“There is no path for happiness.” (at least not in these films)
quote from Sawyer Valentini, Unsane (more about her just below)
Reviews by Ken Burke
Unsane (Steven Soderberg)
“Executive Summary” (no spoilers): A young woman from Boston—who’s been mercilessly stalked by a man who’s determined they should be lovers—has moved to Pennsylvania, deleted all records of herself on social media, shifted from her desire to at least be a volunteer in the medical world to instead work as a bank’s financial analyst, all with an attempt to regain some semblance of a normal life. But her constant fear of even casual intimacy with a man leads her to a counselor who overstates this worried patient’s casual remarks about suicide in her notes, has the young woman sign some papers (which she should have read more carefully) leading to her “voluntary” incarceration in the adjoining mental institution which she quickly tries to fight but to no avail, made worse by her intense aggravation with the situation leading to various physical attacks on others, earning her another week of confinement. To make matters worse, she frantically realizes an orderly is her stalker, having discovered her new whereabouts and now working at this institution under an assumed name (unless all of what she claims is delusional, which we’re given some reason to believe given how intense her rejection of the confinement quickly escalates). There’s a lot more to know about this effectively-intense-drama of mental duress but nothing I can reveal in this spoiler-free-segment except for the technical fascination of how effective this is as a big-screen-feature shot on an iPhone 7 Plus, which gives it more of a square format and harsher contrast than such works normally display but that’s all quite appropriate given this movie’s content.
Here’s the trailer: (Use the full screen button in the image’s lower right to enlarge it; activate that same button on the full screen’s lower right or your “esc” keyboard key to return to normal size.)
If you can abide plot spoilers read on, but as this blog’s intended for those who’ve seen the film—or want to save some bucks—to help any of you who’d like to learn more details yet avoid important plot-reveals I’ll identify such give-away sentences/sentence-clusters thusly:
⇒The first and last words will be noted with arrows and red.⇐ OK, now continue on if you prefer.
What Happens: Sawyer Valentini (Claire Foy) is trying to start a new life working as a bank financial analyst in Pennsylvania after leaving Boston 2 years ago to escape stalker David Strine (Joshua Leonard) who—despite a restraining order and security advice to Sawyer from a cop (unadvertised Matt Damon)—kept sending text messages so frequently (once breaking into her home, leaving her a dress to wear) he was nearly driving her insane. ⇒(We later learn in flashbacks how she found it too difficult to pursue her intended medical career so she became a hospice volunteer reading to a dementia-ravaged-elder, David’s father, whom his son made no attempt to communicate with; in the process, David became obsessed with Sawyer, convinced after his father’s death the old man would have wanted them to be together.)⇐ Now Sawyer seems to have few friends due to her fear of any sort of commitment, rejects an improper overture from her boss, attempts to pick up a guy at a bar for a non-involving one-night-stand but finds she’s terrified of actually having sex with him, seeks some counseling support at Highland Creek hospital, notes in her intake interview she’s mildly considered suicide at times when the fears are overwhelming, then signs some paperwork without reading through it, assuming it’s just to set her up for future therapy appointments. Instead, she’s authorized herself for a 24-hour-confinement in the psychiatric ward which she now has no chance of overturning (she uses her 1 phone call to alert the police of the mistake, but they’re no help; a couple of officers arrive hours later, don’t even bother to seek her out, quickly leave after some doughnut-related-banter with the cheeky receptionist). Sawyer’s screaming demands to be released, the ugly hassles with wardmate Violet (Juno Temple), punching an orderly (reminded her of David) and another inmate all lead to head psychiatrist, Dr. Hawthorne (Gibson Frazier), enforcing an additional 7 days for her. Another patient in her ward, Nate Hoffman (Jay Pharoah), acts as a group leader to keep calm among the other inmates (with inconsistent success where Violet’s concerned), tells Sawyer he’s in for opioid detox but reveals that places like this actively find ways to lock up people like her for the 7 days or so of payments they receive from insurance companies, Medicare, etc. so she should just lay low until it's time for her to be released.
