Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Babadook - I read so many things about this movie being the scariest horror movie of the year, and I was very skeptical. It's about a children's book coming to life! How on Earth can that be considered scary?! I'm happy to admit, the movie is awesome. One of the best of the year (I will do my Top 10 list tomorrow, and I am pretty sure this will make the cut). It's still not exactly "scary"; it's more of a psychological "horror". It's also not about a children's book coming to life; it's about a woman losing her mind, and that is terribly frightening. It's hard to describe how I feel about the movie, but the best word that comes to mind is "efficient". I know it's weird to describe a movie like that, but I feel like there is nothing unnecessary about it, no loose ends, no added scare tactics. It does exactly what it sets out to do. The absolute best part about it, though, is an incredible, unforgettable, lead performance from  Essie Davis. I mean, it's spectacular. My favorite performance of the year, hands down.

2. The Normal Heart - I love Ryan Murphy (even after he ruined Glee). I didn't really have much interest in seeing this movie, though. It seemed like it was going to be super cheesy and manipulative, but I can't NOT watch a movie with that cast. I can criticize a lot about the movie (like the editing and the ending, which made it seem like a love story and it's a MUCH more important story than that), but there is a lot of good stuff in there that I would rather focus on. The acting is superb; especially Mark Ruffalo. This is the first time I felt like he became a different person onscreen. His mannerisms and his speech are transformed. The two biggest surprise performances for me are Matt Bomer, who I've never seen in anything before and assumed he was just another, incredibly beautiful face, and Jim Parsons, who gave the most heartfelt performance in a large group of talented actors. Aside from the acting, I also just really loved the story. It's an important part of history, and it raises some gigantic questions that still have no answers. It's also extremely interesting that one of the doctors, who worked on early cases of the AIDS virus, was not only female, but also had polio (the character is based on Dr. Linda Laubenstein). When can we get her full story? On a side note, how ironic is it that they mention the forgotten gay man who "is responsible for winning World War II", in the same year that a movie is made about him?

3. The Congress - What a cool fucking movie. Totally unexpected. I never even heard of the movie, until it was on my "Netflix recommends" list and it looked like Naomi Watts on the poster. When I received the disc, I was only slightly disappointed that it was actually Robin Wright. I still watched it, knowing absolutely nothing about it, and was so stunned by its originality. I was also blown away by such a realistic, and also horrific, look into the future of the "movie star". I can totally see this digital recreation of personalities happening (and also "Miramount" made me laugh out loud). The meta references to Robin's career in the beginning of the movie are so spot on. It's all really perfect. Then, the movie dives deep into a hallucinatory animated tale of salvation. It's so weird; I don't even know how to explain it. I don't even know if I fully understand it all; but there is such strong imagery, it doesn't even matter. Robin Wright has such a strong, soothing voice - the parts where she sings are short, but haunting and memorable. Jon Hamm has such a distinct voice, too. It was instant recognition. Anyway, I would put this movie in my Top 10 list, but it was actually released in 2013, which begs the question: why wasn't this on everyone else's Top 10 list last year?

4. The One I Love - I don't know why I watched this movie. I can't stand Mark Duplass (as an actor; as a writer he is fine) or Peggy Olson. Yes, I am talking about Peggy Olson, the character. People are shocked when I say that I hate her. It's always, "*YOU* hate Peggy Olson?! YOU?!". In theory, Peggy should be my favorite character, and the writing on the show is flawless, so I have no choice but to blame Elisabeth Moss. She is just such a terrible actress. Her facial expressions make me cringe, she's whiny, and the dialog doesn't flow from her mouth as smoothly as the actors surrounding her. I hate her with every fiber of my being. ANYWAY, this movie is pretty cool. It was another Netflix recommendation, and just like The Congress, I was pretty impressed with its sheer originality. It's a pretty deep commentary on relationships and the lies we tell ourselves to make relationships work. I don't know, though, if your partner said and did exactly what you wanted them to say and do all of the time, wouldn't that bore the shit out of you? Shouldn't you want someone to surprise you with the unexpected twists and turns of, you know, life? I could tell this movie was written by a man; it does fuck all to equate the sexes. The male "ideal version" of his partner is the same, she just wears sexier clothes and stops nagging him about eating bacon. While her "ideal version" of her partner is a completely different person. Why can't men accept the fact that women accept them? We don't sit there and list out your flaws and spend our lives trying to make you perfect. Well, at least, I don't. I would only choose to be with someone, knowing their flaws and accepting them, so this movie is sort of pointless to me. I get what it's trying to do, though.

The Rover - I'm not really that impressed with this movie. The performances are superb, but the movie is pretty forgettable. The first 15 minutes are really tough to get through. It's sooooo drawn out and the music is distracting. I felt like it took an hour to set the plot forward. Then, once it gets going, it doesn't really go anywhere. There are some jarring moments (like the sudden appearance of the Pretty Girl Rock song. I thought there was actually something wrong with the DVD, until I saw R. Patz mumbling along "don't hate me because I'm beautiful". What the fuck was that about?!). The whole movie is based around the suspense of "what's in the car". *spoiler ahead* I knew that the scene with the dogs in the cages was an important foreshadowing scene, and I knew something important was in the car, but for some odd reason I didn't put the two things together. However, I think most people did (perhaps, I didn't care enough about the plot to give it any deep thought), so then I ask, what the fuck is the point? It's really just a movie about really, really dirty people shooting at each other for unknown reasons.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - I didn't watch this movie with the highest of expectations. There hasn't been a "Will Ferrell comedy" that I've truly liked since Elf, and even that movie is a bit overrated (side-note, I do love The Other Guys, but I don't think of that as a "Will Ferrell comedy", mostly because Mark Wahlberg outshines him in every single way possible). I rated the first Anchorman ** 1/2 stars, which, for me, means "average". I don't really remember anything about it, but I don't think I hated it (like Semi-Pro, Blades of Glory, etc). I absolutely HATED this sequel. First of all, why the fuck is it 2 hours long? I already knew from the run time that it was going to be painfully repetitive. Second, Meagan Goode is a horrible actress, and those eyebrows are the worst (sorry, it's superficial, but I just can't with those). Third, I didn't laugh once! Through the whole entire 2 hours?! How is that possible? The epic ending could have been hilarious, but it just dragged on for FOOOREEEEVVER. The cameos at the end, were pretty interesting but then I screamed out "Marion Cotillard, what the fuck are you doing?!?" Overall, it is just a disaster of a movie and a waste of some truly great talent.

2. Draft Day - Two reasons I wanted to see this movie: Jennifer Garner, and someone told me it reminded them of Moneyball (which I loved). I get the comparison, but I don't really think it's in the same league. There are several scenes that are eerily similar to it, but Moneyball was driven by its dialogue, and this movie is not nearly as well written. I think I also enjoyed Moneyball more because I know a tiny bit about Baseball, but Football is a blank slate for me. I know absolutely nothing about it. I wasn't sure if the players that they were talking about are real players, or even if the teams are real or fictional. Also, Jennifer is relegated to the "girlfriend" role, which is disappointing.  However, I actually still enjoyed this movie. I feel like I learned a little bit about the draft process, and it is super complicated and dramatic. It was very obvious how the draft was going to go down, and who his first pick would be, but that's not really a bad thing - it's a classic "sports movie" move, but still good.

3. Magic in the Moonlight - I was really excited about this movie, until I saw the trailer. It looked super corny and really poorly acted. And, unfortunately, by all accounts, it is. The beginning is strong, and is a nice reminder that Colin Firth *can* actually act, but then he gets set in his rom-com awkwardness, and it killed me. Emma Stone is so beautiful; her hair, that skin - so stunning, but she isn't as great of an actress as some make her out to be. I love her in light-hearted comedic roles, but her acting has never blown me away. I don't think she did a good job at making this character likeable. Instead, I found her grating, needy and attention-seeking. Their romance is really hard to believe (and yes, I realize that is part of the "point" of the movie), but they just seemed mis-matched and awkward around each other. Certainly not a couple that I wanted to root for. The movie is just "rational" thought versus "passionate" thought, with a bit of "ignorance is bliss" thrown in. It's a little too simple; a little too obvious. It's Woody Allen "light", which can be a good thing, as I consider Midnight in Paris the same (and I adored that movie), but this one fails at being anything above mediocre.

4. A Most Wanted Man - I really wish I wasn't so bored during this movie, because there is some great stuff in it. Overall, I just wanted it to end. I don't know why I couldn't get into it. The comparisons for this movie are The Lives of Others and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which is interesting because the former is a perfect movie, while the latter is one of the most boring movies in the history of movies. This movie is definitely closer to the latter. Part of the reason that I had trouble getting into it, is the terrible accents across the board. I love Philip Seymour Hoffman, he is definitely missed in the acting world, but I can't get behind this accent. And Rachel McAdams? Oooof. It was painful on the ears. I really don't understand casting decisions sometimes. It's a shame because 10 years from now, when I think of this movie, that is all that is going to come to mind. Terrible German accents.

5. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - The first one took me by surprise, but this one blew me away. The first one was hindered by the human actors (*cough* James Franco) and its lack of sociopolitical commentary (other than "animal testing = bad"). It's fixed in this one. Possibly, a little too in your face with social and political allegories, but in the world we live in, I don't know if that's a bad thing. There are just so many scenes that are perfectly executed. My favorite is probably the scene in which Koba tricks the humans into letting their guard down. I knew it was coming, but it is still fantastically shocking to watch. The tracking scene in the tank is pretty fantastic, as well. I really, really, really wish I saw this movie in the theaters because the special effects are so good and the action is paced perfectly. A perfect summer blockbuster. On a side note; I knew that Kirk Acevedo's character would be the one to instigate a problem - he always plays the asshole (I love him, though. The epitome of a "New Yorker." And on another side note, he went to the same college as me, in the same program, just 10 years earlier. Other famous actors, who went to my school, include, Parker Posey, Melissa Leo, Stanley Tucci, Wesley Snipes, Edie Falco and Josh Hartnett. In other words, all the cool people.). Anyway, I loved this movie. It should make it into my top 10 of the year. It's at number 8 right now, and I have A LOT left to see, so it's not a guarantee, but either way, it is fantastic.

Monday, December 8, 2014

3 Thoughts on Big Hero 6

1. Smart kids rule - I don't think it's a new trend to have so-called "geeks" as the leads in movies; however, I do think that most of the time, these geeks are shown getting made fun of; bullied and branded as the losers of their generation. This isn't very encouraging for the smart kids of the world. I don't think this is what the world is like, though. I was never made fun of for being smart. I think kids who get bullied are often bullied because they are insecure and/or ashamed of who they are (and the same can be said for people who are the bullies). This movie doesn't really do the whole bully angle. It shows this genius kid, who is quite cool, but most importantly he's confident, too. He's a little lost on how to utilize his intelligence, until his brother introduces him to a group of super smart students. A group of people who are changing technology and therefore, changing the world. It made me want to learn things; and I'm an adult. I imagine kids would be even more into it and that RULES.

2. Bah-a-la-la-la - By far, the best scene in the movie is the fist bump scene. You can find the scene on Youtube, but it loses something when it's out of context from the movie. The first introduction of Baymax to the fist bump, had me in tears. It's almost too cute to handle. Then, the gag is repeated several times and instead of being overdone, it just gets funnier and funnier. I often give fist bumps to my cats (they bump their heads onto my fist) and now I make the Baymax noise as I do it. It's the greatest thing ever.

3. The origin story - Not knowing the comic book story that it is based on; I was a little confused by the concept of the movie. I heard it was about 6 superheros, but only Baymax is featured in the trailer. I didn't realize that it's an origin story about these superheroes. So, Baymax is featured more in the beginning, but then the group starts to form - each with their own scientifically based "super power". The story is way too predictable and it could have moved a little quicker, but overall I really enjoyed all of the characters, the action, the technology and the world of "San Fransokyo" that is realized. I would totally watch a sequel.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. What If - What an annoying, shitty movie. I think I hated it so much, because I heard really good things about it. I don't usually look forward to romantic comedies, however when there is one that I like; I really like it. I was a bit skeptical with this movie because I'm not really a fan Zoe Kazan (I hate Ruby Sparks with so much passion). I heard really great things about her chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe in this movie; and I am always willing to give actors a chance to prove me wrong. Radcliffe is an example of an actor who has changed my mind. He was so awful in the Harry Potter movies; it's one of the reasons I couldn't make it through those atrocities. However, he was a strong presence in both The Woman in Black and Kill Your Darlings, plus his EPIC rap moment on The Tonight Show still blows my mind (Watch it: . It's the best. I've watched it at least a dozen times, in amazement). He is adequate in this movie; playing the "normal guy" with ease. Kazan, however, is still on my shit list. Her character is super annoying; and I realize that this isn't her fault (this time, anyway), but I do wonder if another actress in the role would have been less grating. As for the movie, I hated the entire plot. The theory behind "men and women can't be friends" is explored, in a really awful, sexist way. This "theory" is something that is projected from men, as way to control their own feelings of jealousy. The movie is a horrible representation of this, because the guy does have feelings for the girl (from the beginning), lies to her during their entire "friendship", she does lead him on several times and gives her boyfriend a completely legitimate reason to act jealous. Then *spoiler*, they get married and live happily ever after and now I want to murder someone.

2. Life After Beth - Aubrey Plaza. Zombies. I'm there already. Add in Dane DeHaan? Whoa. This movie had so much potential. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to this potential. It's funny and cute in some parts, but overall it's not very memorable. I'm sad to say that I don't actually think I'm a fan of Plaza. I LOVE her on Parks and Recreation so much, but she does the same character (the awkward, side-eyed snarky girl) in every project and sometimes a role needs more than that. I'm not sure that she has more to offer, and if she does, then she needs to show it. Pronto. Dane DeHaan, on the other hand, is excellent. He's better than this movie. He elevates the emotion; and the complications (you know...of having a zombie girlfriend). There are some great supporting actors (Anna Kendrick, John C. Reilly, Paul Reiser, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines...the list goes on) that are severely underutilized. Why cast such a group of funny actors, and give them nothing to do?

3. Rage - I had to see this movie. It's a Nicolas Cage movie called Rage!! The genius behind that decision deserves an award. The movie is not good. I wasn't expecting it to be good, so nothing lost; nothing gained. It's basically a slightly more violent, harsher version of Taken (although Liam Neeson > Nicolas Cage. Always and forever). The only difference is *spoiler* the girl actually turns up dead 30 minutes in. I definitely wasn't expecting that. That was about the only interesting thing that happened, though. I stopped paying attention to it about 1/2 way through and then picked it up again at the end (the middle was super boring). It's super ridiculous to cast Rachel Nichols as Cage's wife. The 16 year age difference is bad enough, but their lack of chemistry is evident with every scene. Also, I have an unjust hatred towards Ms. Nichols because she RUINED my favorite show, Alias. I still haven't forgiven her, and it's unclear if I ever will. Also, the chase scene made me laugh because it was filmed in slow-motion. Let me repeat: a chase scene in slow-motion. Is this because Nicolas Cage can't run fast?

4. The Purge: Anarchy - I liked the first one. At least, I liked the idea of the first one. I just felt that the stakes weren't high enough. The audience was forced to sympathize with a wealthy family, who could have easily just built a safe room to protect themselves during "the purge". I was so happy to see that they made a movie around a group of people who can't afford such protection. There is also a clear commentary on the class warfare that would occur during an event like this, which I felt was lacking in the first one. This setup is just so much better. I like the cast, too. Frank Grillo is always awesome. And Matt Saracen!! I didn't realize that he is married to Kiele Sanchez in real life!? How cute. Anyway, I liked the movie, but I still felt like the concept isn't as fully explored as it could be (but I'm sure more sequels are on the way). The movie is way more predictable than it should be. I knew exactly how every scene was going to play out; who would die and who would live. It takes away the tension, a bit. I really, really loved his car, though. That texture?! WANT.

