Rapid Movie Review: ‘A MOST VIOLENT YEAR’ & ‘TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT’

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Preston Barta // Editor


A MOST VIOLENT YEAR | 125 min. | Rated R
Directed by J.C. Chandor
Starring Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo, Elyes Gabel, Alessandro Nivola, Glenn Fleshler and Albert Brooks

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is only the third film from writer-director J.C. Chandor (MARGIN CALL, ALL IS LOST), yet it shows the maturity and control of a great auteur. Comparisons to a young Martin Scorsese are not unwarranted.

This gritty thriller tells the story of the Morales family as they struggle to maintain their business empire during 1981 New York, which, cue the title, is the city’s most crime ridden year. While Abel, played earnestly by Oscar Isaac (INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS) is constantly pressured by the elements of his surroundings, he’s not going to let the events threaten the life he worked so hard to build.

Isaac and Jessica Chastain (ZERO DARK THIRTY) both give unblemished performances as a couple whose lives are twisted in love and business. While the film is a slow simmer, it is later ferociously brought to a boil, before unleashing its fury in a third act that is absolutely riveting.

A MOST VIOLENT YEAR is playing in select theaters.


TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT | 95 min. | Rated PG-13
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Stars: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione and Catherine Salée

Strikingly directed by Belgian filmmakers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne (THE KID WITH A BIKE), the French-spoken TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT is a finely paced tale that draws an immediate and interactive portrayal of a working-class family.

This character-driven narrative delves into the story of a woman (Marion Cotillard) who takes some time away from her factory job to deal with her depression. In her absence, her job decides that it can go on without her, and she must fight with everything she has to prevent her employees from taking her work away.

Cotillard (INCEPTION) proves once again, she is very deserving of her Oscar nomination, giving a shattering lead performance that shows the hardships of facing your fears. However, TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT is not about depression and economic struggles; it is about taking responsibility for your life, and in the process, transforming those around you.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT is playing in select theaters today.

 

About author

Preston Barta

Hello, there! My name is Preston Barta, and I am the features editor of Fresh Fiction and senior film critic at the Denton Record-Chronicle. My cinematic love story began where I was born: off planet on the isolated desert world of the Jakku system. It's there I passed the time scavenging for loose parts with my good friend Rey. One day I found an old film projector and a dusty reel of the 1975 film JAWS. It rocked my world so much that I left my kinfolk in the rearview (I so miss their morning cups of green milk) to pursue my dreams of writing about film. It wasn't long until I met two gents who said they would give me a lift. I can't recall their names, but one was an older man who liked to point a lot and the other was a tall, hairy fella. They got me as far as one of Jupiter's moons where we crossed paths with the U.S.S. Enterprise. Some pointy-eared bastard said I was clear to come aboard. He saw that I was clutching my beloved shark movie and invited me to the "moving pictures room" where he was screening the 1993 film JURASSIC PARK to his crew. He said my life would be much more prosperous if I were familiar with more work by the god named Steven Spielberg. From there, my love for cinema blossomed. Once we reached planet Earth, everything changed. I found the small town of Denton, TX, and was welcomed into the Barta family. They showed me the writings of local film critic Boo Allen. He became my hero and caused me to chase a degree in film and journalism. After my studies at graduate of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, I met some film critics who showed me the ropes and got me into my first press screening: 2011's THE GREEN LANTERN. Don't worry; I recovered just fine. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD was only four years away.