Friday, February 19, 2021

I Care a Lot (2021)

Streaming Services: Netflix
Movie Name/Year: I Care a Lot (2021)
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Thriller
Length: 118 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Black Bear Pictures, Crimple Beck, GEM Entertainment, Elevation Pictures, Amazon Prime Video, ErosSTX International, Joy n Cinema, Netflix, The Searchers
Director: J Blakeson
Writer: J Blakeson
Actors: Rosamund Pike, Peter Dinklage, Eiza Gonz├ílez, Dianne Wiest, Chris Messina, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Macon Blair, Alicia Witt, Damian Young, Nicholas Logan, Liz Eng, Celeste Oliva, Georgia Lyman, Moira Driscoll, Gary Tanguay
Blurb from IMDbA crooked legal guardian who drains the savings of her elderly wards meets her match when a woman she tries to swindle turns out to be more than she first appears.

Selina’s Point of View:
I Care a Lot was great.
The entire film was vicious. It took great care in manufacturing tension that had a lasting effect throughout the entire near 2-hour runtime.
Here’s the thing. Every character in the whole movie was unlikable. Everyone was either immorally selfish, violent, cruel, or stupid. Sometimes all of the above. The trailer made me think I’d be rooting against Rosamund Pike’s (Radioactive, The Informer, Beirut) character the whole time, but her opponents are awful people, too.

Pike’s performance was outstanding. She made me despise her, right off the bat. Every moment she was on screen I wanted to see her lose. On the other hand, the creators did a great job of making Peter Dinklage (Between Two Ferns: The Movie, Game of Thrones, The Angriest Man in Brooklyn) seem incredibly intimidating and dark. I initially wanted him to win, but as time went on it felt like trying to decide between two evils.
In flicks like that, it can feel almost pointless. You need a story with a significant amount of depth and a spectacular script to make it work. Which I Care a Lot had.

I wasn’t even sure how I wanted it to end. I didn’t think there was any way for me to feel satisfied when it was over. I was almost certain that’s where it would flop. Instead, the finale turned out to be risky. I enjoyed even that.
This is not a feel-good movie. Don’t expect some kind of Hallmark scene where everyone learns their lesson and goes on to be happy for the rest of their lives. If that’s what you want, this is the wrong title for you.
As a bit of cynic, though, it was right up my alley.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 52%
Metascore – 67/100
Metacritic User Score – 2.1/10
IMDB Score – 6.4/10
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4.5/5
Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Shook (2021)

Streaming Services: Shudder
Movie Name/Year: Shook (2021)
Genre: Horror
Length: 88 minutes
Rating: Not Rated
Production/Distribution: The Squid Farm
Director: Jennifer Harrington
Writer: Jennifer Harrington, Alesia Glidewell
Actors: Grant Rosenmeyer, Nicola Posener, Emily Goss, Daisye Tutor, Octavius J. Johnson, Stephanie Simbari, Jeremy Phillips
Blurb from IMDb: When Mia, a social media star, becomes the target of an online terror campaign, she has to solve a series of games to prevent people she cares about from getting murdered. But is it real. Or is it just a game at her expense.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was interested in Shook the moment I saw the press kit. Anyone who reads the blog knows that I appreciate horror stories that aren’t afraid to include our updated technology. The only reason it didn’t make my Top 20 is because the trailer wasn’t available in time. Anything on that list has to have a public trailer, and Shook didn’t.
It started off a little campier than I thought it would, with a kill that didn’t entirely make sense. The death was something that should have been easily survivable. Had the flick gone full-camp, it would have been fine.
The woman going barefoot in a public bathroom, however, grossed me out more than any horror film ever has. Ew.
Moving on.

For the most part, there was a very 80s slasher vibe to it. Even the soundtrack felt like a call-back to bloody films of the past. In that way, I found it relatively entertaining.
I did not enjoy any of the plot resolution, though. It took a hard left and went into a serious, social commentary area.
It was all so easy to predict. I feel like the foreshadowing was too obvious. Yeah, you want that layer of storytelling that you can look back on and say, “ok, I see what they did there.” In this case, the movie felt like it was waving those moments in my face and spoiling the ending for me.
My final opinion is that Shook was watchable, but it just didn’t go far enough to feel great. It needed to either put both feet in the camp section, or both in the serious social commentary section. It didn’t commit to either, and I felt a little unfulfilled by the time it was over.
See Shook for yourself, February 18 on Shudder.

Cat’s Point of View:
Shook is definitely a good title for this movie. It perfectly describes my feelings right now in the wake of the final credits.
I’m not even sure where to begin.
Normally, after watching a movie like this I like to watch something else as a bit of a buffer. It gives me time to digest what happened in the film and how I really felt about it. This time, I’m diving right into my review while the dread and adrenaline still echo here in the dark with me.
I’m shook on multiple levels.
It’s safe to say that I got a little more than I bargained for. At first, I thought it would be some sort of mash-up between When A Stranger Calls (2006) and Scream (1996) with a smidge of social media tossed in for modern spice. Then the whole story turned on its ear.
One of the elements of the film that disturbed me was the fictitious disease mentioned and experienced. The illness sounded a hell of a lot like Multiple Sclerosis. It’s a neurological auto-immune disease for which there is no cure. I’m afraid I can’t draw parallels to the film directly for sake of spoilers.

I suffer from MS. It affected my legs and ability to walk first. I get around alright now, for the most part, but I know that I am on a bit of a ticking time clock. Anything – literally anything – controlled by nerves could be next. I take shots three times a week, and the treatment is keeping me stable. (I’m at 6 years and counting…)
I’m very grateful for good doctors and an outstanding support system provided by the drug manufacturer for my medicine. I stay positive as much as I can, because there’s no point in wallowing in worry – and stress makes it worse. But what if I couldn’t handle the uncertainty of the future? I do worry sometimes about how my husband and daughter will cope with what might happen if the disease progresses.
I don’t mean to ramble, but this particular situation makes this movie hit a little harder – and I imagine anyone else experiencing something similar might also feel this way. Picture someone severely afraid of spiders watching Arachnophobia (1990). Don’t get me wrong. Without elements of the plot hitting closer to home for comfort, it’s still a solid horror flick. For me, it just went to a whole other level.
There were plenty of twists to keep audiences guessing and bits that did their best to blindside. I also appreciated the fresh faces of the cast. (That’s not a pun on the fact this revolves around a makeup blogger – promise.)
There were a couple of plot holes and spotty places, but I felt them fairly easy to overlook in the bigger scheme of the movie. My interest is piqued enough to look forward to what this production team has in store for the future.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 43%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating3/5
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating4/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: R
Movie Trailer: 

Monday, February 15, 2021

Bliss (2021)


Streaming Services: Amazon Prime
Movie Name/Year: Bliss (2021)
Genre: Drama, Romance, Sci-Fi
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: R
Production/Distribution: Amazon Studios, Endgame Entertainment, Big Indie Pictures, Pakt Media, Stellar Visioning, Amazon Prime Video
Director: Mike Cahill
Writers: Mike Cahill
Actors: Owen Wilson, Salma Hayek, Nesta Cooper, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Ronny Chieng, Steve Zissis, Joshua Leonard, Madeline Zima, Bill Nye, Slavoj Zizek, DeRon Horton, Eugene Young, Adam William Zastrow, Lora Lee, Kosah Rukavina, Debbie Fan, Branko Smiljanic, Sanja Vejnovic, Guy Perry, Heath McGough, Roshan Maloney
Blurb from IMDb: A mind-bending love story following Greg who, after recently being divorced and then fired, meets the mysterious Isabel, a woman living on the streets and convinced that the polluted, broken world around them is a computer simulation.

Cat’s Point of View:
I am so confused right now.
The credits have rolled on my viewing of Bliss, and I’m not sure whether I’m going or coming.
What was real?
I’d say that this production has really accomplished their task in bending reality as they saw fit. I’m not sure which was the simulation (or a drug trip?) and which scenario was actually real. If they wanted to conjure up a serious mind-hack, well then they did it. I kept waiting for another post-credit scene that never came.
I question everything. Seriously, the people here in the real world that think we’re living in a simulation like The Matrix (1999) are going to eat this up. I can’t wait for more conspiracy theories to evolve. I digress.

I’m not always a fan of Owen Wilson’s (Marley & Me, Wedding Crashers, Midnight in Paris) work. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something just puts me off about his live-action performances that isn’t always present in his voice work. For Bliss, it didn’t seem to matter. I was buying his character and his visceral reactions to the situations he found himself in. I felt his wonder and longing. I tip my hat to him for this performance. Maybe I need to watch more of his serious stuff, rather than the goofball comedy he’s known for.
Salma Hayek (Savages, Everly, Like a Boss) was at the top of her game here, too. I’m seriously still wondering if she was really a doctor or if she was the drugged-out bag lady. What was real? I don’t even know.

I don’t know…maybe those ‘glitch in the simulation’ people have something figured out – I mean, it’s SNOWING here in Louisiana even as I write this review. We might get upwards of a foot accumulation this week. That just doesn’t happen. I’m digressing again.
Bliss was a solid piece of dramatic sci-fi. The worlds, simulated or otherwise, were executed well and made it decidedly hard to tell where reality stopped and simulation took over. The dedication to detail was amazing. I have a few guesses about how some clues were woven into the cinematography – but I’m spoiling nothing. I leave it to audiences to decide.
If this is your genre, and you love brainteasers, Bliss is going to be right up your alley. I’d love to hear which you think is real. 

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 30%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 42%
Metascore –  38%
Metacritic User Score – 6.3/10
IMDB Score – 5.3/10
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating – 4/5
Movie Trailer: