7/15 Movie Trip

Paul McGuire Grimes of Paul’s Trip to the Movies sat down with Joseph Quinn from Stranger Things and gives us his review of Season 4, plus a few other new things out to see.

STRANGER THINGS Season 4 Volume 2 (Netflix)

Stranger Things have been eagerly anticipating the final two episodes of Season 4. They are now here as Volume 2 is a supersized finale to a jam-packed season. Episode 8 picks up right where we left off with Nancy in the Upside Down terrorized by Vecna, as she learns the truths of his origins and connections to the Hawkins Lab. Meanwhile, Hopper, Joyce, and Murray discover secrets buried within the Russian prison more dangerous than they thought. When Nancy safely returns and tells the rest of the group what she’s learned, Max makes the brave choice that she must face Vecna again in order to stop him. Will, Mike, Jonathan, and Argygle know they have to find El if there’s any hop of keeping her alive.

Season 4 has been the Duffer Brothers riskiest season to date. They continue to add more new characters, they separated our core friend groups, took some of the action outside of Hawkins, and the resulting affect was some unnecessary plotlines and disappointing character arcs.

Episode 8 is filled with the urgency and high stakes that I wish we would have gotten to earlier in the season. The drive within these characters is felt giving us tender moments, one being Will’s monologue to Mike that is absolutely touching to see him be so vulnerable and emotionally about something many of us watching knew exactly what he was talking about. This scene alone makes up for the fact that Will has been largely ignored this season.

The final episode is one big thrilling conclusion and is a nice return to the Stranger Things that I love as it brought our characters back together again, mixed the high-stakes action and thrills with the softer, tender sides to these characters, and kept us on the edge of our couch until the very end.

Sadie Sink’s performance as Max and Joseph Quinn’s one-season arc as Eddie are series highlights for their impact on the show and pop culture as they introduced a new generation to Kate Bush and Metallica.

The Duffers have some really satisfying and jaw-dropping moments in the finale. No one felt safe, which is how it should be for a show like this. One character met their demise, while someone else hangs in the balance. It really comes together in a poignant way despite how long it took to get here.

The season could have been truncated quite a bit to mirror the momentum that made these final two episodes so exciting.

Four seasons in and the Duffers have managed to expand on the world building without deviating too much. You see the clear inspirations they take from John Carpenter to Stephen King to Wes Craven, which made that nostalgia trip so fun in the beginning.

It’s a massive undertaking that still leaves you breathless at times. Oddly enough, it played like a series finale despite the Duffers teasing that it’s not over in Hawkins and there’s still more to come in the fifth and final season.

RATING: 4 out of 5 TICKET STUBS

 

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING (in theaters)

Delia Owens novel “Where the Crawdads Sings” has been a mainstay on the New York Times bestseller list ever since Reese Witherspoon raved about it and put it in her book club. Now her production company Hello Sunshine has turned it into a movie hoping to win over a new audience. It’s set in the marshes of North Carolina when two young boys discover a dead body under a fire tower. Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as Catherine “Kya” Clark who is instantly targeted as the suspect. The local townies only know her as “marsh girl” and have labeled her an outcast since she was a young girl. Her trial becomes one of rumors and hearsay to determine whether or not she killed her ex-boyfriend, Chase Andrews (Harris Dickinson).

Starring: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Harris Dickinson, Taylor John Smith, and David Strathairn

Where the Crawdads Sings has all the juicy elements of a page turner. A rich female character at the center of the story, a murder, a love story, and your typical relationship woes of the 1960s. It’s easy to see why it has captured readers’ attention and the notion of a movie adaptation would be a no-brainer.

 

I haven’t read the book, but the movie is structured as a courtroom drama with a majority of the film as flashbacks detailing Kya’s life from her childhood under an abusive father to her two relatioships as an adult with Tate and Chase.

Oddly enough, I never felt like we should be rooting for Kya and Chase, so his scenes start off drab causing the pacing to droop. We could have cut back to the courtroom more often to pick up the pace and energy.

There’s a mystery element to this movie, but I think Newman could have incorporated that more into how these characters are portrayed. She’s fearful of foreshadowing too much, so there’s a stock quality to the men/

Daisy Edgar-Jones is quite exquisite at making Kya a compelling character. She’s never a damsel in distress despite her shy and vulnerable ways. She’s stronger than she lets on.

Part of this story is about identity and what’s even more aggravating is knowing the 1960s gender stereotypes that come into play as it’s so clear how awful the town paints Kya and the mocking she receives while Chase’s bro-like tendencies and behavior are never called into question. That piece felt more potent than the murder.

I wouldn’t say that Where the Crawdads Sing is groundbreaking in any way, but I love how it captures the beauty and mystery of Kya’s environment in the marsh. It will suck the audience in wanting to know the whodunnit, and yes, I did fall for the ending.

RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS

 

PERSUASION (Netflix)

Jane Austen continues to enchant writers and moviegoers long after her books were published. The latest page to screen adaptation of one of her classics is the Dakota Johnson-led Persuasion. The novel may have been published in 1817 shortly after her death, but this new take offers up a slightly new concept for telling this story. Dakota Johnson breaks the fourth wall and addresses her audience as Anne Elliot and informs us she was almost married once to Frederick Wentworth who held her heart but was persuaded not to marry him. Now she’s claims to be single and thriving but is only being sarcastic as she’s crying and sulking. She’s the middle sister of three while her father loves money and vanity. She’s still pining for Wentworth eight years later and finds out he’s coming back into town. Her heart beats even faster when she lays eyes on him. Her road to love is a bumpy one given Louisa Musgrove also has her eyes on Wentworth but then the dashing Mr. Elliott (Henry Golding) comes to town and appears ready to win over Anne.

Starring: Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis, Henry Golding, Richard E. Grant

I’m not very well-versed in Jane Austen, so I come into this solely reviewing the movie without drawing comparisons to the source material.

We’ve seen countless Austen adaptations over the years from straight forward by the book retellings to contemporary inspirations like Clueless and Fire Island. This take on Persuasion still keeps the story and costumes in period but the choice to have Anne addressing the audience feels like a slight update in the execution like modern television sitcoms.

Austen devotees may call foul on this choice and possibly over the casting of Dakota Johnson. Johnson has a contemporary aura about her which may pull some out of the period.

Johnson played up the multi-faceted sides of Anne well. There’s a playful side whose not always put together, but there’s a front she puts on in public about being independent and free-spirited, and then behind closed doors, she’s a hopeless romantic still clamoring over the same guy all these years later.

Cosmo Jarvis makes for the typical rugged Austen love interest as Wentworth. You’re not quite sure if he’s totally right for Anne, but then Henry Golding sweeps in Mr. Elliott. He’s dapper, dashing, and thinks he’s charming. Golding feels a little under-used here, but that may have been the point as we never really come to like him.

Director Carrie Cracknell plays up the tug and pull between Anne and Wentworth once Elliot comes into the picture.

There’s a scene early on with Ann going through a box of keepsakes that feels so outdated with if you apply it with a 2022 lens. Parts of this movie could feel cringey, so it’s almost best to view this in the old traditional sweeping romantic ways in the way Austen intended.

RATING: 3 out of 5 TICKET STUBS

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