Action / Drama


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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Ruben Mooijman 7 / 10

The ultimate feel bad film

This is one of the darkest, bleakest films I have seen in a long time. All characters, without any exception, are unhappy souls, surviving in a grim world, unable to improve their lives, prone to an almost genetically determined urge to mess things up.

The image of rural America this film paints, is almost like that of a third world country. Most men have a cigarette in one hand and a bottle in the other. Dysfunctional families live in decaying shacks, without money or food. Violent dogs are barking everywhere. Disagreements are settled by fistfights or, in some cases, by bullets. The only community centres are a grocery store and a whorehouse. Homeless people are killed for a few dollars and a bottle of liquor.

The central character is Joe, an outstanding role from Nicolas Cage. He is a loner, living on the edge of society, earning a living by poisoning trees so that they can be removed legally. He hires workers on a daily basis, one of them being a 15 year old kid who regularly gets beaten up by his alcoholic father. They get to like each other, but when the boy seeks Joe's protection, things get out of hand.

The main characteristic of the film is the gloomy atmosphere, emphasizing the desolate hopelessness. The cinematography is stark and bare, with only the soundtrack adding some effect. The acting is very effective. Above all the part of the boy's father is worth mentioning. It is played by a local homeless man, who apparently died a few weeks after shooting was finished.

Some reviewers compared 'Joe' tot 'Mud'. An obvious similarity is Tye Sheridan, who plays the same sort of role in both films, as a young kid who befriends an older man. But to me, 'Joe' had much more in common with 'Winter's Bone'. This film was also set in rural America, with Jennifer Lawrence as a teenager trying to keep her dignity in a world of violence and dysfunctional families.

Reviewed by Peter Black 9 / 10

The poison is not in the bottle, it has always been in our hearts

'An ex-con, who is the unlikeliest of role models, meets a 15-year-old boy and is faced with the choice of redemption or ruin.'

It is hard to describe life. Stories about mermaids fighting wars in different galaxies, that is easy to describe; but writing about life, sometimes all you can say is, 'It's about life'

Joe is a story about a place, a place most people might not be able to conceive: where things are dying, where people survive off liquor and cigarettes, where those who are supposed to love us drive knives into our backs.

Joe (Nicholas Cage) runs a small foresting outfit poisoning weak trees so the land can be replanted with sturdy pine. A troubled life, past, Joe moves from bottle to bottle and day to day, but when he gives a young man named Gary (Tye Sheridan star of the movie 'Mud') a job, the bond they form brings direction into each of their lives. Joe is compelled to help Gary out of the pit dug by his drunk father.

Director David Gordon Green of Prince Avalanche and Snow Angels and Pineapple Express can pretty much cut on all sides of drama. I think the mark of a great Director is you hardly notice he is there. Like Prince Avalance and Snow Angels, the movie's scenes blended so well with the story and characters.

Nicolas Cage is good when he is bad and good when he is good, so, no point in dwelling on him. It's worth watching this movie just to see him.

Tye Sheridan hasn't been acting long, but god damn, he has been in some good movies and he showed a lot of range in this flick, portraying an abused and scared and strong young man.

If you know David Gordon Green, you don't need convincing to see this movie. If you like Cage or Sheridan, you probably will check it out to see them.

Green likes to show certain things: scenes that might not be a part of the story, but add so much to the story in general, the way a writer might prelude a chapter by describing something connected to, but not in line with the characters. Joe has a feel, you can sense it and I was getting a little shaky half way through.

I know places and people, some that might pass for the world in 'Joe'. I have seen people drink themselves evil. I have seen young people fall apart because of those around them. But, I guess there is always the chance of coming out, and surviving, if you keep up the fight.

From an artistic standpoint, there were some plot elements and character developments I didn't think were totally needed. They do however drive the story, which seemed to be their purpose, so I can accept them.

in the end, Joe is a movie about people. I finished this film, thinking, 'There are people out there suffering and I can do something to help them.'

Reviewed by RealDuality 9 / 10

Art's Answer to the Inundation of BS

Joe is a masterful work that imbues you to it through its realism. It is a perfect movie for Nicolas Cage to be in at this point in his career. While he has continued to put in world class performances and appear in uniquely great films, the actor has developed a reputation as a set-up joke. The interesting part is that there is no true punch line. He is one of the world's supreme artistic talents and he does more serious work than possibly any other movie star. With this culture of ignorance in the Information Age persisting fed by the corporate media, Cage has appeared in one of his best films yet, and in one that brings humanity down to its root nature.

Joe is a blue collar boss doing questionable work in the South who takes a teenage boy, Gary, that is at a pivotal point in his life under his wing. The kid's real father, Wade, is a disturbed alcoholic. Joe is not a perfect man himself, but he gives off the feeling that he wants to do right. The movie is a character study of him, and it is delivered in a type of full force by David Gordon Green and Nicolas Cage that is rare today.

It is not the restrained performance that the critics have described. Cage is in a fit the entire time. What the "professionals" are seeing is how DGG was able to make the moments seem almost like a documentary. While there is some strong personality being displayed, it is done in a way that is truthful to human nature. There is a real duality to all the characters. Joe brings death and life. Gary honors his family and judges them. Wade commits cruelty and shows his strong desire for empathy.

The "restraint" isn't done by Cage, but Joe. He is working to keep himself from emerging under the pressure of a backwards country. Cage is able to show that Joe isn't being two different people, but one man forced to go against his heart if he wants to survive, in a measured performance. He strikes a rhythm with his role and it combined with the entertainment of a drama that feels real, makes the movie go at a nice pace.

All the characters struggle against the system that has also perpetuated the falsehoods about the star leading the project, though it is best embodied by Cage's Joe. There is his fisticuffs back and forward with those who claim to work for justice, but an even better example is his job, which seems necessary but is criminal. The trains can't be stopped and their incessant movement brings about reactive forces in the people it affects.

Tye Sheridan does a remarkable job as Gary, however it is Gary Poulter's execution of Wade, or G-Daawg, that along with Cage's takes the film up a notch. His sullen moments where he stares down another character are deeply moving despite the dark nature of the person he is playing. It is a legendary performance, that will long be remembered.

The Old Media will tell you that this is a comeback for both Cage and DGG, but don't let them brainwash you. Most people just want to give everything lip now, thinking that this endless determination makes them a higher being, and the system needs to feed on its own BS borne out of greed's simplicity. Truth isn't found there. In Joe, it is.

Nicolas Cage has been roundly criticized since winning his Oscar for taking action and fantasy roles as well as playing "dark" and "unrelatable" characters, but he is simply being himself. He has always had a taste for the peculiar. If he were to do the projects "we" wanted rather than the ones he did, then he wouldn't be a true artist, and we would not have the profound work that we find in this film, with a character needing to do the "wrong" thing to be the good person others think he is. Cage was made to play Joe, and DGG, who has received similar criticisms for his "naughtiness," was made to direct him. They have both stayed themselves, and therefore have a better understanding of what is real. That this particular movie has come at this point in both their filmographies, is poetic. It is a reminder to the diseased audience not to let the system think for you both in terms of the story and who is telling it. For, it gives a picture of a backwards society that diminishes reality where culminating incidents brought by suffered individuals show the truth. Here you will find a bit of realism existing in a delusional world.


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