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Old 07-15-2018, 03:59 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Default Great new movie: "Leave No Trace"

Once in a very great while a movie will come out that hasn't got a false note in it, where every performance is spot-on, and where every scene leads logically to the next but without anything being telegraphed.

Today I saw "Leave No Trace," about a father who's a veteran with PTSD who lives in a forest in a public park in Portland with his teenage daughter, and how their lives change when their campsite is discovered by the authorities. Ben Foster plays the father, which is part of the reason I saw the film in the first place: he's one of those actors who is superb in whatever film he's in, even when the movie itself doesn't measure up. But this film does.

The young woman who plays his daughter is a New Zealander who does the role with a flawless American accent - I was surprised when I heard her speaking in her own accent in an interview clip. Her name is Thomasin McKenzie, and she's terrific.

The other reason I was probably going to see the movie anyway is that it was directed by Deborah Granik, who also directed "Winter's Bone," which was an outstanding adaptation of the novel by Missouri author Daniel Woodrell. Granik filmed that movie in Forsyth, Missouri in the Ozarks, using mostly local people for most of the speaking parts (which also meant that their accents were correct and not the usual exaggerated Hollywood hillbilly accents.) There were four, maybe five professional actors in that film, and at times that was obvious, unfortunately.

"Winter's Bone" was a devastatingly effective movie nonetheless, in large part because of the strong (if dark) source material in Woodrell's novel, and also of course because of Jennifer Lawrence's and John Hawkes' Oscar-nominated performances.

But even though the subject matter in this new film is neither violent nor especially dark, it's equally compelling. Of the two, "Leave No Trace" is actually a more perfect film. It seems clear that Ms. Granik had more money to spend this time around, and there are no awkward amateur performances. Not everyone onscreen is a professional actor, but there's never a false note in this one.

Anyway, I strongly recommend it. I like the fact that the people working in social services are depicted as decent individuals trying their best to help, not as overbearing bureaucrats. I liked pretty much everything about this movie. The use of music in the film is very sparse, but effective when it is used, and there's a really good song sung over the final credits that was written and performed by a woman who lives off the grid in the Oregon woods herself, I learned in an interview with Ms. Granik.

It's a well-made film with some of the best minimalist acting I've ever seen, and it has a truth to it that is rarer than rare. I can't recommend it highly enough.


Wade Hampton Miller
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Old 07-15-2018, 06:53 AM
ziapack ziapack is offline
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Cool....I will look for it
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:41 AM
aknow aknow is offline
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I agree with you about Ben Foster. He elevates every movie he appears in.
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Old 07-15-2018, 08:45 AM
architype architype is offline
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Thanks for the review. Is it showing in theaters now?

I really liked Winter's Bone, so this sounds like something I'd like to see.
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Old 07-15-2018, 09:34 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Yes, itís in theaters right now.

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Old 07-15-2018, 03:26 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Looking back over what I wrote last night, I realize that I might be overselling the film somewhat. It is a great movie, but towards the end when the father and daughter get welcomed into a community of people living in the woods, the strict realism of the film up to that point gives way to an idealized vision of what things COULD be like. There are no guns in sight, no political stickers, and everyone is shown getting along nicely and living in a sort of bucolic refuge.

Which is valid so far as the film goes. But up to that point there wasn't that element of wish fulfillment to it. Having spent some time in remote, isolated rural communities in Alaska, I know it's a tough way to live and it's hardly idyllic.

But I'll give them that. It most definitely is a satisfying vision of what could be.


whm
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Old 07-15-2018, 04:42 PM
porchswingpickr porchswingpickr is offline
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Default Spoiler Alert!

Even though I now know how it ends, I'm still going to see it. Your recommendation is enough.
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Old 07-15-2018, 05:36 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by porchswingpickr View Post
Even though I now know how it ends, I'm still going to see it. Your recommendation is enough.
Actually, you don't know how it ends. It's more complicated and bittersweet than what I mentioned.


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