Sunday, December 20, 2015

3 Thoughts on Secret in Their Eyes



1. The story - First, the answer is no, I have not seen the original. It's been on my list to watch, and I just moved it up to the top because I'm interested to see how it differs (other than the gender swap). I rarely would ever watch a movie that is a remake without watching the original first, but this was the only movie that both my mom and I wanted to see. Oddly, as I started watching it, I remembered that I already knew the story. I read an article about the original, and when it mentions a surprise twist, I couldn't help myself and read what it was. I didn't make the connection until about 1/2 through watching this movie, but luckily, it didn't really ruin it for me. I think that's what makes a great story - when even knowing the twist, it's still interesting. And, this, is a great revenge story.

2. The "secret" - *MAJOR spoilers, obviously* So, the part that I remembered from reading that article is that the mother finds her revenge rather quickly, but can't admit to it (because she would go to prison), so she continues in the "search" to find her daughter's murderer. Think about that. How brilliant is that story? And, it hasn't really been explored before. We've seen revenge stories, but it usually ends at the revenge, but what happens after? We assume, they either go to prison, or they get away with it. But, the psychology behind "they get away with it" and can't tell anyone is really, really interesting. I wish the movie focused on this aspect more, but instead it focuses more on her partner still convinced that he will find the guy. It actually ruins the movie to tell such a strong female-driven story of revenge, through a male perspective. It become more his story; his obsession to get revenge for his partner; his need to be the hero (which is interesting, but not as interesting). Also, there is actually another twist that I didn't know about, which in case you're still reading, I won't spoil for you. It's really great, though.

3. The aftermath - After letting the movie sink in for a few weeks, I'm surprised by the fact that even with such a strong story and strong actors, it's a forgettable movie. My mother kept reminding me of the movie An Eye for an Eye, with Sally Field, and about how that movie really effected her as a mother. I remember that movie so clearly, and I don't see how this one could compare to that impact. Perhaps it was because An Eye for an Eye was more gruesome and displayed the violent manner of the daughter's death more prominently, or perhaps it reveled in the simplicity of the vengeance theme. I don't really know. However, for a movie to have an impact, it needs to be memorable, and Secret in Their Eyes fails at this. The cast gives their all, but I think there is something lacking in the way the story is told. And the chemistry between Chiwetel Ejiofor and Nicole Kidman is non-existent (and, arguably, unnecessary?).

Monday, December 7, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Paper Towns - I didn't have the highest of hopes for this movie, but I really enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars way more than I was expecting to. It's a movie that stayed with me and has actually helped me overcome a little of my depression (when I'm at my worst, I remind myself that this is in fact NOT my "great and terrible 10" and convince myself that I can survive). This movie, based on the novel by the same author, did not have the same impact. It's mostly forgettable. I was interested to see Cara Delevingne act, since I've heard her name over and over again all year long. I do not understand the fuss. I don't know a nice way of saying this, but she seems incredibly average. She doesn't really fit the part of an "unattainable dream girl". Instead, she just seems like a bitch. The movie gets infinitely better when she leaves, but it's still mediocre, at best. The only part of the movie that I appreciate is the relationship between the 3 boys, because it seems very true to life - they are like the guys in Superbad, but just incredibly boring. Like, you know how the guys in Superbad are supposed to be the dorky outcasts, but of course, the audience wants to hang out with them? This is the opposite. These guys are actually dorky outcasts. So, while I appreciate the "trueness" of it, they are also boring as fuck, so do I really want to watch a movie about them? The answer is a resounding "no". I also feel like the DVD menu is a spoiler, because they are trying to figure out where she went, but the map on the menu is of Upstate NY. ASSHATS.

2. She's Funny That Way - This probably wouldn't have been as painful, if it didn't feature the worst accent of all time predominately through the whole movie. I almost had to turn it off. I already didn't think too highly of Imogen Poots, but man, this movie really made me hate her. Sure, some people from Brooklyn have really thick accents, but it's increasingly rare these days. Plus, I feel like it's better for actors to give hints of an accent, that way they don't sound as ridiculous as she does here. There are other things that bothered me about this movie, too. Like, the main guy, a clear misogynist, defines himself as "sort of a feminist", the "native" New Yorker saying the words "in a New York minute", and the use of a horse-drawn carriage (the people who use those in a city environment are the worst kinds of people - right behind murderers and rapists). I sort of stopped paying attention about 25 minutes in, because it was all just too horrendous, but my attentiveness perked anytime Kathryn Hahn appeared. Sadly, even she couldn't save this movie. It's one of the worst of the year, in my opinion.

3. Tomorrowland - Surprisingly, this movie will not be on my worst list (I've seen it on many others already). I actually really liked it. It's no surprise, considering my love for Damon Lindelof. I am so baffled as to why people shit on him so ferociously (other than apparently not being able to write characters with peripheral vision. Again???Really?? RUN SIDEWAYS FOR FUCK'S SAKE). He has such an imagination; he has more ideas in his pinky finger than most people will have in their entire lifetime. Partnered with Brad Bird, this movie is just one big idea and I think it's beautiful. I admit, I got a little bored in the middle, and I started to lose track of the plot, but it picks up again, and has a wonderful ending. I like that the main character is an optimist (not someone I typically relate to), but I felt like her positivity is inspiring. Instead of just stating all of the problems with the world, she asks "ok, what are we going to do about it?". I'm very much in a complacent process of giving up on this world (it's already turned to shit, nothing I do will change that), but this movie is about finding the ones who haven't given up. And I for one, sure hope they are out there.

4. No Escape - I think everyone knows this movie as "the one where Owen Wilson throws his daughter off the roof". It's really the only thing I knew about this movie (and it is a pretty gasp-worthy moment, that probably shouldn't have been revealed in the trailer, but whatever.). Watching a movie like this is definitely hard, with all that's going on in the world. A political uprising where a large group of people shoot to kill anyone in their path, is incredibly terrifying, and I'm not sure it's what the world needs to see right now. Other than the subject matter, I would say that it's an incredibly watchable movie. It moves really quickly, it's intense, and *spoiler* you know that everything is going to be okay in the end (I mean, really, if you didn't figure out that Brosnan's sole purpose in the film is to be the hero, then I don't think you understand how movies work). The only part that I really disliked was the part where they make the little girl hold the gun. It's so stupid and melodramatic. They would have just killed them instantly, like they did with every single other person in the movie. The saddest part of the whole thing is that this is a solid 3 star movie, nothing more, and yet it almost made my Top 10 of the year list, because this year has been the shittiest (and I'm not one to insist this every year, like some critics, but seriously, 3 star movies should not come close to my Top 10 list).

5. The Gift - I was actually really invested in this movie, because I was expecting an incredible twist. The movie seemed so mediocre, but so many people insisted that it was more, and I foolishly believed them. It's really terrible. And SURPRISE....there is no twist. The structure of the story just reveals a little more with every scene - that's called a plot. FYI: A twist is when you are led to believe one thing, and then something completely different happens. We are never led to believe that her husband is a nice guy - he's set up as an asshole from the first minute of the movie. We are never led to believe that the "creep" is anything other than a creep. We just find out why he is a creep (because the husband is an asshole). THAT'S THE WHOLE MOVIE. I didn't realize that this movie was written and directed by Joel Edgerton, and, as his first feature film, it's not a bad debut. I didn't like it, but I can admit that it's well-made and intriguing. It's just a gigantic let down if you were expecting to be blown away by a twist.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. San Andreas - I love a good ol' natural disaster movie. In the 90s, we had so many good ones - Twister, Armageddon, Deep Impact, Volcano, Dante's Peak (ok..."good" is a relative term). If you enjoyed those movies, then I think you will enjoy San Andreas. It follows the exact same formula, has a fantastically cheesy cast, and spectacular scenes of destruction. I'm not a big fan of The Rock; the only film I found him bearable in was Pain & Gain. I didn't mind him in this, but probably because I really, really like both Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario. I've loved Carla Gugino since I was 12 from Son in Law (I have no idea why, but I loved that movie). She was (and still is) one of the most beautiful women in the world. It's a little ridiculous that Daddario is playing her daughter, they are only 15 years apart, but they do sort of look alike. Daddario is on my list of up-and-coming actresses, but right now she has been coasting on her looks too much (I *knew* that conservative buttoned up top was coming off at some point in this movie, and OH LOOK, yup, right before she gets really, really wet). I'm not complaining (she's STUNNING), but I also see a shimmer of talent and I hope she gets the chance to let that shine, as well. She carried her scenes, because the brothers that she shares her scenes with are awful. The one guy (I refuse to learn his name) has a really terrible British accent. The accent isn't even necessary - just because he's a tourist doesn't mean he has to be from The U.K.. He could have just been from small town America (I don't even know if he's American, but he's certainly not British). All of their scenes were pretty repetitive with her just shouting "trust me, my dad will save us", but really she should have yelled "he's the fucking Rock". The earthquake premise is definitely terrifying. I was born in California and spent every summer there until I was 19, so I experienced a few. The one I remember the most is when I was 10, and I was on an airplane (by myself) when it hit. They wouldn't let the plane land, and when they finally did, everything was chaos. It definitely felt like the end of the world to me. I know that a gigantic quake along the San Andreas Fault line is expected in our lifetime, so the movie felt like a possibility. I don't know if it's possible for it to be felt on the East Coast, but you know, dramatic effect and all that. Tsunamis are natural effects of earthquakes, so it seemed a little dumb that they didn't expect one to happen. And to be clear Tsunamis are the scariest of all natural disasters.

