Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thoughts on 5 New TV Shows

1. Ghosted - Cute show, but a little cheesy. It reminds me of a sitcom from the 90s - not a specific show, just seems like it belongs in that decade as opposed to this one. That's not necessarily a bad thing; sometimes you just want to watch something easy and mind-numbing on a Sunday night. Adam Scott and Craig Robinson have great chemistry and I laugh out loud at least once during every episode. I really like Amber Stevens West (from Greek and 22 Jump Street). She is just a ball of sunshine (and so stunning). I don't know if it's a show that will last because it feels like a throwaway, and Fox doesn't really give new shows a chance to grow. I'll keep watching, though.

2. The Mayor - Again, another cute show that is also a little cheesy. I probably wouldn't continue to watch if it weren't for the comedic graces of Lea Michele and Yvette Nicole Brown. Michele pretty much plays a grown up version of Rachel, if Rachel was into politics instead of performing, but I'm perfectly ok with that because she shines as this type of character. I think overall the show is a little simplistic and kind of dumbed down for a general audience (every episode is basically saying "politics is hard!").

3. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World - First, this show should be a 30 minute sitcom instead of an hour long. It would be soooooo much better if it moved faster. Each episode is way too dragged out for dramatic effect. Second, I think Jason Ritter and JoAnna Garcia deserve a show that is much stronger than this one (but I LOVE them as siblings!). Third, as someone who isn't religious, this show is outrageous. It's sort of like Touched by an Angel (a show that my mother adored) and Ghost (like how everyone thinks he's crazy for talking to a person that's not there). Fourth, again, as someone who isn't religious, I appreciate that his mental health is questioned. It gives me an explanation to hold my interest. In my mind, he's actually having a mental breakdown, and not actually seeing this "spokesperson" for God. Which, sadly for me, I've witnessed someone have this exact breakdown. After an ex and I broke up, he ended up in a psychiatric ward because he claimed he saw Jesus. This is someone who was never even religious (I blame it on the meds he was prescribed because he was "sad". Anyway, another subject for another time, perhaps).

4. Ten Days in the Valley - Really terrible show. I'm surprised at how strong the cast is, compared to how awful the writing has been. The show doesn't even make sense - I mean, this woman doesn't even really seem that concerned about her missing daughter. She even continues to GO TO WORK?! I don't have sympathy for her at all. And wouldn't the cops realize that her assistant is also her ex-husband's girlfriend? Or does she have another identity? That was never made clear. Anyway, the whole "mystery" they are trying desperately to set up is null and void because every character is dull and I don't even care enough about the daughter to keep watching to see who did it. I'm pretty sure it will be cancelled soon anyway since it was already pushed to Saturday nights.

5. Mindhunter - Very strong show. I love the pace - there is a ton of ground to cover, but it never seems like it's rushing to tell the "big" story. It focuses on small discoveries, and getting to know each character. It's super weird to watch Jonathan Groff in a very serious "straight" man sort of role, and it was very jarring at first, but he is nailing it more and more with every episode. He still has his sense of sarcasm, just minus the singing and dancing. Anna Torv is AMAZING. And casting the spectacular Lena Olin (otherwise known as Irina Derevko, AKA Mamma Bristow from Alias) as Torv's girlfriend is THE BEST casting I've seen in a while (if you are a super fan of both Alias and Fringe, then you probably screamed out loud, as I did). My favorite actor in the show, though, is Bill Tench. It's such an understated, classic old school "FBI guy", but his line delivery is perfect and his character is more nuanced than you expect. I also absolutely loved how the final episode ended *spoilery info ahead* - we get a glimpse into this "mysterious" character for a few minutes here and there during the season, but the final shot is focused on him. I looked up who it was and found it's the infamous "BTK Strangler" (I assume most people looked up who it was earlier on, but I went along with the intrigue). I think the importance of this being the final shot is to show how the rest of the series will go. This proves the potential of spanning decades, considering this man wasn't caught until 2005. So, is next season going to jump ahead? Netflix has said it's planning for five seasons - maybe one season per decade?

