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Christina Brucato

THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL is Stunning Storytelling!

the vanishing

 

Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this week from writer/director Shawn Christensen and A24 is a film that allows us a look inside of a life of secrets with THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL.

Sidney (Logan Lerman) is a young man who sees the world differently than his classmates. He finds solace in writing and is encouraged by his teacher who sees something special in him. Sidney also has a little mystery in his life when a girl who lives across the street lets a bit of her feelings show.

He introduces himself to Melody (Elle Fanning) and they begin a deep relationship that Sidney knows is life changing. What becomes life-altering is when school jock Brett Newport (Blake Jenner) asks Sidney to hold something for him and to tell no one. Happy to oblige, he is also curious about what had Brett so nervous.

What happened between the two young men becomes the subject of Sidney’s book that sky-rockets him to literary stardom. The fame becomes a whirlwind that begins to affect his relationship with Melody and when it all begins to fall apart – Sidney disappears without a trace.

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That’s when a detective (Kyle Chandler) begins searching for Sidney who is wanted for a series of fires set in places where there are books. Trying to follow the clues, the detective hopes it will lead to Sidney and answers as to what happened to push this young man toward a path filled with pain.

Lerman as Sidney carries this story and film brilliantly in a way that kept me wondering how much more one life can take. I literally couldn’t take my eyes off his performance because his character is so dedicated to everything he pursued that the pitfalls just crushed my heart. All of that emotion is because of Lerman’s portrayal which is a thing of true beauty.

Fanning as Melody clearly enjoys life, sees the beauty past the pain and loves Sidney. Her character sees the best in Sidney and supports when it all becomes too much for him. Trying to be his support comes at a price that Melody seemed more than willing to pay until it was no longer just she that would pay.

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Chandler as the Detective is absolutely amazing in this role. Watching him take each crime scene apart piece by piece to ‘get his man’, it also gives the viewer the same opportunity to go back into Sidney’s life and see what might have gone unnoticed because, like our own lives, it is all in the eye of the beholder. I loved this performance by Chandler but then again if you’ve seen the series Bloodline, you know this actor was certainly up to the challenge in this role.

The must-see breakout performance is Jenner as Brett Newport. This BMOC senior jock walks the hallways of high school in his letterman’s jacket without a care in the world. Sometimes what we think is so true of someone can turn at a moments notice. Jenner’s character brings harshness mixed with a sadness that feels so real for this young man.

Another shout out to Nathan Lane as Harold! Although his role isn’t large, Lane has the unique ability to make every second he is on screen count and playing Harold is no exception. As Harold, Lane is brash, bold and I loved it.

Other cast include Michelle Monaghan as Mrs. Hall, Janina Gavankar as Gina, Margaret Qualley as Alexandra, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Duane, Tim Nelson as Johan, Michael Drayer as Max, Christina Brucato as Jeanine, Alex Karpovsky as Bauer, Darren Pettie as Gerald Hall and David Basche as Senator Dale.

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TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL four tubs of popcorn out of five. I know it is early in the year yet I feel like I’ve seen something stellar, heart felt wrapped in an honestly original story. Filled with a weaving of time periods that is done with such ease and yet so compelling to watch.

This is a cast that envelopes every moment of screen time stretching my emotional core and just when I thought I could take a deep breath – twist! Isn’t that what we want from good storytelling and good filmmaking? That’s what this film is all about, testing us all to our emotional limits and rooting for each to release the memories that hold them down.

Trust me when I say there is so much more to the film that I will not put in this review. I truly want everyone who sees this film to experience each moment for themselves and jaw drop at the twists that are nothing short of brilliantly done. The cinematography is equally well done and if you thinks places in the world are just geography – think again.

In the end – it’s all about beginnings.

 

 

37 Comes to Theatres with a Disturbing Moment in History

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Jeri Jacquin

Coming to theatres this Friday from writer/director Puk Grasten and Film Movement is a look one night of murder with 37.

It is 1964 in Kew Gardens, Queens as families are dealing with their individuals problems. Archibald (Michael Potts) and Joyce Smith (Samira Wiley) are moving into a family building with their son Troy (Marquise Gary). On another floor is Mary (Maria Dizzia) and Bob Cunningham (Jamie Harrold) with their son Billy (Evan Fine).

There is the elderly couple George (Thomas Kopache) and Florel Bernstein (Lucy Martin) with their granddaughter Debbie (Sophia Lillis) who waits for her mother’s return. Finally, the door man Gonzales (Adrian Martinez) is aware of everything happening in the building.

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On this particular night, Kitty Genovese (Christina Brucato) would be brutally murdered and witnessed by 37 different neighbors – no one intervenes!

Potts as Archibald is a man who is trying to toughen up a doll carrying son by drilling his head with boxing. Wiley as pregnant wife Joyce sees what is happening and talking about it only brings arguments. Gary as Troy is watching both his parents deal with their own hardships and has difficulty as any little boy would. I immediately felt bad for him.

Dizzia as Mary has issues with her son and instead of discovering what is causing it all, uses the three strikes corporal punishment. Harrold as husband Bob seems to just want to run away from it all but lets be honest, both parents have completely checked out of life and Fine as Billy pays the ultimate price.

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Kopache as George is a grandfather who is trying his best to deal with a young girl who clearly has mental health issues. Martin as Grandmother Florel tries to keep everything relatively easy going but also knows lying to their granddaughter will backfire. Lillis as Debbie is in a world of her own created with the help of George. This is a kettle boiling hot and when it blows – stand back!

Martinez as Gonzales is the typical doorman who wants to get through the night as quietly as possible and without incident. Hearing what is going on outside the building, I actually was furious that he could have made the difference for Kitty Genovese but fear got the best of him.

Other cast include: Lynn McCollough as Dorothy, Sawyer Nunes as Mark Cunningham, Nancy Ozelli as the Mowbray Sister, Don Puglisi as Sam, Sophia Anne Caruso as Lisa, and Amanda Jones as Hannah.

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The story of Kitty Genovese is a difficult one to tell at best. Leaving her job and arriving home at 3:15 in the morning, she was observed by assailant Winston Moseley. He attacked Kitty and was heard by neighbors who did not call the police even though they heard the young woman cry out.

It would be revealed that after attacking Genovese, he left the scene as the woman made her way into a near by building. Moseley would return to find the woman struggling for life and attack her again, took money and left her in the hallway. A neighbor woman would find Genovese still alive waiting for police. Kitty Genovese died an hour later on route to the hospital.

37, although set in 1964, could just as easily be place into today’s setting. As families are struggling with their own individual situations, turning a blind eye can easily happen. Grasten brings in issues of fear, mental health, family dysfunction and inability to connect with one another to the forefront.

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The sad truth is that Kitty Genovese becomes almost a footnote to everything else in the film. Watching the couple count the number of apartment lights instead of calling the police was more than a bit disturbing in its presentation.

It isn’t until the red flashing lights of the police begin to saturate each apartment do those living their take a notion to discover what has happened. Director Grasten presents the story from the neighbors point of view leaving the results open for a long discussion by viewers and I guarantee that will happen.

In the end – this film will be seen and heard.

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