Backcountry (2014)

Backcountry (aka Blackfoot Trail) has been a movie on my radar for quite some time. Something about the wilderness being our enemy seems always so intriguing. Think about Frozen, not the Disney animated film but this one here. Maybe not intriguing but the unpredictability is threatening at times because we can’t quite anticipate what to do, except try to prepare the best possible for it. Plus, I love to support Canadian films.

Let’s check this out!

Backcountry (2014)

backcountry

Director (and writer): Adam MacDonald

Cast: Missy Peregrym,  Jeff Roop, Eric Balfour, Nicholas Campbell

An urban couple go camping in the woods and find themselves lost in the territory of a predatory black bear. – IMDB

Backcountry is a story about survival based on a true story. A couple goes out to the woods lead by boyfriend, Alex who wants to take his busy girlfriend, Jenn to Blackfoot Trail to not only get away from the urban life but to a specific spot he remembered was really pretty when he was younger. Except to finally realize that they were not only lost but with a bear following their tracks. So much thrill can come from this concept and don’t get me wrong, it does because the story takes its time to let us know our characters before putting them into danger and while the thrill of outsmarting nature is great, it is hard to ignore the basic common sense. Please do note that I do not know the true story and never read up on any details so this write up is just from a standalone.

Backcountry

For people who are beginner hikers, or beginner anything really, we all know to go in prepared. This is where we already know where the story will go because Alex, upon being offered a map to the trail and against all caution, decides to go without taking the map. This is about as spoiler as I will get, I promise. How do you cheer for someone who doesn’t even know to protect themselves and have all odds on their side? Now, Jenn doesn’t even pay attention on anything else or listen in on what the ranger says so she just walks in trusting it is all good. I’m all about trust but like I said, you can never be prepared. However, the first part (or half) of the film is really about character development and letting us learn about who these two people are. The decisions they make define who they are and probably what will happen to them. Perhaps also take their story as a cautionary tale.

Backcountry

Early in the film, we start realizing that there a presence of a bear in the area. However Alex chooses to ignore it even when a few more things happen. If I was them, I wouldn’t have continued. No matter how beautiful the scenery is mostly because its more disappointing to die than to wait to come back and enjoy it when its safer, something our two characters really are quite naive about. However, here is where I will stop talking about the main characters but about the introduction of danger. The creepy feeling of camping and having something outside and how sometimes we can’t predict or even know they are there actually creates the fear in the audience before our characters do because we know more than they do at that current point in time. Definitely one of the finer aspects of Backcountry is creating the gruelling and threatening atmosphere and giving it time to slowly build up.

Backcountry

There are a few other characters in this film. The ranger plays a cameo role with just one short scene. The other is an Irish hiking expert (forgot the actual term) Brad who poses as a intimidating person. What is the meaning of his character? That is the question we should ask ourselves if not to simply inject a slightly bigger name because it is played by Eric Balfour. This character is deep and hard to grasp and it makes his short appearance so much more powerful when we see how Alex and Jenn reacts and the strength in our mains. I honestly believe that was the purpose because it shouldn’t be to divert our attention since most do know, especially with the posters, what this movie is about, I’m guessing (which I could be wrong). In many ways, his character managed to intrigue and create mystery.

 Overall, Backcountry is a slow-burn wilderness survival cautionary tale based on a true story. The main characters are given time to develop and for us to know them better while letting the dangers slowly approach. While the atmosphere and intrigue and urgency of the situation is done very well, there is a part of me that can rationalize bits that escape common sense however, still wonder if its just my way of wanting the characters’ decision to make sense. There are some quite brutal sequences and the second half is much more engaging than the first which is mostly about building up our characters before breaking them down.

Have you seen Backcountry?

A Good Marriage & 1922 by Stephen King

The original plan for Stephen King readings was to read his books or short stories in chronological order of release. Seeing as I read Carrie first. I even have Salem’s Lot sitting on my shelf. However, that other day that I forgot my Kindle at home and remembered that I picked up this one on sale during the holidays drove me to read it. For those who didn’t read my review, you can find it here.

This book includes two novellas. It starts with A Good Marriage and follows up with 1922. Let’s check it out!

