The Matrix

Neo is Jesus, right? 5/5, very soft grunge.

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Premonition

I can see why America’s sweetheart, Sandy B didn’t do another project for 2 years following the 2007 release of this movie. This was a huge mess.

At first, it lends itself to be a dual-timeline feature about what could happen if the premonition that Sandy’s Linda Hansen has come true. But then, wait, what? It turns out to be a single timeline and we quickly cannot trust our narrators’ memory to be true. Then, wait, he does die, actually? And she’s at the scene, and not at home, like we are previously led to believe?

The timeline is not so much confusing, because mid-movie we get it broken down for us by Sandy herself, but it’s actually just incredibly stupid.

The beginning of the film is good, it adds suspense, and we get mystery, and death, and motherhood, and infidelity, and friendship, and mental health awareness. But then, once the audience is let into the want-to-be-formulaic-method here, it’s just a Crashingly terrible catastrophe. And of course, as at the end, we can not draw any further meaning from the face-value of the film because there is no deeper meaning. Literally.

This is a waste of time, do not watch this movie. 0/5.

The Boy Downstairs

When I saw Zosia Mamet, I was half expecting her to reprise her roll as Shoshanna from Girls (can you believe it’s been two years since that wrapped?) given the NYC setting. I was delightfully let down as Diana grew her legs and sprouted into a spry, but often forlorn 20-something that was unlike Shosh. Diana, lovingly referred to as D, is a sweet character that reaches for connection in any way she knows how, and unfortunately is given a series of choices involving her ex-boyfriend, Ben.

I was rooting for Diana and Ben. I liked the way this film is spliced together using flashbacks, but we are never given flashbacks into D’s three-year stint abroad, sans Ben. D’s friends help guild her through this trivial period of unwittingly being neighbors with her ex, and her feelings surrounding the love that they once shared.

Watching this, I couldn’t stop thinking that it may have cost little to nothing to make. But the low-budget didn’t distract from the performances given or the crispness of the production quality on the streets of New York. NYC felt like a character, a warm, old friend that welcomed D back from her excursion and they seemed to pick up where they left off.

5/5, cute movie.

Io

This film disappointed me. It successfully world builds for the majority of the first act, and I’m on-board with the mission Sam is playing out in the beginning. But then her mission gets muddled and the script bites off a bit more than it could chew with the limited dialogue we are provided.

We are expected to make the connection between Helen of Troy to Sam and Earth and Io and Micah and Sam’s random space lover who abandons her mid-movie. The film had a lot of potential, and it was well-conceived but really poorly executed. It was never going to be an award-winner but it might have painted us a beautiful picture of Earth’s end with a little more give to our collective imaginations.

Anthony Mackie is really good. 2/5. I won’t watch this again.

Crazy Rich Asians

This film is bright, it’s warm, it’s funny, well adapted, smartly cast, and incredibly acted. This is a story of love, friendship, of maternal instinct, and Asian matriarch culture. Everything in this is very obviously meticulously selected, from the clothes to the exterior Singapore shots. I respected the broad strokes we got about Asian culture while learning about super wealthy secrecy of the Young family.

The book is over 500 pages, and to adapt a novel of that grandeur is no easy feat. The adapted screenplay gave us everything that was important, and then some. We cared for Astrid, whose character was diminished in the adaptation, but Gemma Chan gave us such a kind insight to a woman scorned that we didn’t sigh and wish her scenes would wrap to move onto the bigger story. That’s not easy.

I loved this book, and loved the film even more on my second watch. I’ll watch it again and again and again. Henry Golding is 5/5 and this movie is 5/5.

Wild Oats

This is good. It is not perfect, it is not well-written, and it’s predictable. But I would argue that the comedic timing between two veteran actors, the electric Shirley MacLaine and brilliant Jessica Lange, is simply exquisite. They play “best friends,” and albeit their friendship can be cold at times, the first act was damn near perfectly acted.

The premise is old and easy to follow, but I love the idea that two old women willingly and openly commit fraud to have one last hoorah. The island is positioned as a character as well, and the exterior shots are stunning. I appreciated the way MacLaine’s house was propositioned as tired and old, and the island was given a youthful characterization. It was smartly and mildly fed to us.