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Loving - There are quite a few reasons why I was looking forward to watching this - written & directed by Jeff Nichols (I actually forgot this fact until Michael Shannon showed up and then I was like "oh yeah!!"), starring Ruth Negga - who is utterly fantastic on the show Preacher (all of the actors are brilliant, which is the only reason I'm still watching it, because otherwise, it's weird as fuck and not really in a good way), and it's an incredibly timely true story of fairly famous Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriages. The movie was exactly what I was expecting - fairly simple, understated biopic of this couple's "fight" for justice. I put the word fight in quotes, because it's not a fight that they wanted, they simply just wanted to live their life peacefully in their hometown and raise their children. It shouldn't be something that one has to fight for, but here we are (fucking STILL). The part that made me angry (aside from the entire story of injustice) is that ***spoiler*** he fucking dies at the end from getting killed by a drunk driver?! What the actual fuck.

2. 3 Generations - I wasn't expecting much with this movie because of the minimal buzz it received for such a strong cast. I thought it would be mediocre. I certainly did not think it would be a contender for the worst movie of the year. It's that bad, you guys. First, I totally understand why people take offense at having cisgender actors play transgender roles. I think it would have made the film more authentic to have a transgender actor, but I also think that strong actors can transcend their own circumstances (that's kind of the point of "acting"). And Dakota Fanning is probably the strongest actress of her generation, but unfortunately, this did not work. Second, I don't really understand the point of this movie, or how it relates to the title of "3 generations" because it wasn't really about a generation gap, it was just about a family adjusting to their child's transition. And this is a very fascinating topic that should be a really nuanced, personal story. It's not. Instead it's just generic, and reduced to a teenager "acting out". The only thing I found interesting was the role of the father. I think it's odd that he would still have any parental rights considering he abandoned his family (but laws are weird). But then, there's a *surprise twist* *spoiler ahead*, he's not actually her father anyway. Um, what? Then, what's the point? Why harass him into being a "father" if he isn't? And, finally, the wigs that are used are horrible! Dakota's wig is bad, and then there is an even worse one. Why not have her shave her head? Also, is Naomi wearing a wig too? Because there was something weird about her hairline.

3. The Lost City of Z - This movie seemed to come and go pretty quickly, but after I watched it I read a few really strong reviews that I am baffled by. It's an okay movie. An epic tale of early exploration which is certainly interesting (and a complete coincidence that I watched it on Columbus Day). Charlie Hunnam isn't the greatest actor, but I think some critics are unnecessarily harsh on him. I thought he did a spectacular job as Jax on Sons of Anarchy, barring a few missteps with the accent. And he is very good in this movie, too. However, the movie, itself, is very boring and repetitive during the whole middle part. It doesn't get good until his son is grown (his son is played by Tom Holland, LOL. The fact that this could actually be factually accurate made me feel so old bc Charlie is MY AGE). Sienna Miller plays her typical wife role and I AM OVER IT. Also, *surprise* Robert Pattinson is in this! Is he not popular anymore? Because I feel like a few years ago it would have been made into a huge deal. Anyway, the movie could have used some tighter editing, but it was very gorgeous to look at, and there are some spectacularly tense scenes. It's just not cinematically "epic" enough for such an epic story.

4. The Magnificent Seven - Have I seen the original? Well, of course. But the real question is: Do I remember the original? And the answer is: nope; not a single second of it. My grandfather was a huge Western enthusiast (he exclusively watched Westerns, war movies, and The Twilight Zone), and he used to make me sit and watch "the classics". While I enjoyed the war movies, and of course, The Twilight Zone, all of the Westerns just blended together in boredom. However, I can appreciate them now, and some modern ones have really made an impact (most recently, Bone Tomahawk). I was looking forward to this remake, simply because of the cast. It is one heck of a cast! After watching it, I maintain, the cast is the only reason to sit through this movie. They did nothing to modernize it; most of it was boring; the final showdown was soooooo dragged out (but the "final" final showdown, was perfect!). I did like that the only female role was an important one, and she wasn't weak in any way. Haley Bennett stood out in this group of talented men (and she kind of reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence), which was definitely a challenge.

