The Curse of La Llorona, 2019 – ★½

Raymond Cruz, known as “Tuco” in Breaking Bad, is the only shaft of light in this listless excuse for a horror movie.

The theater was packed due to the fact that this is supposed to be the legend of La Llorona, the crying woman ghost who has drowned her sons after their father cheated. Perhaps Cruz reading the story by firelight would be more entertaining.

As it is, there are some jump scares that came as a surprise but none were classified as eerie or creepy scary. The evil looked like The Nun, and the Nun at least had context but still wasn’t very scary. Hoe can James Wan, producer of Saw Insdious and Conjuring 2 keep financing these un-scary films?

IN conclusion,, this looks like a cash grab, feeding on the hispanic ticket buyer. The saddest thing about that is they never fleshed out the actual legend which is much scarier than the contrived story in this film. Horror fans should miss this one.

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Can You Ever Forgive Me?, 2018 – ★★★½

I’m torn on this one. I found the story (true) interesting and I never knew people could make money off letters of famous writers just as it was a pawn shop commodity. That is the interesting part worth watching.

People say the acting is amazing but I really didn’t find it special. I went ahead and gave it a 7/10 because fans of the actors will enjoy watching it. I was left a bit wanting after this one but I know many will probably like it. I recommend it despite my experience (which is rare for me).

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The Beach Bum, 2019 – ★★★

This is a “what did I just see?” film for sure. Don’t think you’re getting another “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.” This ‘aint yo momma’s rom com! Some people will rebel against this film and hate the drug use, sex, an debauchery. Others will laugh and enjoy it, recalling the beach bums we have known and loved in our lives. This film is anything but standard. Go in expecting a stoner’s paradise and you won’t be disappointed.

Harmony Korine is a true artist not enslaved to convention and fads. He wrote the screenplay for “Kids” and directed and wrote “Gummo.” I’ll be looking out for his projects, definitely a dude from my generation and after my heart. Because I thought this film could have had a better storyline, it loses a few points. Beware. Otherwise, it’s nearing excellence folks.

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Pet Sematary, 2019 – ★★★★½ (contains spoilers)

This review may contain spoilers.

I really liked this movie for its creepiness and it scariness. Hear my podcast on it here: thedrpodcast.com/pet-sematary-2019/

Although the clown monster hit “It” may end up grossing more box office dollars, this is a better horror movie in my perspective. The creepiness permeates and paves the way for a quaint yet terrifying tale of one family and a mystic pet sematary just behind their house.

have observed modern horror includes both remakes of past hits as well as re imaginings. These span from “Friday the 13th” to “The Fly” and beyond. Here we have a remake with a slight re imagining element. Pet Sematary revitalizes the beloved 80’s film by Stephen King and respectively repackages it into a film that is more artful, more creepy, and more thought provoking than the original. This isn’t just a jump-scare film either, though it has some of that. It is a horror film through and through creepiness and dark, misty atmosphere included.

Quaint may not be the best adjective for this tale in that it has elements of horror and gore interspersed with a simple story about a quaint family in an all-American home. I think it’s important to note however that getting a story across should have simple pillars. I think the clown film “It” gets way into the complicated zone and for me this detracts from the power of the story. This film indeed has a quaint, or simple, story that is tastefully told using horror elements that accentuate instead of blot it out.

Another benefit of this simplicity is that entry level horror fans can have better access to it. Walking into a haunted house, the riff raff gets sorted out pretty quickly. By that I mean: they do not continue. If it’s a more mild form of scare, they may come through and enjoy the whole attraction. That happened with my youngest daughter, age 11. She’s not into horror yet but she really wanted to see this movie. She ended up loving it. She’s still not claiming to be a horror fan but I would say this film has that “entry level horror” quality to it.

The trailer is not “entry level” sounding, let’s listen to it now …

At the get go I want to address the direction “team.” Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. This film plays like a film that people cared for over a long time. There are no accidents. It all works perfectly too. These directors are behind “Starry Eyes.” This goes to show you they had a value for graphic horror in this film. “Starry Eyes” is one of those films where you relate because it looks like it could be happening in your own home or apartment. In fact, as the body count rises, you start thinking about how you will need to hide the evidence. These two can make the film personal and bring the creepiness home to the horror fan. Since “Pet Sematary” takes place with a family in a home and builds its horror moments between family members, Kolsch was a perfect choice. You feel that creepy atmosphere and personal discomfort. I think I’ve discovered a new favorite director team. You can bet I’ll be watching everything they do. I also applaud the producers here for supporting these two on this project. I can only dream of what they COULD have done with “It.” As it is, I am not a huge fan.