A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage

A Good Marriage is an absolute page turner. The writing and suspense and thrills carries and builds at a great pace. We pretty much follow the voice of a wife that finds out a horrible secret of her husband. She has to choose to survive and make choices that can get her through it. The agony and conflict she feels along with the eventual disgust and all those feelings are captivated so well to make us feel what she is feeling. Her husband although is the source of the issue here also has chilling moments where we truly can feel why. Spontaneous coincidences are the unexpected factors in life and sometimes it leads to the events in A Good Marriage.

This novella excels in being able to communicate the inner feelings of our characters. For the first bit of the novella, we are only reading Darcy and the feelings she gets as she discovers that there’s something her husband is hiding. However, curiosity in the end does kill the cat. We learn a little about the marriage that how Darcy and Bob get together and their 25 years of marriage. We are acquainted with these characters quickly. The reveal of the secret is slower as well as we are deceived into a little secret that when Darcy chooses to let go momentarily results in consequent actions dealing with something much more unforgivable.

Its a little twisted and puts morals on the table as to how far you’d go to protect yourself. When does doing what everyone perceives as a bad thing become a good thing for the right reasons? So many layers and such brilliant character development, A Good Marriage is a great read.

1922

Very opposite of A Good Marriage, it is hard to pinpoint what makes 1922 feel much lesser in the Stephen King collection. I guess I can’t quite say that seeing as this is just the third work that I’ve ever read. However, it was a somewhat painful experience that seemed to only come to fruition at its finale. There is a lot of detail and skill in putting together this character Wilfred as we see his slow descent into madness and obsession probably driven by the metaphorical skeletons on his closet.

1922 is shown as a letter of confession, many years after he’s actually gotten away. Wilfred recounts the story in detail from his sentiments to telling about what happens to lead up to his decision to kill his wife. The characters here are not likeable. Wilfred is a little off-putting. Henry has a rather odd turnout and his wife particularly doesn’t exactly encourage or make us feel like she deserved a lot better although for her husband to kill her is also an extreme. However, the star here is Wilfred and in the incredible detail of what happened in 1922, the entire year of 1922 literally, it gets a little long and slow and unrewarding in many ways. The ending does pull everything together if the readers haven’t gathered already that Wilfred is greatly affected by murdering his wife and the consequent events. His obsession over believing that she was still alive after she was absolutely dead physically had a cloud over him (which is pretty understandable). In many ways, we can question whether Wilfred was as bad as he seems, perhaps the events of 1922 and the fact that he realized the obvious that if he didn’t do anything, things might not have been so extreme caused him incredible regret also. There are a ton of reasons and what-ifs.

While descriptively and character building wise, there is a haunting and disturbing feeling every once in a while, the story is very slow and feels not too engaging. However, if you do stick through it, the ending does have a resolution, that was surprisingly worth it (at least to me).

A Good Marriage and 1922 both are novellas focused on a psychological change in its main character and honestly focuses on the one voice and a particular situation.
A Good Marriage was definitely the superior one. Have you read either of these before? Thoughts?

The Shallows (2016)

2016 release reviews have been far and few here. Especially the bigger ones. Nothing just seemed to peak my interest enough to get me to go to the theatres other than the whole Fantasia phase in late July. Regardless, I rented The Shallows a few weeks ago and gave it a go. The Shallows crept up on me. I had no idea that it was coming out until it was released and mixed reviews showed up (although a lot of them were on the favorable side, I believe).

Let’s check it out!

The Shallows (2016)

The Shallows

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Cast: Blake Lively, Oscar Jaenada, Brett Cullen, Sedona Legge

A mere 200 yards from shore, surfer Nancy is attacked by a great white shark, with her short journey to safety becoming the ultimate contest of wills. –IMDB

