Lita On Film

Posts Tagged ‘Angels Crest’

Trivial Top Ten

In Film News, Film Reviews, Netflix Recommendations on December 27, 2011 at 12:05 am

As the year draws to a close, I feel the annual urge to post my own Trivial Top Ten–a list not exhaustive by any means, but more a private crib sheet of my personal favorites from the past 12 months.

My perpetual caveat: there are SO MANY films I haven’t yet seen, many of which would probably end up on a more professional, exhaustive list, so don’t hold that against me.  These are just the ten films I enjoyed the most/found the most interesting over the past year.  Notes as to how you can see each of them are included, as are links to my own reviews of each title, as applicable.  Enjoy!  🙂

  1. MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE – Read my review here!  See the official site for screening locations.
  2. WEEKEND – Read my review here!  Now available on NETFLIX streaming!
  3. SHE MONKEYS – Read my review here!  See the official site here…so far, no distribution in the USA, but keep your fingers crossed.  Whet your appetite with the trailer (here)!
  4. SHAME – Read my review here!  Visit the official site here to find where it’s playing near you!  Beware, its NC-17 rating has made it difficult to find outside of major cities and art houses.  You may have to make a pilgrimage for this one, but it’s worth it, I promise.
  5. INSIDIOUS – Read my review here!  Ok, I know it technically came out last year, but it made such an impression on me–and I was so late in finally seeing it–that I felt it was worth adding to this list.  Plus, genuinely good horror films are so few and far between these days that one practically has to reach back a year or two to be able to recommend anything good.  Available on NETFLIX streaming!
  6. LAST NIGHT – Another Tribeca premiere that still made it to this list about 9 months later.  A truly excellent romantic drama starring Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington as a couple who married too young and are struggling with the consequences.  Great acting, tight direction and a fast pace keep the tension crackling in this sexy ensemble drama.  Available on NETFLIX streaming!
  7. DRIVE – Ok, I got to this one late as well, but it was so worth it.  Check out Kevin Bowen’s review over on Screen Comment for a full rundown, and the official site for screening locations near you.
  8. BUCK – Read my review here!  Now available on NETFLIX streaming!
  9. ANGELS CREST – Read my review here!  See the official site for release dates and screening venues.
  10. TROLLHUNTER – Read my review here!  Now available on NETFLIX streaming!

What were your favorite (or least favorite) films of 2011?  What were some that should have been on my list?  Let me know!

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Angels Crest (2011) – Tribeca Selection 2011

In Film Reviews on May 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Director Gaby Dellal, best known for her 2005 film “On A Clear Day,” has a new feature that’s about as tragic as they come.  Adapted from the novel of the same name, “Angels Crest” follows the fallout in a tiny Montana town after a 3-year-old accidentally freezes to death after wandering away from his father’s pickup truck.  With a good pace and tremendous acting, “Angels Crest” was one of the best films I saw at this year’s Tribeca festival.

Young father Ethan (Thomas Dekker) is implicated by the local authorities after finding his son dead in the snow.  In such a tiny town everyone knows everyone else, and soon all the residents are sounding off on Ethan’s situation.  His drunk, no-good ex Cindy, who’s also the toddler’s mother (played expertly by Lynn Collins), really flies off the handle at the terrible news, but by the end of the film it seems that this tragedy may be exactly the catalyst she needed to finally pull herself together.

Jeremy Piven plays the prosecutor bringing charges against Ethan, and though we never get the full story (something that actually makes the film more, rather than less intriguing) it seems that this character also lost a child once upon a time.  Piven balances his character’s legal zeal and personal ambivalence well, though his role is relatively small.  Kate Walsh also has an excellent turn here as a no-nonsense lesbian who has trouble finding sympathy for Ethan.

Though the film’s plot points can feel a bit like a sad soap opera—Ethan discovers his best friend is sleeping with Cindy, for example—overall “Angels Crest” manages to delve into the grief and rage that power the film with out being overwhelmed by them.  It’s both a portrait of small-town life, with all the poignancy you would expect from a Richard Russo novel, and a detailed character study which, amazingly, holds up until the final devastating scene.

Though I initially had doubts about Dekker’s casting (he just doesn’t look like a father to me), I ended up being very impressed with the rawness of his emotion and his totally un-showy performance.  All the actors in “Angels Crest” are self-effacing and dedicated to their roles, and it really shows.  In other hands, with a different cast or different script, this film could have succumbed completely to campy melodrama.  Instead, it somehow manages to be life-affirming even as it charts the effects of a very untimely death.