Film Review: BIRD BOX (USA 2018) ***1/2

Bird Box Poster
Trailer

A woman and a pair of children are blindfolded and make their way through a dystopian setting along a river.

Director:

Susanne Bier

Writers:

Eric Heisserer (screenplay), Josh Malerman (novel)

It had to happen after the box-office phenomenon of John Krasinski’s A QUIET PLACE – a female version of a horror dystopian setting of a film that could alternatively be called A DARK PLACE.  In BIRD BOX, the characters are not allowed to see or contact a virus of some sort that would kill them.  The protagonist is a female and so is the director, Dane Susanne Bier who has made a few acclaimed foreign films.  She brings structure, insight, craft and emotion into an otherwise run of the mill futuristic film.

BIRD BOX is an American post-apocalyptic horror film directed by Susanne Bier and with a screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on the 2014 novel of the same name by Josh Malerman.

The script is radically different from Malerman’s novel.  Quite a few incidents have been omitted like the wolf attack or simplified like the sister’s death.  The ending is softened to a happier one.  So as not to give off a spoiler, one should read the book (or the summary available on wikipedia) to discover what real horrors took place in order for the survivors to live in the sanctuary.

So what is the reason behind this end of the world scenario?  In Alfred Hitchcock’s THE BIRDS, a  hysterical woman offers her theory while customers are held up at a gas station bar.  In BIRD BOX, one character offers his educated sounding theory to those held up in the house.  But another calls him out.  “And where do you work?  In a  grocery store?  Then he claims he is writing a book on the end of the world while getting all his research from the internet.  Another satirical moment occurs when the crazed John Malkovich character that he will make the end of the world great again.

The film follows a young woman (Sandra Bullock) who, along with a pair of unnamed children, (called boy and girl, for reasons made apparent in the film) must make it through a forest and river that includes rapids, blindfolded to avoid a supernatural entity that takes the appearance of its victims worst fears and causes them to commit suicide.  The film is called BIRD BOX because the woman carries a box of birds – the birds immune to the epidemic, supposed to be able to warn them and guide them to safety.  As the journey unfolds (with title indicating the number of days on river), flashbacks, set in the period 5 years earlier explain what happened prior to the woman and three children before being left to their own devices.  As the time period closes in to the present, the story gets a little confusing though not difficult to discern with a little thinking.

Before the 3 are left by themselves, there is a period where the woman and a few others  are held up in different places that include a house and a grocery story.  The group is played by a variety of known and excellent actors that includes Trevante Rhodes, Jacki Weaver, Rosa Salazar, Danielle Macdonald, Lil Rel Howery, Tom Hollander, BD Wong, Sarah Paulson and John Malkovich.  This is the film’s best segment. They argue vehemently with each other as to what to do.  This potion is reminiscent of the excellent original 2000 Spanish film, Alex de la Iglsia’s LE BAR (THE BAR), where an assortment of characters are held up in a bar while a disease is occurring outside and they cannot let anyone in for fear of being contaminated.

BIRD BOX is to be commended as an excellent dystopian futuristic film with strong female content and ethic diversity.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2AsIXSh2xo

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Film Review: OCEAN’S 8 (USA 2018) ***1/2

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TV Program

Debbie Ocean gathers an all-female crew to attempt an impossible heist at New York City’s yearly Met Gala.

Director:

Gary Ross

Writers:

Gary Ross (screenplay by), Olivia Milch (screenplay by) | 3 more credits »

 

OCEAN’S 8 (original title OCEAN’S EIGHT) has almost nothing in common with the other OCEAN movies.  There is no casino, no rat pack and no Steven Soderbergh directing, though Soderbergh has producer credit.  Matt Damon of the OCEAN films makes a quiet cameo while the atmosphere of the crime caper is kept intact.  As most are aware of by now, OCEAN’S EIGHT is a female spin-off of the rat pack OCEAN films.  The female rat pack rob the prize jewels during the annual Mets benefit gala dinner.

The film opens with Debbie Ocean (Oscar Winner Sandra Bullock) released from jail when she promises to live the simple life.  Yea, right.  She has no intention whatsoever to alter her life of crime.   Inspired by her brother, Danny Ocean, Debbie attempts to pull off the heist of the century at New York City’s star-studded annual Met Gala.  Her first step is to assemble the perfect crew (which the film introduces one by one): Amita (Mindy Kaling), an Indian jewel expert, Tammy, (Sarah Paulson), a now housewife, previously Debbie’ crime partner, best friend, Lou (Oscar Winner Cate Blanchett), Asian thief, Constance (Awkwafina), Tech savvy genius, Nine Ball, (Rihanna) and Rose (Helena Bonham Carter).   Bell will wardrobe mega-star Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) who will be wearing $150 million worth Cartier necklace that they will steal together with other assorted jewellery at the Met Museum.   More fun is entered into the proceedings with insurance investigator, John Frazier (late night show host James Corden) behaving like an efficient but sarcastic Sherlock Holmes.

The actors appear to be having a really good time particularly Carter,  Hathaway and Corden and their enthusiasm rubs off well on the audience.

In these times of female equality, it is good to see a solid well-made female crime caper.  What is immediately notable is that there are no fights, firepower, pyrotechnics or car chases. It is a tough task to keep audience attention from waning and suspense sustained.  The script co-written by Olivia Milch and Ross (director of SEABISCUIT, PLEASANTVILLE, THE HUNGER GAMES and writer of BRUBAKER, BIG) and direction by Ross achieve the rare feat.  The film runs over two hours and the only time I glanced at my watch was tat the 2-hour mark.

