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.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fall TV Preview: 5 New Shows to Watch

1. Ghosted - I will watch ANYTHING with Adam Scott in it. ANYTHING. So far, the commercials don't really look very funny but I still have hope. I mean, it's a buddy comedy about investigating paranormal activities STARRING Adam Scott.

2. 10 Days in the Valley - I don't really see how this show can continue after season one, considering the whole premise takes place over 10 days - after a woman's daughter is kidnapped. But, the premise of the first season sounds promising. Plus, I adore Kyra Sedgwick.

3. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World - I'll give this show a chance because of Jason Ritter. He was so great on Parenthood and he reminds me so much of his father. It seems like a super cute, wholesome show, and sometimes that is needed, especially in these current times.

4. The Mayor - Ok, this show looks kind of dumb and unrealistic, but unfortunately IT'S TOTALLY REALISTIC. So weird, the world we live in. Anyway, I want to watch this show for one reason: Lea Michele. I'm upset that she still hasn't taken my advice of going back to a starring role on Broadway (where she belongs), but she does have absolutely perfect comedic timing so this has potential to be really funny.

5. Mindhunter - This is the only new show that I'm truly looking forward to, which is good because I watch SO much television. I limited myself to only picking 5 new shows this season, and honestly that was hard to do, but in the opposite way that I expected. Honestly, this Fall season of television looks rough. The other 4 shows I picked are only on my list because of their stars. And while this show has the benefit of Jonathan Groff and Anna Torv (one of my television favorites), it's not the only reason this is on my list. The reasons it's on my list are: It's a Netflix show, David Fincher is heavily involved (as Executive Producer and Director on 3 episodes), and it's about psychological studies of serial killers. I'm all in.

4 Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

1. The Host - I like Stephen Colbert just fine. I don't watch his show because I feel like his whole shtick becomes very repetitive and a little grating. He is very intelligent and well-spoken, though. I just don't think he should host an awards show. There's no draw there (as seen from the ratings). But I will admit that he did a decent job, actually above average. His opening musical number made me smile, he called Broadcast TV "the original OG TV" (lol), and called out Bill Maher (easily the best joke of the night - Anthony Anderson's laugh made it even better). But then, everything was ruined with the extremely controversial appearance of former Press Secretary and legit garbage human being, Sean Spicer. I was as shocked as the audience. At first, I was shocked that Spicer actually had the balls to show up. I mean, he used TO HIDE IN BUSHES because of his cowardice to face the press. But then my shock turned into disgust that he wasn't booed off of the stage. Now I'm shocked that Colbert didn't fight against it. I'm sure it was suggested by CBS (UGH), but Colbert has a lot of clout with the network and could have easily refused. OR he could have outwardly shown disgust at giving this man a platform. It's not funny, he is not someone that we should be celebrating or laughing "with", and the "joke" basically was him admitting that he willfully lied during his tenure as Press Secretary. I don't know how anyone thought that would be ok.

2. The Winners & Losers - Having not seen Big Little Lies or The Handmaid's Tale put me at a bit of a disadvantage for this year's Emmy awards. However, I am very happy with most of the winners. I love Laura Dern so much, and am happy for her resurgence. I really wanted Donald Glover to win all 3 of his nominations (writing, acting & directing), but the Thanksgiving episode of Master of None is sublimely written so I can't complain. Sterling K. Brown is THE BEST on This is Us (I don't even think anyone else should have been nominated except for Ron Cephas Jones). And while I would have loved to see Pamela Adlon sneak a win in, JLD is a goddess on Veep. I don't think SNL should be winning anything. I don't really find any of it funny - and I don't understand why Jimmy Fallon got so much flack for "normalizing" Trump, but SNL is celebrated for it?? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I can't fathom a world in which Elizabeth Moss deserves an Emmy, but I seem to be the only one who thinks she's terrible (it's the reason I've been putting off watching it).

