September 2019

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest [2009]

(aka Luftslottet som sprangdes)

Rotten Tomatoes = 54 / 67
Personal = 8.0

Updated Dec 19, 2019
Because of her actions in Dragon and Fire, Lisbeth recovers in the hospital while powerful people are planning to have her committed for life as she now has the key to their secret conspiracies. This one is not an action film. In fact, Lisbeth spends practically the entire film in a hospital or court, and the film is mostly about Millennium magazine's efforts to exonerate her. At this point, however, the Lisbeth character has become so compelling that, even without any real action, I was totally glued to the film and the 2 1/2 hour run time whizzed by.

Braid [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 89 / 62
Personal = 6.6

Updated Jan 27, 2020
The epitome of co-dependency, this is a nightmare journey into the psychologically twisted relationship of three friends (since childhood) where two of them put up with the third's fantasies in hopes of finding her money somewhere in the house. Fascinating and disturbing, don't expect it to make sense wasn't made that way. The film takes you towards destinations only to jerk you away with these strings of travel left unfulfilled, impossible, or dismissing the trip entirely. In the end, you're left with, 'What the hell did I just watch?' Very subjective and weird.

Don't Go [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 39 / 26
Personal = 4.6

Updated MLK Day, 2020
A couple (Stephen Dorff & Melissa George), attempting to rebuild their lives after the tragic loss of their daughter, is complicated when he believes he can bring her back through his dreams. Their performances dominate the screen and demand your attention. Unfortunately, the film itself suffers from pacing and ambiguities. If you had no idea what this film's about, you'd still be clueless 40 mins in. Then things begin changing at an unrealistic breakneck speed. Good twist but included some confusing and unexplained events. Strange.

Piercing [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 72 / 47
Personal = 4.9

Links Updated Oct 12, 2019
A shy piquerist (look it up) decides to invite a prostitute to his hotel room to indulge his fantasies but finds that she's just as perverse as he is and totally insane. Although there was an attempt at black comedy (and will probably please those with a specific sense of humor), this movie suffers from being to sadistic to be funny and too absurd to be taken seriously leaving it just sorta flat and lifeless. The characters weren't particularly engaging or likable, either. Basically, just a lot of hurting themselves and each other for 90 mins.

Open Your Eyes [1997]

aka Abre los ojos

Rotten Tomatoes = 85 / 88
Personal = 6.8

Updated Jan 27, 2020
The tragic and emotional journey of a playboy whose face becomes badly disfigured in an accident caused by a jealous lover and a game changing twist ending that earned it a spot on my Profoundly Twisted List. The story was excellent with a lot of odd and strange events that become clear in the end. However, it is long-winded and the acting, although very good, didn't reach the emotional level required for such a story and, as such, it came off as a bit melodramatic. Pretty good film, though, and well worth a watch.

Under the Silver Lake [2018]

aka Abre los ojos

Rotten Tomatoes = 58 / 56
Personal = 6.7

Updated Dec 19, 2019
A young man goes on a search, through the Hollywood elite, for a girl he met one evening who's mysteriously disappeared. In a word, strange. The film follows the course of a mystery story where a person is searching for another. The difference is the events and encounters are surrealistically bizarre, full of hidden connections and secret codes that takes our intrepid hero on a trip to the fantastic. Like Braid, this movie is very subjective to it's viewers'll like it of you won't. I, for one, am still trying to decide. Yeah, strange.

Altered States [1980]

Rotten Tomatoes = 84 / 71
Personal = 9.2

One of my favorite films since its initial release, a scientist, using psychedelic drugs and sensory deprivation chambers, attempts to regress back to the first conscious thought with terrifying results. William Hurt is perfect in his first film role as the obsessed scientist and surrounded by well known and much younger actors that we know well today. The story is highly scientific and philosophical as well as being horrific with spec fx that are incredibly effective, when you consider the film is nearly 40 years old. Still a favorite.

The Bad Batch [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 47 / 31
Personal = 3.0

Updated Jan 22, 2020
Labeled a "bad batch", a girl is exiled to an area of desert wasteland where she has to learn to survive among the other bad batchers. What an incredibly boring film. With unnecessary scenes, full of uninspired dialogue, there's no action, no energy, no humor, no personality, and no tension. Even Jason Momoa and Keanu Reeves are flat, dull and unlikable. The main protagonist (Suki Waterhouse) came off as a complete airhead that wouldn't know a logical thought if it bit her. Not even the kid was worth a mote of emotion. Truly a wasteland.

Gwen [2018]

Rotten Tomatoes = 71 / 80
Personal = 6.0

Updated Jan 8, 2020
A historical slice of life in mid-19th century Wales where a mother and two daughters are desperately trying to hold on to the family farm in the midst of the industrial revolution. This Gothic, atmospheric tale has hypnotically beautiful photography, outstanding performances by everyone, and its authentically spot-on. But, boy it bleak with no happy endings. Witnessing one calamity after another is almost overwhelming but it certainly stays honest to its subject matter in ways which very few other films have. Just be ready for it and bring a hanky.

The Snowtown Murders [2011]

aka Snowtown

Rotten Tomatoes = 83 / 66
Personal = 5.6

Updated Dec 30, 2019
Based on real events in the 90's centering around John Bunting, one of Australia's most notorious serial killers, and his unquestioning control and dominance of those around him. Filmed amidst the poverty and squalor of Snowtown, this dark, disturbing, and depressing film is shot in an unnerving documentary style that makes you feel like you're a party to all of this. Well made and effective, my personal score is wholly subjective as it's slow pacing and nearly total focus on horrible people (with little emphasis on the crimes) left me feeling lousy.

Heat [1995]

Rotten Tomatoes = 86 / 94
Personal = 9.8

Super elite theft ring (led by Robert DeNiro) vs. the Major Crime Unit (led by Al Pacino) in one of the finest crime thrillers of all time. The pacing is perfect, the characters are as exciting to watch as the action, every scene is perfectly placed to provide the ultimate realism and complexity it needs, and what is regarded by many as the best bank heist and shootout put on film ...ever! Few films are as exciting and finely constructed as this one. Go watch it! ...and if you've already seen it, watch it again!!

I.T. [2016]

Rotten Tomatoes = 9 / 25
Personal = 5.0

Updated Jan 27, 2020
A temp, proving his worth as an I.T. specialist, is hired permanently by the owner of the company. The tech then proceeds to integrate himself into all aspects of the owner's life. This is a typical stalker movie with nothing new and no surprises and it ends exactly as you'd expect. Pierce Brosnan did a good job and it had a few intense moments but, overall, it was just casually entertaining, at best.

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