A shout out must go to Matt Greenburg for crafting the screenplay. He did Reign of Fire which I really enjoyed. He has some other films under his belt he’s done that are quite impressive: “Seventh Son” and “Halloween H20.” Clearly this project required a talented writer. I loved some of the carefully made changes. They are actually more nods to the original film rather than just detail changes. Here at the beginning, let’s take a look at this cast and see how it stacks up to horror. Jason Clark plays the father/husband in this. He does a pretty good job overall. How do I say this respectfully and delicately? Clark lacks the range in my opinion to play what this role requires. When he is tender with his wife and family his face looks exactly the same as when he is obsessing. There are a couple scenes where it’s hard to know if he is a secretive killer (even though most people know the character he playing well from the book from the prior film). I saw an interview with Clark where he spoke about (in his thick Australian accent) how his personal focus in the role was to show people his fatherly, loving relationship with his daughter, wife and son, and then let them react to what happens bad in the movie. I think he said the right things but his facial expressions and demeanor never really changed it seems and it did seem out of place when he did the things he did before and then later in the film as well.

An actor with a somewhat more calming and happy countenance might have improved the role I think. It’s important we really identify and like the protagonist in this story. I feel Clark is miscast in this role.

Amy Seimetz is a better casting choice. She plays the cuddling wife that truly relies on her husband. She is recovering from the trauma of the death of her sister and this weighs heavy on her moods and most importantly, prevents her from finding peace in her life. I think her character shows the largest moral in this story. When we lose a pet or a loved one, the natural course of grieving should eventually allow them to “rest in peace.” The inability to let them go interrupts that process and people get, well “strange.” They can, in fact, go mad. This is where Stephen King’s phrase “Sometimes dead is better.” fits in nicely to the main idea of the movie: Let the dead go! BUt Seimetz is a fresh place of relief in this movie. She represents more innocence than anyone, even though she feels so guilty for Zelda’s death.

Jeté Laurence is a ray of sunshine in this. She already has a lot of acting work on her resume The Snowman (2017), The Americans (2013) and Jessica Jones (2015). This young one has been listening to the grownups! She has some acting chops that are devastatingly sharp. Not only is she very cute but she knows how to play ugly too. She plays a much deeper and wider role in this than the actor plays in the original.

Follow me on Letterboxd https://letterboxd.com/rileyonfilm/film/pet-sematary-2019/

Podcast: Pet Sematary (2019)

Although the clown monster hit “It” may end up grossing more box office dollars, this is a better horror movie in my perspective. The creepiness permeates and paves the way for a quaint yet terrifying tale of one family and a mystic pet sematary just behind their house.

I have observed modern horror includes both remakes of past hits as well as re imaginings. These span from “Friday the 13th” to “The Fly” and beyond. Here we have a remake with a slight re imagining element. Pet Sematary revitalizes the beloved 80’s film by Stephen King and respectively repackages it into a film that is more artful, more creepy, and more thought provoking than the original. This isn’t just a jump-scare film either, though it has some of that. It is a horror film through and through creepiness and dark, misty atmosphere included.

Quaint may not be the best adjective for this tale in that it has elements of horror and gore interspersed with a simple story about a quaint family in an all-American home. I think it’s important to note however that getting a story across should have simple pillars. I think the clown film “It” gets way into the complicated zone and for me this detracts from the power of the story. This film indeed has a quaint, or simple, story that is tastefully told using horror elements that accentuate instead of blot it out.

Another benefit of this simplicity is that entry level horror fans can have better access to it. Walking into a haunted house, the riff raff gets sorted out pretty quickly. By that I mean: they do not continue. If it’s a more mild form of scare, they may come through and enjoy the whole attraction. That happened with my youngest daughter, age 11. She’s not into horror yet but she really wanted to see this movie. She ended up loving it. She’s still not claiming to be a horror fan but I would say this film has that “entry level horror” quality to it.

The trailer is not “entry level” sounding, let’s listen to it now …

At the get go I want to address the direction “team.” Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer. This film plays like a film that people cared for over a long time. There are no accidents. It all works perfectly too. These directors are behind “Starry Eyes.” This goes to show you they had a value for graphic horror in this film. “Starry Eyes” is one of those films where you relate because it looks like it could be happening in your own home or apartment. In fact, as the body count rises, you start thinking about how you will need to hide the evidence. These two can make the film personal and bring the creepiness home to the horror fan. Since “Pet Sematary” takes place with a family in a home and builds its horror moments between family members, Kolsch was a perfect choice. You feel that creepy atmosphere and personal discomfort. I think I’ve discovered a new favorite director team. You can bet I’ll be watching everything they do. I also applaud the producers here for supporting these two on this project. I can only dream of what they COULD have done with “It.” As it is, I am not a huge fan.

A shout out must go to Matt Greenburg for crafting the screenplay. He did Reign of Fire which I really enjoyed. He has some other films under his belt he’s done that are quite impressive: “Seventh Son” and “Halloween H20.” Clearly this project required a talented writer. I loved some of the carefully made changes. They are actually more nods to the original film rather than just detail changes. Here at the beginning, let’s take a look at this cast and see how it stacks up to horror. Jason Clark plays the father/husband in this. He does a pretty good job overall. How do I say this respectfully and delicately? Clark lacks the range in my opinion to play what this role requires. When he is tender with his wife and family his face looks exactly the same as when he is obsessing. There are a couple scenes where it’s hard to know if he is a secretive killer (even though most people know the character he playing well from the book from the prior film). I saw an interview with Clark where he spoke about (in his thick Australian accent) how his personal focus in the role was to show people his fatherly, loving relationship with his daughter, wife and son, and then let them react to what happens bad in the movie. I think he said the right things but his facial expressions and demeanor never really changed it seems and it did seem out of place when he did the things he did before and then later in the film as well.