5. Oculus - As you may know, I'm not really big on supernatural horror movies, so this movie is already at a disadvantage for me. I still wanted to see it because of Karen Gillan. I like her, a lot. Then I started the movie and I saw Battlestar Galactica's very own Katee Sackhoff and I got overly excited. The plot is so stupid, it hurts. A haunted mirror. Really? Am I supposed to be scared of that? Are people really scared of that? HOW? WHY? I don't get it. The only thing that is 1/2 interesting, is the psychology behind it - the idea that the brain creates narratives for things/events that it can't comprehend such as a traumatic experience. I wish this was explored more, but instead the movie focused on some pretty silly elements. I did like the way it cuts between past and present; it held my interest, which is more than I can say for similar movies. Plus, that light bulb scene? Holy cow. That's a scene that I will never forget. Unfortunately, the worst part of the movie is Gillan. I'm not sure if it was just a terrible role for her; or if she is, in fact, a bad actress. I loved her on Doctor Who, and she was awesome in Guardians of the Galaxy (I didn't even know it was her, until it was over).  I refused to watch Selfie, so I don't know how her acting was on that show (I'm guessing, everything about that show was not good). I still really like her, though, and, to be fair, this character is just awkward. The casting was weird - they looked nothing alike to be siblings; so I spent the movie thinking that was going to be the "twist", which distracts from the plot. I liked the way it ended (it was predictable, but it had to end that way).

Sunday, November 30, 2014

3 Thoughts on Interstellar

1. The ambition - I will never understand how anyone can criticize a movie like this for its "science fiction" not being "realistic". For me, if a movie builds a world and sticks to the rules of that world, then the so-called plot holes do not exist. I would much rather a story-teller imagine and create something new and not worry about certain realistic logistics, than re-tell me a boring, safe, scientifically accurate story. Plus, there are so many things we don't know yet, about space, time-travel, black holes, other dimensions etc., how can we criticize a movie for not being accurate, when we are still learning the intricacies of the universe? The only thing I would criticize the movie for is the acting - I'm a fan of Anne Hathaway, but she was not good in this movie. It wasn't just her, though. There was something off about all of the acting, except with Jessica Chastain - she's fantastic. Although, I don't see it as a movie that relies that much on acting. I mean, none of the acting was terrible or anything; it just wasn't as spectacular as the rest of the movie. Interstellar may well be my favorite Nolan film (I've liked all of them, to some degree). It's thrilling, intellectual, epic, and bold. Like whoa.

2. The surprises - *Do not read if you haven't seen it* - I don't know how, but I managed to avoid everything about this movie. Never saw the trailer, never read any reviews and I changed the channel every time a commercial came on. The only information I knew was, who the 3 main stars were and I read a whole ton of twitter snark about the science behind it (but I never clicked on the articles). Going in blind for this movie, definitely enhanced my enjoyment. For one, I had NO IDEA about that mind-blowing surprise cameo. I'm not even going to spoil it; even though I prefaced this with a spoiler alert, but I think knowing that there is, in fact, a huge cameo, already ruins the surprise factor. I've read several articles, since watching the movie, that argue this character isn't necessary in the movie, but I say "WHAT?!" to that. His character is the catalyst for the end of the movie. Second, I knew it was a movie about people in space, but I had no idea why they were in space. The whole "Earth becoming uninhabitable" is a fantastic (and scarily realistic) idea for a movie. The beginning of the movie is so engaging; the idea that technology and science has ruined Earth - so much so, that text books have re-invented History to encourage the younger generation to become farmers?!? That's a crazy idea to digest. Like whoa.

3. The emotion - It's so hard to really describe or critique this movie, because it's all about the emotion behind it. As I watched it, I enjoyed the story, and was dazzled by the special effects. Then I went home and bawled my eyes out. It's such a "big idea" movie, that I didn't really connect with it emotionally while watching it. It wasn't until I absorbed all of the information and personalized the theories that are presented, that I really "got it". Behind all of the space travel, adorable robots, and surreal images, the movie is really about this untouchable, mysterious idea of  "destiny". I think I cried so much because it reinforced my theory about "gut feelings". Sometimes, I just "know" when something is right; like everything in my life has led me to this moment. What if this "gut feeling" is another dimension "me", leading me in the right direction? Isn't that just overwhelmingly uplifting and emotional to think about? Like whoa.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Edge of Tomorrow - From the trailer, this movie seemed to be a mediocre, predictable action thriller, but the reviews argued that it was one of the most original action movies in years. I felt bad that I missed it in theaters, because I love to support originality, but honestly, I don't really get what everyone is talking about. It's Looper, Groundhogs Day, Deja Vu, and Source Code all rolled into one movie. I wouldn't call that "original". However, I did have fun with it. Its quality action sequences and witty dialogue had me engaged through its entirety. I just don't agree with most critics describing it as "unexpected" and "surprising". It played out exactly how I expected it to. I did appreciate that most of the repetition is implied, so we don't have to sit through the same scenes over and over again. Tom Cruise gives it his all, as usual. I'm not really a fan, but I can't deny that he can hold an action movie. I love Emily Blunt (I mean, who doesn't?), I would love to see her STAR in an action movie instead of relegated to the side-kick role.

2. Begin Again - I wasn't expecting much with this movie; just a cute, light move. It's actually quite good. First, I was in complete shock the second I heard Keira's voice. It's so beautiful; sort of sounds like Jill Sobule (and I LOVE Jill Sobule). Second, the movie is really, very funny. I laughed out loud several times and it was totally unexpected. Third, I love Mark Ruffalo. He is so perfect in roles like this. It reminded me a bit of his role in 13 Going on 30. Just really authentic, charming, self-deprecating, smart and witty. It's so weird to think that last year's "Sexiest Man Alive" is in this and he doesn't even compare to Mark. (and really, what the fuck were they thinking with this year's choice? Does personality count for anything these days?). Speaking of the guy from Maroon 5 (I can't even think of his name right now. That's how boring he is), he is a TERRIBLE actor - clearly the worst part of the movie. Also, I didn't really like the scene where they walk around the city with earphones listening to the same songs - first, it's weird and a bit disturbing that he would re-enact something that he did with his ex, and second, they were supposedly listening to each other's "guilty pleasure" songs, and no song by either Frank Sinatra or Stevie Wonder should ever be considered "guilty pleasures". Those are, like, legitimately great songs. The movie is a commentary on the fall of record companies and the ever-changing music industry. The only thing needed to become successful is a little bit of luck and a really amazing idea - and recording a live album on the streets of NYC is actually a GENIUS idea. I could see that being a huge hit.

3. Bad Words - I love Jason Bateman. He can be hilarious (Arrested Development), but when he is faced with bad material, he's not good at overcoming it. This movie isn't necessarily bad, but it's not really funny. The entire beginning of the movie is featured in the trailer, which I thought could be a good thing - maybe they saved all of the funny stuff for the actual movie?! But no, it's just not funny. I found the end slightly amusing (when they keep spelling the words wrong), but then it repeats the joke too many times. The whole motive behind his ridiculous charade of entering a spelling bee contest is really obvious (and dumb). There are some seriously funny women involved, Kathryn Hahn, Allison Janney, and Rachael Harris, so it's sad that they couldn't scrap some of the lame jokes and give these women some material worthy of their talent. The part that bothered me the most is the Office Space type montage featuring a white male wreaking havoc while a hip-hop song played in the background. So cliche it hurts.

4. Lucky Them - I didn't really hear anything about this movie, but I saw a trailer for it and was instantly intrigued by the cast - Toni Collette and Thomas Haden Church! I will watch anything with Toni Collette, and THC is probably at his oddest/funniest role since Wings (awwww...remember that show? I loved it.). He cracks me up in this movie, especially as he remembers the only music he likes (*spoiler* it's Bryan Adams! LOL). Also, Ryan Eggold shows up playing the guitar! Yes, please. The movie is really cute, but ultimately forgettable. That is, until the end, because there is a surprise cameo that will blow your mind. It's actually a really perfectly cast role, but completely unexpected. Now I will remember the movie solely for the cameo (and the shirtless Ryan scenes).

5. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For - I could go into a long-winded account of how much I love the first one, but I'm sure it's all already been said before. Visually poetic, beautifully violent film noir. It was my favorite film of 2005, and it's still currently one of my all-time favorites. I'll still be the first to admit, it's a little late for a sequel. I'm over it; the world is over it. It's pretty much what I was expecting; except the editing is TERRIBLE. It makes me wonder if the first one is like that, and I just didn't notice. I haven't seen in it probably 7 years, and I didn't really pay attention to editing until I worked directly in films (I went to school for Film Studies, but it was mostly theoretical, not hands-on). I worked a little bit as a Script Supervisor about 5 years ago, which is the person that the Editor relies on the most and now it's hard to enjoy films with mistakes and rough editing (which is why I decided not to continue. I love films too much and working on them made me hate them). This movie was actually hard to watch because of the choppy editing (for instance; the Juno Temple sex scene - she takes her top off, as in bare skin, and then suddenly she is wearing lingerie. WHERE DID IT COME FROM?). There are still some really cool shots; but nothing as memorable as the first. The plot is typical revenge movie territory (but I wasn't exactly watching this movie for the plot, anyway). I would recommend it if you were a fan of the first, because it brings some closure to the original plot and some characters.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

3 Thoughts on Nightcrawler

1. Jake Gyllenhaal's finest performance? - For an actor who has had very little career missteps (The Edge of Tomorrow and Prince of Persia), it's weird that I never really rated Gyllenhaal as one of my favorite actors. He's been a strong presence in many movies, and has been on a career high over the past couple of years, but I think this performance has really sealed the deal. It's an astonishing, Oscar worthy performance. While most refer to the "creepiness" Gyllenhaal instills as Lou Bloom, I didn't really find him creepy at all. Instead, I thought his performance came off as a really complicated sociopath, with aspects of undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome. I really, strongly wish that the scene in the beginning didn't exist because I think it set expectations about his character. If that scene didn't exist, we would see his descent into a vicious monster as a result of a societal effect. As he discovers his interest in crime "journalism", he is praised for the images that he is capturing and the line that he is crossing - someone with personality/social disorders would take that praise and continue to push the envelope. It's a fantastic character study and Gyllenhaal takes pride in the role. It's impossible to look away.

2. Where has Rene Russo been? - First, can we talk about the fact that Rene Russo is 60 years old?! Holy cow, she looks incredible. Stunning, in fact; It seems she hasn't aged in 20 years. The real question, though, is where the fuck has she been? Other than the Thor movies, she hasn't acted in anything in 10 years and I am baffled as to why. She's such a strong actress; and she makes a gigantic impact in this movie. I hope her break from acting was her own decision and not because she wasn't getting roles. This movie proves that the acting world needs her.

2. It's Taxi Driver meets Drive meets Network? - Um, no, no, no, 10,000 times, no. I get the comparisons. The sociopathic character study can be compared to Travis Bickle; the pulpy, noir L.A vibe can be compared to the atmosphere of Drive; the edgy, unapologetic view of journalism ethics can be compared to the subject of Network. Just because it can be compared to these masterpieces, doesn't mean it should be, though. Every review that I've read has referenced one of these three movies and it is mind-boggling. Before I saw the movie, I read several one-line reviews that simply said "this year's Drive" (apparently by people who loved Drive, but may have worryingly misunderstood it). If you go into the movie expecting this; then you may be severely disappointed, as I was. If I hadn't expected a masterpiece, I may have enjoyed the movie more. It's still a strong movie; with even stronger performances, and it sits just outside of my Top 10 of the year, so far. It just doesn't come close to a masterpiece, for me.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Fault in Our Stars - While everyone praised recent teen angst movies like Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now, I was sort of unimpressed by both. I lumped this movie in the same category before watching it, which now I realize is a bit unfair. There is an obvious "sympathy vote" in the previous movies, which frustrates me. Sure, the characters in both of those films have legitimate issues, but when a character is crying out for sympathy, I get really annoyed. Everyone has issues, it's so conceded to have a "feel bad for me because of A,B and C" attitude. With The Fault in Our Stars, the main character, played by Shailene Woodley in her best performance since The Descendants, has terminal Cancer, yet, I never feel her craving sympathy. She's accepted her fate, with grace and wit, hoping to spend the rest of her life the way that she wants to spend it. I don't know, some may think she is "negative", but I find her to be a breath of fresh air. In contrast, the boy that she meets is more "positive" about Cancer, and life in general - and they both fill a void in each other. I love that he woos her and that he is kind of dopey. It's actually really sweet - and I'm totally not a "sweet" kind of movie person. There are very few that get to me, but this one did. I can't say that I was surprised at the end, *spoiler* but I love that he does lose his humor and positivity in the end; because that just made the whole thing that much more devastating. I actually felt very emotional during a few scenes ("The great and terrible 10" almost broke me).

2. Godzilla - *spoiler central* I've never seen a Godzilla movie in full, just some clips here and there. I've never really had any interest, but I thought an updated version with Bryan Cranston sounded like a solid plan. I missed seeing this in the theater and I really think it would have had a stronger impact on the big screen, but I'm still glad I didn't waste my money. It's really boring. I appreciate that they gave a history of the monsters and focused on the mythology a bit; instead of just throwing in a random monster to destroy a city. However, most of the action was really dumb and the story is just all too convenient (the kid finds his parents among the MILLION other people there...seriously?). Plus, the only reason that I wanted to see it (Cranston) fucking dies 40 minutes in!! What the fuck?! Aaron Johnson is such a mediocre actor - he can not hold a movie (although I didn't hate him here as much as I usually do). It really did nothing to separate itself from any other disaster movie. While it may be a better made blockbuster movie than say, Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I would much rather watch them again than this movie - at least they were fun. The ending is really spectacular, though. That last roar?! Epic.

3. Cold in July - This movie was a big surprise for me. I expected to like it, and I did - just not in the same way that I thought. The first half followed the way I thought it would, but then the second half just goes in a completely different direction and I have to say...I totally dug it. It's really interesting and fast paced, but also has a slow burn effect (which is a contradiction, I know. Yet, that's how I felt watching it). I actually thought that it was adapted from an Elmore Leonard story - it definitely has that feel to it (it's not). There are some genuinely funny moments (like when the one guy goes to fight the guy in the car and then sees how big he is, "We can split it.". I laughed out loud at that one)Michael C. Hall is my absolute favorite television actor (from two of my all-time favorite shows: Six Feet Under and Dexter). I didn't love him in this role, even though he did a solid job - I just feel like the role is a bit dim-witted, and he usually plays more complex roles, so it is a hard adjustment. I would love to see him in more movie roles, or another outstanding television series, and I am totally going to see him on Broadway (in Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

4. In a World... - I like this movie, I like Lake Bell, and I like the story. It's not as amazing as I was led to believe, but I do think it is extremely interesting; especially if you are fascinated by all things movie related (and you can probably relate to it, if you are a woman). It's so weird that something like voice-over work is a male dominated industry. When you think about how iconic the words "In a world" are featured in trailers, and that it's considered a controversial stance to have a female voice utter those words, it becomes a little ridiculous. It's also a really sad commentary that someone like her own father wouldn't support her (and even try to steal the job from her). This is what women have to go through in the workforce and I appreciate that it's a feminist story that deals with an actual feminist topic (not "I broke up with my boyfriend and now my life is miserable until I find a new boyfriend"). Lake Bell really makes the movie enjoyable, though. It's so refreshing to have a story like this from a female perspective, instead of a male writer/director appropriating and assuming how a woman should feel. I love that Bell can make fun of herself and that rapping scene is just glorious. You can't NOT smile after watching that. The only issue I take is with the featured line "women should sound like women, not babies who answer everything with a question". The intent is a harmless joke about women who think it's sexy to play dumb, yet there is a high connection linked with the "baby voice" and sexual abuse as a child. It's not something that is proven (because most women won't admit to the abuse they've endured), but it's hard to ignore it as a symptom. I know two women who do the "baby voice" thing and both have admitted sexual abuse to me (and both have obsessive over-eating disorders). The psychology behind it is the exact opposite of what Bell is making fun of; they do not want to be seen as sexual beings. Like I said, I think Bell's intent is innocent, but she has to understand that words do damage; it's disappointing to have a strong feminist movie, still judge certain women. It's pretty much the worst thing you can do as a feminist. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If women just supported other women, we would rule the fucking world. Let's get it together, people.

