Tag Archives: Tribeca Film Festival

Beatlemania, revisited in Danny Boyle’s YESTERDAY

YESTERDAY. Country, UK, Russia. Director: Danny Boyle. Cast: Himesh Patel, Lily James, Joel Fry, Kate McKinnon, Ed Sheeran, Sarah Lancashire, Camila Rutherford, Robert Carlyle. Screenwriters Jack Barth, Richard Curtis. Language: English. Runtime: 116 minutes. Venue: C Newport Mall, Jersey City, NJ. Rating: C+

So you’re a musician, just shy from being a busker, and you’re trying to make it in a world filled with performers of all shapes and sizes, styles and talents. No one, except your only fan, wants to hear you, and you’re left to marinate in an uncertain future and working as a non-entity in a factory just to make ends meet.

That’s the reality of Jack (Himesh Patel), who’s life seems to be destined to hit a brick wall and stay there until Fate, or the Gods, if you will, decides to play a little joke on him. One night upon returning home from yet another disappointment, the planet experiences a massive, global blackout. Jack gets hit by a bus. When he recovers from his ordeal, he performs Yesterday to his friends who, while loving the tune, do not recognize it or The Beatles. At all.

It slowly dawns on him and he confirms during a Google search… The Beatles have never existed. There is no trace of any song from their catalogue, no mention of John, Paul, George, or Ringo. Nothing. That, of course, leads Jack to discover, that if The Beatles never were, neither were bands that based their sound on them — for example, Oasis.

So what’s a man to do? Can it be called plagiarism if Jack ‘steals’ the songs from a group that never existed? Jack never gives this a second thought — and neither it seems, does the movie — and allows that Jack begin performing Beatles tunes that he has, through sheer memory, brought back. He becomes a local sensation, even securing a spot aside Ed Sheeran who becomes a mentor. And then America beckons under the guise of a greedy exec (played to comic perfection by Kate McKinnon) shamelessly approaching Jack to make money “and secure herself another house.” Jack, who’s struggled all his life, can’t but take the offer and face “The Americanization of Jack” while singing songs that aren’t his, all the time wondering how long can the jig last before it’s discovered his performance is a sham.

Yesterday, however, isn’t trying to tell a story about posing — even when Jack’s renditions of Beatles’ classics often skirts the kind of indie music that can be heard ad infinitum on coffee-rock stations, pretty but not especially memorable. In Boyle’s movie you are asked to really listen to the songs, pay attention to the lyrics, as if the Beatles truly were a band nearing extinction, and in that way, it’s pretty clever and unique because it places their artistry at a level of rediscovery not seen since iTunes or their Free as a Bird video from 20 years ago.

Also, In many ways, the whole premise of the world hitting a weird fugue is merely a backdrop for Boyle to tell a sunny romantic love story between a boy and a girl who are meant to be together (and it helps that both Himesh Patel and Lily James are perfectly cast; he as the unwilling, passive rock star; she as the woman who knows him best). It just takes some gentle prodding from the blackout-turned-catalyst and the man himself, John Lennon (Robert Carlyle) in a much-needed emotional scene.

DEAN

DEAN
USA
Director: Demetri Martin
Runtime: 87 minutes
Language: English

B

It’s nothing short of surprising how far Woody Allen’s influence in indie cinema has reached. Because of him we now have several observant New York film directors doing rather well in creating movies that tell, in an economic 90 minutes, a slice of life of a New Yorker going through some kind of trauma, while always maintaining a solid sense of humor. Demetri Martin, an actor and director whose work I barely know, debuted last year at the Tribeca Film Festival with this cute little comedy about grief as told through the mind and imagination of Martin’s alter-ego Dean, a successful comic book artist who continually evokes the Grim Reaper in almost everything he draws (which is almost all the time — and he shows his illustrations, often which provide a nice dose of humor to make a point).

After the death of his mother, Dean finds himself in a rut unable to create and has just broken up with his girlfriend. He’s also at an emotional crossroad with his father (played by Kevin Kline in a subtle turn) who has decided to sell the house and move into a smaller space. In an impulse he travels clear across the country, lands in LA, meets some cool hipsters, among them a girl (Gillian Jacobs, last seen in Don’t Think Twice) who is all but perfect . . . which is part of the problem.  Dean is one of these barely there movies that really need to be seen to witness an incisive slice of life that attempts to portray the awkwardness of moving through life while trying to pick up the pieces left behind. This is a solid debut from a young director who has a keen ear for sharp dialogue along with pretty good performances by its mainly young cast (although Mary Steenburgen also manages to breathe life into her rather wispy, brief role as Kline’s real estate agent with whom he tentatively starts a relationship with.