3. The Show - I learned a few things watching this year's Emmys: Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley are still married?! David E. Kelley is involved in Big Little Lies?! Big Little Lies is about domestic abuse?! Yvonne Strahovski is in The Handmaid's Tale?! Alexis Bledel won an Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale?! Black Mirror was submitted as a "Television Movie"....?! Netflix garnered 92 nominations this year?! Alexander Skarsgard is one tall handsome man (I never noticed before)?! People actually like James Corden and Chris Hardwick?! SO MUCH INFORMATION. Anyway, overall, I thought this was a solid show. Most of the speeches were entertaining - obviously the best one was Sterling K. Brown who not only referenced "Dick Whitman", but also "Martin and Gina" (in talking about representing black love). The audience clearly wanted to hear the rest, so it's a bit annoying that he got cut off (and Nicole Kidman didn't...). The announcer was the worst part of the show - he sounded very amateur. Oh and the weird paparazzi carpet on stage - what was up with that?? Oh wait, no, the worst part of the show was the guy who won for directing Big Little Lies referring to the cast of women as "girls", and then the sentiment was repeated by Alexander Skarsgard. The Emmys were clearly dominated by women and female stories this year, but sure enough two white men had to downplay the achievement (it's even more problematic now knowing what Big Little Lies is about). I'm sure that they weren't knowingly belittling their co-stars, but it's just another example of how men don't realize that the language they use matters.

4. The Fashion - She didn't get any press, but Jaimie Alexander was wearing my favorite dress of the night - it was kind of goth, but also really pretty with the gold birds. I also really liked Shailene Woodley's dress because it was simple, but velvet is super trendy right now. Millie Bobbie Brown looked ADORABLE. Also, super legends, Michelle Pfeiffer and Judith Light both looked stunning. I don't think anyone really stood out as the "worst", but I didn't like Debra Messing's dress because it sort of looked like a garbage bag, and I hated Reese Witherspoon's long blazer dress. Elizabeth Moss' dress was pretty, but it looked like she was going to a high school formal.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Founder - Not a bad movie, but a very forgettable movie. It's just a very straightforward biopic about the "founder" of McDonald's. It's an interesting story of passion and ultimately betrayal (LOL it totally sounds like I'm describing a romance), but I didn't really invest much in any of the characters. I love the resurgence of Michael Keaton. He's a wonderfully nuanced actor, and he does a great job here. I actually remember as a little kid, my grandmother used to drive by this gigantic mansion (the biggest that I've ever seen in person) in Southern California and she used to tell me that it belonged to the founder of McD's (I think it was maybe his wife's, though? Ray Croc would have been dead at this time). My grandmother also used to bring me to McD's as a treat and I used to cry - I hate hamburgers. They smell amazing, but every time I take a bite it makes me nauseous. I do love their fries though. I rarely get fast food, but when I do - it's McDonald's french fries and a chocolate shake. Anyway, I don't have much to say about the movie, and that's never a good sign.

2. The Love Witch - Such a weird little movie. Purposefully made to look like a 60s/70s exploitation film, it's fascinating from beginning to end. It works for two reasons: The main star, Samantha Robinson is captivating, and it's directed by a woman, Ann Biller. The first is essential for a movie like this. Robinson portrays Elaine with a sense of wonder, a little innocence mixed with insanity. But the audience empathizes with her, and wants to see her happy. Oddly, she reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (which is a compliment of the highest order). The second is also essential, in that it feels like an exploitation film, but it's actually not - our star is never exploited; instead she is empowered. And while, I don't necessary think gender matters when directing stories, most male directors fail to get this balance right. They also fail at small details that only women get (I highly doubt a male director would put the tampon scene in, and I also think it's genius to show her putting in her hair extensions because women's hair does not naturally look like that!). All in all, it's a really fun movie. Odd and beautiful. Completely mesmerizing.

