The Confirmation (2016): Bicycle Thieves American Style (Review)

Jaeden Lieberer and Clive Owen - The Confirmation

Written and directed by Bob Nelson (his first time in the chair) The Confirmation is clearly influenced by the 1948 Vittorio De Sica classic Bicycle Thieves. It could even be considered a “re-working” or modernization of the Oscar nominated film. The plots are interchangeable:

An unemployed man is offered a job and his bike, which he needs for this new employment opportunity,  is stolen. He and his son search for the stolen bicycle.  (Bicycle Thieves)

A down on his luck man has his box of special tools stolen which he needs for an upcoming job. He and son search for the stolen tools. (The Confirmation)

There are even a few scenes that are essentially the same in both films. The thief is mauled (n “Thieves” he is slapped) and then “forgiven.”  Over and above the fact that this is a “remake” it deals with times of financial strife. The first in post-WWII Italy and the latter in present day America where the world is suffering economic turmoil.

Clive Owen is Walt, an alcoholic craftsman who if behind on his rent and struggling to make ends meet. He looks after his son Anthony (Jaeden Lieberher) on weekends.  His ex-wife Bonnie (Maria Bello) does not really trust him. 

Walt is offered a much needed job. He will need his “special” woodworking tools, passed on to him by his father, to do the work. While he is in a tavern the tools and the toolbox are stolen.

The Confirmation follows the adventures of Walt and Anthony trying to find who took the tools and getting them back.  The film is listed on IMDb as a comedy and this is being optimistic. A quirky dramedy certainly; with more than its fair share of heavy scenes, but not a comedy.

Owen is good at these types of roles. Where the character is of a more physical bent than intellectual.  He evokes an instant believability that just breathes truth. Lieberher, as Anthony, has a splendid chemistry with his  on-screen dad. The lad matches Clive in the “chops” stakes and this is a kid to keep an eye on.

This movie has number of familiar faces. Patton Oswalt  is the “meth-head” who attempts to help Walt retrieve his tools.Robert Forster is Walt’s old pal Otto. Matthew Modine (who is the scientist in Stranger Things on Netflix) is Bonnie’s new husband. Even the brilliant Canadian actor Michael Eklund (who played Bobo on Wynonna Earp) has a cameo.

(Prolific character actor Stephen Tobolowsky has a splendid cameo as the confessional Priest that Anthony confesses to twice.)

The Confirmation plays well. There are moments that are truly touching, mainly due to the interplay between  Owen and Lieberher.  The tale of a “damaged” father trying to survive and do right by his son is a touching one.  The boy becomes the parent, when needed, yet his naivety shines through repeatedly.

Nelson does a good job with his first feature film. Granted this is more of an updating of the 1948 classic film but it is rendered impressively.  The story travels well and is not out of place in its modern-day setting.  With so many facing economic issues it has a disturbing ring of truth.

There are comedic bits in the film, but not many.  The confession scenes at the start and end of the movie are the best and most obvious. Others are more peripheral in nature and not overtly comic in nature.

This is a 4.5 star film, losing a half star due to logic breakdowns in the storyline.  (It came close to losing another half star for not accrediting its “source” film.)

The Confirmation is steaming on Netflix.  Check this one out. It may not necessarily qualify as a “feel good” film but it comes close.  Owens and Lieberher rock this one. Watch the film and see what you think.

Wynonna Earp: I Walk the Line – Family Tree (Review)

 Wynonna Earp - Season 1

The season finale  of Wynonna Earp raised a few questions while showing  so much about the Willa and Robert backstory.” I Walk the Line” also had at least one shocking reveal and when it ended the fates of Purgatory and Wynonna seemed pretty final.  It also seems that JC  (“Right initials, wrong fella.”) paid Willa a visit or two in the family tree house.

It turns out that Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) was right not to trust big sister Willa (Natalie Krill). Stealing back Peacemaker kept Bobo (Michael Eklund) from leaving the Ghost River Triangle area. This forced Willa to show more of her true colors although Wynonna still missed the more obvious clues (such as  big sister calling the citizens of Purgatory “meat-sticks.”).

” I Walk the Line”  was a very busy episode in terms of action and reveals. For a start, Juan Carlos is not quite the “Yoda” figure he initially appeared to be.  It is clear that he was the other visitor who “made promises in the dark” to Willa. It could not have been Constance Clootie as she only turned up when the Earp heir turned 27 and that was to wipe her memory clean.

Shocking Moments in the Episode:

Learning that Robert Svane (Bobo) and Willa were lovers.  All kinds of wrong this one, despite Bobo’s protestations that he never “touched” the 13 year old child he “saved.”

Willa shooting Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell). Later, the Earp heir also unblinkingly went to shoot Wynonna with Peacemaker. 

Sheriff Nedley (Greg Lawson) turning out to be a decent guy after all.

Dolls shooting Willa.

Bobo telling Waverly that she is not an Earp.

Dolls (Shamier Anderson) turning out to be some sort of monster, as hinted by Lucado.(What a b*tch she is,  eh?)

And last but not least; Waverly, after being possessed by giant Hell worm blood, shooting…Who? Wynonna? Doc?

(We become privy to the news that Ward Earp was not a nice chap. He apparently beat up on his wife on top of his penchant for making deals with revenants.  It could well be that Willa was born to go bad from the start. Certainly her personality left much to be desired, although that could be blamed on her brainwashing captor Bobo/Robert.)

There were some stand out moments as well.  The big fight at Shorty’s.  Granted we do not see any of the chaos inside the building but we do get another  glance at the yellow-eyed demon inside of Dolls.

Another noteworthy event was the climatic shootout with Bobo and his telekinetic powers. Cue one middle finger moment from the rough and tumble  Earp heir (the real one).

Peacemaker not working for Willa, after she has doomed the denizens of Purgatory and her sisters, was equally impressive. She also abandons her lover in those final moments.

Thoughts: 

It turns out that, like Waverly, we were right to dislike the eldest Earp. She may well be a tragic figure (and she is to a degree, being captured and saved by a revenant “pedo” obviously changed her a lot) but Willa would most likely never have won the Miss Congeniality award in Purgatory anyway.

Peacemaker also worked on Willa, turing blue versus red, and this must mean that she was less human and more something else. Perhaps more like Juan Carlos…Or not.

And who is Juan Carlos? Or more accurately, perhaps, what is he. More powerful than Bobo and able to step outside the triangle with impunity, JC is a major player apparently. Rather interestingly, when Wynonna cocks and points Peacemaker at Juan Carlos it does not emit a color.  Willa made it turn blue and revenants are red.  No color at all for Juan…

The End:

By the end of the episode, Dolls is taken by Lucado to a black site as punishment for interfering. Wynonna shoots Bobo/Robert and sends him to hell moments after he crosses the Ghost River Triangle line. Waverly touches the worm blood and becomes possessed and then pulls a gun and shoots either her sister or Doc.

(Something  to consider: That rumbling heard by Doc (Tim Rozon) and Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) as Waverly turns may be the tomahawk missiles ordered by Lucado prior to Wynonna shooting Bobo. If this is the case then Purgatory and our heroine are doubly damned in this huge cliffhanger ending.)

Kudos to the entire cast here. Rozon was superb as Holliday. He gave his character a truth that sold the concept of Doc as flawed hero, making him a perfect match for Wynonna who,  as we all know, is flawed as well.

Scrofano was perfect as Wynonna another case of the actor filling her role with enough humor and pathos to make it feel real. Provost-Chalkley made us love Waverly; who was a mixture of eager enthusiasm and angst.

Mad props to Michael Eklund as Bobo Del Ray/Robert Svane. The actor managed to make us feel a bit upset at his death despite his character’s very unhealthy obsession with the Earp girls.

Wynonna Earp - Season 1
Michael Eklund as Bobo Del Ray

If Wynonna Earp comes back, if Purgatory and our heroine did not meet a sticky end by the hands of possessed Waverly or Lucado, we will be eagerly looking forward to her next set of adventures.

 

The Divide (2011): Claustrophobic Chaos

Directed by Xavier Gens (Hitman) and written by Karl Mueller and  Eron Sheean, The Divide stars Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, Rosanna Arquette, Lauren German, Courtney B. Vance, Michael Eklund, Ashton Holmes, Iván González and Abbey Thickson as Wendi.

The film opens with German looking out a tall rise building’s stairwell window watching things that are flying through the air and landing on the ground, exploding. A crowd of people are on the stairwell and they are all rushing to get out of the building.

Seven of this “crowd” make it to the basement door which is being closed by Mickey (Biehn). He yells that there is no more room, but the seven survivors push their way in. Mickey then locks the door.

Mickey explains that he is in charge and they need to follow his orders if they want to survive. When the group first arrive they are distracted by noises outside the door. Soon after a group of men in bio-hazard suits force their way into the basement.

