Movie Review: The Little Death

Netflix is a treasure trove of awesome movies that sometimes just randomly make themselves known to me. This one showed up on one of my lists, and though I was going to just throw it on the queue, my friend suggested we go ahead and watch it. And I’m not one to say no to a movie about orgasms.

Trigger warnings: There is both talk and the actual acting out of a woman’s “rape fantasy.” I had a hard time with this one, so if you’re really sensitive to it, I would suggest giving this movie a pass.

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One-Sentence Synopsis
Different couples experience different sexual issues, each one revolving around some sort of fetish and each one connecting with another at some point. For a full synopsis, see this movie’s IMDB page.

Everyone Has Their Thing
The different couples each have a thing: one woman has a rape fantasy that her boyfriend really isn’t into; one woman gets aroused only by seeing her boyfriend cry; one couple tries role playing with some strange results; one man needs his wife to be asleep for him to connect with her (though it’s not clear if that’s because that’s his fetish or if it’s because she’s a raging bitch during the day); and a sign language translator gets caught in the middle of a 900 number sex call.

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Laughing, Crying & Cookies
There were all kinds of feels in this movie, not all of them good, and many of them gave me anxiety about what was going to happen. Besides the individual stories, there’s also a man walking around the neighborhood giving people cookies as a distraction while he tells them that he’s a convicted sex offender. And strangely, no one seems to really care that he’s a sex offender. Most of them are really into the cookies though.

Major Gray Areas
I was never sure where the stories where going to go, and they don’t all have a happy ending. At the same time, there are some really sweet moments. I think the most interesting thing is that on a certain level, I connected with all of the characters. Not because I share their fetishes, but because the movie portrayed all of them, weird fetish or not, as very human and very three-dimensional. There were characters I didn’t like, but at some point, I felt sorry for them because they were dealing with their struggle the best they could.

To Laugh or Not to Laugh
At other times, things were hilarious. The couple trying to figure out roleplaying cracked me up, even though what was happening actually turned out to be emotionally painful. The emotions were like a roller coaster ride. At times, I was afraid to laugh since I thought something not-so-funny might be getting ready to happen.

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The Romance Factor
While not traditionally romantic, there were a few romantic moments that set a tone for the whole movie, my favorite being the woman translating sign language to the guy on a sex line. I realize that doesn’t sound romantic, and most of the scene is just funny. But it turns out to be one of the most amazing, sweetest scenes I’ve ever seen in a movie with the fewest words spoken by mouth. That scene alone gives this movie a top romance score. 5/5

The Steam Factor
Obviously, there’s some sex in this movie. That’s kind of the whole point. However, not all of it is titillating. To be honest, very little of it is, and it mostly serves to highlight the secrets the characters are keeping. However, there is one scene that I found to be very short, very simple, and very hot. There’s not even a lot of actual sex, but the first roleplay the one couple engages in is so potent, it’s enough to bring some heat. 4/5

Final Thoughts
I loved this movie, and I’ve actually thought about it a lot since I watched it. I feel I’m going to need to watch it again. It’s like a sexed up Love Actually, and I’ve seen that one many times. I could do a few more rounds with this one as well.

Movie Review: Take Me Home

Guys, I’m getting a little overwhelmed with my reading life right now. I have a full list of NetGalley books because I can’t seem to stop requesting them. I have the new Jim Butcher book that has limited time in my house and it’s long and I have no idea when I’m going to get to it. Pair that with limited reading time over the next few weeks and Nanowrimo in November, and I have some serious time management that needs to happen. But with all that, I still have time to watch the occasional romance movie, because sometimes, it has to be all about Netflix.

Take me Home

One-Sentence Synopsis
After a woman receives news that her father is in the hospital, she convinces a cabbie to take her from New York to California, not realizing that he’s not a real cabbie. For a full synopsis, see this movie’s IMDB page.

The Good Stuff
Considering how unlikable the main characters are, this movie was surprisingly entertaining, and is one of the few that actually pushed my emotional buttons the way most books do. Claire is already on the verge of a meltdown from finding her husband with another woman in their house (not actually doing anything, but leaving enough room for doubt), so when she finds out her estranged father had a heart attack, she kind of loses her mind. And it’s kind of riveting how crazy she goes, like she knows she’s losing her grip but she can’t help it.

Thom is a hot mess himself. He’s not a real cabbie, but a down on his luck photographer who pretends to be a cabbie when he needs extra money. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s not exactly honest either. So when Claire tells him to just drive, he does just that, figuring he’ll make a few extra bucks. $5,000 of them to be exact.

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But then things take a turn of the unfortunate, and the road trip turns out be a comedy of errors. This is the perfect hate-to-love trope, starting with two people who literally have a physical fight in the front seat of the cab. It was a funny scene, but honestly, who can’t relate to being so drained and stressed that you just need to attack someone?

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
There are two different times where the characters fall asleep at the wheel, which isn’t surprising since they never stop. They can’t get a hotel, for reasons, but seriously…hasn’t anyone ever heard of a rest stop? For all intents and purposes, Claire isn’t really on a timetable, and the money she offers at the beginning of the trip, while somewhat moot at one point, doesn’t really seem worth the possibility of an accident due to lack of sleep.

The Romance Factor
Here’s the funny thing about this romance: there are no blatant romantic scenes. By that I mean, there’s no sex, there’s very little kissing, and there is little dialog about how either one of them feels. But the dialog that does happen is effective, and the actors are really good at conveying things with their expressions and body language. At one point, Thom makes an apology to Claire and tells her a whole mass of truth about himself, sliding in a very subtle note about wanting to sleep in with her (it really was just sleeping though), and it caught me off guard and then kind of melted my little romantic heart. 5/5

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The Steam Factor
If you’re talking the type of steam that comes from anger, then there was some of that here, but as for sexy times…nope. The movie was great without them, and I actually think a steamy scene would have ruined the simple romance of the film. 1/5

Final Thoughts
While some mainstream romance is good, I find the most gems in the indy romance genre. This was a great film with an interesting premise, some beautiful landscape, and two people who I found myself rooting for, not just to end up together, but to find some sense of happiness in the gloomy lives they were leading.

Movie Review: Leap Year

In general, I prefer to read romance and watch horror, but I can also be down with watching a good romantic comedy (though I often find romance to be better in my head). So I took a break from reading and watched the movie Leap Year, because it was on Netflix and because it looked interesting. Also…Ireland.

Leap Year

One-Sentence Synopsis
A house stager follows her boyfriend to Dublin in hopes of proposing to him on February 29, a tradition she learned about from her father that’s “guaranteed” to lead to an engagement. For a full synopsis, see this movie’s IMDB page.

The Good Stuff
I love movies set in Ireland. They have pretty scenery and I love the Irish accent.

This movie is pretty much a Murphy’s Law cautionary tale, as everything that can go wrong for Anna does go wrong, leading to some pretty funny moments, my favorite being a flying shoe incident at an Irish wedding reception.

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There are also two Irish men in the first town she ends up at whose banter and arguing about Irish superstitions cracked me up.

Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I generally like Amy Adams, so I don’t know if it was her or how the character was written, but Anna was a pretty horrible character. She’s uptight (she has reasons, but meh), she’s rude, and she’s kind of dumb. The woman tries to hike up a hill in high heels and “demands” to be flown to Dublin regardless of the fact that all flights are closed due to weather. So annoying.

I also wasn’t sold on the whole Leap Year proposal thing. It might be romantic to some people, but I thought it was dumb. It was a story her father told her, and in the course of the movie, we find that her father wasn’t really that smart or trustworthy. Plus, it bothered me that she didn’t think she could propose anywhere and that she seemed to have a one track mind about the whole engagement thing in the first place.

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The Romance Factor
Because Anna was so annoying, I had a hard time feeling the chemistry between her and Declan. She had no redeeming qualities, so it felt weird that Declan started to have feelings for her. This is generally why I prefer books. I need some insight. Having said that, the end was sweet, even if it was expected, and Declan was adorably snarky. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Except for a scene where Declan walks in on Anna in her bra and underwear and an awkward “we can share this bed” scene, this was a tame movie. No sexy times to be had. 1/5

Final Thoughts
It’s hard to like a movie when the main character sucks, but even though I didn’t like her, I still enjoyed the film to an extent. I don’t know that I’d watch it again, but because the side characters and Declan were so entertaining, it definitely wasn’t a waste of an hour and a half.