Nate also has a smuggled-in cell phone so she uses it for a quick call to her mother, Angela (Amy Irving), not only because of the horrendous circumstances (with daily doses of required sedatives), belligerent behavior from Nurse Boles (Polly McKie)—who seems to have been trained by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’s (Miloš Forman, 1975) Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher)—and further confrontations from Violet (who threatens Sawyer with the shiv [a sharpened spoon] she hides in her clothes) but also because the orderly who dispenses the meds on Sawyer’s second night is David, calling himself George Shaw (may have scribbled his surname incorrectly in my notes as it seems a tad unlikely [or it's a joke]) while ingratiating himself with Nurse Boles and the rest of the staff. Sawyer’s horrified by this, admits to her mother she never said David was the reason for her New England departure, begs for help. Mom gets there fast but also finds no aid from the police nor her lawyer, can’t convince the hospital staff anything's wrong with “George” (impeccable background check), then stays at a nearby motel with a promise to return soon with better results. ⇒We’ve been given some clues maybe Sawyer’s delusional about David (George seems to be a decent guy, apologizing for any discomfort he may have inadvertently caused this fragile woman) but soon it’s clear Sawyer’s not only telling the truth but she’s also in danger from this unhinged guy. First, he shows her an envelope with her mother’s home address so we quickly know Sawyer’s story is true even though no one else believes her, then David comes to Mom’s hotel room claiming to be a maintenance man after which we don’t see Mom again. Meanwhile, a combination of Sawyer’s paranoia, continuing harassment from Violet, and a psychotic-episode-inducing-drug David slipped into her daily meds cup has pushed Sawyer ever further from being believed or helped by anyone except Nate (who turns out later to be an undercover TV reporter, gathering evidence of the illegal, unethical activities of this place [and so many like it, as he tells Sawyer]) so at various times she’s sedated, restrained, then finally sent to scary solitary confinement in a basement padded room.⇐
⇒Any help Sawyer hoped to get from Nate is voided when David captures, tortures, then kills him, leaving him appearing to be an overdose victim (his notes on the abuses of the institution are found in his locker but turned over to smug administrator Ashley Brighterhouse [Aimee Mullins] who simply hides them in her desk). After which, David confronts Sawyer in solitary (he disables the video cameras first), tells her he’s already altered the records so it seems like she’s been released, wants her to escape with him to his cabin in New Hampshire where they can lead a happy, isolated life. She strings him along, tells him he needs to experience another woman before trying to be romantic with her, convinces him to bring Violet down there for the needed intercourse, but, while Sawyer’s seemingly calming Violet before she’d have sex with David, Sawyer grabs the shiv, stabs him, takes his keys, escapes, looks back through the door’s window to see him breaking Violet’s neck. Sawyer manages to get outside but is captured again by David; when she wakes up in his car trunk she finds Mom’s dead body there as well just before she manages to release the trunk lid. He chases her into the woods, catches her, breaks one of her ankles with a hammer before carrying her back to the car, but she has Mom’s metal crucifix necklace with which she kills him, then staggers out to the road. Meanwhile, a woman jogging with her dog in New England comes across the body of the real George (David killed him but didn’t bury him very well) which is somehow reported to the cops in Sawyer”s PA location, the TV reporters from Nate’s station learn of his death and go on air with revelations of the reports he’d already smuggled out even as the police rush in with a warrant leading to finding his notes, arresting Brighterhouse, hopefully shutting down Highland Creek. 6 months later, Sawyer’s back at her job—promoted—but as she’s having lunch with her assistant she sees a man she thinks is David, almost stabs from behind before realizing her mistake, leaves the restaurant in a state of disarray, seemingly suffering ongoing PTSD reactions.⇐
So What? Unsane’s filled with heart-stopping-scenes of tension which make it effective as an escapist thriller, with the added attraction of being shot on an iPhone 7 Plus in 4K high-definition so we’re constantly, subliminally amazed at how professional it all looks, having been recorded on a handheld device.* All of that quickly-moving-action, the constant shutdown of any hope Sawyer has of help or escape, and the inherent situation of an innocent person being confined against their will (both on a personal and institutional level) helps distract us from a good number of plot holes which also exist on a subliminal level (because they zip by so fast you have no time to contemplate them) but undermine this otherwise tight narrative that seems to work so effectively as it’s flying along. Clearly, David took George’s identity then used it for access to Sawyer’s psychiatric “jail,” but how did he find her? How did he manage to get hired so conveniently there? Why didn’t the “thorough background check” on George show any inconsistency with David’s appearance? (Did they look alike, as well as George having an appropriate medical background so David could easily get a job at Highland Creek, or are the hiring procedures as shoddy as their mode of operation?) I have to admit I didn’t catch this item, but wouldn’t Sawyer have somehow taken on her own new persona complete with name change? If so, what records exist for her in order to apply for jobs? If not, how did she expect to hide from obviously-obsessive David? (The credits list Sawyer and her mother with the same surname, so was that for our convenience or did the daughter just change locations without changing identities?) Wouldn’t Nate have also been working under a false identity, so how did his station colleagues know it was him who died at Highland Creek—do they have access to reports of every death in this city? Admittedly, I didn’t think of any of this while watching Unsane, but it all came out quickly when I started making my summary comments above.
