Tuesday, January 9, 2018

4 Thoughts on the Golden Globes

1. The Host - I like Seth Meyers as a comedian, but I don't really think he has the energy or charisma for hosting big awards shows. The Golden Globes are better for him than say The Oscars, because there are no big numbers or productions - it's literally just jokes and then presenting the awards. And in this case, he did a great job. Some of his jokes hit low, but I think that was necessary. It was a tough year for Hollywood, and it's the first big event since the Harvey news broke and the whole #metoo campaign went into full-force, so I'm sure it was pretty stressful to get the tone right. And in my opinion, he did. It was funny, but also serious. My favorite joke was the dig at Kevin Spacey ("I hope he can do a Southern accent because Kevin Spacey sure couldn't").

2. The Show - My favorite part of the show was watching it with my boyfriend who has never watched an awards show before, and has no interest in pop culture whatsoever. I, myself, am an awards show junkie, but I've gotten much better in recent years. I really only watch "the big 3": The Golden Globes, The Emmys, and The Oscars. I just assume that everyone follows entertainment news, but then my bf asked questions like "are they really dating?" about Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel (they've been married for like 6 years! How did he not know that???), "she has 17 kids?" after one of the E! hosts joked about Angelina Jolie arriving (he knew that she adopted a lot of kids, at least, but found it totally believable that she was up to 17), and my personal favorite "what the Hell does 'woke' mean?" (which has nothing to do with the entertainment industry, but they sure do use the word a lot). He also could not stop laughing at the name "Armie Hammer". You may think he lives in a bubble, but he can tell you exactly how far along the cure for Cancer is, the newest developing technological advances, and he can build a radio from scratch, so I am the one who is clearly in the bubble (and I prefer it that way). Watching movies, tv shows, following entertainment social sites, watching awards shows, etc. all help my sanity, it helps drown out the real world. Unfortunately, with the show focusing on "real world" issues, I couldn't stay in my preferred bubble. I'm sort of conflicted about the whole thing. I do think people in positions of visibility should use their power to highlight a cause they care about, but I don't think a dumb awards show is necessarily the best place for this to happen. I also do think that the whole "Time's Up" initiative is at an awkward stage right now, where there is a lot of support from people who are actually part of the problem. It's a bit hypocritical to wear a "Time's Up" pin if you've recently worked with Woody Allen, or if you're Gary Oldman (who has not only been accused of domestic abuse, but has also always prided himself in NOT being politically correct, using offensive language, and is now suddenly calling for a "change"...UM WHAT?). That being said, there were some powerful moments - let's start with Oprah. It's so easy to make fun of Oprah. My mom and I have a bit that we do anytime someone says anything about bread, we scream in unison "I LOVE BREAD". However, on a serious note (extremely serious, you guys), Oprah has had a very strong impact on my mom's life, and therefore my life. Back in the mid 80s, my mom was in a very abusive relationship and she didn't even know that what she was experiencing wasn't normal. Oprah was just sort of coming into her own with her new talk show, and she used her visibility of being invited into the homes of women to talk about serious issues, and one of her episodes was about domestic abuse and how it effects children, but more importantly it gave resources and tips on how to get out of these relationships. To put it simply, Oprah saved my mom's life. I often think about this, and also how my mom might have figured it out without Oprah's help (my mom is super smart), but the facts....are the facts. Oprah's speech was perfect in recognizing the power that film and television do, in fact, have. I also found Natalie Portman's retort of the "all male" directing category to be a memorable moment - it's not really fair to blame this on the Golden Globes, though, and I think it made the directors that were nominated feel bad about something that's not their fault. The real problem is that there AREN'T that many female directors, and just because they direct a film doesn't necessarily mean they should be nominated if they aren't worthy. My picks for best director this year are all men - Aronofsky, Villeneuve, Nolan, Wright, and Peele (and I haven't even seen The Post, The Shape of Water, or Three Billboards). The problem is systemic, and maybe that's changing, but I still applaud Natalie for pointing out the hypocrisy. The absolute worst part of the show is that Tonya Harding was not only there, but she was celebrated. I don't fucking understand! A show that was focused on women supporting other women is going to celebrate a woman who assisted in the violent attack of her competitor??? I haven't seen I, Tonya, and I actually look forward to it, and as I admitted previously, I have sympathy for Harding (as a victim of abuse), but she does not deserve praise in ANY form. I'm actually disgusted.

3. The Winners - The show was filled with so many "moments" that I don't actually remember who won. It sort of doesn't really matter. The Globes have never really predicted future Oscar winners, nor has it had any real impact on anyone's career. I think the only thing it has done lately, is pick fantastic new television. I emphasize the word "new" because the Globes have, for the past 3 years, chosen a "new" show over a "best" show. I haven't seen The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and I'm sure it's good, but it's weird that Master of None has been consistently called the best television comedy of last year, and it lost to a show that no-one has watched. Also, HOW is the new Will & Grace nominated? I was a big fan back in the day, but the new season is almost unbearable to watch. There are a dozen other comedies that could have been nominated. I don't really have any issues with anyone else who won except maybe Elizabeth Moss, but then again, I haven't watched The Handmaid's Tale yet. I think she's a terrible actress, but I would love to be proven wrong.

