Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Guest - I heard really good things about this movie, plus it is from the same people who are behind You're Next. I really, really liked that movie. It didn't scare me, like I was hoping it would, but I still thought it was really cool. It had a great cast, it was well-written, had great surprises and a killer soundtrack. I feel the same way about this movie. It was not what I was expecting, at all. I figured it would be predictable; a guest turns out to be a serial killer - not exactly new territory. However, the whole military thing, throws the story in a new direction, and then the even bigger Bourne style twist is super cool. I think the only issue that I have, is the ending. It's way over the top and I started to lose interest. Overall, though, I was impressed. Not quite as strong as You're Next, but I appreciate the effort - and look forward to the next project. I didn't really think Dan Stevens was hot on Downton Abbey, and I didn't even really recognize that it was him in this movie. He is HOT, in this movie - like a Ryan Gosling, quiet, mysterious type of hot. He's quite good in this movie. Also, is this what has become of Ethan Embry?!? A two minute cameo in a horror movie? How sad is that?

2. Frank - I guess I just don't "get it". I saw this movie on several "Best of" lists, from people who I usually trust, and.....I just don't get it. I liked the beginning; I even laughed at a few things, but after 40 minutes, I was bored to death. It was just so repetitive, and then it got downright depressing (and not in the good way; in the "why the fuck am I watching this" way). Another thing I don't get: Domhnall Gleeson. I mean, he's cute in an awkward sort of way, but he's also really annoying. Also, Michael Fassbender with an American accent? NO, THANKS. It was so hard to listen to (it sounded like James McAvoy's American accent in Wanted, which was terrible, but at least I got to look at James McAvoy for 2 hours). I just....don't get it.

3. This is Where I Leave You - Probably one of the best assembled casts of 2014, but such an awful, boring, trite movie. I just don't get movies about families like this, that are supposedly "dysfunctional"; it's just silly to think that these people don't understand how lucky they are. They have problems (just like literally every single person on Earth), AND they have a built in support system (unlike many people), so in my head, I just shout "shut the fuck up!". The best part of the movie is Rose Byrne (she is always the best in everything, except, maybe Damages because Glenn Close rules), and she's not in it nearly enough. I didn't like Adam Driver in Girls (from the one and only season I somehow managed to get through), but I thought it was just because his character is annoying as fuck, but no...I don't like him in this either. His timing seems to be off with every line he says (which is a problem in this movie because he was given many of the "funny" lines that land with a big fat thud). I don't see him as the "star" that some are making him out to be. The story was pretty predictable, although there are some surprises that I felt like were thrown in as an afterthought. Overall, it lands on my worst list of 2014, because there is just nothing of any entertainment or artistic value of note.

4. Let's Be Cops - This should be a funny movie, but it really isn't. It's just dumb. It makes me really appreciate 21 (and 22) Jump Street, because it's similar "buddy cop for the new generation" territory, but it's done so poorly. I like both of the leads, and I like their chemistry on New Girl, but it just doesn't translate on film well. It's set up as two nice guys who can't catch a break, but they both seem like assholes from the very beginning, so I don't really root for them. Plus, I don't really understand how girls suddenly think they are hot because they put on a cop uniform (but I've never really understood the cop, thing. You fundamentally HAVE to be an asshole to be a cop. It's just part of the job description. I have respect for most cops and appreciate that they devote their life to keeping people safe, but I would never, ever date a cop. Period.). The best part of the movie is Elena from The Vampire Diaries, only because I love her, and have a super, duper crush on her because she is perfect (and she is also my yoga inspiration). She is a better actress than this movie, though. You can laugh at that if you want, considering she is on a CW show, but she plays two roles incredibly well on that show. She's going to surprise everyone, one day.

5. Brick Mansions - I knew this movie wasn't going to be very good, but it looked like a fun action movie. Overall, it's not good at all, but there are some fun actions scenes - like the scene with the bricks shattering the windshields. It's totally insane and soooo much fun. I wanted more scenes like that, though. I met RZA a long time ago (I did promotion for Wu-Tang Clan's "Gravel Pit" video. I used to be cool, back in the day.). He was super nice, as was the rest of the group. I can't say anything nice about his acting, though. It's just....not good. Paul Walker has never been known as a strong actor, either, but sometimes he can still pull of roles because you can tell he is having fun (like with The Fast and the Furious movies). That's not the case with this movie. He takes it a little too seriously, and it just doesn't work. I do kind of want to watch the original version of this movie, because it does have some commentary on class warfare, but this version ignores the politics in favor of fight scenes. They even set it in Detroit, too, which is genius, considering the devastation that the city has been going through. There is just so much to say and none of it was said.

Friday, January 23, 2015

3 Thoughts on Inherent Vice

1. It's totally bonkers - It's weird, hypnotic, hilarious and only vaguely cohesive, but somehow it made for an amazing cinematic experience. I say that because if I watched this at home, I would have hated it. The plot is extremely hard to follow, and the multiple characters all seem inconsequential if you don't pay attention. Sometimes, when I am at home, I lose focus on the movie that I'm watching in favor of the Internet, chores, playing hide and seek with my cats, etc,. So, I'm glad that I chose to watch this in the cinema and fully grasp all of the details, the humor, and the genius behind it. There's a sense that you're not really meant to grasp all of it on one viewing. There is also a sense that there are actually two different narratives unfolding, but one of them isn't actually happening (outside of Doc's head), which causes the discrepancies in characters and plot. There is just something so odd and cool about it; I walked out of the theater completely satisfied in the experience. And I laughed. A lot.

2. Joaquin Phoenix is perfect - He's just so fucking weird and cool; just like this movie. While I always recognized his talent, there has always been something inherently sad about him and I think it was a valid projection of sadness that people of my generation have towards him. I still, to this day, can't look at Joaquin and not think of River. It's impossible. Lately, though, I think Phoenix has used this sadness to his advantage (Her, The Master - both Oscar-worthy performances), mixed with these absolutely eccentric characters (this movie and I'm Still Here), proving that he's certainly a well-rounded actor. I still laugh when I think about I'm Still Here. It's one of the funniest (and weirdest) movies/performances I've ever seen (and the marketing campaign behind it is so surreal). His performance in Inherent Vice, is perfectly timed with subtle hilarity and downright absurdity.

3. PTA's filmography - While I always found something to contemplate and respect in Paul Thomas Anderson's movies, I was never a fan until There Will Be Blood (which is a rare "perfect movie"). I thought it would be the exception out of his filmography for me, but then The Master came out and I was pretty blown away by it, as well. It made me re-evaluate my thoughts on PTA, because I realized that I was probably too young to "get" Boogie Nights (I enjoyed it, mildly) and Magnolia (I loathed, with a passion). Now that PTA has impressed me three times in a row, I think these two films deserve a second chance. I mean, what if PTA is actually one of my favorite filmmakers and I didn't even realize it??? Also, if I'm being honest, I think I've always had a "fuck you" attitude about him because Fiona Apple is MY GIRL! She is my lyrical soulmate and she has admitted that some of the real, heartbreaking lyrics are about her relationship with him. I will try to push those feelings aside though, and give his earlier work a second look.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oscar Nominations: The Good, the Bad, and The Snubbed

While I don't feel like I can truly judge the nominations this year, considering I haven't seen most of the "awards favorites", I still have some opinions: 

The Good: 

-BRADLEY COOPER FUCK YES! Definitely my favorite performance of the year.

-Paul Thomas Anderson - Adapted Screenplay for Inherent Vice (I just saw this today, and it might make my Top 10 of 2014).

-Big Hero 6 for Animated Feature

-Interstellar for Production Design, Sound Design & Visual Effects (Hey...at least it's something!)

-Ummmm....Bradley Cooper!

The Bad: 

-The Fucking Grand Budapest Hotel. Seriously, what the fuck?! Am I the only one who didn't like it?

-Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl. Aside from the stupid fucking screenplay, she was the worst part of the movie. I would have been okay with Ben Affleck scoring a nod, or even David Fincher (there are some really striking, beautiful shots), but I just can't with Pike.

