Mini Movie Reviews: All Good Things, Mud, Capote
All Good Things (2010)
All Good Things stars Ryan Gosling as David Marks, a man born into money, with a past that is hard to overcome. A young Marks meets and marries Katie (Kirsten Dunst), and the couple move from urban New York to hippy Vermont in the 70’s. Katie doesn’t know the control that David’s Dad (Frank Langella) has over him nor about David’s mysterious past (he was forced to see his mother commit suicide as a child). Eventually, David is pulled back into the family’s shady real estate business against his will. Despite the money, Katie and David grow apart and Katie goes missing.
The story is told through what essentially is a flashback event in real-time, as an under oath David explains to a jury these past events. Does David know what happened to Katie? Does he know what happened later on in other deaths? The story spans some 30 years and what starts out as a thriller turns into a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s not poorly done and carried intrigue, but the story – supposedly based on real events – just is a little weird and disjointed. It’s like watching one of those ABC doc shows about missing persons and in the end it is about as entertaining and interesting if that is something you care to engage in.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Mud, an outlaw of sorts running from gunmen out to seek revenge for Mud killing a man. The real star of the film however is Tye Sheridan’s (Tree of Life) Ellis, a young boy, who with his partner Neckbone, discovers Mud living on an abandoned island in Mississippi(I believe). When the boys encounter Mud, they learn of his past over a few short days and hatch a plan to help the mysterious loner reconnect with his “girlfriend” Juniper, played by Reese Witherspoon. Eventually, the gunmen catch up with Mud and you have to see the film to find out the rest.
Mud is really about Ellis and his desire of love. His thoughts of what love is, his growing up and his relationships (with Mud, Neckbone, his parents and his “girlfriend”). This is a coming of age tale in some ways, mixed with a boy growing up too soon, dealing with adult themes and pressures placed on the young man. Though the film is slow-paced, it is engrossing, primarily due to Sheridan’s performance. You can feel his innocence, his desire to learn, his disconnectedness from certain elements and more. Mud may star a recent Oscar winner, but it’s Sheridan’s movie and his performance that makes the movie worth seeing.
Capote won the best actor Oscar for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the man who recently passed tragically at 46 to Heroin. Hoffman plays the titular character, flamboyant, charismatic, conniving, deceptive and reveals all his flaws for us to see. Capote follows the New Yorker author discovering a story of senseless killings and his relationship with one of the killers over a period of several years, before the killer (played by the underrated chameleon Clifton Collins Jr.) is sentenced to death by hanging. In the interim, Capote has penned a book based on these characters, “In Cold Blood,” and its hailed as the book that will change how people write and one of the most important and impressive books in American modern literature.
Capote is Hoffman’s film, and though I’ve seen it previously, based upon his recent passing, I wanted to take in more performances of the talented actor. Here you can see him transform so seamlessly into the character it is hard to separate performance from reality. One can sadly see how difficult is must have been to be so engrossed in a character and placing that thought process on him multiple times over in a career can certainly begin to lead to trouble off camera. Capote is a good but strange and at times meandering movie. You can see why it won Hoffman a statue but also why it failed to capture any more meaningful prizes during from the grandest of Hollywood awards that year.