Sunday, September 28, 2014

Movie with Abe: Days and Nights

Days and Nights
Directed by Christian Camargo
Released September 26, 2014

It’s always interesting when an actor decides to step behind the camera to tell a story for his or her perspective. When it’s a big name like Kevin Costner or George Clooney, the buzz is much louder, but that doesn’t mean that lesser known performers deserve less press. Christian Camargo, who will be known to most audiences for his role as Rudy in the first season of “Dexter,” has managed to assemble quite a formidable and diverse cast for his directorial debut, a theoretically intriguing look at one complicated family dynamic that doesn’t quite translate to the big screen in the way it should.

As is often the case, the actor-turned-director in question casts himself in a major role that is far from the showiest part in the cast. Camargo plays Peter, who accompanies his actress girlfriend Elizabeth (Allison Janney) to her vacation home on Memorial Day. There, he dines, talks, and argues with an intense cast of characters, portrayed by actors from around the world, including Jean Reno, Michael Nyqvist, Ben Wishaw, Katie Holmes, William Hurt, and Cherry Jones. If this sounds a lot like “August: Osage County,” that it is, with a similar level of intrigue and the same unsatisfying format: so much family and personal drama thrown around to no discernable end.

The film starts out with a certain hook – its 1980s setting – throwing in a few unmistakable references to its signature decade, and slowly introducing each of its characters in a way that explains just who they are and what their motivations for doing what they do are. As they come together, it becomes clearer that these people can’t hope to get along, and that what they bring to the table, both literally and figuratively, suggests permanent issues that will force their family apart.

The members of this cast have starred in many impactful and well-known films, and have collected a handful of Emmys and one Oscar among them. Each actor plays an archetype familiar to him or her, be it Janney’s eccentric chatterbox, Hurt’s philosophy-prone old soul, or Wishaw’s misfit trying to convince those around him to think differently. They may be well-equipped to play these parts, but that doesn’t mean the parts are worthwhile or complex. This collection of characters should be interesting, but this story isn’t organized or inviting enough to prove memorable.


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