To The Bone (2017)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

Ellen has an eating disorder. She doesn’t want to chew, let alone swallow, anything with calories. As a result, she’s lost a truly frightening amount of weight, and there is a very real chance she might die. So, as a last ditch effort to save her life, Ellen’s stepmom signs her up for a special,eating disorder treatment program. She’ll have to live in a house, with other anorexic kids, and partake in therapy sessions with Dr. Beckham, played by Keanu Reeves. If all goes well, she’ll be cured, and allowed to go home. If it doesn’t, she’ll die. Those are the only options, and with the way the film starts out, either outcome is entirely plausible.

To The Bone is a sympathetic, socially-conscious movie, with some fine performances, and some witty dialogue. I watched it purely on a whim, seeing it on Netflix, and hearing some good things about it second hand. And even though I don’t like how it ended, and I wish it could have given me a little bit more insight into why Ellen developed this eating disorder, I am glad I saw it. This is the kind of small-budget indie film that really relies on its script and its lead actors, and it really delivers on both fronts. Everyone in the cast does a superb job, and the script gives all the characters a distinct voice and some funny lines. Which surprised me. For a story that is as serious as it is, there is a lot of good humor in here. THere’s some risky humor too–for instance, they make Holocaust and dead baby jokes, and it doesn’t always work. But, for the most part, the jokes really land, and I could totally see myself going back and watching this movie again, just for the dialogue.

I was also very impressed with how deftly the filmmakers handled the topic of eating disorders. See, you all probably don’t know this about me, but, back in high school, I had an eating disorder. There was a period, in my junior year, when I didn’t want to eat anything, and when I lost a lot of weight, about 15 pounds, in a very short time span. I’m talking two to three weeks. Of course, I didn’t know it was an eating disorder at the time. I just thought I was being health conscious. When I watched the film, however, and I saw all the things that these anorexic characters were doing, like fretting about how many calories were in their food, skipping meals, doing exercise, even at times when it wasn’t appropriate, held a mirror up to my own behavior, and helped me realize that there really was something wrong with me. For that reason, and the fine performances and dialogue, I would recommend you watch this Netflix original. It’s not a perfect film, as I said, the humor doesn’t always land, and the ending gets very weird and hallucinogenic, but, for the most part, it’s solid. And I’m sure you’ll enjoy it if you see it.

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John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is the Name, And Views Are My Game.

After avenging his dog’s murder, and recovering his stolen car, retired hit man John Wick stumbles home, hoping to finally mourn the loss of his wife. But before he even has the chance to breathe, an old associate appears on his doorstep, asking him to perform one last hit. John refuses, saying he’s out of the game, but ultimately agrees when the associate in question reminds him that John owes him a favor. So, with a heavy heart, John sets off for Rome, hoping to finish this last job quickly, only to learn, once it’s far too late, that he’s in way over his head. What follows is a high octane, hard hitting action extravaganza, with amazing fight choreography, incredible stunt work, and the ever-present charisma of Keanu Reeves.

The first John Wick was a huge surprise, not simply for its astounding action sequences, and deliberate avoidance of shaky cam and quick cutting, but also for the unique world and mythology it set up. Audiences were fascinated by things like The Continental hotel, where assassins use special currency, and are not permitted to “conduct business.” Fans everywhere demanded a sequel with more breathtaking action, and more explorations of this mysterious underground society. And in John Wick: Chapter 2, you get both of those things, because not only does this movie have some of the best, most brutal action sequences I’ve seen in a long time, but it really expands upon the world that was set up in the first film. You learn more about the rules of this assassins universe, are shown some really cool places where hit men hang out and get their weapons, and you even see how “accounts” are put out on people. If you’ve read my reviews for films like The Chaser or Man From Nowhere, you know I’ll happily take a well-crafted thriller over an “artistic”, “Oscar-worthy” picture any day. John Wick Chapter 2 is precisely the kind of film I’m talking about when I say that. It’s a good time from start to finish, and avoids insulting your intelligence by having a smart script, good acting, and high production values.

Now, of course, no film ever made was entirely free of flaws, and John Wick: Chapter 2 does have a few. For starters, as amazing as the action is, there are times where it gets both excessive and unrealistic. John gets run over at least four times in this movie, and he somehow manages to survive each crash. There are also several scenes where he kills people in excruciatingly brutal fashion, and even I cringed when I was watching them. If you don’t have a high tolerance for violence, you probably won’t like this film. They also introduce a TON of new characters in this movie, who I honestly had trouble keeping track of after a while. But, in the end, those are the only problems I had with the film, and those are pretty minor when you think about it. So, really, there’s not much wrong with John Wick: Chapter 2. It’s fun, fast-paced, beautiful to look at, and expands upon the world of assassins established in the first film. Give it a look when you’ve got the time.