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In “Ingrid Goes West” It’s All Boozy Brunches And Weekends In The Desert Till Someone Gets Hurt.

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As a youth, I loved seeing movies where the whole point was that grown-ups really don’t have anything figured out, that everyone’s just bumbling through adulthood, taking blind stabs in the dark and hoping they somehow add up to good decisions. The Big Chill is one of my favorites in that category – you’ve got all these well-sweatered adults, seemingly keeping it together with varying degrees of success in their personal and professional lives.

But the minute they’re reunited, everyone safely under the same roof again and kitchen dancing to Motown classics, the masks drop, and it becomes clear that, in one way or another, they’ve all been faking it. Faking their happiness with their families, faking their confidence in their career choices, faking their contentment with how their lives turned out so differently than they had imagined 15 years ago. What I remember so clearly – watching it as a kid who had the whole minefield of growing up still stretched out before her – is that the film doesn’t judge them for their attempts to trick the outside world (and sometimes themselves) that everything’s going better than it really is. Instead, in The Big Chill, we get an acknowledgement that most of the characters are doing what they have to in order to get by. Now, in the thick of adulthood, its complications and let-downs, I can confirm that for most of us, some faking it is necessary, even if its just so we can face the next day of bumbling through it all over again.

There’s a moment late in Matt Spicer’s new film, Ingrid Goes West, that reminded me of that hard truth. In it, a character who’s worked so incredibly hard at presenting her life as perfect, to her circle of hip acquaintances as well as to her thousands of social media followers, is confronted by the title character, Ingrid. Ingrid angrily points to the reality of this character’s situation – that the people closest to her are deeply flawed, that her relationships are built on delusions, that her life is anything but perfect. And what I loved about this moment is that it doesn’t break this character or even seem to upset her. Unlike Ingrid, she knows that creating a gulf between your private truth and your public face isn’t always a betrayal of some truer nature, but rather a survival tactic for the ups and downs of reality.

Of course, for the characters in the The Big Chill, that gulf existed before filters and hashtags came along to put a more curated, but also glaring, focus on its contradictions. Ingrid has gotten plenty of attention for skewering our social media obsession with avocado toast that is also #blessed in the digital age. There’s a frightening accuracy in the way the movies captures that Pavlovian system of desire and reward when your phone dings, and – there it is – another human validating your existence. As Ingrid, Aubrey Plaza takes the social anxiety that comes with constant updates and the dreaded FOMO and dials it up to a level of jittery paranoia that’s uncomfortable to watch. And yet, as scared as you become of what she might say or do next, you can’t look away – an opening shot of her mascara-streaked face, eyes hungrily searching as she scroll and taps, scroll and taps, speaks to anyone who’s ever looked at images of happy people doing exciting things on their phone and wondered, why are they there having fun while I’m here, crying in my car and eating handfuls of cold french fries. So all of us really.

It’s a brilliant performance that holds the film together. Plaza sometimes suffers from being typecast or underrated because she does one thing – dry, acerbic wit – incredibly well. But as in other roles I’ve seen her in, she imbues Ingrid’s emotional life with a kaleidoscope of feelings under its dark exterior. Ingrid is a broken outsider dealing with the emotional fall out from her mother’s recent death, and she pursues an Insta star she stumbles upon online (Taylor Sloane, played by Elizabeth Olsen) all the way to Los Angeles. With the money her mother leaves her, she scrambles to buy the trappings of a life that will launch her into Taylor’s orbit. But only once she lies and cheats her way there – to the status of a new neighbor and then trusted friend, does the real fun/horror show start. Watch Ingrid’s faces as she watches the “normal” people around her laugh and chit chat, and you can see the internal acrobatics she has to go through to try and mimic their interactions. Whenever the real Ingrid slips out, there’s an intensity, a hot need that doesn’t match her new LA friends’ casual coolness – and in those moments you can also see them start to question who this new person is and why she’s sitting among them.

Ingrid doesn’t understand the difference between the white lies and pretty pictures everyone else uses to tell a nice story about their lives and the complete fabrication she creates from her online stalking of Taylor. For most of the film it’s her downfall, though the ending suggests it could also provide a sort of twisted redemption. Ultimately the movie recognizes the absurdity of our current preoccupation with social media without demonizing it. The problem isn’t that our lives aren’t as amazing as we present them to be, because that’s been true long before we started posting pictures of every #OOTD and mimosa. The problem is that a million followers can never equal one household of old friends.  However popular you get, you still need someone to share all the imperfection with, someone you can cry about it and laugh about it with, someone to dance through the kitchen with to Smokey Robinson, all the while knowing your adult lives will never perfect, but that this moment comes close enough.

