I Think We’re Alone Now

The Apocalypse genre has almost become saturated. Still, it’s really interesting so there is always room for one more I say. (As long as it’s good.) In this case “I Think We’re Alone Now” ITWAN isn’t a zombie based one, it’s more of a relational, isolated one like another I saw last year called Bokeh. In fact the two look almost twin like as far as empty city streets and locale goes. Maybe that’s why I expected ITWAN to be more about the relationship between Peter Dinklage and Elle Fanning than it was. Well also probably the title being the name of a popular Tiffany love song in the 80’s.

I Think We’re Alone Now (2018) R | 1h 33min | Drama , Mystery , Sci-Fi | 21 September 2018 (USA) Trailer 2:27 |The apocalypse proves a blessing in disguise for one lucky recluse — until a second survivor arrives with the threat of companionship. Director: Reed Morano Writer: Mike Makowsky Stars: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Reed Morano is the director … ladies get ready for this: She directed “the Handmaid’s Tale.” She also did an amazing film I reviewed recently called “Frozen River.” I think those on her resume are bound to get attention.

But here my amazement slides back just a bit. At 40 mins in we still don’t know what’s going on. Then for another 40 we think we do but the rest of the film proves us wrong again. I think this story is basic enough you could start developing it with details and relational aspects earlier. Paul Giamatti and Charlotte Gainsbourg are also in this but they doesn’t show up until half-way through. The story is good but it seems they over developed the introduction which hurt the storytelling in my opinion. The final act is superb.

I enjoyed this film and imagine I will see more from Reed Moreno in 2019. 7/10.

Only the Brave

I don’t think I am alone when I say I’m a sucker for a true story about everyday heroes. This looked to me to be a redneck sort of Trump loving movie when I saw the trailers. It also looked kind of sappy. The way I came around to seeing it was through IMDb when I compared three search criteria: 1. User Rating 7/10 2. Num of Votes (lots!) and 3. metascore: 70 something. So, it drew me in that way and I am so glad it did. What a movie!

Only the Brave (2017) PG-13 | 2h 14min | Biography , Drama | 20 October 2017 (USA) Based on the true story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, a group of elite firefighters who risk everything to protect a town from a historic wildfire. Director: Joseph Kosinski Writers: Sean Flynn (based on the GQ article “No Exit” by), Ken Nolan | 1 more credit » Stars: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges

Human lives are always interesting on screen. The hard part is adapting stories to the screen so other humans get it. That is done very well here. There are many tropes of typical masculinity films but this one steers clear of anything outright or in your face. There might as well have been a Trump campaign poster at the party but no politics were shared. I think it was made appealing to the right wing but anyone with an open mind can love this film. Being a left winger, this film about red necks fighting fires with cowboy hats on made me swing a little right just for the runtime. 8/10.

The Strangers: Prey at Night

I thought it looked cheesy when the tagline was “Let Us Prey.” and derivative but SOMETHING WAS TELLING ME ABOUT STRANGERS 2.

This film is now as of writing this review streaming on Prime Video

I saw the big guys’ low scores but SOMETHING WAS TELLING ME ABOUT STRANGERS 2
It came and went with a whimper in cinema SOMETHING WAS TELLING ME ABOUT STRANGERS 2
And that something was right!

The Strangers: Prey at Night (2018) R | 1h 25min | Horror | 9 March 2018 (USA) A family of four staying at a secluded mobile home park for the night are stalked and then hunted by three masked psychopaths. Director: Johannes Roberts Writers: Bryan Bertino, Ben Ketai Stars: Christina Hendricks, Martin Henderson, Bailee Madison

Our director here is Johannes Roberts, the director also of “47 Meters Down.” While that is a far from perfect movie, it works as shark horror/suspense and it takes creative chances all over the place.I found it to be one of my favorites last year. The director shows himself to be simple as well, I like that a lot.

I’ve given you the synopsis as always so I’ll skip the pleasantries. I loved the dark look of this film. I loved the idea of being isolated, which each victim is at one point or another. Being face to face literally a foot away from your killer is another amazing visual. Oh and let us not forget the ideal usage of the masks and the axe.

Finally, I liked the element of the victims going into fight or flight or panic attacks. When the brother is using the phone his hand is violently shaking. That’s how it would be. I don’t know about you but I get sick and tired of perfect heroes in horror who seem to know just what to do with their crossbow etc. This is real, it’s way more scary.

After getting through the first 1/4 of the film, I loved every minute thereafter. I’m not sure how necessary that first 1/4 was. I give the film a 9/10.