2. Southpaw - This movie is exactly what I was expecting. Led by an outstanding performance from Jake Gyllenhaal, it's a predictable comeback story of a boxer who lost everything. I was entertained, for the most part, but I just feel like it's the same story that I've seen so many times before. *spoilers ahead* I knew the wife was going to die (I read it somewhere; someone was complaining that McAdam's role was cut short and I say thank fuck for that because she's awful in this - her dying scene "I'm cold". Jake had to be embarrassed for her.). I figured it would be an accident, though, like a car accident, not that she got shot by a rival boxer's gang. It added some intensity to the last boxing scene, but realistically it's a little too sensationalized, even for boxing. I'm not big on the sport, itself, considering that I am anti-violence, I don't find it appealing to watch people beat the shit out of each other. I watch violent movies (and enjoy them), but hopefully I don't have to remind you that movies aren't real. I understand, though, how someone who has lived a rough life, can use boxing as a form of therapy, and an outlet for their anger and grief. So, it's not something that I think shouldn't exist, I just don't want to see it. Does that make sense? Anyway, I think this movie is worth watching for Gyllenhaal's performance alone. It's my favorite performance of the year, so far.

3. Inside Out - It's official, I'm dead inside. I really don't want to shit on a movie that is this universally praised (which is why I usually keep my mouth shut when people talk about the Toy Story movies), so I will just focus on the main thing that bothered me, which is the message that it is presenting. It's incredibly confused, and as someone who suffers from depression, it is dangerous. Now, to me, this movie is about the emotion that is "sadness" NOT depression. Yet, every review that I read is about how this movie tackles depression. At first, I would agree with reviewers, the movie is about the chemicals in your brain, and about what happens when those chemicals suddenly stop working correctly (chaos reigns). However, the "lesson" is that sadness is a basic, normal part of a healthy brain and sometimes we need to let it in the driver's seat. That is, indeed, a great message. This little girl has plenty to be sad about, moving away from her friends, the stress of pleasing her parents, etc., so the message is that sadness is not a chemical imbalance; it's normal. So, if this movie "spoke" to you, then good news for you, you probably don't suffer from depression. Depression hits for no reason (sure, it is sometimes sparked by a life-changing event), and is not cured by letting yourself feel sadness. In fact, you feel nothing. I guess, I'm not as upset about the actual movie, as I am by how people interpreted it. I don't see how anyone that suffers from depression could disagree with me; if depression could be cured with some empathy and a hug, well, wouldn't that just be delightful? Maybe my own depression prevents me from feeling anything for this movie, but I did recently bawl hysterically during an episode of America's Next Top Model, so maybe I'm not totally dead inside. Also, I have a hard time connecting to the whole "core memory" aspect because I'm pretty sure if I accessed any of those I would want to slit my wrists (let's be real, not everyone has great memories of their childhood). On a less emotional note, there are a few moments of genius - like when "facts" and "opinions" are thrown in the same box, the imaginary boyfriend "I live in Canada", and the tween boys brain screaming "Girl! Girl! AAAAAH!" at the end made me laugh harder than I've laughed in a while.

4. Terminator Genisys - Sadly, as horrible as this movie is, there has been worse this year. It's the 4th worst movie so far this year. That's the nicest thing I can say about it. It didn't have to be so bad. The Terminator movies have never been anything but cheesy fun (aside from Terminator 2, which is an awesome movie). The worst part is Jai Courtney (obviously). I don't understand how he is still given parts after the atrocity of that Die Hard movie. And I just found out he's in the Suicide Squad movie! Way to ruin EVERYTHING, guys. He is so bland and boring and just plain terrible. The second worst part is Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor. Connor is a legendary kick-ass character, so it's tough to fill Linda Hamilton's shoes, but Clarke doesn't even come close. She's a beautiful woman, but she has no presence. Sorry, I don't really care for her on Game of Thrones, either, but I do like her character. The third worst part of the movie is that I am *pretty sure* this plot has happened before...right?!? Or am I crazy? It's been a long time since I've seen any of the Terminator movies, but I felt like I was watching a reboot instead of a sequel. Maybe that was the intent? I don't know. At least J.K. Simmons made me laugh a few times ("Goddamn time traveling robots!").

5. Magic Mike XXL - Three things I read about this movie: 1. It's better than the first. 2. The Joe Manganiello scene is one of the best of the year. 3. It's about female empowerment. This is all BULLSHIT. 1. I didn't hate the first one, but there was definitely room for improvement and this movie does not do it. I was completely bored to death for most of it. I thought the first one was a bit cheesy (terrible dialogue), but it had a good story. This one has no story. It's just a group of guys traveling to a stripper convention and um...finding themselves? I guess? 2. If a guy walked into my place of work and started sexually dancing to The Backstreet Boys like that, I would call the cops. I think any sane woman would. And I don't find him sexy at all (I would still call the cops, even if I did find him sexy). I actually don't think any of them are sexy. I love Channing Tatum because I think he's funny and he is an extremely talented dancer. And I think Matt Bomer is very pretty, but sexy? Nope. You know why? None of them have any personality in this movie. 3. Female empowerment? WHAT? Where? Women paying men to give them compliments and pretend like they are attracted to them? The scene where this group of men tell women to "own it" (referring to their sexual desires)? Sorry, but that's just another case of the male savior syndrome. It's men making women feel good about themselves. WE DON'T NEED THIS. This movie is just perpetuating the idea that we do, and it's fucking depressing. Ok, now that I got that out, there are some things I liked about this movie (when I wasn't bored to death). Amber Heard is a Goddess. For real. I love her reaction to the dance at the end, and I love that you could tell it was a genuine reaction (she spoke about how Tatum didn't tell her the intensity of the dance). I was also so excited by Donald Glover, as a performer because Childish Gambino's Camp album is my favorite modern rap album. I was prepared for an awesome performance, but it fell so flat. Such a disappointment, but I still love him. The highlight of the movie was the final performance. All of them did their own thing (you know, because they found themselves...I guess?), and it was all very entertaining.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Pitch Perfect 2 - I liked the first one, but I wasn't as enamored by it as most were. It was just a combination of Bring it On and Glee, and it definitely wasn't as witty as either of them. The sequel is more of the same, and unfortunately seems even less witty. Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) is overused and she absolutely ruined one of my all-time favorite songs ("We Belong"). It's so bad that I actually hate her now. HATE. Also, I still don't get Hailee Steinfeld. I guess she might have been good in True Grit (I still haven't seen it. I know!), but she hasn't been good in ANYTHING else. She has a decent voice, but her song (I don't know what it's called, so I'll just call it "The Flashlight Song"), is certainly no "Cups". There are so many scenes that are meant to be funny that I just stared at the screen in complete confusion. HOWEVER, there are a few very funny moments. My favorite is the underground competition (completely ridiculous, but at least it was funny). When they had to "sing a song about butts" and Kendrick responds "anything on the radio". Plus, the Green Bay Packers?! Haha! Seriously?! If you enjoy music mash-ups, then this is a highly enjoyable scene. It's a cute movie, but I guess I just don't see why it's so popular.

