Saturday, July 16, 2016

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Witch - Be prepared. I'm about to bitch about 5 terrible movies. The Witch is the most surprising of the bunch. I've heard tremendously positive things about it and I've seen it on several "Best of 2016 so far" lists. I knew I wouldn't find it scary, but that doesn't mean I thought it would be terrible. Horror movies are often allegorical tales and this one is no different - it tackles familial bonds, deceit, sexuality, etc. and none of it is very interesting or original. And definitely far from scary, unless you are scared of witches, I guess. I definitely think that some people, and mostly women, in particular, have a sixth sense about things that can't be explained (yet), but I don't think it's related to anything sinister or evil. I just think it's a part of the brain that hasn't been explored yet. The only positive thing I can say about this movie is that the main girl, Anya Talyor-Joy, is incredible. The rest of the cast over-acts, especially the mother. And I heard all about "Black Phillip" and the fact that it is a goat (yes, an actual goat) is so incredibly dumb and literal and not scary and did I say dumb? Ok, let's move on.

2. Special Correspondents - I wasn't really expecting much with this movie, but it has a great cast, so I thought maybe I would be pleasantly surprised? I wasn't. It's pretty dull. There is a great concept there - this radio newscaster (do those really exist still?) just makes up a story and all the other news outlets just go along with it and start reporting on a fake story. I could totally see that happening nowadays. It's obviously supposed to be satirical, but it just isn't dark or funny enough. I hate that Kelly Macdonald and Eric Bana have an American accent (and yet Ricky kept his accent). It's not necessary. It's NYC - all accents exist. I laughed a few times ("Julio Iglesias!"), but for a Gervais project, it wasn't enough. On another note: Can Kelly Macdonald be in more things please?!

3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - I've never read the Jane Austen novel (I know, I know, but her novels just really aren't my thing. Women finding husbands are not how I want to spend my time.). I think this whole series is interesting, though - to combine a classic novel with a horror theme. I love that all of these high society women are all dressed up in big dresses and then turn around and kick zombie ass. I like Lily James; I think she did a terrific job. Sam Riley, though, oooof....what a rough performance. His voice was so awkward; it was this weird unnatural raspy voice - I'm not sure if that is his real voice or if he was trying to be sexy(?), but it was hard to watch. I'm a huge fan of Jack Huston, but he was under-utilized here. There are some really fun zombie fight scenes that are choreographed really well, as well as some training scenes that were fun (mixed with the Austen dialogue - it's an interesting twist), but the love story is pathetic and horrible. Like, why would anyone root for the asshole to get the girl?

4. Daddy's Home - I know this movie looked terrible, and had pretty horrible reviews, but I thought I might find it funny just because I like the chemistry between Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys is great). I like that it deals with the ever expanding notion of "family" and shows the struggle that step-fathers/mothers have to deal with in trying to be part of a family without intruding. It's like the frat-boy version of Stepmom (which is a GREAT movie that makes me cry - I can't listen to "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" without thinking of it). This movie is just not funny at all. I laughed at one scene - the dance-off at the Father/Daughter dance (and I've never heard of Father/Daughter dances in the real world, but they are used as plot-devices in movies ALL THE TIME. Isn't that weird?). I also really liked the end with Mark's character getting a taste of his own medicine, and the Alessandra Ambrosio cameo (I adore her. She is definitely one of the most beautiful women in the world).

5. Rock the Kasbah - Definitely the worst movie I've seen in a while. Not only is it mildly offensive and misogynistic, it's also terribly unfunny. I'm so tired of Bill Murray's curmudgeon shtick (that's always supposed to be disguised as "charming" the fuck), but even more tired of his bonding with gorgeous women half his age. In this case, it's Kate Hudson, a gorgeous woman who looks 15 years younger than she actually is playing a prostitute (another horrible cliche). I've never really been a fan of Hudson (as an actress), although her mother is one of my favorite actresses of all time (Goldie FOREVER), but here she is probably the least believable prostitute I've ever seen in a movie. Ever. I like Zooey Deschanel in small doses, and her role is the perfect size, but she's pretty horrible in this movie (I love her voice, though.). There are a lot of scenes that are pretty fucking serious (car bombs, etc.) that I don't think I can laugh at, at least not with our current world situation. The whole plot of the movie seems like a side-plot, which is about the discovery of this Afghan woman with an amazing voice. It's based on a true story; and it's probably fascinating, but this movie does not give it justice. And sorry, but this woman's voice isn't great.

