Showing posts with label The Marriage Pact. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Marriage Pact. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2017

"Blade Runner 2049" and The Week in Reviews

It's Halloween Week!

[I review a dark and spooky sci fi movie, the new "Blade Runner 2049" and two horror films, one on DVD and one streaming now on Netflix: "47 Meters Down" and "Gerald's Game."  The Book of the Week is a scary novel (especially if you're married): "The Marriage Pact," and I also bring you up-to-date with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" with Godard's "Pierrot Le Fou," which is not particularly scary per se but scary to me because I don't like Godard and I am scared thinking that this might not be the last one I have to watch!]

Blade Runner 2049

The sequel to the 1982 classic groundbreaking "Blade Runner."

Ryan Gosling stars as "K," a replicant cop.  What's a replicant?  Well, if you saw the original 1982 "Blade Runner," you know the answer to that. But for those of you who haven't seen that one, replicants are basically bioengineered humans brought to life to act as servants and slaves for real humans.

It would probably not be a bad idea to watch the original first or at least read the Wikipedia synopsis, but if you don't want to do that, I will try to bring you up-to-speed.

In the original film, the replicants didn't want to be servants and slaves and wanted to determine their own lives so they rebelled and all hell broke loose.  They were considered criminals and were hunted down by "blade runners."  Now 30 years later, a newer, better version of a replicant has been manufactured by evil genius Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) who bought out the Tyrell Company where the original rogue replicants were manufactured.  Wallace has created new and improved replicants that are programmed to obey.  We don't want any more of that nasty rebellion nonsense, now, do we? 

But some of those older replicants are still out there on the run and they are being hunted down and "retired," future speak for killed. And what better job for an obedient replicant than to be a blade-running cop?

K works for the LAPD of the future in a Southern California that is dark and gruesome. Think sci-fi noir. Ironically San Diego has fared least well and become a scary wasteland.  K's job is to hunt down any of the older models of replicants, and the film begins with him locating one of them, Sapper Morton (Dave Bautista) and a fight to the death ensues.  K wins out but after "retiring" Morton he discovers a box buried on Morton's property and in it are the bones of a female replicant who it turns out...wait for it...gave birth!  She died during a caesarean section.  K's boss, Joshi (Robin Wright) orders K to find the child, destroy it and to erase all remnants of its existence because she believes that if it gets out that replicants can reproduce, something not thought possible, it would cause an interspecies war.

Now K must find the child. He goes to the Wallace Corporation to check the archives of the Tyrell Corporation and discovers some information that leads him to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), our original blade runner from the first film.

But there is someone else looking for the child and that is Wallace, who has yet  to be able to manufacture a replicant who can give birth. He sends his evil replicant minion, Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), to follow K and find Rachael's child and, let's just say, her name is ironic - you don't want to mess with Luv.  She is a nasty piece of work.

Meanwhile, K lives with his girlfriend, Joi (Ana de Armas, an absolutely gorgeous young actress), who is actually a hologram who can become any woman that K might want. What man wouldn't want that?  Wallace, it seems, is not just in the replicant business but also manufactures hologram versions of humans too. Joi can - ahem - perform certain duties for K but also is his confidant and support.  He shares with her some of his childhood memories which he knows can't be true because he was born full-grown so those memories must have been programmed into his brain, right? But through a series of events K starts to think that perhaps HE is that replicant child.

Is he?

Naturally K finds Deckard, and I am once again reminded why Harrison Ford did mostly action films, rather than straight dramas.  I mean did you see him in "Hanover Street?"  Dreadful.  And here he looks like he is mostly holding his nose and would rather be anywhere else than playing Rick Deckard again.

However, Ryan Gosling is great, not only as a dramatic actor, but as an action hero, though he seems a bit dour most of the time, but for this role it works.  But I wonder if he can do comedy.  Jared Leto is well, Jared Leto.  He does strange very well and this time he is very, very strange, indeed, helped by some weird glass eyes.

