Summer Netflix – Brain on Fire

I recently watched two enjoyable Netflix films — Brain on Fire and Tau — and thought I would provide a quick review of Brain on Fire for anyone who has a few hours to binge.  I’ll get to Tau soon.

As a mom who spent three days in the hospital with her adult daughter suffering from blot clots, I related to Brain on Fire more from the parents’point of view than the protagonists. No matter which characters you invest in, the movie is well done and interesting to watch.

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Can you imagine your life falling to pieces day by day and doctors having no idea why? The film follows Susannah Cahalan (played by Chloe Grace Moretz), a writer for the NY Post, who begins to experience unexplained symptoms from a rare neurological disease. Doctors claim it is everything from alcohol withdrawal to mental illness before diagnosing her with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis. Based on the book, Brain On Fire, the movie is based on journalist Susannah Cahalan true-life experiences.

Carrie Ann Moss and Richard Armitage play Cahalan’s parents. Previously, I saw Moss in the role of a tough-ass lawyer in Jessica Jones and The Defenders. I enjoyed her more realistic portrayal of a mom frustrated with the medical system. We’ve all been there. I also love Moretz as an actor and though she did an amazing job portraying the fear of having her body betray her without explanation.

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I didn’t quite get Cahalan’s relationship with her boyfriend. While supportive, their interactions lacked chemistry. At one point she was talking to him about her symptoms and he’s mixing music, ignoring her. He came off as uncaring, and I had to wonder why the directors decided that was how they wanted to portray him.

While not getting rave reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is worth watching.  The characters are well portrayed and the fact that it is based on true events makes it more noteworthy.

The Titan on Netflix

Just finished watching The Titan on Netflix. What can I say about it? Meh.  It wasn’t bad. I stayed awake for the entire movie, which is good. But it lacked a gritty realism of a dystopian world. It also needed more depth and discussion about what was going on outside the small utopian military base where former Air Force fighter pilot Rick Janssen (Sam Worthington) is stationed.

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Janssen, along with other recruits, have all agreed to become the first humans capable of living under the harsh condition and inhospitable atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan. The military base is beautiful and in the middle of a gorgeous mountain and lake setting. It doesn’t seem like anything destructive has EVER happened there, and after a brief “the world is ending” announcement, and Janssen’s statement “Too bad we can’t save it,” the viewers witness little to none of the chaos supposedly exploding outside this pristine oasis.

As a viewer, I had a lot of unanswered questions. For example: If science has progressed to the point of altering human DNA, why can’t they create a closed biosphere on earth or at least invest in some hydroponics? The set-up of the movie seemed too contrived and the answers provided too simplistic.

Then there are the changes to Janssen. There are drugs, strenuous activities and surgery. Of course, thing go bad, but the movie never really gets exciting or interesting or scary.  I kept waiting for a pay out that never came. The volunteers, including Janssen change. I get it, but I never really care.

His wife, Dr. Abi Janssen (Taylor Schilling) does a wonderful job in her role, but she wears white for almost the entire movie. The symbol is a little heavy handed.  She’s also a doctor, something I didn’t pick up on until half way through the movie when she goes from a loving, doting wife to a skilled researcher with lab access trying to uncover what the military is doing to her husband.

So in the end…Janssen survives but does he really live?

February Book Recommendation

Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas

Written in 2008, I recently came across this author and her series. I started with the historical romances, but enjoyed her contemporary books as well.

Brown-Eyed Girl: A Novel (The Travis Family) by [Kleypas, Lisa]

The plot centers around Avery Crosslin, your not-so-typical romantic protagonist. She’s a wedding planner who might have her career mapped out, but little control over her personal life.  She’s a doubter, and love is not in her near future until she meets Joe Travis. She thinks he’s a wedding photographer, but he is so much more.

Joe wants Avery but even with their mutual attraction, Avery doesn’t need the distraction. Between planning some of the biggest weddings of the season and Joe’s persistence, Avery begins to understand that love might be worth it.

 

This is a fast, fun read. The characters come across as real and flawed and funny. There are insecurities at play and secrets to be revealed.  For an enjoyable romance, pick up Brown-Eyed Girl.

I also noticed on Amazon, Kleypas has a new book arriving February 27th. I’m looking forward to reading Hello Stranger: The Ravenels, Book 4.