Review of THE LITTLE STRANGER – Rated R – 1 hr. 51 mins. 

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THE LITTLE STRANGER – Rated R – 1 hr. 51 mins. 

DIRECTOR:  Lenny Abrahamson

WRITERS:  Sarah Waters (Novel), Lucinda Coxon 

STARRING:  Domhnall Gleeson, Ruth Wilson, Charlotte Rampling, and Will Poulter

Based on the Novel by the same name by Sarah Waters ~ and told through the eyes of “the little stranger himself” Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson), we venture into Hundreds Hall, which happens to be a place of contentment and peace for the young doctor, as he remembers vividly visiting this gorgeous place as a child, when his mother worked for its owner, Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling).

When Dr. Faraday is summoned to look in on one of the Ayres family’s young servants, he becomes mesmerized by Mrs. Aryes daughter Caroline (Ruth Wilson), and rather taken a-back too by her very peculiar brother Roderick (Will Poulter).

Knowing how grand this home once was, Dr. Faraday is saddened by the incessant decline of this beautiful home, and how sad its inhabitants seem to be as well, appearing to be freaked out, if not haunted by “another inhabitant” within.

Torn between what is real, and what it seems Caroline and her mother are being subjected to daily, the good Dr. finds himself drawn to this Manor from his childhood, and the beautiful Caroline Ayes too, as he tries to understand exactly what is, or isn’t happening within the walls of this arduous Estate…

I give THE LITTLE STRANGER a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON NETFLIX or STREAMING:  Barely scary, and rather slow and dull at times too, THE LITTLE STRANGER is the tamest psychological thriller I have ever seen.  Gleeson’s role as the good Dr. Faraday is rather mundane and unconvincing from the start, as there are more sparks flying between him, and the mansion he loves, than between him and his beloved Caroline. Rampling and Poulter’s performances are a little more convincing, but still not scary or menacing in any way.  The only shining light in this film came from Wilson, as her performance was not only believable, but the only one that kept me barely on the edge of my seat.   The most vivid portrayal throughout this film comes from the house itself, as its decay and decline are empathetic to the decay and decline of the Aryes family, and the demons that lie within.  If you love psychological thrillers, THE LITTLE STRANGER just isn’t going to cut it for you, I promise.  And if you love Horror Films, then you are definitely going to be saddened by dropping money at the box office to catch this not scary at all horror flick.  In other words…I suggest that you wait and catch THE LITTLE STRANGER when it pops of Netflix or Streaming, so you can experience this one in the comfort of your own home, and if you are as disenchanted as I was the whole way through…then you can switch the channel and catch something a lot more exciting…

Kathy Kaiser   

RED SPARROW – Rated R – 2 hrs. 19 mins

Red Sparrow

RED SPARROW – Rated R – 2 hrs. 19 mins

Director:  Francis Lawrence (HUNGER GAMES, I AM LEGEND) 

Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Charlotte Rampling, Mary-Louise Parker, Joely Richardson, Matthias Schoenaerts and Jeremy Irons

As we meet beautiful ballerina Dominika Egorova (Jennifer Lawrence) her world has been shaken to the core, when her ballerina dreams are ended, just as they had begun.

Searching for a way to keep her and her mother in the lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to, Dominika decides to go undercover, entering the world of THE SPARROWS, as she soon learns how to use her feminine wiles to get anything she needs or wants, from anyone in her path.

When she crosses paths with American CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton), Dominika falls hard and fast for this American, who returns the favor by trying to figure out a way to make her Sparrow days numbered, with getting her out of Russia, and more importantly, out of the hands of her disgustingly vial uncle and fellow Russian operative Vanua Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts).

But the question is…is anything that Dominika or Nate are doing on the up and up?  Or are they just following the directives of each of their employers, while providing “undercover service” to one another, just to pass the time…?

I give RED SPARROW a rating between MUST SEE ON THE BIG SCREEN and WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON DVD:  It was truly fabulous to see Lawrence on the big screen again, and playing a much more provocative role than we’ve ever seen from her before.  Edgerton is expertly cast this time around too, playing the CIA agent that wants what’s best for his country, and the women he falls hard for as well.  Rampling is also very intense in her role as “Sparrow Instructor”, and when you add in the small, but intricate roles of Schoenaerts, Parker and Irons, this is one spy thriller with a storyline that keeps you guessing until the very last frame hits the screen.  So, with all these accolades, why the less than perfect review??  From the long, and drawn out sequences in “sparrow school”, learning how you should conduct yourself as “a lady” or maybe just “a lady of the night”, for no good reason than to see exactly what Ms. Lawrence has to offer…to the graphically disturbing violence throughout, which doesn’t truly add to the storyline, this spy film just wasn’t as smoothly crafted as I so hoping it would be, since Director Francis Lawrence, has directed Ms. Lawrence three times prior, for her stint in the HUNGER GAMES series.  And I really wish that would have had Jennifer work as hard on her Russian accent, as they did on providing all the sexual encounters throughout this film, as it’s hard to take her seriously as a high-profile Russian agent, when her accent keeps going in and out throughout the entire film too.  Suffice to say, it’s entertaining if you enjoy really graphic violence, and a sneak peek around every turn of both female, and male nudity, but as female spy films go, this one can’t hold a candle to last year’s ATOMIC BLONDE, even with Jennifer providing a lot more skin, than Charlize did, the whole way through.

Kathy Kaiser

45 YEARS – Rated R

45 Years Movie Poster

45 YEARS – Rated R

Writer, Producer and Director Andrew Haigh brings to life a story about a relationship that’s spanned half a lifetime, and just how quickly passion, love and companionship that has lasted 45 years, can be unraveled as unspoken feelings and truths from the past emerge ~ THIS IS 45 YEARS.

Engrossed in her life-long romance with her husband Geoff (Tom Courtenay), Kate (Charlotte Rampling) finds herself content in the life they have created together. Focusing on their impending Anniversary celebration, Kate is stopped in her tracks, when her husband reveals that his first love, which has been missing for decades, has suddenly been found…

Kate finds herself in unchartered territory after all these years, as her husband has been extremely affected by this news ~ much more than she had ever anticipated.

Growing tiresome of the effect this woman must still have on her husbands life, and now her own, Kate goes in search of anything that will give her more knowledge about this woman, and the life that Geoff and her once shared.

Rocked to her core by what she finds, Kate realizes that the life she has lived, may have been affected by this ghost right from the very start…

I give 45 YEARS a rating of WAIT AND CATCH THIS FILM ON STREAMING OR NETFLIX. Even though lead actress Charlotte Rampling has been nominated in the Best Actress category at this years Academy Awards, I feel that this film is definitely slated for the MORE MATURE VIEWER – as in anyone over the age of 65 – as it was agonizingly slow and mundane to view for me. Rampling’s performance while good, didn’t come across to me as Oscar worthy (There were so many better performances in a leading role from other actresses this year – Like Blythe Danner in I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, or Charlize Theron in MAD MAX ~ or Jennifer Jason Leigh in THE HATEFUL EIGHT, or even Elizabeth Banks in LOVE AND MERCY, I felt all of these women were more worthy of this accolade) and Courtenay’s performance as the grieving husband came across slightly better than average too. The only intriguing part of this film for me, was Rampling’s characters stoic one minute, and tenacious the next attitude at finding out the truth about her husband’s past, which he hadn’t mentioned in 45 years…which ultimately became a stretch for me to accept from the storyline perspective of this film as well, Thus leaving me to suggest that you wait a few months till you can view this film on a computer or television in the comfort of your very own, as you might need a nap before it’s all through…

Kathy Kaiser