The Boy (2016) – ★★½

William Brent Bell’s The Boy has all the elements of a modern Gothic thriller: you’ve got the heroine with a dark past, a pair of menacing elderly folks, the handsome potential love interest, and a creepy mansion.

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Don’t look behind you.

If The Boy had managed to put all the puzzle pieces together, this movie could have rivaled Nicole Kidman’s The Others as one of my favorite ghost stories. As it stands, it’s merely a pretty solid waste of two hours or so.

Lauren Cohan (Maggie, The Walking Dead) carries the film as Greta, an emotionally damaged American woman who flees a tragic past for a nannying job in England. Greta has just been hired by the Heelshire family to look after their rather unusual son, Brahms.

More after the jump

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Scene Analysis: A Last Drink

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So, I want to talk about this scene.

The sense of foreboding menace—particularly when you get those shots of Illya’s reflection in the mirror, slowly unzipping his jacket and reaching for his gun—made my skin crawl with equal parts anticipation and terror.

There’s just something about viewing Illya not only through the filter of Napoleon but also through the reflection in the mirror that set my teeth on edge.  The audience has undoubtedly come to care about Illya, and in this moment we’re distanced from him, disconnected.

In the beginning of the movie, Illya’s an inhuman shadow that stalks Napoleon and Gaby through the streets of Berlin.  He’s subsequently humanized through his interactions with the two of them, but especially Gaby.  The movie, by calling back to those early scenes, is forcing us to ask ourselves whether anything has really changed.  Is the Illya we came to care for—the Illya who came to care for Gaby and Napoleon and vice versa—real?  Or is it the shadowy, monstrous form we—and Napoleon—first glimpsed in the mirror in East Berlin?

The answer is, of course, yes.  Everything has changed.  Illya has changed.  And, I think, we know that, instinctively.  But the movie does a very good job here of forcing us to confront the uncomfortable reality that: maybe nothing has actually changed.

And: they might not all get out of this alive.

(Originally posted on Tumblr. Minor (very minor) edits have been made.)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) – ★★★½

Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a dizzying, sometimes silly, sometimes serious spy romp that goes down smoothly like a sip of iced tea on a hot summer day. Ritchie, well known for his crime comedies and two installments of the Sherlock Holmes movie franchise, reboots the old ’60s spy TV franchise of the same name, reintroducing C.I.A. agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin to a 21st century audience while keeping its feet firmly planted in the past.

Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin go for a romp on a Vespa.
Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin go for a romp on a Vespa.

The film begins in East Berlin, with a young auto mechanic named Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl), whose father is a rocket scientist essentially abducted to work on a nuclear weapon when she was a child. Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill, Man of Steel)—a gentleman thief coerced into the C.I.A. in order to avoid a prison sentence—has been ordered to extract Gaby and deliver her over the Berlin wall. Standing in their way is the mysterious, almost inhuman KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer, The Social Network).

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On Recasts, or: Maybe It’s the Chemistry

When I first really started watching General Hospital, “my” Sonny and Carly were Maurice Benard and Tamara Braun. I loved what they both brought to their roles, and adored their chemistry. Tamara was the only person I could envision being Carly and when I learned that she was leaving the role in 2005, I was crushed.

I was absolutely certain a new actress wouldn’t be able to bring Carly to life the way Tamara had and I knew a new actress wouldn’t be able to generate the kind of chemistry Maurice had with Tamara. 140331_GH-CarlySonny

The first recast, Jennifer Bransford, proved me right. I absolutely hated the storyline they gave her, and wasn’t too fond of the actress myself. It was a complete disaster. Perhaps my dislike stems from my hatred of the storyline, but I really came to dislike her and lamented that the Sonny and Carly I loved were “dead.”

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How I Met Your Mother Gets Its Happy Ending

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It’s just a life story, so there’s no climax. — “Our Life Is Not a Movie, or Maybe,” Okkervil River

So, I’ve had a few days to process How I Met Your Mother‘s divisive and criticized—but no less memorable—series finale. I wanted to wait a bit, let the episode sink in before I attempted to gather my thoughts for a blog post.

If you haven’t seen the episode yet, there be dragons beyond this point! Head back!

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