Connect with us

Movie Reviews

Fancy Dance (2024) – Movie Review

Published

on

Fancy Dance (2024) – Movie Review

Fancy Dance, 2024.

Directed by Erica Tremblay.
Starring Lily Gladstone, Isabel Deroy-Olson, Ryan Begay, Shea Whigham, Audrey Wasilewski, Crystle Lightning, Tamara Podemski, Patrice Fisher, Ryan RedCorn, Lillian Faye Thomas, Casey Camp-Horinek, Tyler Tipton, Dennis Newman, Trey Munden, Arianne Martin, Blayne Allen, Michael Rowe, Hauli Gray, Blake Blair, Kylie Dirtseller, and Cory Hart.

SYNOPSIS:

Following her sister’s disappearance, a Native American hustler kidnaps her niece from the child’s white grandparents and sets out for the state powwow in hopes of keeping what is left of their family intact.

Advertisement

Infuriatingly, displacement is common among minorities, especially natives. Co-writer/director Erica Tremblay’s Fancy Dance tells such a tale, highlighting the distinction between the effort, or lack thereof, child protective services, local authorities, and even FBI agents funnel into cases under certain circumstances. If it involves white relatives, authorities will feel more pressed to investigate and likely be more prominent in the outcome.

This is also a complicated story, so that’s not to absolve Lily Gladstone’s Seneca-Cayuga nation clan member Jax, who does sneak her 13-year-old niece Roki (Isabel Deroy-Olson) away from the white grandparents Frank and Nancy (Shea Whigham and Audrey Wasilewski) she has been forced under the guardianship of following yet another disappearance from her troubled mother (longer than usual and still missing) and the powers that be believing a slight criminal record has made the aunt unfit to take over those responsibilities. Considering Jax has normalized stealing and theft to Roki and does have a history of selling drugs, there is a small amount of concern, but nothing that should kickstart uprooting someone away from their people, home, and culture.

The inquisitive, good-natured Roki is also excited for the annual powwow not just for the traditional symbolic dancing but also because she believes that, regardless of where her mom is now, she will be there, and they will be reunited during a ceremonial dance. What exactly the relationship is like between daughter and mother feels underexplored and isn’t exactly spoken about, but it’s also apparent that there is a darker truth, with Jax urging her local reservation cup brother JJ (Ryan Begay) to convince authorities with the more pull that the situation this serious this time, or to break some ground in the case himself.

Working together with screenwriter Miciana Alise, Erica Tremblay also portrays the white grandparents, particularly Nancy, as more misguided than outright villainous, which goes a long way in further grounding the narrative. They don’t understand how important the powwow is to Roki (who has already been practicing her moves and has a cute jacket picked out as part of her outfit), claiming they must get her settled into this suburban home hours away from the reservation. Frank also seems to incorrectly assume that it would be wise to keep Roki away from that “mess,” referring to nearby drug dealers, prostitution, and the alarming amount of missing person cases that could be related to some shady surrounding white men. Meanwhile, Nancy cluelessly believes ballet lessons will replace something deeply entrenched in Roki’s identity and sense of self.

This is important to note since, when Jax essentially kidnaps Roki to figure things out (she is along for the ride since they will be going to the powwow), it’s even easier to be on her side and to feel that instant frustration when all types of authorities instantly jump to assist the white grandfather. And even if Jax is not necessarily the most positive influence in some areas, there are also tender moments among the thieving and squatting in rich people’s homes, such as managing Roki through her first period. In many respects, Jax feels like a friend to Roki, who hasn’t yet embraced the fact that it’s time to be a second mom.

Advertisement

The chemistry between Lily Gladstone and Isabel Deroy-Olson is airtight and sweetly expresses a mimicry bond but convincingly conveys their trust-breaking, as the latter becomes wiser to the former not telling the full truth about her missing mother. Their wonderful performances continuously overcome the shakier, more overblown story beats (such as something involving a firearm). Furthermore, Lily Gladstone is tremendous, maneuvering between steely toughness, desperation, and vulnerability. Between avoiding authorities on this road trip, piecing together clues about her sister’s disappearance, and pestering her brother JJ to investigate some of those revelations, it brings out a nuanced, emotionally layered performance.

