REVIEW: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA

Starring

Casey Affleck (Interstellar)
Lucas Hedges (Lady Bird)
Michelle Williams (Venom)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Gretchen Mol (The Shape of Things)
C.J. Wilson (The Intern)
Tate Donovan (Argo)
Kara Hayward (Fan Girl)
Anna Baryshnikov (The Kindergarten Teacher)
Heather Burns (Bored To Death)
Erica McDermott (Joy)
Matthew Broderick (Election)

Casey Affleck and Stephen McKinley Henderson in Manchester by the Sea (2016)The story takes place in the present, while including flashbacks to relevant events. The protagonist is Lee Chandler, a janitor and handyman, who lives a solitary life in a basement apartment in Quincy, Massachusetts. The movie opens with scenes of him performing tasks for tenants of the apartment complex where he works. His interaction with them is minimal. After being reprimanded by his boss for swearing at an irritated tenant, he gets into a drunken bar fight with two businessmen, believing they were staring at him.Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Lee receives word that his brother Joe has suffered a cardiac arrest, but he dies before Lee can get to the hospital. Lee insists on being the one to tell Joe’s teenage son, Patrick, about his father’s death. While making funeral arrangements, they learn that Joe’s body cannot be buried until spring when the ground thaws. Lee opts to remain in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts until the delayed burial.Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Lee meets with his brother’s attorney and is shocked to discover that his brother named him Patrick’s legal guardian. During the scene, the viewer is shown — through flashbacks — that Lee once lived in Manchester with his then-wife Randi and their three small children. His negligence while intoxicated led to a house fire that killed the children. No criminal charges were filed against him. However, after being questioned at the police station, Lee grabbed a gun from an officer’s holster and attempted suicide. In light of these events, Lee is reluctant to commit to the guardianship and unwilling to move back to Manchester, where the locals treat him as an outcast. He begins planning for Patrick to move to Boston with him. Patrick is deeply rooted in the Manchester community and strongly objects to the idea. Lee commits to staying only until the end of the school year.Casey Affleck in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Over time, Patrick and Lee re-establish their bond, despite conflicts about Joe’s boat, Patrick’s girlfriends, and their future living arrangements. Through flashbacks, Patrick’s mother Elise is shown to have had substance abuse problems and abandoned the family, so Lee is opposed to Patrick reconnecting with her. Even so, Patrick emails Elise about Joe’s death, and she invites him to have lunch with her. She has committed to Christianity and sobriety with her fiancé, Jeffrey, but during an awkward meal with them, Patrick finds himself unable to connect with her. He is unsettled further when Jeffrey emails him, insisting on being an intermediary in any future communication between Patrick and his mother. Lee’s subsequent positive comments about Elise’s sobriety lead Patrick to believe his uncle is trying to get rid of him, assertions Lee denies. In response to this strain in their relationship, Lee takes steps to possibly extend his stay in Manchester, and begins to seek ways to spend more time with Patrick.Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams in Manchester by the Sea (2016)One day Lee runs into his ex-wife Randi, her newborn, Dylan, and her friend Rachel. After Rachel leaves to get the car, a sobbing Randi expresses remorse for her treatment of Lee during their divorce and asks him to have lunch. Lee deflects her apology, feeling that he does not deserve it. When she insists that they reconnect and pleads with him not to “just die,” he leaves before he can become emotional. Distraught, a drunk Lee picks a fight with strangers at a bar and is knocked out. He awakens in the living room of George (a family friend) and breaks down in tears. At home, Patrick shows his uncle deference after observing his battered state and seeing pictures of the deceased children in Lee’s bedroom.Casey Affleck and Kyle Chandler in Manchester by the Sea (2016)Lee arranges for George and his wife to adopt Patrick, so the teen can remain in Manchester while Lee gets a job in Boston. When Patrick asks Lee why staying is not an option, Lee admits that he “can’t beat it.” At this, Patrick cries and Lee comforts him. During a walk after Joe’s burial service, Lee tells Patrick that he is searching for a residence in Boston with an extra room so that Patrick can visit whenever he wants. In the final scene, Lee and Patrick go fishing on Joe’s refurbished boat that Patrick has inherited.MV5BZTg4Njc5ZTUtNGY2MS00OTc0LTg2OTEtMmNlY2EwMDYwMmUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMzQ0NTgwMTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1553,1000_AL_Though Michelle Williams has a small role, she turns in one of her best performances. In a powerful confrontation with Lee, it is clear that she still loves him but has felt compelled to suppress it in order to bury the past and move on. Manchester by the Sea belongs to Casey Affleck, however, who turns in what is arguably the best performance of his career. The film does not have the sort of neat resolution that you may have come to expect but what it does have are real people whose lives you want to be a part of and you know that that world is not one that can only happen in the movies, but a real experience of life fully lived in all its pain and all its joy.

REVIEW: ARGO

 CAST

Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Alan Arkin (Get Smart)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield lane)
Victor Garber (Legends of Tomorrow)
Tate Donovan (Shooter)
Clea DuVall (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
Kerry Bishe (Red State)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Zeljko Ivanek (Heroes)
Chris Messina (Devil)
Titus Welliver (Lost)
Keith Szarabajka (The Dark Knight)
Bob Gunton (Dardevil TV)
Richard Kind (Gotham)
Karina Logue (Bates Motel)
John Boyd (Bones)
Michael Parks (Django Unchained)
Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Tom Lenk (Buffy)
Nelson Franklin (New Girl)
Lindsey Ginter (S.W.A.T.)
Rory Cochrane (Empire Records)
Matthew Glave (The Wedding Singer)
Michael Cassidy (Batman V Superman)
Barry Livingston (The Social Network)
Michael Chieffo (Roswell)
Taylor Schilling (The Lucky One)
Philip Baker Hall (Hard Eight)

hqdefaultAfter Iranian militants stormed and took control of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 taking 56 Americans as hostages, six Americans managed to get away and took refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. After two months of the Canadians putting their lives on the line everyday, the CIA and the US State Department try to come up with a plan to get their people out.Ben Affleck in Argo (2012)Tony Mendez is a specialist who proposes that they pose as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie called Argo. Using Hollywood connections, Mendez creates a back story for the movie – ads in Variety, casting calls, inviting he media to a production launch – and then heads off to Iran to lead the six Americans out. When I first heard this film was being made, I had no education on the history of the movie, all I knew is that is was a true story based on something political in the middle east, with a really strange title.Affleck once again proves just how good of an actor her is in Hollywood and the way he mixes comedy with intense drama is wonderful. Some scenes are just genius, like the scene where there is a rehearsal, and the captives are treated to a pseudo execution, and then Affleck showing us that both sides can put on a show.Arkin And Goodman are the brilliant comic relief, and whenever they are on screen, the tension is ever so slightly lifted and relief sets in, apart from one scene involving a phone. Affleck, considering he is the director, is really restraint in this movie, and plays it down, whilst the rest of the cast go for it, and it’s to his credit, as it shows that his character has a lot riding on this. It never lets up on tension, even when the six are enjoying their final meal, there is a sense that the door could be broken down at any second.The final third is genuinely edge of your seat stuff. All in all, it’s a wonderful movie, a perfect antidote to some of the dross movies that get dumped on us around the time of year, and really worthy of your attention