*Soderberg offers a short (4:50) video explanation of why he shot his movie on a smartphone (he presents a solid defense), yet his argument's not nearly enough to convince the guy who rejects that decision in the 2nd listing of the Related Links section for this movie far below in this posting.
In addition to these various plot quandaries (which, in retrospect, were distracting enough for me to think about that they brought my initial response of 4 stars of 5 for Unsane down to a reluctant 3½ because while the emotional ride is effective the narrative inconsistencies shouting “merely a convenient jump from one situation to the next” just keep nagging at me) there may be a misconception this is the 1st feature shot on an iPhone (see my review [toward your beginning scrolling through it you'll find a rare sighting of my "writing partner" Pat Craig, at least as he existed a few years ago] of Tangerine [Sean Baker, 2015] to clear that up [with my usual appeal to your layout-sensitivities to go easy on how this much-earlier-review looks, with my more-current-approach hopefully more tolerable to look at]—where I found that earlier one to be more effective, stable at the 4-star level, although its sense of immediacy admittedly verges more on quasi-documentary given the content and actors involved)* but even if that’s not a primary reason for interest in Unsane you still have to give Soderberg credit for effectively using his chosen technological limitation (at least I do; that guy I noted in the footnote just above thinks something made on such a small device should only be seen on a similar screen, leaving theatrical presentations to films actually shot with equipment intended to produce enormous images). Initially, it’s clear the format’s a bit more squared-off than the wider aspect ratios we’re used to, just as the contrast is a bit harsh even in the scenes that don’t take place in the psych ward (where their appearance would be more assumed-acceptable as Expressionist-enhancement, as is most of what we see in Crazy Right, reviewed below), but once you get pulled into the rapid flow of this most-disturbing-story you not only don’t notice the presentational differences all that much but you also begin to sense a recreated-reality-TV-special-feel to Unsane, possibly made by the news crew who uncovered the scam going on over at Highland Creek enhanced with some professional actors.
*Here are 10 others for your edification (a couple made before Tangerine), none of which I’ve seen.
Bottom Line Final Comments: Initially, I wasn’t sure if I was going to see Unsane (although I do try to keep up with most everything Soderberg directs), but then the opportunity came up to explore an independent film still in distribution-negotiation, Crazy Right (review below), so the somewhat-related-content sent me to the theater in order to provide you with this parallel-review-posting. However, Soderberg could use some other incentives to get more patrons into the moviehouses because his opening-weekend-debut resulted in only about $3.8 million in domestic (U.S.-Canada) ticket sales (plus a mere $792.6 thousand in other markets) which leaves him in the dust behind (why bother, as far as I’m concerned) Pacific Rim Uprising (Steven S. DeKnight) at $28.1 million for the weekend box-office 1st place in its debut, finally pushing Black Panther (Ryan Coogler; review in our February 22, 2018 posting) to #2 with a “mere” 17 million domestic dollars last weekend (but after 6 weeks in release it’s now at about $633.2 million domestically [#5 All-Time], $1.2 billion worldwide [#12 All-Time]). That lackluster response to Unsane may be due to its unnerving subject matter (clearly indicated in the trailer) compared to the sci-fi/superhero aspects of the top 2, the equally-escapist-aspects of #4 Sherlock Gnomes (John Stevenson), #5 Tomb Raider (Roar Uthaug), and #9 Game Night (John Francis Daley, Jonathan M. Goldstein) or the pre-Easter interests of religiously-inclined-audiences seeing #3 I Can Only Imagine (Andrew and Jon Erwin) and #8 Paul, Apostle of Christ (Andrew Hyatt), but for whatever reason Soderberg’s latest—daring as it is with that iPhone-production-process/grim content—failed to draw much attention, despite being available in 2,023 domestic theaters (← more discussion of that word at the end of the next review).