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Ingrid Goes West is playing in theaters now.

The Big Chill is available to rent on Amazon Video.

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Frogfathers lessons from the Normandy surf

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Frog Fathers: Lessons from the Normandy Surf” is a deeply moving documentary directed by Bob Whitney, narrated by John C McGinley, and presented by World of Warships and FORCE BLUE. It chronicles the journey of four Navy SEAL veterans revisiting the site of the D-Day landings to honor their forefathers and gain a deeper understanding of the sacrifices made during World War II.

The film’s strength lies in its raw emotional impact and historical significance. It blends personal narratives with archival footage, offering a poignant tribute to the bravery and resilience of those who fought on June 6, 1944. The veterans’ reflections and the cinematography effectively capture the solemnity and reverence of their pilgrimage.

While the documentary focuses primarily on the veterans’ experiences, it also serves as an educational tool, highlighting the strategic importance of the Normandy invasion and its pivotal role in shaping modern history. The film’s respectful approach and engaging storytelling make it a compelling watch for anyone interested in military history and the enduring legacy of the D-Day heroes.

Overall, “Frog Fathers” is a powerful and heartfelt documentary that honors the past while inspiring present and future generations to remember the sacrifices made for freedom 

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American Horror Story: Delicate

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As most of us are already aware, the 12th Season of AHS has been fraught with all kinds of differences to the previous seasons, mainly in that this is the first one to be based entirely off a novel, ‘Delicate Condition’ by Danielle Valentine. The first half of the season aired in October 2023 to mediocre reviews, while the SAG-AFTRA strike caused production and airing delays for the latter half of the season, and the episodes of Part 2 were all cut to less than an hour long apiece. And none of that is even getting into the disjointed attempt at storytelling for Season 12, so let’s dive into this! 

Meet Anna Victoria Alcott (Emma Roberts), former young ling star of Hollywood now struggling to recapture fame as an adult, who wants a baby, very very badly. Bad enough to drive herself and her husband Dex (Matt Czuchry) through multiple unsuccessful rounds of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), bad enough to keep trying no matter how crushing each failure turns out to be, bad enough to involve her purported best friend and bougie publicist Siobhan Corbyn (Kim Kardashian) in her struggles, and maybe, just maybe, bad enough to give up on a burgeoning resurgence of her career after interest in her comeback role for The Auteur begins garnering her Oscar-worthy attention. 

So, Anna and Dex are going to go through yet another round of IVF, likely one of their last attempts at it, from a different doctor, Dr. Andrew Hill (Denis O’Hare), and clinic based on Siobhan’s recommendation. And already, strange things are beginning to happen to Anna – her appointments that she set herself begin springing up incorrectly, a doom saying woman called Preacher (Julia White) shows up spouting warnings about trusting no one, dire warnings appear in unlikely places, and BTW, it seems as though long-suffering but good-nurtured Dex has a side-piece too. It doesn’t help that Dex’s new partner at his art gallery, Sonia Shawcross (Annabelle Dexter-Jones), bears a striking resemblance to his dead ex-wife Adeline, either. Those spiked emerald heels start appearing weirdly too, and it seems as though no one will listen to Anna as she grows more and more suspicious that some sort of sinister cult has designs on her as-yet-unborn baby. At the same time, Anna tries to live the life of a successful returning actress, attending parties and gallery openings while draping her rapidly-expanding middle in shimmering fabrics and actively ‘campaigning’ for that little golden statue that most actors covet. Competition is fierce, even among her co-stars of The Auteur, and while Anna wants to be supportive of her fellow entertainers, she clearly appears to be incapable of doing both at the same time – wanting the baby and the little gold award at the same time is too much to ask, apparently. 

Elsewhere, mostly in the past, various women in states of desperation formed from one situation or another are visited by sinister-looking women in prim black dresses, headgear reminiscent of – to me anyway – an odd cross betwixt birds and bunnies, my guess is an ostensive nod to fertility in general, and a general feeling of blood-bound witchery about them at critical moments of crossroad choices. 

Though the second half of the season moves a good deal faster than the first, the attempts at callbacks and reminder flashes to Part 1 hit with all the impact of a dropped bag of garbage onto their friends Talia’s (Julia Canfield) borrowed bougie kitchen floor – splat, into incomprehensible silence, from all parties, both characters and audience, concerned. Even the reminders that, in Part 1 of Delicate Dex’s mother Virginia Harding (Debra Monk) did indeed have perfectly valid memories of abuse at the hands of a black cult and Dex’s own father Dex Sr. (Reed Birney), the revelation pales and peels away in the face of Dex’s true parentage. 