5. Sex Tape - The best thing I can say about this movie is that it's watchable (except for the full minute when Jack Black recites porn websites. A FULL FUCKING MINUTE).  Plus, Rob Lowe always makes me laugh and he is definitely the best part of this movie (Literally!). I think the only part of the movie that I laughed at is when he yells, "Hakuna Matata", as a dog command. HILARIOUS. The rest of the movie is pretty bad, but not nearly as painful as I was expecting it to be. I liked the insightful child "when will it end? won't I get bored doing this stuff again, and again, and again?". I wish she was featured more. I think the movie will still end up on my worst of 2014 list, simply because it should have been better. Two funny leads, fantastic supporting actors and a timely story should have been one of the funniest movies of the year.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts on 9 new Shows

1. Gotham - This is the show that I was most excited for this fall season, and so far, it has been satisfying. I am clearly biased, as I am in love with Ben McKenzie, and would continue to watch the show with enthusiasm, even if it turned out to be the worst show ever. I am glad that it's not. It's actually a lot of fun. It feels like a comic book show, as opposed to Agents of Shield, which feels like a spy show featuring comic book characters (a very tedious one, at that). The characters in Gotham are over-done and very stylized, but it works. Another good point to the show is that it is getting better with every episode. "The Balloonman" episode is probably the strongest episode yet, and I am hopeful for more episodes like it. I love that the show is creating a world, utilizing lesser-known villains, and balancing dark and fun with every episode. I'm all in.

2. How to Get Away with Murder - Wow. This is so much better than I was expecting it to be. I don't know why I am so surprised - both Grey's Anatomy and Scandal started off spectacularly. The first episode was really intriguing and smart, but I was iffy on the character development. They all seemed to have a "defined personality" (they gay one, the type A personality one, the meek one - basically they were all characters from Glee).  However, with each episode, the characters are really developing nicely. I question how the show is going to sustain itself, with the whole "murder" plot - we are going to need an answer fairly quickly, otherwise it will get tiresome (like Revenge). Yet, if they give away the mystery, then what will the show rely on? For now, though, all I can say is "wow". The fourth episode is one of the strongest episodes of drama that I can remember - the first shock of the guy/window scene was "holy shit!", and then...the end. THE END. It left me speechless.

3. The Flash - Another show that I really like! It's definitely the same style as Arrow, which is what I was hoping for, but it also feels a bit like Spider-Man - the way he "discovers" his super-powers. Grant Gustin is just perfect for the role (and soooo adorable). The rest of the cast is quite good too. I knew I recognized the actress that plays Caitlin Snow, but it took me a while to figure out why (Piranha 3DD - yes, I totally watched that). I appreciate how funny the dialogue is ("lightning gave me abs?"), and that it doesn't take itself too seriously. I also love the little bit of mystery that builds with the end of each episode.

4. Red Band Society - They can't all be winners this season. This is probably one of the worst pilot shows that I've ever watched. It was so depressing and boring and stupid. I couldn't even bare to watch another episode, so I immediately removed it from my DVR. I am literally in shock that it wasn't the first casualty of the season (and that it STILL hasn't been cancelled).

5. Stalker - Another show that I really don't like, however, it's not as bad as Red Band Society. I still continue to watch it, because I like the premise and I like the actors. They just get it wrong. Sooo wrong. It's not nearly as scary as I was hoping for. The bigger problem, however, is the deeply misogynistic sentiment that seems more accidental than on purpose (I think the writers genuinely don't realize how problematic some of the stories have been). They insinuate (on 2 separate episodes) that the way a woman dresses has a direct effect on stalker behavior (blaming the victim) and one can make assumptions of guilt based on a woman's wardrobe (said to a girl who is "cute" and "wears a crop top": "I think you're good, but I don't think you're innocent".  Seriously. Actual dialogue. She also says the words "no judgement" twice, which clearly shows that she is, in fact, judging her.). The "twist" of Dylan McDermott's character stalking his ex-wife is clearly stupid. She threatens to call the police if he doesn't leave "in 2 weeks" - um....clearly she isn't that scared of him. These are little kinks that can be worked out, but I'm not sure if the writers realize these kinks. The series did get picked up for a whole season, so hopefully it can work out the problems and become the strong series it has potential to be.

6. The Affair - The pilot episode is stunning. One of the best pilot episodes I've ever seen (I put it up there with Damages, Breaking Bad, and Six Feet Under - which are all in my top 10 dramatic shows of all time). I enjoyed the first half immensely, but then it switches to Alison's version of the story and I was blown away. Her version is completely different!! It throws off the whole balance of the show and the audience's perception of characters and events. It's one of the best concepts for a television show I've ever encountered. I read a few reviews of the pilot, pointing out that women tend to believe Alison, while men tend to believe Noah, which I find incredibly condescending. However, at first I believed Noah, but after analyzing some of the subtle changes, I think Alison is more truthful (not because she is a woman, but because her "truth" seems more realistic). Obviously, "the truth" probably lies somewhere between the two versions. I don't really know though, and that's what makes it interesting. Maybe they both actually think they are telling the truth - sometimes, perceptions of situations are very different. I'm also on the edge of my seat wondering who is dead. We only know it's a guy, and it doesn't seem to be anyone that close to either of them. The cast is fantastic - Dominic West, Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson (my heart hurt so much with his first "aggressive" scene, but then....maybe he turns out to be the "good guy"?? It's so hard to know the truth!!! AAAAHHH) are superb, but Ruth Wilson absolutely takes me breath away. She was so good on Luther, but she's upped her game for this. I highly recommend this show. It's the best of this season.

7. Gracepoint - This is has been sort of an up and down show for me. I really liked the first episode, but haven't been too excited about it since. I love the cast, but David Tennant with an American accent, just doesn't feel right. Anna Gunn is the highlight of the show; I love that she is strong, but also really sensitive to the murder and the people around her. She stands up for herself and her right to react in an emotional way. I didn't even know Michael Pena was in it, and I love him. I feel like he is a bit underutilized as of right now, but I think he will play a more important role soon. The show is very similar to The Killing (minus the rain), and is even marketed the same - the "who killed Danny" campaign is eerily similar to the "who killed Rosie Larson" charade. That can obviously be problematic, because in the case of The Killing, the murder wasn't solved right away - instead it was dragged out for 2 whole seasons before it moved on, and the show suffered for it. Most of its audience gave up, which is a real shame because season 3 & 4 are superb. Anyway, I think Gracepoint will sustain itself longer than The Killing did, but I'm not sure if Fox is going to give it that chance.

8. Marry Me - Really cute show. Does it fill the void of Happy Endings? Certainly not, but it's a step in the right direction. I really, really, really love the actors, but I really, really, really don't love the setup. The whole "marriage" thing is just painful to watch and the big sweeping statements like "every girl wants to get married" are just ridiculous for a present day show. However, there are some really funny moments. My favorite so far: 1. "You keep me grounded - like Sandra Bullock in real life" "She seems so approachable". 2. Save Princess Di (inappropriate, but oh so funny). 3. "It's an only child thing" "Only children are monsters" (HEY!! Hahahaha....still funny).  Happy Endings wasn't that great when it first started, it took a while for the momentum and characters to build before it became nearly perfect, so I am glad that Marry Me is here and I am willing to stick with it.

9. Manhattan Love Story - This wasn't on my original list of shows that I planned on watching for the fall, but then I saw that the guy from Greek and the girl from ANTM were the main stars and I decided that could be interesting. It's not. It's terrible. And it was the first show cancelled this season (blows my mind that Selfie is still going strong, though).  I won't waste time talking about it, but I do hope that these two find another project because they are adorable.

3 Thoughts on Kill the Messenger

1. It's a 90's kind of movie - Yes, the movie takes place in the 90's, so that makes sense, but I am talking about the feeling of the movie. It's a cautionary thriller about the dangers that journalists face to obtain the truth, when it's something that the government is purposely hiding. It's an obvious story, that has been done many times, and I feel like we are past that point. It's no longer shocking that the government is lying. So, the story relies on other things, like the pace, the acting and the cinematography - all of which are average. I liked the movie; I was interested while watching it. I just couldn't help but think how great it would have been if it came out in 1999, instead of 2014.

2. Jeremy Renner returns to acting - While it's a satisfying performance, it's nothing to rave about. However, I am very happy that Renner has returned to a dramatic acting role. With the latest string of Avengers, Bourne and Witch Hunter roles, I was getting incredibly nervous for his career. He is such a strong actor, I was afraid we were losing this talent for the "big blockbuster" roles. He was strong in American Hustle, but that performance (and the movie) felt a bit "showy" to me. And we was in The Immigrant, but it wasn't really memorable at all. Do you remember his performance in The Town? Because it was fucking brilliant. I still get chills from that scene. Of course, there is also his sublime performance in The Hurt Locker, as well. THIS is the Jeremy Renner that I want in my life, on the big screen.