Downward Slide Into Madness

The title kind of describes my evening, though not as literally as one might think or hope.

My day was okay, but it was one of those days where tiny little annoyances started piling. There is a lack of professionalism in people who rank higher than me that I find disturbing.  Most days I just suck it up and deal with it, but today it was especially difficult.

After work, Jon and I decided to eat first, then go to the gym. Of course, after we ate, we decided to wait awhile to let the food settle, so we went to the library to read for an hour. But once we were done there, we ended up skipping the gym due to stomach issues. In hindsight, I guess we should have tried to go for a little bit, because that set my mood for the night.  I realize that a day off isn’t a huge deal, and I know that my weird fear that a day of rest will cause me to backslide is unfounded, especially since I’ve taken many rest days.  I also know that it’s really hard to work out with an upset stomach. Still, it just made me feel yucky and put me in a funk for the rest of the night.

This then meant that other little things continued to hammer the nail of crabbiness. Like when Jon pointed out that my favorite drinking cup had cracked and was no longer usable. Or when Netflix didn’t bring  our queue up right way (incidentally, the queue is now called “My List,” which I suppose means I’m supposed to make my own list, but I’m not going to. I’ve invested too much time in the current one).  By that point, I just felt like a lump, so I finished a movie that I didn’t even enjoy.

I ended the night watching Hobo with a Shotgun. There is a very small, very select group of people I would recommend this movie to, and it does not include anyone in my family (sorry, Mom. This one may be a little bit much for even you).  The idea of doing a modern movie in late 70s cinema style was interesting, and the premise was interesting, if not a tad dark. The gore level was through the roof, and while some gory movies can be fun when they’re over the top, this one was over the top, yet still disturbing. The term “torture porn” comes to mind.  I gave it more stars than the one I finished before it, but that’s mainly from the one liners that would actually be pretty fun to drop into every day conversation if I had the mad retention skills of my husband and could remember any of them (the only one I can remember involves the f-bomb, and I like to keep this blog fairly clean).

Now that the day feels wasted, I suppose I’ll shuffle off to bed. My shoulder is bothering me, so ibuprofen and biofreeze are in order.

One last note: Ben Affleck was apparently picked to play Batman in the 2015 movie. While the rest of the internet rages, I’m only hoping that his Batman voice won’t be worse than Christian Bale’s Batman voice. Because seriously…nails on a chalkboard.

Tomorrow’s Friday. That means it’ll be a good day, right?

A.

Friday Night Date With Me

It’s almost 10 and I’m exhausted. Jon is gaming tonight, and though my original plan was to hit the gym, I’m feeling worn down enough to consider this a rest day. For whatever reason, I couldn’t sleep last night, so I’ve been running on about 4  hours all day.

However, being that it was Friday, I stuck it out to have a night out by myself while Jon went to the game store. I hung out at the library for about an hour for some reading time, then headed over to grab dinner at Arby’s before going to see The Conjuring.

Going to the movies by myself on a Friday night was a pretty big step against my anxiety, but I did okay. The anxiety hasn’t really been bad in awhile, but it does like to rear its ugly head at inopportune times. It peeked a little tonight, but never really found footing.

Waiting in the lobby, I saw someone from work and her boyfriend, and then I got carded to see the R rated movie. That was fun.

The movie was great. Despite the people on the theater being fairly obnoxious, parts of the film really did manage to scare me. The people directly around me weren’t horrible. They chatted some, and the girl down the aisle from me kept screaming, but the conversation pre-movie indicated that she had been coerced into going and was genuinely scared.

The people in the back, however, laughed through the movie like it was a comedy. Sure, there were a few moments that were laugh appropriate, but on the whole, they were just being jackasses.

But the movie was good and I was able to tune them out mostly, so it was worth the trip.

Besides checking in at the game store and grabbing a water from the gas station, that was my excitement. No links or fun videos tonight because I’m posting from my phone and haven’t figured those things out yet.

