The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

There are things that I like about this movie. There are shots in here that are cool. The gore effects are pretty amazing. And having an actual actor playing a cadaver for all of the movie is a pretty nice touch. Unfortunately, all of these things can’t save a movie that’s ultimately just your run of the mill ghost story. There are shiny moments where you can see the director tried to make something more than just your typical jump scare ghost fest, but it’s dragged down by sub-par acting, a predictable plot, and a mountain of horror movie cliches. Honestly, if I were to look at this movie a year from now I would probably forget the title of this movie, just because I’ve seen so many movies like this. As I said, there are some nice touches, but ultimately, this movie is just a very average horror movie that doesn’t really offer anything new.

3/10

Frances Ha

After watching Frances Ha, I want my life to be written by Greta Gerwig.

Starring and written by Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha is about a struggling dancer in New York trying to find her footing in life as she goes from place to place, experiencing the highs and lows of adulthood.

It’s hard to find any flaws in this movie. In a way it feels like a French New Wave film in the fact that it’s shot statically and in black and white. But Gerwig’s dialogue is easily the best part of this film. With lines like “Don’t treat me like a three hour brunch friend!” you can’t help but admire the charm and wit of this movie.

The acting is all superb, with director Noah Baumbach getting the best performance out of every actor. And the shots of New York are splendid. Honestly, I can’t recommend this movie enough.

10/10

Alex Strangelove (2018)

Just like the uncanny valley, there is a threshold a movie hits where it goes from bad to so good it’s bad. Alex Strangelove does not pass that threshold. Instead, Alex Strangelove feels like it’s trying it’s hardest to be the worst it can be, and any sort of social commentary or LGBTQ+ issues it tries to bring up is drowned in gummy bear throw up.

Alex Strangelove is about a kid in high school coming to terms with his sexuality. He’s dating his dream girl, and they’re like the school’s power couple. The only problem is Alex has trouble expressing himself sexually with his girlfriend. Things take a turn when Alex meets Elliot, a open gay man, at a party. And then things start to add up for Alex as he becomes sexually interested in Elliot.

I think the worst part of this movie is the writing. This is most apparent in the dialogue between Alex and his best friend Dell. I didn’t think a LGBT movie could be so blindly offensive, but Strangelove checks all the boxes. The movie even goes out of its way to be transphobic. The dialogue is crass, and you can tell the screenwriter is going for an “American Pie” vibe, but for a movie that treads on difficult waters by exploring the LGBT community, this vulgarity makes the movie feel like it’s undermining the same thing it’s trying to enlighten us about.

What else can I say? The romance between Alex and Elliot feels forced. The main character’s conflict feels unjustified. And the film offers nothing special in terms of cinematography or even it’s score and soundtrack. I have seen Breaking Glass Pictures films that are better than this.

Rating: 1/10

Blue Jay (2016)

Mark Duplass has shown us time and time again that he’s a force to be reckoned with in the arthouse independent film scene. With movies such as Safety Not Guaranteed, The Puffy Chair, and Creep, Duplass has proven to be one of the best indie filmmakers of our generation. So when I heard he was starring in a movie alongside the amazing Sarah Paulson, I knew I immediately had to watch. And the movie doesn’t disappoint.

Mark Duplass plays Jim, a man packing up his old childhood home after his father passes away. While back in his hometown, he meets his old high school girlfriend Amanda, played by Sarah Paulson. And essentially the whole movie is them reconnecting and rekindling what they once had. It’s a very heartfelt movie, and what makes this movie are the performances. Mainly because there’s not really a script. The actors were given scenarios to follow, and through their amazing improv skills, they make a relationship that feels more realistic than most on screen romances I’ve seen. Every interaction feels organic. Every scene is so intimate and raw, that it feels like you’re spying on real people.

I can’t say much about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil too much, but this movie is full of a great deal of romance and heartbreak as we go through the day with Jim and Amanda. If you’re into romance movies, then this movie is definitely for you.

8/10

The Invitation (2015)

Dinner parties are inherently scary. You go, try to socialize, and end up in a corner, drink in hand, staring at your phone and desperately trying to make time move faster. It’s even more scary when you’re going to your ex-wife and her new husband’s party, with friends you haven’t seen in years. This is what happens to Will, played by Logan Marshal-Green in director Karyn Kasuma’s The Invitation. The Invitation is a master class in pacing and suspense, and shows how scary a dinner party can really get.

Getting a limited release in theaters and going straight to VOD, The Invitation went under the radar of horror releases in 2014, but once you start watching, it demands your attention. Each character is well written, and every interaction feels realistically awkward and tense as Will tries to reconnect with his past friends. Things get even stranger when Will meets her former wife, Eden (played by Tammy Blanchard) and her husband Tommy (played by Mike Doyle), and notices a strange change in her wife’s behavior. Eden’s blissful and happy, almost too happy, as her and Will share a traumatic experience that put a wedge in their relationship and sent Eden on a depressive spiral.

The night gets stranger as it goes on as more questions enter Will’s mind. The movie does a good job of creating intrigue while also giving us a sense that the strangeness of the party is all in Will’s head. Things seem out of place, but you can’t tell if Will’s paranoia is valid or not. The movie is mind bending and tense throughout, with the next word out of someone might be a bombshell to the rest of the group. The dialogue written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi is superb, and all of the performances are outstanding. The movie is even visually entertaining, with cinematographer Bobby Shore creating a sense of suspense in every shot.

The Invitation brings you in and demands you to pay attention as you try yourself to uncover what is actually happening at this party. It’s use of tension and awkwardness makes it one of the most unsettling horror movies on Netflix. Its premise is simple. Its delivery is outstanding.

9/10