Movies to See Right Now

Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell in THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI

Don’t forget to plan to attend Cinequest in San Jose and Redwood City from February 17 through March 11. My festival preview will be online this weekend.

I just watched the splendid Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri again, this time with The Wife.  Before the Oscars, you’re going to want to see Three Billboards and The Shape of Water.   (I’ve also written If I Picked the Oscars – before the nominations were announced.)  Here are the best movie choices in theaters this week:

  • The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s imaginative, operatic inter-species romance may become the most-remembered film of 2017.
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a powerful combination of raw emotion and dark hilarity with an acting tour de force from Frances McDormand and a slew of great actors.
  • Steven Spielberg’s docudrama on the Pentagon Papers, The Post, is both a riveting thriller and an astonishingly insightful portrait of Katharine Graham by Meryl Streep. It’s one of the best movies of the year – and one of the most important. Also see my notes on historical figures in The Post.
  • Pixar’s Coco is a moving and authentic dive into Mexican culture, and it’s visually spectacular.
  • Lady Bird , an entirely fresh coming of age comedy that explores the mother-daughter relationship – an impressive debut for Greta Gerwig as a writer and director.
  • I, Tonya is a marvelously entertaining movie, filled with wicked wit and sympathetic social comment.

Here’s the rest of my Best Movies of 2017 – So Far. Most of the ones from earlier this year are available on video. Here’s another current (and Oscar-nominated) choice:

  • Call Me By Your Name is an extraordinarily beautiful story of sexual awakening set in a luscious Italian summer, but I didn’t buy the impossibly cool parents or the two pop ballad musical interludes.

My DVD/Stream of the Week is the actor Michael Shannon’s breakthrough film, Shotgun Stories. The first of director Jeff Nichols’ “Arkansas Trilogy”,  Shotgun Stories ranked #7 on my Best Movies of 2007Shotgun Stories is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Netflix and iTunes.

Turner Classic Movies is celebrating 31 Days of Oscars, so we have many good choices of movies that often play on TCM. My choice this week is one of the great American political movies – Network playing on February 24. Paddy Chayefsky’s Oscar winning original screenplay is both bitingly satirical and frighteningly prescient. Its leads, Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway both also won Oscars, as did Beatrice Straight for Supporting Actress. Director Sidney Lumet and five others from the cast and crew were nominated.

You’ve got to say, ‘I’m a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!’ So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’

Peter Finch’s iconic monologue in NETWORK

DVD/Stream of the Week: SHOTGUN STORIES – Michael Shannon’s breakthrough movie

SHOTGUN STORIES

I am celebrating the great Michael Shannon this week by recommending writer-director Jeff Nichols’ Shotgun Stories. Nichols followed Shotgun Stories with Take Shelter and Mud, which together constitute his “Arkansas Trilogy”.  Shotgun Stories was also the breakout film for Nichols’ favorite leading man, Shannon, who has since gone on to Boardwalk Empire, The Ice Man, 99 Homes, Frank & Lola, Nocturnal Animals (Shannon is brilliant but the movie sucks) and, of course, the current Oscar favorite, The Shape of Water.

Shotgun Stories opens with three brothers learning about the death of their no good father. He had abandoned them and their mother in poverty – and was such an indifferent father that he named his children Son, Boy and Kid. After walking away from his family, he found religion and started another, more prosperous, family with another set of three sons. The three older sons crash the funeral to express their bitterness, and it becomes clear that the two sets of brothers are headed for a clash.

Shannon plays the oldest brother, who has been forged into stony strength and determination by deprivation and long-smoldering resentment. Nichols uses that resentment to light a fuse that burns fitfully but inexorably for most of Shotgun Stories’ 92 minutes.

Shotgun Stories ranked #7 on my Best Movies of 2007Shotgun Stories is available on DVD from Netflix and streaming from Netflix and iTunes.

Stream of the Week: FRANK & LOLA – Bad Girl or Troubled Girl?

Imogen Poots with Michael Shannon in FRANK & LOLA. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.
Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots in FRANK & LOLA.
Photo courtesy of SFFILM.

