We as horror fans are lucky to have Mike Flanagan. The man is making concepts that have no right work, do so in spectacular fashion. From murderous mirrors, or a killer stalking a deaf victim all the way to making the original Ouija suck a little less–now if only someone would help Before I Wake finally see the light of day.
Now, we’ve got Gerald’s Game. A movie that, in large part, takes place in a single location. Jessie (Carla Gugino) and her hubby Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) decide to take a trip to their lake house and in an effort to spice if their marriage Gerald handcuffs Jessie to the bed. However, when Gerald’s role playing fantasy goes awry he suffers a heart attack and dies before he can uncuff Jessie. Left in an impossible situation she is forced to confront her traumatic past while searching for any clue that help her escape the cuffs.
How fitting for the latest Netflix Original to come out in 2017 just a month after we experienced a total solar eclipse. A similar event plays a pivotal role in Jessie’s psychological journey. The tole of emotional wounds coming to a head as she sits on the bed waiting for her death or for help to arrive. As her mind begins to crack she envisions versions of herself and her husband moving freely throughout as part of her internal thought process–both taunting her and trying help her thing logically in her predicament.
Gerald’s Game unfolds as a dramatic psychological thriller. Part drama about a married couple’s struggles at keeping the romance alive due to hidden desires and other deeper emotional scars and part survival thriller. Gugino crushes both aspects of her character–a woman who’s dodged childhood trauma her hold life and one driven to survive when forced to examine her actions that lead her to being handcuffed to that bed. Greenwood too, compliments Gugino as a force of masculinity with complicated ties to Jessie’s deep seeded troubles. In the end the film also delivers just enough cringeworthy violence and bone chilling sound effects to gratify genre fans looking for the cherry-on-top.
Like any minimalist thriller the struggle is keeping the audience riveted–Flanagan and co-writer Jeff Howard spin some incredible sequences of psychological barbs between characters. Combined with Flanagan’s visual prowess to stage a scene for maximum creep factor to provide some stiff competition to Pennywise and The Losers Club for best King adaptation of 2017.
Widely considered one of many unfilmable King novels, Flanagan makes it look like a walk in the park. Gerald’s Game is taught, suspenseful and magnificently performed–but a shame that the vast majority of the populism will only be able to experience it on the small screen.
Beer Recommendation: None at this time. Sorry, you kinky pervs.
The sights and sounds of war. That’s what Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk is all about. Forget character and forget telling individual stories–this movie wants to put the audience on the front lines of land, air and sea to deliver an experience. Make no mistake, Dunkirk is one of the most incredible and unique cinematic experiences you’re likely to experience–and while there are a number of prolific filmmakers, few operate with such technical skill quite like Nolan.
The film tells the story of British forces trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk simultaneously awaiting rescue and intermittent air attacks at the hands of Nazi forces. Nolan’s focus is that of human resolve and wordless heroism. It is true, there are few characters you can attach yourself too, but that’s not the point. Dunkirk is a film you simply live as an audience member. In the grips of war, the British forces are constantly being bombed from the air as they await military boats to take them home–said boats are themselves under attack, so the soldiers are in a harrowing fight for survival. Dunkirk’s entirety pulls the audience from those breathless sequences to show intercutting sequences of a civilian boat headed to the beach to help save soldiers and the air forces en route to pick off the enemy planes attacking the boats. (more…)
Busy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!
Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+
Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A-(more…)
You have in front of you the only summer movie prediction post guaranteed to get it all wrong. I’m not a Hollywood analyst out there tracking the interest of movie releases, nor am I an avid follower of the people that actually do that sort of thing. I’m just a dude who writes about beer and movie for fun that likes to swing wildly timely trends from time to time.
Today, it’s ranking this summer’s (2017 for all you futuristic hobos slummin it on the net) movie releases in order of how well I think they’ll do at the box office–just the top ten though. If you read last year’s you already know how comically misinformed this is about it get. Now that we know the game though, let’s just get this over with so I can get back to my case of beer, shall we?
(1) Spider-Man: Homecoming – With a trio of superhero tinged releases to pick from I am hedging my bets that people losing their sh*t at Spidey’s appearance in Civil War translates to big bucks this year. Or by the end of summer I’ll just go along ignoring how painfully wrong I always am and that’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks. (more…)
Jordan Peele, a name synonymous with clever biting commentary on social issues, has stepped into the cinematic ring and delivered a one-two punch that’s more potent than anything audiences have seen in a wide release horror flick in quite some time. Get Out leans a little bit more studio than recent critical darlings such as The Witch or It Follows, but has a punch all its own that rivals some of the best genre films of all time.
