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Tyler

Room (2015)

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The reviews are turning out to be stellar.

Alissa Wilkinson, Christianity Today:
“... Emma Donaghue scripted Room based on her celebrated 2010 novel, and as directed by Lenny Abrahamson (Frank), it's one of the best films of the year. The screenplay treads as lightly as it possibly can given the subject matter—largely because the story is narrated by and viewed primarily through Jack's eyes. Everything is a marvel to him, from Skylight and Sink and Mouse to his imaginary puppy Lucky.

As it is, Room is a sensitive and even uplifting but very realistic psychological drama about abuse, depression, courage, and a lot more, even if the story of its inciting situation is terrifying, especially for women. It's also unblinking in how it tackles the matter of parenting, and the most complicated of repercussions. This accounts for the emotional gut-walloping you get repeatedly: parental love is never perfect, and everyone screws up their kids in their own particular way. The film uses this as a thread throughout, and it is uncommonly visceral. I am not a crier and I watch so many films that my emotional radar is probably a bit dulled, but I was moved by this film in ways I rarely have been, and it's been difficult to explain why ...”

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times:
“... Brie Larson is transcendent as Ma. She deserves a best actress nomination. The wonderful Joan Allen is as good as she’s ever been. Director Lenny Abrahamson and the tech artists on this film do an amazing job of creating a world within that room — making it seem oh so claustrophobic, but also letting us see it through Jack’s eyes as this big wide world. And then there’s Jacob Tremblay as Jack. To play someone who is so smart and so curious, so devoted to his mother and so creative, and yet so isolated and sheltered and incapable of understanding reality, is an enormous challenge for an actor. Maybe it worked to his advantage, and to ours, that he was so young he didn’t realize how difficult that would be, and how pure and lasting his performance truly was. This is one of the best movies of the decade.”

Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal:
“... Yet this drama is as big as all outdoors in scope; poetic and profound in its exploration of the senses; blessed with two transcendent performances, by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay; and as elegantly wrought as any film that has come our way in a very long while.

... She tries her best to enrich his constricted life, all the while explaining how vast the world is in comparison to what he sees through the distorting window of a dinky TV. (A skylight in the ceiling reveals nothing but sky.) There are too many trees to count, she tells him, and vast oceans. “No way,” he replies. “How do they all fit?” One could ask the same thing about the movie, a small container for a host of enthralling ideas about child development, the maternal bond, the nature of reality, the psychic cost of repression and the existential perils, as well as the ineffable joys, of freedom. How do they all fit? Through the mysterious process by which art packs meaning into microcosms, although the action in “Room” isn’t confined to Room and the narrative pace doesn’t flag after leaving it.

... Until now I’ve said almost nothing about Ms. Larson and young Jacob Tremblay, but they really do, in their respective ways, transcend all traces of artifice. That’s easier to understand in the boy’s case; he’s young, his responses are pure, and his director, Mr. Abrahamson, has succeeded quite remarkably in preserving the purity. Ms. Larson, though, has been practicing—indeed perfecting—her craft since she herself was a child. Yet her character seems to have been caught on the fly, rather than performed. Whatever mode this Ma is in—loving, joking, imagining, protecting, scheming or loathing in the darkest depths of her soul—she is entirely, even shockingly, Room’s creature.”

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Andrew   

I thought this was a good, not great, movie.  I can't help but suspect that most of those lauding the film haven't read the book, which is far superior in just about every way:  psychological depth, point of view, narrative strength, and emotional power.  Larson and Tremblay are superb in this, though I was less impressed with the supporting cast, not through any flaws in their acting, but because their characters felt nearly unidimensional.  Anywho, here's my review, an exercise in compare/contrast:  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2015/10/make-room-for-this-intelligent-suspenseful-story-on-your-bookshelf-instead/

P.S.  Wow, is Kyle Smith always that nasty in his reviews?  What an unfair, unpleasant bit of writing; kind of what I'd expect if Westboro Baptist were to write about a gay pride march.

