By “Cinema” Dave
After hearing the tragic news from the Ft. Lauder-dale Hollywood International Airport, I went to see a movie whose primary theme featured the terror of grief, A Monster Calls. Based on an award-winning young adult novel written by Patrick Ness (from an idea by Siobhan Dowd), A Monster Calls has received a low box-office return. However, given the vast visualization and emotional wallop, you should see it on the big screen for genuine popcorn-eating fun and entertainment.
12-year-old Connor (Lewis McDougall) wakes up each morning at 12:07 a.m. with a reoccurring nightmare, that he cannot rescue his mother (Felicity Jones – Rogue One) from a pit. His mother is battling cancer and Connor channels his fears into his art. Inspired by his mother’s love of the original King Kong, Connor envisions his own monster (voiced by Liam Neeson), who forces him to listen to three stories. Upon completion of the three stories, the monster demands that Connor tell him his own story and it must be the truth.
Directed by J.A. Boyona, this film is filled with allegory enhanced by quality special effects. However, it is the human exchanges between his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and principal (Geraldine Chaplin) that pack the most emotional wallop for the protagonist, Connor. I wished I saw A Monster Calls a week ago. It would have made my Top 10 list.
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea also focuses on grief. Last Sunday night, Casey Affleck took home a Golden Globe for his performance as Lee Chandler, a tortured man who loses a brother (Kyle Chandler) and is given custody of his nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges).
Unlike the tortured Connor from A Monster Calls, Patrick is a callow high-school student who is both popular and a two-timing ladies’ man. Given the horrible history with his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams), Lee does not have the emotional strength to mentor his nephew.
Minus monsters and special effects, Manchester by the Sea is pure and painful realism, with moments of humor and beautiful New England cinematography. This film is a roller coaster ride. A funny scene involving slapstick and a refrigerator freezer becomes an emotional breakdown for one of the characters that is painful to watch. However, this scene provides much character revelation and alters the family dynamic for the rest of the film.
While both films deal with subjects that we would like to avoid, both Manchester by the Sea and A Monster Calls are fine dramas for a matinee afternoon price.
For more escapist entertainment, Silverspot Cinemas in Coconut Creek will screen the second Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti western, For a Few Dollars More, on Monday evening. Before the 7 p.m. screening, a spaghetti dinner with a glass of wine and tiramisu will be served, along with some popcorn [for $23]. Details: www.silverspot.net.