DVD Review: We Are Still Here

Moving just isn't an option.

Anne Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton) and her husband Paul (Andrew Sensenig) move to a small town in New England after their son is killed in a car crash. The house they move into has a creepy basement that always smells like smoke, yet they never see any. Soon, neighbors start acting weird, then the house itself stars acting weird. It turns out, years ago it was a funeral home where the owners were selling dead bodies to universities instead of burying them. After the town murdered them, their spirits haunt the house and demand a sacrifice. 

For some reason, this film showed up on a lot of horror top 10 lists last year. It does have some impressive special effects, but that's about it. Actually, it seems all the film's resources went to that instead of hiring someone to write a decent script, and acquiring convincing actors. 

There are so many illogical things in this movie. 1) If the house doesn't get a sacrifice, the spirits take over the entire town. Everyone that lives there seems to know this, and they STILL live there. 2) Creepy neighbors who's one job is to keep the new family in the house show up and tell them the story about all the people that died there. What?! 3) The film establishes that they have to die in the house, yet the spirits kill people outside it. So why the effort to try to keep them there? 4) All the townspeople going into the house and getting slaughtered was hilarious. They could've surrounded the place with guns. They didn't need to go inside. 5) The ending was ambiguous, but Sensenig plays the scene so horribly all I could do was laugh. 

I've already wasted too many words on this.

Recommended: No

Grade: F

Memorable Quote: "I can feel him here." - Anne Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton) 

Indie Gems: Baskin

Not your average patrol night.

A group of Turkish police offers respond to a call for back up in a nearby town. When they arrive at the abandoned building, they find a black mass and a portal to Hell. 

For my horror themed Indie Gems this month, I started with a documentary that is an actual horror story, some camp, a home invasion flick, and figured I'd end the month with something truly gory. Like, uncomfortable gore. The last 20 minutes or so of this movie are hard to watch and I found myself actually looking away a few times.

This one is a slow burn. Half the movie happens before they get to the building where shit hits the fan. In fact, it's so good at building dread that I almost chickened out during it because I started to wonder if this was going to end up being like Martyrs. (I still find Martyrs to be the harder watch)

Admittedly, the story is pretty weak, but the cinematography is gorgeous. The movie is practically bathed in red and really sets the tone for all the terrible things to come. The score is hauntingly perfect. It's not an easy watch, but it's one I'm glad to have made it through. 

Grade: B-

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote:"I keep having that same dream." - Arda (Gorkem Kasal)



Thursday Movie Picks: Epidemic/Pandemic/Outbreaks

The final Halloween theme this month from Wandering Through the Shelves is about epidemics/outbreaks. Don't worry, I'm not going to do what I did last week and only pick Dawn of the Dead movies. 

1) 28 Days Later

Those damn animals activists. Trying to release infected chimps and inadvertently released the rage virus on civilization instead. This is definitely one of my all time favorite horror movies. The shot of Cillian Murphy walking in an abandoned London is hauntingly beautiful. 

2) Cabin Fever

Eli Roth knows horror, and Cabin Fever is the perfect combination of campiness and sickening gore. The campers in this film are exposed to a flesh eating virus that rapidly spreads between them.

3) Planet Terror

A bio tech experiment goes horribly wrong and everyone exposed to the gas turns into a zombie. This film was one half of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino's Grindhouse feature, and in my opinion it's the far superior half.

DVD Review: The Neon Demon

Beauty is everything.

Jesse (Elle Fanning) is sixteen years old and has just moved to Los Angeles to become a model. She's befriended by a make up artist, Ruby (Jena Malone) immediately but finds that other models, particularly Sarah (Abbey Lee) and Gigi (Bella Heathcote) are jealous of her natural beauty. Then thing get weird.