They are armed and they focus on Wendi (Thickson) and take her forcibly from her mother Marilyn (Arquette). After two of the men leave with the now inoculated girl in a bag the remaining men go through the basement to kill the rest of the group. Devlin (Vance) beats one to death with a steel pipe and Mickey stabs the other to death. Collecting their guns, Mickey again asserts his leadership role.

Josh (Ventimilgia), aided by Bobby (Eklund) and Adrien (Holmes) puts on one of the bio-hazard suits and goes out the door to see what is going on. When he gets outside he finds that their building is attached to a sealed tunnel which leads to a lab. There he finds Wendi stored behind a closed-door with a glass window on it and an air tube taped to her mouth.

The world is burning.

Josh is spotted as an outsider and has to flee; he shoots two of the other men in the bio-suits, drops his gun and runs back to the basement. Once he gets inside, the people outside the basement weld the door shut. Now that the group are sealed in, the already strained relationship in this disparate group of survivors falls apart.

Mistrust, paranoia, and psychosis are the rule of the day and there is a race to see who will die from radiation poisoning and who will die of violence instigated by each other.

Xavier Gens has started the film in a hurry. The bombs dropping, the mass panic, the people desperate to save themselves and their loved ones all happen quickly. So fast, in fact, that when the few people make it into the basement we are not sure who they are.

A nuclear holocaust, The Divide tells us, makes for strange bedfellows (or basement buddies) and just as in real life, we don’t know who we’ll be sharing that “last” shelter with or if we’ll even get along with them or like them. In keeping with the theme of strangers “helping” strangers, we know very little about any of the survivors.

In this little scenario, the apocalypse has put everyone under the care of the building superintendent, Mickey. He is not pleased to see these folks encroach on his safe haven. Obviously a bit of a “survivalist” Mickey, it seems, has been preparing for this kind of thing since at least 9-11.

Throughout the course of this film we are privy to murder, rape, attempted rape, torture and a lot of tension and violence. Watching this film may make you want to make sure you are armed when you find that little hidey-hole to hunker down in; especially if you have to share it with a group like this one.

This is a thought-provoking film. It asks the viewer to think about how far they would go to save themselves or a loved one. It touches lightly on taboo subjects and just how much we don’t trust strangers.

Gens tells us that not getting turned into an instant crispy critter might actually be worse than dying in the initial conflagration. Like rats that become too crowded in lab experiments, the occupants of the basement turn on each other. It doesn’t help that one (Marilyn) lost the plot when she lost her daughter and that Bobby and Josh are two giant ass-holes on legs.

The two men are as full of attitude as you can possibly be and not be in prison. You get the feeling that these two had probably been in the middle of knocking over the local 7-11 when the bombs began dropping.

Milo Ventimilgia seems to be making a “new” career of playing downright nasty characters. His Josh is the polar opposite of his nurse-turned-super-hero, Peter Patrelli in TV’s Heroes. He was a pretty unpleasant chap in the 2008 film Pathology and he is even more despicable in The Divide.

There’s no saving the cheerleader here.

Michael Biehn does his usual good job and it was especially nice to see Rosanne Arquette again. The last thing I’d seen her in was Pulp Fiction and while I’m sure she has been busy, I just haven’t seen her on-screen for ages. I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Ms Arquette; ever since I saw her in Desperately Seeking Susan.

Everyone does a great job in the film and the whole thing looks like it should. In case you were wondering the apocalypse will be dark, dank, and dirty. Food will be in short supply and you probably will not like the folks you wind up with. The movie is grim and utterly devoid of humour; which, if you think about, probably would not exist in great abundance.

Checking on IMDb, they gave it a 5.8%. I’m not arguing that this figure is wrong, but despite its dirty message, I found that it was a difficult film to watch. The only character I actually felt sorry for was Arquette’s, but that did not last long; once she ventured off into the darker reaches of her mind, I could not maintain my sympathy.

Lauren German  as Eva was the only other female in the group and she seemed too wishy-washy and  self-centred for me to really connect with and while I did not “like” Biehn’s character I could at least understand where he was coming from.

I watched this on Netflix and that is just what I’d recommend anyone else do. A more depressing and disturbing take on surviving a nuclear holocaust might be out there, but if so, I haven’t seen it. Watching the film’s descent into claustrophobic chaos is like watching a slow filthy trolley on its way to hell.

My one big tip about watching this movie is if you aren’t in a good mood don’t watch it. I think if you were depressed before the film started you might just need therapy after watching this downbeat film.

Survivalist Mickey…