5. Sing - When the trailer for this played before last year's La La Land, my mother was hysterically laughing (it was the bunny rabbits shaking their tails singing "oh my gosh, look at her butt" that did it). It made me smile because I like watching my mom laugh, but overall, I was not interested in watching a bunch of animated animals audition for a reality type competition (I don't watch live versions of this crap, why would I want to see an animated version?). However, after watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I was looking up Taron Egerton interviews (to see if his real accent was the same as his super sexy accent in the movie) and I got caught in a YouTube hole for HOURS watching interviews of him singing (I didn't know he could sing!! I love him even more now!). So, of course, I HAD to watch this movie. It's super cute. Nothing fantastic, or memorable, but just super cute. And sometimes that's all a movie needs to be. Taron excels - his voice is so beautiful, especially since his songs are vocally challenging (he covers both John Legend and Sam Smith songs).

Sunday, October 8, 2017

3 Thoughts on Kingsman: The Golden Circle

1. The plot - **Spoilers** Truly the most baffling plot I've seen in a while. Not because it was confusing, but because it was basically arguing that people who do drugs are...good? It actually argues that everyone does drugs - politicians, festival goers, princesses, your friends, family, etc. I agree with the message, I guess, I mean we can't just let people die because they do drugs, but it's just an odd stance to take for a movie like this. It also had some major plot holes - the villain, played to glorious perfection by Julianne Moore, is the leader of the "global drug trade" yet only threatens the United States and its president. Surely, other countries would be involved. Other than that, I actually really liked the story. I thought they brought back Colin in a "believable" way, and I'm happy that they already showed that he was alive in the trailer so it wasn't a shock for the audience. I like that they had to team up with the Statesmen, even if they were horribly reduced to Middle-America stereotypes. They stayed true to the "James Bond but sillier" theme and had several nods to Bond without being in your face (for the most part). Plus, the best part is that the princess from the first one becomes the love interest (which is the best slap in the face ever).

2. The cast - Oh what a cast. The original cast is back (for the most part), and is stronger than ever (yes, that was a pun for Mark Strong - who really shines in this sequel). Taron Egerton is super, duper hot. Like, ridiculously hot. And when did the guy who plays Charlie get hot? Because I didn't even notice him in the first one, but damn he's fine in this one as a half-man/half-Terminator type villain. As for the new additions to the cast, Julianne Moore stuns as a perfect villain. I didn't think anyone could top Samuel L. Jackson's over-the-top villain, but Moore is just sooo good. The Statesmen included Channing Tatum, who is under-utilized, but he does dance hilariously, Jeff Bridges in a perfectly cliched role for him, and Pedro Pascal who gets some of the coolest action scenes in the film. The only stunningly bad casting decision was Halle Berry. While I enjoy the not-so-subtle Bond reference AND that they took a former Bond girl and made her the "brains" of the organization, she is a terrible actress in this. Every scene she is in, are the worst scenes in the movie.

3. The length - 2 hours and 21 minutes, and I felt every single second. The first one is only 12 minutes shorter, but I've never noticed it. It feels tightly edited, it moves with a purpose, and feels fast. This sequel just drags on and on. And on and on. There are several scenes that could have been shortened or cut altogether (I read many praises of the Elton John cameo, but every single one of his scenes could have been cut, easily). It felt like every shot just lingered too long and it made it very difficult to watch. I think this is the sole reason that it has received the negative criticism that it has. Whether it's noticeable or not, it just doesn't move with any clear direction. Plus, it just does the same action-sequences as the first one and I was hoping for something new, something that would blow me away like the Church scene did in the first one. I think we were supposed to feel that way with the car chase scene in the beginning of the movie, but it felt really CGI heavy and again, waaaay too long. Overall, I liked this movie, but will I watch it again? Yes, probably, but ONLY for Taron. While I watch the first one every few months and I enjoy every second of it.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fall TV Preview: 5 New Shows to Watch

1. Ghosted - I will watch ANYTHING with Adam Scott in it. ANYTHING. So far, the commercials don't really look very funny but I still have hope. I mean, it's a buddy comedy about investigating paranormal activities STARRING Adam Scott.

