Could You Make the Choice? M. Night Shyamalan Puts Certainty on Trial in KNOCK AT THE CABIN
If your expectations for Knock at the Cabin are based solely on M. Night Shyamalan’s previous film, Old (2021), those expectations probably aren’t high. Despite its fascinating concept, Old is stiff and awkward with unbalanced performances and an unrefined script. You might be tempted to make the same judgment about Knock at the Cabin after watching the first five minutes. The movie opens with stiff, over-rehearsed dialogue and awkward closeups that create an uneven tone and set a low bar for the rest of the movie. With vintage horror aesthetics in the opening credits and a creepy yet playful score, it’s difficult to tell whether or not Knock at the Cabin is taking itself seriously. But gradually, and then all at once, the tone becomes deadly serious. As the plot develops, it’s clear that Knock at the Cabin doesn’t suffer from the same problems as Old. M. Night Shyamalan’s latest film is a vicious, relentless mind game propelled by surprising and intense performances. With a script that gets exponentially better along the way, Knock at the Cabin far exceeds expectations.
If a Custom-Made Dior Dress Is a Bit Out of Your Price Range, Purchase a Copy of “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” on DVD or Blu-ray Instead
There’s no right or wrong way to make a feel-good movie. But there are certain elements that will make one feel-good film much more successful and enjoyable than another. Feel-good films require precise storytelling techniques and a little extra wow-factor in order to make an impact. In the case of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, that wow factor is the contagious optimism that’s reflected in every shot. At first glance, the story of Mrs. Ada Harris, an English house cleaner in the 1950s who dreams of owning her own Dior gown, seems like a predictable and unrealistic feel-good tale. But under the direction of Anthony Fabian (Good Hope), and with captivating performances by Lesley Manville (Let Him Go), Isabelle Huppert (Elle), Jason Isaacs (Mass), Lambert Wilson (Benedetta), Alba Baptista (Warrior Nun), Roxane Duran (The Cursed), and Ellen Thomas (Arcane), Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris emerges as a lovely cinematic gem. The movie had a theatrical release earlier this summer and is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Dive Into the Special and Practical Effects of “Jurassic World Dominion” With the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Home Release
In case you missed the theatrical release of Dominion, here’s a spoiler-free rundown: The movie picks up four years after the events of Fallen Kingdom. Isla Nublar, the site of both the original Jurassic Park and the new Jurassic World, has been destroyed. The genetically engineered dinosaurs have been set free to roam the Earth and walk among humans. While ordinary people are trying to figure out how to live their lives with dinosaurs walking around, others have jumped on the opportunity to turn a profit. A dinosaur black market has emerged, and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) are working to save as many dinos as possible from the criminal underworld. They’ve set up camp in a remote mountain cabin where they can protect Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the first human clone, from the clutches of sinister scientists and money-hungry opportunists. Meanwhile, Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott) has begun collecting dinos to study at his biotech company, Biosyn. But that’s not all Biosyn is up to. Their latest attempts to disrupt the agricultural industry have attracted the attention of one Dr. Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern), who turns to her old pals Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) for help. The paths of the original and new characters eventually collide, bringing everyone together for one last face-off against the ferocious and bloodthirsty dinosaurs.
“Dad, can you tell me a scary story?”
This is not how most children ask to be put to bed, but brave young Anna (Taliyah Blair) isn’t afraid of a few ghosts and goblins. Plus, her dad, Harry (Jonathan Nyati), is a great storyteller. Thus begins Jamie Hooper’s The Creeping, a delightful horror flick that will bring back memories of swapping ghost stories over a bucket of Halloween candy. While The Creeping is undeniably a ghost movie, it’s more likely to make you feel nostalgic than scared. Hooper takes a straightforward scary story and embellishes it with an R. L. Stine-esque style that will make you want to mix in some candy corn with your popcorn.
You’re Invited to a Deadly Fun Party: Stream "Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery" on Netflix
(L-R) Edward Norton as Miles, Madelyn Cline as Whiskey, Kathryn Hahn as Claire, Dave Bautista as Duke, Leslie Odom Jr. as Lionel, Jessica Henwick as Peg, Kate Hudson as Birdie, Janelle Monae as Andi, and Daniel Craig and Benoit Blanc in GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY. Cr. John Wilson/Netflix © 2022.
Rian Johnson’s Knives Out (2019) doesn’t need a sequel. It’s a hilarious and delightfully stylized standalone film that showcases Johnson’s creative writing skills and directorial flair. It has an unbeatable cast, side-splitting one-liners, and a clever story that keeps us guessing until the very end. Why would any filmmaker try to match that success with a second movie? After all, sequels and follow-up movies are usually disappointing, and
Johnson had already set the bar pretty high with Knives Out. Maybe he wanted to challenge himself as a writer and director, or maybe he just couldn’t let go of the delightful main character, detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), and the colorful world that he inhabits. Whatever Johnson’s reasons may have been, he made the right decision in developing a second Knives Out movie. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery exceeds expectations and asserts itself as a movie that’s just as fun, just as funny, and just as unique as its predecessor. Much like the beautiful Greek island where the cast of characters convenes for their murder mystery party, Glass Onion is the perfect mental escape. The script is clever and packed with intriguing, subtle details, and the movie as a whole is a treasure trove of fun, feel-good entertainment.
“She Said” Forgoes Explicit Trauma and Emotional Manipulation in Order to Respect Survivors of Abuse
When a story about a crime or scandal breaks, you can bet that there’s a movie producer somewhere who’s already in negotiations over the rights to that story — and I can’t blame them. Humans are naturally curious, and there’s something inherently intriguing about the psychology of serial killers and the complex webs of events behind white-collar crimes. In October of 2017, when journalists Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey published a story that exposed the crimes of Harvey Weinstein, producers Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner had acquired rights to a movie version of the story within a few months. The hasty move seems, at first glance, exploitative and unethical. Why would anyone be in such a rush to make a movie about such a personal and traumatic topic? Can you make such a movie that doesn’t exploit the painful memories of the survivors? But after watching She Said, it’s clear that Gardner and Kleiner, along with director Maria Schrader and writer Rebecca Lenkiewicz, had one goal in mind: to give voice to the survivors in a truthful and respectful way. Weinstein, who is now behind bars, received more than enough attention both before and after the allegations broke. She Said works to shift the conversation about sexual abuse in Hollywood from the perpetrators to the survivors.
“Wakanda Forever” Has the Narrative Power of a Modern-Day Epic (Spoiler-Free Review)
When you settle into your reclining theater seat with your favorite movie snacks to watch the anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (preferably in an IMAX theater, which is definitely worth the extra dollars), you can expect a strong story brought to life by a dedicated cast. While the movie honors the late Chadwick Boseman and the character he brought to the screen in the first Black Panther movie (2018), Wakanda Forever isn’t stuck in the past. Nor is it a sluggish transitional sequel, as the second installments in film franchises often are. It’s an exciting, emotionally gripping, aurally immersive, and visually impressive Marvel movie that is, on every level, a modern-day epic. It follows the stylistic and aesthetic patterns set by its predecessor, keeping director Ryan Coogler’s vision for Wakanda alive. It also introduces a few new characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, including Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía), the ruler of a stunning underwater kingdom. But the glue that holds the colorful costumes, otherworldly sets, and epic fight scenes together is Shuri (Letitia Wright), princess of Wakanda and sister to the late King T’Challa. Her story and development are what make Wakanda Forever, the second longest movie in the MCU, worth every minute.
Director Harry Cleven Achieves Something Truly Remarkable With His Hypnotic Experimental Sci-Fi Film, “Zeria” [Chattanooga Film Festival]
Harry Cleven’s Zeria is a wondrous and enlightening celebration of all the things that make us human. Using a combination of miniature sets, practical effects, and puppet-like masks, Cleven creates a breathtaking and unforgettable world that’s mesmerizing, comforting, and terrifying all at the same time. The film is narrated by the last living man on Earth as he writes a letter to his grandson, Zeria, the first human born on Mars. The narrator (voiced by Merlin Delens) tells his grandson about his full and complicated life, offering insight, wisdom, and heartbreaking truth. He talks about his birth, his troubled childhood, his love life, the sociopolitical changes that happened throughout his lifetime, and his lifelong search for meaning, all while seeking connection with someone who has never experienced life on Earth.
Content / trigger warning: Blonde contains flashing and strobing effect imagery that may be triggering to those with photosensitivity.
Blonde is rated NC-17 for some sexual content. It contains frightening and intense images involving abuse, assault, and abortion. These topics are briefly discussed in the review below.
Blonde isn’t the feel-good biopic you’re looking for. Nor is it a sentimental tear-jerker. Andrew Dominik’s 2-hour and 46-minute adaptation of the Joyce Carol Oates novel is difficult, depressing, and demanding. It’s the kind of movie that made me tell my parents, “Don’t watch it, you won’t like it” (although the MPAA rating alone would have been enough to turn them away). But as I watched, I also felt that I, as a critic, wasn’t supposed to like it. With so many unconventional stylistic elements at play and so much controversial content, I felt like the only “correct” review I could give would be to call the movie problematic and pretentious. However, that review wouldn’t be genuine. There are certain shots, sequences, scenes, and techniques in Blonde that really don’t work — and yet, I found myself completely engaged with the film, not wanting it to end. It wasn’t until the JFK blowjob scene when a male critic in the audience burst out laughing (to my extreme annoyance, as I was sympathizing with Marilyn’s perspective and admiring what the scene had to say about sexual power dynamics) that I figured out what Blonde was doing right. It was making me aware of myself as a woman, as a critic, as a movie lover, and as a human. Blonde gave me one of the most powerful and visceral experiences I’ve had at the movies in a long time. For that reason, I don’t want to focus on all the little things that didn’t work. Instead, I want to focus on a few big things that it got right. After all, any movie that makes you more aware of yourself has to be doing something right.
Somewhere Between Myth and Reality, There Is "A Pure Place" [Chattanooga Film Festival]
One of the scariest things about cults is that they can form right under our noses. Cult leaders need to psychologically isolate their followers in order to maintain control, but they don’t have to keep everyone on a remote island in order to do so. Still, perhaps the best way to illustrate the intense psychological control that cult leaders achieve is to tell a story about a cult that’s geographically isolated from the real world. Perhaps the best way to demonstrate how a deeply disturbed man could earn the trust and respect of a whole community of devout followers is to confine that man and his followers to a remote location that seems to exist in a universe of its own. In Nikias Chryssos’s A Pure Place, a sickeningly imaginative film that he wrote with Lars Henning Jung, the entire population of a remote Greek island is under the spell of a charming and charismatic leader named Fust (Sam Louwyck). This deeply disturbed (but powerful) man is utterly obsessed with cleanliness, and he’s positioned himself as a savior who will lead the people to a pure place that’s free from man’s worst enemy: dirt. In addition to following Fust, the community also worships Hygeia, the Greek goddess of cleanliness. The cult is intense and otherworldly, so separated from the real world that Fust’s twisted desires have become the only law. The one thing connecting this mysterious island to the outside world is the product that Fust’s followers make in his factory: soap.
"Our embodied spectator, possibly perverse in her fantasies and diverse in her experience, possesses agency...finally, she must now be held accountable for it."