BUSTER’S MAL HEART and Other TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL STANDOUTS

[Originally written May 3rd, 2017]

So, one more year of the Tribeca Film Festival and I’m as happy as a fat cat after finishing off a meal full of good, salty stuff. It’s not often when I can get a chance to go see world premieres and exclusives at an indie film festival (mainly because I travel a lot) so this time I made a point to instead of trying to over-compensate and watch all of the films coming out as I did last fall at the New York Film Festival but to see the ones that caught my attention the most. I did have a slant towards foreign selections because while the American entries  usually get shipped, the foreign ones fare somewhat less well. Some do make it to the screen (The Wedding Plan is into its third successful week at the Quad and the Lincoln Plaza) while others either play at the Film Forum or get the VOD treatment if at all.

Here are the ones I saw at the Tribeca Film Festival:

THE DIVINE ORDER
Switzerland-Germany
Director: Petra Biondina Velpe
Runtime: 91 minutes
Language: German

Mostlyindies rating: B+

It comes as a shock that Switzerland, a country that has given us Geneva, was basically in the woods when Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement happened in the US. Up until the early 70s women did not have any rights in Switzerland–much less the power to vote. Nora (Marie Leuwenberger) lives in a small, ultra conservative town and is completely oblivious to the rapid modernization of the world around her. Her daughter (Ella Rumpf, previously seen in the French horror film Raw) is in prison for having flirted with a boy Nora and her husband didn’t approve of. Nora herself is basically a prisoner of her own life; she has no income and her husband legally has the rights to keep her in the house, cooking, cleaning, keeping it nice and warm while he produces the cash. It doesn’t come as a fluke when Nora somehow accidentally walks into feminism. She then proceeds to change her looks, dress in the style of the day (the movie takes place at the dawn of the 70s), and meet up with like minded women looking to emancipate themselves from male dominance. Soon they’re attending vagina workshops, rediscovering themselves, and distributing pamphlets all over town. Predictably, this doesn’t go over too well with the men who fear they will lose total control of a world that belongs to them, and little do they know that the women plan to fight for their rights, tooth and nail. The Divine Order never gets too overtly serious for its own good, but it still manages to describe the struggle for women’s equality — a fight as of this writing not fully won as women still make less than men — and it feels fresh since we only recently had a women’s march on Washington. There is a universality to this story that is reflected in another movie (not a Tribeca selection, though) called The Women’s Balcony, an Israeli film that tackles women’s rights through religious customs, but more about that later.

 

TOM OF FINLAND
Finland
Director: Dome Karukoski
Runtime: 115 minutes
Language: Finnish, English

Mostlyindies rating: B-

How do you depict the life of an artist who’s visual work (alongside fellow artists George Quaintance and Dom Orejudos, a.k.a. Etienne),  has become the cornerstone of hypermasculine gay fetish art without carnalizing it or treating it as sleaze? Dome Karukoski’s biopic of Touko Laaksonen eventually brings some of that onto the screen — there’s really no other way to tell  a convincing story without inserting images of hunky male models that were the ideals of Laaskonen’s art — but it also focuses on the events that shaped Laaksonen into the artist (and role model) he eventually became).

Early on, Tom of Finland takes the shape of a war movie in which even sexual encounters — all taking place in near obscurity — is treated as if it were a spy film. One gets a chance to see what influenced Laaksonen (Pekka Strang) in a scene that lingers on after it’s over. He murders a Soviet paratrooper, but following this event, he can’t but approach the dead man and stare into his unearthly beauty (and tell-tale mustache), a thing which points at the type of men he would later draw. Later on, Laaksonen meets the man who would be his life-long partner (Lauri Tilkanen) in a dark cruising scene rife with a sense of shame, anonymous, and the threat of capture. It is  also telling to see subplots about intolerance that revolve around Laaksonen’s kind but homophobic sister and Laaksonen’s former general in command Alijoki (Taisto Oksanen), a closeted man who’d bailed Laaksonen out of a Berlin jail for attempting to sell his fetish art, threw fetish parties for a tight-knit circle of gay friends, experienced the wrath of the police of the time who raid his house, take him to prison, where he decides he no longer wishes to be gay.

