Friday, March 22, 2019

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Table Top Game Reviews

By Lorraine Glowczak

Unlike the past, being a nerd is considered hip and indicates a certain level of intelligence. So much so, that there is even a popular game show where self-proclaimed nerds proudly gather together to display their intellect and ingenuity. “Table Top”, which is a web series and can also be seen on the TBD network is a series in which individuals play a wide range of hobby gaming titles, from classic German-style board games and family games to RPGs and card games.

Due to the popularity of table top games such as these, we thought we’d give you a break from the movie reviews and review a few of our favorite games. They are as follows and are in no certain order:

*“Mysterium” is a co-op game of ghosts, murder and hilarious incompetence, in that order. All but one player is a psychic spending the night in a horrid house where a killing took place. The final player, who may not speak, is a ghost sending everyone else horrible dreams. The ghost must guide the psychics to the correct murder weapon, crime scene and culprit before the week is over, or… well, I’m not sure. Maybe the psychics have concert tickets. It doesn’t matter, and you won’t care. You’ll be laughing too much and thinking too hard. (review by

*In “Welcome to the Dungeon”, players are competing to be the first to negotiate a dungeon on two successful occasions, or to be the last player standing if all other players have two unsuccessful dungeon delves. Seems simple enough, but the twists are that:

Players only know a certain amount each about what the dungeon contains.
Players don’t choose to attempt the dungeon, they choose not to, so one player will be the last remaining and will have to enter on their own.
Players don’t even have their own adventurer - one is shared between players and only belongs to a player when they have to enter the dungeon.
So, this is a game about doing what you can with a limited amount of information, resulting in a lot of second guessing, clever bluffing, and a fair bit of luck. (review by

*In “Dixit”, Everyone is given a hand of six picture cards, and the scoreboard is laid upon the table. The candles are lit, and the sounds of the woods Spotify playlist starts to play. Finally, and most importantly every player receives a cute bunny meeple to track their score. Now, it’s time to listen.

Each turn, one player, in a puff of smoke, transforms into the ‘Story Teller.’ They pick a card, any card, and create a wonderous tale about it. Relaying to the other players through a tapestry of words, a melodious humming, or an unintelligible series of grunts or Trump tweets.

Players listen, ingesting every word, and when silence finally overcomes the Story Teller they each repay the entertainer with a card. Not just any card, but the one that they best believe fits the constructed fiction. The Story Teller collects the cards, then with all the deviousness of a caravan of carnies, they shuffle and place them against the scoreboard, numbering them from one to twelve.

Each player chooses the card they think is the Story Teller’s. After everyone has locked in their vote, there can be no changes. Only then can the Story Teller reveal their card, and the scoring begins.

Because it’s easy to learn rules, and casualness, you can pull it out with your family and have a great time. Then the next night, you can pull it out with your adult friends and watch the game turn not safe for work in a heartbeat. It’s an all-purpose game, and one that I’ve had some of my best gaming memories with.  (

Friday, March 15, 2019

Quote of the week

Movie Review; “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

By Matt Pascarella


Whether you have kids, or you were a kid, you’ve probably seen “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. It was a regular for my brother and I in the early 1990s so I thought it would be fun to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”, a documentary release in 2018 that talks about the children’s television star through interviews with cast members, guests, friends and family.

The documentary begins with early footage of Rogers on what would later become “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. Rogers was all set to go into seminary and become a minister after college but decided to go into this ‘new’ medium called television. Rogers was a quiet, kind man who felt it was a responsibility of his to use the mass media, “to help children through some of the difficult modulations of life.” He believed television was a tool and he wanted his focus to be with children.
A resident of Pennsylvania, he started a show out of WQED Pittsburgh called “The Children’s Corner”, which later evolved into “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood”. Children liked Rogers immediately. His son, Jim Rogers, said his dad’s inner child never went away; this made it easier for Fred Rogers to interact and relate to children.

