Foxcatcher Screen 27 articles

Foxcatcher

2014

Foxcatcher Poster
  • Until now I’ve been hopelessly ignorant. Foxcatcher reveals a deep dark secret about America, and the secret is this: this country’s legacy is founded upon an unhealthy mix of greed, wealth and megalomania. It’s truly upsetting to hear now as a citizen of this country for over two decades that there may be something evil brewing beneath the sterilized narratives of American excellence and glory portrayed in mass media. How could I have been in the dark for so long about this sad truth?

  • This is all very gripping in the moment, in no small part due to Ruffalo and Tatum, who counter Carell’s awards-baiting garishness with a lived-in sense of brotherly envy and affection... Once Miller lays all his cards on the table, however, you realize you haven’t been watching people struggling with the very real temptations of unchecked privilege, so much as fumbling blindly in a glib, gloomy satire of American exceptionalism.

  • As a psychological portrait, it’s a thin slice of The Master‘s toxic codependencies, but it fares worse as a political analysis of upper-class corruption in the guise of American exceptionalism, as screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman transpose the events to a decade earlier, firmly but inexplicably in the Reagan-Bush era. In lefty fashion, the last chanted line couldn’t be more on-the-(fake)-nose: “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

  • Bennett Miller’s cool exploration of masculinity, a particularly American brand of insanity, amateur wrestling, and greatness (not necessarily in that order) could be worse, and, like this sentence, runs too long. It could have lost 20 minutes easy, and I’m allowed to say this, as I’ve edited a film.

  • Bennett Miller’s bleakly efficient film is not only about America. It’s also about masculinity, brotherhood, fatherhood, class, competition, the drive for self-definition and expression... The [grotesque] effect is particularly unfortunate for Carell, whose performance, despite whatever plaudits he’s sure to receive for playing “against type,” comes across as an idea of hauntedness rather than a true physical inhabitation.

  • Parts of it evoke films by the late Alan J. Pakula ("All the President's Men," "The Parallax View," "Comes a Horseman"), a master of understatement. And yet in the end "Foxcatcher" proves impossible to embrace because of fundamental miscalculations in performance, direction and makeup, along with a certain clumsiness in the way that it tries to make some kind of grand statement about American values, or the lack thereof.

  • “Foxcatcher” is about wrestlers, but it’s equally, and overtly, about money and the American way of financing—about who pays for the expensive beautiful things... “Foxcatcher,” [in contrast to the story of the film's financier, Megan Ellison], is the story of an independent producer as antihero, a monster who arises to fulfill a need and who preys upon those in need.

  • The filmmakers tell us neither who these characters are nor why they behave as they do... The approach in Foxcatcher begs to be taken seriously. It treats distance as a virtue, and it’s tempting to be seduced by that. The movie is handsome and the acting is strong, especially by Ruffalo, who invests a wispy part with so much salt of the earth, he makes you thirsty. But there’s a hollowness here, too, that speaks to a lack of audacity.

  • Had an extremely rich (though not exactly famous) man not been at the center of this nightmare, it’s unlikely that anyone would remember it, especially since the cause-and-effect relationship screenwriters Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye concoct between the Olympics and the murder is wholly invented.

  • The 134-minute film is paced slowly but steadily: I looked at my watch thinking that an hour passed, but it was almost over. Yet Miller and [his] screenwriters... don't seem particularly interested in wrestling as a sport, just as a pretext to mount a glum reverie about the death of the American dream, as it plays out for John and Mark — if that's indeed what Foxcatcher is about. It insinuates a lot about those ideals and their decline, but it doesn't have anything clear to say about them.

  • Returning to the atmosphere of persistent, wintery aggravation that marked “Capote,” Miller’s filmmaking has never been more sophisticated. Initially proving himself a painter of light in Jane Campion’s “Bright Star,” cinematographer Greig Fraser has since proven himself a brilliant shadow-player: each frame of the film pits misty pools of gray against the punchy American primaries of du Pont’s wrestling paraphernalia, turning them bilious and bloody.

  • Director Bennett Miller, of Moneyball fame, conceives one brilliant scene after another in this tonally subtle movie about a super-rich sponsor and his subservient wrestling team, but also keeps beating us over the head with similar observations.

  • If Steve Carrell’s heavily made-up, against-type turn as disturbed billionaire John du Pont is inadvertently a “stunt performance” of sorts, it’s still much more nuanced and sensitive than Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s over-praised Truman Capote; Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo, providing a more prosaic counter-balance to Carrell’s menacing eccentricity, are no less excellent.

