Friday, April 29, 2016

Yes, Jeremy Saulnier's GREEN ROOM is just as white-knuckle, scarily great as you've heard

Really now: can any film live up to those mostly rapturous reviews together with the enormous consumer approval that the new thriller, GREEN ROOM, has generated?  As a certain disappointing President might say, Yes, it can. This new and riveting thriller from Jeremy Saulnier takes its place as the best white-knuckle-inducing movie since the woefully underseen Not Safe For Work. In fact, Green Room is even more edge-of-your-seat friendly, and it's a lot creepier, too -- due to its backwoods, white-supremacist venue.

The film's very title is oh-so-nicely ironic. When TrustMovies first heard it bandied about, he immediately thought of the "green rooms" he'd known when he worked at Manhattan's Lincoln Center, Further, the movie's star, Patrick Stewart, (below) conjured images of the actor's recent film, Match, which takes place in Manhattan's Upper West Side, in which Stewart plays a famous choreographer and teacher. Hardly.

Instead, Mr. Saulnier (shown two photos above: such a kindly-looking fellow to create all this mayhem) uses that green room -- as scuzzy an example of the venue as we've seen -- initially for its little quartet of punk rockers to relax pre-performance, and then as a place for sudden shock, imprisonment, escape and much, much worse.

Saulnier starts very slowly -- we meet the band mid-trip and note their very hand-to-mouth existence. When their next gig goes south, the fellow who set it up provides a quickly planned new one in those aforementioned backwoods, and our group is off to the races.

Once the moment of reckoning arrives, there's no turning back, and the film simply goes from overdrive to warp speed, so fast and furiously that if there are a couple of questionable moments (and I think there may be), so completely breathless are we in the audience that there's no time to quibble while we're viewing.

Along the way there are plenty of moments of black humor and little ironies abound, never more so than a scene between a dog and his master at the conclusion. But none of these seem like the usual generic fodder that mainstream Hollywood is so fond of churning out. Everything in this movie is geared to character, location and ambience. Green Room, in fact, is the genre film raised to the level of art.

The cast is beautifully chosen and each member delivers -- from star Stewart on down. Band members are essayed by Anton Yelchin (above, right: this is his second excellent "music" movie in the last year or so, after Rudderless), Alia Shawkat (above, center), Callum Turner (star of the wonderful and still not available on home video Queen and Country) and Joe Cole (below)

On the other side, though some positions do change, are actors like Mr. Stewart (giving one of his most chilling performances), Imogen Poots (below), Mark Webber (at bottom) and Macon Blair (of Blue Ruin, Saulnier's excellent earlier movie). Each character comes through tellingly, thanks to the performer and the on-point screenplay, also by Saulnier -- who has made his villian exceedingly bright and vicious and his protagonists so frightened and crazed that they will try just about anything.

By film's end, I suspect you'll feel hugely satisfied, and not simply because you're been taken on a breathless, horrifying adventure, but also because the filmmaker appears to play so very fairly with both his tale and his audience. He rarely relies on coincidence or happenstance, and he lets the chips fall where they may. This is not what we're used to, and if it's sometimes difficult to watch, the result is a movie you'll stayed glued to and will not easily forget.

Green Room -- from A24 and running a sleek 95 minutes -- after opening in New York and Los Angeles two weeks back, opens nationwide today. Here in South Florida, it plays Boca Raton at the Cinemark Palace 20, in Sunrise at the Regal Sawgrass Stadium 23, in Aventura at the AMC Aventura 24, in Miami Beach at the Regal South Beach Stadium 18, in Hollywood at the Regal Oakwood Stadium 18, in Fort Lauderdale at the Regal Cypress Creek Stadium 16, in Davie at the Cinemark Paradise 24 and in South Miami at the AMC Sunset Place 24. If you're elsewhere, to learn the theater nearest you, simply click here and enter your zip code or city/state.

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