The women are also particularly good, not to mention stunning: Robin Wright, who never seems to age; Sylvia Hoeks, gorgeous but I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley; and if every man could have a hologram like de Armas, we real live women wouldn't have a chance!

I had high hopes for this film and thought it was going to be very big. 

I participate in a Fantasy Movie League (I will write about that some time) and bet big on this film (fake money, not real money) when it was first released, but unfortunately for me and this film, it did not do as well as expected at the box office despite the original film's cult status and Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford starring.  I guess there aren't too many folks out there who remember the original "Blade Runner" or maybe Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford don't have the star power to carry a film.  Or maybe it was just the 163 minute running time.  We Americans don't have very long attention spans these days.

At any rate, I was very surprised this film was not a blockbuster, because it's a great film that captures the mood of the original and ponders the age-old question of what it means to be human. 

With a screenplay by Hampton Fancher, Michael Green and directed by Denis Villaneuve, who was nominated for a Best Director Oscar last year for "Arrival," it has a good mystery story, it's action-packed, the score fits it perfectly, and it's beautiful to look at thanks to the cinematography of veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins. I also enjoyed some little perceived nods to Pinocchio and Fagen from "Oliver Twist."

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like sci fi, this is a good one but don't drink too much soda before or during.  It's almost three hours long (if you get my drift).

***Some Movies You Might Have Missed***
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)!

Streaming and on DVD


47 Meters Down (2017)

Two sisters vacationing in Mexico decide it's a good idea to descend into the ocean in a shark cage to do a little shark watching.  Talk about the vacation from hell.

Statistics say that your chances of dying from a shark attacked are about one in over three million, but getting into a shark cage is probably pressing your luck.

But sisters Kate (Claire Holt) and Lisa (Mandy Moore) weren't thinking like that when they decided to do something adventurous.  Lisa confides in Kate that the reason she isn't on this vacation with her boyfriend, Stewart, was because he has left her.  And the reason he left her was because she is boring.

So when they go out dancing and meet two locals who invite them to go down in a shark observation cage to do some shark-watching, Kate urges Lisa to say yes.  As Kate reminds Lisa, Stewart sure wouldn't think she was boring if she went down in a shark observation cage, right?  They could take pictures and send them to Stewart and make him wish he was with this new adventurous Lisa.  Lisa is actually kind of boring and also fearful but when one of the guys tells her:

"It's like you are going to the zoo except you are in the cage.  Totally safe."

She says yes.  Ruh-roh.

Well, since there was ominous music almost from the start of this film even when Kate and Lisa were lounging on the deck sipping exotic drinks, you know things are not going to go well for them.

So even though the boat that takes them out to sea is rickety, the cage has seen better days and the captain seems dodgy, they still go down in the shark cage. Naturally the winch breaks and now they are sitting on the bottom of the ocean floor - 47 meters down, get it? - and running out of oxygen.

What makes horror films so scary is a beautiful setting, happy unknowing soon-to-be victims and their doing something that is seemingly safe...until it isn't.  What could possibly go wrong?

Moore, who has probably been more well-known for her singing career than her acting career, has hit it big with the successful TV show "This is Us."  But she couldn't have known that was going to happen to her when she made this film. Though not released until this last summer, this was a low-budget film made in England in 2016, and though she is very good here, it probably wouldn't have done that much for her film career.
Matthew Modine has a small role as the boat captain, Captain Taylor.  Whatever happened to his career?  He was on fire in the 80's and 90's and, though he has worked steadily since, he has been toiling in smaller roles and hasn't carried any films.

There are plenty of thrills as well as plenty of, WHAAAT?  My yelling at the TV! "Don't do that?"  "Don't leave the cage!"  This is one of those horror films where the heroines keep doing really stupid things. The sharks are scary and look quite real and these days you can't necessarily count on a happy ending.  Remember when movies always had happy endings?  I can remember saying to my Dad when I was little, "Don't worry, Daddy.  The hero never dies."  I was probably saying that to myself.  But then movies took a turn, probably in the 70's, and we could no longer count on everyone making it out alive.  I'm not saying that's what happens here.  I'm just saying that knowing that it could all end badly makes these movies even scarier.

There are also some "Huh?" moments, such as why did the girls do down by themselves?  Why didn't the guys go with them?  Or why didn't Captain Taylor have a Plan B for something like this happening?  Why didn't the girls just leave the cage and go to the surface?  I know, the bends, but if they go slowly they are OK and, as it was, they spent way more time outside of that cage than they should have anyway!
But despite those small things, this film directed by Johannes Roberts with a screenplay by Roberts and Ernest Riera, is scary and effective, though not blood and gore/slasher scary. This film reminded me of "The Shallows" which I reviewed last spring.  "The Shallows" was a low-budget film that did very well, which could explain why this film was released when the original plan was to send it directly to video. If you do a double feature with this film and "The Shallows," you could have a beachy Halloween scare fest. 

Rosy the Reviewer says...this is the kind of film that nightmares are made of. 

Gerald's Game (2017)

Speaking of nightmares... 

What if you and your husband decided to go to a remote cabin and have a little bondage fun but after he handcuffs you to the bed frame, he suddenly has a heart attack and dies, leaving you hand-cuffed to the bed and no one around to help you? 

That's the premise of this Netflix original adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Carla Gugino plays Jessie Burlingame and Bruce Greenwood is her husband, Gerald.  The two have gone off to a remote cabin to try to rekindle their marriage.  As they enter the cabin, they leave the door open.  And just so we are sure to see that, Jessie turns and gives that open door a look as if to say, "Shouldn't we close the door?' but continues on into the bedroom. Yes, Jessie, you should have closed the door!

Turns out Gerald has some kinky bondage/rape fantasies so he has brought handcuffs.  Jessie isn't sure this is what she signed up for but is game until Gerald gets a little rough and she demands that he take off the handcuffs.  Unfortunately, before he can take them off, he has a heart attack and falls off the bed leaving Jessie handcuffed, splayed out on the bed and helpless.

When they had first arrived, they had encountered a stray dog, and Jessie had attempted to feed it.  Well, remember that open door?  In comes our little scruffy hungry dog who helps himself to a big bite of flesh off of Gerald's arm.

So now we have an excruciating 90 minutes left to see how and if Jessie is going to get out of this predicament.  I mean, imagine being handcuffed to a bed and there is absolutely no one around, no one to hear you AND the door is wide open with a bloodthirsty dog roaming around.  Might not be too scary the first hour or two but when you've been lying there for days...think about it.

Lest you think this film is just Gugino lying there on the bed thinking and wondering where her next glass of water is going to come from, as the hours go by her mind conjures Gerald who "comes alive" as does her alter ego and the three of them interact and Jessie's and Gerald's particular marital issues come to light. As this all plays out we have to ask ourselves "Do we really know who we married?"

Jessie is also visited by "The Moonlight Man (Carel Struycken)," a creepy guy who appears in the shadows as Jessie finally confronts the child abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, abuse that she had repressed but that had taken a toll on her as a woman. The handcuffs become a metaphor for the psychological shackles that women carry.

"The people who are supposed to protect you from monsters turn out to be monsters themselves."

But it's not all mental horror. There is certainly some physical horror as well. Jessie has to use her pluck (don't you love that word?) to try to survive and it gets a bit gruesome!

Directed by Mike Flanagan with a screenplay by Flanagan and Jeff Howard, this is intense psychological horror at its best, and Carla Gugino is wonderful as Jessie.  I first noticed her in the short-lived Showtime series "Roadies" and noticed then the warmth and realness she brings to her roles.  Now I add grit to that description of her.