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

The Good:

-The best show currently on television is The Amercians. It's given us four solid seasons of increasing quality. It's inexplicably been snubbed for the Emmy awards, outside of Margo Martindale for Guest Actress (this will be her fourth time nominated in this category. Correct me if I'm wrong, but four years on one series should no longer qualify one as "guest actor", no? I think she's officially part of the cast) and one writing nod last year. Finally, this year, it's been recognized in the Drama category along with a nomination for both lead actors - Russell has been my favorite female performance for the past 4 years (and her competition is Maslany who slays at playing 328 characters). Russell's performance is understated and restrained and just oh so heartbreakingly stunning.

-Mr. Robot is definitely giving The Americans a run for its money as the best drama on television. However, it's only had one terrific season, so for me, The Americans, has the edge. I will be perfectly thrilled if Mr. Robot steals all of the awards, though. I mean, the pilot episode made me cry because it's so perfect. I don't think I've ever seen a more perfect episode of television. I'm pulling for a win in the Writing category for this one.

-I knew The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story would get several nominations. The question was just how many. The answer: a WHOPPING 22 Emmy nominations (second to Game of Thrones). The limited series categories are the most competitive, with the ACS actors not only competing with each other, but also with the sublime actors of Fargo. 

-Thank the Lord, Lady Gaga did not receive an Emmy nomination. I have nothing against her, but she was nothing above mediocre in a terrible season of American Horror Story.

-The Good Wife deservedly got shut-out of the Drama category and for Julianna Margulies. Overall, it's a terrific series, but the final season was terrible. The more I think about it, the more I hate it. I'm glad they didn't give it a "final season" nomination, and instead opted for better quality.

-WAIT was The Big Bang Theory FINALLY shut-out?!!! YES! That show is fucking terrible. And yes, I've tried to watch it a few times (my mom thinks it's hilarious. My mom also watched Two and a Half Men. ENOUGH SAID.).

-Maura Tierney for The Affair! Although I think her role was largely increased during the second season - all four actors could consider themselves in the lead category, and I argue that all four of them should be nominated (yes, even Pacey!). I also think the writing for this show is brilliant.

The Bad: 

-Why is Homeland still being recognized?! I think the first season was good (I would still argue that it wasn't Emmy-worthy good, but at least it had some strengths), but now it is so dull and poorly edited. The actors, Claire Danes in particular, are all over-the-top. It's honestly almost hard to watch at this point.

-Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had a better second season, but I don't think it's all that great. And I'm not convinced that Ellie Kemper isn't just playing a dumbed-down version of herself (and that doesn't deserve an Emmy nomination).

-When will The CW breakthrough to the Emmys? I think it was expected to this year with the heavily praised Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Rachel Bloom is fantastic and definitely could have replaced Kemper. If the show were on one of the major networks (or Netflix/Hulu), it surely would have been nominated.

-On a related note, when will superhero shows breakthrough? While Arrow and The Flash suffered terrible seasons, Daredevil and Jessica Jones had some incredibly solid seasons.

-I like Game of Thrones. Really, I do. But 23 nominations? I don't get it. I'm not fully caught up on the series (I'm on season 5. I think...), so I can't really comment on the last season, but I highly doubt Kit Harrington's acting ability increased that dramatically in the course of a year or two.

-The final episode of The Good Wife was nominated for a writing award? Um....LOL.

The Snubbed: 

-While I agree that season 3 was a weak season for Orange is the New Black (and season 4 rectifies all of it), the acting is still perfection. Uzo seems to be the go-to nomination, but even she was ignored this year (after winning last year). Surely one of them (actually any of them) could easily replace Maggie Smith. I'm only on season 4 of Downton Abbey, but the most acting Smith does is give a disapproving look and a sarcastic reply (sorry, Maggie, love you!).

-VERA FARMIGA. Seriously?! She could easily replace Claire Danes. I wouldn't even be mad if Freddie Highmore received a nomination, because he's been seriously fantastic for the past two seasons.