Early on, Rogers found television hard, but it got easier when he created characters like Daniel Tiger by accident, when he put a puppet through a paper clock and began talking in a high voice.
This documentary features personal stories of interactions between Rogers and children and demonstrates how welcoming and accepting both sides were towards each other.

In 1968, the “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” aired its first episode. Each episode had a message and aimed to teach a lesson, even if the lesson was a tough one. Some of the subjects talked about were divorce, children getting lost, segregation and death.

When President Nixon wanted to cut funding to PBS, Rogers argued before the US Senate for $20 million and won. After this, Fred Rogers and “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” really took off. Rogers even tried a start a different show where he interacted with adults, but it didn’t go as well as “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.”

Friends and co-workers talk about Rogers personality and say he was the same on TV as he was in real life. He was someone who was truly about acceptance, kindness and love.

At his final commencement address to Dartmouth College, Rogers defined ‘you are special’ as you don’t have to do anything sensational for people to love you.

It was said in the documentary that Rogers never forgot how vulnerable it was to be a kid.
“Children have deep feelings, just like everybody does. Our striving to understand those feelings and better respond to them is the most important task in the world.”

This was a mildly interesting film and brought back nostalgia, as someone who watched the show as a child. However, there was more than one part where it dragged on and was boring. I felt, the entire documentary a little on the long side. While Fred Rogers was an amazing person, this documentary was only ok. If you really liked “Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood” and are interested in learning about Fred Rogers, I’d recommend it. If not, this documentary probably isn’t for you.

Friday, March 1, 2019

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Movie Review: “Roma”

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

I had no clue while watching “Roma” on Netflix over a month ago, during a winter Sunday afternoon laziness, that I was observing a film that would win the Oscars in the categories of Cinematography, Foreign Language Film and Best Director in this past Sunday’s Oscar Awards Ceremony.

I was simply fascinated by the plot and, from my perspective, a realistic story. Afterall, I have a cleaning business on the side, and I could identify with much that occurred throughout the film. 

Writers (and other artists) who follow their calling must do what they do to support their creative mission in life and, although this wasn’t a story about creativity, it was a story about serving those who live life through wealth and how that family of advantage, relies upon those they hire to serve them in a beautiful way.

It’s true that Netflix’s film “Roma” lost the Best Picture Award to “Green Book” but according to, “….it made history in other ways. It’s the first Mexican submission for Best Foreign Language Feature to win in the category. And its Best Cinematography win for director Alfonso Cuarón (who also took Best Director) marked the first time in history that a director simultaneously won the Oscar in the cinematography category.

“Roma” is set in Mexico City in the early 1970s. It centers on a young indigenous woman who works as a maid for a middle-class white family that’s falling apart. As is the custom in this neighborhood, everyone lives behind locked gates and they all hire maids, cooks and drivers who are actually the people who keep homes running. In one such house, Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) lives with and works for this family that scarcely seems capable of doing anything without her. In the morning, she wakes the children; at night, she puts them to bed. From each dawn and until long after dusk, she tends to the family and its sprawling two-story house. She serves meals, cleans away dog droppings and carries laundry up to the roof, where she does the wash in view of other maids on other roofs with their own heavy loads.

But that’s just the beginning. Cleo becomes pregnant and is not sure how to proceed, the husband of the family she works for is having an affair, and someone in the family almost drowns if it weren’t for Cleo saving them – despite her fear of water.

According to movie reviewer, Owen Glieberman, “Cleo is the central figure of “Roma,” yet for most of the film she barely says a word. She’s stoic and dutiful, with a wide face that suggests a statue of humble rectitude, and the fact that she loves this family as her own is presented without question. 

Speaking in her native Mixtec, Aparacio, a non-professional actress, makes Cleo a doleful earth mother with a deep presence, a kind of working-class saint — and, tellingly, a woman with problems she feels compelled to weather without protest.”

Go to Netflix - turn on your subtitles and watch “Roma”. And perhaps learn a little about those we believe as living a life - who have, by social standards, plenty and are the envy of most. However, they are far from advantaged in a non-physical sense, and don’t know it. Because they have what is most important in their life – Cleo.

Friday, February 22, 2019

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Movie Review of “42”

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: PG-13

In honor of Black History Month, the Windham Public Library has been showing films the past couple of Friday evenings about the challenges faced by African Americans in our history. The films included, “A Raisin in the Sun” and “Selma”. Today, Friday, February 22; the library will present the last of their black history evening films with the 2013 movie, “42”.

Before I go any further with this review, I must admit – I haven’t seen this film yet. Yes, even I think it may be strange to review a film you haven’t had a chance to watch. But I thought I would grab reviews from others who have enjoyed (or perhaps not enjoyed) the film and share it with you in the event you have Friday evening free and wish to watch a free movie with your family or friends.

The synopsis of the film, “42”, goes something like this: “In 1946, Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford), legendary manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, defies major league baseball's notorious color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman) to the team. The heroic act puts both Rickey and Robinson in the firing line of the public, the press and other players. Facing open racism from all sides, Robinson demonstrates true courage and admirable restraint by not reacting in kind and lets his undeniable talent silence the critics for him.”

According to Mick LaSalle who wrote a review for Rotten Tomatoes: “Appealing as drama, the movie is also an enticing trip back in time. The world of 1947, when Robinson became the first black player in major league baseball, may have been a nightmare in terms of social justice, but the fabric of the suits, the gleam of the cars and even the old-fashioned fonts on the street signs make us want to linger there. Watching it is like inhabiting a late-'40s technicolor travel short. "42" - named after the number on Robinson's jersey - is beautiful just to look at it.”

Roger Ebert had this to say: “If you were offended by the supposedly profligate use of the n-word in “Django Unchained,” it stands to reason you’ll be outraged by a scene in “42” in which Philadelphia Phillies manager Ben Chapman climbs out of the dugout and spews cruel racist epithets at Brooklyn Dodgers rookie Jackie Robinson.

You can see the pain and rage on Robinson’s face as he tries to concentrate on his at-bat, knowing if he goes after Chapman, the headlines won’t be about the hateful manager — they’ll be about the first black player in the major leagues ‘attacking’ the opposition.”

Ebert also stated that “42” is a valuable film — a long overdue, serious big-screen biopic about one of the most important American pioneers of the 20th century.

O.E Scott wrote in the New York Times: “After a clumsy and didactic beginning — in which every scene ends with Mark Isham’s score screaming “This Is Important!” in Dolby — the movie settles into a solid, square rhythm. By then we have met Robinson, played with sly charm and a hint of stubborn prickliness by Chadwick Boseman.”

If my Friday night opens up and is free, I’ll be at the Windham Public Library at 5:30 p.m. to enjoy “42” and learn a bit about history. Join me, won’t you?

Friday, February 15, 2019

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Movie Review of “Widows”

By Ben Parrott

Rated: R

I love anything directed by Steve McQueen, so last Friday night I couldn’t help myself when I passed the RedBox at Hannaford and realized “Widows” was available to rent. This movie is available on Redbox at most locations in the Southern Maine area.

“Widows” is a 2018 heist film and it stars popular actors such as Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. The plot follows a group of women who attempt a heist in order to pay back a crime boss after their criminal husbands are killed on a botched job.

The plot goes something like this: Harry Rawlings (Liam Neeson), a renowned thief, is killed alongside his partners Carlos (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Florek (Jon Bernthal), and Jimmy (Coburn Goss) during a botched robbery. His widow, Veronica (Viola Davis), is threatened by crime boss Jamal Manning (Brian Tyree Henry), from whom Harry and his partners robbed $2 million. Jamal needs the money to finance his electoral campaign for alderman of a South Side ward, where he is running against Jack Mulligan (Colin Farrell), the next-in-line of the racist Mulligan political family who have historically dominated the alderman position.

Basically, “Widows” is a heist movie that contains mayhem and a plot that contains too many twists and turns to count. It also contains grief, dread and desperation rather than the more popular movie themes of greed, ambition and rebellion.

