“Glass” is the third film of writer/director M. Knight Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy. The second in the series — “Split” — came out 17 years after the trilogy began. Of course, you didn’t know it was the trilogy’s second film until the climax when Bruce Willis — who played David Dunn in “Unbreakable” — did a surprise cameo.
“Unbreakable” is the first film in the series and it was a nice surprise twist and — other than James McAvoy’s exceptional performance — it is what saved the movie.
The film starts with Dunn capturing “Split’s” Kevin Wendell Crumb. He’s done again by McAvoy and has 23 individual personalities including The Beast who has superhuman powers.
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As you remember from “Unbreakable,” Willis’ Dunn also has them. They’re both apprehended, tossed into an asylum for the insane and peppered non-stop with nasty questions by a not-so-sympathetic psychologist. She’s done by Golden Globe winner Sarah Paulson (“American Crime Story”).
Shyamalan brings in three actors from the first two films to reprise their roles. Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey Cooke was Crumb’s victim. Spencer Treat Clark played Dunn’s son Joseph in “Unbreakable” and Charlayne Woodard who starred as Elijah’s mother in the same film.
It’s one of the more cool things about the movie. Actually, it’s probably — like Willis’ cameo in “Split” — the film’s only cool anything.
Surrounded by cameras that record their every move, the shrink goes at the three men non-stop. Her questions surround whether they do — or do not — have superpowers.
The mystery is why is she so insistent in finding the answer.
The acting is superb. It’s always wonderful to see Willis and Jackson. Though these are serious roles, the two men have quite a bit of fun reprising their characters. Also having a blast are Clark (TV’s “Animal Kingdom”) and Woodard (TV’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”).
Stealing the film — however — is McAvoy. He bing-bongs between personalities with ease and sometimes manages to do it while in mid-sentence. It’s a great piece of work that anchors a film missing a plot that has anywhere interesting to go.
The rest of the cast, Willis, Jackson and their co-stars sleepwalk through the parts like they’ve been hypnotized by Paulson’s psychopathic psychologist. That’s not unusual for a Shyamalan film. When he’s good — like “The Sixth Sense” and “The Visit” — Shyamalan is very, very good. Alas, more often than not, like with “Lady in the Water,” “The Last Airbender” and “The Village,” Shyamalan is not.
As for recommending “Glass?” It gets a split but not unbreakable decision. I liked it but I didn’t.
A last point and a P.S., Shyamalan did leave things open-ended. There is the possibility “Glass” will have a sequel.
▪ Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5
“The Favourite” picked up 2018’s best ensemble acting award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Oddly, while the individual acting was noticed and got nominated for the Golden Globes, and Olivia Colman won for best actress in a musical or comedy category, the ensemble acting was totally ignored by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG).
The Oscars don’t have an ensemble category but no doubt Colman and her co-stars Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz will pick up nominations there, too. It truly is the best ensemble cast of last year.
What “The Favourite” isn’t is my favorite of last year. It is loosely based on the life of England’s Queen Anne and her relationship with Sarah Churchill and her cousin, Abigail.
Anne was the nation’s queen from 1702 to 1714.
“The Favourite” is set somewhere in the middle of that time period and takes some historical liberties with the actual story of the queen and the woman who was — at the time — considered the power behind the throne.
Director Yorgos Lanthimos (“The Lobster”) and first time screenwriter Deborah Davis and Australian TV series writer Tony McNamara focus on Sarah’s real life rivalry with her cousin Abigail who usurped her as the queen’s top confidant. Some historical records — hint that Queen Anne might have been a lesbian.
Lanthimos takes that unsubstantiated hint and makes it the film’s reality.
He casts Weisz (“The Constant Gardener”) and Stone (“La La Land”) as Sarah and Abigail and Colman (TV’s “The Crown,” “The Lobster”) as the queen.
“The Favourite” is one of those revenge-is-a-dish-better-served-cold movies and the three actresses have a blast with the material. Weisz and Stone use their comedic and dramatic ability to thrust and parry with great skill. Sometimes their lines are delivered with eyes slitted and full of deadly menace. At other times they’re done with eyes wide and tongues firmly planted in cheeks.
It fits perfectly with the power struggle of the two powers behind the power. Adding to the fun is the power struggle within Parliament, and how those powers lend themselves to the twisting of the struggle between the two women.
All of this is supported by Colman’s flighty, indecisive, and very needy Anne. She’s brilliantly manic in the way you imagine an unhealthy, spoiled monarch would behave when responding to intense situations, or when they have no idea what to do next.
Lanthimos lays his movie out in chapters with titles that are comic in nature. It fits the sometimes whimsical personality of the film. At first you root for Abigail. You feel sorry for her. As the film moves forward you begin to notice this is a lady who is anything but helpless.
Contrasting Abigail is Weisz’s Sarah. She is powerful and you can’t get the best of her even when you get the best of her.
It’s a nice contrast that — for a while — makes the contest comic as well as interesting. And that’s where “The Favourite” falters. By mid-movie the one-upmanship grows old and really has nowhere to go except where history took the real lives of these women.
And that — alas — isn’t a direction that’s all that interesting.
▪ Rated R for mature themes, some violence and brief nudity. It’s playing at the Fairchild Cinemas Queensgate 12.
▪ Rating: 4 out of 5