3. The ending - *spoilers, if you don't already know the story* - Even though the story is obvious and well-known, I wasn't really familiar with it. So, I kept thinking - how do they corroborate that this is, in fact, a "true story". It's told mostly from his perspective, so we only know what he is telling us, yet his "facts" have been disproved. As an audience, we are supposed to believe him, but it would have been a much stronger story if it were all a lie. The movie ends with a written narrative of what happens after the movie - and boy, is it depressing. First, some of his findings are found truthful - and fully admitted by the government, but it was overshadowed by Clinton's controversy. Second, he committed suicide! Man, what a soul-destroying fucking ending. Not really very motivated for the truth-seekers of the world.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

3 Thoughts on Gone Girl

*Slight spoilers*
1. It's a Lifetime movie, with slightly better acting - Okay...that seems a bit harsh, but that is honestly how I felt while watching it. My initial reaction to the movie was utter disappointment, but I like to let movies sink in, give them a chance to fully develop into my brain. I thought that after a week (or 2) that I would feel differently, but I don't. I really, really wanted to like it and I thought that I was going to love it. So my disappointment comes as a HUGE shock to me. My problem with the movie is the story, itself. I guess I should have been more skeptical, since the book was such a huge hit with the "masses". I haven't read it (and now I absolutely never will), but I assume it is written the same way as this movie (since Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay) and it feels very condescending. It's feels like the same people who enjoy the book are the same people who are portrayed as idiots in the movie (the idiots who make snap judgments based on little proof and spread gossip based on hearsay).  I don't know about you, but I like to think that I am smarter than that. My disdain for the story had a huge impact on my general feelings towards the movie, but when I step back and analyze it, I will admit that there are some incredibly captivating shots, some wonderfully dry humor and a strong performance from Ben Affleck. Why everyone else is focusing on Rosamund Pike, I'll probably never understand. She is adequate, but not nearly the "revelation" that she is being praised as. I think the performance would have had a much stronger impact if she had a warmth to her; something that made me connect with her and understand her (in the beginning) so that the *twist* would have been a bigger shock. Although, I'm not sure if her character is written that way or if she was directed that way; so it may not be her fault. This brings me to my next thought:  

2. Is it misogynistic? - The truth is, I don't really care. I don't think that this is what the story is about. However, I do think that there is a clear problem that people have when writing female characters. I'm supposed to believe that this down-to-Earth type guy falls head over heals in love with this woman because she is smart and sophisticated. Yet, she is never, ever, shown as being the least bit nice or friendly (and in contrast, nice and friendly women are often portrayed as ditsy or "messes"). Is it too complicated to write a female character who is both? And to have a male character fall in love with a female character who is smart and nice? Back to the "misogyny" of it all, the reason I don't think it's something this film can be analyzed for is because it's simply about a crazy person. Crazy is a lighthearted word for an absolute complete psychopath. Just because the movie is about a lying, cold-hearted, murderous female, I don't think it is implying that all women are like this. I think the story (the horrible, endless, dumb-as-rocks story) is more about the media sensationalizing murderers and the impact that the media has on our justice system. It's also about the disintegration of a marriage based on lies, financial trouble, jealousy and resentment - and both the female and male characters can be blamed for that.

3. The third act - *major spoilers, obviously* - I don't get it. Are we supposed to be surprised that she is alive? There wasn't one moment in the movie that I didn't think she was alive and that he was innocent. So, I assumed that revelation wasn't actually the big shocking twist. The third act plays out very similar to how I expected it to. The foreshadowing of the previous rape accusation, the fact that her ex is wealthy and still obsessed with her, the pregnancy talk about him giving a semen sample - it's all there, right in front of your face. (side note: can we please stop having female characters lie about being raped? It seems like it's a running trend right now.) Then, the very end is obviously frustrating, but also probably the only thing I actually didn't expect - because it's ridiculous!!! Even if he is feeling the responsibility and guilt of being a father, would he honestly let his child be raised by a psychopath who lies about being raped and oh yeah....SHE MURDERED SOMEONE!?! There are clearly some MAJOR plot miscalculations. The biggest two that bother me are: 1. The girl that she bonds with doesn't recognize her because she puts on glasses?? HAHAHAHAHAHA. Is she Superman? 2. If there are cameras recording every entry way - wouldn't they have picked up her arrival (which was days/weeks (??) after she went missing) and wouldn't they see that she went into the house willingly? The whole story is just so fucking dumb, I can't even think about it anymore.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. 3 Days to Kill - I love Amber Heard. I repeat, I love Amber Heard. She's the ONLY reason I wanted to see this movie. From the trailer, it appears that she is an important role in this story, but sadly, that is not the case. She barely even exists - just shows up from time to time, looking fabulous and reciting vague threats. The movie actually revolves mostly around Kevin Costner trying to bond with his ridiculously bratty daughter. It didn't help that the daughter is played by Hailee Steinfeld and she is AWFUL. How did she ever get an acting job (and even more baffling, how did she get an Academy Award nomination??? It had to be a fluke. I still haven't seen True Grit). Her entitled upper-middle class white girl whine is really grating ("the kind of kid who never had a father to teach her" to ride a bike. Waaaaaaaaaaaaa. Shut.It.). She's definitely the downfall of the movie, but the dialogue is a close second. I actually could predict the next line of dialogue (and I did so, out loud 6 times). The ending didn't make much sense, either - the whole scene was supposed to be the girl's prom, but there were a shitload of adults there (and not just chaperons). It's just plain stupid. It's co-written by Luc Besson and directed by McG, and honestly, it may be the worst thing they both have ever done (and that is saying a lot).

2. Odd Thomas - I was expecting something dark and twisted; something inline with the Dean Koontz books that I used to read as a teenager. The movie is cute. A little too cute. It confused me a bit. I haven't read a Koontz book since 1997 (roughly) and the ones I am familiar with are super thrilling and intense. This movie felt like it was made for pre-teens. Is that how the book is? Did he change his style? Or did the movie just go in a different direction? Anyway, aside from my confusion, the movie is okay - nothing very memorable or special about it. Anton Yelchin is charming and witty in the lead role, but the movie just feels very small and inconsequential.

3. The Double - I really, really love this story - based on the Dostoyevsky novel, which I've never read but now I really, really want to (and actually, I've realized that I've never read ANY Dostoyevsky!? Isn't that weird? Shouldn't I have read Crime and Punishment at some point in my life?). I think the movie is let down by the lead actor, Jesse Eisenberg. I have enjoyed Eisenberg in many roles, but he doesn't have range as an actor. He can play the fast-talking, awkwardly sarcastic asshole better than most, but that's about it. This is a challenging role, and I appreciate his effort but it just doesn't work for me at all. The two characters that he plays feel EXACTLY the same (instead of having subtle nuanced similarities, which I believe is the intention). I do love Mia Wasikowska (she's such a strong presence that I don't even have to look up how to spell her name anymore!), and she always chooses challenging roles and executes them with grace. The movie (directed by Richard Ayoade) is superbly dark and beautiful; haunting and fascinating, had it starred a different actor it surely would have ended in my top 10 of the year (it still might make the top 25). Side note: How cool is that poster?

4. Le Week-End - I love Jim Broadbent, and him dancing to "How Does it Feel" is just so touching, and beautiful - it makes the whole movie worth watching. The movie felt like a future sequel to the Before trilogy, except not quite as well written. I'm not a fan of romantic movies being set in Paris (with the exception of Before Sunset, of course). It just doesn't seem like a very romantic place; it's just like any other big city - too many tourists, all experiencing the same thing - seems very unromantic to me (and if you're wondering: Yes, I've been to Paris and it was very blah). I do like that this movie is about an older couple who are realistically analyzing their relationship. AND he is still sexually attracted to a woman his own age (that like never happens in movies). It's a really sweet, well-acted movie with some insightful dialogue on aging relationships. It must be tough thing to do...imagine being with the same person for 20, 30, 50 years??? Seems so impossible to me.

