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Mace & Crown | April 24, 2018

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Monarch Movie Minute: ‘Morris from America,’ ‘Sea of Trees’ and ‘Into the Forest’

Monarch Movie Minute: ‘Morris from America,’ ‘Sea of Trees’ and ‘Into the Forest’
Tyler Passarge
Staff Writer

‘Morris from America’ (2016) | R | 91 min. 🎬🎬

A loner, Morris Gentry (Markees Christmas) has every reason to feel out of place. He’s forcefully been moved from his home in New York City to the strange terrain of Germany due to a promotion his dad received. Though he has an understanding of the language, he still has trouble communicating with the other kids.

The only friends Morris seems to have is his father (Craig Robinson), who educates his young son in the world of old school hip hop. Their bond is only strengthened by the death of Morris’s mother, a tragic pain that the father and son have trouble communicating to each other. Their relationship is ultimately tested when Morris begins falling for a girl at his youth center. The two must now come to terms with the idea of growing up and the distance that comes with it.

Much of the brilliance that comes from “Morris from America” stems from the performances of Christmas and Robinson. Even though this is the first feature film for child actor Christmas’s resume, his lead performance in the film shows that he is destined for a promising acting career.

While “Morris from America” stands out with it’s terrific and sincere performances from the leads, the film does tend to be a bit predictable. The film is a coming-of-age tale, and with that comes the clichés that the screenplay fails to escape from. There is enough in the actual story to entertain and care about, but it’s also a story we’ve seen many times over. Still, “Morris from America” is still something to look out for.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

‘The Sea of Trees’ (2015) | PG-13 | 110 min. 🎬🎬
When Arthur Brennan (Matthew McConaughey) feels he has nothing left to live for, he leaves everything behind and travels to Japan. It’s there that he travels to Aokigahara, also known as the suicide forest, to end his life. As he begins the process of guzzling down pills to kill himself, he comes across Takumi (Ken Watanabe) trying to find his way out of the forest.

Having no idea where the path out of the forest is, the two begin a trek through Aokigahara to find an escape. While traveling, Arthur begins to reflect on the reasons that brought him to the forest, which the audience sees through flashbacks. As their walk becomes much more dangerous and challenging, the two begin to find that there is hope for the both of them.

Since his comeback in 2011, Matthew McConaughey has appeared in a slew of films where he shines with standout performances. The same can be said about “Sea of Trees,” with McConaughey giving another solid performance. Sadly, it isn’t enough to bring life into this drama. For every good scene that McConaughey manages to carry, two or three more scenes of fake sincerity slowly creep behind.

Initially an attempt to create a meaningful drama about second chances, “Sea of Trees” squanders all of its potential and talents by playing out a story that’s best labeled as dismal. This isn’t McConaughey’s crowning achievement in acting. Even if it was, though, it still wouldn’t be enough to save “Sea of Trees” from an awful script and a true groaner of an ending.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

‘Into the Forest’ (2015) | R | 101 min. 🎬🎬🎬🎬

In today’s pop culture, the theme of survival is one that is very prevalent in regards to a post-apocalyptic setting. Although the world hasn’t come to an end yet, audiences still enjoy pondering what it takes to survive. “Into the Forest”  is a remarkably fresh take on the subject.

After a mass power outage leaves sisters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) in a state of disarray for weeks, their father attempts to guide the girls, who rely heavily on their technology. When unforeseen circumstances leave the sisters without their father, they must learn to fend for themselves and work together until the power comes back on.

Much of this movie is hard to watch, but never in a grotesque way. While shows and movies such as “The Walking Dead” ask if survival means turning into a monster, “Into the Forest” takes a more subtle and mature approach. This is a film about struggling to bring home enough food so you don’t starve, a story about maintaining relationships with the ones closest to you when times are at their hardest. This is true survival that isn’t explored often in media.

Although the plot can be erratic at times, the themes are never lost. With excellent performances from both Page and Wood mixed with a strong script, “Into the Forest” is a remarkable watch. This is a movie that will sink its claws into the viewer and unforgivingly refuses to let go until the final frame.

This film is available on Amazon Prime.

Rating System:

🎬 — Straight to DVD.
🎬🎬 — Well, there goes 2 hours of my life!
🎬🎬🎬 — Add to my queue.
🎬🎬🎬🎬 — A must see.
🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬 — Mind blown!