A young West Point cadet named Poe (Harry Melling) works with proto-detective Landor (Christian Bale) to solve a grisly murder. One of the best-looking Poe movies ever made. Bale is solid as the intense Landor, but the revelation is Melling’s Poe. Recommended. Continue reading The Pale Blue Eye (Netflix, 2022)
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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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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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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In 1917, the third year of WWI, Germany continued to suffer heavy losses for meager gains on the battlefield. Instead of admitting to the futility of the war effort, the army recruited younger and younger men to continue the push … Continue reading All Quiet on the Western Front (2022) Netflix
A brilliant directorial debut by Rebecca Hall, featuring exceptional performances by Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Highly recommended! Continue reading Passing
Benedict Cumberbatch stars in The Power of the Dog, directed by Academy Award-winning director Jane Campion, and her first feature film in twelve years. The movie presents itself as a Western, but it’s actually a bleak character study set in a Western context. Filled with impressive camera work and interesting performances, The Power of the Dog spends far too much time documenting the misanthropy of its central character Phil, a hard-driving cattle rancher who is not what he seems. Cumberbatch’s acting definitely earns our attention, but his character’s underlying mystery is telegraphed early on. The movie’s primary concern is to make the audience uncomfortable watching Phil make the lives of the other characters miserable. Ultimately, it tests our patience and concludes with an intriguing payoff that almost makes it all worthwhile, but not quite. Not recommended.
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Mike Flanagan, the creative force behind The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor, returns with Midnight Mass, a new limited series on Netflix. Similar to his two previous series, Midnight Mass is a combination of earnest performances, thoughtful, introspective dialog and stealth horror elements. This time around, Flanagan has decided to de-emphasize the scary stuff, and the result is incredibly underwhelming, to the point where the series should have been titled Tedium.
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Fear Street:1994 opens promisingly with a skull-masked slasher taking out a young, pretty bookseller at the mall. The movie then introduces five high schoolers who unwittingly unleash the malevolent spirit of the Fier witch when they disturb her bones lying in the forest. The witch was killed back in 1666, but has been the influencer behind inexplicable homicides for decades. The actors portraying the teenagers either bring too much or too little intensity to their roles, resulting in a “who cares” attitude when they are eventually stalked by resurrected killers from the past. 1994 Is competently directed, and I liked its day-glo aesthetic, but its reliance on Nineties music becomes a distraction. Not recommended.
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In The Woman in the Window, Amy Adams plays Anna, an agorophobic-asexual-alcoholic child psychologist who’s life turns into a weak copy of Rear Window. The movie mainly exists as a device to persecute and torture Amy Adams’s character. If you enjoyed seeing Adams essentially repeat her character from Sharp Objects, you may enjoy this movie. As it stands, the movie doesn’t let her take any pleasure from her voyeurism, and instead repeatedly punishes Anna for her transgressions, past and present. She’s Joan of Arc with a telephoto lens. Not recommended.
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