Logan Lucky: A Review

Movie Reviews

It’s been described as a redneck Ocean’s Eleven or “Ocean’s 7/11”, but as catchy as those names are, they don’t measure up to the subtle genius that is Logan Lucky.

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Logan Lucky is Steven Soderbergh’s latest film starring Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as brothers who, with the help of a motley group of characters, decide to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. I have been following this film from almost the beginning. And by beginning, I mean ever since I found out Adam Driver was going to be in it (because I am low-key high-key obsessed with him and keep up with all of his projects). Also, it was filmed in Atlanta, so I had some personal ties to it.

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Anyway, for those who are not obsessed with Adam Driver and therefore know little to nothing about this movie, it was made very differently from other popular heist films. First of all, it was not made under the heavy influence of a major Hollywood studio. Soderbergh financed the film himself so that he had full creative freedom over the entirety of the project. He is a director who wears many hats, according to Tatum, who has worked with the director many times in the past. I’m sure you’ve heard of Magic Mike. Soderbergh does everything from directing to making sure he gets the exact shot he needs, and he is even the one at the end to tie it all together in the editing room. To ensure there wasn’t unnecessary spending, he cut most of the marketing and press expenses, which meant there was not a huge press junket for the film and there was minimal marketing aside from social media.

The economics surrounding the film were enough to lure me in, aside from seeing Adam Driver on the big screen again. And if that wasn’t enough, Soderbergh threw in the hat from directing in 2013, so I knew it had to be pretty good if it pulled him from retirement.

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Now on to the film itself, I absolutely loved it. However, I went into the theater knowing that it was going to have an “indie” feel to it since it wasn’t going to have that overpowering Hollywood studio touch. For me, that made it better. There was an actual story that was being told. It wasn’t just a spectacle for the sake of being a spectacle where laughs are forced down your throat. It was subtle in its humor, deadpan sarcasm from my favorite actor.

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The actors were incredible. The West Virginian accents threw me for a loop but became endearing as the film progressed. Adam as the one-handed Clyde Logan was amazing, as always, but I doubt I would ever find a performance of his less than phenomenal. I am not as well versed with Channing Tatum’s repertoire as I am with Adam’s, but I was pleasantly surprised to see such a real character portrayal from him. He was a delight on screen and deserving of the heart strings that he pulled. Daniel Craig was a fire-cracker. Even as someone who is not familiar with his role as James Bond, I was still amazed at the reckless energy he exuded as Joe Bang. He stole every scene he was in, which is a lot for me to say considering that meant I wasn’t looking at Adam Driver. Riley Keough played the Logan brothers’ sister, and she was just as fierce with her spit-fire knowledge of muscle cars and highways.

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The only performance that irked me was Seth McFarlane’s. It just felt like Seth McFarlane pretending to be an annoying man with a fake British accent and a bad wig. I feel like there are two types of actors: the ones who pretend to be someone else and those who become someone else. And surrounded by actors who so flawlessly became their characters, McFarlane stuck out like a sore thumb.

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Despite it feeling like an Indie film, it still was just a damn good heist movie. Even though as an audience member, I knew the premise of the film, I was still surprised with how it unraveled. As a viewer, you think you know exactly what is happening until you realize that you don’t. It was unsettling at the end, like clashing notes on a piano, but then once I got my bearings on what was actually happening, it left me with an excitement that carried me through the rest of the evening. I walked out that theater wanting nothing more than to turn around and see it again, to find the things I might have missed, to stare at Adam Driver’s beautiful hair once more (Ok, I’ll lay off the Adam Driver love).

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For those who may be expecting a plot-driven Hollywood blockbuster, it might have a slow buildup. The storytelling of the film is truly beautiful. As I’ve said a million times by now, it is subtle, but utterly engaging. When films try and force a reaction out of me, it yanks me right out of the narrative. It truly was beautifully written. In fact this is the writer, Rebecca Blunt’s, first script to be made into a movie. There were some theories that she is perhaps a ghost writer or doesn’t exist at all, but I like to believe that female screenwriters can write a kick-ass script right out of the gate without being accused a fraud.

