Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Summer Movie Preview: 25 Films That I am Excited About

Yes, 25!! I can't believe that there are so many movies I want to see this summer, but I guess it makes up for a crappy beginning of the year.  So far, I've only seen 3 films in the theater, which is just pathetic (Warm Bodies, Stoker and Side Effects - Jurassic Park doesn't really count. Although, I am planning to see Trance and The Place Beyond the Pines within the next week or two).  Here's hoping for a fantastic, movie-filled summer!!!

1. Iron Man 3 (5/3) - I was a little bored by Iron Man 2, and that's all I really remember about it....being bored.  Thankfully, the trailer for this looks epic!!  I'm actually a little more interested in it with Shane Black directing.  The only directing experience he has is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, which is enough for me.  I fucking love that movie.  

2. The Great Gatsby (5/10) - I've been patiently waiting 17 years for another Baz Luhrmann/Leonardo DiCaprio movie.  As a teenager, who was obsessed with movies, Shakespeare and Leo, it's safe to say Romeo + Juliet was, like, the greatest thing ever.  I was never a huge fan of the play (compared to the rest of Shakespeare's work), but I was awe-inspired watching Shakespeare's words combined with a modern-day setting.  Plus, the soundtrack is still, to this day, one of my favorite movie soundtracks ever. On a side-note, Claire Danes is easily the weak link.  It actually makes me angry to think about how awful she was, and I think that is why I still hold a little resentment towards her. She ruined an otherwise perfect movie.  Anyway, I re-read The Great Gatsby last year, in anticipation of this movie (because it was supposed to be released in December of last year) and just like the first time, I wasn't super impressed.  However, it has some spectacularly grand moments,  that could be beautiful to see on-screen and I think Luhrmann is the perfect person to do that.  If anyone had any doubts, surely they were erased with the release of the trailer...right? It looks sublime.

3. Star Trek Into Darkness (5/17) - Ugh.  Ok, I don't really want to see this, but I probably will.  I feel like I have some sort of loyalty to watch this, as a J.J. Abrams fan.  I watched the first one and was fully satisfied with it - considering I know nothing about Star Trek, it was solid entertainment.  I'm sure this one will be more of the same, but I just find it hard to get excited about. I would prefer J.J. working on something that comes from his own genius mind, but I will settle with what I can get.  It's even worse that I will soon have to sit through a Star Wars movie....come on J.J., you're killing me!!!  

4. Frances Ha (5/17) - I'm a huge fan of The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, both written and directed by Noah Baumbach.  He collaborates with Greta Gerwig for this movie, in which she is also the star.  I just recently watch Lola Versus, and she was really fantastic (she was also great in Greenberg).  Also, the movie is set in NYC and filmed in black and white, giving it a 70's feel (Baumbach sites Woody Allen's Manhattan as inspiration) yeah, I'm interested.  

5. The Hangover Part III (5/24) - I was one of the few that didn't rip apart the second one.  I thought it was funny....and it was everything I expected it to be (The Hangover...again).  It's weird because the trailer arrived online a few days ago, and the reactions seemed to be surprisingly positive.  I didn't laugh at all...probably because there was not enough Bradley Cooper.  There is never enough Bradley Cooper.  I'm still excited to see it.  Bradley Cooper.  

6. Before Midnight (5/24) - If I were to make a list of my 100 favorite movies (what a daunting task that would be), both Before Sunrise and Before Sunset would be on it.  Obviously, I am excited about this.  But, I am also, like, really, really nervous.  What if it ruins everything that came before?  Do I really want to see this couple, now married with kids?  Yes? Maybe?  I think I do.  But I kind of don't.  I just don't know.  

7. The East (5/31) - Really excited to see what Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij can do with a studio-financed project.  Their first collaboration, Sound of My Voice, is a really interesting (and unsettling) movie. Brit Marling is a fantastic actress.  Another Earth, was on my best list of 2011 (which she also co-wrote). Both of these films had big ideas, bold choices and felt fresh. Hopefully, The East is more of the same. 

8. Now You See Me (5/31) - I probably wouldn't have been interested in this movie, but then I saw the trailer and it looks sort of fun.  It's about a group of people that pull off bank robbery's by using magic.  Do you think we'll find out how they do it?? Because that's the only reason I want to see, Dave Franco!!!  He makes me laugh. "Go fuck yourself!" (look it up).  

9. After Earth (6/7) - I love a big, blockbuster, Will Smith movie and it's been so long since there's been a good one....maybe as far back as Enemy of the State? I didn't really like I, Robot or I am Legend.  I do have a soft spot for Bad Boys II, but that's just because I love the first one so much ("I wanna be, I wanna be like Mike...POW!".  LOVE IT.  Don't even hate. I can recite the whole thing).  Anyway, I was totally in for this one, but then I realized M. Night Fucking Shyamalan directed it and now I have hesitations. I can't decide which of his films is the worst...The Village? Lady in the Water? Signs? Who am I kidding...The Happening is the worst film I have ever seen. Even his better films, Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense aren't great.  Hopefully, he doesn't ruin this movie.  

10. Much Ado About Nothing (6/7) - Shakespeare junkie...remember?  But actually, more than that, I am a huge Joss Whedon fan.  He gets actors from previous projects (Nathon Fillion, Amy Acker, Fran Kranz and Alexis Denisof) and adapts a Shakespeare play (and one of my favorite ones!) - of course I am going to watch it. 

11. The Internship (6/7) - I really just want to see this because of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.  I don't like Owen Wilson on his own, but paired with Vaughn (like in The Wedding Crashers), he is hilarious.  They have really great comedic chemistry and maybe, just maybe....Bradley Cooper will show up?? Probably not, but one can dream.  I don't even know what this movie is about.  Should I care?  

12. This is the End (6/12) - So, getting all these comedic actors together, like Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, James Franco and Jonah Hill, and having them play "themselves" sounds like a nightmare.  They are all varying degrees of annoying.  However, the trailer makes it look really funny.  I'm hoping for hilarious. Like, Superbad hilarious.  Anything less, and I will be disappointed.  

13. Man of Steel (6/14) - 90% of the movies that I see in the theater, I see with the same person.  He's a huge movie buff, but the problem is, he really doesn't like "superhero" movies.  Every time we see a trailer for a new one coming out, he'll turn to me and say "'re going to make me see that...aren't you?".  When the Man of Steel teaser trailer came out, he turned to me and said "ooooooh...that looks good!!".  This makes sense, because after forcing him to watch Watchmen, he admits that he loved it.  And because, FUCK YES, it looks good!!!  I have total faith that Zack Snyder is going to make me fall in love with Superman.  

14. World War Z (6/21) - Absolutely love the book and I am at the edge of my seat waiting in anticipation to see how the fuck they made it into a movie.  First, they had to cut out like 90% - there is just too much story there to make one movie (I could visualize it more as a television mini-series, like The Stand).  Second,  is it really focused on the "world" or do they Americanize it? (I can already assume the answer to that one).  And last, is it really going to feel any different than any other zombie movie?  The book feels very different because it's not really about zombies, it's about war and politics.  I guess we'll finally see how it all comes together (after waiting for YEARS!).  

15. Maniac (6/21) - So, I just watched the trailer and now I will probably have nightmares about Elijah Wood trying to kill me.  Awesome.  I heard a lot about this movie last year, but I never found a release date for it.  I'm happy that it's finally getting one - it will likely be very limited, but I'm going to do my best to see it.  I grew up watching Elijah Wood (Forever Young, The Adventures of Huck Finn, The Good Son, etc), it's going to be very hard to watch him in a role like this, but it could also be amazing.  

16. Pacific Rim (7/12) - I have to be honest, I kept hearing all this talk about Pacific Rim and I assumed it was some sort of romantic drama set on the beach.  I don't know why, that's just what the title evokes in my mind.  I flipped through my Entertainment Weekly "Summer Movie Preview" issue and saw Idris Elba's picture next to the title and thought "oh...that's interesting..I like him..." and then I saw a picture of a robot and went "WAIT....what? It's about robots and monsters!!"  That makes so much more sense now.  I should really pay attention more.  Also, it's directed by Guillermo del Toro! I feel like I missed that part as well.  Anyway, now I'm interested.  

17. Girl Most Likely (7/19) - I wasn't a fan of Kristen Wiig until Bridesmaids.  I always found her personality grating on SNL, but with Bridesmaids, she toned herself down a bit and was really the heart of that movie (which is why it worked so well).  The plot of this movie is about a woman who fakes a suicide attempt to win her ex-boyfriend back, so I assume she is supposed to be an extremely unlikable character.  I'm not sure whether it's supposed to be a comedy or drama or somewhere in-between but I'm interested to see Wiig in a more serious role.  Also, Annette Bening is always worth a watch. 

