The Belko Experiment

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One thing that I have noticed as I’ve gotten older is that I’m acutely aware of my own mortality. I exercise because 1) if I don’t watch my figure, nobody else will and 2) if the zombie apocalypse happens, I’m ready. I also have crippling, plan cancelling anxiety. That anxiety — I’m realizing — isn’t the weakness I once viewed it as, but my greatest attribute. If shit hits the fan, I’ve been prepared for it all along. That impending sense of eventual, inevitable doom has got me on ‘ready’ all day, everyday.

I work in an office that houses roughly 200 employees at any given time. If they made an announcement that we had to start killing each other in order to stay alive, my first thought would probably just be, “That figures.”

Belko, a non-profit organization located in provincial Bogota, Colombia, is an office building like any other. Kind of. Upon onboarding, each new employee has a chip implanted at the base of their skull in case they are kidnapped. The point and purpose of the outfit is ambiguously described at best.

Some of the staffers include Mike (John Gallagher Jr.), his girlfriend, Leandra (Adria Arjona), new girl Dany (Melonie Diaz), office perv, Wendell (John C. McGinley), stoner extraordinaire, Marty (Sean Gunn), maintenance wizard, Bud (Michael Rooker), the one and only security guard at Belko, Evan (James Earl), and the boss man himself, Barry Norris (Tony Goldwyn).

A work day starting like any other — office banter and lots of coffee — swiftly takes a different shape when an announcement is made by a mystery voice over the PA that three people must die, or the mystery voice and its collective company will kill six of them.

Here’s where you suss out what kind of people you really work with. There are those who think it’s a joke or make a joke out of it, the people who begin to think pragmatically if it isn’t a joke, and the messes who fall to peices.

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As the building seals up around them, making escape impossible, Barry takes on the alpha role. Calm and collected at first, his patience runs thin in the maelstrom and he begins barking orders. With a climbing body count at the hands of the Mystery Company behind the voice, he makes a decision no one is comfortable with and the killing spree is well under way.

Their demands becoming greater by the hour, the Mystery Voice makes good on each of their promises. Mike, being the most level-headed person in the building, starts to butt heads with Barry when his executive decisions teeter on brash and possibly unnecessary. Mike’s primary concern is Leandra’s continued safety, but even she knows that when it comes down to brass tacks, everyone’s looking out for themselves.

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So many questions: who is doing this? Why? Does the will to survive skew your moral compass and give you the power to kill the nice guy who says hi to you every morning at the printer? Just blow his brains out? When does the scale shift in the other direction?

This movie has been called The Purge: Office Edition. That isn’t terribly accurate given the fact that people will die whether anyone in the building pulls the trigger or not. What would you do? Gamble that they’re bluffing? Or decapitate Karen from accounting without so much as a second thought?

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As your neighborhood score junkie, I’ve gotta give it up for Tyler Bates. He’s responsible for scoring about a million things — Dawn of the Dead, 300, and The Sacrament being some of my favorites — and expertly crafted something nervewracking for Belko.

The concept for the film is good enough. The execution — PUN — is fine. It’s the ending that spoiled it for me. I’m not one to give these things away unsolicited. It is often difficult to put a bow on something like this and not have it look like my 8-year-old nephew wrapped it up with his eyes closed. Horror and thriller films usually either stick the landing or totally unravel at the end.

While it’s tough to say just exactly why I didn’t like it based on the content of the ending I will tell you that it fell apart like bad meatloaf; too many breadcrumbs, not enough egg, and the onions weren’t diced small enough. It’s worth a look because it does have a fun cast of players, but it’s totally fine to wait for it to hit Netflix.

Kong: Skull Island

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Think of the classic telling and retelling of King Kong; a team on an expedition to the last uncharted spot on the map winds up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then a blonde screams and gets taken prisoner by the ape.

In this age of the heroine, we needed a Kong film fit for a queen. Like most of the remakes/reboots, Kong: Skull Island has our blonde, but she’s a dirty blonde! Strides! Also, there’s ANOTHER WOMAN in the film. And she’s a Chinese scientist! Literally everyone else is a man.

