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'Windfall' is a satisfying, well-acted thriller that lives up to its clever premise
Jason Segel, Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons play three unnamed characters who simultaneously seem on the verge of violence — or an alilance. Netflix © 2022 hide caption
Jason Segel, Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons play three unnamed characters who simultaneously seem on the verge of violence — or an alilance.
Windfall is not shy about its aspirations to be a throwback. The opening titles come up over a static shot of a curtain blowing across one open French door off the courtyard of a luxury home. They come in an art deco font — and when they reach the word Windfall , it ' s in quotation marks and accompanied by a sudden, tense chord. The quotation marks are right out of Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz , and that crashing chord over the title recalls the openings of Hitchcock movies including Vertigo and Dial M for Murder .
The film is directed by Charlie McDowell — who got solid notices for The One I Love — from a story credited to McDowell, Justin Lader and Jason Segel, with a screenplay by Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker. The great majority of the film concerns three people, none of whom are given names. They are credited as Nobody (Segel), CEO (Jesse Plemons) and Wife (Lily Collins). Nobody has broken into CEO and Wife's vacation house, and he's about to get away when they unexpectedly arrive.
I will tell you as much about the setup as the trailer reveals: These people all wind up stuck in the house together, because Nobody never intended to hurt anyone. But he isn't willing to get caught, either, so he can't let CEO and Wife leave or call the police. He's willing to scram and let them go if they give him enough money. But it will take time to get hold of that much cash, even for CEO, who's a tech billionaire. So they all have to wait, together.
What follows is unsettling and suspenseful and very, very tense. It's also not infrequently comic; Nobody is not a brilliant criminal, and there are logistics to holding people hostage that he did not anticipate when he expected to rob an unoccupied house. Often, he and CEO both seem ridiculous, just a pair of doofuses of different kinds. Sometimes the comedy and the suspense collide and either mix or trade off, as they do in CEO's lavish orange grove. The score, from Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, remains pleasingly, nervously old-fashioned.
The film, specifically conceived as a pandemic-appropriate project, makes good use of Wife and CEO's lush outdoors property. Netflix © 2022 hide caption
The film, specifically conceived as a pandemic-appropriate project, makes good use of Wife and CEO's lush outdoors property.
McDowell has explained that this film was specifically conceived as a pandemic-appropriate project — and as such, it's something I honestly expected to see more of than we have in the past year or so: small-cast, limited-space, modest-scale stories that could easily have been plays. Much of it even takes place outside, in various parts of the sprawling property CEO and Wife use for their getaways. McDowell makes good use of a wide variety of backdrops both luscious and spare, as these three people grow to feel more and more trapped in this luxurious place.
The basic questions of a story like this are the simple ones: Is Nobody, a regular Joe trying to rob a billionaire, a good guy or bad guy? Is CEO secretly right that Nobody is just a resentful failure taking his disappointments out on other people? Are CEO and Wife the cohesive unit they appear to be when they are first confronted?
And, of course, how is this going to end? Will Nobody get away with it? Will the burbling threat of violence ever materialize? With the stakes so high and the tension mounting, will any of these people pay some very high price for a mistake that they make, or one someone else makes? You wonder if you will see some surprising alliance — between Nobody and CEO, or between Nobody and Wife, or between all three characters. You have a sense that at least one of them will show new sides under pressure.
There's a limited set of answers (in a movie that plays fair) to the question of whether this will end well or badly for (1) Nobody (2) CEO and (3) Wife. But that doesn't take anything away from what's ultimately a well-done, stripped-down thriller. Plemons has fun with the idea of the world-buying billionaire whose unshakable arrogance, even while he's a hostage, is both a weapon and a flaw. Collins plays Wife as a woman who has struggled to make her peace with being extraordinarily wealthy in return for being married to this man — a struggle with which Nobody is unsympathetic. And the bearded, sweaty Segel, who has a long history of playing lovable, lanky sad sacks, brings menace to Nobody, but balances it with a measure of false bravado that suggests he doesn't really intend anything bad to happen.
It's a well-structured tale that has the elements a movie like this needs most: details that will pay off later, truths you only spot on second viewing, and missteps by characters that suddenly change personal dynamics. It is, in a word, satisfying.
You'll often hear the argument that nobody makes grown-up films anymore, or films that don't rely on special effects, or movies that are just people talking — and fortunately, it's just not the case. This is a clever, tight (at 90 minutes), well-edited, well-acted and well-written movie that isn't done any disservice by being viewed at home as a Netflix offering. It's a fun movie that lives up to that retro opening.
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Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Windfall’ on Netflix, a Spiky Home-Invasion Comedy Thriller Pitting the Haves vs. the Have-nots
Where to stream:.
- Windfall (2022)
- Jason Segel
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Just an off-the-cuff observation here, but it seems like the pandemic has, maybe by necessity, inspired a bevy of small-cast/single-location films like Netflix’s Windfall . Less people and less locations? Makes sense. The feeling of being stuck in one place? Also makes sense. And in this case, stuck in one place against your will, as Jason Segel – who gets story credit – plays an intruder who kind of inadvertently ends up kidnapping a megarich couple played by Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins. It’s a whoops-now-what situation; let’s see how it plays out.
WINDFALL : STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: The opening shot will make you think of Hitchcock if it’s the last f—ing thing you do: Static shot, fluttering woodwinds and plucked strings and rumbling tympani, no human beings to be seen – consider the ominous tone established. You’re forced to study this perfectly weathered stone patio, its furniture, the house with its many floor-to-ceiling windows, the door left open for a curtain to flap lazily in the breeze. It spins 180 degrees and out over the stone-lined pool is a luscious desert mountain view.
You won’t be surprised to learn that rich people live here. Sort of. Sometimes. Seems too fancy and isolated for commoners – a commoner like a character the credits refer to simply as “Nobody” (Segel), who we find at a table outside, drinking orange juice. He wanders into the orange grove on the property, plucks a plump one, rips it open, juice squirting from its abundant flesh, and takes a big bite. He wanders back, tosses his OJ glass on the rocks and listens to it smash, goes inside to take a pee. He rummages through drawers, grabs jewelry, a Rolex, a wad of $100 bills. There’s a gun in a box. What does he do with it? Not sure. That’s the movie f—ing with us. He uses a towel to wipe door handles and other surfaces. Why didn’t he wear gloves? He doesn’t seem very good at this.
And hey, guess what – he’s not very good at this. Not at all. Because once characters known only as CEO (Plemons) and Wife (Collins) arrive unexpectedly, Nobody (please note capitalization) doesn’t know what to do. Amateur hour. Our rich couple discusses how they never get out here anymore, this gorgeous place that you or I would love to spend a weekend at, just one weekend to luxuriate in the pool or sauna or orange grove or zen garden, (and maybe not spend $4,000 doing it? Just a thought). Our intruder guy listens to them gripe about how an assistant blew it and didn’t put any food in the fridge or arrange a crapload of flowers all over the place like they asked. He tries to sneak out, but Wife spots him. Like I said: Whoops. Now what?
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: Maybe Hitchcock’s Rope or Lifeboat crossed with a home-invasion thriller a la Funny Games or Wait Until Dark crossed with a stagey dialogue comedy like Carnage , with some Persona -inspired scenery and a few Coen Bros.-isms a la Fargo .
Performance Worth Watching: Collins’ character is stuck between Plemons and Segal’s rich guy/poor guy paradigm, and gives the most nuanced performance as a result.
Memorable Dialogue: Plemons’ character gets a couple of doozies:
“How can people be so mad at me? It’s like being mad at a clock.”
“Try being a rich white guy these days. It sucks!”
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: Windfall functions as a microcosmic allegory of sorts, slowly revealing that CEO, a billionaire, got rich writing an algorithm and, instead of retiring young like a sane person might do, now finds himself in the business of corporate consolidation, spending a lot of time justifying his callous decisions to the many people who hate him. The movie does not slowly reveal that he’s an arrogant shitheel – that’s prevalent right off the bat. Meanwhile, Nobody, a disgruntled former employee of CEO, was simply going to commit burglary and maybe leave an upper-decker in the master bath, and now he finds himself demanding a ransom. He asks for $150k, but CEO and Wife talk him up to half a mil, perhaps because they don’t know how crazy and desperate he is and are trying to appease him, or perhaps because for them, losing half a mil is like you or me losing a quarter down the sewer grate.