Demi Moore is the worst part about this. She’s not great. 4/5.

Annihilation

Spoiler alert!

Annihilation is true to form, science meets fiction. Wonderfully written, incredibly shot, and damn near perfectly scored. The source material was often vague and ambiguous, but always concisely paced. I didn’t find myself asking many questions along the way that weren’t answered promptly.

The shimmer, or the result of a meteor crash at a lighthouse somewhere in Florida, refracts and mutates anything biological that is in its’ way. I believe the women began mutating the moment they entered the shimmer and were mutated and possibly already their doppelgangers by the time they came to days later at the campsite. Lena says in some early on present-day interview scenes that she “doesn’t remember eating,” but they took stock of their food supply and said they were there for “days.” A version of themselves ate and set up camp, and days later, a new version awoke with the consciousness of the version that entered.

Lena also noticed a “bruise” on her left arm after the gator attack, but later we see that bruise had turned into the tattoo that was originally on Gina Rodriguez’ Anya’s arm. Perhaps had the women stayed together, they would not only begin to mutate into each other, but I believe they would become one sentient being. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Dr. Ventress literally became a kaleidoscope-esque ever morphing fire object and with one drop of Lena’s blood becomes the being that is a pure doppelganger of Lena. It begs the question, what happened to Ventress’ DNA that it could be annihilated by one drop of Lena’s DNA? I believe they were already becoming one before they fully morphed into the metallic being Lena eventually battles.

When Lena is unconscious during the battle, the being lays down to mirror her awakening, and during the time she was unconscious, I believe the being was acting as Ventress as a default.

There are some pretty obvious parallels to cancer and how we battle cancer. In an early scene where Lena is teaching, she explains that a cancer cell will duplicate quickly and without pause until the original cell is annihilated and unable to be identified. The shimmer acted as a cancer cell that took over its’ host. The near-constant rotation of deployments into the shimmer lends itself to the idea that we attack cancer when is it identified with all the gun-power we possibly can. Also, Lena studies cancer, Shepard’s daughter had cancer, and Ventress has cancer. It’s almost always an available subject to talk about in the film.

I’d also like to view the shimmer as a symbol of everyone’s inner demons. Shepard is dealing with grief, and she dies just as she lives, begging for help. She mentions to Lena that she not only mourns her daughter, but the version of herself she was when her daughter was alive. When she entered the shimmer, she became a new version of herself and was able to finally lay to rest the grief-stricken version. Also perhaps the bear was the personification of her grief; big, ugly, destructive, and unable to listen to reason.

Anya is an addict and she dies violently while fighting for her life. We can compare this to an overdose, perhaps. Her inner-self was fighting her addiction but at the end of it all, her physical self failed to align with who she was inside. Tessa Thompson’s Radek literally disappeared into thin air, and she struggled with self-destructive tendencies that helped her feel “more alive.” Her disappearing was her giving into a life that she already had, but didn’t want. A quiet, and pain-free life.

Lena’s inner turmoil was created when she cheated on her husband. We get that flashback when she enters the shimmer, and when she reaches the lighthouse, the only demon she has to fight is herself for ruining her marriage. I think Ventress was able to let herself be annihilated because she didn’t value her life.

This is my second watch of this film, but the devil truly is in the details here, so I could probably stand to watch it 5-6 more times and continue to get different interpretations and a more adequate detail story here. Details I did note: painting the colorful bedroom (the shimmer) into a dull white. The refraction of water on Kane and Lena’s hands, the color story changing in and out of the shimmer, the lecture Lena gave on cancer cells, and the tattoo transfer from Anya to Lena.

I didn’t really find the ending to be all that confusing, when Lena’s eyes started to glow. I think she was already a clone before she even got to the lighthouse, so it’s not wild to believe that Kane was, too and the version of himself he is when we meet him didn’t transfer the consciousness so seamlessly like Lena’s did because she had time to.

5/5. Oscar Isaac is really hot. And the shimmer is so, so, so fun and funky to be part of.