Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky is a 2017 American heist comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by an unknown screenwriter named Rebecca Blunt. The film features an ensemble cast consisting of Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Daniel Craig, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, Katherine Waterston and Sebastian Stan.

Logan Lucky follows the three Logan siblings in Charlotte, North Carolina: Jimmy, Clyde, and Mellie. The Logans are known for having a history of bad luck; Jimmy was an all-star high school football player who was prevented from going to the NFL because of an injury and Clyde lost his hand in the Iraq War. After being laid off from his construction job, Jimmy concocts a plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Steven Soderbergh got his start creating indie films like Sex, Lies, and Videotape in 1989, but the acclaimed filmmaker is best known for directing The Ocean’s Trilogy from 2001 to 2007. Soderbergh, with a long and successful career, went on a much publicized hiatus from feature filmmaking in 2013 following the acclaimed Behind The Candelabra, saying that obstacles and studio meddling make it difficult for filmmakers to stay true to their artistic vision.

It is fitting, then, that Soderbergh’s return to the scene would be an independently produced, distributed, directed, and possibly written (many have posited that Rebecca Blunt is a pseudonym for Soderbergh himself) film that can be aptly described as “Redneck Ocean’s Eleven.”

Logan Lucky is a triumphant comeback for a talented director. With a style and sense of humor very similar to its spiritual predecessor, this hilarious film also benefits from wonderful performances from all involved, specifically Adam Driver and Daniel Craig. It is remarkable to see that the Englishman known almost exclusively for playing the classy superspy can also effectively portray a redneck white trash explosives expert with the same ease. All the cast does an excellent job, but these two, I feel, are the standouts.

It goes without saying that the writing of this film is very much on point. Logan Lucky was described while doing my research as “2017’s Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.” I can tell you right now this a very accurate descriptor and a factor that works to it’s advantage. It also features exceptional cinematography from Peter Andrews and suitable music by composer David Holmes.

Logan Lucky is a smartly-written, well-performed, exceptionally-shot, hilarious callback to a talented director’s magnum opus with a unique twist that humanizes and empathizes with redneck culture rather than making fun of them. It is certainly worth a watch… or a few.

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Insomnia

Insomnia is a 2002 psychological thriller mystery film directed by Christopher Nolan and written by Hillary Seitz. It is a remake of the 1997 Norwegian film of the same name. The film stars Al Pacino, Hilary Swank, Robin Williams, and Martin Donovan. Insomnia is the only work in Nolan’s filmography so far in which he does have at least a co-writing credit, although he did write the final draft of the script.

Pacino stars as Detective Will Dormer, a reputable Los Angeles homicide detective who, while under an intense investigation by Internal Affairs, is requested to travel to the small Alaskan town of Nightmute to solve the murder of a 17-year-old girl. Nightmute’s chief of police is an old friend of Dormer’s, and it is implied that he requested Dormer and his partner Hap Eckhart to get the heat off of them for a while. While conducting the initial investigation, Eckhart informs his partner that he feels he must testify on behalf of Internal Affairs, who offered him a more lenient sentence for cooperation. This angers Dormer immensely.

While setting an ambush for the killer, Dormer, lost in fog and disoriented, shoots Eckhart and kills him. While dying, his partner accuses him of killing him to thwart his impending I.A. testimony. Dormer, knowing it will look highly suspicious, covers up the friendly fire incident. Plagued with guilt over his partner’s death, Dormer begins experiencing insomnia, further exacerbated by the perpetual daylight. He is also taunted with phone calls from the suspect, who witnessed the shooting of Eckhart.

The focus of Insomnia is not the mystery of who killed Kay Connell. That aspect of the film is actually very straightforward. Insomnia is rather the effects of guilt on a person’s psyche. Anchored with talented performances by Pacino and a surprisingly menacing Robin Williams, Insomnia also features a very tight and focused script by Seitz that is very effective in getting at the deeper themes of the story. Featuring brilliant cinematography from longtime Nolan mainstay Wally Pfister and a fittingly dark score by David Julyan, everything about Insomnia is effectively focused on portraying a man plagued by guilt over his actions and paranoid that the web of lies he spun to hide them will be broken at any given moment.

As Nolan’s first big-budget feature following Following (ha!) and MomentoInsomnia is another demonstration of the British auter’s talent and prowess concerning stories of a deeply personal and emotional nature, which is most likely the reason he was given the duty of reinventing (and rehabilitating, thanks to the laughingstock that was Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin in 1997) Batman with 2005’s Batman Begins, the launch of the trilogy that not only re-introduced Batman to a new generation and gave us the best imagining of The Joker to date, but also cemented Nolan’s status as one of the most popular filmmakers of the last ten years.