This on-the-nose socio-economic dichotomy is a key suspenseful element in the movie, which teases out the true nature of the interpersonal dynamic at play. Maybe Nobody is a loose nut who could crack, maybe he’s a nice guy who lost himself in his rage and despair. Maybe CEO is a cretin, maybe he’s – no, he’s pretty much just a cretin. But maybe CEO and Wife’s marriage isn’t particularly strong, as one would suspect, considering one of them is a cretin. The situation plays out with some strong, subtle dark comedy: They’re forced to eat some miserable dry cereal flakes as they wait more than a day for the ransom cash to be delivered; they go for a leisurely stroll to the zen garden, as if they’re giving Nobody a tour of the estate, and when he asks, “You got anything else you never use?” they end up firing up the outdoor projector for a screening of Three Amigos .
Windfall walks the line between being populated wholly with unlikeable characters, and being populated with characters who are deeply flawed and eventually sympathetic. Without the comedic touches, this would be a miserable 90 minutes, but as it stands, it’s a reasonably entertaining, well-acted almost-noir that ends up setting its somewhat provocative, but also somewhat simplistic themes atop a pile of TNT and hitting the plunger. There are many ways a movie like this could end. One is thoughtfully, which some might find dissatisfying. Another is to make such an abrupt left turn, you end up flipping the car. I won’t say how it ends, of course, but I will say it kinda mostly stinks.
Our Call: Does the ending wholesale ruin Windfall ? Almost. So STREAM IT, because its modest successes outweigh its failures.
Will you stream or skip the home-invasion comedy thriller #Windfall on @netflix ? #SIOSI — Decider (@decider) March 20, 2022
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com .
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Windfall review: A home-invasion thriller falls short
Three people are trapped in a house and so are you in Windfall (on Netflix Friday), an itchy, underdeveloped chamber piece whose sour tone aims for something between social satire and neo-noir thriller, but lands mostly on real estate porn.
Jason Segel is an anonymous and clearly amateur burglar just wrapping up a quickie job at a remote vacation home — he's already grabbed cash, a Rolex, and a little light refreshment, along with a Chekhovian gun from the bedside table — when the owners ( Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins ) abruptly show up. Instead of accepting their eager offer of whatever money and valuables are on hand, he decides to stay put for a bigger payout, kicking off an enforced bonding exercise in which cold peanut-butter sandwiches and much conversational oxygen will be consumed.
A good portion of that will be by Plemons, who also goes unnamed as a floridly smug tech mogul whose vast fortune stems from inventing some kind of algorithm that "trims the fat" (i.e. humans) from corporations; Emily in Paris star Lily Collins trails behind as his quieter, vaguely discomfited wife. Both seem remarkably casual about the man literally holding a gun to their heads, and Plemons' character particularly can't seem to stop needling Segel's, even on immediate threat of death; he's just too used to a world that exists solely to serve him, and this inconvenience does not compute.
With little to do but wait for an assistant to deliver the agreed-upon ransom, Mogul Man blithely holds forth on his general philosophy of life — Ayn Rand, one presumes, would heartily approve — as the long minutes tick by. Segel's would-be hustler, shaggy and glowering, looks increasingly like he'd rather be anywhere else; he's like a circus bear who would very much like to wipe the floor with the trainer who keeps yapping at him but stoically endures. Collins, on her screen husband's art-of-war instruction, makes a wan play to engage him, but each one of them is so assured of their own supreme victim status that they're hardly communicating so much as monologuing past one another.
At least they can enjoy the view: It's nearly impossible not to let your eyes wander to the sprawling grounds and Instagrammable decor of the immaculate Ojai compound the movie is shot at; nearly every painting on the wall looks like it could single-handedly pay down Segel's character's debts, if that's what he came for. Except he's as bad at criming — poor decision-making is a consistent hallmark of the script, by Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker — as his captives are at acknowledging their powerlessness. And the entrance of a fourth player, an unsuspecting gardener (Omar Leyva), tips the fragile détente, though he too can't seem to stop doing things no rational person would, largely in the service of keeping the sputtering plot on track.
Director Charlie McDowell is probably best known for directing 2014's The One I Love , a clever, eerie little indie forged in a similar hothouse atmosphere. (He also happens to be Collins' real-life spouse.) Windfall (on Netflix this Friday) relies on that same kind of closeness to concentrate and accelerate its central conflicts, but its characters are such broadly underdeveloped archetypes, and their decisions are so generally confounding, that reality never really enters the equation. Its thoughts on class warfare and the complacent villainy of the one percent, too, don't feel particularly fresh or trenchant in the recent wake of far sharper takes by the likes of Parasite and HBO's White Lotus .
Segel earns some empathy as a hangdog Everyman, though his backstory remains such a deliberate blank that any insight is mostly gleaned from his blundering missteps and low-simmering misery. An improbable incident late in the third act finally brings real consequences, and the last ten minutes are grimly satisfying. But it doesn't bode well for storytelling that the setting often overwhelms the slackness of the narrative. For all the supposed stakes on screen, Windfall often feels less like a fully formed movie than the quick work of film crew who arrived to shoot one of those Architectural Digest videos about gorgeously appointed homes you can't afford, accidentally stumbled into a hostage situation, and decided to make the best of it. So what's left, mostly, is just to watch these unhappy people bicker and parry, and wish you had their pillows. Grade: C-
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2022, Mystery & thriller/Drama, 1h 32m
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Windfall is hardly a bounty of cinematic riches, but a killer cast keeps this minimalistic thriller from going creatively bankrupt. Read critic reviews
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- Rating: R (Language Throughout|Some Violence)
- Genre: Mystery & thriller, Drama
- Original Language: English
- Director: Charlie McDowell
- Producer: Lily Collins , Charlie McDowell , Duncan Montgomery , Alex Orlovsky , Jesse Plemons , Jason Segel , Jack Selby
- Writer: Justin Lader , Andrew Kevin Walker
- Release Date (Streaming): Mar 18, 2022
- Runtime: 1h 32m
- Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
- Aspect Ratio: Scope (2.35:1)
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A documentary named "Windfall" has taken the wind out of my sails. Assuming it can be trusted (and many of its claims seem self-evident), wind turbines are a blight upon the land and yet another device by which energy corporations and Wall Street, led by the always reliable Goldman Sachs, are picking the pockets of those who can least afford it. There is even some question whether wind energy uses more power than it generates.
Director Laura Israel's film is set almost entirely in Meredith, N.Y., a farming area of some 2,000 people in a beautiful Catskills landscape. A few dairy and beef farms still survive, but many of the residents are now retired people who have come here with their dreams. Most of them were once "of course" in favor of wind power, which offered the hope of clean, cheap energy. When an Irish corporation named Airtricity came around offering land owners $5,000, neighbors $500 apiece and the town a 2 percent cut of the revenue, that was a win-win, right?
So it appeared. But some residents, including a former editor for an encyclopedia and the final photo editor of Life magazine, began doing some research. The town board set up an energy advisory panel, and after a year of study, it recommended the town refuse the Airtricity offer. The town board rejected the panel's finding. One of them recused himself because of his personal holdings in energy. The others saw no conflict.
This generated a furor in Meredith, and we meet people who were best friends for years and now were no longer on speaking terms. We watch board meetings and meet lots of locals; the film bypasses the usual expert talking heads and relies on the personal experiences of these individuals.
I learned that wind turbines are unimaginably larger than I thought. It's not a matter of having a cute little windmill in your backyard. A turbine is 400 feet tall, weighs 600,000 pounds, and is rooted in tons and tons of poured concrete. If one is nearby (and given the necessary density, one is always nearby), it generates a relentless low-frequency thrum-thrum-thrum that seems to emanate from the very walls of your home. The dark revolving shadows of its blades are cast for miles, and cause a rhythmic light-and-shade pulsing inside and outside your house. Living in an area with all that going, many people have developed headaches, nausea, depression and hypertension.
