The artist formerly known as Prairie

The OA

Creators: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling

 

Like…where do I even?

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You wonder how high they must have been to actually think of this. You actually wonder.I tried so hard to explain this to someone earlier, and I kept sounding like I was making shit up. Literally as though I was pulling random story lines out of thin air and adding them onto a more elaborate story to make it seem all Christopher Nolany and mind-fucky. I wasn’t though. I was genuinely doing my up most to stick to a simple description, which turned into a lengthy, convoluted, and agonizing run down  of one of the weirdest shows in the history of netflix.

And I still can’t decide if I liked it or not. Eight bizarre hours later.

So a. spoiler alert, and b. I’m not here to knock this show. I appreciate that the OA has now built an army of loyal fans who will hex my first born child if i say anything bad, so that’s not exclusively my aim. I just want to talk about it, you know? because I need to. I need to vocalise some of this shit before attempting to watch anything else on Netflix, because why should I suffer alone?

So the ‘premise’, in the simplest way possible: The show starts with a woman who jumps off a bridge, which we later find out had been missing for the best part of seven years and used to be blind. Now she’s back and she can see, (and by blind I mean actually blind, i’m not talking about it in a biblical context or anything).

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Are we happy with this so far?

So this lady is called Prairie, but she keeps calling herself The OA, which is weird and kinda hilarious. Like… who the hell calls themselves ‘the’ anything? Aside from ‘the exorcist’ or ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’ who ended up abbreviating it anyway because he realised it made him sound like a massive douche.

The OAs parents (i feel dumb just saying it) are a whole heap of ‘wtf’ about everything, partly due to the name change, partly due to the seven year absence (which she refuses to explain), and partly due to the fact that she isn’t blind anymore and doesn’t wanna discuss it.

The OA befriends a group of local teenagers via a weird video she posts on youtube (please stay with me), so they all start meeting at an abandoned house every night to hear her tell her story about what the fuck happened to her. She seems really cool to tell them the story, but literally noone else. Not even the FBI, who you would assume would be the first port of call.

Her story goes something like this (again, stay with me)…She was born to a wealthy Russian Oligarch in the 80s and had a near death experience on her way to school. She came back from the dead without her sight, but a whole bunch of odd stuff happened to her after the near death experience; lucid dreams, premonitions and an amazing ability to play the violin. This is all totally fine so far, so I’m all like yea ok…I can run with this. But then..

Then she moves to America, lives with her aunt in a brothel after her father dies, gets found by a nice couple who visit said brothel in the search of illegal kids, and goes to live with them.

The rest then involves a psycho scientist, who kidnaps her and locks her in a basement (a la Josef Fritzl), a bunch of near death experience survivors used as test subjects, interpretive dance, and an Arabic gatekeeper of the universe called ‘khtum’.

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Oh yea, and they’re all using mystical tai chi to try and move across dimensions and escape this fucked up dungeon they’ve been in for seven years.

That’s a whole lot of tai chi.

If The OA, was about maybe 1 thing…or even 5 things, then it would be absolutely perfect. No-one on earth is expecting a sci-fi to be believable or realistic, so that’s not my beef with this in any way. My beef is that there is literally SO much going on, all at once, in a short space of time, that you’re just like..’I don’t believe you bruh.’

 

For example, I really don’t get why these kids are so invested…SUPER INVESTED, in the OA. Call me a pessimistic prick, but your story requires some type of cut out or you tube link to make me buy it. All they have is imagination and dim lighting. Its not enough hun.

Then you have all these separate side stories involving the kids. The one with the anger issues who’s face is always red, the overachieving Mexican kid who’s mum is a drunk hot mess. Then there’s the emo skater one whose entire family is dead apart from his sister who literally smokes weed all day. Too much going on.

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Then you have the OA herself who is single handedly the most irritating character to ever grace my laptop screen. Why does she speak in hushed tones? Why are her roots so immaculate? Why does she look like the ZARA 2003 autumn/winter model? Where did she buy her foil jacket? Then it turns out she might have been lying the ENTIRE TIME (????!!!!!!!) erm……ok, that was a waste of everyone’s time. Luckily the poorest ending known to man, clarifies that maybe she isn’t lying, so leaves us with a set of pointless questions, to add to the plethora of questions we had already armed ourselves with. Fab.

