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Mace and Crown | May 24, 2018

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Monarch Movie Minute: ‘Tower,’ ‘The Discovery’ and ‘I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore’

Tyler Passarge | Staff Writer

‘Tower’ (2016) | NR | 96 min. 🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬

To the inhabitants of Austin, Texas, the date of August 1, 1966 will forever be represented as a time of fear, survival and mortality. On this day, Charles Whitman, armed with a loaded sniper rifle, took position on top of the main tower at the University of Texas and fired at students, professors and other citizens in the area. During the hour and a half long attack, Whitman took the lives of 17 people while wounding 31 more.

The story of that day lives on through images of the wounded and words of the survivors in the documentary, “Tower.” In this film, the interviews of those who were there during the shootings shape reenactments of that day that showcase each individual story. Some of the stories included in the film come from a victim who was pregnant at the time of getting shot and the officer who took down Whitman in the tower.

Instead of recreating the events at UT using a live action setting, “Tower” incorporates animation that blends in live action elements in effective and haunting ways. Utilizing the animation, filmmaker Keith Maitland is able to make stylistic choices that emphasize the violence and impact of the tragedy without getting too graphic.

Although this is a documentary, there are times where the viewer can be so enthralled with what’s happening that it’s easy to mistake it as a traditional film. From minute one, viewers are thrust into the play by play of that day and the film never loosens its grip on the audience’s attention.

This film is available on Netflix.

‘The Discovery’ (2017) | NR | 110 min.  🎬🎬🎬🎬

The world is thrown into chaos when a scientist’s (Robert Redford) research is able to verify that there is, in fact, an afterlife. In order to “get there” as many in the movie say, many people in the world have gone on to commit suicide. Although the suicide rate is skyrocketing at an alarming rate, it doesn’t shake the scientist, Thomas, from digging further into the subject of the afterlife.

At the two-year mark since the discovery, Thomas’s estranged and doubting son, Will (Jason Segel) returns home to his father who has since become reclusive. Will’s main goal is to get his stubborn father to put an end to his research so the world can recover from the suicide rates. As Will is trying to convince his dad, he ends up falling for Isla (Rooney Mara), a survivor of a suicide attempt.

The premise of “The Discovery” certainly makes for one of the more interesting ideas explored in film recently. Thankfully, the film’s script, for the most part, doesn’t shortchange its audience. The overall film is an inventive, and at times, even eerie picture of a world that is struggling to understand a world that is outside of their own.

That’s not to say, however, that the film’s script isn’t without some flaws that keep “The Discovery” from becoming great. For a film where the main theme is life and spirituality, there are times where characters can come off more hollow than natural. This rings especially true for the film’s forced love story which halts the movie’s progress.

The questions asked in the film are all fascinating ones and shows a lot of promise that the script falls short of living up to.

This film is available on Netflix.

‘I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore’ (2017) | NR | 93 min. 🎬🎬🎬

For her entire life, Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) has served as a doormat for everyone around her. Stuck in a nursing job she hates and bullied by everyone she comes into contact with, Ruth feels that she has lost all control of her life. Everything comes to a head though when she comes home one day to find that her house has been robbed. Some of the items that wind up missing include her laptop and family heirlooms.

When Ruth tries to get assistance from the police, she quickly finds that they are of no help and that she has to take matters into her own hands. Partnering up with her eccentric ninja weapon wielding neighbor, Tony (Elijah Wood), the two repeatedly find themselves in situations where the sense of danger heightens. However, fed up with the world and the people in it, Ruth is only determined to reclaim her property and her life.

“I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore” is the directorial debut of actor Macon Blair, an actor who has frequented his career working with childhood friend Jeremy Saulnier. Their collaboration in unforgiving ultra-violent movies like “Green Room” and “Blue Ruin” has certainly rubbed off on Blair. Like his films with Saulnier, Blair has created a violent revenge story where the revenge is facilitated by characters who come across as incompetent.

This is the basic formula that the film tries to follow and for the most part it works. The formula isn’t nearly as effective as it is in “Green Room,” but Blair still manages to create a clever and comedic film that never bores. It’s quirky and downright blunt presentation makes the film stand out enough to be worth a watch.

This film is available on Netflix.

Rating System:

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