 I love shark movies. To actual bits. Sure, there are a few really fluky ones but whether its the “so bad its good” Sharknado or the 90s Deep Blue Sea or the Australian horror thriller The Reef and of course, the classic Jaws, they are packed with so much awesomeness. The Shallows looks like it has that grasped well and it does deliver for the most part. Sure, there are always things of circumstance like we learn that our protagonist Nancy (played by Blake Lively) is studying to be a nurse. What better than a nurse with some medical skills to be attacked by a shark, right? Except while The Shallows is about Nancy and her fight to survive back to shore, its also a character study and development. Jaume Collet-Serra has directed a good portion of thrillers in his filmography, half of them are action thrillers with Liam Neeson but there are some standout titles like Orphan which is the first time I’ve seen his work and love that one quite a bit. Its nice to see him jumping back into a horror thriller like this one. While I do have to say it packs more thrills than horror, there is a lot about how he makes The Shallows and not revealing the shark so much but rather the water perspectives that make the movie a much more thrilling and engaging experience. When you bond with a seagull, you know that the protagonist and the plot has had some effect.

The Shallows

While there are a few scenes with other characters, like the opening bits mostly, a good part of this movie is really just spending time with Nancy alone in the middle of The Shallows with the beach only a little ways away. What makes Nancy great is that she is smart and resourceful. While there are some convenient situations, there are always changing factors to keep the pacing intriguing to see what else she can do and what other options her character thinks of. Especially because Nancy is not only trapped and hunted, but she is hurt. It is a race with time for her especially the changing tides. The Shallows is a thrilling race to safety and survival against a shark but we slowly realize that Nancy isn’t just a hot body, she also has some issues she needs to work out. It is why she surfs and why she hasn’t decided to settle down and stop surfing and travelling around the world and pursuing her career. Blake Lively has gone a long way. I’ve always enjoyed her as an actress, whether it was in her younger roles in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants or later on in Gossip Girl and this role shows how much she has grown as an actress.

The Shallows

It is a little funny how I’m writing this coming off of discussing another thriller called “Blood in the Water” over at That Moment In which you can find here. What we criticized in that one as making it even more lackluster was what I liked a lot about this one. Essentially the finale of the movie is somewhat shown in the beginning and then it backtracks to the days as we hit that moment we started with. Another thing that is pretty nice about The Shallows is that while it takes great joy in being a serious thriller, there are still taunting moments that are fun, even if a little predictable of the outcome. They fit together to piece together what we do see in the opening scene as well.

The Shallows

Thrilling shark movies are rather hard to find. The Shallows is one that I truly enjoyed a lot. It had tense and intriguing moments. It tries to be thoughtful and aims for a deeper character study of than just human vs. shark and Blake Lively pulls off a great performance as Nancy, a smart and competent character. There is a lot to love in shark movies in a genre that is generally full of tropes and predictable moments, this one pulls off a few fun surprises and a thrilling movie experience.

Have you seen The Shallows? What is your favorite shark movie?

Money Monster (2016)

On the return flight to Montreal, I watched Money Monster. I’ve been wanting to watch this one since it was in theatres but never got the chance. One, the previews looked good. Second, I love Julia Roberts. Three, I’m a pretty big fan of Jodie Foster and want to see how she does in the director’s chair.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

Money Monster (2016)

Money Monster

Director: Jodie Foster

Cast: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O’Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Christopher Denham, Aaron Yoo, Chris Bauer

Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.-IMDB

Money Monster is a thrilling ride and most of it is due to the outstanding cast and their portrayal of these compelling characters. It does sometimes step into the predictable corridors and sometimes even makes us question if someone could do some of the things these characters did. This is where the characters are written really well to create a balance in personality. I will go further into detail about that later. One of the other redeeming features is the theme on the emphasis on the lack of transparency in the financial markets and the lack of concern for the people who get caught in the crossfire. Jodie Foster being the director of Money Monster works perfectly because she is always so fantastic in everything especially her thrillers. She has a good grip on how the story should be paced and done.

