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‘Ozark’ Ends As an American Horror Story

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وقت القراءة المقدر: 10 دقيقة (دقائق)

For most of Breaking Bad, Walter White insisted that his ascension into a fearsome kingpin was the only way to make sure his family was provided for after a terminal cancer diagnosis. No matter what atrocities he committed—an exhaustive list that includes ordering a child to be poisoned and watching Jesse Pinkman’s girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit without intervening—Walt could always point back to family as a moral justification for his actions. In fact, it wasn’t until the series finale that Walt finally acknowledged the elephant in the room: He became Heisenberg for himself, and he liked it.

On Ozark, the Netflix crime drama that feels like an algorithmic response to the popularity of Breaking Bad, Jason Bateman’s Marty Byrde began laundering money for a Mexican drug cartel to protect his family. (In fairness to Marty, the only reason he was put in this precarious situation is because his business partner was caught skimming money from the cartel, which wanted to tie up loose ends.) But over the course of four seasons, Marty’s desperate bid for survival in the Lake of the Ozarks has evolved into an insatiable lust for power that’s left a string of bodies in its wake. Marty said it himself in the series premiere: “Money is, at its essence, that measure of a man’s choices.” And those choices paint an ugly portrait of not just Marty, but also of his wife, Wendy (an excellent Laura Linney), whose cutthroat ambition for the family business has led the character to emerge as the show’s equivalent to Walter White.

As Ozark headed into its final batch of episodes, the Byrdes were still hoping to walk away from the criminal underworld by brokering a deal with the FBI. The plan was for the head of the Navarro cartel to act as an informant for five years in exchange for freedom from prosecution. (The deal was originally presented to Omar Navarro before he was put behind bars by a rogue FBI agent, but has since been passed on to his power-hungry and trigger-happy nephew, Javi.) But when Marty’s former protégé Ruth Langmore shoots Javi in retaliation for killing her cousin Wyatt, the cartel is left with a power vacuum that puts the Byrdes’ FBI deal in jeopardy. As much as Marty and Wendy want to manage everything around them, there will always be forces outside of their control—a theme further conveyed by the fourth season’s opening with a flash-forward in which the family is involved in a serious car crash.

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The question of whether the Byrdes can get everything they want—and who might get caught in the crossfire—is the driving force of the final season. If the Byrdes are able to wipe the slate clean, they plan on becoming political players in the Rust Belt, having already established a nonprofit foundation with big-name donors including Clare Shaw, the CEO of a prominent pharmaceutical company. (Of course, the Byrdes’ supposedly philanthropic efforts are tainted from the onset, as the arrangement with Clare is contingent on her company buying opium from the Navarro cartel.) That the Byrdes could move so seamlessly from money laundering to influencing national politics is indicative of another philosophical nugget Wendy shares in the series finale: “Money doesn’t know where it came from.” But while money may not be capable of judgment, people certainly are.

If there was any hope that the Byrdes would retain some semblance of humanity during their chaotic ordeal, Ozark’s bleak, brutal ending effectively squashes it. In the series finale, “A Hard Way to Go,” the FBI deal is back on with Camila Elizonndro, Omar’s sister and Javi’s mother, who took over the family business after putting out a hit on her brother. Meanwhile, Wendy’s father, Nathan, leaves town after giving up his pursuit of custody of his grandchildren, Charlotte and Jonah, and locating his missing son, Ben, who was last seen with his sister. (What Nathan doesn’t know about Ben’s disappearance won’t hurt him.) But just as everything seems to be falling in place for the Byrdes as they bask in a successful foundation fundraiser, Camila presses Marty, Wendy, and Clare about Javi’s death. “If you know something about the day my son died that you haven’t told me, I will forgive you this one time,” Camila says to Clare, sensing frailty. “If I found out later that there’s something you aren’t telling me now, well, I’ll have someone slash you from your cunt to your chin.”

With that [clears throat] creative persuasion, Clare cracks and gives up Ruth. In cold, practical terms, Ruth becoming the target for a new cartel boss doesn’t affect the Byrdes’ bottom line. But Marty has formed a close bond with Ruth, who has practically become a second daughter to him. Camila has backed Marty and Wendy into a corner—if they try to warn Ruth, their children’s lives will be in jeopardy. Ultimately, the Byrdes sit back and let Camila enact her revenge, shooting Ruth at her trailer home that’s in the midst of being transformed into a swanky lakeside property. It’s a tragic end for a character who rose through the ranks from a petty criminal with a wounded soul into a shrewd, successful businesswoman. (If it’s any consolation, Julia Garner should have the Emmy nomination in the bag, if not her third win.)

On its own, Ruth’s death fractures whatever core of decency the Byrdes had left, but the finale still had one more trick up its sleeve. When the family heads back home, Marty and Wendy are confronted by Mel Sattem, the ex-detective turned private investigator who looked into Ben’s disappearance until the Byrdes pulled some strings to get him rehired by the Chicago Police Department. Mel puts enough pieces together to realize the couple have been hiding Ben right under everyone’s noses: His ashes have been stored in a goat-shaped cookie jar. (Ben wanted to raise goats on a farm before he disrupted the family business enough that Wendy signed off on having her brother killed.) There’s just enough DNA evidence left in the jar—the local crematorium the Byrdes own is outdated—to implicate them. “Name your price,” Wendy pleads. “You can change your life. You can change anyone’s life you want.”

Indeed, the Byrdes have amassed a ton of wealth at this point in the series, but Mel is no longer swayed by it, believing—not inaccurately—that their money is “toxic.” The fact that you can connect the dots between managing a cartel’s finances to rubbing shoulders with politicians and CEOs is entirely the point: With wealth comes power, and the Byrdes wield plenty of both. But whether it’s an FBI agent going rogue to arrest Omar or Mel trying to establish some form of justice for Ben’s death, there will always be individuals standing against them because it’s the right thing to do. “You don’t get to win,” Mel tells Marty and Wendy. “You don’t get to be the Kochs or the Kennedys or whatever fucking royalty you people think you are. World doesn’t work like that.”

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“Since when?” Wendy coolly responds.

At that point, we hear a shotgun being cocked; Mel turns around and finds Jonah pointing the weapon at him. Seeing the youngest member of the family prepared to shoot Mel after spending the entire season loathing his mother over what happened to Ben underlines the moral rot that has festered within the Byrdes. What’s even more unsettling is how Marty and Wendy respond to their son’s actions—not with disgust or horror, but a glint of pride.

While “A Hard Way to Go” fades to black before the confrontation reaches its conclusion, Mel’s fate is hardly ambiguous—we hear Jonah pull the trigger. Considering the show racked up an impressive body count from its very first episode, it’s only fitting that Ozark would end with one more act of violence. For viewers rooting for the Byrdes to succeed in spite of their many flaws, perhaps they’ll be pleased that the family, for all intents and purposes, get away without any legal repercussions. But while the nuclear family remained intact, virtually everyone surrounding them wasn’t as lucky. And after all the moral compromises Marty made with the justification of keeping his family safe, Ozark wraps up with the rest of the Byrdes stooping down to his level. (In many ways, Wendy had long surpassed him.)

For his part, showrunner Chris Mundy described the show’s ending as “all about the choices of who’s family and who’s not,” and if there’s a larger takeaway from the finale, it’s that these types of decisions are inevitably intertwined with Marty’s philosophy about money as the measure of a person’s choices. Across four seasons, Ozark illuminated the real cost of chasing the American dream, and whether such success matters when so many lives are destroyed in the process. Clearly, in their final moments, the Byrdes were content with the bed they made for themselves, which makes the family’s journey all the more harrowing. Ozark might have started out as a Breaking Bad imitator, but it ended as an American Horror Story.

 49 اجمالى المشاهدات,  3 اليوم

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‘American Horror Stories’: Ryan Murphy Unveils New Chapters Of Fear & Frights In ‘AHS’ Spinoff Teaser

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Ryan Murphy ushers in new chapters of the American Horror Story franchise in a teaser for the upcoming Hulu anthology series, American Horror Stories.

“Every episode brings you a different nightmare,” Murphy tweeted on Wednesday.

Murphy, who has been teasing American Horror Stories with posters on his social media accounts, dropped the teaser on Twitter. The brief snippet follows a rubber woman on a journey that revisits some of the most memorable locations in the AHS franchise.

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American Horror Stories is a weekly hourlong anthology series that will feature a different horror story in each contained episode. The spinoff will premiere exclusively on Hulu July 15. Earlier this month Murphy revealed that Kevin McHale, Dyllón Burnside, Charles Melton and Nico Greetham will star in the series.

During a panel for Ratched in August 2020, AHS and American Crime Story star Sarah Paulson said that she will direct some of the series.

The tenth installment of the flagship series, American Horror Story: Double Feature, will debut on FX Wednesday, August 25.