Edited by Andrew

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Evan C   

I'm afraid if I talk too much about this, I'll end up sounding like a total grouch, so let me say I did like Room. I thought it was a powerful portrait of the resilience of the human spirit and the psychological damage that such a imprisonment/torture/isolation can bring on someone. However, once they got out, I thought the story really lost its focus and just started meandering while desperately searching for some new conflict to propel it. I thought the reunion scenes where well handled, and the hair scene between Tremblay and Joan Allen was one of my favorites in the film. However, I really felt the director struggled with a sense of pacing and unifying both halves of the story.

However, as touching as some of those scenes were, I didn't even get misty-eyed. At all. So I did feel a little bit like Scrooge at the end.

Edited by Evan C

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For fans of this film and the book check out one of my most favorite short stories Jack In The Box by Ray Bradbury

Very similar story with some big differences but the plot is very similar. Both are great beautiful stories

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M. Leary   
On 12/5/2015, 10:30:44, Evan C said:

I'm afraid if I talk too much about this, I'll end up sounding like a total grouch, so let me say I did like Room. I thought it was a powerful portrait of the resilience of the human spirit and the psychological damage that such a imprisonment/torture/isolation can bring on someone. However, once they got out, I thought the story really lost its focus and just started meandering while desperately searching for some new conflict to propel it. I thought the reunion scenes where well handled, and the hair scene between Tremblay and Joan Allen was one of my favorites in the film. However, I really felt the director struggled with a sense of pacing and unifying both halves of the story.

However, as touching as some of those scenes were, I didn't even get misty-eyed. At all. So I did feel a little bit like Scrooge at the end.

Very much agree on the structural problem. The book is balanced the same way, but it is well-written enough that the prose develops tensions in the latter half which the film fails to evoke.

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Tyler   

This is a case where not staying as close to the source material could have improved the movie. In the book, it makes sense that we stick with Jack after the escape (I guess we're not using spoilers on that) because he's the narrator. But in the movie, there's no structural reason why we couldn't have seen more of Joy's recovery, and her journey at that point is honestly more compelling than Jack's. 

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Attica   

I liked it overall.  I felt that it lost its way just after the escape for awhile but then found its legs again.  

Possible Spoilers.

At first it crossed my mind that Big Nick might go back and cause harm to Joy and himself (or at least try to), and I was pleased that the film didn't take that route as a lesser film would have.  A lesser film would have also not dropped Big Nick like this film did but would have placed is comeuppance into the story in some way.  It really handled him right all the way through.  

I really enjoyed watching Jack's discovery of the world.  That kid is a fantastic actor.  I never really got all that misty eyed either but I still thought that it was a great film, even if there were a few hiccups (it could have cut the time in Room short by at least ten minutes in my opinion.)  There was a bit of a contrast between Room and the second part of the film, but I think that's probably OK, because it really *was* a huge contrast in Jack's life.  It fit thematically.

Mind you,  I haven't read the book, so I came into this almost completely blind, and thus without any disappointment from having read a possibly superior form of the story.

I agree that Joy's recovery would have been interesting, especially seeing as it gave us a glimpse of her illness with her central in this, rather than it simply being somehow through more of Jack's perspective.  Cutting out some from the Room and some times spent in the hospital in order to fit that in would have suited me fine.

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Attica wrote:
: A lesser film would have also not dropped Big Nick like this film did but would have placed is comeuppance into the story in some way.  

Yeah, when I interviewed Emma Donoghue, she said she wasn't interested in Old Nick *at all* and she wasn't going to allow him to control the narrative, or words to that effect. This was Jack's story and his mother's story, period.

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Attica   
9 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

she said she wasn't interested in Old Nick *at all* and she wasn't going to allow him to control the narrative

It was a good choice.

