Movie Roundup – Indies 2018 Part 1

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Indies 2018 (Part 1)! Basically, the indie movies I had missed, and need to really review, or else. Are these all really indie movies? Heck if I know. Some certainly are. Go with it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Indies 2018 Part 1

Arizona

Arizona is a weird movie to talk about, because it is a dark comedy. A lot of dark comedies go into just such strange corners of the room. And you know, are funny, but usually involve death, or extreme “edgy” jokes. It could easily just go into some crude territory that is a poor taste and lose its viewers. Arizona is a lot more grounded in reality and about one person who is clearly losing his marbles, and using his size and gun skills to try and fix things.

I was shocked by Arizona, surprised, and I couldn’t believe no on was talking about. Dark comedies are almost always a hard sell, but this one was a great one compared to other similar movies in recent years. Our leads were believable, the setting was something easily relatable (an empty residential community after the 2008 housing collapse), that is also a bit unsettling. Yes, some aspects of this are a bit terrifying. And hilarious.

Arizona I think really works and it is a shame that it had almost no push for visibility.

3 out of 4.

Arizona

Bad Samaritan

Bad Samaritan is an example of a film that I really liked the idea about, but did not execute great.

We have a thief breaking in to steal and while there, they found someone clearly held captive. What do they do? A similar plot line was used in Don’t Breathe and used a bit better in that film. Instead, a majority of the movie takes place after the initial find and is more of a cat and mouse battle between our thief and the evil guy, played by David Tennant.

And the cat and mouse game is lame. The villain doesn’t seem smart, it seems ridiculous. He is flawed with a god complex without showing us why he even warrants a god complex. It goes completely ridiculous, moves away from a more grounded in reality movie, and doesn’t really give us the moral quandaries that the plot line suggests.

Forgettable film on every level, unfortunately.

1 out of 4.

bad

Eighth Grade

Eighth Grade is an example of a pretty well known film, and one you’d be more surprised to see that I did not have a full review upon. It was an immediate success, and had all the praise, and has spirit award nominations!

And yet, that’s why I have the round up. Things happen.

Eighth Grade is a pretty great and uncomfortable film. I cannot say that this is an accurate portrayal of what middle school girls are thinking and go through, because I am not one of them. It seems very accurate, and our lead does a wonderful job of riding that awkwardness and navigating through her school life. Bo Burnham‘s transition from comedy musician to director/writer seems to go flawlessly, and I wonder if he just had a lot of smart people on his side to make this work.

Eighth Grade is uncomfortable, awwkard, completely modern and set in the now, and probably something that a lot of people will want to read.

3 out of 4.

8th grade

Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town

What drew me to Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town is the title. Of course. I mean if you are going to be bold and swear at me, I think you need to bring it. It made me think of older films like Igby Goes Down, about these run down people with strange I names.

And hey, it had Mackenzie Davis, an actress who I think hasn’t gotten her fair shake yet. Haven’t you seen Tully? She is great! And despite how great she may be, this movie felt like a chore to get through. We have have movies about miserable people and they can be great movies, but this is one where I just wanted it to hurry and get to the final point. And once it did, it was lackluster.

I don’t remember much about this movie, but I do remember that it had no hype for a reason. The fuck did not give it notoriety.

1 out of 4.

Izzy

Summer of 84

Finally, we are going to talk about a movie that I think we average, for most of the film. Set in the ’80s with a group of kids, trying to solve a mystery of missing kids. They think it could be the local, single middle aged cop. Maybe he is taking kids and killing them? No, that can’t be.

Well, I won’t say if it was, or was not, of course. But the story the story is not unique. However…the ending was pretty damn good. It amped up the intensity, it went places I didn’t expect, and it left me with a little bit of dread. It is not a common way to end a film, and leaves it open ended in a good way. It turned a middling film into a film that I wanted to talk to people about, just to see if they saw it for the ending.

3 out of 4.

Summer

Overall, this is a really good list of indie films to check with. At least three of them I rated highly, and two of them I did not. Indie seem to have a better chance of giving me quality, you just have to take a dive and go into them knowing that they have a lot less hype around them on average.

