Tag Archives: Sea

Manchester by the Sea

23 Nov
Michelle Williams and Casey Affleck star as exes in Manchester by the Sea


Heartbreak and resentment fill nearly every frame of Kenneth Lonergan’s emotionally charged drama that delves into redemption and atonement in ways that are so bleakly real and to the bone, it lingers with you days later — something few movies have done so far this year with the notable exceptions of Moonlight, Loving, and The Handmaiden.

Manchester by the Sea begins with the tedious anguish of unclogging a stopped up toilet. It’s immediately apparent that the handler of the plunger, Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), suffers from more than just the stench of the task at hand. Lee’s a quiet inward man who toils as a handyman/janitor in Boston until his brother’s weak heart beckons him back to the town of the film’s title — a 40 minute scoot north —where we learn that Lee had existed before in happier and more prosperous times. The gorgeous seaside town itself becomes a story of two sides, the well-to-do living in stately green-lawned manses while the working class fishermen nestle up in cozy, but cramped cottages along pot-hole marred lanes. Lee’s past there is a ghost he doesn’t want to confront and the cold chalky grey of winter descending poetically underscores his aching dread. Continue reading

All is Lost

25 Oct

‘All is Lost’: Redford, alone at sea, silent, carries film soaked with beauty and fear

By Tom Meek
October 24, 2013


Vastness can be an aesthetic wonderment, breathtaking to behold like the dark cold of outer space in “Gravity” or the endless desert in “Lawrence of Arabia,” but given a rip in a suit or a missed rendezvous at an oasis, that hypnotic intoxication with the serene forever can quickly become the edge of a hapless demise where outside intervention becomes a mathematic improbability and personal perseverance is the only shot at salvation.

102513i All Is Lost

In his sophomore effort, “All is Lost,” young filmmaker J.C. Chandor – who got an Academy Award nomination for his bold debut “Margin Call” – employs the sea as his beauteous hell. The film’s title is a shard from a letter written by a hopeless yachtsman adrift at sea in a life raft.  Continue reading

Captain Phillips

11 Oct

‘Captain Phillips’: True-life pirate drama never hits dramatic depths you’d expect

By Tom Meek
October 11, 2013


Back in 2009 the world watched rapt as a U.S. cargo ship was seized by pirates off the coast of Africa. To save his crew, the captain offered himself up as hostage and was subsequently cordoned off in a lifeboat pod with a posse of armed and anxious pirates looking for a multimillion-dollar ransom. Eventually the Navy and SEAL Team 6 got involved and brought about a quick resolution. It made for great drama then and would seem a natural fit for film, but as harrowing as “Captain Philips” is, it never quite gets below the surface of the whole ordeal.

101113 Captain Phillips

All of this might come as a bit of a surprise, because “Phillips” is directed by Paul Greengrass, who so adroitly chronicled the intrepid doings of doomed 9/11 passengers in “United 93.” His insight and meticulous care for every passenger and their story and plight rang through cleanly and with genuine earnestness. Here that acumen feels lost or, at best, severely muted.  Continue reading

Deep Blue Sea

19 Mar
Deep Blue Sea The Boston Phoenix
DIRECTED BY: Renny Harlin REVIEWED: 08-02-99

Jaws in triplicate and with brains — that’s the hook behind this horror-adventure vehicle that packs a few good thrills and sleek FX behind its nonsensical premise. Director Renny Harlin, back from the dead after the abysmal Cutthroat Island, places his cast of chum on a techno-cool atoll called Aquatica. The rig is an isolated research facility where the beautiful and brainy Saffron Burrows (The Loss of Sexual Innocence) enlarges the cerebellums of three sharks in search of an Alzheimer’s cure. After one of the lab sharks gets loose, the man with the money, Samuel Jackson, drops in on the clam shack to see how his dollars are working. A storm cripples the structure and everyone sits around waiting to become shark hors d’oeuvres.

The battery of piquant characters includes Stellan Skarsgård as the head scientist with a perilous desire to smoke and Michael Rapaport as the nervous technician. As the shark handler, up-and-comer Thomas Jane is an intriguing Mel Gibson-esque variation on Kevin Costner’s mariner from Water World; Burrows is in fine form doing Sigourney Weaver’s Alien bit in her undies; and rapper turned actor L.L. Cool J plays the preachy chef with enough mess-hall ingenuity to take on the watery wolves.

Harlin does keep the suspense strung tight, but the über-sharks’ omnipotence borders on cheesy, unintentional camp — though not to the degree of Jaws author Peter Benchley’s made-for-TV flop, Creature. If you want shark-with-smarts guffaws, try to catch the mid-’70s Saturday Night Live skit “Land Shark.”


–Tom Meek