13 Reasons Why (2017)

13 Reasons Why (2017)

It’s been a while since I’ve written about a whole season of a show rather than a movie, and funnily enough, the last one I wrote about was also a Netflix series. Sure, I’ve written about John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper‘s episodes of Masters of Horror, but those are pretty much short films independent of each other rather than one cohesive story told though multiple episodes. What am I saying, you know what a TV show is, you’re not an idiot (I hope). This show has stirred up a lot of controversy with people jumping on either side of the fence and naturally so, being a show that tackles subjects like depression, suicide, and sexual assault. Some people are adamant that the show inaccurately portrays these things and their consequences and that the show is doing more harm than good, while some others feel like this show is taking a brave stance to bring these subjects to light in a time when they’re the most relevant to our current youth culture. I’m not here to tell one side or another which is right or wrong. I’m here to just, like, give my opinion, man.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past month and a half, 13 Reasons Why is the newest Netflix series to take the world by storm. In small town USA, Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford), a girl who has just moved to town and started in Liberty High School has killed herself. Slit wrists in a bathtub. After her death, her classmates find a box of cassette tapes, each side dedicated to a person or an event that she believes led her to take her own life. The tapes make their way to Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette, who was quite good in Don’t Breathe), a quiet, smart kid who was a friend of Hannah’s. Through his eyes we get to see Hannah’s story and everything that culminated in her taking her own life. This show is based on the book of the same name, written by Jay Asher. I haven’t read the book and I don’t intend to. I don’t care how faithful or unfaithful it is to the source material, I just care how well it holds up on its own. (more…)

Incendies (2010)

Incendies (2010)

Go call your mom, your dad, your brothers and sisters if you have any, and tell them you love them.

Incendies is a French-Canadian (woo!) film by superstar Quebecois director Denis Villeneuve. I’ve written in the past about some of his films, pretty much all of which I’ve loved. Well, tally one more up for Mr. Villeneuve, because Incendies might just be a new favorite of mine from him.

It kicks off with Jeanne (Mélissa Désormeaux-Poulin) and Simon Marwan (Maxime Gaudette), Canadian twins of Middle Eastern descent who are meeting at their mother’s notary’s office after she has passed away. Included in their mother Nawal’s (Lubna Azabal) will, are two envelopes, one for their father and one for their brother. The friction starts immediately as the Marwans never knew their presumably dead father and have never had another sibling. Jeanne travels to their mother’s birthplace, an unspecified country in the Middle East to trace the steps of her mother’s life so she can solve the mystery of her missing father and brother. Simon, reluctant at first, eventually joins her with Lebel, the aforementioned notary. While in the Middle East learning about their strange family history from locals who seem to resent them on sight, they slowly begin learning a dark secret about their family that they couldn’t even have imagined.

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Tombstone (1993)

Tombstone (1993)

Tombstone is one of those movies that nobody talks about, but anytime you admit that you haven’t seen it, whoever you’re talking to is bound to violently react with a sharp gasp and a “what do you mean you haven’t seen Tombstone?!” like you just admitted that you’ve never eaten a hamburger in your life. Today, I fixed that problem. Watched Tombstone, that is. Anyone who looks at my midriff will know for a fact that I’ve eaten many, many hamburgers in my lifetime.

Tombstone is an American western-action film based on the true story of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russel), a retired wild west lawman who wants to settle down in Tombstone, Arizona, but is roped back into dishing out rifle-fueled justice with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliot) and Morgan (Bill Paxton, R.I.P.) and an old friend and con-artist Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). The Cowboys, a gang nearly one hundred strong has been terrorizing Tombstone and its surrounding area, and after a couple violent and bloody run-ins with the gang and it’s leaders Curly Bill (Powers Boothe) and Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), the Earp brothers and Doc don law badges and set out to clean up Tombstone once and for all. Also, if you’re marveling at how all-star this cast is, let me inform you that Charlton Heston, Stephen Lang, Jason Priestley, and Paula Malcomson are also in it.

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The Squid and the Whale (2005)

The Squid and the Whale (2005)

As I continue to burn through my newest pile of DVDs, I decide to watch a film I bought on two principles. The first being that it was a movie inducted into the Criteron Collection, and the second being that I found a pre-Criterion edition of it on sale for under two dollars (Canadian, meaning it was roughly four American cents).

The Squid and the Whale is an independent dramatized autobiographical comedy-drama written and directed by Noah Baumbach and produced by Wes Anderson. Don’t worry, it’s not entirely as pretentious as I made it sound there.

The Squid and the Whale follows the Berkmans, a family of four in 1986 being torn apart by an incredibly messy divorce between Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and Joan (Laura Linney). Their two sons Frank (Owen Kline) and Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) immediately take sides, with Frank siding with his mother and Walt his father. While it isn’t apparent why Bernard and Joan are separating in the first place, information begins coming to light, further dividing everyone in the family and cementing which sides they have chosen in this petty battle of favors.

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City of God (2002)

City of God (2002)

Let’s take a break from the Hellraiser series. No matter how much I might like some of those movies, most of them aren’t great. Barring the first, they aren’t really achievements in cinema. I’ve recently picked up a bunch of DVDs and Blu-Rays on clearance (rest in peace, HMV) and I really feel like I need to start working my way through them. So, I decided to start with one of the most highly praised films of all time.

City of God (Cidade de Deus in Brazilian Portugese) is a Brazilian (duh) crime drama set in the titular favela (rough slang for a lower class district or slum) of Rio de Janeiro that follows a large ensemble cast of characters across multiple decades of their lives. While they all grow up impoverished, their lives take different turns as they navigate the gang, drug, and violence filled City of God, a place where children are killed in the streets and you rarely make it past the age of 30 without being riddled full of bullet holes first.

While City of God follows the stories of over five main characters, the protagonist and antagonist that draw a through-line from one end of the story to the other are Rocket and Li’l Zé. Both starting the story as young kids who see the “glamorous” life of local low level street thugs, one develops a creative passion and becomes enamored with photography and journalism while the other indulges a thirst for power and blood that only violent crime can provide him. (more…)

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