Baby steps, I ‘spose.

After Government Agent, Bill Randa (John Goodman), receives the go-ahead and the funding to journey to the ominous yet aptly named, Skull Island — cause it looks like a skull — he enlists former British Special Air Service Captain, James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), as well as the Sky Devils — a helicopter outfit led by Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). Randa quickly gets the mission underway before anyone can change their minds.

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Along for the ride is peacemonger and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) who is wary of the operation and suspects that Randa may have ulterior motives. Why would Randa need a super-savvy guy like Conrad just to see an island and investigate whether the ground is hollow or not?

Much like entering the ocean and then being surprised that you got bitten by a shark, treading on Kong’s turf proves quickly to be a big mistake. With good reason — i.e. helicopters dropping bombs all over the island — the titular primate swats the choppers out of the sky like mosquitoes.

The survivors — being split up after getting batted to the jungle floor — are now mostly in mutual agreement that they need to find the others and get to the pick up point in time to GTFO. Only now Lt. Col. Preston Packard has a personal and largely maniacal vendetta to settle with Kong for the loss of his men.

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Somewhere on the other side of the island, Conrad, Weaver, and a smattering of folks who probably just haven’t been killed by any number of the island’s monstrous inhabitants yet, stumble upon something remarkable; Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), an American pilot who crashed on the island in 1944, and is now living amongst the Iwi locals. Marlow gives the group the low down on Island politics, revealing that Kong isn’t the one they need to be worried about.

Skullcrawlers — as he’s named them — are the true beasts on the island, and Kong manages to protect his home and its native people/critters from them, earning him the King title. He works for it, and I, for one, am proud of him.

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Marlow, like the rest of the group, just wants to make it home in one piece. The poor guy just wants to head home to Chicago and catch a Cubs game with a hotdog and a beer. Packard, however, has a debt to settle, and his abusive power trip may just spell the end of their beautiful lives.

It is around this time that Mason works out some facts and figures and discovers that she was right and her worst fears are confirmed. One thing though; being right means literally nothing if you are dead.

For as much as I didn’t give this movie a second thought before its release, I sure did enjoy it. It’s a departure from the previous films, painting Kong as a hero, not a villain. I wish he had a Megalodon sidekick. How incredible would that be? They just meet up every so often and give each other a nod. So neat.

This movie is an unexpected treat. Much like the others, we get a glimpse of the real Kong; he’s a pretty chill guy as long as you’re not throwing explosives at his face. Historically, this franchise imparts a message topical at literally every stage of our existence which is that men think they either own or can just take whatever they please.

So you found this creature who was minding his own business, just eating stuff and scratching himself — essentially YOU on the weekends — and you take it upon yourselves to remove him from his home so you can show your idiot friends. That, or you determine you have no choice but to kill him.

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Skull Island is gratifying in many ways. It’s always fun to see what lives on the island with Kong, and this one delivers creepy crawlies and then some. Visually, the film exceeds expectations; cinematography in a film so reliant on effects can be spotty at best, but they really nailed it.

Also, there is no damsel in distress. The blonde dame gets roughed up just like everybody else but she handles herself and stands on her own two. We even get a nod to the previous installments in which we see the softer side of Kong in regard to Mason.

As your resident score junkie, I’m pleased to report that Henry Jackman composed music fit for a King… Kong. (please send help)

All in all, it’s an enjoyable film. Fun, exciting, and John C. is laugh we all need throughout. I imagine he improvised 90% of his lines in this film, and the other actors deserve accolades just for holding character in scenes with him. The best part of the experience was hearing my mom gush about how “hot” Tom Hiddleston is. I know, mom. I know.

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Pro tip: stick around after the credits.

Personal Shopper

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When it comes to the paranormal, I’m a big believer. I’ve had my own visits from anomalies/spirits/ghosts. It’s a strange thing; the idea that when someone dies and they have unfinished business or are not at peace, they lurk until they are able to carry on to where ever they’re headed.

I’ve always thought maybe that’s why we say Rest In Peace; if you don’t, their soul may be trapped here and might just haunt you. I selfishly didn’t say it after Prince passed because I not-so-secretly want His Royal Badness to haunt me.

While no one truly knows where we go from here, there are theories upon theories. Apophenia is the word for what our brains do when we connect random events that have essentially nothing to do with one another to create a phenomena that may or may not exist. I could be in my bedroom; the lights flicker and a moment later I hear a noise in the kitchen. Due to my raging apophenia, I’d automatically assume it was a poltergeist and I was not long for this world.

In reality, it’s just windy outside and the electricity is fighting the good fight while the cat is being a spaz and knocked something off of a counter.

When one is actively seeking a sign from a deceased loved one, apophenia goes on high alert. But is that all it is?

Personal Shopper is about a young woman named Maureen (Kristen Stewart) who is — duh — a personal shopper who also happens to be a bit of a clairvoyant. Working for high-profile celebrity/huge pain in the arse Kyra (Nora von Waldstätten), Maureen travels the streets as a civilian, collecting treasures — beautiful dresses, sparkly baubles, shoes that cost more than everything I own — so that her “boss” doesn’t have to.

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In the meantime, she is also desperately seeking a wave from beyond the grave from her deceased twin, Lewis, so that she knows he’s at peace. Being a medium, she’s sensitive to the energy that comes from forces unseen by the naked eye. After a run-in with what appears to be a benevolent force, Maureen begins receiving text messages from an unknown number whose operator won’t identify him/herself.

After an epic texting blur of blue and green text bubbles and the dreaded three dots from hell, Maureen is left with no clues as to who or what may be blowing up her phone. Unwilling to leave Paris until she hears from her brother, she begins to spiral downward and it isn’t until she stumbles upon a traumatic sight that she’s finally sent running. The last straw, if you will.

This movie has a real David Lynch vibe. It’s like if David Lynch and Sam Raimi loved each other very, very much and had a baby. There are shots of things that you’re unsure of in terms of importance and meaning, lots of sudden loud noises, and ghosts. It gives the viewer a profound sense of unease.

Certainly a departure for Kristen Stewart, Personal Shopper will lend credence to her range while she continues to shake off Twilight for the rest of her career. She’s delved aggressively into roles that she wants while ignoring rather scathing criticisms better than I ever could. Bully for you, Kristen! You do you, girl.

If you have the chance, catch this movie. Its eloquent simplicity and mostly handheld camera work give it a gritty, super indie feel. Director Olivier Assayas has done exclusively films that I’ve never heard of, which makes me feel like uncultured swine. No wonder the French hate us. I’ll look further down the rabbit hole that is Olivier Assayas, and you can check out Personal Shopper in the meantime. Let’s all be a little more French!

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(That’s Italian. I’ll show myself out.)

Beauty and the Beast

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When I was roughly 8 years old, my mom, sister, and I sat down and watched the 1991 animated classic, Beauty and the Beast. I cried at the end, and my mom made fun of me. But this isn’t therapy. This is a review for a movie that made me want to call my therapist.

Growing up, the idea of a young lady being swept off of her dainty feet by a hairy, clawed monster was the epitome of romance. As a jaded, disenchanted adult, it’s creepy. Don’t get me wrong, I date primarily Italian guys, so I’m into a hairy chest, but if you’ve got a fur coat and horns, I’m out. I don’t care how many books you own.

I think the notion of bringing our favorite Disney classics back to the big screen with real people and heaps of CGI is excellent in theory, but having seen it, there’s something unnerving about the finished product. My 8-year-old brain could process that the cartoon was just that — a cartoon. Not real. My grown up brain needed an adult at the sight of a flesh and blood woman not leaving enough room for the holy spirit while she danced with an animal.

Everyone knows the story; a guy living in a castle surrounded by beautiful women and luxury is asked to provide shelter for the night to an elderly woman offering him a rose in return for his hospitality. Sadly, for her, this guy is the French Justin Bieber and he turns her away. Sadly, for him, she’s actually an enchantress who puts a spell on him, turning him into a fanged, unsightly creature. He must find true love before the last petal drops from the cursed rose or he will remain a beast forever.

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Belle (Emma Watson) is a farm girl living in a small provincial town with her father. In the animated classic, her father Maurice (Kevin Kline) is an eccentric inventor who the town assumes is completely off his rocker. In this new take, Maurice is definitely more grounded. Belle still has her head in the clouds and her nose in a book, but she’s also got sensible boots and she is the inventor.

Belle spends 90% of her time fighting off the town’s tall, dark, handsome brute, Gaston’s (Luke Evans) advances while Gaston spends 90% of his time fighting off his sidekick LeFou’s (Josh Gad) advances. Truly, a tale as old as time. Everybody’s in the friendzone.

The 2017 rendition sticks pretty closely to the original; Belle’s father and his horse, Phillipe, get lost in the woods and happen upon Beast’s (Dan Stevens) castle. Branding him a thief, Beast imprisons Maurice. Phillipe — who is a real gentleman in this movie — goes to tell Belle that Timmy’s in the well something is amiss.

Upon discovering her father’s imprisonment, Belle takes his place. And so begins a love story that you can’t think too hard about for fear of a wicked case of the heebie-jeebies. All of our old favorites are there; Lumière (Ewan McGregor), Cogsworth (Sir Ian McKellan), Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), Chip (Nathan Mack), Madame Garderobe (Audra McDonald), Maestro Cadenza (Stanley Tucci), and Plumette (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) — all of them once in human form, now trapped under the spell as well.

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Belle is the key to releasing everyone in the castle from their imprisoned forms, but she has no idea. She doesn’t know that underneath his gruff, growly exterior, Beast is actually a smokin’ hottie. She doesn’t know. That means, as she’s falling in love with him, she is falling in love with his current form.

Look.

I’m all for true love and not judging a book by its cover, but this is pushing it. There’s a lot to like about Belle; she’s a strong, intelligent, don’t-take-no-guff-from-nobody kinda woman. Does her endeavor pay off? Sure! Beast turns out to be this handsome guy. Is it still really off-putting? Yep!

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I want to be on board for these live action Disney films. I rocked an unhealthy obsession with The Little Mermaid when I was a kid, but now, I’m going to be a nervous wreck when the live action version comes out.

A few things worth mentioning:

  • Kevin Kline was an absolute delight
  • Josh Gad reminds me so much of Jack Black that I kept forgetting who it was
  • Emma Watson MAY have a beautiful singing voice, but I couldn’t hear it over the gratuitous autotune
  • The Be Our Guest number was like an unsolicited acid trip
  • I adore Alan Menken — and this is damn near sacrilege — but I did not care for the new songs
  • The movie was formatted for IMAX, which usually indicates a clean, sharp image, but all of the sweeping shots of the castle, the famous dance, etc. were so blurry that you couldn’t discern anything in the scene until the camera slowed down
  • They blew it on the yellow dress

Needless to say, I didn’t love it. I will tell you that the grown man I waited for the bus with after the screening was over the moon about it and can’t wait for the one about “the red-haired lady, the little yellow dude, and the purple gal.”

What I can say for this film is, they tried. There were cute, funny parts. An effort was made and you can tell they put their hearts into it, but this grizzled, old harpy was not impressed. Have I taken your favorite childhood film and thoroughly spoiled it? Not to worry. Live action Little Mermaid is just over the horizon, so my time is coming. Now, off to the leather couch! We got a lot to talk about this week.

 

Get Out

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Sixteen years ago, there was a tremendous upswing in white women dating black men because Save the Last Dance made it this taboo, edgy thing to do. Sixteen years ago, we — the collective white population — were marginally less inane.

Racism is unfortunately alive and well, even now, in 2017. Ruminate on that a moment. There are places in modern-day society that, if they had their druthers, would still be using separate drinking fountains. Sadly, racism may never die the horrible death it deserves to.

Get Out calls attention to some of society’s greatest downfalls; our unwillingness to break patterns and behaviors that have existed for hundreds of years just because some guys thought they were a good idea. Imagine that: white men who think they are fair and just, doing what they believe to be right, at the sheer horror of everyone else. Sad!

Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) is going to meet his girlfriend Rose’s (Alison Williams) family for the first time. He’s nervous because her family is white, he is black, and she hasn’t mentioned that to them. The idea that the color of a person’s skin still plays a role in how they are treated by anyone else is appalling at best, but it’s a persistent issue that manages to continue rearing its ugly head. It’s like the white boss who meets all of his white employees with a generic, colloquial greeting, then fist bumps the black guy and says, “Wassup?!”

Embarrassing.

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Rose assures Chris that everything will be fine by telling him that her dad would’ve voted for Barack Obama a third time if he could have. Arriving at the house, he notices that all of the hired help are also black. Chris meets Rose’s parents, Dean and Missy Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, respectively) and, outside of a couple of quips from her father — who I did NOT know was played by Bradley Whitford — the visit appears to be quite pleasant if not as awkward as those things usually are.

What Rose and Chris didn’t know was that the weekend of their stay was the same weekend of this big party Dean and Missy throw every year. This meant that all of The Armitage’s whitebread friends would be there as well. At a new level of unease, Chris weathers the storm as best he can before having a run-in with the maid, Georgina (Betty Gabriel). Her voice tells him that everything is a-ok, but her eyes say something very different; troubling.

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There is a significance to Chris’s interactions with each member of the household. This is important to remember and includes keys you’ll need to open new subliminal doors along the way.

Jordan Peele, known primarily for being a funny guy, hit on some truths in this film. He brings to light a subject that makes people as uncomfortable as abortion. Or Voldemort. Why are we still paying credence to the idea that the south will rise again? Where have we gone so drastically wrong that the idea of supremacy still holds any water? What kind of idiot addresses a room full of African-Americans as “you people“?

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Aside from the aggressively topical message of the film, it’s performed quite well and has a score composed by Michael Abels that could not be more felicitous. Peele said, “I wanted Michael Abels, who did the score, to create something that felt like it lived in this absence of hope but still had [black roots].” and I believe Abels thoroughly nailed it.

Peele’s accomplished a real feat with Get Out, putting heaps of subtext into this picture while methodically illustrating a clear and concise point: we need to do better. Not just white people, but mostly white people. There is a problem that is either being ignored or championed.

The film itself — while maintaining its creep factor — brings an unsurprising jocularity. It is Jordan Peele, after all. That said, there’s — also unsurprisingly — an effortless brilliance here; it’s got a keen wit and intellect that has Peele all over it. It’s kinda like Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, only with more murder.

I say, see this movie. I say that as a horror junkie, but also a cinephile who just really enjoys quality. Once you’ve seen it, check out this neat listicle that you should absolutely not look at until you’ve seen it. Beware: this movie redefines the standard for most annoying sound in the world set by Dumb and Dumber. Enjoy!

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Lion

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Once, when I was about 4-years-old, I got up one morning at 6am, wandered across the street to a neighbor’s house, and sat in their backyard sandbox playing alone for roughly 2 hours. About 20 minutes after I’d started playing, I heard my mother calling for me.

I listened to her calls for an hour and a half before eventually deciding that I should probably head home. When I emerged from behind the house, on my front lawn were state police, my father who’d come home from work, my grandparents, and my mother in absolute shambles. I walked right up to her and, dropping to her knees, she asked, “Did you hear me calling you?”

I nodded. I don’t remember what happened after that because I’m pretty sure I got a well deserved clock cleaning.

Lion isn’t the story of some little digbat running off. It is far more profound. Living with his mother, Kamla (Priyanka Bose), sister, and Brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), in a dilapidated home in India, 5-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) and Guddu spend most days robbing coal trains to get food and milk for the family. When Guddu is set to leave for a few days for work, Saroo insists on joining him.
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Reluctantly, Guddu decides to bring Saroo along on a long train ride. Upon arrival, Guddu attempts to wake his snoozing little brother to no avail. Telling him to wait right there, Guddu disappears into the darkness.

