Film Reviews

GREEN ROOM

By • Apr 28th, 2016 •

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Director Jeremy Sulnier expertly choreographs the tension that precedes the ultra-violence. Patrick Stewart plays a neo-Nazi supremacist leader with the managerial skills of a big box expeditor.

Punk band The Ain’t Rights are so nihilistic that playing a “gig” paid each of the four members $6.00. Their “booker” Tad (David W. Thompson) offers to make it up to them by calling his cousin Daniel (Mark Webber) who agrees to pay them $350 for an afternoon gig in rural Oregon. They will have to siphon-off gas to get there but $350 is a boon for The Ain’t Rights.

The quartet, bassist Pat (Anton Yelchin), drummer Reece (Joe Cole), guitarist Sam (Alia Shawkat) and lead singer Tiger (Callum Turner), are shocked when they find themselves in a white supremacist’s compound. Tiger decides to ingratiate the band to the spitting, bottle-throwing crowd by leading off with “Nazi Punks Fuck Off.” The Hitler revised swastika-wearing crowd appreciates their balls-out attitude.

142px-HinduSwastika.svg[1]The swastika is an extremely powerful religious symbol. The earliest known object with swastika-motifs is a bird made from the tusk of a  mammoth from the paleolithic settlement of Mezine, Ukraine dated to 10,000 BCE.

In 1920 Hitler used the symbol but changed it slightly as a right-handed (counterclockwise) swastika. in Germany was not called a swastika but was called a “Hakenkreuz” and that it was turned 45 degrees to the horizontal and always pointed clockwise under the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis).

The Ain’t Rights finish their set and get ready to leave. But Alia forgets her cell phone in the “green room” so upon going back they find some of the guys standing over a dead girl with a knife sticking out of her head. Wigged-out (literally) and messing her eye-makeup with tears is Amber (Imogen Poots), the dead girl’s friend.

Apparently this tightly-controlled supremacist group doesn’t believe women should hold places of authority – though they do support punk bands – unlike the growing female WAU (Women for Aryan Unity) movement. WAU is big in Australia. Australia?

th[2]The appropriately quasi-starved and sun-deprived Ain’t Rights know they are suddenly witnesses to some nasty business and recalling every episode of The Sopranos, know they are not leaving the room on foot. The club’s manager Gabe (Macon Blair) quickly reassures the band that the police have been called and keeps them in the “green room” under the watch of no-nonsense “bouncer” Big Justin (Eric Edelstein). So far, it looks like Gabe is behaving appropriately and “managing” the crisis.

Having cleverly handled the arrival and departure of the police, Gabe has the problem of the freaked-out witnesses. While it is hard to call The Ain’t Rights smart captivates, they do a few things I will remember in case I’m ever held against my will in rural America.

When Gabe’s organizational skills meets his maximum ability, he calls for the neo-Nazi leader and owner of the property, Darcy (Patrick Stewart).

Then, out of nowhere, Tiger shows off some high-school wrestling moves and subdues Big Justin. At first, Darcy appears at the green room’s locked door as the first reasonable adult on the scene. He demands the gun taken from Big Justin. He’s got some wacky but business-like explanation for wanting the “unregistered” gun back. Under the circumstances, an “un-licensed” gun is hardly the first order of business.

Its crying Pat that agrees to negotiate with Darcy and when he does open the door slightly, Darcy craves up his arm. If Darcy was a movie fan he would tell his soldiers – as Maximus did – “At my signal, unleash hell.”

Hell gets ready for new arrivals.

Tattooing the slanted swastika on their foreheads and shouting Nazi slogans are group bonding exercises. Now it’s time to get out the attack dogs, long swords and red shoelaces.

Let’s not forget there is a side business to protect.

What is so amazing is the effective way that director Jeremy Sulnier choreographs the tension that precedes the ultra-violence. This not being a Hollywood studio developed horror movie, you are engaged in knowing that anything might happen. There is no committee-approved violence. Saulnier is the kind of director that should have been given BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. He would have infused it with suspense and a heightened intensity that was gravely missing. (Batman and Superman make up because their mothers were both named Mariam?)

It’s an obvious moot point with the BvS worldwide box office (as of April 16) at $827 million. But no one is paying to see it twice.

Consistently, A24 releases amazing films. In 2016, there already is GREEN ROOM and THE WITCH. In 2015 I saw AMY, EX MACHINA and A MOST VIOLENT YEAR. In 2014, A24 released LOCKE, and two of my favorite films, UNDER THE SKIN (Read the book. It’s awesome!) and SPRING BREAKERS.

A friend and colleague has seen director Saulnier’s 2013 film BLUE RUIN over 50 times. I’ve watched it twice and it’s a brilliant revenge movie.

Contrary to accepted critical acclaim, I hated A24’s THE END OF THE TOUR.

Patrick Stewart gives a truly interesting performance. He’s ruthless but it’s just the cost of doing business. He does not play a villain. The only problem appears to be the character of Gabe played by Blair. He starred in BLUE RUIN so he is the director’s favorite. He is visually unlikely to be the manager of Darcy’s club and an accepted member of the neo-Nazi group. He doesn’t appear to be a believer just someone who needed a job. It is an under-developed role that should have been fleshed out more.

The ultra-violence in movies is getting more pronounced (HARDCORE HENRY and JOHN WICK) as a response to the escalation in real life by sophisticated videos productions by ISIL. Our appetite for violence has been steadily climbing and it is an interesting sociological perspective that as violence in movies and video games are transcended by real life atrocities, how will the need for testosterone-fueled release be handled without going to war to purge it?

PLEASE NOTE: All images are used here per Fair Use, 17 U.S.C. §107, for the purpose of criticism, comment and scholarly research.

 

Member of Las Vegas Film Critics Society: www.lvfcs.org/.

Victoria Alexander lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and answers every email at victoria.alexander.lv@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

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