Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Get 12 issues from just £25
Must-Have Movie Collectibles
Bid on some classic memorabilia
Empire Blogs
Words From The Wise

Back to all blogs Comment Now

Venice 2013: Joe and Night Moves

Posted on Saturday August 31, 2013, 17:14 by Damon Wise in Words From The Wise
Venice 2013: Joe and Night Moves

American cinema is usually well represented at Venice, but the pickings have been a little more backwoods than Hollywood this year, two very good examples being David Gordon Green’s Joe and Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves (pictured). Both are representative of each director’s style and each suggest career movement – in Green’s case, a move away from broad mainstream comedy and back towards the smalltown drama of All The Real Girls and Snow Angels (criminally, never released in the UK), while Reichardt’s film is a good indication that the director may someday cross over on her own terms, having made a crisp, clean arthouse thriller that also works a traditional level.

To start with David Gordon Green’s Joe, this also sees Nicolas Cage returning to a much more complex character than his usual parade of grotesques. Here he plays Joe Ransome, the boss of a logging company who recruits local labourers to cut down trees in the area to make for a reforestation project. Into his orbit comes Gary Jones (Mud’s Tye Sheridan), a 15-year-old boy who asks for a job and won’t take no for an answer.  The kid comes from a family of vagrants, his father is a deadbeat drunk (the incredible Gary Poulter), and though Joe sees the old man hitting the boy, he refuses to intervene. Joe has anger issues, it transpires; he is trying to control them, and his short fuse – although, for dramatic reasons, it’s actually quite long – sizzles ominously throughout the movie.

Perhaps inspired by his old college-mate Jeff Nichols, Green’s film has a touch of the romantic Southern fable about it, mostly in the substitute father-son relationship that lies at the core, but Green’s film has a curiously wayward tone that sometimes feels more indebted to Harmony Korine than Mark Twain. This doesn’t make for a massively cohesive movie but it does keep things interesting, giving the film an off-kilter rhythm that works nicely in counterpart to the steady beat of the somewhat obvious way that things are going to go.

The best part, however, is the cast, headed by a big, bearded Cage, who flexes his considerable acting chops for the first time in years. Around him, Poulter and Sheridan add a huge amount of authenticity to create a genuine sense of community and place. It’s not quite enough to make the jump into the mainstream, but fans of Cage should seek Joe out for proof that the actor still has some mileage, while US indie completists should see it just to keep up to date.

Reichardt’s film is similarly well cast, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard as members of a loose eco-protest movement who are involved in a bombing attack on a hydro-electric dam. Much of the actual planning is left to the imagination; we meet the group as they prepare to put it into action: buying a boat, getting the right amount of fertilizer and recce’ing the location. I didn’t much care for Reichardt’s last film, Meek’s Cutoff, which seemed to be a willful uninventing of the western – for me, losing most of the things that make making a western worthwhile. Here, though, Reichardt totally has engaged with the rules of the genre, and although they are not obeyed to the letter, this results in an alt-thriller that ripples with tension, paranoia and atmosphere.

It begins very much as a three-piece, but the as the plan takes shape, all camaraderie erodes. This is where the performances really start to shine; Fanning as the twitchy Dena, Sarsgaard as the not quite so experienced as the thinks Harmon and, best of all, Eisenberg as the ever more out of his depth Josh. Reichardt’s film really takes us into their world, perfectly creating an ideological bubble that is going to burst when their ‘perfect’ plan takes an unexpected turn. In bursts, the director’s forensic style is often reminiscent of David Fincher at his economic best, while the cast make a magnificent job of working against each other – yet at the same time creating a solid, cogent unit.

Admirers of Martha Marcy May Marlene should lap this up for its intense, first-person mood, and, although it’s unfair to single her out for special praise, this is perhaps Fanning’s first step into a whole new phase of her career. With careful handling, this could be the slowburn hit that finds the audience The East didn’t.

Login or register to comment.

