Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2014

3 Thoughts on Big Hero 6

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

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

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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

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

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

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

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

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