The San Francisco International Film Festival is underway, so this week’s video pick comes from the program of last year’s festival.  The absorbing neo-noir romance Frank & Lola opens with a couple lovemaking for the first time – and right away there’s a glimmer that he’s more invested than she is. Soon we’re spirited from Vegas to Paris and back again in a deadly web of jealousy.

Lola (Imogen Poots) is young and beautiful, a lively and sparkly kind of girl. Frank (the great Michael Shannon) is older but “cool” – a talented chef. He is loyal and steadfast but given to possessiveness, and he says things like, “who’s the mook?”.

In a superb debut feature, writer director Matthew Ross has invented a Lola that we (and Frank) spend the entire movie trying to figure out. Imogen Poots is brilliant in her most complex role so far. She’s an unreliable girlfriend – but the roots of her unreliability are a mystery – is she Bad or Troubled? A character describes her with “She can be very convincing”, and that’s NOT a complement. Poots keeps us on edge throughout the film, right up to her stunning final monologue.

Shannon, of course, is superb, and the entire cast is exceptional. There’s a memorable turn by Emmanuelle Devos, the off-beat French beauty with the cruel mouth. Rosanna Arquette is wonderful, as is Michael Nyqvist from the Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movies. I especially liked Justin Long as Keith Winkleman (is he a namedropping ass or something more?).

Frank & Lola has more than its share of food porn and, as befits a neo-noir, lots of depravity. But, at its heart, it’s a romance. Is Lola a Bad Girl or a Troubled Girl? If she’s bad, then love ain’t gonna prevail. But if she’s damaged, can love survive THAT either? We’re lucky enough to go along for the ride.

I saw Frank & Lola in May 2016 at the San Francisco International Film Festival. I liked it more than most and put it on my Best Movies of 2016. After a brief and tiny theatrical release in December which did not reach the Bay Area, Frank & Lola is now available to stream on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

DVD/Stream of the Week: LOVING – the love story that made history

LOVING Credit: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features
Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in LOVING. Credit: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features

The landmark 1967 US Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia overturned state laws that banned interracial marriage. Loving is the story of the real couple behind that ruling, and it’s a satisfying love story of two modest people who would rather not have been forced to make history.

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton convincingly bring the lead characters to life. As the more vibrant character, Negga is especially winning. Edgerton is just as good as he plays the stolid and far less demonstrative husband.

Marton Csokas, with his pitiless, piercing eyes, is remarkably effective as the Virginia sheriff dead set on enforcing Virginia’s racist statute in the most personally intrusive way. Too often, actors seem to be impersonating Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night when they play racist Southern sheriffs, but Csokas brings some originality to his performance.

Loving is directed by one of my favorites, Jeff Nichols of Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud (which he calls his “Arkansas Trilogy”). Nichols specializes in leisurely paced dramas that evoke their settings in the rural South. Nichols’ languid style works well in telling stories that have moments of shock and violence. However, there is no dramatic courtroom face off or thrilling high point as we watch these people live their workaday lives, so Loving drags a bit in places. Nevertheless, Nichols does an excellent job of depicting the ongoing dread of racist terror that these people lived under.

Michael Shannon, who owes his career breakthrough to Nichols’ Shotgun Stories and stars in his Take Shelter and Mud, shows up in a sparkling cameo as a LIFE magazine photographer. If you perform a Google image search for “Richard Mildred Loving”, you’ll find the real LIFE photos, which make it clear that Nichols went to great lengths to make the characters and the settings look very, very much like the Lovings and their environment. I don’t need “lookalikes” in a historical movie, but the makeup and wardrobe on Edgerton and Negga (and especially Richard Loving’s mother) are remarkably close to the real people. And the scenes at the drag race and on the Loving’s sofa are recreated in almost chilling accuracy.

I studied Loving v. Virginia, along with other major civil rights and individual rights cases, in law school in the mid-1970s . Then, the idea that a government could outlaw a marriage between people of different races (and even the word “anti-miscegenation”) already seemed ridiculously obsolete and perversely quaint. But I hadn’t realized that the ruling in Loving v Virginia was only 8 years old at the time I studied it. California had such a law, too, which wasn’t repealed until 1948, and I have a friend whose Filipino and Mexican-American parents were kept from marrying by that statute.