During the May Upfront presentations, FX Chairman John Landgraf said that American Horror Stories will commence in July and conclude on Halloween. The series is executive produced by Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Alexis Martin Woodall, John J. Gray and Manny Coto.

New horrors and fears await viewers in the American Horror Stories teaser – watch it below.

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 260 اجمالى المشاهدات,  4 اليوم

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‘Captive Audience: An American Horror Story’ Review: More Shocking Than Fiction

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وقت القراءة المقدر: 2 دقيقة (دقائق)

Too smart for “true crime” and far more artfully constructed than standard-issue nonfiction, “Captive Audience” revisits the case of Steven Stayner, who in 1972 disappeared without a trace and then resurfaced seven years later, with a fellow kidnap victim in tow. Those with long memories will know right off where else the Stayner family saga is going, but others will be utterly shocked—which is supportive evidence in the case being made by director Jessica Dimmock. “If you have an experience and it doesn’t become a story,” says Steven’s mother, Kay, “it dies.” Which, coming as it does near the end of episode 3, is a statement as startling as any other in this three-part series.
The word “story” is repeated at least a dozen times in the opening moments of “Captive Audience,” mostly by TV anchors and correspondents, framing the Stayner case as it led the news circa Dec. 4, 1972: a 7-year-old boy, vanishing on his way home from school in humble Merced, Calif., stoking the worst fears of parents, inspiring exhaustive searches and then, as all such stories do when they aren’t solved, going cold. The very sympathetic Kay Stayner, who says she never stopped believing her son would return, concedes that when the police contacted her in March 1980, she immediately expected the worst. “I had all this hope for all these years, and at the end I thought it was going to be bad news.”

 221 اجمالى المشاهدات,  4 اليوم

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‘Choose or Die’: The Netflix Original Horror Film is Kind of Underwhelming

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وقت القراءة المقدر: 14 دقيقة (دقائق)

Austin Oguri is a screenwriter and has deep appreciation for the art of film in general, he aims to offer unique perspectives through his film reviews and feature articles. He also has a soft spot for lesser-known works, and enjoys spotlighting them whenever he can. Austin has always found it necessary for people to encourage and bring out the best in each other, and as a writer at The Hollywood Insider, he can combine that ideology with his ability to think outside the box and truly express his love for the arts in the best ways possible.
Apr 20, 2022
Table of Contents
Photo: ‘Choose or Die’
When it comes to horror films, there are a lot of factors that must be balanced in order to create an end product that’s satisfying for its potential audience. On top of the engaging story and likable characters vital to any movie’s success, a proper unsettling atmosphere must be established without being forced. Real horror doesn’t come merely from jumpscares or extreme violence, it comes from suspense, high stakes, and characters the audience cares about trying to escape nightmarish situations. This is something that classic horror films like ‘Child’s Play’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ nailed.
In a post-‘Saw’ world, however, a common complaint regarding many modern horror movies is that they rely more on shock and gore than actual tension. It was for this reason that the trailer for the latest Netflix horror film, ‘Choose or Die’, concerned me a bit. Some of the moments teased in the trailer made the film look like it was leaning more towards a “make-the-viewers-feel-sick” angle rather than a proper sense of fear or dread. But does the actual film confirm those concerns of mine? Is this movie little more than shock value for the sake of shock value?

Helmed by first-time director Toby Meakins, ‘Choose or Die’ is a British horror-thriller film about a financially-struggling college student named Kayla (Iola Evans). She lives in an apartment building with her drug-addicted mother (Angela Griffin), who’s not only broken over the death of her son, but taken advantage of by the apartment’s abusive landlord. While learning to code from her friend Isaac (Asa Butterfield), she discovers a mysterious text-based interactive fiction game called CURS>R that offers a large amount of money to whoever can complete it. However, it turns out this isn’t any ordinary game, and it holds a power that puts her and anyone close to her in great danger.
Right off the bat, I’m glad to report that this is not a movie that’s over-reliant on nasty imagery in order to be creepy. Yes, there are a few scenes where the violence gets rather unpleasant, but those scenes are far and few between, and most of the horror here is established properly through atmospheric tension. There were a few scenes that actually were pretty suspenseful all things considered, and none of these scenes even featured any on-screen violence at all. There is an earnest attempt at making a creepy, suspenseful movie here, and I appreciate that. The acting is also pretty good, with the cast faking American accents so well I never even realized they were British until I looked it up later. Additionally, the musical score, composed by Liam Howlett of The Prodigy is fairly decent. It utilizes a lot of ominous retro-sounding electronic noises that fit perfectly, considering the subject matter of the film revolves around an old computer game.

