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 because....um...it 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.