In Theaters Now: Boundaries

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Christopher Plummer and Vera Farmiga

Boundaries is a dramedy about single mother Laura (Vera Farmiga) taking her estranged father Jack (Christopher Plummer) and socially awkward son Henry (Lewis Macdougall) on an involuntary road trip. Jack is crotchety and wasn’t emotionally present for Laura’s childhood, Henry draws people naked (which everyone reacts to as if he is a budding serial killer) and gets expelled from school, and Laura hoards animals and doesn’t believe in herself.

As dysfunctional family comedies go, Boundaries presents nothing new in the trope, which would be fine if only it weren’t working so hard to tug at the heartstrings. With the exception of Plummer, a delightful appearance by Christopher Lloyd, and another by Kristen Schaal as Laura’s sister JoJo, there really aren’t enough likable characters to draw in the viewer.  Laura is at times shrill and self-centered when she is supposed to be sympathetic, Henry is sullen, and Jack is emotionally distant, offering arch commentary on Laura’s mistakes even as he strongarms his grandson into helping him sell weed. Yes, there is a weed angle.

You can probably guess how the film ends, but spoilers will still appear below the cut, as always.

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In Theaters Now: A Quiet Place

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Shhhh….

After all the buzz surrounding it and a few recommendations from friends, I decided to see A Quiet Place in theaters. Being a horror fan, how could I not?

What A Quiet Place does well, it does very well. Tension draws out and there are genuine emotional scenes with real payoff, such as those moments when a character is finally, finally able to scream or even speak. However, I admit to being underwhelmed.

I am not saying this film was bad; far from it. I would rank it as above average for a mainstream Hollywood horror movie, which any horror fan will recognize as damning praise. From a technical filmmaking perspective, it was beautiful: John Krasinski, who stars and also directs, knows how to frame beautiful compositions, how to work with ambient lighting, how to film action so it’s exciting and tension so it’s heart-pumping, and how to draw evocative performances from his actors. The creatures look cool and their CGI is great.

As mentioned, the actors’ performances are strong, and there are several character moments that really resonate. Krasinski is great as a patient paternal figure, Emily Blunt is his tired, blonde, and eventually pregnant wife, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe as the children work well together and the whole ensemble effectively portrays a nuclear family.

Most filmgoers and horror fans will enjoy the jump scares and leave the movie rattled, but I found myself frustrated by the end. There were a number of weaknesses that leapt out and jarred me right out of the narrative, and created what ultimately felt like a missed opportunity.

A more detailed unpacking appears below the cut. As always, there will be spoilers.

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Hola Friends!

Game of Thrones is over (FOR TWO YEARS WHAT) but I am trying to get back to normal blogging. I had an expansive and interesting post kicking around the back of my mind for the past week but then #Irmageddon began edging over the horizon like a big brightly colored anal fissure and my life is hurricane preparedness now.

Irma

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A Few Words on Herzog

In honor of National Pets day, which was Tuesday, today’s post is about Herzog – Herzog the cat, not Herzog the German director known for probing the existential depths of the human soul. Although Werner Herzog is tops, too. After all, my cat is named after him. 

This is Herzog.

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“Touch my fluffy tummy! Come on, how could you not?” ~ Herzog, demonstrating what I call ‘The Beartrap Maneuver.’ He can snap shut around around a hand in one billionth of a second.

Vital Statistics

  • Neutered male tabby, 15 lbs, about 40 inches long, age 8.
  • Long enough to stand on his back legs and pull things off table tops or the kitchen counter edge.
  • Very good health.
  • +5 Lung capacity for extended caterwauling sessions at 4 AM/PM.
  • +10 strength – can pull me while wearing his harness if I am on wheels.
  • Does tricks – Sit, Lie Down, Roll Over, and Up. Recognizes ‘Bedtime’ means it is time to go to bed, ‘Blender’ presages a loud sound such as a blender, garbage disposal or vacuum, and ‘Hop Up’ warns that I am about to get up and he must vacate my lap.
  • Will not perform ‘Speak’ on command; never shuts up otherwise.
  • Alternate names: Bubs, Bubbins, Mr. Mittens, Mr. Muffins, Mr. Meowsers, Fiddles, Cuddles, Cuddle-Bear, Snuggle-Bear, other nauseatingly cute things.

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Hell Is Other People – The Amityville Horror (2005)

Anyway, I can’t help but writhe in frustration at the squandered opportunity here. I can’t help it! There was a fascinating movie in there someplace, and it got caught between the wheels of marketable, facile horror movie and slavish recreation of original.

October is Horror Movie month, where we let down our hair and celebrate all things macabre and scary! Not that we don’t during the rest of the year, but still… HORROR MOVIES! People who don’t like horror are encouraged to check back November 1st for less bloody and/or disturbing films. For everyone else, let’s put on our galoshes and WADE INTO THE MIRE!

Hello and welcome to Hell Is Other People* week here at Late to the Theater!This week’s selections are all about the biggest threat facing modern mankind –other people. All this week’s selections take place in Suburbia, and while they might feature supernatural flourishes, people tend to be the at the root of the problem. So throw some plastic flamingos on your lawn and turn up the music; we’re going to get a visit from the concerned people at our HOA**!

Note: Due to lack of planning on the author’s part, the role of Poltergeist will be played by the 2005 version of The Amityville Horror, for the following reasons:

  • Poltergeist isn’t on Netflix and I can’t afford to buy it/am too afraid to illegally download it
  • I watched TAH the other day and had Opinions
  • It fits into this week’s theme of Hell Is Other People

So here we go!

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