The effect on property values is devastating. The owner of a lovely restored 19th century farmhouse asks — who will buy it now? People don't come to the Catskills to undergo nonstop mental torture. Nor do other living things like wind turbines. Their blades, revolving at 150 miles an hour, slice birds into pieces and create low-pressure areas that cause the lungs of bats to explode.
For the loss of its peace of mind, a community's cut of the profits may be enough to pay for a pickup truck. Tax revenue drops because many of those (who can afford to) flee. Turbines sometimes topple over or catch fire (all firemen can do is stand and watch). And of course the local taxing agencies have been required to take advantage of sweetheart state and federal tax cuts, promoted by the industry's lobbyists.
"Windfall" left me disheartened. I thought wind energy was something I could believe in. This film suggests it's just another corporate flim-flam game. Of course, the documentary could be mistaken, and there are no doubt platoons of lawyers, lobbyists and publicists to say so. How many of them live on wind farms?
Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.
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Netflix’s Windfall Is a Perfect Class-Rage Noir
Ever notice how the houses of the ultra-wealthy look like nobody lives in them? There’s an eerie quality, the opposite of hominess. Netflix ’s new movie Windfall opens with a long, lingering shot of a mansion’s poolside patio furniture, straight out of an Architectural Digest spread. Birds chirp, flowers bloom, the outdoor coffee table is a solid slab of concrete. It all screams expensive. In a long, wordless scene, we follow a nameless man (Jason Segel, credited as “Nobody”) as he wanders around this gorgeous property, sipping iced coffee by the pool and eventually walking into the empty home. Its rooms are as posh as the grounds, with Spanish tile, pristine plaster walls, and abstract pottery everywhere. The man almost leaves, then doesn’t. Instead, he returns to the house and starts looting. He fastens a Rolex around his wrist, collects jewelry, stuffs all the cash he can find into the pockets of his ratty pants. This is a burglary, albeit a laconic one. The thief is on his way out when the owners show up for a last-minute romantic getaway. They catch him before he manages to sneak out. And although this man is a total amateur, he piles crime on top of crime, taking the well-heeled couple hostage.
The owners, a tech billionaire (Jesse Plemons) and his chic wife (Lily Collins), attempt to reason with the burglar, offering him whatever he can grab. They almost succeed in getting him to leave. But when “Nobody” suspects he’s been caught on tape, he asks for enough money to start a new life, so the trio must wait around for a half a million in cash to be delivered the next day. As they watch the clock, the burglar and his captives stroll around the pretty, sun-dappled grounds, meandering through its expansive orange grove, sitting around a fancy fire pit, snippily making conversation. The billionaire can’t believe what an oaf his captor is and finds any excuse to needle him. We learn that the origin of the billionaire’s fortune is an algorithm for layoffs and that he doesn’t feel bad about having created it; he wastes little time asking the thief if he was one of the unlucky who lost their jobs because of his work. And the burglar is an oaf; he struggles to unclasp the wife’s purse, can’t keep his boots tied, and has tantrums every time something doesn’t go his way, which is frequently. Meanwhile, as the wife plays peacemaker between the two men, she starts to stew on the state of her marriage.
Director Charlie McDowell excels in putting unhappy couples through their paces during would-be secluded retreats. In his 2014 film The One I Love , another husband and wife encounter unexpected strangers at a dreamy vacation home while attempting to revive their relationship. But whereas The One I Love had a science-fiction twist, Windfall is propelled by a real-life crisis: the gaping chasm between the incredibly rich and the rest of us, and the impossibility of bridging it unscathed. Despite its gleaming setting, Windfall strikes the tone of a noir, its story suffused with a cynicism as sweeping as the vistas its mansion overlooks.
Watching Segel’s burglar bumble his way into increasingly grim circumstances, I was reminded of The Edukators , the 2004 German-Austrian crime drama about a trio of young radicals who decide to teach the wealthy a lesson by breaking into their homes just to unsettle them. But while The Edukators has sympathy for its underclass, Windfall is pitiless. It would’ve been easy for this film to slide into a morality play—poor schlub robs rich assholes, hurrah!—but it’s no triumph of the proles. If anything, it’s a testimony to the amorality of the universe, a Fargo with no Marge Gunderson in sight. Segel’s burglar isn’t a modern Robin Hood; he’s just a doofus who summoned up enough courage to commit a robbery and enough foolishness to get greedy and ask for more. Although its characters are presented as archetypes, there is no hero here.
For the first hour, Windfall plays like a dark comedy. The burglar’s ineptitude fuels some funny moments, like when he’s demanding more money and asks for $150,000 in cash. The wealthy people he’s extorting tell him he’ll need more than that if he’s trying to create a whole new identity. Nobody in the trio seems violent, and they’re all more annoyed than scared. Collins’ wife isn’t an innocent ensnared so much as a person slowly realizing that the terms of her deal with the devil weren’t really so favorable. Plemons’ billionaire, cocky and contemptuous, is technically a victim yet so viscerally unpleasant that it is hard to muster sympathy when he gets tied up and looted.
But hostage situations rarely end with everyone going off on their merry ways unscathed. I won’t say more about what unfolds, except that there is a scene about 70 minutes in that shocked me so much I leapt off my couch. (Gore-averse, be forewarned!) Jokes aside, this is a tart, nasty little thriller. Despite its modest scale, it leaves a powerfully astringent aftertaste.
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A clever character piece that showcases the talents of its cast..
Windfall is available exclusively March 18 on Netflix.
Sometimes the greatest bell or whistle a movie can have is just an actor doing their thing very, very well. Director Charlie McDowell clearly knows that, leaning into that simple ethos in his latest Netflix film, Windfall. The starring trio of Jason Segel, Lily Collins, and Jesse Plemons serves as the bedrock upon which this tense little thriller is built, as they play out a deceptively simple story that uses its intimate scale to great effect. Set in one location with only four actors, the narrative unspools around a quietly escalating tale of mistakes, simmering resentment, and the gravity of the choices one makes.
Along with being a character piece, Windfall is also very much about mood, environment, and score. Right from the top, cinematographer Isiah Donté Lee imbues the film with a timeless classic Hollywood aesthetic, revealing a locked frame on the shaded veranda of an upscale vacation home in the desert. As a soft breeze laps at the awnings, it’s easy to imagine Grace Kelly or Maureen O’Hara sauntering through the French doors. But only the film’s credits appear as they play over the serene scene, until the camera shifts to the broader view of an isolated citrus ranch in the desert. A lone man (Segel) meanders the property, assessing and cataloging the opulent and unused amenities surrounding him. Rumpled and silent, he eventually moves with a purpose inside the residence until he’s interrupted by the arrival of the owners (Plemons and Collins) for what looks to be a spur-of-the-moment long-weekend away. Unable to escape without being seen, the stranger surprises the couple and before they can act in their own defense, he’s able to use the threat of a gun to keep them docile. As they tensely gauge their captor’s intentions, all three of them wrestle with how to act in this heightened moment, with the stranger bumbling through preventive measures to keep his captives controllable while he figures out what to ask of them and how to escape without getting followed, or arrested.
Over the course of 36 hours, the three are forced to co-exist as they await the delivery of money via an assistant. Screenwriters Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker have constructed a very smart, witty, and lean script that clocks in at a well-paced 90 minutes. There’s no narrative fat to the story, as the softly escalating circumstances build toward a satisfyingly kinetic final 20 minutes. And all of it is aided by the stellar scoring work of the composing team of Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, who underscore the entire piece with rich woodwinds and lush arrangements for cues that run the gamut from comedic and quirky to mysterious and foreboding. Their work is the movie’s fifth character and it elevates the whole piece from top to bottom.
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There’s also an admirable precision to the organic building of the story beats, which always serve to bolster the logic of the situation, and how it plausibly plays out. From the isolated setting to the home’s technological handicaps, and even the mellow countenance of Segel’s character, all of it fits together to do its part in keeping the power dynamics amongst the three fraught but not overwrought. There’s parity and balance in having Segel’s robber be slightly dopey, but not stupid. And there’s also a realism to Plemon’s character being arrogant enough to think he’s got the strategic upper hand in most life scenarios, while a simmering cowardice constantly permeates his bravado. Collin's character, meanwhile, straddles the two worldviews represented by the disparate men, as they encapsulate where she came from and what she walked towards.
