Saturday, January 10, 2015


Plot: Cheryl(Reese Witherspoon) is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail to clear her head after her mom (Laura Dern) died, her divorce, and recovery from drug use. She meets people along the way, and the people help her process her previous trauma. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Wild is a road movie with episodes happening all along the journey, and each one advances the interior journey inside Cheryl. The plot moves slowly, but occasionally the incident is intercut with multiple flashbacks--so the incident is happening in real life and in her mental live. 

Because of Cheryl's journey is more mental than physical, her pace down the path is lathargic -- this makes the visuals sleepier than they could have been. 

Cheryl encounters a fox regularly who is her spirit guide, and perhaps also the shade of her mother. 

The best parts of the flashbacks where we make the connections between her past life and the current crisis on the trail. There wasn't enough of this for me. 

I saw this movie because of the Oscar buzz around Reese's performance, and it is excellent -- a lot of range. I can see why she'd be nominated. 

Music and photography: The music  is all pop songs -- mostly 70's pop. I liked hearing Glory Box by Portishead, and I'd rather be a Sparrow than a Snail by Simon and Garfunkel. There is some good landscape photography especially of moss covered trees -- not as much as you'd expect.

Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee

Based on the book:  Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Rating: 2.5 stars:.Worthwhile. More interesting than fun. 

More: Here is the real Cheryl Strayed: 
Even More.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Skeleton Twins

Plot: Milo Dean (Bill Hader) survives a suicide attempt, and goes to stay with his twin sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig) in New York state. Maggie is married to Lance (Luke Wilson,) and she is equally troubled. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Skeleton Twins is a black comedy about how troubled kids become troubled adults. There are a few wry smiles due to the absurdity of it all, and a few sitcom laughs especially those with their Mom (Joanna Gleason.) The clever dialog was the best part which was smart and penetrating.

Kristen Wiig gives a good dramatic performance, and was unlike her comic persona. Her character was more interesting to me because she seemed normal, but was actually very troubled. Bill Hader was more obviously troubled, and he was less interesting because he was weirder. I thought the gay man stereotype limited the range of emotion or interests that Milo could have.

I was glad I saw The Skeleton Twins and while slow moving, it was always interesting. 

Cast: Bill Hader, Krisen Wiig

Directed by: Craig Johnson

Rating: 2.5 stars: worthwhile, but a little slow 

More: The Skeleton Twins has won a few film festival and critics awards. It can win people over with its earnestness.