Glass

Surprise, its M. Night Shyamalan! He has been on a bit of an upswing lately. After he did The Visit, which was better than expected. And after he did Split, which was really great thanks to acting performances and of course, a surprise sequel.

Now, with Glass, we find ourselves with a trilogy no one would have expected a few years ago. Split works really well as a sequel to Unbreakable, maybe more so because no one expected it to be a sequel.

Unbreakable still holds up today, as a slow origin story and realizing that one might be something greater than everyone else around him. With Glass he has quite a task. Can he fully combine these two films, and bring about some sort of resolution? Because I don’t think anyone is expecting it to continue after Glass, into some just Shyamalan franchise of supers. An update is what we want, not a never ending story.

But hey, I am willing to change my mind should this be awesome.

Door
“Yo lady. Check that door. It’s glass, isn’t it?”

It turns out, that the more I talk about really what goes on in this movie, the more I might accidentally give away in terms of it its plot. As of now, Kevin Crumb and company (James McAvoy) have created the Beast and are causing havok, doing their own thing. Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) is returning to her regular life, and is in a better home situation.

Dunn (Bruce Willis) runs his own security business, while also spending time looking for people to help, and right now, The Beast. His son (Spencer Treat Clark) is now grown up, but still on his side and his “tech base guy”.

Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) has been in a mental hospital for some time, and his mom (Charlayne Woodard) is still alive! And we also have Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) as a psychiatrist, who has a very specific niche.

Also starring Luke Kirby and Adam David Thompson as workers.

Ceiling
What a climatic battle of super people! Wait

First of all, I think general audiences are going to HATE Glass. We have the potential ending of a franchise, two superhuman forces coming to collide. Is it going to be an epic game of cat and mouse? Is it going to be a huge brawl after huge brawl? How is he going to make it feel realistic like Unbreakable?

No, nothing like that. Instead, most of what I imagine people will suspect is going to happen really quickly, and the other 85% of the movie will be something you did not expect. I know I didn’t, but I didn’t see a trailer and so went in with my own regular expectations.

Now I am not saying where it went was bad, it was just extremely weird and unexpected. Specifically, Paulson’s character I really hated, and yet, we were supposed to hate her. There was just other things off with it. The situation she was in, her conversations, they didn’t feel natural so it took me out of the realism they were going for.

This is a lot more than anyone bargained for. And for a lot of the film, I was still sort of digging it. I didn’t think the direction was bad. But the ending. The ending is a mess of “twists” and what felt like a never ending movie. This movie at 129 minutes feels like its three hours. It is very slow paced, and feels like there are multiple regular ending spots.

McAvoy is still fan-fucking-tastic. What we wanted was to see more of his sides, and I lost count, but I think we get to see the rest of his many faces. We get a lot of long shots of him going between his voices, and it is great to see the many transformations.

Samuel L. Jackson is not utilized enough, Bruce Willis looks great (and old) but is too quiet and also under utilized. We need more updates, damn it. It was great to see Clark and Woodward back after so long, replacing them would have been lame.

And finally, I am pretty sure the timing is really off in the movie. It sounds like they said it took place only 3 weeks after Split. Did it? No idea. But if so, then all this talk of 19 years is bullshit, unless Split took place in the future compared to when it came out. And if Glass is only 3 weeks later, from a few years ago, some of the references made don’t make sense. Damn it, I hate it when timelines are confusing and characters can reference songs that aren’t out yet.

Let’s end the review on this note. Again, Glass is weird, it tries to do something different. It succeeded at being different. And I don’t think people will be happy with that difference.

2 out of 4.

Movie Roundup – Online Releases 2018

Welcome to a Movie Roundup! A movie roundup features a few films that I didn’t feel like making full reviews for, but needed to get basic reviews out there for completionist reasons. It also helps me deal with my backlog. It may have a theme, and today’s theme is Online Releases 2018! Basically, things that started out on the internet, ideally a streaming website, because it is a loose theme, and I will take it.

Being on a movie round up doesn’t mean a movie is inherently bad, or good, or meh. I can feature any rating on here! So don’t assume the worst! I will also just post the reviews in alphabetical order.


