By: Hess Sahlollbey

From our first introduction to the central character of "The Measure of a Man" it is evident that things are not going well and don't look to be getting better any time soon.

It's easy to compare main character Thierry, a middle-aged man, long out of work and short on prospects to another contemporary character, Walter White. Both characters embodied the 21st- century labourer whose lives are riddled with hardship, insecurity and under-employment.

The comparisons end there as Walter White however had a particular skill set and a questionable morality that allowed him to escape the confines of his socio-economic situation. Thierry, who is equally stubborn, on edge and volatile, is unfortunately not as lucky.

Thierry Taugourdeau, played by Vincent Lindon, has just found out that the construction course he spent several months completing has no job prospects. Thierry's embarrassment, outrage and turmoil effectively set the mood for this French drama.

Having been a part of some 700 factory workers that were abruptly laid off, Thierry is running out of resources. A meager 500 euro a month is his unemployment and it is far from enough to provide for his wife and his son with special needs. What follow are a series of scenes ranging from depressing, comedic and even cringe inducing as Thierry struggles to find work.

Vincent Lindon's delivery of his lines makes it easy for anyone who's ever struggled in their job hunt to relate. Whether its pointless CV revamping sessions with so called "career professionals" or Skype interviews that never workout- Thierry experiences it all.

The second act begins with a time jump forward. It is revealed that Thierry finally does land a job as the head of security in a Walmart-esque department store. A bitter-sweet victory after a long series of bleakness.

However, Thierry's problems haven't disappeared, they've only been shifted. While it may not be an ideal job for Thierry, you can sense his satisfaction at busting hoodlums that shoplift. That satisfaction however is fleeting as this new job gets further complicated when Thierry is tasked with busting his fellow workers for any infractions that they commit. Thierry finds himself in multiple moral dilemmas in the backroom of the store where Thierry is forced to come to terms with how much he can face in these horrible interrogations.

Director Stéphane Brizé utilizes a handheld camera style of directing that allows the viewer to intimately enter the world of the working-class in France. This shaky style of filming also creates a transparency that makes the viewer feel uneasy and like a voyeur to all Thierry's intimate insecurities and shortcomings.

On screen for almost every single minute of the film, "The Measure of a Man" serves as a stellar introduction to Vincent Lindon and his acting skills. So mesmerizing is his presence- it should come as no surprise that Mr. Lindon won not just the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival but a César national French film award as well.

The French title of the film La Loi du March (The law of the market) evokes how harsh the job market has become world-wide for those who skills do not meet what is demanded. The English translation, "The Measure of a Man" however reflects a questioning of the role that a man is supposed to play. Thierry clearly wants to provide for his family but is instead defined by a menial position to make ends meet.

A subtle character study of a man's agonies, "The Measure of a Man" is fascinating in its ability to be both captivating and emotionally difficult to watch.

Sinister

starring: katie featherson, kathryn newton

director: henry joost, ariel schulman

It’s pretty hard to find a decent horror movie nowadays without noticing clichéd and overused tropes. Themes like the haunted house, evil spirits, possessed children and the newly popularized “found footage” are everywhere. Sinister, directed by Scott Derrickson, is a successful yet daunting fusion of all these horror film standbys.

Written by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, the screenplay is believable and doesn’t fall into the genre’s trap of attempting to scare you at predictable moments. The jumpy thrills are, in fact, unexpected and happen exactly when they need to. The atmosphere is mostly dark, which is one of my complaints about the cinematography because it’s hard to make out what’s happening at times. Nonetheless, it does fit the mental state of the main character.

Played by the underrated Ethan Hawke, Ellison Oswalt is an author of best-selling true crime books. Obsessed with fame and success, Oswalt seems to be living a lie as he tries to convince his family and himself that he is writing for good. Unable to let go of his attachment to images, he seems to be possessed by them, as he obsessively studies them for further validation. This is the game of the classic tale of Faustus: by accepting the devil’s offer, the demonized victims play by sinister rules. Oswalt and Faustus both become victims of evil in order to achieve material success.

The music is perfect for the setting. As the story follows Oswalt’s investigation into his new home’s horrific history, there are few locations in the film besides this seemingly perfect place for a loving family. The score, mostly slow yet unnerving ambient sounds, builds to a mind-shattering climax that resembles a madman’s final break with reality. I think Trent Reznor would feel at home with this film’s soundtrack.

But what affected me the most are the movies within the movie itself. Oswalt finds a series of short films stored away in an attic, labelled with cute little monikers given by what seems to be innocent children. However, as you’ll notice right from the opening credits, they are a family’s hell: all the videos are snuff films - recordings of the murders of happy families.

Sinister fantastically fuses realist drama with the found footage genre, fitting the movie into the postmodern niche called “metafiction.” We, the audience, are in the same position as the protagonist as we both watch the snuff films. As such, there is no distinction between ourselves and Oswalt, and whatever horrors he experiences are our own.

Sinister is horror film at its finest.

Four stars out of five.

Marco Filice

Paranormal Activity 4

starring: ethan hawke, juliet rylance

director: scott derickson

With the Halloween season in full force, the Paranormal Activity franchise has released yet another installment of low-budget horror. It seems the series has hit a creative roadblock, producing a movie that seems like a highlight reel of the first three chapters.

Paranormal Activity 4 begins with a recap of the second film and struggles to find its own identity. Many of the scares feel recycled and predictable, though they still manage to compliment the plot.

The movie centres around a boy named Robbie, who, after his mother is taken to the hospital, is invited to stay with the neighbors for a few days while she recovers. By welcoming Robbie into their home, the family has also, seemingly, invited the demons. The story then follows the traditional Paranormal approach, documenting nightly happenings in the house, though this time with the use of webcam.

The film’s story is similar to its predecessors, which could be either stale or pleasantly familiar for die-hard fans. Consistency can turn into success at the box office, and it has worked for Paranormal Activity three times before.

Paramount recently announced their plans for a fifth episode in the aging horror series, and while the franchise has shown with the latest movie that it still has a few tricks up its sleeve, those tricks are running dry. With the steady decline in both audience and quality, one has to wonder if this film is the beginning of the end for Paranormal Activity.

One and a half stars out of five.

Matt Morehouse

 


Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2022 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenu