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What I’m Watching: Wind River

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Movie Review: Wind River

Wind River is a 2017 American neo-western murder mystery thriller film written and directed by Taylor Sheridan. The film stars Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen as a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tracker and an FBI agent, respectively, who try to solve a murder on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Gil Birmingham and Graham Greene also star (Wikipedia).

Plot: Cory Lambert is a wildlife officer who finds the body of an 18-year-old woman on an American Indian reservation in snowy Wyoming. When the autopsy reveals that she was raped, FBI agent Jane Banner arrives to investigate. Teaming up with Lambert as a guide, the duo soon find that their lives are in danger while trying to solve the mystery of the teen’s death.

Trailer: Wind River

My Review:

It has been a while since I have seen a movie that didn’t involve or revolve around war, super heroes fighting a war, a talking raccoon, or a space ship.  This is just good old fashioned story telling about a murder that is going to be tough to solve. The story pits a jaded fish and wildlife expert with a green FBI agent with no field experience against the backdrop of the Wyoming landscape, which becomes an essential character in story.

The purist in me loves the elements of literary storytelling as it pits man vs nature as the story opens with a young Indian girl running for her life.  The temperature is below zero, she is barefoot, and the weather is so cold her lungs explodes.  A true warrior like her people, she ran six miles in that weather to escape a group of men who used her simply because they were bored.

The plot thickens as we come face to face with man vs society with the same white men who feel entitled to take what they wants simply because the local officials have no jurisdiction on the federal drilling site where they work.  One weekends, the band of brothers ride into town and pick and young Indian woman for their amusement. Cody Lambert’s daughter has been the victim of such a crime, having died several years before under similar circumstances. 

Cody is not your typical hero in this story since he is face to face with his worst enemy – himself. In order to bring peace to his own heart and in his own head, he has to help solve this murder. It is not redemptive in the sense that he finds his daughter’s killer, but he is able to bring closure to his friend, who is the father of the young woman from the opening scene.  A young woman, who was friends with his daughter. In the process, he also saves the life of the FBI Agent, and possibly his soul.

Wind River is a great date night movie with enough action to keep you entertained, as well as enough slow spots to jump up and grab a beer without missing too much.  I give this movie four strokes of my pen on a scale of five.

I enjoyed it. I hope you will as well.

Share your thoughts and feedback here.


 

 

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The Office Wife, Issue 3

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The Office Wife, Issue 3

The Office Wife, March 11, 2017, Issue 3, Olivia Gaines

Manigault Hurley, R & D

A quiet Tuesday morning ensued as Vicki made coffee in the breakroom for whichever members of the board who were in the office that day.  Although the suggestion box requested, almost daily, the purchase of one of those machines with the little pods, it was not economical to purchase so many expensive packages, to make one cup of coffee at a time.  Besides, the pods left a medicinal taste on her tongue.  It wasn’t as if she were a coffee purist, but there was no reason to ruin a good cup of Joe, with a plastic cup of ground nonsense.

Speaking of nonsense, Vicki checked her inbox to find five invitations for lunch from Konnie with a K who had an unnatural fascination with personal organizers and Washi tape. Twice in the last two days, Vicki found stickers with Washi tape in her office mail box.  Konnie was like a naughty little cat who liked to leave dead treats on your pillow.  There was something odd about the young temp in a not so good way.  The Washi tape felt like little dead bodies in coils of bright colors left for her to see every other day.   To make matters worse, somehow, Konnie found out today was her birthday.

A roll of Washi tape with little balloons and cakes sat on her desk with a card, when opened spit out a puff of multi-colored confetti. It was all over her desk.  By the time lunch rolled around, Vicki’s futile attempts to rid herself of the meddlesome colorful dots only resulted in confetti in her hair and stuck to her neck and face. Taneeka, her office best friend of only a month, sent her a text message with an image of her face, frozen in laughter. 

Vicki’s phone binged.  It was another text with an image from Taneeka.

Tmanigaulthis image was of her nose, taped upwards, Miss Piggy style with a bright strip of Washi tape.  It was comical.  However, it wasn’t as comical as the image of Manigault Hurley, standing in front of her desk dressed like a character from Monty Python.

