Tag Archives: Owen Teague

What Would Caesar Do?

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

by Hope Madden and George Wolf

Seven years after Matt Reeves wrapped up the solid Planet of the Apes trilogy with a thrilling, full-on war movie, director Wes Ball takes the reins for a new chapter with a relevant conscience.

“You take his name, but twist his words.”

The characters may be talking about Caesar, leader of the ape revolution, but the filmmakers are aiming higher.

After a quick update on the rise of the apes, Ball and screenwriter Josh Friedman settle in “many generations” after Caesar’s death.

Young ape Noa (Owen Teague) is part of a clan that bonds with eagles, cares for the balance of nature, and is careful not to stray to the “valley beyond.” But their peaceful existence is shattered when the masked warriors of Proximus (Kevin Durand) invade, on a violent mission to bring in the human named Mae (Freya Allan).

Proximus has anointed himself the new Caesar, and believes Mae is the key to opening a long dormant vault holding human secrets of higher evolution.

Ball (The Maze Runner trilogy) returns to the adventurous roots of the original Planet of the Apes from ’68, and then ups the ante on action, visual spectacle and moral obligation.

When Mae finds protection and friendship with Noa and the tender, learned Raka (Peter Macon), it sets off a journey that is drawn out but frequently thrilling. Visual effects are again often wonderfully evocative, teaming with Gyula Padros’s layered cinematography and some nifty editing from the Dirk Westervelt/Dan Zimmerman team for effective world building and satisfying set pieces.

This is a story evolution that feels right, even urgent. The series, from its start, exposes the evil and hypocrisy in the lust for power that threatens every civilization. The fight in Kingdom primarily pits the speaking apes against each other, but it feels more realistic than most of what has hit the screen this year.

None of the characters compel the same level of interest as Ceasar, though. Andy Serkis is missed, and with him, Reeves, who elevated the irresistible Ape-Pocalypse of 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes to political theater of near-Shakespearean proportions.

But Kingdom is on the right track and Ball has crafted a next chapter that leaves us wanting to read on.

Truth Hurts

You Hurt My Feelings

by Hope Madden

One of filmmaker Nicole Holofcener’s great talents is to acknowledge within a film that there is no reason to feel for her characters, and then making you feel for the characters. She’s a master of the relatable if tedious angst of the privileged. In her hands, these primarily insignificant tensions are humanized and often hilarious.

Such is the case with her latest, You Hurt My Feelings, a story about a well-off couple, truly compatible and in love, who fall on hard times when one overhears the other’s honest opinion.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who was so magnificently flawed and empathetic in Holofcener’s 2013 film Enough Said, stars as Beth, a novelist. Well, she wants to be a novelist, but her memoir only did OK and now her agent doesn’t seem that thrilled with her first ever novel. Maybe it sucks?

No, supportive-to-a-fault husband and psychologist Don (Tobias Menzies) assures her. But secretly, honestly, maybe that’s not how he feels.

And that’s Holofcener’s next great talent – casting. Louis-Dreyfus is characteristically flawless. Her humanity, comic timing, and self-deprecating yet narcissistic humor make her every character endlessly watchable. Menzies–in many ways the emotional anchor for the film–equals her. Both face the wearying revelation that truth really does hurt, right as their midlife insecurities are at their highest.

Arian Moayed and the always amazing Michaela Watkins play a mirror couple, Beth’s sister – a discontented interior designer for the very wealthy – and her insecure if lovable actor husband. They are both tremendously endearing and funny. Capping the ensemble is Owen Teague (To Leslie), Beth and Don’s 23-year-old only son who’s coming to terms with the fact that he was raised to believe he was more special than he really is. Also, he’s a writer.

Hilarious cameos from Amber Tamblyn and David Cross as an angry couple in therapy help to clarify Holofcener’s themes and push the comedy value higher. But it’s with the core couples that the filmmaker delivers her finest moments, creating a lived-in world, a true microcosm that pokes fun at our insecurities and the little white lies that keep us happy.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Gone in the Night

by Brandon Thomas

Winona Ryder was arguably the queen of the late 80s/early 90s when it came to counter-culture or oddball movies. Beetlejuice, Heathers, Edward Scissorhands, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are all either bonafide classics or have become cult favorites in their own right. While the 2000s weren’t as kind to Ryder, her career came roaring back with the massive success of Stranger Things.

With Gone in the Night, Ryder makes her way back to the big screen in a film that might not make the same lasting impression as her earlier movies.

Kath (Ryder) and her boyfriend, Max (John Gallagher Jr. of 10 Cloverfield Lane and Hush) drive deep into the woods for a relaxing cabin getaway. Upon arrival, the two find that another couple, Greta (Brianne Tiu of Amazon’s I Know What You Did Last Summer) and Al (Owen Teague of It: Chapter One and It: Chapter Two) have already moved in for the weekend.

After some tense back and forth, it’s decided that Kath and Max will stay for the night before heading home. After a night of board games, and light flirting, Kath turns in first. In the morning, Kath finds that both Max and Greta have disappeared. A seemingly distraught Al claims to have caught them hooking up during the night. As Kath tries to figure out why Max abruptly left, flashbacks begin to piece this muddled tale together. 

Director Eli Horowitz weaves a clever mystery that patiently moves through the past and present. The film’s climax isn’t dependent on opening a satisfying mystery box. No, it’s more about how the film tries to subvert expectations along the way – and not always to a rewarding conclusion. 

There’s an attempt to comment on mismatched partners in relationships with Kath and Max. These two couldn’t be further from the same page when it comes to what they want out of a relationship or what they want out of life. Even holding a conversation feels like a chore for them. The link between this theme and where the film eventually ends up is murky and never really comes together succinctly. 

The mix in tone is where Gone in the Night stumbles most explicitly. The film’s original title The Cow, telegraphs a much more subversive film than the neo-noirish thriller the new title hints at. The third act twist would be much more satisfying had the lead-up not been as sardonic. Even the character motivations feel tacked on and convoluted.

The cast handles the material much better than expected – although most of them feel adrift due to the tonal inconsistencies.

Ryder delivers a solid bedrock performance as the in-the-dark (pun fully intended) partner. It’s nice to see her as the lead in features again, and the actor continues to show that she never lost the capability to command the screen.

Gallagher Jr. offers another variation of the “bearded slacker” he’s been doing for the last five years. Despite the repetition, Gallagher is good at what he does. The standout is the always dependable Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend’s Wedding, Copycat). Mulroney brings his on-point, affable charm, but also infuses the performance with a hint of darkness to keep the audience on its toes.

Gone in the Night is a thriller that tries to offer up something new in a tried and true genre. Unfortunately, new doesn’t always mean good.