Online Releases 2018

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Can we go wrong with the Coen brothers? Yes, we totally can. But I can’t help but feel something wonderful when they continually try to do something different, or make the normal a lot more eccentric. This time, they went back to the former, while also going back to some of those old timey western roots, which are arguably their best movies. Except this time, it is straight to Netflix, and an Anthology movie with six short films instead. The only connection? Western.

This ends up working really well, even if I can say I didn’t love every part of the anthology. Unfortunately, the best and most fun was the first of the stories, and probably me least favorite was number two. I really enjoyed the one about the prospectors and the woman with her not dog too. When it works, it really works, and when it doesn’t work, it is still well made and a bit beautiful, if not full of fuckery. This is not a happy movie, and it can easily be watched in parts, and deserves praise for its individual shorts that work out amazingly well.

3 out of 4.

Ballad
None of these people share a scene with the others.

The Kissing Booth

On the other hand, Netflix has made it clear its strategy isn’t to appeal to just the best movie ever, but to instead go for all the demographics so that they all have something to watch, which is fair. Netflix having a shit movie doesn’t mean that Netflix is bad, I just don’t have to watch it…if I am a normal movie goer.

But this movie is something else, and it has crawled out of the pits of hell thanks to some teenage girl. Yeah, it is based on a book, written by a teenage girl, on some website, and now its a movie. An uninspired romance movie, that seems to rely on the kissing booth as a feature, despite not being featured too heavily in the grand scope. It features a love interest who is super controlling, threatening, and uses his fists to solve problems. Ah, what good values to instill in our youth.

0 out of 4.

Kissing
Help, help, I’m trapped in a 90s movie.

My Dinner with Hervé

Over on HBO, they also like to do movies, and shows, and documentaries. In this one, we have dudes as the stars, with one of them being one of their biggest stars of their biggest show. Makes sense. Peter Dinklage playing a biographical role, of possibly the most famous little person in history (before Peter Dinklage and Verne Troyer), Hervé Villechaize. Made famous for being in Fantasy Island and The Man With The Golden Gun.

Now, this is all according to a journalist, but it is based on the night out on the town with Hervé, where he also recounts his whole life story leading up to the point, his rises, and his many many downfalls. Dinklage does an amazing job of transforming himself, or what I know about himself, and this is an extremely touching tale of a childhood of abuse and sadness, while still trying to make something about it. It never seems to go deep enough into the sadder parts though, and probably skirts around important details. I just knew that it started off way better than it eventually ended.

2 out of 4.

DINNer
And that is also true about life, I suppose.

Slice

Slice might not technically fit this theme, because it came out on VOD, but hey, my themes are loose, and I want it in this post. Slice is the type of movie that is just so out there, it is hard to believe that it even exists. Vampires, werewolves, zombies, ghosts, murder mystery, pizza store, witches, and such a strange plot and concept. It is the type of movie that when describing it you know will have a cult following and probably LARPing in the future.

But in all honestly, it just doesn’t work out well. The only redeeming factor is that it definitely feels original. It just is a weird mash of ideas that aren’t fully explained because it isn’t fully thought through. It is cool, it is weird, but it is definitely not good.

1 out of 4.

sLIce
Although, it made me want pizza, so good job there.

The Tale

Finally, another HBO movie (sorry Hulu), that I didn’t even know came out this last summer. I would have never known it existed if it didn’t get nominated for a Spirit award. I mean, it has a big name in it, and it is about sexual abuse when someone was a child. Sure, a fictional tale, but a tale that resonates due to how often similar “tales” have been told by other girls in relation to their coaches while growing up. Hell, the gymnastics scandal was in 2018, maybe even going on after this movie. It is very relevant.

Dern plays someone very vulnerable and stubborn at the same time. It doesn’t end with fireworks, but plays it in a more realistic way. More importantly, the girl who plays the younger version is amazing at her role. Her acting, in normal kid way, amplifies the creepiness of everything. It puts the viewer in a dark place and really helps bring the hate towards these sexual predators.

3 out of 4.

tale
These two adults are now on my despise list, well done!

Overall, steaming platforms put out a lot of duds, and some successes. And especially Netflix, because I will never catch up on on their new releases. Or, maybe I will, if I just keep the review format like this and not larger. But these ones caught my eye for some reason or another and I chose them to watch to review, and never got around to actually writing.

Burning

I have been really behind on my foreign films this year. I can’t even think of what I have seen with mostly subtitles this year. Not including the beginning of the year when I was hitting up last years Oscar nominees. Basically, it would have been during WorldFest, when I was in a theater with them, and that was in April. I legit haven’t watched a foreign film since April, and that kind of blows my mind.

I know there has been opportunities, but a lot of it comes from my inability to cross stitch while watching a foreign film, lest I don’t really get anything out of it. But I took an exception to Burning for a few reasons. One, a lot of people were talking about it and I wanted to talk about it. Two, it seemed like one of those foregone conclusions of definitely an award winning film. And three, Steven Yeun.

Yes, don’t let star power be a bad factor. Yeun was on The Walking Dead, I liked him on that show, and now I want to see him in a purely non American film. What’s the harm in that?

Field
Burning is a metaphor for his feelings. Inside.

Lee Jong-su (Ah-In Yoo) is a young man, trying to just live his life. He works odd jobs mostly, and would like to be a writer, he is just having a hard time writing. His dad is in prison and could get out if he was nicer and apologized, but he is holding firm. So Jong-su has to watch over the farm, their one animal, and just make sure life doesn’t fall to pieces, while trying to get his own life back on track.

And then he meets Shin Hae-mi (Jong-seo Jeon). Well, re-meets technically. Apparently Hae-mi knew him when he was a child, but he mostly ignored her. They have a past that Jong-su just doesn’t remember a lot of, and if Hae-mi’s story is true, then it totally makes sense. He ignored her, he might have been mean, and she got some plastic surgery.

Needless to say, they hit it off! And she is about to go away and needs someone to feed her cat. Oh. Sure. Because she is attractive, likes him(?), and he has only the other major things going on in his life. When she gets back, they might start a relationship.

Except she comes back…with him. His name is Ben (Steven Yeun), he is rich, mysterious, totally cool. A “Great gatsby” character in South Korea. And she has fallen for him. But Ben has secrets, secrets that Jong-su is going to investigate, or else bad things might happen. Maybe even Burning things might happen.

Group
I don’t know, they just kind of look like best friends here.

Burning is a (heh) slow burn of a film, coming in at about 2.5 hours. It is very slow moving, and its direction can seem to be all over the place. But if you focus the film on just Jong’su’s point of view and trying to understand the strange world around him, the mysteries and suspense add up.

It is a gorgeous movie with very notable camera work. It isn’t displaying the sexy parts of South Korea, but regular fields and cities, but it has extreme attention to detail and really draws the viewer into the movie.

The ending very much ends at a climax, a climax that people will feel like might never come. Because unfortunately, some mysteries remain mysteries by the films end. And that is likely to trouble some viewers, given what we saw from Lost backlash some time ago. No actual spoilers though here.

Ah-In Yoo is a great lead, while still keeping that passive unsure nature. Yeun was fine in this movie, but I don’t think it required a lot of hard work on his part. This is Jeon’s only movie, and she plays the free spirited and weird quite well, and hopefully gains an acting feature after this film.

Overall, Burning won’t be for everyone. You have to want subtitles and be okay with not everything spelled out for you. It will likely make waves from the foreign film market, and will still likely lose to Roma for Oscars.

3 out of 4.

Gemini

Gemini is a movie I actually knew about before watching! I swear! I heard of this one!

I saw the trailer, once, and it had an electro-noir feel. That will either make a lot of sense, or it won’t. And that is okay, because genres can get real weird. I just learned about post-postmodernism and hysterical realism! Not what they mean, just that they are genres that more than one book or art work fit.

Gemini is definitely a much lower budget, indie movie with one or two recognizable stars in it. It is the type of film that has to rely on a good story to actually get people to watch it, and not warm celebrity smiles.

Love
See? No smiles. Just blue tones and glares.

Jill LeBeau (Lola Kirke) is the agent, PR firm, best friend, and potential lover of big Hollywood actress star, Heather Anderson (Zoë Kravitz). Heather is a big star. Everyone wants her. The paparazzi. The fans. The studios, the writers. All of them can’t get enough of that Heather. And they have to get through Jill to get to her.

