Monday, February 23, 2015

3 Thoughts on Still Alice

1. Julianne Moore - Does anyone dislike Julianne Moore? I know she's done some terrible movies, but has anyone ever criticized her performance? I don't think she's ever been bad in anything. So saying that this performance is amazing is hardly surprising, but I would go as far as saying it's her best performance to date and it is definitively the best female performance of the year. It's a sincere, nuanced and delicate deconstruction of a woman who is quite literally losing her mind. It's incredible, really.

2. The supporting cast - The part of the movie that will destroy your heart, of course, aside from the obvious, is this woman's relationship with her youngest daughter, played to absolute perfection by Kristen Stewart. I'm hardly a fan, but I will always give credit when it is due. I will also argue that she is perfectly cast in the role, but that's counter-productive. Stewart's performance (and the role, itself), is the one that shattered me. I *knew* from the beginning, that even though she is the one who defies her mother's expectations and lives by her own rules, that she would be the one to come through in the end. Yet, even as it happened, I just broke. Everyone else is perfectly cast in their roles, as well. Alec Baldwin sufficiently fills his role as the man standing next to an Oscar winning performance (2 years in a row!). Kate Bosworth continues her streak as the uptight, sensible one. Break free, Kate, break free!! And Hunter Parish, ahhhhh, Hunter Parrish. I just love him so much, but he is constantly just a pretty cardboard cut-out sitting in the background of family gatherings. When is he going to be given a role worthy of his excellence again? 

3. The subject matter - I read what this movie was about a long time ago, then I sat down in the theater and within the first 5 minutes of the movie, I remembered and said (in my head), "oh fuck, this is going to be depressing as fuck". Early-Onset Alzheimer's Disease. It's just about the worst of the worst. Even the character at one point states "I wish I had Cancer". It's a shocking statement, but I think I would have to agree. Losing my mind is absolutely the thing I fear most about aging. My memories are what make me, me. Good and bad, they are everything. Recently, I've had some problems with short term memory loss and it's really fucked with my head. I try not to tell anyone, and I hope people don't notice because it's such a terrifying experience. It's a lonely feeling; and even though there is no reason for it, I feel ashamed. Like, how dumb am I that I can't remember where my car is parked? The woman in this movie is a top scholar, specialized in linguistics and communication, and this disease is actively trying to destroy everything she has worked so hard to become. This disease that has no cure. What could be worse than that? I love that they addressed the suicide option, because in all honesty, it's the option I would choose. I just don't have the fight that some people have (I blame it on my extremely horrific childhood. I just have no more fight left in me), if I can't live my life as "me", then I would rather die. I'm very open about that, and it sure pisses my mother off (watching The Walking Dead, my mother, "what would you do if that happened", "oh I would have killed myself a long time ago" and then I received an hour long lecture about how everything gets better. LOL.). On another personal note, my mom's husband's mother (my step-grandmother), is suffering from Alzheimer's, which started a few years ago and has accelerated shockingly fast during the past 6 months. I always get super depressed when I see her, because she has no idea who I am. Having a conversation with her is near impossible, yet she loves to talk. This movie made me feel so guilty for getting frustrated with our conversations. If you know someone who is suffering like this, a little patience goes a long way. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Interview - First of all, I thought this movie looked extremely dumb from the first moment that I heard of it. Sometimes I like these types of movies, sometimes I don't. This just looked like one that I wouldn't. I always go in with a "clean slate/open mind" attitude, however, I highly doubt I would have seen this in the theater. I have a strong feeling that if it had been released in the theater (without any controversy), it would have bombed. It's a terrible, unfunny movie. I almost fell asleep watching it. I admit, it did start off very funny - the first scene is hilarious (I won't spoil it since it is one of the big cameo appearances), and I almost choked on my own laughter when Franco compared his interview to "Frosty Nixon". Then, it quickly went downhill like an avalanche just building, and building, to a total and complete snoozefest. It felt like a parody of a funny movie, instead of the political satire that it should have been. The jokes were repetitive and silly. Franco over-acted (like usual) through most of it and Lizzy Kaplan is so much better than this role. Also, the song "Firework" will always and forever be associated with Rust and Bone, and will therefore, NEVER be funny.

2. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them - I'm so in love with this movie. I think it's weird when people criticize me for not liking romantic comedies, as if I am some sort of cold-hearted monster who doesn't believe in love. Well, this movie, my friends, IS love. It's raw, messy, and life altering. I think I'm actually more of a romantic person than most people I know, even though I don't date and I have no interest in getting married. I do believe in finding that one person who you choose to share your life with. This movie is about these two people who have made this choice, and now they are facing the difficulties of that choice (because life doesn't always go as planned). I think I connect more to McAvoy's character, although, I've been criticized by people who are close to me, for shutting down when something bad happens, like Chastain's character. I push people away; keeping them at a safe distance, however, I think that there is that "one person" who I would share myself with. He's clearly in love, and he just wants to communicate, understand, connect with her, and she just "disappears". The whole situation is just heartbreakingly real. It helps having two of my favorite actors, McAvoy and Chastain, as the leads. I just love them both so much and they make a very believable couple. I always feel like McAvoy is in love with his co-stars; he just looks at them like they are his world. Why can't he look at me like that? (why can't anyone look at me like that?). I really, really, really can't wait to watch the "him" and "her" versions because they both have such a unique experience and perception of each other. It will be a fascinating watch, for sure. I think I'm waiting to fully digest the movie until after I've seen the other versions, but this version definitely makes it into my Top 10 of last year. The whole theme is the idea that "if you love someone let them go" - he does let her go, but he doesn't give up. That's love. The only thing that irks me, tremendously, is that McAvoy had an American accent. It's so unnecessary. It takes place in NYC - a melting pot of accents; it would have been perfectly realistic for him to keep his natural (*cough* fucking sexy) accent. Especially, since Isabelle Huppert plays her mother and she gets to keep her French accent. What the fuck?! Totally unfair. Oh and the only other thing I want to add is *spoiler*, I love the way they handled the cheating thing. It happens, it hurts, it's not the reason they have problems. Although when he says the words "I slept with someone else", I actually screamed out loud, "AAAAAH! You're such a fucking idiot; don't tell her that! You goddamn fuck up!" (actual words).

3. Chef - I saw some really great reviews about this movie, and I've always been a fan of Jon Favreau. I didn't really know anything about it (other than it was about a chef...because duh!), so I was a bit surprised by the warmth and heart that it had, and by the amazing cast of actors. I also wasn't expecting the commentary about social media, specifically, Twitter. Ironically, it highlights the exact reason that I don't have Instagram: pictures of food. Pictures of food actually makes my stomach turn. I don't have that eye/stomach connection that most humans seem to have with food. If I see pictures (especially a meal that contains meat), I think too much about the ingredients and I lose my appetite. So, this movie was really hard for me to get through (it was like one big Instagram post after another). I like that the story was about finding joy in your career; not getting stuck and settled into a routine that you aren't passionate about, and feeding a father/son bond that often gets ignored in modern films (passing on a family "trade"). I actually know someone who has the ultimate goal of owning a food truck. I thought it was a pretty strange goal, but food trucks are all the rage right now (and who am I to judge? To each their own.). However, I'm just so picky; the thought of eating something off a food truck makes me sick. Anyway, the movie is cute, well-written, and it movies pretty quickly. Personally, I think it's a bit overpraised, but overall I enjoyed it.

4. Horns - I was in the mood for a cheesy black comedy/horror movie, and this fit that description perfectly. It had the same feel as Jennifer's Body, which I loved. Daniel Radcliffe has impressed me lately, and he gave a satisfying performance here (even with the odd American accent). I like the murder mystery aspect, and I was actually surprised by the revelation of who did it. I also really like the ending (her reason; not the whole showdown/angel wing spouting part). I wasn't expecting that twist; and it is extremely devastating (spoilery tip: pushing away the one you love, in order to protect them from being hurt, is the worst idea ever. Don't do it. The one you love would rather be with you no matter what.). As much fun as I had, I think the movie could have been a lot shorter. There were so many scenes that just felt unnecessary. Also, I don't really get the appeal of Juno Temple. Everyone seems to think she is super hot, but I don't really see it. Like, if I passed her in the street, I wouldn't look twice. She's not even a good actress, so I don't think people are attracted to her talent. She does get naked in EVERY movie that she does, so I guess that's the appeal, then? Maybe? She's just not for me.

5. John Wick - So this movie is basically about a guy who exacts revenge on the people responsible for killing the cutest puppy that ever lived. In other words, it's the most awesome revenge story of all time. You know when there is a movie that you just know is going to be awesome? That's how I felt with this movie. I just knew. And I wasn't disappointed. Plus, I love Keanu Reeves. I know that he's done some pretty shitty movies, but he's also done my favorite action movie OF ALL TIME! That would be Speed. I can recite every line. I think it's my most watched movie of all time, as well. I don't think Keanu ever takes himself very seriously, so his missteps aren't even real's just Keanu. He's like in his own little world (sort of like Joaquin Phoenix). I prefer when he does movies like this, though. He's just such a bad-ass, and the movie has the perfect amount of action, style, and cheesy dialogue that he excels at. Overall, it's just a really good time and I look forward to the sequels/franchise.