The Hate U Give

For many years I’ve taken the position that the white man has been a devil through so many years. This film has caused me to alter that position. As whites who want racial peace, we need to look forward with people of all colors. In the past 2-3 years I feel I have seen more hate against whites in movies and the news than I recall in my 49 years on earth. This film addresses what keep the hate alive but isn’t daring enough to show a solution. That would have been a much better way to end this film.

The Hate U Give (2018) PG-13 | 2h 13min | Crime , Drama | 19 October 2018 (USA) Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right. Director: George Tillman Jr. Writers: Audrey Wells (screenplay by), Angie Thomas (based upon the novel by) Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby

Our director is George Tillman Jr. Who directed a film I have seen depicting race and social issues called “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete.” Like another director I really respect and enjoy, Spike Lee, his resume reads like a social equality syllabus. While this film was too graphic and didn’t offer enough solutions in my opinion, and it also felt very anti white, I will be watching for his movies in the future. He definitely has a finger on the pulse of Black America. I want to point out though that villainizing whites is racist also.

This shows racism as a chain. It starts with a cop shooting, then we examine the cop. If we find in a grand jury he shot out of self-defense, we let the cop go. But the chain may have started with the black person in the car who reached for something that looked like a gun. Everybody needs to be more conscious of the other race including the cop. Disrespect usually doesn’t cost ones life but when one it told by the police to know move and she/he does, what can I say a terrible and almost impossible situation is created.

I am almost unable to type after seeing this film. It GUTS you. It gives young people a lot to talk about and you know what? It’s a hell of lot more balanced and presented than the racist images in “The Purge One.”

If you plan to go to this, black or white, please bring an open mind. There are times the acting is bad and the writing worse but the message is crucial to all of us so I recommend it in the highest way. Peoples of all colors need to start loving each other and each others’ babies for this to stop. 9/10.

Braven

His managers are wisely making sure to get him out there as much as possible prior to December’s release of “Aquaman.” Braven is one where, even though I kept shaking my head at overused tropes, I got into because of the lead star Jason Momoa. Probably my favorite thing after him is the cinematography. From the ocean waves to the snow capped mountains, this film is unbelievable looking. It’s the writing I wasn’t wholeheartedly behind. These loggers are serious. They joke around some but at the end of the day, Momoa’s character sets the standard for all work and very very little play.

Braven (2018)
R | 1h 34min | Action , Drama | 2 February 2018 (USA)
A logger defends his family from a group of dangerous drug runners.
Director: Lin Oeding
Writers: Thomas Pa’a Sibbett (screenplay by), Michael Nilon (story by) | 1 more credit »
Stars: Jason Momoa, Garret Dillahunt, Jill Wagner

Our director is Lin Oeding was born on August 9, 1977 in Sacramento, California, USA. He is known for his work on The Equalizer (2014), Straight Outta Compton (2015) and Inception (2010). I’ve seen 2 out of 3. This guy is the big time. He is unsuccessful here in coaching actor inevitability.

I’m not a huge fan of watching people fake dementia. Probably because I have seen it in deceased relatives and it is not something you can fake. Apparently the family in which he is the perfect dad and husband isn’t enough chracter development. He has to be the martyr son taking care of his Alzheimer’s dad who wanders into the local bar and beats the crap out of people. Then, he is set against the drug runners. This movie was good but not great, and greater than most that’s out there that hasn’t gotten enormous praise. Something’s missing. 6/10.

Sleepy Hollow

Here’s one I’m happy to share about during Halloween! The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is probably one of the most beloved stories from my childhood that I associate with the witching holiday. There is a short film made by Disney that came out in the 70’s. It was on television here and there in my youth. The story of Ichabod Crane and the headless horseman. But that was Disney then, this is Tim Burton.

Sleepy Hollow (1999) R | 1h 45min | Fantasy , Horror , Mystery | 19 November 1999 (USA) Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman. Director: Tim Burton Writers: Washington Irving (story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”), Kevin Yagher (screen story) | 2 more credits » Stars: Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Miranda Richardson

As with all things Burton, this is an odd take on the traditional tale. You will see indeed a lot of “heads roll.” Christopher Walken plays the headless horseman and I think no other performer could pull off seeming joyful about cutting off heads. Christina Ricci and Johnny Depp are also lead roles in this. That adds a lot! There is a bit too much silliness for my liking. The “creepiness” I talk about in horror films (some anyway) is achieved very well in this film. It is one that spared no expense to create a creepy ambience. Mission Accomplished! 9/10.

