‘Captain Fantastic’: A Nuanced Exploration of Discourse in America

Captain Fantastic is a heart-warming film that forces the viewer to consider the faults of modern society and the benefits to living an alternative lifestyle.  Written and directed by Matt Ross, the film was a hit at Sundance this year, and rightly so.  While it is frequently damning to American culture, it also has a lot to say about the value of compromise, discourse, and self-reflection.  Most impressively, it is a movie that revels in the existence of the morally gray, a trait that is rare for a two-hour long feature film.  Captain Fantastic really impressed me, and it’s a film that is best discussed from start to finish, so full [spoilers] ahead.


Best of Sundance 2016

The most rewarding experience of Sundance is seeing what the next year of movies will look like.  Of the 120 feature films that were selected to screen at Sundance, I was able to catch 18 in a five day frenzy.  Almost all of them were really good, and several I would consider fantastic.  Here are some of the most exciting future releases of 2016: (more…)

‘The Overnight:’ Dissecting the Ending

The Overnight is a small Indie drama that follows a married couple (Alex and Emily) which has recently moved to Los Angeles and are looking for new friends. They are invited to another couple’s (Kurt and Charlotte) house for a dinner party, and eagerly accept. As the night progresses, however, it becomes obvious that intentions may not be as innocent as they seem.

The movie plays as a classic “will they/won’t they?” sex comedy, but with very untraditional style and stakes. From the minute that Alex and Emily enter Kurt and Charlotte’s house, the audience is unsettled by strange, unfamiliar sexual tension. The film escalates its uncomfortable comedy throughout its runtime, with many details only revealed in the movie’s final act.

It is really difficult to stick the landing on a film like this. The premise is very promising and ripe for comedy, sure, but how do you fulfill a satisfying arc, let alone an arc for every character? It’s a movie that draws many comparisons to While We’re Young, a movie with an ending I didn’t particularly enjoy. By contrast, the ending of The Overnight is extremely satisfying, and it’s well-worth talking about. [Spoilers] from here on.


Dissecting the Ending: ‘While We’re Young’

“While We’re Young” is a fascinating exploration of the transition from adolescence to adulthood, and what it means to truly “grow up.”  I really loved Noah Baumbach’s previous film, “Frances Ha,” and came into this movie with very high expectations.  For most of the film, “While We’re Young” was exactly what I was looking for.  Aging is a struggle that everyone will face at some point in his or her life, and as a result the situations are extremely relatable and frequently hilarious.  Many broad comparisons are made between Gen Xers and Millennials, and it is fascinating to see Baumbach explore concepts like nostalgia versus ironic enjoyment.  I highly recommend the film to anyone interested in the premise.

All that being said, I had some strong opinions about the final 30 minutes or so of this film.  For me, a film succeeds or fails based largely on its third act.  The climax is the screenwriter or director’s best opportunity to really drive home the ultimate message of his/her movie.  It is what the audience is left with as they walk out of the theater.  The rest of this post is will be talking about the ending in depth, so [spoilers] ahead.