Waiting for Intermission, New on Netflix: Review of “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn”

In the mindset of my last review for the Communique, I wanted to choose a movie that would reflect the anxiousness of this part of the semester when all the final projects, final papers, and dreaded tutorials are due. In one of his last movies, “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn,” Robin Williams had been able to portray to us all how important time really is.

Henry Altman is an incredibly angry man. It seems that in this case, the title does give away the film when you meet Henry. In the first 10 minutes on screen, he narrates to the audience that he is adding things to his list of things he hates. He looks worn from a horrible night’s sleep and tired of waiting in traffic, but more importantly, he’s angry that he is late for his doctor’s appointment. Once he’s finally there, he has to wait even longer for a doctor who isn’t even his normal doctor.

Just when things couldn’t possibly get any worse for Henry Altman, he is told he has 90 minutes to live.

Storming out of the clinic with a too-revealing hospital gown, Henry hails a cab to go back to work. But then the news finally sinks in for him. What was he, a man who has spent the better part of the last two years of his life angry, going to do? That’s when 90 minutes become as precious as gold to Henry Altman, and he realizes there are so many things he needed to fix before the clock strikes 6:22 p.m.

Throughout his day, Henry tries to reconcile with his loved ones and his close friends before he dies. Unfortunately, everyone he meets manages to make him lose his temper. The only one who seems to chase him down on his last day of life is the doctor who told him he had 90 minutes to live. But the movie shows a minute of happiness is worth a lot more than a year of anger.

Henry Altman was rushing against the clock to be able to travel through one of the busiest, loudest cities in the country to tell his loved ones that he loves them. Altman states, “The only people who don’t look back with regret are idiots and psychopaths. And I got a lifetime of regrets, boy.” Only when his time was running out did he stop and realize what he had become. With all the anger he held against the world for what it was, Henry made himself the thing that he hated the most.

Robin Williams reminded the world of laughter and how the world is full of life and goodness. His character, although starting out as mean and hateful towards the world, manages to teach the audience the same lesson that Robin Williams did.  We need to take a moment to remember that time is precious enough to appreciate it. Final projects, papers, and tests make it easy for us to have a sense of lost time; however it’s when we take the moment to breathe that we acknowledge all the hard work we’ve already accomplished.


Waiting for Intermission: Top four on Netflix

It’s not all uncommon to hear the word ‘Netflix’ in a conversation at Chatham. It’s generally assumed that we, as college students in the year 2015, would find time to relax and/or procrastinate on writing that intensive paper by streaming films online. I’ve always considered it to be almost like a red beacon, beckoning me away from my studies for just a couple of minutes. As a result, I researched IMDb’s top 4 highest rated films on Netflix to watch.

4.The Pianist (2002)

Director: Roman Polonski

Starring: Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Frank Finky

There’s a saying that seems very common for anyone who is studying music, or for any of the arts for that matter: ‘Starving Artist.’ Most of us in college dread it whenever someone brings up how difficult the job hunt is. However, for beautiful musician Wladyslaw Szpilman, he starves not because no one will listen to his music, but because he is Jewish. In the era of World War II, a time considered one of the greatest human catastrophes in history, music seems to be the only reason Wladyslaw strives to live. He has to run and hide to be able to survive, and he has to one day be able to play his music.

If there are any words I could use to describe this film, it would be beautifully haunting. Any films that are set during WWII are struck in such hard color and abrasive emotions, because it  is all true. The audience doesn’t relate to the film because of their own set of devastation; they connect purely to the raw emotion behind it. This film (and many other films like it) values the ability for a human being to empathize and be able to appreciate and respect those who we have lost.

3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Edward Furlong

Taking a step back in time to the good ole days of the 1990s, Netflix selects “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” as its third highest rated film to watch. It is the second time that Arnold Schwarzenegger assumes his role as the terrifying Terminator: Robot Assassin, and it is the second time Sarah Connor races against the clock to survive. Yet, instead of what most audiences believed from the first Terminator movie, James Cameron didn’t want to try to kill Sarah Connor again. The Terminator takes charge on screen as the protector of Sarah Connor’s son, John. John, assuming his role as the smart aleck kid, one day defends the rest of humanity and leads all to a brighter future.

I always considered this movie as a classic Sci-Fi film growing up (until I really knew what the word ‘classic’ meant).  Even though it was really well thought of in its time, I didn’t like it as much as the first one. I appreciated John’s character; I also appreciated a woman action hero who knew how to use a gun without whining that she’d get dirty, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see the film again. In my opinion, this film would probably be behind “Reservoir Dogs” as the 6th movie to watch.

