Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Cottage Country (2013) and Lone Star (1995)

Cottage Country: written by Jeremy Boxen; directed by Peter Wellington; starring Malin Akerman (Cammie Ryan), Tyler Labine (Todd Chipowski), Lucy Punch (Masha), Dan Petronijevic (Salinger Chipowski), Benjamin Ayres (Dov Rosenberg), and Kenneth Welsh (Earl Chipowski) (2013): Ontario's cottage country mostly plays itself in an amiable, occasionally blackly comic bit of horror-satire. Cast against type as a buttoned-down office drone, Tyler Labine is appealing. Malin Akerman, while about 1000 times too attractive for her role as Labine's obsessive girlfriend, also does solid work as an increasingly demented Bridezilla wannabe.

More gore and more laughs would be nice, but I've certainly spent 90 minutes with far worse movies with far bigger budgets. And there's a bit involving the extrication of an ax from someone killed with said ax that's both funny and weirdly authentic. Lightly recommended.

Lone Star: written and directed by John Sayles; starring Chris Cooper (Sam Deeds), Elizabeth Pena (Pilar), Kris Kristofferson (Charlie Wade), Matthew McConaughey (Buddy Deeds), Ron Canada (Otis), Joe Morton (Del), and Miriam Colon (Mercedes Cruz) (1995): Perhaps the most satisfying of all the films of writer-director John Sayles. While the backbone of its plot is a fairly traditional mystery, that mystery allows Sayles to move back and forth across a gulf of 40 years as Chris Cooper's Sheriff of a small Texas border town investigates a murder linked to his late father, the much beloved former sheriff of the town.

Sayles assembles a fine cast and gives them lots to work with. As in most of Sayles's films, there are very few villains -- in this case, exactly one, Kris Kristofferson's odious sheriff, seen in flashbacks to the late 1950's, when Chris Cooper's father was a young deputy played by Matthew McConaughey. 

Several plots intertwine over the course of the movie, all of them tied into the murder plot because in this small town, everything is connected. And while Cooper tries to figure out this particular bit of the past, the larger history of Texas, particularly Texas in regards to race relations, also gets argued over in local politics and in a meeting of parents with the school over its "controversial" attempt to offer something other than a valedictory to white people during history classes. In all, it's a fine piece of writing, directing, and acting, true to its genre antecedents but also grasping at something larger than just the solution to a mystery. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I saw LONE STAR in the theater on its original release and remember nothing about it save some really impressive editing that signaled the switch from past to present and vice-versa. Really need to see it again, especially in light of the McConnaissance, my newfound appreciation of Kristofferson, and Pena's recent passing.