The second half of the picture is a little less repressive, and justifiably so: Following Stonewall, it seemed that an iron curtain had been lifted; no longer was it a crime to be gay, men began finding their identities through Tom’s art, which by the 1970s and 80s was showing up everywhere (albeit underground). Of course, there is the shadow of AIDs that makes its way into the story’s homophobic subplot and a backlash against Tom’s art soon follows, but it doesn’t damper the movie’s spirit inasmuch as reaffirm it and like crabgrass — the weed that won’t die — Tom’s art finds its way into bookstores and open consciousness.  If there is a moment when the film somewhat loses steam it’s when it becomes preachy towards the very end in an effort to provide a sense of inclusivity to all types of men (as opposed to the type that would be considered a Tom’s man). Overall, the movie is quite insightful in bringing as much of Laaksonen’s storied life into two hours, and perhaps it does become a little too serio-comic towards its second half for its own good, but it’s better than not having anything at all. Watch for Tom’s muse, his Kake character, who makes appearances here and there in the most unlikely of places.

Tom of Finland has no date of release yet in the US but might be included in LGBT film festivals later on.

 

MANIFESTO
Australia
Director: Julian Rosenfeldt
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language:  English

Mostlyindies rating: B

Coming into Manifesto is like entering a giant atrium with multiple installations playing at once — with the exception that every installation features Cate Blanchett playing a different character, sometimes funny, sometimes commanding, sometimes meek, petty, argumentative, insane, informative, or plain chaotic, and it’s a conceptual bliss, a shot in the dark, a burst of light, a cry of pain. I won’t go into details about what Manifesto is — what it’s trying to say — which is, in a nutshell, a statement about art and the state of the world today. I recognized my favorite piece — Tristan Tzara’s Manifesto on Dada. The way Blanchett enters into this powerful monologue in the form of a eulogy on Someone Who Has Died is at first, controlled, but clearly spitting the words out in preparation for a declaration of war. It’s not long before her tone sharpens, rises, and becomes deeper, louder, every time punctuating a sentence with the word “Dada.” [For the uninitiated, Dada is a baby’s cry — the primal scream is you will, and Dadaists took its ‘scream’ as to mean everything and nothing at the same time. Life is bullshit, and then you die. The end. Hoe does this one piece relate to the other? Does it even matter? Bookended in the movie she appears as a crazy homeless man espousing Marxisms, walking along in a landscape that once may have been thriving with human life and industrial wealth but has long since disappeared, leaving only ruins and decay. And yet in another vignette she’s two characters talking in “weather-speak” — that clipped lingo weather forecasters adopt when depicting storms, et. al., and then it reveals that while art is shit, so is there own performance. This is what I love about experimental film — it can be analyzed left to right, up to down, and it still reveals everything and nothing. We should have more films that challenge the audience and make them scratch their heads. We need more Manifesto.

 

THE LOVERS
USA
Director: Azrael Jacobs
Runtime: 95 minutes
Language: English

Mostlyindies rating: A

They’re married, but the marriage itself is at a dead end and exists only for curt hellos, good mornings, good byes, while both live separate as strangers. They’re so out of touch with each other that neither of them know the other is carrying on with someone else. So . . . why are they still married? Why haven’t the just split up? That’s the question that gets smothered one morning to MIchael (Tracy Letts, letting his romantic and yes, sexy lead flourish) and Mary (Debra Winger, a welcome return to movies) when something so out of left field happens.

They fall back into lust.

And it hits not as a fluke — it hits big. Huge. It’s almost like a drug that suddenly both have discovered — it keeps on delivering highs upon highs and for once, both have become civil, even friendly, towards each other. The problem is, again, they’re both involved in heavy relationships with other people (Aiden Gillen and Melora Walters) whom they continue to lie to and lead on as if nothing were happening, but it doesn’t take long for the second pair of characters to find out. Coming into the mix is a visit by their son Joel (Tyler Ross) and his girlfriend Erin (a sensitive Jessica Sula; if you remember she was one of the three kidnapped girls in Split). Joel has no pleasant memories of his parents and wonders what the shtick of happiness is all about.

The Lovers is all about small, private, intimate performances that make it as a domestic dramedy seem so real you might as well be peering into someone else’s house and documenting. In a previous time this could have gone into Noel Coward territory, but writer-director Azazel Jacobs treats his topic as adult as he possibly can, and even when dramatics take over, it never comes across as too strident. What I liked the most about The Lovers, however, was the sole presence of Letts and Winger as husband and wife who re-ignnite their passion. These are two actors playing people caught in a completely inappropriate and awkward situation, who know they need to call it quits and not hurt their new partners, but wonder if they can do so without causing harm to themselves. This is a smartly made movie.