Those who are in the know of the haute couture industry (sorry – you are not, if you do not know who Anna Wintour or André Leon Talley are) will enjoy this film more for the appearances of cameos, the familiarity of fashion events and a few fashion inside jokes.  The filmmakers have assembled a stunning cast of cameos, like Matt Damon, Carl Reiner and Elliot Gould as well as a whole lot playing themselves such as  Anna Wintour, Zayn Malik, Katie Holmes, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Kim Kardashian, Adriana Lima, Kylie Jenner, Alexander Wang, Kendall Jenner, Olivia Munn, Zac Posen, Hailey Baldwin, Derek Blasberg and `Lauren Santo Domingo.

Don’t expect any life lessons or messages as the film does the reverse, promoting theft and embezzlement as well as promoting the satisfaction from exacting a revenge. But the film, provides classy, sophisticated entertainment in place silly fodder like BLOCKERS, LIFE OF THE PARTY and I FEEL PRETTY that have fart and shit (though there are puke) jokes.

Female version of Hollywood blockbusters have done critically like the recent female GHOSTBUSTERS.  OCEAN’S 8 cost a hefty $70 million.  The former film was the most successful comedy at the box-office of that year but only made a tiny profit due to its huge cost.  OCEAN’S 8 might be in the same boat.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFWF9dU5Zc0

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Happy Birthday: Sandra Bullock

sandrabullock.jpgSandra Bullock

Born: July 26, 1964 in Arlington, Virginia, USA

By starring in The Blind Side (2009) she became the only actress to date to have a film marketed with her name solely above the title (i.e. based on her star power alone, and not a franchise or tentpoll picture) pass the $200 million mark in domestic gross.

 

 

The Thing Called Love
1993
dir. Peter Bogdanovich
also starring
River Phoenix
Dermot Mulroney
SPEEDSpeed
1994
dir. Jan de Bont
also starring
Keanu Reeves
Dennis Hopper
PRACTICAL MAGICPractical Magic
1998
dir. Griffin Dunne
Starring
Bullock
Nicole Kidman
A TIME TO KILLA Time to Kill
1996
dir. Joel Schumacher
also starring
Matthew McConaughey
Samuel L. Jackson
MURDER BY NUMBERSMurder by Number
2002
dir. Barbet Schroeder
Starring
Sandra Bullock
Ben Chaplin
Two Weeks Notice
2002
dir. Marc Lawrence
starring
Sandra Bullock
Hugh Grant
PREMONITIONPremonition
2007
dir. Mennan Yapo
also starring
Julian McMahon
Nia Long
THE PROPOSALThe Proposal
2009
dir. Anne Fletcher
also starring
Ryan Reynolds
Mary Steenburgen
THE BLIND SIDE Movie PosterThe Blind Side
dir. John Lee Hancock
Stars:
Quinton Aaron
Bullock
Tim McGraw
ALL ABOUT STEVE Movie PosterAll About Steve
dir. Phil Traill
Starring
Sandra Bullock
Bradley Cooper
Thomas Haden Church
MOVIE POSTERCRASH
2004
dir. Paul Haggis
Starring:
Don Cheadle
Sandra Bullock
MOVIE POSTEREXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE
dir. Stephen Daldry
Stars
Thomas Horn
Tom Hanks
MOVIE POSTERGRAVITY
2013
dir. Alfonso Cuaron
Stars:
Sandra Bullock
George Clooney
MOVIE POSTERTHE HEAT
2013
dir. Paul Feig
Stars:
Sandra Bullock
Melissa McCarthy
MOVIE POSTERTHE LAKE HOUSE
2006
dir. Alejandro Agresti
Stars:
Keanu Reeves
Sandra Bullock
MOVIE POSTERINFAMOUS
2006
dir. Douglas McGrath
Stars:
Toby Jones
Daniel Craig

TOP SANDRA BULLOCK PHOTOSSEE – and JESSE JAMES PHOTO

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SEE – and MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY PHOTO

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SEE – and SCARLETT JOHANSSON PHOTO

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SEE – DOGS PHOTO

SEE – DRAWING PHOTO

SEE – EARS PHOTO

SEE – EW PHOTO

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SEE – EYES PHOTO

SEE – FACE PHOTO

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SEE – GLAMOUR PHOTO

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SEE – GLOBES DRESS PHOTO

SEE – GOLDEN GLOBES PHOTO

SEE – GOWN PHOTO

SEE – HAIRSTYLE PHOTO

SEE – HEELS PHOTO

SEE – HELLO PHOTO

SEE – HIGHLIGHTS PHOTO

SEE – HOT PHOTO

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SEE – JAW PHOTO

SEE – JEANS PHOTO

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SEE – LEATHER DRESS PHOTO

SEE – LEGY PHOTO

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SEE – LIPS PHOTO

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SEE – MAKEUP PHOTO

SEE – MARCHESA PHOTO

SEE – MARGARET TATE PHOTO

SEE – MERYL STREEP KISS PHOTO

SEE – MINI SKIRT PHOTO

SEE – MODEL PHOTO

SEE – NOSE PHOTO

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SEE – PEOPLE PHOTO

SEE – PONYTAIL PHOTO

SEE – POSTER PHOTO

SEE – PURPLE DRESS PHOTO

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SEE – ROLLING STONE PHOTO

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SEE – VERA WANG PHOTO

SEE – VOGUE PHOTO

SEE – WALLPAPER PHOTO

SEE – WEDDING DRESS PHOTO

SEE – WITHOUT MAKEUP PHOTO

SEE – YOUNG PHOTO