History is made by real people. Loving is both good history and a watchable personal story. You can watch on DVD from Netflix and Redbox or stream it from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

Stream of the Week: FRANK & LOLA – Bad Girl or Troubled Girl?

Imogen Poots with Michael Shannon in FRANK & LOLA. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.
Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots in FRANK & LOLA. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Film Society.

The absorbing neo-noir romance Frank & Lola opens with a couple lovemaking for the first time – and right away there’s a glimmer that he’s more invested than she is.  Soon we’re spirited from Vegas to Paris and back again in a deadly web of jealousy.

Lola (Imogen Poots) is young and beautiful, a lively and sparkly kind of girl.  Frank (the great Michael Shannon) is older but “cool” – a talented chef.  He is loyal and steadfast but given to possessiveness, and he says things like, “who’s the mook?”.

In a superb debut feature, writer director Matthew Ross has invented a Lola that we (and Frank) spend the entire movie trying to figure out.  Imogen Poots is brilliant in her most complex role so far.  She’s an unreliable girlfriend – but the roots of her unreliability are a mystery – is she Bad or Troubled?  A character describes her with “She can be very convincing”, and that’s NOT a complement.  Poots keeps us on edge throughout the film, right up to her stunning final monologue.

Shannon, of course, is superb, and the entire cast is exceptional.  There’s a memorable turn by Emmanuelle Devos, the off-beat French beauty with the cruel mouth.  Rosanna Arquette is wonderful, as is Michael Nyqvist from the Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo movies.  I especially liked Justin Long as Keith Winkleman (is he a namedropping ass or something more?).

Frank & Lola has more than its share of food porn and, as befits a neo-noir, lots of depravity.  But, at its heart, it’s a romance.  Is Lola a Bad Girl or a Troubled Girl? If she’s bad, then love ain’t gonna prevail. But if she’s damaged, can love survive THAT either?  We’re lucky enough to go along for the ride.

I saw Frank & Lola in May at the San Francisco International Film Festival.  I liked it more than most and put it on my Best Movies of 2016. After a brief and tiny theatrical release in December which did not reach the Bay Area, Frank & Lola is now available to stream on Amazon Instant, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.

 

A plea from The Movie Gourmet for Critics’ Awards and the Oscars

Lily Gladstone in CERTAIN WOMEN
Lily Gladstone in CERTAIN WOMEN

I’m always worried that the work of deserving filmmakers will get overlooked by the Academy Awards. It’s time for the critic’s awards, which can prompt Oscar nominations. And I have some opinions about some nuggets that should be recognized.

BEST PICTURE

I’m glad to see the San Francisco Film Critics Circle at least shortlisted Hell or High Water as a finalist for Best Picture. It’s getting overlooked among all the Holiday Prestige Movies, but it’s my pick for the best film of the year.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • Lily Gladstone’s heartrending performance is the most indelible in Certain Women, a movie co-starring much more recognizable actresses (Laura Dern, Michelle Williams and Kristen Stewart).
  • You can imagine the entire back story of Katy Mixon’s waitress in Hell or High Water, a gal who is fiercely determined to hang on to her tip, no matter what.
  • The absolutely irreplaceable Margo Martindale is the heart of The Hollars.
  • Michelle Williams doesn’t need any help from me to be nominated for her six or seven heartbreaking minutes in Manchester by the Sea.
Alan Rickman in EYE IN THE SKY
Alan Rickman in EYE IN THE SKY

