FILM REVIEW: Green Room

Antagonising a room full of white extremist skinheads with a cover version of The Dead Kennedys’ “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” is ill advised at the best of times, but that’s the least of this particular low-profile gigging punk band’s problems having shortly afterwards stumbled upon a brutal murder scene, backstage.

It’s fair to say that they were always going to end up really wishing they hadn’t…

Whilst there’s an apparently defining line in the sand of good against bad in writer and director Jeremy Saulnier’s rather grisly tale, the truth is in fact that neither ‘side’ here is particularly likeable at all, and it’s only ultimately by adopting the default status of outnumbered underdogs – odds stacked heavily against them – that it’s really possible to root for any of the rather brusque band members or sympathise with the increasingly fraught situation in which they find themselves.

And everything would have been so avoidable too if on witnessing the dead body in the ‘Green Room’ band member, Pat, (Anton Yelchin), had not panicked and reported the stabbing in a frantic impulse call to the police; a call witnessed unfortunately by the venue’s bouncers.

As a consequence, the band barricade themselves in a room and a tense stand-off ensues.

It’s down to venue owner, Darcy, (Patrick Stewart) – the mature voice of reason? – to attempt to convince the clearly rattled band members that they can trust him. But can they? And can he trust them not to speak of what they’ve witnessed there in The Green Room?

As mentioned to me by a friend, it takes a lot these days for a film to justify the full 18 rating certificate. Green Room does, and then some.

Be it knives, guns, home made weapons, flesh-slashing, amputations or the actions of crazed fighting dogs, this is not a film for the faint of heart.

And yet, much like its director’s previous outing, Blue Ruin, the whole thing is darkly comic making a point of placing tongue firmly in cheek – though it should be said, through the unsettling haze of incessant blood spill and grizzle, that particular feature can be rather too easily forgotten!

A refreshingly and unashamedly visceral and brutal piece.

 

 

 

 

 

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FILM REVIEW: Demolition

Davis Mitchell was sleep walking through his marriage. His young, beautiful wife, Julia (Heather Lind), had told him that he didn’t listen, and then one day she was gone; taken from him in a car accident.
I can relate with that. Not in its literal entirety, but the premise and the overall emotional upheaval that it would bring about rings very true to me, as I’m sure it will for many.
There then follows the curious scenario of a man standing at the epicentre of a collective outpouring of familial grief and emotion, yet feeling just a kind of numbness to it all and an overwhelming urge to distance himself from the entire charade.
Davis Mitchell, (the very excellent Jake Gyllenhaal), it would appear has spent the last twelve years of his life on auto pilot; one half of a convenient marriage; almost certainly the less committed half.
A faulty vending machine in the A&E department of the hospital in which his wife has just died prompts Davis to write the first of what becomes an obsessive sequence of letters to the vending firm’s customer care representative, Karen Moreno (Naomi Watts) who, in time he befriends along with her troubled son, Chris (Judah Lewis), and through whom he gradually begins to rediscover himself.
In the aftermath of his wife’s passing, he slips into a somewhat detached and surreal place in his head; the sort of place that one finds oneself in, in times of upheaval, and much as his wife used to implore him to do when she was physically there, he suddenly starts noticing things again, right down to the tiniest of details.
This sudden, new-found observance, together with an obsessive compulsion to rip apart – more often than not, literally – the very fabric and structure of his marriage and everything that has come to represent it, is all well and good in attempting to aid the healing process, but Davis is still employed by Julia’s father, a man who expects Davis to remain true to his daughter’s memory and true to the man that he was before her untimely death.
This thoughtful piece from director Jean-Marc Vallée‘s is simultaneously emotionally involving and entertaining. Predictably Jake Gyllenhaal excels as the emotionally confused widower experiencing the kind of new lease on life that can maybe only be found through the total abandonment of all that has preceded and supposedly defined you to date.
It’s not a film that panders to emotional cliches or resorts in any way to unnecessary schmaltz – when the opportunities are certainly there to do so – and as bizarre as Davis’ new found reality can be at times, crucially it’s a film that remains credible and believable throughout.
Vallée has successfully captured a very different take on the concept of going through the rigours of the grieving process, and how it’s sometimes only ever possible to truly appreciate someone and what they truly meant to you once they’re gone.
A subtle, understated piece that deserves far better critical recognition than sadly it appears to have had thus far.
Very much recommended.