The Films of John Krasinski
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (March 6/11)
Based on the novel by David Foster Wallace, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men follows grad student Sara Quinn (Julianne Nicholson) as she attempts to make sense of a recent breakup by interviewing a succession of almost unreasonably dysfunctional men. It's clear right from the get-go that Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is going to leave the majority of viewers cold, as first-time filmmaker John Krasinski has infused the proceedings with a pervasively avant-garde sensibility that proves disastrous - with the movie's less-than-engrossing atmosphere exacerbated by the complete and total absence of compelling characters. This is despite the fact that Krasinski has populated the film with an impressive roster of performers; in addition to Nicholson's strong turn as the damaged protagonist, the movie boasts stand-out work from such recognizable actors as Christopher Meloni, Joey Slotnick, Will Forte, and Frankie Faison. (The latter appears in the movie's one wholeheartedly compelling sequence, as his character recalls his father's menial job as a washroom attendant.) There's little doubt that the film's lack of authenticity ranks high on its list of problems, as Krasinski, saddled with aggressively pretentious source material, places an ongoing emphasis on pompous, eye-rollingly stagy instances of dialogue (ie nobody, at any time, has ever talked the way these people talk). It consequently goes without saying that Brief Interviews with Hideous Men is, for the most part, far more successful as an actor's showcase than as a fully-realized movie, and it's impossible not to wonder just what Krasinski originally set out to accomplish with this mess.
A Quiet Place (April 10/18)
A strong contender for one of the 21st century's very best scary movies, A Quiet Place follows a family of four (John Krasinski's Lee, Emily Blunt's Evelyn, Millicent Simmonds' Regan, and Noah Jupe's Marcus) as they attempt to survive within a post-apocalyptic landscape overrun by creatures with supersonic hearing. Filmmaker Krasinski, working from a script cowritten with Bryan Woods and Scott Beck, does a superb job of immediately drawing the viewer into the briskly-paced proceedings, as A Quiet Place kicks off with an absolutely spellbinding opening stretch that effectively establishes the movie's desolate landscape (while also maintaining an air of irresistible mystery surrounding the aforementioned creatures). It's clear, too, that the film's engrossing atmosphere is heightened by Krasinski's impressively audacious approach, with the almost total lack of spoken dialogue certainly standing as the most astonishing example of this. (The characters spend much of the picture signing to one another, and the first non-whispered words don't arrive until around the 35 minute mark!) The gripping vibe is heightened by stirring, engaging lead performances and a proliferation of electrifying sequences, and it's apparent, as well, that the almost unbearably tense environment is heightened by the realization that none of the characters are truly safe. And although the film does run out of steam somewhat in its overly convenient final stretch, A Quiet Place has nevertheless long-since confirmed its place as a singular and indelibly memorable horror flick - which surely bodes well for Krasinski's future endeavors (ie the fledgling filmmaker has undoubtedly found his niche, finally).