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

  • The late Alan Rickman is more than a sentimental choice for a posthumous award for Eye in the Sky; it’s one of the best performances by any actor this year.
  • Simon Helberg’s hilarious non-verbal reactions are actually the funniest part of Florence Foster Jenkins.
  • I would also recognize Devin Druid in Louder Than Bombs;  it’s easy to overlook even the most brilliant portrayals of teenage boys who don’t talk much and sure don’t show their feelings (like Miles Teller in Rabbit Hole or James Frecheville in Animal Kingdom).
  • Michael Shannon is the best thing about Nocturnal Animals.
  • Jeff Bridges should get another nomination for his superb performance in Hell or High Water.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Isabelle Huppert’s performance in Elle is so astonishingly sui generis, it is so essential to the movie’s success and she has such an amazing body of work, that I can’t imagine her not winning this Oscar. It doesn’t help that, as usual, there’s shortage of other excellent roles for women.
  • I loved Imogen Poot in Frank & Lola. The entire movie hinges on whether she is a Bad Girl or a Troubled Girl, and she plays it credibly both ways.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

  • Like Huppert, Casey Affleck is a deserving lock to win the Oscar for Manchester by the Sea.
  • But, in Hell or High WaterChris Pine finally got to act in a complex, textured role and he really delivered.  Deserves a nod.

BEST WRITING, ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Kenneth Lonergan will certainly snag a nomination for Manchester by the Sea.
  • So I am campaigning for Taylor Sheridan and his masterpiece screenplay for Hell or High Water.
Jeff Bridges and Katy Mixon in HELL OR HIGH WATER
Jeff Bridges and Katy Mixon in HELL OR HIGH WATER

 

Richard Jenkins and Margo Martindale in THE HOLLARS
Richard Jenkins and Margo Martindale in THE HOLLARS

LOVING: the love story that made history

LOVING Credit: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features
Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton in LOVING.  Credit: Ben Rothstein/Focus Features

The landmark 1967 US Supreme Court case Loving v. Virginia overturned state laws that banned interracial marriage.  Loving is the story of the real couple behind that ruling, and it’s a satisfying love story of two modest people who would rather not have been forced to make history.

Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton convincingly bring the lead characters to life.  As the more vibrant character, Negga is especially winning.  Edgerton is just as good as he plays the stolid and far less demonstrative husband.

Marton Csokas, with his pitiless, piercing eyes, is remarkably effective as the Virginia sheriff dead set on enforcing Virginia’s racist statute in the most personally intrusive way.  Too often, actors seem to be impersonating Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night when they play racist Southern sheriffs, but Csokas brings some originality to his performance.

Loving is directed by one of my favorites, Jeff Nichols of Shotgun Stories, Take Shelter and Mud (which he calls his “Arkansas Trilogy”).  Nichols specializes in leisurely paced dramas that evoke their settings in the rural South.  Nichols’ languid style works well in telling stories that have moments of shock and violence.  However, there is no dramatic courtroom face off or thrilling high point as we watch these people live their workaday lives, so Loving drags a bit in places.  Nevertheless, Nichols does an excellent job of depicting the ongoing dread of racist terror that these people lived under.

Michael Shannon, who owes his career breakthrough to Nichols’ Shotgun Stories and stars in his Take Shelter and Mud, shows up in a sparkling cameo as a LIFE magazine photographer.  If you perform a Google image search for “Richard Mildred Loving”, you’ll find the real LIFE photos, which make it clear that Nichols went to great lengths to make the characters and the settings look very, very much like the Lovings and their environment.  I don’t need “lookalikes” in a historical movie, but the makeup and wardrobe on Edgerton and Negga (and especially Richard Loving’s mother) are remarkably close to the real people.  And the scenes at the drag race and on the Loving’s sofa are recreated in almost chilling accuracy.

I studied Loving v. Virginia, along with other major civil rights and individual rights cases, in law school in the mid-1970s .  Then, the idea that a government could outlaw a marriage between people of different races (and even the word “anti-miscegenation”) already seemed ridiculously obsolete and perversely quaint.  But I hadn’t realized that the ruling in Loving v Virginia was only 8 years old at the time I studied it. California had such a law, too, which wasn’t repealed until 1948, and I have a friend whose Filipino and Mexican-American parents were kept from  marrying by that statute.

History is made by real people.  Loving is both good history and a watchable personal story.

