Written by Ali Abbasi, Isabella Eklöf, & John Ajvide Lindqvist
Directed by Ali Abbasi
Tina lives a secluded life, markedly different from everyone around her from a chromosomal abnormality compared to the humans that populate her world. She has a pronounced brow ridge and protruding teeth recalling images of long-extinct Neanderthals. What makes her valuable to people is her ability to smell guilt and shame making her a perfect customs agent at a Swedish port of entry. After years of ferreting out contraband, she eventually meets a man who shares her facial deformities and seems to be beyond her ability to detect evil. There is an attraction between them that develops and leads Tina to discover the truth about her past and the lies she has been told her whole life.
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Written & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
Without even realizing it, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has been every present in my adult life. Twenty years ago, this August, I saw The Sixth Sense on one of my first weekends at college, and it messed with my head. Many years later, having seen much darker and more horrific cinema, I don’t think it could affect me as profoundly, but it remains a good film. A year later I was in the theater seeing Unbreakable, a film that was everything I ever wanted in a superhero movie. I remember seeing Signs while I was staying with a friend for a month in Montgomery, Alabama. My first viewing of The Village was at the now shut down Springfield Cinema here in my hometown. I was living in Washington state when I went to the theater on my own the summer of 2006 and saw Lady in the Water. My last Shyamalan cinematic experience was watching The Happening at a theater in Puerto Rico with my then girlfriend (now wife). She yelled at the screen at one point due to how genuinely terrible that movie is. From then on I’ve only ever watched his films outside of theaters and entirely skipped After Earth due to The Last Airbender being so damn bad. Shyamalan is a filmmaker who continually has me wondering how everything went so wrong, how he could go from making something like Unbreakable which still holds up to giving us The Visit, a film that is so flawed and broken. So now, nineteen years after Unbreakable he finally gives us the closing chapter in that story.
Continue reading “Movie Review – Glass”
I Kill Giants (2018)
Written by Joe Kelly
Directed by Anders Walter
Barbara Thorson is a withdrawn teenager living on Long Island who spends her days traversing the nearby woods and setting traps. She is convinced that giants are real and are coming to attack her town. A new girl moves to town, Sophia, who wants to be Barbara’s friend but finds her caustic and unwelcoming. As she gets to know this intense young woman she learns about the giants hiding just beneath the surface of our reality and Barbara’s secret weapon, a massive hidden weapon called Coveleski. But as Sophia gets closer to Barbara, she learns more is going on in her life.
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Isle of Dogs (2018)
Written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, & Kunichi Nomura
Directed by Wes Anderson
Twenty years in the future, Japan is overrun by an outbreak of snout flu that leads to all the dogs in Megasaki City being sent to Trash Island by Mayor Kobayashi. Kobayashi’s nephew Atari steals a small plane and crash lands on the island on a quest to save his best friend, Spots. Atari unites with a pack of friendly dogs who want to help him travel across the island to find Spots. However, Chief is a stray who doesn’t like the idea of helping or being around humans. To succeed in their journey, Chief will need to overcome his past and learn how to be a good dog.
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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Written by Melissa Mathison
Directed by Steven Spielberg
Elliott is a boy living in northern California who doesn’t seem to have any friends. He tries to join in on his older brother’s Dungeons & Dragons game but is seen as too little. One night, Elliott discovers a creature living in the shed in the yard, a small brown alien who has been stranded on Earth. The two create an empathic bond so that they feel each other’s emotions and sensations. This bond allows Elliott to understand that the creature, whom he nicknames E.T., is going to die unless he can contact his people and return to his world. Elliott lets his brother and little sister in on his secret and the trio work to help their new friend. However, in the background government agents are searching the woods after seeing the aliens leave initially. Slowly but surely they are circling closer and closer to Elliott and E.T.
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Lost River (2014)
Written and Directed by Ryan Gosling
In a rundown neighborhood of Detroit lives Bones, his mother Billie, and his little brother Franky. Bones is focused on stripping abandoned homes of copper so he can buy replacement engine parts for his car. The ultimate goal is to get the car running and get out of town. Billie, on the other hand, is concerned about holding onto her mother’s house, one of many decaying homes on a nearly deserted street. This involves her entering into a dark deal with a banker and taking a job at a macabre nightclub. Bones, meanwhile, has started a relationship with his next-door neighbor Rat and is attempting to avoid the vengeful wrath of Bully, a man who believes himself a sort of overlord of this neighborhood.
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The Shadow Year (2008)
By Jeffrey Ford
It’s the mid-1960s on Long Island, New York, and an unnamed preteen narrator is beginning a year of his life he will never forget. This is his last year in elementary school and he, his brother Jim, and little sister Mary become embroiled in a mystery that no one else in their neighborhood seems to take note of it. It starts with the disappearance of a local boy and then rumors of a peeping tom carousing the backyards at night. The narrator spies a strange white car driven by a man dressed all in white whose presence seems to correlate with the prowler. Then his sister Mary, an odd one who allows her imaginary friends to speak through her, begins to show the possibility of clairvoyance, knowing where neighbors are at precise moments when she should not be able to. This shadow year will linger for our protagonist and what he learns will haunt him decades later.
Continue reading “Book Review – The Shadow Year”