By Sarah Payne
Bird Box – December 21st – Did you happen to see John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place earlier this year? It’s a horror movie where the only way you can survive is by being completely silent. Bird Box has a similar premise, only the survival mechanism is a blindfold because seeing the post-apocalyptic horror is what puts you at risk. Sandra Bullock plays a woman navigating this landscape with two children. Explaining what drew her to the role, Bullock told Deadline, “To have someone who’s that cut off then be forced to be the sole caretaker of human beings that she didn’t want to begin with, what does that bring out of you—and what is family?” The screenplay for Bird Box was written by Eric Heisserer, who also wrote 2016’s Arrival.
Vice – December 25th – Everything has officially been politicized this year. Vice, the film about Vice President Dick Cheney, starring Christian Bale, Sam Rockwell, and Amy Adams, will be released on Christmas Day. There’s no question Hollywood has an agenda here. Vice director Adam McKay, who also directed The Big Short, discussed the differences between Trump and Cheney with the New York Times: “Would you rather have a professional assassin after you or a frothing maniac with a meat cleaver? I’d rather have a maniac with a meat cleaver after me, so I think Cheney is way worse.” I think it’s safe to say Vice will biased, and it’s hardly the first movie I’d choose to see with my family on Christmas. However, I would love to see Sam Rockwell – one of my all-time favorite actors – take on Bush.
Outlaw King – I was recently married in October and I chose the “Secret Wedding” song from Braveheart as the song for my wedding entrance. My love for Braveheart truly knows no bounds. So I couldn’t wait to see Netflix’s Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine, which follows the life of Robert the Bruce after the death of William Wallace. While it’s true what I wrote about initial reviews in my preview last month – this film is way too long – there are some poignant moments. I enjoyed the power dynamic between Robert and his English bride Lady Macbeth. Just like Queen Isabella in Braveheart, she asserts herself and breaks from the time period’s gender norms. However, I found the number of parallels between the films to be somewhat exhausting. It must be true that there are no original ideas!
The Haunting of Hill House – My husband and I finally decided that our months-long streak of watching Office reruns on Netflix needed to end (but who are we kidding, we always come back to The Office). We decided to try the new Netflix horror thriller, The Haunting of Hill House, based on Shirley Jackson’s 1959 gothic horror novel by the same name. Right away what I like about this show is it’s not gratuitous with gore. In the past I’ve tried to watch American Horror Story, but there are scenes in that show I can’t bare to watch. So if you’re like me and appreciate the drama and character development, in additional to horror, then you should give this show a chance. I haven’t yet made it through the first season, but I like the way the narrative switches between the past and present, so you slowly start to put the pieces together as to what makes the characters tick.
First Man – As a new mom, First Man really hit home for me. Ryan Gosling plays Neil Armstrong and rather than focusing on his pilot career, the film opens with the gut-wrenching sickness and death of his youngest daughter. Gosling’s performance is stellar. Armstrong’s grief is felt just below the surface in almost every scene. I also found the film to be very educational. Because I didn’t grow up in the 60s, I had no idea how many lives were lost while NASA was perfecting the technology needed to make the journey to the moon. Claire Foy, who plays Neil’s wife, also puts on an amazing performance, representing all the wives that supported our astronauts and raised their children.