A.

“Mama” and Movie Etiquette

A couple Tuesdays ago,  I went to see “Mama.”

I enjoyed the movie. It was creepy and had some spooky images. I’m not sure if the most well plotted movie nor do I think much time was spent getting us to really like the characters. But I enjoy the “haunted” quality of Guillermo Del Toro movies. In this one, I appreciated the fact that the “ghost” was subtle at first but eventually had a “reveal.” It’s not every movie where we actually get to see the ghost up close and personal.

The actual theater experience left a little to be desired this time. I think I get spoiled in that I’ve had a lot of good trips to the movies, so when I have one like this, it almost feels like a personal insult. I know it’s not, but seriously…what is wrong with people?

We chose our seats in the middle front part of the theater, not too close to the screen but close enough to get a good view, and pretty far away from anyone else. There were only a few people in the theater, which was awesome. I love being in a non-crowded theater. But just as the movie started, a group of people came in and sat behind us.

A whole theater, and they sat RIGHT behind us.

But okay, it’s cool, sit where you want, it’s a free country. Until the talking started.

Wasn’t there a time when it was considered rude to talk and make loud noises in a theater? Do people not get the fact that when you spend money to watch something, there’s a good chance you want to watch it and not listen to their weird commentary, inappropriate laughter, or…in some cases…strange grunts (not of a sexual kind…I hope).

There was nothing funny about the opening of the movie, yet these people managed to laugh and talk through it. I wondered if they were some of those people who get drunk and go to the movies to make fun of it because they think it’s hilarious (it’s not).

I’m not a confrontational person, so I just told my friends I was moving to the front because I didn’t pay money to listen to that the whole time. All three of us ended up sitting in the second row, and I escaped without a headache from movie screen overload. Moving up made it better, but we could still hear them during the quieter parts of the movie.

The thought occurred to me that maybe I should have moved back a few rows and found something heavy…like a brick…to help quiet things (I have a violent imagination). Of course, we survived the rough movie going experience and enjoyed the movie, but it doesn’t mean that it was okay.

Common courtesy, people. If you’re going to the movies, remember that other people in the theater might actually want to watch the film and not listen to you. If you can’t keep your trap shut, sit far away from others. Or better yet, wait for the DVD and go chat in a coffee shop where that’s welcomed. Because unless you’re in a crowded and fun movie like “The Avengers” where people expect noise or “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” where there’s all sorts of audience participation (also goes for musical movies…please don’t sing out loud when you watch Les Mis), then you’re not cool…you’re just kind of a douche.

That’s Not my Pinhead!

Last night, I watched Hellraiser: Revelations. This is the 9th movie of the franchise, and since I’ve decided to watch the whole series again (this time from last to first), I watched it despite the 2 star rating it had on Netflix (to be honest, though, a two star rating never deters me from awesomely bad horror).

For anyone not famiiar with the Hellraiser movies, these flicks are fun for horror movie lovers but high on the gore factor. The first two were the best, and the original story was based on the work of Clive Barker. If you like horror and gore and all out weirdness, I suggest reading his work and watching the Hellraiser films.

HR: Revelations is a recycled take on the basic premise. Two teenagers go to Mexico for a good time. While there, they find the puzzle box, open it, and hijinks ensue. The one who opens it calls the Cenobites who promise a torture and pain so intense it borders on pleasure. The movie flips between different scenes and time frames. Some shots are found-footage shots from their camera. Some are scenes of the two families trying to avoid the subject and pretending like everything’s okay after they boys go missing. Other shots are regular scenes involving the boys in Mexico after they meet the Cenobites for the first time.

Several of the themes are familiar: Subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) sexuality comes into play with the pleasure/pain theme; the flayed character’s need for skin after the escape from hell and the ensuing killing spree that takes place; and the pull the puzzle box has on the darker side of a person’s curiosity. The movie is gory, butI felt that the first few movies did it more and did it better.

