Review: ‘The Quarry’, SXSW 2020 selection is available today!

SYNOPSIS: From the novel by Damon Galgut comes this searing thriller, a tale of sin and redemption set in the wilds of Texas. After murdering a traveling preacher, a fugitive drifter (Shea Whigham, Joker) travels to a small town and poses as the man he killed. Though the congregation loves the drifter’s sermons of forgiveness, the local police chief (Academy Award® nominee Michael Shannon, The Shape of Water) is suspicious of the man. Soon a gruesome discovery at a local quarry forces the killer to fight for his freedom.

 

A fugitive, a local sheriff, and the resident town criminal all cross paths for a simmering thriller based on mistaken identity. You will recognize that the script is based on a novel in its slow-burn feel of storytelling. In reality, you’re getting a lot of information constantly, but the quiet, abandoned, small-town feel immediately affects the tone of the film. I found myself unable to decide who I should be rooting for even though it is morally very clear cut. That is 100 percent due to the nuanced performance from this relatively small cast. While the novel takes place during South African apartheid, the universal theme of racism is very much prevalent in this film. It will launch the plot towards its inevitable tragedy.

We have a mini Boardwalk Empire reunion with Shea Whigham and Michael Shannon. Pitted against one another, their chemistry is magic. You will find yourself pulled into their dynamic. These fully fleshed out and flawed people are a perfect character study, especially with Whigham and Shannon in the roles. Both gentlemen are given the opportunity to play off of Catalina Sandino Moreno. It’s a masterclass in subtly from every angle. This film is about the script and people. The sparsity of sets and costumes adds to your focus. The ending is something you will never see coming. Overall, The Quarry is a solid thriller that brilliantly highlights superior acting and great direction.

Lionsgate and Grindstone, a Lionsgate Company will release the thriller film THE QUARRY on demand on April 17, 2020.

THE QUARRY stars Shea Whigham (Joker, “Boardwalk Empire”), Michael Shannon (The Shape of Water, Nocturnal Animals), Catalina Sandino Moreno (Showtime’s “The Affair,” Maria Full of Grace), Bobby Soto (“Narcos: Mexico,” A Better Life) and Bruno Bichir (Sicario: Day of the Soldado, Che: Part One). The film was directed by Scott Teems (That Evening Sun) who co-wrote the film with Andrew Brotzman (Nor’easter). The film is based on Damon Galgut’s acclaimed novel of the same name.

SXSW 2020 review: ‘I Used To Go Here’ is an emotional second chance.

I Used To Go Here

Synopsis:

Following the launch of her new novel, 35-year-old writer Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs) is invited to speak at her alma mater by her mentor and former professor (Jemaine Clement). After accepting the invitation, Kate finds herself deeply enmeshed in the lives of an eccentric group of college students.

Gillian Jacobs is charming as ever as a woman whose life isn’t quite stacking up with the fiction she has spun. She comes face to face, literally, with everything from her college experience; her house, her coursework, her professor, and fellow students. After a reading from her debut novel, she is confronted by her own shortcomings as she becomes entangled in the drama of current students. The script allows her to let her guard down and accept the dark. Failure allows her to grow.

While certain plot points feel like a cliche rom-com, there is nothing wrong with that. I Used To Go Here is a comfort film for people who feel stalled. Finger wagging Gen Xer’s (like myself) will instantly connect with Jacobs. Ironically longing to be in her shoes for a few days. It will remind us all of the hope and fearlessness of our youth. It’s a motivating, genuinely funny look as adulthood. Besides Jacobs continuing to be a lovely and heartfelt actor, her castmates also offer a plethora of laughs and light. Jemaine Clement is always hilarious and this is no exception. Sometimes, the more sincere he tries to be the funnier I fond him. This is a total compliment. I find him easy to watch and connect with.

Josh Wiggins as Hugo is a breath of fresh air. His nonchalance and enthusiasm are a joy to watch. Hannah Marks is everything we need her to be; ambitious, moody, and ultimately vulnerable. Brandon Daley is one of the most hilarious characters in this film as Tall Brandon. His confidence and comic timing are pure magic. Lastly, Zoe Chao plays Laura, Kate’s best friend that is living vicariously through sporadic phone calls. She is both a voice of reason and a reliable one-liner spouter. I’m going to need way more of her in the future, please and thank you.

While we’re not breaking any ground with I Used To Go Here, I still really loved it. I lived in it. Sometimes you just need a well written, well-acted film that universally gets you. Congratulations to writer/director Kris Rey and cast for leaving us with a feel-good gem.

I USED TO GO HERE— Directed and Written by Kris Rey

SXSW 2020 Official Selection – Narrative SpotlightWorld Premiere — Acquisition

Starring Gillian Jacobs, Jemaine Clement, Josh Wiggins, Hannah Marks, Zoe Chao, Jorma Taccone, Forrest Goodluck