“Allow me, Ms. Lawrence, to take you to lunch on this special day of your birth,” he said with his lips pressed together as if her were holding in a wad a slobber and a chunk of peanut butter in his cheeks like a deranged chipmunk.

“Thank you Mr. Hurley, but I can’t today,” she tried backing away from the offer.

“Nonsense,” he said, leaning back rubbing his little flat stomach. “It is your birthday.  If you don’t have plans, and based on that lunch bag, I can only assume you don’t, then allow me to treat you to a lovely lunch at my club.”

He was right.  Her lunch bag held left over take out from the Chinese restaurant around the corner from her house, which always had too many onions, which gave her horrific gas. She didn’t want to eat what was in her bag any more than she wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon finding discrete places to poot.

“Come, it will be grand.  My driver will take us over to the club, you can order whatever you want, and I will have a lovely cake ordered just for your special day,” Manigault told her.

He seemed like a nice man who reminded her of Grandpa Lawrence.  She hoped he didn’t have the same sense of humor though. Her Grandpa Lawrence, for fun, enjoyed taking his teeth out in church to make lewd gestures with his tongue to the ladies in the choir, but he never followed up on any of his suggestive behaviors.  She prayed Manigault was the same way.

“Sure, it would be nice to join you for lunch on my birthday.  I am certain you are going to make this a day to remember,” she responded.

“No, I am going to treat you to a good meal,” he told her with an expressionless face.

Vicki was just crossing into the three-month mark at American Conglomerate. Thus far, based on what she’d seen, clicks and grouplings were formed, but Manigault stood out from the crowd.  He was a man of what appeared to be impeccable breeding, ridiculously good taste paired with a reputation without flaw. From what she could gather, his private life, was indeed very private. His desk held no personal photos, momentous, only documentation of his life at American Conglomerate.

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“Perfect, I will meet you downstairs at my car at 11:45, please don’t be late,” he cautioned.

Vicki looked down at her watch.  It was 11:15. She had thirty minutes to prepare herself for what she knew was going to be a drawn-out conversation on his bug collection from New Guinea or worse, a long-winded montage on the down fall of the black man. This was usually followed by an invitation to make her life easier by offering her a key to his love pad downtown, or worse, a tiny ranch house in the Valley right below Rancho Cucamonga. Suddenly her appetite waned the same moment her desk phone rang. It was Taneeka.

“Hey!” She said to Vicki.

“Hey back,” she said slowly.

“Happy Birthday,” Taneeka said quickly. “Drinks on me after work if you can make it.”

“If it is close by at a local watering hole and on my way home, I could sip on something to cut the edges off my glitter infused morning,” she replied.

“Just don’t sip or suck on anything during lunch. I heard old men give you bugs,” Taneeka joked.

“I think he is just being nice, considering he knows no one else on this floor or team is going to do anything for my special day,” Vicki mumbled.

“You never know,” Taneeka said.  “No seriously, you never know, he could be taking you out to set you up for the old rope a dope.”

“As in…a surprise on my desk when I get back?”

“No, he is going to show you that an old stove still has a hot pipe,” she told Vicki.

“Just when I started to like you a little,” Vicki chided.

“Well, hurry up. Manigault hates it when people are late plus, I am dying to find out what this lunch thing is about,” she said.

“Okay…whatever, have fun at my painful expense,” she said before saying goodbye and ending the call.

At least I get a decent meal out of it. Hurrying to the ladies to room to take care of her necessities, she washed her face, fluffed her hair and applied a little lipstick before heading to the first floor.  Manigault had said driver. She failed to ask what his driver would be driving. Once she stepped out of the door, she quickly saw.

The classic Bentley was manned by a very large Asian gentleman who remined her of the James Bond villain with the bowler hat that could decapitate a man. I wish I could remember the villian’s name. Her fingers involuntarily went to her neck, caressing the soft skin.  The door was opened for her as she tugged a little on the red dress she chose to wear this morning, even considering it was bordering on too little for her curvy body.  The dress made her feel pretty even if on the inside, she felt like sludge.  The three-inch heels added a bit of height to her frame, as she slid her bottom into the car seat first, swinging well-toned legs around to face the front.  Manigault appeared to be pleased. It was more of a move to protect her modesty from the eyes of the driver.  He didn’t need to see the hot red lacy undies.

