Armageddon Time Review

Armageddon Time is a powerful film set during a time of discrimination and racism. The film features domineering parents, which adds to its seriousness. It doesn’t necessarily focus so much on racism as it does on where families fall in terms of low, middle, or upper class.

Armageddon Time takes place in New York City in 1980. The film focuses on the Graff family, including Irving Graff (played by Jeremy Strong), Esther Graff (played by Anne Hathaway), and their son Paul Graff (played by Banks Repeta). There is also Grandpa Aaron Rabinowitz (played by Anthony Hopkins). Paul is close to his grandpa, but he struggles with meeting the expectations of his parents.

Paul has a friend, Johnny Davis (played by Jaylin Webb), who is Black. Johnny gets lots of negative attention and he gets blamed for many minor issues because of his race, which only causes him to be more vocal and angrier. Paul makes some bad choices with Johnny, and after the two friends get in trouble with drugs Paul’s parents send him to private school, which separates Paul from Johnny. But they continue to be friends in secret.

Paul and Johnny both have aspirations. Paul wants to become an artist and Johnny dreams of working for NASA. But they both feel they are limited in their ability to achieve these goals because they don’t have the support they need to develop their interests.

Paul you has a strong connection to his grandpa in Armageddon Time, and there are numerous heartwarming moments between them in the film. Hopkins plays a grandpa who is wise and supportive, and he always has Paul’s back. Paul vents to his grandpa about how he feels segregated from Johnny, and his grandpa reminds him to not let bad influences get him down. He wants Paul to have the best life he can have, and he doesn’t want racism or segregation to keep Paul from being happy.

Strong and Hathaway’s roles as strict parents hit close to home for me. I was someone who also had issues with schooling. From my experience I realized that Paul’s problem was how he thought he needed to act around kids in his social class. I could relate to that because in my younger days I felt limited towards who I could socialize with, although I wasn’t necessarily shy as a young man.

Armageddon Time is an enticing look at a challenging time for our country and its school systems. Paul and Johnny are treated differently due to their different backgrounds, which was a function of the times. But all they really want to do is just be friends. It’s hard, but it just meant that they would need to learn to navigate the dynamics of their homes, schools and parents better, and they didn’t let the difficulty stop them from being friends. Three stars for Armageddon Time.

58th Chicago International Film Festival: Raymond and Ray Review

Films that gear on siblings and struggles appeal to me deeply. They typically involve elements that are either harsh or easy to dismiss. Raymond and Ray are focused on brotherhood. It is a touching and inviting comedy which does not shine a light too brightly on its dark subject matter. I found it to be a compassionate film about two brothers reconnecting.

Director Rodrigo Garcia knows how to challenge culture and family dynamics in Raymond and Ray. His authenticity in directing correlates with his HBO series In Treatment (2008-2021). Garcia directed many of the episodes of In Treatment back when Gabriel Byrne was the main psychologist. Garcia always knew how to capture what hurts people. The concept of challenging truths of family and their underlying issues is where Garcia pinpoints the central struggles with Raymond and Ray.

In the film, Ethan Hawke is Ray and Ewan McGregor is Raymond, and their father has died. The main characters are half-brothers. They come together to get the funeral for their father set-up. The funeral must be carried out according to their father’s wishes. With the difficult task of having to dig their father’s grave, the brothers find themselves struggling with frustration and hatred towards their father.

The performances of Hawke and McGregor are surreal and touching. Hawke’s character is about having his cultured musical side, but sadly he could not hold down a job. McGregor’s character is an individual with a DUI record and issues with his wife and kids although those issues do not enter the film very much. The film focuses primarily on the brothers and how they deal with the funeral. The way the movie portrays them coming together to deal with an issue that is sad, stressful, and emotional makes Raymond and Ray especially powerful. The fact that life is not fair is a fact that both brothers grapple with.

Raymond and Ray will make viewers laugh and cry. While there is some resolution in the film, the major flaws of both brothers are a difficult subject matter. The film is dramatic throughout and despite its sadness, it has meaning. Three and a half stars.

58th Chicago International Film Festival: The Banshees of Inisherin Review

Hatred and solitude are the two elements that stir the pot in The Banshees of Inisherin. Director and writer Martin McDonagh showcases the disturbingly tense relationship of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson. Farrell’s character has a distracted mindset that makes him curious about what he did wrong. Gleeson’s character has an introverted and annoyed attitude which makes him determined to be alone. The Banshees of Inisherin is pure McDonagh as he creates a situation as detrimental as he did with In Bruges (2008).

The Banshees of Inisherin takes place in the 1920s in Ireland. The film was shot in breathtaking locations including Inishmorewhich is one of the Aran Islands in County Galway as well as onAchill Island in County in County Mayo. The movie’s scenes display much of the Irish culture from that timeframe. There are pub settings, Irish traditions, and many rural areas throughout the film. The scenery makes The Banshees of Inisherin more vivid in terms of the personality clashes.

In the film, Farrell is Padraic, and Gleeson is Colm. They are good friends until Colm calls it quits to their friendship. Padraic finds himself shocked and upset. The more he tries to make peace with Colm, the heavier the consequences. When Padraic’s sister Siobhan (played by Kerry Condon) tries to help Padraic not make irreparable decisions, the problems escalate between Padraic and Colm and lead to unexpected surprises. Colm’s choices become bizarre. The irrational behaviorthroughout The Banshees of Inisherin goes into full McDonagh mode.

The consequences start to include cutting off fingers, house fires, and more catastrophes which lead Padraic to make silly and vindictive choices also. Padraic tells Colm, “You usedto be nice,” and then late tells him, “Now you’re not nice,” and he says it with annoyance, frustration, and despair. Colm informs Padraic by saying, “I just don’t like you no more,” and he does so in a cold and aggravating tone. The Banshees of Inisherin is like a verbal, Irish boxing match between Farrell and Gleeson. It is truly a film of suspense done extremely well.

The Banshees of Inisherin is a McDonagh masterpiece. Thetension is enticing, the plot is structured, and it is a fun ride thanks to the performances of Farrell and Gleeson. There are no boundaries to finding a resolution between Padraic and Colm, but lots of vindictive actions along the way. Four stars for The Banshees of Inisherin.

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