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Mace & Crown | April 24, 2018

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Monarch Movie Minute: ‘The Lobster,’ ‘Songs My Brothers Taught Me’ and ‘A Christmas Horror Story’

Monarch Movie Minute: ‘The Lobster,’ ‘Songs My Brothers Taught Me’ and ‘A Christmas Horror Story’
Tyler Passarge
Staff writer

‘The Lobster’ (2016) | R | 119 min. 🎬🎬🎬🎬

In a dystopian world that requires every person to have a romantic partner, David (Colin Farrell) is sent to a resort to find someone after his girlfriend leaves him. At this resort, he is tasked to find a suitable mate in a matter of forty-five days. If David does not meet this deadline, it is by law that he must be transformed into an animal of his choosing, his choice being a lobster.

Initially, when David tries putting himself out there, he meets an odd bunch of characters that either put him off or feel disinterested to him. Things begin to take a turn, though, when David finds himself initiated in a group that rebel against the idea of love and companionship to a militant level. This turn grows to be unfortunate for David when he begins to fall for one of them.

Romance is something that many people in society strive for, and at times it can feel weird and isolating to be the only one not with a partner. This is the conversation “The Lobster” carries with its audience using pitch-dark humor and cruel nature. This is a film that takes that anxiety regarding love and isolation and builds a world around it.

While “The Lobster” is strong all the way through, the second half the movie does take a dark turn that manages to throw the movie a little off balance. Suddenly, the quirky nature that encompasses the first half of the movie turns into something far more bitter and mean spirited. Still, “The Lobster” is something of a hidden gem that boasts a wildly inventive premise that never defies itself.

This film is available on Amazon Prime

‘Songs My Brothers Taught Me’ (2015) | NR | 98 min. 🎬🎬🎬

As a high school senior who has lived on his Native American reservation his whole life, Johnny (John Reddy) has dreams of leaving and starting a new life with his girlfriend. However, leaving home means that Johnny also has to leave his little sister in the care of his erratic mother. When she hears about Johnny’s plans to move away, his little sister begins to hang around a dangerous bunch.

Johnny begins to question his choice to leave when he receives news that his estranged father has passed away. Though Johnny is already used to his father not being around, his sister needs guidance after the loss. It’s at this moment that the high school senior must contemplate whether or not it’s a good idea to leave home.

Using unknown and inexperienced actors to help tell her story, director Chloe Zhao creates a visually and aesthetically rich film. The narrative that captures everyday life in a present-day reservation completely immerses the audience in a film that feels real. The film also benefits from its characters who all feel like genuine people, thanks to the wonderful cast.

Story wise, there is enough drama that will keep audiences invested in the film. However, “Songs My Brothers Taught Me” does tend to drag during the middle portion of the film. The themes and dilemmas that the characters deal with feel fleshed out, but there is a lot of repetition that fails to give the film something more. For a quiet indie film that comes close to reality, this is a movie that still has a lot to offer.

This film is available on Netflix.

‘A Christmas Horror Story’ (2015) | NR | 99 min. 🎬🎬🎬

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! People are piling into retail stores to find the perfect gift for their loved ones. Houses in neighborhoods are illuminated with lights that only make one ponder the high cost on their electric bill. There are even overworked college students unwinding after the apocalyptic period known as “Finals Week.” What better way is there to celebrate this time of year, but by watching Christmas movies?

For those looking for a more atypical Christmas movie that feeds the horror-loving side of all of us, perhaps “A Christmas Horror Story” is the title that warrants consideration. Framed as an anthology picture, the film follows four different stories weaved throughout that find various characters battling supernatural elements for their holiday.

Interestingly enough, the film is able to blend different styles of horror without making the tone feel choppy. As audiences watch “A Horror Christmas Story,” they are introduced to effective segments, such as one where a couple struggles with their child being taken over by a changeling. Other segments that audiences will have fun with include Saint Nick himself waging a bloody battle with zombie elves.

Much of the time the film is stunted visually by its low budget and the segments can take a while getting into. However, “A Christmas Horror Story” is quite fun and offers something different in the canonical list of Christmas movies. Is it the best of the unconventional Christmas movies? Not by a long shot. With a few glasses of eggnog, though, “A Christmas Horror Story” is worth a look.

This film is available on Netflix.

Rating System:

🎬 — Straight to DVD.
🎬🎬 — Well, there goes 2 hours of my life!
🎬🎬🎬 — Add to my queue.
🎬🎬🎬🎬 — A must see.
🎬🎬🎬🎬🎬 — Mind blown!