Posts Tagged ‘Logan Lerman’

Spiritual Sacrifice

Indignation

indignation

Director: James Schamus

Cast: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracey Letts, Linda Emond, Ben Rosenfield, Noah Robbins, Danny Burstein

Logan Lerman (Noah) has come a long way from portraying a teenage hero in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians franchise. He proved his acting abilities in the David Ayer war film Fury and now takes a central role in director James Schamus’s film Indignation based upon the novel by the Pulitzer Prize winning author Phillip Roth. Roth’s novels are notoriously difficult to be adapted to the big screen.

One of Philip Roth’s novel’s The Human Stain was adapted into a provocative 2003 Robert Benson film starring Anthony Hopkins, Nicole Kidman and Wentworth Miller. Roth’s outstanding novel American Pastoral has recently been made into a film starring Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning.

Schamus does a sterling job of bringing Indignation to the big screen and Loman is nuanced and brilliant as the seriously conflicted young Jewish freshman Marcus who has a crisis of faith while attending a conservative Ohio college which forces the students to attend mass every Sunday.

Religious disaffection, sexual repression and social pressure are all perfectly framed within the 1950’s Korean War where young American serviceman were being conscripted to fight in the first of many US led foreign wars against the Communists.

At college Marcus while working in the library is attracted to the gorgeous Olivia Hutton who is not only sexually provocative but also slightly mentally unstable. On their first date Olivia performs a then unspeakable sexual act on Marcus, which releases years of pent up repression and rage.

Marcus fights with his roommates and soon requests a transfer which comes to the attention of Dean Caudwell wonderfully played by Tracy Letts (The Big Short). The religious conflict is evident when Marcus tells Caudwell that he is happily atheist, even though he was brought up in a Jewish home and worked for his overbearing father in a kosher butchery back in suburban New Jersey.

When Marcus falls ill, his sympathetic mother Esther Messner wonderfully played by Linda Emond (Julie and Julia, Oldboy) comes to visit and soon meets the illustrious Olivia. In the emotional crux of the film, Marcus makes a deal with his mother to stop seeing the clearly damaged Olivia superbly played by Canadian actress Sarah Gadon (Cosmopolis, A Royal Night Out).

This arrangement along with Marcus’s continued conflict with Dean Caudwell on religious grounds has disastrous effects. Much to Caudwell’s horror, Marcus even quotes from the philosopher Bertrand Russell in his defence of atheism and his anti-establishment viewpoints.

Indignation is an intelligent exploration of one young man’s coming of age and his ultimate spiritual sacrifice on the cusp of what could have been an illustrious future. Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon hold their own in Schamus’s tightly controlled script based on Roth’s novel.

This atmospheric period drama is recommended viewing for those viewers that like their cinema thought-provoking, but ultimately Indignation does justice to Roth’s complex literary aesthetic.

 

The Brutal Education of Norman

FURY

fury

Director: David Ayer

Cast: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerma, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Scott Eastwood, Jason Isaacs, Anamaria Marinca, Alicia von Rittberg

End of Watch director David Ayer tackles the war genre in the brutal drama simply entitled Fury assembling a stellar cast of great young actors including Shia LaBeouf last seen in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena (End of Watch, American Hustle) and Jon Bernthal and headed by the illustrious Brad Pitt (Legends of the Fall, Twelve Monkeys, Moneyball, The Counselor).

In a role similar to that played in Inglourious Basterds, Pitt plays Don “Wardaddy” Collier, a hardened soldier and Nazi killer who is heading up a tank squadron and who has seen his fair share of bloody battles. The tank in question is called Fury and as the Allies advanced into Germany during April 1945, these American tanks were combating the far superior designed German Panzers. As the brutal end of World War Two winds down, Hitler has ordered every last man, woman and child to defend their country against the advancing Allies.

Against this gritty theatre of war, the veteran Collier inherits a young and naive gunner named Norman Ellison superbly played by Logan Lerman who to his dismay went from being a typist in the US Army to manning a machine gun in an armoured tank. Its Collier’s job to toughen Norman up, even forcing him to shoot an unarmed German soldier as he brandishes pictures of his family to the American troops and desperately pleads for his life.

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As the five man team who drive Fury further into the German countryside, the situation gradually deteriorates as they first enter a German town obliterated by shelling casually coming across a suicide party of Nazi officers along with a scattering of scared German villagers and then near a farmhouse in the muddy countryside where they encounter an enemy infantry division marching towards them.