Stirring from his slumber some time later, Saroo realizes his brother is nowhere to be found. In his frightened state, he boards a nearby train and after calling for Guddu for probably as long as my mom called for me, he falls asleep and wakes to find the train moving and he is unable to get off.

Taken two days travel from where he last saw his brother, Saroo must now navigate back home in a place where he doesn’t speak the language and predators are lurking.

Eventually entered in a school for orphaned or even forgotten children, Saroo’s image is printed in a newspaper in an effort to help his family find him. While his mother and brother don’t locate him via the article, John and Sue Brierley (David Wenham and Nicole Kidman, respectively), of Australia, see his story and adopt him.

Moving along 20 years, tormented by the thought of his mother and brother still looking for him, Saroo (played by Dev Patel as an adult) struggles to lead a normal 20-something existence. He finds work as a hotel manager, meets his girlfriend, Lucy (Rooney Mara), there, and the two attempt to build a comfortable life around his constant longing to find home.

I was missing for two hours. To this day, I still feel terrible for what my family went through that day. To be lost for most of your life, unable to assure your own mother that you’re alright is an agony that I can only imagine.

This movie is sublimely well done. Based on ‘A Long Way Home: A Memoir’ written by Saroo himself, and adapted to screen by Luke Davies, Lion tells the story of the brave little boy who spent his life adrift. Directed by Garth Davis, the film illustrates the total destruction of a man in a perpetual state of unrest.

Done properly, the viewer is enveloped in the total breakdown of a character with genuine interest in their well-being. Lion executes this perfectly, giving the audience a glimpse at the pain experienced in going missing, the hesitant joy of finding people to love and care for you, and the exquisite sorrow lying just beneath the surface all along.

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Not only is Lion poignant and divine in its direction and storytelling, but cinematographer Greig Fraser invites us into the picture, generously bringing our collective subconscious into his brilliant vision. His breathtaking views of little Saroo’s world lend to the magic being created through the lens. Coupled with Dustin O’Halloran’s riveting and — at times — energetically melancholy score, Lion is one of the best movies of 2016 by a landslide.

Lovely, endearing performances from Patel, Kidman, and Mara, but that little Sunny Pawar is just a gem; cripplingly adorable and a very fine actor.

A picture destined for many well deserved accolades, Lion needs to be seen. Thoroughly seen. I implore you — go see this movie.

Hidden Figures

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The last time a man told me I couldn’t do something, it was in regard to the last chunk of a brick of cheese I’d put away. He said, “Bet you can’t finish it,” and do you know what I did? I picked up that whole hunk and shoved it in my mouth. Took about 8 minutes to chew it up, but damn it, I did it.

Hidden Figures is vaguely similar to that story, yet far more poetic and eloquent with much higher stakes.

Today — right now — women everywhere of every race are fighting the good fight for feminism and everything that means. This film takes place in the 60s, making it even more empowering and motivational for women folk everywhere to stand up, grab that last chunk of cheddar, and cram it in their mouths proudly and with gusto.

Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) were three of the most extraordinary minds working at NASA in the 1960s when the US was in a race with Russia to get a man into space. Living in a still segregated Virginia, these sharp, fiercely driven ladies were subject to the tortures of such a life; belittlement, harsh and unnecessary criticism, and maybe worst of all — limitations on what they were allowed to do due to their skin color and gender.

I will say this word only one time and it is merely to express my deep and utter hatred of it: they fell victim to being “colored”. Don’t worry, fellow enraged masses, there’s an incredibly cathartic and gratifying moment, regarding that word in the film.

Moving right along.

A gifted mathematician since she was just a wee one, Katherine is promoted when the director of the Space Task Group, Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), is in need of someone who can do some seriously complex geometry stuff that would make my brain melt. Walking into a room full of white men after being told that no one like her has ever entered that room, Katherine is intimidated, but prepared to take on the challenge.

