1. Clouds of Sils Maria - I heard so many great things about this movie, but I don't really think I liked it as much as everyone else did. I do think parts of it are great and I absolutely love Juliette Binoche. She is stunning in this movie, as an actress confronted with aging and accepting the younger generation. I read a lot of praise for Kristen Stewart, but I don't think this is her strongest role (she was better in Still Alice). I appreciate that she accepted a role like this, though; A role that puts her own history with the media in focus. I think she has untapped potential, but she needs to push herself into new territory. I feel like her own personality taints every role she's been given, so far. I can also appreciate that this is a movie about two women who respect and support each other. I actually worked as a personal assistant to an actress/producer for about 3 months (she is not famous, but she could be soon as she is a producer on a VERY popular indie movie that was just released). She was not very nice to me, but honestly I wasn't very nice to her either. It wasn't a job that I wanted to do, but I did it because her actual personal assistant needed time off to make a documentary that she was very passionate about. Now that I think about it, though, it's a job that I'm very good at. I love organizing other people's lives. I'm a bit side-tracked now. Back to the movie. I think Chloe Grace Moretz is a bit over her head in this movie. I really like her, but I think she's been really bad in the last couple of movies I've seen her in. Overall, I liked what this movie had to say and I wouldn't argue any awards love that may come Binoche's way, but I've seen it on many "Best of 2015 so Far" lists and it's not even close to being on mine (also, it's a 2014 release...).
2. Unfinished Business - I thought that maybe Dave Franco would save this disaster of a movie and make me laugh at least a few times, but sadly there is no saving this movie. At first, you are meant to think he plays this really naive 30 year old who is sort of annoying and ridiculously under-developed, but then you realize that he is a special needs adult who just got his first job and therefore everything that you are supposed to laugh at, is uncomfortable. The two things that I found interesting about this movie are: 1. Sienna Miller, because it's such a different role for her, and 2. the fact that Vaughn's character actually likes his wife and kids (I feel that's rare for movies like this). Other than that, this was hard to watch. I don't even have anything else to say about it.
3. The DUFF - I've been a HUGE Mae Whitman fan since precisely 1996 with the little known movie, One Fine Day (and of course, the other little known movie, Independence Day). For years, she would randomly appear in tv shows and movies, and I patiently waited for her to get "big". Even her role on Arrested Development was the butt of a series long joke (Her?), but then with her role on Parenthood, shereally proved herself. She shined bright in a show full of talent (seriously, if you haven't watched Parenthood, please do that now. Be prepared to cry and have your life changed forever). The DUFF is her first starring role, so that excites me, but I was put-off by the plot. She's supposed to be the "designated, ugly, fat, friend"?!? How fucking dare you, Hollywood! She's beautiful, and interesting, and funny, and smart (The BIFS?). Luckily, this is addressed in the movie (otherwise I was going to kick some ass). The movie is still sort of offensive, but they explain that she is "the DUFF" because she "friended up"; meaning that she's not necessarily ugly, but her friends are super gorgeous. They also reverse the whole "ugly duckling gets a makeover and gets the boy in the end" by having the super hot guy prefer her without the makeover (he actually seems a little put-off by her with a dress on). I like that it subverts stereotypes. It's not a great movie, but it fills the void of high school movies. I don't think there has been a great one since Superbad (?). Also, now I know who Bella Thorne is! I feel like I hear that name every other day.
4. Serena - Obviously, I already knew this was going to be a bad movie. It was released straight to VOD, and for a movie that stars both Bradley Cooper AND Jennifer Lawrence, you know it has to be really terrible for the producers to avoid a theatrical release. I would love to say that it's not that bad, but man, it's fucking terrible. Worst of the year (and honestly, I didn't think anything would beat Chappie for that title. I was hopeful, anyway). I will always watch anything with Bradley Cooper (no exaggeration...I've watched some really shitty movies just for him). I'm not sure where this movie went wrong, but it goes from a "nothing" plot to "everything happening at once" plot in a matter of seconds. I feel like I missed something. The beginning was this kind of awesome (but boring) feminist tale of this woman in charge; their marriage was a partnership and they supported each other, then she *spoiler* has a miscarriage and she literally goes batshit crazy. The plot then insinuates that she was always batshit crazy, which comes out of nowhere. And then he gets eaten by a panther. No, seriously. I'm not kidding.
5. Spring - *spoilers* I can see why this movie is on several "Best of 2015 so Far" lists (and again...it's very clearly a 2014 release...), but I am a little more reserved in my praise for it. It's basically Before Sunrise with a sci-fi twist, which theoretically, sounds awesome. There are parts that I love. The actors are strong, the dialogue is smart and thoughtful, and it's really, really beautiful (how can it not be with Italy as a backdrop?). I love what it is trying to do - theorize about love, spending eternity with someone, following your gut, taking chances, etc. There are just so many little things that irk me about the movie, that I wasn't able to fully embrace it. The big challenge is that it is from a male fantasy perspective. He is a very generic male (ok...he's pretty cute), with no discernible reason for this extraordinary woman to fall in love with him. I think the story confuses its point because it was about him accepting that she is a supernatural being, but then it's really about the fact that this supernatural being gives up eternity to be with him. And the question becomes "Him...really?". So she gives up eternity and he gives up...smoking? It just sort of perpetuates the high standards placed on women. We have to be extraordinary to win over the most ordinary of guys. There is also some really hateful dialogue about skinny women, which is extremely contradictory because she is skinny, even though she is also curvy. She makes a comment about being "heavy" which blew my mind, but even worse he claims that most guys are not attracted to skinny women, even though the "sympathy fuck" girl he almost sleeps with in the beginning is a stick. Guys, it's not necessary to bash a woman's body type. If a girl is complaining about being too "heavy", just tell her you think she's beautiful. That's it. We are already aware that guys will literally fuck any girl who shows interest. We don't need the lies. And why is he wearing a jacket for most of the movie while she prances around in a skimpy dress? Is it hot? Is it cold? We will never know.