I have a strange relationship when it comes to director Nicholas Winding Refn. Drive is an excellent movie and because of that I was immediately sold on his last feature, Only God Forgives which ended up being a pretentious mess. So where does The Neon Demon fall? In between, definitely. Neck and neck with Bronson

The film is gorgeous to look at, which Refn's films always are. He has a great use of color in his movies that always fits the narrative. He makes a few missteps with the length of some of his shots. Beautiful as they are, I found myself wanting to fast forward through a few. 15 minutes could've easily been shaved off the film just be shortening a few takes. But the story makes it worth while. 

Jena Malone is the stand out acting wise, as usual. Her character, who ends up doing some of the most fucked up things in the film could not be easy to play. Elle was great as the naive new girl in town, but as her character grew more cocky, I felt it didn't suit Elle very well. Abbey Lee is also good as a ferocious model. I loved her scenes. 

If you're in for some glittery, neon fucked upness, this film is for you. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Is that a compliment?" - Jesse (Elle Fanning)

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Westworld, The Walking Dead, and Agents of SHIELD

The Walking Dead

After the worst ratings grab cliffhanger in TV history, TWD comes back and...makes you keep waiting for it. They don't want any of you to turn the channel.

Honestly, The Walking Dead doesn't trust their audience. There, I said it. I've been thinking it for a while, ever since show runner Scott Gimple went in cry baby mode last season saying critics "didn't get" what he was trying to do. They wanted so badly to have a "Red Wedding" episode with this premiere, but they don't trust us enough to feel the character's anguish, so they play with time to make sure their ratings stay high. Then they keep piling it on and on and on. They've completely missed what made Game of Thrones' The Rains of Castamere so well done. It was heartbreaking, surprising, and above all, still good TV. This wasn't. It's like they turned it into the Walking Torture Porn (which is hilariously something Andrew Lincoln said the show would never do) The actors weren't given much of an opportunity to look anything but sad. 

Glenn was one of my favorite characters and it sucks to lose him when she show treated him so badly. Glenn never got a bottle episode devoted completely to him (get ready for more of those this season) He never got to talk about the fall out of him killing a person for the first time. He should've been the one to encounter Jesus with Rick instead of Daryl. Glenn deserved better than getting reduced to a shock death so half the general audience could think "at least they didn't kill Daryl!" Abe was also a good character in his own right, and he's also getting the short end of the stick. Rick imagining everyone else getting hit with that back takes the impact away from what actually happened.

I think I'm too angry to feel genuine sadness right now. This was one of the few cases where most of the episode read exactly like the spoilers. (the only part that was better on screen were Sasha and Rosita's final conversation) It just wasn't good TV. It was overkill and manipulative in the worst way.

I'm only watching this show for Carol and Rick at this point. I hate being invested in characters on a show that's so wildly inconsistent. 

Westworld

Lucky for me, Westworld continues to impress. 

The biggest part of the episode was the Man in Black being revealed to have a "foundation" that helps people in the real world. I imagine he does something great to combat how shitty he acts in the park. We also got to meet a new character, Armistice who's a great addition

William and Dolores are cute together. It's a shame Logan keeps acting like a total twatwaffle. William telling him to "Stop trying to kill or fuck everything" was perfect.

Mauve is also getting to the bottom of some of her questions. Next week's preview looks to be intense in regards to that.

Can Dr. Ford get any creepier? I was surprised he told Theresa he knew she and Bernard were fucking. 

Agents of SHIELD

Unfortunately we're back to Daisy of SHIELD this week. I'll never stop being bitter that they try to force her into being the lead. She tricks Simmons into think she's found the dream apartment for her and Fitz (then pays for it with the money she's stolen) and forces Jemma to let her use SHIELD's computers to find other Inhumans.

Then they go to Inhuman Jason, who I still don't care about despite some okay comic relief last season. Turns out, he's working with the Watch Dogs and when he's just about to kill Daisy and Jemma, Mack, Coulson and Robbie (who they've had in containment most of the episode) show up and Robbie kick's Jason's ass...but brings him out alive. Boo. That scene looked amazing, at least.

Of course when Coulson and Mack see Daisy, their boners shoot through the roof. Then they tell her and Robbie they have to work with SHIELD now to stop the watch dogs.