By the way.  I found it a curiosity that this film had mention that they were in "America."  It seems to me that there was no reason within the narrative for it not to be set in Canada, and as well Telefilm and other Canadian funding agencies are often big on their Canadian cultural mandate.  It just seemed like a strange choice to me, but then I wondered if the writer considers Canada to be part of "America" (as in North America) in her understanding of the term.  

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Tyler   
2 hours ago, Attica said:

 

By the way.  I found it a curiosity that this film had mention that they were in "America."  It seems to me that there was no reason within the narrative for it not to be set in Canada.

You see a few Ohio license plates (most notably on Old Nick's truck), but the story doesn't require the setting be a particular place for it to work. 

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Attica   
49 minutes ago, Tyler said:

You see a few Ohio license plates (most notably on Old Nick's truck)

I vaguely remember noticing the license plates but I guess it skipped my mind.  I had just seen the Fifth Wave the night before and it was also located in Ohio, so I suspect that I conflated the two in these regards.

I do know that from time to time Canadian film and Televisions projects have been said to place their locations as being in the U.S. in order to attract the much larger U.S. market.  Canadians also haven't been that great at supporting our own film in the theatres.  A problem which needs to be remedied.  This could be part of what is going on here although in my understanding Canadian funding and cultural agencies can frown on those approaches.  I don't know how much influence Telefilm now has on these projects though, and as well, in my understanding, Telefilm has changed it's policies somewhat in the last few years.

 

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:
: I wondered if the writer considers Canada to be part of "America" (as in North America) in her understanding of the term. 

She's an Irish-born Canadian, so... I dunno. (And the film itself is an Irish-Canadian co-production -- the director himself is from Ireland -- so as far as I know, there was no American input into the film, apart from actors like Brie Larson, Joan Allen and William H. Macy. But some of the other actors were recognizably Canadian; at least one of them is an actor who I don't believe I have ever seen in a non-Canadian film, so his presence alone would have tipped me off to the fact that this is a Canadian film.)

(Hmmm. The IMDb says A24, the film's American distributor, was also one of the production companies. But in the VIFF program, it simply lists "Canada, Ireland" for the film's nation(s) of origin.)

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Attica   
12 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

And the film itself is an Irish-Canadian co-production -- the director himself is from Ireland -- so as far as I know, there was no American input into the film

Telefilm must have made some recentl deal with the Irish Film Board.  Brooklyn is also a Canadian/Irish coproduction, although setting that film in the States does make  sense. :)

 

12 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

But some of the other actors were recognizably Canadian

Yep.  If memory serves the reporter is also in that Vancouver based T.V. drama, Saving Hope. 

 

12 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

The IMDb says A24, the film's American distributor, was also one of the production companies. But in the VIFF program, it simply lists "Canada, Ireland" for the film's nation(s) of origin.)

VIFF is in the fall right?  So maybe the film hadn't picked up an American distributor yet.  

-

By the way, the Oscar buzz is noticeably helping this film.  The theatre I saw it in was about three quarters full, which is rousing support for a Canadian based indie.  I've sat in on several Canadian films at our local Landmark Cinema with a paltry 10 or so people in the audience.  Usually with white hair.  Canadian cinema certainly isn't attracting the young crowd, unless it's the film buffs that hang out at the Cinematheque.

 

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31 minutes ago, Attica said:

By the way, the Oscar buzz is noticeably helping this film.  The theatre I saw it in was about three quarters full, which is rousing support for a Canadian based indie.  I've sat in on several Canadian films at our local Landmark Cinema with a paltry 10 or so people in the audience.  Usually with white hair.  Canadian cinema certainly isn't attracting the young crowd, unless it's the film buffs that hang out at the Cinematheque.

I wouldn't consider Room or Brooklyn representative of anything Canadian indie - they're international co-productions that scored some money from Telefilm (Toronto filmmaker Matt Johnson has some worthwhile comments about it in this interview).