2. 10 Days in the Valley - I don't really see how this show can continue after season one, considering the whole premise takes place over 10 days - after a woman's daughter is kidnapped. But, the premise of the first season sounds promising. Plus, I adore Kyra Sedgwick.

3. Kevin (Probably) Saves the World - I'll give this show a chance because of Jason Ritter. He was so great on Parenthood and he reminds me so much of his father. It seems like a super cute, wholesome show, and sometimes that is needed, especially in these current times.

4. The Mayor - Ok, this show looks kind of dumb and unrealistic, but unfortunately IT'S TOTALLY REALISTIC. So weird, the world we live in. Anyway, I want to watch this show for one reason: Lea Michele. I'm upset that she still hasn't taken my advice of going back to a starring role on Broadway (where she belongs), but she does have absolutely perfect comedic timing so this has potential to be really funny.

5. Mindhunter - This is the only new show that I'm truly looking forward to, which is good because I watch SO much television. I limited myself to only picking 5 new shows this season, and honestly that was hard to do, but in the opposite way that I expected. Honestly, this Fall season of television looks rough. The other 4 shows I picked are only on my list because of their stars. And while this show has the benefit of Jonathan Groff and Anna Torv (one of my television favorites), it's not the only reason this is on my list. The reasons it's on my list are: It's a Netflix show, David Fincher is heavily involved (as Executive Producer and Director on 3 episodes), and it's about psychological studies of serial killers. I'm all in.

4 Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

1. The Host - I like Stephen Colbert just fine. I don't watch his show because I feel like his whole shtick becomes very repetitive and a little grating. He is very intelligent and well-spoken, though. I just don't think he should host an awards show. There's no draw there (as seen from the ratings). But I will admit that he did a decent job, actually above average. His opening musical number made me smile, he called Broadcast TV "the original OG TV" (lol), and called out Bill Maher (easily the best joke of the night - Anthony Anderson's laugh made it even better). But then, everything was ruined with the extremely controversial appearance of former Press Secretary and legit garbage human being, Sean Spicer. I was as shocked as the audience. At first, I was shocked that Spicer actually had the balls to show up. I mean, he used TO HIDE IN BUSHES because of his cowardice to face the press. But then my shock turned into disgust that he wasn't booed off of the stage. Now I'm shocked that Colbert didn't fight against it. I'm sure it was suggested by CBS (UGH), but Colbert has a lot of clout with the network and could have easily refused. OR he could have outwardly shown disgust at giving this man a platform. It's not funny, he is not someone that we should be celebrating or laughing "with", and the "joke" basically was him admitting that he willfully lied during his tenure as Press Secretary. I don't know how anyone thought that would be ok.

2. The Winners & Losers - Having not seen Big Little Lies or The Handmaid's Tale put me at a bit of a disadvantage for this year's Emmy awards. However, I am very happy with most of the winners. I love Laura Dern so much, and am happy for her resurgence. I really wanted Donald Glover to win all 3 of his nominations (writing, acting & directing), but the Thanksgiving episode of Master of None is sublimely written so I can't complain. Sterling K. Brown is THE BEST on This is Us (I don't even think anyone else should have been nominated except for Ron Cephas Jones). And while I would have loved to see Pamela Adlon sneak a win in, JLD is a goddess on Veep. I don't think SNL should be winning anything. I don't really find any of it funny - and I don't understand why Jimmy Fallon got so much flack for "normalizing" Trump, but SNL is celebrated for it?? It doesn't make any sense whatsoever. I can't fathom a world in which Elizabeth Moss deserves an Emmy, but I seem to be the only one who thinks she's terrible (it's the reason I've been putting off watching it).

