Movie Review – Heaven Knows What

Heaven Knows What (2014)
Written by Arielle Holmes, Josh Safdie & Ronald Bronstein
Directed by Benny & Josh Safdie

heaven knows what

Harley has sunk deep into the heroin junkie community of New York City. Almost worse than her drug addiction is her obsession with the sadistic Ilya, a fellow homeless user that continually antagonizes and abuses Harley. In the opening scene of the film, her emotional overload leads Harley to slit her wrists in the middle of a park. After a few days in a psychiatric hospital, she wanders through life clinging to different destructive men who fail to help her escape this addiction. The rest of the film is a descent into the nightmare world of heroin addiction, a hazy exodus of repetition and remaining in stasis.

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Movie Review – They Remain

They Remain (2017)
Written & Directed by Philip Gelatt

they-remain

Keith and Jessica are sent for an extended research assignment to study nature. This isn’t your typical assignment because the plot of land they are visiting is the site of ritualized murders committed by a Manson-style cult decades before. The private interest backing the expedition wants to know if such acts of depravity and evil have left a mark on the environment. Keith goes out each day, placing cameras and gathering samples. Jessica stays in their geodesic dome headquarters processing samples, looking for some elusive unknown. Keith encounters a wild dog that seems to be leading him through the woods, and both researchers begin to experience hallucinations and dreams about the dark acts performed on this land. Something evil lurks in the darkness and is slowly luring two more victims to it.

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Movie Review – Wag the Dog

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Wag the Dog (1997)
Written by Hilary Henkin and David Mamet
Directed by Barry Levinson

wag the dog

When the President is under the weight of a scandal he gets help from Conrad Brean, a master spin doctor who has an endless bag of tricks to manipulate the media. He creates distractions that get people talking about the spin instead of the scandal. So the President needs his help when he is caught fooling around with an underage Firefly scout during her troupe’s visit to the White House. Brean strikes upon the idea of creating a false war with Albania to fill up the news cycle. Brean gets help from White House staffer Winifred Ames and Hollywood producer Stanley Motss to create a false yet believable war. This war comes complete with footage from war-torn Albania, a star-studded patriotic anthem, and war hero that needs to be brought home.

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Movie Review – The Adderall Diaries

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The Adderall Diaries (2016)
Written & Directed by Pamela Romanowsky

adderall-diaries

Stephen Elliott’s first book was a memoir on his mother’s death due to cancer and the subsequent emotional and physical abuse at his father’s hands which he cites as driving him to drugs. Stephen has gotten a new book deal and is checking out what he wants to write about next, finally setting on the murder trial of Hans Reiser, a software guru accused of killing his estranged wife. During a reading from his memoir, Stephen is interrupted by his father whom he has written had died years prior. This sudden revelation causes the writer to lose credibility among New York’s publishing scene and eventually strains his relationships. With little options, Stephen decides to directly confront his father and his misgivings about his memories of the past.

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Movie Review – Annihilation

Annihilation (2018)
Written & Directed by Alex Garland

annihilation

Lena, a cellular biologist, is finally in the mourning stages after her husband Kane was sent on a secret military mission. At the twelve-month mark, she is starting to move on when Kane appears from nowhere in their house. He falls into a coma and Lena is taken to a government base on the edge of a phenomenon called the Shimmer. Lena is informed that an object dropped from space three years prior and has created a growing field of energy. Multiple teams and drones have been sent in, but nothing has come back, and Kane is the first person to ever emerge. Lena finds out a team is about to head in days from now and volunteers herself, without informing them of her personal connection. As the quartet travels further into the Shimmer the more bizarre natural mutations, they encounter all until the real darkness is revealed at its center.

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Movie Review – Enemy

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Enemy (2013)
Written by Javier Gullón
Directed by Denis Villeneuve

enemy

Adam Bell is a college history professor that live a very routine and mundane existence. He teaches in the day, comes home to his dingy apartment, where he has sex with a non-committal lover, and sleeps. The monotony is broken when a colleague suggests he rent a movie he had seen, “Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way.” Adam watches the film but that night has a dream about one of the scenes and there, in the background, playing a hotel bellhop is a man who looks exactly like him. He watches the film again, and yes, that wasn’t a dream, it was a memory. Through internet sleuthing, he discovers the actor’s name, Daniel St. Claire and begins searching out his home and learning about his life. As Adam descends down this path of madness, he comes to a point where everything he thought he knew about his reality begins to crumble.

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Movie Review – The Death of Stalin

The Death of Stalin (2017)
Written by Armando Iannucci, David Schneider, Ian Martin, Peter Fellows, and Fabien Nury
Directed by Armando Iannucci

death of stalin

In 1953 Moscow, General Secretary Josef Stalin is riding high. He is in the midst of The Great Terror, a purging of intellectuals and dissidents he suspects of being disloyal not just to the Communist Party but to himself. Aiding him in these exploits is head of the NKVD Lavrentiy Beria, Deputy General Secretary Georgy Malenkov, local Moscow party leader Nikita Khrushchev, and Foreign Secretary Vyacheslav Molotov. One night while listening to a performance of Mozart on Radio Moscow while writing up a new list of citizens to be abducted and tortured, Stalin phones the station and demands a recording of the performance. When he receives the pressing later that night a note inside from the pianist rails against him as the cause of her family’s deaths. He has a sudden aneurysm and is found on death’s doorstep the next morning. What ensues in the backstage machinations of his corrupt cabinet of officials. They jockey and scheme, all trying to be the one person who comes out on top during this power vacuum.

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