YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN: Manchester By The Sea, It’s Only the End of the World and The Commune


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Warning: SPOILERS
rev-2You Can’t Go Home Again is, of course, the title of a posthumously published novel by Thomas Wolfe, and a phrase that has entered common discourse since. I’ve seen three movies lately that are about people returning home or using memories of their early years as the basis for their stories.
The basic premise of writer/director Kenneth Lonergan’s new film Manchester by the Sea revolves around Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a janitor living in Boston who is very good at his job, but is a loner with a somewhat self-destructive personality. When he receives word that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) has died, he returns to his home city of Manchester by the Sea, a fishing and tourist town. There he is shocked to discover that his brother in his will has requested Lee to become guardian to Joe’s sixteen year old son, Lucas. Joe has provided for Lucas’ expenses in his will and just needs Lee to return to Manchester to live.
Why Lee can’t return and the conflicts over how to handle this request make up the bulk of the movie and much of the heart breaking suspense is waiting to find out what happened that led to Lee’s present situation-you know it has something to do with his three children since they are only shown in flashback. The waiting is painfully unbearable at times. Continue reading

IT’S NOT THE SIZE, IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH IT: Child 44 and Unfriended


First, a word from our sponsors. Ever wonder what a reader for a contest or agency thinks when he reads your screenplay? Check out my new e-book published on Amazon: Rantings and Ravings of a Screenplay Reader, including my series of essays, What I Learned Reading for Contests This Year, and my film reviews of 2013. Only $2.99. http://ow.ly/xN31r
 
and check out my Script Consultation Services: http://ow.ly/HPxKE
 
Warning: SPOILERS
child 44 twoChild 44, the new mystery thriller that is about the hunt for a serial killer in post-World War II Soviet Union, has received terrible reviews. I mean, horrendous in some cases. It’s at 25% at rottentomatoes. And very few, so far, have had much too good to say about it.
Well, I’m here to suggest that maybe the movie is being a bit maligned.
That is not to say I think it’s great. I definitely do not believe it quite succeeds on its own terms or rises above what it is.
And it’s also possible that I went in expecting the worst, only to be pleasantly surprised. That’s certainly happened to all of us at one time or another.
But still, I think there is much to like here, especially if you are a fan of neo-noir or crime dramas. Continue reading