“Thank you for joining me,” Manigault told her.

“It is I who should be thanking you,” she said sweetly.

He only nodded, pulled out his phone, and began to make notes in a pocket note book as they drove to the Lakeside Country Club in Burbank.  The drive was short, his body was tense as the car came to a stop in front of what looked like the main entrance.  His glasses came down from his face.

“Wait for me to come escort you,” he said.

The driver opened his door first. Manigault inhaled sharply, exhaling what sounded like frustration as he stood, leisurely walking around the car to open Vicki’s door. A well-manicured hand reached inside the car asking for her to join him.  Luckily, she’d just gotten a mani and pedi herself as her hand slid into his, coming out of the car, to stand at his side.  He wrapped her arm into his as they made their way into the main building.

Vicki learned something new about Manigault that day. She found out that he was Hollywood royalty.  Everywhere he turned, people were bending over to almost kiss his ass.  He held his head high, walking as if he didn’t see any of the little people as they passed making their way to a private dining area. This pushed Vicki to do the only thing she knew to do, play along. Whatever was happening here was in the now. She was being audition for a role she wasn’t certain she wanted to play.

Over lunch of rock crab claws, something drenched in champagne, and a dollop of mashed potatoes, she said nothing as they ate in silence.  On occasion, she would look up at him in well placed intervals and smile. His face did not move the first time she did it.  The second time she smiled at him, she added a wink.

It got a reaction out of him.

Brief, but small, Manigault’ s eyes smiled back at her.

Three young men, all waist staff, were gawking at them all throughout lunch. Someone snapped a photo which infuriated Manigault to no end, who raised his hand, and three managers materialized like ghostly apparitions awaiting his bidding.

“My lady friend and I value our privacy.  Whoever it was who snapped the photo, I know you will assure me it will not be seen anywhere?” He asked the manager as he got to his feet. He held out his hand for Vicki to come to his side in a show of outrage by the staff’s actions.

“Of course, Mr. Hurley, we will take care of it,” the manager lied.

Vicki held his arm, lips pouting out like an upset child, looking at the manager. In a childlike voice, she asked him, “Manigault, they are not going to sell our pictures to the papa-pazzi are they?”

“Paparazzi dear,” he said to her.

“Oh yeah.  Pappa-prazzi,” he said trying to mimic him.

Manigault looked at the manager, “See that they don’t.”

Vicki, to add fuel to the fire, pushed up on her right breast with her hand, as if to shift its attention toward the door as she took Manigault’ s arm squeezing it for support, she held her head high and walked out the door.  She added a bit more swish to her hips, stomping her feet like a runway model until they reached the car.

Bottom in first, she swung her legs around as the driver closed her door.  She waited patiently for Manigault to entered the other side of the car, turning to face her with a gigantic grin on his face.  Vicki shuddered.  In three months’ time, she’d never seen him so happy.

“Mr. Hurley, you do know that photo is going to be everywhere by 6 am.  It will be all over social media and every one will be trying to figure out who I am,” she said to him. “It never dawned on me that you were the Manigault Hurley.”

“One and the same.  I love my job at American Conglomerate and I am very good at it.  I allow my family to handle the Hollywood stuff and I make public appearances with unknown pretty girls on my arm to keep the family’s name in the papers,” he said.

He’d told her enough, she understood.

“How many country clubs do you belong to?”

“Unfortunately, four.  I visit one each week,” he said. “I love the months with five weeks because then I get a break.”

Vicki started to smile.

“Why are you grinning?”

“Because, if I get three nice wigs, I get a free lunch at an exclusive country club for the rest of the month,” she said with a wink.

“You’re good,” he told her with a larger smile.

“I thought you’d get a kick out of my Papa-pazzi comment,” she grinned.

“That was a nice touch,” he said patting her hand.

The drive back to the office passed in silence until they reached the front door of American Conglomerate. Manigault touched her hand.

“Ms. Vicki, you are a very astute young woman.  I trust the details of our day will be kept in confidence?”