Bruce Greenwood has made a name for himself playing bad and kind of pervy guys, and speaking of pervy, I have also come to the conclusion that the mind of Stephen King is pervy too.  He is one weird dude.  There was supposedly some disturbing stuff in the book "It" that was left out of the film, and when you think back on his books and the movie versions of them, it seems like there is always something sexually disturbing going on.

Rosy the Reviewer says...disturbing but really intensely good.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

164 to go!

Have YOU seen this classic film?

Pierrot le Fou (1965)

A bored married man gets himself involved with a nutty woman who has gangsters chasing her.
Ferdinand Griffon (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is married to a wealthy Italian woman, has children and has been recently fired from the television station where he worked. His wife forces him to go to a party at the house of her influential father who wants to introduce Ferdinand to a potential employer. Marianne Renoir (Anna Karina), the niece of a friend and Ferdinand's ex-girlfriend, arrives to take care of their children. Ferdinand is bored with his life and even more bored at the party where everyone seems to be embroiled in vapid chatter.  There are a series of very stylized scenes where people mindlessly chatter about cars and quote from TV commercials. 

So Ferdinand leaves the party and discovers he is able to have a deep conversation with the young Marianne, who was his lover five years ago and who insists on calling him Pierrot. It's a running joke through the film.  She calls him Pierrot and he always corrects her by saying "My name is Ferdinand."

They spend the night together and there just happens to be a dead body in Marianne's apartment, a dead body that neither of them acknowledges. Director Godard like to do stuff like that. The body just happens to be there, but eventually we and Ferdinand discover that Marianne is involved in smuggling weapons and that some very bad men are after her, so Ferdinand and she go on the run like Bonnie and Clyde, leaving Paris and his family behind, to go find her brother so they can get some money.  From then on, the movie is a sort of road trip gangster movie.

Turns out Marianne has a dark past with gangsters.  She has stolen some money from them and now they want their money back.  Marianne is trouble, and if you ask me, a bit of a nutter.  This is one of those films where the evil woman takes advantage of the clueless guy.  Think "Body Heat," except "Body Heat" made sense.

As they Marianne and Ferdinand flee the gangsters, they try faking their deaths in a car accident.

"It must look real.  This isn't a movie."


When they drive their car into the ocean, I said out loud, "What the hell?"

Written and directed by French auteur, Jean-Luc Godard, there are all kinds of allusions to art and all kinds of deep conversations.  This film reminded me that movies in the 60's were very deep, so deep that I didn't have the slightest idea what was going on most of the time.  And I still don't.

Speaking of the 60's, there is no more iconic figure from the 60's than Jean-Paul Belmondo with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. I think he did that in all of his films.  And Anna Karina is gorgeous.  Both are beautiful, excellent actors so I am not going to hold this movie against them.

I think I have finally decided that I am not a fan of Godard. I am giving up on him. 

Roger Ebert said in a review in 1969:

"So let this be a warning: You probably won't like "Pierrot le Fou." One of Godard's films, seen by itself, can be a frustrating and puzzling experience. But when you begin to get into his universe, when you've seen a lot of Godard, you find yourself liking him more and more. One day something clicks, and Godard comes together. And then, perhaps, you decide that if he is not the greatest living director he is certainly the most audacious, the most experimental, the one who understands best how movies work." 

He was right.  I didn't like this film.  It was just too weird, even for the 60's, and there were some weird films in the 60's. I think Godard made movies on purpose that we wouldn't understand hoping we would be stupid enough to think that because we didn't understand them, they must be deep when in fact it was just Godard being pretentious and messing with us.  If I could reply to Roger I would say that I've had it with Godard, I have already seen several of his movies since I started this project, and I don't really want to "get into his universe" or see any more of his movies.

Why it's a Must See: "[This film is] Jean-Luc Godard's important milestone in the director's long and brilliant career...[It is} bitter, satirical, humorous, and beautiful -- but perhaps its most charming (and arresting) feature is it sheer outrageousness...The potency of Godard's imagery and satire has not diminished with age.  If anything it's even more relevant today."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...Outrageous is right. There are eight of his films listed in "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die." God, I hope this is the last one I have to see.