Is it a sci-fi? is is a drama? Is it a teen thriller? Is it a pisstake? who knows. Its like Donnie Darko meets The Breakfast Club but not even remotely in a cool way. The general pace reminds me of one of those Scandinavian crime shows like The Killing, mad amounts of grey scale tones and bad weather. But then you have the flashbacks, which are super high saturation and vivid, and then randomly Riz Ahmed pops up as the FBI guidance councilor and that made me happy.

Sadly however, the ending is such trash it actually manages to ruin everything. Watch it for the interpretive dance and general confusion.

Don’t watch it if you think its gonna be better than Stranger Things

 

 

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A timeline of fear

Hush (2016)
Dir: Mike Flanagan

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“I don’t feel comfortable….”

Four words that very rarely escape from my lips, which i found myself repeating over and over again in the first twenty minutes.

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I knew absolutely nothing about Hush other than the fact that I could A) Watch it on Netflix and b) it comes  up constantly as a recommendation. Then one magical Saturday three separate friends all mentioned it at various times during the day, each insisting it was my kinda movie. I had no choice really, the universe had spoken.

Twenty minutes in and I’m seriously not feeling comfortable or safe in my own home. My flatmate accidently slammed the bathroom door shut and I almost leapt out of my skin. I then had to pause this delight of a movie to do a casual “spot check” of the premise… you know, just a run of the mill surveillance of the property. I go and investigate the back door, kitchen, the downstairs bathroom, shed. Anywhere involving walls.

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And although I’m paranoid as fuck about wandering up and down the house alone, I’m equally trying really hard to avoid going back into the living room to unpause the movie. “Some stones are better left unturned, am I right?” I say out loud to myself. Then I realise I actually write horror reviews and proceed to sit the fuck back down.

Unpause

30 mins in…..WOW. WHAT THE FUCK YO?! Maybe I’m just really not about this life. Maybe I should start watching Rom Coms and writing about them instead. Maybe a movie starring Jlo and some handsome Caucasian dude is less likely to fuck up my sleeping patterns. I just wanna leave the room at this stage, fuck it, judge me. I wanna leave the room and go somewhere loud, with alcohol and unicorns.

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I frantically start texting my flatmate literally begging her to come downstairs and sit through the next 70 mins with me “i have icecream *smiley emoji*”. I don’t even recognise who I am anymore. I don’t eat dairy or use emojis. I’m a mess and I need to get a fucking grip.

1 hour in. THIS GUY IS SUCH A PIECE OF SHIT…..WTF. WTF. WTF. Why is he doing this?  Does he know her? is he some disgruntled ex?No he can’t be because Craig is the ex, and Craig tried to facetime her and she rejected his call, and I’m pretty sure Craig was black and this guy looks borderline ginger. It’s not Craig. Craig is nice and doesn’t kill people’s neighbours OVER AND OVER AGAIN WHILST STARING IN THROUGH THE GLASS.

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1.15mins. I’m done. I’m so done. You know what I’m literally never gonna do? Live in the countryside on my own. Also, I don’t think I’ll facetime for a while.
Ive heard of a home invasion movie, but this is invasive on all counts. There was absolutely no need for this level of nerve wreck.

I need to avoid all doors and windows for the rest of the evening. Or maybe for life.

Black Mess

Black Mass (2015)
Dir: Scott Cooper

Slightly off topic, (mainly because there aren’t enough horror movies around to warrant an hour of thought), I’ve opted for Johnny Depp horrifying us all with his rotton front tooth and deeply dehydrated skin.

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Theres been more gangster biopics lately then we’ve had in a while. After Legend I think we were all ready for a further exploration into the criminal mind, Depp hasn’t done anything that hasn’t involved LSD or chocolate since Donnie Brasco, so many have really been looking forward to it.

The film tells the tale of one of the FBIs most wanted men, the infamous Whitey Bulger leader of Boston Mob “the winter hill” gang. The almost unrecognisable Depp plays a chilling Bulger and really gets into his role. Lots of killing, teaching people lessons, burying bodies under bridges, highly loaded yet ambiguous gangster threats (please refer to scene at the dinner table, which has forever changed my opinion on soy sauce and garlic powder), the usual. Apparently the purpose of the film was to chronicle the rise of Whitey Bulger and his relationship with the FBI. Sadly what we were presented with (sorry Guardian film page) was a flimsy script, and a disjointed picture of how and why Bulger goes from small time criminal to FBIs most wanted.