In these trying times, Heather is going through a lot, including a break up through her celebrity boyfriend. People really just want to find out why and get in her business, putting her in a more reclusive mood. Jill cannot protect her either, but she can just try to make her feel comfortable.

After a night of drunken shenanigans and loneliness, Jill gets to her bosses house the next day and finds her lying dead on the ground on her own home. And all of the evidence points to Jill. But Jill couldn’t kill her boss, her best friend, her maybe lover, could she? No! There were people who might have done it. Angry writers, obsessed fans, down on their luck paparazzi, all of that.

No, Jill isn’t going to go on some pseudo investigative hunt to find the real murderer. But she is going to ask questions and try to clear her name while wallowing in self pity.

Also starring John Cho, James Ransone, Greta Lee, Michelle Forbes, Nelson Franklin, Reeve Carney, and Ricki Lake.

Ghost
“No, her future ghost is the murderer!”

For the most part, while watching Gemini I just thought it was an average story pseudo-thriller. The soundtrack resonated throughout it, a sort of techno pulse that was going and going. It reminded me of Good Time, but that is a movie about a guy on the run and it sort of earned that score. This one was way less hectic and just seemed off to me.

Don’t go into Gemini thinking it will be a classic whodunit film where the viewer can follow the clues and pick out the murderer along with our “Detective.” No, it is not one you’d be able to pick up from clues, because there aren’t really any clues, just assumptions and you have to sit and wait for the ride to end before it is fully revealed.

And unfortunately when I was almost done off the ride, the cart went off the rails and left me in the gutter. This is a long metaphor to describe the film, and I don’t apologize for that. The ending is downright terrible. I feel so disappointed in following the story of this film. It was never great or above average even. Just okay. But the ending cost it points and put it clearly as a film I don’t need to see again, nor would I recommend.

1 out of 4.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

I am frequently reminded that I should be watching more of Yorgos Lanthimos‘s movies. And not just because he is a guy who keeps bringing some out.

My first experience with his film was The Lobster a year ago and it definitely was an experience. I hadn’t seen any of his previous work, but The Lobster was so far out there that I knew this was a director who wanted to do his own thing and not give a shit about what people thought about it. This is the same thought that Terrence Malick must have, but I don’t like his work.

And now he has The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which is wonderful on its own thanks to the trailers. They told me nothing about the movie, but it was visually sexy and clearly different from The Lobster at the same time.

I really should get around to watching Dogtooth, but he has another movie coming out next year, so we will see if it ever happens.

Spaghetti
Damn right you eat that spaghetti now. Don’t want it falling out of your pockets later.

Steven Murphy (Colin Farrell) is a really good surgeon. Well, most surgeons are good. I only assume he is good because he is rich, and surgeons are generally rich after they pay off those loans. He has a wife (Nicole Kidman) and two kids (Raffey Cassidy, Sunny Suljic), the typical American household and life. Everything is going so swell.

Steven is also friends with some boy named Martin (Barry Keoghan), who is older than his kids. Martin is a bit slower developmentally, but he lives with his mom only. He had a dad, but the dad died several years ago in a car crash, and Steven has been sort of a mentor to Martin ever since.

But Steven starts to act a bit stranger than normal, and he has already been a strange kid. After introducing Steven to his family, strange events start to occur to his family. A paralyzation affects his son so that he cannot walk and all of the big fancy doctor tests cannot tell them why. That is only the beginning of the problems that affect their family and it seems to have to do with Martin. But why? Why is the big question.

Also starring Alicia Silverstone and Bill Camp.

Think
This might be right after his heart was with a text message.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a quiet film with an unsettling plot behind it, that I chose to not fully reveal. Given the choice our main character ends up making it is something ripe for sadness and anger by many viewers. Good, good, let the emotion flow out of us.

I honestly had no idea where the movie was going on, and once the plot gets fully revealed (which is does VERY quickly and seemingly out of nowhere), every moment gets a little bit scarier. Keoghan has one of the more punchable faces I have ever seen in film, true here and in Dunkirk, but it really works with the character they created. He is unnerving, but not in a cartoon villain sort of way. I will say the film didn’t really do enough to explain his actions or his own mental capacity, so it should definitely be dinged for these reasons.