Critics, though, were much more inclined toward acceptance (a key reason, along with my newly-intended-pairing of Unsane to Crazy Right, I was more interested in it than all of the above—except Black Panther, which I’ve seen twice already—along with knowing first-hand from a close friend what it’s like to be arbitrarily confined to a psych ward [for 3 days] due to suicidal feelings [despite that problem arising as a side-effect of a medication, with no one except for an after-the-fact-pharmacist willing to acknowledge the connection] so I was curious to see how this situation might be dramatized, in that the only other film like this I have a clear memory of is … Cuckoo’s Nest where main character Randlel McMurphy’s [Jack Nicholson] also in the “loony bin” but somewhat by choice so as to avoid the more-traditional-miseries of standard imprisonment [only until he sees how cruel is the treatment of the patients within the psych ward]) of Unsane, with 78% of those cited at Rotten Tomatoes offering positive reviews, a not-surprisingly-lower (but still supportive for them) 63% average score at Metacritic (details on both in the Related Links section below). Certainly if you have any experience with being in such confinement (where you might much more likely have to fear irrational confrontations from an unhinged person such as Violet than find a helpmate like Nate)—especially if not by necessary choice—or if you’ve ever had your life made into a living hell by a stalker, you may not care to subject yourself to have any of that misery relived in Unsane, but if you’d like to get some seriously-considered-insights into those awful situations (notwithstanding the plot-holes-for-convenience noted above—including the one I didn’t mention before, which is why administrator Brighterhouse bothered to keep Nate’s notes rather than destroy them [same question we ask decades later about President Nixon and the incriminating Watergate tapes]) with a resolution offering both visceral release and justified retaliation against a cold-blooded-killer (truly the crazy one needing to be stopped before somehow talking his way out of a prison sentence, likely to find a means of escape from a mental hospital) but doesn’t sugarcoat the lasting emotional damage done to Sawyer—who’ll likely need years of sincerely-focused-therapy to rise above her ingrained fears—then I think you’d find Unsane worthwhile even as it's uglily-creepy.
Or maybe you’ll be satisfied enough just listening to my chosen Musical Metaphor to accompany Unsane, leaving us a final bit of commentary but from the aural arts, which is Dory Previn’s “Mr. Whisper” (on her 1970 album On My Way to Where) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRN-GPFDTx4, inspired by her own stay in a mental institution, partially as the result of ex-husband André Previn having an affair with Mia Farrow, impregnating her, leading to divorce from Dory (then marriage to Farrow) with Dory enduring electroconvulsive (formerly shock) “therapy” before returning to her musical career with much of the trauma (from other events as well) of those years worked into this album. I don’t mean to imply, as stated in these lyrics, David was just Sawyer’s “wild imaginary friend” who haunted her when she was “going ‘Round the bend […] driven Up the wall,” although with the psychological (and physical) harm he’s caused her, that she’s clearly not free of yet, we can understand why at some point past the events we witness in this movie she could think “I’d rather Madness Than this sadness In my head,” while David, the psychotic one in this mental-entanglement, wants to be “back In [her] apartment In [her] head [… telling her] Reassuring things [saying she’s] the Center of the universe [… as he takes] control Guides [her] heart And rides [her] soul The minute that He steps Inside [her] head.” Just like Soderberg’s movie this is a most disturbing song, especially referring to Previn’s actual situation where “They shoot me With a bolt or two,” just as Sawyer—even in her short stay at Highland Creek—is frequently sedated, strapped to her bed, then locked in solitary where she had no escape from David’s obsessions until she's able to smuggle in an unwitting weapon. None of this is “feel good’ stuff but it might suffice to be exposed to it on our own “feel bad” days as encouragement that (hopefully) whatever we’re experiencing isn’t of the caliber of what Sawyer or Dory were required to deal with.