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We see so much of Bulger being a total douche, without really understanding what actually makes this guy tick, that this lack of context ends up creating a widening bridge between him and the viewer as we can never truly immerse ourselves in his world. Allegedly the real Whitey Bulger also didnt care, so much so that he refused to cooperate with Depp et al regarding characterisation; this was highly apparent in the end product.

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So much revolved Bulger’s relationship with FBI agent Johnny Connelly, that it almost felt like “Stand by Me”. This relationship alone should have been the focus of the film, rather than trying to cram in 30 years of activity. No other characters really mattered, it starts with a promising intro and then solely becomes about Bulger and Connelly, and essentially how obsessed Connelly was in pleasing him. Everything and everyone else just felt like they were there for decoration.

Why even BOTHER with any female characters? They literally serve no purpose to the plot, literally zero. Bulger’s wife? Pointless fifteen minutes of airtime. Why cast such a great actress if you’re just going to give her a  one minute scene in a hospital and never explain where she went afterwards?

In fact where do any of the women go? Are there any women in Boston in the 1970s? What the hell happened to Connelly’s wife? Did she get over Bulger’s psycho medical speech in her house? Did she buy another pair of satin flares? Does she leave Boston? I really would’ve liked a resolve to that situation.

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Essentially my primary beef with this film is the utter disinterest in developing any of the other characters. Take Benedict Cumberpatch for example (I wish this was the start of a sherlock joke), he played a powerful political figure, whose brother was a mob kingpin, THAT SHIT IS INTERESTING GODDAMIT!! Couldn’t we perhaps have a bit more development there? So there was absolutely no issues with the fact that this was a real situation? It was skimmed over at best, which was super infuriating and yet again a reflection of a poor script. Soz.

Having no emotional involvement with anyone in the film whatsoever does also make a film feel considerably longer than it should. Just a casual FYI.

Johnny Depp, aside from looking tired,  doesn’t do enough with the complexity of Bulger’s character to make me care. His mannerisms, fucked vibe in general, yes. Why this guy is so fucked up? no idea. Take Ray Liotta and his portrayal of Henry Hill; he brings me in, involves me in his world, and therefore I get him, appreciating his intentions and actually feeling bad for him when things start to unravel in his life.

This guy Bulger…don’t get it, I don’t understand why that whole bit with his wife and kid was put in, I don’t get how and why he got into organised crime, I don’t hate him enough to feel sickened by what he does, don’t like him enough to feel pity for him.

The one thing that entertained me more than it should was John Connolly. Joel Edgerton plays him so brilliantly as a FBI wannabe mobster that it makes you recoil. He’s that guy in college who does shit to impressive the popular crew, it’s pretty painful to watch. He goes out of his way for Bulger in a way which is confusing and seems to have very little gain (aside from financial) for him. Subsequently he ends up doing one of the longest sentences out of anyone, which makes it all the more pitiful.

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Watch it for the violence and sexy accents.

Don’t watch it if you’re tired 

The Visit….sure

Every now and again comes a director so mind-blowingly overrated you almost feel compelled to hate them just to level out the playing field a bit. Even though not all of them are as evil and self obsessed as say, Christopher Nolan (just picking names out a hat here guys), you’ve decided by default that you WILL dislike their over hyped work, and nothing will change your mind. Which is why when this came out i felt a weird sense of curiosity and sympathy.

Bless M. Night Shymalan…hes had a bumpy ride….

Noone likes M Night Shymalan

Although I’ve never been his biggest fan, I do, to a degree, get what hes tried to do. And that’s not because I hate The Sixth Sense (i do hate The Sixth Sense), or because I think all his films are like…the same, or any of that. I just don’t find him particularly effective as a director within the horror genre…as it were.

And none of his films have actually ever scared me in the slightest.

And I don’t like that his name sounds like a three part drama.

And i fucking hated the village

So I reluctantly watched this, because i was told I WOULD enjoy it by trustworthy sources, and felt i should give him one last stab at winning me over. Go on then Shymalan…do your worst.

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Premise of the story is that two teenagers have never met their grandparents due to family estrangement. They go and visit them (I missed this bit completely by the way, because i was in a line buying m&ms), and then some really odd shit starts happening. Becca, the older of the siblings, puts this erratic behavior down to age (they’re old, and old people do odd stuff). The younger one however (Tyler), has his cray-dar firmly fixed since they arrived, and picks up on said red flags pretty quickly.

Now i happened to walk in halfway through a ‘hide and seek’ scene, and noticed that (spoiler alert), the film was being shot entirely from the perspective of Becca, thus making it…

found

fucking

footage.

