Three indie-type films, all worthwhile in an offbeat kind of way: James Ponsoldt's Smashed (2012), Niall MacCormick's Albatross (2011) and Oren Moverman's Rampart (2011). Besides having one word titles, each flick showcases a major character effectively portrayed by a strong actor, and in each, the main actor is backed by a strong ensemble cast. I liked them all about equally.
In Smashed, Albatross and Rampart, family systems inform character development. At the outset of Smashed, Kate (North Carolina native Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is an alcoholic grade school teacher, married to a fellow drinker (Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad), daughter of a reclusive alcoholic (Mary Kay Place). With Albatross, Emelia Conan Doyle (Jessica Brown Findlay, Downton Abbey) is the hero (or heroine if you prefer). When the film begins, she is caring for her ailing grandparents, her mother committed suicide a while back, and she's an aspiring writer. The main collision comes when Emelia begins working for a nuclear family at their Bed and Breakfast, befriends a daughter her age (late teens), offends the "shrew" of the house and dallies with the father (a stalled out middle-aged writer), not necessarily in that order. In Rampart, LAPD cop Dave (Woody Harrelson as anti-hero) has extended family, work and personal problems. A cagey US-Vietnam War veteran, he's quite messed up and in dire need of psychiatric rehab, though he thinks he's the greatest "soldier cop" in the world. Imagine if Lance Armstrong joined the LAPD . . . The backdrop is the late 1990s as the Rampart Scandal begins to unfold. Sort of like Magnum Force, if Dirty Harry had taken a darker turn and had family around town. Smashed, Albatross and Rampart each has a certain quotient of alcohol and drugs, come to think of it.
Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.