 

PARIS CAN WAIT
USA / Japan
Director: Eleanor Coppola
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language: French, English

Mostlyindies rating: A

Some of the simplest stories can often hide the most complexities if the right actors can elevate their parts into something completely different and this is the case of Eleanor Coppola’s Bonjour Anne (re-titledParis Can Wait, which actually makes more sense; Bonjour Anne would seem to signify a drama about a woman leaving towards an uncertain future heavy with drama). A movie that depicts the adventures of an American housewife often neglected by her busy movie-prodicer husband (and I can’t possibly not guess that there may be something autobiographic to this scenario as director Eleanor Coppola is the wife of Francis Ford Coppola), Paris Can Wait has a sense of the romantic without directly approaching it. Anne, the wife in question, seems to be content with her life — but even in the limelight she seems to be but a shadow next to her husband Michael (Alec Baldwin, displaying the right dose of self-involvement without coming across as a grotesque caricature of narcissism; he does love Anne but he has a career to honor as well).

When business matters force their vacation at Cannes to come to a screeching halt, Michael flies back out to the Budapest to scout locations for his new film, leaving Anne stranded. While she states she could easily take the train and be in Paris in less than seven hours, Jacques (Antoin Vlard), a business associate of Michael, offers to drive her  Michael accepts the deal and before you know it Anne and Jacques are off touring the French countryside, making stops here and there while she alternates between sort of enjoying herself and growing increasingly frustrated that Jacques won’t drive her directly to Paris, but instead would rather prefer to literally stop, smell the flowers, and engage in an impromptu picnic.

Paris Can Wait shares with the Before trilogy (particularly Before Sunrise) that it features mostly two characters getting to know each other’s through keen character observation. It’s clear from the start that Jacques might be a little too interested in Anne for comfort–everything he does and says carries a weight that is meant to impress her–but Anne… while confident and self-possessed, she’s a little different. She’s more reserved, cagey. She continually talks about Michael but one gets that she’s  not exactly “happy”  and certainly their interrupted phone calls are a glaring example that they have a fractured communication. Also there’s that little action Anne does when storing pictures in her camera–while she deletes any evidence that she took shots of Michael, one in particular catches her attention and she keeps it.

Reader, Paris can Wait is so deceptive it’s a surprise when we reach a point where the romantic suspense is overflowing. Anyone else would have made a trifling mess closer to farce but Eleanor Coppola times her wispy travelogue with an increasing sensuousness that comes alive with Lane and Vlard’s effortless, textured acting and delicious chemistry. The film teeters and balances itself on an invisible line that we know at a moral level should not happen, All is left is for us to sit back and see not if, but when these two will cross that line.

 

BUSTER’S MAL HEART
USA
Director: Sarah Adina Smith
Runtime: 96 minutes
Language: English

Mostlyindies rating: B+

Stress can make its way into a man’s mind in a plethora of insidious ways and before you know it he’s turned from being a mild-mannered individual and morphed into something monstrous. That is the feeling I gleaned from watching Sarah Asian Smith’s Buster’s Mal Heart — that of a man trapped by his own limitations, a low-paying job as a hotel concierge, a family that sees him as threat, and a wild man trapped at sea screaming at apparitions that may or not be real. [I took mild issues with the fact that he’s Hispanic, played by Rami Malek, an actor of Egyptian descent, only because whenever you see men going off the deep end they are mostly NOT Hispanic but White, but I digress; I get it, it could be anyone)

Buster’s Mal Heart drives you right into the aftermath of the matter. We see Buster (Malek) being chased down by some cops who are trying to gun him down. But why? What could he have done that he needs to be either brought back to face imprisonment or be obliterated by a volley of bullets? Soon later, we see him in flashbacks, wandering the Pacific Northwest, hair down to his shoulders, sporting a thick beard, with wild eyes that seem to be seeing something we cannot. He invades summer homes that are now closed for the cold, he comically defecates in places that he really shouldn’t, and all the while, even deeper memories surface. There’s a wife (Kate Lyn Sheil) and child. There are her parents (one of them is played by Lin Shaye who appears in the Insiduous franchise), and they clearly have some issues with Buster, Even so, this can’t quite be the reason that Buster seems to go nuts in later scenes.