18. Only God Forgives (7/19) - Probably the film I am most excited for, and it conveniently arrives on the weekend of my birthday (which also happened last year with The Dark Knight Rises. The movie Gods must love me!!).  Drive is probably my favorite movie released in the last 5 years (maybe more than that...), so I have super high (ridiculously high) expectations for this movie.  I was trying to reserve these expectations, because this usually causes disappointment - but then the trailer was released and I freaked out!  It's amazing!  I watched it like 20 times in a row.  This movie is going to deliver.  It just has to.  

19. Blue Jasmine (7/26) - It's Woody Allen, so I'll watch it.  I'm skeptical of the plot - Husband trades wife in for a younger woman.  Really, Woody?  That doesn't sound very original (or interesting).  Hopefully, it will be a bit more complicated than that.  I'm not really a fan of Alec Baldwin (aside from his stints on SNL and of course, as Jack Donaghy on 30 Rock).  I thought he was awful in the previous Allen film, To Rome with Love.  Maybe pairing him up with the fantastic Cate Blanchett, will enhance his performance??  

20. 2 Guns (8/2) - I'll usually watch anything with Mark Wahlberg, except, of course, his newest film, Pain & Gain. Seriously, what the fuck is that??  Anyway, the title of this film is just downright awful, but the plot looks good. Plus, usually when Mark is surrounded by strong actors he tends to step up his game (see: The Departed).  Pairing him with Denzel Washington could be magical.

21. Elysium (8/9) - I'm skipping the trailer for this one.  I've watched far too many trailers this year, because it's far too easy to simply click on the links.  But for the most part, I like to be surprised, so I made a conscious effort to avoid this one.  All I know is that it's directed by Neill Blomkamp, the same guy that directed the superb, District 9, and Matt Damon looks like a bad-ass.  

22. The To Do List (8/16) - Aubrey Plaza and Rachel Bilson!!!  Two of my favorite people.  They both seem to play the exact same character in every project they do, but I love them, so I guess I can't complain.  It would be nice to see them branch out a bit.  What's this movie about?  

23. Ain't Them Bodies Saints (8/17) - I've been looking forward to this movie since the Sundance buzz.  Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara and Ben Foster are all terrific young actors.  The plot is about a convict who escapes from prison to reunite with his wife and daughter.  Described as a Western, but focused on characters (instead of action), it seems like a film that I will enjoy.  

24. The World's End (8/23) - Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) teaming up with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is always a welcomed adventure.  I've enjoyed all of their collaborations, so it's pretty much guaranteed that I will enjoy this.  

25. Don Jon (8/?) - Starring JGL....DIRECTED by JGL.  Do I really need to say anything else????  

Friday, April 12, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Rust and Bone - I was really looking forward to this movie, but unfortunately, I missed it in the theater.  I feel like I was waiting for forever with the DVD release,  but the wait was sooooo worth it.  Written and directed by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet - great movie), Rust and Bone, simply put, is a story about struggle.  *slight spoilers ahead* - On the surface, Ali, portrayed by Matthias Shoenaerts, struggles to care for his son, but internally he is also struggling with some pretty heavy demons.  He struggles to contain his anger and to admit his feelings for this woman, who randomly has entered his life.  He is not supposed to be a character that you like (and some might hate him because of the way he treats Stephanie, but I actually sympathize with him.  Guys do stupid things when they are in love and don't want to admit it.  It's a self-sabotage/self-preservation thing that I don't think women will ever fully understand).  Marion Cotillard earned an Oscar nomination for her role as Stephanie, a woman who is struggling with a devastating accident in which she loses both of her legs.  She is struggling with the obvious physical challenge, but also with having to depend on other people and most importantly, losing her sense of self.  The accident happens while she was doing something she loves, something she will no longer be able to do.  I love stories that are about people with actual hardships (you know, instead of people who just feel sorry for themselves for no reason).  There are so many beautiful moments in the movie - the shot of Ali running with the ambulance behind him, the scene with Stephanie at the aquarium bonding with the whale after her accident, Ali punching through the ice at the end - these are just a few that instantly come to my mind.  This is a movie that really got under my skin and left a mark on my heart.  I will never be able to listen to Katy Perry's "Firework" without thinking of Stephanie and the moment her entire world collapsed.