It wasn’t a great film, but what made it somewhat jarring to watch was the fact that Pinhead was played by a different actor. Doug Bradley has played the leader of the Cenobites for eight movies, but this time the character was played by Stephan Smith Collins. While his portrayal wasn’t bad (and his acting was better than the rest of the cast), he just didn’t have the same feel. I would have preferred they do away with the character of Pinhead altogether and introduce a new Cenobite leader. One can argue that a Hellraiser movie isn’t valid without Pinhead, but for me, Pinhead isn’t valid without Bradley.

I still gave the movie 3 stars on Netflix, but it’s not one I feel the need to watch again. Even though from time to time I’ll marathon all the movies, I’m not sure if this one is going to get another glance.

If anyone else out there has a take on this, let me hear it!

Lars Von Trier Double Feature

Last weekend I watched two Lars Von Trier movies off Netflix streaming: Antichrist and Melancholia.  Lars Von Trier does strange work, which is probably why I like his stuff so much.  I saw a comment on GetGlue that likened him to David Lynch. I think that might be mostly true.

The first LVT project I ever watched was The Kingdom and The Kingdom 2.  These were actually two miniseries. If you’ve seen Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital, you’ve seen something that was inspired by the these films.

I haven’t seen an overabundance of his work, but I was excited to see both of these movies on Netflix streaming. I’d tried to watch Antichrist before and  failed, not because of the movie but because I’d tried to watch and knit at the same time. It didn’t work. This is the kind of movie I needed to pay attention to.

Warning: I tried to avoid spoilers, but read at your own risk.

Antichrist stars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a couple who lose their infant son when he falls out of a window while the couple are coupling. After the child’s death, the woman falls into a deep depression. Instead of allowing her to see a doctor, her husband decides to treat her himself.

Pic from dreadcentral.com via Google Images

This treatment leads them to Eden, their cottage in the woods where the woman had spent time with the child.  As the movie unfolds through three chapters, new truths are uncovered, including the woman’s belief that nature is evil.

The movie is dark and some of the imagery is disturbing, but I thought it was well done and scary on a psychological level.   Some of the scenes are painful to watch, though, so be warned, and the movie is sexually graphic.  It’s also fairly depressing, but I enjoy LVT’s cinematography, and while not as visually striking as Melancholia, it was still interesting.

Melancholia is another depressing movie, but so beautifully done that after I thought about it, I realized how much I actually liked it. After a prologue of dreamlike images, the story opens on Justine, played by Kirsten Dunst, on the day of her wedding.

Photo from filmofilia.com via Google images

Though very much the happy bride at the beginning, you soon realize that she’s anything but happy, a fact that angers her sister and brother-in-law who can’t understand what her problem is.

In the second chapter, we’re introduced to Melancholia, a planet hidden behind the sun that is anticipated to collide with the Earth. Justine’s sister Claire fears this, but is assured by her husband over and over again that they have nothing to worry about, that it will simply pass by and be one of the most beautiful things they will ever see. It is around this time that Justine comes back to stay with him, her depression now worse.

Though this movie is visually brighter than Antichrist, the theme is still dark. There are similar concepts, including the evil of nature (in this case, Earth itself), and some psychological concepts of how one might react knowing something no one else did (the first one dealt with this along the lines of guilt).

I can’t guarantee I’ll watch Antichrist again, but I’m already planning another viewing of Melancholia. I’m also hoping Netflix adds more movies from Von Trier. If anyone knows of other movies similar to his style, I’d be interested in recommendations.

Movie Time: The Cabin in the Woods

Because I’m not one of those intuitive movie viewers who figure things out from the movie trailer alone,  I went into The Cabin in the Woods not knowing what to expect (nor did I read any online spoilery).

Turns out, nothing would have really spoiled the movie because you get most of the premise from the beginning.  Don’t let that deter you. This movie was really good. If you want to go into it “fresh,” go ahead and stop here, because there are quasi-spoilers ahead.

Picture courtesy of imdb.com

The movie doesn’t start with a cabin or the woods or even the kids who are going to the cabin in the woods. It starts out with men in lab coats and Fred from Angel (Amy Acker) in a large corporate laboratory setting. Only after the title flash do we get to the college students who are heading to the cabin for a weekend getaway.

