The Squid and the Whale

Viewed – 05 August 2020 Blu-ray

I hadn’t heard of this movie up until now and only stumbled across it when browsing ‘The Criterion Collection’ releases. So a complete blind purchase that although I don’t regret, I don’t feel was entirely worth it. This follows the story of two brothers (one played by a young Jesse Eisenberg) who’s parents separate, leading them to have to spend their time living at each parent’s house … whilst also going through the trials of high school, first love and puberty.

trouble with Mom and Dad…

Jeff Daniels plays the Dad, a respected writer and teacher, who has a close bond with his eldest son (Eisenberg), whilst Laura Linney (Ozark) plays the Mom who gets sort of a bad rap due to having had an affair. William Baldwin also turns up as a tennis instructor. This very ‘indie’ drama, in the style of Gus Van Sant is very authentic and occasionally amusing with decent performances and astute observations of its various themes. It occasionally goes down avenues exploring the effect a breakup has on children that takes some weird turns … what with the youngest kid resorting to masturbation of all things, as a way of acting out (er…ok). Eisenberg also comes off as a bit of a brat, who whilst his usual brand of awkward is less likeable than usual.

For this kind of subject, I felt the movie offered very little we hadn’t seen before and didn’t go anywhere particularly interesting or all that optimistic. It also doesn’t really explore why the parent’s relationship hits the skids. A shame as it’s well acted (especially Linney who I’ve always liked) and has some good moments, but is otherwise forgettable.

The Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection has a an adequate image, thats very grainy and a bit lacking in detail, almost like 16mm – but it does create a distinct ‘look’ that suits the movie’s tone. Sound is clear in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio and showcases various unusual and obscure music choices. Extras consist of a making of documentary, interviews, audition footage and trailers. We also get a booklet that has an interview and a write up on the movie and it’s production. Not too bad for a movie a little undeserving of such treatment.


(the movie) Poor

(the Blu-ray) Good

What Lies Within

Viewed – 21 May 2016  Pay-Per-View

A young couple (Gabriella Wright & Bret Roberts) with a strained marriage following a miscarriage, decide to go to a secluded cabin in the woods in an attempt at reconciling their issues.  However once there the husband’s underlying jealousy and the woman’s on going psychological trauma begin to cause problems.

What Lies Within

Now I have seen a lot of movies in my time and some were pretty poorly made, but this woefully amateurish attempt at a horror thriller felt from the off like a group of friends given a camera and asked to make something.  The result is a flimsy attempt at a story with feeble attempts at acting and next to no technical ability.  It’s filmed with a complete lack of tension and cheap jump scares, and an eerie looking location cannot make up for a total lack of ability to pull the viewer in.  Supposedly creepy things lurking in the woods, lingering camera angles and a secluded setting should at least generate a degree of atmosphere … but along with terrible acting, I struggled to get through this one.  Towards the end some pretty rough violence kicks in, clearly an attempt to have something going on – as for a good hour, nothing happens … and I mean nothing.  So we get graphic stabbings, some action with an axe and even an eye piercing, but guess what?  It makes no sense and comes out of nowhere, meaning any possibility of a believable or interesting narrative is ultimately lost in place of shock value.  The actors try their best but are laughably inexperienced.  So the point of this movie is totally lost on me.  A tacked on twist at the end only goes to make the whole experience all the more annoying.

Director Lucas Pavetto shows a total lack of talent and hopefully never picks up a movie camera again.  The rest of those involved can go back to their day jobs.  Avoid.

Verdict:  1 /5