Highlight of the ep: Something I was sure they were going to use to start a huge fight between Fitz and Simmons didn't work out that way, yay!

Other TV Ramblings:

The "Trump supporter on Black Jeopardy" sketch on SNL was hysterical. I had no idea Lady Gaga was apparently doing country music now, though. Wtf was that? I also caught some of the Rocky Horror Picture Show remake, and aside from the people playing Brad and Janet having good voices, I had to turn it off. They couldn't be raunchy enough on network TV and it just didn't have the same campy vibe the original had. The costumes were amazing though.

Rambling TV is a series where I ramble semi coherently about the things I watched on television. This week I raged typed everything after watching The Walking Dead. Click those gifs to be redirected to their makers. 

Indie Gems: Hush

Shhhh...

Maddie (Kate Siegel) is a deaf author who lives a solitary life. She's trying to finish her next book in her secluded mountain home. One night, a masked man (John Gallagher Jr.) shows up and starts terrorizing her in her home. 

We get to know enough of Maddie and her headspace before the man shows up to inevitably ruin everything. The film doesn't hold back on the creep factor. He cuts the power, so Maddie is literally in the dark and can't hear a thing. The atmosphere is astounding in that regard. There's so much quiet dread. 

I said this earlier when I reviewed the equally brilliant Don't Breathe, but I normally don't do home invasion movies. The buzz around this one was so strong that I started it without even seeing a trailer. Siegel (who co-wrote the film) is fantastic, and I've been a huge Gallagher fan since I watched him in the Newsroom. It's certainly a different type of role.

Scary and uncomfortable, I can't recommend this one enough.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "You've seen it now." - Man (John Gallagher Jr.)

Thursday Movie Picks: Sci Fi Horror

My four year old's new favorite phrase is "outta this world" and that's exactly what this week's Halloween theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is: science fiction horror. While I at least make an attempt to be creative each week, this time I'm going for the typical route. Remind me to watch Videodrome, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and to finish Eraserhead.

1) Alien

I'd wager this will end up on everyone's list. This is the ultimate sci fi horror film. It features one of the best female characters in cinema in the form of Ellen Ripley, and it has some very memorable and creepy moments.

2) Alien 3

This is a shock, right? You thought I'd for for Aliens. Nope. Alien 3, baby. I like this one, I know most seem to hate it. It probably helps that I've only seen the directors cut of it on blu ray. I never saw this in theaters because I was too busy being five. 

3) Alien vs Predator

I'm a sucker for these versus movies. Freddy vs Jason amused me too. My friend and I got in a huge debate while we were waiting for this movie to start over who should properly win in this fight (I voted Alien) Nobody gives a fuck about the humans in this movie, we're here for the monsters.

DVD Review: The Bronze

But I'm a star.

When Hope (Melissa Rauch) was 17, she suffered a career ending injury on the Olympic stage when she broke her ankle on the beam. She managed to pull herself through the bars routine and win the bronze medal. Since then, she still lives in her small town in Ohio where she's completely worshiped as a hero. But now she's lazy, rude, and refuses to get a job. When she finds out her former coach committed suicide and pledged to leave a hefty inheritance to her if she coaches her new prodigy, Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) Hope decides to slack her way through that as well. But when a former rival, Lance (Sebastian Stan) berates her for her poor job, she starts actually trying to get Maggie to the Olympics. 

I know this film kind of bombed at the box office, but I like vulgar comedies so I gave it a try. Unfortunately, it suffers from a protagonist so unlikable that she isn't funny. It was the same issue I had with Eastbound and Down only ten times worse. There's no redeeming quality to Hope and her jokes aren't funny enough to make up for it. It's a shame that actors like Gary Cole, Thomas Middltdich and Cecily Strong got roped into this as well.

Rauch wrote this film with her husband, yet her performance is very bland. Richardson as the adorable Maggie is the stand out alongside Middleditch. The only part of this film that manages to be surprising is an gymnastic routine sex scene between Rauch and Stan, she used a body double, but he didn't. So you get to see his glorious ass. The sad part is, that's the highlight.

