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Showing posts from October, 2018

Review: Halloween (2018)

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What are we going to do, cancel Halloween? Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has never recovered from the killing spree Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney and Nick Castle) went on back in 1978. It's ruined her relationship with her daughter, Karen (Judy Greer) while her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak) makes more of an effort to see her. Michael  has been institutionalized since then, and when he's being transferred to a new facility, his bus crashes and he returns to Haddonfield for Laurie. Only this time she's ready. You can't really blame Michael for wanting to go back to Haddonfield. The police department is dumb as hell and don't even alert the public that he's on the lose. So he's free to kill twice as many people as he did in the first film before he finally finds someone in Laurie's family.  I love the Halloween movies. I think it's kind of a shame they chose to retcon 4 and 5 because I actually liked Jamie but I can't

Indie Gems: Marrowbone

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Secrets After their mother dies, four siblings, Jack (George MacKay) Billy (Charlie Heaton) Jane (Mia Goth) and Sam (Matthew Stagg) hide that fact from anyone in fear of getting split up. All they need to do is wait for Jack to turn 21 in six months. But the reason for these kids living in this particular house is quite sinister, and now something may be haunting them. My immediate thought after finishing this was that whoever wrote it had to have balls the size of church bells to pass something like this off. Then I saw it was Sergio G. S├ínchez, the same guy who wrote The Orphanage and I realized that made sense.  Marrowbone builds dread very well. It reminded me a bit of The Conjuring in a sense. You're on the edge of your seat as Sam goes into a room that's off limits or as tension builds during a game. It get the creep factor down. Unfortunately this film has a lot going on. In a way it's a damn mess....but it works? Something awful happened to these ch

Indie Gems: Leave No Trace

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Into the wild. Will (Ben Foster) is a war veteran who is living off the grid in a national park with his young daughter, Tom. (Thomasin McKenzie) When they're found by social services and placed into a home, Will struggles with being a part of society whereas Tom gets a taste of something she's missing. I hate that I missed this in theaters. My city was one of the lucky 361 theaters this was released in, and they got rid of it after about a week and a half. It was easily worth my money. You all know how much I love Ben Foster. He's an incredible actor and it's no surprise that he's amazing here too. We don't learn much about Will and what happened to him in the past, but his face says it all. It's not pretty, he needs help, but doesn't want it. Even if it's effecting his daughter. It's McKenzie that carries this movie. Tom loves her father but she's so curious about everything around her. Like Foster, she gives a very quiet per

Review: Apostle

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Have faith. Thomas Richardson (Dan Stevens) disguises himself to get to a remote island currently inhabited by a religious cult. Their leader, Malcolm (Michael Sheen) has taken Thomas' sister Jennifer (Elen Rhys) and he's determined to rescue her. I knew nothing about this film before watching it. I just happened to be on my lap top on a Sunday afternoon when Sati recommended it to me, so I just opened up Netflix and hit play. Going full Jon Snow on this film was a good choice. Dan Stevens is an underrated actor. He's doing some of the most amazing work on TV right on on FX's Legion , but it's such a niche show that he gets zero recognition for it anywhere else. He's great here too, he easily wins the most determined brother award because he goes through a lot for his beloved sister. You can feel the pain in his eyes long before he physically gets a reason to feel it. Michael Sheen's cult leader is quite different than I'm used to seeing i

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: The Weird

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We're wrapping up Halloween Month over at Wandering Through The Shelves . I'm not ready to be done with Halloween season yet. In our TV picks, we're talking about the weird. There's plenty of that to go around. Here's what I came up with. 1) Castle Rock The town in this show is almost a character itself. Calling it weird is an understatement. I liked the little Easter eggs they threw in. Like Shawshank prison playing a huge part, and Jackie being the niece of good ol' Jack Torrence from The Shining. When I initially wrote this post, I was only half way through Castle Rock and I said it was "fun." While the acting is great, I don't think I could ever fully recommend this to anyone because they answered NONE of the questions they asked, then had the balls to tease a second season. 2) Stranger Things Of course a show called Stranger Things would be in this category. I'm quite over 80's films/TV shows but I love it in this. These

