Double Feature: Bug (2006) & You Get Me (2017)

 Another double feature here today! Tax season makes for a lot of background film watching. Gotta get something positive from the boring tax preparation, right? 😉

Two odd and random choices for myself since these two are two films that I wasn’t particularly completely invested in which was great for the criteria of being a background film. The first is 2006’s psychological thriller Bug with one of the debut roles of Michael Shannon played alongside Ashley Judd. Followed up by Netflix Original You Get Me starring Bella Thorne in a role outside of her normal bitchy high school girl, which is replaced by an obsessive character. I guess in some psychological way, these two do have something in common.

Let’s check it out!

Bug (2006)


Director: William Friedkin

Cast: Ashley Judd, Michael Shannon, Harry Connick Jr., Lynn Collins, Brian F. O’Byrne

An unhinged war veteran holes up with a lonely woman in a spooky Oklahoma motel room. The line between reality and delusion is blurred as they discover a bug infestation. – IMDB

Where do I even start with Bug? In a completely spontaneous viewing, I checked out Bug on Shudder. What started out with something of generic story of a lady, played by Ashley Judd, hiding away from her ex,, played by Harry Connick Jr.  after he was released from prison and meets a stranger, played by Michael Shannon who she ends up falling in love with. Its easy to chalk this movie away in its opening moments but as the plot thickens once we start see the relationship between Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon gets deeper, it gets so much more thrilling than the threat of Harry Connick Jr’s character showing up. Although, I do have to say that I thought Harry Connick Jr did such a great job at being the ex. I’ve only seen him in some romantic drama with Sandra Bullock. I think it was Hope Floats (review).

The question here really lies in whether you believe Michael Shannon’s character and the conspiracy theory that he believes in…or is it the reality? The movie does a great job as his crazy actions expand to where Ashley Judd’s character believes it also. As they get more unhinged, the blur in reality and delusion (as mentioned in the summary above) is the key element of the psychological thriller and its executed in a pretty competent way. Right up to the end, even when some extra characters come into the scene, it proves the theory and then denies it and its just a crazy trip you take with these characters. Whatever you want to make of the ending will depend on how you would analyze the whole thing and get out of the movies.

Props here goes to both the wonderful cast here. It always baffles me how underrated Michael Shannon is because in every role I’ve seen him in, he just does a great job. Convincing and believeable role. The story is thrilling and full of questions and as these questions bug these characters, we are wondering what is the same thing and the reality and delusion. The more I think about it, the more I want to watch it again and see if I can pick up something else.

You Get Me (2017)

you get me

Director: Brent Bonacorso

Cast: Taylor John Smith, Bella Thorne, Halston Sage, Nash Grier, Anna Akana

Tyler’s crazy in love with his perfect girlfriend Ali, but when a big fight makes him and Ali break up, he lands in the arms of sexy out-of-towner Holly who shows him a night he’s gonna remember. The next morning he finds that not only is Ali taking him back, but Holly is a new student at their school and is dead set on her new man. – IMDB

I’m definitely in a 50/50 feeling for this one. I guess it explains how I’ve never been more certain about giving this one a 2.5/5 on Letterboxd. You  Get Me isn’t particularly innovative. It leans into a lot of predictable territory. However, the execution isn’t all bad. They do some nice shots and a good progression from some sweet moments in the beginning that spirals more and more out of control. I’d have to say that a lot of the greatness in this movie is that to date (from what I’ve seen, haven’t seen The Babysitter yet), I feel like Bella Thorne delivers one of her best performances. She’s always been a fairly one dimensional actress where she is the bitchy self-centred teenage girl role. This time, she dumps the bitchy and brings in the crazy and man, she definitely delivers it.

Sure, You Get Me never really hits the dangerous levels because it doesn’t seem like it would step into something so extreme, even though Netflix Originals usually do get some extreme if they wanted. There are some nice sexy scenes. Other than Bella Thorne standing out and Taylor John Smith being okay as the male lead since he is a decently attractive dude, I wasn’t too on board with the monologues he did. It felt so unnecessary and preachy about life and whatever. It wasn’t his acting that bothered me but just the script for that part. It was trying too hard to be deeper than the movie actually was. There are some thrilling moments but unfortunately, its one that is easy to watch and had a few tense moments but still never reaches the potential it could have reached as it didn’t break out of the predictable territory.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Bug and/or You Get Me?

Double Feature: Bullhead (2011) & The Shape of Water (2017)

Next up in the recaps is an odd combo, I’d guess. Probably should have taken the next double features movies (since I’m way ahead on watching movies but way behind on reviewing them). Either way, it is what it is. As I work through the Shudder movies, Bullhead came up which I wanted to watch because I love Matthias Schoenaerts. And then, I remembered that I had a rental that was almost due for The Shape of Water so here we are with two features with nothing in common except that they are both dramas.