2. The Age of Adeline - Not as terrible as I was expecting, but I had really low expectations, so that's not saying much. I absolutely adore Blake Lively. She isn't a great actress, but she is so extremely beautiful and she always seems so happy and nice in interviews. I was a huge fan of Gossip Girl, mostly because of her and of course, Blair "leggings are not pants" Waldorf. I think Lively did a decent job in this role. There is something magical about her, like a sparkle in her eye, that makes this supernatural story a little believable. It's not realistic in any sense of the word, but they explain the "magic", and then they follow through with it, so it doesn't have to be realistic (it's fiction, like most movies). To me, it's a beautiful tale of the joy that is in life, but also in death. There is something to be said for living a full life and dying in peace. Adeline is denied this basic life experience and it is lonely and unsatisfying. I think I would have been fully on board if it weren't a love story. A very awkward and weird love story. Or maybe if it was a love story, but it didn't have the "other" love story twist? I don't know, something about it just doesn't sit right. I do like that she falls for Ellis because he is intelligent. Her response to "I don't want to come across as a know-it-all" is "too bad, I adore know-it-alls", and it is my favorite line in the movie. I don't think she means the intended obnoxious behavior of "know-it-alls", but instead that she is attracted to people who aren't afraid to show their knowledge and passion for certain topics. Having lived for so long and having so much life experience, she would certainly get bored with someone of average intelligence. I wish the movie moved a little quicker, because there is definitely some pacing issues, but overall, I don't know why, I think I kind of liked it.

3. The Gunman - I read some reviews that are really harsh on this movie, but a few of my "movie people" said good things about it, so I watched it with an open-mind (like I usually do). It does have an excellent cast. Sean Penn is one of my favorite actors (unfortunately), plus, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are all top-notch. There are some excellent scenes, the trapped in the bathroom scene, in particular. It's just not a very memorable movie. I only watched it a week ago and I barely remember anything about it except that I hate the female character in it. She stops in the middle of a life threatening situation and demands "I'm not moving until you explain", um...there are people shooting at you, dumb-ass bitch, shut up and do what he says. Ugh...it makes me angry just thinking about it. I hate stupid female characters. It just ruins the whole movie, for me.

4. Entourage - I know, I know, as a feminist, how on Earth can I possibly watch this, but honestly, I think it's hilarious. Judge me if you want, but I promise you that any typical romantic comedy has the same, if not more, anti-feminist, misogynistic sentiment. I'd rather watch a montage of women confidently dancing around in bikinis, than a montage of a woman changing her outfit 30 times and disapprovingly looking at herself in the mirror. So, moving on, I enjoy these characters, especially Turtle. He is always my favorite. Him and Ronda Rousey make such a cute couple. Overall, I am satisfied with this movie, but it did feel a little dated, which is weird (there are references to Tonya Harding and Karen Carpenter, so awkward). I am also really, really annoyed that E. and Sloan were yet again, separated, so they spent the whole movie doing that back-and-forth thing that they did for 8 seasons. Drama had the best story arc, like usual, and he had the best line "I was given the gift of delusional confidence". And, as usual, the least interesting character is Vince. It's awkward that he is also the least attractive one in the group, too. Superficial, I know. But that's what this movie is: superficial fun. Don't take it so seriously.

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl - *spoilers* I was annoyed by the trailer for this movie, because it seemed like it was just trying so hard to be quirky and "independent", and worst of all, it panders to movie geeks by having the main kid be a "filmmaker". It turns out, the movie is exactly what I feared from the trailer, but there are some really sweet moments. The part I liked the most is the message that death isn't the end. There is still so much you can learn about a person after they die. I wish this was explored more, but instead it is just shown in the last moments of the movie, as Greg discovers these amazingly creative book sculptures that "the dying girl" made. And in case you don't know how sappy movies work, "the dying girl", does in fact die, even though Greg insists that she doesn't several times in the movie. I'm not sure why the filmmakers chose to lie to the audience, maybe they thought it would add emotion, but I found it aggravating. I really like the supporting cast. Olivia Cooke is AWESOME on Bates Motel and she is the highlight of this movie. There is also Nick Offerman, Connie Britton and Molly Shannon. I wish the main kid was as good. He just bored me. The movie would have been better if it were just Earl and the Dying Girl. Or maybe just The Dying Girl. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Holiday Movie Preview: 6 Movies that I am Excited About

1. Macbeth (12/4) - Fassbender. Cotillard. Macbeth. I am there. It's already been released in other countries and it's getting fantastic reviews. I love Shakespeare, but I rarely like the film adaptations. This one looks like it might get it right, though. Also, did you know there is a 2006 film version of Macbeth that stars Sam Worthington??! That has to be hilarious.

2. The Big Short (12/11) - Cast of the year? Christian Bale, Brad Pitt & Ryan Gosling. That's the kind of cast that draws my attention without knowing anything about it. I wish I still knew nothing about it, but unfortunately, I saw the trailer before The Martian and I wasn't too impressed. It looks boring. Also, it looks like a bigger, "Hollywood" version of Margin Call (which wasn't boring, I actually really liked it, but I don't think I would ever watch it again). A movie like this is really going to rely on the dialogue - it needs to be fast-paced and witty, and I didn't get that at all from the trailer. I'm still interested in seeing it, though. If done well, it will surely be a front-runner during awards season.

3. Sisters (12/18) - I've always been a big fan of Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Especially Poehler. She is definitely the funnier one. Recently, I read Fey's Bossypants, and it really made me an even bigger fan of her because she flat out admits that Poehler is indeed funnier than her. She recalls a lot of earlier struggles during their Second City run, and the push-back she got for calling out the minor roles for women (oddly enough, I read this book while on a cruise which featured the Second City performers, and to my delight it was very equally gendered. So, Tina's stubbornness paid off. Kudos.). Anyway, the two of them together is bound to be funny (Baby Mama had me in tears), plus Paula Pell wrote the screenplay and she is one of my favorite SNL writers.

4. The Revenant (12/25) - Now this has an intense trailer. I could barely breathe when it was over. First, it's directed by one of my favorite directors, Alejandro G. Inarritu. While I wasn't completely in love with Birdman, and other films of his, 21 Grams and Amores Perros still remain as two of my absolute favorite movies. Second, Leonardo DiCaprio is fucking determined to get an Oscar. I'm kidding, I don't think he actually cares about a stupid statue (He has to care a little bit, though...right?), but he just picks the toughest roles imaginable and excels every single time. As dumb as it is, he deserves the recognition that an Oscar stands for. He's deserved it for 20 years.

5. Joy (12/25) - I have no idea what this movie is about because the trailer is so random. It's just a bunch of chaotic scenes of beautiful people. But, it's David O. Russell. He's another one of my favorite directors (more for earlier stuff like Three Kings and I Heart Huckabees). This is his third movie with Jennifer Lawrence, and I haven't really liked their collaborations. She was good in Silver Linings Playbook, but I thought she was the weakest link in American Hustle. I am interested to see her headline a project like this, though. She definitely carries the Hunger Games movies, so I see her potential.

6. The Hateful Eight (12/25) - Other than the controversy of the leaked script, I know nothing about this movie. Just that it's Quentin Tarantino and that the cast is kind of awesome - KURT RUSSELL! JENNIFER JASON LEIGH! Fuck yes! I think it's going to be one of those "love it or hate it" kind of movies, but I usually enjoy Tarantino movies - even the ones that I don't love usually have something to still praise (the ones that I don't love will probably shock you, the Kill Bill movies and yes, Pulp Fiction).

P.S. - I realize that a BIG movie is missing from the list. Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I do plan on seeing it because I am a HUGE J.J. Abrams fan, but I've never seen any of the Star Wars movies (I KNOW! HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?!!), and I probably won't be able to watch them before this one is released. However, I'm sure this will be in the theaters for a few months, so I'm planning a Star Wars binge in January. Then, I will venture out to see the new one.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thoughts on 6 New TV Shows

1. Scream Queens - The show that I was most excited for this Fall, and in turn, is the show that is the biggest disappointment. The first episode was so awful, I almost didn't make it through the whole thing. There is a fine line with showcasing problems like racism, homophobia, sexism, etc., by utilizing dry humor and sarcasm, and Scream Queens just crosses it with an overwhelming sense of meanness. Chanel, by all intensive purposes, is the star of the show, and she is just a disgusting human being. Her general personality relies on the fact that she's "rich and pretty" so it doesn't matter how mean she is or that she, you know, "accidentally" murders someone. Emma Roberts is part of the problem; she just doesn't really scream "perfection" to me, instead she seems really awkward. I feel like she tries to overcome her own awkardness to a cringe-worthy degree. The first episode felt more like Scary Movie than Scream, and that wasn't what I was expecting. One character even live-tweeted her own murder. I mean, seriously. Lea Michele is under-utilized (and OF COURSE she would get a makeover, and become a bigger role, because she is a queen and should always be in the spotlight. ON BROADWAY, NOT ON THIS DUMB-ASS SHOW.). Jamie Lee Curtis deserves better than this - her role is an embarrassment to the horror genre. Once I made it past the first episode, the next few have had moments of genuine brilliance, but overall, I kind of hate it. The third episode featured the best scene so far, the Backstreet Boys scene, which came just at the point where I wondered if I could really take any more torture. I thought, "well, damn, I HAVE to continue watching now! Fuck.". So, I'm still watching it, just waiting for every single character to die a horrible, bloody death.

