The Vast Of Night – A Movie Review

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I watched this Amazon Original mostly because Amazon Studios rarely go wrong and the subject matter interested me … and because it’s only ninety minutes long.

The premise is that during the 1950s a small town radio DJ and his friend start to investigate a strange sound emitting through the radio and telephone. They determine that the sound could be extraterrestrial in nature, and that it’s previously appeared in their locale. But how close will they actually get to the sound’s source? You’ll have to watch the movie for the answer.

I actually enjoyed this movie quite a bit because it’s so different from most conventional fare. First of all, it takes place during a single night. Furthermore, it’s almost entirely dialogue–there’s very little action. The camera is usually tight on the actors’ faces, but then it also goes on these long sprawls throughout the town and countryside. These nighttime tracking shots weave through the streets, into active high school gymnasiums, across fields–you definitely get a sense of the entire environment. In fact, the camera work in this film is quite pleasing to the eye. It certainly worked in conjunction with the film to intensify the appeal.

In terms of acting, everyone was very good, but I have to admit that I recognized no one. I don’t know if this is a cast full of unknowns or not, but the fact that I had no preconceived notions about them allowed them to exist fully within the skin of their characters.

I admit that it takes awhile for The Vast Of Night to hit its maximum pace, but it does a brilliant job until that point of establishing the available technology of the time, the mood of the small town, and the rapport of the two main characters. I wasn’t alive in the 1950s, but the film seems to have captured that time period’s authenticity well.

Also, the film’s score is exquisite. When the climax finally arrives, the music wonderfully guides our emotions and builds the excitement.

Though The Vast Of Night is a little slow compared to most movies today, I found it absorbing and well made. In fact, it’s one of those works that’s hard to stop thinking about once it’s over. If you’re looking for something different from the typical yet still maintaining an adherence to high quality, I recommend The Vast Of Night.

 

 

The Lost City of Z – A Movie Review

I’ve meant to watch The Lost City of Z for several years now. I would see it on my Amazon Prime Video menu, but would move along due to its 2.5 hour run time. I typically won’t watch a movie at home until my kids are in bed, so that run time would keep me up way too late.

Well, as may be the case with you, I’ve found myself with a little extra time lately. Though it still took me two nights to watch, I gave The Lost City of Z a shot, and you know what? You should, too.

If you’re like me and you don’t know much about the premise, it follows Percy Fawcett, a British soldier, adventurer, and explorer as he charts the Amazon and develops a theory that an ancient, complex civilization once existed in the depths of the jungle. He becomes obsessed with the idea and returns over and over again in the hopes of discovering evidence. Interestingly enough, The Lost City of Z is based on a true story (and a best-selling nonfiction book).

As I said, I highly recommend this film, and for many reasons.

First of all, it’s gorgeous. Much of the movie takes place in the Amazon. They filmed on location in Columbia, and it shows. However, the movie also occurs in beautiful English countryside, war-torn WWI trenches, and stunning architectural interiors.

Secondly, the acting is excellent. I’ve always liked Charlie Hunnam. He consistently manages to bring a masculine energy to any character he plays, one that is rare with a lot of Hollywood’s elite. I wish he had better luck with some of his choices–both The Lost City of Z and King Arthur: Legend Of the Sword failed at the box office despite being very good. Robert Pattinson managed to surprise me with his supporting role. As you may know, he’s currently filming the lead in The Batman. I’ve heard his work outside of Twilight is very good, but I haven’t been impressed with him until now. (I did not care for either High Life or The Lighthouse.) Sienna Miller, whom I have not seen in a film for quite a while, made “Nina Fawcett” more than just the wife left behind as she strives to keep her family together and push the boundaries of convention. There is yet another actor in this film that I won’t name. I did not expect his appearance in the movie despite having a large role, which proved a pleasant surprise and contributed to the film’s emotional ending.

Finally, while I admittedly didn’t know much about this story, I presumed the entire thing would take place in the Amazon. This was not the case at all. As previously mentioned, there is an incredible trench warfare scene, as well as some wonderful moment’s in Fawcett’s home, a British meeting room, an extravagant party, and more. In fact, The Lost City of Z spanned several decades of Percy Fawcett’s life, so this obviously contributed to many, many different locales.

While full of action, suspense, and thrills, The Lost City of Z is not a typical “action movie.” It does have it’s quiet moments, as well as several emotionally potent scenes. It portrays Fawcett as more than just an adventurer. It also allows him to be a father, a husband, a friend, and–perhaps most importantly–a person.

If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch The Lost City of Z right now as part of your service. I recommend you do just that.

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