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Payne’s Picks

By Sarah Payne

Snowden – September 16 It seems fitting that a film about government overreach be released so close to this year’s presidential election. According to a review from The Verge, the film sides with Edward Snowden, but “lets everyone get their voice in—from the government official who sees spying as critical to national security, to the CIA / NSA employees questioning what they’re doing, to the citizen who doesn’t really care what’s happening.” Snowden himself is said to make a cameo in the film, and even called into a secret Comic Con screening back in July to give his approval.

The Light Between Oceans – September 2 Derek Cianfrance has directed some of my favorite dark, moody films from the last few years, including The Place Beyond the Pines and Blue Valentine. His most recent project, The Light Between Oceans, stars real life couple Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander, who actually fell in love on set. Based on a novel by the same name, it’s about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, who find a baby wash up on shore outside their lighthouse. When Vikander was interviewed by Vanity Fair last month, she said Cianfrance had crewmembers blindfold her and take her to the lighthouse in the middle of the night so that her reaction to the scenery would be as authentic as possible on film.

Movie review: Sausage Party – As a regular viewer of adult cartoons like American Dad and Family Guy, I’m not one to dismiss something just because it’s animated—or based on a bizarre premise, like talking food products. And I really wanted to like Sausage Party, especially considering how many comedians are in the film—Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, and Paul Rudd, just to name a few! But I have to admit, Sausage Party mostly fell flat for me. There are certainly some laugh-out-loud moments, like the scene where they make it out of the grocery store and realize, with horror, that they will be eaten by humans. But those laugh-out-loud scenes are few and far between. The film, which was written by Rogen, Hill, and Evan Goldberg, relies too much on the assumption that people will find swearing hot dogs funny. It also carries a very thinly veiled political message that religious people are idiots (see Wiig’s character, who refuses to believe the truth about “The Great Beyond” outside the supermarket). Overall, the idea of food products coming to life in a grocery store is probably better suited for television than in a feature length film.

Netflix Review: Stranger Things – Do you ever get nostalgic for the 80s? Do you love mysteries and binge watching TV shows? Then Stranger Things is definitely for you! A friend of mine recommended it, describing it as a cross between E.T. and The Goonies. A Netflix original series, it’s divided into eight carefully crafted episodes, starring Winona Ryder and David Harbour (Revolutionary Road). It’s set in a small town in Indiana in the 1980s, and begins with the disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers. I say it’s binge-worthy because each episode brings you closer to solving the mystery as it follows the lives of Will’s family and friends and the police investigation. Ryder is excellent as Will’s neurotic and emotionally unstable mother. You also come to appreciate Harbour as the police chief. At first, his interest in the case is cursory. But as he (and the viewer) learns more details about strange things (get it?) that are happening in the town, he becomes more emotionally invested in solving the case. Though I’m disappointed that the film industry is lacking these days, I’m excited to see new content from companies like Netflix and Amazon.