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The Nightingale Movie Review

Brutal 'Nightingale' Worth Listening To

Be wary of "The Nightingale," a powerful new movie worth seeking out should you choose to do so. It's a brutal and deeply upsetting film at almost every turn, but director Jennifer Kent ("The Babadook") handles the film's unsettling moments with purpose and conviction. Even so, be warned before entering the film.
Set in colonial Australia in 1825, Clare (Aisling Franciosi) has been enslaved by British commander Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin) for seven years. She is treated as a servant by Hawkins and his men, serving them food and drinks and being subjected to their crude comments and gestures. She is referred to as a nightingale because she serenades them on command as they sit around and get drunk.

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Summer Night Movie Review

Crowd Cover

"Summer Night," the directorial debut of Joseph Cross ("The Automatic Hate"), is light, romantic fare. It follows the travails of its mostly white, male protagonists as they figure out their love lives over beers in a small town.

The film opens with the bromance of Seth (Ian Nelson) and Jameson (Ellar Coltrane, "Boyhood") as they swim at a local watering hole. On the ride back, Seth gets a string of texts from his girlfriend, Mel (Analeigh Tipton, "Warm Bodies") but won't come clean to Jameson as to what is going on.


Mel is home being consoled by friends Lexi (Lana Condor, Netflix's To All the Boys I've Loved Before) and Venessa (Melina Vidler). Before we find out what's up with Mel, we follow Lexi out of the room to take a call from Jack "Rabbit" (Bill Milner, "The Lodgers").

Focused on Mel, Lexi tries to get Jack to call back, but he's anxious to know what she wanted to discuss. Put on the spot, she tells him over the phone that she slept with a guy at her sister's wedding. Despondent, Jack returns home to the pseudo frat house he shares with Jameson and another friend, Andy (Justin Chatwin, "The Assassin's Code"), who try to cheer him up.

Meanwhile, Taylor (Callan McAuliffe) is mugged by a pair of cartoonish tweekers while mountain biking. Luckily, he wanders into Dana (Ella Hunt, "Anna and the Apocalypse"), who is in the middle of nowhere, reading a book by the water's edge. She takes him into town and picks up some supplies to tape up a cut on his forehead.

All of these interwoven characters are heading to the Alamo, the local bar and music venue. On the way to the Alamo, Jack meets up with their married friend, Luke (Khris Davis), who rarely gets a night out now that he's a father.

At the Alamo, with all of the mains introduced, the boy-meets-girl plot lines leisurely unravel with a backdrop of indie rock performances. Or, it could be argued, the indie rock plays over a backdrop of summer lovin'.

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Seth and Jack have to decide where to take their relationships with Mel and Lizzie. Jameson has to choose between his edgy but sweet, razor-sharp date, Harmony (Victoria Justice) and his on-again-off-again, Corin (Elena Kampouris). Meanwhile, Taylor has to keep Dana from darting when Venessa shows up on the scene, eager to get together with him. Luke and Andy provide models for where Seth and Jameson are headed.

Despite characters alternating between advising friends to share how they feel and opening up like Pacey Whitter on Dawson's Creek, "Summer Night" does not have much to say. The pace is easy as a summer night, where everything feels breezy and the music is better than the conversation. "Summer Night" plays like a chill version of Dawson's Creek or Gilmore Girls without all the melodrama, and would benefit if the few attempts at humor hit their mark.

The story gets mildly interesting after Jameson makes a clean break with one of his love interests and the after-hours parties kick in, but neither Seth nor Jameson's responses seem commensurate with their respective plot crises. This plus the fact that there seems little diversity of experience in this tight-knit circle of guys and the point of view never shifts in a meaningful way to any of the female characters, and the result is that "Summer Night" does not quite gel.


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