IO, Review By Case Wright


io 1

New beginnings and adventure versus intimacy and connection is the theme of Netflix’s latest straight to stream scifi think piece- IO.  It makes sense that human connection is the main theme because this movie was written by a team.  Rule of thumb: if you see Writer 1 and Writer 2 that was rewritten because writer 1 kinda sucked, BUT, if you see Writer 1 & Writer 2, this was written as a creative team.  In this case, there were three writers working together: Clay Jeter, Charles Spano, & Will Basanta.  I can’t imagine how challenging that would be for a film script mostly because I’m very solitary as a writer.  I’m an extrovert in every other way, but my ideal writing space is a well-lit isolation cave.  What is impressive to me  is that Netflix took a chance on these writers because it was their first real feature.  Normally, I would make a parenthesis next to the writers’ names, but here they haven’t really done anything prior.    The director, Jonathan Helpert, has done short films, never a feature. Despite this being everyone’s first feature, they executed well and attracted some real talent to their piece: Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers) and Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Winter Soldier).

The film takes place in just two locations, has two principles, and essentially just a cameo by a third actor.  The special effects were so minimalist that it made Another Earth (Lisa’s Review) look like Star Wars.  90% of the film takes place on a campsite, 5% in an empty neighborhood, and 5% in a museum. This film really ratchets up the intimacy and nothing can make two people closer than not having any other human beings around to distract them.

At first, I thought I was in for some Al Gore environmentalist porn because the film begins with a mass exodus of humanity from earth to an outpost to IO because runaway pollution changed our air to ammonia.  Obviously, there’s not enough fabreeze in the world to get rid of that smell.  Our heroine, Sam (Margaret Qualley) is up on a mountain campsite where the air is still breathable.  She is working alone to further her father’s research to adapt bees and plants to the new atmosphere in order to make the world habitable for humans again.  She makes trips down to the city below to scavenge for parts and to finally get decent tickets to see Hamilton.  This sounds like it would be dull, but it’s totally engaging because Margaret Qualley is such a talent that she plays the claustophic loneliness so you can feel it yourself.

Sam has a REALLY long distance relationship with Elon her engineer boyfriend who is determined to find humanity a new home.  His life is in the unknown and the stars; whereas, Sam’s is one earthbound and lonely.  Her loneliness is ended with the arrival of Micah (Anthony Mackie) a much older man than she, but there are obvious sparks.  They share an interest in the humanities and mourn our lost paradise.  Micah followed Sam’s father’s advice and attempted to stay on earth and survive and adapt, but doing so cost him his wife’s life and anyone else’s who listened to him.  He spent years floating around earth on a hot air balloon, seeing humanity’s fall from above.  When Micah met Sam, their age difference, the poisoned earth, or the uncertain future didn’t matter because they made a connection and developed concern for one another.

A lot has been discussed about the quasi-ambiguous ending because I suppose people are really good at missing the point.  It never was about whether humanity retook the earth or colonized a new home beyond the stars; it was about humans rediscovering their humanity.  In fact, the last lines of the film discussed exploration, coming to where you began, and re-discovering your starting point as if it were new because it is: you have changed, you have grown, the meaning has evolved.  By the end of the film, Sam and Micah had learned that they were still human.  These connections are why we fight a Trojan War to bring our loved ones home because we are connected to them, they matter, and because we are human.  The end was not about whether she survived and lived on earth on not; it was heartbreaking because alive or dead, we knew that the roads Micah and Sam would walk would not be together.

 

2018 in Review: Lisa’s Top 26 Films of 2018


And now, without further ado, I conclude my look back at 2018 with my 26 favorite films of the years.  Why 26?  Because Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers!

  1. Eighth Grade
  2. A Simple Favor
  3. Leave No Trace
  4. Support the Girls
  5. The Favourite
  6. Roma
  7. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
  8. Blindspotting
  9. Avengers: Infinity War
  10. The Other Side of the Wind
  11. The Death of Stalin
  12. Mission Impossible: Fallout
  13. Mandy
  14. Searching
  15. A Star is Born
  16. Chappaquiddick
  17. A Quiet Place
  18. Black Panther
  19. Annihilation
  20. Paddington 2
  21. Game Night
  22. American Animals
  23. If Beale Street Could Talk
  24. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
  25. Three Identical Strangers
  26. Mid90s

And there you have it.  Some of these films, I’ve reviewed here on the site.  Some of them — far too many of them — I have not.  My hope is that I’ll be able to fix that over the upcoming week.  But, whether I manage to write a 100 reviews or only three, I encourage everyone to see these 26 films, along with every other films that they can get their hands on.