2. Memento (2002)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliane

It doesn’t sound so terrible to go to sleep and wake up to a brand new life. If you didn’t like what you did that day, you could wake up to a new mindset. Yet, when most of us feel that way, we don’t actually want to experience it every day. For Leonard Shelby, he wakes up with no recollection of what he did yesterday. Head trauma made him lose his ability to create new memories, and the only memory he really remembers, apart from who he is, is the death of his wife. With new tattoos every morning, he forces his future self to remember parts of what his past self has discovered about the man who murdered his wife and left him for dead. However, he can’t believe anything he has found out. A tale of psychological warfare with friends, family, and himself, Leonard has to race his own mind before he forgets how to take his vengeance.

1. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

Director: Sergio Leone

Starring: Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale

As the highest rated film on Netflix, I was happy that they had chosen this classic Spaghetti Western. Full of drama, intense close ups, and intimate exposures on the Wild West, “Once Upon a Time in the West” doesn’t disappoint. This film is all you would want for a western film to have: a hero with a vengeful backstory, the criminal who caused the pain, an oppressed town with fearful townspeople, and the female love interest that can be as fearsome as a man of her era.

There’s nothing I love more that watching a classic after watching so many painstaking tries for new films to be as original as possible. It isn’t because they don’t do their job and every filmmaker deserves their credits for providing entertainment with the right message; but classic films are the films from which filmmakers get their inspiration. With the classic looks and the breakthrough cinematic landmarks, all the big stars of their time have set the bars for filmmakers to jump higher and higher. They all help us remember on how far film magic has come from that first shot of the moving train. Imagination and creativity are what drive filmmakers to break that final barrier of what is real and what can be shown as magical.

Waiting for Intermission: Review of “Mud”

Let’s face it: sometimes as college students we do not have the money to see every movie. Most times, our only chances of going to the movies require a surprise gift card from family members. Instead, we rely on the newest releases from Netflix Instant as our opening weekend. Last week, Netflix released the Jeff Nichols film “Mud”, a film that some argue begins the so-called ‘McConaissance.’

The film stars Matthew McConaughey as Mud, a drifter wanted for killing the abusive ex-lover of his girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon). As he hides away in an island located near a boating town, young boys Ellis and Neckbone (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) discover him and attempt to reunite him with Juniper. The film relies on expositional tension, which can appear to drag its pacing, but ultimately becomes a powerful coming-of-age tale with an excellent commentary on space. It only makes sense, then, that this film marks McConaughey’s transition into more serious roles.

Water plays an important role in terms of setting and character. It provides one of the first establishing shots as audiences are introduced to Ellis and Neckbone, two young boys on the verge of puberty. Coupling these images are tight shots of the shacks and tiny docks making up the boating town, heightening a sense of claustrophobia.

As the boys take to the river, the quiet solitude of the river becomes a metaphor for the town itself. While gathering at a water source as means of economic opportunity entails a collective experience, the isolated nature of the river echoes the hushed lives of the citizens of the boating town, such as with the divorce of Ellis’ parents or the secretive neighbor Tom (Sam Shepard).

As the film centers on Mud, Ellis, and Neckbone, it is also about the society of the boating town. Water represents the fluid nature of characters. For Ellis and Neckbone, the fluidity comes from their status as being on the verge of puberty. For Mud, the fluidity calls attention to his status as a drifter and his mysterious composition history.

Lastly, water acts as a border, cutting off the boating town from the mainland society. This border intensifies the mystical element of the film. However, little moments acclimate audiences to the realistic setting, such as with Mud’s shirt warding off snakebites or Juniper portrayed as the princess for his St. George. Helping Mud save Juniper allows the boys to escape from the reality of growing up, paralleling Mud’s inability to move beyond his own past. Symbolism of the water adds rich complexity to the coming-of-age film, while reminding audiences that we never stop growing up, as there is always something to learn.

Fans of constant action might find the pacing slow as exposition builds tension throughout the film. However, unraveling tension more powerfully delivers the film’s message of growing up and the constraint of personal history. As a group of assassins converge on Mud to avenge the death of Juniper’s lover, they shatter Mud’s conception of reality. Since Ellis views the love between Mud and Juniper as ‘true love,’ the invasive force of the assassins shatter his illusion of escape, ultimately preparing him to accept his parents’ divorce.

If tension fails to capture audiences, the amazing performance of Matthew McConaughey will turn heads. Though audiences remember his recent Best Actor Award for his role in “Dallas Buyer’s Club”, they forget that “Mud” marked his separation from an established career of romantic comedies, showcasing remarkable variety. Any fans of the cheesy cop films of the seventies will take pleasure in the return of Joe Don Baker as he plays King, leader of the assassins.

If financial limitations keep you in your dorm and you are looking for a movie to watch on Netflix Instant, this one should top your queue.

Rating: 4 out of 5.