“Widows” gives this world not only what it needs, but also what a lot of people are looking for in today’s culture and that is a film based around a group of strong and independent women. Veronica, Linda, and Alice, once dependent on their husbands, must take matters into their own hands in order to clean up the mess left by their spouses, reclaiming their independence. They are joined by single mother and Linda’s babysitter Belle. Together they attempt to complete what would have been their husbands’ next job in order to pay their debt and move on with their lives.

The filmmakers don’t really care about the money, politics, or strict rules.

According to other reviews, “a viewer expecting a jaunty fable of female empowerment along the lines of “Ocean’s 8” is likely to be nonplussed by the abstraction and melancholy of this film. But those are also its most surprising and interesting traits. It may lack the energy for fun, but at least it has the nerve to be sad.”

My perspective is that the film breaks the norm of what it means to make a heist film and rather than the fun and more light-hearted nature of the “Ocean’s” franchise, “Widows” is a serious film full of suspense. It deals with racism, corruption in politics, crime and the lengths a person will go to in order to save themselves and especially their reputation. A fair warning goes out to the faint of heart as this film is quite graphic and frightening, however, Director Steve McQueen does a phenomenal job of keeping it tasteful and sophisticated in this piece auteur cinema.

Friday, February 8, 2019

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Netflix Movie Review of “The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man”

By Matt Pascarella

Rated: TV-MA

He’s very well known. From Dr. Peter Venkman to Carl Spackler to Mr. Bishop, Bill Murray has been all over the film and even some of the television screen. In this documentary, director Tommy Avallone discusses the famous Bill Murray stories - strange encounters with the actor in everyday life.

Murray started on “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) in 1976. He came from the Second City Improv group and after his success on SNL, his movie career began to soar.  “Caddyshack”, “Ghostbusters”, “Lost in Translation” and “Life Aquatic” are just to a few of the movies that are a household name.
The documentary begins with various people describing stories they’ve heard or experienced in which there is an encounter with Murray. Stories that include: A wedding photographer recounts meeting Murray while taking a couple’s engagement photos, or when Murray crashed a house party, where he danced and was the DJ. He also stopped by a bar and was bartender for a night, just out of nowhere.

He is slightly compared to Bigfoot in this documentary, but Murray has been spotted more times than Bigfoot and everyone is very accepting of these random Murray appearances. One person stated, “he has the power to make other people have an amazing experience.” He doesn’t make a big deal about himself, he’s just there to have fun and live in the moment, which is a big part of Murray’s lifestyle.
The documentary continues with more Murray appearances, some standard, like a Comic Con presence, others weirder, like randomly joining a kickball game. One of the funnier things he has said during these unplanned appearances is “no one will ever believe you,” which is true, unless you have proof.

Murray’s random presences aren’t just only wild experiences that happen out of nowhere. There are lessons that he inadvertently teaches to these unsuspecting individuals. He is about having a good time, the documentary explains. A theme in many of Murray’s movies and himself is ‘it doesn’t matter’ it’ll all even out in the end; a ‘roll with the punches’ attitude.

Individuals who have had encounters with Murray say he connects with people on a very human level. When he shows up at a party, he’s not there to perform or show off his celebrity, he’s there to just hang out and get to know people, to create a moment that people will doubt really happened, even after it happened. He is such a famous person, but he still finds the time for people. He removes the barrier between celebrity and regular person. I’ll admit, watching this made me want to meet Bill Murray.

This was an interesting documentary about an interesting guy. If you are a Bill Murray fan, I’d recommend it. If you’re just looking for something to watch, this is probably not for you as it airs a little on the slow side. While Bill Murray has made appearances all over the world, it made me ask the question, could Bill Murray appear right here in Windham, Maine? You never know.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Movie Review: “The Details"

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

I love quirky movies and I especially love the quirky Toby Maguire so I couldn’t resist watching “The Details”. Although dark comedies are not my usual go-to films, I was willing to give this Netflix movie, directed Jacob Aaron Estes, a try.