The trip sets the stage for all kinds of classic horror: deep woods, creepy guy at the gas station, abandoned cottage that has a cellar full of creepy collectibles.  The key to the adventure is in the collectibles themselves, and it’s revealed quickly that the whole thing is a “show,” set up and ran by the lab people who have to follow certain rules in order to get the kids to do things in a specific way.  It sounds sadistic, but they do have a good reason for doing what they do. That fact I’ll let you find out for yourself.

The Cabin in the Woods, while foremost a horror movie, is clever and funny. The characters are stereotypical (for a reason), and while most of them aren’t likable, the character of Marty (Fran Kranz) was my favorite as the stoner/hero/comic relief.   The delivery of all the actors was well placed, and the cast, while not super well known, contained some familiar faces (including a couple from other Joss Whedon projects).

Funny as it was, it still delivered in the horror department. While it starts out as a typical zombie/slasher/horror movie, the intensity goes way up towards the end. I can see where some viewers might find it campy. Many classic horror monsters (some familiar, some not) are introduced for the climax,* and there is very much a gore overload.  I was scared, not in that suspense building way that a lot of horror movies rely on, but in a full out in your face battle/dinner** scene.

If you’re not a horror fan, you probably won’t appreciate the gory nuances of the film, but if you can take a little comedy with your scary, definitely see this movie.

*Hehe…yes, I said “climax,” so if you have the 14 year old giggle mentality like I often do, giggle it out now.

**When I say dinner, I don’t necessarily mean you’re going to want to eat anything while watching this movie.

 

Movies: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

I decided to brush the dust off this blog today and do a little opinion piece on The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I’ve read the book and watched the Swedish movie, and I believe this is one of the times where  Hollywood got it right. In fact,  Hollywood did it better than the others. Of the three versions, this one is probably my favorite.

Going into it, I didn’t have the perspective of watching a mystery because I knew how it ended. So I watched for the acting and the cinematography and the overall feel of the film (not that I thought it was a feel good film, but I got to focus on more than just the constant “I bet he did it…I bet she did it” thought processes I usually experience when watching a mystery).

A quick, spoiler free synopsis: Journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by a rich business man to solve the mystery of what happened to his niece forty years prior when she disappeared without a trace. During his investigation, Mikael enlists the help of Lisbeth Salander, a computer hacker with a photographic memory, to help him solve the mystery that also encompasses the strange murders of several women.

It’s a dark movie, and there are several scenes that are highly inappropriate for young children (though the couple in front of me brought there young daughter who couldn’t have been more than 8). If you’re not familiar with anything about the movie, there is a particularly brutal rape scene that makes me very uncomfortable. I didn’t realize how much until I started getting anxious the closer the scene got (I feel this says something good about me…I’m not completely corrupted no matter how many other graphic movies have failed to phase me).

TGWtDT doesn’t offer any big shoot ’em up scenes or action sequences. It’s a quiet, slower movie that relies heavily on its characters and the mystery aspect.  I love Lisbeth Salander.  There are those that would argue against her being a “strong” female, but I believe she is because she endures the things that life throws at her (and there’s alot of it, more that’s revealed in the next two books).

The casting for the movie was great. Daniel Craig makes a good Blomkvist…sullen, dry, yet likable in his own way.  I’d heard through the grapevine…meaning I’d read on some forums and comment threads…that some people didn’t think Rooney Mara would do as well as the girl from the original Swedish version, but she was pretty amazing in the role of Lisbeth.  The rest of the cast was good, especially when compared with the book and the original movie.

I think what Fincher does well is to take out the elements of the story that made it drag. There were a few changes , but they were ones that worked for the story and didn’t detract from the plot. The movie also has good comedic timing. It’s not a comedy, but there are moments in which a line is delivered in just the right way to elicit a chuckle. A very small chuckle, but definitely something to ease the dark mood of the movie.

My favorite part of the whole film was the opening sequence, a mirage of dark images involving computer cords and hardware wrapped around human figures and set to Trent Reznor’s remake of  “Immigrant Song.” I can’t explain it well enough to do it justice,  but even if you don’t watch the whole movie, when it comes out on DVD, find a way to watch it.

The movie gets a solid A grade from me, and I can’t wait to see the next two in the series. I think if Fincher stays on as the director, they’re bound to be good.