Movie Mondays: Slow Burn Thrillers

Slow burn thrillers aren’t for everyone. They require patience, and some viewers find them boring. They don’t always provide answers, leaving viewers to infer what’s really going on. They’re often tense, dark and brooding. For me, it’s the character development and moral ambiguity that makes these worth the investment.

Blue Ruin (2014) tells the story of Dwight, a damaged man who decides to seek revenge when the man who murdered his father is released from prison. Dwight is not a natural born killer, and his failed attempts to avenge his father’s death put himself and his family at risk. Funded by a Kickstarter campaign and released on Video on Demand, this little movie with a virtually unknown director and cast went on to receive critical acclaim and won the  FIPRESCI Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Prisoners (2013) stars Hugh Jackman as Keller Dover, the father of an abducted girl whose rage knows no bounds. Dissatisfied with the progress of the investigation under Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal), Keller takes matters into his own hands with the main suspect, Alex (Paul Dano). The supporting cast (Melissa Leo, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard and Viola Davis) is terrific. This movie is long – over two and a half hours – and it can be crushingly grim, but it is guaranteed to stay with you long after it ends.

Cold in July (2014), based on the book by Joe Lansdale, stars Dexter’s Michael C. Hall as Richard Dane, a husband and father who kills a man who broke into his house. When the intruder’s ex-con father, Russel, (Sam Shepard) shows up seeking revenge, both Richard and Russel find themselves on a much different road then either of them intended. The twists and turns in this film – and the standout performance by Don Johnson as a weary private eye – earned director Jim Mickle a Best Dramatic Film nomination at Sundance.

 Joe (2013) stars Nicholas Cage as the title character, an ex-con trying to live life on the straight and narrow. When he meets 15-year-old Gary (Tye Sheridan, from another great slow burn thriller Mud), Joe takes Gary under his wing, but trouble follows Gary in the form of Wade, the boy’s violent alcoholic father (Wade is played by Gary Poulter, a homeless man who was recruited by director David Gordon Green and died after the film ended). Nic Cage is excellent in this film, and makes us remember what a good actor he is.

~posted by Frank

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