5. Obvious Child - I thought this was going to be *my* kind of movie. A story challenging a controversial topic with a smart, funny and feminist approach. Then, the beginning happened and my heart sank. What the hell kind of feminist story starts with a woman getting dumped (by an asshole), causing her WHOLE LIFE to be ruined? Have we not come to the conclusion, by now, that most women don't revolve their entire life around men? She literally shuts down, gets completely drunk and leaves him stalker-ish, obsessive messages on his voice mail - leading into "women are batshit crazy" territory. Instead of feeling sympathy for her, I start to conclude that she probably deserved to be dumped because she is a fucking lunatic. Good for him for escaping her crazy train!! I think the writer (too lazy to look it up) is just a little confused. I get that she is purposely comparing a young woman to a young man - as a "child-like" character (men are often written like this and it is somehow acceptable). However, she just seems kinda whiny to me - and extremely dependent on other people (like a child - as the title claims: it's that obvious) and it's hard for me to feel anything but frustration towards her. I was deeply heartbroken and distraught for the first 30 minutes of the movie. Then, it starts to get a little bit better. Not much, but a little. The abortion issue is handled with care and respect; it's presented as something that many (most?) women HAVE to deal with, instead of villainizing it. Although, again, I think the writer is confused. Gabby Hoffman's character goes on a pro-choice tirade about her rights as a women, which include not telling the man who got her pregnant that she is, in fact, pregnant. While my overtly feminist thoughts are clear in most of my posts, one can conclude that I am pro-choice (which is true), but I have a deep, personal, moral objection to the act itself. I know many women (friends and family) who have had abortions and I do not judge, but I would never consider the option for myself. In this complicated view of the topic, my solution is simple (not really, that was sarcasm...but in my head it seems simple): sex education & free condoms (and Christ, can someone invent the male birth control already?). So, while I do agree that it is a woman's choice, I do think it is her responsibility to make sure the man is aware (and that in keeping with "equality" he pays for half of it - and he sits his ass in the waiting room and suffers as much as he can with her). Anyway, I like Jenny Slate a lot, but this script doesn't serve her well - and if that was her actual stand up routines, then I can safely say, I am not a fan of her as a comedian (like really painful). She is really likable, though - and, as she is described, "unapologetically herself". Her performance felt genuine and that is something that I can appreciate. I like the guy too (again, lazy); I really like that he turns out to be a "good guy" (but then again, we saw her crazy in the beginning, so part of me wants to tell him to "RUUUUUUNNNNN!"). Overall, this movie is a clear disappointment for me, but there is some good stuff in there.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

3 Thoughts on The Skeleton Twins

1. It hit me hard - The best thing I can say about any movie is that I have an emotional connection to it. I feel like I ramble sometimes about how I can personally testify to an "issue" or subject matter of a movie; and I don't always know if that's a good thing or not. However, I purposely don't write "reviews" of movies; instead I write my thoughts down - and obviously my thoughts are going to be more personal than critical (although, I do offer a critical and objective perspective sometimes as well). For me, this movie was tough to watch (in a good way). I didn't expect it to hit me as hard as it did; simply because it's about siblings reconnecting and I am an only child. I don't really fully understand a sibling relationship and I never will. However, I didn't know that the movie is also **slightly spoilery territory ahead** about suicide and depression. I had someone who I was very close to (and probably the closest person I had to being a "sibling" while growing up) commit suicide and I will never wake up in the morning and not feel guilt. No amount of therapy or people telling me that there is nothing I could do will EVER change my mind. I know deep down in my heart that I could have helped. It caused a deep separation in my family because I was not made aware of the situation; and also because, in some way (that no one will ever admit), it should have been me. I am the one with the fucked up childhood; I am the one who is introverted and "depressed"; I am the one who chooses to live alone and has no plans of procreating. In my family's eyes, I would have been an easier (expected) loss. From a very young age, I realized that depression and addiction is in my blood and I was never going to let it control me and I think this is why I am still alive today. I made a decision (at the age of 5 years old) and I stuck to it. While watching this movie, I realized that I connected with both siblings in different ways. With Maggie, my insides screamed "seeeeee this is why I choose to be alone". Maggie chooses to conform to ideals (like marriage) knowing full-well that these ideals are not who she is and it almost kills her. There is so much pressure for people to find a partner, get married and have kids (it's 2014 for fuck sake!) - that people automatically assume that one who doesn't live like this (or want to live like this) is "depressed". Guess what? That's a big, fat lie. I live my life EXACTLY how I want to live my life - and I do this to avoid depression. Like I said, it's in my blood - so coming home to a quiet apartment, popping in a movie and cuddling with my cats is self-preservation. It's what keeps me sane. With Milo, I connect with his expectations for life. I love that he addresses the "it gets better" mentality that is instilled in children now. Um....NO IT DOESN'T. If I grew up thinking it was going to get better; I would probably be dead by now. The older you get, the more chances there are for bad shit to happen. People you love are going to die. Chances are, you won't have your dream job and if you do, it probably won't pay enough to support the lifestyle that you want. You probably won't find your soul-mate and if you do, they will probably disappoint you (or die). AND you will continue to meet shitty people who are ignorant assholes every single fucking day. That's the world we live in; the challenges we will face. I'm not implying that we shouldn't teach our children to dream of a better world for themselves (I'm a big believer in the dreamers of the world). I just think we need to set realistic expectations for what lies ahead. Instead of feeding lies to young people, why not re-direct our energy? My theory is: "it's not going to get better unless YOU make it better". Do what you love. Support and respect the people you love. The end.

2. The chemistry - The reason that this movie works so well, and that I connected to it so much is because of the chemistry between Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. It's absolute perfection. I honestly felt like I was watching actual siblings. I've discussed my recent love for Kristen Wiig before, so I will focus on Bill Hader. Wow. This is a game-changing performance. In the same way that Wiig impressed me with Bridesmaids (the reason that movie was successful is because of the emotional performance from Wiig), Hader goes from sarcastic wit to heartbreaking and soul-crushing depth within seconds. I know he will never be "officially" recognized for this performance, but to me, it's in the same league as other stand-out male performances from this year (McAvoy, Law, Hardy). Another surprising performance is from Luke Wilson. His character is described as a Golden Retriever (or wait...was it a Lab? Doesn't matter), and he plays the role with a perfect amount of aloofness. He is sort of an innocent bystander to it all. Of course, the writers (Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson) should be given proper credit, as well. Their words jump off the screen with the perfect amount of cynicism, humor and insight. It's a simple story, but it's told really well and acted superbly - sometimes, that's all a movie needs.

3. The song - Clearly, the best part of the movie is the lip-syncing scene featuring Starship's "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now". Part of it is featured in the trailer; and it pretty much sealed the deal about my excitement for the movie. It's super cute. I was happy that the scene in the movie is actually much funnier than the little clip in the trailer (and obviously longer) and that the scene , itself, really captivates the relationship that these siblings shared as kids. After I saw the trailer, the song remained in my head for months (it's such a good song - I can't believe that I completely forgot it existed!). I thought it was a coincidence that I heard it twice in one day about a week before I saw this movie, but now it's clear that this movie is bringing this song back. I've heard it another 6 times on the radio since watching the movie (about 2 weeks ago) and I don't even listen to the radio very often (just to and from work - which is only 2 miles from my house). It's a song that will forever be linked to this movie from now on. A smile appears on my face just thinking about it; and I honestly can't wait to watch it over and over again in its entirety.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Need For Speed - What a stupid fucking movie. Excuse me, I mean a stupid fucking LONG movie. It lasts for FOREVER. I'm not sure why Aaron Paul would choose this garbage as his follow up from his multi-award winning performance in Breaking Bad. He had to have thousands of screenplays thrown his way. Why choose one of the dumbest films of the year? There is nothing redeemable about it. I thought I didn't like Imogen Poots in another terrible film this year, That Awkward Moment, but now I know that I definitely don't like her. She is supremely annoying in this movie. The movie is hollow, generic and, worst of all, boring. I actually like dumb action movies (like The Fast and the Furious franchise), but this is just too dumb and the action just wasn't interesting enough. Nothing that hasn't been done before. This will definitely be on my "worst of 2014" list.