Let’s just check it out!

Bullhead (original title: Rundskop, 2011)


Director (and writer): Michael R. Roskam

Cast: Matthias Schoenaerts, Jeroen Perceval, Jeanne Dandoy, Tibo Vandenborre,  Frank Lamars

Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Jacky, a young cattle farmer who is constantly pumped on steroids and hormones, is approached by a veterinarian to make a deal with a notorious beef trader. – IMDB

Before we start this up, there’s a serious language labelling issue on Shudder. It said this was in English but its not. Bullhead is in Limburgish, Dutch and French. The French parts are the only ones that I had any ease at watching although it was fairly good subtitles. Regardless of that, Bullhead is quite an interesting movie. I don’t think that the crime part did a whole lot for me but the intriguing part is in watching Jacky, played by Matthias Schoenaerts as he grasps his character so well, with its aggression, pain and complex emotions. Its more of a character study than anything because everyone lacks depth in comparison to Jacky who we start learning about his past and why he is the way he is. There is a lot of unspoken moments and I love movies that can deliver those moments well.

Honestly, this movie is fairly slow-paced and requires a little bit of patience. It is a dramatic and at times, a little off-putting. Overall, Bullhead might not exactly be a great crime thriller that it was cut out for but Matthias Schoenaerts taking on the role of the main character Jacky is exceptional.

The Shape of Water (2017)

the shape of water

Director (and co-writer): Guillermo del Toro

Cast: Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Doug Jones

At a top secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity. – IMDB 

Exceptional style and great visuals are two things to always expect in Guillermo del Toro films and The Shape of Water is no exception. There is a real balance between its colorful characters, thanks to an outstanding cast, along with its music/soundtrack paired up with the great visuals and set and how can we forget the Amphibian Man. While I can’t say that I think the story was particularly great, it did hit a lot of great elements and it derived from a story using a mute girl, played by Sally Hawkins who can’t seem to fit in and be heard but finds her place in only a few friends but it seems to truly make her come alive when she encounters the Amphibian Man. The lack of talking on her part emphasizes on how skillful Sally Hawkins was in her role as it gave her moments a lot of time to just imagine what she would do next but never quite know until she’s doing it.

As great as the visuals and the music here, the cast here shines also. Sally Hawkins, as I mentioned above is great in her role and hard to imagine any chemistry between her and an Amphibian Man but she manages to get there and at the same time, also let her character grow and develop. Octavia Spencer is always a joy to watch on screen. She has so much charisma and attitude that she truly embraces her role while Richard Jenkins plays a character somewhat the opposite of her character but also shows his worth and how everyone of them has their struggle to find their worth as well. And its how these two people are also friends with Sally Hawkins’ character. Now, let me take a breath as I talk about Michael Shannon because oh my goodness, is he a great actor? You can probably go back to the movies I’ve reviewed of his and you’ll see me say that also. I never think about Michael Shannon but whenever he shows up in a movie, he just is awesome and its no different here as he plays the villain. I actually had actual moments of disgust and hatred towards his character by the end. Its really a great thing one someone can carry a role in such a believable way.

Overall, there is so much to love about The Shape of Water. I don’t know if its Best Picture material since I haven’t seen the other nominations but this one is a must-watch. Its not quite as spectacular as some of del Toro’s earlier work but it tells a fantastic story and the soundtrack and visuals are great. There are some great sets here. What I love most about this story is the way they end it. Some people mess up the ending but this one I think ended it in such a smart way.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen these films?

That Moment In Podcast: The Harvest (2013)

This week, Mel, David and I are talking about 2013’s The Harvest. I challenged David to find a moment in it two weeks ago and now he has. I first caught The Harvest two years ago at Fantasia Festival and it was the highlight of the festival that year. Plus, the director John McNaughton was there after a hiatus in director’s seat and returning with this psychological drama thriller and will promise to shake you up with some crazy plot twists. I was a little hesitant in watching it again whether it’d have the same effect.

In this podcast, we talk about the characters and cast. Dive with some questions we had and talk about the moment in The Harvest that is a crucial and turning point. We also highlight some other moments that impacted us.

We have more options now to listen on both Soundcloud and Youtube but also can search us up and subscribe on iTunes.

Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Halloween Marathon: Take Shelter (2011)

Can you believe half of October is already behind us? We just wrapped up more than 2 weeks of Halloween marathon. I’m a little behind schedule so maybe I’ll be popping in some double review days or head into the next weekend with reviews as well. However, we are right on track with Friday the 13th series. If you missed any of them, I’ve updated the Halloween Horror Marathon page up in the menu on top so you can trace back whatever you’ve missed up till now :). If I remember correctly, I’ve reviewed 10 movies so far.  With work picking up steam, its a little harder to find time to watch movies during the week without it heading into some crazy 1 or 2am area (which I try to avoid).  Still, I’ll make this thing work out and I’m ready to go through a bunch of movies this weekend to be prepared for next week!