Wildling

This week I specifically tried to get some films watched that were not in the 80-100% range. I wanted to see what I would find. “Wildling” is what I found and I am so glad I looked there! Critics rate on somewhat common criteria and it’s not always what I like. I’m starting to see ratings as “genres” in increments of 10. ie; 0-10 genre, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, 41-50 on and on. This way instead of seeing a 14/100 as a negative, think of what we know for sure about this spread. There’s a chance it’s a low budget, devil-may-care movie which I might love! Anyway, think about it, I did.

Wildling (2018)
R | 1h 32min | Drama , Fantasy , Horror | 13 April 2018 (Canada)
A blossoming teenager uncovers the dark secret behind her traumatic childhood.
Director: Fritz Böhm
Writers: Fritz Böhm, Florian Eder
Stars: Bel Powley, Liv Tyler, Brad Dourif

“Wildling” is directed by Fritz Böhm and he has done nothing on a cinema scale besides that.

I kept thinking of Twilight in this. Teenage young woman discovering things around her. It started out much more interesting than that though. In the end, it became a question of supernatural things. It was quite good actually how they wove the story in that direction. Maybe it would have been a 10/10 with me if things didn’t take so long to start making sense. I recommend it as a thriller. 8/10.

Beast

I liked the simple yet suggestive title right away. It sounded like a sci-fi or horror film but instead it’s a drama/mystery/thriller. Once I saw that, I wanted to know about this “Beast.” It could have been anything: a person, a drug, a relationship … so I coughed up the few bucks and bought the Prime stream. It was a wild ride that turned the screw of mystery all the way through. It had amazing cinematography of the European countryside and superb acting. And then, there is that mystery of “Beast” and what the hell that means. You may find everyone in the room does not agree. I love films like that.

Beast (2017)
R | 1h 47min | Crime , Drama , Mystery | 11 May 2018 (USA)
on Prime Video
A troubled woman living in an isolated community finds herself pulled between the control of her oppressive family and the allure of a secretive outsider suspected of a series of brutal murders.
Director: Michael Pearce
Writer: Michael Pearce
Stars: Johnny Flynn, Jessie Buckley, Geraldine James

Michael Pearce is our director and this is his first movie. It is the development of a concept that impresses me here. I will be looking for more technical ability and other fine concepts from this man.

This film made the rounds with numerous festivals. I heard about it on podcasts here and there that I follow. It sounded interesting but after watching it just now, I am much more impressed. It doesn’t get a 10 with me because some of the scenes are disjointed and I don’t follow the mystery with too may clues. Still, I do have a theory and getting there excited me fully. 9/10.

A Star Is Born (2018)

A modernized telling of the classic 1976 version starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand. There were also two made that I haven’t seen in 1937 and 1954. That’s a staggering amount of remakes! in the 2018 movie that some are calling “The Lady Gaga one” some new depths of love, fame, and addiction are plumbed while paying respect to the 1976 version. This is a great movie, date-flick or otherwise. From my podcast The DRP:

A Star Is Born (2018) R | 2h 16min | Drama , Music , Romance | 5 October 2018 (USA) A musician helps a young singer find fame, even as age and alcoholism send his own career into a downward spiral. Director: Bradley Cooper Writers: Eric Roth (screenplay by), Bradley Cooper (screenplay by) | 7 more credits » Stars: Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Sam Elliott

Bradley Cooper is a well known name in showbiz. Most people got their first glimpse of him in the “Hangover” but he;s done a lot besides that. This is his directorial debut and he’s also starring in it. I always have respect for an actor who does “something else” in the film for example writes the film or directs it. I think starring in a film while directing it, especially a film requiring so much acting ability and focus is a mammoth task. For the most part, I think Cooper pulled it off. The rest of this short review contains some minor spoilers. In the last third of the film it’s as if he gave up being in charge and let Lady Gaga go crazy singing full length songs making the film long. The first 2/3 are excellent directing by him but the last parts suffered in my eyes.

Lady Gaga shows she has a great voice and that she is a performer. One problem I had with her is that, in her obvious quest to appear genuine, she came off as acting. You really can’t act genuine. I think she is a performer who can cry on queue and turn her made up face to the close up camera but as far as being the “All American girl” that this role calls for, she came up short. Having said that, I feel she has enough of a fan base that droves will enjoy her performance. Stack her against a Barbara Streisand and you have a less quirky, modern billboard performing artist but Streisand played the genuine better in my view. That doesn’t mean the movie is bad or un-enjoyable, it just means Lady Gaga doesn’t strike me as an innocent victim in the show as she tries so hard to be. In fact, her well chosen father actor, Andrew Dice Clay, make the genuine goal even less effective. In short, I see her as better at a half-time show than a tender film of this nature.

All in all, my wife enjoyed this film and so did I. even though we couldn’t sit through lady Gaga’s full length piano requiem at the end. We left in the middle of it. 7/10.

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