The Morning After: Nov. 19, 2018

Welcome to The Morning After, where I share with you what movies I’ve seen over the past week. Below, you will find short reviews of those movies along with a star rating. Full length reviews may come at a later date.

So, here is what I watched this past week:


After a seven-year career as a short filmmaker, Ari Aster has made the transition to features with this chilling and unexpected horror gem. As a mother deals with grief over the death of her mother, her family must struggle with her increasing paranoia.

The film is broken into three incredibly distinct acts. The first act ends with an entirely unexpected twist that redefines the second third of the film, then swerves even further off course in the last third. Each of these course corrections is expertly handled, driving the audience crazy with anticipation for what bizarre thing will happen next and how to connect everything together once the credits role.

For her part, Toni Collette dominates the film like great actresses should. Her gradual descent into madness is convincing, frightening, and intense. Gabriel Byrne as her husband, Alex Wolff as her son, and Milly Shapiro as her daughter are also superb. What strikes the viewer most about this film is how similar it is to several films of the past while also entirely different. Comparisons could be made to films like Rosemary’s Baby or Children of the Corn, but they are mere frames of reference for the inventive energy at play in this thoroughly and freshly surprising feature debut.

Isle of Dogs

Wes Anderson’s quirky style of filmmaking has been well served over the years with numerous films that take the cinematic form in new and compelling directions. His visual style is unique in cinema history and when he chooses to depart from tradition and make unusual films, such as his stop-motion animated features Fantastic Mr. Fox and now Isle of Dogs, it’s a genuine treat.

Set in the near future, centuries after a battle between a proud noble family and the canines who defeated them, a disease has spread among the dog population and a descendant of that defeated family has sowed distrust of their faithful companions. With the fervent support of the public, the government agrees to exile all pooches to Trash Island where they can waste away and leave society safe with their absence.

When the mayor’s ward steals a plan to go in search of his caning guardian, he is protected and guided across the wastelands by a pack of dogs voiced by Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Jeff Goldblum, and Bill Murray. This quintet are engaging and the story moves swiftly and passionately with the kind of visceral attention to detail that only Anderson could shape. It’s a richly detailed film that furthers the craft of stop-motion animation in ways that only Anderson and Laika have been able to in the last decade.

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