SHORT TAKES (no spoilers here for a refreshing change
[but, as usual, the comments aren’t really all that short])
Crazy Right (Ian Stewart Fowler, 2017)
This is an intentionally-disturbing story about a man whose wife is now dead with him troubled by a horrid memory he killed her (no police action, though, so you assume he didn’t); as he sinks further into alcoholism, despondency, and delusions he begins to interact with her again in a manner that seems far too tangible to be imaginary—but it must be … right?
Occasionally, we (well, only me so far, but Pat Craig's still somewhere out there in the ether—I can feel the vibrations) at Two Guys in the Dark receive a request to review a film not yet in general release, a service we attempt to do as far as our time and space (which—along with various forms of energy and matter—just about encompasses everything we’ve experienced so far but other dimensions likely await) allow, as with this inquiry from Patrick D. Green, one of the producers—as well as portraying the male lead (in this photo to your left)—for Crazy Right (trailer's in Related Links due to BlogSpot software problems). Green and company are in the midst of working on distribution deals so while I was able to see their work on a screener I can’t yet offer you an opportunity to view it in any format; thus, all I can do at this point is give you some commentary on it (noting it was an Official Selection of both the 2017 Covellite International Film Festival [Butte, MT] where it won Best Editing [I can see why; the imagery flows well through many varied scenes and circumstances] and the Tenth Annual Festival Angaelica [Big Bear Lake, CA], where it won the Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature Film, as well as also being an Official Selection last year of the Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival [Portland, OR]), with hopes it'll be available soon. Given there’s no easy access to it now, though, I won’t reveal any plot spoilers because you don’t have the usual choice available with our Two Guys in the Dark reviews to either get a general sense
of what we're offering while avoiding the spoilers until you can see what we’re writing about or accepting our review in full, either after your own screening or deciding to take our word for it rather than investing your cash for a specific movie. With Crazy Right the situation is one that, as noted above, makes for an intriguing double-feature with Unsane because the focus is again on mental illness but this time it truly is a situation of extreme instability with the primary character (Paul) rather than an assessment being falsely assigned (Sawyer) as a means of manipulation by someone who’s the person truly insane (David) yet deviously crafty in madness.
Some time ago Paul’s wife died of causes that aren’t fully clarified to us (although cancer’s the likely contributor, revealed through later dialogue during the film, as is his accusation of her as a “cheating whore” although not explained decisively) leaving him in a state of alcoholic devastation (downing enough vodka on a daily basis to soon send him to the cemetery as well) so that he never leaves his house (although an opening scene with a real-estate-agent indicates he’ll soon have it up for sale), apparently has no friends or family to help pull him out of his self-inflicted-stupor except a guy named Garry (Michael Draper) who comes by to show his concern but is chased away. This sort of imposed-isolation connected to an attitude of complete psychic loss—shown graphically by the constant, arbitrary blue tonality of the images—is sort of like a reversal of the isolated emptiness of the main character in A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017; review in our July 27, 2017 posting) except that guy was dead, seemingly in self-imposed-connection to the house where his widow stayed for awhile before moving on while Paul’s still alive but just as lost in his grief, further haunted by the disturbing memory he killed Iris (LIndsae Klein) even though he keeps vehemently denying it’s true. Honestly, though, once this concept of grief, confusion to the point of mental instability, and rejection of finding any hope of moving forward (except further into those vodka bottles, which he has delivered once a week along with some groceries for basic sustenance) has been established the plot seems to stagnate a bit until roughly the halfway mark (about 40 min. in of a 1 hr. 25 min. running time). That changes abruptly when in the process of boxing up everything in the house Paul comes across some old audio cassettes which contain conversations he's had with Iris.
