Good Watch: The Ending of All Creatures Here Below Screwed Me Up @karengillan @Dastmalchian @schifflifilms #movie

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The ending of All Creatures Here Below really screwed me up, and it’s been festering in my brain for about a week now. (Technically, I’m already screwed up, and this just raised the issue.) As I mentioned in a prior, spoiler-free post, I rented it, saw it, had to watch it a second time. This movie strikes the precise emotional chords for me. YMMV.

Spoiler Alert!

Before you read further, please note that this is one of those few movies that I’m glad I saw spoiler-free. If you’re at all spoiler-averse, you should stop reading now and watch the movie. If not, you’re robbing yourself of a process that made the movie even better for me. I watched it once, tolerating the typical humdrum character and story development necessary to start any film, was hit with the twist towards the end (which I won’t spoil here), and then was hit with the ending. At that point, I knew I had to watch it again, which completely changed how I saw the start of the movie. It was no longer humdrum; rather, almost every moment became disturbing and/or important.

The Characters

The two main characters, Gensan and Ruby, are bad people. They commit crimes, both minor and heinous, throughout the movie. I should be rooting for their downfall, but as I’ve pointed out, this movie demonstrates how complex issues can get. While I don’t waiver one bit on the position that they should both be in prison, the screenwriting (David Dastmalchian) and directing (Collin Schiffli), and acting (Dastmalchian and Karen Gillan) leave me conflicted. I feel bad for the characters, probably because I know that the emotions they feel are ones with which we all sympathize. They deserve to be in prison because of their actions, but how they emotionally respond to their own actions, as well as how tough their circumstances are, are relatable. Some of you may even share those circumstances.

5 Minutes

Most of us can appreciate the finality of death. Once a person dies, that’s it. Even if you’re religious, it feels like they’re gone forever. This inspires a very common sentiment: “What I wouldn’t give for just five more minutes with [person].” Depending on the relationship, you may want to spend that five minutes kissing, hugging, or just talking to that person, telling them how you feel about them or sitting back and enjoying their wisdom one more time. Regardless of what you need from that five minutes, you need that five minutes.

In the end scene, Gensan is living in what should have been those five minutes. In his twisted mind, he had to kill her but not at that precise moment. Even for a guy who was so emotionally stunted, I think he, like all of us, would appreciate just a few more minutes with her, but he’s the reason he doesn’t have those five minutes.

Moreover, despite Ruby’s mangled corpse being out of view, we all know what Gensan sees before him. However, the director (I think that’s where the credit lies) makes sure we connect emotionally with that scene. Ruby falls to the ground after the initial (brutal) strike. She gets hit again, and we see only her right hand clutching the grass. Then she’s hit a third time, and her hand is limp. On the fourth and final strike, it simply bounces a bit from the impact. We see her death occur without the blood and guts, but we can’t ignore the brutality of it. Gensan is looking directly at the product of his own handiwork knowing that he didn’t have to do it before spending five minutes saying a much-needed goodbye.

Ruby’s Letter

Ruby gets to have those five minutes in a sense, because through her letter to Gensan she tells him how she feels about him. She saw him as her “knight in shining armor,” but he failed her in that regard in the worst way imaginable. Gensan must now be overwhelmed by his own betrayal.

And all of this could have been delayed five minutes.

It May Be Even Worse

As if all of that isn’t bad enough, Gensan may have to relive this pain over again. Let’s say he gets exceptionally lucky and serves only twenty years in prison. Assuming he’s thirty years old, he’s out at fifty, with on average (statistically speaking) twenty-six years left to live. On the day he’s granted parole and knows he’s getting out, something’s going to hit him: If he could have gotten lucky, perhaps Ruby could have as well. She could have also been getting out of prison at some time, so they could have decades of those “five minutes” together if not for his short-sighted actions.

He’s going to have to relive that same pain again, knowing that he robbed himself and her of that time together, as well as everything else that goes along with life. How could you live with that?

Personal Matter

Everyone has their pain, and I’m no exception, but my greatest pain dwarves the rest of it, perhaps defining me. Several movies have occasionally tugged on that particular heart-string, but none struck that particular chord as hard as this movie did. Perhaps that makes me like this movie more than you will, but I still encourage people to watch it. Even if you’ve just spoiled it for yourself, there’s a twist I haven’t spoiled, and the ending should still be a powerful watch for you.

Grade

I give this movie an A+.

America’s Sugar Addiction

There was one other thing that was disturbing about the movie, but in a funny way. To avoid spoilers, I’ll just say this: Ruby, c’mon! You’re still watching TV and eating a Baby Ruth? 😊

Depending on how it’s presented, I sometimes don’t handle death in movies particularly well.