  • Leaving aside his Cannes prize for mise en scène, Miller isn’t exactly a director with an arsenal of visual strategies: he’s into grey, underlit interiors and languid but still conventional continuity editing, and that’s about it. But he hits paydirt with in this gently elongated and elegantly choreographed pas de deux, which instantly establishes both the connection and the competitiveness between the Schultzes.

  • On a second viewing, Foxcatcher felt a lot more focused and coherent, and I appreciated the film’s qualities more. And yet conversely, it become slightly less intriguing: once you know the specific incident that’s coming, Foxcatcher becomes a coherent, outcome-focused true-life drama, whereas if you don’t, then it’s something oddly fragmented and perplexing, and certainly the damnedest sports movie you’ve ever seen. I’m glad I got to see both versions, if you see what I mean.

  • What results is the kind of movie Hollywood gets criticized for no longer making, a reserved, pleasantly adult accounting of battles both physical and mental, with tensions exposed through sudden actions and quiet gestures, free from dumb explanatory scenes or showstopper moments. Yet Foxcatcher is also far from perfect, with an oppressive air of overbearing somberness only minimally offset by some moments of genuine humor.

  • Foreshadowing starts early, right in the first few minutes when it turns out that Mark was giving the school speech as a substitute for his brother - because that's the subtle bit of misdirection here, that the film is a secret love story and DuPont is obsessed all along (and probably besotted, given the sexual undercurrents coursing through the movie) with Dave, not Mark.

  • Foxcatcher confirms that Miller is, without a doubt, a true descendant of Clint Eastwood in his emphasis on classical cinema techniques to articulate his narrative. The intense shadows of Greig Fraser’s cinematography give each room a physical, arid feeling with a sense of emptiness always hanging over Mark, and an intense intimacy that he feels when cared for by his brother, Dave.

  • As with "Capote," the atmosphere in "Foxcatcher" is unsettling from start to finish. Beginning with one dark situation and shifting to another, it sticks with the tone even when Mark gains some confidence in his future. The early scenes are an expert assemblage of small fragments from the wrestler's pathetic hand-to-mouth existence, and Tatum's subdued delivery goes great lengths to suggest the disconnect that the wrestler feels from the minimal opportunities surrounding him.

  • As the three men grapple for control, the film builds steadily towards a violent conclusion, one that Miller subtly alludes to without revealing precisely how it will unfold. When the moment comes, you'll be left saddened and confused by the image of one man laying face-down in the snow, silently gasping for his last mouthful of air.

  • Foxcatcher is a meticulously constructed film that never pretends to have all the answers. Miller seems most interested in showcasing his three lead actors, and they repay the favor -- this is a trifecta of terrific performances... Tatum's performance is a marvel of physicality, and surely one of the best we'll see all year. A wrestler on the outside and a dancer within, he uses every muscle he's got.

  • Of Miller's many directorial feats, his canniest is his depiction of the precariousness of bonds, and how those bonds can shift, drastically yet almost imperceptibly. Often conveyed without words, this theme is first expressed in an early scene wherein Mark and Dave warm up for a training session in a lonely gym...

  • Foxcatcher is both moral fable and updated, same-sex Gothic... The exceedingly spare sound design lets the actors build performances from the tiniest noises. Tatum, as a man almost physically incapable of communicating, wrings eloquence from grunts. When Dave, being videotaped for a vanity video on the team, is asked to describe his boss as a “mentor,” Ruffalo’s breathing says as much as his face.

  • It’s rare to see such physical male intimacy on screen, especially among men not bonded by war. And it’s in the depictions of this intimacy, in its tangle of bodies and desires — the images of John squirming on top of and below other men say more than any of his pitiful speeches — that “Foxcatcher” rises to the occasion of real tragedy.

  • Miller imparts information visually more often than verbally. It helps to have as your DP someone of the caliber of Aussie Greig Fraser (Zero Dark Thirty, Bright Star), equally at home indoors and out. A cinematographer on some of his own earlier projects, Miller makes certain the camera lingers longer, at least proportionally, on the faces of his principals than in other contemporary Hollywood films.

  • ...Possibly because the characters are freed up in this way, the drama of the story is slightly streamlined and signposted, with music highlighting ominous moments – I register this as a bit of a limitation. But the film was admirably realized throughout, with no real false steps. Four wonderful performances from the leads – ensemble films like this and THE MONUMENTS MEN make me feel the US is still probably the world's best repository of screen acting, for filmmakers who can exploit it.

  • Today, Foxcatcher strikes me as one of the few important Hollywood films of the last season for its analytical vision and its sense of the repression associated with wealth and power in America... The mise en scène of Foxcatcher is that of a universal sepulcher, from the du Pont sitting rooms to the countryside that should read (based on my memory) as overwhelmingly verdant. The film’s worldview is remarkably well realized by Miller and cinematographer Grieg Fraser.

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