After listening to some tapes he starts to directly address the Sony Walkman player which leads to equally-direct-responses from it in her voice, followed by Iris' sudden appearance in the bedroom one morning. Paul’s admitted he’s delusional, but Iris’ re-found-presence is about as tangible as you could ask for, complete with a full range of activities from lovemaking to arguing (interspersed with flashback scenes in normal color tonalities that help us keep track of varied temporal markers).
Unfortunately, I can’t go any further into what happens without intruding on that dreaded spoiler territory so all I can say within this context is the concept has a successful feel of a Twilight Zone-type-encounter although with intended unclarity as to what—if any—lesson might be learned from the activities both we and Paul will encounter; the visual strategy of the arbitrary coloration (including one intense scene where Paul watches himself relive a previous conversation with Iris so his present is shown in green tonality while their dual past on screen is naturalistically-hued [the official site—in the Related Links section below —notes this entire film was shot in natural light, but the various hue emphases contribute to the mood in such a way they seem to be a successfully-imposed-palette) allows some structural complexity within an ongoing narrative situation kept claustrophobic in both location (we never leave the house, even in the flashbacks) and Paul’s mental stress (and Iris’ with both of them often presented in intense closeups); a wealth of camera-strategies including odd angles at times for disorientation along with some slow pans of the house’s rooms which help convey the confinement it presents for Paul; while the acting of the 2 leads is powerful throughout—often explosive in some confrontational scenes alluding to Iris’s death—with Iris offering the more-expansive-role of empathy switching to anger while Paul goes from near-comatose to frustrated lashing out as he tries to make some sense of what he’s experiencing, how sane he hopes to be, what he’s troubled by this reappearance of Iris hasn't yet been able to resolve.
I encourage you to find Crazy Right whenever you can (hopefully in the near future), but in the meantime you’ll just have to make do with my chosen Musical Metaphor (although I guess I could have borrowed from some version of the soundtrack’s replayings of “Since You’ve Been Gone” but help yourself to some rendition of it if you like), which is Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” flowing into “Eclipse” (culminating their masterful 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon) with just the original recording plus lyrics at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRH-URpgZrM, enhanced by this slightly-muffled-video of a Roger Waters live performance (I couldn’t find a concert with both of the key Floyd musicians, Waters and David Gilmour, so I chose this Waters version because he wrote the songs and this July 6, 2017 performance in Houston is the same as what I saw him do last May in Oakland [shot from about the same distance where I was sitting]). For me, this music is reminiscent of how Paul has to deal with what happens “if the dam breaks open many years too soon [… because his] head explodes with dark forebodings [… as he realizes] There’s someone in my head but it’s not me [… a result of the irony he finds when] All that is now And all that is gone And all that’s to come And everything under the sun is in tune But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.”
Well, that’s my response to Crazy Right which I hope you’ll have some opportunity to see some day because it’s an intriguing story giving you a lot to contemplate even if for nothing else than to hope you never have to share Paul’s experiences yourself, but, then, you should always take what critics (including me) say with a grain of salt (or maybe a shot of bourbon) anyway because what works for me may be utterly useless for you or vice-versa. Local case in point for me is an extremely negative review by the San Francisco Chronicle’s theater (not theatre, I’ll have you note, despite the frequent use of the latter spelling referring to staged narratives or drama companies rather than the buildings housing them) critic, Lily Janiak of a play, Office Hour (written by Julia Cho, 2018), just now finishing its run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre (← note the spelling, Chron), which my wife, Nina, and I probably wouldn’t have bothered to see based on Janiak’s commentary (“It doesn’t unpack our American nightmare so much as steep you in alternately trite and preposterous versions of it”)—which she rates as 0 on a scale of 1 to 4—had we not already paid for it through season tickets. This story of a troubled undergrad in a creative writing class (who carries a licensed firearm because rejection by his peers has left the kid angry, paranoid, compelled to write about heinous actions [seemingly traced back to his harsh father’s rejection of him as mildly physically-deformed]) going through a series of hostile vignettes with his teacher during her office hours is powerfully written and acted, extremely relevant for the violent times we live in especially concerning school shootings (Janiak even briefly notes the poignancy of this play opening a very short time after the tragedy at the Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL; ironically, we saw it on the afternoon of the nationwide student-led anti-gun-rallies last Saturday, finding it an extremely important aspect of that day), yet this seemingly well-versed-critic simply dismissed Office Hour as “[…] don’t waste your time investing in it“ (just as Entertainment Weekly’s Chris Nashawaty would have steered me away from Unsafe with his scathing C- review so I’m glad I found others that were more supportive).