2. Quantico - It's Grey's Anatomy meets The Recruit. I wasn't even going to watch it, but then I saw a few familiar faces among the cast, all of whom I like ("small eyes" from Cougar Town, the super hot guy from the Crash TV show, the other hot guy from Rookie Blue). The first episode was a direct copy of Grey's, just replacing medical interns with FBI recruits. However, the mystery behind who is framing Alex is driving the show, but for how long will that last? The reason Grey's works is because it's about the characters and the relationships; it doesn't need a mystery (and it's lasted for 12 years for this exact reason). Once the mystery of Quantico is solved, which should happen soon, because I'm already aggravated, what's next? I just don't see it sustaining for very long. I do really like the cast. Aside from those mentioned above, I also like the lead, Priyanka Chopra, she has great screen presence, and Johanna Braddy, who looks identical to Naomi Watts. They all have great chemistry together. The only one I don't like is Yasmine Elmasri. She always looks like a deer in headlights, and I thought maybe it was part of her character(s), but after several episodes, I think she's just a bad actress. Overall, I think the show has potential, but in the 5 episodes so far, I haven't really been too impressed.

3. Limitless - I don't know why, but I just can't seem to get into this show. The cast is excellent, with some of my all-time favorites like, Ron Rifkin (Arvin Sloane from Alias) and Jennifer Carpenter (Debra Morgan from Dexter). I love Jake McDorman, he was on that show Greek, and last year's Manhattan Love Story. The show has utilized really thoughtful guest stars too, by having McDorman's Manhattan co-star, the super adorable Analeigh Tipton, as his ex-girlfriend, and Desmond Harrington, another Dexter alum as Carpenter's love interest. Plus, having Bradley Cooper show up a few times doesn't hurt. I think the plot is just a little boring, and the way each episode feels exactly the same just doesn't hold my interest. It feels like a CBS show. Lately, I have forgone my "no CBS shows" rule because some have been great (Elementary, The Good Wife), but this is a very typical show for them. You don't really have to pay much attention, the character relationships are really predictable, the crime that needs to be solved is really easy to solve, etc. So, I guess I do know why I can't get into it, but I'm still watching it because it could get good. It's from the producers of Alias (which is why the cast is so great), and even as a die-hard Alias fan, I can admit that the first few episodes aren't that great. Some shows just need time to find its groove.

4. Blindspot - Another show that hasn't really grabbed me. I liked the first episode, aside from the fact that it was an overload lot of exposition. Pilot episodes are tricky, especially for high-concept shows, but it felt a little like desperation. However, the concept is solid, and a lot can be done with it. I'm still unsure of the direction it is going in, because I think a lot of the twists have been misdirection to distract the audience from guessing the "real" twist. Jaimie Alexander is a fantastic lead actress, this is her role to shine in. The rest of the cast, though, is really awful. The lead guy, I don't even want to know his name, is bland as fuck. And Ashley Johnson still acts and looks like she's 12 (I could never see her as anything but Chrissy Seaver). The first few episodes were just "Jane" arguing to be a part of the mission, he would tell her to wait in the car, she would disobey, then she would save the day, on repeat. I'm glad that she has become part of the team, because that was getting really annoying. I think the only way the plot is going to work is if they add a sci-fi element (like someone who can predict the future and utilized her to help the FBI stop terrorist attacks). Otherwise, none of it is going to make any sense. You know what also doesn't make sense? That every single terrorist attack seems to happen in NYC. I know, it seems petty, but a show like this should be more international (Sidney Bristow traveled the world to stop terrorists.)

5. The Grinder - I wasn't planning on watching this show, but I realized that I have very few sitcoms to watch anymore. This one looked like the best of the new ones, so I gave it a shot. I'm glad I did, because I like it a lot. It's not like hilarious, or anything, but I think it's really cute and sweet, and I do laugh a few times with each episode. Rob Lowe gave life to an already funny Parks and Recreation, and he really excels in the spotlight. I really like Fred Savage, as well. Of course, growing up with The Wonder Years, I think everyone my age feels the same way, but I like that he took the director route. He's directed some of my favorite sitcoms (It's Always Sunny, Party Down, Modern Family, Happy Endings). Lowe and Savage play really well off of each other, as brothers who are the complete opposite of each other. Mary Elizabeth Ellis (from It's Always Sunny) plays Savage's wife, and William Devane is their father, so needless to say, the cast is great. The kids are great too. There have been some really memorable moments like "hashtag teen life" and the Ray Donovan DVR episode, "We tried to watch Ray Donovan!" *dead silence*. OH AND they made a Summer School reference. I LOVE THAT MOVIE!! I feel like it's a show that can only get better with time, and since it's already good, the potential is sky high.

6. Supergirl - I am so happy to say, I actually really liked the pilot episode. I was skeptical, especially with Melissa Benoist, but it's really fun. I was surprised at the supporting cast - was it announced that Dean Cain was in it?? Because I squealed out-loud "SUPERMAN!". And Ally McBeal?! There's also the guy from Smash, which made me think there might be some showtunes in the future (with him and Benoist coming from musical shows). I'd be ok with that. I wish they didn't have it set in the publishing world because that plot's already taken, but I guess it's part of the formula. The biggest surprise is that I actually really like Benoist in the role. She's sweet, smart, and seems genuine. Maybe Glee just wasn't the right role for her? I like the twist with her sister, and I like that they reference Superman. There's only been the one episode so far, but it was definitely my favorite pilot of the season. I hope the rest of the series continues this way.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Creep - So, I've always thought of Mark Duplass as really sort of creepy. I think that's why I've never liked him in movies that I'm supposed to like him in (Safety Not Guaranteed, The One I Love). Needless to say, this is a PERFECT role for him. The movie is told found-footage style, about a guy who answers a Craigslist ad (HAHA! What??) as a Videographer for the day. The uneasiness is built in right away with this mixture of "this guy is creeeeeepy" and "aww...poor guy". He explains that he is dying and he wants to record a video for his unborn son (he references the movie My Life, and OHMYGOD remember that movie? I think I cried through the entire thing). The whole beginning of the movie relies on unnecessary jump scares, which is really annoying. I began to think that they didn't know any other way to scare an audience, but then the last 30 minutes of the movie are BRILLIANT. The scene where he is sleeping with the camera on and it starts to move! AAAH! So unsettling. Then his last mea culpa ("I only need a friend and you're the last chance I have"), actually makes you feel bad for him. And THEN, the last scene. My mouth actually dropped open and I stared at the screen for a solid 5 minutes after it was over. It makes the whole movie worth watching.

2. The Duke of Burgundy - I've seen a lot of high praise for this movie, and I didn't really know what it was about so I watched it with a very blank slate, which I think worked. However, I don't think I can praise it as highly as everyone else. I did like it. There is a lot to praise, but overall, I was a little let down by certain aspects. It's beautifully shot, with some stunning use of mirrors and reflections. It deals with the subject matter, BDSM, with respect by showcasing it within a relationship that is built on love and intimacy. It also shows the intricacies within this fetish by questioning which one in the relationship is actually in control. I did like the parallel butterfly discussion, although I feel like I need to study butterflies to really understand its relationship to their relationship (I didn't even know that the title is in reference to a certain type of rare butterfly until after the movie. Was it mentioned? Maybe I missed it.). I think my reservations for the film are because of the very basic, simple fact that I just don't get it. I don't connect with either character (I don't like being told what to do, nor do I like to tell others what to do). And, I really find the character, Evelyn, insufferable and immature...and spoiled...and an overall bad human being. So, I don't really root for her to have a happy ending. But, again, it's very beautiful to look at. It's well-acted. It's interesting, and there is even a bit of humor to it. If I were to judge it purely by an "everything I learned in film school" mindset I would probably praise it highly, but, seriously how boring are those people?