Briefly, Jeff Lang (Tobey Maguire) and wife Nealy (Elizabeth Banks) are a young Seattle couple with a two-year-old son. Jeff is an OBGYN and Nealy owns - what I think might be a small floral shop, but this is unclear. Considering a second child, they decide to enlarge their small home and also lay expensive new grass in their backyard. But there are worms in the grass and so raccoons regularly destroy it by uprooting the lawn on a nightly basis. Jeff goes to great lengths (it becomes more of an obsession) to get rid of the raccoons, including mixing poison with a can of tuna. Soon after, their neighbor Lila (Laura Linney), an older, lonely, cat woman, visits Jeff and reports that her cat Matthew, is missing. Jeff not yet realizing the connection, hopes Matthew will turn up safe.

The Toyota Prius driving Langs appear to live the idyllic suburbia life, but all is not what it seems. Ten years into their relationship, the spark of youthful love has subsided, and Jeff looks elsewhere to fill in the missing gaps and to reignite passion. He does so with a tryst with a former medical school classmate, Becca (Kerry Washington), who is married to Peter (Ray Liotta).  When Peter finds out, he blackmails Jeff in a roundabout way, and this is when things begin to fall apart – “uprooting” a seemingly perfect life. It doesn’t seem Jeff has learned his lesson because he also slips into a rendezvous with Lila.

Feeling down and unfilled, Jeff decides to donate an organ to a basketball friend, Lincoln (Dennis Haysbert), who is slowly dying and as a result of the donation, saves Lincoln’s life. One would think everything would turn around and become better for everyone at this point, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The Details” is likely one of the most bizarre, absurd films I’ve ever seen. As one movie reviewer put it, “the movie plays like a demented fairy tale, replete with butterflies, rainbows and cross-bows.”
All the acting was superb – especially Laura Linney’s performance. Her execution of the eclectic, 1960s throwback, crazy neighbor is worthy of an Oscar. As for Maguire, he still seems like the unpopular teenage kid named Peter who was bit by a spider in the popular “Spider Man” series and I simply couldn’t get past that image. Maguire’s role as a husband and doctor was not a good fit for him.

Although considered a comedy, I never laughed once. The film was way too bizarre for me to find any humor in it. With that being said, I do believe it is worth the time spent to dive into something a little strange from time to time and watching “The Details” might be a good “stretch beyond your comfort zone” movie. It certainly is for those who are into watching peculiar films. It is not, however, a movie for the whole family. Adults only.

Quote of the week - Black History Month

Friday, January 25, 2019

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Movie Review: “And Breathe Normally”

Reviewed by Lorraine Glowczak

Not Rated*

On cold and lazy Sunday afternoons, almost nothing can take me away from staying at home and watching a movie on Netflix. However, since I do enjoy foreign films from time to time (which requires you to read subtitles), I was willing to give up a bit of my laziness and dive into “And Breathe Normally,” a movie set in Iceland and spoken in the Icelandic language.

The film which won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award, is described on Rotten Tomatoes: “At the edge of Iceland's Reykjanes peninsula, two women's lives intersect--for a brief moment--while being trapped by unforeseen circumstances. Between a struggling single Icelandic mother, and a political asylum seeker from Africa, an intimate bond forms as both fight to get their lives back on track.”

Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir, stars as Lara, the young, single, proud and tattooed mother who struggles financially to raise and create a happy life for her young and accommodating son, Eldar, played by Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson. In the film we learn, in very subtle ways, that Lara once had a drug problem and is tested to slip from sobriety, she did not always have custody of her son, and her mother lives in Norway – making it difficult for her to reach out for help.

Once she is hired as a border security guard trainee at Iceland’s main airport, Keflavík, the viewer heaves a sigh of relief for the main character, believing her financial woes will be behind her. But her debt is too deep. She tells Eldar, as they are packing their few possessions, “we are going on an adventure.” The adventure is homelessness.

In comes the political asylum seeker, played by Babetida Sadjo. Here, the heart wrenching, emotionally conflicting – and yet caring, intertwining adventure begins.

