All Is Lost reviews

Big Magilla
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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:02 pm

I finally caught this one on DVD.

On the technical side, it's expertly made with a good non-verbal performance by Robert Redford, but it really has nowhere to go. You more or less know from the beginning how it's going to end. Just in case I missed something I watched it a second time for J.C. Chandor's commentary. Mostly he talks about the technical aspects of the film including Redford's hair and makeup. As for the ending, he prefers to leave it to the audience as to whether he is rescued or is merely hallucinating as he drowns.

As for Redford's Oscar snub, I suppose we'll never know whether it was voters' disinterest or the strong competition. I personally would not have a problem with a Redford nomination over Christian Bale though I still rather have seen the fifth slot go to either Joaquin Phoenix or Oscar Isaac.

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby The Original BJ » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:26 am

I don't get this movie. At all.

I know some people didn't care for the backstory in Gravity (and, admittedly, that was not the most gracefully handled portion of that movie)...but it allowed that film to feel (for me, at least) that it was ABOUT something.

A lot of reviewers have mentioned how much they liked that All is Lost didn't have any needless exposition, that it didn't have to burden Redford's character with unnecessary backstory, and that it stripped down the narrative & dialogue to the most "essential" elements. But for me, that meant the movie was basically stripped of ANYTHING of interest. As Mister Tee said, it's decently crafted -- I didn't hate watching it -- but by the end I couldn't even remotely understand what the point was, or why this was a story I needed to watch.

The Redford performance felt basically the same to me. I didn't find him lacking in what was asked of him, but his work struck me as barely even a performance at all. I guess the thing I like to see actors do -- really delve into creating interesting characters -- just doesn't get much screen time in these survival stories. For me, Redford isn't even remotely at the same level as Ejiofor/McConaughey/Hanks, to say nothing of the second tier candidates we've seen already, and I'd be perfectly content to see him left off what seems to be a pretty competitive Best Actor roster.

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby anonymous1980 » Mon Nov 04, 2013 4:16 am

Reza wrote:
ksrymy wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Redford does solid work, but he's used more as icon than as actor. I'd be surprised if he went on to an Oscar win, and I don't view even the nomination as guaranteed.

I believe Reza would like to have a word with you about this.


No holocaust in sight. So it's gonna be year of the Slave. :)


Not so fast! There's The Book Thief.

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby Reza » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:48 pm

ksrymy wrote:
Mister Tee wrote:Redford does solid work, but he's used more as icon than as actor. I'd be surprised if he went on to an Oscar win, and I don't view even the nomination as guaranteed.

I believe Reza would like to have a word with you about this.


No holocaust in sight. So it's gonna be year of the Slave. :)

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby ksrymy » Sat Nov 02, 2013 10:16 pm

Mister Tee wrote:Redford does solid work, but he's used more as icon than as actor. I'd be surprised if he went on to an Oscar win, and I don't view even the nomination as guaranteed.

I believe Reza would like to have a word with you about this.
"Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:34 pm

I don't have a lot to say about this movie. It's perfectly well made, but man-against-nature stories just aren't my favorite. And, in the arena of character/dialogue, Gravity achieves Noel Coward level by comparison. You could do some dorm-room speculation about the finale and what it means, but apart from that the film is just bare bones, and I was moderately bored by it. (Though I do salute it for not resorting to major shark-scares to amp up tension)

Redford does solid work, but he's used more as icon than as actor. I'd be surprised if he went on to an Oscar win, and I don't view even the nomination as guaranteed.

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby dws1982 » Thu May 23, 2013 6:03 am

Based on reviews, it seems like this one may have been a prize contender if it had been in a competition slot.

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Re: All Is Lost reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed May 22, 2013 12:51 pm

And, Hollywood Reporter

Cannes Review: J.C. Chandor's 'All Is Lost'
8:29 AM PDT 5/22/2013 by Todd McCarthy

The Bottom Line
Robert Redford gives an impressive one-man show in this sea-stranded survival tale.

Cast: Robert Redford

Director: J.C. Chandor

Screenwriter: J.C. Chandor

Robert Redford leads a rugged survival-at-sea story from the "Margin Call" director.
Robert Redford keeps the film afloat, even as his character has no such luck with his boat, in All Is Lost, a rugged, virtually dialogue-free survival-at-sea story that sustains attention against considerable odds. Some may dub it Life of Pi without the tiger, but while the stranded seafarer situation is the same, the intent and tone are decidedly different.J.C. Chandor, whose excellent first feature Margin Call was most distinguished by its terrific dialogue, goes the opposite way here with a Hemingwayesque story devoted entirely to physical externals.