3. Cinderella - It's a very "expected" movie. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I have to wonder, if there isn't any value added to a story, then why tell it? It seems like a useless exercise, but one that kids and young teens will probably enjoy. I wasn't a huge fan of Cinderella when I was a kid, but I LOVED the mice (I almost named my cat "Gus", but I named him "Simba" instead). I used to sing the "Cinderelly" song ALL THE TIME ("used to", as in I still do, just not in front of anyone but my cats. It's sadly not in this film). It's a sweet story, that focuses on the two lessons "be kind" and "have courage". I always liked the way Cinderella stayed true to the "kindness" even when faced with the true evilness of her step-family, but I think I knew it would be a mistake to believe that "kindness" would actually get me anywhere, and therefore, I always called "bullshit" on the story of Cinderella. I mean, you should be kind, yes, but don't expect a prince to fall in love with you because of your kindness (being cynical will keep your heart from being broken, now there is real life lesson for you. You're welcome.). Anyway, aside from the mushy-gushiness of it all, it's a very pretty movie. Some scenes looked like they were straight out of a Monet painting (in fact, I'm pretty sure one shot is a direct copy, but I looked into it and I found nothing.). The acting ranges from fantastic (Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter - both are literally perfect in their roles) to blah (Lily James - kind does not equal boring). Overall, it's a very average movie.

4. Spy - I have no idea why anyone is raving about this movie. Really, I read so many amazing reviews, and it has a 93% on RT, which is high for any movie, but especially a comedic spy movie. I watched the trailer, and I wasn't really impressed, but I had high hopes for the supporting cast. I shouldn't have been surprised that I didn't enjoy the movie, because I think, deep down, I knew it wasn't going to be good. People seem to be surprised that Jason Statham is funny (Um...Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels? Snatch? Anyone?). He definitely steals a few scenes here, but it becomes repetitive. The highlight for me is Rose Byrne (and Jesus fucking Christ, please don't tell me people didn't already KNOW that she is hilarious). She goes so over-the-top as the villain. I think it's funny because she kind of calls out the ridiculousness, by being ridiculous. Jude Law (as "Bradley Fine" Ahem.) has his funny moments, as well. Yet, overall, I didn't really laugh out loud. The plot is really fucking stupid and so OBVIOUS. Rule # 1 of the spy genre: If you don't actually see someone die, then they aren't dead. I'm not a Paul Feig hater, I laughed like a crazy person at both Bridesmaids and The Heat, this just didn't do it for me.

5. Child 44 - There are two really fascinating stories that are told in this movie, but jumbled together it becomes so confusing and hard to follow. One story is about a relationship set in 1950's Russia, between a police officer (soldier? general? I have no idea.) and his wife. He tells a tale of "true love", while her version is one of a frightened woman who was taught not to say no to people in power. She is claimed to be a traitor (no idea why...), and he refuses to denounce her, causing them both to be exiled. A whole movie could be made out of this plot (I would focus on her story, but either way works). The second story that is intertwined is about a serial killer who is killing young boys. Apparently, in Soviet Russia, the theory of communism does not allow for serial killers. Communism is "paradise", and murder only happens in a capitalistic society. Therefore, murders are hidden, and disguised as accidents. So, a serial killer is on the loose and no one is doing a thing about it, until this police officer (soldier? general?) decides to investigate. Now that is a great plot. Why not just focus on this? Can I call for a redo? Two separate movies with different actors. Don't get me wrong, it's a fantastic group of actors, but none of them felt right for the part. I mean, Tom Hardy just gives it all he's got with the accent, but just....no. And Gary Oldman reminded me of his guest star on Friends. I just kept picturing him spitting on people, which was quite distracting.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

3 Thoughts on The Martian



1. Science over faith- With the recent string of films about space travel (Gravity, Interstellar), I found the biggest highlight of this movie was its consistent reliance on science. While other movies of this nature rely on the character "believing" in something that isn't tangible (destiny, a higher power, positive energy, their own "will" to survive, etc), Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, basically states "I'm not gonna die here" and then uses every scientific resource that his brain can generate. And you know what? It is fucking awesome. And you know why? Because it really doesn't matter how much you "believe", if you are facing a deadly situation, like being stranded on Mars, you're going to need to utilize your brain. I did find the plot a bit repetitive (problem, *light bulb*, solution, repeat), but if you have the slightest interest in learning things, then you will have fun with this movie. The question remains, would any of it actually work? I mean, he describes, in detail, every move he makes, but until someone actually does any of it (on Mars), we really don't know.

2. Drama over simplicity - The reason that I'm not completely in love with the movie is related a bit to the repetition, because it all seemed a little too dragged out for dramatic effect. *Spoiler, if you don't know how movies like this work*, he obviously lives. His team goes back for him and they save him (only after he saved himself multiple times), and we already know this is what is going to happen as soon as it is mentioned as an option. Therefore, the drawn-out ending became really tedious and really didn't achieve the suspense that I think was intended. After the second failed attempt at his rescue, I was already like "ok, really, just fucking rescue the guy already". They tried to lighten the mood by injecting some "humor" - that's in quotes because I didn't really think any of it was funny, like the running gag with disco music (because apparently only one person brought music and she only listens to one genre of music - disco. Is she a robot?). Even with its faults, it's still a solid 4 star movie, and my favorite of the year, so far.

3. Talent over charm - I'm not referring to the star; Matt Damon is the king of cinematic charm (he shares his kingdom with James McAvoy). He relies on this charm, as he spends most of his screen time on his own, talking to an imaginary audience. I'm referring to the two female characters, Jessica Chastain and Kate Mara. These are two actresses who have both been critiqued for being "cold". In fact, I very recently read a twitter conversation about how Mara "needs to put a smile on her face" (a woman said this, btw). I'm sure these actresses are used to ridiculous things being said about them, but it's so insulting to critique someone for actually being realistic (she is an astronaut who survived a horrible tragedy, in which she thought her friend/co-worker died, and now she must put her life in danger again to save him - WHY THE FUCK WOULD SHE SMILE??). So if you are seeing this movie because you want "eye candy" females laughing, smiling, and charming their way through space, then this is not the movie for you. Gender is never even addressed, even with Chastain in the "leader" role. Her decisions are questioned and judged, but not because she is female, but because she is human.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Divergent Series: Insurgent - I remember liking the first movie, but oddly, I don't really remember very much from it. And even more oddly, I don't remember a big part of the plot that is essential for this installment. *spoilers ahead* Apparently, Tris killed Will (who???), and is now facing the consequences, both politically and emotionally (we know it's emotional because she chopped her hair off. DUUUUH. Her hair looks terrible, btw.). I can't really say that I liked this sequel, but I didn't hate it. It's sort of just "there" to serve a purpose of propelling the story forward to the next chapter. It's like the really boring middle part of a movie, but extended for 2 hours. I was surprised by some of the cast. Was Jai Courtney in the first one? Because I don't remember him at all (although, that's not surprising)). And I know Naomi Watts wasn't in the first one. The question becomes how the fuck did Jai Courtney end up in the same movie as Kate Winslet and Naomi Watts?!? Also, I need someone to explain the difference between the "factionless" and the "divergents". They explained it in the movie, but they still seem like the same thing, to me. I also don't really understand how the divergents are going to save the world, but I guess that will be explained in the next one?

2. The Loft - I'll admit, this movie has some excellent twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I watched it for the cast - Karl Urban, Rachael Taylor, Wentworth Miller, Matthias Schoenaerts, Rhona Mitra etc. I was expecting a cheesy, predictable thriller. However, just because it has a good twist doesn't mean it's a good movie. The script is obnoxious, infuriating, misogynistic, homophobic, fat-phobic, and ridiculous. I think many women will be put off by the premise - five guys sharing a loft for the sole purpose of cheating on their wives. I'm not actually too bothered by it. Men cheat. Big whoop. (Women cheat, too.). The parts that bothered me is that these men are actually bad people. One of them assaults and rapes a woman, but apparently it's okay because his father was abusive. So, his "bros", stand by him. Another guy consistently calls a woman he has sex with "dumpy", which is never ok, but it's certainly even more absurd when he's not even fit, himself. I won't say why the other guys are awful (other than the fact that they don't call the police after their friend rapes someone) because it would ruin the twists, but I think you get my point. The characters are confronted with a "punishment", which could have been really satisfying if it were real, but the twist negates the punishment. Overall, it just made me angry, because a film this bad shouldn't have an impressive twist.

3. What We Do in the Shadows - I was not expecting to laugh as hard as I did. I didn't even really know anything about this movie; other than it got pretty good reviews. I knew it was about vampires, but I was expecting a moody vampire movie in the same vein as Only Lovers Left Alive. I guess I wasn't really paying much attention, was I? It's fucking hilarious and best of all, ORIGINAL! It actually made my stomach hurt from laughing so much. The best part is obviously the "werewolves not swearwolves", but I really loved so much of it. There are so many quotable moments ("If I had a penis, I would have been bitten years ago"), and memorable scenes (when they circle around him yelling "shame! shame! bad vampire!"). I would LOVE to watch it again, and again, and that is a rare feeling. I hate that it's technically a 2014 release, because if it were a 2015 release, it would be my number 1 movie of this year. That's not really saying much, though, because my best of list is pathetic so far. I'm so excited that there is supposedly a spin-off in the works about the infamous werewolves; I can't fucking wait!

