Tag Archives: John Gallagher Jr.

68 of 366: 10 Cloverfield Lane


The story in 10 Cloverfield Lane successfully spans across several genres of film including thriller, suspense, mystery and action all the way to a monster movie.

I am waiting until after I finish writing about it to go on a deep-dive about the ending and underlying themes so as not to influence my opinion of the film, but I am really excited to learn about the method behind director Dan Trachtenberg’s brilliant madness.

I won’t include the big spoilers in this review, but fair warning it’s hard to write about the film without including some of the specifics.

So you can stop reading now if you want … … …

The trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane doesn’t give much away, which is imperative with this kind of film, other than to reveal that there is a car accident early on in the story (I think that’s in the plot description, too.) The character of Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is introduced not long before the accident, which is one of the many moments that caused me to look away from the screen. I did see enough of it to know that it sets the tone for the suspense and surprises to expect during the rest of the film.

After the accident, Michelle ends up in a seemingly post-apocalyptic  bunker belonging to Howard (John Goodman) and soon learns there is another captive there – Emmett, played by John Gallagher Jr.

I need a moment to interrupt the regularly scheduled programming and gush about Gallagher Jr., who is becoming my new “it boy,” or one of them as there is no way I can neglect the likes of Paul Dano, JGL, Matt Damon and don’t even get me started on my comedy crushes.

Gallagher Jr. was excellent in Short Term 12 and The Newsroom, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of that show and I like his beard in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Back to that subject, it is the directorial feature-film debut for Trachtenberg with J.J. Abrams producing and a host of story developers and screenplay writers including Josh Campbell, Matthew Stuecken and Damien Chazelle (director of one of my favorite movies,Whiplash) on board.

After Michelle’s accident, the film explores whether what’s good and evil is inside of the bunker with Howard or outside where he says there has been an attack and the air is contaminated. He says he saved Michelle’s life after the accident by bringing her there.

Michelle always has some doubt that what Howard is saying is true and she is stuck deciding whether what is outside is a bigger threat or if it’s Howard.

For awhile the bunker even seems like a happy place with Emmett there and as the characters listen to music, play games and watch movies.

Of course the dark side of it all was never too far away and there was an effective build of anticipation throughout the story while the three characters were together. Then, the story took a new and unexpected turn that still fit in with the overall plot.

This is the part where I can’t get really specific (I know I haven’t done well with that so far), but just knowing there is a twist won’t ruin the complete surprises in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

Winstead as the hero, Goodman as the creepy captor and Gallagher Jr. as the mysterious, good-hearted sidekick, give solid individual performances and work well together in the film. It also has a strong presence of music … not just the tunes playing on the jukebox …but in the score that fits perfectly with the most suspenseful moments. It’s especially prominent in the first scene with the accident, which is before the opening credits even start, and continues throughout, much like in It Follows or Drive.

I didn’t see Cloverfield before this film, and I’ve heard they are mostly not related, but I am intrigued by that story now and to compare the two. 10 Cloverfield Lane also opens up the franchise to include movies, not necessarily a sequel, and Dan Trachtenberg definitely has promise if he continues to lead the project in collaboration with Abrams and the aforementioned writers.

More advice from Emily V. Gordon, especially if you happen to find yourself stuck in a bunker stocked with craft supplies, “You have a choice to release your creative efforts into the world.”






19 of 366: Short Term 12


Short Term 12 is a much talked-about film when it comes to the career of Brie Larson. By the time of its release in 2013, Larson had already built a solid library of work in film and on television  All of her film roles show a different level of her acting ability and Larson’s performance as Grace, a foster home manager who takes on the challenges of the kids there as much as her own, in Short Term 12 is no exception.

The feature-length version of Short Term 12 is based on director and writer Destin Daniel Cretton’s own experience working in a group home for at-risk teenagers and a short film of the same name that received official selection honors at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Larson and the rest of the cast, John Gallagher Jr., Rami Malek and Stephanie Beatriz, as far as I can tell, effectively embodied the reality of the lives of people who work in foster or group homes and the line they have to keep between being a friend and authority figure to kids there.

Cretton cast several young actors to play the kids living at Short Term 12, also the name of the foster home, who challenged the staff there and brought to light the struggles they face in their adult lives outside of work.

Grace is the most affected by the kids’ lives and their well-being, often putting them first before her health and own family and going to all lengths to protect them.


Larson drew me into the film right away through her portrayal of Grace and it is evident early on that she relates to the kids she cares for on a higher level than her coworkers, including her boyfriend Mason (Gallagher Jr.)

There are a lot of tough moments in the film and for its characters but they are balanced with positive happenings and simple things the group at Short Term 12 does to try to bring some normalcy to the kids’ lives.

That is where the film, also through its minimalist visual style, seems to mix well between fiction and reality of the environment it portrays and leaves you knowing that world of caring for people in need never stops, no matter what else is going on.

“To me, the difference between the people who are successful and fulfilled and those who are frustrated and freaked-out has always had to do with accepting what we can and cannot control, and then doing our best to enact changes within that.”

Emily V. Gordon