Mass | Sundance Film Festival – Review
Mass is a very intense and emotional film that will completely wear you out by the end but it’s an absolute masterclass in acting with superb performances from the whole cast.
Almost the entire runtime of Mass takes place within one room with just four characters. Those four characters are Richard (played by Reed Birney), Linda (Ann Dowd), Jay (Jason Isaacs) and Gail (played by Martha Plimpton). As soon as the four people walk into the room, they all feel the sense of dread and tension between them as years earlier, Richard and Linda’s son killed Jay and Gail’s. Years after the event, the two sets of parents are finally ready to sit down and talk to each other in an attempt to move forward.
Mass is the debut film from writer/director Fran Kranz, and it is a fantastic debut film. His film is so focussed on the main characters and on the way in which different people process grief and persevere and push through difficult times. The film taking place predominantly in just one room heightens the tension between the two sets of parents and it makes it all the more moving and emotionally draining.
The cast are all spectacular, but in particular it’s Jason Isaacs that stands out even more so and it’s these performances that really makes this film what it is. They manage to play grieving parents so convincingly and you really feel as if in your in the room with them. Grief is a very difficult topic to portray on screen and it can be very difficult to be presented well and accurately but right from the start it’s immediately present in Mass.
The script is so well written as it slowly feeds us all the information about what happened between the parents’ children. We don’t learn everything about the children straight away and we don’t learn all the details but as the film goes on, the script slowly starts dishing out everything we need to know.
It’s a film that starts off very based and static but as the film goes on and as the conversation between the four main characters develops, the cinematography starts to change a bit and the camera feels less static. Even if it’s just a slightly shaky close up, as the film goes on, it gets a bit shakier, highlighting the tension rising in the room between the four of them.
It might be just a tad too early to start thinking about the 2022 awards season but the cast, the writing and the directing should definitely all be considered, and I hope that come this time next year, Mass is getting the awards buzz that it deserves.
It’s a very tense and heavy film and it’s very difficult to believe that it’s Kranz’s debut film but it’s absolutely fantastic with mesmerising performances. Mass packs one giant emotional punch but it’s a thoughtful, introspective film that shows the imperfect and blemished nature of humanity. This is the best film that I’ve seen at Sundance so far this year.
Mass premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres section.
‘1883’ Spinoff Series ‘Bass Reeves’ Adds Dennis Quaid to Cast
Dennis Quaid (Far from Heaven, The Day After Tomorrow) is the latest star to join the cast of Bass Reeves, a new drama series coming from Taylor Sheridan (Yellowstone, Tulsa King) and Paramount+, according to Deadline. Bass Reeves was announced as a spinoff to the Yellowstone prequel, 1883 back in May 2022 with David Oyelowo (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) attached to star as the legendary lawman.
Bass Reeves will follow Oyelowo as someone who is known to many as “the greatest frontier hero” in American history in his own series on Paramount+. The streamer already houses so many Sheridan-fronted programs, most recently, Mayor of Kingstown starring Jeremy Renner returned for its second season while CIA drama, Lioness added to its cast with Nicole Kidman and Morgan Freeman. Some believe that Reeves served inspiration to “The Lone Ranger” having worked as a peace officer for Indian territory capturing over 3,000 criminals on that land. Quaid will play Sherrill Lynn, a Deputy U.S. Marshall within the show.
Quaid most recently voiced the character Jaeger Clade in Disney’s animated feature Strange World which is currently available to stream on Disney+. He’ll also star in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming HBO Max series Full Circle alongside Zazie Beetz, Claire Danes and Emmy-winner Jharrel Jerome.
Amy Winehouse Biopic ‘Back to Black’ Adds to Cast with Jack O’Connell, Eddie Marsan and Lesley Manville
Let the casting of music biopics commence! As we’ve been hammered with news of superstar musician biopics each and every week, we have more news of one that is filming currently with Back to Black about the late, great Amy Winehouse. While it was reported back in January that Industry star, Marisa Abela will be leading as Winehouse, we now have details courtesy of Deadline on who will be joining the British pop star’s life story on screen.
The report indicates that Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, ’71), Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Another Year) and Eddie Marsan (Ray Donovan, The World’s End) will all appear alongside Abela in Back to Black. O’Connell is set to play Blake Fielder-Civil, the love of Winehouse’s life who she was married to from 2007 until 2009, just a few years prior to her death as their love was unfortunately addled by prescription drug abuse and alcohol as well as multiple stints in rehab for both of them. Marsan will play Winehouse’s father while Manville will play Winehouse’s maternal grandmother in the film.
Back to Black will follow the life of one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all-time in Amy Winehouse. Her sophomore album (which the film is named after) won her 5 Grammy Awards all at the young age of 25 just before her untimely death in 2011 at age 27. The film will focus on Amy’s creativity, genius and upbringing at Camden High School in the UK before she propelled into stardom.
The film will be written by Matt Greenhalgh and directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson reuniting the two of them after their 2009 film Nowhere Boy, which chronicled John Lennon’s formative years and adolescence. Taylor-Johnson is coming off directing episodes of Hunters and Solos for Amazon but is best known for helming Fifty Shades of Grey.
O’Connell had a big 2022 starring in Netflix’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and MGM+’s new original series, SAS Rogue Heroes. He’ll next star as professional race car driver Peter Collins in Ferrari. Manville most recently starred as Princess Margaret in the recent season of The Crown for Netflix and in Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination. Marsan is best known for playing Ray Donovan‘s brother, Terry in the hit Showtime series but will next appear in the film, Fair Play with Alden Ehrenreich and Phoebe Dynevor.
Anthony Hopkins to Lead Peacock Gladiator Drama ‘Those About to Die’
Peacock is one of the streamers that has yet to break through in terms of their original content getting recognized for awards contention. One such series that might change that fate for the streaming service is Those About to Die and it’s starting to build out its cast. According to Variety, 2-time Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins (The Silence of the Lambs, The Father) is the first to join the drama series which comes from Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow). Saving Private Ryan screenwriter Robert Rodat will script the series.
Hopkins will play the character known as Emperor Vespasian in the series which is set in the world of gladiatorial battle. It will be an ensemble drama following many different Roman characters that will set forth for violent affairs in the arena among other complexities such as political power and corruption so expect a starry cast for this Peacock drama. Hopkins’ character is described as “despised by the Patricians jockeying for position in the Empire and looking to supplant his heirs to the throne the first chance they get. Vespasian became the Roman emperor after a ten-year civil war. We expect to get more casting news soon as the show will begin filming in Rome in March.
Anthony Hopkins is coming off a terrific performance in James Gray’s Armageddon Time in 2022 after winning his second Academy Award for his role in The Father the year prior. He’ll next voice a character in Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon for Netflix and also will star in British drama One Life alongside Helena Bonham Carter and Jonathan Pryce. Emmerich is coming off directing the sci-fi disaster film, Moonfall in 2022.
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