-I can't comment on the other nominees because I haven't seen any of the other nominated movies (which makes me really sad) - out of 8 nominees, I've only seen 2 of them (and I hated 1 of those).

The Snubbed:

-Too many to count, really. Never a bad thing when there are too many movies/performances to consider, but this year the critics and I were on different pages. Here are just some of the movies/people I feel deserved recognition:

-Under the Skin - For something, anything! Best Picture, Editing, Screenplay, Sound Design (that one should have been a given), Cinematography....ANYTHING!

-Jake Gyllenhaal. Nightcrawler is a strong film (not in my personal Top 10, but it's still good), but his performance is really great. While I'm happy that Cooper snuck in a nomination, I'm sad that Gyllenhaal is the one he pushed out. Renee Russo gave a fantastic supporting performance, too.

-Essie Davis for The Babadook. Rare for a horror movie to have that much of an impact and most of it can be credited to her.

-Joaquin Phoenix. He's perfect in Inherent Vice (and PTA really should have received a directing nomination, too, but I will settle for the screenplay one).

-Screenplay for The Skeleton Twins (an actor nod for Bill Hader would have been a beautiful thing, too)

-Tom Hardy. Wasn't the biggest fan of Locke (I liked it, but I didn't love it), but his performance was mesmerizing.

-Christopher Nolan for Interstellar. Hoyte van Hoytema for cinematography. Seriously, it's one hell of a film - how on Earth do these two not get recognized by The Academy?

-I have many more, but I'll just write one more. One that is a bit "out there": Shailene Woodley for The Fault in Our Stars. For real.

3 Thoughts on American Sniper

1. Bradley Cooper owns this movie - Honestly, I can't think of any other reason to see it. The movie itself is....average (more on this below), but this is a performance of a lifetime. I have been a Bradley Cooper fan for 14 years (holy shit, I'm old), since his Will Tippin days. Alias is one of my all-time favorite shows, and his character was just the best. However, it wasn't until a few years later with Wedding Crashers, that I really realized that Cooper can act. It seemed like such an odd movie to come to this realization, but the fact is, he played a complete and utter douchebag in Wedding Crashers, and it was NOTHING like Will Tippin. I followed his career ever since - from the starring role in Kitchen Confidential (a show that I actually really enjoyed), to guest starring on Nip/Tuck (an incredible, memorable role), to supporting roles in Yes Man (I even endured He's Just Not That Into You - just for him). I am so happy that he is a full-blown movie star. He deserved the hype, but now he deserves an Oscar. This performance is stunning. Bradley Cooper, himself, is a very charismatic person (watch any interview and try not to smile), and I think that has shown through in every role prior to this. With this role, there is not even an ounce of Bradley Cooper in it. There are parts where his character, Chris Kyle (based on a real person), is charismatic, but it's in a different, Texas military man, sort of way. As a liberal New Yorker (New Jerseyan now...same difference, really), who is anti-guns, anti-violence, anti-war, etc, I think it's incredible that I felt like I understood the choices that someone like Chris Kyle made. Some of this can be credited to the writing, but for the most part I credit Cooper. He balanced the external confidence of these choices, with the internal consequences of these choices. The fact is, while Kyle may have killed 160+ people, he saved an immeasurable number of lives, and truly believed that he was fighting for American freedom.

2. The "true story" - Aside from the main performance, the only other interesting aspect is that it's based on a true, and very sad, story. The thing is, I felt like I've seen it before. There have been many movies about post-9/11 America - from a war aspect, and from a PTSD aspect. It didn't really feel like anything new. The movie is also very long, and a little too cold in my opinion. It's problematic that it is based on his memoirs because it becomes "his truth", which is definitely interesting, but I felt like other perspectives are needed. It's a strong movie, but I don't know, it just felt like something was missing. It would have been stronger, for me, if we had the perspective of the "other" sniper, instead of him just being "the bad guy" who doesn't have a voice at all. Overall, I hardly find this movie to be Oscar worthy (nominated for Best Picture and Adapted Screenplay), but it's still worth it to see such a strong, central performance (Cooper was nominated too! I hope he wins).

