Arrival (2016)

Rating: 10 of 10

movie poster Arrival (2016)At whatever point you’re at in your life right now, if given the opportunity, would you do it all over again? You’d experience all the highs, every low, the moments of pure bliss, and the situations you didn’t think you’d survive.

Synopsis: “When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team — led by expert translator Louise Banks (Amy Adams) — races against time to decipher their intent. As tensions mount between fearful governments, Banks discovers the aliens’ true purpose and, to avert global war, takes a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.” (source)

My thoughts: The only movie, of 261 movies watched in 2016, that I gave 10 stars. I had to make myself not buy another ticket and watch it again immediately.

Normally, if someone I know in real life hasn’t seen a movie yet, I keep my opinions to myself so as not to taint their expectations. There was no way I could do that with ARRIVAL. I told everyone I knew they HAD to see it *cough* andloveit *cough* or else I would shun them. Only half serious…

Unfortunately, I can’t share much in the way of specifics; one of the things that makes ARRIVAL a spectacular film is learning the truth right along with Louise. All I’ll say is, if you enjoy sci-fi movies that wrinkle your brain and punch you in the feels, you won’t be disappointed. Not since JUNEBUG and SUNSHINE CLEANING has Amy Adams given such a deeply affecting performance. Her portrayal of Louise Banks reminded why I adore her as an actor and why I watch all her movies.

I wanted to read the short story on which ARRIVAL is based before watching the film, but I couldn’t resist; the trailer just looked too damn good! It’s on my to-read list for 2017, though. “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, available in the collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, published by Small Beer Press. Those I know who’ve read it tell me it’s excellent.

Check out ARRIVAL Why are they here? | official website and trailer | on IMDb | on Facebook | on Twitter

(Watched at AMC Lennox 12/5/2016)

I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

Rating: 7 of 10

movie poster I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)An insouciant thriller that’s more character study than edge-of-your-seat, whodunit.

Synopsis: “Sixteen-year-old John Wayne Cleaver is not a serial killer—but he has all the makings of one. Keeping his homicidal tendencies and morbid obsessions with death and murder in check is a constant struggle that only gets harder when a real serial killer begins terrorizing his sleepy Midwestern town. Now, in order to track down a psychopath and protect those around him, John must unleash his darkest inner demons.” (source)

My thoughts: Years back I read the young adult book on which this movie was based. It was a solid story, one I knew had the potential to be an entertaining movie.

Happily, this adaptation didn’t let me down. Where I think the movie sets itself apart from the book is its atmosphere and grittiness. Add to that Christopher Lloyd, an impressive performance by Max Records as John, and you have one of the best indie horror movies I’ve seen in 2016.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like NIGHTCRAWLER, STOKER, or HARD CANDY.

Check out I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER official website and trailer on IFC Midnight | on IMDb | on Twitter

(Watched on Amazon 11/18/2016)

Equals (2015)

Rating: 7 of 10

movie poster Equals (2015)Feelings complicate just about everything in life. So what would happen if people permanently suppressed their emotions? Everyone would function as thought-based beings motivated by logical actions and rational behaviors. The result of which would be widespread peace and harmony, right?

Synopsis: “Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult play Nia and Silas, two people who work together in a futuristic society known as “The Collective.” A seemingly utopian world, “The Collective” has ended crime and violence by genetically eliminating all human emotions. Despite this, Nia and Silas can’t help noticing a growing attraction between them, leading them to a forbidden relationship—at first tentative, but then exploding into a passionate romance. As suspicion begins to mount among their superiors, the couple will be forced to choose between going back to the safety of the lives they have always known, or risk it all to try and pull off a daring escape.” (source)

My thoughts: EQUALS presented its technologically advanced future with a sterile aesthetic rendered through a suffusion of cold hues and modernist architecture. I recall very little, if any, natural elements like trees or wildlife. Or anything lending a softness to its surroundings. Everyone and everything is controlled, evaluated, moderated. Its atmosphere was one of isolation within forced cooperation. Like most “utopian” societies, in reality, it was more of a dystopia for its inhabitants. And, while the premise isn’t groundbreaking, there was still much to think about.

But I’ll admit, for me, the reason EQUALS succeeded was Silas and Nia. Their chemistry was palpable, and both showed a lifetime’s worth of emotion without the physicality of those feelings; e.g., facial expressions or intonation. When they finally risk it all to touch, just the edge of his hand to hers, I was captivated. If I hadn’t liked Silas, who we meet first, and then Nia, the movie wouldn’t have affected me much. Their self-discovery and pursuit of an existence beyond what they’re told is right, pushed this film beyond the standard genre fare.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like THE GIVER, EQUILIBRIUM, or GATTACA.

