Martha Marcy May Marlene

By Bob on June 21, 2012 4:51 AM

The term "psychological thriller" is tossed around a lot these days and is often misused. That's not the case with Martha Marcy May Marlene. This thriller is a taught, edge-of-your-seat drama that puts you on the knife edge of suspense and holds you captive for 102 minutes of paranoid fun.

Meet Martha (aka Martha Marcy May Marlene) a 20-something dropout who wanders into a commune in upstate New York. The young woman (Elizabeth Olsen in a stunning debut performance) blends into the rural way of life easily thanks to the help of the other commune gals.


It's a bucolic life led by the somewhat older and wiser charismatic leader Patrick (Oscar-nominated John Hawkes). There are chores by day - chopping wood, mending clothes, making knickknacks to sell to tourists at the roadside stand. When the sun goes down, the mood shifts to the free love days of the Woodstock generation (remember what it was like, Boomers?).


Patrick's got a gentle, creepy vibe (think Charles Manson) and calls the shots at the working farm. The cult-like atmosphere is peaceful up to a point, but it's clear that everyone who calls this place home is under his control. Martha does everything she's told, until escaping one day to reclaim a "normal" life with her estranged sister and new brother-in-law.


Martha's reentry into society is anything but smooth. The cult life doesn't have any boundaries so she thinks nothing of wandering into her sister's bedroom and lying at her feet - even though she's making love to her husband. Skinny dip mid-day in front neighbors and family? No problem. This girl sheds inhibitions along with her clothes.


But there's a darker side. She's burdened by nightmares, hallucinations and memories of her past cult life that include abuse, violent criminal acts and worse. At least, that's what she thinks. This is after all a psychological drama. Soon, her paranoia colors her already strained relationship with her sister and both have a hard time separating the "real" from Martha's dreams. There's even talk of institutionalizing the messed up miss.


Director Sean Durkin weaves a seamless tale that slides effortlessly from Martha's cult past to her privileged present and back again. It's a technique that enhances the razor's edge tension. You never know what's around the next corner - and if it's real or imagined.


Martha Marcy May Marlene is a movie that will have you looking over your shoulder long after the credits roll. It may even lead you to join a cult - the cult of moviegoers who like this film as much as I did. 



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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

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By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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Windy City

It's been almost 18 years since Alison Krauss gave us a solo album, but the wait is over with Windy City. The release (her fifth solo studio album) features ten covers of classic songs (and some bonus tracks) she picked with producer Buddy Cannon.

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