Film Review: Lucky (2017)

Release Date: March 11th, 2017 (SXSW)
Directed by: John Carroll Lynch
Written by: Logan Sparks, Drago Sumonja
Music by: Elvis Kuehn
Cast: Harry Dean Stanton, David Lynch, Ron Livingston, Ed Begley Jr., Tom Skerritt, Beth Grant, James Darren, Barry Shabaka Henley, Yvonne Huff

Superlative Films, Divide / Conquer, Lagralane Group, Magnolia Pictures, 88 Minutes

Review:

“There are some things in this world that are bigger than all of us… and a tortoise is one of ’em! ” – Howie

I was glad that I got to catch this in the theater during it’s very scant run in my town. It was only playing at 10 a.m. for a few days, actually. Luckily, I had a day off with nothing to do.

With Harry Dean Stanton passing away, a few months back, this film is his swan song. Honestly, there really wouldn’t have been a better film for this legendary actor to say “goodbye” with than this one and it felt tailor made for Stanton, as if he knew this was it and wanted to give his two cents on mortality.

The picture is directed by John Carroll Lynch, who you may know as the nicer one of the two McDonald’s brothers in The Founder or as the guy that saved Morgan in The Walking Dead or as that serial killer clown in American Horror Story. The guy is an accomplished actor but with Lucky, he proved he has some talent behind the camera, as well.

Stanton is very relaxed but has no problems displaying his fear of death and entering into the unknown. He has a pretty atheistic stance about the universe but late in life, he still wonders and is apprehensive about the inevitable. He talks of nothingness and none of this mattering in the big scheme of the universe but he is a man that fears not having left his mark.

He is surrounded by a great cast and I absolutely adored David Lynch in this, as Lucky’s friend Howie. He is a man that had a hundred year-old tortoise but it escaped. The tortoise is really a symbol about mortality in the film and its escape parallels the end of Lucky’s life.

Lucky isn’t a perfect movie or even a great movie. However, it’s pretty damn good at what it sets out to do, which is to create a platform for Stanton to say goodbye to those of us who have loved the man’s work for decades.

This is a sweet and subtle film that allows Stanton to showcase his wide array of talents in a delightful and respectable way. It probably won’t mean as much to those who aren’t familiar with Stanton but it does feel like a true representation of the man for those of us who have enjoyed him over the years.

There really isn’t a sweeter way to go out than what Stanton got to accomplish with Lucky. Kudos to the man and to those behind this film, which feels more like an artistic and cinematic homage to the man, than just a movie about death.

Rating: 7.75/10

Film Review: The Founder (2016)

Release Date: December 7th, 2016 (Arclight Hollywood premiere)
Directed by: John Lee Hancock
Written by: Robert D. Siegel
Music by: Carter Burwell
Cast: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, B.J. Novak, Laura Dern

FilmNation Entertainment, The Combine, Faliro House Productions S.A., The Weinstein Company, 115 Minutes

the_founderReview:

I finally got around to seeing The Founder. I had heard nothing but good things about it. Also, I have been a Michael Keaton fan for a long time and would like to see him eventually win an Academy Award. Unfortunately, he wasn’t nominated for this picture, which got a lot of people upset. So that added more incentive for me to check out his performance in this picture.

Having now seen it, I can say that Michael Keaton really knocks it out of the park in this film. This is up there with his performance in Birdman as one of the best of his career. But it doesn’t stop with Keaton though.

Nick Offerman gives the performance of his career and it was really nice seeing him get such a prominent role that wasn’t just comedy. He was stellar as the legendary Ron Swanson on Parks & Recreation but his role here, as one of the McDonald brothers, is truly the highlight of his already great career.

The other McDonald brother was played by John Carroll Lynch, a guy who can do just about anything. From being one of the best one episode characters ever on The Walking Dead to a psychotic serial killer clown on American Horror Story to a really lovable and gentle guy in The Founder, Lynch proves that he is one of the best and most versatile actors today. Frankly, he should be better known than he is.

Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern, Patrick Wilson and B.J. Novak round out the cast and they all give their characters a bit of gravitas. The picture was well cast and well acted all around.

The story of Ray Kroc and how he “founded” McDonald’s has been fairly known for quite some time but seeing it play out so dramatically on the big screen, is a treat. I think some people may have dismissed this as two-hour McDonald’s propaganda. It isn’t. That was already tried and it ultimately failed in 1988 with Mac & MeThe Founder can almost be seen as anti-McDonald’s in certain respects, not that it is trying to give the corporation a bad name, it is just trying to convey the story of its creation in an honest way. But ultimately, one has to feel bad for how the McDonald brothers were played by Ray Kroc.

The Founder is compelling. It is a truly American story about the rise of one of America’s biggest corporations in the most American way possible, whether that’s seen as good or bad. It had a good pace and featured solid direction and great acting from all those who appeared in the film.

I wouldn’t consider it a Picture of the Year candidate but the performances by some of the cast should probably have been looked at more carefully, especially Keaton, Offerman and Lynch.

Rating: 8.25/10