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We Don't Belong Here (2017)
Makes the Bates family look conventional....
I enjoyed this movie. It is a family character study about deeply troubled and mentally ill siblings, some of whom have dealt with childhood trauma. Three of the children (adult children) appear to have precognition, though only one of them seems to be aware of it and is able to use it to alter an event. Keener gives a superb performance as the mother. This family loves each other, although they each suffer internally with their own demons. This is a slow burn, but well worth a watch. All of the characters speak softly, it was a strain for me to hear sometimes. There is no yelling and only one violent scene. It is an emotional study of a loving family who just doesn't feel it "belongs here", meaning in this world.
This was genuinely creepy....BUT.....
In the first five minutes of the film when a spirit (or demon) shows her that her parents have been killed on their way to pick her up, I knew this would be chilling. It sets the stage for Kat's vulnerability, for as we know from horror films, the demon strikes when we are emotionally frail. Her schoolmate who is rather cruel to her in the beginning, sets the stage for conflict and pent-up anger and makes you sympathetic to Kat (as if losing her parents didn't already do that for you). She slowly begins to change, and while this is happening, Joan comes onto the scene after escaping an asylum (yup, we've seen this). Her character is very complex, and I don't want to divulge. I was never bored during this - it is spine-chilling. But there is nothing particularly clever about it and the gratuitous violence in the last half hour really turned me off - I felt it had changed gears and become a campy slasher film. I gave it a 7 because it was quite scary, however, I don't like how it changed gears from being a psychological horror film to a bloody severed head count. The demon-bunny looked ridiculous. But with that being said, it was a scary movie. Unlike other viewers, I failed to see echoes of The Shining. It did however, remind me of Scandi-Noir films, with it's bleak setting, quiet, but unsettling characters and ominous tone. If you like "Let Me In" and "Keeper of Lost Secrets", you will probably enjoy this one. It did edit my review to more stars because this movie stayed with me and got under my skin - despite the demon bunny.
Trial & Error (2017)
Great mix of characters, quirky, funny show...
I have loved Lithgow since 3rd Rock From the Sun, back in the day. This is a funny show and the characters mesh very well together. I love his office staff, especially his secretary and her numerous neurosis conditions. The law office shares space with a taxidermy outfit. This show is especially funny if you are southern and familiar with certain southern traits such as our dislike of strong displays of painful emotion ("I've never seen my wife so upset!" Camera zoom on wife showing no emotion whatsoever). The show is surprisingly tender and sweet, too.
You will be addicted by the first episode.
This show has it all: history, black magic, dark family secrets (and I mean DARK), betrayal and so much more. Tom Hardy is mesmerizing and rules the screen, but the entire cast is great. This is a very intelligent show, and the dialects can be hard to understand (then again, my hearing is not the best). Delaney's character is so complex - fair and soft-spoken one minute - a protector, able to see the good and evil in others, yet a ruthless killer the next. He is haunted by past trauma that he is only just beginning to understand. Do not miss this one.
The 9th Life of Louis Drax (2016)
I couldn't get through it....
I knew after five minutes that this was a dark dramedy and not a thriller. I also found the child's high-pitched voice annoying. I was hoping this would be something along the lines of Unbreakable, but I was not even able to get through it. The boy's first few "lives" are unraveled in an almost comedic way, in the first five minutes. Enter the doctor who gives lectures and has a best-selling book. At this point, I was losing interest. I don't know how this ended, nor do I care. The sound editing was the worst, too - make sure you have all background noise turned off. This had some good reviews, so I was very disappointed. To each his own. Maybe you will like it.
A Street Cat Named Bob (2016)
Unforgettable - 5 PAWS UP!!!!
I had to give this 10 stars, which I don't think I have done on this site. This is one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen, but not without grit. It is not easy to watch at first, as we watch James struggle with homelessness and addiction. But like most cat's - they tend to find us, rather than the other way around. This movie was based on the true story, which makes it even more emotionally raw. Tip: do not miss the closing credits, where you will see snapshots of the real James with Bob (Bob plays himself in the movie, however). He meets human companions along his healing process as well, but it never gets overly romantic (which is a good thing). It stays true through the entire movie. Fantastic soundtrack, by the way. This movie is about never losing hope and unexpected help from the kindness of people and animals you may meet along the way. It is about realizing that some people have zero support in their lives - not even the love of family, at times. However, support can come from so many humans if we are willing to put ourselves out there. Oh yeah - animals, too :-)
The Girl on the Train (2016)
This train ride will rock you - don't miss it.
"You are like one of those needy, abused dogs that just keeps getting up and coming back..." Emily Blunt gives an Oscar worthy performance as a sad, lonely, deeply troubled alcoholic. She cannot draw the line between reality, obsession and fantasy. Unfortunately, she will need to in order to save what remains of her sanity. To call this movie a love triangle would be inaccurate as there are simply too many people involved. Just when you think you have it nailed - trust me, you don't. The atmosphere is moody, the acting superb, the script is perfection. It does take awhile to build, and build it does. While this movie is by no means a chick flick, it does delve deeply into the psyche of women - at least the ones in the film - their dark secrets , their bonds, their intuition. If I had only one criticism, it would be that the lead character's alcoholism is exploited. But I guess it has to be since it is an intrinsic part of the lead role.
The Summoning (2017)
I feel the summoning....of a nap.
This was not the worst thriller I have ever seen, but it was very flawed, and moves very slowly without being particularly intriguing (I don't mind a slow burn if it is good). It begins with a rather interesting premise that is based on a true story - this could have been a really creepy movie. For starters, the lead actress was pretty bad. She showed so little emotion there were times she seemed mildly sedated. Secondly, they did not delve into the history of the theme - this could have been very creepy and had the makings of a great ghost story. Lastly, I found the ending unsatistying - not terrible, but an ending that many will see coming. Actually, I found the acting by Elbert Hill (the old maintenance man) to be superb, and I wish he had a larger role. Also, while Eric Roberts does not disappoint, his role was quite small. Four stars from me - had a great premise, but needed some tweaking, starting with the lead role.
Always Shine (2016)
I didn't want it to end...
This movie is about two young, struggling actresses whose friendship is dying and they know it, so they plan a girls retreat in a remote cabin in Big Sur. One is beautiful, in a committed relationship, gets admiration where she goes, and has had some steady gigs. She is kind and gentle - much like the character "Chloe" that she plays on the show Rectify. The other is the better actress yet can't get cast, she is alone, has average looks and is very mentally unstable - we see this in the first few scenes and it builds from there. Gee, what could possibly go wrong on this trip? If Single White Female and In Her Skin had a love-child, it would be this movie - on steroids. But make no mistake - this is no chick flick. There is plenty of psychological suspense to go around. This is all accomplished with no gore, no blood. The ending could be improved upon, but at least it won't leave you in the dust. I strongly recommend this movie if you are into psychological thrillers.
Good Behavior (2016)
Blown away - I want to be her.
This show is a roller-coaster ride going back and forth from the real world to the world we choose to hide in at times. Letty is out of prison, but falls in with "bad company", purely by chance. She is trying to make it in the world, but she still struggles with drugs, alcohol, thievery, and an emotionally abusive mother - for starters. She is incredibly likable - smart, tough, and incredibly brave- but can be vulnerable at times. She is deeply troubled with a compassionate heart - it is her heart that gets her into very large messes. All of the characters are incredibly convincing. This show has some humorous moments, but make no mistake - it is a rather intense drama. She wants very much to be "normal", but the people in the dark underworld she finds herself in treat her better than those in the real world. If you don't believe in second chances, this show isn't for you.