If there’s a flaw in the script, it’s with the addition of a Mexican gardener (Omar Leyva) who arrives and tips the precarious balance maintained through the bulk of the story. His arrival and gratitude towards his self-important employer is heavy-handed in its use of tropes and its ultimate outcome. Leyva gives an endearing and sympathetic performance, but his character is a means to an end, so he isn’t given the complexity and nuance that his counterparts are afforded.
Even still, this is overall McDowell's most assured work, accomplishing style, substance, and thoughtful character impulses that mostly play against expectations. For the observant, engaged, and patient, there are many rewards in a climax that feels earned and rather shrewd.
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What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Windfall is a mature mystery with some bloody scenes and a lot of language. The violence isn't appropriate for younger viewers, and a burglar with a gun who has people tied up threatens to get violent from the start of the film. There are also some mature themes about income inequality and people getting rich off technology that can negatively impact thousands. A husband and wife kiss and discuss trying to have a baby. There's also mention of birth control and of paying women off despite nondisclosure agreements. The characters repeatedly use "f--k," "s--t," "goddamn it," "hell," "sucks," and "idiot."
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What's the story.
In WINDFALL, a man ( Jason Segel ) has broken into a luxury home and is wasting time enjoying its amenities when the owners, a husband ( Jesse Plemons ) and wife ( Lily Collins ), show up unexpectedly. The burglar has to figure out his next moves now that the pair have seen his face. He completes his robbery, but then more unexpected events lead him to return to the house and take the couple hostage, seeking more and more in return. Meanwhile, the husband, a tech billionaire, is trying to figure out why he's been targeted specifically, and the wife can't hide her general displeasure with her partner.
Is It Any Good?
This intentionally Hitchcockian mystery successfully builds a stifling atmosphere of tension that doesn't resolve until the very last scene. The threat of violence hovers over Windfall like the hot air you imagine imbues the dry California setting. But when it comes, it still takes you by surprise -- and that would seem to be the point. Windfall's script is constructed in such a way that not a lot happens and even less is revealed about the characters, yet it draws you into the mystery of what you do know. Who is the burglar, why has he chosen this house, and what's behind the added layer of tension between the couple? The film's title hints at further themes of economic injustice -- coming into serious money in unethical if not illegal ways.
Early on, it's hard to know how dark the film will get. The characters -- backed by understated performances -- are surprisingly relaxed and even agreeable at moments, and there are fleeting hints of comedy. The gorgeous, sun-filled vacation home -- with its white-washed walls, luxuriously rustic pool and gardens, and seemingly infinite citrus orchards -- conveys an openness and lightness despite the claustrophobic setup of characters stuck together against their will. Opening scenes set to ambient noise capture the setting from a series of unusual angles and show a man wandering around enjoying the amenities. From this start, a feeling of unease is underscored by the contrast of setting and story, puzzling characters, and suspenseful instrumental music. While the combination may feel too studied or too intentional for some viewers, it works if you settle in and go along for the ride.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Windfall's concept of a film with just three main characters and one setting. Have you watched other films like this? Do you miss more characters, action, or locations? Why or why not?
Does the film feel claustrophobic? Is that intentional? Can you think of any shots or specific camera angles that add to that feeling?
Did you expect any of the film's plot twists? How does the script make viewers think the outcome will be different?
How would you describe the music in this film? What feelings does it convey?
- On DVD or streaming : March 18, 2022
- Cast : Jason Segel , Lily Collins , Jesse Plemons
- Director : Charlie McDowell
- Studio : Netflix
- Genre : Thriller
- Run time : 94 minutes
- MPAA rating : R
- MPAA explanation : language throughout and some violence
- Last updated : February 17, 2023
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Netflix’s Windfall Review: An Eat The Rich Thriller With Surprising Bite
It’s a stylish, well-crafted hitchcockian thriller, a smart modern commentary, and a great actor showcase..
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our society and culture, locked door thrillers and dramas have proven to be an interesting outlet for filmmakers. It’s logical, both psychologically and practically. While following social distancing protocols and being health conscious, people around the world have experienced movie-worthy drama in their own lives while in lockdown, and as a result, the ability for any of us to relate to characters’ circumstances increases. It’s also just a hell of a lot easier to make a film in general when you are only using one location and a limited number of principal characters.
When film critics and historians eventually create an entire field of study around the mid-pandemic era of moviemaking, I can imagine Charlie McDowell’s Windfall being held up as a perfect model case – not only because of the limitations that inspired its creation and execution, but also because of its poignant and sharp examination of the wealth gap in our society (an issue which has only been magnified since the global spread of COVID-19 began).
Windfall was initially conceptualized by Charlie McDowell, Jason Segel, Justin Lader and Andrew Kevin Walker out of the desire to remain creative during the pandemic, and with the filmmakers knowing that they could have access to shoot at a specific house on an orange grove in Ojai, California. What they hatched was the idea for a peaceful home invasion that quickly spirals into a tense hostage situation, with four unnamed, complex characters providing absorbing perspectives as they all try and work toward a peaceful conclusion to the drama.
As we first enter the aforementioned Ojai property, its lavish amenities are being enjoyed by Nobody (Jason Segel). He sits in the sun drinking a glass of orange juice, eats fruit right off the branch in the orchard, and while rifling through drawers finds a fair amount of cash to fill his pockets. Of course, it’s quite apparent that he is not supposed to be there – and panic sets in when the actual owners, CEO (Jesse Plemons) and Wife (Lily Collins), arrive for a spur-of-the-moment getaway weekend.
Nobody at first tries to slink out the door without being noticed, but everything goes sideways when Wife spots him. At first, the home invader’s plan is to keep CEO and Wife confined in an on-property steam room and escape with a head start – confident that he has left no trace of himself at the house and that they won’t be able to remember him – but that idea goes out the window when he discovers that there is a security camera right above where he parked his car.
Pivoting, Nobody understands that he can’t destroy the security footage, and decides that his only out is to take enough money from CEO that he can disappear and live his life on the run. Of course, that quantity of cash can’t be summoned instantly, and they learn that the money won’t be delivered until the following night. With Nobody keeping hold of a gun that he finds in a drawer, the trio spends a tense 36 hours together, with patience wearing thin and tensions slowly rising.
Windfall's compelling characters keep you hooked as the clock ticks down.
A reflection of the characters’ namelessness, few details are provided about Nobody, Wife, and CEO as people beyond their present circumstance, with Windfall keeping a tight lid on exposition. They don’t present as bland abstracts, however, as the movie has a way of providing just enough information about them so that you can see the situation through their specific points of view.
Nobody is obviously a criminal, but he also has a compelling eat-the-rich hunger with which it’s exceptionally easy to empathize. CEO is a victim of a theft, but he is also an egotistical, classist jerk with no recognition of his privilege and advantages. Between these respective id and superego-driven personalities is Wife, who didn’t grow up with money, but knew the life-changing choice she was making when she agreed to marry the one of the wealthiest men in the world.
Their individual perceptions of the world instantly drive divisions between them, and sly deceptions stirred into the mix see loyalties shift and become questionable. It’s a slow burn with an explosive finish.
There's a slowdown in the middle of Windfall, but it finds a (no pun intended) second wind.
Pulling off a slow burn with a story as intimate and confined as Windfall ’s is tricky business, but the film is mostly successful. There is a drag in the second act when the characters are ironically killing time until the money arrives, but the movie is reenergized with the introduction of the fourth character in this tale: a talented and enterprising Gardner (Omar Leyva) who tries to grasp at opportunity when he finds himself in the position of having face time with CEO. This new player winds up having a fascinating impact on the socio/economic themes of the plot – though I unfortunately can’t dig too far into details without brushing against key spoilers.
This also happens to be one of those magical thrillers packing an ending that makes one reconsider everything that precedes it, and instantly inspires rewatch curiosity.
