Secret Witness (1988 TVM)

US / 71 minutes / color / Just Greene, CBS Dir: Eric Laneuville Pr: Vanessa Greene Scr: Alfred Sole, Paul Monette Cine: Matthew F. Leonetti Cast: David Rasche, Paul Le Mat, Leaf Phoenix (i.e., Joaquin Phoenix), Kellie Martin, Barry Corbin, Paddi Edwards, Deborah Wakeham, Dean Wein, Kendall McCarthy, Eric Love, T.C. Ryan, Jeff O’Haco, Eric Harrison, Betty Bridges, David Raynr

Although its two lead protagonists are children, this is arguably not a children’s movie. I’m not sure it’s entirely a movie for adults, either, since, while it deals tangentially with adult subjects like sex and adultery and features a psychopath, it doesn’t do so in any especially analytic and/or graphic fashion. For similar reasons, it doesn’t really cut it as a family movie, either. Best just to take it on its own terms, then, and enjoy it as the lightweight piece that it is.

Kellie Martin as Jenny

Leaf (Joaquin) Phoenix as Drew

Of course, there are plenty of movies that have child protagonists yet aren’t aimed at children—or, on occasion, even suitable for a youthful audience. Writing now, late on a Sunday night, just off the top of my head, I can think immediately of a few noirish examples: Continue reading

You Were Never Really Here (2017)

vt A Beautiful Day
UK, France, US / 90 minutes / color with some bw / Film4, BFI, Why Not, StudioCanal, Amazon, Lionsgate Dir & Scr: Lynne Ramsay Pr: Pascal Caucheteux, Rosa Attab, James Wilson, Rebecca O’Brien, Lynne Ramsay Story: You Were Never Really Here (2013; rev 2018) by Jonathan Ames Cine: Tom Townend Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Judith Roberts, Ekaterina Samsonov, John Doman, Alex Manette, Dante Pereira-Olson, Alessandro Nivola, Frank Pando, Scott Price, Jonathan Wilde, Ronan Summers, Kate Easton.

Lynne Ramsay’s hauntingly unforgettable We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) was among the earliest movies to be covered on this site. You Were Never Really Here has that same indelible quality, that same feeling of inexorably advancing doom, yet it represents an entirely different approach to neonoirish material.

Joe (Phoenix) is a war veteran who now works for John McCleary (Doman) as a tracker-down of missing teenagers. A man who can manifest great violence, yet also great tenderness, he lives with his dear old mom (Roberts) in NYC fighting the PTSD-inspired ghosts of the carnage he’s seen and committed Continue reading