2018 was an okay year for movies.  We had some really good ones.  We also had some really bad ones.  For the most part, though, this was pretty much of a middle-of-the-road year.  Personally, I can’t wait to see what 2019 has waiting for us!

Thank you everyone for reading.  And now, let’s great ready to make 2019 the best year since 2015!

Lisa Looks Back At 2018

  1. Ten Worst Films of 2018
  2. Best of Lifetime
  3. Best of Syfy
  4. 10 Favorite Novels
  5. 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books
  6. 10 Favorite Songs
  7. 10 Good Things That I Saw On Television

 

2018 in Review: 10 Good Things That I Saw On Television


Moving right along with my look back at 2018, here are 10 good things that I saw on television.

Please note, I did not say that these were the ten “best” things on television in 2018.  Instead, these are ten things that I enjoyed enough that, in January of 2019, they still pop to my mind whenever I ask myself, “What did I enjoy last year?”  As always, this is just my opinion and you’re free to agree or disagree.

Got it?  Okay, let’s go!

  1. Showtime reran Twin Peaks: The Return

Okay, so maybe I’m cheating a little here.  Twin Peaks: The Return originally aired in 2017.  You may remember that, for about 6 months, the Shattered Lens essentially became a Twin Peaks fan site.  Still, I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to discover that, over the course of a weekend, Showtime would be reairing the entire series.  I binged every episode and I discovered that, even with the benefit of hindsight, it’s still one of the greatest shows of all time.  Unfortunately, the Emmy voters did not agree.  Bastards.

2. The Alienist 

It took me a little while to really get into The Alienist but, once I did, I found myself growing obsessed with not only the sets and the costumes but the mystery as well!  Daniel Bruhl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning all did excellent work and I can’t wait for the sequel!

3. Jesus Christ Superstar Live

I was skeptical.  I had my doubts.  I thought I’d spend the entire two and a half hours rolling my eyes.  Jesus Christ Superstar proved me wrong.

4. The Americans

One of the best shows on television went out on a high note.

5. Barry

Barry premiered on HBO and it quickly became a favorite of mine.  While I agree that Bill Hader and Henry Winkler deserve all of the attention that they’ve received, I’d also say that Stephen Root continues to prove himself to be one of our greatest character actors.

6. Big Brother

The reality show that so many love to hate finally had another good season.  Since I get paid to write about the show for another site, that made me happy.  Seriously, some of the previous seasons were painful to watch so Big Brother 20 was a huge relief.  (Plus, BB 20 inspired everyone’s favorite twitter game: “Will Julie Chen Moonves show up tonight?”)

7. Maniac

As much fun as it is to complain about Netflix, occasionally they justify the price of their existence by giving us something like Maniac.

8. You

Sometimes, I loved this show.  Sometimes, I absolutely hated it.  However, I was always intrigued and never bored.  I can’t wait to see what happens during season 2.

9. Trust

For all the attention that was given to The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Trust was the best FX true crime series of 2018.  Along with an intriguing story, it also featured great performances from Donald Sutherland, Hillary Swank, and Brendan Fraser.  (Yes, Brendan Fraser.)

10. Westworld

I know a lot of people didn’t care much for the latest season of Westworld.  I loved it and, in the end, isn’t that what really matters?

That’s it for television!  Coming up next, it’s the entry in Lisa’s look back at 2018 that we’ve all been waiting for, my picks for the best 26 films of the year!

Lisa Looks Back At 2018

  1. Ten Worst Films of 2018
  2. Best of Lifetime
  3. Best of Syfy
  4. 10 Favorite Novels
  5. 12 Favorite Non-Fiction Books
  6. 10 Favorite Songs

 

 

2018 in Review: Lisa’s 10 Favorite Songs of 2018


It’s time to continue to my look back at 2018 by listing my ten favorite songs of the year.  If you want to see an example of how varied our tastes are here at the Shattered Lens, compare my picks to Necromoonyeti’s picks for the top 20 albums of 2018.

See, that’s one thing that I like about this site.  We’ve all got our own individual tastes!

Anyway, here are my picks.  I’m going to post them now and then I’ll probably spend the rest of the week getting laughed at whenever I leave my office here at the Shattered Lens Bunker.  But that’s okay!  I love everyone!

  1. The Underground by Hardwell and Timmy Trumpet

2. Get Your Shirt by Underworld and Iggy Pop

3. Boom by Tiesto, Gucci Mane & Sevenn

4. Carribish by ADI

5. Like I Do by David Guetta, Martin Garrix & Brooks

6. There Was A Time by Kedr Livanskiy

7. The Middle by Zedd, Grey, and Maren Morris

8. One Kiss by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa

9. I’m Upset by Drake

(I have to be honest.  This is one that I pretty much like exclusively because of the Degrassi-themed video.)

10. The Tired and The Hurt by Moby

That’s it for music!  Up next, either tonight or tomorrow, 10 good things I saw on television in 2018!

Lisa Looks Back At 2018:

  1. 10 Worst Films of 2018
  2. The Best of Lifetime
  3. The Best of SyFy
  4. Ten Favorite Novels
  5. Twelve Favorite Non-Fiction Books

 

2018 In Review: Lisa’s Top 12 Non-Fiction Books


All day today, I’ve been posting my favorites (and least favorites) of 2018.  If you’ve missed the previous entries …. well, that’s kind of on you.

Anyway, we have now reached the part of our program where I list my top twelve non-fiction books.  There was actually quite a lot of good non-fiction published this year.  The list below is a nice mix of memoirs, politics, and true crime.  Read them all and then be sure to come back here and thank me.

Here’s the list!

  1. The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy by Daniel Kalder
  2. Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
  3. Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman
  4. You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey
  5. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell
  6. The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustraed History by Stephen Jones
  7. True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking by Don Coscarelli 
  8. Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir by John Banville
  9. Blowing the Bloody Doors Off by Michael Caine
  10. The Contest: The 1968 Election and the War for America’s Soul by Michael Schumacher
  11. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
  12. The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman

I’ve got three more topics left to cover: music, television, and my favorite movies of the year.  For now, I need to take a small break and stretch my legs so expect to see the rest of my picks for the best of 2018 later tonight or tomorrow.

(Probably tomorrow, to be absolutely honest.)

Lisa Looks Back At 2018:

  1. Ten Worst Films of 2018
  2. The Best of Lifetime
  3. The Best of SyFy
  4. Lisa’s 10 Favorite Novels of 2018

2018 In Review: Lisa’s Top 10 Novels


Okay, I’ve had dinner and now I’m ready to get back to sharing my picks for the best of 2018!

We’ve now come to my 10 favorite novels of 2018.  I hate to say it but I didn’t read as many new novels as I should have this year.  I read a lot of old James Bond novels and I inherited about a dozen vintage Choose Your Own Adventure Books.  Those kept me pretty busy.

Plus, I also traveled a lot last year and I was also sick for several days.  I’ve always assumed that traveling and having a serious sinus infection would lead to reading more books and not less.  But apparently, it doesn’t work that way.  That sucked.

PLUS — I WASTED AN ENTIRE WEEK TRYING TO MAKE MY WAY THROUGH THAT SEAN PENN NOVEL!  Goddammit….

(Yes, it’s an extremely short novel but it didn’t feel short when I was reading it….)

Anyway, of the 2018 novels that I did read, here’s my top ten! 

  1. The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
  2. Need to Know by Karen Cleveland
  3. The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty
  4. A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
  5. Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
  6. Devil’s Day by Andrew Michael Hurley
  7. Wicked and the Wallflowers by Sarah Maclean
  8. Ghost Virus by Graham Masterson
  9. Hating you, Loving You by Crystal Kaswell
  10. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Up next, my ten favorite non-fiction books of 2018!

Lisa Looks Back at 2018:

  1. Ten Worst Films of 2018
  2. The Best of Lifetime
  3. The Best of SyFy

2018 In Review: The Best of SyFy


Continuing my look back at the best of 2018, it is now time to reveal my picks for the best SyFy movies and performances of the previous year!

But before I do that, a plea to the SyFy Network.  If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because I make this plea every year and it never does any good.  It probably won’t do any good this year.  But still, I’m going to make it.  SyFy, give us more original films!  From a business point of view, I can understand why SyFy shifted their focus from movies to episodic television.  But I’m not a business person!  I’m a movie lover, one who has wonderful memories of when every weekend would bring another gloriously over-the-top SyFy movie.  Those were wonderful days and it’s sad that the only time that I get to relive them is either during Shark Week or during October.