Jesse Plemons, Jason Segel, and Lily Collins all deliver terrific, dynamic performances.
Like any talk-heavy, theatre-like drama, performances are vital, and all three stars here are doing tremendous work. Jesse Plemons, who just keeps proving himself one of the most impressive talents of his generation, is the standout, putting on a slick and sinister turn that is comical while never making CEO likable (a thin line to walk). Jason Segel, meanwhile, succeeds in the sinister, using his natural charisma to counterbalance his skuzzy appearance and behavior. Between the two men, Lily Collins’ work is more subtle, but also surgical and intriguing.
While film as a medium allows creatives to change the rules of time and reality, I will forever be fascinated by a movie that can retain my attention for 90 minutes with a handful of characters and one enclosed space – and Windfall gives my constant itch a through scratching. It’s a stylish, well-crafted Hitchcockian thriller, a smart modern commentary, and a great actor showcase.
NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.
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'Windfall' review: A visual stunner that keeps you guessing until the very end
Some films are so painfully predictable that you know exactly what will happen before you reach the second act. Windfall is not one of those films .
Netflix's new "Hitchcockian thriller," directed by Charlie McDowell, tells the story of a robbery gone wrong. Severely, and at times even laughably, wrong. Jason Segel plays an unnamed man (cited in credits as "Nobody") who breaks into a tech billionaire's vacation home, expecting to lounge in luxury for a while, steal a Rolex watch and some cash, then split before anyone even realizes he's there. That breezy plan is foiled when the wealthy homeowners, played by Jesse Plemons ("CEO") and Lily Collins ("Wife"), unexpectedly arrive for an impromptu getaway.
After a prolonged opening-credits shot of the stunning vacation home, the camera pans to views of the estate. We get a glimpse of the grounds, the pool, the orange grove, and the garden, all of which serve as backdrops for later scenes. The camera lands on Segel's character, who's serenely sipping orange juice and soaking in the view. He's imagining what it would be like to be these people; to have it all. He makes his way into the house, stops to tie his shoe, takes a piss in the shower, and rummages through drawers and closets until he finds money and a gun. He's about to head out when the couple corners him. He panics and makes the impetuous decision to take them hostage, beginning one hell of a ride.
The filthy rich tech CEO promises to give his captor $500,000, but the three are forced to kill time together until the money arrives. As pressure mounts, the characters reveal their true selves. And their clashing conduct fundamentally molds and elevates the ever-changing situation.
The trio delivers outstanding performances that are only enhanced by a nerve-racking score, created by Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, and Isiah Donté Lee's gorgeous cinematography (the @OnePerfectShot Twitter account (Opens in a new tab) would be overwhelmed with options). The contemporary noir is a simple, stripped-down thriller that presents seemingly straightforward solutions at the start. But Windfall grows increasingly complex, keeping viewers engaged and inquisitive from beginning to end.
Segel successfully portrays a generally nonconfrontational dude who's trying and failing to act tough. He ties the couple up with electronics cords but nearly has a breakdown trying to unclasp the wife's purse. It's obvious that he's woefully unqualified to run the show. His threats are gentle and visibly empty, and he wears desperation, regret, and the burning desire for a solution on his sleeve. Even in the process of committing several crimes, he feels worthy of our compassion, especially since you'll spend a decent chunk of the film wanting to punch Plemons' character in the face.
The Power of the Dog actor utterly infuriates as an entitled slimeball, who lacks the smallest bit of self-control. In the middle of this hostage situation, he takes time to remind his wife that he hates her tattoo. He taunts his captor every chance he gets. And he delivers several sickening monologues — one of which eerily echoes Kim Kardashian's recent insensitive work ethic comments (Opens in a new tab) . Plemons ably plays an arrogant asshole at one point exclaiming: "Try being a rich white guy these days! Everyone always thinks it must be real fuckin' nice."
Meanwhile, Collins brings incredible depth and range to her character. Windfall will remind everyone that the Emily In Paris star isn't all fun in France. Collins, who's married to McDowell, plays a quiet, discontent wife, who finds her voice throughout the film. Her character displays the ability to remain level-headed in times of turbulence. But Collins gives a stunning, multifaceted performance that shows her cycle through fear, disgust, empathy, introspection, anger, and just about everything in between.
McDowell wrote the story, along with Justin Lader, Andrew Kevin Walker, and Segel. And he's close friends with both Segel and Plemons, which likely played a role in their amazing onscreen chemistry.
Windfall 's casting is brilliant, and its unconventional camerawork crafts a picture-perfect presentation of three sorely imperfect lives. Masterful shots of everything from a sculpture in the living room and birds circling in the sky to eyes shifting, to a leg bouncing with anxiety and fingers tapping on the couch, help emphasize the agonizing passage of time.
Though the film is a thriller, it's undoubtedly one of the most chill high-stress situations of all time. It's dialogue-heavy. It's ripe with awkward, tense, and lengthy stretches of silence. And winks of levity are sprinkled throughout, including a scene where they watch the 1986 comedy, Three Amigos! (Opens in a new tab) (Opens in a new tab) .
Windfall's unhurried pacing and the couple's laidback lack of escape attempts might not keep everyone's attention. But if you manage to stick around as long as that burglar, you'll be rewarded with a satisfyingly surprising ending.
Windfall (Opens in a new tab) is now streaming on Netflix (Opens in a new tab) . (Opens in a new tab)
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Nicole is a Senior Editor at Mashable. She primarily covers entertainment and digital culture trends, and in her free time she can be found watching TV, sending voice notes, or going viral on Twitter for admiring knitwear. You can follow her on Twitter @nicolemichele5 (Opens in a new tab) .
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‘Windfall’ Review: Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons Are Held Hostage in Netflix’s Simplistic Neo-Noir
A tech billionaire and his wife find themselves at the mercy of a home invader in charlie mcdowell's half-baked homage to alfred hitchcock..
Mar 18, 2022 9:00 am
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There’s an air of tense possibility during the opening title sequence of “ Windfall ,” a Netflix film that’s being rather boldly marketed as “a Hitchcockian thriller.” A single, static shot of a sunny patio outside a picturesque villa is paired with a suggestively sinister soundtrack (a dead ringer for the oft-emulated “Vertigo” score), building an atmosphere that’s almost too still for comfort.
The action that follows, however, soon deflates our mild anticipation, offering up little more than an ultimately dull narrative about a rich married couple (Lily Collins and Jesse Plemons ), who arrive at their vacation home to find it being robbed by a strange man (Jason Segel). It’s a film that relies too heavily upon its scenic location and not enough on building any real sense of story, let alone suspense, and only adds to the growing feeling that, when a work calls itself “Hitchcockian,” it’s more of a red flag for something half-baked than an enticing homage to the master himself.
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It’s not surprising that writer-director Charlie McDowell built the story around the setting, rather than the other way around. Conceived of together with Segal and co-writers Andrew Kevin Walker (“Se7en”) and Justin Lader, the film follows a similar formula to McDowell’s first feature “The One I Love,” a surrealist 2014 romance that was likewise shot in a single vacation house and its property. While you might expect — and hope — that this film contains a similarly playful, otherworldly twist that made that one location relatively fascinating, here, we remain firmly, tediously rooted in reality.
“Windfall” begins with a wordless sequence that follows a nameless man (Segel, credited as “Nobody”), traipsing around the extensive property’s pool, orange grove, and charming interiors (as well as taking a piss in the shower). His motives are murky from the beginning — is he waiting for someone to come home or simply passing through? Is he robbing the house or just hanging out? McDowell seems to have forgotten that Hitchcock was many things, but “subtle” was seldom one of them — especially during wordless scenes that convey their meaning through glances and camera movement alone.
Messy editing makes for a sequence that doesn’t spell things out as neatly as McDowell seems to think, leaving us confused about plot points Nobody refers to later in the film, and unmoored from the story as a whole.