4. The Fashion - One part of the whole "Time's Up" initiative that I whole heartily do not agree with is the "wear black" thing. First, it's a disservice to fashion designers. Awards shows are a big deal for fashion designers (and fashion is just as much of an art as entertainment is), and as much as women might not like to be asked "who are you wearing", it's part of the red carpet process. Obviously, the people behind this initiative see the importance of fashion, which is why they are using it to "take a stand", so again, it's hypocritical to shun the importance of "who are you wearing". Second, I found the whole thing to be a bit bullying. If someone didn't wear black they were singled out, as if they don't support women. Third, it's dumb. I can't even comment on the fashion because it was just a sea of boring black dresses. Yes, there are more important things in the world, but if you really feel like sending a message then maybe boycott the whole thing and volunteer at a women's shelter instead? Or, um, maybe wear dresses made by women designers?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Fate of the Furious - *spoilers ahead* This is the first movie of the series that I found really disappointing. I don't expect these movies to be great, but I do expect a fun, action-packed ride with ridiculous (but hilarious) dialogue. This one was quite dull, and for the most part, very predictable. I did really like the opening sequence because it was filmed in Cuba (the first since the embargo has been lifted, which is pretty interesting!). I was not surprised at all that Vin had to go "bad" to save his previously unknown of baby (that was foreshadowed like crazy with the talk about having kids right in the beginning), but I was surprised by the appearance of the mother, Elena, because, um....who's that? Apparently, I wasn't alone in forgetting her character existed because I read a ton of reviews that asked the same question. Charlize is awesome as a "bad guy" (as seen in Snow White and the Huntsman), but there is something really wrong with her face in this movie. I think it's her eyebrows? I don't know, I can't figure it out, but it was very distracting. Anyway, I'm not sure I will remember anything about this one other than Charlize's insane hair and Helen Mirren being a great sport (I mean, she's obviously better than these movies).

2. Free Fire - While I haven't loved every Ben Wheatley movie, I think they are all "must see" movies (except maybe A Field in England, I just couldn't get into that one at all). There's always something interesting in his films, though. Whether it's the characters or the juxtaposition of scenes, I always feel like I've watched something new. The cast for this movie is definitely a highlight - Brie Larson and Cillian Murphy are personal favorites. Armie Hammer has a cult following that I can't quite understand (which is weird because he's totally my type), but I did read that controversial Buzzfeed article and it was very rude and unnecessary. Sharlto Copley isn't a great actor, which is a shame, because he started out so strong with District 9, but it's been all downhill from there. The only thing I know Sam Riley from is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and he was terrible in that, but I'm willing to give him another chance. Even with the strong cast, none of the characters seemed all that interesting which is definitely a huge flaw. The concept is good, but I got bored very quickly because I couldn't care less about any character. Some of the kills were interesting and done very well, like the head being rolled over by the truck (*cringe*), but overall I didn't find it as fun as people suggested it was, and it's definitely one of Wheatley's weaker films.

3. A Ghost Story - This is definitely a movie in which the more I think about, the higher I movie it on my "Best of 2017" list. It originally started at #12, but after a week thinking about it I moved it up to #10, and now I'm considering moving it up another notch. I didn't really know much about it before watching it, but I did hear about the "pie scene". It's fascinating that people focused on this aspect of the movie more so than the sublime ending. The "pie scene" is actually very well done, but it is definitely awkward to sit through (there's about 10 solid minutes of silence as she eats a pie), but it's very effective. I appreciate the commitment and restraint to portray the reaction of loss by utilizing real time and a real action - sometimes it's just about stuffing your face until you throw up. The movie contains some wonderful shots, it moved rather quickly for such a slow burn type story, and Rooney Mara is excellent. Up until the last 20 minutes, I found it to be a strong 3 star movie about love and loss, and ultimately about living (he is stuck as a ghost unable to participate in life), but THEN. Oh, but then...it becomes something else entirely. Something so wonderful, I can't even properly describe it in words, but I can say that I sat for about 15 minutes after it was over in silence just trying to absorb everything I had just witnessed. I have a ton of questions (like wouldn't other ghosts exist in the house?), and I've spent a lot of time thinking about it, which is something I always look for in films.