Which brings us back around full circle kinda sorta, to the only real character worth a damn in this entire miserable season of strange feminism and aspirations of world domination through a kind of idiotic Rosemary’s Baby nightmare scenario, we should have known she’d steal the show when Kardashian was cast for it, Siobhan Corbyn, leader of the blood cult her high and mighty (old) self. Throughout the whole show her character has remained exactly the same, and it’s a wonder Anna can stare at her all stupefied while Siobhan does her villain speech at the end of the last episode. Siobhan never masked her ambition or greed, her mysterious protective vibe and even deep love for Anna, and can always be counted on to have secret plans of her own, already in motion, bitch. 

The idea that Anna herself was used as a surrogate for Siobhan and her incestuous eugenicist plans, plus the sweet little demon baby she just birthed, has an ironic the-world-is-tilting-the-wrong-way kind of witchy madness to it. Sure, Anna really can have it all, the baby and the golden statue, if only she joins the patriarchy-crushing cabal of blood witches with world domination plans, got it. 

I have questions, or I would have, but things are moving on and Anna is being saved by … Dex’s dead ex, Adaline the former member of the coven right okay her, she’s going to show back up and offer Anna a simple chant to Hestia her patron Goddess, and that is somehow enough to deal with Siobhan entirely – poof. And finally, after all that rigamarole, decades of planning and scheming and witchy plotting finally settled, Anna really can have it all as a White Witch of Hollywood, heaven help us, with her perfectly human baby and that damned little golden statue, clutched in an only slightly desperate grip. 

As with any season of AHS there are a great deal of statements that could be implied just under the skin of the season – the canker way of ambition, the millenia-old pain of a woman giving birth, the savagery and bloodshed that comes with bringing forth life, pushback against both the patriarchy and ultra-feminism, the absolute desperation of humans wanting to have a child, and perhaps strangest and most open to interpretation of all, what it means to be feminine. The worlds population of women who can’t or don’t or simply won’t have children, for any reason or none, are relegated to servants, expendable servants at that, for this new world order that Siobhan is proposing, and that is far too close a comfort to things like outright slavery. A dictator is a dictator, no matter how great she looks in those emerald spiked heels. 

It’s not the really beautiful grotesquerie that Ryan Murphy and his AHS gang are often known for, nor is it utterly terrible and should be burned at the stake. What Delicate should be, is put back together with missing and cut footage, an hour long per episode again come on folks, fleshed some more of Siobhan’s baby-stealing adventures in the past and given us an actual reason to like anything about the whiny Anna, at least the Part 2 we as longtime AHS fans deserve. Toss in some more spidery hijinks! Give us the actual origin of those weird feather bunny-ear headdresses! 

American Horror Story Delicate the whole season can be seen on FX! 

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Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery in a World Gone Prehistoric!

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Hold onto your hats, dino fans! The highly anticipated sequel to the adrenaline-pumping Camp Cretaceous saga is here, and it’s taking us on a wild ride six years in the making. Following the harrowing events of Camp Cretaceous, our beloved “Nublar Six” are back, but they’re not out of the woods just yet. In fact, they’re about to plunge headfirst into a world where dinosaurs roam freely alongside dangerous humans, and trust us when we say, it’s a Jurassic jungle out there!

Picture this: a world where survival isn’t just about avoiding sharp-toothed predators but also navigating the treacherous waters of human greed and deceit. As our resilient heroes reunite in the aftermath of a heart-wrenching tragedy, they quickly realize that danger lurks around every corner, and trust is a luxury they can’t afford. 

But wait, there’s more! Prepare to embark on a globetrotting adventure like no other as the Nublar Six find themselves thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that threatens not only the fragile balance between dinosaurs and humanity but also their very existence. From the lush jungles of Isla Nublar to the bustling streets of bustling cities, buckle up for a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions as our intrepid group races against time to uncover the truth about one of their own and, ultimately, save both dinosaur and humankind from certain doom.

So, dear readers, if you thought you’d seen it all in Jurassic Park, think again! With heart-stopping action, pulse-pounding suspense, and jaw-dropping revelations, this latest installment promises to be a game-changer in the Jurassic universe. Get ready to roar with excitement because Jurassic Park: Unraveling the Mystery is about to take a bite out of your imagination and leave you hungry for more!

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