However, despite ‘Choose or Die’ doing a good number of things right, I personally felt the movie fell short in a number of areas. While the direction was solid, most of the movie’s problems lie in the script; for starters, there’s a decent amount of less-than-stellar dialogue that just doesn’t feel natural. In particular, there are quite a few f-bombs dropped throughout the film, and oftentimes when the word is spoken, it sounds fairly forced. It’s no secret that in real life, some people have a tendency to swear left and right, but when it comes to movie dialogue, excessive swearing runs the risk of sounding unnaturally implemented, depending on how well the dialogue is written. Language aside, I personally felt that the biggest drawback of this film was the small scale.
The conflict in ‘Choose or Die’ feels like it’s building up to something grand and exciting, but without spoiling anything, the end result comes off as more anticlimactic than anything. The stakes are there, and they’re gradually raised throughout the film, but by the end of it, Kayla’s journey comes off as surprisingly small. There have been mid-budget movies that have benefited from smaller-scale stories, and films that would have benefitted from shorter runtimes, but in the case of ‘Choose or Die’, a slightly longer runtime in conjunction with a larger scale of the story could’ve made it a lot more engaging. As is, it feels more like an extended episode of a TV show than a proper movie.

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Prior to the release of ‘Choose or Die’, one piece of trivia that stood out was the fact that the film featured Robert Englund, the actor famous for playing the iconic Freddy Krueger in the ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ films. Enough attention was drawn to the casting choice to make one believe that he played a large role in the movie, perhaps the villain. However, in the actual movie, Robert Englund’s role is merely a meta voice-only cameo. In what feels more like fanservice than anything, Englund plays a fictional version of himself, who is only briefly heard in a pre-recorded message over the phone introducing CURS>R players to the game.
While there’s a lot of attention brought to the fact that this is Robert Englund, with Isaac becoming super excited upon hearing his voice on the message, it doesn’t really add anything as far as the rest of the film goes. While this wasn’t any sort of problem for me – a cameo is just that: a cameo, after all – it’s worth pointing out for anyone who might’ve been interested in this film simply because Englund’s name is attached to it. 

When all is said and done, ‘Choose or Die’ has a decent handful of things going for it, such as the acting, the surprisingly effective tone, and some of the special effects, but even so, the film as a whole unfortunately came across as flat and underwhelming. As far as recommendations go, this is one I feel is fairly skippable for most. However, if you’re someone like me who enjoys browsing through lower-budget independent movies on streaming services and/or you’re a horror junkie, then there’s nothing stopping you from checking this movie out for yourself. If you want to settle down one night and check out something mildly spooky, this isn’t a bad choice, even if there are better films out there even in that regard. I’m not a die-hard horror fanatic, so I can’t speak on behalf of those who are, so if this movie sounds at all interesting to you, I’d say at the very least give it a chance.
Cast & Crew:
Directed by: Toby Meakins
Written by: Simon Allen
Starring: Iola Evans, Asa Butterfield, Angela Griffin, Ryan Gage, Robert Englund
By Austin Oguri
Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.
I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV. media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.
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Austin Oguri is a screenwriter and has deep appreciation for the art of film in general, he aims to offer unique perspectives through his film reviews and feature articles. He also has a soft spot for lesser-known works, and enjoys spotlighting them whenever he can. Austin has always found it necessary for people to encourage and bring out the best in each other, and as a writer at The Hollywood Insider, he can combine that ideology with his ability to think outside the box and truly express his love for the arts in the best ways possible.
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Austin Oguri is a screenwriter and has deep appreciation for the art of film in general, he aims to offer unique perspectives through his film reviews and feature articles. He also has a soft spot for lesser-known works, and enjoys spotlighting them whenever he can. Austin has always found it necessary for people to encourage and bring out the best in each other, and as a writer at The Hollywood Insider, he can combine that ideology with his ability to think outside the box and truly express his love for the arts in the best ways possible.
Austin Oguri is a screenwriter and has deep appreciation for the art of film in general, he aims to offer unique perspectives through his film reviews and feature articles. He also has a soft spot for lesser-known works, and enjoys spotlighting them whenever he can. Austin has always found it necessary for people to encourage and bring out the best in each other, and as a writer at The Hollywood Insider, he can combine that ideology with his ability to think outside the box and truly express his love for the arts in the best ways possible.

 206 اجمالى المشاهدات,  4 اليوم

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