“Mr. Hurley, in my current position, everything I see, touch, feel or understand goes to my grave.”

“So, this is safe with you?”

“It will be as safe as the three wigs you hide under the driver’s seat for the next few Tuesdays,” she said, as she opened her door and stepped out into the Burbank sun.

Vicki did not see Hurley for the remainder of the day, but at 4:45, she’d trained her body to hold on, to make that last stop to the ladies’ room before she headed out at 5:10 each day to sit in traffic trying to get home.  She returned to her desk to find a cupcake along with small black box on her desk with a diamond ring, nothing flashy, but classy in all the right ways.  It had a simple note in bold script.

Keep it in your drawer for our once monthly first Tuesday outings. Enjoy your birthday. –  Hurley

  She’s passed the test.  Whatever the test was, in Manigault’ s eyes, she’d passed it with flying colors. Once monthly outings.  So once a month, on the first Tuesday, she was having lunch or making the rounds with him. Uncertain, yet sure as the corn on her left toe aching when it rained, she had just become something special and significant for Manigault.

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Oddjob.  That was the Bond character’s name with the bowler hat!

She’d been given an odd job herself. Once a month she would wear a pretty dress, don the ring and escort him on his rounds to ensure he got his name and the family brand on a social network site. Eyeing the ring a final time before securing it, she stood up and stuck it into the office safe  for the next first Tuesday of next month.  However, right now, she was ready to have a drink, celebrate her day of birth first with Taneeka, then her friends at home.

Vicki shrugged.  Technically, Taneeka would be the third person she celebrated with since Konnie had been the first. Either way, it sure beat spending her birthday alone. In her heart, she knew much of his private life, he’d spent that way. If lunch or an outing once a month took some of the pressure off him to be a certain something for his family, she could do that for him.

Everybody needs some body.

She had just become a somebody for Manigault Hurley.

Oddly, I am okay with that.

  • Fin-

On A Rainy Night in Georgia

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On a rainy night in Georgia, Ezekiel Neary lights a fire in the old hunting cabin in the mountains where he, his two brothers and father would come to get away from it. Healing from a gun shot wound, the post traumatic stress has left him less than fit for human company. Company was more than he bargained for when a naked pregnant woman in labor shows up on his doorstep.

The roads are washed out and Aisha Miller has no choice but to run from her captor or risk bringing her child into the world in a dark cabin. Praying, she runs wildly through the woods, ending on a washed out road. The only glimmer of hope is a blue mailbox, partially rusted, halfway sticking out under the sparse moonlight.

The lone cabin sits on a hill, with two large windows looking down on her as if to pity her circumstance. Half crawling, the contractions are one minute apart and she prays that the figure in the window will be a Godsend versus the nightmare she just escape.

Join me as we head to Georgia for a new twist in the happily ever after of Ezekiel and Aisha.

 

Prologue

Three days.

It had been three days since he’d left her in the raggedy termite-eaten shack.  Three soggy, wet days later, the fire was waning, but the rain was not. The last lonely embers sat in the fireplace beginning a slow death of the last log of dry firewood.  If she didn’t move soon, it would also be her fate.  I am not going to die here.  My life is not forfeit.

The chain around her ankle was loose now that she’d lost a great deal of weight in the past month.  A coldness seeped into her bones from the minimal heat generated by the last log of firewood warmth. As well as being skimpy on wood and coal, her captor didn’t feed her very much. The little food he did leave for her dining pleasure in her estimation, wasn’t fit for a dog to eat. The scraps were all she had to sustain her body and she rationed as much as she could, as often as she could.  Most days she didn’t want to eat the constant diet of French fries, high sodium, and fatty foods, however, she was eating for two.  Her captor had tried to better her meal choices once he saw the changes in her body.  The bastard hadn’t been back in four days, and it had been raining for three.

Three days.

The constant downpour for three days straight did not appear to be letting up.  The leaky roof dripped rain onto the cold wooden floor which held craters of cracks and crevices allowing in varying insects and on one cold night, a black snake which came in from the rain to warm itself by the fire. The snake didn’t stay long. The shack was too cold for it. She too was cold. Naked. Cold. Scared.  As much as she didn’t want to admit it, for the second time in eleven months, fear of her pending death in a shack in the butt crack of a mountain in Georgia sat beside her like a silent friend.

A pain shot low and deep across her belly.

“No, no, no,” she wailed as another pain hit her, crumpling her body. An involuntary moisture seeped from her body causing another wave of dread. Dirt-covered hands reached between her legs to feel where the pressure was building. In the low light of the shack, in her hand, she saw the yellow mucus. 

The mucus plug has come out.

This was about to happen.

This is happening.

I will not die.

My life is not forfeit.

“Father, hear my prayer,” she said softly, setting to work to free herself.

The handful of yellow mucus she rubbed around the chain on her ankle, adding enough lubricant, with some effort, to wiggle the chain off her leg. Free.  I am free.  She stood, trying to get her legs under her, grateful, that when she’d been alone, meticulous exercise routines were enacted to maintain her muscle tone, just in case this day ever came.

Naked.

She was naked as a newborn babe, but her newborn was not going to arrive in that cold prison where he’d kept her.  On a hook on the wall hung an old, weathered rain slicker. Grabbing the fabric, she shook it hard, attempting to free it of any guests which may have taken up residence in the material.  Pulling it over her head, she yanked the unlocked rear door open, stepping barefoot onto the splintered back porch.   Grateful the arrogant prick didn’t bother to lock the door because he never thought she’d get free, she stepped off the porch and made her way around the house.

Run.

The rain hit her in the face like so many of her bad decisions which, thus far, had led her to this fate. My life is not forfeit. Cold fingers touched her belly, gripping it low as she set out at a steady pace, running down the hill on the driven pathway. Uncertain of where she was running. Not knowing where she was going. Not really caring.  All she knew was that she had to get away.

Branches slapped her in the face as she ran through the dense foliage of the woods where the driven path came to a muddy end in a deep red clay pool. She lost her footage, slipping, protecting her belly by landing on her side, her face in the dirt, her skin soaked.  Turning, scrambling, struggling to get back on her feet, the aggressive rain washed the dirt from her face, but the hood kept her head dry.  The pain in her feet was all but ignored since they had gone numb some time ago; she got back up and continued to run downhill.  Downhill meant a road should be coming up soon.  The pains in her belly were intensifying, signaling she was almost out of time.

“Hold on, Baby,” she said, breaking through the foliage into a clearing.

Asphalt.

I made it to the road.

The heavy rain was blinding her since there were no trees on the road to slow its torrential downpour.  The sliver of moonlight which lit her way in the night gave no indication of city lights, a nearby residence, or a direction in which to turn. Closing her eyes, she dropped to her knees.

“Father, order my steps,” she prayed.

Rising slowly, a pull to her left suggested she go in that direction.  Hands clutched around her belly, which was moving, squirming, and ready to release its incubating inhabitant; she knew she would be in trouble if she didn’t find help soon.  A pain shot low, forcing her to stop running. She leaned down, holding her knees, trying desperately to catch her breath. Then another pain hit her a few minutes later.

The contractions were growing closer and closer together.

If her water had broken, she didn’t know.  Everything was wet.  The poncho had holes in it, but her head stayed dry. That was important. A wet head could mean death before she even had a chance to meet her baby.

Move, Girl.  You have to move.

She picked up her pace, running a bit further only to discover more sections of a washed-out road.  The gap in it was too large for her to clamber over in her current state. As fast as the water was washing down the mountain, the last thing she needed was to be swept away in the downpour.

I can’t go back.  I can’t go back.

Tears started to well in her eyes.

I can’t believe He brought me this far…to leave me here.

Wiping away her tears, she stood in the rain looking around and surveying her surroundings when she spotted a glimmer of hope.  A blue mailbox. A neon blue, half rusted mailbox which stuck out in the all the dark, wet nastiness of the night.

“Thank you, Father,” she said aloud.

A mailbox meant a residence. A residence meant potential safety. The mailbox was old, but not too rusted, which meant someone had been maintaining it.  She turned towards the red dirt road which sat beside the mailbox.  Gratitude shot up her leg at the dirt smoothness of the road versus gravel being used to stop the erosion of the driveway. The gate, which blocked the road, was fortunately unlocked as her cold, tired hands pushed at it, the metal squealing as the space widened just enough to get her body through the opening.

