The cure to franchise fatigue

Look, I love movies of all kinds. Like many of you, I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment of “Star Wars,” and I’m still running off the high from seeing “Thor: Ragnarok.”

However, sometimes I come down with a case of “franchise fatigue,” a condition that is more prevalent than ever these days. I want to go into a movie without needing knowledge of the universe, or remember what happened in the preceding film. It’s nice to just go into something without having to work.

“But Patrick, what do I see?” Well, I’m glad you asked. I’ve taken it upon myself to collect some great films that are out right now, that are sans franchise.

Photo from imdb.com.

“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
What if you had a choice? You either choose a family member to kill, or watch all of them die slowly because of a mysterious curse. These are the stakes that Colin Farrell is up against in “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” Farrell must make this choice, which is brought upon by a revenge-seeking boy who believes Farrell to be responsible for the death of his father.

Yorgos Lanthimos, director of last year’s Oscar-nominated film “The Lobster,” brings to life a chilling thriller that begs the question of the difficulty of choice when there is no good answer. It’s a bloody suspense-fest with a finale that will leave you shuddering.

Lanthimos directs this film patiently, so that the viewer waits in suspension for an explosive third act with a delicious conclusion. Nicole Kidman, who plays Farrell’s wife, is at her best as a reserved character who has to watch these calamities unfold, and could be next to die.

This film is great for fans of the horror genre and thrillers alike.

“Lady Bird”
We all grow up. This is something that the film “Lady Bird” understands, and uses this universally human truth to bring to the screen a story of profound reality and heart. Saoirse Ronan plays Christine, a 17-year-old high schooler who is trying to figure out what we’re all trying to figure out: “Who am I?”

Photo from imdb.com.

In doing so, she changes her name to “Lady Bird,” joins a musical, smokes cigarettes, falls in love, has her heart broken and breaks her arm. In short, she grows up.

The film plays like a diary, not with narrations, but with the short excerpts of Lady Bird’s life: moments and snippets from her life that make her who she is. The film is concise, running almost 90 minutes clean, allowing for the whole experience to feel like a memory, making the viewer remember growing up.

Ronan delivers an Oscar-worthy performance, and clicks with every other actor that she shares the screen with. She laughs with her best friend while they munch on communion wafers like chips between classes at a Catholic school, fights with her mother (brought to life in a grounded performance by Laurie Metcalf) about her room being dirty and has sex for the first time with a boyfriend.

Ronan delivers these experiences with such genuine candor and pronounced sincerity that the ending of the film will have you shocked to find yourself in a theater, and not in the world of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson.

“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”

Photo from imdb.com.

Maybe you’re not into horror, or you want something a little more edgy than the story of a teenager growing up. My last pick for you then, would be Martin McDonagh’s new feature, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

After the brutal murder of her daughter goes unresolved, Frances McDormand’s “Mildred” puts up three billboards (outside, you guessed it, Ebbing, Missouri) asking the police why there have been no arrests.

This film has become 2017’s most timely film, as a piece that deals with themes of police brutality and civilian response, but treats this issue with the reverence and care it deserves. The police are well-rounded, sympathetic characters, while the civilians are equally treated with care.

“Three Billboards” is brilliant because of its ability to elevate itself within the film. It relies on pieces of information and dialogue to set up pins that are knocked down with a bowling ball of plot and character development. “Three Billboards” validates that there can be satisfying payoff without needing several films to set the stage.
McDonagh proves himself once again to be a master of dialogue, which he deals out to his seemingly unlikeable characters that you find yourself rooting for toward the end, even if they’re pitted against each other.

Franchise fatigue is a very real condition that I believe needs treated every few months or so. Enjoy these films and gear up for “The Last Jedi” with a fresh taste in your mouth. These films come with no baggage and nothing to remember. You can even leave once the credits start rolling!

Non-franchise Movies Hitting Theaters in 2018

“Annihilation”
Release: Feb. 23
An expedition team explores a mysterious section of Earth called Area X.

“A Wrinkle In Time”
Release: March 9
Based on the 1962 book by Madeleine L’Engle, Meg Murry and her little brother must travel across the universe to find their missing father.

“Isle of Dogs”
Release: March 23
A young boy goes on a journey to find his beloved pet after all dogs are banished to an island. “Isle of the Dogs” is directed by Wes Anderson.

“Ready Player One”
Release: March 30
The world finds solace in a virtual world called OASIS in the dystopian year 2045. Directed by Steven Spielberg, Wade Watts sets out to find the “Easter Egg” that will grant him fame and fortune.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
Release: June 8
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” documents the life of “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” Fred Rogers, a legacy in children’s media.

“Widows”
Release: Nov. 16
After four robbers are killed in a heist gone wrong, their widows decide to finish what their husbands started.

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