Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of October 7, 2019

Joker
Rated R for strong bloody violence, disturbing behavior, language and brief sexual images
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 69%
In Theaters

From Todd Phillips, the mind that brought us The Hangover and Old School, comes this psychological drama about the origin of the The Joker, sans Batman, sort of. Set in what looks like the 70s in Gotham, Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) is a disturbed young man, suffering from we now know as pseudobulbar affect, a disease that causes its victims episodes of uncontrollable laughter and crying. But after a depressing series of life events and a moment of criminal revenge on a train, he takes on a new persona, creating a chaotic chain reaction through Gotham. At first this film really started to get to me, and I found it to be quite fascinating. I have to admit that it is extremely well-made, but I was quite unhappy with the twists leading to the ending. I would have really liked a frightening villain backstory, but we have here is simply a frightening movie. Personally, films like this make me ill. I would put it in with movies like Taxi Driver and Natural Born Killers, and not only would I rather not see them, I would have preferred they were never made in the first place. I will admit that I was feeling paranoia due to thoughts about the killings in Colorado during Dark Knight, but sitting in the theater watching, I couldn’t help but feel vulnerable and scared due to environmental factors such as people laughing during scenes that just weren’t funny and folks leaving the theater for extended lengths, obviously now just to use the restroom. I became hyper aware of everything around me and I left the theater feeling sick and far from entertained. What should have been a fascinating and riveting movie-going experience, turned into two hours of my life I would not like to repeat. My biggest fear is that films like this set people off, making them cold to the illness and the violence. There was a moment in the film where I thought they might deliver more of a Batman film to us, but the end result turned out to just be a sick, depraved journey I would have rather not taken. F

Midsommar
Rated R for disturbing ritualistic violence and grisly images, strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 83%
Available on Disc and Streaming

Hot on the heels from his hit horror flick Hereditary, Ari Aster brings us yet another disturbing tale about a group of friends who travel to Sweden to experience the summer ceremonies and rituals of a rural village. Once there, they find themselves both disturbed and intrigued by the events they experience. While the entire film is extremely unsettling, the story is just twisted enough to make you want to be an observer and thankful not to be a participant. I never found myself scared per se, but I was creeped-out effectively. What really struck was the authenticity of the production and the stellar performances by the convincing and brave cast of actors. This one is certainly not for everyone, but this type of horror is much easier to enjoy than the slashers that still pervade theaters. B

Annabelle Comes Home
Rated R for horror violence and terror
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 65%
Available on Disc and Streaming

I have to admit that I felt a little betrayed by this new film in the Annabelle franchise, mostly because they sold it as a Conjuring film rather than a hybrid. I do love the young actress McKenna Grace, and she does a fine job of carrying the picture about the scariest doll in the universe, but I wanted something more and certainly something deeper. The film takes place as the Warren’s daughter is left home with babysitters, only to get in trouble when one of the girls allows Annabelle out of her protective display case. The relatively young cast does a good enough job and there are a couple of creepy moments, but the authenticity of the first two Conjuring films just doesn’t exist here, and the film suffers from it. In the end it just turns into another Annabelle film, devoid of the promises it gave leading up to it. C+

Anna and the Apocalypse
Rated R for zombie violence and gore, language, and some sexual material
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
Available on Disc and Streaming

In the attempt to create yet another smash up of genres, the team behind this Scottish indie decided on a teenage-zombie-comedy-musical.  Surprisingly, the songs and singers are all high quality, making this experience far better than you would think possible.  Sure the blood and gore get old quickly, but the overall creativity on display wins the day.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this started popping up in small stage live productions once the home audience begins to catch on to it.  B-

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