When the couple unexpectedly arrives home, Nobody panics and decides to kidnap them, seemingly having no other choice. Plemons and Collins (credited as “Husband” and “Wife”) are relatively cool customers for whom we discover money is no object — Husband is a billionaire who invented an algorithm that helps companies downsize their staff — so they’re more than willing to offer Nobody enough to start a new life after he realizes he’s been recorded on a security camera. As they calmly wait for the $500,000 in cash to arrive the next day (Nobody asks for $150,000, but in one of the film’s genuinely amusing moments, they force him to negotiate up to be more realistic about the cost of living), the three are stuck together in the house, in a situation that’s more interminable than tense.
They pass the time wandering the property and watching movies, all three characters thoroughly level-headed throughout. As they talk, little bits of backstory on Husband and Wife’s marriage emerge, revealing small cracks in their seemingly perfect facade. Wife, who was an assistant before she married Husband, and now manages their philanthropic pursuits, gives a nuanced performance as someone who still has her humanity intact. Meanwhile, Husband becomes more and more monstrous, and we begin to observe a rift between the two that Segel’s presence has only widened.
Husband gradually starts to toy with the intruder — who becomes more and more likable in comparison, both to Collins and to us — asking him which company he was let go from, and berating people these days for being “lazy fucking loafers and freeloaders” (echoing Kim Kardashian’s recent tone-deaf comment that “Nobody wants to work these days.”). As each character begins to reveal their true colors, our feelings about who’s the hero and who’s the villain are meant to become muddled. But without a clear sense of tone, we search for more meaning than the film is capable of giving, always waiting for the ironic or surreal twist that never comes. We’re mercifully granted an ounce of excitement at the film’s end, though it’s as confused about its own provocations as the opening sequence.
Inserting an outsider into a bourgeois space can be an incredible fruitful set-up for a film — think “Parasite,” “Teorema,” or “The Plumber,” which all witness the highly organized worlds of the upper classes descend into chaos once someone beyond their sphere intrudes. But “Windfall” doesn’t explore these ideas enough, and is instead pulled in too many different directions to land on any sense of profundity. It should be commended, however, for making its flawless setting as claustrophobic for us as it is for the three characters. By the end, we’re so suffocated with gorgeous countertops, well-appointed guest casitas, Rolex watches, and zen gardens that we’re all too happy to finally escape.
“Windfall” is now streaming on Netflix.
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Windfall review: jesse plemons shines in well-crafted netflix thriller.
Windfall is a modest thriller that thrives on excellent performances from its cast, a confident director at the helm & a score that keeps up momentum.
Windfall is a coherent and cohesive thriller that dabbles with dark comedy and benefits from having a small cast and a beautiful single location. Directed and co-written by Charlie McDowell, the film follows Jesse Plemons and Lily Collins as an unnamed married couple and Jason Segel as a man who breaks into their vacation home somewhere in California. What begins as an absurd home burglary gone wrong turns into a battle of wills between the trio as they navigate a precarious situation.
As good as the trio is, Windfall belongs to Jesse Plemons . He plays an obnoxious, rich tech bro who has hoarded an insane amount of wealth for himself while building a program that eliminates entire workforces. He is not one to cheer for, which is a root cause for the tension in the film. It is a layered role that is constantly shifting. In one moment, Plemons will be sarcastic asshole who isn’t much to think about before shifting into a menacing egomaniac who clearly exhibits a dangerous mentality that is ruining the world. Plemons' charisma is palpable, which makes it seem like his co-stars are chasing after him throughout the film.
Related: Jason Segel Robs Jesse Plemons & Lily Collins In Netflix's Windfall Trailer
Collins' performance is more subdued, balancing the conditional benevolence of a rich white woman with a character who is aware of her contradictions and the sacrifices she has made to be wealthy. Segel is a bit of a jack of all trades here, balancing a goofy, dangerous, and sad portrayal of a desperate man.The other star of this film is Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaanss’ score, which kicks off the characters' two-day journey. It is the kind of score that is meant to be noticed because it has character. The score builds the tension, unease, suspense, and comedy in every given moment, pulling audiences in rather than taking them out of the experience. Paired with McDowell’s controlled directing choices, it allows the actors to take up more space to thrive.
Windfall is an excellent example of the Chekhov's gun principle. It is as if McDowell constructed the entire film around this dramatic principle, which suggests that every element in a story must be necessary. Key details are referred to a couple of times, each revealing components about the characters that will be relevant to their fates. Some details are merely distractions from the clear path this story will take, diversions that make one wonder, “Is this what it's all about?” The film could only succeed by balancing a narrative built on clues and callbacks — and it works. For others, Windfall may be too simplistic or overindulgent. The latter is justified by a predictable ending that is, in fact, indulgent, but not to the film's detriment.
However, McDowell, alongside co-producers Plemons, Collins, and Segel make a fatal error in the third act. Depending on the how the audience takes it, it will either ruin the film entirely or be an unfortunate blemish to overlook upon a rewatch. Windfall does seem like the type to get better upon a rewatch when viewers are in the know about the outcome. But the decision to introduce another person in the third act and have them exist solely to ratchet up tension is badly executed. It plays into a trope most commonly found in horror that has been much maligned for a reason. This choice obviously serves to underscore Collins and Segel’s characters ' empathetic nature in contrast with Plemons’ self-serving attributes, but it ultimately comes across as a gross miscalculation.
All in all, Windfall is a modest little thriller that thrives on excellent performances from its cast, a confident director at the helm, and a score that keeps up the momentum from beginning to end. A stumble in the third act derails the whole adventure, bringing the enjoyment to a screeching halt. However, with some foresight, Windfall could have been a sure-fire hit.
NEXT: Against The Ice Review: Coster-Waldau Leads Gritty, Searing Arctic Adventure
Windfall is streaming on Netflix as of Friday, March 18. The film is 93 minutes long and is rated R for language and violence.
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Review: There are ‘65’ million reasons to avoid the new Adam Driver dinosaur space flick
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If you asked the AI program ChatGPT to write a dinosaur/space movie as if Steven Spielberg and James Cameron were trying to make fun of each other, you’d probably still get something more entertaining than the thudding hack job “65,” a movie about as thrilling as watching footage of someone — in this case, Adam Driver and his young co-star, Ariana Greenblatt — on the “Jurassic Park” ride at Universal Studios .
The writers of “A Quiet Place” — Scott Beck and Bryan Woods — are clearly not done with monsters and family and the apocalypse. But this time, as directors too, they’ve decided to take us not forward but back, to when a routine trip went disastrously wrong. Think “Gilligan’s Island.” Not because it’s like “65.” Just because it’s more entertaining than “65.”
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Do you like introductory text that removes that nagging worry that you won’t be expositionally satisfied? Because “65” has that. “BEFORE THE ADVENT OF MANKIND” reads the first. “IN THE INFINITY OF SPACE” reads the next, which is, by the way, set against the backdrop of … space. Just so everything’s clear! And later, after a sentient audience will have guessed from the huge dinosaur footprint that exploratory mission pilot Mills (Driver) has been stranded on a particular planet at a very particular time, here come the words: “A VISITOR CRASH LANDED ON EARTH.” Yes, that “65” refers to the number of millions of years ago. Not, as one might hope, the number of minutes in the film.
Do you like stories about absent dads? Based on the movies, they seem to be an emotional connection between humanity’s meager time on Earth and social systems in long-ago galaxies. (“ChatGPT, add George Lucas in the mix.”) By taking one more gig, Driver’s character not only leaves behind an adoring wife but, more urgently, an adoring and ailing daughter (Chloe Coleman), whose hologram messages of love, longing and increasing sickness are like stabs to his heart as he’s trying to avoid dinosaur teeth stabbing everywhere else on his body. So, if you wanted to give him only one human companion to heighten that guilty-father feeling, out of all the possible cryogenically frozen passengers to survive an inconvenient ship crash, who would you pick? A grandmother? Wrong! “ChatGPT, are you familiar with ‘The Last of Us ’?”
Do you like made-up tongues not translated because it’s cuter when an othered figure learns English? Maybe Beck and Woods just didn’t feel like writing dialogue for the girl, Koa (Greenblatt), that would help establish this child as a person beyond at first seeming like a feral creature and then a surrogate daughter. Dialogue is hard! So instead this poor character gets an untranslated language until she can trigger “aww’s” by learning the words “home” and “family” and, with stick figures, inventing cave art.
