October, 2013

Movie Recommendation: Redford in "All Is Lost".
RBH news, October 25, 2013. By RBH.

This is the movie that was filmed in Rosarito, Mexico. Might get us some positive publicity for a change....and better yet, more films...

I went to the premier of "All Is Lost" last night at Lincoln Square. And I must say, the film is very, very interesting. Last year, when I first heard it was in production, I thought to myself, this just ain't gonna work, only a single actor in the film, directed by a guy I've never heard of who is only directing his second film (Margin Call), filmed entirely on the ocean, with virtually no dialogue. Bad idea? But in the hands of 77 year old, pro, Robert Redford, it is, in fact, mesmerizing.

The thing that I found interesting is that you really know nothing about this guy. He's nameless. Does he have a family? Why is he all alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean on a 36'sailboat? But then the film begins to unfold, as a loose metal container floating in the ocean rams into his boat creating a huge hole in its side. And then the remarkable performance by Redford begins to suck you into his utterly hopeless predicament. His utter frustration, his hopelessness, his weariness, and the fading glimmer of optimism and hope begin show on Redford's grizzled face. The guy does more with his expressions and eyes than many actors do with 100 pages of dialogue. This is a professional actor at his absolute best. And he probably needs to clear off the mantle at his beautiful Sundance residence, because there is a gold statue coming that will need a place to rest.

The film takes place over 8 days, as the nameless man on the boat encounters problem after problem, each of which sucks a little more life out of his eyes. The patch on the side of the boat does not hold, the weather turns horrible, the equipment is water logged, and therefore he can't get a distress call out, he gets the boat into the shipping lanes, but the big container ships passing in the night just don't see him. He runs out of food and water, the sailboat ultimately sinks and he goes from a 36' sailboat to a 4' life raft.

Ultimately the film is about a man who gradually realizes that in spite of his smarts and considerable boating skills, "All Is Lost."You see it in his face, his posture, his economical movements. And it will shock you how much you come to like this man, and want him to be saved by the end of the film. "All Is Lost" is what they call in Hollywood, a small, independent film, the kind of film that Redford champions at his very successful Sundance Film Festival. But even thought the production budget was a miniscule $9 million (by Hollywood standards) every nickel is up there on the screen. Heck, I'd pay $10 bucks just to see how they made the film, in the middle of the ocean in a very confined cabin and lifeboat environment.

It's a fascinating piece of filmmaking, and well worth your $10 investment and 107 minutes of your time. Go check it out!

Redford (aka Sundance) has been on quite a losing streak for a while now. In recent years his films, both acted and directed, have laid more eggs than the Easter Bunny. Maybe it's not so good to be a 77 year old former sex symbol, who apparently doesn’t own a comb?

Ever heard of "Lion for Lambs", I didn't think so.

"The Conspirator", I didn't think so.

"The Company You Keep", I didn't think so.

"An Unfinished Life" , I didn't think so.

However, something is coming that just may break that losing streak? And may even put him on stage for the 2014 Oscar Show. It's called "All Is Lost". And the early reviews say that Redford gives a bravura (and almost entirely non-verbal performance) as the sole cast member of this tense seafaring adventure.

Film:"All Is Lost"

Starring: Robert Redford (Yes, he's the only actor in the film)

Rated: PG-13 for some language

Cost: $9 million (Which is what Hollywood usually spends on food services for a film)

Opens: October 18th, 2013

This film is a high risk piece of filmmaking, as there are some in the industry that think the producers are crazy to put just one actor on the screen for 106 minutes, Redford, or no Redford. Generally you want to fill the screen with as many "stars" as you can afford, so that a myriad of movie goers will have a reason to reach in the wallets and buy a ticket.

Storyline:Deep into a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, an unnamed man (Redford) wakes to find his 39-foot yacht taking on water after a collision with a shipping container left floating on the high seas. With his navigation equipment and radio disabled, the man sails unknowingly into the path of a violent storm. Despite his success in patching the breached hull, his mariner's intuition and a strength that belies his age, the man barely survives the tempest. Using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him into a shipping lane in hopes of hailing a passing vessel. But with the sun unrelenting, sharks circling and his meager supplies dwindling, the ever-resourceful sailor soon finds himself staring his mortality in the face.

“All Is Lost” tells this suspenseful tale with virtually no dialogue — the only time Redford opens his mouth is to attempt contact (via radio or otherwise) with a potential rescuer, or to utter a well-deserved four-letter obscenity when everything seems particularly bleak. Beyond those few moments, however, his performance is entirely about action and facial expressions.

This isn’t entirely uncharted territory for the venerable star, having played men of few words in films like “Jeremiah Johnson” and “Downhill Racer.” “All Is Lost” feels of a piece with those earlier movies in its portrayal of a man alone in nature, but the movie’s aesthetic is rigorous and challenging.

One imagines the dreaded studio notes on a movie like this one: “Can’t he have a parrot or a cute puppy that he confides in? What if he explains everything to himself so that the audience can keep up?” Redford’s character offers no verbal cues about anything, so it’s up to viewers to pay attention and figure it out for themselves. We don’t need to hear him say, “Uh-oh — storm’s coming,” when the clouds, the sound of distant thunder and the expression on Redford’s face say it all.

On every technical level, “All Is Lost” is extraordinary; the special effects do their job of making the man seem completely isolated without ever calling attention to themselves, the music (by Alex Ebert) is used sparingly, the sound design and cinematography and editing all combine to do the extra storytelling work that would normally be covered by dialogue.

Redford gives what will no doubt be considered the standout performance of his latter career; there’s no backstory to play, no conflict apart from the immediate circumstances, yet he’s enthralling throughout. And for a man in his late 70s, he tackles the role’s intense physical requirements with gusto; at one point, the ship capsizes, sending Redford rolling up the walls and to the ceiling in what looks like the horror-movie version of Fred Astaire’s famous gravity-defying dance in “Royal Wedding.”