Get Out (2017)

Get out

Directed by: Jordan Peele

Cinematography: Toby Oliver

Starring: Daniel KaluuyaAllison WilliamsCatherine KeenerBradley WhitfordCaleb Landry Jones, and LilRel Howery

Runtime: 1h 44m

Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

In an attempt to not spoil this movie I have my review in two sections.  The top section is more of a general response to the film and below that is a section where I dig into more specifics about the film that I want to unwind.  So do not read the whole thing if you want to avoid spoilers.

Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a psychological thriller that keeps you on your toes and unsure of where the characters stand the whole way through.  The story follows Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, and his girlfriend Rose, played by Allison Williams, as they visit her family in upstate New York.  No more information is needed.  Peele succeeds in taking the viewer on a comedic, thrilling, and satisfying ride.

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Girl on the Train, The (2016)

Directed by: Tate Taylor

Cinematography: Charlotte Bruus Christensen

Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux

Runtime: 1h 52m

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Rating: ♣♣♣

I am a big fan of mysteries and thrillers.  Throw in a little mental illness and psychological drama and I’m hooked.  The aspect of this film that I liked the most was the slow development of Rachel’s story, played by Emily Blunt.  The speed of this film has been one of the most disliked aspects, but without it there would be no story.  The disjointed nature of the film keeps the viewer guessing, although I will admit it grasps unnecessarily at plot points.  The arc of the film and the mystery itself is not especially earth shattering or novel.  It is Rachel’s story outside of the murder mystery that I find most engaging.  It is easy to paint her as a victim, but this is only half of her position in the film.  The root of issues are the absence of a support system and self-confidence.  She was unable to pull herself out of the bottle long enough to breath let alone deal with her problems.  Rachel’s actions in regards to the mystery are a way for her to feel useful and to prove that she is capable of companionship again.  Unfortunately, the way she conducts herself is irrational and hard to support as a viewer.  The truth behind her alcoholism does not make me feel empathy for her.  Instead I feel empathy for the fact that she lacks the ability to take real ownership of her problem and pull herself out of it.  It is without question that Blunt carried this film in her honest performance of a visceral drunk.  If the rest of the characters had as much development as Rachel instead of frivolous plot points then there may have been more acclaim for this film.

 

Witch, The (2015)

Directed by: Robert Eggers

Cinematography: Jarin Blaschke

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw

Runtime: 1h 32m

Genre: Horror, Mystery

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

 

This directorial debut for Eggers was pretty intense.  I feel like this is what people were expecting when The Village, by M. Night Shyamalan, was released.  This film follows a puritan family exiled from their village to the edges of a forest.  The film shifts from a thriller to a horror relatively quickly and keeps us guessing as to what is going on until the absolute end.

The historical period piece has an amazing level of authenticity.  From the garb, to the vocabulary, to the dark lit misty ambiance, this film takes us back to the 17th century and traps us there.

The theme that resonated with me the most was the possible play on the seven deadly sins, or perhaps an antecedent.  The role of sin and punishment in the family’s world mixed with the mysteries of the unknown and inexplicable in a 17th century world makes certain reactions by the characters explainable, or at least understandable.

This film could be viewed a few different ways. One way, as a period piece about a family that has a run in with a witch with heavy religious overtones.  A reimagined metaphor, or old wives tale, to help explain tragedy, misfortune, and death in a world that lacks rigorous scientific analysis and is flush with the wrath of god.  Or, some other way…  The film left me trying to put together the pieces and I am not sure I fully absorbed everything that happened.

 

 

Arrival (2016)

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Cinematography: Bradford Young

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg

Runtime: 1h 56m

Genre: Drama, Mystery, Sci-fi

Rating: ♣♣♣♣

Villenueve has been successful with several movies in recent years, including Prisoners and Sicario.  In his latest film, Arrival, he takes on a the concept of time and memory.  In the opening sequence we hear Louise, played by Amy Adams, say,” Memory is a strange thing… It doesn’t work like I thought it did.  We are so bound by time; by its order.”  Villenueve is priming us for a thoughtful journey that focuses on time, memory, linguistics, and humanitarianism on a global and personal scale.  I found the techniques that Villenueve used to weave his story together to be refreshing and surprising.  Language plays such a huge roll in this film in both the script and the cinematography.  There is a poetic vision that seems to shine through so many aspects of the film, the landscapes, the aliens, and their vessels, to name a few.  The cyclical nature of the universe also comes across in this film, from the opening shot to the credits there are countless circles, rings, halos.  The screenplay by Eric Heisserer is one of the best of the year.  I can’t say enough about this film except for that it is a must see.  I know I will need to watch it again.

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