3. All of the pretty faces - Obviously, Bradley Cooper is the prettiest of all the faces, but there were some crazy good-looking supporting actors (and one actress) in this movie. Sienna Miller is not a strong presence in this movie, but she is very beautiful. She is almost unrecognizable, though, in this role with her long, dark hair and makeup-less face. I haven't seen her in a while, so I wasn't expecting her to look so much older (and we are the same age, I've just always thought of her as younger than me...and now she looks older. It's weird.). Other noticeable pretty faces: the guy who plays the new Jason on General Hospital, Joel from Parenthood, Jake McDorman, Jonathan Groff and Luke Grimes. Well done, boys.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

4 Thoughts on The Golden Globes

1. The Hosts - I just love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. They are perfect together and they killed this opening monologue. There really weren't any missteps in the beginning. However, as the show went into the North Korea jokes over and over (and over) again, I can't stick up for them. It was just so dumb and boring and it already felt old (I mean, come on...that was like a whole month ago!!). There is still a lot to love, though. My favorite jokes were the George Clooney "Lifetime Achievement Award" gag, the Emma Stone Big Eyes comparison, the "Who would you rather?" skit and the Joaquin Phoenix dis (his wave just made it oh so perfect).

2. The Show - I turned it on about an hour into the live show (I dvr'd it), and aside from the beginning monologue, I was so bored. I fast-forwarded through most of it; and ended up catching up within 30 minutes. The only funny presenters were Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader (absolutely genius; and I loved the way she kept giggling at her own impressions), and Chris Pratt and Anna Faris (love). Even Ricky Gervais disappointed, and I am huge fan (fuck the haters). The winners were mostly annoying - especially Amy Adams who claimed that she "wasn't prepared". It was definitely the least genuine speech of the night. Fuck right off, Amy Adams (I love her, so I'm kidding, obviously). It was fun seeing Julianna Margulies and George Clooney on stage together (HUGE ER fan), but the Cecil B. Demille award? Really? I'm a massive fan, but he just seems too young (and his career didn't really kick off until after Out of Sight, which was 1998 - and that's only 16 years; not exactly "lifetime" status). I hated at the end, when they started rushing everyone because the show was going over in time. I bet they cut some actual funny stuff, which is a shame. 

3. The Winners - I don't have a lot to say about the winners this year, because shockingly, I haven't seen most of the nominated films or tv shows. I knew I would be out of the loop for movies. 2014 wasn't the strongest movie year, for me. I still have a lot to see (even the two big ones are still on my list, Boyhood and Birdman), but in all honesty, nothing is urgent. My favorite dramas of the year, Under the Skin, Interstellar, and I, Origins all received mixed reactions, while my favorite comedy, The Skeleton Twins was inexplicably ignored. Plus, I really hated The Grand Budapest Hotel. It actually made my worst list (but it's already been bumped off). Having seen so little of the nominated movies, I don't think I can fairly judge their winning picks (I can, however, judge the nominations themselves. Having just seen American Sniper, Bradley Cooper is stunning. I can't imagine a better performance. It's better than my previous pick, Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler). I thought I would, at least, have a good grasp of the television side of the show, but man, Gina Rodriguez from Jane the Virgin?! I've never seen the show, but the main reason why I've never watched it, is because the commercials look horrendous; the acting is the worst part. Then, Transparent, took home some of the big drama awards, and I've never seen it (but it's on my list). I'm glad that Fargo beat True Detective. I didn't expect it to, but I think it's a better show. Also, the more I think about True Detective, the less I like the show. It has some amazing elements and some stunning camerawork, but the show, overall is slightly above average. When you compare that to current shows (several of which are stunning), there is no comparison. I am probably the only person who really, truly loves The Affair. I love everything about it. It's definitely my favorite new show of this past season, however, it's not the best drama on television (that title belongs to Mad Men, which I assume wasn't eligible for this year's Globes, otherwise this awards show is truly a joke). There are also other snubbed dramas, like The Americans, Parenthood etc. that are better. And there is also The Good Wife, which I am only on season 4 of, but if it gets as good as most people say, then it has to be incredible (because it's already solid). I'm still happy for The Affair winning, just because I loved watching all of the people on twitter flip their shit over a show they haven't even watched. Let's all remember, this is the awards show that once nominated The Tourist; it's really not that serious. 

