Archives for posts with tag: Ethan Hawke

The supernatural is weak mortar to fill cracks in a film’s plot. That being said, everything else about “The Black Phone” (2022) is so stylishly done, I’ll grant some willing suspension of disbelief. This low-ceiling horror film leans into its late 1970s Denver setting, so much so it sometimes seems the set decorator and costumer are bragging. Meanwhile, kids are disappearing. The Grabber gains schoolyard-myth status as the suspect. Our protagonist is in the crosshairs. Earnestly sold clairvoyance and paranormal activity begin to intervene, but young heroes Madeleine McGraw and Mason Thames prevent the story’s potential undoing through heartfelt performances.

I screwed up and thought “Before Sunset” (2004) was the first installment of the “Before” trilogy. But as I watched it, I learned through brief flashbacks and nonstop conversation between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke about the initial romantic interlude that was “Before Sunrise.” Thus, my experience was neither an exercise in total confusion nor total enjoyment. Instead, this film felt more like a one-act play on the Hallmark Channel, featuring an ESPN-style analysis from Paris, showing highlights of the Romance Super Bowl that took place nine years earlier. Oh my god with the talking and talking and talking already.

I can’t imagine the American Society for Depressed People was too keen on “First Reformed” (2018). I wouldn’t recommend it if you’ve been Googling “methods of suicide.” Writer-director Paul Schrader was trying to make some kind of perverse statement that Jesus would be an environmental extremist if he were around today, but ends up making an even more perverse argument that suicide is contagious. What begins as a character study of a depressed pastor gets progressively lazier as said pastor gets progressively drunker, until he (or we) starts imagining things. Supporting characters are one-dimensional handmaidens to Ethan Hawke’s affected performance.