I’ve watched A LOT this week! Mostly because I started watching some films in the morning to catch up on my growing this of films I want to see. Does anyone else do that? I LOVE lists! Anyhoo—This is what I watched this week: Christine (not the scary car movie), Doctor Sleep, Midway, War Machine, and Okja.
Available on Netflix. Written by Craig Shilowich and directed by Antonio Campos. This is the true account of TV reporter, Christine Chubbuck, from Sarasota, Florida in the 1970’s. She struggles with her desire to bring positive stories to the news while her boss pushes her for more juicy material for ratings. Rebecca Hall plays Christine Chubbuck with great intensity and awkwardness. She’s so disengaged with those around her, it’s no wonder they didn’t see what was coming. Christine struggles with acceptance for her work and how people perceive her; but ultimately, it’s the moment she is pushed to reveal her innermost thoughts and accept them which propels her final act. Michael C. Hall plays George, the anchorman and friend to Christine. He’s a small town anchorman with bigger dreams and wants to get to know Christine differently as well as help her as he sees her struggle. He tries very hard to befriend her but not in the way Christine wanted. Tracy Letts plays Michael, the boss of the TV station, who pushes Christine to think outside her positive story box for more compelling television. He has enormous patience, and I think respect, for Christine which makes this story a must see. Everyone around her wants her to succeed, wants the station to do well, wants genuine interaction with her but Christine’s self-absorption and self-delusion is so great, it’s impossible. This is a film which shows just how insidious and subtle mental illness is and how the mind accepts finality as the only choice. Rebecca Hall should have been nominated for this performance. Watch the trailer below:
Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to Stephen King’s The Shining. It picks up with Dan Torrance, played by Ewan McGregor, as an adult who self-medicates to keep the shining away. He doesn’t do a very good job at it and decides to move to a small town and get clean. He “connects” with a young girl–who also has the shining– Abra, played by Kyliegh Curran, who ‘sees’ a murder and wants Dan to help her find the killers. The killers are a group of semi-immortals who feed off the screams and fear of young children. Nice, huh? The ringleader is Rose The Hat, played by Rebecca Ferguson, who becomes the ultimate enemy of Abra and Dan. Doctor Sleep takes you back with uncanny flashbacks of little Danny, his mom Wendy, his dad Jack, and even Dick the caretaker from the Overlook Hotel where it all started. Once Dan gets clean, he gets a job working at a hospice house where he accepts his ability to help people cross over which gives him the nickname Doctor Sleep. That whole sequence, the post one night stand scene, and the related scene later in the film were interesting pieces of the puzzle, but I found them unnecessary because they refer to small elements of the film and not the overall plot. At 2 hours and 32 minutes; they could’ve been cut without losing anything. There a couple of scenes I found difficult to watch; however, overall the film works as a sequel to such a classic horror film. The special effects support the characters’ abilities and and keep you focused on the story. The score is haunting. It’s well done. I rented it from RedBox. Watch the trailer below:
Written by Wes Tooke and directed by Roland Emmerich. This is the story of the battle of Midway from the parties involved perspective. It’s chock full of stars who do a fine job acting their parts; but overall…it wasn’t a war movie I would watch again. It didn’t have the suspense of war, the characters felt like stereotypes instead of real people portrayed by actors, and I wasn’t drawn to root for anyone. The battle scenes look great and our guys were definitely courageous for what they had to do. The rest of the movie, though, dragged and some of the subplots distracted from the overall story. I’ve been to Pearl Harbor. I took the boat tour. It was haunting to know the ships and those aboard them when sunk are still down there. I felt like I was disturbing their memory being aboard the boat, floating through their watery grave site. I hoped this film would’ve added to my memory of wanting to honor them; but it didn’t. I think it had potential; but just didn’t make it for me. We rented from RedBox. Watch the trailer below:
Written and directed by David Michod, based on the book by Michael Hastings. Wow. The story is based on the U.S. military sending a general to tidy up what’s left in Afghanistan after being at war there for 8 years. If you felt like the U.S. was there too long, or shouldn’t have been there at all, you may like this film. The comedy-ish docudrama/comedy feel of it made me wonder just how much of it was true and how much was creative license. It certainly doesn’t paint a good picture for then-President Obama or our military in the handling of the Afghan people. Brad Pitt plays General Glen McMahon sent to finish the job his predecessor couldn’t. Pitt is almost unrecognizable and so committed in the portrayal, it was a bit distracting. Anthony Michael Hall plays his angry side-kick Greg in a way which suggests it was how many of the troops sent to this war felt on the inside. Topher Grace plays Matt Little, a PR guy sent to “make some noise” about the work the General is doing. The General goes on 60 Minutes, basically calls out the President for lack of communication, and corners Obama to send 30,000 troops to Afghanistan for nothing. Then, enter Sean Cullen, a Rolling Stone reporter, played by Scoot McNairy. Because, what could be better for a General who continues to make bad decisions based on good intentions without little to no support or face time from or with the President? I know! Let a reporter follow you around Europe, write about it, and expose the idiocy of the whole thing. Yep. Good idea. The Afghan people didn’t want them there and no one listened. They finally left but at what cost to them, the U.S. troops and families, and the rest of the troops from other countries drug into the mess. I just kept shaking my head at all the missteps along the way. A real eye-opener. For sure. I’m not surprised. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below:
Written by Bong Joon Ho and Jon Ronson, directed by Bong Joon Ho. Okja is a Super Pig created by the Mirando corporation to help solve the world’s hunger problem and to re-brand themselves as a company who does good things for the environment. This film takes us to the lush mountains of South Korea to introduce us to Okja, a Super Pig, who has been raised the last ten years by Mija, played by Seo-hyun Ahn, and her grandfather. Okja is full of expression, funny, and Mija’s best friend. Her only friend. TV show host and spokesman for the Mirando Corporation, Johnny Wilcox, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, shows up at her farm to collect Okja to be presented to the world via parade and telecast in New York. Mija definitely does NOT want Okja to leave her side nor does she want Okja to end up as a meal for the world so she does everything she can to stop it from happening. With the help of the Animal Liberation Federation, led by Paul Dano, things take alarming twists and turns, showing how best intentions can lead to dire circumstances. Tilda Swinton plays Lucy Mirando, face and CEO of the Mirando Corporation. Bong Joon Ho is a masterful storyteller and knows how to set the stage for each location, whether it’s the lush mountaintop, the cold corporate offices, the crowded shopping mall, or the company slaughter house–you’ll feel the emotional connection to each. Available on Netflix. Watch the trailer below: