"Chronicle"is a very nifty first effort from director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis.
Max is the son of legendary John Landis of "Animal House," "Trading Places" and "Twilight Zone" fame. This new film blends several movie genres in thoughtful and unexpected ways.
It's equal parts teen comedy, superhero adventure and dark morality play in one complex package. It focuses on three high school boys going through the usual teenage issues.
They stumble upon a strange hole in the ground. They enter to find a mysterious energy, which gives them telekinetic powers to move objects by thought alone.
At first, they play with their powers in goofy childish ways. But the tone changes dramatically as the sinister side of one boy's character slowly emerges. He begins to impulsively use his powers while in a vicious rage. At this point, great special effects take this film into the realm of serious science fiction.
The changes the teens go through are credibly depicted by the young director and writer, who are both only 26 years old. They take this wild plot from cool and clever into dark and disturbing territory without skipping a beat.
Hollywood will hear from both of them in the future.
Actresses man up in 'Albert Nobbs'
Is anyone else creeped out by the image of Glenn Close as"Albert Nobbs"?
This period drama of a quiet little waiter who is actually female has been a pet project of the actress for years.
Nobbs works in a small Dublin hotel, always wearing an odd, unblinking expression. She reminds one of a tiny bird, always watchful and fearful.
It is only when tall, strapping house painter Hubert Page arrives that Nobbs' world is turned upside down. Nobbs is forced to share her room with this stranger, and her secret is discovered. She is in utter terror until Page reveals that he too is a woman and living life happily on his/her own terms.
Nobbs, who dreams of setting up a small business, now sets her sights on a pretty maid (Mia Wasikowska) in a curiously sexless, businesslike manner. Nobbs' life has been such that she doesn't grasp the concept of the basic need for real love or affection. It's all just really, really sad.
Close gives a brave, taut performance and her Oscar nod is not surprising, as the Academy loves gender-bending roles.
But it's the nomination for Janet McTeer as Hubert that is most richly deserved. The 6-foot-1 actress breathes life into the film, and it is her vitality alone that makes "Albert Nobbs" bearable.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator.
SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.