Even if Fancy Dance falls into some melodramatic trappings elsewhere, the resolution of the mystery aspect is realistically bleak. It makes the case for not just an unfortunate element of reservation life but also what continues to happen because it’s seemingly unimportant to local authorities. It’s not all gloom, though, as the final moving scene is earned, fits the characters’ journey, and celebrates the culture.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

Advertisement

 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Movie Reviews

Clear Cut (2024) – Movie Review

Published

on

Clear Cut (2024) – Movie Review

Clear Cut, 2024.

Directed by Brian Skiba.
Starring Clive Standen, Tom Welling, Stephen Dorff, Alec Baldwin, Jesse Metcalfe, Lochlyn Munro, Lucy Martin, Chelsey Reist, Tom Stevens, and Mike Dopud.

SYNOPSIS:

A team of loggers discover a meth cook site in the middle of the forest and are forced to fight for their lives while being hunted by a drug cartel.

Advertisement

With a title such as Clear Cut, one might think director Brian Skiba is trying to be cutely vague and intentionally jumbling since his narrative distractingly jumps back and forth in time with no grace. The reality is that what the film is trying to do with its story is fairly obvious after roughly the second flashback, executed with such outright poor editing technique (Skiba also performs those duties) that one sits there in shock at the ineptitude when it cuts back to a scene with Alec Baldwin who was recently killed at the beginning.

Dead characters appearing in flashbacks is inherently fine, but watching it play out here is baffling; you could reconfigure the scenes chronologically, and this already lousy film might play better. Alec Baldwin isn’t a recurring presence after that; the movie is just pointlessly like this. At the very least, the not-so-smooth attempt at (I think?) trying to trick the audience regarding what is happening with its central plot could have been avoided. It’s hard to tell since the editing makes everything come across as more confusing than the story is. Furthermore, the fact that I have so many questions about the filmmaker’s intent mostly already proves whatever he was trying to do with structure didn’t pan out. That’s an understatement.

The story itself concerns Clive Standen’s Jack, taking on logging work en route to a job site with his superior and mentor (Alec Baldwin.) Now, if reading this brings about some interest that there might be some positive and earnest deforestation messaging at the heart of the action, let me remind readers that this is one of those super cheaply made Lionsgate VOD entities that somehow slides its way into a few theaters across America. Jack is seeking revenge on some criminals running a meth operation out here in the woods, which also brings up several questions of logistics that the film never bothers to take a stab at answering.

Unsurprisingly, the one cooking up the meth gives the zaniest performance, which basically means Lochlyn Munro is playing clichéd psychopathic redneck running around with a crossbow, murdering anyone who might throw his shady business out of whack. Bringing an inexplicably large amount of money to a deal where the one cooking up the meth lives in a camper, presumably in the middle of nowhere, the leader of the buyers conveniently leaves the money in the back of a truck for Jack to steal and run off with. Stephen Dorff also plays a Park Ranger who gets involved in the two battling sides. The less said about the women who pop up in this movie is probably for the better.

For as much as Clive Standen gives a passable performance regarding both the emotional toll recent tragic events have taken on him and the close-quarters action, it’s also undermined by the film (written by Joe Perruccio) concocting scenarios that tastelessly ramp up that drama. Regarding the direction, nothing here stands out aside from one or two moments toward the end of Clive Standen letting loose some of that bottled-up anger and sadness. There’s a chance that if you show someone the final 10 minutes of Clear Cut, they will wrongly assume you just watched a decent movie. Fortunately, what is clear-cut is that this is anything but worth checking out.

Advertisement

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★

Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=embed/playlist

 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movie Reviews

Movie Review: 'Twisters' – Catholic Review

Published

on

Movie Review: 'Twisters' – Catholic Review

NEW YORK (OSV News) – Back in the early days of the Ford administration, disaster movies were all the rage. A capsized cruise ship, a skyscraper aflame, airplanes imperiled — the genre ran the gamut of mishaps before fading away at the end of the 1970s.

Two decades later, advances in computer capabilities led to something of a revival, one product of which was 1996’s “Twister.” Director Jan de Bont’s film had separated spouses Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton working through their marital tensions while trying to make a breakthrough in early storm warning.