Are you ready to continue? The next review is Take Shelter.  I’ve grown to praise Michael Shannon especially after seeing The Harvest at Fantasia Film Festival this past summer.  If you missed that review, check it out HERE!  It works well with horror marathon because it is a psychological horror movie that is extremely creepy to watch and has an amazing plot.  Going into another psychological thriller  with Michael Shannon and with the Rotten Tomatoes score of 92%, I’m pretty intrigued as to what this is all about.

take shelterDirector: Jeff Nichols

Cast: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Katy Mixon,

Curtis (Michael Shannon) wakes up one morning from a dream (or nightmare) of the world being attacked by a horrible storm.  Except it wasn’t the standard storm.  Following that, he is repeatedly plagued with these more and more apocalyptic, extremely real dreams that changes everything and everyone that he loves.  Unsure whether to believe if he is being affected with his mother’s psychological issues, he goes to seek for more help while having the nagging feeling that he needs to prepare for what could destroy his family.  Its then he gains an obsession of building a shelter against something that seems impossible to everyone else.

Take Shelter

Take Shelter is a heart-pounding and terrifying psychological trip.  There isn’t one moment you can let down your guard because you are right with Michael Shannon as he wavers between whether he is actually mentally ill or that he should believe there is a storm coming and he is having visions.  That is the question that will keep circling your head as you watch Take Shelter.  The way the movie is set up with the dreams or visions (whatever you want to call them), have this creeping feeling to this especially because it specifically has ominous background noise to intensify the situation.  The tone and atmosphere of the whole setting is done really well also.

Take Shelter

Michael Shannon is extremely convincing in his role as Curtis.  He is a husband who tries hard to make end meet and balance his life. His mother’s condition has impacted his family at a young age so he relies heavily on his brother who also makes an appearance.  At the same time, he loves his wife and keeps his promise to protect both his wife and young daughter.  As a father, he is learning to cope with his daughter’s hearing problem and communicating and connecting with her. As these “dreams” intensify, we watch as Curtis’s world crumbles as he tries to hide what is actually going on causing tension between him, his family, his work and the situation they are in.  Michael Shannon is simply amazing in this. I truly sympathized for this character quite a bit.

Although compared to the role of Curtis, everyone else is pretty minor. I still want to mention playing opposite him is Jessica Chastain as his wife.  I actually  haven’t seen her in anything yet. No, I have not seen Zero Dark Thirty.  She is completely new to me as an actress. His wife was an equally important role because she needed to question him on his actions and to be his strength when he was crumbling apart.  Her character grew on me by the end of the movie when she felt so essential to Curtis.

Take Shelter

There is so much to love about Take Shelter.  It gives off an intense unsettling feeling throughout the movie.  The main character is ambiguous as to whether the problem is him or that he is experiencing visions of an impending apocalypse.  As he waver between his belief, his obsessions may ruin his life but his intentions are clear that he wants to protect his family despite just being an strong feeling that this unreal situation is going to happen. Michael Shannon delivers a strong and convincing performance and the sound, effects, atmosphere and tone are done masterfully. Its terrifying, uneasy, and dramatic all wrapped into one.

This one is definitely worth a watch even if the ending will put even more questions into the equation. Thats actually what I love the best about this 🙂

Have you seen Take Shelter? What did you think about it? Thoughts on Michael Shannon and/or Jessica Chastain?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ending if you’ve seen this but to avoid spoilers, feel free to drop me an email 🙂

Fantasia Film Festival 2014: The Harvest (2013)

I’ve put this off long enough. The Harvest was one of the later additions to my Fantasia list.

It also had the director John McNaughton hosting the movie so we had a Q&A afterwards which I stayed for, even though it was so late and a Monday night.  Regardless, I sat around wondering how to write this review and the animations were just easier to write up because I knew exactly how I felt for those. Actually, its not not knowing where I stand but actually how to write it without exposing too much. I feel like there’s an aspect here where if you figured out what was going down the whole time (and I have no idea how you would), maybe the shock factor would be less and the impact would be less as well.

First, lets start with a little synopsis of The Harvest.