An actor with a somewhat more calming and happy countenance might have improved the role I think. It’s important we really identify and like the protagonist in this story. I feel Clark is miscast in this role.

Amy Seimetz is a better casting choice. She plays the cuddling wife that truly relies on her husband. She is recovering from the trauma of the death of her sister and this weighs heavy on her moods and most importantly, prevents her from finding peace in her life. I think her character shows the largest moral in this story. When we lose a pet or a loved one, the natural course of grieving should eventually allow them to “rest in peace.” The inability to let them go interrupts that process and people get, well “strange.” They can, in fact, go mad. This is where Stephen King’s phrase “Sometimes dead is better.” fits in nicely to the main idea of the movie: Let the dead go! BUt Seimetz is a fresh place of relief in this movie. She represents more innocence than anyone, even though she feels so guilty for Zelda’s death.

Jeté Laurence is a ray of sunshine in this. She already has a lot of acting work on her resume The Snowman (2017), The Americans (2013) and Jessica Jones (2015). This young one has been listening to the grownups! She has some acting chops that are devastatingly sharp. Not only is she very cute but she knows how to play ugly too. She plays a much deeper and wider role in this than the actor plays in the original.

The Exploding Girl

College can be a rough time, even for those who are 100% healthy. In this case, we have a protagonist with epilepsy. She’s trying to find love that eludes her time and time again.

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I like films like this that look almost like hidden camera footage. When a girl and her roommate stay up watching TV, hanging off the couch talking about life, you are among them. It’s really a hard time when you’re out of high school in your early years of adulthood. You want the job, the enjoyment, and the love that culture promises and yet, it doesn’t translate that way.

We see a girl who is stuck in unrequited love, trying to improve a relationship tat is sadly one-sided. When one is new at love, there is so much that has to be learned the hard way. Then, there is the “Ducky” type of friend who shares her apartment. Is their friendship destined to stay platonic or will it grow into a sexual thing.

Thes are the basic elements of this film. My wife thought it dragged on a bit. I, on the other hand, liked the mysterious ether-like feeling of the film. For me, it was a peering into the life of a brave young girl with no answers. I found it inspiring in an odd way. Maybe because I don’t yet have the answers and I felt for her in that stage of life. I recommend it as a thoughtful romantic drama.

4.

The Edge of Seventeen

This film was marketed incorrectly and that’s too bad. I think some will pass on it because it looks like Emma Stone getting an easy a or some derivative of a party and sex themed high school movie. It’s not like that at all.

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This film is about real people going through changes in life. It has dark segments and dark comedy as well. There are elements of the high school comedy but they only serve to drive the depth of the story. It is all interwoven especially well.

This film shows what its film-making generation can do at a pristine level. Instead of relying on recycled paradigms of successful party films.

The acting is great. I’d say her brother is too huge and too buff. I might have opted for a more “Ducky” sort.

Other than his though, which is only just less than perfect, all the performances are fantastic.

One topic delved into is the mental-health topic of depression. With high schoolers, it can be hard to draw a clear line between regular growing pains and depression. This films shows the blurred line and then lets the audience draw its own distinction.

The protagonist is beautiful, I hope to see her in more films. I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I recommend it to all, preteens through adults.

Snowden

I’ve seen paranoia around the ideas of NSA among friends and co-workers. I thought most of it was unfounded until I saw this film, Snowden. I’ll modify what I just said just a hair, I’ll replace the word “paranoia with “awareness.” People need to be aware of the surveillance going on in our private lives.

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Snowden is quite a character. I really enjoyed watching this movie. I can’t say I would give up a posh home in Hawaii and a romantic lover just to inform the press about the snooping the government does. That’s just what he did though. Furthermore, he’s given up any chance of walking down Central Park or swimming at the California beaches. He did it for “us?”

Most of us know our employers monitor our internet use along with things like keystrokes on our work computers. They could have cameras everywhere and often do because they are your employer and they’ll fire us if we don’t like it. What I didn’t know until I saw this enlightening true story is that they have access to our wi-fi and other monitoring mechanisms in our homes. They monitor the world in hopes of preventing terrorism. I guess it’s working pretty well right? There hasn’t been another 9-11?

We see Snowden rise up in the ranks of the FBI and reveal for us the many ways the NSA peers into our private lives. It’s fairly well done. The way one reacts to is will depend on ones political sensitivities. Snowden is a real guy. You can Google him. AS a movie this is pretty good. It’s the subject matter that truly makes it worth the watch. But as you do, just remember, they may be watching you. You might ask yourself, as I did, if Snowden is a hero or just a guy who had enough. I recommend it for fans of the drama and mystery genres as well as those interested in the subject of internet privacy.