Redford’s exceptional performance will serve as the primary commercial calling card for Lionsgate upon October release. The Old Man and the Sea certainly represents a template for this straightforward, intensely focused tale of a man battling the elements, although Chandor has stripped his drama of any extra baggage, be it allegorical, metaphorical or spiritual. It is what it is, just about a man exercising his skill and limited options in the face of happenstance, bad luck and whatever nature decides to throw at him. Which is plenty. The most one hears of Redford’s voice comes right at the beginning in a bit of voiceover as his nameless character (called “Our Man” in the end credits) repeatedly says, in words no doubt intended for whatever family he may have, “I’m sorry,” while adding that he always tried to love, to be good, to be right, and that “I fought to the end.” After that, no narration, no interiormonologue.


Cut back to eight days earlier and the beginning of the end, a large metal ship container full of sneakers that’s bashed into his 39-foot sailboat, cutting a hole in its side that allows sea water to pour into the cabin. The man is able to slowly pump water out of the Virginia Jean and finally manages makeshift patch job, but his electronic equipment has been ruined. To do a small repair, he hoists himself up the towering mast (the view from the top is vertigo-inducing), but a storm is brewing, one that, when it arrives, startlingly turns the boat upside-down, then up again, knocking the man out in the process and bloodily gashing forehead. The boat’s leak reopens, forcing him, at the film’s 48-minute point, to abandon ship, with limited supplies, in favor of a large inflatable covered raft.

He does retain a sextant, with which he manages to navigate north into the Indian Ocean shipping lane that points toward the Sumatra straits; at least here, he might be spotted by a passing vessel.

Up to this point, there is very little music, so one is left to observe and ponder many things, both about the film itself and, given the opportunity for one’s mind to wander occasionally, matters outside of it. Still, the overwhelmingly unavoidable subject of contemplation while watching All Is Lost is Robert Redford—his looks, his bearing, his acting, his career. The star spent far too many years carefully trying to maintain his handsome youthful demeanor, remaining off the screen for long periods and then making overly cautious, sometimes calamitous choices when he did choose to return.

Now, in his mid-70s, he’s suddenly working all the time again, as he did after he broke through as a star (and producer, then director), and it’s as if he’s decided the hell with it, let’s get in the trenches, I’ll show my age and wrinkles and creases and leathery skin (he still looks great, of course, just not young anymore), I’ll give it all I got physically, take risks and make choices I wouldn’t have ten years ago and keep working until nobody wants to see me anymore.

Based on the evidence here, that day won’t come anytime soon, as Redford, who can’t avoid exuding charisma, plays this role with utter naturalism and lack of histrionics or self-regard. He gives no notion of seeking to impress, as if having no actors sharing the stage with him has mysteriously induced him to let down his guard. Despite his character’s peril, most of the time he’s performing ordinary, mundane physical tasks that are not particularly interesting in and of themselves; Redford just does them, with no sense of being watched. At this, he is compelling, although his performance reaches its pinnacle in a small moment after he writes a note, sticks it in a bottle and then hesitates to throw it in the ocean.

It’s as if, by tossing it in, he accepts defeat and the idea of ever seeing another human being again. In the event, Our Man (for he does become that) encounters more than one ship in the busy corridor, not to mention sharks among the usual watery dangers. But no lemurs. He never mutters to himself, issues casual expletives when things go wrong, rages at God or curses his fate. But when he finally explodes with one word, it’s a doozy. What happens in the end is never tipped, remaining in question until the final moment.

Chandor certainly set a major technical challenge for himself here and he carries it off well; using widescreen and mostly wide-angle lenses, the shots he devised with cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco are generally tight and fluid but not in-your-face or jittery, and the editing is coherent. The general feel is one of creative resourcefulness and intelligent industry rather than radical experimentalism or creative cliff-diving. The score by Alex Ebert is quite varied, both in sound and effectiveness.

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All Is Lost reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Wed May 22, 2013 9:54 am

Well, this one is taking Cannes by surprise. Not in the competition, but (judging by tweets, etc.) widely liked. A late career best actor shot for Redford?