2. Lola Versus - I think that the filmmakers thought that they were trying to do something different with this movie, but it's really just a chick flick disguised as a quirky, independent, passion project.  It's the same old story of a girl getting dumped, which, of course, means her entire world is shaken.  She suddenly begins to doubt herself, so she spends a tireless amount of time changing her outfits and looking at herself, disapprovingly, in the mirror.  Then, you know, she "finds herself".  I love a story about self-discovery, but I hate when getting dumped by a boy is a catalyst for this quest.  I think that most people can relate to the genuine heartbreak that Lola is dealing with, but I have a hard time sympathizing with characters that are this self-involved.  The movie started to redeem itself towards the end, when it became extremely amusing - *spoiler alert* - her awkward date/sex with the weird guy was hilarious ("there is something wonderfully feline about you.....MEOW!" I would have died of laughter if someone said that to me).  And then, the funniest part of all, when trying to console her boyfriend (sort of), after she (kind of) cheats on him she says, "If it's any consolation, his dick was so big it hurt my back." HAHAHAHA!  I had to press pause because I was laughing so hard.  The movie had some wonderfully funny moments (and some annoying moments) and mostly interesting characters (and some annoying characters), it just didn't have a very original or interesting story.  Also, I think I like Greta Gerwig.  She is adorable.  And, Joel Kinnaman is, like, really sexy in this movie, but not at all sexy in The Killing, which is weird to me.

3. ATM - Sometimes, I get in this mood where all I really want to watch is something really over-the-top ridiculous (usually horror, but sometimes a comedy will do).  The plot of this movie seemed just the right amount of stupid, but unfortunately is was too stupid and not entertaining enough.  I like 2 of the 3 actors (Brian Geraghty and Alice Eve. Josh Peck is on my "dull actor" list), and in fairness they really tried their best to sell this lame set-up.  That being, that the 3 of them are trapped in a ATM with a crazed killer outside on a freezing cold night.  There are dozens of moments where you want to scream "don't do that!" "why are you doing that??" "you should do this!!", but none of it is very satisfying.  Really, the entire movie works because none of them have their cell phones, which is ultimately the hardest part to believe (and how would the killer know that all 3 of them wouldn't have them??? I take my cell phone with me to take out the trash).  Plus, there is a scene which completely gives away how the movie would end (I won't give it away, but it is definitely an unnecessary scene).

4. Lincoln - I couldn't get anyone to see this with me because everyone I know said it looked "boring".  At first I was a little annoyed, but then, every opportunity I had to see it on my own, I chose not to looked really boring.  I'm a huge fan of Tony Kushner and obviously, you can't go wrong with the cast, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't get excited about it.  My gut instinct was right.  While watching it, all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball, close my eyes and just go to sleep.  I really didn't think I was going to make it all the way through.  The story was about Lincoln's struggle to abolish slavery, while also trying to end a war.  Most of the movie takes place in a courtroom with people arguing back and forth, and back and forth (and back and forth). Lincoln would then spout his famous words of wisdom and then people would argue again.  The climax of the movie lands 2 hours in, with the House of Representatives role-call.  A never-ending scene with people voting "yes" or "no," followed by clapping and/or yelling.  Sure, Daniel Day-Lewis is fantastic but now I can officially say that Joaquin Phoenix deserved the Oscar last year.  Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones are also great, but hardly memorable.  There are also a ton of other actors (Lee Pace, John Hawkes, James Spader, David Strathairn and a bunch of "he looks familiar" faces).  Oh yeah...Joseph Gordon-Levitt is in it as well, which peaked my interest, but then he disappears and my interest went back to sleep.

5. Smashed - I'm not sure how I feel about this movie. I guess I'm not really sure what it was trying to say about addiction, or about recovery.  The story is about a young, married couple who spend their nights (and days) excessively drinking.  Kate, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, decides that she has gone too far and decides to seek a support group to quit drinking.  Her husband, played by Aaron Paul, doesn't really see their drinking as a problem.  How he is married to someone who gets so drunk that she pisses the bed, and doesn't see this as a problem is beyond my comprehension.  I must admit that I also have a hard time understanding addiction.  I try, because I have a lot of people in my life who suffer from different addictions, but as someone who lives her life on an "everything in moderation" mentality, I just don't get it.  If something you are doing is hurting you and/others then stop!  (I know, I know, life doesn't work like that.  How nice would it be if it did, though?).  It would really suck to not be able to just enjoy a beer without it "turning into 20 and peeing the bed".  The part that I don't really understand is that the support group that she goes to does end up changing her, as her husband describes it, into a "brain-washed bitch".  *Spoiler* The story ends a year later, with Kate, a year sober, after losing her job, ending her marriage and for some reason she is "thankful for this boring new life".  How would that inspire anyone to want to give up their addictions?  Winstead wasn't really very consistent - mostly a strong performance, but her "drunk" scenes were horrendously acted.  It was like watching those girls who drink one glass of Chardonnay and start "pretending" they are drunk.  Aaron Paul didn't really have much to do, but he does say "bitch" at least once, so it's all worth it.