Recommended: No

Grade: F

Memorable Quote: "Stop talking, I'm thinking." - Hope (Melissa Rauch)

Review: The Accountant

....Like a CPA?

Christian Wolff is an accountant who happens to be a on the autism spectrum. Normally, I'd never use someone's illness to describe them, but it's central to the plot. He's not just a regular CPA, though. He's so good that he spends most of his time uncooking books for the world's biggest crime organizations. He takes a "normal" job and meets Dana (Anna Kendrick) but he finds both himself and Dana in danger when it turns out this job is anything but normal. The Feds are on to him (played by JK Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson) and a mysterious hitman (Jon Bernthal) is as well. 

There's a lot of really interesting things that happen in this movie, unfortunately there's also about 30 minutes or so that don't need to be there, and that stops it from becoming truly great. It's not as if we're given extra development within those 30 minutes either. What we need to know about each character is sufficient enough, but the film crumbles under the layers they've tried to add.

For instance, there's two big "aha" moments in there. One of them, I figured out fairly early, and once I had that piece, I found myself a little impatient to get to the point where it all plays out since we're handed a ton of filler. The other one I completely forgot about until it happened because the film felt so long.

The performances are good, especially Ben Affleck and Addai-Robinson. JK Simmons and Bon Bernthal are fun to watch, but they've played these characters before. Anna Kendrick serves her purpose as the audiences' "wtf" mouthpiece, then disappears for about an hour. 

I should've realized something was up when this film had this magnificent cast, yet was at no festivals. It could've been a great movie with some trimming.

Recommended: Yes, for the cast.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "What's what normal tax paying citizens do." - Dana (Anna Kendrick)

Rambling TV: Thoughts of Westworld, Agents of SHIELD + more

Westworld

Another fascinating episode here. I was surprised to see Steven Ogg again. He also has a bit part on The Walking Dead right now, but it was worth it to watch Dolores kill him.

I liked that we learned a bit more about Bernard this week. We saw that his son died and I loved the line "this pain is all I have left of him." We also saw through Bernard that Dr. Ford might be the shadiest person in this show. (The Man in Black was absent from this episode) He talked about an old partner, Arnold. The name some of the hosts are talking about and he says he died. I'm guessing Ford killed him. (And maybe turned him into a host? Perhaps that piano player is him?)

Dolores wants to be free, but Teddy hasn't caught up to her new way of thinking yet. Elsie and Stubbs also went after a stray host (and we hilariously learn the legalities of which hosts are allowed to touch weapons) when they find him, he bashes his own head in right in front of them. Wow.

Agents of SHIELD

This episode was better because Daisy was barely in it, but it also highlighted one of the biggest problems this show has: It consistently forces its audience to ask "where the hell are the Avengers?" Even in a post Civil War world, if Inhumans caused massive blackouts across the world, Iron Man and Vision would be dispatched to take care of it. Black Panther would likely do something about it on his side too. The Netflix shows have threats that are quiet enough to where we know the Avengers wouldn't get involved, this show hasn't mastered that. I really wish they would.

Fitz got to kick some ass in this episode, I'm glad they've stopped making him so afraid to do so. That was the best part, besides May waking up and being completely pissed. 

SNL

Man, this was not funny this week. I love Emily Blunt and I was so looking forward to her hosting but I only laughed during Weekend Update. Bruno Mars put on a good show, at least. The funniest part is Donald Trump is now calling SNL part of a media conspiracy against him. I guess he missed the part where he hosted the show and they barely touched him, and how they've been making fun of Hillary Clinton weekly for well over a year now. 

Other TV thoughts

I'm actually a bit nervous for the next presidential debate on Wednesday. I'm afraid the moderator (who's from Fox News) is just going to be screaming "what about Benghazi?!?!?" the entire time. The Walking Dead comes back next week. I already know who dies, *spoiler* Abe, then Glenn *spoiler* but I'm so invested in some of the characters at this point, I can't stop no matter how shitty the show gets. Funny enough, AMC already switched episodes 2 and 3 around, probably to milk something that I'll talk about in my review a bit more. Pray for me. All I want is Carol to have nice things. 