Money Monster

As mentioned before, Money Monster’s most redeeming feature goes to its strong cast. In the lead, we have George Clooney who plays a financial TV host, Lee Gates. To be honest, Lee is pretty full of himself. At the beginning, we can see he is caught up with the glamour and craze this job has brought him. His character grows quite a bit when he digs a little deeper and finds his conscience to help this guy who has strapped a bomb on him to analyze what actually happened to cause a corporation to lose all that money overnight. This is where we bring in our female lead here, Julia Roberts who plays Patty. She steals the show here completely because in many ways, you can view her as Lee’s conscience. She reminds him to not just think about himself and what to not go overboard and downright when to shut up to not provoke the situation further and protect everyone. Man, does she do a great job! But, we can’t take away that Jack O’Connell playing the bomber Kyle was also really good. I haven’t seen this actor before but he makes us believe in his character and in many ways, we will start to sympathize with him. In this situation, we start to realize that Kyle is also a victim in a much greater scheme. Trust me, this probably isn’t a spoiler because it kind of stares you down on what this whole fiasco is about.

Money Monster

Other than the characters, Money Monster has very good pacing. Its why I usually like movies that come in at around 90 minutes. Sure, its a little predictable at certain spots. And if you were strapped to a bomb and the guy who is holding you as hostage has like a mini breakdown and leaves his gun lying there, it sure is tempting to pick it up, right? Just one example. The atmosphere is properly gripping and the context of the crisis they are in is not lost. In many ways, its not only a wake up call for the transparency of the financial markets and for investors when Kyle holds Lee hostage but there’s also a one for Lee when he realizes how little his reputation and life counts for or maybe how humanity isn’t a strong point to anyone watching his show or just how his word or life doesn’t really mean that much to anyone when it comes to money.  Whatever it is, there is something to ponder on in Money Monster.

Money Monster

Money Monster has its pros and cons. For some, there may be a lot more to pick apart in this one but I properly thought it was a really good thriller. I’m not one for financial things but this one had me at the edge of my seat anticipating the next thing to happen regardless of how predictable it may all seem. The characters just naturally draws us into the story. Its one to check out for sure. The ending is a little lackluster perhaps but the film in entirety has its charm.

Have you seen Money Monster?

That Moment In Podcast: Reviews The Thing (1982)

That Moment In Podcast crew is all back from vacation now!

This week’s episode is a chat about The Thing (1982). As usual, Mel and David kick off the show with their summaries. We take a look at the characters and the actors portraying the role and then jump into the 5 by 5 questions. After that, it is David’s time to share the moment of The Thing and our discussion on what makes it a turning point. Before we end the show, we talk about other moments that we liked also. Before we end, David challenges me to finding the moment for the next film!

We are in both Soundcloud and YouTube now!

Hope you enjoyed it! Remember to subscribe or follow us to not miss out on future episodes! 🙂

Netflix A-Z: The Good Doctor (2011)

Have any of you wondered where Orlando Bloom went? Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean and then spotted in some romantic comedies then, he has kind of vanished. Apparently, he was in this drama thriller back in 2011 called The Good Doctor. Its kind of in the indie category on Netflix but then not really either. With $6Mil budget, it hardly is, I’d imagine. However, I didn’t know that before starting this up and with the heart of wanting the next movie to be a thriller, I chose The Good Doctor, not exactly sure whether the premise would interest me.

Let’s check it out!

The Good Doctor (2011)

The Good Doctor

Director: Lance Daly

Cast: Orlando Bloom, Riley Keough, Taraji P. Henson, Rob Morrow, Michael Pena

A young doctor goes to unconscionable extremes in order to remain in the service of a female patient with a kidney disorder.-IMDB 

Regrets. I’m going through regrets. The Good Doctor took me three separate sittings to go through. I guess I can see the merit in the movie but man, the execution and the pacing was like watching paint dry. I think it is my problem but at the same time, I do like a lot of slow-paced movies. In fact, some of my favorites, not guilty pleasures, are actually rather slow-paced movies. The Good Doctor was just not for me. There was a lot of quiet staring on Orlando Bloom’s character’s part. Plus, the ending of more than obvious what was going to happen eventually even if the finale was probably the best part because it gives the audience something to think about. There’s a message here about how selfish intentions can be destructive and dangerous but it never presents itself in an intriguing way.

