weaker than the premise, so he makes sure you’re plenty invested early on, earning some capital that will be spent when things get a bit silly. Talented leads don’t hurt, either.

As Coroner Tom Tilden and his son Austin, Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch display an easy chemistry and deliver a solid anchor of believability to build upon. We trust these guys, and we don’t doubt they truly want to do right by the young victim through science, and learn the source of her painful death.

That there is plenty of gruesome body horror should be no surprise, but the under-reliance on a bevy of special effects is a nice one. Even better is Ovredal’s treatment of his lead actress (Olwen Kelly). Yes, the female body on the slab is young, attractive (at least to start) and constantly nude, but the director seems careful not to further exploit that fact with a leering camera, focusing instead on making it increasingly difficult to look her way.

Once the Tildens realize they’re in a literally bloody mess, Jane Doe becomes an adult version of Lights Out, delivering jump scares and red herrings with a knowing, playful touch that says “Why so serious? Let’s have some fun!”

You will, right down to the final shot.