“And Breath Normally” was the most moving foreign film I’ve seen in a while – but it did defie my perceptions of an Iceland full of beautiful scenery as the background setting is always grim and desolate looking. But, I suspect that was intentional - to set the tone of the film.

George Fenwick of the New Zealand Herald described perfectly, my thoughts on the film: “Director Isold Uggadottir manages to keep the narrative away from melodrama or over-sentimentality. Her direction keeps a careful distance but is forgiving and empathetic to her struggling characters.”
If you are up to reading subtitles and enjoy the complexity that comes with no easy answers, then I suggest you give this film a go.

*Although this film is not yet rated, I suspect it would be considered rated R under American standards. There is one sexual scene and a few mature themes that may not be appropriate for children.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Quote of the week reminds you to follow your gut instincts

Movie review of "Vice"

By Gayle Plummer

Rated R, Drama/History

On the plus side of this movie, the portrayal of Dick Cheney by Christian Bale was beyond perfection. He absolutely is Cheney: the slanted grin, the look from the eyes, the voice, the attitude, the body language and the weight gain. Of course, he is known for his total body transformations to bring home a role. In this movie he gained a whopping 40 pounds. He is absolutely amazing, and he totally deserved to take home the Golden Globe on this one. The supporting actors also did a super job – given what they had to work with . . . but more on that later. They all totally hit the mark in delivering their performances. I enjoyed watching the transformation of these actors, and for me the movie flew by, as I love watching actors who have polished and honed their craft to become someone else. I highly recommend the movie as an entertainment piece.

Let me address all the controversy about this film. There’s lots of buzz out there about this movie not being accurate; about the director not doing any fact checking. Absolutely everywhere you search, someone is complaining about this movie not being historically correct. Well, I have questions to ask these same folks: What part of movie making don’t you understand? What part of artistic license don’t you understand? What part of the term biopic movie don’t you understand? For me, all of the critics are too wound up in the reality aspect to enjoy the entertainment aspect. Many biopic movies stretch the truth because they are trying to entertain while delivering the essence of the people involved. Not to get too heavy here but, Princeton political historian, Julian Zelizer said, “. . . the artists, through fictional films, have the potential to convey things about our history that can’t be done with just a straight, factual-based sequence. It can still capture the essence of a political leader in a way that historians can’t.” 

While I clearly don’t have an issue with whether or not the film is accurate, I do have an issue with the approach that writer/director Adam McKay took in the format he chose here. For me there was way too much narration, which got in the way of the movie itself; and the time span he tried to cover was too broad. The content was like a pebble skipping along the surface of a huge, deep lake but never going below the surface, just darting along the top. I feel that if he had zeroed in on a few events and/or a shorter timeframe, instead of touching on so many political events, this movie would have carried more weight and depth to it. This would have allowed all the actors to truly deliver some real meat to their performance, not just Bale. However, they all did do a fantastic job – with what they were given to work with! Therefore, for me, Sam Rockwell, Amy Adams and Steve Corell did justice to this movie.

I repeat, I recommend it as an entertainment piece – which is what it is meant to be . . .  that’s Hollywood!

Friday, January 11, 2019

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Movie Review: “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”

By Emily Maier

Rated: PG

When Miles Morales is bitten by a radioactive spider in an abandoned section of subway, he is forcibly thrust into the role of a hero. While attempting to find answers about his newfound powers, Miles unwittingly runs into Kingpin, a villain hell-bent on bringing back his deceased wife and son by any means necessary. 

After witnessing the debut of Kingpin’s “collider,” Miles learns the device is able to bring multiple dimensions together – though it also runs the risk of creating a black hole in the middle of New York. Though the first attempt to start the collider largely ends in failure, it does bring various “spiderpeople” from other dimensions into Miles’ world. The heroes quickly realize they will have to work as a team if they ever want to defeat Kingpin and go back to their respective realities.