(Of course, with the Sharknado franchise ending last year, is there even going to be a Shark Week in 2019?)

Seriously, SyFy — give us more original movies!

With that in mind, allow me to say that SyFy’s 2018 films were some of the best that they’ve ever aired.  It’s unfortunate that there weren’t more of them but the ones that they did show were excellent.  It was not easy to narrow down my picks this year but I’ve done it.  And here they are:

(All credits are based on what’s listed at the imdb.  If anyone has been incorrectly credited or left out, please leave a comment and I will correct the mistake.)

Best Picture — The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (produced by Paul Bales, Jarrett Furst , David L. Garber, Andrew Golov, David Michael Latt, Bogdan Moncea, Tara Reid, David Rimawi, Justin Smith, Josh Van Houdt, Ian Ziering)

The Sharknado franchise ended with everything you could possibly want: flying sharks, bad puns, meta humor, and finally a heart-warming speech from Finn that not only saluted those who worked on the films but those of us who watched as well.  After years of defining SyFy for many people, the Sharknado franchise concluded on the perfect note.

Best Director — Anthony C. Ferrante for The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time

Anthony C. Ferrante has been with the franchise since the beginning and he brought it to an end with style.

Best Actor — Reid Miller in Santa Jaws

Playing an aspiring comic book artist who brings to life a shark that’s full of Christmas spirit, Reid Miller gave a likable performance that achieved just the right balance between comedy and terror.

Best Actress — Jearnest Corchado in Cucuy: The Boogeyman

Jeanest Corchado did a great job grounding this Halloween in film in reality (or as close to reality as you’re going to get in a SyFy film).

Best Supporting Actor — Varun Saranga in Killer High

If you’re high school reunion is ever attacked by hellish monsters, you’re going to want a friend like Varun Saranga’s Ronnie at your side.  Or maybe not….

Best Supporting Actress — Alyson Hannigan in You Might Be The Killer

If you ever find yourself surrounded by a bunch of dead bodies at a summer camp, Alyson Hannigan is exactly the friend that you want giving you advice.  Or maybe not….

Best Screenplay — Jesse Mittelstadt for No Escape Room

With its clever script and ominous feeling of impending doom, No Escape Room was my favorite of SyFy’s Halloween films.  Seriously, it was creepy as Hell.

Best Cinematography — 6-Headed Shark Attack (Mark Atkins)

Paradise is a paradise, even with a multi-headed shark eating everyone in sight.

Best Costumes — The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (costumes by Oana Draghici)

The best thing about time travel is getting to see what everyone’s wearing.

Best Editing — Santa Jaws (Eva K. Morgan and Misty Talley)

If the Sharkando films really are finished with, I certainly wouldn’t mind another five or so films about Santa Jaws.

Best Makeup — The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (Petcu Alina, Alexandra Barladeanu, Devin Bianchini, Jeremy Bramer, Roxana Cardas, Denise M. Chavez, Bee Cruz, George Doroftei, Brianna Farfel , Adelina Handuri, Caitlin Krenz, Andreescu Maria, Tracy Rosen, Victoria Rowe)

Again, the best thing about time travel is getting to see what everyone looked like.

Best Score — You Might Be The Killer (Andrew Morgan Smith)

Smith’s score created the perfect mood and atmosphere for this homage to the horror films of the past.

Best Production Design — No Escape Room (Shane Boucher and Garrett Dunbar)

Seriously, this film was creepy as Hell.

Best Sound — No Escape Room (Bryson Cassidy, Joseph Facciuolo, Danielle McBride, Lucas Roveda, Laszlo Szijarto, Julie Zhu)

Again, creepy as hell.

Best Visual Effects — Nightmare Shark (Adam Clark and Gretchen McNelis)

When you give your film a title like Nightmare Shark, you’re obviously making a bold statement.  Fortunately, the visual effects were able to live up to the title.

And that’s it for the best in SyFy!  I really hope that SyFy will continue to air original movies so I’ll be able to do another one of these lists next year.

(For my previous picks, click on the links: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017)

Up next: dinner!  And then, after that, I’ll post my favorite novels of 2018.

Lisa Looks Back at 2018:

  1. The 10 Worst Films of 2018
  2. The Best of Lifetime