Flash forward nearly 30 years and a standalone sequel, “Twisters” (Universal), looms on the horizon. While moviegoers need not take shelter from this long-distance follow-up — which is only loosely connected to its predecessor — neither will it transport them over the rainbow.

The main flaw in the production, helmed by Lee Isaac Chung, is its consistent air of Hollywood phoniness. Its main asset is the mostly appealing antagonism-turns-to-love tale that unfolds amid the rising winds.

Haunted by an experiment during a tornado that went fatally wrong, meteorologist Kate Carter (Daisy Edgar-Jones) has spent the ensuing half-decade practicing her craft from the safety of a desk. She’s reluctantly drawn back to storm chasing, however, when her old friend Javi (Anthony Ramos) suddenly appears on the scene seeking her help.

Advertisement

Javi is out to launch a potentially beneficial new technology. But he’s convinced he can only succeed with the aid of Kate’s expertise and intuition.

Once back on the plains, Kate — who quickly becomes the guiding force of Javi’s team — crosses paths with a squad of apparently reckless thrill seekers led by cocky self-proclaimed “tornado wrangler” Tyler Owens (Glen Powell). Kate and Tyler initially clash, then develop a relationship of mutual respect that eventually deepens into a romance.

Like the burgeoning bond between the principals, the hairbreadth escapes chronicled in screenwriter Mark L. Smith’s script are entirely predictable, the sacrifice of the odd extra notwithstanding. So much so, that viewers may emerge from the Cineplex humming that old standard, “Just in Time.”

“Twisters” does promote compassion for catastrophe victims, making concern for them the moral standard by which its characters are to be judged. And objectionable ingredients are mostly kept out of the mix, so mature adolescents may be given the go-ahead to reap the whirlwind.

Yet human interaction comes in a poor second throughout the proceedings, which are focused instead on the wizardry of special effects. So audience reaction to the picture will largely depend on each patron’s interest in large-scale displays of Mother Nature’s fury.

Advertisement

The film contains some medical gore, several mild oaths, occasional crude language and a couple of crass terms. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Read More Movie & TV Reviews

Copyright © 2024 OSV News

Continue Reading

Movie Reviews

Movie Review| ‘Despicable Me 4’

Published

on

Movie Review| ‘Despicable Me 4’

In the last 14 years, Gru has certainly been through a lot. The reformed super villain put aside his dastardly ways to become a family man, and now sits pretty with three “gworls”, a wife, and a bouncing baby boy. Life couldn’t be better for the bald-headed former bad guy, but some habits die hard. Such as the desire to embarrass his villain school rival causing said rival to swear revenge against Gru and his entire family, forcing them into their most frightening challenge yet: Life in the suburbs.

Taking the socially awkward Gru and placing him in scenarios where he has to act like a bumbling sitcom dad is a fine premise for the fourth instalment in the Despicable Me franchise. Unfortunately the movie compounds the conceit by adding Gru’s desire to connect with his newborn, as well as turning the moronic minions into superheroes. There’s also the neighbour’s daughter, whom Gru takes under his wing to teach her his ways of thievery and deception.

Too much story spoils the cinematic experience, especially when the film grinds to a halt just to give the minions an opportunity to spout mindless jabber and engage in antics. It can’t be understated what a blight the minions are to the senses, but credit where credit is due: their newfound abilities give the movie a chance to showcase some slick animation and, admittedly, laughs. However, this doesn’t change the fact that Despicable Me 4 lacks a sense of necessity. Nothing that occurs in the film feels very consequential, and despite seemingly taking the characters in new directions, it ultimately feels like more of the same.

I can’t say I would ever watch this film of my own volition, but I must admit it’s not exactly made with me in mind. For the intended audience, they’re sure to be pleased paying full price, or at least asking their parents to. For myself, there’s enough to enjoy to warrant seeing it in the cinema, but only at a discount. A few roller coaster sequences are genuinely entertaining, and for the target audience of kids in 4DX cinema, it was a thoroughly engaging experience from start to finish.

Rating: Half Price

Advertisement

Damian Levy is a film critic and podcaster for Damian Michael Movies. entertainment@gleanerjm.com

Continue Reading

Trending