***The Book of the Week***

The Marriage Pact: A Novel by Michelle Richmond

Marriage can be a scary place.

Jake and Alice are newlyweds.  Alice was once a singer in a rock band and is now a successful attorney.  Jake is counselor in a psychology practice.  One of their wedding gifts was a mysterious package enticing them to join "The Pact," an exclusive group formed to help make marriages last forever.

So Alice and Jake are intrigued and meet Vivian who shows them a slide show about "The Pact," gives them a manual to "memorize" and some documents to sign. "The Pact" is a secret group with a set of rules or laws and once a member, you are never supposed to talk about "The Pact."  Think "Fight Club," except for marriage.

Certainly Jake and Alice want their marriage to last, so, even though they are a bit uneasy about the documents they have to sign, they decide to join.  It all seems innocuous and sensible at first, even fun:  "Give your spouse a special gift every month," "Plan a trip every quarter," "Always answer the phone when your spouse calls," but when Alice is perceived as breaking some rules and is sent to "prison," it becomes clear "The Pact" is no joke and Alice and Jake want to unjoin.  But not only is marriage for life, it looks like "The Pact" is for life too.  These people aren't playing and Jake and Alice realize that they have gotten themselves into a nightmare.

As you have probably realized by now, I don't review a lot of fiction.  That's because I haven't been reading much fiction lately.  I don't know when I stopped.  I could probably trace it back to an argument I had with one of my ex-husbands - which now thinking back is probably one of the reasons he is an ex.  He had mentioned that he didn't believe in reading fiction, that it was a waste of time. He only wanted to read books where he would learn something.  I tried to explain to him that you definitely could learn from reading fiction.  Fiction opens up new worlds to the reader, worlds he or she might never be able to experience.  Fiction explores the human condition and connects us all in our shared experiences.  And fiction is just fun and enjoyable to read and what's wrong with that?

In my younger years, I was an avid reader of fiction.  I burned my way through Nancy Drew, then the classics - Tolstoy, Nabokov, Shakespeare, etc.  When  I was a teen, I found a book called something like "The 100 Masterpieces of Literature," so I decided to read them from A to Z.  I dutifully went to the library and found Booth Tarkington's "Alice Adams," worked my way through Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage," and finished with "Zorba the Greek."  Looking back, some of those "100 Masterpieces" may have been considered masterpieces in the 1960's but are little known today but I am glad I read them.  It was a "project" I enjoyed completing.  I guess I like projects (see "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" above)! 

But despite all of that fiction I read in my younger days, somehow over the years, I have veered away from fiction and concentrated mostly on biographies, autobiographies, true crime and pop culture, but when I started writing this blog and reviewing books, I was asked by some readers of my blog why I didn't review fiction.  I had to ask myself that too, so because of that I decided to go back to reading fiction and that is what I have done.  You will notice that every fifth book or so that I review on this blog is a novel and you know what?  I am really enjoying it. 

And this book reminds me of how much fun reading fiction can be.  And there is nothing wrong with reading for enjoyment!  I particularly enjoyed the San Francisco and Northern California settings since I not only lived in San Francisco, I actually lived right where Jake and Alice live in San Francisco's Richmond District.

Richmond may not be a Tolstoy or a Nabokov, but she is an excellent writer who has written a smart, engrossing thriller with interesting characters and a story that will keep you guessing.  Think Scientology meets "The Stepford Wives."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a novel with a tight, engrossing and scary story.  I couldn't put it down and you won't either.

Thanks for reading!
See you Tuesday

for a special Halloween edition


Rosy the Reviewer

and then next Friday 

for my review of  

"Goodbye Christopher Robin"  


The Week in Reviews
(What to See or Read and What to Avoid)

 and the latest on

"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before 

 I Die Project."


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Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database).