She closed it back once inside.

Follow the road.  Follow the road.  A voice repeated in her head.

Picking up her pace, she knew time was almost up and she needed, no had to make it to that front door. Whoever was home would be in for a big surprise when they answered the knock. She prayed whoever was inside would be able to lend her a hand.

A sharp pain hit her again, buckling her knees.

My life is not forfeit.

My life is not forfeit.

She began to crawl.

She crawled until the pain subsided, then she was back on her feet. In her head, she counted one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand, four… continuing to run as best she could.  She lumbered part of the way, cried the other part until she rounded the bend coming up the hill. A small cabin sat as if it were looking down at her, encouraging her to continue to its safety, the two front windows appearing as oversized eyes staring down, encouraging her to come to them.  To her joy, one of the eyes had a little something in it which moved as if it were pacing.

“Thank you, Father,” she said again.

Running as fast as she could move, the lactic acid burned in her legs and her feet had no feeling, but that figure in the window propelled her forward.  She reached the front porch, gasping for air as another pain hit her low. She growled in pain. A small balled up fist tapped at the door.

No answer.

She hit it harder, banging it with the remaining shards of energy she had left, creating the familiar rhythm of “Shave and a Hair Cut.”

Warm air hit her face as the door opened, revealing a cozy fire and the smell of fresh bread and something delicious to eat.  Her mouth watered at the scents, but pressing matters were at hand.

“What in the hell?” the dark figured asked as she pushed her way past him.  She moved in front of the fire, pulling the tattered poncho overhead to reveal a dirty, scarred and nude pregnant body.

“Help me,” she said, dropping to her knees. “I have been kidnapped and held against my will by one of the Macklemore brothers. I don’t know which one, but the cops in these parts are lowdown bastards so don’t think of calling them for any aid.  My contractions are two minutes apart. I escaped.  I ran from wherever that shack is that he kept me locked in for the past…”

A contraction hit her again, forcing her body to fold over as she lay on her side. It took some effort, but she rolled over to lie on her back on the floor, her woman parts pulsing and pointing at him.  The dark hair on a tiny head pushed out of the ever-stretching hole and the man had not moved.

“…ten maybe eleven months. Close the damned door!  Stop staring at me and help me deliver this child!” she yelled at him.

He jumped, closing the door and running to her side.

“I need to boil some water,” he said, finally finding his voice.

“No, you need to come behind me, sit me up so I can push this child out of my baby maker,” she said with her hoarse voice.

The stranger moved behind her.  The strong stench coming from her unwashed body could have been enough to gag a mule. Her hair was matted and filled with moving things which would infect everything in his home, but first thing was first.  She was having a baby in the middle of his floor.

He held her upright as she bent her knees.

“On three, breathe then push…one, two, and three,” he said.

Fin –

 

Get it on Kindle here https://www.amazon.com/Rainy-Night-Georgia-Modern-Order-ebook/dp/B077RJFG3W/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Get in on iBooks, Kobo, Nook and other eReaders here. : https://www.books2read.com/u/m0xaR7

 

What to Watch: To The Bone

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Ellen is an unruly 20-year-old anorexic girl who spent the better part of her teenage years being shepherded through various recovery programs, only to find herself several pounds lighter every time. Determined to find a solution, her dysfunctional family agrees to send her to a group home for youths, which is led by a non-traditional doctor. Surprised by the unusual rules, Ellen must discover for herself how to confront her addiction and attempt self-acceptance.

What to Watch: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

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The corpse of an unidentified woman is found at the scene of a bloody and bizarre homicide. The sheriff finds no signs of forced entry, suggesting that the victims were trying to escape from the residence.

Emma visits her boyfriend, Austin, and his father, Tommy, who is the coroner in their small town. Tommy explains to her that coroners in the past used to tie bells to bodies to make sure they were actually dead, not comatose. The sheriff arrives with the mysterious body, dubbed Jane Doe, and tells Tommy that he needs the cause of death by morning. Austin postpones for a few hours his date with Emma to help Tommy.

Tommy and Austin perform the autopsy on Jane Doe and quickly become confused by what they find. There are no external visible signs of trauma, but her wrist and ankle bones had been shattered. As well, her tongue has been crudely cut out, one of her molars is missing, her lungs are blackened as though she had suffered third degree burns, and her internal organs reveal numerous cuts and scarring. Jimsonweed, a paralyzing agent not native to the area, is found in her stomach. The condition of much of the body suggests that death had just occurred, while cloudiness of the corpse’s eyes suggests that she had been dead for a few days.

Other mysterious events occur. The radio begins to spontaneously change channels, and Austin hears sounds and believes he sees people standing in the morgue’s hallway. He also finds their cat mortally wounded, hiding in an air duct. News reports on the radio state that a severe storm is about to hit the area, but Tommy and Austin decide to stay and finish the autopsy.

Tommy finds the woman’s missing tooth wrapped in a piece of cloth in her stomach. The cloth has Roman numerals and letters as well as an odd diagram. Similar symbols are found on the inside of her skin. The lights in the room suddenly explode. During the confusion, they realize that other corpses in the morgue have gone missing. They decide to leave, but the elevator does not work and a fallen tree is blocking the exit door. An unseen figure attacks Tommy in the bathroom, leaving bruises on his body.

What to Watch: The Girl with All the Gifts

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In the near future, humanity has been ravaged by a mysterious fungal disease (a mutation of Ophiocordyceps unilateralis). The afflicted are robbed of all free will and turned into fast, mindless flesh-eaters, referred to as ‘hungries’. Humankind’s only hope is a small group of hybrid, second generation children who crave living flesh but retain the ability to think and learn. The children go to “school” at an army base in the Home Counties, where they are experimented on by Dr. Caroline Caldwell. Helen Justineau is responsible for educating and studying the children. The children are prisoners, but humanized by Helen to the dismay of Sgt. Eddie Parks. Helen treats the children fairly, growing particularly close to a polite, exceptional girl named Melanie. After Melanie reads her own story to Helen, Helen is overcome with emotion and strokes the girl’s head. Parks bursts in and rebukes Helen; he rubs off a “masking gel” on his arm, and then holds the area near a child, evoking a violent, animalistic response which then spreads to the other children

As punishment, that evening Parks leaves Melanie restrained in her wheelchair. Helen visits Melanie in her cell and tries to release her, but Melanie starts snapping and trying to bite Helen. Melanie struggles to restrain herself to impress Helen, but is unable so Helen flees the cell. She drops her blocker lotion by the door, which is discovered later by Dr. Caldwell.

What to Watch: Future Man

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Janitor Josh Futturman leads a pretty boring life, spending much of his time playing video games when he’s not working. Things change, though, when he beats a video game that the rest of the world has given up on, thinking it was unbeatable. After he defeats the game, mysterious visitors from the future appear. They put the world in danger, and Josh is the only person who can save it. He assembles a team to assist him as he travels through time, completing various missions as he does whatever he can to try to save Earth from the extraterrestrial visitors.

What to Watch: Centurion

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Based on the legend of the Ninth Legion, an army of 3000 unstoppable Roman warriors who vanished without trace, Centurion is the tale of their vicious conflict with a murderous adversary, the Picts.

 

Beginning in 117 AD, the narrative opens with a Roman soldier fleeing across a snowy landscape, saying:

“My name is Quintus Dias. I am a soldier of Rome, and this is neither the beginning, nor the end of my story.”

The Romans have been unable to fully conquer Britain, meeting the fiercest resistance in the north, reaching a harsh stalemate that’s lasted a gruelling twenty years. The Picts of Alba are engaging in a guerrilla campaignagainst the Roman forts along the Glenblocker line and the Gask Ridge at the southern border of the Scottish Highlands. At the Roman outpost of Pinnata Castra, Pictish warriors led by Vortix and Aeron force surprise and kill the entire garrison, taking only one survivor for questioning, the second-in-command, Centurion Quintus Dias, because he can speak the Pictish tongue. Dias is brought before the Pictish king Gorlacon, who has united the northern tribes. Dias is brutally interrogated, but two weeks later escapes on foot.