4. The Fashion - The one positive note I can say about the show, is that I LOVED most of the fashion, and that hasn't happened in while. Usually I have two or three dresses that I love and I hate the rest, but this year there are like a dozen dresses that I loved. First, best overall stunner, was Jessica Chastain (OBVI). My second favorite was Leslie Mann (she is my style icon. Always and forever.). Other dresses/looks that I adored: Michelle Monogan (slip dresses are hard to wear, and she looked glorious), Ruth Wilson (so weird, and kind of ugly, but the good kind of ugly...if that makes sense. It looks like something I would wear), Sienna Miller (who suddenly has me considering chopping off my hair and dying it blonde. If only I looked like her afterwards! That deep v dress, though. It's just perfection), Emma Stone (who wore pants! And looked fucking SEXY), and a special shout-out to Amy Poehler's necklace (I'm a sucker for a funky statement necklace). The dresses that I didn't like, in no particular order: Katie Holmes (bridesmaid), Salma Hayek (Bride) and Kerri Washington (maid of honor). And the most unflattering dress I may have ever seen was worn by Rosamund Pike, who I've never really been a huge fan of, but I think she is averagely pretty. This dress made her look....just....not good. Not good, at all. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Wish I Was Here - I have always been a fan of Zach Braff (huge Scrubs fan), but the whole Kickstarter thing did annoy me a bit. I don't think successful people (with big pockets) should be able to utilize the site to solicit money from their fans. If you have enough money to fund your passion, then YOU should fund it. However, I do understand why fans would fork over their hard earned cash to get something made. If someone wanted to make an ALIAS movie, I would donate faster than you can say "Milo Rambaldi" (and I would hate myself for it). I was a fan of Garden State, but I didn't think it was life-changing or anything. This movie, from the trailer, did not look anything like Garden State. It seemed overly sentimental, cheesy and lacking any kind of depth whatsoever. Needless to say, I was not excited to see it. It turned out better than I thought, in some ways, and worse than I thought, in other ways. First, I thought his daughter was the sick one (and it's even referenced in the scene with Turk). I knew the father was, too - so that seemed like a lot of depressing stuff for one movie. I am glad that I was wrong; the daughter is fine. The movie is more about just enjoying life and following your dreams (still cheese central), but it wasn't as depressing as I was prepared for it to be. Second, I really, really like that the movie is about a Jewish family - and addresses the Jewish faith from a modern point of view. As someone who was partially raised by a very typical Jewish grandmother, it was refreshing to see a realistic portrayal of characters that didn't feel pummeled with stereotypes. I also think it has some strong father/son moments, while addressing the pressure that is placed on some men to provide for their family. As his father says, in so many words, the pursuit of happiness is not from God, that's the American dream; God wants you to provide for your family. It's sad that someone would discourage their child from following their dream, but sometimes, it makes sense, as to why they do. These two things made the movie quite interesting, but the acting and some of the dialogue really lets the story down. Zach Braff was the biggest let down, his acting was awkward (and not in the usual good awkward way), it felt like he was trying too hard. I've never been a fan of Kate Hudson (even thought she is super adorable, and I am a HUGE Goldie Hawn fan), and I had to endure TWO movies with her, in the same week (see below).

