(MENAFN - Arab Times) Mine 9
Film treats male ensemble as heroes and victims
modestly budgeted, cannily made survival drama centered on a fictional coal
mine explosion in Appalachia, 'Mine 9' plays a little like a humble blueprint
for a more extravagant Hollywood exercise in high-octane heroism: Squint a
little, and you can see how Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg, say, would muscle out
the solemn, simple narrative devised here by writer-director-producer Eddie
Mensore. That's not a criticism of 'Mine 9', which is most interesting for the
ways it avoids the standard gung-ho dramatics of a disaster movie, treating its
male ensemble as heroes and victims in equal measure.
Neither is it a stringent exercise in
docu-realism, however, as a streak of heartland sentimentality runs through its
gritty tragedy. Dedicated to the hard-up coal-mining community in the closing
credits, Mensore's film aims chiefly to highlight the typical plight of an
American underclass that rarely gets big-screen attention. That it does with
honesty and conviction, if not a great deal of inspiration. 'Mine 9' will
surely resonate with audiences in the US coal belt, where its limited
theatrical release is being concentrated; elsewhere, it's a niche,
Though it hasn't been drawn from specific real-life events,
Mensore's script keeps characterization and dramatic complication to a bare
minimum, as if to stress how easily what transpires on screen could be true.
Every man here is an everyman, and the harrowing ordeal they endure across a
very lean 83-minute runtime – including a full ten minutes of credits – is
portrayed in such blunt, straightforward terms as to suggest this is hardly a
remarkable incident in a troubled, dangerous industry. It's effective enough in
that regard, but still, 'Mine 9' could stand more human nuance and
environmental detail: Its evocation of the real lives and families imperiled by
irresponsible authorities is cursory at best.
Mensore sets the claustrophobic mood immediately with a tense
false alarm, as hazardously high methane levels in one mine cause a
nerve-jangling flare-up. The grimy darkness and tight framing of Matthew Boyd's
cinematography play up the panic and confusion felt by the miners affected, in
a space hardly conducive to clarity and communication in the face of danger.
Afterwards, the men debate how to follow up on this
near-catastrophe: Team leader Zeke (Terry Serpico) wants to report the incident
to safety monitors, but his colleagues would rather take the risk and let it
slide, fearful that an investigation could shut down the mine and cost them
their livelihood. Slightly declarative, on-the-nose dialogue maps out the men's
differing positions in a cruel working-class bind: One even points out that,
from an economic perspective, they're more use to their families dead than
No prizes for guessing that this gamble backfires sooner
rather than later – on the very day that Zeke's teenage nephew Ryan (Drew
Starkey) reluctantly joins the crew for his first day down the shaft. Mensore
sketches in the dire socioeconomic circumstances that have narrowed Ryan's life
choices down to following in the soot-trailing footsteps of his uncle, as well
as his callous father Kenny (Mark Ashworth), though the scant above-ground
action in 'Mine 9' would benefit from a little more observation and texture:
There's little sense of who these men really are, beyond their arduous labor.
Soon enough, at least, we get to see their most visceral
individual instincts, when a full-on methane explosion occurs – collapsing the
mine and killing several men instantly. The survivors, meanwhile, have less
than an hour's worth of air left while they figure out their escape, making
some grisly life-or-death decisions along the way. Playing out nearly in real
time, it's a tension exercise rightly shorn of any sense of macho exhilaration,
anxiously realized with limited means. Production designer Tim Barrett and
visual effects coordinator Anaitte Vaccaro (both of whom also take executive
producer credits) work around evident budget constraints to convey a vivid
sense of murky, crumbling space, as escape routes are shed and sealed off by
The actors do what's required of them
with appropriately clenched jaws, though Mensore's script isn't designed to let
any of them especially shine. Rather like the crisis depicted on screen, this
is an all-for-one-and-one-for-all affair, inviting viewers not to identify with
particular characters as such, but to place themselves in the men's heavy
steel-toed boots, sweating it out with them to the bitter, throat-closing end.
NEW YORK: Jon
Favreau gave fans
their first look at the 'The Mandalorian' at the Star Wars Celebration in Chicago
on Sunday, previewing the most anticipated series yet from the galaxy far, far
Favreau's eight-episode series will debut on the Disney-Plus
streaming service on Nov 12. It's set in the aftermath of 'The Return of the
Jedi', taking place five years after the Rebellion's victory.
Favreau premiered behind-the-scenes clips and some finished
footage to attendees.
The series stars Pedro
Pascal as the title
character, a lone gunfighter the actor compared to a Western or samurai hero.
It co-stars Gina Carano as a character named Cara Dune and Carl Weathers as a bounty hunter named Greef. Werner Hergog and Giancarlo Esposito also co-star.
Favreau called himself 'a product of a Star Wars imagination'
who was eager to plunge into the post-'Jedi' landscape.
'You have vestiges of the Empire. You have only the strong
surviving. You have chaos taking over the galaxy,' Favreau said.
On Friday, Lucasfilm debuted the trailer for next theatrical
'Star Wars' film, 'The Rise of Skywalker'. (Agencies)
By Guy Lodge