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2020

Title: Director [Year]
"Bad Times at the El Royale" Drew Goddard [2018]
"The Guilty" Gustav Moller [2018]

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Liner Notes.

© 2020 WNM and the respective authors. "All Rights Reserved."


"Bad Times at the El Royale" [Drew Goddard] 2018

"Bad Times at the El Royale [2018] written and directed by Drew Goddard, starring Jeff Bridges.

"This is a stylish film, almost all taking place inside a 50s modern casino-hotel on Lake Tahoe that was a serious destination for celebs only a few years before. It is now the late 1960s. The hotel lost its gambling license a year or two before. Basically empty, it has only one staff person left on duty.

"Some critics treat this film as a Tarantino rip off. I disagree. If they are going to make that claim they ought also to bring in the Coen brothers, since it isn‘t just Tarentino-esque. A Manson-like character does appear, but this film was shot a year before Tarantino‘s "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood" [2019].

"The pieces that make up the plot are a bit confusing. J Edgar Hoover is involved, seeking a reel of film shot at the hotel several years earlier. That is just the MacGuffin, which starts the ball rolling. The viewer is left to figure out what that film might be.

"Goddard is breaking out of his reputation as a good horror screenwriter, with such films as Cloverfield [2008], The Cabin in the Woods [2011] and World War Z [2013]. Bad Times is a solid step away from that.

"Bridges is the central character. He plays an old, ailing ex-con recently paroled. The performance he gives is pleasing and believable.

"The film was shot in Vancouver on sound stages where they recreated the interior of the old abandoned Crystal Bay (CalNeva) hotel. That hotel was a casino, now closed, on Lake Tahoe. The border does indeed bisect the hotel.

"This film is not going to be on the best 25 list for 2018. Critics did not like nearly as much as those who went to the theater to see it. It is a reasonable piece of entertainment if you don‘t mind the violence."

--ggf

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"The Guilty" [Gustav Moller] 2018

"The Guilty [2018] directed by Gustav Moller is a Danish film that caught fire with many critics here. It stars Jakob Cedergren who plays a police officer, Asger Holm, who has anger issues and faces a disciplinary hearing the next day. He is assigned temporarily to answering emergency calls.

"The entire film takes place in a small call center room and office. With rare exceptions, the camera is focused on Asger‘s face as he answers calls. Eventually a call comes in from a woman in a van being driven somewhere under duress. Dealing with this call is the focus of the entire film.

"Making a movie in real time restricted primarily to one room isn‘t new. Hitchcock did that with "Rope" [1948] and essentially in one continuous take, technically much more difficult than is the case here.

"Still, many critics seem enthralled by the novelty of this film. Unlike "Rope" this film concentrates almost entirely on Asger alone.

"Novelty by itself does not make a film captivating. The story and pace here are too slow for that. Some critics try to read deep issues into the film, giving is a ‘meaning‘. I do not.

"In my opinion "The Guilty" is not particularly exciting, although there is a plot twist toward the end. Is it worth the time? Yes if you are curious about what can be done under these restrictions."

--ggf

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Last update on Jan 15, 2010 at 12:15:10.