4. Furious 7 - I'm a fan of this series; have been from the beginning. Not as big of a fan as some, but overall, I think they are fun action movies. I knew this one was going to be a tough one to watch. Paul Walker has become synonymous with this franchise, not just because he was the star, but because it is where he excelled. He seemed to enjoy making these films, and the cast had a real camaraderie that kept the franchise fresh and different. The relationships between the characters were just as important as the action and that's what kept the audience interested. That and, you know, flying cars through buildings. This film served as a touching tribute to Paul. I didn't realize how much of the movie was already filmed, so I was expecting his character to die during every life-threatening sequence (*spoiler* he doesn't, which was really, really smart). I do have to admit that I am a little disappointed in the fact that the movie takes a step back from the badass female characters that were featured in the previous one, but I understand and accept the reason behind it; It needed to focus on the original main characters (it was always a "bro" movie, anyway). There are some FANTASTIC action sequences, all relating back to "cars don't fly". Some of the action sequences were real, and not CGI, which is really hard to believe (the cars dropping from the plane scene, for one). The final tribute scene, is so heartbreaking. I fought back a tear (or two). I can understand why some are calling this one the best in the series, but I prefer 6 (and probably 1, but I would need to watch it again to be sure).

5. The Maze Runner - Eerily similar to the Divergent plot, but told in a much more concise way. I feel like this movie did what both Divergent movies did, but in just one movie. It's even more odd that this movie ends in almost the exact same way as Insurgent (what's on the other side?). I watched them only two days apart, so I noticed the similarities more that I might have if I saw them further apart. I remember seeing the trailer for this movie, and I was surprised at the intensity, but then I forgot about it until the sequel was just released. I feel like all of these movies are overshadowed by The Hunger Games (rightfully so), but this one definitely had some interesting ideas and surprising outcomes. It's like an updated version of Lord of the Flies. The plot focuses on this group being placed inside this "maze"; they learn to civilize, and accept the terms in order to survive. Then, one day, someone is dropped in the maze, and questions their complacency. He demands action, which could have dangerous results. It really stresses the differences in humanity (those who accept injustice and those who fight against it). There were some great effects, and some really intense scenes, especially if you're claustrophobic (I'm not, but I imagine this movie might be hard to watch if one is). I love the cast, too. Kaya Scodelario has been on my radar for a while now (since the first series of Skins). There's just something about her. I don't think I've ever seen the main lead guy before (Dylan O'Brien), but I really liked him. He sort of reminded me of Paul Walker. The best part of the movie is that I actually look forward to watching the sequel!

Monday, September 21, 2015

4 Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

1. The Host - I've never really been the biggest fan of Andy Samberg. On SNL, he always came off as a narcissistic, privileged, frat-boy type of personality. I found some of his stuff funny, but mostly obnoxious. However, I became more of a fan with Brooklyn Nine-Nine (hilarious show). I don't think he has necessarily changed, but my perception of him did. He seems like he has a lot of fun with what he does, and he also seems to appreciate his privilege. This is exactly how I would describe his performance as Emmy host. He had fun and he seemed happy to be there. The opening song was really cute and relevant to how we watch television today. I feel the stress of watching EVERY show possible. It's overwhelming to think about all of the shows I still need to watch, and I watch a TON of television. The other highlights of his hosting gig were: 1. "Racism is over!! Don't fact-check that." 2. The Mad Men parody. 3. Classifying Louie as "jazz" (that's actually quite fitting). 4. His dig at Paula Deen & Kim Davis: "If I wanted to see an intolerant woman dance, I would have went to one of Kim Davis' four weddings".

2. The Winners and Losers - I thought this was going to be an easy awards show to watch. There were so many wonderful shows and talented performers nominated; I thought it would be pretty impossible to piss me off. Then, Game of Thrones won the awards for writing, directing, and series, and my blood began to boil. Game of Thrones is a good show. Above average? Sure. I'll even concede the directing award, because it's such an epic show, with so many different characters and plots; making it all cohesive, is a talent that deserves recognition. It is not, however, a well-written show. I'm often questioning character motivation because of inconsistencies in development; I get bored after watching 2 episodes in a row because it's repetitive; and, for a show that is geared towards "geeks", it isn't especially intelligent. I understand that it has a huge fan-base, but even the biggest fans have called the past season its worst (I just finished season four, so I wouldn't know). There is no way anyone will ever convince me that it should win a writing award over Mad Men (and it's certainly not a better show). Anyway, moving on, I was happy with all of the other winners. At least they were smart enough to give Jon Hamm an Emmy, fucking finally (although, I admit, I always rooted for Bryan Cranston or Michael C. Hall in the past). While, I love Amy Poehler, I knew the award was going to Julia (and she deserves it). I love that not one, but two, women won in the directing category (although, I have yet to see Olive Kitteridge or Transparent). Viola Davis gave an outstanding performance this year, and an even better speech. They threw in a few surprises, too, which is always nice. Regina King should have been nominated several times for SouthLAnd, so it was a bit of a redemption for her to win (even if American Crime was mediocre, at best). And, even though I am pissed at the awards love for Game of Thrones, Peter Dinklage is definitely deserving. I tend to zone out during some episodes, but his scenes always bring me right back in. Also, I guess I should watch Olive Kitteridge?? I mean, holy hell, that is one heck of a cast.

3. The Show - While, it seemed to move a little bit quicker than usual, some of the presenters really took their time up there. Do people really think Jimmy Kimmel is funny? Like, seriously? His hosting of the Emmys is probably one of my least favorite, ever, and it wasn't well-received, so why give him so much time up there? The only presenter that I enjoyed was John Oliver because he called out how ridiculous the "limited series" category is. I also enjoyed Tracy Morgan (and that's a sentence I never thought I would say). I find Morgan unbearably obnoxious and self-centered, but he's one-of-a-kind and I'm glad to have him back. Plus, he made fun of his obnoxious behavior...twice! Amy Poehler always steals the show, and I adore her for it. I also thought it was really funny that during Lady Gaga's presentation for Lead Actor in a Limited Series, everyone was laughing at Ricky Gervais, leaving Gaga really confused. Little things like that crack me up. The absolute worst part of the show was the unnecessary spoiler-filled goodbye to shows that ended this past year. It was nice to say goodbye to an epic year in television history, especially with Fred Savage introducing it. Then, before I even realized what was happening, I unwillingly watched the final scene of Boardwalk Empire (I still haven't seen the final season). Who really thought this was a good idea? Especially after addressing how difficult it is to catch up on television shows, in the beginning of the show! So dumb.

4. The Fashion - First, I would like to, once again, question how Giuliana Rancic still has a job interviewing celebs on the red carpet. She is terrible, annoying and arrogant. There are thousands of people in the world who would love her job, and be better at it. I almost died when Sarah Paulson said "no, sorry sweetie, everyone asks me that" after Guiliana is surprised that someone else has already asked her the same ridiculously unoriginal question. Anyway, in regards to the fashion (I love it, get over it!), I wasn't that impressed. Off the shoulder dresses are so unflattering (what woman wants to look like she has broad shoulders?), and they were EVERYWHERE (Paulson, Sarah Hyland). The usual "risk-takers" that I love, like January Jones, all disappointed. Claire Danes had the most interesting dress; I think I would have liked it if it weren't shiny. I also loved that she totally embraces her body (most women would wear an insanely painful push-up bra with a dress like that). Heidi Klum wore the worst dress. I don't get it at all. And Jaimie Alexander - that dress, it's just so sparkly and bright. I can't look directly at it. I think, overall, my favorite looks were: Allison Janney, because DAMN GIRL. I hope I look that good at 55. Anna Chlumsky. It was pretty, feminine, but still a bit odd-looking. And, Ellie Kemper, with the most beautiful dress of the night.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Aloha - So much potential for this movie. The cast, although problematically white-washed, is excellent. The plot, from what I could understand, is interesting (but overly complicated). The writer/director, Cameron Crowe, is strong aesthetically, and in character development. So what went wrong exactly? It's hard to pinpoint, but the biggest problem is that the character motivation is really off; none of their actions make any sense. The "romance" part is a complicated love triangle (actually a square). It begins with Brian (Bradley Cooper, who is soooo not a "Brian") and Tracy (Rachel McAdams); he has hurt her in the past, and now she is married to another guy (John Krasinski, in probably his most boring role ever, but still the best character in the movie). Even though she is clearly not over Brian, she exists in an unhappy marriage (why?....). Then Allison (Emma Stone) is introduced as a love interest for Brian, but she is presented as literally the most annoying person on the planet. He can't even stand the sound of her voice. Then a lot of confusing, non-romantic, stuff happens (I couldn't tell you the plot to save my life - something about satellites and weapons and sacred grounds.). Suddenly, Brian falls for Allison, and Tracy is happy in her marriage (again, why?...). Sorry if I just spoiled the movie for you, but be honest, you weren't really going to watch it, anyway. There's a little bit of misogyny thrown in the movie, too, just for kicks. For example, Stone is portraying someone who is very head-strong and professional, yet her boss warns Brian against "corrupting" her. Um...fuck off, Aloha. I'm pretty sure she can take care of herself. This movie will most likely end up on my worst of the year list (the second Bradley Cooper movie to make the list, so far. How sad!). The only positive that I can think of is the beautiful shots of Hawaii. I still really want to go on a volcano tour of Hawaii. Who wants to join me?