2. Good People - My mom picked this movie (out of EVERYTHING that Netflix has to offer), and I really was not happy. Kate Hudson and James Franco in a movie together; one that was released just last year, yet, I've never heard of it. There is no way it could be good. And it isn't. It's terrible. The plot is ridiculously stupid. Like, scream at the television kind of stupid. The stupidest part of all is the Home Alone ending. It was completely predictable and just so, so ridiculous. The odd part, though, is that they include several shots of this huge chandelier hanging from the ceiling for absolutely no reason at all. My mom even noticed it and questioned it. I assumed it was some sort of foreshadowing, but nope - just random shots of an old chandelier. James Franco can be a good actor when he sets his mind to it, but I just can't take him seriously after his stint on General Hospital. I just can't. This movie will definitely make my list of worst movies of 2014 (I already made my list, but I always do an updated list in July, after I've actually seen everything that I want to see).

3. I, Frankenstein - Everyone trashed this movie. I mean, it has a 3% on Rotten Tomatoes. I don't always go by RT ratings, but a 3% is pretty telling. It's really bad. Not in the "so bad, it's good" category, either. I love Yvonne Strahovski, so I thought that, at least, I could watch a hot girl kick some supernatural ass, but no....she's a scientist. A really bland scientist. Don't even ask me what the plot is, because the most I could put together is "It's about Frankenstein's monster in the middle of a war between gargoyles and demons. And a scientist does some sciency stuff.". The worst part is the special effects; especially the gargoyles. Just everything about it is poorly executed. Another film that will be added to my worst of 2014 list.

4. If I Stay - This is an ok movie; nothing special or truly memorable about it, really. The whole movie is in the trailer, which I actually did watch (it played before something in the movie theater) and it is extremely predictable right to the very end (*spoiler* the letter is obviously going to be the deciding factor). The movie is basically about deciding to live, and I don't know, if my mother, father and brother all died in a car accident, I don't think I would be too keen on staying alive (I don't have a brother, and it would actually be a blessing if my father died, but you get my point). The movie reminded me a lot of the movie The Invisible (with the ever adorable Justin Chatwin. Where has he been?), but I liked that movie a bit more. I usually like Chloe Grace Moretz, but her acting is very up and down in this movie. There are two very painfully acted scenes - the one where she talks to her brother in the hospital and the one where she is crying on the hospital floor - both of which are supposed to be emotional. She can act, so I'm not quite sure what went wrong here. There are two things I really like about this movie, though. One: the slow, haunting version of "Halo" is so good it gave me chills. Two: the quote "You're supposed to break up with someone because you're not in love with them, not because you're completely in love with them." Hear, fucking, hear.

5. In Your Eyes - As you might know already, I do not like Zoe Kazan. I do, however, LOVE Joss Whedon, and he wrote this script so I thought I would like the story. I didn't. It's not bad, at all, I just didn't like it. The story is definitely the best part of it, but I feel like the really cool concept isn't fully explored. The idea that these two people are intrinsically linked is pretty awesome - like an overt soul-mate situation, but the way they communicate is a little too weird. They've "felt" each other's existence for 20 years, but now they can suddenly talk to each other? It's not really explained as to why they can communicate this way (it doesn't necessarily have to be explained, but I guess some sort of reason would have been nice - it didn't even have to be realistic, just....something.). I hate the way her husband is represented as a controlling asshole with absolutely no redeeming qualities. I also hate the way everyone around her is deemed a villain, because they are just trying to help someone who seems to have some psychological problems. Honestly, if that was happening to me, I would walk myself into a hospital and say "check me in, please". The movie is cutesy and sweet, but it's just not my thing. It felt like a low budget Nicholas Sparks movie.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Best and Worst Films of 2014


1. Under the Skin
2. Interstellar
3. I Origins
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
5. The Skeleton Twins
6. Filth
7. Enemy
8. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
9. The Babadook
10. Neighbors

*Honorable mentions: 22 Jump Street, Nightcrawler, Begin Again, The Fault in Our Stars (I know, I'm just as surprised as you are about that one), and Big Hero 6

**Still haven't seen: A Most Violent Year, Boyhood, American Sniper, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Inherent Vice, Whiplash, Birdman, Foxcatcher...


1. The Monuments Men
2. Rage
3. What if
4. Transcendence
5. Need For Speed
6. Sex Tape
7. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
8. That Awkward Moment
9. 3 Days to Kill
10. The Grand Budapest Hotel (sorry, but not sorry)