Paul (Steve Coogan), a history teacher, and his wife Claire (Laura Linney) are meeting Paul’s brother Stan (Richard Gere), a successful politician, and his second wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) for dinner. Paul obviously doesn’t want to go, he doesn’t actually like Stan a lot and he’s struggling with his mental health. But something happened that involves Paul and Claire’s son, as well as Stan’s kids from his first marriage. And the four present parents need to decide what to do about what happened.
The Dinner managed to completely dismantle white, rich privilege without ever leaving the privileged perspective. Nothing in this film is okay, but it is worth looking at the issues exactly because of that.
Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) works as car saleswoman and one day, a guy (John Cusack) strolls into her shop, interested to buy. Turns out, he is Brian Wilson, formerly of The Beach Boys. Brian seems a little off and is accompanied by two bodyguards and a doctor – Eugene (Paul Giamatti). Nevertheless he manages to pass on a message, a cry for help, to Melinda. Even when he was young, Brian (Paul Dano) has had mental health issues, but now he seems completely under Eugene’s control – and apparently not doing very well.
Love & Mercy has an interesting structure and a cast that absolutely shines. I was completely immersed in the story. Yet it is also interesting to think about what has been left out of the story.
It’s 1999 in LA. Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson) is a cop who lives for his job and does not care so much about his methods as long as things get done. He lives with his two ex-wives, Barbara (Cynthia Nixon) and Catherine (Anne Heche), who also happen to be sisters, and his two daughters (one with each ex-wife) which goes surprisingly well, even though Dave drinks too much and spends most of his spare time looking for the next lay. After he gets filmed savagely beating a suspect, Dave’s live and job start crumbling around him.
Apart from the camera work, the movie was really good. Cast, pacing, characters and story really come very well together in this. Even though I don’t go for the cop dramas that much, this one was just very good.
Will (Ben Foster) returns from Iraq after he was shot. Since he’s not fit for going into war anymore, he gets assigned to Captain Stone (Woody Harrelson), who is responsible for personally notifying the next of kin of fallen soldiers when those soldiers fall. During this job, Will meets the freshly widowed Olivia (Samantha Morton) and falls in love with her.
The Messenger is not a movie that speaks for or against the war. Instead it looks at the personal tragedies that arise from it. It does so with a lot of sensitivity and compassion. And it’s wonderfully acted (remind me again, why isn’t Ben Foster world famous yet?). If that wasn’t enough reason to watch it, it’s also funny.