2. Dom Hemingway - Super disappointed by this movie. It's still good, but I just think my expectations were too high. I love Jude Law; I think he's one of the best actors working right now. He is excellent in some of my favorite movies (The Talented Mr. Ripley, eXistenZ, I Heart Huckabees, Gattaca). However, recently he's made some poor choices in movies (minus Side Effects, which he is fantastic in). This movie is perfect for him to showcase his talent; and he does. That's really all the movie has going for it, though. Just a really strong central performance. Otherwise, the movie is a little full of itself. It's not nearly as outrageous as it pretends to be - it's actually pretty dull. It's also disturbing that Emilia Clarke plays Jude's daughter! AAAAAHHHH. That makes me feel so old. It's unacceptable, really.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - I'm not a super huge fan of the first Captain America. I didn't hate it or anything, but I wasn't overly fussed by it. Chris Evans isn't my favorite in the role. I like him in other things, but he bores me as Captain America. He's a little bit better in this sequel, but he also shares the screen much more (which helps tremendously). I've seen so much talk about Sebastian Stan as The Winter Soldier, but I didn't realize that he's the same guy that plays Carter Baizen from Gossip Girl. Hahaha....that's who all the girls have been freaking out about? Sorry, I don't get it. I also had a lot of the movie ruined for me because I watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as it aired - and they did the whole "Hail Hydra" thing during the release of this movie in the theater. To be fair, it's my own fault for not seeing it in a timely manner, but then again, if I wasn't a huge fan of the first, I didn't really see the need to see this during its theater run. I did start to get intrigued by all of the positive reviews, but it still wasn't enough to drag my ass to the theater. I did like this movie - it's 100X better than the first movie. There are some really intense scenes (mostly involving the famed Winter Soldier), it takes a lot of risks, and the dialogue is a lot snappier ("all the guys from my barbershop quartet are dead").  I'm not a fan of Scarlett as Black Widow, which I've stated several times, so I won't dwell on it....but she is terrible in this movie. So boring. I know I'm supposed to be happy with a female superhero getting this much attention, but she's so fucking dull. I can't even feign excitement for her character. I wish Falcon was featured more, because I love Anthony Mackie, but I think he is going to be featured heavily in future Marvel movies (hopefully).

4. Nymphomaniac: Volume II - Most of what I wanted to say about von Trier, I said with my Volume I entry, but I wanted to do a separate entry for Volume II since it was so different. I am happy that the film focused more on Charlotte's character as an adult (which equals more Charlotte, whom I adore), but I am really disappointed by Volume II. While von Trier focused the first volume on a young girl exploring her sexual awakening/obsession, the second volume explores a woman trying to gain sexual sensation after she falls in love (and then went numb for unexplained reasons). Her answer is to resort to BDSM - and it's not erotic, at all. It's a dangerous implication that women with sexual issues need to be dominated and have violent acts performed on them in order to lesson their guilt. There is a thin line that links violence and sex/ pleasure and pain - and von Trier crosses it. About half-way through this volume, I was done. I just had enough of the story and felt like it just became so repetitive and boring. I understand von Trier's need for two separate movies; and I actually like the way the stories are separated but the first volume is a much stronger entry.

5. Non-Stop - It's a silly, forgettable thriller, but it had my attention the whole time. Liam Neeson is always watchable, in my opinion. I think it's a little out-dated with the whole "let me show you how unsafe airport security really is". We already know that it's terrible. However, I got thrown by the multiple twists and turns - although I fully expected the "bad guy" to be 1 of 3 passengers (you know, one of the famous people). They did throw me off by having several bigger names in small roles. First, I saw Corey Stoll, and thought "bad guy duh", but then Scoot McNairy appeared and it threw off my instinct. Plus, Michelle Dockery and Lupita Nyong'o as flight attendants, both with very little to do, I thought that one of them may be involved. And of course, the obvious one - Julianne Moore. She's an A-list actress in a bit part, so....she's gotta be involved. So, while the film can be criticized for not utilizing it's all-star cast, it actually served the suspenseful plot well. In the end, I gave up on the guessing game and just got caught up with the plot - genuinely surprised at the outcome. However, the reason the "bad guy" decided to kill people in order to prove his point, is absolutely the most ridiculous, absurd, and just plain stupid reason of all-time. It ruins the movie a bit - making a solid 4 star movie, an iffy 3 star movie.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall TV Preview: 8 New Shows

1. Gotham - The show that I am *most* excited for this Fall. I can't say I'm that excited about the Fall television season, as a whole. I think I've given up on the Networks - continuously introducing good shows and then cancelling them before they gain an audience (ahem...Almost Human).  I was excited by the announcement of Gotham as a television series, because the whole "prequel" to Batman can be a really cool idea. Then, they announced Ben McKenzie as one of the leads, and I squealed with joy. Sure, I am completely biased - Ryan Atwood is probably my favorite male character of all time (and my soulmate) - but McKenzie really gained my respect with his role in SouthLAnd. It was a completely different role, in which he struggled at first, but by the end of the series he was giving Emmy worthy performances in every episode. I can see this show succeeding if they tell the story well, and develop the characters (basically, be more Arrow and less Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). However, the show is on Fox, so it must be good right away because Fox will never give it a chance to grow (yup, still bitter).

2. How to Get Away with Murder - I'm not super excited by this show, but it's a Shonda Rhimes show. I'm a huge fan of Scandal, and I used to be a huge fan of Grey's Anatomy (I'm still a fan, but I think the show has just worn out its welcome). Also, Viola Davis is an incredible actress. It's a huge step forward for television to have a Thursday night lineup of female-driven dramas and they are advertising it as that. It's genius and I think this show is going to do very well.

3. The Flash - I'm obsessed with Arrow, and I love the episodes that introduced the Flash character. Also, Grant Gustin is absolutely perfect. He nailed his role in Glee and brought some life to that series, before it went full brain-dead. He will shine as the Flash. I like that the creators realized that they didn't need another muscle-bound tough guy for this role (nothing against Stephen Amell. Nothing at all. I enjoy those shirtless workout scenes immensely). Since the Flash has actual super powers, the traditional super-hero casting requirements are not relevant. I hope the series follows in the footsteps of Arrow, in that it moves quickly, has surprising turns and maintains witty, realistic dialogue.

4. Red Band Society - I really don't know anything about this show. I saw one commercial and it featured Octavia Spencer, and I thought "eh...maybe", but then I realized that Dave Annable is in it. I LOVE him. He grew up in the town next to mine and we are very close in age - I feel a weird loyalty to him. I want him to succeed. I loved him in Brothers & Sisters and I liked him in 666 Park Avenue (another show that was canceled before it found its footing). Anyway, I'll watch the show out of loyalty, but I don't expect it to last (because it's on Fox. STILL BITTER).

5. Stalker - New horror show from Kevin Williamson? Yes, please! I know that The Following is absolutely ludicrous, but I enjoy it anyway. Also, I like Dylan McDermott (what happened to his last show, Hostages? I assume it was also cancelled? I liked that show. Damn.) and Maggie Q is alright (I don't know if she can hold a show. I gave up on Nikita about 1/2 way through season 2, which is rare for me). Having recently dealt with a stalker, this show will probably scare the crap out of me. Someone remind me not to watch it alone at night.

6. The Affair - PACEY!!! Joshua Jackson will ALWAYS be Pacey - even though he did branch out in Fringe (an amazing show), I even started to refer to him as his Fringe character name, but I don't even remember what that was now....Jonathon? Justin? Something with a J maybe?.  He's reverted back to Pacey. And I will follow him anywhere. I'm glad this show is on Showtime, because it pretty much guarantees it will be good. Have they made a bad show? Genuine question.

7. Gracepoint - Another show on Fox, so I'm obviously nervous about its survival, but wow....David Tennant and Anna Gunn. I don't see this show going wrong. I've had Broadchurch on my "to watch list" since I heard about it (more for Olivia Coleman), but it hasn't been available to watch in the U.S until very recently (and as of now, it's only on disc - can't find it streaming anywhere). I will still watch the original, but I am excited by this remake since it has Tennant reprising the role and I think Gunn is a satisfying replacement for Coleman. Although, it does seem much easier for them just to release the original American remakes always seem weird to me.

8. Marry Me - The new comedies this season look atrocious (case in point: Selfie), but this is the one that I'll watch. I'm not usually one for shows or movies about a couple getting married, but it's Casey Wilson (of one of the best recent comedy series Happy Endings) and Ken Marino (of many things, but also from another one of the best comedy series Party Down). I think I would watch anything that starred the two of them. It's also from the same creator as Happy Endings, David Caspe, which is super-duper exciting. I miss that show so much.