A Man Called Otto (2022)

A Man Called Otto (2022)

Otto (Tom Hanks) is a Grump.  That much is clear from the movie’s opening scene.  First he argues with a sales associate who wants to help him cut the rope he wishes to purchase.  Then he argues with the checkout clerk who says he must pay for two yards of rope when he only needs five feet.  It’s not that Otto can’t afford to pay the extra thirty-odd cents, he doesn’t want to pay for what he doesn’t need.  When the clerk explains that the computer register can only ring him up for a per yard purchase, he asks, “What computer can’t do math?”  Otto’s argument  ultimately amounts to nothing, but he’s the sort of person who’s always ready to argue something on principle.  Even though what he’s arguing about–five feet of rope, is what he intends to use to kill himself.

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The Whale

The Whale

Sympathy for the Fat Man

Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is a pathetic figure.  How pathetic is he?  Initially, only his voice is heard on a web conference with his students, who see him as a black square.  (He claims that his webcam is broken.)  Immediately afterwards, Charlie is revealed to be a morbidly obese man, sitting alone in a drab apartment, masturbating to a pornographic video on his laptop.  The activity is too strenuous for him, and he starts coughing violently.  He grabs a printed essay from an end table and tries to read it, but cannot because he is having trouble breathing.  (As you may have guessed, The Whale is a love it or hate it experience.)

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Wednesday (Netflix, 2022)

Wednesday (2022, Netflix)

Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) is no average teenage girl.  With her pallid complexion, black attire, matching pigtails and a personality overflowing with misanthropy, she’s every parent’s nightmare, except for Morticia and Gomez.  They love their little viper, storm cloud, etc. and would do anything for her, including keeping her out of trouble when she exacts revenge on her brother Pugsley’s high school tormentors.  When Morticia confronts her with the possibility of having attempted murder on her record, Wednesday replies, “Terrible.  Everyone would know I failed to get the job done.”  If you love droll humor, Wednesday (character and series) has plenty more where that’s coming.

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Lady Chatterley's Lover (Netflix)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

The movie opens with several touches of visual cleverness.  Connie (Emma Corrin) and Clifford (Matthew Duckett) standing against a fake landscape that is revealed to be the painted backdrop of their wedding portrait.  (A metaphor for the awkward pretense their marriage will become?)  The couple then attend an awkward wedding reception where Connie’s role of heir-producer is toasted.  They then manage to consummate their wedding vows in spite of Clifford’s apprehension about going off to war.  (Said consummation was not shown, but I assumed it was dignified and restrained.)  The following morning on his trip to the front, Clifford is framed by the window of his train car, where his expression mirrors the horrors reflected in the window.

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Emily the Criminal

Emily the Criminal

To paraphrase the late Charles Bukowski, nobody suffers like the working poor.  Emily (Aubrey Plaza), the eponymous character of Emily the Criminal, is a perfect example of that truism.  She works for a food delivery service, making just enough to afford her car and room in someone else’s apartment.  Emily is a heads-down, hard-working type, and needs a better-paying job to do more than exist.  Unfortunately, an old felony conviction for aggravated assault keeps her shackled in place.  That incident ended her college career and left her on the hook for $70k in student loans.  Basically, Emily is trapped.  She can’t get an office job because of the felony on her record, and without a better paying job she can’t pay off her debt.

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The Menu

The Menu

In the day’s twilight, a group of obnoxious super-rich types take a boat to a remote island for dinner.  This isn’t just any dinner, though.  It’s a $1,750 per head dining experience by Chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).  Among the guests are Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) and Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy), a couple that doesn’t quite fit.  After they arrive, they are welcomed by hostess Elsa (Hong Chau), whose every smile and glance forebodes something devious is afoot.  Then, when everyone is seated, Chef Slowik appears.  With a firm clap and a voice tinged with growing condescension, he announces a progression of courses that bring delight and unease.  Unlike the rest of the clueless patrons, Margot can tell something isn’t right.  Each course, while immaculately prepared, brings recriminations from the Chef.  Then, shockingly and unexpectedly, things turn violent.  What does Chef Slowik have planned for everyone?  Will they survive until the meal’s final course?

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The Wonder

The Wonder

Set in Ireland in 1862, The Wonder tells the story of a young girl named Anna (Kíla Lord Cassidy) who hasn’t eaten in four months.  Everyone around her considers her to be a wonder.  The town leaders (a priest, a doctor, a landlord and a Lord) want to confirm whether she is a living miracle or not, so they commission English nurse Elizabeth Wright (Florence Pugh) to help watch her to see if she’s actually eating.  Elizabeth knows it’s not possible for a human being to live for that long without sustenance.  William Byrne (Tom Burke), reporter for the Daily Telegraph, also believes the girl is a “wee faker”, but is more interested in who is pulling the puppets strings.  When Lib suspects the girl’s mother Rosaleen is behind the ruse, Lib forbids anyone from interacting with the girl.  As expected, Anna begins to slowly die.  But why would Rosaleen want her own child to die?

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