Rambling TV is a series where I ramble semi-coherently about the things I've watched on television. Click those links to be redirected to their makers. 

Indie Gems: Clown

Happy Birthday! - your present is life long therapy.

It's Jack's (Christian Distefano) birthday and this kid for some inexplicable reason loves clowns. I didn't know such children existed but here we are, and the clown that is supposed to come to Jack's party is double booked. His mother, Meg (Laura Allen) calls her realtor husband, Kent (Andy Powers) who's closing an open house to tell him a bad news. Lucky for him, the house he's in happens to have a bunch of costumes lying around, and one of them is a clown. He puts it on for Jack, but after the party he finds that he can't take the costume off, and it's starting to possess him.

You have to except that the premise for this movie is kind of stupid (I kicked my husband out of the room after about five minutes for making fun of me) But that's what makes horror movies fun! And fun this is. Kent while possessed by a demon clown literally goes around looking for children to eat. He even ends up in a Chuck E Cheese at one point, which I like to think is a metaphor for how parents really view that place. A literal fucking nightmare.

I wasn't familiar with Powers before this. Allen, I knew from a wonderful little indie called Cherry and they're both great here. The child actors are all awful, but a few of them get eaten so it evens out. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Jack, do you know where the bolt cutter is?" - Kent (Andy Powers)


Thursday Movie Picks: Creature Features

This week's Halloween theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is creature features. The only catch is they can't be aliens, vampires, zombies or werewolves. This was kind of tough, I love B movie horror but creature features aren't something I've dabbled in too much. These films are pretty bad, but at least they're amusing at times. 

1) Piranha 3D

No, I didn't actually see this in 3D, I believe I Netflixed it. Thousands of piranhas swarm a lake that happens to be a big spring break destination. These little bastards defy gravity at times. I never did see the original 70's movie, but this remake is actually pretty hysterical.

2) Cujo

I can't do doggie death. Old Yeller, Homeward Bound, and Benji scarred me as a child and I've never recovered. I just can't handle it....except Cujo. Cujo is the only time I watched a dog die on screen and didn't cry because this entire movie is so over the top and weird. It also helped that the effects are trash.

3) Tremors

Underground creatures wreak havoc on a small town. This movie is so fucking bad, I don't know how it ended up being a series of sorts. There's so many good actors in these films too, it just baffles me. What is it about Tremors that attracted all of these people?

2016 Blind Spot Series: Marnie


What I knew going in: I had seen the film, The Girl, and that this film is pretty split between whether people like it or hate it. 

Marnie (Tippi Hedren) is a thief who changes her identity frequently. She gets good jobs, robs the safes, then leaves and moves on to the next thing. She soon comes to work for a man named Mark (Sean Connery) who catches her after she steals from him. He forces her to marry him, then when she doesn't respond in the way he likes, he starts to look into her past, trying to figure out what causes the psychological episodes she has. 

This was a peculiar movie. I found it very interesting and paced well, but I had trouble with Mark. He rapes Marnie, yet he's also supposed to be her savior, getting to the bottom of her troubles. I felt like the film was trying to say we were supposed to excuse that. I really enjoyed the story, but I couldn't get around the fact that Mark is a rapist. 

Performance wise, Hedren is good until the final 20 minutes when she ends up being a bit over the top, but not enough to the point where it distracts from the rest. On the outside, the film hasn't aged well, but the score is very whimsical and sets an interesting tone. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Goodbye, Sugar Plum - Bernice (Louise Latham)


Review: The Girl on the Train

Do the creep...

Rachel is an alcoholic. She spends her days riding the train back and forth to Manhattan. She watches the same house every time she passes and looks at a woman, Megan (Haley Bennett) She envisions her as "Jess" with the perfect life and perfect husband. Rachel used to live two doors down from her, when she was married to Tom. (Justin Theroux) Now he's married to Anna (Rebecca Ferguson) with an infant daughter. She drunk dials them often. One day, She sees Megan with another man, then she goes missing. Soon Rachel is questioned on the disappearance.

This was one of my favorite books I read last year. I love mysteries and this was a good one. Then the trailer came out a few months ago and it got the Lifetime treatment. It was so disappointing. I'm happy to say that the movie isn't nearly as bad as the trailer suggested, but it did have some problems.

The direction is weak. I felt like they made Megan more salacious. Yes, she was having an affair in the book, but I felt like they focused every scene of hers on her overt sexuality and not why she was doing the things she did. She gets her moment to explain eventually, but it feels overshadowed by the way they decided to handle the flashback that accompanies it Then there's the annoying change of location. The book took place in England. Rachel is still English in the movie, I have no idea why they moved it to New York. 

The use of title cards to introduce characters and periods of time in the past was helpful. It worked for me since that's how the book was, but I don't know how that will translate for other views. If there's one thing this film has to its advantage, it's the acting. Emily Blunt is absolute perfection. Rachel is a mess, and Blunt doesn't hold back. It's written all over her face (and there's a lot of close up shots in this movie..almost too many) Ferguson also plays Anna exactly as I pictured her. Theroux on the other hand was kind of awful. Chris Evans originally had this role, and he's better suited for it. Theroux was miscast.

Recommended: Sure. Not a bad movie, just not as good as I wanted it to be. 

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Your alimony is paying for tickets to nowhere? - Cathy (Laura Prepon)


Rambling TV: Thoughts on Westworld, SNL + more

Westworld

While we saw episode one through Delores' eyes, this one we mostly got to see through Mauve's, and two new guests at the park, William and Logan. Ben Barnes plays Logan, he was Prince Caspian in the Narnia movies so seeing him in a threesome was kind of hysterical for me.

We got to know more about how the hosts dream. Or rather, how they're given nightmares just in case their memories don't get reset for the day. More and more I feel worse for the hosts and lost all faith in man kind. Especially the way Elsie was so nonchalantly talking about "these poor fucks."

The Man in Black continues to be a giant asshole, but man that shoot out scene looked great. That poor sap whispering to himself behind the table...that was a great shot. But that kid...she could've told him where the damn maze was about 2 minutes earlier, right?

SNL

Apparently Lin-Manuel Miranda has a huge following, but after that episode of SNL I can't say I'm joining it. He was pretty meh as a host, it was Kate McKinnon and Cecily Strong who kept standing out in every sketch they're in. Props to SNL for squeezing the word "pussy" in there several times. 

I really miss Taran Killem. I feel like these two new featured players are just poor impersonations of him. 

Amanda Knox

I've been on a bit of a true crime kick, so I watched this documentary on Netflix. I was one of those people who thought Amanda was guilty when that crime first hit the news, mostly because of how she acted, even though I know grief is different in every person. There's no DNA evidence of her at the crime scene, so there's easily reasonable doubt. But I still don't know about her. This doc did the same thing that I think a lot of news outlets did: Ignored Meredith Kercher completely. She's the one that lost her life. Yes, the doc is about Amanda but she again doesn't talk about Meredith personally and they don't interview her family members.

The worst person in this doc though was journalist Mike Pisa from the Daily Fail. What a douchebag. He actually compares getting a big scoop like "sex or something" when he's covering a rape case. 

Other TV news: 

Agents of SHIELD skipped this week because broadcast TV is lame for the VP debate. I'm not sure who would've been worse to watch. Daisy or Mike Pence. I caught the pilot episode of Person of Interest and I can't say that it hooked me. I might give it another try as a late night show since I have to wait on my husband to start Deadwood.  The Walking Dead comes back in two weeks. The above gif looks so strange they should've probably re-shot that scene, but Nicotero is directing so that amateur shit will be all over the place. The entire internet knows who died already anyways, so while I was surprised they released this sneak at first, I'm not anymore. They're trying so hard to sell their Lucille line up and the spoilers have been out since July.  I rewatched a few of my favorite episodes of Game of Thrones from season three. And Now His Watch Has Ended, Kissed By Fire, and The Rains of Castamere. Absolute perfection. 