Friday, February 6, 2015

3 Thoughts on Birdman

1. The writer/director -  I don't know how I fully feel about this movie yet. I've digested it a bit, but I'm still not in love with it. I have a lot of respect for what it accomplishes, and I love more than a few things about it. Yet, there is an air of superiority about it that has me hesitant. First, I would like to point out that Inarritu is among my favorite directors (21 Grams is in my all-time Top 10 and Amores Perros is in my Top 50 - worth noting that these were both written by Guillermo Arriaga), so I am happy with his Oscar nomination and I think he is worthy of the praise for directing such a complicated "gimmick". The problem that I have, I think, is with the writing. It's hard to distinguish, but the story just felt so repetitive. It's as if EVERY scene was saying the same thing over, and over, and over again. The irony of it all is that there is a scene in which this repetitiveness is referenced (and fixed) within the play that this film is revolved around. It's amusing that the creator understands editing within a play, but not within a screenplay. Then the ending is so drawn out and completely simplified, as if Inarritu felt the need to explain his purpose of the previous 90 minutes of story. It's just unnecessary. Don't assume your audience is stupid.

2. The actor - This is going to be hard for me to explain my disdain for the ego of an actor, without sounding like a complete bitch, but here goes: I appreciate acting, but I don't think it's all that complicated. I am the first to recognize a talented actor, but I think the true "art" within the film industry starts with the writer. Actors are given waaaaaay too much credit simply because they are "the face" of the movie. And because of this credit, they are obscenely egotistical. This movie has the intent of showcasing "acting" as Michael Keaton seamlessly transitions himself from scene to scene (yes, he's fantastic. Although, Edward Norton is the standout performance for me), but he's performing someone else's words, completing someone else's vision of a character. The actor isn't really "creating" something of his/her own. I think that this is exemplified by the fact that an actor can be praised for one movie, and then be bashed for the next movie. Did the actor suddenly become a bad actor or was the first movie a fluke? OR did the first writer/director have a clear vision of the character and the next movie didn't? This isn't always true, I think sometimes you can tell if an actor is "phoning in" a performance for money, etc. and sometimes acting is a collaborative process (as seen in the same scene I referenced above with Edward Norton explaining how to cut four lines down to one to create a stronger impact). I often consider the performances as the essential factor of my enjoyment of a movie, but honestly I just don't think that actors are as important as we all seem to give them credit for. Ugh...I do sound like a bitch, but that's really not my intent. I LOVE actors; I'm often attracted to actors and I even dated an actor, once. Actors are usually extremely passionate people and that is incredibly attractive, so I hope I haven't offended anyone (but really....get the fuck over yourself. You're not that important. Hugs and kisses).

3. The critic - Man, this movie is tough on critics. I get it. Most critics piss me off; so much so, that I rarely read "real" critics anymore. However, I don't agree with the whole "critics are just failed artists" idea. Critics, in theory, are people who LOVE a certain art form so much that they want to share their thoughts and ideas about this art form as a profession. Unfortunately, film critics, in particular, have become snarky, hyperbolic and, worst of all, hasty - often criticizing something they haven't even seen. So, I get why this movie shits on critics, but as someone who loves to share opinions on movies, it makes me a little sad that filmmakers feel this way. They should create their art without giving a shit what the audience thinks. If you are making something to please a critic, receive praise and awards, etc., then I'm afraid YOU are the problem, not the critic.

Spring TV Preview: 5 Shows to Watch

1. Better Call Saul - Oddly, I'm not that excited for this show. Like many people, Breaking Bad is my favorite show ever. I like Saul, as a character. He's funny, skeezy, morally grey and interesting, but I don't know....a whole series? I don't see that being that good. Plus, it has such high standards to live up to - it's almost impossible to live up to that. I will watch it, though, just because I'm interested to see where this character started; and who from the Breaking Bad universe he encounters.

2. Allegiance - It looks like a complete copy of The Americans, but I want to watch it anyway. The Americans is a fantastic show; actually, one of the best on television right now. I don't think Allegiance is going to be nearly as good because it seems like it wants to have more mass appeal (being on network television, and all). Plus, apparently it's based on an Israeli show, so I guess I can't accuse it of "copying" The Americans; instead it's just a direct copy of a show because Americans are too lazy to watch non-American shows. Also, I like Hope Davis. I'll give it a shot.

3. The Slap - What a ridiculous title. And so literal. The catalyst for the show is "the slap", but I hope the show is about more than that. I mean, it has to be. I think it's going to dive deep into the way one moment can change your entire life. Otherwise, I can't see it attracting THAT much talent. The cast is ridiculous. Peter Sarsgaard, Thandie Newton, Zachary Quinto, Uma Thurman, and my favorite among the cast, Melissa George (a.k.a Lauren from Alias). The commercials have been so dramatic so far, it's almost funny. I guess we'll wait and see.

4. Secrets & Lies - Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Ryan Phillippe. Oh and Juliette Lewis. FUCK YES! (I've been in love with Ryan Phillippe for 19 years. 19 YEARS!)

5. American Crime - I don't know much about this show - just that it stars Felicity Huffman (and that's enough for me to give it a shot), and that it's about a racially motivated crime, which is relevant to the current state of America. Also, it's been given the coveted Thursday night time slot on ABC, and they have been hitting some home runs with their Thursday night shows. I'm in. I hope it delivers.