Movie Review – The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)
Written & Directed by Joel & Ethan Coen

Our movie opens on a simple song of the Old West warbled by the ever cheerful Buster Scruggs. Scruggs is an outlaw in a very peculiar vein, notorious and feared while exuding a Will Rogers type persona. This is one of six short stories told over the course of the movie, using the framing device of a book being acted out for the audience. Other stories focus on a bank robber experiencing a series of bad luck deals, traveling entertainers coming to the end of the line, a lone prospector’s discovery of the motherlode, a young woman in a wagon train headed westward for marriage, and a spooky stagecoach ride to Fort Morgan.

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TV Review – American Horror Story: Apocalypse

American Horror Story: Apocalypse (2018)
Written by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, James Wong, Manny Coto, Tim Minear, John J. Gray, Crystal Liu, Adam Penn, Josh Green, and Asha Michelle Wilson
Directed by Bradley Buecker, Jennifer Lynch, Loni Peristere, Sheree Folkson, Gwenyth Hordor-Payton, Sarah Paulson, and Jennifer Arnold

The season opens with the destruction of the world. Bombs fall. Humanity is depleted with only the wealthy and their servants surviving in secret bunker sprinkled around the world. The survivors of Outpost 3 while away the days doing nothing and being tortured with adult contemporary music from the 1970s. Then Michael Langdon arrives, an agent of the Collective, the secret society behind the bunkers and possibly the end of the world. Langdon interviews the survivors one by one, searching for some factor unrevealed to the audience. One lowly unassuming servant seems to possess a spark beyond her station, and this intrigues him. However, things go south, and a series of deaths lead to the surprise arrival of some familiar faces of a season gone by. Also, then most of the season is a flashback taking place before all this happens.

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Movie Review – Widows

Widows (2018)
Written by Gillian Flynn & Steve McQueen
Directed by Steve McQueen

Veronica Rawlings is alone in the world. Her husband Harry, a famous thief in the Chicago area, was killed in a heist gone wrong. Harry always knew which authorities to butter up and how to stay ahead of the law, so Veronica has become accustomed to a very luxurious lifestyle. The men Harry stole from turn up a couple of weeks after the funeral with demands for the money. They give her two weeks to come up with it, or they will return to make her life the repayment. Veronica reaches out to the widows of the men that were killed alongside Harry and shares his notebook with them, a leather-bound journal detailing a series of future robberies he was planning. Veronica plans to pull off one of these crimes to pay back the men looming over her and escape to start a new life.

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TV Review – Kidding

Kidding (2018)
Written by Dave Holstein, Hally Feiffer, Michael Vukdaniovich, Cody Heller, Noah Haidle, Jas Waters, Roberto Benabib, and Joey Mazzarino
Directed by Michel Gondry, Jake Schreier, and Minkie Spiro

Mr. Pickles is the biggest children’s television star in the world. His show Puppet Time is the surrogate parent for millions of ignored children, and he wants to be as honest and real with these trusting viewers as possible. A year ago tragedy struck when Jeff Piccirillo’s (Mr. Pickles’ real name) son Phillip was killed in a car accident. Jeff, his estranged wife Jill and surviving twin son Will feel Jeff hasn’t been honest in dealing with the death. Jeff’s father and producer Seb wants the show to go on and the darkness of the real world to be kept out of Puppet Time. However, there is boiling anger growing in Jeff, a force of nature that can’t be avoided and the longer he goes without really processing Phil’s death and his failure in listening to the people he loves the worse it will be when things explode.

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Movie Review – Lean on Pete

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Lean on Pete (2018)
Written & Directed by Andrew Haigh

lean on pete

Charley is a boy with a rough, uncertain life. His mother ran out on him and his Dad when Charley was young, and now Dad shuffles them around from place to place, never staying long enough to plant any roots. Charley loved when they lived with Aunt Margy, but there was an argument and another move. Now the duo has settled in Portland where Dad is fooling around with a married woman and failing to keep food in the house. Sixteen-year-old Charley discovers a horse racing track nearby and gets a job helping Del with his racehorses. Charley feels an instant bond towards Lean on Pete, an aging quarterhorse whom Del seems eager to get rid of. As the boy and his horse’s relationship grows, and life at home falls apart, Charley feels an urge to run.

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Movie Review – The Last Movie Star

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The Last Movie Star (2018)
Written & Directed by Adam Rifkin

last movie star

Vic Edwards (played by and loosely based on Burt Reynolds) has passed his prime as an A-list actor in Hollywood. His glory days were the 1970s, and now he’s a frail old man living alone in his gated estate in 2018. A letter comes from Nashville inviting him to a film festival where he will be awarded a lifetime achievement honorific. Vic debates going and finally gives but arrives to find the event is not prestigious but operated out of a bar. The organizers are enthusiastic fans of his work, but Vic feels lied to and humiliated. He eventually strikes up a friendship with one of the organizer’s sisters, Lil, a troubled young woman who reminds Vic of his daughter. Together they journey back to Vic’s childhood home so he can account for some of his past mistakes.

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Movie Review – Suspiria (2018)

Suspiria (2018)
Written by David Kajganich
Directed by Luca Guadagino

suspiria 2018

In 1977, Suzie, a young American woman arrives into the heart of political strife igniting Berlin. She has come to join the prestigious Markos Dance Academy, hoping to work under the tutelage of Madame Blanc. Suzie slowly becomes aware of interpersonal conflicts that happened between the matrons of the academy and former student, Patricia. Patricia fled the school and sought out the help of psychologist Dr. Josef Klemperer. She tells him that the women of the school have eyes and ears that can see her no matter where she goes and that she is a marked woman. Klemperer becomes further convinced when he reads the girl’s diary detailing her discoveries of a cabal working beneath the surface of the Markos school. All the while, revolutionary groups sow chaos throughout Berlin, dredging up guilt from the war and forcing a confrontation.

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