Rambling TV is a series where I ramble semi-coherently about the things I've watched on television. Obviously I didn't have much to say this week. Click those gifs to be redirected to their makers. 

Indie Gems: Audrie & Daisy

Stop the shame.

This documentary takes the look at the lives of two teenage girls after they've suffered sexual assaults. Audrie,  so ashamed by being taken advantage of and having photos of the assault shared all over her school commits suicide 10 days later. Daisy, goes to the police and reports the crime, however her rapists walk and the town sheriff seems more concerned about preserving their "innocence" then giving the poor 14 year old girl justice. Sadly, these are only two of the thousands of cases like this. And watching what happens to them makes you understand why so many don't report assaults. Because no one stands up for them.

An earlier doc, The Hunting Ground explored the same issue with college campuses. While Audrie and Daisy take on high school, they don't feel repetitive at all. I'm glad more and more documentaries like this exist. I wish they had been around when I was in high school myself. This was hard to watch. It's hard seeing Audrie's mother talking about cutting her daughter down after she found her while you see a photo of her holding Audrie as a baby. What parent imagines they'll have to go through that? It's hard seeing all the disgusting things Daisy's classmates said about her online, and to listen to her small town sheriff explain that girls can be liars. It's hard, but necessary. 

The only issues I had with the doc itself is sometimes the timeline was confusing. A lot of the people being interviewed's hairstyles change so drastically you know it takes place in a different year, but they don't explain when they take place.

The final frame of this will probably reduce you to tears, but a doc like this should be seen by everyone. Especially I think by parents, who need to have some serious discussions with their children as they grow up about

Grade: B+

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "The words of our enemies are not as awful as the silence of our friends." - Daisy Coleman

Thursday Movie Picks: Witches/Warlocks

We're on to another month of Halloween with Wandering Through the Shelves! This week's theme is witches/warlocks. I went with witches because it's easier, and I tried not to use Harry Potter films even though it was so tempting. 

1) The Witch

Thomasin is a young woman whose family accuses her of being a witch. This film is a bit slow, but it's so wonderfully creepy and ends on a perfect note. 

2) Suspiria

This fancy ballet school may or may not be run by witches. It's gory and has one of the best sound tracks in any horror film. Thinking about it makes me want to rewatch it immediately. 

3) Sleep Hollow

A witch summons the Headless Horseman. This movie felt really salacious to me when it first came out. I think I was 12 when I saw it, and it was just strangely sexy. Maybe because Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci are so good looking. There was nothing overly scandalous about it.

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Agents of SHIELD, Westworld, and The Staircase.

Westworld

HBO has so much riding on this show I can't help but root for it. I want it so badly to succeed. I hope it does. I found the pilot to be fascinating. It's about an artificial reality where people can pay to go into this Western, so to speak. They interact with the "people" in that reality. They can love them, hurt them, kill them. The guests can do anything they want, but the residents can't do anything back.

Evan Rachel Wood is amazing, and she was great in the pilot. Ed Harris' character was on screen for about 1/4 of a second before I started wishing death on him. The always reliable Jeffrey Wright, Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden and Thandie Newton also star.

I'm not crazy about rape being part of the narrative, but I'm not surprised either. The morale is the most interesting part. Could you go into a virtual theme park and kill someone that looks just as human as you do?

Agents of SHIELD

Daisy is still annoying, her prodding of Robbie was the worst. I kept wishing he'd just set her on fire and free us all. My favorite part of the episode was Fitz actually calling Daisy out on her deserting. All the other characters still treat her like a lost puppy they must protect and Fitz tells her she's being selfish. That needed to happen.

May is still losing her shit because of the smoke, and it's hard to see her not in control. I don't know how I feel about the ghost story as a whole. Ghost Rider is still the best part.