Whether or not Peele’s debut feature will stand the test of time is yet to be seen, but it’s hard to imagine something this sharp and witty to get pushed back in the annals of cinema history. No, it’s not just possible, but likely that Get Out is going to be talked about amongst critics and audiences alike for the foreseeable future. Exploring the simple yet all too real awkwardness of an African-American male meeting his Caucasian girlfriend’s parents and the weird stuff going on within the grounds of the family’s sizable estate. From scene one, Peele sets an uneasy yet humorous stage with an intro that features a black male waltzing in a suburban neighborhood at night before befalling something a little spooky. The racial factor is of course not lost on an audience of any race or gender, but is in fact a fear I’m sure we’ve all had walking late at night in unfamiliar territory–the possibility of being stalked by someone with less than noble intentions. (more…)
Advice for Split…just sit back, relax and enjoy the one man show that is James McAvoy. Don’t wait for a twist. Don’t expect M. Night to drop the ball at some point. Just find a comfortably groove in your theater seat and picture yourself at one of the greatest one man shows you’ve seen in recent memory–maybe ever.
M. Night Shim Sham has certainly made a name for himself over the last decade or so–and not all in a good way. After breaking onto the scene and becoming known as the master of the twist it then quickly became his Achilles heel. When The Visit was released last year people were giddy with the idea that the filmmaker had reinvented himself–that the filmmaker who had grown to be waaay into himself as an artist and the twist machine was running on empty had finally turned a corner. Split continues that progression, but in a much different way. (more…)
Peter Berg has clawed his way into a comfortable if controversial niche. Some might call it shameless exploitation of national tragedy, but the filmmaker for the most part manages to treat these sensitive topics with just enough respect to skate by. Patriot’s Day is Berg’s second release of 2016, but one that strike’s a chord that’s still a little fresher in our memories. Perhaps the most surprising is that while the film focuses less on the marathon bombing and more on the following investigation and capture of those responsible. The result is a rousing thriller that just happens to be based on real-life events that still manages to force out some tears.
Unlike most of Berg’s latest true story films you’d be hard pressed to have to explain the Boston marathon bombing to just about anyone old enough to have the urge to see the movie. The film focuses on the involvement of a hobbled police officer, Tommy Saunders (Berg’s muse, Mark Wahlberg), who finds himself at ground zero of finish line explosions and wrapped up in several aspects of the following investigation. Along the way there are a number of high profile actors poking there heads in for their masculine man-isms and over written one-liners but Wahlberg’s character easily shares the majority of the spotlight. (more…)
It was a fairly quiet year of moviegoing here at TGoF. Lots of adjusting to life with a baby along with other typical life happenings that eat into one’s time and energy. The result made it difficult to fit in some of what many would consider the best movies of the year and being a genre lover I always make time for those pesky horror movies–which is why my lists tend to befuddle the more refined movie snobs. However, in review of the movies I saw this year and not being satisfied with the options for a top ten the executive decision was made to this year do a top five instead. Condensing down hopefully just accentuates how great I felt the top choices were as opposed to how weak (yet still highly rated) my overall top ten would have been.
Over the course of the next few weeks it’s possible I’ll make it out to cinema darlings like La La Land and and Moonlight, but for now hopefully you’re eyes will find my choices for what I did see in 2016 acceptable enough. As always thanks for checking out my ramblings and I look forward to getting back in the saddle more and more on 2017! (more…)
Life is a beautiful thing. It’s complex, subjectively fulfilling and in various ways, sad. Denis Villeneuve excels in conveying humanity and emotion in the most beautiful and hideous ways. Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario are incredible examples of just how dark the filmmaker views the human condition so it’s only right that with Arrival he introduces extraterrestrials to have a heady and heart-wrenching talk with us humans.
Arrival is high end science fiction. A thinking person’s genre flick. Villeneuve drops a handful of alien spacecrafts into our world and a less discerning movie-goer salivates while waiting for the eye-popping VFX and ariel dogfights. However, when your main character, Louise (Amy Adams), being a linguist and her side kick, Ian (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, sent to decrypt and analyze alien language to engage in deep conversation there just isn’t room for devastating city-wide explosions and laser beams. (more…)
For Ridley Scott the apple seems to have not fallen far from the tree. The respected director’s son, Luke Scott, has made his directorial debut and for what it’s worth, it’s a good looking movie that- in stretches- channels Ridley’s work. However, that apple’s got a big ugly worm slithering it’s way around somewhere as Luke’s debut flick, Morgan, shows signs of a filmmaker with significant growing pains to work through.
Morgan starts off well enough as we are introduced to corporate risk analyst, Lee (Kate Mara). She’s been assigned to assess the viability of a top secret project in the boonies, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), a genetically altered human with violent tendencies awaiting a psyche evaluation that may influence Lee’s course of action- aka whether or not she will terminate Morgan’s existence.
To this point we’ve started off well enough. Scott is able to build tension and set the table for a tense if comically inept psyche evaluation conducted by the great Paul Giamatti. At the conclusion of this meeting the film descends into chaos- in service to the plot and in quality simultaneously. (more…)