Cinema rate. . . with MV Moorhead
Based on Jennifer Vogels’ 2004 memoir Flim-Flam Man, “Flag Day” is roughly the zillionth tale in one of America’s Eternal Dramas: The Relationship With The Father. The authors ‘often-absent father, John Vogel, was a career criminal in the’ 80s with everything from bank robbery to arson to counterfeiting. He was also a sensitive and loving person who drew and introduced his daughter and son to Chopin and the marinated steaks.
Sean Penn, who directed and plays John Vogel, shows us how these two personalities can exist, albeit uncomfortably, in one man.
This is one of his most painfully believable performances since his turn in “The Falcon and the Snowman” in 1985. Like this guy, Penns John Vogel is one of those people who is both repulsive and repulsive. charismatic, one way or another at the same time.
He’s a con artist in the great Willy Loman tradition, insisting, when asked what he does for a living, that he’s an entrepreneur, with many irons in the fire at one point.
Penns’ daughter, Dylan Penn, is incredibly unhistrionic and likeable as the grown-up version of Jennifer, replacing a few top-notch young actresses who play her early vintages. The director’s son, Hopper Penn, does indeed play the role of Jennifer’s little brother as an adult.
Stylistically, the film generates a superbly compelling period feel, and it has a 70s art cinema vibe. It’s like something Terence Malick, with lots of quiet edits cut to melancholy songs and sequences. deliberately grainy, home movie style, and heavy use of Dylan Penns voiceover narration.
Virtually a catalog of serious family dysfunctions, it’s a bitterly sad story, but seen strictly in terms of Jennifer’s accomplishment, it’s also a pretty inspiring story.
I wondered why Jennifer’s beleaguered mom (Katheryn Winnick) hadn’t had more sympathy, until her inaction during a seizure midway through the film made it harder to love her.
Overall, however, “Flag Day” is another illustration of the huge and extremely unfair emotional advantage fathers tend to exert in family dynamics and in the Western storytelling tradition.
‘Don’t Breathe 2’ has an outrageous and unsavory plot twist
The 2016 shock “Dont Breathe” was essentially “Wait Until Dark” in reverse. Three thieves break into a blind person’s house, but this time they find it to be a former Navy Seal with deadly skills that make up for his blindness and more, and that he knows the terrain and they don’t.
The crooks find themselves fighting for their lives.
It was a gruesome yet gripping and witty tale, and it was built around a mind-blowing performance, by Stephen Lang as The Blind Man. The veteran Lang seemed to me for a long time to be a great actor who had never quite had his great role, and with The Blind he raised this film Grand Guignol Corn, as if by dint of an actor’s will, to a almost Shakespearean level.
For “Dont Breathe 2”, co-written and directed by Uruguayan Rodo Sayagues (who co-wrote the original), The Blind Man became more or less the hero. This time around, he’s fighting to save a teenage girl, Phoenix (Madelyn Grace), from a group of gooey creeps linked to trafficking in human organs.
While he wreaks bloody havoc on villains, his character is mellowed from the previous film. This inevitably results in a decrease in Langs’ power, although it is still of unforgettable gravity.
And “Dont Breathe 2,” like the first movie, has an outrageous, unsavory plot that you probably won’t see coming. But be forewarned: it’s horribly violent, and animals are among the targets.
Despite this, however, the film has a particularly respectful attitude towards dogs. The blind man is reluctant to kill a dog even when his life may depend on it, and the dog does not fail to reward his consideration.
“Flag Day” is rated R and is playing at Harkins Camelview in Fashion Square in Scottsdale. “Dont Breathe 2” is rated R and plays at Tempe Marketplace, Arizona Mills, Chandler Fashion 20 and other multiplexes throughout the Valley.
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