I love Buster’s Mal Heart for reasons that exist in domestic horror stories: we know there is a monster, but it has no face. We know that perhaps all this Y2K conspiracy (the movie takes place in 1999, right before or during the brief but disturbing period where people feared the worst) might be total bogus only because it’s rather clear to us as outsiders looking in that clearly nothing happened; no new world order ascended, and we’re still here trying to sort realities out. What makes Buster’s Mal Heart such a frightening movie is that the characters here are up against the same enemy in It Comes at Night and a multitude of other horror stories: the horror of themselves, their own minds that are on the verge of complete collapse. What emerges as an even bigger tragedy is that Buster, our antihero, never had a chance to win from the word go.

 

THE CIRCLE

US – United Arab Emirates
Director: James Ponsoldt
Runtime: 105 minutes
Language: English

Mostlyindies rating: C+

It’s no secret that we live in surveillance nation and James Ponsoldt’s motion picture, already in heavy promotion as of late last year, looked like an interesting premise that came in at a perfect time when it seems that the only way anyone can even exist is by and through a social network. So, a movie that places our heroine (Emma Watson) in a Facebook-esque company headed by a creepy yet jovial Tom Hanks where sharing — heck, oversharing, 24 hours a day, seven days a week —  would be the likely place to construct a thriller about the loss of personal identity, right? Of course. And for the better part of the movie, it succeeds in doing just that. Even from the word go there is something off about how complacent everyone seems, how there seems to be an almost reverential attitude towards The Circle’s CEO (Hanks, doing a blend of Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg although I am inclined to go more for the latter). Watson becomes The Circle’s breakout story, but that comes at a cost — one that insinuates itself more and more as the film gets deeper into its story. Something happens inside of Watson’s character and she makes her escape to a secure place to be by herself. She gets immediately captured — yes, I will use that word — by other employees working for The Circle who bring her back home, safe and sound . . . only to proceed to degrade her to bits in public as a form of punishment for having renounced her role in the company.

[Also, floating around the story’s edge, is a character that could easily be based in either Apple’s or Facebook’s other founding members, a man who holds an important link to revealing the truth behind the Man Behind the Curtain. He only exists to bring a sense of even more menace outside the movie’s fabric, but the movie doesn’t quite know what to do with him for the most part.]

What happens when Watson’s character gets the dog’s collar — and it indeed is, something of a collar, but you have to see it to believe it and it is truly disturbing — is a complete and unexpected character change. She gives in, seemingly unable to even think for herself, and we see her now as an automaton, going through the motions, sharing everything with everyone within her network with the only privacy left being for her to go to the bathroom to do her business. The submission Watson goes through, her personality transformation from person to digital character, is a profoundly disturbing part of the film that I wish the director would have elaborated on more. The Circle, in order to gives its audience a more satisfying sense of closure, stops right here and devolves into something I call back tracking — it forgets how sinister its own presentation of Big Brother through the form of tiny cameras truly is and then picks up a character that had it had forgot, a character who I feel had the ability to stop this crazy all this time, but whose act of liberation had to be ceded to the Final Girl in a horror movie that doesn’t fully live up to its own hype.

 

NADIE NOS MIRA (NOBODY’S WATCHING)
Argentina
Director: Julia Solomonoff
Runtime: 108 minutes
Language:  English/Spanish

Mostly indies rating: B+

There are two stories being told in Julia Solomonoff’s observant drama about a gay actor attempting to make it happen in the United States. The first one is the most obvious and is actually the less interesting only because it follows a well-established pattern. Nico (Guillermo Pfering), an Argentinian actor who shot to fame via a series, has left it all behind to come to the US and pursue a successful film career. While his fictitious counterpart languishes in a coma to justify his absence, Nico languishes in poverty, rooming with a female friend, while attempting to make ends barely meet as a nanny to anyone who will pay him, which includes his friend Andrea (Elena Roger).

The second story, which emerges from the background of Nico’s increasingly sad life, is the fact that he is a man running away from himself. Having been involved with a married man who, to complicate things, is the producer of the show that shot Nico to fame and has no intention of letting him go, Nico fled to the US to start a new life and potentially find himself. Now Nico passes the time biking throughout New York, waiting for his next project that will never happening, and while babysitting, resorting to petty theft. Auditions go bad — he’s either not Latino looking or just not the right fit, and his accent, an American producer tells him later in the film, is too exotic to sell a part.

