Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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My Review of THE OLD MAN & THE GUN

The Old Man & The Gun, rated PG-13
***

The Old Man & The Gun is a well-acted film that is “mostly true” about the real-life bank robber Forrest Tucker. The film is directed and written by David Lowery and is based on David Grann’s 2003 article in the New Yorker titled “The Old Man and the Gun”. The film is set in 1981, and is shot by cinematographer Joe Anderson on Super 16 mm film. The musical score is by Daniel Hart.
Oscar winner Robert Redford (Ordinary People), now 82 years old, portrays 76-year-old Forrest Tucker, a man who has lived a life of crime from age 13 when he stole a bicycle until we meet him as a bank robber. Tucker is also known for escaping from jail or prison, having done it 16 times. Tucker is seen as a gentleman bank robber, dressing nicely and being very courteous as he and his “Over the Hill Gang” rob bank after bank without ever shooting their guns.  The Gang consisted of Teddy, played by four-time Emmy nominee Danny Glover (Freedom Song) and Waller, played by Oscar nominee Tom Waits (One From The Heart). In fact, we never even see the Gang or Tucker’s guns – just a flash of his suitcoat in the banks. Tucker was known to have robbed as many as 80 banks, taking in excess of $4 million in his career as a gentleman bank robber.
As the film begins, Tucker has robbed a small Texas bank. To elude the police who are pursuing him, he stops to assist Jewel, a widow played by six-time Oscar nominee and winner for Coal Miner’s Daughter, Sissy Spacek, whose truck has broken down along the side of the road. The two strike up a friendship in a diner, with Forrest initially telling Jewel that he is a travelling salesman.
Oscar winner Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) plays Dallas Police detective John Hunt, who has just turned 40, seems depressed, and doesn’t seem to like his job very much. But Hunt is revived when he starts putting together that a string of bank robberies is related, and he takes the lead on the case.
Themes include crime and deception. Content concerns include some adult language and a small amount of violence. In addition, this is one of those films in which the filmmaker wants you to cheer for those that are committing the crimes, as opposed to the police who are pursuing them.
It’s interesting that Tucker only seems to be happy when he’s robbing banks. On the other hand, Hunt, comes alive only when he’s pursuing Tucker, not before or after.
The film is getting some extra attention as Robert Redford has indicated that this will be his last film as an actor. The film deviates from the real story of Tucker on several points, as is summarized in this article.
The Old Man & The Gun is a well-acted film as Redford, Spacek and Affleck deliver excellent performances. Redford has good chemistry with both Spacek as a love interest and Affleck as his pursuer.


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My Review of Manchester by the Sea

manchester-by-the-seaManchester by the Sea, rated R
***

This film is written and directed by two-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Lonergan, and has been nominated for five Golden Globe Awards. It stars Oscar nominee Casey Affleck as Lee Chandler. He is an angry and withdrawn loner living in a tiny basement apartment in Boston, where he works as a janitor and handyman. He is depressed, drinks too much and tends to get into fights with strangers in bars.

The film uses constant flashbacks to tell the story. We find out that he once led a content life with wife Randi (three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams) and three children. His entire family – father, brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) and nephew lived in Manchester, Massachusetts on Cape Ann. Lee enjoyed spending time with his brother Joe and his son. But then something terrible happened, and it changed Lee and Randi forever. Joe supports Lee when it seems that nobody else does.  But then Joe, who suffers from congestive heart failure, dies as a result of a heart attack, and Lee’s life is shattered again.

Joe had a 16-year old son Patrick (Lucas Hedges from Moonrise Kingdom).  Patrick’s mother Elise (Gretchen Mol) is a drug addict, and hasn’t been a part of the family for some time. As a result, Joe’s wishes in his will are that his troubled brother would move back to Manchester to look after his son if anything should happen to him. This revelation adds shock to Lee’s grief over his brother’s death. Manchester is a hard place for him to return to.

Lee is ill-equipped to parent the popular and socially active Patrick, who plays in a rock band, is a member of a hockey team and has two girlfriends Sandy (Anna Baryshnikov, daughter of Mikhail) and Silvie (Kara Hayward who starred with Hedges in Moonrise Kingdom), neither of which know Patrick is seeing the other.  C.J. Wilson portrays Lee’s good friend George.

We see Lee and Patrick both dealing with the loss of a loved brother and father.  In many ways their relationship is more of an older and younger brother rather than an uncle and son. They argue often, and we see Lee make poor choices in being permissive with Patrick and his girlfriends. We see that Elise, Patrick’s mother has changed, as she is now engaged to Jeffrey (Matthew Broderick), a Christian. The scene with Mathew Broderick was one of the most awkward that you will see in a film.  Brilliantly acted!

We enter into the grief of Lee and Patrick as they try to move forward; Lee is forced to confront his demons. It is also a film about family, the ties that bind us to our hometown, and about forgiveness. The film also includes some humor, but overall it was emotionally exhausting.

The film is rated R for excessive adult language, including numerous abuses of God’s and Jesus’ names, sexuality, violence and adult themes.  It included frequent use of the F-Bomb as a noun, verb, adjective, etc.   It features strong acting performances and makes good use of beautiful music and lovely scenery. Casey Affleck may win the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of Lee.  Michelle Williams turns in a strong performance in a small role as Randi, and is worthy of a fourth Oscar nomination. In addition, Lucas Hedges is very good as Patrick.

My 3-star rating for the film is based on the strong acting performances. It won’t be a film for everyone. It is emotionally draining, has excessive adult language and some sexuality.