4. mother! - And speaking of a film that makes me think....this one is in the exact same category. The divide among critics with this movie is so interesting, and I can actually see it both ways. On the surface, maybe, it's sort of batshit crazy, and if you look at it from the metaphor perspective, it's very obvious - therefore, I believe some see that as a failure. However, from my view, it's a masterpiece. I don't even know where to begin. First, Aronofsky has made two other masterpieces with Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain, with the former being in my top 10 favorite films ever. Black Swan is also very strong. Even his movies that aren't high on my list, like The Wrestler and Noah are extremely well-made and well-written films. I couldn't imagine hating this movie. Second, his films all deal with religion in some way - some are way more obvious than others, but knowing that this movie was a biblical metaphor doesn't put me off (even as someone who isn't religious). Third, in the beginning of the movie there is a shot where Jennifer Lawrence backs into the camera and then spins around that is done so well, I gasped and was instantly hooked for the remainder. The story is not subtle in any way, however, I think if you really analyze it, there is a lot more than just the surface. While it's an obvious allegorical tale of Mother Earth and the Bible, it's also a tale of womanhood. The expectations placed on women to be kind, generous caretakers; to entertain, not complain; to not question men, to be complacent; to be the backbone of a relationship while your partner receives the praise and attention. It's also about the idolization we apply to certain artists, and the cults that form around them; the pressure we apply on men to be successful; the outcry and entitlement to "own" a piece of this success. So, while I understand the critiques of it being "obvious", I also think that there is a lot of depth to it. I also think Jennifer Lawrence is incredible in this, and I'm not always a fan. The real highlight for me, acting-wise, though, is Michelle Pfeiffer. Her stone-cold stares are haunting. Also, Kristen Wiig, because it was so unexpected for her to appear. I never thought I would see her in a movie like this. It's so-close to my favorite movie of last year, but Dunkirk edges it out every so slightly. I've held off reading too much about it so that I could really analyze my own thoughts, but I can't wait to dive into reading every article I can find.

5. Fences - Some stories are best for the stage and this is definitely one of them. I found the film very stiff, lifeless, and "stagey". However, some of the dialogue is brilliant. It's so rhythmic in its tone - it moves from baseball to drinking to death so smoothly. It's remarkable that not only can Denzel memorize ALL that dialogue, but he can spew it out with such ease. I'm sure it helps that he's so familiar with the material, but it's still an amazing feat. I realized while watching this that I've actually never read an August Wilson play. I was a Drama Studies major for Christ's sake! How was he not part of the curriculum? Anyway, I think this movie is okay. It could have used some tighter editing, but I did like how dark it gets. I was not expecting to end up hating our protagonist. He turns into a villain very slowly, but very effectively. It's not a movie I will remember, and I don't think it's deserving of any awards (except, of course, for the writing, which it's already an award winning play), but I think if I saw it on stage I would have appreciated it more.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Best and Worst Films of 2017

Best: 

1. Dunkirk
2. mother!
3. Baby Driver
4. Logan
5. Blade Runner 2049
6. Get Out 
7. Lady Bird
8. Split
9. Wonder Woman
10. A Ghost Story 
10.5 T2 Trainspotting 

I am very happy with my list this year, but there are still a lot of movies I need to see. I think my Top 6 will remain, but the rest could change when I update in July. 

Worst: 

1. 3 Generations
2. The Circle
3. Baywatch
4. Song to Song 
5. Manifesto
6. Ghost in the Shell 

Friday, December 22, 2017

3 Thoughts on Lady Bird



1. Lady Bird and her mother - I think a lot of women can connect to this story and this character. Greta Gerwig put great detail in the "feeling" of the movie - the music, the tone, and the dialogue was spot-on for a teenager growing up in the early 2000s. I graduated from high school in '99, so I wasn't that far behind. And yet, I don't really connect to Lady Bird at all. In typical Gerwig form, I find her to be incredibly entitled, spoiled, and narcissistic. The part that makes this different than typical Gerwig is that she actually learns this about herself (and possibly works to be a better person? We can only hope). This realization comes in the form of a very tumultuous relationship with her mother. Yes, her mother can be a little frustrating at times, but overall, she's a GREAT mother who is trying her best to take care of her family - AND she has even taken in other children who need help, proving that she is a good person. But, Lady Bird sees her as an embarrassment, her life isn't as good as others and she blames her mother for this. It's difficult to watch, considering my own relationship with my mother. God, I hope I never made her feel worthless, and like I didn't appreciate all of the sacrifices that she made just to make sure that I didn't go hungry. I don't think I was as bratty as Lady Bird, but I know my mom and I didn't exactly get along when I was in my late teens. The mother/daughter relationship is the heart of the movie, and it felt real. I didn't feel a connection, but it made me feel angry, and I think that was part of the intent. Laurie Metcalf is such a great actress who has gone YEARS as underrated, but this year, she will most certainly receive an Oscar nomination, and maybe even the win for her portrayal of Lady Bird's mother. I saw her on Broadway last year in "Misery", and she was excellent. It's exciting to see her finally gain the recognition she has deserved for so many years.

2. Lady Bird and her best friend - This is another big plot point of the movie that really struck me as hard to watch (in a good way). In the same way that Lady Bird treats her mother, she dismisses her best friend the second that someone more popular shows interest in being her friend. I just can't connect to it. It's just another example of her narcissism, and let's be honest, downright bitchiness. It's sad that young women feed into this culture of popularity and snootiness. Lady Bird attends a Catholic School, another plot point that I can't connect with (and also, I always thought Catholic Schools were private and therefore expensive? Poor kids went to public schools and had to walk through the ghetto to get there. This is another example of me thinking Greta Gerwig might not know what "poor" means). While she's there, she discovers a passion by joining the Drama club - and this is absolutely perfect. I was, unfortunately, a Drama major in college - and I did not fit in at all, because by all accounts they act exactly the way the kids in this movie do. Attention-seeking, clicky, and worst of all, they acted superior to people who were more reserved. Lady Bird IS a Drama club kid. It's interesting to watch her reject her own identity in favor of someone more popular, to destroy friendships just to experience what she deems as a better life. It's all done very well, and I appreciate that she learns from this, but I think it would have been a stronger lesson if her best friend moved on and didn't think twice about it.