3. The Show - I learned a few things watching this year's Emmys: Michelle Pfeiffer and David E. Kelley are still married?! David E. Kelley is involved in Big Little Lies?! Big Little Lies is about domestic abuse?! Yvonne Strahovski is in The Handmaid's Tale?! Alexis Bledel won an Emmy for The Handmaid's Tale?! Black Mirror was submitted as a "Television Movie"....?! Netflix garnered 92 nominations this year?! Alexander Skarsgard is one tall handsome man (I never noticed before)?! People actually like James Corden and Chris Hardwick?! SO MUCH INFORMATION. Anyway, overall, I thought this was a solid show. Most of the speeches were entertaining - obviously the best one was Sterling K. Brown who not only referenced "Dick Whitman", but also "Martin and Gina" (in talking about representing black love). The audience clearly wanted to hear the rest, so it's a bit annoying that he got cut off (and Nicole Kidman didn't...). The announcer was the worst part of the show - he sounded very amateur. Oh and the weird paparazzi carpet on stage - what was up with that?? Oh wait, no, the worst part of the show was the guy who won for directing Big Little Lies referring to the cast of women as "girls", and then the sentiment was repeated by Alexander Skarsgard. The Emmys were clearly dominated by women and female stories this year, but sure enough two white men had to downplay the achievement (it's even more problematic now knowing what Big Little Lies is about). I'm sure that they weren't knowingly belittling their co-stars, but it's just another example of how men don't realize that the language they use matters.

4. The Fashion - She didn't get any press, but Jaimie Alexander was wearing my favorite dress of the night - it was kind of goth, but also really pretty with the gold birds. I also really liked Shailene Woodley's dress because it was simple, but velvet is super trendy right now. Millie Bobbie Brown looked ADORABLE. Also, super legends, Michelle Pfeiffer and Judith Light both looked stunning. I don't think anyone really stood out as the "worst", but I didn't like Debra Messing's dress because it sort of looked like a garbage bag, and I hated Reese Witherspoon's long blazer dress. Elizabeth Moss' dress was pretty, but it looked like she was going to a high school formal.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Founder - Not a bad movie, but a very forgettable movie. It's just a very straightforward biopic about the "founder" of McDonald's. It's an interesting story of passion and ultimately betrayal (LOL it totally sounds like I'm describing a romance), but I didn't really invest much in any of the characters. I love the resurgence of Michael Keaton. He's a wonderfully nuanced actor, and he does a great job here. I actually remember as a little kid, my grandmother used to drive by this gigantic mansion (the biggest that I've ever seen in person) in Southern California and she used to tell me that it belonged to the founder of McD's (I think it was maybe his wife's, though? Ray Croc would have been dead at this time). My grandmother also used to bring me to McD's as a treat and I used to cry - I hate hamburgers. They smell amazing, but every time I take a bite it makes me nauseous. I do love their fries though. I rarely get fast food, but when I do - it's McDonald's french fries and a chocolate shake. Anyway, I don't have much to say about the movie, and that's never a good sign.

2. The Love Witch - Such a weird little movie. Purposefully made to look like a 60s/70s exploitation film, it's fascinating from beginning to end. It works for two reasons: The main star, Samantha Robinson is captivating, and it's directed by a woman, Ann Biller. The first is essential for a movie like this. Robinson portrays Elaine with a sense of wonder, a little innocence mixed with insanity. But the audience empathizes with her, and wants to see her happy. Oddly, she reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's (which is a compliment of the highest order). The second is also essential, in that it feels like an exploitation film, but it's actually not - our star is never exploited; instead she is empowered. And while, I don't necessary think gender matters when directing stories, most male directors fail to get this balance right. They also fail at small details that only women get (I highly doubt a male director would put the tampon scene in, and I also think it's genius to show her putting in her hair extensions because women's hair does not naturally look like that!). All in all, it's a really fun movie. Odd and beautiful. Completely mesmerizing.