Currently No Comments

Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

CATEGORIES

Empire States (443)

Under The Radar (335)

Infinite Lives (92)

Small Screen (57)

Words From The Wise (36)

Cannes 2011 (28)

Off The Wire (24)

Comic-Con 2010 (21)

Casting Couch (2)

Oscars 2011 (1)


RECENT POSTS

i, Robot Goes 3D On Blu-Ray
By James White

DreamWorks Touts New 'Toon Footage
By James White

Golden Globes 2012
By James White

James Cameron Talks Titanic 3D
By James White

The 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony: What Can We Expect?
By Helen O'Hara

The Sorcerer's Apprentice Edit Bay Visit
By James White

Shutter Island: A Thriller Out Of Time?
By Damon Wise

What Chris Nolan Could Bring To Superman
By James White

The Oscar Back-And-Forth
By Helen O'Hara

The Oscar Race: What Upsets Would You Like To See?
By Damon Wise


RECENT COMMENTS

Little Favour, Big Impact
"A really good short film. Gripping from the outset, a noir-ish action thriller with an interesting s"  Jaks
Read comment

i, Robot Goes 3D On Blu-Ray
"I received this yesterday with high expectations Now I am an advocate for 3D and a massive "  BigNickUK
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
"Someone at E! needs to get fired! Their coverage was shocking! Thanks god for Empire showing me the "  guysalisbury
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
""Harvey Weinstein’s nickname apparently being The Punisher. Write your own Thomas Jane jo"  loafroaster
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
"Have to agree with the previous comments about the coverage by E! Truly inept. Other than that, high"  wgfuzzydunlop1
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
"Sadly boredbluekoala is spot on with the description of E!'s shockingly incompetent handling of the "  spacemonkey95
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
"Great, so let's get the Oscars back on the BBC then."  Cameron1975Williams
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
"I don't know which broadcast everyone else was watching, but the one shown by 'E' in the UK was shoc"  boredbluekoala
Read comment

Golden Globes 2012
"Either Gervais was told to tone it down this year or he just couldn't come up with anything funny (m"  BenTramer
Read comment

James Cameron Talks Titanic 3D
"As a younger generation movie lover, i am thrilled by the fact that Titanic is coming back to the bi"  AusteV
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

You Wouldn't Steal A Car...
140 comments

Should Spider-Man Have Gone 3D?
27 comments

Spielberg's Harvey: Why It's A Good Idea
26 comments

What Chris Nolan Could Bring To Superman
21 comments

The Oscar Back-And-Forth
18 comments

James Cameron Talks Titanic 3D
16 comments

The Oscar Race: What Upsets Would You Like To See?
11 comments

Golden Globes 2012
7 comments

The Sorcerer's Apprentice Edit Bay Visit
3 comments

The 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony: What Can We Expect?
2 comments


BLOGGERS
Damon Wise (298)
Helen O'Hara (181)
James Dyer (86)
Amar Vijay (71)
Ali Plumb (56)
James White (29)
Phil de Semlyen (21)
Owen Williams (21)
Simon Braund (6)
Nev Pierce (5)
Ally Wybrew (2)
Ben Kirby (1)
David Parkinson (1)
Will Lawrence (1)
Dan Jolin (1)
Ian Nathan (1)


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
Showrunner Beau Willimon Reveals 8 House Of Cards Secrets
On Kevin Spacey’s dog-dispatching and more…

21 Great Movie Cons
Fleece your friends with these duplicitous devices...

Empire Podcast 150: Margot Robbie
The Focus (and Wolf Of Wall Street) star from the Top Gear track...

Empire's New Spectre Issue Covers
First look at Bond 24 in Empire's April issue

Vote For The Jameson Empire Awards 2015!
Your mission is clear...

Sleeping Beauties: The Story Behind 12 Of Cinema's Unlikeliest Hits
They came, they saw, they surprisingly conquered

Writer / Director Dan Gilroy Reveals 8 Nightcrawler Secrets
On Jake Gyllenhaal's hand-slicing mirror smash and more...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)