Things have been busy lately, but I have this review and will also be doing a joint OJ: The Musical / Buzzard review later this week, too.
Hellion was one of the movies at the fest that had the most recognizable cast: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) and Juliette Lewis (August: Osage County) star, but it's the child actors in this film (Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, and others) that steal the show.
Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis star in this heartbreaking drama that acutely captures the misdirected angst of teenage years. Thirteen-year-old Jacob is spiraling out of control. Motocross-obsessed, he and his delinquent friends trash things out of boredom and frustration that they hold inside because of the dire circumstances of their lives. All hell breaks loose when Jacob enlists his younger brother, Wes, as a partner in crime. Still reeling from his wife’s death, Jacob’s dad, Hollis, spends more time drowning his sorrows in alcohol than taking care of his sons. When Child Protective Services sends Wes to live with his Aunt Pam, Hollis and Jacob are forced to face their culpability as they strive to bring Wes home. Set in rural Texas, this 2014 SXSW Film Festival Winner is a heartbreaking portrayal of grief stricken families who struggle to cope with the consequences of their loss.
|Aaron Paul in Hellion|
The beginning of this film definitely catches your attention, and even though the pace slows down a bit after, by then you are hooked. Aaron Paul is barely recognizable with his thick beard, and there are some perilous scenes throughout the movie that made myself and the rest of the audience gasp.
Definitely see this movie, and the good news is that I have some definitive opening dates for this one as well - it's already out on video-on-demand (click here to rent it for $6.99 from Amazon), and will be rolling out to theaters in the next few weeks. In the Detroit area, Cinema Detroit will have it starting July 4th, and the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor (where I saw it, actually) will have it starting July 11th.
|credit: Hellion (Facebook page)|
Hellion is unrated (as of yet) and has a runtime of 94 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.
Another film I enjoyed at the festival was The Sublime and Beautiful, from first-time filmmaker/writer (and veteran actor) Blake Robbins (The Ugly Truth). There was also a Q&A after the movie; I unfortunately couldn't stay for all of it, but did learn some new things about the film in the parts for which I stayed.
When a terrible tragedy strikes a family in a Kansas suburb, days before Christmas, patriarch David (writer/director Blake Robbins) must come to terms with his devastating grief, while trying to maintain a grasp on his home life. Like any person in his situation, David does whatever he can to hold on. But he is also forced to make decisions that will test the limits of his mortality. With powerful performances by Robbins and Laura Kirk (as David’s wife Kelly), The Sublime and Beautiful is a searing look inside the life of a man who at one point had it all, but is now forced to re-prioritize with everything being taken away. How far will David go in his search for closure, and how close is he to his breaking point? The Sublime and Beautiful provides artistic integrity and riveting storytelling, all the while reminding the viewer to remember what’s really important in life.
|Blake Robbins and Laura Kirk in The Sublime and Beautiful|
The movie is about a couple that loses their children in a car accident; the mother (Laura Kirk) and driver, who is hit by a drunk driver, survives, but the children do not. There's a heartbreaking scene that is still vivid in my mind, more than one week later now, where Robbins and Kirk's characters go to a Christmas party, and Kirk gets sick of everyone offering their condolences to her, as well as whispering about her. She basically flips out, and starts yelling at everyone about her situation and how she doesn't need, nor want, their expressions of sympathy at that point. The Sublime and Beautiful is very well-written, and this was definitely a poignant scene in the movie.
I would recommend seeing The Sublime and Beautiful - if you can find it. There's no release date scheduled yet except for some festivals, though director/writer/actor Blake Robbins says it will be out most likely in November of this year. Odds are you won't have heard of any of its cast members, except perhaps Matthew Del Negro (Teen Wolf, Mistresses), but the movie stands on its own, and is one of the films I very much enjoyed seeing at Cinetopia. The soundtrack is also very haunting, and I felt that it meshed well with the movie: some parts are strings/classical, and worked out well with the tone of the film.
3.5 stars out of 5.