Dragged Across Concrete (2018)

Dragged Across Concrete
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Thomas Kretschmann, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Don Johnson, Udo Kier, Fred Melamed, Justine Warrington
Part of: /slash Filmfestival 1/2
Seen on: 4.5.2019
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Content Note: racism

Plot:
Veteran cop Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson) and his younger, more volatile partner Anthony Lurasetti (Vince Vaughn) are caught on tape using excessive force on a black suspect. They are suspended when the tape reaches the media. Ridgeman decides to turn to crime himself in this forced downtime: he and Lurasetti plan to take over a robbery of which they get wind. Part of the robbery crew is Henry Johns (Tory Kittles), just released from prison, who came home to find the poverty of his family completely overwhelming. Without other options, he lets himself get roped into the robbery plot. But things don’t go according to plan for anybody.

I was this close to not watching Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler’s last film – Bone Tomahawk – was racist crap. That he then turns to make a film that is a whole lot about racism and casts Mel Gibson, a known racist and antisemite, in the lead is insensitive to say the least. But then I figured, I had an all-access pass to the festival and I may as well give this film a go. Well. I should have listened to my gut and saved myself because the film is just as racist as the last.

The film poster showing the main characters in red paint that looks like something was dragged over the white poster background.
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Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Hail, Caesar!
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Cast: Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Veronica Osorio, Heather Goldenhersh, Alison Pill, Max Baker, Clancy Brown, David Krumholtz, Robert Picardo, Christopher Lambert, Fred Melamed, Jack Huston, Michael Gambon
Seen on: 21.2.2016

Plot:
Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) fixes problems for a big movie studio. And boy, are there ever problems: Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), the biggest star they currently have, is missing, possibly abducted. Star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johansson) is pregnant und unmarried. Director Laurnce Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes) needs a new star for his film and the only guy available is Hobie Doyle (Alden Ehrenreich), talented stunt cowboy but acting is a whole other story. And the twin journalists Thora and Thessaly Thacker (Tilda Swinton and Tilda Swinton) are snooping around for a story, each in her own way and for her own column. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Eddie has an attractive job offer on the table he needs to decide on soon.

After the recent rather serious outings of the Coen brothers, Hail, Caesar! is a return to comedy, and a very successful one at that. The film is a romp through the studio cinema of the 50s, with the only drawback that they’re reproducing the white-maleness of those films as well. Other than that, though, it is simply fun.

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Bone Tomahawk (2015)

Bone Tomahawk
Director: S. Craig Zahler
Writer: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, Evan Jonigkeit, David Arquette, Fred Melamed, Sid Haig
Part of: /slash Christmas special
Seen on: 17.12.2015

Plot:
When a stranger, Purvis (David Arquette), stumbles into town, Sheriff Hunt (Kurt Russell) is suspicious of him, especially after a report from his backup deputy Chicory (Richard Jenkins) informs him that he saw the stranger behave weirdly just outside the city limits. When Purvis’ answers don’t satisfy Hunt, he shoots him in the leg and has Samantha (Lili Simmons), the closest thing the town has to a doctor, take care of him. The next morning, Purvis, Samantha and Depty Nick (Evan Jonigkeit) have been taken and there was a murder in town. Hunt, Chicory, educated gunslinger Brooder (Matthew Fox) and Samantha’s husband Arthur (Patrick Wilson) take up the trail to get them back.

Bone Tomahawk was openly, outrageously, unflinchingly, unwaveringly and unquestionably racist. So much so, in fact, that I’m honestly surprised that this film got made in this day and age.

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[SPOILERS]

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In a World… (2013)

In a World…
Director: Lake Bell
Writer: Lake Bell
Cast: Lake BellFred Melamed, Michaela Watkins, Demetri Martin, Rob CorddryAlexandra HoldenTalulah Riley, Jason O’Mara, Ken Marino, Eva Longoria, Nick Offerman, Geena Davis, Cameron Diaz
Part of: Framing Reality

Plot:
Carol (Lake Bell), daughter of the famous trailer narrator Sam (Fred Melamed), has been dreaming of narrating trailers herself. But women just don’t do that – all movie trailers are narrated by men. So she struggles along with dialect coaching. Until one day she by chance gets to substitute for Gustav (Ken Marino), new star of the trailer voice over world. Despite the hostility from a lot of men around her, that was just the opening she needed to carve out a space for herself and female voices.

In a World… was funny, sweet, smart and feminist. I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

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[SPOILERS]

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A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man is the newest film by Joel and Ethan Coen, starring Michael Stuhlbarg, Richard Kind, Fred Melamed and Sari Lennick.

Plot:
Larry Gopnick (Michael Stuhlbarg) is a professor waiting for his tenure. But his life starts to come apart at the seams when his wife (Sari Lennick) tells him she wants to leave him, his brother (Richard Kind) won’t move out of Larry’s house and Larry’s boss tells him that there seem to be some hickups with his tenure application.

The Coen Brothers are a little hit and miss with me… every other film I really like, the others don’t do much for me. Since I really loved Burn After Reading, A Serious Man was supposed to be a miss again. And it stuck to that rule.

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