2. Far from the Madding Crowd - This movie was my introduction to this story. I've never read the novel; never seen any of the previous adaptations. Yet, somehow, I already felt like I knew how the story was going to unfold right from the very beginning. There are few things that I liked about the story. It's beautiful to look at. I enjoyed that it was about fate and destiny, over romantic love. There was a "sliding doors" effect with every choice that a character makes, but in the end, everything is as it should be. The female lead is independent and claims to have "no need for a husband", which is incredibly rare for a story from the late 19th century. Overall, though, I felt bored for most of it. The acting, aside for Matthias Schoenaerts, ranges from mediocre (Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, who both seem really comfortable in their roles, but bored) to awful (Tom Sturridge, what were you doing?). Schoenaerts is probably in the "easiest" role, as the obvious choice, but I felt like he is the only one who seemed to stretch himself, emotionally. And speaking of the "obvious" choice, this is probably the biggest problem with the story. The other two are ridiculously terrible choices; one offers to "buy her dresses" in exchange for marriage, while the other one flat-out tells her that he's in love with someone else, which causes her to become jealous so naturally she says yes to his proposal. HUH?! That's a reason to get married? That's even dumber than the dress guy. It's frustrating when a woman chooses everything but the obvious (so obvious that he's even the one featured on the poster!).

3. Black or White - I like the intentions of this movie. I think it's meant to open up discussion of race, family, and cultural differences within different races. The characters are just so off-putting, though. It starts out really rough, with this man losing his wife in a car accident, going home, getting wasted (perfectly acceptable), then waking up the next morning and carting his granddaughter off to school like nothing has happened. Then, he picks her up and is like "oh yeah...you're grandmother, the one who raises you, is dead", while they are still on school grounds. The audience is instantly under the impression that this man has no concept of raising a child, being sensitive to emotions, or is capable of appropriate reactions to life-changing events. Her paternal grandmother tries to intervene by fighting for custody, citing that she belongs with her side of the family because he won't know how to raise a black girl. Yet, she was perfectly fine when the grandmother was alive (there are references to an "understanding"). So, really, it's more of an issue of gender, and not race. The custody wouldn't have been questioned if he was the one that died. But for some reason, the paternal grandmother, under the guidance of her lawyers, make it a race issue. This is frustrating because he has raised his grandchild, who is half black, since her birth, so one would think it would be hard to suddenly call him racist....but then, he SUDDENLY BECOMES RACIST. Please, take this child away from this man. He's an asshole, he's a drunk, and he's a racist. But, he has money, so that makes him a viable candidate to raise this girl, apparently. They try to make it a "grey" area, because the girl wants to live with her grandfather, but she is a child, and far too young to understand what is best for her. They also try to portray the paternal side of the family in a bad light, by having one "bad apple", which happens to be her biological father (not only a drug addict, but also a statutory rapist). The court could easily give custody to the paternal grandmother with the understanding that the father has no visitation or relationship with her. DONE AND DONE. Instead, they go back and forth between who is worse, and we are forced to pick the lesser of two evils, never really giving this poor girl a chance to live any semblance of a loving life. It's just really fucking depressing.

4. Mad Max: Fury Road - If you keep yourself updated on movie news, reviews, etc., then you already know that this movie is ranked among the best of this year. I was really hoping to catch it in the theaters, but I wasn't able to (this year has sucked in regards to my theater outings. I've barely been to the theater at all). I remember seeing the trailer before American Sniper, and I was blown away by it's sheer energy. I'm happy to say that the entire movie is just pure, exhilarating, non-stop adrenaline-inducing action. Not only is it action-packed, it's also really beautiful. Just really fucking beautiful. The monochromatic, post-apocalyptic, desert location could have been really dull, but it is so vibrant, with so much to look at. I was pretty blown away by it. Plus, even better, I really enjoyed the story. It's a simple "good vs. bad" plot, but it's done so well. It's a nice reminder that there is still room for originality within a story that's been told a million times before. Not surprisingly, my favorite aspect of the movie is Furiosa, perhaps the strongest female character onscreen, this year. She's everything. It's stunning when a movie, especially an action movie, relies on very little dialogue, but still makes the audience care for the characters and invest in their story. The biggest realization that I had while watching, is that this was the first George Miller movie I've ever watched. What an introduction! I will definitely seek more out.

5. The Voices - Why have I heard nothing about this movie?! It's HILARIOUS. Seriously fucked up, but totally hilarious. It's probably the first time I truly loved Ryan Reynolds in a performance. I really never got the love (yes, his abs are nice). I still don't, because I will just consider this a fluke unless he makes another performance that I love. Then, and only then, will I reevaluate my opinion of him. This is the kind of movie that I think benefits from not knowing much about it (so maybe that's why no-one is talking about it?), so I don't want to give too much away. However, I don't really know how to talk about it without giving a little away, so *slight spoilers ahead*. I think it's a fantastic insight into a killer's mind. For the sake of "justice", determining someone as insane in order to limit the punishment, is often frustrating, but in some cases, people resort to murder because they are actually mentally unstable and not necessarily evil. This guy's instability comes from the voices that he hears from his pets (and decapitated heads...), which is just him imagining that he's having conversations with them (is that not normal??? Because I have conversations with my cats all the time; and I totally imagine their responses. Don't worry, everyone, they say mostly nice things. Except when they are hungry...). Mr. Whiskers had me in tears, his humor is only accentuated by his really terrible Scottish accent. Really, just fucking hilarious. Then, just when you think the movie couldn't get weirder, it ends with the oddest song during the credits. This movie would definitely make my Best list this year, but the release date is 2014, and it's doesn't quite make the cut among the best of last year.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Fall TV Preview: 4 New Shows to Watch

I only picked 4 new shows!! I'm so proud of myself. Maybe my DVR won't fill up after 2 days. There are a few other shows that I'm excited about even though they aren't considered "new", like the second season of Fargo (HOLY SHIT, that cast!), AHS: Hotel (hopefully better than Freak Show!) and Heroes Reborn (Man, I used to love Heroes). 

1. Blindspot - I admit, the marketing for this show has been complete overkill. I almost don't want to watch it just out of spite. But, I ADORE Jaimie Alexander. I've loved her since Kyle XY. I'm so glad that she is headlining a show and I think this seems like the perfect role for her. It's been described as a "female Bourne", which is great, but it's also been described as The Blacklist, which is disappointing. That show had so much potential that it threw away in favor of cliched dialogue and unoriginal ALIAS-like plots. So, I'm hopeful that it's more Bourne, but I'm also hopeful that it has some originality as well.

2. Scream Queens -  There are two things that Ryan Murphy excels at: casting and creating really strong first seasons of televisions shows. The cast for this is mixed with newcomers (who will probably be "it" actors soon enough), proven talent like Lea Michele, Emma Roberts, Niecy Nash, a few "what the fuck" surprise choices like Ariana Grande and Nick Jonas, plus the perfect horror icon/legend Jamie Lee Curtis. It doesn't get better. I am confident that the first season will be impressive - just as perfect as Nip/Tuck and Glee were

3. Supergirl - Speaking of Glee, one of the only casting missteps was Melissa Benoist in the later seasons. I had a hard time watching Glee after season 4 (and I stopped watching all together once Cory died. I'm still not over it.). Part of the terribleness was the weak, repetitive plots, but Melissa's horrible acting was also a HUGE part of it. I hated her character; I hated her voice; I hated her dead-behind-the-eyes stare. I still have to watch this show because with the huge boom of superhero tv shows/movies that exist, this is the first with a female lead. I'm going to support it because I basically feel obligated to (just like I would support a Black Widow solo movie, even though I don't like Scarlett or Black Widow, really). I've heard mixed reactions about the leaked pilot - some criticized it for being too "girly", while others praised it for taking more of a fun approach like The Flash (and I love The Flash). I still have high hopes for this show. Maybe Melissa won't be so bad???...