3. Paterson - I was honestly really disappointed with this movie. It's extremely boring; which can be said about several Jarmusch films, but I can usually find connections with the deeply personal stories and explorations of human nature. Plus, I love stories where a person is intrinsically linked to his/her town. However, I didn't connect with this at all. The movie is about Paterson, a bus driver from Paterson, who writes poetry, which is a nod to the famous epic poem "Paterson". That's as interesting as it gets. First and foremost, let's talk about Paterson, NJ because I don't really think this film represents what the city is like today. I, myself, can't speak for Paterson because I DON'T GO THERE. It's not a great area at all. In fact, it's one of those areas that if you accidentally find yourself in, you lock your doors and don't make eye contact with anyone. I've only been there purposely a few times a few years ago to help build a house for Habitat for Humanity, and the organization was very specific to tell us NOT to leave the area. But while, I can't speak too much for it, my BF owns a business in Paterson and he has nightmare stories of drug addicts, dealers, dudes walking around with machetes (for real.). None of this is shown in the movie, instead it feels like a quaint, quirky little NJ town, one where a 10 year old white girl is just hanging out by herself (it just wouldn't happen). Also, speaking of race, there are way too many white people featured. Paterson is less than 10% white. It's largely hispanic, with Spanish as the most commonly used language - so this film feels really inauthentic on every level. Plus, his bus is practically empty during every trip - finding an empty NJ transit bus is like finding a unicorn. Anyway, next subject. This guy is a dick. I appreciate that he's introverted, and that he doesn't talk much, but the way he treats his girlfriend is horrible. He doesn't share anything with her, and patronizes her art work as an act of whimsy. Also, his poetry sucks.

4. Song to Song - I honestly don't know why I bother. I haven't liked a Malick film since The Thin Red Line (actually, that might be the only Malick film that I like...). I can appreciate his passion for cinema as an art form, but I feel like his films have become very repetitive. They all feature the same fish-eye lens, the overbearing voice-over, the poetic but almost nonsensical dialogue, and it's all very boring. He sucks me in by having such an amazing cast - this one features Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, and Cate Blanchett. I suddenly realized while watching this, that his recent films are all about the same boring, entitled, wealthy, beautiful, white people - and none of them feel like "real" people. There are just random shots of them dancing in front of a scenic background, or jumping on the bed, or like, doing nothing but contemplating their very boring lives. Real people don't have time for that shit. I don't even really know what this movie is about. It takes place in the Austin music scene, about some couples who cheat on each other and then date each other, and switch partners. I don't know. Just all bullshit, really. I read a review that called it "cinematic masturbation" and LOL because that is spot-on.

5. Baywatch - Revamping old television shows can be tricky, but if they can make 21 Jump Street work, then I fully believe it can be done with anything, really. I was looking forward to this movie simply for the nostalgia factor, but I admit, once the reviews came in, I decided to wait until home release - no sense wasting money on the theater for this one. I think it's weird that controversy about critics was created by The Rock because he blamed critics for the failure of the movie, but come on man, it's a shitty movie. It's really terrible. It deserved the critical beating, and critics shouldn't be blamed for its failure. The people who MADE THIS SHITTY MOVIE SHOULD BE BLAMED. It's common sense. There was nothing funny about it, it wasn't fun and campy like the original series, the plot was dumb and predictable. I don't like The Rock. He seems like a great guy (I like how he interacts with fans, and I always read about him donating his time to charities and such), but he's a terrible actor. He's alright in action movies because there isn't much acting involved, but he is not funny. Zac Efron is actually pretty funny and charming, but his personality was to be the asshole in this and it was painful to experience. I do really adore Alexandra Daddario - and she's probably the best part of this movie, along with Kelly Rohrbach. This is Kelly's first film role (known more for modeling), and she has "it" - that screen presence that you just can't look away from.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thoughts on 9 New Shows

1. Friends from College - I was hoping for funny, and it's not (although Billy Eichner complaining that it's "very loud" made me laugh for days). The cast work really well off of each other, but the characters are all pretty awful people - none of them are actually "friends". They are lying, back-stabbing, snarky assholes. It was all a little too dramatic and over the top, especially the finale episode. However, it was a show that was easy to binge, has some amusing moments, and can easily continue for many seasons. I really, really, really liked Cobie Smulders in this, and that's the first time I've been able to say that (and I also just learned that her name is not, in fact, "Colbie Smolders" which is what I truly thought her name was. LOL.). While I don't think season one was groundbreaking television, and I would even hesitate to recommend it to anyone, I can see it continuing and possibly getting better once the characters develop more.

