Review: ‘The Death of Dick Long’ is a poignantly ridiculous Southern-set thriller

This review was first published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

 

Like most movies that we expect to devolve into chaos before the characters we’re watching ever do, “The Death of Dick Long” begins with images of everyday, carefree life involving everyday, carefree people. Three friends shatter the serenity of a quiet rural evening with their rock music – “Pink Freud,” their band is apparently called, a hint at the imitation game the movie will deftly play – and we quickly learn that this, in fact, is what constitutes their serenity.

Zeke (Michael Abbott Jr.), Earl (Andre Hyland) and Dick (Daniel Scheinert, also the movie’s director) continue their night with an appropriately obtuse carousel of friendly redneck tomfoolery; drinking, smoking, lighting couches on fire, lighting fireworks from their crotches. They’re somehow able to keep their irresponsibility in check while resembling the kind of infantile thirty-somethings who always luck their way out of trouble. Or worse.

Our intuitions prove fruitful—moments later, they’re speeding—through red lights and through the middle of the night—Dick bleeding from somewhere in the back seat—Zeke and Earl panicking before leaving him collapsed and unconscious outside a hospital. They’re in trouble, clearly, though Scheinert and the film’s writer, Billy Chew, leave it to the audience to piece together what exactly happened to make things go so south so fast, at the same pace that this small town’s small-town police force does, and why Zeke and Earl suspiciously abandoned a third of their trio. Continue reading →

Review: In ‘Shape of Water,’ beauty saves the beast. No verbiage necessary.

For 20 years, Guillermo Del Toro has found success in the bizarre and carved himself a niche in the eclectic. He’s done more than anyone (not named Peter Jackson) to create a spot for fantasy in contemporary cinema, with 2006’s piercingly original “Pan’s Labyrinth” serving as the crown jewel of his catalog.

The imaginative Mexican director’s latest effort, though, makes a strong claim for the crown. A more character-driven story than anything he’s undertaken before, “The Shape of Water” is simultaneously a departure from Del Toro’s unfettered imagination and a showcase of the filmmaker at the height of his technical powers.

The fantastical has always been Del Toro’s forte, but “Shape of Water” operates as proof that he can tell a spellbinding story while leaving nightmarish creatures on the bench, while also trading mysticism for a previously untapped amount of realism. Continue reading →