What Makes a GOOD Movie BAD?

Movie Review – The Woman in the Window. Now on Netflix

The other day, a friend of mine asked me for my thoughts on “The Woman in the Window,” a Netflix-produced drama starring Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, and Julianne Moore. This mystery isn’t shy about copying the stylings of the late Alfred Hitchcock, and with its claustrophobic, one-room setting, viewers cannot help but draw comparisons to the 1954 “Rear Window.”  

Amy Adams portrays a woman struggling with agoraphobia, and while hiding away in her apartment, she is sure she has witnessed a murder across the street in a neighbor’s apartment. But did she?   

Adams reaches beyond the Romcom mechanics needed for many formula movies and instead, presents us with a woman that is interesting and flawed. The mystery intensifies as new characters are introduced, and we’re left wondering who is fooling us.

For the most part, “The Woman in the Window” is the type of movie that is an excellent Character Study, where nothing is black and white, and no one is simply good or bad. A great movie can introduce you to a character that seems one way, only to peel away at layers until we see the person in a new light. The best stories are grimy, bumpy, and messy­­–forcing us to question what is unfolding on the screen.

Where “The Woman in the Window” fails, is the end. All too often, strong storylines fizzle. Thoughtful dialogue is replaced with the standard fare of psycho attacks and eye-rolling actions that have you yelling, “Just go outside!” Which, of course, no one hears. The result is a good movie that ends on a sour note. And another good movie gone bad.             

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

CANCEL CULTURE…

Are we redefining history or erasing it?

“History is written by the victors.” Attributed often to Winston Churchill, this quote summarizes how history is often written, especially when it comes to politics and world affairs. One only has to look at the Tulsa Race Massacre­­—a horrifying piece of history that involved mobs of whites attacking the black residents of Tulsa Oklahoma in 1921, killing hundreds in the process and burning the business district to the ground. This attack is attributed to being the single worst incident of racial violence in American history. Yet, it wasn’t until only recently that we collectively were made aware of this ugly piece of history.

Locally, the announcement of the removal of the Fountain of the Pioneers from Bronson Park spurred anger and heated debates from both sides. Designed in 1937, the fountain featured an armed white man standing before a kneeling American Indian, and was hailed by many as a modern work of art, even gathering critical acclaim from Frank Lloyd Wright. But more recently, some saw the fountain as racist and memorializing genocide. In 2018, the City of Kalamazoo removed the fountain to the dismay and disappointment of many who viewed the decision as erasing history and catering to a select few.   

Where is the thin line between cultural evolution and erasing history, and is there a compromise? We need to acknowledge that those who have ancestors in America who have suffered at the hands of others, deserve to walk through a public park without having to explain to their children, the statues and monuments celebrating the demise of their ancestors and culture. How do we learn from history if we are only reading the whitewashed version. Can we still acknowledge these pieces of historical art without insulting differing cultures?

Of course, we can.

Moving questionable historical pieces out of public parks, and into museums and historical grounds, where the piece can be depicted along with proper data and intellectual content, is a good start.

The literary world is also dealing with Cancel Culture. One book under the spotlight is the epic novel, “Gone with the Wind,” with many calling for the book to be pulled from libraries, and the movie pulled from viewership. Actress Whoopie Goldberg argued that Americans should be careful about retracting part of our history and instead suggested that “Gone with the Wind” could feature a disclaimer at the beginning of the film. Goldberg is absolutely correct. Censorship is wrong on any level. Historical literature and films can and should remain with proper context. And rightly so, HBO Max has reportedly said that it will resume airing “Gone with the Wind” along with context surrounding its content.

In another positive move, the family of Dr. Suess stopped future publications of several Dr. Suess books deemed racist. It is important to note that these books are not banned. They are simply not printing future editions. It was the right decision.

Cancel Culture isn’t about erasing history, it’s about redefining how we view it. And it’s damn time children learned of the Tulsa Race Massacre from history books.  

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

I have two sons. While I realize I will never know the joys of having a daughter, the same can be said for the many things in life we may never experience—like not having children at all, choosing a job that is death-defying (which brings me back to parenting), or moving overseas. Simply put, we don’t miss what we don’t know. I love my choices, adore my two boys, and wish for nothing more.

Still… as I watch my girlfriend answer her phone from her adult daughter even though she just called an hour ago, I understand that their bond is different from what I share with my sons. Not better or worse, just different. The saying goes, A son is a son until he takes a wife, a daughter is a daughter all of her life. A bit trite perhaps (and sexist, but let’s save that for another time), but this sappy sentiment sums up the difference between mothers and their relationships with sons and daughters.

So, dear future daughter-in-law, here are a few things you’re going to want to know before joining hands in matrimony with either of my sons…

  • It’s not you, it’s him – I may be the mother of your beloved, but I’m also a woman who was in the same place you are now. And I have the luxury of having learned the many quirks, idiosyncrasies, and faulty wiring in the male species. In the event of any fight you may have with my son (and you will have them), I’m likely to ask him what he did wrong, and suggest he apologize. I don’t even need your side of the story.
  • He’s going to grow up – One British medical report states that, on average, the male brain doesn’t reach full capacity until age 43, while the female brain flourishes 11 years earlier. The truth is, that young man you’re in love with, is only going to get better with age. But then, you can say that about all of us.
  • I’m going to be the be best damn mother-in-law – I know this because I also began married-life as the new daughter-in-law. It can be an uncomfortable fit when the mother of your soon-to-be is convinced that no one is good enough for her son. You’re not only good enough, I think my sons will have to work at it to rise to your standards. Love my boys? Check. Knowing my sons aren’t perfect? Double-check.
  • I’m going to love you no matter what – If my boys decide to marry, they will not be the only ones who will fall in love. If they see something in you, so will I, because my sons have good taste.
  • It’s OK if life takes a different turn – Whatever the future holds, you need to do what’s best for you, and I will understand. Even if you don’t remain a part of my son’s life, you will always have a place in my heart.

So, dear future daughter-in-law, hear this. While the two of you may make the perfect couple, you are just as complete as one.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.netand facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

Movie Review – PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN

Described as a “Thrilling and wildly entertaining story about a delicious new take on revenge,” this Oscar nominated movie takes viewers on an exhilarating emotional rollercoaster as Carey Mulligan grabs hold of the role of anti-hero, Casandra, and chokes it to delightfully new heights.

While billed as a thriller, please note that this goes far beyond the mindless storyline of FRIDAY THE 13TH wannabe slasher movies. Rather, PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN delivers on all cylinders – creating a story that encompasses the heart and compassion found in another movie billed as a thriller… THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which won several Academy Awards, including  BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTRESS, and BEST DIRECTOR. And like THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, this film peels back several layers, revealing the horrifying ramifications that can result from the victimization of women that is still gaining traction from the ME TOO movement.

Halfway through this movie, I said aloud, “This can’t end well.” Boy, was I wrong, what an ending! Rent it tonight on Amazon for $5.99 and cheer on Carey Mulligan and Director Emerald Fennell tomorrow at the Oscars.       

By Heidi McCrary, author of CHASING NORTH STAR