2. GLOW - By far the best show that was released this summer. It's pretty close to perfect, and Alison Brie is sublime. I had very high expectations, especially after all of the positive reviews, and it exceeded these expectations in every way. Brie proves that she's more than just the cute, funny "girl next door" type character. Her character is layered, relatable, a little pathetic, determined, and still cute and funny. I also LOVE Betty Gilpin. I only knew of her from Nurse Jackie and I didn't really like her very much on that show. She is excellent here. The show made me care about several characters, it's easy to binge, and it brought on the perfect amount of nostalgia. As I said before, I used to be an avid view of the original GLOW, and this show does it justice. I can't wait for season two.

3. Still Star-Crossed - I somehow managed to make it through 3 whole episodes. It was terrible, and barely made sense. The last I heard, it was moved to Saturday nights (aka "soon to be cancelled"), which is a shame - not because it was good, but because it *could* have been good. It's interesting to tell a continuation of a famous story (and arguably one of the most famous stories of all time), but this show was hard to follow. It starts off recounting the story of Romeo & Juliet, but nips it down to 30 minutes so everything is botched. It would have been better to just start it at their death (I mean, it's not like anyone choosing to watch this show doesn't already know the story). Also, it was just really boring, especially for a Shonda Rhimes show. On a side note, I am super excited for a Shonda Rhimes/Netflix collaboration. I can't believe that ABC let her go because she is the only thing holding that network together. Anyway, I'm pretty sure I will never hear of this show again, so let's not waste anymore time discussing it.

4. The Sinner - So far, so good. I'm definitely intrigued. The acting is strong - Jessica Biel isn't terrible (she's still not great, but this is a definite improvement for her). I think the first episode would have been more shocking if the ads didn't give it away. I already knew the catalyst for the series, and I sat watching the first episode just waiting for *that* scene, and I also knew that I had to pay EXTREMELY close attention to every detail. I still don't know the "answer" but it's obvious that the song that was playing is important - like maybe it is a trigger of some sort. Some of the story doesn't make sense (am I supposed to believe that a waitress remembers who she served *5 YEARS* ago?). The best part is the line "what makes you think I want my old life back?", I think that line is the key to everything, but we shall see.

5. Ozark - Ok, so this show is okay. I think it was falsely advertised as a Breaking Bad replacement and it is nowhere close to that high standard. The biggest reason it fails is because I finished watching it a few weeks ago and I already have trouble remembering anything other than the general plot (and I can remember very specific lines and scenes with Breaking Bad, and I've only seen the whole series once - as it aired. I have yet to re-watch because I might find imperfections and I don't want to ruin it. It would destroy me.). Also, I would not compare this character to Walter White in ANY WAY. Bateman pretty much portrays a greedy asshole, someone who is already successful but WANTS more so he CHOOSES to break the law and therefore deserves everything he has coming to him (and his wife is complicit, so she deserves it too). So anyway, if I forget this ridiculous comparison, I can find some enjoyment in the show. In particular, the two main stars, Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are great. There are some subtle moments between them that is pure heartbreak. I don't think the supporting cast is very strong - at all. In fact, the daughter is downright terrible. And all of the "locals" overdo their "localness" (I know that's not a word, but you get it...right?). And there are some terribly cliched scenes (come on - someone walking backwards into a street is going to get run over by a truck, OBVI.).

6. Gypsy - I finished this series this morning, and I'm not really sure how I feel about it. There are certain things that are done really well. The acting is wonderful - Naomi Watts is perfect and she is the major reason I even wanted to watch the show to begin with. But then BILLY CRUDUP SHOWED UP! I have loved Billy Crudup since his first movie role, Sleepers. He is so good in this show. All of the supporting actors are great too. Some of the plot is interesting - the way she inserts herself into her patients lives and manipulates them; the impulsive need for drama that some people crave is fascinating. However, some plots were ridiculous. In particular, the plot with her husband and his assistant - they literally have a conversation about how cliche it is, but then continue it as a plot device. So weird. Also, the plot with the drug-addicted teenager is really overdone and not very realistic. I did like how multi-dimensional the characters are, and that the story is layered and detailed. I would have been interested in a second season because there is still so much story to tell, but Netflix has given up on it already (to be fair they are introducing a fuck ton of new content - they are going to get to the same point as network shows in having to cancel shows before giving them a true chance, which sucks).