From what I can see, there is young support for indie cinema in the major centres but they tend to run in particular social enclaves. That, and a lot of the really interesting indie work doesn't get across-the-board support from Canada's major festivals (example: VIFF still has yet to screen a Kazik Radwanski feature; TIFF somehow ignored Alexander Carson's debut), leaving a lot of this stuff to a few days at the Lightbox or VanCity, or going the self-release/micro-cinema route.

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Attica wrote:
: Yep.  If memory serves the reporter is also in that Vancouver based T.V. drama, Saving Hope.

I don't know anything about Saving Hope (though Wikipedia indicates the show is Toronto-based?), but I think you're referring to Winnipeg native Wendy Crewson, who I interviewed years ago when she starred in a movie about Sue Rodriguez. (Of course, the first time I remember hearing about Crewson, it was when she appeared in an American film, as Harrison Ford's wife in Air Force One.)

: VIFF is in the fall right?  So maybe the film hadn't picked up an American distributor yet.  

Oh, I'm pretty sure it had a distributor by that point. When I interviewed the screenwriter, I was asked to run the review closer to the Canadian release date instead of the (earlier) American release date.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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Attica   
1 hour ago, Nathan Douglas said:

there is young support for indie cinema in the major centres but they tend to run in particular social enclaves

Yep.  That's what I ment by the film buffs that hang out at the Cinematheque.  At least that's the main crowd in Winnipeg.

 

1 hour ago, Nathan Douglas said:

That, and a lot of the really interesting indie work doesn't get across-the-board support from Canada's major festivals

I know that my short film didn't get any support from Manitoba Film Festivals, even though they had sections based purely on Manitoba films, but then it went on to play in dozens of festivals in America and across the world (I just got a message today that it was accepted into another film festival in Russia.)

It's received some attention in Toronto and Montreal though.  The Montreal animation festival included it in their best of show compilation at Annecy, which I thought was kind of great.  The producer that contacted me about this was the same producer that helped with Ryan Larkin's comeback films (before he passed on.)  She liked my film, which was cool.

Yet in Manitoba.... silence.

1 hour ago, Nathan Douglas said:

I wouldn't consider Room or Brooklyn representative of anything Canadian indie - they're international co-productions that scored some money from Telefilm

I would kind of consider anything that isn't coming from the studio majors as indie.  As I understand it those co-productions come from Telefilm being in talks with other countries in order to collaborate and get enough money to get films made.  I think I remember hearing several years ago that this was part of their plan and that we'll be seeing more of this.  Don't quote me on that though.   :)

29 minutes ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

I don't know anything about Saving Hope (though Wikipedia indicates the show is Toronto-based?)

Just looked it up.  Yes it's Toronto based.  I had thought it had come out of Vancouver.

29 minutes ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

but I think you're referring to Winnipeg native Wendy Crewson

Yep.  That's her.

I didn't know that she was from Winnipeg.  But that's indicative of the culture at large here.  If someone becomes a successful actor or author then people barely hear about it.  If someone becomes a successful hockey player they are enshrined in glory. :)

Many people I know would barely realize that Guy Maddin exists. 

But I have noticed a change over the last 10 or 15 years.  There is a growing interest in the arts.

Edited by Attica

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Attica wrote:
: I didn't know that she was from Winnipeg.  But that's indicative of the culture at large here.  If someone becomes a successful actor or author then people barely hear about it.  If someone becomes a successful hockey player they are enshrined in glory. :)

:)

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41 minutes ago, Attica said:

I would kind of consider anything that isn't coming from the studio majors as indie.  As I understand it those co-productions come from Telefilm being in talks with other countries in order to collaborate and get enough money to get films made.  I think I remember hearing several years ago that this was part of their plan and that we'll be seeing more of this.  Don't quote me on that though.   :)

Oh yeah, this is Telefilm's bread and butter, and their most promising route for getting awards bait films to their name. As others have noted, though, both Brooklyn and Room were directed by Irishmen, and that alone should disqualify them from being championed so hard with the Canadian #brand.