-I would love for It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia to get some recognition. It is still going strong after 11 seasons on the air, and it is largely ignored. It's easily the funniest show on television. Yes, funnier than Veep (and yes, I love Veep, too.). Also, Brooklyn Nine-Nine is towards the top of my list for comedies as well. I'm glad Andre Braugher was nominated, but the whole cast is fantastic and the show itself deserves a nod.

-I would have loved to see something for The Grinder. It was such a great, well-acted and well-written comedy. Actually, my personal Comedy picks would look very different from the nominations. It would look like this: It's Always Sunny, Veep, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Grinder, Mom (Janney for the win!), Modern Family, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. Although, I have no issues with Master of None or Silicon Valley (I've only seen the first season so far, though).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Best Films of 2015 ***Updated***

Every July I update my "Best of" list from the previous year to include the movies that I wasn't able to see before January. This year, as of January, I only listed 5 best films because I really struggled finding great films (which is unusual for me). I am happy to say that I *do* have a solid 10 now, but I still would argue that last year kind of sucked for movies (this year I already have 5 solid movies that I am confident will make my list). So here is my updated list for 2015:

1. Room
2. The Big Short
3. The Revenant
4. The Martian
5. Ex Machina
6. Kingsman: The Secret Service
7. Mad Max: Fury Road
8. Dope
9. Brooklyn
10. Jurassic Park
10.5. Bone Tomahawk 

Also, I'm super confused as what the film world is considering as The Lobster's release date - it's clearly listed as 2015, but EVERYONE seems to be counting it as 2016. If it's counted as 2015, then it comes just short of my favorite in the number two slot. I'm going to count it as 2016 though, and it will surely make my Top 10 list.

3 Thoughts on Captain America: Civil War

1. Team Iron Man - I was always Team Iron Man, even before I knew anything about Civil War. I've never really been a fan of Captain America, although it's not like I dislike him or anything. He's just blah, and Chris Evans is blah (I KNOW, I KNOW. He's got nice abs.). When I learned that Captain America and Iron Man would face off, and we sort of saw the hint of this "war" in Age of Ultron, I assumed Iron Man would be the "villain", especially since it's a Captain America movie. Plus, literally everyone I follow on Twitter declared #TeamCap way before the release of the film (I assumed the comics put Iron Man on the wrong side), but boy was I wrong. After seeing the film, it's quite obvious that Iron Man is right. I don't understand how ANYONE could watch this and argue it any other way. While we've spent years celebrating heroes and their vigilantism, we can all agree that their brand of justice is not on the right side of the law....right???

2. The Bucky element - So, not only does Cap argue against a fair and reasonable accord that would allow them to legally capture terrorists and save the world, but he also risks the lives of millions to SAVE HIS FRIEND?! I don't understand this whole relationship. I understand that he wants to support his friend, and that Bucky was brainwashed. But he is still a villainous character. The great superhero stories give the bad guys a history and possibly a sympathetic one (Daredevil's Wilson Fisk is a great example of this), but that doesn't make his actions any less evil. The "right" thing to do in this case is to allow Bucky to be captured and ensure that he is treated fairly, not allow him to escape so that he could possibly be "triggered" again to commit a terrorist act. This movie does an okay job of making Cap still be the "good guy", arguing for freedom (WOHOO GO AMERICA GO), but if you really analyze the message and the story, he just wants to be free to save his bff and it is a very anti-American message. Also, I still can't look at Bucky and not think of Carter Baizen, who was a complete asshole on Gossip Girl. It's hard for me to root for him because of this, to be honest.

3. Spider-Man and Black Panther - The parts that I was most excited about going into this movie were the new Spider-Man and the introduction of Black Panther. Both of these parts I enjoyed, but I wasn't wowed by either of them. Tom Holland nails the whole kid from Queens act, that neither Maguire or Garfield could do, and his Spider-Man is a lot of fun - dorky, and adorable. I think I would have enjoyed it more if he was featured more, but the small taste that we got is definitely intriguing. Black Panther was a little bit dull, although I appreciate that his "origin story" is told rather quickly, so hopefully his movie will not be a rehash of these events because that would be really boring. I'm glad that both of these characters were on Iron Man's side because that makes me like both of them more (and, consequently like Hawkeye and Ant-Man less).