Unicorn Store

UnicornStore

Directed By: Brie Larson
Starring: Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Joan Cusack, Bradley Whitford, Mamoudou Athie, Hamish Linklater, Martha McIsaac, Karan Soni, et.al.
Rating: TV-PG
Network: Netflix
Grade: B-

After failing out of art school and moving back in with her parents, 20-something dreamer Kit decides it’s time to grow up. After getting an office job through a temp agency, she receives an invitation to a place known only as The Store. There, she meets the Salesman, who tells her that she has an opportunity to buy the one thing she’s always wanted to have: a real, live unicorn. As Kit makes preparations to house and care for her unicorn, she meets Virgil, a hardware store employee who’s intrigued by her quest, as well as her unwavering belief that she will actually be acquiring the mythical creature. When she’s also presented with an opportunity to advance at her job, Kit is torn between abandoning her childhood dreams and finally becoming a responsible adult.

This movie is very much What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get. Aside from an almost painfully obvious lesson that growing up doesn’t necessarily mean letting go of your dreams or losing your sense of whimsy, there isn’t a whole lot of depth and hidden meaning. That said, the acting is fairly decent. Samuel L. Jackson seems to be having a ball playing the Salesman, and Brie Larson, who pulls double duty as both the star and the director, seems incredibly comfortable with Kit’s unendingly idealistic nature. Cusack and Whitford, who play Kit’s parents, do a great job of hovering between wanting their child to be happy and just wanting them to finally grow up.

What little special effects are used are pretty good, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone looking to relax their mind with harmless fluff for 90 minutes or so will probably like this. The ending is relatively happy, and, as stated above, you won’t be taxed with hidden meanings. While the movie’s humor and somewhat nonsensical storyline may not appeal to everyone, anyone still in touch with their inner child should like it.

Unicorn Store is currently only available free to stream through Netflix, with no word as to whether they plan to make it available commercially.

The Martian

Martian

Directed By: Ridley Scott
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan, Aksel Hennie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, et.al.
Rating: PG-13
Grade: B+

After a storm forces an evacuation of a Mars-based research station, Mark Watney, who was believed to have been killed in the storm, wakes up to realized that he has been stranded on the barren planet. Realizing he needs to survive, he relies on his skills as a botanist to grow food, and also attempts to signal Earth that he is still alive. After several months of believing him to be dead, a low-level engineer manages to discover that base-camp for the research crew has been disturbed in a way that storms wouldn’t be able to, and soon finds proof that Watney survived the storm. After alerting Watney that they know he is alive, he and NASA scientists, come up with a crude means of communication. As time passes, Watney and NASA try to figure out a way to get him off the planet using a shuttle meant to supply an upcoming mission.

A different take on a sci-fi/survival story, The Martian is an interesting what-if story that has the potential to actually happen at some point in the future. From what I can tell, the science is fairly accurate, though I can’t say for certain. Matt Damon does well with his scenes, especially considering he spends most of the movie talking to himself while doing video journal entries. The other actors all work well together, and it was interesting to see some comedy-based actors take on more dramatic roles.

The special effects are all well done, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

This is an interesting movie that should appeal to most people. The drama isn’t too heavy-handed, and there’s enough comedy and action sequences interspersed throughout to hold the attention of people who don’t generally enjoy science fiction, even if it is on the lighter side of the sci-fi spectrum. It may be a little too dense to watch repeatedly, but I think an occasional viewing wouldn’t drive anyone too nuts.

The Martian is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Redbox or Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.

Cairo Time

CairoTime2

Directed By: Ruba Nadda
Starring: Patricia Clarkson, Alexander Siddig, Elena Ayana, Amina Annabi, Tom McCamus, Mona Hala, Fadia Nadda, et.al.
Rating: PG
Grade: A-

When Juliette goes to Cairo to meet with her husband, Mark, who is a UN official working with the refugee camps, she finds that he is delayed by rising tensions, and that she has been left to fend for herself, with only Tareq, her husband’s former head of security for company. Weary of exploring the city on her own, Juliette begins to seek out Tareq’s company, both as a form of protection and also so that she has someone to share the experience with. However, as more time passes, Juliette and Tareq begin to realize that their easy friendship has developed into something more.

Every now and then I watch something that seems completely off-kilter with my usual tastes in movies and television. This was one of the few times I was pleasantly surprised. A slow-burning, ultimately chaste romance story about what equates to an emotional affair between a married woman and a close friend of her husband’s. The Egyptian backdrop is beautiful to look at and adds to the romantic setting. Clarkson and Siddig have amazing chemistry, and it’s nice to have an acknowledgment that people in their 40s and 50s still have desires.

There aren’t any obvious special effects, and the background filler isn’t noticeable.

Anyone who doesn’t mind a slow-burn romantic drama will enjoy this movie, and I would definitely recommend putting in the effort to find it somewhere (the only places that carry the movie digitally that I could find were iTunes and Google Play). While it may not be something you would want to watch all the time, it’s definitely something I can see people wanting to watch every now and then when they need a dose of something made by a hopeless romantic.

Cairo Time is not currently available free to stream anywhere, but can be rented through Netflix home delivery, or purchased at any participating store or on-line retailer.