Check It Out!

Staff recommendations and reviews from the Plainfield Public Library


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Annihilation

Lena’s husband has been gone for a year. He is in the military on a top secret mission and Lena doesn’t know if he is dead or alive. And then he shows up. But something isn’t quite right about him. And then he starts seizing and blood is coming out of his mouth. On the way to the hospital, the ambulance is overtaken by government vehicles. Next thing she knows, she is waking up in a strange facility and her husband is on life support.

Lena finds out that about three years ago something fell out of the sky and created a shimmer. Countless people have gone in but her husband has been the only one to come back. Lena asks to be on the next team since she is a biologist and has military training. A team of five women cross through the shimmer. What happens next is unexplainable.

This movie held my interest and startled me a couple of times. If you have read the book, you will see all of the changes. The premise is the same but a lot of it is different. Starring, Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac. Rated R

 

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The Commuter

Former cop Michael (Liam Neeson) has been just laid off from the NYC insurance company he has been employed by for the last ten years.  At age sixty, he knows that his chances of finding another job are unlikely. His wife and him live hand to mouth, and they have their son’s college tuition to pay for.

After commiserating at a local pub with a former cop buddy (Patrick Wilson), he gets on the train to make his final commute home. On the train he is approached by a woman who presents a hypothetical situation: what if there was $25,000 stashed away on this train that it is yours to keep. All you have to do is locate a commuter on this very train named Prynne and put a tracking device on his/her bag. You’ll get a payout of another $75,000. Would you do it, never knowing the fate you are causing another individual?

After the women departs, Michael realizes that it isn’t so hypothetical at all when he finds the money. And now he has put in motion a series that might put his own family at risk.

A top-notch action flick that is typical of Neeson. Most viewers will find this entertaining enough. Rated PG-13


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Keep Watching

The Mitchell family has just come back from vacation. As they are settling in for the night, the electricity goes out. Unknown to them, someone is watching.  There are cameras planted throughout the house watching their every move. As the dad goes to investigate, he is attacked. Now it is up to the stepmom, the teenage daughter, and young son to find away to escape. They soon realize the outside of the house has been re-enforced and they are locked in. They will have to try and outwit these intruders to try and make it out alive.

This was a pretty good horror movie. I jumped a couple of times. It was a good storyline with a twisty ending. Starring, Bella Thorne, Ioan Grufford, Chandler Riggs, and Natalie Martinez. Rated R


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The Shape of Water

In 1962 Baltimore, Elisa Esposito (Sally Hawkins) works as a janitor for a military lab where they are keeping a unique sea creature captive. Elisa is mute and learns that she can communicate with the creature, sneaking into his chamber to share her lunch and teach him about music. A strong bond and love develops between the two.

Meanwhile, the lab’s head of security, Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon), has been torturing the creature and the plan is to kill him in order for the military to dissect and study the creature.  Elisa finds an unlikely ally in Bob, a scientist working undercover for the Russians. Elisa, Bob, her coworker Zelda (Octavia Spenser) and neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) hatch a dangerous plan to free the creature from captivity and release him back to the water.

This movie is heart-felt and the tone is reminiscent of the 1980s classic: E.T. the extra-terrestrialThe screenplay and Del Toro’s directing style is definitely worthy of the Best Picture win The Shape of Water received at the Academy Awards. Highly recommended.


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Lady Bird

This coming-of-age story takes place in Sacramento in 2002. High school student Christine (Saoirse Ronan), who has renamed herself “Lady Bird,” is just trying to figure out life. She loves her mom (Laurie Metcalf), but also feels like she can never please her and is tired of being told of how ungrateful she is. Lady Bird dreams of going to an Ivy League school on the east coast but her mom tries to get her down to reality, because they cannot afford it.

Lady Bird auditions for her school’s drama club and starts hanging with the rich, popular kids in hopes of gaining their acceptance. Through friendship, first loves and the rocky relationship with her mom, she eventually comes into her own.

I think most people can relate to Lady Bird and the trials and tribulations of that awkward stage of life, high school, that we all must go through. Although it will make you laugh, at it’s core, Lady Bird is an emotional story about growing up and learning to understand your own mother, despite her flaws. Rated R


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The Disaster Artist

James Franco plays real life actor Tommy Wiseau, who meets Greg (played by Dave Franco) at a local acting class in San Francisco. The two become fast friends and Tommy convinces him to move together to L.A. to pursue their acting careers. In fact, Tommy already has an apartment there. How old Tommy is, where he is from, and where all his money comes from has never been known – even to this day.

When securing acting gigs proves unsuccessfully, Tommy decides he is going to star, produce, and direct his own screenplay. And as mentioned, he has this unlimited supply of money to do so.

The making of The Room and his unconventional directing style tests Greg and Tommy’s friendship and is a total flop at the box office, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. However, it has become a cult classic and the real Tommy Wiseau still shows up a theaters to surprise his fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Disaster Artist, found it hilarious and now I feel like I need to see The Room!  This film is a comedic story about a man who pursues his dreams, despite the odds. Rated R


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I, Tonya

If you were around in the early 1990’s, then you are probably familiar with the scandal involving Olympic hopeful Tonya Harding and rival skater Nancy Kerrigan, America’s sweetheart, who had her knee bashed in by someone in Harding’s camp.

In this biopic, Margot Robbie plays Tonya, who is painted as a sympathetic character when you learn about her childhood. Played by Allison Janney, who won the Academy Award for her role as LaVona, Tonya’s mom is a hard task master, expecting her child to be the best skater and pushing her to the limit. She even goes as far as hitting and verbally abusing her daughter.

As a teenager, Tonya enters into a tumultuous and violent relationship with Jeff Gillooly.  Supposedly, Jeff’s friend was to hire men to send Nancy death-threat letters in hopes she would drop out of the Olympic race. That was always the original plan, but they ended up assaulting her instead. The movie doesn’t really say whether Tonya knew about  the assault. However, eventually she was convicted and was unable to compete in skating ever again, which was worse than any jail sentence since skating is all she ever knew.

Overall, I, Tonya is an entertaining portrayal of a unfortunate event in skating history that will appeal to most. Rated R