3.  Lady Bird and Christine - Lady Bird is Christine, in case you haven't seen the film. It's never explained why she insists on everyone calling her "Lady Bird" other than her need to be a pain in the ass. Saoirse Ronan is wonderful. She has been one of my favorite young actresses since Atonement (the first half of that movie is still one of my favorite movies ever). Last year, she stunned with Brooklyn, but I was convinced that she would top that performance. While I don't think Lady Bird is as great as everyone says (it broke records for the best reviewed movie EVER on Rotten Tomatoes. LOLOLOLOL), Saoirse is deserving of all the praise. She struggled for a little bit in her career (The Host is one of the worst movies of all time), she is on a career high now, though, and I'm so excited to see what she does next. While I can hear her Irish accent in everything she does, my movie partner (who doesn't really watch movies very often - can you even imagine???) had no idea she was Irish. She's a co-worker and came running into work the next day exclaiming that she saw "Lady Bird doing an interview and she could barely understand her". Not only did she play a convincing teenager from California, she really gave the character dimension and personality. I don't really sympathize with her, but I do empathize with her.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Atomic Blonde - Ugh...I was so excited to see this and it was just so disappointing. It isn't terrible, but it had so much potential to be great and it is mostly boring. James McAvoy is epically hot, though, so that's one big plus. There is also one very well-done fight scene that is pretty intense and raw. Other than that, it felt like a fancy big-budget episode of Alias (which is one of my favorite shows ever, but I would have preferred if this film did something new). The twists at the end felt really forced and most scenes seemed to be trying to hard. I'm a big fan of Charlize Theron, and she is pretty strong, but there is still something off about her performance that I can't put my finger on. I think it's the interrogation scenes that bothered me the most - the dialogue is eye-rolling. Oh, I forgot, another plus is the exceptional 80s soundtrack - it actually elevates the movie. Perhaps, to trick people into thinking they are watching a great movie?

2. The Edge of Seventeen - I've heard tremendous reviews of this movie, but the trailer looked so cliched and I don't think Hailee Steinfeld is a good actress (I know I'm alone on this one). And even after this movie, after another lauded performance, I still would argue that she's not good. She exaggerates too much and it feels very unnatural. However, I'll admit that the movie did suck me in, and I felt all of the emotions during a certain scene involving her brother, who is portrayed by the delightful Blake Jenner (and I just looked up what else he's been on aside from Everybody Wants Some, and surprisingly learned that he was a winner of The Glee Project and was on Glee. Holy shit...how do I not remember him? I did stop watching the show once Cory died (STILL NOT OVER IT), but apparently he was on the show before that). The rest of the movie was....okay. Super cute, but just okay. I don't really connect with spoiled, selfish teenagers. I do connect a little bit to her relationship with her mother - I've literally experienced the same conversation with my mom. When I try to complain about my day or vent about something and she'll just interrupt me with "oh well, you have no idea the kind of day I had" and then continues to talk for an hour about herself, never asking why I'm upset. I've confronted her about it several times, and she's gotten better, but it still drives me crazy. There are parts of this story that I thought were really dumb - one being that the guy that likes her is sooooo much more attractive than the guy she likes. And he's nice. And he's interested in her even though she's a bitch. In all honesty, I kind of wish he would have found someone better than her. The second thing is the dumb scene where the guy she likes is annoyed that she won't have sex with him, and I guess we're supposed to think he's an asshole? She literally texted him that she wanted to have sex with him so it's not really his fault that he assumed that's what they were meeting for. Anyway, I LOVED everything about the relationship between her brother and her best friend, and how it effected their relationship. Again, all of the emotions.

3. Hidden Figures - I really don't understand how this could be nominated for Oscars. It's just so paint-by-numbers. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful story and the acting is top-notch. Janelle Monae is the obvious highlight - that "first" speech is just perfect. Overall, though, this movie is just plain boring. I can't argue that it's a great story - and one that needs to be told, but I feel like it's one of those great stories that would be hard to make a "bad" movie out of. Like, anyone could make this movie. And I just don't feel like movies like that should be winning awards. Anyway, about the story - I appreciate that the real Katherine Johnson clarified that her work was very much a team effort (but it would be very difficult to make a movie about 300 people) and that she was treated with respect by NASA. I think the movie should have highlighted her upbringing a little bit more - like how difficult it is for under-privileged youth to succeed. Just thinking about how many geniuses there are in this world that were/are never given a chance is truly depressing (which is why I think education and healthcare should be free - and I also believe in Capitalism, but it would work so much better if everyone is healthy and educated). I was actually just talking to a co-worker whose mother is a teacher at a STEM school and she said that this year is the first year in her 20 years of teaching that she has more female students than male students (YAY), but they are almost all white (BOO).

4. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Visually and thematically wonderful. The world building is stunning - I would love to see more of these aliens, these planets, and an entire movie around Bubble (played to perfection by Rihanna - yes, you read that right. There is no-one else who could have done that character justice). The introduction of Bubble is perhaps my favorite scene of 2017. However, the movie, itself, is completely bonkers. It is a little hard to follow, the dialogue is woeful, but the worst part of the movie is definitely the leads. Perhaps with better leads, the dialogue wouldn't have felt so forced and robotic. They lack chemistry and are just downright boring. I like Dane DeHaan, but I'm not sure he can handle a "leading man" type role (I'm not going to hold this against him, he's done more good than bad in my opinion), but, man, Cara Delevingne is THE WORST. I don't know who decided that she can act, but she just keeps getting roles and it amazes me. If they replaced the leads with two more interesting actors (there is a lot of young talent to choose from right now - Olivia Cooke & Ansel Elgort, perhaps? or Kiersey Clemons and Blake Jenner?) and edited a few scenes to make it more cohesive, it would be the next big thing - a series of blockbuster films. Instead, this wonderful, beautifully fascinating world will never be heard from again on the big screen. How sad.

5. The Big Sick - I appreciated this movie so much more as soon as the credits rolled with pictures of the "real" Emily and Kumail. I knew it was a personal story, obviously, because Kumail uses his own name and plays a comedian. I just didn't know the love story was real (clearly I didn't look at the poster that declares "an awkward true love story"). It's a really cute movie. I'm not sure it's worthy of all the praise and it certainly won't be included anywhere near my top 10 of the year (I don't even think it would make top 20), but I did love a lot of things about it. First, the dialogue is wonderful. It's authentic, funny, sometimes awkward, and feels really fresh. Second, I laughed out loud several times - the white guy saying "it's a struggle to succeed effortlessly" & Kumail screaming out "we hate terrorists!" are two lines that come to mind, but the most ballsy joke is the 9/11 joke. It is downright masterful. So hard to pull off, but it was executed perfectly. Third, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are the best. The only thing I didn't like was Zoe Kazan. She's not terrible in this, but definitely the worst part of the movie. She just annoys the crap out of me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

3 Thoughts on Blade Runner 2049



*slight spoilers ahead* 

1. As a fan of the original - Remember how I said that I roll my eyes when a guy tells me his favorite book is "On the Road"? (no, I don't actually expect anyone to remember that, but I definitely mentioned it on my blog at least once). Well, I feel the same way when a dude claims Blade Runner as his favorite film. To clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either of these works of art. In fact, I believe they are both brilliant. And yet, it's JUST SUCH A CLICHE. I would probably describe Blade Runner as my favorite sci-fi film (actually, that's not true because Jurassic Park is considered sci-fi and that's one of my favorite films of all time. So, I guess maybe Blade Runner would be my favorite "futuristic" sci-fi). I was nervous when they announced this sequel; not for me, but for all of the people that hold this movie so dear to their hearts. While I don't really believe that a sequel or a remake should effect how you feel about the original, this is a special case. Continuing this story could have ruined EVERYTHING that came before it, but I'm extremely happy to say that this sequel is everything I hoped it would be. Plus, I watched the film with someone who cites this movie as his "favorite movie" (go figure, ROLLS EYES), someone who has read every single Phillip K. Dick story, and was extremely skeptical of a sequel (until he saw the trailer, then he was super excited) and he LOVED it. So, overall, this movie is a huge success for fans of the original (and it was NEVER going to be a box office hit and I guarantee you that the producers planned to lose money).

2. As a film buff - Movies should not be 2 hours and 44 minutes long. Period. This movie could have easily been cut by 44 minutes. However, some significantly gorgeous scenes would have been lost, and I GUESS I will concede that it's worth it. Because every. single. second of this movie is fucking stunning. I audibly gasped a few times just because I was blown away by how detailed some of the shots and colors are. Plus, I will never complain about watching Ryan Gosling on a big screen. I think it was pretty brave to step into this role because if it went south, he surely would have taken a big portion of the blame. And while I actually can't stand Harrison Ford (as an actor; as a person I think he's pretty hilarious), Deckard is probably the only role I enjoy him in (yes, you read that correctly). But the two shining stars of the movie, are fairly newcomers, Sylvia Hoeks and Ana de Armas. My God, they are perfect. My only criticism would be that some of the dialogue was a little heavy-handed. Otherwise, from a cinematic perspective - it's perfect. It's shocking, though, that it's not even in my top 3 movies of this year! WHAAATTT?!