Review: The Sisters Brothers

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Brothers by blood, Sisters by name. Eli and Charlie Sisters (John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix) are hired assassins who are currently hunting down Hermann Kermit Warm. (Riz Ahmed) What was supposed to be an easy job turns harder when the man that was tasked with holding Warm until the Sisters Brothers got there, John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) decides he's going to help Warm instead.  There's something about Westerns that just puts me to sleep. It's pretty telling that the only ones I like are the 3:10 to Yuma remake and Hell or High Water if we're really stretching it. But this one was pitched as a semi comedy and the four men cast are some of my favorite working actors right now. Damn, this was long. This film has a run time of two hours and one minute and it felt like nearly three. There's two stories going on here, and one of those wraps up about halfway through the film (or at least that's how it felt) and I was sitting there going "wai

Review: The Hate U Give

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Khalil lived. Starr (Amandla Stenberg) has two versions of her self. Starr 1 lives in a poor neighborhood with her parents, Maverick and Lisa (Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall) and her two brothers, Seven, (Lamar Johnson) and Sekani (TJ Wright) Starr 2 attends a predominantly white private school where she, in her own words "gives no one a reason to call her ghetto." One night at a party, she ends up being the lone witness to the fatal shooting of her friend, Khalil (Algee Smith) after a white police officer pulls them over and mistake his hair brush for a weapon. Now Starr is torn between these two versions. Keeping her head down, and not bringing any heat on her loved ones, or speaking up for her friend who can no longer speak for himself.  I haven't read the popular YA novel on which this is based, so I can't compare how well it was adapted, but director George Tillman Jr. did make an excellent film here. In a world where an alarming amount of people stil

Review: First Man

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One small step. First Man follows astronaut Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) as prepares for his life changing mission of being the first man to walk on the moon. We see his work life with several colleagues/friends and his home life with wife Janet.(Claire Foy) The film follows him between 1961-1969. I had really low expectations. Despite adoring director Damien Chazelle's Whiplash and La La Land , it wasn't until everyone started raving about Claire Foy that I even considered seeing this.  In terms of story, it really surprised me. First Man is a very interesting film that takes space travel and what NASA did very, very seriously. They don't sugar coat a thing. They show the dangers of space travel, one could argue that this film as a whole is more about how you deal with death than anything else. It also manages to put you on the edge of your seat even though you know the outcome. I always appreciate when a film based on a true story can do that. But there

Thursday Movie Picks: Technology

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This week's Halloween theme at Wandering Through the Shelves is technology. If this were a TV week, I'd be talking about Black Mirror. But alas, we're here for films. This was kind of tough so I stretched it a bit. Here's three films that are somewhat scary and somewhat about technology 1) Red State What's the tech? The internet of course. Three young men get an offer for sex online and instead of the orgy they thought they were heading to, they end up drugged in the middle of nowhere being held captive by religious fundamentalists who want to kill them. Kevin Smith goes way outside of his comfort zone at the time to direct this and I think he did a good job.  2) Deathgasm What's the tech? Electric guitar and various instruments and speakers. This band of bored New Zealand kids play a dark piece of music and summon an evil spirit back to their world. It's very campy and slightly gory. Someone even gets beat to death with a dildo.  3) Videodr

Review: Bad Times at the El Royale

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He's all kinds of bad. The El Royale is a hotel along the California/Nevada boarder. Tonight, several strangers meet for the first time. A vacuum salesman (Jon Hamm) a lounge singer (Cynthia Erivo) a priest (Jeff Bridges) and a woman who signs the ledger with a polite "fuck you." (Dakota Johnson) Everyone there has a secret that's not going to stay hidden for much longer. Anything written/directed by Drew Goddard is an easy sell for me. I loved his script for The Martian and what he's done with the Daredevil TV series. Not to mention The Cabin in the Woods , which he directed is one of my all time favorite horror films. He takes on a lot with El Royale .  This film would've been much better suited as an eight episode or so mini series. There is so much stuffed into this movie that you feel every minute of its 2 hour and 21 minute run time. You get quick back stories of each character, but it's not enough, and yet too much at the same time.

