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)

The Lobster (2015)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster The Lobster (2015)Part satire, part fable, and most definitely not for everyone. This weird little gem of a sci-fi/ fantasy movie will charm the hearts of its target audience.

Synopsis: “THE LOBSTER is a blackly funny love story set in a near future where finding love is a matter of life or death.” (source)

My thoughts: Set in a dystopian near future where single people have 45 days to “fall in love” or else be turned into an animal, which they’ve chosen ahead of time, and then released into the woods, where they will inevitably be hunted and killed at some point. So beautifully strange and ridiculous, but also a poignant reminder of just how powerful quests for love and individuality can be.

For all the single peeps who find absurd the amount of pressure – spoken or not – on everyone to be partnered up. Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies with unconventional love stories like ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, or LARS AND THE REAL GIRL.

Check out THE LOBSTER What animal would you be? (official website) and trailer | on A24 Films | on IMDb | on Facebook

(Watched DVD on 8/23/2016)

Advantageous (2015)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster Advantageous (2015)Explores the pressures faced by working single moms in a futuristic society that values beauty and wealth over everything else.

Synopsis: “Set in the near future, ADVANTAGEOUS focuses on Gwen Koh (Jacqueline Kim), a single mother, whose aspirations for her daughter drive her to the precipice of a fraught decision…

Gwen works as a spokesperson for the Center for Advanced Health and Living (an innocuous sounding organization that is, in fact, a corporate behemoth) and finds that she is in danger of losing her job. That would make it impossible for her to send her daughter Jules to private school, a termed “advantage” that in actuality is more a necessity to shield Jules from this future society’s brutal economic disparities. The Center’s newest and untested health procedure offers Gwen a dangerous, life-altering chance to continue her career. To weigh her options, Gwen attempts to reconnect with an estranged relative, but as seems standard for all in this dystopian landscape, Gwen remains alienated and alone.” (source)

My thoughts: I freaking LOVED this movie. When it was over I wanted to talk about it with someone so bad; alas, no one around. Jacqueline Kim should’ve at least been nominated for an Oscar. From a non-actor perspective it seems to me that over-the-top performances would be the simplest. But what Kim does in ADVANTAGEOUS is so…quiet yet fierce.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like EX MACHINA, BRANDED or ANTIVIRAL.

Check out ADVANTAGEOUS official website and trailer | on IMDb

(Watched on Netflix 10/18/2015)

Spring (2014)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster Spring (2014)An unconventional love story for fans of the weird and uncanny.

Synopsis: “Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) is a young American fleeing to Europe to escape his past. While backpacking along the Italian coast, everything changes during a stop at an idyllic Italian village, where he meets and instantly connects with the enchanting and mysterious Louise. A flirtatious romance begins to bloom between the two — however, Evan soon realizes that Louise has been harboring a monstrous, primordial secret that puts both their relationship and their lives in jeopardy.” (source)

My thoughts: You meet “the one” only to discover they harbor a terrifying, mind-blowing secret. Probably one of the scariest scenarios for someone who’s just fallen in head-over-heels love.

SPRING is the kind of rare movie for which I am always on the lookout. One that blends reality with dark fantasy resulting in an uncanny, mythical, yet wholly believable love story. Whether that “love” is romantic, platonic, or familial, matters not; I simply enjoy the exploration of the intersections within love and horror.

It’s also important to mention SPRING’s beautiful cinematography as well as the fact that Louise, the woman, has the power in this romantic relationship. Evan is actually the weaker more vulnerable of the two. It was nice to see a strong woman portrayed with femininity and sexuality but not be defined by either. Kudos to the directors, Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, for that little breath of fresh air.

Highly recommended if you enjoyed movies like MONSTERS or ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE.

Check out SPRING at Drafthouse Films | on IMDb

(Watched DVD on 8/27/2015)

I Origins (2014)

Rating: 8 of 10

movie poster I Origins (2014)It’s been said that the eyes are the window to the soul. But what if you’re not entirely sure there is such a thing as “the soul”?

Synopsis: “One doctor on the brink of a scientific discovery which will have historical ramifications travels in search for the one person, a young girl, who can prove or disprove his theory. The story follows the incredible journeys which bring these strangers together, and proves there is no separating matters of science and matters of the heart.” (source)

Highly recommended if you enjoy science fiction that explores “the big questions” in an approachable, non-preachy way.

Check out I ORIGINS official website | on Fox Searchlight | on IMDb | Watch the trailer

(Watched DVD on 1/14/2015)

Another Earth (2011)

Rating: 5 of 5

Here’s another hidden gem I’m determined to share with as many people as possible.

dvd cover another earth (2011)On the night of the discovery of a duplicate planet in the solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident. (Source: IMDb)

A powerful story of redemption, ANOTHER EARTH (2011) will tug at your heartstrings while simultaneously tickle your brain with questions like, “If you could meet your other you, what would you say?” Rhoda was a real person who made a dumb choice and had to live with the consequences. John’s grief was, aptly demonstrated in his living conditions, tangible AND justified. Both Brit Marling and William Mapother gave Rhoda and John, respectively, an authenticity that’s rare in such emotion- and character-driven films.

As soon as I finished watching the DVD, I messaged my sister to tell her she HAD to watch ANOTHER EARTH, immediately. It didn’t matter if it was eleven o’clock at night and all the kids were in bed; it was THAT great. (I exaggerate, maybe.) But my mind WAS blown and my heart … my heart was full, if that makes any sense.

One of the best “sci-fi dramas” I’ve watched, ever.

ANOTHER EARTH on IMDb | Facebook | Twitter | Official Site

I recommend to anyone who enjoys films that explore forgiveness and second chances. It’s a drama with a science fiction subplot, and the pace is slow-ish but it never felt slow. Please, don’t skip this one.

[Rented DVD on 2/12/2012 | Wish Listed on 2/12/2012]

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

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

Alice (2009) – TV Mini-Series

Were you ever curious about what happened to Wonderland after Alice left? Did you ever imagine Alice as an adult?

SyFy* presented some entertaining ideas with its December 2009 premiere of Alice and warned “[e]verything you know will be turned on its head.” They weren’t fibbin’ and I loved (almost) every minute of it.

4 stars out of 5

I watched the two-part mini-series via my DVR the day after each episode aired on SyFy and twice more between December 2009 and January 2010.

Alice, written and directed by Nick Willing (director, Tin Man, 2007), tells the story of Alice Hamilton, an independent, outspoken woman with daddy issues. When her boyfriend, Jack Chase, asks her to go away with him to meet his parents then presents her with a mysterious ring, Alice freaks out and asks Jack to leave. She definitely has trust and commitment issues, and they stem from her father’s disappearance when she was 10 years old.

After Jack leaves Alice’s apartment, she discovers he slipped the ring into her coat before he left. So she goes after him, only to find he’s being thrown in the back of a van, and a man in white running away from the scene. In her zeal to catch the man in white, she follows him through a magical mirror to a parallel universe. And that is where the adventure to rescue Jack, and escape the depraved world of Wonderland with her life – and hopefully her head – begins. …continue reading