Variety added below.

HR not up yet (though reports are they're also highly favorable)

Screen International

All Is Lost
22 May, 2013 | By Tim Grierson


Dir/scr: J.C. Chandor. US. 2013. 105mins

Engrossing both dramatically and as a minimalist narrative exercise, All Is Lost is a survival-at-sea story powered by an emphasis on realism and a refusal to allow any false emotional beats to impede on this unsentimental tale. Starring Robert Redford in a nearly wordless performance that features no one else on screen, this follow-up film from Margin Call filmmaker J.C. Chandor couldn’t be more different than that razor-sharp, dialogue-driven ensemble piece. Thankfully, his boldness in going another direction pays off rather handsomely.

All Is Lost is a fascinating attempt to eschew the conventions of the battle-for-survival genre.
After premiering at Cannes in the festival’s Out Of Competition section, All Is Lost is expected to be released in the US at the end of October, with an awards push for Redford inevitable. Considering the success of other survival stories such as Cast Away, 127 Hours and Life Of Pi, there certainly could be an audience for this stripped-down affair, especially if crowds are curious to experience the movie’s spartan production. Internationally, the lack of dialogue could also be helpful, the story so elemental that it transcends language.

Working from his original screenplay, Chandor introduces us to his nameless protagonist (Redford) who wakes up in his sailboat in the middle of the ocean to discover that it’s been hit by a stray freight container, water seeping in quickly. He’s able to keep the boat from sinking, but the water does enough damage to the radio and other electrical equipment that he needs to figure out a way to get help, especially since a ferocious storm is heading directly for him.

Among its other attributes, All Is Lost is a fascinating attempt to eschew the conventions of the battle-for-survival genre. Ordinarily, a tale about a lone man fighting for his life in the middle of nature requires the filmmaker to create a backstory (either in the film’s introduction or with flashbacks throughout) that flesh out the character so as to create a rooting interest. Along the same lines, the character’s life-or-death ordeal is usually meant to be a poetic metaphor for a personal issue that has been an obstacle to his emotional growth. The character isn’t just trying to stay alive — he’s learning a lesson about himself.

Quite successfully, Chandor removes all these tropes — as well as the need for the character to verbalise what he’s doing or how he’s feeling — to present a pure survival story. We learn almost nothing about Redford’s character, and the actor’s performance concentrates on the physical business of repairing the boat and braving the next storm that comes his way. There’s no inner life to the man, but All Is Lost forcefully argues that such character details are irrelevant in the midst of such a frightening situation. Plus, it leaves the audience to speculate tantalisingly about who this man was before we met him.

Wisely, Chandor has made the character a smart, resourceful outdoorsman. Staying calm during the escalating dangers, the man knows his boat and its supplies thoroughly, and part of the movie’s allure is in seeing how he uses what he has on hand to fix a hole or produce fresh water. The one intriguing comparison to Margin Call is that, like that talky film, Chandor doesn’t worry about making every little moment aboard the boat understandable.

In Margin Call, Chandor filled the dialogue with byzantine financial jargon that the audience slowly began to understand by noticing the characters’ reactions. Similarly, All Is Lost may occasionally be confusing for those who aren’t nautically-inclined, but Chandor has faith in the viewer that Redford’s confident, intuitive performance will provide enough information for why his character is doing certain things to keep his leaky, damaged boat afloat.

In adherence to his movie’s lean style, Chandor and his cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco (as well as his underwater director of photography Peter Zuccarini) give All Is Lost a gorgeous look without allowing the character’s struggle to turn picturesque. Chandor’s shot selection avoids showiness, but editor Pete Beaudreau cuts around just enough so that the film never becomes too static. Admittedly, some of the mediocre effects shots betray All Is Lost’s relatively small budget, a greater disappointment because of the realism that’s achieved elsewhere. But even if the film’s trajectory ultimately doesn’t differ that much from other survival stories’, Chandor’s commitment to his approach helps make it stand out among its peers.


