EDIE – movie review

Music Box Films
Reviewed for Shockya.com & BigAppleReviews.net linked from Rotten Tomatoes by: Harvey Karten
Director: Simon Hunter
Screenwriter: Simon Hunter, Edward Lyden-Bell, Elizabeth O’Halloran
Cast: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan, Amy Manson, Wendy Morgan
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 8/10/19
Opens: September 6, 2019

Edie Movie Poster

The Pennsylvania Dutch have an expression, “Ve get too soon oldt undt too late schmart.” Keep this in mind when you view this small movie which is sentimental but not saccharine and which may offer insight into people that millennials in America consider to be irrelevant oldsters. People like Edie (Sheila Hancock) are never seen in commercials because folks in their seventies and eighties are not considered cool, and in fact if you look at commercials from Macy’s, our country’s largest retail store, you get the idea that everyone over thirty has gone the way of Logan’s Run.

Edie has become old. She spent the last thirty years caring for her husband who, resulting from a stroke, had not spoken or walked. Nor did she love him, as she explains to her daughter Nancy (Wendy Morgan), and now that he’s dead, she feels a sense of relief—nothing like what the psychoanalysts say is the most stressful event that an happen to a surviving spouse. She is fed up with Nancy’s insistence that she enters a nursing home, an absurd idea since she can obviously take care of herself. She proves this with points to spare in Hunter’s movie.

Hunter has apparently been inactive in the cinema community, having last directed “Mutant Chronicles” in 2009 about a 28th century soldier fighting an army of underworld mutants. Such a film does not prepare you for “Edie,” which, though featuring a woman battling nature as Major Mitch Hunter battled mutants is well rooted in the modern day. You might come away from this picture figuring, “Hey, this Simon Hunter knows not only how to direct women but is a man who with the help of co-writers Edward Lynden-Bell and Elizabeth O’Halloran getd right into the mind of an octagenarian.

Looking at an old picture postcard featuring a scene from Scotland’s Mount Suilven, she sets her mind on climbing it, though tour guides recommend allowing ten daylight hours to do the 2400 feet. Nor would most guides suggest that someone like Edie try the climb particularly given the arrival of nighttime and the pouring rain for which Scotland is known. Happily, she meets and bonds with Jonny (Kevin Guthrie), who plans to open Scotland’s largest camping store, a young man who at first thinks like Edie’s daughter Nancy but ultimately assists her in reaching the peak.

Sheila Hancock in the title role is a wonderful British actress who in this movie knows how to play the cantankerous biddy when she mistrusts someone but who can open up when a young man pays attention to her as does Jonny’s friend McLaughlin (Paul Brannigan). It’s important to note that contrary to our present time when women have proven themselves capable of running corporations and joining the bid to become president of the U.S., those who came of age during the 1950s like Edie were indoctrinated with their role of cooking, cleaning, and living for their husbands, children and grandchildren.

Cinematographer August Jakobsson photographs the landscape in tourist brochure mode, somehow finding the entire area almost free of other climbers and campers, which is exactly what Edie had hoped. The friendship between an 84-year-old woman and a lad over fifty years younger is convincing and heartwarming in a project that should make women (especially) to realize that they need not wait until their final segment of life to get off the couch, put down the iPhone, go outdoors, and welcome the thrill of nature.

102 minutes. © Harvey Karten, Member, NY Film Critics Online

Story – B
Acting – B+
Technical – B+
Overall – B

THE STRANGE ONES – movie review


Vertical Entertainment
Director:  Lauren Wolkstein, Christopher Radcliff
Screenwriter:  Christopher Radcliff
Cast:  Alex Pettyfer, James Freedon-Jackson, Emily Althaus, Gene Jones, Melanie Nicholls-King, Olivia Wang
Screened at: Critics’ DVD, NYC, 12/17/17
Opens: January 5, 2018

click for larger (if applicable)

There’s just so much you can do with mood, unless your name is spelled Ingmar Bergman.  The directors, Lauren Wolkstein and Christopher Radcliff, whose résumés are fill with shorts and videos, hope to capture audience attention through ambiance and mystery, but ultimately, the gaps in the narrative and the questions that are never answered prove frustrating.  The best thing about the film, though, is the music, and woodsy  photography, which takes place in rural New York State, could serve as a tourist brochure to entice people who think that the Big Apple is the only place in the state worth visiting.

The film is divided into two halves, the first involving Nick (Alex Pettyfer), a hunky fellow in his twenties, and his teen road-trip companion Sam/Jeremiah (James Freedson-Jackson).  Though they claim to be brothers on a camping trip, we sense that this is not true, considering that an opening shot shows young Sam facing a huge blaze that could serve to cover up a felony.  Each of the two has some specific traits that appear as though parts of his DNA.  The older man varies in temperament for caring and tender, regularly asking the boy if he’s having fun, but in one particular situation, a burst of temper that finds him slapping his companion.  Sam’s feelings come across often like a blank slate.  When the two stop at a motel and Kelly (Emily Althouse), the flirtatious manager, asks the boy about his older companion, Sam trashes the man, calling him a liar and worse.  Usually, though, he is morose, communicating blank stares at the questions that people ask him.

During the second segment, Nick is mostly out of the picture.  Centering on the teen, directors Walkstein and Radcliff see the lad as a runaway, one who is taken in by a camp using the labor of teens in return for bed and board, though Gary (Gene Jones), the head counselor, as it were, takes a keen interest in Sam despite, or because of, being faced mostly by the boy’s signature stares.  What sort of camp is this, where teen runaways are taken in and cared for by a benevolent manager who seems to grant residence to young people in trouble?

The principal mysteries remain throughout.  We never find out the relationship between Sam, who has been calling himself Jeremiah, and Nick, who has little in common with his cryptic pal.  Though points are made about Sam’s relationship to his dad, we are never certain of their bond or lack of affection, with the hint that perhaps the father has been abusing the boy.  Since Sam describes his nightmares to the counselor, we may think of the possibility that everything that looks real is actually the teen’s dream, and the nightmares he suffers are real life.  That’s just a guess.   After a while, the effect of mood drifts away and we are left with, what’s up?

Rated R.  82 minutes.  © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – C
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – C+