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Dorothy Vaughan — stuck in a tiny, segregated part of the campus with about 20 women — is doing what so many of us have done once or twice before; she’s performing all the duties that a supervisor would, without the title or the pay. Bringing it up with her brusque, standoffish supervisor, Vivian (Kirsten Dunst) goes about as well as you’d expect, and she’s sent back to her office, dejected.

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Mary Jackson. Saucy, outspoken, impassioned Mary Jackson. After being reassigned to assist the engineers working on the vessel that will take a man into space, she’s encouraged to become an engineer herself. However, nothing in life comes easily. Especially for these three women. That said, she will not be stopped.

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Together, the three face their own day-to-day trials and tribulations; supporting one another with unwavering love and honesty. What else can one do when faced with unbridled oppression?

Together, they would go on to make history.

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I can’t recall the last time I was so profoundly moved and personally motivated by a film. While I’m not jumping the same kinds of hurdles they did — not by a long shot — I think this film speaks to what women can do in the face of rejection.

THAT SAID. I was seriously disheartened to read this article, and I recommend you proceed only if you can handle the truth: READ AT YOUR OWN RISK

When it’s all said and done, the film is quite good, even with some wavering truths interjected. Hollywood does love to pander, though. If they didn’t, the shark would not have been blown up and Hooper would have been dead at the end of Jaws. That doesn’t get butts in the seats, though. Gotta blow up that shark.

Backed by a fitting score composed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Benjamin, Wallfisch, and written by Theodore Melfi, Allison Schroeder, and based on the book by the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly, Hidden Figures is a lovely film with just a couple of alternative facts. That doesn’t take away from the superb performances by Henson, Spencer, Monae, Mahershala Ali, Costner, and Dunst.

I can’t wait for the sequel; Hidden Fences 2 — where Taraji blasts Denzel Washington into space!

The Bye Bye Man

say-his-name-you-wont-be-laughing-when-he-kills-9800803In the weeks before The Bye Bye Man was released, some genius made a poster, mocking the movie’s original poster and called it The Peepee Poopoo Man. I wish this movie had been that one instead.

The Bye Bye Man is about some college kids who move into a house off campus together because… I honestly can’t remember why. They move into this old, dilapidated house as a couple and a third wheel. Elliot (Douglas Smith) constantly looks as though he’s just come off of an 18 hour Call of Duty tournament. His girlfriend, Sasha (Cressida Bonas), who has clearly been recently lobotomized, says yes to the house and they settle in. Oh, and their friend, John (Lucien Laviscount) is there, too.

They decide to have a housewarming party, I guess, and during the festivities, Elliot’s young niece toddles off upstairs. In Elliot and Sasha’s bedroom, she finds a coin that’s just seemingly dropped out of thin air below their nightstand. She puts it back, cause she was raised well, and is then discovered by Elliot and sent back to the downstairs where all of the responsible, drunk adults are.

That’s when it happens. Elliot discovers the scribblings of a madman in the nightstand. Don’t think it don’t say it. Don’t think it don’t say it. So what does he do? HE SAYS IT. Dunce.

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Anyway, one of Sasha’s friends, Kim (Jenna Kanell) is some kind of half-assed clairvoyant so she holds a séance after everyone else leaves. She gets freaked out half way through and scares everybody else because she knew that Elliot hid his keys in the frying pan.

Going forward, the house goes a bit Amityville when the housemates’ minds start playing tricks on them. They’re seeing things that aren’t there, John comes on to Sasha who just stands there like, “as if!”, Sasha gets sick and has the fakest cough I have ever heard… it’s a real nightmare.

This movie is what I like to call a drinking game movie. You don’t seriously watch it. You wait for it to come to Netflix and you invite your friends over and drink every time someone does something dumb. The “Special FX” are very special indeed. Including some sort of hell-hound that looks like it walked right out of an earlier version of Zelda.

I think naming it The Bye Bye Man was their first mistake. One more “Bye” in there and this could have been about N*SYNC’s revival tour. Do you want everybody to make fun of your movie? That’s how you do it. My advice? Don’t think it. Don’t say it. Don’t see it.

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