Do you think Adam Driver can do anything? He might have thought that too, when signing on for this.
Do you believe that dinosaurs have long since outlived their CGI-rendered ability to instill awe and terror? Because the filmmakers seem pretty convinced 172 “Jurassic Park” movies haven’t already been made. Sometimes that kind of innocence inspires reinvention. Sometimes it just means that once majestic, still mysterious and endlessly fascinating creatures begin to feel like faceless goons in a video game.
Do you occasionally wish that studios would run dank-looking movies that seem stripped of color through a Snapchat-like filter that would add bright, rainbow-hued tails, faces, starbursts, pizzazz-y augmentations and the like? I’m not saying there are quickie backlot black-and-white adventure movies from 90 years ago with more visual breadth, color range and compositional tension than “65,” but, OK, well, yes, I am saying that.
Is “65” a hall-of-fame bad movie? No, and that may be its problem. It’s just pedestrian dumb and dull. It drops humans from eons away and ago into an extinction-level event, and instead of being full-on weird and wondrous about it, prefers to be utterly imitative and complacent. Way to extinguish yourself.
Rated: PG-13, for intense sci-fi action and peril, and brief bloody images Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes Playing: In general release
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Seth Rogen: negative reviews are ‘devastating’ and ‘I know people who have never recovered’
The actor described the effect of criticism in the film industry and said it can feel ‘like a very personal rejection’
Peter Bradshaw: good reviews wouldn’t mean much if bad ones weren’t allowed
Seth Rogen has said that negative reviews from critics are “devastating” and that some people in the film industry have “never recovered” from them.
Speaking to Steven Bartlett for the Diary of a CEO podcast , Rogen described negative press coverage as a “trade-off” for success in the film industry but said that criticism “hurts everyone”. He said: “I think if most critics knew how much it hurts the people that made the things that they are writing about, they would second guess the way they write these things.
“It’s devastating. I know people who have never recovered from it honestly – a year, decades of being hurt by [film reviews]. It’s very personal … that’s something that people carry with them, literally, their entire lives and I get why. It fucking sucks.”
“It feels like a very personal rejection,” he added.
Asked about Green Hornet, the 2011 superhero movie of which Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw said “everything about [it] is disappointing”, Rogen said: “The reviews were coming out and it was pretty bad. People hated it and it seemed like people were taking joy in disliking it a lot. But it opened to like $35m, which was the biggest opening weekend I’d ever been associated with. It did pretty well.”
In contrast, he said the reaction to the 2014 Kim Jong-un assassination comedy The Interview was “more painful”. “People [were] taking joy in talking shit about it, and really questioning the types of people that would want to make a movie like that.”
“That felt far more personal. Green Hornet felt like I had fallen victim, which was true, to a big fancy thing … That was not so such much a creative failure on our parts but a conceptual failure. The Interview , people treated us like we creatively failed and which sucked much worse.”
Rogen added: “Any opening weekend […] it sucks. It’s stressful. It’s like birth, it’s an inherently painful process.” But, he said, “in the grand scale of things, in life, it’s not that bad”. “Life goes on. You can be making another movie as your [current] movie is bombing. It’s bittersweet. You know things will be OK. You’re already working. If the fear is the movie bombs and you won’t get hired again, well you don’t have to worry about that.”
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New movies this week: Watch 'Scream VI,' stream Netflix's 'Luther: The Fallen Sun'
Just when you're trying to catch up for Oscar Sunday , here comes Ghostface as a contender for best murder spree.
This weekend, the masked villain returns alongside new "Scream" franchise stars Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera for a New York City-based sixth installment of the horror series. March Madness begins next week, so Woody Harrelson slides his basketball shoes on for another hoops comedy, while Idris Elba reprises his London detective from the British cop series "Luther" for a cinematic continuation on Netflix.
Here's a guide to new movies that will satisfy every cinematic taste, plus some noteworthy theatrical films making their streaming and on-demand debuts:
If you've been watching Ghostface since the 1990s: 'Scream VI'
The young cast of 2022's fifth franchise film escape the usual haunts of Woodsboro for New York City and of course the stabby antagonist follows them. Full of meta riffs and self-references, the latest chapter doesn't break the mold but uses its franchise history in an intriguing way, getting to know the newer main characters while spattering them in blood during the most vicious "Scream" of them all.
Where to watch: In theaters
'Scream VI' review: Ghostface takes Manhattan in a solid but familiar stab-filled outing
If you're feeling the March Madness: 'Champions'
"White Men Can't Jump" fans can see Harrelson hoop it up again, but this time he's on the sidelines as a disgraced coach who had a drunken run-in with a cop car and his community service is leading a team of scrappy youngsters with intellectual disabilities. It's a problematic minefield that director Bobby Farrelly navigates well in the endearing comedy, handling its subject matter with respect and charm even if leaning formulaic.
If you prefer a broody Idris Elba: 'Luther: The Fallen Sun'
We've watched Elba punch a lion , tackle monster alien starfish and ride horses recently but there's nothing like seeing him in action as rule-breaking British detective John Luther. After his iffy police work is revealed publicly, Luther is jailed but has to break out to stop a psychopath (Andy Serkis in total creep mode). Cynthia Erivo's crusading detective is a nice addition in this grimly over-the-top and entertaining crime thriller.
Where to watch: Netflix
If you think Mozart should have done more teen movies: 'The Magic Flute'
There's a pleasant mix of drama, fantasy and sweet tunes in this coming-of-age adventure starring Jack Wolfe as Tim, a youngster sent to a music school after the death of his father. After the pretentious headmaster (F. Murray Abraham) scoffs when the kid wants to audition for "The Magic Flute," Tim finds himself whisked away to the magical landscape of Mozart's opera and is forced to navigate obstacles in both worlds.
If you dig modern survival thrillers with heart: 'Unseen'
A breakup leads to Emily (Midori Francis) being kidnapped by her murderous ex and escaping into the Michigan woods, breaking her glasses and leaving her nearly blind. A wrong number, though, links her to Florida convenience store clerk Sam (Jolene Purdy), who attempts to help Emily navigate to safety via FaceTime. Lean and mean at under 80 minutes, it's a tense, clever and subtly comedic story about human connection.
Where to watch: Apple TV , Vudu , Google Play , Amazon
If you're all about dark fairy tales: 'Unwelcome'
After a traumatic home invasion, an expecting British couple (Hannah John-Kamen and Douglas Booth) ditches their city digs for a rural Irish cottage they've inherited. But it comes with one rule: They have to leave out fresh red meat daily before sundown or risk upsetting a mystical gang of murderous goblins. The little weirdos become an issue, as does a family of troublesome construction workers, in the nifty indie folk horror flick.
Where to watch: In theaters (and Apple TV and on-demand platforms Tuesday)
Also on streaming
- The sports comedy " 80 for Brady ," starring Jane Fonda , Lily Tomlin , Rita Moreno and Sally Field as big Tom Brady fans, is now available on Apple TV , Vudu , Google Play and Amazon .
- The twisty mystery thriller " Missing ," featuring Storm Reid as a teen girl desperately searching online for her missing mom, is also on Apple TV and on-demand platforms.
- Oscar-nominated animated adventure " Puss in Boots: The Last Wish ," with Antonio Banderas voicing the title feline adventurer, premieres on Peacock Friday.
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’65’ review: adam driver fights dinosaurs in an underwhelming sci-fi actioner.
An astronaut from another planet and a little girl find themselves battling dinos on Earth 65 million years ago in this film from the writers of 'A Quiet Place.'
By Frank Scheck
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'scream vi' to scare off '65' at weekend box office, '65' star adam driver talks his sci-fi dinosaur thriller and the eerie 'white noise' parallels in ohio.
In any case, said mission goes awry because of a nasty asteroid storm that causes the ship to crash on Earth, the only other survivor being Koa (Ariana Greenblatt), a little girl who doesn’t understand English and is understandably shaken up by the experience. Especially since not long after the crash, the pair find themselves in a strange world populated by an array of dinosaurs who all seem to be very hungry and very, very cranky.