This is grim viewing with lots of bloodshed, superbly choreographed action sequences and unrelenting violence, cinematically brought to life with razor sharp sound effects, giving the viewer the sense of being involved in these gruesome final battles.

As opposed to George Clooney’s Monuments Men, David Ayer’s Fury deglamourizes war to its basic instinctual premise of kill or be killed and with excellent sound editing and effects, the film stands as a perfect counterpoint to The Imitation Game which elegantly showed war as a complex game of ingenuity and skill, clouded with espionage and intrigue.

Fury goes straight to the bloody and dirty heart of war and in its tag line aptly states that no war ends quietly. This is man fighting man with all the brutal savagery one has for each other’s enemies, as the victors march through the lands of the defeated.

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Fury is well acted especially by Logan Lerman (Noah) in one of his more substantial roles and definitely alludes to a talent waiting to be nurtured. The rest of the four man team adds a brave complement to Norman’s emotional and physical journey as a very young soldier who realizes he has to go to any lengths to stay alive. Fury will definitely appeal to war film enthusiasts and those viewers that enjoyed Saving Private Ryan, Lone Survivor and even the more stylized Quentin Tarantino war film Inglourious Basterds.

American director David Ayer has excelled with Fury which is highly recommended viewing aimed at a mature masculine audience that can appreciate the art of combat and the innate savagery of war itself. Fury is not for the squeamish and certainly not for those expecting a light hearted war romp like The Monuments Men.

 

 

The Creator’s Wrath

Noah

noah

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, Douglas Booth, Nick Nolte

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Oscar winners Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Jennifer Connelly team up again after their successful onscreen pairing in Ron Howard’s A Beautiful Mind, in Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky’s allegorical tale Noah, which has less to do with the bible story and more to do with humanity propensity for destroying the planet.

This visually packed tale of Noah, the ark and the great flood which ensues is inventive, patriarchal and slightly disappointing considering Aronofsky’s reputation for turning out shocking, if not provocative films like Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and his most successful film yet Black Swan, which earned Natalie Portman a Best Actress Oscar in 2011.

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Russell Crowe looks increasingly perplexed throughout the film of Noah, almost if he knew this cinematic tale might turn out controversially. The script is stilted and not thrashed out properly and even though the film is in 3D, many of the characters are one dimensional. Which is a pity considering that Aronofsky smaller films do focus on flawed characters trying to grapple with their own success or failure.

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British actor Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain and Logan Lerman as Noah’s son Ham stand out in the acting stakes in this version of Noah, while Crowe, Connelly and even Emma Watson come across as pathetic individuals caught up in an event greater than their own destinies, even though their destinies are tied in with the flood which devastated a ravaged earth, thanks to the descendants of Cain, who have wrecked havoc on the planet’s natural resource.

The whole dynamic of the creation narrative rests on  conflict. Adam and Eve enter the Garden of Eden and are confronted by temptation in the form of a serpent. Their children Cain and Abel battle jealousy and envy with Cain killing Abel, leaving a third brother Seth, of which Noah is descended to recover the familial equilibrium. Then the Creators Wrath returns and after a prophesy from Noah’s Grandfather, a wizened Anthony Hopkins that he should build an ark to survive the impending flood, Noah sets his three sons on a mission to complete a gigantic arc to save themselves and a handful of creatures so that a new population can inhabit a cleansed earth. The irony is that Director Aronofsky should not convince big budget Hollywood to give him free reign on an essentially biblical story.

Purists would not be pleased at the cinematic result which is Noah, not to mention that the narrative does not withstand the special effects and somewhere in between the flood, the entire plot is lost. Noah is an overlong allegorical and patriarchal tale with a hint of biblical connotation but is no cinematic masterpiece. Director Aronofsky should return to making small budget shocking films like the psycho sexual ballet thriller, Black Swan. Even Oscar nominated cinematography Matthew Libatique’s trademark sheen is lost on the 3D version of Noah.

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If Noah had been less about visual effects and more about a conceivable plot, then the film would have been vaguely interesting. Even Emma Watson’s (The Bling Ring) turn as Ila, Noah’s eldest son’s girlfriend and mother-to-be is not nearly as captivating. Where is all the sex, debauchery and shock value normally associated with Aronofsky films?  Noah is fascinating, but not fantastic cinema and would be better if left in 2D with a more fleshed out, stimulating narrative. Noah also stars Douglas Booth and unrecognizable Nick Nolte.

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