Check out EQUALS official website and trailer | on A24 Films | on IMDb | on Facebook

(Watched DVD on 10/5/2016)

Midnight Special (2016)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster Midnight Special (2016)The mystery will reel you in; the climax will swallow you whole.

Synopsis: “What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Risking everything, Roy is committed to helping Alton reach his ultimate purpose, whatever that might be and whatever it costs, in a story that takes audiences on a perilous journey from Texas to the Florida coast, while exploring the bonds of love and trust, and the nature of faith.” (source)

My thoughts: Roy’s devotion to Alton is the kind of parental love often lacking in modern cinema. I’m not sure if it’s a “sign of the times” or if it’s filmmakers’ commentary on the ever-expanding chasm between parents and kids (especially teenagers); the way kids have become an “Other” in a world where adults ostracize the Others because they misunderstand them and, by extension, fear them. Regardless, the heart of MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is the relationship between parent and child, and it shows just how high a child can reach when that parent supports them but also knows when to let them go so that they may fulfill their destiny on their own.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed films like TAKE SHELTER or KNOWING.

Check out MIDNIGHT SPECIAL official website and trailer | on IMDb | on Facebook | on Twitter

(Watched DVD on 7/28/2016)

Monsters (2010) – Movie Review

Poster DVD Cover Monsters (2010)You may recall Monsters (2010) as one of my suggestions in “5 More Must-See Indie Movies.” Well I’m happy to report it most definitely *is* a must watch film for anyone who enjoys an alien invasion sci-fi thriller.

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4 stars out of 5

Now, having said that, if you watch this movie expecting a Hollywood-style alien movie then you will be disappointed. This is not WAR OF THE WORLDS (2005) or DISTRICT 9 (2009). You will not experience typical sci-fi horror scenarios or scares like those in CLOVERFIELD (2008) or ALIEN (1979).

What you will get from MONSTERS is Continue reading Monsters (2010) – Movie Review

5 More Must-See Indie Horror Movies

Image girl screaming with hands upA sequel to 7 Must-See Indie Horror Movies, one of my most visited posts, presents five more must-see independent horror movies for all the movie junkies out there.

Okay, technically, a couple of these may not be classified as horror but rather thrillers; they’re worth sharing whatever the genre. Zombies, mind-benders, slashers and the paranormal are all featured below.

Please note: I haven’t watched these movies in their entirety yet, only the trailers.

Continue reading 5 More Must-See Indie Horror Movies

The Signal (2007) – Movie Review

Poster The Signal (2007)Alrighty, as promised in my review of The Other Side, this post discusses the film The Signal (2007), written and directed by David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry and Dan Bush, which will most certainly be a love it or hate it experience for many. Personally, I find something new to love every time I watch it.

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4 stars out of 5

Watching THE SIGNAL I experienced every emotion known to man except disappointment. There were some really bloody, violent scenes that made me cringe. Then there was a good 20 minutes or so where I thought I’d pee myself from laughing so hard — the scene with Clark and Lewis, “not Jim Parsons…” was friggin’ hilarious whilst being an excellent way for the writers to show us just how deranged some people might be in that situation.

I didn’t realize THE SIGNAL was directed by three different people until after I’d already watched it; however, that totally explains the three sequences and their almost bipolar variances in dialogue, tone and atmosphere. I enjoyed the basic plot of the film: a signal broadcast over the TV and radio causes people to go homicidal (“Do you have the crazy?“) but not in the traditional zombie sort of way.

The love story / love triangle, which had me pulling for Mya and Ben until the very end, was vital to the film’s success. Had the writers not given me someone to care about before the darkness set in I might not have connected with the story. And hands down, without Anessa Ramsey, Justin Welborn and AJ Bowen, I would not have enjoyed Mya, Ben and Lewis quite as much.

Despite repeated views, I’m not quite sure I get the movie or its ending, but I was definitely entertained. Like I wrote earlier: a love it or hate it flick, for sure. Oh yeah, the brief nudity mentioned in the rating is a quick shot of Justin Welborn’s butt at the beginning of the film.

Very weird movie; check it out for yourself.

Do you ever question the effects of all the signals zooming around us every day? Or what would happen if someone manipulated those signals?


The Signal official site | on IMDb | on Netflix | Purchase from Amazon

(Watched Instantly on 6/14/08)

District 9 (2009) – Movie Review

District 9 (2009) featured the intense action and violence of Predator (1987) and DeepStar Six (1989) but the emotional pull of Enemy Mine (1985). Plus, it was loaded with powerful social commentary. Imagine it, humans treating other living creatures like lesser beings, undeserving of equal treatment.

No way!

4 1/2 stars out of 5

The trailers were brilliant in my humble opinion. I can’t remember which movie I was at when I saw the trailer for the first time, possibly The Dark Knight (2008), but I turned to whoever I was with and said, …continue reading