The Good Doctor

My previous statement about Orlando Bloom has nothing to do with his range of acting. It really just goes to the point that the character was probably designed to be more quiet and reserved. The personality of Dr. Martin Blake was portrayed in a way that his actions and the way he interacted was awkward. There was something gravely and eerily wrong with him. He had issues interacting with others and when he meets this young female patient, she makes it seem natural. The scenes where they talk shows a level of two people with similarly awkward personalities in the things they talk about and ask randomly. Dr. Martin Blake’s character does develop as the lack of dialogue also helps us learn about him through his actions and takes a more suspenseful path. The fault may highly be that the movie isn’t paced well so his quiet personality drags on and near the finale seems to overstay its welcome.

The Good Doctor

 However, there are tangent characters that work well here. Rob Morrow plays as the presiding doctor over Dr. Blake. His character, Dr. Waylans is the person that Dr. Blake tries to impress. In many ways, the question is whether Dr. Waylans suspects the things that Dr. Blake is doing. His character observes a lot and sometimes causes a moment of tension as you wonder whether he knows more than he is showing. Another character that proves as an effective hurdle is Nurse Theresa played by Taraji P. Henson. She gives Dr. Blake a hard time for the most part. She questions him constantly and causes a small feud that runs throughout probably a good portion of the film on and off. While it doesn’t seem necessary to have those parts, the character was a welcome change.

The Good Doctor

Overall, there isn’t really much to say about The Good Doctor. It has a decent idea except the execution and the pacing is extremely lacking making it for a grating experience. Orlando Bloom does the best with what he can. Although his character is required to emote and has a lack of dialogue which has its challenges and he carries the emotions well enough. Riley Keough also carries a well performance although her character isn’t accentuated too much. The better characters here are the supporting one notably from Rob Morrow and Taraji P. Henson.

Have you seen The Good Doctor?

Next up is H selection! Any guesses? Hint: An Irish actress

The One You Love (Emma Holden Suspense #1) by Paul Pilkington

Next book to read is another one sitting in my Kindle for quite some time. I have to say that it is something I’ve been really intrigued by as a change of pace. I mean, the genre of thriller or suspense or mystery or the likes. It is nice to read something geared for an older audience than YA novels. I remember The One You Love being intriguing when I first downloaded it off the free bestsellers a few years back. Its been sitting in my Kindle for so long that the entire trilogy is now all available.

The One You Love
(Emma Holden Suspense Mystery #1)

By: Paul Pilkington

the one you love

Emma Holden’s nightmare has just begun. Her fiancé vanishes, leaving the battered and bloodied body of his brother in their London apartment. Someone is stalking her, watching her every move. And her family are hiding a horrifying secret; a secret that threatens all those she loves. In a desperate race against time, Emma must uncover the truth if she ever wants to see her fiancé alive again.-Goodreads

 I feel like I say this a lot nowadays. Its a new wave crashing into my life. The One You Love has a really good premise. Its an overall effective suspense about stalking and obsessing and handling delicate situations and desperation and all kinds of stuff related to losing a fiancee right before a wedding, two times in a row. Emma just believes she has bad luck until her past starts haunting her. It is a good mystery and does have some pretty good moments, except it always feels like it drags on too long. There were some parts that honestly didn’t feel like it needed to be there and some extra editing would have gotten a better pacing.

The One You Love does do something really good.  It builds up a rather good twist to the mystery. It was a good level of deduction to guess who it was but at the same time, there were multiple little secrets that were brewing in the background however, it never felt convoluted. Plus, the last third of the novel was a page turner with a good ending. More novels should end like that because while it is a trilogy, it doesn’t drop you off in a cliffhanger that manipulates you to read the next novel. For choosing that path, good move! I appreciate it a lot. In fact, not being manipulated into a situation makes me more likely to want to read the next book which is something I’m thinking about however, it does cost money and that would break my promise this year. It’ll go straight to my next year reading list. 🙂

 There isn’t much to say about The One You Love mostly because I appreciated the book. It was a decent read, especially as its a free book. The quality is much better than what we find out there. This is however possibly the stepping stone of the series. The mystery and suspense is done well although the pacing could be better. While the ending plays on being a twist, it isn’t hard to eventually deduce who it might be and it does a good job and also misleading the readers to think of other possible suspects. The other secrets in the background keep the story intriguing. Give it a little patience and The One You Love might be one that is enjoyable.

Have you read The One You Love?