Film Review: A QUIET PLACE (USA 2018) ***1/2

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A Quiet Place Poster
A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

Director:

John Krasinski

Writers:

Bryan Woods (screenplay by), Scott Beck (screenplay by) |3 more credits »

A QUIET PLACE is actor John Krasinki’s third directorial effort, a horror film that premiered at the South by Southwest film festival.  Krasinski also co-write the script with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck based on their story.  His first two films (THE HOLLARS, BREIF INTERVIEWS WITH HIDEOUS MEN) were, to put it mildly, nothing to write home about .  A QUIET PLACE also stars Krasinki’s wife, Emily Blunt, which is a clear signal to stay away.  But DON’T.  A QUIET PLACE is his assured directorial piece that would put many horror directors to shame.  It is scary, suspenseful and even had the audience (at the promo I attended) cheering at the end.  These are signs of a good horror film, and the film has been getting rave reviews since its premiere.

The poster looks like David Cronenberg’s RABID.  A woman, bloodied lies in a bath tub.  The scene occurs in the middle of the film when Evelyn (Blunt) has to deliver a new born in silence while the monster attracted to sound lurks around the house.

The script concentrates on scary set-ups but omits details and history of the setting.  Nothing is mentioned on how the situation came about.  What brought about the destruction of the human race?  Where did these supposedly deaf creatures come from?  What is the reason the Abbott family is the only one that survived?  But one can argue that if the film works in its aim at scaring, no one should question these omissions in plot.  As Hitchcock as proven in many of his films, the same holds true in A QUIET PLACE.

The placement of an expecting mother having to give birth in silence for fear of monsters attracted to noise is nothing short of brilliant.  The delivery scene kept the audience at the edge of their seats, evident as I looked around the theatre during the segment.

A word of warning!  This film requires a very silent audience, so pick a seat away from others.  The screening I attended had a person bring his own snacks, and one could hear him crackling his packages open and cans of pop.  Really annoying.  The theatre should ban popcorn and snacks for the screening of this film.

The special effects and sound are impressive.  The monster with its big ears and dripping saliva moving around to the sound of a creaking door is sufficiently menacing.

It is well to note that Millicent Simmonds (Todd Hayne’s WONDERSTRUCK) who plays Regan the deaf daughter is deaf in real life.  Krasinksi did not want a non-deaf actress pretending to be deaf.  Most important is the fact that a deaf actress would help his knowledge and understanding of the situations tenfold.  Simmonds who communicates in American Sign Language in the film to avoid sound taught the actors ASL during the filming.  The authenticity comes through in the film.

A QUIET PLACE achieves what it aims at, a solid horror film with a message of strong family values that ends up satisfying entertainment for all. 

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9wE8dyzEJE

 

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Film Review: BORN IN CHINA (USA/China 2016) ***

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born_in_china.jpgDirector: Chuan Lu
Writers: David Fowler, Brian Leith
Stars: John Krasinski, Xun Zhou

Review by Gilbert Seah
 
The poster might be misleading that the new Disneynature film BORN IN CHINA is about pandas alone. The documentary is concentrated on 5 animals, all BORN IN CHINA, more precisely in the northern and central mountainous colder parts of China where there are no signs of civilization. It is a beautiful and rugged country. The 5 animals selected for show are cranes, the snow leopard, the golden snubbed nose monkeys, the antelope and of course the panda. The segments are intercut among each other.

Be forewarned, the pandas are the least interesting of the animals featured. Pandas are cute and endangered, and their cute antics are captured. Mother Ya Ya is training her daughter Mei Mei to climb trees. Once Mei Mei is able to climb a tree, she is able to escape from prey and become independent. Every time, the film returns to the panda, Mei Mei is falling down , rolling down a slope after which Ya Ya is hugging Mei Mei. It is actually quite boring stuff if you subtract their cuteness.

The film aims at cuteness for each animal. Narrated by John Krasinski in the English version, he mimics animal sounds and tries to act cute. If one likes that sort of thing, then fine, but it undermines the seriousness of these animals in the wilderness. These animals have to survive, escape prey, feed their young, mate and carry on the living process.

It comes as no surprise then that the most interesting episodes are the ones with the snow leopards. Mother (named Dawa – why must these animals be given ridiculers cutesy Chinese names?) must defend her territory and feed her cubs Her territory is threatened when another female snow leopard arrives with her three offspring. Dawa and her cubs are forced into hiding. Wen Dawa preys upon a yak calf, she almost gets food. The film is most interesting at this point as the audience cannot decide to root for Dawa or for the poor yak calf being caught and about to be rescued by her mother. One has to recall that Disney did kill off poor Bambi’s mother in BAMBI.

The cranes are given a token segment while the female antelopes are shown migrating to give birth and returning with their young. The golden snub nose monkeys are shown from the point of view of Tao Tao, an adolescent who cannot decide to hang around his family or other rebellious youngsters, nicknamed in the film as ‘the lost boys’. Of course, Tao Tao learns the importance of family at the end, After all Disneynature is aimed at a family audience.
The end credits showing the cameramen and director at work prove more interesting than the movie. As one man at the camera says, the weather changes dramatically. One moment is can be hailing and the next sunshine. The majesty of Central and Western China is also captured on film. The landscape steals the show from the animal antics.

The film shies away from any violence, typical for Disneynature films. There is nothing as disturbing here as say in one other Disneynature film, where hundreds of baby turtles trying to crawl to the sea after hatching, are devoured by preying birds. Nature is cruel and survival is tough. These elements are overlooked in this film and mostly substituted by play and silly cuteness except for only one instance.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VP0Vl6Qzb8M
 

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Happy Birthday: John Krasinski

johnkrasinski.jpgJohn Krasinski

Born: October 20, 1979 in Newton, Massachusetts, USA

Married to: Emily Blunt (10 July 2010 – present) (2 children)

[on getting abs for the first time in his life] When abs show and you can actually count them and there’s more than two? – That’s a pretty big day. And when you get those lower abs that go into your jeans, you’re like, I don’t even know what those are, but I’m glad they’re here. My body fat was 25% when I started. By the time I did the movie my body fat was 9%.

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