For a movie featuring a cartoon pig called Spider-Ham, I was a little uncertain about all the buzz surrounding “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”. Upon leaving the theater, however, I can easily see why this movie recently won Best Animated Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. The combination of stunning animation, original narrative and emotive voice actors paved a clear path for the movie’s win.

In terms of casting, Shameik Moore did an amazing job voicing Miles, coming across as naïve yet determined to do the right thing. Jack Johnson gave life to his role as Peter B. Parker – a Spider-Man past his prime – and Hailee Steinfeld suited her role as the ever-competent Gwen Stacy. Though they only had minor roles, Nicolas Cage and John Mulaney’s characters both served as great comic relief.

The thought and care that went into each character design was fantastic. Miles and the two other central characters, Peter and Gwen, are especially well-rounded and relatable. They all have unique personalities that are reflected in their clothes and overall appearances. Because of this distinctiveness between characters, the movie never feels cluttered despite having a sprawling cast.

Of course, no review of “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” would be complete without mentioning the animation. This movie truly has some of the best animation I’ve ever seen, with certain shots that are not only visually stunning but incredibly original.

While some movies just happen to be animated, “Into the Spider-Verse” was made to be an animated movie. A lot of the scenes simply couldn’t have been pulled off any other way. The entire climax would have looked ridiculous had they tried to create it using live-action but, because it was animated, the sequence felt intense and visually striking. Furthermore, the animation allowed the movie to retain the comic book style from which it was born.

It was especially refreshing to see a protagonist that doesn’t immediately take to the role of a hero. Throughout the film, Miles struggles to harness his powers, which ultimately makes the audience root for him even more. The movie reminds the viewer that while being a hero isn’t easy, it certainly isn’t impossible. When Miles says, “Anyone can wear the mask,” he means that everyone has the ability to have a positive impact on the world. “Into the Spider-Verse” shows the audience that heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and the movie challenges the viewer to become one of those heroes.

Overall, “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is one of those rare movies that can appeal to people of all ages. With a PG rating, the movie is safe for kids, yet it still manages to deal with mature themes that will keep older viewers hooked. “Into the Spider-Verse” knows when to be cute, funny, or heartfelt and it pulls off a convoluted plot with finesse. I would recommend it to any moviegoer, especially for anyone with an appreciation for animation. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

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Movie Review of Netflix's “Bird Box”

By Lorraine Glowczak

Rated: R

“Bird Box” seems to be the most talked about Netflix's collection of original movies in recent weeks. The film is an adaptation of the 2014 horror-thriller novel by Josh Malerman and stars Sandra Bullock as Malorie Shannon.

Malorie is a recluse, painter and a single woman preparing to give birth to her first child. One day, reports come in that people in Russia are committing mass suicide for no clear reason.

While Malorie and her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson) are at the hospital for Malorie’s scheduled checkup, the bizarre circumstances seem to be moving their way to America. On the way out of the hospital, Malorie watched as a woman hit her head into a window, over and over, while others were screaming and running in all directions around her. Outside, the chaos continued as vehicles hit each and people purposefully hurt themselves, including Jessica.

Malorie barely manages to escape and seek shelter at a house with several other people, including a wealthy man, Douglas (John Malkovich) and a kind soul, Tom (Trevante Rhodes) to name just a few. They eventually realize the mysterious force that makes people kill themselves can only cause harm if people look at the unknown/unseen force. As a result, in come the blindfolds.

Much of the action in “Bird Box” is told through flashbacks between Malorie’s time in the house and time spent on a river with two children, a boy – named “Boy” (Julian Edwards) and a girl – named “Girl” (Vivien Lyra Blair).

During the flashback, the viewer discovers that Malorie, Boy and Girl are trying to find a walled refuge from the terror. All they must do is take a boat and ride the current toward the sound of birds. At one point, in order to navigate the rapids, someone will have to take their blindfold off.

Although “Bird Box” seems to be a hit among Netflix watchers, I suspect it will not win any major awards. However, if you are up for a psychological thriller and if you can handle the anxiety produced by the dizzying speeds of back and forth flashbacks, it is worth the two hours and four minutes of wasted time.