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS: melodrama, squirming and then, finally, Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon, the only reason to see NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Michael Shannon, the only reason to see NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

In the would-be-thriller-but-really-squirmer Nocturnal Animals, Amy Adams plays a young woman who becomes infatuated with the romance of being with a starving artist, the sensitive Edward (Jake Gyllenhaal). After the romance wears off, she dumps him for a higher testosterone model, the striving businessman Hutton (Armie Hammer). Twenty years later, she has become a successful art dealer with all the trappings of an affluent life, buy plunges into a midlife crisis. At this moment, Edward finally gets a novel published and sends her an advance copy. Shocked to see that it is dedicated to her, she starts reading it and becomes engrosses, which is exactly what Edward has intended.

Nocturnal Animals is the braiding of three plot threads: the story of the doomed romance between the young Susan and Edward, Susan’s current melodrama with Hutton and a reenactment of the plot of Edward’s novel. The novel’s story takes up most of the screen time. It’s a garden variety, but particularly grim, revenge story, with a man (also played by Gyllenhaal) whose family is high jacked in desolate West Texas by a crew of sadistic lowlifes with the very worst intentions. If you’ve ever seen a crime movie, you know what is going to happen to the guy’s wife and daughter. After an excruciatingly long menace-and-dread segment, Gyllenhaal escapes and stumbles into the potential for revenge, guided by the local detective (Michael Shannon).

If you’ve survived the squirming caused by the unremittingly and gratuitously uncomfortable kidnapping sequence, you’re in for a treat with Michael Shannon’s performance, which is really the only reason to see Nocturnal Animals. Shannon doesn’t make any unnecessary movements, which focuses us his piercing and unblinking eyes, which make clear that he is a particularly dangerous man. And, we learn, even more dangerous because he is a man without anything to lose.

Actually, though, Laura Linney is also superb as Susan’s mom, unrecognizable underneath a formidable Dina Merill bouffant. Linney actually gets the one sure thing LOL laugh line in the movie. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is also devastatingly despicable as the most sadistic and loathsome of the thugs. Adams, Gyllenhaal and Hammer are all fine, too.

This is the second movie from director Tom Ford, the fashion designer; it’s nothing at all like the his A Single Man, with its exploration of loneliness, grief and identity repression. Ford’s background in fashion probably informs some jokiness in Susan’s world of overly precious art dealers and silly avant garde “art”. But other than that, there really isn’t any humor to leaven the unpleasantness of the Gyllenhaal story.

The reason that Susan’s dumping of Edward is supposed to be so scarring is overblown, and I’m finding it has become an all too easy screenwriting device. (We’ve come a long way since Alfie in 1966.)

I should note that I think that I do GET this movie, with its layers of revenge and its comments on art. I just don’t think that the payoff is there. Nocturnal Animals will make for a solid $3.99 video rental so you can fast forward until you see Michael Shannon on the screen.

Amy Adams in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Amy Adams in NOCTURNAL ANIMALS

ELVIS & NIXON: the eccentric meets the quirky

Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey in ELVIS & NIXON
Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey in ELVIS & NIXON

In December, 1970, an addled Elvis Presley was isolated and indulged by his hangers-on and feeling cranky enough to shoot out a TV set in Graceland.  He decided that he needed a “federal agent at large” badge, and his quest sparked an impromptu visit to the Nixon White House, resulting in the all-time most requested photo from the National Archives (below).  All this really happened, and the historical comedy Elvis & Nixon imagines the details, with the iconic characters fleshed by two of our finest screen actors, Michael Shannon (Elvis) and Kevin Spacey (Richard Nixon).

In the movies, Shannon usually projects a hulking menace, but here he uses his imposing presence to dominate and suck the oxygen out of a room.  Of course, Shannon doesn’t have the sexual energy of Elvis, but his intensity makes up for it.  As impaired and wacky as Shannon’s Elvis is, he can be a charming flatterer and knows how to make the most of his celebrity and sexual power.  He wins over Nixon by bringing up their common distaste for commies and the Beatles, and shamelessly complementing Nixon’s homely looks.