But let’s just say, some shit is up, it affects this family quite unfairly, and we have to watch most of a film as they deal with shit that continually escalates until a final decision is finally reached. After all the build up, the ending itself was pretty shocking when it came to the hows, the whys, and the whos, but it also makes sense in an eerie way. After all, it is an eerie movie about some people with some strange feelings about reality, so it is also fitting.

The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a creepy film with some horrifying moments, but one that could have been better with a lot more backstory and explanation when it comes to a few characters. Less can be more, but I think this film had too much less.

3 out of 4.

Thelma

When you hear the name Thelma, you really only think of one thing. Well, technically two things. You think of Thelma, and you think of Louise. You don’t even need to have seen the movie to have understood the reference. If you didn’t, then well, you suck at pop culture.

When looking up Thelma pictures, I was flooded with a lot from the 1991 film, despite putting a year in the google search as well.

But there was ANOTHER girl in these images as well. Because it turns out we had a Thelma movie in 2011, from the Philippines, about a girl with powers.

Huh, this is a Norwegian movie about a girl with powers. Today you just learned that Thelma is the most powerful female name around the world.

Brain
Blows your mind a bit, doesn’t it?

In Oslo, Thelma (Eili Harboe) is finally going to university, so she can learn at an accelerated pace and discover new things about the world. You see, she grew up in a smaller area. Her family didn’t have direct neighbors, but land around a lake, which is a real sweet spot for fishing, or skating, depending on the time of the year. Her father (Henrik Rafaelsen) is a huge Christian man, and her mother (Ellen Dorrit Petersen) also that, is in a wheel chair.

But yeah! College! Time to study all the time! And apparently, have seizures. In the middle of a study hall, in front of future friends, pissing her pants. The doctor finds it strange, as she apparently has no history of seizures. She just wants this thing to be kept secret from her parents. Thankfully she is an adult now, and doctor to doctor conversations will not trickle to her parents officially, even if her dad is also a doctor.

The seizure did do something good though. It helped Thelma meet Anja (Kaya Wilkins), who just seems like the most special girl she knows. She definitely likes Anja, AS A FRIEND OF COURSE. There is no way that Thelma, good Christian girl, would ever be tempted into something sinful like being a lesbian. Yet still, she has a way about her, and Thelma cannot but feel something unique there. However, whenever her mind gets a hold of situation, she gets into that shaky, seizure-y territory again. And when she gets there, some bad things have happened. Unexplainable things. Dangerous things.

Also starring a lot of Norwegian people. If there are any Swedish or Finnish people, I wouldn’t have noticed!

Love
I just see all Scandinavians as the same, to be honest.*

Thelma was a wonderful movie. It was a slow and careful. It moved at a speed that almost made me hate it, as I just wanted answers faster. I had to be patient and let the movie unravel. But even the very first scene, a flashback (can a flashback be the first scene, technically?), of our main character and father was haunting. It took a long time for that one to be answered, it certainly didn’t go the way I expected.

Thelma is a strange coming of age story. It starts with our protagonist already “of age” but just slightly underdeveloped mentally due to a closed upbringing. It has her alone for most of the film when it comes to her emotions and problems, because of fear of her parents, fear of regression, and fear of change. And it has some magic stuff too.

The magic isn’t some wonderful power of invisibility, or flight. It is a lot more accidentally sinister, in account of it being a repressed power that she really doesn’t have a lot of control over. You know, like Frozen. But in this version of Frozen, the parents don’t die and the power gets actively oppressed by others, not just the main character.

I was scared, I cried, and I loved Thelma. Good job Norway. This is officially their selection to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Picture. At this point, I hope it gets nominated.

The Girl on the Train

I did plan on watching The Girl on the Train when it came out, you know, in 2016. I knew it was based on a pretty famous book, it had a lot of mysterious elements, and it might have been a spiritual successor to Gone Girl. The book and movie are not done by the people who did Gone Girl, but similar elements were apparently there.