My point with all this intra-critical-collective-commentary is you have to decide for yourself what sounds intriguing to you because tastes—no matter how well-based in education and professional experience—will always be subjective (no matter how “universal” the critic may attempt to make her/his review sound, with absolute pronouncements stated as if no rational person could possibly find an alternative interpretation), so get as much input as you can, follow your gut, don’t be swayed by what anyone else tries to make you think (but if you’re still unsure, you can always consult my opinion, so brilliant it can save on your energy bill). As for Crazy Right, I do hope many of you will get a chance to see it for yourself, then tell me if you think I wasn’t as receptive to it as I might have been (given the reality it’s one of those I had to struggle with internally as to how high to rate it, finally going with 3 of 5 stars as I felt that designation was most consistent with what I’d seen in this film compared to others to which I also found 3 stars to be the most appropriate choice); Crazy Right still intrigues me to a possible higher level, though, as it’s hard to forget about, especially seeing it in such proximity to Unsane (which might make an interesting rental option for you at some point). OK, enough of this exercise in ambiguous-implications, but I do find both of these explorations of mental instability to be something well worth your time, if for no other reason than to remind you to carefully read anything you sign lest you find yourself sent off to some version of Highland Creek “rehab.” Stay free (and limited in your vodka guzzling) until next time we meet.
Related Links Which You Might Find Interesting:
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AND … at least until the Oscars for 2017’s releases have been awarded on Sunday, March 4, 2018 we’re also going to include reminders in each posting of very informative links where you can get updated tallies of which 2017 films have been nominated for and/or received various awards and which ones made various individual critic’s Top 10 lists. You may find the diversity among the various awards competitions and the various critics hard to reconcile at times—not to mention the often-significant-gap between critics’ choices and competitive-award-winners (which pales when compared to the even-more-noticeable-gap between specific award winners and big box-office-grosses you might want to monitor here)—but as that less-than-enthusiastic-patron-of-the-arts, Plato, noted in The Symposium (385-380 BC)—roughly translated, depending on how accurate you wish the actual quote to be—“Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder,” so your choices for success are as valid as any of these others, especially if you offer some rationale for your decisions (unlike many of the awards voters who simply fill out ballots, sometimes for films they’ve never seen).
To save you a little time scrolling through the “various awards” list above, here are the Golden Globe nominees and winners for films and TV from 2017 along with the Oscar nominees and winners for 2017 films.
Here’s more information about Unsane:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_WT6U-J2dE (5:05 summary and explorations about the movie but note this is full of spoilers as well; this videomaker’s intrigued by the story but not by the fact this is a big-screen-movie shot on an iPhone rather than a theatrical movie that some day later you just watch casually on your smartphone)
Here’s more information about Crazy Right:
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If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at email@example.com. (But if you truly have too much time on your hands you might want to explore some even-longer-and-more-obtuse-than-my-film-reviews—if that even seems possible—academic articles about various cinematic topics at my website, https://kenburke.academia.edu, which could really give you something to talk to me about.)
By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken
P.S. Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker. But wherever the rest of my body may be my heart’s always with my longtime-companion, lover, and wife, Nina Kindblad, so here’s our favorite shared song—Neil Young’s "Harvest Moon"
—from the performance we saw at the Desert Trip concerts in Indio, CA on October 15, 2016 (as a full moon was rising over the stadium) because “I’m still in love with you,” my dearest, a never-changing-reality even as the moon waxes and wanes over the months/years to come.
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Finally, for the data-oriented among you, Google stats say over the past month (which they seem to measure from right now back 30 days) the total unique hits at this site were 76,926; below is a snapshot of where and by what means those responses have come from within the previous week: