Sunday, July 26, 2015

3 Thoughts on Trainwreck

1. Is it progressive? -
I would say both yes, and, absolutely not. I think it's progressive in that it has a more realistic story for a romantic comedy. It's progressive in that it stars Amy Schumer, who is very beautiful, but looks very different than every single other female headliner of a romantic comedy. But the most progressive thing I found in the movie is its realization that women treat other women like shit, and this needs to stop. This is the part that I will emphasize more about because it's the most important. The point in the movie where Amy goes on a (jealous) tirade about cheerleaders, is the point in the movie where I became very angry at Miss Schumer. Has she not learned that, as a proclaimed feminist, this is the worst thing one can do? Has she not been on the receiving end of said judgement? Then, to my complete and utter shock, at the end of the movie, Amy realizes that she is wrong. I won't ruin the ending, but I will say that it's probably the first time that an over-the-top, cheesy, romantic ending made me tear up, and it had nothing to do with the romance. It was because Amy embraced and supported other women (and they did the same for her). Other than that, I would say everything about it is very "typical". Yes, the gender roles are reversed in the beginning, but that doesn't really last very long. It ends just how every other romantic comedy ends. If it wants to be progressive, then have the female character stick to her values. Why can't she fall in love and still believe that marriage (and monogamy) isn't realistic? It doesn't end with the couple getting married, having children, and living "happily ever after", but I think that's the implication with Amy's sudden change of heart, and that's what irks me. 

2. Is it funny? - Not nearly as funny as I was led to believe. I don't think I even really laughed at all. I've never seen any of Amy's stand-up or her show, even though it's been highly recommended to me. I read about her act; and I don't really find the whole "dumb blond" thing funny, even if it is with a satirical twist. I did see her recently on The Tonight Show, and I thought she seemed very down-to-earth, yet extremely confident (I think that's a hard combination to find in women), which is why I decided to give Trainwreck a watch. She's clever, and the movie is clever, but I just didn't really find anything original about the comedy. There aren't any scenes that really stand-out, and most scenes that are funny are about 5 minutes too long (which might be more of an Apatow issue. On a side-note, isn't it weird that they advertised this as "from the guy who brought you Bridesmaids"? Sure, he was a producer, but that's now how anyone knows Judd Apatow.). John Cena and LeBron James are given extremely hilarious material, but it's over-used.

3. Is it good? - Just because I didn't find it laugh-out-loud funny, doesn't mean I didn't like it. I thought it was really cute. There are moments that I really relate to, which I wasn't expecting - like how uncomfortable she is with cuddling. It was like watching myself onscreen. I've literally had that conversation before ("I can still feel you breathing" and I actually have a body pillow that I will put between me and the other person so that they don't touch me. I know I'm a weirdo, but I need my personal space when I sleep.). I liked Amy's relationship with her father. I think that most movies about father/daughter relationships are told more from Amy's sister's perspective ("He cheated on our mother; therefore, he is an asshole"), but that always bothers me because he is still there for them. Amy still holds him in high regards, even if he is an asshole, and it gave the movie a beating heart - plus Colin Quinn is aces. I also really like that her sister is in a happy marriage. It makes Amy's judgement of marriage a little more complicated. Don't get me wrong; I judge marriage, but my judgement comes from the consistent claims, from every married woman that I know, that I am lucky to be single. I literally don't personally know anyone in a "happy" marriage, so I freely judge these people. Why are you choosing to be miserable? Anyway, as you can tell, this movie has a lot to talk about. It's filled with complicated views on love, marriage, family, feminism, sex, and now that I've written it all down, I change my answer to "Fuck yes" it is progressive. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. It Follows - Words like "masterpiece", "terrifying", and "instant classic" can be found in most reviews of this movie. I don't understand it. It's not that I didn't like it; I enjoyed it just fine. It's well-crafted, tense, and the performances are solid. I guess I just don't see what's so different about it than any other horror movie. Most horror movies can be described as allegorical stories about the dangers of sexuality among young women. This just takes on a more literal tone, and honestly, it felt really obvious. At first, I liked the "retro" vibe, but then I realized that it takes place in the 80's (right?), so that vibe just becomes a set-piece. I've never been scared of supernatural stuff (I mean, the real world is terrifying enough. Why is anyone scared of stuff that doesn't exist?), so I think that obviously hinders my enjoyment of these types of movies. It would have been scarier, for me, if the "it" didn't actually exist - meaning that the "it" is an actual STD that causes severe mental paranoia. As soon as the others saw the "invisible" figure by the use of objects in "its" space; the film is ruined for me. Anyway, I think I'm spending too much time thinking of why it's not a masterpiece, instead of why I enjoyed it. I hate when I do that. There are certain scenes that will stick with me; like the pool of blood - what a beautiful shot. And, I love Keir Gilchrist. He reminds me of a Culkin (that's a great thing). I love that she continues to embrace her sexuality; it has this "fuck you" vibe that is awesome. I'm glad that horror fans have found a new classic. I just wish I liked it as much as everyone else.