3. As a feminist - It's hard to narrow down exactly what I want to say about this movie because it covers so much ground and has so many layers, so I'm just going to focus on one aspect: the women. I have so many feelings about the female characters in this film. And, guess what? They're all great! I feel like anyone complaining about the female characters (and specifically, I've read tons of negative criticism of Joi), are looking at the world in a very black & white way, and that's just not realistic. Not every female character is going to be a strong, independent leader type character. Even if "the future is female" as the newly appointed female mantra suggests, men are still going to exist - and they are still going to sexualize women. You know why? Because sex = money. So, yes, sex worker robots will exist (and I'm pretty sure they already do?). Hologram companions are totally "the future". The "problem" that lies within the film medium is that these characters are always represented as women (aside from Jude Law in A.I.) and the biggest reason for that is that the stories are male stories - written by men (which I have no problem with), if you want to see a change, then, ladies, pick up some Final Draft software and get to work! I actually loved Joi because I think she represented waaaaay more than a sexual companion (in fact, he is clearly in love with her way before the creepy sex scene) - she represents something that is missing from the world - kindness. He can also connect to her as a "servant" and show her kindness in return. As for the other female characters, they are all complicated, layered and most importantly, the catalyst for every single thing that happens in the film. The whole point of the film is the importance of women, and more specifically, mothers. Sure, it's also about identity, existence, masculinity, and has some fascinating commentary on the effect our memories have on our future. But all this is encapsulated within Wallace's attempt and subsequent failure to fertilize his creations; to create life; to essentially become a "mother".  So, criticize it all you want, but the truth is that while this movie is a "male story", it's probably the strongest feminist film of the year.

Holiday Movie Preview: 4 Films That I'm Excited About

1. I, Tonya - (12/8) In 1994, I was 13 years old. Two big celebrity stories unfolded that year, and I remember them so clearly because it was such a formative year for me (I mean, I'm sure most people in America remember them, but these were "the first" big celebrity news events for me). While the murder of Nicole Brown and the OJ trial had more of an impact on me, the story of Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan was inescapable. And while I probably shouldn't admit it, I've always had a very tiny, minuscule, amount of sympathy for Tonya Harding because of her background. It was fascinating that someone from such poor circumstances actually made it to the Olympics - it felt so representative about what America (and the Olympics) were about, and then she let her jealousy of a wealthy, talented woman ruin everything. It's Shakespearean, really. I hope that this film explores this, because even though what she and her cohorts did is heinous and disgusting (and she should have served time in jail, in my opinion) - her story is not black and white. Plus, Margot Robbie is a great actress but I think she gets overlooked because of how stunning she is. This film was a smart, but very risky move for her.

2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi - (12/15) Ok, I'm not as excited as, like, most Star Wars fans, but as a new fan, I'm excited to see this one in a theater. Eventually. I mean, probably not until like February because I hate crowds, and man Star Wars crowds are THE WORST (hahahaha...I'm kidding. Kind of.).

3. The Post - (12/22) I don't think I've ever seen a film scream "Oscar" as much as this one - Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep in a STEVEN SPIELBERG historical drama that drops during Christmas week. I feel like it's almost too "on the nose" to be real. Can't you just picture this as a skit on SNL or something? Anyway, I'm all in. How could I not be???

4. Molly's Game - (12/25) This movie must have been pushed back??? I already wrote about it in my Fall Movie Preview and had it listed as a November release. Anyway, still can't wait for it. Jessica Chastain is a full-on Goddess.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thoughts on 5 New TV Shows

1. Ghosted - Cute show, but a little cheesy. It reminds me of a sitcom from the 90s - not a specific show, just seems like it belongs in that decade as opposed to this one. That's not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes you just want to watch something easy and mind-numbing on a Sunday night. Adam Scott and Craig Robinson have great chemistry and I laugh out loud at least once during every episode. I really like Amber Stevens West (from Greek and 22 Jump Street). She is just a ball of sunshine (and so stunning). I don't know if it's a show that will last because it feels like a throwaway, and Fox doesn't really give new shows a chance to grow. I'll keep watching, though.

2. The Mayor - Again, another cute show that is also a little cheesy. I probably wouldn't continue to watch if it weren't for the comedic graces of Lea Michele and Yvette Nicole Brown. Michele pretty much plays a grown up version of Rachel, if Rachel was into politics instead of performing, but I'm perfectly ok with that because she shines as this type of character. I think overall the show is a little simplistic and kind of dumbed down for a general audience (every episode is basically saying "politics is hard!").

3. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World - First, this show should be a 30 minute sitcom instead of an hour long. It would be soooooo much better if it moved faster. Each episode is way too dragged out for dramatic effect. Second, I think Jason Ritter and JoAnna Garcia deserve a show that is much stronger than this one (but I LOVE them as siblings!). Third, as someone who isn't religious, this show is outrageous. It's sort of like Touched by an Angel (a show that my mother adored) and Ghost (like how everyone thinks he's crazy for talking to a person that's not there). Fourth, again, as someone who isn't religious, I appreciate that his mental health is questioned. It gives me an explanation to hold my interest. In my mind, he's actually having a mental breakdown, and not actually seeing this "spokesperson" for God. Which, sadly for me, I've witnessed someone have this exact breakdown. After an ex and I broke up, he ended up in a psychiatric ward because he claimed he saw Jesus. This is someone who was never even religious (I blame it on the meds he was prescribed because he was "sad". Anyway, another subject for another time, perhaps).