The filmmakers, who previously collaborated with John Krasinski on the screenplay for the first A Quiet Place film, clearly love dinosaurs and nasty alien creatures in general. The same could be said of Sam Raimi , one of the producers. That childlike enthusiasm permeates every frame of 65 , which plays like something you might have seen at a drive-in decades ago on a double-bill with The Valley of Gwangi or When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth .
But the gimmick wears thin quickly. Most of the running time consists of scenes in which the two characters run into one or more screaming dinos before they manage to shoot or blast them into oblivion. Rinse and repeat. When Driver’s character almost perishes by falling into quicksand, it practically feels like a palate cleanser. The special effects are fine, but aren’t likely to cause Steven Spielberg to lose any sleep.
Nor is the dialogue particularly scintillating, since it mainly consists of Mills speaking a few words and Koa repeating them quizzically. (She does, however, immediately grasp his meaning when he shouts, “Run!”). Nonetheless, the relationship between the two does generate some warmth, with Koa serving as a substitute daughter who rouses Mills’ protective paternal instincts. Before the story concludes, the feisty little girl holds her own, saving his bacon more than once. Unfortunately, the pair’s dynamic also calls to mind the current HBO series The Last of Us , and doesn’t benefit from the comparison.
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‘Chang Can Dunk’ Review: That’s a Man’s Jam
A short teen channels his inner Kobe Bryant in this exhilarating, warmhearted Disney+ basketball comedy.
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By Calum Marsh
“Chang Can Dunk,” a funny and thoughtful high school comedy streaming on Disney+ , exists at the intersection between jockdom and nerdery: If you know both the approximate value of a mint-condition Charizard Pokémon card and how to identify a pair of Nike Bruce Lee Kobe 5 Protos on sight, you’re sure to feel on solid footing.
Chang (Bloom Li) is a dorky teen with grandiose dreams of N.B.A. superstardom. Tired of being humiliated by his rival classmate Matt (Chase Liefeld), the school’s arrogant point-guard Übermensch, Chang makes him a daring wager: In 10 weeks, he’ll dunk on a regulation 10-foot net. At a modest 5 feet 8 inches, Chang won’t be able to throw down a monster jam with ease. But he subscribes to the Kobe Bryant mind-set , in which, as he explains to his paramour, Kristy (Zoe Renee), “every obstacle is an opportunity.” Or, as Michael Jordan might put it: Matt slighted Chang, and he took that personally .
The pursuit of this ambition puts “Chang Can Dunk” in familiar sports-movie territory for a time, as Chang seeks guidance from an amiable coach (Dexter Darden) who prescribes a strenuous regimen of back-squatting, deadlifting and slamming protein shakes, most of which we see in charmingly upbeat montage. But around the film’s midway point, the writer-director Jingyi Shao makes a sudden and intriguing pivot, complicating the story and, in the process, subverting a number of tired pseudo-inspirational clichés.
As Chang’s quest is sidelined and the young athlete is forced to look inward, the emphasis of the movie shifts from winning at all costs to the quiet, unglamorous work that makes winners in the first place — a rousing and considered tribute to honest effort over spectacular results that would have made Bryant himself proud.
Chang Can Dunk Rated PG. Running time: 1 hour 47 minutes. Watch on Disney+.
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- 65 movie review: Adam Driver's sci-fi thriller both salutes and subverts the idea of heroism and hope
65 movie review: Adam Driver's sci-fi thriller both salutes and subverts the idea of heroism and hope
Writers and directors scott beck and bryan woods present a story about survival, and design it with style with their new film 65..
Cast: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman
Directors: Scott Beck and Bryan Woods
Why would someone title his film 65 ? The answer lies in the plot. A pilot called Mills ( Adam Driver ) is stranded on an unknown planet after a catastrophic collision and soon realizes he’s been marooned on Earth 65 million years ago. He now has nowhere to go, no means to escape, but he does have company to communicate with, Koa (a sure-footed Ariana Greenblatt).
Writers and directors Scott Beck and Bryan Woods present a story about survival, and design it with style. Because this is the same duo that wrote A Quiet Place, 65 brims with silences and shocks. There are moments of deep quietness before an overwhelming surprise makes an appearance. But they have far more complex and compelling ideas in mind. Since the makers flirt with the idea of making a science-fiction, there are shots of dinosaurs and other creatures.
Cinematographer Salvatore Totino shoots the film meticulously with his lenses and at places, 65 bursts with imagination. There are minimal dialogues because it’s more important for Mills and Koa to escape than to sit and chatter. They do, in spurts. At one moment, tired and exhausted of finding means to escape, Mills says ‘I’m just tired,’ and Koa repeats those words. The moment may be amusing since she has the tendency to repeat verbatim what he says; but what if she’s tired too? What if she too wishes to escape from this unknown territory?
And that’s precisely why Beck and Woods’ writing works even when the film relies more on camerawork and visual effects. Adam Driver, for all his machismo, is a man of vulnerability. The character not only salutes but also subverts the idea of heroism. Here’s a hero that has the balls to be thrown into the deepest end but also who can feel panic and fear. And that’s precisely what Mills does.
65 may not be as refined or ravishing as the other survival thrillers or sci-fi adventures, but if you’re tired of mush and masculinity, this may be a slightly different experience.
65 is now playing in cinemas
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Read all the Latest News , Trending News , Cricket News , Bollywood News , India News and Entertainment News here. Follow us on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram .
Updated Date: March 10, 2023 10:29:52 IST
- 65 Movie Review
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Part of the problem is that "Windfall" never achieves the slow burn it needs for the conclusion to be earned. It's not building tension as much as treading water in an interesting way. So when it explodes, it feels sudden. Although maybe that's the point.
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Windfall is a solid enough chamber piece and a showcase for its three leads' talents, but on a story level it struggles to establish the themes it brings up and stumbles in the third act basically throwing away all the buildup for the sake of a shock that doesn't make sense on a character, storytelling, or thematic level.
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Windfall is one of those movie that i just don't have any word to wrote or describe it anymore besides "Perfect", Windfall is such a simple intense 90 minutes film that feels like nothing, it's a movie that easily invested, with a story that might sound familiar if you just read it before… Expand 1 2 9 kirkender Apr 2, 2022
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Published Mar 18, 2022. Windfall is a modest thriller that thrives on excellent performances from its cast, a confident director at the helm & a score that keeps up momentum. Windfall is a coherent and cohesive thriller that dabbles with dark comedy and benefits from having a small cast and a beautiful single location.
58. Noel Murray. Feb 6, 2012. Windfall is undeniably persuasive - and is likely advocating on the right side of the wind-farm issue - but the movie's case relies more on emotional appeals and frightening images of giant machines than on real, objective number-crunching. Read full review.
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It drops humans from eons away and ago into an extinction-level event, and instead of being full-on weird and wondrous about it, prefers to be utterly imitative and complacent. Way to extinguish ...
The actor described the effect of criticism in the film industry and said it can feel 'like a very personal rejection' Peter Bradshaw: good reviews wouldn't mean much if bad ones weren't ...
Game Awards, NZXT windfall, Price Hikes, + more! (Podcast Episode 2021) on IMDb: Movies, TV, Celebs, and more... Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. ... User Reviews Review this title 0 Reviews. Hide Spoilers.
New movies this week: Watch 'Scream VI,' stream Netflix's 'Luther: The Fallen Sun'. Just when you're trying to catch up for Oscar Sunday, here comes Ghostface as a contender for best murder spree ...
65. The Bottom Line A middling throwback creature feature. Release date: Friday, March 10. Cast: Adam Driver, Ariana Greenblatt, Chloe Coleman, Nika King. Directors-screenwriters: Scott Beck ...
Tired of being humiliated by his rival classmate Matt (Chase Liefeld), the school's arrogant point-guard Übermensch, Chang makes him a daring wager: In 10 weeks, he'll dunk on a regulation 10 ...
Cinematographer Salvatore Totino shoots the film meticulously with his lenses and at places, 65 bursts with imagination. There are minimal dialogues because it's more important for Mills and Koa to escape than to sit and chatter. They do, in spurts. At one moment, tired and exhausted of finding means to escape, Mills says 'I'm just tired ...