A tiny week for selection, a huge week for quality starting with Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why: Season One. Teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minette) has had a crush on classmate Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) for a long time. When Hannah commits suicide, Clay is crushed and his entire school is shook. But when Clay discovers a mysterious box with his name on it containing a pile of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah detailing the 13 reasons why she decided to end her life, Clay starts to unravel secrets of Hannah’s, of his school, his friends and even changes thing he thought he knew about his own life.
13 Reasons Why is one of the best shows in a long time, and maybe the best show Netflix has created yet. The storytelling here is nothing short of brilliant with extraordinary writing and acting across the board, but especially from Dylan Minette, one of the best young actors working today. The story is compelling, suspenseful, heartbreaking, infuriating, and incredibly emotional. This is television drama taken to a new level and one that will be very hard to match let alone beat. Rumor has it a Season Two is coming, although I am not sure where exactly they would take the story. But I am there regardless. It is sometimes not an easy watch but 13 Reasons Why is one of the very best shows out there and highly recommended.
Next up is the new installment in the Insidious franchise, Insidious: The Last Key. Lin Shaye returns as parapsychologist Elise Rainier, who gets a call from a man claiming to be experiencing paranormal activity in a house he moved into in New Mexico. When Elise recognizes the address as her childhood home, she is drawn back to try and face some of the demons of her past that have haunted her all her life. With faithful sidekicks Specs (Leigh Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) in tow, Elise must face her greatest fears if she is to full regain control of her own life.
The Insidious franchise has been wildly successful from the original James Wan film and has been consistent in quality as well. With this new film it is great to see the filmmakers letting Lin Shaye take the lead and be the anchor of the horror franchise. Shaye is a fantastic actor and it is nice seeing a female lead head up a horror series, it is not a common occurrence. Insidious: The Last Key has a great story at its core, some fantastic scares throughout and excellent performances by all but especially from Shaye. There really are no recycled elements in the story here, but more of a backstory extension that really is immersive and fits in nicely with the entire Insidious universe.
Lastly this week is a new thriller starring Jon Bernthal, Sweet Virginia. Bernthal plays Sam Rossi, a former rodeo star who now runs a motel in a small, quiet town. When Sam befriends a guest staying at the motel, Elwood (Christopher Abbott), he has no idea Elwood has been hired by a local woman to kill her husband. But when things get out of hand, the town gets gripped by the growing violence as more and more people get involved and Sam finds himself unwittingly in the middle of it all.
Jon Bernthal is really making a name for himself since leaving The Walking Dead. He brings a very distinct personality and swagger to his roles much in the way old Hollywood tough guys did like Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin. From memorable roles in films like Fury, Sicario, The Accountant, Wind River and Baby Driver, Bernthal has established himself as the go to guy for tough guy supporting roles. But in lead roles, like Netflix’s The Punisher and this film, Bernthal also shows he has what it takes to hold a project up on his shoulders and not just be a tough guy but to be a layered and thoughtful lead character. Sweet Virginia showcases that in spades with a subtle performance supported by excellent noir-ish direction, a good script and solid supporting performances.
Also of note this week is the new retro action fest Proud Mary starring Taraji P. Henson, the romantic musical Basmati Blues with Brie Larson, and Father Figures with Ed Helms and Owen Wilson.
Until next week movie lovers.
DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Tuesday April 3, 2018
13 Reasons Why: Season One
Ballers: The Complete Third Season
Dead on Arrival
Honey: Rise Up and Dance
Insidious: The Last Key
True to the Game
*Catalog Blu-ray debut