September Blind Spot Review: JFK (1991)

“Telling the truth can be a scary thing sometimes.”
– Jim Garrison

SYNOPSIS: New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there’s more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. – via IMDB

A movie about the JFK assassination? Man, this must have been tailor made for me! Ask anyone I know (Natasha knows about as well as my husband) how I feel about the Kennedy assassination. It is ridiculously fascinating and I love reading about it or watching things on it – it never gets old for me. So yeah, this is something I just never got to, and this was the year to correct that.

I think JFK is actually a great movie for someone to watch who doesn’t really know much about the Kennedy assassination, or the ludicrous explanations that were put forth about it, and that embarrassing investigation into it. Really, it covers a lot of relevant ground, and also happens to have another story over and above it, bringing to Zodiac to mind, because of watching Jim Garrison’s obsession with the case. A lot of research went into this and that is evident, but I would not say to go into this movie and take everything it presents as gospel, for reals. Look at it as entertainment, don’t take it as a hardcore documentary and the holy grail for answers to the JFK assassination. Enjoy it for the conspiracy it discusses.

The movie is shot well and I enjoyed the pacing – it is long, but takes the time to lay down the evidence and the story and then get going with it, which I liked, but I can see how it could annoy others. One also cannot deny that the movie looks and feels dated. The pacing was just fine here, and the performances were pretty damn good all around. I was so engrossed by the telling of this from Stone, how the case was presented and researched and pursued. It was quite tense and definitely entertaining. There are obviously a lot of issues with the movie in the sense that there are a lot of fictitious characters brought in and spewing “facts” and Stone sets out the good guys and the bad guys in a classic black and white way without actually finessing anything there. The movie is also presented as “fact”, which at times is a little difficult to swallow, and you can see a lot of confirmation bias going on for Garrison at times. That being said, this movie had a lot of things to balance, from fact to fiction and everything in between.

Overall, JFK is an entertaining watch sure to keep you hooked, especially if you enjoy conspiracies (whether you take them seriously or just like to hear what they are) and especially if you are interested about what happened that day in November of 1963, provided you don’t think this movie is going to give you all the answers, evidence and proof you are looking for. But as a movie taking a look at some of the conspiracies surrounding the assassination, balancing fact, fiction, everything? So worth it, truly.

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Review: The Innocent Wife – Amy Lloyd

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: Twenty years ago Dennis Danson was arrested for the brutal murder of Holly Michaels in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a Making a Murderer-style true crime documentary that’s taking the world by storm – the filmmakers are whipping up a frenzy of coverage to uncover the truth and free the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Samantha may be thousands of miles away in Britain, but she is as invested in Dennis’s case as any of his lawyers. Perhaps even more so, as her letters to the convicted killer grow ever more intimate. Soon she is leaving her life behind to marry Danson and campaign, as his wife, for his release.

But when the campaign is successful, and Dennis is freed, events begin to suggest that he may not be so innocent after all. How many girls went missing in Red River, and what does Dennis really know?  – via Goodreads

Obviously this premise was going to speak to me. I am fascinated with the whole death row thing, as well as the women who marry these men there. Surreal, crazy stuff. I very briefly skimmed this synopsis and gave it a shot, and I have no regrets.

The Innocent Wife is an extremely absorbing read. It gets cracking really quickly, and doesn’t waste your time. The plot pacing is a little all over the show because it starts with a bang, and while it remains engrossing, the middle section feels a little all over the show. That does not hurt the read though, as it is engaging and a super fast read. I really enjoyed the premise of this one (I mean we have all watched documentaries about convicted murderers/wrongfully convicted folks and everyone has an opinion on the death penalty), and felt at times it was a little predictable, but not too often, so it makes for a super immersive read.

Sam is a character who initially comes across as insipid and weak, and then when you see later is actually a hot mess in life. She is a particular brand of strange, because she pushes people away, has a super mean streak that bubbles to the surface from time to time, is super jealous and she lives in her head and shuts out the world. She also made Dennis her life, her whole world, and that is just sad. The relationship between Dennis and Sam is an odd one, and he is a cruel bastard to her at times, but she, too, is just weird. They are not particularly well suited for one another, and yet you want to read all there is to read about their twisted romance.

I did like the way that the book was structured, skipping between a book that was written about Dennis Danson and the accusations levelled against him, as well as letters between him and Sam, and then to what is going on between them in real life. It definitely works to keep up suspense. The book is really well written and lingers with you when you (sadly) have to go about your day to day (read: job that pays your bills) activities. I just wanted to read!

I am impressed that The Innocent Wife is Amy Lloyd’s first novel, and will most certainly be keeping my eyes peeled to see what else she comes up with in the future. I would say that this book is well worth the read!

