On DVD & Blu-Ray: February 4, 2020

How does one craft a forty year-later sequel to what is widely considered one of if not the greatest horror film of all time that is also based on a sequel novel by an author that didn't appreciate the aforementioned film adaptation? In other words, how does one approach making a film based on a book that is the sequel to the original source material as well as being a sequel to the film adaptation that the author of both novels didn't care for? Tricky, right? Complicated? Complex? Beyond difficult? Sure, it's all of these things and while I've not read any Stephen King in some time (we're talking probably high school) and wasn't aware the master of horror had penned a sequel to The Shining in 2013 it seems inevitable still that this is where we are six years later with the one hundred and fifty-two minute Doctor Sleep.

In the same amount of time since King's follow-up was released, writer/director Mike Flanagan burst onto the scene with a feature length adaptation of his short film, Oculus, that paved the way for him to become Netflix's go-to guy for original horror content as the filmmaker not only produced original films for the streaming service like Before I Wake and Hush, but also got his feet wet with another King adaptation in 2017's Gerald's Game then going on to oversee the wildly successful TV series, The Haunting of Hill House, that premiered to rave reviews last year. This is all to say that Flanagan has developed a style all his own and more importantly-a penchant for gauging the type of scares and imagery to best represent the horrors of a given story-meaning he's able to grasp the characters and their circumstances in a way where the scares aren't for the sake of the genre, but are in fact appropriate and even further, indicative, of the type of narrative being disclosed. Flanagan does this through soft, but illuminating character moments in which he latches onto certain aspects of an individual bound to serve a significant role in the story he's telling and then track the arc of said character trait through the more genre-specific events that naturally tend to enlighten the character to this side of themselves they may have either not previously considered or wanted to face in ways that are emotionally compelling and thematically resonant. Thus is the case with adult Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) in Doctor Sleep as Flanagan's now distinctive approach blends with the style of Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film and the tone of King's writing to create a well-rounded, expertly balanced yet equally effective journey that is both everything fans of the original film might have hoped for as much as it is wholly its own endeavor; a bridge between who we were meant to be, who we become and the resilience necessary to counteract the detrimental and absolve one's self of their past in order to continue to shine. Full review here. Video review here. B+

The line, "Take care of my heart, it was always going to be yours one way or another" is reason enough for this movie to exist.

I enjoyed this much more than I didn't and am kind of blindsided by the pure vitriol of the rhetoric directed at what is otherwise a harmless holiday movie. Sure, Last Christmas uses a few George Michael tunes to up its energy and (believe it or not) its edginess, but director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, Spy, A Simple Favor) and writer Emma Thompson know exactly what they're going for here and, aside from the strange Brexit subplot, more or less do exactly as intended. Last Christmas is the epitome of the type of film that gets lousy reviews due to its intended complacency that's seen as laziness by critics who are screening countless awards contenders at this time of year, but is ultimately the kind of film that leaves general audiences feeling mostly satisfied if not genuinely affected. C

Trey Edward Shults' Waves is a film told mostly through visuals with Shults' unique and very fluid approach to said visuals giving off an elated sense of naturalism while setting much of the events depicted in the film to soundtrack; like freestyle lyrics set to a simple, heavy percussion that seem to flow at no calculated rate, but come from the depths of the soul Waves is poetry in that we truly feel the director's emotion and intention yet frustrating in that so much around what's being discussed seems to have been left on the cutting room floor. Though pure, in the most sincere of senses, the film itself-meaning the actual finished product-is never able to match the audacious ambitions Shults clearly has for it.

Still, going in cold is the best idea as Waves is best experienced when having no idea what it's up to or where it's going. Personally, I both loved and appreciated the themes about being at the crossroads of innocence and actual, real life experiences while being somewhat relieved at the message of "grace" that it expresses. Unabashedly experimental, Waves is unafraid to feel juvenile in an effort to try different things-both technically and philosophically-and while every experiment is not a success it’s easy to see that with Waves, more than any of his previous work, Shults is attempting to shape a kind of base to build his future films off of. One day Shults will undoubtedly perfect this style he's carving away at and I can't wait to see how that turns out. B-

Jennifer Kent's follow-up to The Babadook, The Nightingale, is less a conventional horror film and more a straight-up horrific film that makes one question how we ever survived as a species.

Though the expanse of Kent's authentic Tasmania location makes me question her choice to shoot in such a confined aspect ratio it does admittedly make the more intense and harder-to-watch sequences that much more inescapable.

Furthermore, while this is a film I will probably never care to watch again it is also a film that contains such historically accurate depictions of colonial violence and racism that said depiction of this history deserved to be told in the most honest and therefore the most horrific of ways. The film is without question one of the more brutal and savage experiences you will have at the movies this year, but at the end of the day the amount of rape and murder included in the film are in service of emphasizing the need for love, compassion and kindness in dark times. B+

The Good Liar is the cinematic equivalent of a Lindor Truffle: an exquisite shell enrobing an irresistibly scrumptious center. B-

John Cena, Keegan-Michael Key and John Leguizamo star in Playing with Fire, a family comedy about a crew of rugged firefighters meet their match when attempting to rescue three rambunctious kids. I haven't seen it, but imagine I will at some point as it looks harmless yet fun *enough* that the kids will enjoy it.

No comments:

Post a Comment