Nothing that happens in Nadie nos mira comes as anything new; indie cinema is filled with movies that touch the topic of a character locked in a seemingly impossible situation swimming upstream. However, Solomonoff’s movie never reduces Nico to a caricature of failed aspirations — we feel his pain, his increasing desperation to make matters work even when it becomes clear that at one point he will have to open his eyes. What she does manage is to convey, rather beautifully, a nuanced portrait of an illegal alien and how he will grapple with the sense of alienation and the possibility that perhaps he is chasing a pipe dream. Certain comparisons will draw it towards 1969’s Midnight Cowboy, but this is its own movie, thoughtful and compassionate towards people who for whatever reason come to a country looking for answers where there may not be any.

 

SAMBA
Dominican Republic
Director: Israel Cardenas and Laura Guzman
Runtime: 90 minutes
Language: Spanish

Mostlyindies rating: C

Using boxing as a means to redemption goes all the way back to almost 100 years ago when The Champ made its way into movie theaters in its first incarnation (the second would arrive in 1979 and was a total tear-jerker). Only last month American theaters played the Finnish boxing biopic The Best Day in the Life of Olli Maki, and Chuck, also known as The Bleeder as it was released right after its Tribeca debut, also touches on the topic of boxing legend Chuck Wepner.

Laura Guzman and Israel Cardenas movie isn’t a biopic, but a story told in a neo-realist style about Francisco Castillo (Algenis Perez Soto), a man released from a 15 year sentence to an uncertain future. Rejected by both his mother and his son Leury (Ricardo Toribio, last seen in Guzman’s and Cardenas’ Sand Dollars), who’s engaging in criminal behavior, Francisco somehow finds himself (after getting fired from a job at the port because of his criminal past) joining a boxing gym and being tutored by a former Italian boxer Nichi Valente (Ettore D’Allessandro), a man who also comes with his own set of financial problems and excess baggage and who along gym owner Luna Torres (Laura Gomez of Orange is the New Black) see Francisco, who becomes quite the asset, as a cash cow.

This is a rather straight-forward story, basically well done in all aspects, that offers a glimpse at the lives of a man caught in his own personal hell desperately trying to find a second shot. It doesn’t offer anything new but it still emerges over its somewhat slight material and paves the way for future projects to come out of Dominican Republic as it begins to make its presence known in film festivals. Will it have a run in the States? Possible, but for the time being, Samba makes its debut in Dominican Republic on June 29.






BAD HURT

1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

 

Bad Hurt is one of those movies where everything that can possibly befall a family does so, in groups, without a moment of rest in between. In fact, so much misery happens in such a short period of time it almost becomes numbing. You keep expecting the ground opening to swallow them up. Again, why I avoid many TriBeCa Film Festival movies. This is suffering porn.

So, let’s see. There’s this Irish family, the Kendalls living in Staten Island, and by living, I mean going through the motions while chaos, madness, sickness, and never-ending agony dances around them without an end in sight.

Elaine and Ed Kendall (Karen Allen and Michael Harney) head the household and provide 24-hour care to their severely, mentally disabled daughter DeeDee (Iris Gilad) who constantly seems to be on the verge of going deliriously manic and has to be taken out of the special needs school due to her violent tendencies. DeeDee, however, has made a friend in Willy (Calvin Dutton), and that friendship seems to have romantic overtones.

Kent (Johnny Whitworth) is the next son who once served the Gulf War and since then  suffers from crippling PTSD — so much that his capacity to communicate verbally is impaired and he is dependent on pain killers and Elaine’s care to alleviate his crippling pain. And finally, there is Todd (Theo Rossi), the son with the least amount of baggage, whose problems are minuscule compared to the rest of the household. Todd is, as a matter of fact, the one who is the glue keeping the Kendalls from falling to pieces at a moment’s notice.

Kitchen sink events unfold rather quickly, often one on top of the other, and it becomes clear this is a family who needs a lot of healing. However, I’ve seen other movies about dysfunctional families and there is at least some levity in between the stories. Bad Hurt seems to have lumped together every possible combination of human suffering, so much that even a quiet tucking into bed or a funeral scene becomes a battlefield, and a conversation between father and son discloses a secret and unleashes bloody hell. I’m not saying this is a bad thing — catharsis is necessary in order not to end up like the family in the recent Louder than Bombs — but paring it down a little would have been better. Everyone appears to be carrying a massive burden and worse, unable to know when to stop, rest, and continue.