Variety
Cannes Film Review: ‘All Is Lost’
J.C. Chandor avoids the sophomore slump with an impressively spare, nearly dialogue-free stranded-at-sea drama starring a superb Robert Redford. Justin Chang
Senior Film Critic

As close to pure existential cinema as American filmmaking is likely to get these days, “All Is Lost” finds writer-director J.C. Chandor decisively avoiding the sophomore slump with a picture that could scarcely be more different from his 2011 debut, “Margin Call.” An impressively spare, nearly dialogue-free stranded-at-sea drama that strips characterization down to basic survival instinct, this emotionally resonant one-man showcase for Robert Redford faces a fair number of marketing challenges, given its audacious minimalism and proximity to a much splashier castaway adventure, “Life of Pi.” Still, critical support and high-concept talking points could help “Lost” find its legs as an upscale specialty release, due out Oct. 25 through Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.

Chandor struck upon the idea of filming an open-water thriller long before he made “Margin Call,” which earned an Oscar nomination for its verbally dexterous, multi-character screenplay. With “All Is Lost,” the writer-director seems to have gone in as radically different a direction as possible, placing a solitary figure at the center of a roughly 30-page script that, aside from a quietly mournful opening monologue, contains three or four lines of dialogue at most. With no background or exposition, viewer identification is thus reduced to the simplest, most primal level of wondering whether Redford’s character will survive, and it’s a measure of how carefully the film avoids the usual dramatic expedients and manipulations that the answer to that question is never entirely obvious.
Although we never learn the name of this middle-aged mariner (he’s identified simply as “Our Man” in the credits), we do learn the name of his boat, a 39-foot yacht called the Virginia Jean. For reasons that go unexplained, he’s been on a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean for quite some time, and it’s a measure of his sailing experience that he reacts with more irritation than panic when he awakens one morning to find that a random shipping container has collided with his boat, ripping a gash in its hull.

The dread and anxiety are slow to build. Although he manages to temporarily repair the hull, the boat’s navigational functions have been completely shut down, leaving the Virginia Jean to sail helplessly into the path of a gathering storm. Our Man barely manages to keep himself afloat as he and the boat are repeatedly tossed and turned by the waves, lashed by pounding wind and rain. Yet such is the character’s resourcefulness — stockpiling rations, emptying the hold of water, and at one point climbing the 65-foot mast to secure the sails — that he manages to hold out as long as possible before the irreparable craft finally capsizes, at about the one-hour mark, leaving him to spend the rest of this harrowing journey in a life raft.

From there, the picture morphs from a unhurried, steadily involving portrait of emergency damage control into an intensely engrossing high-stakes scenario, something it achieves without introducing far-fetched obstacles or having Our Man suddenly start conversing with a volleyball. Apart from the momentary threat of attack when the raft enters shark-infested waters, the film finds drama in the little details: the ingenious method of obtaining fresh water that the protagonist discovers, or the sunburn that creeps ever more visibly across his face as the days progress. Perhaps the only artificial elements here are the prominent score by Alex Ebert, which nonetheless crucially serves the material with its enveloping, never overpowering swells of emotion, and a final scene that verges on overcalculation, although Chandor finds the perfect gesture with which to bring his story to a deeply moving close.

“All Is Lost,” then, is that mainstream-movie rarity: a virtually wordless film that speaks with grave eloquence and simplicity about the human condition. Nothing here feels fancy or extraneous, least of all Redford’s superb performance, in which the clearly invigorated actor (having a bit of a comeback year with this and “The Company You Keep”) holds the viewer’s attention merely by wincing, scowling, troubleshooting and yelling the occasional expletive. That we have no access to this man’s history or inner life merely heightens the poignance of his situation, detailed knowledge being no prerequisite for basic empathy under such extreme circumstances.

“Margin Call” showed impressive formal control on Chandor’s part, and despite the looseness and immediacy of the handheld camerawork here, his direction feels polished and assured in every respect. Cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco skillfully maneuvers the camera around Redford within close quarters, while underwater d.p. Peter Zuccarini (who also worked on “Life of Pi”) finds a captivating beauty in the image of the raft, its thin rubber layers looking especially vulnerable from the depths below. Pete Beaudreau’s editing maintains a fleet rhythm over the 105-minute running time.
Although the shoot made use of a number of water tanks, filming was largely done on the open seas, mainly the Pacific (near Los Angeles and Ensenada, Mexico) and the Caribbean, with subtly integrated visual f/x work to enhance skies, backgrounds and waves. End credits pay touching tribute to the three 1978 Cal 39 sailboats that “generously gave themselves up for art.”


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