3. Paterson - I was honestly really disappointed with this movie. It's extremely boring; which can be said about several Jarmusch films, but I can usually find connections with the deeply personal stories and explorations of human nature. Plus, I love stories where a person is intrinsically linked to his/her town. However, I didn't connect with this at all. The movie is about Paterson, a bus driver from Paterson, who writes poetry, which is a nod to the famous epic poem "Paterson". That's as interesting as it gets. First and foremost, let's talk about Paterson, NJ because I don't really think this film represents what the city is like today. I, myself, can't speak for Paterson because I DON'T GO THERE. It's not a great area at all. In fact, it's one of those areas that if you accidentally find yourself in, you lock your doors and don't make eye contact with anyone. I've only been there purposely a few times a few years ago to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity, and the organization was very specific to tell us NOT to leave the area. But while, I can't speak too much for it, my BF owns a business in Paterson and he has nightmare stories of drug addicts, dealers, dudes walking around with machetes (for real.). None of this is shown in the movie, instead it feels like a quaint, quirky little NJ town, one where a 10 year old white girl is just hanging out by herself (it just wouldn't happen). Also, speaking of race, there are way too many white people featured. Paterson is less than 10% white. It's largely hispanic, with Spanish as the most commonly used language - so this film feels really inauthentic on every level. Plus, his bus is practically empty during every trip - finding an empty NJ transit bus is like finding a unicorn. Anyway, next subject. This guy is a dick. I appreciate that he's introverted, and that he doesn't talk much, but the way he treats his girlfriend is horrible. He doesn't share anything with her, and patronizes her art work as an act of whimsy. Also, his poetry sucks.

4. Song to Song - I honestly don't know why I bother. I haven't liked a Malick film since The Thin Red Line (actually, that might be the only Malick film that I like...). I can appreciate his passion for cinema as an art form, but I feel like his films have become very repetitive. They all feature the same fish-eye lens, the overbearing voice-over, the poetic but almost nonsensical dialogue, and it's all very boring. He sucks me in by having such an amazing cast - this one features Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett. I suddenly realized while watching this, that his recent films are all about the same boring, entitled, wealthy, beautiful, white people - and none of them feel like "real" people. There are just random shots of them dancing in front of a scenic background, or jumping on the bed, or like, doing nothing but contemplating their very boring lives. Real people don't have time for that shit. I don't even really know what this movie is about. It takes place in the Austin music scene, about some couples who cheat on each other and then date each other, and switch partners. I don't know. Just all bullshit, really. I read a review that called it "cinematic masturbation" and LOL because that is spot-on.

5. Baywatch - Revamping old television shows can be tricky, but if they can make 21 Jump Street work, then I fully believe it can be done with anything, really. I was looking forward to this movie simply for the nostalgia factor, but I admit, once the reviews came in, I decided to wait until home release - no sense wasting money on the theater for this one. I think it's weird that controversy about critics was created by The Rock because he blamed critics for the failure of the movie, but come on man, it's a shitty movie. It's really terrible. It deserved the critical beating, and critics shouldn't be blamed for its failure. The people who MADE THIS SHITTY MOVIE SHOULD BE BLAMED. It's common sense. There was nothing funny about it, it wasn't fun and campy like the original series, the plot was dumb and predictable. I don't like The Rock. He seems like a great guy (I like how he interacts with fans, and I always read about him donating his time to charities and such), but he's a terrible actor. He's alright in action movies because there isn't much acting involved, but he is not funny. Zac Efron is actually pretty funny and charming, but his personality was to be the asshole in this and it was painful to experience. I do really adore Alexandra Daddario - and she's probably the best part of this movie, along with Kelly Rohrbach. This is Kelly's first film role (known more for modeling), and she has "it" - that screen presence that you just can't look away from.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thoughts on 9 New Shows

1. Friends from College - I was hoping for funny, and it's not (although Billy Eichner complaining that it's "very loud" made me laugh for days). The cast work really well off of each other, but the characters are all pretty awful people - none of them are actually "friends". They are lying, back-stabbing, snarky assholes. It was all a little too dramatic and over the top, especially the finale episode. However, it was a show that was easy to binge, has some amusing moments, and can easily continue for many seasons. I really, really, really liked Cobie Smulders in this, and that's the first time I've been able to say that (and I also just learned that her name is not, in fact, "Colbie Smolders" which is what I truly thought her name was. LOL.). While I don't think season one was groundbreaking television, and I would even hesitate to recommend it to anyone, I can see it continuing and possibly getting better once the characters develop more.