2018 Blind Spot Series: The Birds

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What I knew going in: Quite a bit about the story, and all the behind the scenes drama between Hitchcock and Hedren. After an encounter in a pet shop, socialite Melanie (Tippi Hedren) follows Mitch (Rod Taylor) to the quiet town he retreats to every weekend. Upon her arrivle, the birds in the town start to behave erratically and things drastically escalate. Hitch apparently terrorizing Hedren during this film is pretty well known, and now I believe it even more because no director that has your best interests in mind directs you into this performance.  This movie is glorious in how bad it is. I'm sure in theory this film isn't as incompetently directed as it seems, there are some nice shots here and there, but the fact that it's about killer birds in a time when special effects were so limited pretty much gives it zero leeway. I mean, they did this... Did this movie actually scare people back then? It couldn't possibly have, right? Nothing about this film

Thursday Movie Picks: The Dark/Night

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They mostly come at night. Mostly. This week over at Wandering Through The Shelves we're focusing on movies where the night time and/or dark plays a key role. There's so much to choose from this week, here's what I came up with. 1) Maniac Elijah Wood plays a mannequin owner who moonlights as a serial killer. I know this is a remake of an 80's film, but this one was so gory and out there that I couldn't help but love it.  2) I Saw The Devil When a serial killer murders his fiance one night, a man decides to take justice into his own hands. Only instead of murdering the killer himself, he tracks him and continuously beats him down, lets him live, then waits for him to try to kill again so he can rinse and repeat. It's a commentary on who's becoming a monster. It's hard to watch but fascinating.   3) 30 Days of Night When a town in Alaska enters their yearly month with no sunlight, a group of vampires take the opportunity to wreak havo

Review: A Star Is Born

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We're far from the shallow now. Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) is a popular musician going from gig to gig with a bottle of whiskey in hand. After a show, desperate for a drink, he wanders into a drag bar and sees Ally (Lady Gaga) perform a beautiful rendition of La Vie En Rose. Smitten with her voice, he pushes her to sing her own songs, to get up on stage with him, and eventually turns her into a super star.  We all knew Bradley Cooper was a solid actor. Turns out he's a solid singer and director too. At this point I'm not sure there's anything he can't do. Jackson is a very showy role for him and it really feels like he's really stepping out of his comfort zone. Lady Gaga is also great here. She was the biggest question mark for me. Obviously I knew she'd be dynamite the minute she started singing and she was, but the acting  I wasn't sold on. She struggles here and there with the more dramatic bits, but this is her 3rd acting role. It'

DVD Review: The Seagull

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It's not about the money or the praise. Konstantin (Billy Howle) is an aspiring writer who cannot please his actress mother, Irina. (Annette Bening) They're visiting his uncle, Sorin (Brian Dennehy) in his country side home in early 20th century Russia. Konstantin attempts to impress Nina (Saoirse Ronan) but she finds herself infatuated with Irina's boyfriend, Boris. (Corey Stall) Meanwhile Masha (Elisabeth Moss) pines for Konstantin while ignoring Mikhail (Michael Zegan) who is obviously in love with her. This film commits the same crime as Valkyrie in which it has characters living in Europe but speaking with American accents. That's such an awful choice. If you're not going to have your actors speak with the actual accent, at least let them use one from the same continent. Billy Howle's English accent is already bleeding through his performance anyways.  Unfortunately it's all downhill from there. Despite a talented bunch of actors the fil

Thursday Movie Picks: Home Invasions

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It's October so that means it's officially Halloween month over at Wandering Through The Shelves . As you can probably tell, I love Halloween. But Wanderer's first theme is one that I'm actually not crazy about: home invasions. They just make me a bit too uncomfortable for my viewing pleasure. Luckily, there have been a few over the past few years that I've really enjoyed.  1) Hush This straight to Netflix horror film changes the home invasion mold slightly by having our protagonist be deaf, and by having our intruder take off his mask and quite literally be like "Oops you saw me, now I have to kill you." It's very twisted and well played.  2) Don't Breathe A few misfits make the biggest mistake of their lives when they break into a blind man's house. This film gets serious props for introducing a twist late in the game that shouldn't have worked but just made everything even more fucked up.  3) Them (Ils) In all fairnes

DVD Review: Disobedience

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A walk down bad memory lane. Ronit (Rachel Weisz) is a photographer in New York who returns to her Orthodox Jewish community in England for her father's funeral. She was shunned years before after being caught in a tryst with her friend, Esti. (Rachel McAdams) Esti seems to have been forgiven and is now married to their childhood friend, Dovid (Alessandro Nivola) who is also going to be the successor to Ronit's father at their temple, but Ronit being back brings up a lot of old memories. My theater had this for a bit, but I skipped it. The reviews were lukewarm, and I wasn't sure if it was a theater watch for me. It would've been, I enjoyed this quite a bit. At first I was slightly confused on where this community was supposed to be. I know England has a lot of different accents but this one I hadn't heard before. At first listen, it sounded like a bunch of Americans trying to do an English accent, but even Weisz spoke that way. I don't know how w