Monday, April 8, 2013

5 Shows Everyone Should Be Watching

1. Happy Endings - If you have a Friends-shaped hole in your heart, like I do - then you must watch this show.  It is the best of the many Friends copycat sitcoms (although one could make a solid argument for Cougar Town - though having Courteney Cox on the show is an unfair advantage).  Happy Endings shares many similarities to Friends - six friends, two of them are siblings, two of them are an on-again/off-again couple, two of them are roommates and some of the characters parallel Friends characters (Jane = Monica, Alex = Phoebe and Brad = Ross).  The reason that this show works, while others failed is simple: It's hilarious, the characters have chemistry, it's smart and it's HILARIOUS.  If you have doubts, just watch one episode: "The Marry Prankster".  Easily the best episode of the series - references The Usual Suspects, showcases the talent of each cast member and presents my favorite line "I'm not as dumb as I am".  I can tell a show is succeeding if they can make an actress I'm usually not a fan of and slowly make her my favorite character (Elisha Cuthbert/Alex).  Despite the fact that the show grew in ratings by over a million viewers from season 1 to season 2, ABC failed to market it correctly.  They also changed the time-slot so many times that I lost count and are now asking the fans to "save the show" by watching it on it's current "death slot" of Friday night. Shame on them. I've already succumbed to the inevitable cancellation (but maybe the rumors are true and someone else will pick it up??). To be clear, I still have a Friends-shaped whole in my heart, but it gets a little bit smaller with each Happy Endings episode.

2. Scandal - I just got all caught up with the second season and HOLY HELL it is fantastic.  The last 2 episodes ("Snake in the Garden" and "Molly, You in Danger, Girl") had me glued to my television like no other show has done in a long time.  It's twist after twist, even when you know the twist, they make it even twistier.  The cast is spectacular, especially Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope and Tony Goldwyn as Fitz.  With the second season, there has been more emphasis on the supporting characters and there hasn't been a single weak link among them.  I love the direction they are taking Quinn (Katie Lowes) in, and man, Guillermo Diaz just has a way of ripping my soul apart as Puck.  The addition of Scott Foley has been incredible.  I don't really want to say anything else about the series, because I wouldn't want to spoil anything.  Political drama, psychological drama and romantic drama at its finest.

3. SouthLAnd - This is not your typical police drama procedural.  It's really an in-depth character study of LA cops.  By that, I mean that the characters change and develop with every episode, while the crime and action are the backdrop of the series.  Officer John Cooper is my favorite character on the show (and will probably make it to my all-time favorite characters by series end).  Flawlessly portrayed by Michael Cudlitz, John Cooper continues to surprise me with his complicated story arc.  The show teases his personal life, as a gay man, while balancing his alpha-male cop persona while on duty.  I miss his interactions with rookie cop, Ben Sherman, but I appreciate that the show consistently moves forward.  Ben Sherman is no longer a rookie and is now partnered with Sammy.  Both Ben and Sammy have changed drastically (for the worse) since season 1, yet we understand this change and still sympathize with the characters.  I fully admit that I started watching this show because I am in love with Ben McKenzie (The O.C for life!! Ryan Atwood is my soul-mate), but I no longer imagine Ben Sherman as an older Ryan Atwood (I refuse to believe Ryan Atwood as an asshole). Really everyone on the show can be classified as an asshole, but I love every single one of them.

4. Archer - Probably the smartest (and most politically incorrect) comedy on television. It's filled with so many pop culture references, and not in the way Family Guy is, instead they are mostly obscure references. So obscure that I am convinced I only catch about 50% of them.  The show is practically intimidating to watch, but if your willing to do your homework it's incredibly fulfilling.  Characters are voiced by several Arrested Development actors (Jessica Walter, Judy Greer) and popular comedians (Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler) to such perfection that I actually forget that I'm watching an animated show (plus Lana Kane has to be the sexiest female animated character ever).  It's intelligently written, fast-paced, action-packed and laugh-out-loud funny.

5. Parks and Recreation - The best comedy currently on network television - no competition. This is what goes on in my head when I ask myself the question "who is my favorite character?" :  "Definitely, no question, Ron Swanson! No wait...April Ludgate! Oh...but it has to be Ben Wyatt or maybe it's Andy Dwyer!! I can't decide! Aaaaaaahhhhh!!" The good this is, I don't actually have to decide. Seriously, they are all fantastic.  It's the only show on television that consistently brightens my day, makes me laugh until my stomach hurts and warms my heart.  It successfully did a "wedding" episode that I actually LOVED (hasn't happened since Friends).  The vows exchanged between Leslie and Ben ended with the words "I love you and I like you"  - just absolute perfection (actually got me choked up a bit, but don't tell anyone!!).  For a show that started off as an Office rip-off, five seasons later it has grown into something so much more.  Here are just some of my favorite quotes from season 5:

-There's only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk, which is water that's lying about 
being milk - Ron
-It's a heartwarming story, but it's just not believable! Which is why I give ET one and half 
stars. - Perd
-You're too beautiful to be funny.  It's not your fault but you've never had to compensate 
for anything. - Leslie (direct satire on the "beautiful women aren't funny" theory)
-Any dog under 50 pounds is a cat and cats are pointless. - Ron
-I can never tell if people are lying to me.  I hope that doesn't come up in my police work. - Andy

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

3 Thoughts on Stoker

1. The writer - If I didn't already know that the film was written by Wentworth Miller (yes, the guy from Prison Break) before watching the movie, and someone tried to tell me this after watching it, there is no way in hell I would believe it.  I hope everyone in his life is encouraging him to write more and quit acting altogether (seriously, like right now.). The plot is a simple "nature vs. nurture" story, revolving around a teenage girl, India Stoker - played to creepy perfection by Mia Wasikowska (more on her later).  She states in the beginning "Just as a flower doesn't choose it's color, we don't choose what we are going to be". This foreshadowing is as obvious as it is bold.  It makes a statement and the narrative doesn't stray from this boldness for one second.  The idea of "evil" is explored - is it genetics? Are some just born "evil"? Can this "evil" be extinguished?  The idea has been done before, but religion is usually involved (The Omen), but this film doesn't even bring God (or the Devil) into the equation.  Instead, Miller focuses the story on the family element.  Without divulging too much personal information, I strangely can relate to this family.  There is someone who I am genetically close to, who is pure evil.  It's horrifying to think about, considering that his entire family is relatively normal.  He grew up the same way his 3 brothers did, so how did he end up this way?  Miller's answer is that it is in fact genetically "in our nature".  We will become what we are meant to be.  It's probably a good thing that I have no intentions of procreating.

2. The director - Park Chan-wook took this rather simple story and made a film so aesthetically appealing (and appalling) that the story seems complicated.  I was at the edge of my seat the whole time, even though I knew exactly what would happen next.  You know you are watching a well-directed movie when camera angles become metaphors (relating to the shift of power between the characters). If a scene was light on dialogue, it was filled with spine-tingling sounds or an unsettling visual atmosphere.  Even India's wardrobe was important to the story.  To say that the film felt "Hitchcockian", is an understatement.  This is as close to a "modern-day" Hitchcock film that I've ever seen.  I agree with some critics that the film played it a little safe, compared to Park's previous films, but that doesn't make it any less brilliant.  I can't imagine this film not being at the top of my list of favorite movies this year.

3. The actors - Sublime casting.  Mia Wasikowska is stunning.  Most actresses would turn this into a typical "dark, moody teenager" role, instead Mia plays this role with a sympathetic innocence.  I can, once again, forgive Matthew Goode (he goes from terrible, Watchmen, to amazing, A Single Man,  to terrible, Leap Year, to amazing again).  He is brilliant in this super creepy role.  I think the narrative is clear, from the beginning, that he doesn't have the best intentions, but it's still fascinating to watch his character reveal itself.  Nicole Kidman had an easier role (she is naturally "cold".  Is that mean? I feel bad, but it's true).  Even when she tries to connect with her daughter, you can still feel her distance.  It all just works so well together.  Perfection.