Spacey goes beyond impersonation of Nixon’s well-known mannerisms to reach the seasoned pol, the cagey and amoral tactician, the doting father,  and, above all, a man submerged in an unquenchable pool of resentfulness.  In particular, Spacey perfectly delivers one classically Nixonian chip-on-the-shoulder monologue.  And few can portray social awkwardness as well as Spacey.

In Elvis & Nixon, Nixon forces himself to keep a straight face as Elvis explains that “I want to go undercover”.  Because his movie experience has given him a mastery of disguises, Elvis continues, he can infiltrate the Rolling Stones and the Black Panthers, slipping back and forth between them with no one the wiser.   [Note: There were only five Rolling Stones – wouldn’t they have noticed a sixth one?]  The real Elvis reportedly coveted the federal badge so he could take his guns and drugs on airplanes.

The two men size each other up and probe.  Each man is using the meeting for his own ends.  The humor comes from Elvis’ eccentricities and the hopelessly square and insecure Nixon’s reactions.

Elvis & Nixon is not a guffaw fest, but it has a few LOL moments.  Otherwise unadorned, the Elvis-Nixon meeting itself is bizarre enough, but Shannon and Spacey make it especially worthwhile.

elvis nixon

DVD/Stream of the Week: 99 HOMES – desperation leads to indecency, then redemption

Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in 99 HOMES
Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon in 99 HOMES

The opening scene of the brilliant psychological drama 99 Homes illustrates the life-and-death stakes of our nation’s foreclosure crisis. It’s a topical film, but 99 Homes is emotionally raw and as intense as any thriller. Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) is a working class single dad, down on his luck. He loses his home to foreclosure and then must make a Faustian choice about supporting his family. Can he live with his choice, and what are the consequences?

With capitalism, where there are losers, there are also winners who have bet against the losers. Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) has built a prosperous real estate business on legitimate evictions and flips, supplemented with schemes to defraud federal home loan agencies, housing syndicates and individual homeowners. His world view is defined in a monologue about this nation bailing out the winners, not the losers – a cynical, but perceptive, observation.

Director Ramin Bahrani is a great American indie director, with a knack for drilling into the psyches of overlooked subsets of our society – immigrants (Chop Shop, Man Push Cart, Goodbye Solo), industrial farmers (At Any Price) and now the victims and profiteers of the Mortgage Bubble.

As foreclosure inexorably approaches, Garfield’s Nash is absorbed by dread, then desperation and, finally, to panic. His mom (Laura Dern) takes a different tack, settling firmly into denial and then erupting in hysteria. That denial recurs again and again in 99 Homes among those about to be evicted. These are people who have bought homes and can’t believe/grok/internalize that one day they will actually be forced out of them. One of the strongest aspects of 99 Homes is the use of non-actors who have lived through the nightmare. Some of the individual stories, especially one with a confused old man, are so wrenching as to be hard to watch.

This may be Andrew Garfield’ strongest cinema performance. Dennis Nash is a decent man incentivized to do the indecent. Garfield takes this good man through an amazing internal journey. Nash is forced to accept the failure resulting from his attempts to do what is right, juxtaposed with the success from conduct that he finds repulsive. Bahrani’s arty shot of the reflection of a swimming pool shimmering in a sliding glass door makes it look like Garfield is under water – which he metaphorically is at this point in the film.

Michael Shannon, one of my very favorite actors, is superb as a guy completely committed to pursuing his own survival/prosperity strategy – no matter that it is based on ruining the lives of other humans. Unlike Nash, Shannon’s Carver has accepted the incentives to act badly and has overcome any qualms about either moral ambiguity or even stark amorality.

Veteran television actor Tim Guinee is remarkable as homeowner Frank Green. Laura Dern is excellent in a pivotal role. The character actor Clancy Brown proves once again that he can grab the screen, even when he’s only visible for a minute or two.

With its searing performances by Garfield and Shannon, 99 Homes is unsparingly dark and intense until a final moment of redemption.  The DVD is available to rent from Netflix and Redbox, and 99 Homes can be streamed from Amazon Video, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube, Google Play, and Playstation Video.