And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "psychological thriller" tag.

Mainstream Chick’s Quick Takes: The Great Wall; A Cure for Wellness

This is a really great week to catch up on one (or more) of those Oscar-nominated movies that are still in theaters or available on DVD or VOD. Why? Because, comparatively speaking, the new releases are rather dismal. Granted, I didn’t have a chance to see the new Ice Cube/Charlie Day comedy Fist Fight, about a couple of high school teachers engaging in a good ol’ fashioned afterschool throw-down. But I’m going to go out on a limb and surmise that you can save that one for a rainy day or a plane ride. It’s probably mindlessly entertaining. Can’t really say the same about The Great Wall or A Cure for Wellness. But if I had to pick among those two, I’d definitely go with The Great Wall because at least it’s got Matt Damon (Jason Bourne, The Martian) — and cool views of one of the great wonders of the ancient world.

Nightcrawler

Movies like Nightcrawler pose a real challenge for me as a frequent film ‘opinionator’ because I simply didn’t like it nearly as much as I’m supposed to, especially considering my ‘day job’ in broadcast news. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for creepy and disturbing. And that’s exactly what Nightcrawler is – a crime thriller that left me feeling more distressed than entertained. I’m sure that’s what the filmmakers were going for. But who needs to PAY for that?

Yes, the performances are excellent. Jake Gyllenhaal got all gaunt and wild-eyed to play Lou Bloom, a smart but psychotic petty thief who stumbles upon a new career as a nightcrawler in Los Angeles – filming and selling grisly accident and crime scene footage to the highest bidder(s). And Rene Russo is chillingly good as Nina, an ethically-challenged news director determined to do whatever it takes to get her struggling TV station out of the ratings cellar.

Side Effects

Here’s how the studio pitches it: “SIDE EFFECTS is a provocative thriller about Emily and Martin (Rooney Mara and Channing Tatum), a successful New York couple whose world unravels when a new drug prescribed by Emily’s psychiatrist (Jude Law) – intended to treat anxiety – has unexpected side effects.” On the surface, that description seemed like a prescription for box office boredom (to me). But now, having seen the movie, I understand the struggle to come up with a better way to spin this movie without giving too much away. The less you know, the better. But know this: Side Effects is an absorbing, thought-provoking, and unpredictable drama. In other words, it’s quite good.

Man on a Ledge

 Man on a Ledge is one of those movies that holds your attention and ultimately entertains, even if it does fade from memory a short time later. The less you know going into it, the more you’ll get out of it. So if you think you may want to see it, skip the more in-depth reviews and stick with this one!

Martha Marcy May Marlene

You may not be able to remember the title, but you certainly won’t forget the movie. Martha Marcy May Marlene is one of those films that you find yourself still thinking about days later. It’s been getting a lot of buzz because of the performance by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s little sister, Elizabeth, and I have to say the buzz is not wrong. Her performance is outstanding.

Black Swan

Arty Chick and other arty-minded film folks will have to weigh in on this one, because I know (from listening to the buzz of some of my favorite and well-respected chicks and roosters) that Black Swan could potentially be described as “phenomenal”. But my description leans more toward “phenomenally twisted” and kinda creepy. So you may really, really like this movie… or really, really not like this movie.. or really, really spend a lot of time contemplating if you liked it or not. I fall into the latter category! It’s not a “mainstream” movie, but it does have the potential to cross over a bit, thanks mostly to the stunning (albeit creepy) performances by Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, and Winona Ryder.

Inception

How to describe Inception? It’s like a riddle wrapped inside an enigma that’s all part of a dream that’s made into a movie. If your brain hurts now, just wait til you see the movie – assuming you do see the movie. As interesting as it is – it’s not for everybody.