4. Limitless - I liked the movie. I don't really remember that much about it, other than Bradley Cooper running around being all smart and hot. I was super excited when my mom informed me that he was "starring" in the show. I was skeptical, but she was "positive". After looking into it, I realized he's just there as an introduction to the character - to pass on the story. Pretty disappointing, HOWEVER, I love the Jake McDorman! He's an awesome choice as the lead. Plus, Jennifer Carpenter! I love her so much. Although, it will be weird watching her in a show in which she doesn't curse every other word.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Blackhat - I'm not a huge Michael Mann fan, but I usually find most of his movies at least entertaining, to some degree. He's got a clear sense of style, which I can always appreciate, and his movies usually feature some interesting casting/acting choices. I was disappointed, already, with the cast of this movie because Chris Hemsworth (as the lead) is so dull. Sure, he's handsome, and the Australian accent is sexy (but not even close to my favorite accent). He's just got no charisma or screen presence at all. In Blackhat, he is stripped of his accent, he has the weight of making computer hacking interesting on his shoulders, and he fails miserably. As you may know, I usually watch movies at home with subtitles on and most of the movie can be described by these two subtitles that exist throughout the movie: "keyboard clacking" & "computer beeping". I was so bored, and I honestly lost track of the plot because I don't understand computer hacking, and this movie didn't convince me enough to even try to learn about it. There is one stand-out, amazing, "wow" moment in the movie involving typical Mann-style explosions and shootouts. My eyes were glued to the screen for it, but then I lost interest again. Overall, it felt pretty passionless on all levels, making it my worst movie of the year so far.

2. Adult Beginners - I watched this for Joel McHale, so I was pretty disappointed that he's only in it for maybe ten minutes. I'm confused as to why he is even featured on the poster. He did have the very best line of the whole movie ("You're not an appropriate place for a child!!" - ok...it was the way he said it). The movie isn't all that funny, but I liked parts of it. I liked that it was about siblings; instead of a love story. It was sort of like The Skeleton Twins, but much, MUCH, much lighter (you know, no talk of suicide). I liked most of the cast (McHale, Rose Byrne, Josh Charles, Bobby Cannavale...), but the main guy, Nick Kroll, is very dull. I don't really think I've seen him in much, but I guess I always assumed he was funny. He's not funny in this. I like that it took place in Westchester, and that it felt like a very Upstate NY movie. Kroll is from Rye, NY and he created the story, so it felt very genuine. Them going to the local bar and dancing to that Toad the Wet Sprocket song is just soo....perfect. I felt my mind flooding with memories; not only of living in Upstate, but of going back after I left. I liked this movie, I just wish it had a little more substance; something to make me care.

3. Two Days, One Night - I waited and waited and waited for this movie to be released, and as I waited, expectations increased. It's really not what I was expecting. Still good; just not anything spectacular. I think the reason that I didn't enjoy it as much as I was hoping is because it is very repetitive. The plot is that this woman, after taking a leave of absence due to depression, learns that her job is being eliminated. Her colleagues have a vote and if they vote her out, they would receive a bonus; if they forego the bonus, she can keep her job. Now that is a pretty shitty decision to make. She spends the movie tracking down her colleagues, trying to convince them to vote for her to keep her job. It's pretty much the same conversation, over and over again ("gee...I kind of need the money", but more eloquent and French-like). Marion Cotillard is superb, as usual. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. I really liked the end, but after it was over, I realized that it would have had more of an impact if it ended differently (*spoiler ahead*). She gets the offer to keep her job, however, someone else will lose their job, and she declines. While, it's a "nice" ending, to insist that there are people in the world who aren't selfish assholes, but in reality, she should have taken the offer (and the only reason I say this is because she has kids). It would have emphasized the moral "grey area" decision-making that the struggling working class has to deal with every day. We would love to believe that our decision-making is always based on compassion, but sometimes that is not reality.

4. Dear White People - This is another movie that I had really high expectations for. It won a lot of praise at several festivals, and the trailer was refreshingly honest. Overall, there are some really strong points made in the movie. It invokes dialogue about racism that clearly needs to be addressed in this country, NOW. However, the movie is a little bit dull and unmemorable. I think it's problematic that it takes place at a seemingly wealthy private college. That already isolates more than half of the audience. I understand the motive behind it (the tagline is "a satire about being a black face in a white place"), but I don't think many people will. It takes away from the white privilege argument because all the white guys featured are elitist assholes. One can easily counter-argue that they are privileged because of wealth not because of race. Wealth is not something that most people in America can relate to, so I think the impact is lost. Personally, I think it's scary that there are white people who refuse to believe they are of privilege. I learned this at a very young age. *story time* When I was 10, I was caught stealing from a convenience store along with my two black friends. The store owner called the police, then waved for me to go. I was terrified and really confused. One of my friends, Jessica, was older and obviously understood what was happening, turned to me and said "Michelle, nobody cares about a pretty white girl stealing. Just go". So I left. With a bag full of stolen goods. (and to address the stealing part, I have no excuse except that I was 10 and I was hungry. It's not something I'm proud of or ever did again). When I think about defining moments in my life, that is one memory that always springs to mind, because it's a moment in which I wish I could do over. I should have stayed and faced the consequences. I should have spoken up. But now I do and I will continue to until the day I die. I am white. I am privileged because I am white. This is not the way I want my country to work. I think it's natural for people to look out for their own interests, and that's where the problem lies. It takes a lot of fortitude (not the word that I'm looking for, but I've literally spent 20 minutes trying to think of the word that's at the tip of my tongue and honestly, that's far too much time. I barely spend 20 minutes writing a whole post) to step back and think of what's best for the human race. My first instinct, when voting for a political candidate, is to look at where they stand on women's issues, so it's understandable that a wealthy, white male would vote Republican. The whole country needs to step back and stop thinking "me, me, me". Anyway, I think the movie did a commendable job in showing different view points, asking questions, and utilizing thoughtful dialogue, but it just doesn't go that extra mile to really dig deep into racial injustice.

5. Catch Hell - I'm such a huge Ryan Phillippe fan, so I was excited for this movie that he co-wrote and directed. So, first, I will focus on the positives. 1. I like that it is somewhat of a personal story. It's about an actor who is not as popular as he once was, taking a job he doesn't really like just to stay relevant (and earn money to maintain the lifestyle he has become accustomed to). There are a lot of references to Ryan's real life - working with Clint Eastwood, starring in a teen movie where all the teens fuck each other, etc. The character has the same initials, R.P, and Ryan even films some of it in his own home. It made me wonder if he actually feels guilty for fucking some guys wife, or if him cheating on his own wife was a little "too" close to home (sidenote: I couldn't give a fuck that he cheated on his wife. He's still perfect.). 2. It's rare, but interesting, to see a movie about a male actor worrying about getting old. He's told that he didn't get a role because "they went younger", but I don't think that's the norm for male actors. Most male action stars are over the age of 40. I don't know why Ryan's career went cold for a little while (there is definitely a resurgence now), but perhaps it was because he chose a different path than some actors would. He didn't play the game that the media wanted him to play (while you can find images of him with pretty blonde actresses, most images are of him doting on his two adorable children or walking his dog - not exactly headline making images). He's never said a bad thing about his ex-wife, and when they were married, he never responded to the incredibly misogynistic articles about her being the "bread-winner" of the family. In fact, he is a self-proclaimed feminist, and did I mention that HE IS PERFECT? 3. There are some lovely shots at the end of him reflecting on his life, shirtless and soulful. So, now, I will focus on the negatives. There are too many too count, to be honest. It's not a good movie at all. The plot is absolutely LUDICROUS and not believable in the least. There is a scene where an alligator (or crocodile. I don't know the difference) is strangled, then skinned and cooked (fucking groooossss. No-one needs to see that.). The camera-work feels amateur; almost like a home movie. But worst of all, it's homophobic. I don't think it's intentionally homophobic, but that doesn't make it ok. Come on, Ryan, you are better than this.