Tag Archives: Dexter

Ryan Reynolds Hears The Voices, Anna Kendrick Is Adorable

I’ve honestly lost track of all the ways I learn about movies that I want to see.

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“My arms are getting tired from all this rowing.”
“Shut up, Kyle. I’m looking for a movie that isn’t a remake, a reboot or a sequel.”

With that said, I won’t bore you with how I came to be interested in The Voices, directed by Marjane Satrapi (of Persepolis and Chicken with Plums fame) and starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton and Anna Kendrick. My thought process was probably started and ended with:  Anna Kendrick is adorable.

Reynolds plays Jerry, a man who hears voices—and not the kind that tell him to build a baseball field. These voices are in his head, but he believes they’re coming from his dog, Bosco, and his cat, Mr. Whiskers. Besides that, though, everything is normal. He works in a bathtub factory and regularly checks in with his court-appointed psychotherapist (his mother died when he was twelve). When things take an accidentally deathly and sinister turn, Jerry has to rely on the advice of Bosco and Mr. Whiskers. Should he do the right thing, as Bosco suggests, or listen to Mr. Whiskers and give in to his killer urges?

It’s not a film for everyone. The film’s tone is all over the place and not always in a bad way. It flips between broad comedy to very dark comedy to something akin to a drama to a crime thriller—often in the span of a few scenes. It’s not surprising that a multi-genre film like this is having trouble finding its audience; such a varied tone can give a viewer whiplash. At one point we go from a savagely grisly flashback where we learn how Jerry’s mother died to a tender implied sex scene and its corresponding morning after. It was a jarring transition, to say the least.

It was at this point that I thought the film was going to end very differently. Jerry isn’t a bad guy; he’s just sick. He clearly needs help and even though I hate the idea that “finding love” can completely heal a person, I was hoping the love of Lisa (Kendrick) would have been enough to help him. It’s even one of the most brightly-lit scenes in the film and there’s even a vague hinting that she’s just as crazy as he is. Maybe their love would be enough to heal each other.

Sadly, the microscopic romantic (micromantic?) in me was let down, but only for a moment.

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Image from Indiewire – all rights reserved to the same – click through for a blurb on the film

There is an interesting subtext of psychopharmacology and how patients with mental disorders are diagnosed and treated that runs throughout the film (I told you it was all over the place). When Jerry is off his meds, everything is brighter—his apartment above an abandoned bowling alley is clean, Bosco runs to greet him when he comes in the door, the forklifts at work perform a synchronized dance.  But when he starts taking the pills again, we finally see reality. Pizza boxes and discarded microwave dinner trays stack up to the ceiling of his dimly-lit apartment, his pets sit morosely in a lump in the corner while their defecation is everywhere. I really liked the distinction Satrapi made between reality and the life inside Jerry’s mind. This might be her best work since Chicken with Plums.

Reynolds has never been a draw for me (anyone who breaks up with Scarlett Johansson deserves to be shunned), but I liked what he did here. Often fidgeting, he imbues Jerry with an easy-going awkward shyness that makes him instantly likable. Some of the film’s laughs come from just how awkward he is (he scarfs down a slice of pizza with a heart-shaped piece of pepperoni on it in one bite, he sings The O’Jays’ “Sing a Happy Song” a little too loudly for his coworker). I liked that Reynolds did the voices for all the animals in the movie; it makes sense seeing as how the voices originate in his mind.

There’s a very good chance that you will hate this movie. I’d say it’s like American Psycho meets 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag meets Undertaking Betty. Or as Brad Wheeler said in his review, “A meeting of Psycho, Dexter and Dr. Doolittle.” If you can make it through to the very end, though, you’re in for a truly head-scratching surprise. I thought I was watching a Bollywood musical for a second. It’s weird, it’s offbeat, it’s quirky and it might be one of my favorites of the year, so far.

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“Huzzah! I’ve found an original movie!”
“Yeah, but my arms are still tired.”
“I wish your mouth would get tired, Kyle.”

Even if you see The Voices and hate it, just pretend it’s the sequel to Kendrick’s The Last Five Years or the prequel to 2016’s Deadpool. That’ll make it fun.

If you’ve seen it, what are your thoughts? Do you talk to your pets? Let us know in the comments below!

–Ross

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Watching the Detectives

(Ooh, he’s so cute)

I am a fan of TV shows about detectives. I watched Columbo, The Rockford Files, and Starsky and Hutch way back in the ’70s, and Law and Order, Special Victims Unit* now.  I’ve wondered what draws people to this type of entertainment. I think that it is because we want to believe that people are essentially good; that they are moral and law-abiding. We hope that most of us behave according to the golden rule. We all know that this is not always the case (sigh) so, when we read or watch a show about crime, we want a champion for good. We want justice and vengeance. We want someone to have our backs.

Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Dexter is a Showtime series based on the character created by Jeffry Lindsay. Dexter works in the forensics department of the Miami Metro Police Department by day, and is a serial killer of serial killers by night. Like Batman, he was “born in blood” – a traumatic event in early childhood made him who he is, and, like Batman again, he has a strict moral code. The events in the first season coincide with the events of Lindsay’s first book Darkly Dreaming Dexter, but after that, the two story lines diverged. Here is a rare case where I like the TV show more than I like the books.  I have to admit that one of the reasons is the strong and charismatic performance of the star Michael C. Hall. John Lithgow is especially brilliant as the main bad guy in the fourth season. If you get really into it, you can read Dexter and philosophy : mind over spatter, a series of essays about the phenomenon that is Dexter.

The strength of a show is a function of a good storyline coupled with good acting. This show has both (IMHO). Luther is a BBC show created and written by Neil Cross, and is about the intuitive, intense, and sometimes violent detective, John Luther. This is a dark and modern spin on Sherlock Holmes himself. Idris Elba is outstanding as Luther, and won the 2012 Golden Globe award for best actor in a miniseries for this role.

A list like this is not complete without homage to the grandfather of all fictional detectives, Sherlock Holmes. The newest BBC sendup has deservingly won a bunch of awards. I really like the little overlay of text or images on the screen showing you what Holmes is thinking. Shockingly, I have never read the original volumes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is on my summer reading list!

-Joelle

*One of the stars of this show, Mariska Hargitay, is a personal hero of mine. Her role as a detective on SVU led her to founding The Joyful Heart Foundation, whose mission is to “heal, educate, and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.”

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