May 29th - June 4th Downloads
& DVDs
  • Annihilation:

    Although visually amazing and carrying a strong sci-fi-horror storyline, I found this movie wanting because of the way it ended.  Based on the first book of the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeere, and starring Natalie Portman as Lena, a biologist who volunteers for an unusual mission, it tells the story of something called "The Shimmer," an area that has apparently been taken over by an alien presence.  Over a three year period, several groups of military operatives had gone into The Shimmer, but none have returned.  When Lena's army husband disappears with his unit, and then somehow reappears at home a year later, but not really being himself, she volunteers to go in to find out what is happening.  Within the area, which is growing day by day, and which threatens the entire world, Lena and four other women, following their psychologist team leader, begin to learn how challenging the area inside the perimeter can be.  They cross over, and find themselves waking up in their tents some four days later.  No one recalls setting up camp, there is no recollection as to how they got where they are now, and each begins to manifest strange symptoms.  As they proceed to the lighthouse, the place where the Shimmer is believed to have started, they encounter mutated animals including a huge crocodile with teeth like a shark, and a bear-like creature that snatches one of the women, leaving her dead.  Although moving slowly in the beginning, the story becomes deeper and more intense, but ends leaving us up in the air.  In part, that's because there are two more books that follow Annihilation and there are characters who don't appear in the movie that are germane to the story.  I found the payoff at the end something of a disappointment, and have no interest to wait around for a year or more to see if a sequel would help sort this out.  Interesting story, well told, but a let-down in the final frames.  Rated 14A.


  • Early Man:

    From the producers of Wallace & Gromit, this stop-motion animation set in the Stone Age when mammoths roamed the earth, and not-so-smart cave men did what they could to cope is funny, cute, a little cheeky, but it may not knock your socks off as did Shaun the Sheep Movie, or Chicken Run.  Here we have Dug (voice of Eddie Redmayne) a member of a small, rabbit-hunting tribe living in a little valley, with designs on hunting something bigger, trying to get his mates onside ... going after a mammoth might be just the ticket.   Everything changes when Lord Nooth shows up, voiced by Tom Hiddleston.  Nooth has just announced the end of the Stone Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age, making Dug and his brethren a subservient crew.  This calls for a major confrontation, but it's not with clubs and rocks ... instead it is at trying to beat the emerging Bronze Age people at their own game - which happens to be soccer - who knew?  Turns out that the Stone Agers are pretty handy at the game too, and although they don't bend it like Beckham, they do an inspiring job of setting the tone for what is a fun movie for kids, and okay for adults too.  Rated PG.

  • Wonderstruck:

    Based on the 2011 novel by Brian Selznick, who also wrote the screenplay, this is the story of two children, 50 years apart, each embarking on a quest that is life-changing for them.  In 1927, Rose (Millicent Simmons) runs away from her father’s home in New Jersey, to find her estranged mother, a famous actress named Lillian Mayhew (Julianne Moore). The story cuts to 1977 where we meet a young boy named Ben (Oakes Fegley), recently orphaned, who runs away from his home in Minnesota to find his real father.  When this movie made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in France, it received a three-minute standing ovation. It plays out as a classic mystery as we try to figure out how the two apparently unrelated stories are connected, and it does so in such a fashion as to be just as intriguing for children as it is for adults. Rated PG.

  •  The Conjuring 2 (2016):

    Based on one of the most critically documented hauntings ever, real life ghost experts Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga) travel to England and investigate what has come to be known as the Enfield Haunting.  The family living in a home see the beginnings of strange activities, dishes flying off countertops, doors slamming, and soon are living in a full-blown battle zone between the powers of this world and some other one.  A tale of demonic possession and a conspiracy to spin the tale in a different way plays out with exceptional results.  Rated 14A. 



    Candy Jar (2018):

    Dancing with the Stars host Tom Bergeron plays a key role in this Netflix original that tells the story of a pair of high school debaters, one black, one white, who invariably take opposing ends of every issue.  With the opportunity to get into the right college hanging in the balance, the question becomes whether they can manage better together or apart.  Helen Hunt also starts.  Rated 14A. 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2017):

This dramatization of actual events looks at how an African American woman in the 1950s became an unwitting pioneer when cellular research took parts of a biopsied cancer tumor from her body, and cultured them.  These cells live on and are critical to medical research to this day.  So in a way, Henrietta Lacks survives - at least parts of her do ... an interesting and intriguing story with Rose Byrne and Leslie Uggams in the cast.  Rated 14A. 



If you missed the first two episodes that set the ratings world afire, you can stream the series from Amazon ... I was never a fan of the original series, but I have to admit that this one is a lot of fun ... very well-made, and a lot of laughs!