We also found out the new director of SHIELD is an Inhuman (because Steve Rogers went AWOL) Realistically, I wish someone like Rhodey or Maria Hill or even Sharon Carter would fill the role. I know the show and movies don't often intertwine like that. (which is a blessing in a way, I'd hate Daisy to be in an Avengers movie) but I think someone like Hill or Carter would be good in that role.


The Staircase

I've been wanting to watch this documentary for ages. Ever since I finished Making a Murderer and went out looking for docs like it, this one was almost always on someone's list. Unfortunately, the discs on Netflix have been on a "very long wait" since I put it there in January. Lucky for me, I found all the episodes available to stream here

I'm torn on this case. Mike Peterson doesn't seem like he would've killed his wife, but I don't believe she just fell down the stairs either. I just don't see how that's possible. Watching all 8 episodes, I kept expecting to go more towards Mike's side, like the doc clearly wants you do, but I'm just left with so many questions. (note to self: read up on the Owl theory)

The Staircase Part 2 is also in that link, it was filmed 8 years later. It's quite jarring to see how different Mike looked, but overall watching those two episodes felt a bit representative. There was really only about 20 minutes of new footage there. 

Other TV ramblings: I watched the HBO documentary There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane, in which Diane Schuler's family tries to rationalize how she drove on the wrong side of the freeway killing herself, her daughter, three nieces, and three other drivers in another vehicle. She had alcohol and THC in her system. It really just made me sad. We'll never know what was going through Diane's mind when she did that, and it's hard to watch her family try to answer that as they deny that she would drink and drive.  I'm still going to start Deadwood. I'm thinking about starting Luke Cage, but I want to see how it rates compared to Jessica Jones. If it's similar, I probably won't watch, despite enjoying the characters in it. I'd rather have another Daredevil than Jessica Jones. 

Rambling TV is a series where I ramble semi-coherently about the things I watched on television. This week's was brought to you by cosmos, because I felt classy.  Click those gifs to be redirected to their makers. 

Review: The Birth of a Nation

Rise up

Nat Turner (Nate Parker) is a slave owned by Samuel Turner. (Armie Hammer) Sam's mother taught Nat to read from the bible as a child and he's become a preacher to the other slaves. Word gets out about this, and Samuel is asked to loan Nat out to "encourage" other slaves. He's strapped for cash and has developed a drinking problem, so he agrees.  As Nat continues to witness the disgusting things done to himself and other slaves, he eventually leads an uprising. 


Since it's premiere at Sundance, The Birth of a Nation has had a lot to live up to. Premiering during the #OscarsSoWhite movement, many saw this as the answer to it. It got strong reviews right out of the gate and was deemed an Oscar contender. Then of course, you know everything that happened after wards. The reviews out of TIFF didn't mirror Sundance, and director/star/producer/writer Nate Parker's former rape trial came to light. The response out of TIFF made me think I'd wait until this hit DVD, but when offered a ticket to an early showing, I decided to go and hoped to see what the Sundance crowd did. 

I'm torn.

First off, it's not an issue to separate Parker's personal life from his work. I do it with Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, and plenty of actors who are probably grade A assholes in real life. But the thing is, if this film doesn't get it the Oscar glory the internet declared it would, that's what's they're going to blame, and I don't think it's 100% true. Direction wise, this film has a lot of issues.

Parker took on too much, he should've let someone else take the directing reigns, because even the strong script, and the performances by Parker, Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis and Aja Naomi King couldn't save it from being one of the worst directed films I've seen lately. Every shot feels too precise. It doesn't flow naturally and Parker hits us over the head with so much symbolism I have to wonder why he wasn't playing it more straight forward? Did he think he had to make an art house flick to make this story stand apart? I felt like he was just trying too hard and because of that and the score, which ultimately didn't fit the film, made this feel melodramatic. 

And that's unfortunate, because Nat Turner's story is interesting, Nate Parker's screenplay IS interesting but it suffers tremendously from its execution.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I'm ready." - Nat Turner (Nate Parker)