However, I missed the screening, and then my wife said she really wanted to see it also. Just after she read the book first, because that is what normal people do. It took a year later, but she finally picked up and read the book in only about a week, which let us thankfully still watch it thanks to Redbox. It is great when they have oldish movies on there (and yes, I realize it is within a year of coming out, but it still feels really old).

Hooray trains!

Train
I found her! The girl on the train! Did I solve it!?

Rachel (Emily Blunt) is a woman who happens to be an alcoholic, and she rides a train to and from work every day. And on this train ride, she has become obsessed with another woman. She can see her in her house, this Megan (Haley Bennett), living a life with her lover, happy and free. Or at least that is what Rachel invents for her life.

Rachel is a drinker because her husband, Tom (Justin Theroux) left her. He married Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), had a kid, all of the things that he could never do with Rachel. And it turns out that Megan was their nanny for the little kid, unsure if Rachel knew this fact.

Well one sad day, Rachel decided to get off on that stop, seeing that Megan was with another man. This could not be! She was perfect! And now Rachel was drunk and upset.

The next thing Rachel knew, she was awake in her home, with blood on her hands. And news that Megan was missing.

Was it Rachel, blackout drunk and angry? Could she have killed someone?

Also starring Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Darren Goldstein, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, and Lisa Kudrow.

Balcony
The Girl on the Balcony was a much sexier title, but too close to Man on a Ledge.

The Girl on the Train is told from three different points of view, Emma, Megan, and of course Rachel. The timelines are a bit out of whack, for dramatic sake, in order to amp up all the mystery. After all, if we saw Megan’s point of view when she died, there would be no story to tell!

The false leads don’t end up pissing off the viewer, but really just make sense as the story unfolds. It is not an easy mystery to guess ahead of time, although enough hints really are there. I made a lot of intentionally stupid guesses just to mess with my wife, but when the final reveals occurred I wasn’t surprised in the least.

The issues with the film are just…hard to explain. It feels so bland. The acting isn’t bad, it is just mediocre feeling. The story doesn’t end up feeling as great as it is built up to be. It was maybe over hyped by the advertising or the pacing of the book, because the movie felt rushed and just average.

I think more details in the story would have gone a long way. More drives for the characters and just more things for them to do. It took a long time to reveal not too much, and just felt like a lot of potential that was never fully reached, unfortunately. Let’s hope the sequel, The Old Lady in the Shoe does a bit better.

2 out of 4.

The Snowman

Without a doubt, snowmen have always been scary. We had that Jack Frost horror movie, and that other Jack Frost horror movie, all about snowmen!

My first real interactions with snowmen and music however, have also been terrifying. After all, in Cannibal! The Musical we were given the hellish tune of Let’s Build a Snowman, multiple decades before Frozen came onto the scene with their snowman song.

Apparently this one was based on a book, but I am sure The Snowman was supposed to be scary as well.

Alien
Is this an alien snowman? Is this movie actually supernatural?

Norway. Winter. It’s cold everywhere, it snows all the time. Basically, everyone is a snowman if you think about it.

And Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is a detective for the main Norway police people, and yes, that is his name. He is good at his job, but he also is a bit of a drunk and going through a life slump. A new recruit to their agency is Katrine Bratt (Rebecca Ferguson), who has a lot of spunk and drive. She thinks a series of disapperances are similar to a few done years ago in a different Norway town, so she is ready to investigate!

Aw, so young and naive. And maybe oh so right.

A few murders, a few snowmen based deaths, and sure yeah, I am sure someone is behind it and just fucking with them all. And to think it is happening as they are trying to finish a bid for some non Olympic winter games event too.

Also starring Michael Yates, Ronan Vibert, Chloe Sevigny, Charlotte Gainsbourg, David Dencik, Jonas Karlsson, Toby Jones, Val Kilmer, and J.K. Simmons.

SIdewaysface
I think this is the first time I have ever seen the :/ used in any real context.

In The Snowman, there is a good mystery plot in there, somewhere. A lot of it may have been on the cutting room floor, or it may have never gotten shot. According to the director, he talked about why the movie was terrible, before it was even released in America. It was released a week early in Europe and met with so many bad reviews he just had to admit the whole thing I guess.