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The Villains of Black Panther #MCU @Erik_Nowak @chadwickboseman @michaelb4jordan @andyserkis

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A fellow nerd, Erik, and I agree that the most interesting villains are the ones that believe they’re actually the good guys, but there’s something to be said for villains like Killmonger and Ulysses Claw in Black Panther.  These guys tap into comedy and evil simultaneously. They live every moment of their lives in danger, so they don’t react to danger as normal people do. They’ve always got a smile on their faces even as their shooting someone in the back, so they can believably throw out humorous lines (“I made it rain!”) as people are dying around them.

An example of how this trait plays out is when T’Challa seemingly returns from the dead. What’s Killmonger’s reaction? With a smirk on his face, he asks, “Whassup?!” Killmonger knows exactly what’s up. T’Challa has defied all odds and seeks revenge. But Killmonger just just doesn’t care. For him, it’s just another moment in his life of constant danger.

Of course, we already saw this with Ulysses Claw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. When faced with two threatening enemies who’s powers Claw understood, Claw faced it with a sick sense of humor and confidence. He kept his cool because there’s was nothing they could throw at him — not even Wanda with her mind games — that could possibly scare him any more than many of his life experiences have.

These are great villains too. I love it.

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Four More Observations About the #MCU @Renner4Real @RobertDowneyJr @DaveBautista @karengillan

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I just finished watching Infinity War and Endgame again and have four more observations. Yeah, I talk about the MCU a lot, but I think it gets far too little credit for its writing and acting (especially Karen Gillan and Dave Bautista, who were both surprises to me).

Character Growth

As I’ve discussed in several prior posts, the MCU as a whole, like most individual movies, involved a lot of character growth. In the MCU, the common theme was developing a better sense of morality, but using familiar methods to achieve the evolved goals. For example, Tony was a self-absorbed arms dealer. As he evolved to a selfless peace-seeker, he still used the same methods. He used weapons to provide security, because that’s all he really knew. And near the end of Endgame, [spoiler alert] even the “self-absorbed” part came into play: “I am Iron Man.” Of course, as a friend pointed out on Facebook, at the time he was using the most powerful weapon in the universe.

Natasha and Clint

I don’t know if Natasha and Clint’s friendship is the best thing about the MCU, but it’s certainly near the top, and it’s an example of what makes the MCU fantastic. You couldn’t possibly build that relationship over the course of a single film, which means that their scene on Vormir couldn’t possibly have the emotional impact that it did if Infinity War/Endgame were a single film. The MCU is several independent films that collectively is greater than the sum of its parts.

Bucky Knew

After my 100th re-watch of Endgame, I’m certain that Bucky knew that Steve was going to live out his life in the past. I never really noticed that before now.

Cheeseburgers

I hate cheese but still find it adorable that Tony’s daughter wanted cheeseburgers at the end of Endgame. The first thing Tony wanted after returning from captivity in Iron Man was a cheeseburger. I may have already mentioned this in a prior post, but there it is.

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Good Watch: All Creatures Here Below @karengillan @Dastmalchian @jenmorrisonlive @DavidKoechner #movie

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Based on my obsession with the MCU, I’ve become a fan of several of the actors that had never been on my radar scope before. I discovered All Creatures Here Below starring two of them: Karen Gillan and David Dastmalchian. I had never heard of Gillan before the MCU (I have a weird thing against Dr. Who), and had seen Dastmalchian in only a couple of small parts. This is nothing like an MCU movie, of course. It has that indie-movie feel to it. The two play a couple of non-loveable screw ups that can’t seem to make any good decisions and almost constantly piss me off. Gillan’s Ruby doesn’t seem to understand that her actions are evil or stupid (they’re often both), whereas Dastmalchian’s Gensan doesn’t seem to care about anyone else (other than Ruby), so he ignores the consequences to others. Ruby also doesn’t seem to understand the long-term consequences of her actions.

Jennifer Morrison and David Koechner are also in it, though their parts are small, so they aren’t given a chance to shine. That’s a shame because they’re both quite good.

It’s a depressing tale, but once it got started, I was eager to see how it turned out. Then I got hit with a twist in the diner scene, which really made me rethink the entire movie. The world is screwed up, and things can be more complicated than they appear (for better or worse). It’s frustrating, brutal, and the ending was downright painful (perhaps too painful for some), but it was well worth the 90 minutes and $3.99. I enjoyed both the acting and the writing, and I greatly appreciate the talent it takes to do either.

A- (but I’m a generous grader)

EDIT: I’m upgrading this movie to a solid A+ after thinking about it all day. I really didn’t expect a movie like this to make me think so hard, and I appreciate that.

For a spoiler-laden discussion, click here for my other post on this movie.

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