Critical MeMe

Time spent watching films, even crappy ones, is time well-spent.

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Location: Missouri, United States
    These aren't comments on ALL of the movies through which I've cried, yawned, laughed, and rolled my eyes, but just about everything I've seen since early 2002 is here plus a few from earlier. Post dates reflect my screening & parenthetical dates are the year of US release (aka Oscar eligibility).
    Yeah, a movie review blog isn't very original. But originality is overrated. Just ask Michael Bay.


Wind River (2017)

A young Native American woman is found dead of exposure in the brutal Wyoming mountains. The FBI is called in to investigate, but since the girl was a reservation resident, only a single, inexperienced, agent is dispatched.

This is a deep, well-acted story that's very much specific to its wild and lonely setting. Renner turns in a lovely performance as a wildlife agent determined to do what he can to give the family peace. 



Audrie & Daisy (2016)

Truly devastating documentary focusing on the stories of two teens. Though they both suffered sexual assault, it was the aftermath  -- the social media shaming and bullying and support for their attackers  -- that had the more devastating and lasting effects.

We all know about the bullies in the classroom and the need to protect children from the cruelty of their peers and the equal need to educate them not to BE those bullies. But this movie clearly demonstrates that adults can be every bit as ugly, most egregiously the sheriff of Nodaway County at the time: Darren White. He had the audacity to say -- on camera -- that "girls are just as culpable as boys in this world" and that these attacks did not rise to the level of "rape" in reference to the assaults on a 13-year-old child whose attacker admitted she told him "no" and on a 14-year-old girl who was unable to move. When the interviewer reminded him that, in these particular cases, boys were the ones who'd committed the crimes, he replied "DID they?" with a smirk. That man is the father of at least two daughters.

Visit (Daisy is a co-founder) to learn about how you can help raise awareness of sexual assault in schools and to find out about Title IX rights.



Hereditary (2018)

A mother of two is fragile after the loss of her own mother to a long illness. Her teenage son is typical, but her younger daughter is definitely on the spectrum. There's some residual guilt over the fraught relationship she had with her mom and also some fear, which doesn't seem altogether misplaced, as her mother was heavy into spiritualism.

When I read that this movie is "extremely" scary (EW) and "profoundly terrifying" (pajiba), I was IN. It'd been so long since I'd had a really good fright! As the title cards were rolling, I gripped Gary's arm in anticipation -- I felt like I was in line for a rollercoaster: no idea what was going to happen but I was excited and scared in a good way.

Sigh. It's just another supernatural, culty-type deal where one spouse is patiently annoyed with the other one and doesn't really believe there's danger even when it's clear that there is. At one point, after finding a seriously decomposed headless corpse in the attic, the husband said something like this to his wife "you're the one who dug up your mother's grave, aren't you?" That this utterance was not immediately followed by him getting himself and his kid the fuck outta dodge was just insane. I'm tired of stories that depend on unbelievably ridiculous behavior to keep the subjects in the path of danger. Wake up & get out.



Upgrade (2018)

In the near future, a man is crippled and a woman dies in what appears to be a mugging after a car accident. While recovering from his attempted suicide after becoming depressed, the man's offered the chance to try a new implant that can harness his brain's power to regain autonomy. Because he wants to find and take vengeance on those responsible for his wife's death, he goes for it.

And it is awesome. It's violent, for sure, but it's handled in such a way that it's more hilariously heightened than it is upsetting. We watch in awe at what this upgrade allows him to do as he is also in awe of what he's watching his own limbs accomplish. The physicality was incredible and just so fun.

And what a truly original yet satisfying ending, too.



The Levelling (2017)

Young woman returns to the family farm in the wake of her brother’s suicide. As she tries to figure out what happened, she also struggles to manage her difficult relationship with her father.

This is a moody little story and I wanted to like it -- I think I almost did like it -- but I always get a bad taste in my mouth when the story turns into “even when parents are terrible, it's the child job to respect and forgive them.” I’m of the mind that if a parent sucks, you owe them nothing. 



Truth (2015)

I think that THIS is the type of movie that Steven Spielberg thought he was making with The Post: although it's filled with a lot of research and how-the-sausage-gets-made of journalism, it's also compelling. My biggest complaint is that the "crack team" put together to research the story could've been fleshed out a bit more -- particularly Elisabeth Moss's character.



Don't Think Twice (2016)

Tight improv group isn’t raking in the cash, but they love what they do. When one of them is tapped to join an “SNL” type show, the remaining members struggle to keep things going.

I really liked this, mainly because the group was one that I'd want to know personally. They were irreverent and sharp while also willfully existing in a state of arrested development. Most of them don’t know what they’d be without their group, so being forced to face that made for a bittersweet story. Nicely done.



The Wave (2016)

Norwegian geologist living in a small fjord community suspects that recent contractions in a mountain crevice signal disaster for the town. The title of the movie pretty much spoils the fact that he’s right.

Pretty decent disaster movie that kept me leaning forward until the end.