So with this review/history of Logan Lucky, I urge anyone who reads this to go see it. If you get nothing at all from the film, well, at least you get to stare at Channing Tatum for 2+ hours.

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Paterson: A Review

Movie Reviews, Uncategorized

I saw a film last night at the Midtown Art Cinema in Atlanta, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Paterson is Jim Jarmusch’s latest work about a bus driver/poet named Paterson who lives in Paterson, NJ. The film follows Paterson and his wife, Laura over a span of seven days while they go about their life. Nothing monumental or life-changing happens, and yet there is a noticeable shift in the characters by the end of the film. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. I’ve never felt more peaceful or been more creatively inspired by a movie before. I am not well versed in any of Jarmusch’s previous works, so I’m not sure if this is his style or not, but it was unbelievably refreshing to see a film so devoid of conflict. Like any film, it has a rising action and a resolution at the end, but it is a very gradual rise and fall. It is really hard to explain why I love this movie, other than the fact that it stars my favorite actor right now, Adam Driver. I have been following this film since it made its first premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and without having even seen it, I knew it was going to be one that I watched over and over.

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Even though I was prepared for it to be a pretty mellow movie, I still tensed as if waiting for the other shoe to drop. The music in the beginning had a horror feel to it as Paterson walked unassumingly to work, and I was tense as I awaited the impending doom I was sure was to come. But nothing really bad ever happened. We were teased by potential dangers, like the threat of Marvin, Paterson and Laura’s English Bulldog, being kidnapped or even when (SPOILER) Everett brings a fake gun into the bar. No matter what situation arose, Paterson still woke up the next morning in bed with Laura.

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Their relationship, by the way, is so beautiful and pure. Their love and mutual understanding of each other is the real heart of the film. Everything Paterson does is for her. He starts and ends and his day by her side, and their relationship is such a beautiful portrayal of two people in long-lasting love. Where Paterson internalizes his art, Laura is so energetic and outward with her art. They are a perfect balance. She supports him and encourages him just as he encourages her ever-changing dreams. It is very rare for such a thing to be captured in film and television. Especially since everything portrayed in television and film is so revolved around sex and drama. By no means am I saying that it is perfect, because I firmly believe that there is always room for improvement, but it’s pretty close to what I consider perfection.

The only thing that irked me was Laura’s constant berating for Paterson to make copies of his poetry. Poetry is just a part of him, and who says that you have to share your talents with the world? Sometimes it is nice to keep them to yourself for a bit. After all, that is where they are most safe. I also feel that since Paterson analyzes and observes everything, his poetry wouldn’t be the same if he knew that other people would potentially read it. By keeping it in his secret notebook, he was able to write freely without inhibitions. There was one scene where I thought he might have regretted not making copies of his poems. When he was in his study in the basement, he was looking at William Carlos Williams’s book and it felt like maybe he had a bit of yearning to have one of his own.

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I didn’t realize how much I had to say about this film until I sat down to write, but I want to touch a bit on the acting. The whole cast was phenomenal. My favorite kind of acting is the kind where I don’t even realize I’m at a movie. Golshifteh Farahani was strikingly beautiful and delicate in comparison to Driver’s lanky, yet bulky stature. He seemed to hunch his way around the house, where Farahani moved as graceful and lithe as a bird. There were a few scenes between Paterson and Laura that pulled me away, but I’d have to re-watch the movie to see why I felt that way exactly. Overall, though, it was incredible. Adam Driver was amazing, but I’m kind of biased since I will literally see anything he does. He could do a three-hour-long movie about him eating cereal and I would think it was a masterpiece. But seriously, he is such a unique actor. He is unexpected in his movements and is a master of the micro-expression. He is silent the majority of the film, but not in the “lights on, but nobody’s home” way. You can see him listening and absorbing everything around him and it is beautiful. I want to go on the record here and now by saying that he is going to be one of the greats. I think that too many people get caught up in superficial expectations for actors in “the business”, and not enough people see what true craftsmanship looks like.

I highly recommend this film to literally everyone.