It quickly went from a “I can’t wait to see this film!” moment to “Oh man, how much of a train wreck will this be? Can’t wait!” feeling. And trainwreck it was.

Which is a shame, because Fassbender isn’t acting bad in the film or anything, it is just the plot is so shitty. There are motivations behind the characters, but the herring is so red it should almost be a scarlet herring. Or bloody herring. So much side plot is technically relevant, but so badly explained it just feels slightly shoe horned. And when we get our big dramatic reveal (which isn’t too hard to guess), it is explained so poorly it just feels. Well, badly written.

Which is a shame, because the novel by Jo Nesbø I am sure is really swell. He has written a lot of books, so he must have some talent. But now my introduction to his work just smells of…wait. Herring. Yeah, it smells like old yucky herring.

The Snowman is poorly put together work of film, despite some cool elements. Probably just avoid this one forever and read the book instead.

1 out of 4.

Suburbicon

Hooray the Coen brothers! Their last picture was Hail, Cesar! Which I have a 4 out of 4 to, but in retrospect it was a weak 4. It was just so bizarre and atypical for films that I couldn’t hate it.

So I had pretty high hopes with Suburbicon. It is set in the past, it has quirky characters and a murder plot so fowl. It is probably going to be similar to Fargo just with worse accents.

I really wanted to see it but I was surprised at the lack of, well, anything about the movie. Advertising was basically nonexistent for this film, like it was meant to be buried before it even premiered. And damn it, George Clooney is the director, his name used to mean something.

Falling Down
Maybe some elements will also bring us back to Falling Down.

Welcome to Suburbicon! A community set in the 1960’s or early 70’s. Life is perfect here. There are jobs, there are families with husbands and wives, there are kids who play baseball in the lots. There are no big fences between their houses, there is no crime, and everyone is happy, happy, happy.

And then a new family moves in, the Mayers (Leith M. Burke, Karimah Westbrook, Tony Espinosa). They are black. This sort of thing really shakes up their community, as apparently most of the families left their homes to move here just because of how white it is. They think this family will ruin their community and will go out of there way to make their stay miserable until they decide to leave.

But that is only one small part of the movie. The other part deals with the Lodge family. Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) is running his own business, living with his wife Rose (Julianne Moore), who is in a wheelchair, and son Nicky (Noah Jupe). Sometimes her twin, Margaret (Moore), also stays with them. After Nicky ends up playing baseball with the new neighbor’s son, the Lodge family are woken up by two goons (Glenn Fleshler, Alex Hassell) who are threatening and mean.

This leads to a death in the family, which is only the first of a series of weird things to occur after their new neighbors arrive. It turns out that this area might not have been as happy as everyone had imagined.

Also featuring Oscar Isaac as an insurance man.

Oscar
I’d let him give me an insurance adjustment anytime.

There is something odd about Suburbicon, in its core, that makes it really hard to get into for a really long time. With wonderful dark comedy writers at the helm, you would think it would be a surefire hit, or at lease a cult classic. But this will not be either of these things and it will be promptly forgotten in the annals of cinema.

Is it like Fargo? Yeah, a bit, but Fargo had charming characters that you could invest in on both sides. This movie basically has a little kid and a neighbor family that is a distracting subplot.

And maybe that is a bigger problem with the film. As the intro goes, it is clear that the ideal utopia place to live is super white. It is clear that there will probably be a black family to move into the neighborhood and force some issues. And these things do happen, but only to provide a rather large and awkward distraction of the main plot.

I’m an America as racially divided and tense as it is right now, how could they decide to treat a real issue facing people now as some sort of fluff piece? It shows real anger and scary situations, but every time it heads back to the main family with their insane plot it reminds the viewer that “no, they are not important. This white family is really the important one.”

The reason for all the chaos makes sense. By having it in the background, we are able to give a reason why all of the film’s plot can take place without too much notice. But even if it makes sense, it is still an incredibly insensitive and poor choice for the creators to make.

The acting is fine. Some of the twists are fine. Oscar Isaac was great in his two scenes. Top notch. It slightly saved it from a 0.

1 out of 4.

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