Tag Archives: Wes Bentley

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

We Are Your Friends

by George Wolf
Restless young men try to make their way in the city. They party, chase girls, work boring jobs and start to wonder about the bigger picture. Hopes seem dim, but one of the guys has an extra spark. Maybe it’s disco dancing, bartending, or more recently, stripping, but the point is this guy’s gonna learn some life lessons and make his mark!

This time, that mark starts with “just one track.”

We Are Your Friends gives us Cole Carter (Zac Efron), who pours over his music editing software, mixing beats that he hopes will lead him to the top of the club DJ scene in Los Angeles. James Green (Wes Bentley, nice to see you) is already there, so what luck that he takes Cole under his wing for no reason whatsoever, showing him the ropes as well as his very tempting girlfriend/assistant Sophia (Emily Ratajkowski).

This is the feature debut for director/co-writer Max Joseph, and there are certainly familiar trappings, requisite cliches and even a couple cringeworthy moments (Cole defending Sophia’s honor to some loudmouth assholes – ugh). But other times, there’s some real skill here looking for a good home.

Joseph utilizes slow motion, text graphics, animation and even flirts with the fourth wall, essentially providing an entertaining EDM for Dummies class for those of you (ahem, those of us) who are a bit late to the party. Breaking out such a bag of tricks is often just for show, but Joseph seems to have good instincts for storytelling with style. Once he can eliminate the sudden lapses where those instincts vanish, he’ll be fine.

Efron doesn’t show a ton of range, but honestly, he’s not asked to. He still displays the charisma of a budding star and Ratajkowski (SI swimsuit issue, Gone Girl) shows promise for a successful transition from modeling to legit acting career. Bentley, despite a Kenny-Loggins-in-the-Danger-Zone look, is the real treat. After numerous smaller supporting roles, he gets a more vital one here, and manages to give James some unexpected depth.

Like many of the films with this formula, the problem is what to say, not how to say it. We Are Your Friends doesn’t tap into a cultural zeitgeist as successfully as, say, Saturday Night Fever, but if you’re ready for a modern-day Cocktail with some thumping beats, serve it up.




Dangerous Waters


by Hope Madden

Pioneer braids claustrophobia, conspiracy and political intrigue to create a compelling, often uncomfortable thriller. Set in 1980 Norway, the film follows a Norwegian/American collaboration to create an oil pipeline at then-unattempted depths.

Norway is eager to own the project and, by extension, the oil itself, but they need American “know how” to train divers to work at depths of up to 500 meters. Tragedy strikes, and one diver puzzles through layers of deception, cover up, greed and corporate shenanigans to uncover its cause.

Director Erik Skjoldbjaerg crafts a tight but rich thriller, thanks in part to the savvy work of cinematographer Jallo Faber. His camera heightens every sensation: the paranoia of being followed, the thrill of the chase, the lead character’s panic. More effective than anything is the way Skjoldbjaerg and Faber develop tension by exploiting the sinking, oppressive claustrophobic nightmare of the depths.

The look of the film is also spot-on for its time period, but without a compelling story, all the set decoration and camera tricks in the world couldn’t keep you interested. Co-scriptor Skjoldbjaerg – working with a team of writers – keeps you in the head of diver Petter (a wonderful Aksel Hennie). You feel his confusion, empathize with his desperation, and work out the details as he does.

It’s a cagey approach, one that works as well as it does because of Hennie’s keen performance. The solution to the mystery is always just out of reach, which can’t help but compel attention.

The supporting cast is very large, though it boasts a few standout performances. Wes Bentley is fun in a change of pace role as an American thug diver and Ane Dal Torp’s enigmatic performance is weirdly fascinating.

Ensemble mystery/thrillers can be hard to stay on top of, especially if they’re primarily foreign language efforts. While Pioneer is never impossible to follow, it can get slippery here and there. On the whole, though, it’s a suspenseful surprise.