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Hell or High Water (2016)

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"Hell or High Water" is a 2016 western crime thriller starring Jeff Bridges, Ben Foster and Chris Pine. It reminded me a great deal of the movie "No Country For Old Men".

Bridges is a Texas Ranger who, along with his partner, is in pursuit of a pair of brothers who are robbing banks in Texas to save the family ranch.

Again, this is not the typical good guy always wins western movie. There are some surprises. And the ending is open ended for the viewer to imagine what happens next.

The film was nominated for a number of academy awards, including "Best Picture." It's worth viewing if you like this kind of film. The acting is top notch.

You can read more here: Wikipedia Article

Hold the Dark (2018)

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"Hold the Dark" is a 2018 Netflix film starring Jeffrey Wright. I watched it because the Netflix summary sounded interesting and I like Jeffrey Wright: I remember him best as Bernard in the HBO series "Westworld".

The setting is a remote part of Alaska where three children have apparently been taken by wolves. Wright, an expert on wolf behavior who has published a book on the subject, is called in by the mother of one of the children to track down the wolf responsible for her child's disappearance. Meanwhile, the child's father is off fighting in Iraq when this happens, but returns soon afterward after being wounded.

But the search for the wolves part of the plot just gets the movie started. It quickly becomes apparent there is much more going on than wolves stealing children.

This is not strictly speaking a traditional horror movie: there is nothing overtly supernatural. But it is a dark movie about human nature and the primal instincts that lay beneath t…

The Sinner (2017)

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"The Sinner" is a 2017 seven episode crime drama starring Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti and Bill Pullman as Detective Harry Ambrose. It is currently available on Netflix.

Cora is a 28 year old wife and mother of a 3 year old son. In the first episode we see her at the beach with her family. Suddenly, after seeing a young couple flirting and hearing a song, she rushes over to stab the young man seven times to his death.

The case seems clear cut, with ample evidence and plenty of eye-witnesses. Cora accepts her actions and pleads guilty to second degree murder which carries a 30 year sentence. Much of the series takes place between the time she enters her plea and before she awaits sentencing as it gradually reveals the reasons for her action through flashbacks, and recovered memories from visiting locations or hypnotism. Detective Ambrose is persistent as he keeps digging, refusing to give up Cora or the case, sensing there is more to it than there seems. And, of course, the…

No Country For Old Men (2007)

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This 2007 crime thriller by the Coen brothers won four academy awards, including Best Picture. It stars Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and includes Woody Harrelson as well. It's a modern day western of sorts, set in Texas. But it is anything but the traditional type of western.

The film explores issue of free-will and fate as well as the essence of good and evil. Some of the characters are complex, behaving morally one moment and less so the next. Tommy Lee Jones plays small town sheriff Ed Tom Bell whose narration begins the film and whose conversation with his wife at the end about his dreams closes the film. The rest of the film concerns the interplay between the three stars as interested parties seek to recover $2 million in cash from a drug deal gone wrong.

If you only like the traditional kind of western where the good guys wear a white hat and always win, then you won't like this film. But if you enjoy a complex film that touches on the emotions and feelin…

Gone Baby Gone (2007)

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"Gone Baby Gone" is a 2007 film directed by Ben Affleck. Besides the stars shown in the picture (Casey Affleck, Michelle Monaghan, Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris), I recognized Titus Welliver who stars in the Bosch detective series.

The film centers around a kidnapped 4-year-old girl in the Dorchester section of Boston. Private investigator Casey Affleck and his girlfriend partner Michelle Monaghan are hired by the missing child's aunt to augment the police investigation. The language is rough and this is a tough area of town. The mother of the missing girl is a drug addict and there is more to the kidnapping than first appears. Without giving away the plot, the ending of the film poses the question to the viewer as to whether the right choice was made. The cast is very strong and the film well acted.

Artificial Intelligence

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The number of TV shows dealing with AI has exploded in recent times. WestWorld season 2 has just finished and HUM∀NS season 3 is still running. There is also a 2017 National Geographic six-part series titled “Year Million” which offers informed speculation about what mankind’s future holds. 

It’s little wonder the idea has caught our interest. We see driverless cars on the roads and computers beating champion human players at Jeopardy, a show which requires the ability to interpret language and draw inferences. Google’s AI can make appointments for you and even converse naturally with the human on the other side of the call. Google AI making reservations.

How soon will it be before we are unable to tell if who is standing in front of us is human or an AI creation? And what then? That’s what these shows explore.

In HUM∀NS, set in Britain, the self-aware “synths” (short for "synthetics" as they’re called) are struggling for equal rights. There are obvious parallels to such human …

Anon (2018)

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"Anon" is a 2018 science fiction thriller with an interesting premise made all the more relevant with recent privacy concerns. In the future as imagined in the film, society has traded privacy for security. By law everyone automatically records everything they see and hear and these recordings are available to the government. Solving crimes thus becomes routine and detectives enforce the law requiring the recordings as well as any other crimes. However there are people who are skilled enough to hack the system and, for a cash fee, will splice a client's real memories with artificial ones, including anyone else who saw the event. And there are some people who seem able to stay off the grid entirely. I thought it was well done. You can read more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anon_(film)