This Is a Movie Review: Under the Silver Lake

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Under the Silver Lake is Inherent Vice crossed with The Shining.

Shaggy dog mysteries (which seem to exclusively be set in L.A.) have their charms, but they also have an underlying sense of frustration because the mystery is most definitely never solved satisfyingly, or at least not transparently. But they act like they want to solve the mystery. In the case of Under the Silver Lake, though, it’s clearly more satisfying to leave everything confusing. With his tendency to beat people up for minor offenses, Sam (Andrew Garfield) is certainly not a nice person, so it’s fitting that he doesn’t find all the answers. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some sort of “conspiracy,” or at least conspiracy-ish happening or series of happenings, going on. Disappearing Neighbor Riley Keough may be part of only a small portion of the whole tapestry. Sam enters Shining territory as his experience of supernatural occurrences feel inextricable from the real thing. He seems to have crossed through a looking glass wherein he might as well have been a part of all this for all eternity, especially considering his aimlessness. It’s an unmoored journey that I enjoyed.

I give Under the Silver Lake 400 Numbers out of 500 Questions.

This Is a Movie Review: ‘Breathe’ Advocates Overcoming Polio for the Sake of Picnics

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CREDIT: Laurie Sparham/Bleecker Street/Participant Media

This review was originally posted on News Cult in October 2017.

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Claire Foy, Tom Hollander

Director: Andy Serkis

Running Time: 117 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for the Medical Realities of Treating Polio

Release Date: October 13, 2017 (Limited)

It’s amazing what a change of scenery can do. After Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield)  is confined to a hospital bed due to paralysis from polio, he is all set to be resigned to a quick death. But then his wife Diana (Claire Foy) springs him out against doctor’s orders and gets him set up more permanently with a ventilator at home. They gradually become even more adventurous, lugging Robin (and the machine keeping him alive) along on a vacation to Spain and a medical conference in Germany. With Diana, their son Jonathan, dog Bengy, and plenty of other friends and family accompanying him on all these experiences, polio is no big whoop. He has plenty of reasons to live and remains unfailingly his slyly humorous self, now with an extra added gallows edge.

As dramatized in the film, Cavendish died in 1994 at the age of 64, 36 years after contracting polio, making him one of the longest-living responauts in British history. “Responaut” refers to someone who is permanently dependent upon a ventilator for breathing. It is also just a cool word in and of itself. Unfortunately, Breathe only uses that word once. It is simply an unconscionable fail to leave that opportunity on the table. This could have been a much more twisted and radical movie if its most commonly used word were “responaut.” I think the real Robin would have approved.

As it is, though, it is a perfectly agreeable film about defying the medical status quo and basking in the English countryside. The latter especially. Breathe would probably claim its raison d’ȇtre is the power of convincing medical professionals to go deeper and see towards the future. And indeed there are so many scenes of people being amazed that polio patients are actually able to go outside. But I see what Englishman Andy Serkis, in his directorial debut, is really up to. His message is clear: if you’re a Brit, paralysis is no big deal, so long as you can go out and picnic while taking in all the lush greenery, dense trees, beautiful fountains, and cricket matches. Do we have some stealth environmentalism going on here? Let’s learn from the past and not let Mother Nature contract polio!

Breathe is Recommended If You Like: Beautiful vistas, A Beautiful Mind, Inspiration to get yourself through medical school

Grade: 2.75 out of 5 Disabled “Prisoners”

This Is a Movie Review: Silence

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Does Silence need to drag on so portentously throughout its middle third? Probably, at least to achieve its goal of being as tortuous as what its protagonists undergo. Not exactly as torturous, obviously, but that is the tone it is going for. It may not be pleasant, but that is the goal. Perhaps it could have been both painful AND exciting if Liam Neeson had returned earlier. His scenes really get the film cooking. They are, after all, when Silence really grapples with its essential question of how best to sacrifice oneself to be a good Catholic, or a good leader, or a good person, and if those overlap.

I give Silence 20 Minutes out of 161 of Unexpected Humor.

This Is a Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge

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I don’t like war movies. I appreciate when they, like Hacksaw Ridge, are especially explicit about the bodily destruction, but then it just underscores how much war has existed and how much it continues to exist. It is somewhat heartening to see a conscientious objector like Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield) focused on rescuing the rest of his platoon instead of killing, but his story just makes me wish he could be saving people from natural disasters instead and that the war had never happened in the first place. I’m not naively suggesting that war will just magically end if we want it to. What I’m getting at is: it is paradoxical to me to attempt to mentally process a well-made war film.

I give everyone involved making Hacksaw Ridge my appreciation but hope that it could have been for something else.

SNL Recap May 3, 2014: Andrew Garfield/Coldplay

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If someone was like, “Hey, come live in this house, there’s only nine of us,” I would say, “You got it dude!”

Donald Sterling Press Conference
A typical run-through-the-people-in-a-current-event cold opening, but with a little more relevance and finesse than usual.  Still, this was mostly filled with obvious gags.  Confusing Roots the miniseries with the Roots that have Questlove did get me to laugh, though. B-

Andrew Garfield’s Monologue
At least this wasn’t a tired monologue format, but on the other hand, I had no idea what it was.  Apparently the joke was, the audience is overly antagonistic to Andrew Garfield.  What up with that?  Aidy got a lot of applause.  She deserves it; she’s been having a great season. B-