Payne’s Picks

By Sarah Payne

Movie Release

Cold Pursuit – February 8th – It’s been more than 10 years since Taken launched Liam Neeson’s action career. And even at 66 years old, he’s proving there is no slowing him down. I love that type of underdog story – just like I love how Tom Cruise keeps making successful movies, even though the media always tries to tear him down. This month, Neeson stars in Cold Pursuit, where he plays an everyday snowplow driver in the Rocky Mountains, seeking revenge for the murder of his son. While researching the new film, I learned some interesting facts about Neeson. Prior to his acting career, he worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, a truck driver, and an amateur boxer.

Netflix Review

Bird Box – If you haven’t heard about Sandra Bullock’s new film currently streaming on Netflix, I have to wonder if you’ve been living under a rock. Netflix has been ramping up its library of original content over the past year, but Bird Box is one of the first few films that truly went viral (perhaps more so even than last summer’s To All the Boys I’ve Ever Loved). A friend of mine told me she finally watched the movie just because she wanted to know what all the Bird Box memes were about. Which makes me wonder – did Netflix secretly invest in a social media guerrilla marketing campaign? I suppose we’ll never know. Regardless, Bird Box is a super fun, edge-of-your-seat, post-apocalyptic thriller, very similar to last year’s A Quite Place. Though instead of sound triggering a mysterious evil presence, it’s sight (hence the need for a blindfold). The movie is based on a book by the same name, which goes into a bit more detail on how Sandra Bullock’s character trains her two children to be survivors. The ending in the movie is a bit of a letdown in that we never get a full explanation as to what is causing mass suicides and why you can’t open your eyes.

You – This is another “Netflix Original” series. But when I did a bit more research, I learned that the first season of You actually premiered on Lifetime. No surprise there, considering it’s about a stalker (Penn Badgley), who goes to sinister lengths to get close to a young graduate student (Elizabeth Lail). If it sounds cheesy to you, it is – but I’ll admit I got sucked in. I’m halfway through season one and the show is seriously making me reconsider my social media footprint. The show proves just how easy it could be for someone to track your every move if you’re not careful about your privacy settings.

Movie Review

The Mule – I’m by no means the biggest Clint Eastwood fan out there, but even I got a bit teary-eyed watching what may be Eastwood’s last role on screen in The Mule. It’s incredible and admirable that Eastwood is so active – directing and acting at the age of 88. The Mule is the perfect ending and tribute to his career that has spanned seven decades. Eastwood plays a horticulturalist who takes a job as a drug courier for the Mexican cartel to make some extra cash. While it’s not the most exciting thriller, it’s actually based on a true story – and it’s fun to imagine how an elderly courier could essentially hide in plain sight without suspicion.

Vice – A few weeks back I went to the movies to see The Mule and found myself mistakenly in the theater for Vice, a movie for which I would not have intentionally bought a ticket. My sense was that Vice is one of those preachy political movies for which I have no patience. But since I was already in the theater, I decided to give the movie a shot. Of course, I was correct in my assumption. For two hours, I felt like I was being forced to watch a propaganda film. If you want director Adam McKay to spoon feed you a history lesson on Bush’s presidency and the life of his Vice President Dick Cheney, then this movie might be for you. The narration is the most aggravating aspect of its storytelling, as if everything needs to be dumbed down and explained for audiences that simply don’t know better. The best (worst) part is the ending, where flashes of random global events cross the screen – from people suffering from drug overdoses to the refugee crisis in Europe. It’s a thinly veiled accusation that literally all of the world’s problems can be blamed on Cheney. That would be an OK, if flawed, assumption if the movie was at least entertaining or funny, but it fails in that arena, too.