Review: Get Out (2017)

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
– Shrink

SYNOPSIS: It’s time for a young African American to meet with his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambience will give way to a nightmare. – via IMDB

So there was a lot of hype when this came out – some people thought the raving killed it, some people flat out didn’t like it, either way, I was interested in checking it out. I believe my beloved Chop was not a super fan, but I know that Tom really liked it on the other hand.

Well, let’s put it right out there – I actually quite enjoyed Get Out. I am not going to write too much here or discuss too many themes as there are a ton of other writers/reviewers that looked into the smaller things and explore all of that in more depth. I am looking purely in terms of entertainment, and I thought that this was quite fun. The movie keeps you rather interested from the off, and is carried by really good performances and reveals the answers as you need them.

The air of mystery to Get Out is quite good, and the tension builds, because wtf is actually even going on half the time? Who are these people? What is wrong with the people that work for the Armitage family? What the heck is up with that icky Redneck-esque brother and his embarrassingly weak porn-stache? What is up with the terror that breaks out of the employees from time to time?

The movie is carried by pretty solid performances. Betty Gabriel gives us one of the biggest chills in the film, and Daniel Kaluuya, Lakeith Stanfield, Bradley Whitford and Allison Williams provide some memorable performances to pick over. Naturally one cannot forget Lil Rey Howery’s Williams, because damn, he definitely brought the humour to the table. I swear,  that scene in that cop shop? I laughed man, I laughed.

I feel that Jordan Peele debuted in style here. I was engaged, the pacing was good because the movie came in and did its thing and finished up before it wore out its welcome and it came across as quite smart. Get Out is clever as to where it uses humour, and where it runs the mystery and tension home. I thought it was well worth a watch.

Review: Tucker and Dale vs Evil (2010)

“You want a killer hillbilly? I’ll show you a killer hillbilly.”
– Dale

SYNOPSIS: Affable hillbillies Tucker and Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are mistaken for murderers by a group of preppy college students. – via IMDB

I remember when this came out, I was dead set against watching it. One part was being contrary about watching a recommendation from someone I was a) peeved with and b) I considered to have sketchy taste. I did not feel like a stoner movie (his forte). Ultimately I was roped into this by my now-husband, and I was pleased I was. What I thought this movie was and what it turned out to be? Two totally different things. Horror comedy. Why didn’t someone just open with that? You know I would have been all over that!

Tucker and Dale vs Evil is conscious of what it is, and owns it. Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are perfectly cast as hapless hillbillies Tucker and Dale. Like, really. The movie gets right into the plot, no dilly dallying, and I am good with that. The run-time is also perfect, so before anything (read: humour) gets the chance to become stretched out and stale, the movie is over, leaving you with a bundle of laughs and pretty damn good comedy throughout. There are so many memorable lines that will stay with you, and silly little scenes.

The movie is smarter than you initially think, but still not necessarily a sharp comedy, if that makes sense? It is a bundle of fun, and genuinely gets you laughing at times. Unfortunately, it is not perfect. The final act is a bit messy, and the humour not as fast of quick or as frequent as before, and comes across as trying too hard a little. Not to say it isn’t funny anymore, it is just not as hilarious as earlier.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil was an unexpected gem for me back in the day, and a movie I still reap quite a bit of enjoyment from. If you are into horror comedy, this certainly leans more on the comedy side, though it has plenty of gore to keep the bloodlust of a horror viewer at bay. I would definitely recommend giving this a spin, especially if you are in for a good laugh, misunderstood hillbillies, and some icky deaths.

I would like to say that the trailer is a spoiler, so if you have not seen this, skip the trailer and just go straight on to the movie. Trust me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l1t8OZn_uhE

Review: It – Stephen King

SYNOPSIS: To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live.

It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing . . .

The adults, knowing better, knew nothing.

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as IT stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality. – via Goodreads

Man, oh man! I have been itching for a Stephen King novel for some time now recently (ask Natasha, I have been putting off rereading 11/22/63 – it will happen sometime soon), and decided the other day screw it, let’s do It, what with the movie coming and all. I spent a chunk of September reading this because, aside from being a massive book, it takes time to hit a rhythm, but when you do it flows. My problem? Reading snatches of it on the tube every day (when I change three times) is not conducive to slipping into a rhythm.

Now, on to the book. Right off the bat, Stephen King is a master storyteller, someone who can really weave a tale to draw you in, and It is no exception. After each character is introduced to us, you rapidly develop an understanding of their personalities, and can easily discern each from the other – they all have a distinctive voice. The book serves as a constant reminder for the phenomenal character building King can do – each one of these kids brought something to the table with them. Bill, Eddie, Richie, Mike, Ben, Beverly, Stan, each of them had something unique going on.