2. GLOW - By far the best show that was released this summer. It's pretty close to perfect, and Alison Brie is sublime. I had very high expectations, especially after all of the positive reviews, and it exceeded these expectations in every way. Brie proves that she's more than just the cute, funny "girl next door" type character. Her character is layered, relatable, a little pathetic, determined, and still cute and funny. I also LOVE Betty Gilpin. I only knew of her from Nurse Jackie and I didn't really like her very much on that show. She is excellent here. The show made me care about several characters, it's easy to binge, and it brought on the perfect amount of nostalgia. As I said before, I used to be an avid view of the original GLOW, and this show does it justice. I can't wait for season two.

3. Still Star-Crossed - I somehow managed to make it through 3 whole episodes. It was terrible, and barely made sense. The last I heard, it was moved to Saturday nights (aka "soon to be cancelled"), which is a shame - not because it was good, but because it *could* have been good. It's interesting to tell a continuation of a famous story (and arguably one of the most famous stories of all time), but this show was hard to follow. It starts off recounting the story of Romeo & Juliet, but nips it down to 30 minutes so everything is botched. It would have been better to just start it at their death (I mean, it's not like anyone choosing to watch this show doesn't already know the story). Also, it was just really boring, especially for a Shonda Rhimes show. On a side note, I am super excited for a Shonda Rhimes/Netflix collaboration. I can't believe that ABC let her go because she is the only thing holding that network together. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I will never hear of this show again, so let's not waste anymore time discussing it.

4. The Sinner - So far, so good. I'm definitely intrigued. The acting is strong - Jessica Biel isn't terrible (she's still not great, but this is a definite improvement for her). I think the first episode would have been more shocking if the ads didn't give it away. I already knew the catalyst for the series, and I sat watching the first episode just waiting for *that* scene, and I also knew that I had to pay EXTREMELY close attention to every detail. I still don't know the "answer" but it's obvious that the song that was playing is important - like maybe it is a trigger of some sort. Some of the story doesn't make sense (am I supposed to believe that a waitress remembers who she served *5 YEARS* ago?). The best part is the line "what makes you think I want my old life back?", I think that line is the key to everything, but we shall see.

5. Ozark - Ok, so this show is okay. I think it was falsely advertised as a Breaking Bad replacement and it is nowhere close to that high standard. The biggest reason it fails is because I finished watching it a few weeks ago and I already have trouble remembering anything other than the general plot (and I can remember very specific lines and scenes with Breaking Bad, and I've only seen the whole series once - as it aired. I have yet to re-watch because I might find imperfections and I don't want to ruin it. It would destroy me.). Also, I would not compare this character to Walter White in ANY WAY. Bateman pretty much portrays a greedy asshole, someone who is already successful but WANTS more so he CHOOSES to break the law and therefore deserves everything he has coming to him (and his wife is complicit, so she deserves it too). So anyway, if I forget this ridiculous comparison, I can find some enjoyment in the show. In particular, the two main stars, Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are great. There are some subtle moments between them that is pure heartbreak. I don't think the supporting cast is very strong - at all. In fact, the daughter is downright terrible. And all of the "locals" overdo their "localness" (I know that's not a word, but you get it...right?). And there are some terribly cliched scenes (come on - someone walking backwards into a street is going to get run over by a truck, OBVI.).

6. Gypsy - I finished this series this morning, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it. There are certain things that are done really well. The acting is wonderful - Naomi Watts is perfect and she is the major reason I even wanted to watch the show to begin with. But then BILLY CRUDUP SHOWED UP! I have loved Billy Crudup since his first movie role, Sleepers. He is so good in this show. All of the supporting actors are great too. Some of the plot is interesting - the way she inserts herself into her patients lives and manipulates them; the impulsive need for drama that some people crave is fascinating. However, some plots were ridiculous. In particular, the plot with her husband and his assistant - they literally have a conversation about how cliche it is, but then continue it as a plot device. So weird. Also, the plot with the drug-addicted teenager is really overdone and not very realistic. I did like how multi-dimensional the characters are, and that the story is layered and detailed. I would have been interested in a second season because there is still so much story to tell, but Netflix has given up on it already (to be fair they are introducing a fuck ton of new content - they are going to get to the same point as network shows in having to cancel shows before giving them a true chance, which sucks).

7. Will - Ugh...two Shakespeare based television shows in one season, and both of them suck. I couldn't even make it through the pilot of this one. I fell asleep about half-way through. It was just all over-done. Too many characters introduced (and everyone looked the same). And the set design seemed amateurish. I haven't heard anyone talking about it, so I assumed it's either been cancelled or will be soon.

8. I'm Sorry - While I think GLOW is a better made show, this is my favorite new show of this past summer. It's hilarious. And the best part? It feels real. This feels like a show about a "real" woman (and I hate when people refer to "real women", bc of the implications, but I use the term here to refer to how fictional women don't feel "real", but this character feels like someone I know). She says inappropriate things, causes awkward situations, and reacts to these things and situations in the most hilarious way. I love that it subverts stereotypes a bit, too. Like how her friends are mostly male and it's not made into a "thing". She plays poker with the guys, but it's never really addressed; it's just normal. I love that she is raunchier and funnier than her husband, and that he's kind of in the background. The show is witty, sweet, and just downright lovely. I have always been a fan of Andrea Savage, but this has intensified my love for her times a billion. Plus, her chemistry with Tom Everett Scott is perfect. I love him in this - it's the perfect role for him to show off his charm and comedic timing.

9. Marvel's The Defenders - I've only watched the first two episodes, and um, it's not great. I'm already pretty bored. I feel like it jumps around a lot in order to continue everyone's story and then rush them into a group setting, but so far, it's not working for me. It's a stark reminder of how great Daredevil and Jessica Jones are compared to Iron Fist (Luke Cage is alright...). I love the addition of Sigourney Weaver, though. She'll keep me watching (oh who am I kidding, I'm already too invested in the Marvel Netflix universe to stop watching).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

3 Thoughts on Dunkirk

1. That sound - I'm at a loss for words when it comes to describing the immense sound that blared through the theater. It was unrelenting, emotional, stressful, anxiety-inducing, haunting, and brilliantly experimental (and I still don't feel like I'm describing it well enough!). I've never heard anything like it. And I'll never forget it. I'm so glad that I experienced watching this film in IMAX, even though I scoffed at all of the critics and movie fans who insisted that *this* is the only way to see this film. It's true though. I think it will still be a fantastic film on a normal television screen, or however you choose to watch films. But, you will miss an essential part of the experience if you don't watch it in IMAX. The sound, combined with some pretty stunning visuals, allows the audience to immerse themselves into the chaos of war like no other film has before.

2. That scene - I remained fairly unemotional throughout the film, which I think was due to the sheer anxiety that I was experiencing. However, Nolan is masterful at creating emotion without explicitly pandering to the audience. It happened with one single shot - the shot with the little civilian rescue boats coming into view. It's just perfect. I had to control myself from bursting into tears. I feel like with the current state of the world (particularly America), I needed the reminder that there are people who are inherently good, altruistic and heroic.

3. That story - I really, really, really did not want to see this movie. I feel this way with most modern war movies - it seems impossible to tell the same story in a new way. Yet, I'm constantly gobsmacked by how extraordinary some of these stories are. Last year, we had Hacksaw Ridge that told a beautiful story about one heroic man. This year, Dunkirk told the story of hundreds of thousands of men, and yet it didn't tell any "one" particular story. We had several characters to focus on, but we know NOTHING about them. And this makes this a uniquely told war movie. It always bothers me when a movie tells the story of a hero, as a newly married man or a new father, as if we are supposed to care about someone more because they have family. Shouldn't we just care about everyone because they are human? This movie makes me care about everyone without giving me any information about them, and that is GENIUS. It's also genius to focus more on survival than the actual war because fighting to survive is a heroic act. I loved the way the stories are inter-cut, and have different timelines. It makes it interesting; forces the audience to figure out how and when they connect. Overall, this film has received mostly positive reviews (and is personally my pick so far for best film of the year - surpassing Baby Driver, I didn't think it was possible), but some of the critiques that I've read are downright baffling. People confused at the timeline (um...maybe...pay attention?), people complaining that the characters are indistinguishable (I had no trouble at all - although, I have no idea which one is the guy from One Direction. All of them were terrific actors. So, kudos One Direction guy.), and the worst take, people complaining about another male-centered story (I'm not even going to dignify that one, but if you are a feminist complaining about such trivial nonsense, then YOU are part of the problem).