However, a messenger dispatched by the fort’s commander has reached Gnaeus Julius Agricola, the Roman governor of Britannia, who wants to obtain favour with the Roman Senate, hoping to secure a transfer back to the comforts of Rome. He dispatches the Ninth Legion, under General Titus Flavius Virilus, to eradicate the Pictish threat and provides him with a female Celtic Brigantian scout called Etain. As the legion marches north it encounters Dias and rescues him from his pursuers, saving his neck just in the nick of time.

The film ends with Quintus Dias adjusting the narrative of the film’s opening line:

“My name is Quintus Dias. I am a fugitive of Rome, and this is neither the beginning, nor the end of my story.”

What to Watch: These Final Hours

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A self-obsessed young man makes his way to the party-to-end-all-parties on the last day on Earth, but ends up saving the life of a little girl searching for her father. Their relationship ultimately leads him on the path to redemption.

The film takes place in Perth, and begins ten minutes after an asteroid has collided with earth in the North Atlantic, leaving approximately twelve hours until the subsequent global firestorm reaches Western Australia. James and his lover, Zoe, are having sex for the last time at her beach house, where she reveals that she’s pregnant with James’ child. Wishing to block out all feelings and avoid what’s coming, James berates Zoe for sharing her news and leaves for “the party to end all parties”.

After having his car stolen, he comes across two men who have kidnapped a young girl and are planning to rape her. James kills them, and rescues the girl. The girl, named Rose, explains that she was separated from her father in Malaga en route to her aunt’s house in Roleystone. Without enough petrol, and wishing to get to his party, James instead plans to leave her with his sister and her children. But upon arriving, he finds his sister and her husband dead in the shower, and three crosses marking what appears to be his nieces’ graves, in what is an apparent murder suicide.

Other attempts at locating Rose’s dad, or someone to leave her with, have sobering results, and James eventually heads to the party with Rose in tow. The party is overflowing with people, a game of Russian roulette is being played, and an orgy is going on inside the house. James is noticeably uncomfortable and appears to want to leave. James meets with the host of the party, Freddy, whose sister is James’ girlfriend, Vicki. James leaves Rose in the pool to speak with Vicki. In a reversal of the earlier scene with Zoe, James attempts to share a serious moment with Vicki, only for her to berate him for bringing her down with his news.

Vicki shows James a bunker built underneath Freddy’s garage, which obviously does not have sufficient food, protection, or space for the miraculous survival Vicki envisions. James tells Vicki and Freddy that they’ll all die, even with the bunker. Freddy’s reaction to this statement informs Vicki that her brother had known this all along. James accepts that his death is inevitable and can’t be blocked out, and commits himself to reuniting Rose with her family.

Meanwhile, outside, a drug-affected woman follows Rose, claiming that she is her daughter, Mandy. When James finally comes back outside to find Rose, she is hallucinating and vomiting after being coerced into taking ecstasy pill, with the woman leaning over her. James tries to leave the party with Rose, causing the woman to scream that he is kidnapping her child. Freddy holds James at gunpoint, before Vicki calmly takes the gun and shoots the woman, telling James to go.

James drives Rose to his estranged mother’s house, with whom he reconciles whilst Rose recovers. She gives James petrol and Rose some old clothes, and the pair leave for Rose’s aunt’s house. Upon arrival, nobody seems to be home, but James finds the bodies of Rose’s family, including her father, outside in what seems to be a mass suicide. Although hysterical at the news of her father’s death, Rose insists on seeing him. James comforts her and brings her his body, and they lay him by a pond with flowers as she tells him that her dad wanted them to be together for the end. James then confides in Rose about his relationship with Zoe and her pregnancy, which leads him to realise his love for her. Rose convinces him to make amends with her while he still can. He heeds her advice, and the two share an emotional farewell before James leaves. His car overheats on the highway as the firestorm approaches, and he runs for the rest of the way. He finds Zoe on the beach, watching the approaching firestorm. She is initially hostile towards James, however the two quickly reconcile and confess their mutual love. The pair then embrace, and turn towards the ocean as they are consumed by the firestorm.