Monday, June 12, 2017

Manchester By the Sea

Year 9, Day 163 - 6/12/17 - Movie #2,658 - viewed on 6/8/17

BEFORE: I'm back from Massachusetts, and today's film just happens to be set there - but I really watched it last week, I just didn't review it right away.  This is because the original plan was to have this one follow "The Zero Theorem", with Lucas Hedges carrying over.  This was the simplest way to get back to the chain I had originally planned, after making a detour to watch "Wonder Woman".  But then I decided to follow the Matt Damon track out of "The Zero Theorem" because I saw the opportunity to squeeze in those three Jake Gyllenhaal movies, and still link back to here, with C.J. Wilson carrying over from "Demolition".

And originally THIS film was supposed to go after "Triple 9", with Casey Affleck carrying over.  But since my current chain was scheduled to end a few days before "Spider-Man: Homecoming", after dropping in these extra 4 films, it looks like I may hit it right on the nose.  But that's opening night - and I may not want to deal with the crowds, so if I can find three more films to shoehorn into the chain, I could put the Spider-Man film off until the following Monday, that would be super-sweet.

I'm hoping this marks the end of this little grief-based trilogy I seem to have fallen into.

THE PLOT: A depressed uncle is asked to take care of his teenage nephew after the boy's father dies.

AFTER: This one starts out with the portrait of the lead character, Lee, as a handyman/janitor in the Boston area - so it's the drudgery of shoveling snow, unclogging toilets, fixing leaks, then doing it all again the next day.  But this janitor's life changes when his brother dies, and he's named to be the guardian of his nephew.

Or perhaps I should say the "gaah-dian", because the Boston accents are prominent here, and it feels like the screenwriter picked a lot of spoken words that would emphasize it, like "shaak" (shark) and "caad-bawd" (cardboard) or the "mawg" (morgue).  Plus the teen kids apparently still call each other "re-taah-ded" instead of "stupid", just like they did when I was a kid, even though that's not very PC.  (And if we really wanted to emphasize how stupid someone was, we'd call him "fekkin' re-taah-ded".  I guess some things never change...) 

Not too far into the film, we hit what I usually call Excessive Flashbackery - which was confusing at first because they just go right into it, and a character that just died is in the first flashback, so at first it seemed like he was alive again, or perhaps there was confusion over who died.   That's when I realized it's another one of these films that starts in the middle and flashes back to the beginning, because nobody knows how to tell a goddamn story in the proper ORDER any more, they'd rather just throw all the bits of the timeline at you and let you know that some assembly is required.

But I sort of have to allow it here, because the information in the flashbacks is important, it eventually gives us insight into the character of Lee and it explains why he doesn't feel he's cut out to be a parent, and why his marriage fell apart, and all that is really powerful stuff, once we've assembled it together, that is.  I just think directors are falling back on this trick way too often, like they've collectively got it into their heads that information is more dramatic if it's delivered via flashback, and compared or contrasted with a current scene in the framing sequences. But it's still a storytelling crutch...

Also starring Casey Affleck (last seen in "Triple 9"), Michelle Williams (last seen in "Shutter Island"), Lucas Hedges (last seen in "The Zero Theorem"), Kyle Chandler (last seen in "Carol"), Gretchen Mol (last seen in "True Story"), Matthew Broderick (last seen in "Trainwreck"), Tate Donovan (last seen in "Murder at 1600"), Kara Hayward (last seen in "Moonrise Kingdom"), Anna Baryshnikov, Heather Burns (last seen in "Two Weeks Notice"), Josh Hamilton, Tom Kemp (also carrying over from "Demolition"), Joe Stapleton.

RATING:  5 out of 10 baah fights

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