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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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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Halloween Ends

In Halloween Kills (the previous entry in this series), Michael Myers escaped certain death when some unwitting firefighters rescued him from Laurie Strode’s burning home.  He then proceeded to lay waste to the entire firefighter squad without breaking a sweat.  While Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) and Deputy Frank (Will Patton) recovered from their injuries at the hospital, Michael made mincemeat out of a self-styled vigilante mob led by survivors of the original.  Last but not least, Michael shockingly killed Laurie’s daughter Karen (Judy Greer).  Ends picks up the story one year later.  Michael has not been seen since the prior year, and the town has shifted back towards normalcy.  (Sorry Haddonfield, IL, your town will never be “normal”.)

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Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

Lyle, Lyle Crocodile

What would you do if you stumbled upon a crocodile who could dance and sing? If you’re hapless magician Hector P. Valenti (Javier Bardem), you would make it the centerpiece of a song-and-dance act. Lyle definitely has the singing and dancing chops to be a star, but he suffers from paralyzing stage fright. Before you can say Michigan J. Frog, the act flops on opening night. Having used his home as collateral, Valenti goes on the road to pay off his debts, leaving Lyle a first generation iPod to keep himself company.

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