The HarvestDirector: John  McNaughton

Cast: Michael Shannon, Samantha Morton, Natasha Calis, Charlie Tahan, Peter Fonda

A mother and doctor, Katherine (Samantha Morton) and her husband and former nurse Richard (Michael Shannon) are bound to their home to take care of their very sick son, Andy (Charlie Tahan).  They keep him under their close surveillance all the time and restrict him from going outdoors to protect him from possibly getting worse, hoping it will ease him into recover.  However, when Maryann (Natasha Calis), a young girl moving in next door comes by and sneaks in to play with Andy, their friendship grows with each others company.  Maryann finds her only friend in this new town that she just moved into after her parents death and Andy learns companionship that he hasn’t had before.  Except, Katherine is not quite so accepting of this and finds all ways possible to prevent Maryann from coming by again.  Maryann’s persistence leads to a growing resentment and challenges the control Katherine has over Andy.

The Harvest Natalie Calis

Everything starts with this situation up there.  The Harvest doesn’t sound like there’s a lot going on from my synopsis.  For the most part, you might even wonder if you’re just watching a drama, at least I did.  Except, when the turning point happens, things really crumble really fast.  Lets just say overprotective mothers are the one thing you DO NOT want to encounter especially when trying to get between them.  See, thats why I stopped dating a certain type of guys.  That was a joke but also true.  But I do see reason in all that.  I grew up with a overprotective mother as well but after I saw this, I realized its really just me who thought she was like that.  I mean, one of the fun parts of watching this movie with a bunch of other people who obviously like film  and have fun with these events is that at some point, some guy in the crowd yells, “Crazy bitch” and of course, everyone laughs even though its super intense.  Seriously, I kept whispering that under my breath but this guy went out and said it.  Very awesome 😉

The Harvest

So far, this write-up is really going nowhere.  One thing that is very true is that although The Harvest is slow and its like nothing really much is going on and question marks are floating around my head for a good part of the beginning because I don’t get the deal of this lady, this movie is all about dark humor. In the Q&A session, someone asked the director John McNaughton whether we were supposed to laugh during some of the parts.  This is a pretty intense and serious and psychologically creepy story.  Trust me, I laughed and a few others did at certain points too. I see the point as to why someone might not laugh at it because you are just sitting here tensed up but I truly think it was meant to be funny and break the intensity just a little.  Anyways, he answers something really smart along the lines of how when things get really grim, its good to use some humor to balance it.  I agree with that 🙂

The Harvest

I’ve only seen Michael Shannon in a few roles before this one but he’s always been the dark roles type of guy in my mind.  And thats how he is fantastic for this role.  He’s not exactly in a great position: his marriage is somewhat strained because his wife doesn’t trust his abilities to care for their son and well, no one can do better for him because she is the doctor.  Then, his son is sick and having a hard time recovering.  You can see that he is stuck in the middle of two sides and he is trying to create a balance but he struggles to find one at the same time.  He may be a bit more accepting of Maryann’s “intrusion” into their lives but he also doesn’t want to create more trouble than needed.

On the other hand, Samantha Morton is also wildly fantastic in this role. As the irrationally overprotective mom, she nails it.  Every moment she’s on screen is a moment you wonder what she’ll do next because she’s unpredictable and as the movie goes along, you really have no idea how she’ll react because things get crazy and intense.  Katherine is a complex character and Samantha Morton takes it and really runs with it.

The Harvest

The children in this movie, Natasha Calis and Charlie Tahan are casted pretty well also. They both have  great job doing their respective roles.  Charlie Tahan’s Andy is simply sickly and he really is weak and has no control over his life.  Even though, he wants to achieve many things in his life, we can see his boredom and the enthusiasm and hope that Maryann brings him.  On the other hand, Maryann is a great character played by Natasha Calis, she starts with a pretty grim look at life because she doesn’t want to be in this small town living with her grandparents.  However, her literal breaking into Andy’s room was a pretty funny accident and one that initiates a lot of other problems as the movie progresses.  Her persistence for the friendship is amazing but at the same time, her loyalty is what wins the heart of the audience.  Although she makes some silly choices in my opinion, it does enhance the idea that she is just a child and she will not have well-thought out plans like adults.

The Harvest

Overall, The Harvest is a pretty good horror movie.  It targets the psychological aspect of an overprotective mother and that gets way out of control really fast.  Its a modern and twisted look at a classic fairy tale, is what the director calls it. I won’t tell you which one but I can totally see it.  The atmosphere that John McNaughton creates is really amazing.  The setting is well chosen and the cast really pulls off how the characters should act.  Sure, I spent a good part of the movie not really knowing where this is going but there is no doubt that the intensity notches up exponentially as the story picks up and we really see whats going on.

The Harvest is slow, gripping, intense ride into the world of a dark and troubled family and a girl that enters into it by mistake and the discoveries she makes and the things she needs to overcome.  I’m not sure how many people will appreciate it but I definitely did.  When the movie ended, I really thought that John McNaughton (although I saw nothing of his before) picked a great story and chose a really good angle in portraying it the way he did.

Are you familiar with the work of Michael Shannon? John McNaughton? How about the rest of the cast? What type of horror movies are the most effective for you?