2. Lost River - I wanted to like it. I really did. I did like parts of it. There are some really stunning shots, and parts of the story are interesting. Overall, though, it's kind of a mess. It didn't feel genuine or original, at all. The kid in it is basically trying his best to exude a Ryan Gosling type brooding, and he failed miserably. It took me a little while to realize that he is the guy from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Jesus, that title is annoying as fuck to type out correctly). He doesn't do well without a personality (not many guys can pull it off without seeming like dicks - Gosling is in a league of his own). There are scenes that are eerily reminiscent to Only God Forgives, but they seem random and out of place. Christina Hendricks and Ben Mendelsohn give it their all, but with such weak plot, they get lost in the mess. The only thing that I will likely remember about it is Matt Smith in a sparkly jacket (and even that is a copy - Ryan is pretty smart, you know, give your character a fantastic jacket and he is instantly cool. AHEM).

3. Ex Machina - (contains spoilers) Finally!! A movie that critics adored that I adored as well! I was starting to feel really left out. It's even more odd because I'm not really a fan of Oscar Isaac OR Domhnall Gleeson. I don't hate them, but I just don't get the praise for either of them (and I don't find either of them sexy or hot, at all - although I can sort of see the appeal of Gleeson because he's awkward and tall *insert heart eyes emoji*). And after this movie, I have to admit, I still don't, really. They are not the reason that I loved this movie. Alicia Vikander is sublime, however. I wasn't too enamored with the story until the end. There are some great scenes, like the scene where Caleb confronts Nathan about whether she is programmed to flirt with him. The discussion of sexuality and his inherent insecurity is brilliant. I thought the ending was going to be predictable (the maid being a robot was a given. Was that supposed to be surprising? And OF COURSE he had a battery-operated camera - this man is a genius. Did anyone believe he was just like "oh well, power is out...nothing I can do"?), but THEN, I really didn't think she was going to turn on Caleb. I didn't expect it to become such a feminist tale of freedom and "becoming female" (like Under the Skin, but with a robot). Although, it can be seen as misogynist, as well, considering that it's basically about a female manipulating men (but she's doing it for freedom! That seems justified to me). Anyway, I would love to watch it again, because I think there are a lot of intricate details that are hidden in there. For a directorial debut, I think it's pretty stunning. I look forward to more from Alex Garland.

4. Before I Go to Sleep - This is a movie in which I watched with very low expectations and I ended up being pleasantly surprised. The cast is excellent - Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. I never heard of it before it appeared on my Netflix Instant, so I assumed it must be really terrible. The story is kind of a mixture of Memento and 50 First Dates - in that it's about short-term memory loss. She wakes up everyday looking at pictures and learning who she is before she starts her day, but the "why" she got this way is the mystery that needs solving. The only thing she knows is that she was brutally attacked. First, I will say, automatically, I said out-loud (to my cats), "It's the husband. It's always the husband". While I won't give away the story, I will say that I was both right and wrong at the same time (ooooh intriguing...right?). I didn't see the twist, AT ALL. The end makes the movie worth watching, otherwise, it's a pretty standard thriller (could pass for a satisfying television movie). I actually really like Kidman and Firth together as a couple, because they are both so cold, distant and proper people - I don't feel like they've ever exuded chemistry in any movie, but together they work. And, Anne-Marie Duff has a fairly small, but important, scene. I love her so much. I love her, and yet, I am completely and utterly jealous of her (she is literally married to perfection).

5. Black Sea - Speaking of perfection...Jude Law! With a Scottish accent! It's very jarring at first, but then I fell in love with it. It's really heavy in the beginning and then it sort of goes in and out, but's adorable. I like this movie. It's a solid 3 star thriller. The cast is great. I feel like either Ben Mendelsohn or Scoot McNairy are in EVERY movie, but this movie has the added bonus of BOTH of them! Jude Law is in the same league as James McAvoy - in that they both don't get as much credit as they deserve. He does a great job as a working class tough guy (even though he is so very pretty). The only real criticism that I have is that I don't really understand why anyone would have a problem with getting an equal share of the money that they are searching for; it's the catalyst for the story - basically, people are greedy. However, in this case it doesn't make much sense. I also don't really understand all of the technical submarine stuff (obvi), so it all became a little redundant. I feel like they probably got a lot of the technical stuff wrong because it all seems extremely implausible, but in "movie world", they made it work. I was captivated until the very end, trying to figure out who would end up with the money. The story ends in a very satisfying way, although I'm not really sure why Law's character keeps dreaming about his ex-wife, who left him for someone with money. She's a money-grubbing bitch; get over it.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Emmy Nominations: The Good, The Bad, and The Snubbed

The Good: 

-TATIANA MASLANY! The category for Lead Actress in a Drama is extremely tough - causing a lot of snubs (more on this further down), but Tatiana DID IT, YOU GUYS! Usually, a nomination would be enough, but I'm pushing for the win. She deserves it.

-Mad Men is a given, but there was a moment where I thought it might get snubbed for its final season. I mean, it was inexplicably ignored at the Golden Globes last year, so sometimes the "givens" aren't exactly that. I'm really hoping that 8(?)time nominee, Jon Hamm, will finally win because, HOLY SHIT, how does he not have a shelf full of Emmys? Also, Christina Hendricks was divine this season (as always), but her "I want to burn this place down" deserves all of the Emmys.

-The "5-0" episode of Better Call Saul is one of the best episodes of television from this past season, so the writing is definitely worthy of a nomination, and the episode heavily featured Mike, portrayed brilliantly by Jonathon Banks. So happy that he is being recognized for his continued work with this character.

-I'm sorry, but I think it's hilarious that Girls is finally being snubbed. It's such a garbage television show. I don't know how I made it through the horrific first season. Not only is the writing terrible, the acting is even worse. I don't hate Lena Dunham as much as the real "Lena Dunham haters" do, but I just don't really think she's funny. There's just too many great comedic efforts on television right now to honor mediocrity.

-Speaking of great comedic efforts, hooray for Parks & Rec!! And Louie!! And Veep!! Consistently funny, smart, and honest.

-Cicely Tyson gave one of the most memorable performances this past year on How to Get Away with Murder. So memorable, in fact, that I'm pretty sure the Emmy already has her name engraved on it.

-One of my favorite people ever, Pamela Adlon, is hilarious on Louie. She's been nominated before for writing, but never for acting.

The Bad: 

-I don't really get the love for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Some of the episodes are funny, but overall I found it just "ok", certainly not an Emmy worthy show. Ditto for the performances - I've never been a fan of Jane Krakowski (even on 30 Rock), and the Guest love for Tina Fey and Jon Hamm is just ridiculous. There are much better comedies - It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is my favorite comedy on television and it is consistently ignored. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Episodes, Archer, Nurse Jackie, Mom are all better shows.

-ADAM FUCKING DRIVER. Why won't he just go away?! He's a major reason as to why Girls is such a terrible show, and so hard to watch.

-American Crime is another show that is just blah. This whole "Limited Series" nonsense is just a loophole for mediocre shows. There is no way this could compete with the dramas on television this year. Ditto for AHS: Freak Show. I'm a fan of the AHS series, and some seasons are nomination worthy but this season was its worst (I'm okay with Finn Wittrock getting nominated, though, because Dandy blew everyone else away).

-Elizabeth Moss. I know, I know. Everyone loves her. I don't. I wish the whole show could be redone with someone else cast in the role. It probably would be my favorite show ever, if someone else were in her role. However, I will bow down to that one epic scene she had towards the end of the series. I'm not sure that had anything to do with her, though.

-Grace of Monaco. Hahaha! What? How did this happen?

The Snubbed: 

- The best show on television (now that Mad Men is done) is The Americans. It's a slow burn type of show, but man it's so satisfying. It did receive a writing nomination and a nomination for Margot Martindale (yay!), but it should have been in the Drama Series category (take out Homeland), and Lead Actor and Actress category. There should also be a special category for "Most Memorable Scene That Will Be Burned Into Your Memory Until The End Of Time" for that luggage scene.

-I thought Vera Farmiga was another "given", but that didn't seem to pan out. As I said above, Lead Actress in a Drama is the toughest category. So many snubbed - Farmiga, Julianna Margulies, Kerry Washington, Ruth Wilson, Anna Gunn, and Keri Russell - all AMAZING. However, I don't know who should get taken out. Viola Davis and Robin Wright deserve to be there, and I've heard great things about Taraji P. Henson. My 6 picks would be: Maslany, Russell, Farmiga, Margulies, Davis, Wilson. Geez, that was difficult.

-The Affair was completely ignored, which is a little surprising since it received such an awards push with the Golden Globes. It's a great show - better than Homeland. 

-I know it didn't have a shot in Hell, considering it's never been an awards favorite, but the last season of Parenthood was fucking perfect. Something would have been nice.

-Another long shot? Daredevil. Superhero and science fiction shows are always ignored, but I thought since it was from Netflix is might get some recognition. Vincent D'Onofrio is brilliant - one of the best villains since Arvin Sloan and Sark (Alias always got the bad guys right).

-Snub for Hannibal? Okay...FINE. However, the directing for that show is sublime. It's so fucking beautiful.

-Jonny Lee Miller is killing it as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary. This past season has had some really heartbreaking storylines that he excelled at.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Kingsman: The Secret Service - Soooo much fun! It's almost embarrassingly unoriginal, but it works really well as a mashup between James Bond, Men in Black and The Recruit. However, it does put its own spin on things, and the biggest success is the action scenes. Holy shit, they are intense. The infamous church scene absolutely blew my mind. Did anyone ever expect to see Colin Firth in a hyper-intense action sequence like that? I sure as hell didn't. I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to "Free Bird" again, without thinking of this scene. The other success is the guy who is "the recruit" (Taron Egerton), he is fucking hot. There is a decent amount of humor and self-referential commentary about spy movies ("give me a far-fetched theatrical plot any day"), and best of all, it moves with a pace and a purpose. The ending was given some flack for being misogynist (I'm not even sure that 90% of social media users even understand what this word means), but once again, it's called a JOKE. And it's a successful joke - maybe not laugh out loud, but it's appropriately and sarcastically funny. The whole movie references James Bond and the "gentleman spy", this JOKE is smart commentary on the women featured in Bond movies (not the Bond girls or the female villains, but the ones I refer to as "throwaway women"). I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end; it will probably make it into my favorite movies of the year.

2. The Longest Week - I watched this for the cast - Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman and Billy Crudup (oh how I love Billy Crudup. I miss him so much. He deserves to be a much bigger star than he is). The movie is about over-privileged people in a love triangle and I have no interest in this story, whatsoever. Olivia Wilde's character seems like a snobby bitch and the two guys that she is basically using, both seem like very boring individuals who have no other character traits other than being rich. I adore Olivia Wilde, but I've seen her give terrible performances and this is one of them. Plus, her eyeliner is on so fucking thick that you can't even see how gorgeous she is. She usually wears heavy eye makeup (why?!), but this is beyond over-doing it. It looks like she can't even open her eyes properly. Anyway, I can't think of one solid reason as to why anyone should watch this movie.

3. While We're Young - I consider myself a fan of Noah Baumbach even though I don't love all of his movies. The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, are the only movies of his that I would give high praise to. I really didn't enjoy his other praised films, Margot at the Wedding and Francis Ha. However, oddly, I still look forward to his movies because there is something tangible and flawed about his characters. While We're Young excels at this. I relate to both characters of this aging couple - terrified of the next part of your life as "middle-aged", losing friends to marriage and babies, becoming the people that you never thought you would be. The characters are stubborn, selfish and insecure - and therefore, human. The problem that I have with the movie is the "hipster" element. It starts off with a title card exchange between characters of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, which is perfect (a little too perfect, meaning subtlety is lost), and continues with its characters giving way to the younger generation. While it's an interesting look into the "hipster" generation, I don't think it's very representative of the actual younger generation. So, for me, it's a tale of untrustworthy hipsters instead of commentary on the younger generation. This hipster couple collects records and VHS tapes, they make their own ice cream, refuse to google answers to questions, and don't have Facebook. That literally describes maybe .5% of people under 30 in America. Then, the story is actually very hateful towards these hipsters because it shows them as inauthentic leeches. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the movie, because I think it fails at what it sets out to do (shine light on the generation gap), but there is something about it that I find interesting. Plus, Stiller and Watts are superb. I could watch Naomi Watts dance to hip-hop for hours on end. Adam Driver, though. It's official, I really don't like him. I've given him plenty of chances even after I hated him on Girls, but he failed to impress me in multiple movies, plus he seems like a dick in real life (social anxiety is not an excuse to be an asshole).

4. Jupiter Ascending - I have a hard time criticizing a movie like this because I can tell that so much work went into it. It's just...not very good. It's not as horrible as the critics made it out to be. The cast is great and it at least *tries* to be an original story. If it didn't have a constant "damsel in distress" plot, it probably would have been a more successful movie. Visually, it's pretty exciting to watch. There's a lot to look at and there are ideas that have never been explored before. It's really just the story and the pace that are the problem. It's all over the place in terms of editing. The scenes are abruptly put together - none seem like a smooth transition. As for the really hilarious performance from Eddie Redmayne, I think it fits the movie really well. It's deliberately over the top and brilliantly bizarre. Honestly, if more of the movie were like this, it might be better. The movie is a space fantasy sci-fi and I think that genre tends to get shit on right away, until years later when it receives cult status. The only recent movie that seemed to escape the criticism is Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved Guardians, but it's absolutely ridiculous. The reason it's a success is because it revels in its ridiculousness. Something this movie missed the mark on.

5. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her - Everyone was right, this is the best version. I absolutely loved the "Them" version, but the "Him" version felt incomplete. I think this version could hold its own because the story is a female story. With the "Him" version we are left with the same confusion that he is suffering from (which is effective, in a sense, but it's more frustrating than anything else). This version holds more depth and insight into her depression; her need to "disappear". I can feel her heartbreak more with this version and it is utterly perfect. There are some differences though, and they are very subtle - it's sort of like the show The Affair where their memory of certain events is different, so you don't know which to believe. In this case, I tend to believe his version because her mental state is a bit blurry. Jessica Chastain is mesmerizing - the scene with her and Viola Davis where Davis tells her "Now you sound maternal" is just so heartbreaking. This is the type of movie that I can watch over and over again, because I know I will find more depth - especially between the three versions. On a side note, how does Chastain manage to look so classy with a see-thru white t-shirt and black bra combination? It's just not fair.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Into the Woods - I wouldn't really call myself a big fan of musicals, but there are a few that I absolutely adore (Chicago springs to mind first), so I watch them with an open mind. This just isn't the type of musical I enjoy - the songs all sound the same and it's really just dialogue that is spoken in a sing-songy way. I have a hard time paying attention to this type of musical because it just feels like one never-ending song. When they first started singing the "Into the Woods" song, I thought "well, this is cute", but then it just kept going and going and going...and going. I think I would have actually loved this story without the music. It reminded me of the tv show Once Upon a Time, which is a show I used to enjoy (but it became completely ridiculous and hard to follow, and I gave up on it! Can you believe it? I actually quit a television show?! Go me!). It takes all of these fairy-tale stories and mushes them together to create something new; connecting plots and characters and adding depth to them. Then, the story ends how one would expect it to, and THEN it gets interesting. It kind of crushes and subverts the happily ever after ending, in favor of something much darker. I dug it quite a bit until it started to drag. I would love a re-edited version done without music (I'm basically just making up my own movie, really). The cast is excellent, I wouldn't change a thing there. Even the kids are great, and that's something I usually struggle with (kid actors usually ruin everything).

2. 50 Shades of Grey - Oh boy...where do I begin? I'm actually a bit surprised that I don't have a lot to say; the movie doesn't hold enough weight to get under my skin. It's just really, really, really stupid. Also, extremely boring. There is no chemistry between the leads and the guy from The Fall (shit, I forgot his name again) is so very pretty, but he is bland as fuck without his wonderful accent. I think the controversy around the movie far exceeds the actual controversy in the movie - it's actually pretty tame. I've read that the movie tones down the sex stuff from the book, which is odd since that's the thing that made it popular. Anyway, I obviously have issues with the plot. It is justifying abuse. There is a huge distinction between BDSM and an abusive relationship and this movie is very, very confused on this distinction. I'm not going to pretend that I know anything about BDSM; I don't. It confuses the fuck out of me. However, I am a product of an extremely violent childhood, so if someone so much as raises their voice at me, they will likely never see me again. I think it's pretty normal, though, to have certain sexual fantasies and to act out fantasies with someone with whom you trust. And that's the key word that this movie misses: trust. It's clear that Ana does not trust this man; and instead of backing down as any sane man would do, he stalks her, coerces her, and manipulates her. The problem, that many people have brought to attention, is that it seems to be acceptable behavior because he's handsome and rich (and white). This amuses me, because as a perpetually single woman, I find that my greatest enemy is this exact description - there is nothing scarier than a wealthy, white male, who is used to getting his way. So for me, this movie is simply about a predator who successfully captured his prey. The end, that is left wide open, as interpreted by me, is that he kills her and goes about his business until he finds his next victim (and her friend, Jose, is dead about half-way through the movie).  If E.L. James recognized that this is, in fact, the story that she wrote instead of insisting that it's a "love story", then everyone could just ignore it and it would GO AWAY! But, alas, James is obviously a very smart woman, who realized she wrote a shitty book that she needed to sell - so she slapped the words "love story" on it, and the world fell right into her trap. Also, I did catch the implied notion that Christian was abused as a child, but that just opens up a whole other can of worms and IN NO WAY justifies his actions. I guess I have more to say than I thought I did because I still have more to say in regards to the actual movie. As I stated above, it's beyond stupid. Ana is a wide-eyed giggling idiot, who has apparently never seen a tall building before (even though she goes to school within driving distance of this big city - and she graduates in the movie, so she spent at least 4 years never venturing to this city?). She's apparently never talked to another person before (at least that's what it seems like with her first interaction with Christian) and she really enjoys sticking pencils in her mouth. She has moments of genius, like when Christian tells her "I'm used to getting my own way", and she responds "that must be very boring". FUCKING YES NOW RUN AWAY RUN FAR AWAY!. As I also stated above, the movie is pretty tame. The sex scenes are very boring - and what's-his-name doesn't even get naked (isn't this supposed to be a sexual fantasy movie for straight women? Why is she the one that gets naked?). And correct me if I'm wrong, but after Ana "negotiates" his sex contract - is there really anything left for them to do but, like, "normal" sex? I mean, it's kind of embarrassing to make a movie about kinky sex that leaves the audience asking "is that it?". Lastly, who in their right mind thought it was a good idea to have Christian say the line "I'm fifty shades of fucked up"? I almost died of laughter.

3. Tracks - **HUGE SPOILER** The fucking dog fucking dies. That's the biggest thing I will remember about an otherwise pretty great movie. The odd thing is that even though I didn't really expect it to happen, I foreshadowed it in my head right from the beginning. I thought to myself how selfish it is for this woman to bring her dog with her on such a dangerous venture. If you want to risk your life, that's all fine and good, but to risk your innocent pet is shameful. Then, even worse, she kills wild animals because they get too close to her.'re in their territory! Ugh...the whole thing just makes me angry. Other than that, I really liked this movie. It was sort of like Wild, but instead of hiking for redemption, the main character, played to perfection by the utterly perfect, Mia Wasikowska, is hiking for self-discovery. She is hiking to absorb the loneliness, to prove that she is worthy enough, to force herself into unpredictability. The starkness of the desert is beautifully captured; the heat can be felt during every moment. The best part, though, is the end, when the audience is treated to these gorgeous photos of the real life adventure. It's these photos that really captured my attention to think "wow...she really fucking did that!".

4. Laggies - Just to get it out of the way quickly, Keira's American valley girl accent is woefully terrible. While the movie is painfully simplified, I can sort of relate to it - and that is not something I say often about female coming of age stories. I graduated high school and continued a relationship with my high school boyfriend for another 3 years before realizing that I need to move on. It was a tough decision that I kept putting off making, but I realized that I would never be able to become the person that I wanted to be, if I didn't allow myself to become me (without "him"). I think this movie does a good job of capturing that phase that a lot of women go through - a phase in which "commitment" scares the shit out of us. Yes, it's not just a male thing. Women are just as scared; we are just used to hiding our fears better. We don't often see stories about emotionally stunted females. It's similar to the recent movie, Obvious Child, except I would argue that this is more of a "feminist" movie, because the catalyst in Obvious Child is that her boyfriend dumps her (so her life falls apart, naturally). I liked the chemistry that Keira has with Sam Rockwell, although, I wish he was featured more because he's the best part (duh!). I absolutely loathed the ending, though. *spoiler* She encourages this teenage girl to dance with her crush at the prom - but that's not the problem. The problem is that it's incredibly selfish to not consider his date. Why ruin someone else's prom? That just seems rude and unnecessary.

5. Beyond the Lights - I didn't really have any interest in this movie, but then I read a really strong review about it as a powerful story about how women are portrayed in the music industry and Netflix predicted that I would give it 5 stars (really, Netflix? I rarely rate any movie above 4 stars). It's a 3 star Lifetime movie. Fairly predictable, mediocre story about following your dreams and remaining true to yourself. I don't really feel sympathy for celebrities in the mainstream media because most of them crave the attention. I do think that the media goes too far (especially when children are involved), and that we, as a people, are far too judgmental of celebrities. It's sad that someone with actual, legitimate musical talent, needs to put up a show and create a "personality" in order to "make it". I don't really relate to movies about women who allow men around them to treat them like shit. It's not really a great feminist story because she basically rides the coattails of a man who is famous, and she relies on a man to save her (from her inner demons). She does, however, learn from this experience and open up about her depression, which is a powerful message. Gugu Mbatha-Raw is a star. Her performance transcends the movie and her voice is raw and soulful. The scene where she sings "Blackbird" is stunning (but you can save yourself some time and just watch the clip online). The most shocking part of the movie is Nikolas Cassadine from General Hospital is in a small scene! It's extremely jarring. He's been on GH for FOREVER (maybe 20 years?), and I've never seen him in anything else.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Best Films of 2014 ***Updated***

It's that time of year again!...Time for my updated "Best of" list now that I've seen everything that I've wanted to see from last year. Here goes: 

1. Under the Skin
2. Interstellar
3. I Origins
4. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
5. Guardians of the Galaxy
6. The Skeleton Twins
7. Whiplash
8. Still Alice 
9. Filth
10. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

The list definitely changed - there are some strong contenders that got pushed out (Enemy, The Babadook), and some that I nearly added (Inherent Vice, Mockingjay). My list drastically defers from most - Birdman might have made it to my Top 20, but Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel are nowhere near the top. I'm a little behind in my movie watching this year, but I am planning on a few movie binges soon!