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Non-Review Review: Lost Girls

Lost Girls is a solid and unfussy true crime drama, anchored in a strong central performance from Amy Ryan.

There are interesting ideas simmering in the background of Lost Girls. Director Liz Garbus is best known as a documentarian, and there are certainly aspects of Lost Girls that feel like they belong more comfortably in a documentary than a narrative feature. Michael Werwie’s script is adapted from Robert Kolker’s book of the same name, looking at the case of the Long Island Serial Killer. The killer was never caught, with some speculation as to whether his last documented murder occurred in 2010 or 2013. The investigation is currently ongoing, which gives the film a certain edge and rawness.

However, Garbus works hard to keep things tasteful and restrained. In actual narrative terms, Lost Girls is fairly conventional. It often feels assembled from a list of scenes that audiences expect to see in a drama like this. There are plenty of scenes of concerned mother Mari Gilbert yelling at impotent authority figures, countless scenes dictating the indifference or ineptitude of the authority figures tasked with protecting these young women, lots of emotional scenes in which Mari comes to terms with her own imperfections as a mother following her daughter’s disappearance.

However, the most interesting aspects of this “unsolved American mystery” lurk at the edge of the frame, recalling the quiet tweaks that Just Mercy made to the death penalty drama this past awards season. Lost Girls is a serial killer film that is much more interested in systemic injustice than it is in the sensationalist actions of a single monstrous villain. Lost Girls never quite manages to convincingly restructure the serial killer investigation movie template to the extent of something like Zodiac, but perhaps it doesn’t have to. It is more interesting for subtle shifts in emphasis within a familiar formula.

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Non-Review Review: Le Capital

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Thanks to Costa-Gavras, Le Capital looks amazing. It’s crisp, it’s vibrant and it’s beautiful. For a movie about financial corruption, it moves along relatively quickly and with a lot of visual flair. The problem with Le Capital, though, is that it’s really a very simplistic version of a story we’ve all seen countless times before. A person assumes a large amount of power, only for that power to have a potentially corrupting influence. Okay, Marc Tourneuil is already a successful executive when good fortune thrusts him into the role of CEO of one of France’s largest banks, and he’s certainly not naive when he negotiates his salary and bonus scheme, but Le Capital hints early on that there is some level of decency to Tourneuil before the wealth and influence start chipping away. As such, as the movie explores his corruption and the way that power erodes him, Le Capital feels like an engaging modern telling of a story that we’ve already heard quite frequently.

Byrne the bondholders...

Byrne the bondholders…

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The Ambiguous Ending of The Usual Suspects…

This post is somewhat prompted by an interesting discussion over at MCarter’s review of The Usual Suspects, concerning the ending. Some people remarked that while they were impressed with the ambiguity of the film, they thought that the ending was just a little bit too clear cut. I have no problem with a definite ending to a film, but I’m not so sure that The Usual Suspects is as open and shut as it might seem. But wait! you protest, as someone who has seen the film, That ending was fairly clear. Maybe it was. But maybe it wasn’t.

The highest quality photo of the "real" Keyser Soze...

The highest quality photo of the "real" Keyser Soze...

Note: Seeing as how this is a discussion on the ending of The Usual Suspects, it will obviously contain spoilers on the film. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie. Really. Go, rent or borrow or buy the movie, watch it and come back – and give us your thoughts. The Usual Suspects is a movie you owe it to yourself not to ruin.
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Non-Review Review: The Usual Suspects

Wow. Neo-noir is a very tough genre to pull off. It really is. Think of how many dodgy movies you’ve seen about drug dealers and bent cops in the last year alone (I’ve even seen one this weekend). When it works, it works magically. It seems like the mid-nineties was the era for producing any number of classic modern noir-style tales. There’s Copland, L.A. Confidential and – of course – the movie that arguably started the whole trend. We’re looking at you, The Usual Suspects

Calvin Klein models just aren't trying anymore...

Calvin Klein models just aren't trying anymore...

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