It skips between 1957 and 1985, and the stories unfold concurrently, which I think is great. You see the encounters come as they are adults, and you make the discoveries with the adult versions of these kids as they make them, and I liked that bit of storytelling. The friendship between these kids is great, too.  I truly enjoyed how this is a book about growing up, friends, fears, reality, abuse, hopes and dreams – heck, just know it has a lot of themes it deals with, and plenty drama. It also goes from that and delivers all the gore, blood and guts you could hope for in the final third of the book – you get your blood and you get a story with heart, so it is a pretty good double whammy.

I had some issues at times that there was some waffling (it can happen in a King novel), and there was a really questionable cop out ultimately with Tom Rogan (for reals?! After all that?!) and Henry Bowers, and I really wanted answers about what happened to Mike Hanlon’s family farm, considering his dad worked real hard on it and made some smart financial decisions for Mike. That being said, there was way more to like about this than not. I thoroughly enjoyed the world building King got into here, too. What a crazy ride!

It is interesting and put together well, and keeps you engaged throughout. It is quite a story and it is engaging. It deals with a multitude of themes, and handles them all rather deftly. I would highly recommend It. It is a long journey, and I felt a little lost after completing this leviathan read, but I enjoyed it. Thoroughly.

Review: It Comes at Night (2017)

“You can’t trust anyone but family.”
– Paul

SYNOPSIS: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge. – via IMDB

I have been looking forward to this one for a while based on the trailers and the posters and, of course, Joel Edgerton. I had high hopes or it, it looked super creepy, and I definitely liked it quite a bit, though there were issues. My husband was livid about having wasted time watching this, and was major peeved about many aspects of it, which I will get into.

Joel Edgerton was well worth a watch here again, as always, though there was a particular scene (out in the woods) that was just jarring and didn’t really flow so well and felt awkward, which is unfortunate, and is the only time you wonder what the hell that was all about. I enjoyed the fact that there were so few characters to deal with in this movie, it made it feel so very claustrophobic and scary. It was almost suffocating, and the way that it was shot, tight and dark, with the soft, complementary score over it made it even more so.

The plot is simple and never really gets too into what happened, why everything is the way it is, exactly what everyone is afraid of (aside from it being a sickness) and how the illness affects people. Now, I didn’t mind this so much, the ambiguity lets the imagination run rampant, and the atmosphere of the movie is so tense as is that you can just go crazy thinking about the possibilities, and how something like this could plausibly happen. It Comes at Night focuses more on the people and their fear and isolation as opposed to the how and why, and while I was okay with it (though it was frustrating at time – we are so used to be given everything on a spoon), my husband was pissed. He was waiting for the what comes at night, and got no answers, just more questions.

So while the ambiguity is refreshing, it is also frustrating. The movie is put together extremely well, and looks and sounds excellent. The execution of this is really good, but I think that this is going to divide audiences. You cannot deny that the movie is well crafted and does keep you hooked, but it is also unsatisfying in the sense that nothing is resolved. It felt like something was missing. The movie gives you a section, a slice of time to look at, to chew on, but that is all you get. So I suppose it will depend on how you feel about that.

It Comes at Night may be flawed with some issues and lack of actual story aside from this one section of time it is focusing on, but it is atmospheric as hell and the score truly runs this point home. The actors are all pretty good, and the movie looks and sounds suitably creepy, and the ambiguity works both for and against this movie, so it really depends on your mood when going to watch it, that’s for sure. That being said, I quite enjoyed it, but it was lacking something.

Review: Red Eye (2005)

“Sometimes bad things happen to good people.”
– Jackson Rippner

SYNOPSIS: A woman is kidnapped by a stranger on a routine flight. Threatened by the potential murder of her father, she is pulled into a plot to assist her captor in offing a politician. – via IMDB

I watched this in cinema when it came out, and never went back to it, and there were only certain things that stuck with me after, such as Murphy being a fantastic villain, and Rachel McAdams sure knowing how to wield a hockey stick, and how this all happened on a plane. I saw it the other day and thought I would give it a shot again, I usually really like Craven’s work.

Again, Cillian Murphy is a great villain. He is so charming and all initially and you are like nice, smooth guy, and just like that *snaps fingers* he turns into this menacing, super scary dude. The transition is seamless and amazing. Rachel McAdams, too, is your generic heroine for a horror, but sadly as much as she fights back, she never comes across as having spine (until that hockey stick, man). That is not to say she wasn’t good, she was actually solid, but not so memorable as to stay with you long after (hem hem Sidney Prescott).

Do not expect something deep from the story. Heck, some questions never get answered and some motives are never explored (who sent him, why was the whole things going down that he was sent in for anyway, these are just a few questions). The main reasons seem like a way to just throw these two performers together to get a scary movie out of a woman being terrorised on a plane, but it also requires that you suspend ridiculous amounts of belief, and there is not even much of a payoff for doing so.

It’s a pretty fun, light, fluffy movie though. Decent horror night material, but there are better ones at the end of the day. Such a far cry from Scream and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but worth a watch to be sure.