Lets just clarify right now that there is nothing more infuriating then found footage. Literally. nothing.

How can you time your filming so accurately with all the horrific things going on around you? How? How did you even know? Are you that confident within yourself that you don’t mind looking through a lens and possibly getting possessed or killed at the same time? that eager to capture the moment…really? that eager?

‘fine, lets sit through an hour of this, hate it, and then write something really scathing about how he couldn’t get funded and had to pay for it all himself’, I thought.

Surprisingly though, I actually didn’t hate it.

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There were moments at the start where it really could’ve gone left with my patience. and i mean really left. Like the grandma’s crazy eyeballing of everything around her, pop pop and his shed full of shit, and that story about going to the costume party (??!). Crazy nan pops up again scratching the walls butt naked and then there’s another story about sundowning, or sungazing, or something…which i’m really glad the kids googled the next day, because i personally wasn’t buying a single word of that crap.

Once you get past the obvious predictability that comes as standard with a found footage film (eyeroll), the end result was really quite great.

It was sharp, it was funny. Tyler was played by an exceptionally talented actor who’s going to get really far in his career, and the ending was phenomenal. Very fun to watch. very sinister (shock horror) and amazingly ticked all the boxes.

Well done Shymalan. you stopped listening to the voices.

Deliver us from tired scripts

Sometimes I go and watch horror movies and I’m all like “meh”. The usual haunted house/scary Japanese chick with long hair/young possessed catholic girl/ hillbillies who eat people situation. As a horror fan you get so used to these formulas then eventually you’re just like immune…and often jaded…and that’s fine I guess, just a bit disappointing.

It’s nice to occasionally see something, y’know, different

The Pact. That was different. That was pretty cool actually. I liked The Pact. That was some scary shit.

Cockneys vs. Zombies. (see last post), also different, funny, really well acted, not the most terrifying, but whatever, it was pretty cool.

Sometimes different can be bad. Like when P-Diddy did that song “come with me” or when David lynch made that experimental movie with all the rabbits, and the shaky camera. That’s when different starts to unnerve me and make me wish things were normal again.

And then you get films like “Deliver Us from Evil”, which ironically fulfils it’s title in more ways then you can ever hope for.

So let’s just clarify one thing- this is not a horror movie. It thinks it’s a horror movie, in fact it actually dresses itself up as one; the trailer, the demonic possession “storyline”, the music box and the scary stuffed toy, the dude who’s covered in Latin writing carved into his skin….we get it, you’re trying.

Only it’s not really a horror movie.

It’s basically a really long episode of CSI, with some supernatural shit thrown in for good measure. It’s actually not even CSI, it’s borderline “buddy” movie, you know those 80s buddy movies, like Beverly Hills cop or Miami vice? Where they love their partner in a non homoerotic way, and yet seem to spend more time with them then with their wives? Those movies. It was one of those movies.

Steven Segal could totally be in this movie. That’s how 80s this shit is.

 

Ok so what’s it about? Fuck knows to be honest. Three disillusioned soldiers go nuts in Iraq after stumbling on a possessed ancient burial ground/ gates of hell (it’s not made clear, but you get the gist). They all go nuts and come home and do cray cray shit.

The police officer, played by an extremely boring Eric bana (who looks like Matt Dillon a LOT), is doing his best at a New York accent, and gets a “radar” when he knows he’s onto something. His partner, played by some unknown who looks like Fred durst, is the most annoying “bro” character known to MAN. Not gonna lie, when he died I didn’t even care. Like not even a bit. Sorry yo, I just didn’t.

So they find these guys doing isolated nutty stuff (beating their wives, scratching shit into their walls, killing cats) and realise the Iraq link.

Then there’s the possession stuff.

Then there’s this priest.

Ok so I really need a MOMENT to talk about this priest. This guy has got to be some type of inside joke, because there is no way in hell the writers were keeping a straight face when they included a sexy, ex junkie catholic priest who looks like a Latin jazz singer and sings in Spanish whilst performing exorcisms….

oh and works out….and smokes slowly….and drinks whisky….whilst sweaty…..

No seriously you guys, seriously. Don’t even..

So in a nutshell this is forgettable, uninspired and really overlong.

Olivia munn is also in this and she annoys the crap out of me, so there’s another reason to avoid it.

Save your money and buy a ouji board instead. Much more entertaining

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