I remember getting an email a couple years back excitedly announcing Jean-Pierre Jeunet's latest film as a Telefilm co-pro. Hooray for Jeunet, Canadian filmmaker!

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Attica   
2 hours ago, Nathan Douglas said:

and that alone should disqualify them from being championed so hard with the Canadian #brand.

Yeah, probably.  Especially if the films aren't even being set in Canada and have some American actors.  I mean, sure they may have some Canadian actors and may be using some Canadian crew... but so do Hollywood films that are shot here.

The NFB has also been having a nasty habit of International co-productions lately, when Canadian animators are struggling to get films made.  Their latest DVD had a surprising number of films made by European studios.  I guess they are trying to stay afloat because of funding cuts, but I know enough about the NFB to know what needs to be done.  They are WAY too top heavy.  They need to cut money from producers and other studio uppity ups who don't do much (although some certainly do) and put that money towards making films.  But smaller films.  They spend three hundred thousand dollars on some animated film that could easily be made with one hundred thousand or less....but I'm carrying on.  The problem is that groups like NFB, CBC, and Telefilm just can't run as tight of a ship as non government funded studios.  But the reason they can sometimes make such gems that aren't bound to cultural expectations, is because the government funding allows them to do so.  So it's a bit of a balancing act I suppose.

Myself, I've set up a corporation (with some help) in order to take advantage of the excellent Manitoba Film Tax Credits.  If I make the film and keep the books in line then I get the money.  It's not a the whims of a funding agencies decision and I'm not fussing around trying to find money from other sources.  I just needed some money to get the ball rolling.  I also don't have some NFB producer usurping my ideas (which often happens to directors - everywhere - NFB or not.)  But the good thing about the NFB is that they can pay industry wages for an animator to make a film, and they have top notch marketing support when it's finished.  But they also own it... so there's that.

I've heard through the grapevine that Vancouver filmmakers are making their way to Winnipeg in order to take advantage of the tax credits, but I haven't actually met any... so I don't know how true that is.  I do know that a lot of filmmakers from Saskatchewan have moved here since their tax credits were cut.  It's also attracting film projects up from the States, which was really the main intention.  Mostly low budget horror films, but they are allowing the industry here to build a few crews and keep the system rolling.  

 

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Josh Wartel gives Room his Oscar vote: 

Quote

By any standard, Room is a film full of meaning. But compared to the other contenders for Best Picture, including Spotlight, The Big Short and The Revenant,Room possesses a singularly ambitious vision. This may seem a strange thing to say about a movie shot mostly in a single room with a handful of actors. However, Room’sthin premise conceals an almost boundless thematic complexity. The film, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, illuminates what we lose (and gain) from becoming adults. It’s a trade that is forced upon on us all. And Room suggests that childhood may hold the key to understanding meaning in our own lives, if only we look close enough.

 

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WOW, this has got to be one of the MOST PRO-LIFE incarnations I have ever seen. I mean, here is your example of the product of the worst violation of women you can imagine, here is the very incarnation of the rape scenario that abortion lovers screech about. And yet, and yet, only a heartless cruel soulless bastard would project such hatred and rejection upon the innocent child who was a product of that conception. And I am speaking of the audience of this film, not an abstract argument. The boy is a wonderful precious child, who the viewer only wants to grow up and live the world. (AMAZING acting by the young Jacob Tremblay)

This movie is like a cinematic 3D Ultrasound. No, more than that. It settles the rape question regarding abortion, period. There are no arguments left for abortion based on rape. It’s all over for the cult of death. You cannot make the rape argument anymore. You just can’t deny the moral force of this story, without denying your own humanity.

Brain Godawa: Room - The Most Powerful Pro-Life Film Since the Planned Parenthood Expose

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