Friday, June 14, 2019

I Am Mother (2019)

Movie Name/Year: I Am Mother (2019)
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Length: 113 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production/Distribution: Netflix, StudioCanal, The Penguin Empire, Southern Light Films, Rhea Films, Southern Light Alliance
Director: Grant Sputore
Writers: Grant Sputore, Michael Lloyd Green
Actors: Hilary Swank, Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Tahlia Sturzaker, Jacob Nolan, Summer Lenton, Hazel Sandery

Blurb from IMDb: A teenage girl is raised underground by a kindly robot "Mother" -- designed to repopulate the earth following the extinction of mankind. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news.

Cat's Point of View:
The trailer for this film had my sci-fi loving heart aflutter. I held onto my inner optimist tightly, in hopes that the movie would deliver as promised.

The payoff? Impressive.

Had I not looked I Am Mother up on IMDb for article research post-viewing, I would never have dreamed that this was the feature directorial debut for Grant Sputore (Kill Me Three Times, Legacy, Castaway¹).

This particular dystopian future was engrossing right away. Dread filled the first moments as the audience is both literally and figuratively kept in the dark. Threads of hope were expertly woven into the rug that eventually gets pulled from beneath our feet with the twists and turns the story takes.

The concept of A.I. interacting with humanity is not a new theme for big nor small screens; but this movie views the idea from a new perspective. Is machine-manufactured nurturing possible? This definitely wasn’t rehashing The Terminator (1984) or The Matrix (1999).

I loved the female-led cast. Clara Rugaard (The Lodge, Still Star-Crossed, Teen Spirit) deftly captured the essence of Daughter, and had me hanging on her every decision. I’m interested to see where her career goes from here. Hilary Swank (P.S. I Love You, Amelia, Logan Lucky) was a great choice for the character crashing the party, so to speak. Her role was gritty and visceral. The dynamic between the two drove the plot well through its twists and turns. We don’t see Rose Byrne (Knowing, Damages, Peter Rabbit) on the screen, but her voice croons to us as the embodiment of Mother.  Her tone, both soothing and firm, makes you want to believe everything Mother is telling us, and at the same time provides the ideal seed of doubt. We all question when something is too perfect, right?

My only nitpick about the whole film was that it left me wanting more. I had so many questions still. The film was a little on the long side but at the same time, I could have kept watching. With the steady pacing of the majority of the film, the ending felt a bit jarring – as if the tale stopped short.

I Am Mother was quite the roller-coaster ride that I definitely wouldn’t mind taking again. I am hoping that Sputore builds on this momentum and continues to bring us nuanced and interesting stories like this one.

(¹ - Castaway (2011) refers to the TV series, not the feature film)ad

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 90%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 73%
Metascore – 62/100
Metacritic User Score – 7.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.9/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Cat's Rating – 4.5/5

Movie Trailer:

Monday, June 10, 2019

See You Yesterday (2019)

Movie Name/Year: See You Yesterday (2019)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime
Length: 84 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Production/Distribution: 40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks, Netflix
Director: Stefon Bristol
Writer: Fredrica Bailey, Stefon Bristol
Actors: Eden Duncan-Smith, Dante Crichlow, Astro, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Johnathan Nieves, Michael J. Fox, Myra Lucretia Taylor, Wavyy Jonez, Carlos Arce Jr., Patrice Bell, Khail Bryant, Waliek Crandall

Blurb from IMDb: Best friends CJ and Sebastian build a pair of time machines and use them in order to save the life of CJ's brother.

Selina’s Point of View:
This movie got real, very quick.

The down side to not watching a trailer, or reading a blurb, is that I have nothing to build my expectations on except the movie poster and whatever thirty-second clip Netflix chooses to show me. In this case, I went into See You Yesterday thinking it was going to be a vastly different film.

Just from the art, I thought this movie was going to be a light hearted YA look at time travel. No, I didn’t see the MPAA rating before-hand. It didn’t help that there’s a cute cameo very early on that made me think it might go the route of an old 80s time-travel flick.

It wasn’t long before I realized I was in for a hardcore metaphorical drama. The sci-fi was only a spin used to tell the tale.

What I wound up watching was incredible. The story was so tight, but on a second watch-through I caught all these meanings and camera movements that were meant to alter my perspective. I started theorizing about several scenes – not unlike the way I would at the end of most of my favorites.

See You Yesterday explores racial struggles, while staying true to the feel of growing up in Brooklyn.

Eden Duncan-Smith (Steps, Meadowland, Annie) was a goddess. She embodied her character so completely that I would still have trouble believing that CJ isn’t just who she is. The rest of the actors were perfect for their roles, but Duncan-Smith was truly a stand-out. I want to see a lot more of her.

Not only is the film amazing in general, but it’s rewatchable. With each viewing something else stands out.

I don’t want to say too much about the subject matter, because I don’t like to spoil things, but I have to say that as much as I loved this movie, it’s a shame that there was a story to tell to begin with. It shines a harsh light on some terrifying realities of our time, and I wish people didn’t have to worry about those things anymore. This movie hits so hard because – without the time travel – it’s believable.

See You Tomorrow is one of my new favorites. I will be revisiting it quite a bit.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – 74/100
Metacritic User Score – 4.8/10
IMDB Score – 4.9/10
CinemaScore – None

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating – 5/5

Movie Trailer: