March 2, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Film Review: Are We Human or Animal?

 

A favorite at Sundance 2018, “American Animals” is a fascinating mix of documentary and classic heist story. Interviews with the real four protagonists of the 2004 event are interspersed with performances featuring actors playing them. It begins as a basic presentation of a game plan. Towards the end the four become inescapably embroiled in an uncontrollable cascade of events they have initiated and the mood and pace of the story change drastically. This is both a psychological study and a uniquely twisted coming of age drama, with a nod to films such as “Reservoir Dogs,” “Goodfellas,” and to “Ocean’s Eleven,” probably the actual inspiration for the outrageous plot concocted by the four.

A scene from the film.

One of the men was attending Transylvania University in Lexington Kentucky, established in 1780. Transylvania’s library has a locked room, which contains an extremely valuable collection of rare books, including “Birds of America” by John James Audubon. This treasure is precisely the focus of the robbery the four men plan. It’s ironic that Audubon, when he was working on this incredible book in the early 1800s, lost the original to a pack of rats that invaded his storage trunk and chewed it to pieces. Undaunted, he started over and recreated his drawings.

The film’s director Bart Layton grew up in South London and has done most of his work in the documentary genre. He explained in a discussion following my screening that he was struck by the tendency of the four men to see their planned robbery as an innocent escapade rather than an evil act. He also noted that our society’s expectations for young men are immense, at an age when our brains are going through tremendous changes. Certainly the pre-frontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, does not seem to have fully developed yet in these men. Layton is able to perceive with clear eyes, not only this phenomenon, but also the landscape and upper middle class social setting where the young men grew up.

“American Animals” is a wake-up call to our society that young adults might perceive they are passengers in life rather than drivers, in a career trajectory that’s been pre-established for them. Blake Jenner who plays “Chaz” in the film, confirmed that all four felt driven to do something – anything, that might be considered “remarkable,” in order to break the mold of expectations. The planning and carrying out of an outrageous heist was their answer to that desire. Where does the imagined escapade end and reality begin? That line is shrouded in dark clouds in this story.

In the opening sequence a creative visual trick sets the atmosphere for the story. Layton said this was actually an accident, from a misconstrued suggestion to his editor. I would have used it at the end of the story rather than the beginning. See what you think. “American Animals” illustrates just how close we are emotionally to the other species of animals with which we share our planet.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which has been the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica.

 

 

 

 

Related Posts

Construction Alert: Topanga Canyon Boulevard Faces Nightly Closures Starting March 4

March 1, 2024

March 1, 2024

Caltrans Announces 18-Mile Project Spanning Chatsworth to PCH Commuters in the Los Angeles area should prepare for significant delays as...

Film Review: Nyad

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

FILM REVIEWNYADRated PG-13121 MinutesReleased November 3rdOscar Nominations: Best Leading Actress, Best Supporting Actress “I failed many times, but I can...

Security Officers Being Deployed at Big Blue Bus Stations and Routes

February 29, 2024

February 29, 2024

The Guards will be provided by a firm with other security contracts with the city of Santa Monica  By Zach...

Leap Day Brings Once-in-Four-Year Deals at Popular Restaurants All Day Long

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’, and More Roll Out Special Offers to Mark the Occasion Leap Day, that rare additional day occurring...

Sweet Lady Jane’s Social Media Tease Continues As Locations Sport Hiring Notices

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Mysterious Posts Leave Fans Eager for the Return, But Questions Linger By Dolores Quintana After resurfacing on social media, the...

Upcoming Ice Cream Shop on Montana Ave. Will Serve Multitude of Vegan Flavors

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

The Company Has Come a Long Way Since Its Humble Beginnings as a New York City Food Truck By Zach...

(Video) Pro-Palestine Protest at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Protesters were there to protest the arrival of U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi Counter-protesters drove by in a car. @smmirrornews Pro-Palestine...

(Video) Restaurants Replace Glass Front Doors After Late Night Robbery Spree in Del Ray

February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024

Seven restaurants and small businesses in Del Rey and Venice, including Nick the Greek and Dudley Market, were robbed. Council...

SMMUSD Appoints New Asst. Superintendent of Education Services

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Dr. Williamson Will Assume Her Role on March 8, Bringing 17 Years of Education Experience In a special board meeting...

Hollywood Royalty to Shine at 96th Oscars: First Wave of Star-Studded Presenter Lineup Unveiled

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Incredible Lineup of Actors and Previous Oscar Winners Announced Executive producer and showrunner Raj Kapoor, along with executive producers Molly...

Vote Smart, Vote Early: Streamlining Your 2024 Presidential Primary Experience in L.A. County

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Skip the Lines and Save Time – Your Guide to Early Voting Options  In preparation for the upcoming 2024 Presidential...

Iconic Venice Beach Sculpture and Landmark to be Removed, Returned to Artist’s Property

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

Since the Money, Effort or Desire to Purchase the Piece Appears to Not Be There, the Artist Wants It Back...

(Video) Heartfelt candlelight vigils in Westchester and West Hollywood for Nex Benedict

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

The non-binary 16 year old student with Choctaw ancestry died in Owasso, Oklahoma after being beaten by three older high...

Sweet Lady Jane Sparks Hope of Return – Popular Bakery Hints at Reopening Across LA

February 27, 2024

February 27, 2024

After Abrupt Closures, Beloved Bakery Hints at a Comeback, Leaving Fans Intrigued  Sweet Lady Jane, a Los Angeles cake bakery...

Waymo’s LA Expansion Hits Roadblock: CPUC Temporarily Halts Self-Driving Company’s Plans

February 26, 2024

February 26, 2024

California Public Utilities Commission suspends Waymo’s service expansion for 120 days. California’s Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has put a temporary...