Deep Water

STREAMING REVIEW:

Hulu;
Thriller;
Rated ‘R’ for sexual content, nudity, language and some violence.
Stars Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas, Tracy Letts, Grace Jenkins, Rachel Blanchard, Kristen Connolly, Jacob Elordi, Lil Rel Howery, Brendan Miller, Finn Wittrock. 

Adrian Lyne’s first directorial effort since 2002’s Unfaithful follows a similar tact as his previous film in adapting the 1957 novel Deep Water.

Aside from some erotic overtones and major changes to the ending, Lyne’s Deep Water is mostly faithful to the primary story points from the book. Vic and Melinda Van Allen (Ben Affleck and Ana de Armas) are a couple in a small rural town who seem to have an open marriage, in that she has a number of close friendships with other men that all their friends assume are her lovers. The book is a bit more explicit to this point, that they have an arrangement that allows her to step out as long as they avoid a divorce for the sake of their daughter.

However, Melinda’s constant flaunting of her sexuality in front of other men is actually causing Vic to seethe inside, and he scares off one of her would-be love interests by claiming to have murdered her previous one. This gives him a bit of a reputation among town for a dark sense of humor, but intrigues new-to-town screenwriter Don Wilson (Tracy Letts) with a flair for conspiracies.

Vic’s jealousy really boils over when he meets Melinda’s next would-be lover, a local musician named Charlie (Jacob Elordi) giving her piano lessons. When Charlie ends up drowning in a pool at a local party, Melinda immediately accuses Vic of murdering him, which drives Don to investigate further.

Despite her doubts about her husband’s innocence, Melinda is still willing to tempt fate with another boyfriend, Tony (Finn Wittrock), who might just inspire her to run off to Brazil.

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Deep Water is mostly a dry arrangement of passive-aggressive character interactions that occasionally result in some fatalistic intrigue. The film is rather ambiguous at first about just what Vic is capable of before removing any doubt by the final act. The story mostly requires Affleck to look angry at the people around him, an acting technique not far off from his usual range. To compensate for the slowly simmering plot tensions, Lyne turns up the eroticism with a very sensual performance from de Armas, who also, thankfully, is well suited for the task.

The best thing about the movie is little Grace Jenkins as Vic and Melinda’s adorable daughter Trixie, who steals pretty much every scene she’s in. The filmmakers know it, too, which is why the end credits are just an extended outtake of a scene of her riding in a car singing the ’70s hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”

First-Time Director Taps Luminaries for Filmmaking Advice in ‘Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker’

The Hollywood documentary Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker, due on digital, DVD and VOD from Random Media Dec. 4, could be seen as a filmmaking class for first-time directors.

“I knew that this was going to be helpful for anybody who wants to make films,” said Jonathan Baker, both the subject of and a maker of the documentary.

Featuring some of the industry’s most iconic filmmakers, Jodie Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne and John Badham, the film explores the process of directing a big-budget feature as each goes over the trials of their first time directing. The documentary, directed by Neal Thibedeau, was created in tandem with Baker’s preparation for and production of his own directorial debut, Inconceivable, starring Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway. The documentary chronicles the “first time” stories of these celebrated directors, combined with Baker’s first time directing.

“To learn from the best and to touch the best you should listen to the best,” said Baker, who was able to leverage connections and friends to create the documentary.

“You’d be very surprised how available people are when they talk about their passion,” Baker said. “I’m a very persistent person. They love this industry as much as I love this industry.”

Baker said he learned something from each of his subjects.

“I learned so much from them,” Baker said. “Every one of them taught me something that I needed to know.”

Baker’s roadblocks and problems in making his first film are intercut with advice from the old hands.

“For instance, Jodie Foster would tell me about how not to get so passionate about one thing and really be malleable and really go in there and not hope that I’m going to get what I want but take what I’m going to get and make it work,” Baker said.

John Badham taught him how to deal with actors, Baker said, and “how to go into the dressing room, how to get into their head and how to take a famous person who has their own journey with this film and, as a director, become respected.”

Adrian Lyne was an instructor on lighting, as well as storytelling.

Taylor Hackford taught him to quickly make decisions and that “you are either wired to be director or you’re not wired to be a director and when you get there is the only time that you’ll ever find out.”

Baker’s trial by fire as a first-time director was a bit less searing because of the instruction from these experienced directors, he said.

“Whatever mistakes I was going to make, 50% of those mistakes didn’t happen because these people gave me the advice that you would never get in school, you would never get unless you had the experience,” Baker said.

Hollywood Doc ‘Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker’ Due on Digital and DVD Dec. 4 From Random Media

The Hollywood documentary Becoming Iconic: Jonathan Baker will come out on digital, DVD and VOD from Random Media Dec. 4.

Featuring some of the industry’s most iconic filmmakers, including Jodie Foster, Taylor Hackford, Adrian Lyne and John Badham, the film explores the process of directing a big-budget feature, from the ground up, through the eyes of top directors as they tell their own stories.  The documentary, directed by Neal Thibedeau, was created in tandem with Baker’s preparation for and production of his own directorial debut, Inconceivable, starring Nicolas Cage, Gina Gershon and Faye Dunaway. The documentary chronicles the “first time” stories of these celebrated directors, combined with the story of Baker’s dream of making it big in Hollywood, and it includes stories on topics ranging from the pressures of financing and working with top talent, to the ultimate challenge of making sure to stay true to the film’s vision.

See the trailer here.