The Old Man & The Gun (2018)

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Directed by David Lowery
Country: USA

After terrific achievements such as Ain’t Them Bodies Saint (2013) and Ghost Story (2017), American writer/director David Lowery is definitely a name to be followed closely. Despite of the low-key vibe of The Old Man & The Gun, a biographical drama film about the ever-smiling robber and prison-escape expert Forrest Tucker, he doesn’t disappoint, weaving enjoyable episodes through a fusion of non-violent crime and sweet romance. For the script, Lowery based himself on an article by David Grann published in 2003 on the The New Yorker.

Supposedly, this is the last theatrical appearance of 86-year-old actor Robert Redford, who announced his retirement last August. Impersonating Tucker with that habitual devotion he always dedicates to his acting roles, Redford is joined here by Sissy Spacek, in what was their first collaboration on the big screen. The latter plays Jewel, the woman who conquers Tucker’s heart without being able to make him stop from robbing banks like a gentleman.

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Partnering with longtime pals Teddy Green (Danny Glover) and Waller (Tom Waits), Tucker never leaves prints, raises his voice, or makes any kind of fuss when operating his scheme. This happy fellow probably never shot a gun in his whole life, not even when escaping from prison, a feat he successfully completed 16 times. Nonetheless, his well-calculated maneuvers became objects of study of police detective John Hurt (Casey Affleck), who is visibly intrigued by and embarrassed for a ‘clean’ robbery executed by the time he was inside the bank.

This efficient account charms with a breezy fluidity, also displaying decorous looks and settings that conjure up that slightly opaque glow of the 1980s. The witty dialogue between Redford and Spacek feels refreshingly romantic, with Lowery abdicating of typical clichés in favor of a tangible honesty that burns with irony, love, and glee. Being a film of minor tensions, The Old Man brought me joy in the quantities required to make it noteworthy.

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A Ghost Story (2017)

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Directed by: David Lowery
Country: USA

Writer-helmer-editor David Lowery (“Ain't Them Bodies Saints”) delivers one of the most rewarding movies of the year, a psychedelic, indie-style ghost drama that is beautiful and haunting in equal proportions.

Resorting to long shots, which stimulate even more our curiosity, and perfectly composed settings, the director opts for a dead-cold stillness that characterizes an intelligent, layered tale related with a profound sense of loss, despair, and eternity.
 
By the time we are introduced to C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara), a young married couple who just moved into a suburban house in Dallas, we are also presented with a sentence by the acclaimed English writer Virginia Woolf that says: “whatever hour you woke there was a door shutting”.

Actually, after dying unexpectedly in a car accident, a door of light is literally shut for C, who, by choosing to return home, remains confined there for many, many years.

Noises and silences are masterfully conjugated to create tension, while the impactful score by Daniel Hart plays a fundamental role in the discomfort of whether eerie, whether dramatic situations. Moreover, the balance between light and darkness is achieved with artistry and enhances the beautiful cinematography by Andrew Droz Palermo (“You’re Next”).

One of the aspects I liked the most was the basic way the ghost was depicted. And let me tell you that, in the present case, the typical long white sheet with two holes in the head felt creepier than childish. This rambling hollow figure patiently observes M’s grieving process until she abandons the house for good. Before leaving, she places a little piece of paper with something written inside a crack on the wall. The frustrated spirit of C attempts to reach this ‘secret’, even many years later, when several other people went to live in the property. 

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On two occasions, the spirit attests all his dissatisfaction and boredom by employing violent manifestations. Firstly, when M brings home a new male friend, and secondly, when a Spanish-speaking family moves into the house.

An unthinkable surprise, perhaps slightly strained, turns up when C communicates with another ghost who keeps waiting in the house next door for someone he doesn’t remember.

A Ghost Story” tests the limits of our intellect and senses, giving us much more to chew on than most of the typical films within the genre. This film looks like something Wim Wenders would do if he had dedicated himself to the infinite solitude of a ghost instead of a fallen angel.

Lowery’s risk-taking effort could easily fall in the ridicule. However, the auteur shaped it brilliantly and the film truly impressed me by entangling, astonishing, and disorienting with its hazy, uncanny, spiritual viewpoint.

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