4. Ten Days in the Valley - Really terrible show. I'm surprised at how strong the cast is, compared to how awful the writing has been. The show doesn't even make sense - I mean, this woman doesn't even really seem that concerned about her missing daughter. She even continues to GO TO WORK?! I don't have sympathy for her at all. And wouldn't the cops realize that her assistant is also her ex-husband's girlfriend? Or does she have another identity? That was never made clear. Anyway, the whole "mystery" they are trying desperately to set up is null and void because every character is dull and I don't even care enough about the daughter to keep watching to see who did it. I'm pretty sure it will be cancelled soon anyway since it was already pushed to Saturday nights.

5. Mindhunter - Very strong show. I love the pace - there is a ton of ground to cover, but it never seems like it's rushing to tell the "big" story. It focuses on small discoveries, and getting to know each character. It's super weird to watch Jonathan Groff in a very serious "straight" man sort of role, and it was very jarring at first, but he is nailing it more and more with every episode. He still has his sense of sarcasm, just minus the singing and dancing. Anna Torv is AMAZING. And casting the spectacular Lena Olin (otherwise known as Irina Derevko, AKA Mamma Bristow from Alias) as Torv's girlfriend is THE BEST casting I've seen in a while (if you are a super fan of both Alias and Fringe, then you probably screamed out loud, as I did). My favorite actor in the show, though, is Bill Tench. It's such an understated, classic old school "FBI guy", but his line delivery is perfect and his character is more nuanced than you expect. I also absolutely loved how the final episode ended *spoilery info ahead* - we get a glimpse into this "mysterious" character for a few minutes here and there during the season, but the final shot is focused on him. I looked up who it was and found it's the infamous "BTK Strangler" (I assume most people looked up who it was earlier on, but I went along with the intrigue). I think the importance of this being the final shot is to show how the rest of the series will go. This proves the potential of spanning decades, considering this man wasn't caught until 2005. So, is next season going to jump ahead? Netflix has said it's planning for five seasons - maybe one season per decade?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Loving - There are quite a few reasons why I was looking forward to watching this - written & directed by Jeff Nichols (I actually forgot this fact until Michael Shannon showed up and then I was like "oh yeah!!"), starring Ruth Negga - who is utterly fantastic on the show Preacher (all of the actors are brilliant, which is the only reason I'm still watching it, because otherwise, it's weird as fuck and not really in a good way), and it's an incredibly timely true story of fairly famous Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriages. The movie was exactly what I was expecting - fairly simple, understated biopic of this couple's "fight" for justice. I put the word fight in quotes, because it's not a fight that they wanted, they simply just wanted to live their life peacefully in their hometown and raise their children. It shouldn't be something that one has to fight for, but here we are (fucking STILL). The part that made me angry (aside from the entire story of injustice) is that ***spoiler*** he fucking dies at the end from getting killed by a drunk driver?! What the actual fuck.

2. 3 Generations - I wasn't expecting much with this movie because of the minimal buzz it received for such a strong cast. I thought it would be mediocre. I certainly did not think it would be a contender for the worst movie of the year. It's that bad, you guys. First, I totally understand why people take offense at having cisgender actors play transgender roles. I think it would have made the film more authentic to have a transgender actor, but I also think that strong actors can transcend their own circumstances (that's kind of the point of "acting"). And Dakota Fanning is probably the strongest actress of her generation, but unfortunately, this did not work. Second, I don't really understand the point of this movie, or how it relates to the title of "3 generations" because it wasn't really about a generation gap, it was just about a family adjusting to their child's transition. And this is a very fascinating topic that should be a really nuanced, personal story. It's not. Instead it's just generic, and reduced to a teenager "acting out". The only thing I found interesting was the role of the father. I think it's odd that he would still have any parental rights considering he abandoned his family (but laws are weird). But then, there's a *surprise twist* *spoiler ahead*, he's not actually her father anyway. Um, what? Then, what's the point? Why harass him into being a "father" if he isn't? And, finally, the wigs that are used are horrible! Dakota's wig is bad, and then there is an even worse one. Why not have her shave her head? Also, is Naomi wearing a wig too? Because there was something weird about her hairline.

3. The Lost City of Z - This movie seemed to come and go pretty quickly, but after I watched it I read a few really strong reviews that I am baffled by. It's an okay movie. An epic tale of early exploration which is certainly interesting (and a complete coincidence that I watched it on Columbus Day). Charlie Hunnam isn't the greatest actor, but I think some critics are unnecessarily harsh on him. I thought he did a spectacular job as Jax on Sons of Anarchy, barring a few missteps with the accent. And he is very good in this movie, too. However, the movie, itself, is very boring and repetitive during the whole middle part. It doesn't get good until his son is grown (his son is played by Tom Holland, LOL. The fact that this could actually be factually accurate made me feel so old bc Charlie is MY AGE). Sienna Miller plays her typical wife role and I AM OVER IT. Also, *surprise* Robert Pattinson is in this! Is he not popular anymore? Because I feel like a few years ago it would have been made into a huge deal. Anyway, the movie could have used some tighter editing, but it was very gorgeous to look at, and there are some spectacularly tense scenes. It's just not cinematically "epic" enough for such an epic story.

4. The Magnificent Seven - Have I seen the original? Well, of course. But the real question is: Do I remember the original? And the answer is: nope; not a single second of it. My grandfather was a huge Western enthusiast (he exclusively watched Westerns, war movies, and The Twilight Zone), and he used to make me sit and watch "the classics". While I enjoyed the war movies, and of course, The Twilight Zone, all of the Westerns just blended together in boredom. However, I can appreciate them now, and some modern ones have really made an impact (most recently, Bone Tomahawk). I was looking forward to this remake, simply because of the cast. It is one heck of a cast! After watching it, I maintain, the cast is the only reason to sit through this movie. They did nothing to modernize it; most of it was boring; the final showdown was soooooo dragged out (but the "final" final showdown, was perfect!). I did like that the only female role was an important one, and she wasn't weak in any way. Haley Bennett stood out in this group of talented men (and she kind of reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence), which was definitely a challenge.

5. Sing - When the trailer for this played before last year's La La Land, my mother was hysterically laughing (it was the bunny rabbits shaking their tails singing "oh my gosh, look at her butt" that did it). It made me smile because I like watching my mom laugh, but overall, I was not interested in watching a bunch of animated animals audition for a reality type competition (I don't watch live versions of this crap, why would I want to see an animated version?). However, after watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I was looking up Taron Egerton interviews (to see if his real accent was the same as his super sexy accent in the movie) and I got caught in a YouTube hole for HOURS watching interviews of him singing (I didn't know he could sing!! I love him even more now!). So, of course, I HAD to watch this movie. It's super cute. Nothing fantastic, or memorable, but just super cute. And sometimes that's all a movie needs to be. Taron excels - his voice is so beautiful, especially since his songs are vocally challenging (he covers both John Legend and Sam Smith songs).

Sunday, October 8, 2017

3 Thoughts on Kingsman: The Golden Circle



1. The plot - **Spoilers** Truly the most baffling plot I've seen in a while. Not because it was confusing, but because it was basically arguing that people who do drugs are...good? It actually argues that everyone does drugs - politicians, festival goers, princesses, your friends, family, etc. I agree with the message, I guess, I mean we can't just let people die because they do drugs, but it's just an odd stance to take for a movie like this. It also had some major plot holes - the villain, played to glorious perfection by Julianne Moore, is the leader of the "global drug trade" yet only threatens the United States and its president. Surely, other countries would be involved. Other than that, I actually really liked the story. I thought they brought back Colin in a "believable" way, and I'm happy that they already showed that he was alive in the trailer so it wasn't a shock for the audience. I like that they had to team up with the Statesmen, even if they were horribly reduced to Middle-America stereotypes. They stayed true to the "James Bond but sillier" theme and had several nods to Bond without being in your face (for the most part). Plus, the best part is that the princess from the first one becomes the love interest (which is the best slap in the face ever).

2. The cast - Oh what a cast. The original cast is back (for the most part), and is stronger than ever (yes, that was a pun for Mark Strong - who really shines in this sequel). Taron Egerton is super, duper hot. Like, ridiculously hot. And when did the guy who plays Charlie get hot? Because I didn't even notice him in the first one, but damn he's fine in this one as a half-man/half-Terminator type villain. As for the new additions to the cast, Julianne Moore stuns as a perfect villain. I didn't think anyone could top Samuel L. Jackson's over-the-top villain, but Moore is just sooo good. The Statesmen included Channing Tatum, who is under-utilized, but he does dance hilariously, Jeff Bridges in a perfectly cliched role for him, and Pedro Pascal who gets some of the coolest action scenes in the film. The only stunningly bad casting decision was Halle Berry. While I enjoy the not-so-subtle Bond reference AND that they took a former Bond girl and made her the "brains" of the organization, she is a terrible actress in this. Every scene she is in, are the worst scenes in the movie.

3. The length - 2 hours and 21 minutes, and I felt every single second. The first one is only 12 minutes shorter, but I've never noticed it. It feels tightly edited, it moves with a purpose, and feels fast. This sequel just drags on and on. And on and on. There are several scenes that could have been shortened or cut altogether (I read many praises of the Elton John cameo, but every single one of his scenes could have been cut, easily). It felt like every shot just lingered too long and it made it very difficult to watch. I think this is the sole reason that it has received the negative criticism that it has. Whether it's noticeable or not, it just doesn't move with any clear direction. Plus, it just does the same action-sequences as the first one and I was hoping for something new, something that would blow me away like the Church scene did in the first one. I think we were supposed to feel that way with the car chase scene in the beginning of the movie, but it felt really CGI heavy and again, waaaay too long. Overall, I liked this movie, but will I watch it again? Yes, probably, but ONLY for Taron. While I watch the first one every few months and I enjoy every second of it.