7. Will - Ugh...two Shakespeare based television shows in one season, and both of them suck. I couldn't even make it through the pilot of this one. I fell asleep about half-way through. It was just all over-done. Too many characters introduced (and everyone looked the same). And the set design seemed amateurish. I haven't heard anyone talking about it, so I assumed it's either been cancelled or will be soon.

8. I'm Sorry - While I think GLOW is a better made show, this is my favorite new show of this past summer. It's hilarious. And the best part? It feels real. This feels like a show about a "real" woman (and I hate when people refer to "real women", bc of the implications, but I use the term here to refer to how fictional women don't feel "real", but this character feels like someone I know). She says inappropriate things, causes awkward situations, and reacts to these things and situations in the most hilarious way. I love that it subverts stereotypes a bit, too. Like how her friends are mostly male and it's not made into a "thing". She plays poker with the guys, but it's never really addressed; it's just normal. I love that she is raunchier and funnier than her husband, and that he's kind of in the background. The show is witty, sweet, and just downright lovely. I have always been a fan of Andrea Savage, but this has intensified my love for her times a billion. Plus, her chemistry with Tom Everett Scott is perfect. I love him in this - it's the perfect role for him to show off his charm and comedic timing.

9. Marvel's The Defenders - I've only watched the first two episodes, and um, it's not great. I'm already pretty bored. I feel like it jumps around a lot in order to continue everyone's story and then rush them into a group setting, but so far, it's not working for me. It's a stark reminder of how great Daredevil and Jessica Jones are compared to Iron Fist (Luke Cage is alright...). I love the addition of Sigourney Weaver, though. She'll keep me watching (oh who am I kidding, I'm already too invested in the Marvel Netflix universe to stop watching).

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

3 Thoughts on Dunkirk

1. That sound - I'm at a loss for words when it comes to describing the immense sound that blared through the theater. It was unrelenting, emotional, stressful, anxiety-inducing, haunting, and brilliantly experimental (and I still don't feel like I'm describing it well enough!). I've never heard anything like it. And I'll never forget it. I'm so glad that I experienced watching this film in IMAX, even though I scoffed at all of the critics and movie fans who insisted that *this* is the only way to see this film. It's true though. I think it will still be a fantastic film on a normal television screen, or however you choose to watch films. But, you will miss an essential part of the experience if you don't watch it in IMAX. The sound, combined with some pretty stunning visuals, allows the audience to immerse themselves into the chaos of war like no other film has before.

2. That scene - I remained fairly unemotional throughout the film, which I think was due to the sheer anxiety that I was experiencing. However, Nolan is masterful at creating emotion without explicitly pandering to the audience. It happened with one single shot - the shot with the little civilian rescue boats coming into view. It's just perfect. I had to control myself from bursting into tears. I feel like with the current state of the world (particularly America), I needed the reminder that there are people who are inherently good, altruistic and heroic.

3. That story - I really, really, really did not want to see this movie. I feel this way with most modern war movies - it seems impossible to tell the same story in a new way. Yet, I'm constantly gobsmacked by how extraordinary some of these stories are. Last year, we had Hacksaw Ridge that told a beautiful story about one heroic man. This year, Dunkirk told the story of hundreds of thousands of men, and yet it didn't tell any "one" particular story. We had several characters to focus on, but we know NOTHING about them. And this makes this a uniquely told war movie. It always bothers me when a movie tells the story of a hero, as a newly married man or a new father, as if we are supposed to care about someone more because they have family. Shouldn't we just care about everyone because they are human? This movie makes me care about everyone without giving me any information about them, and that is GENIUS. It's also genius to focus more on survival than the actual war because fighting to survive is a heroic act. I loved the way the stories are inter-cut, and have different timelines. It makes it interesting; forces the audience to figure out how and when they connect. Overall, this film has received mostly positive reviews (and is personally my pick so far for best film of the year - surpassing Baby Driver, I didn't think it was possible), but some of the critiques that I've read are downright baffling. People confused at the timeline ( attention?), people complaining that the characters are indistinguishable (I had no trouble at all - although, I have no idea which one is the guy from One Direction. All of them were terrific actors. So, kudos One Direction guy.), and the worst take, people complaining about another male-centered story (I'm not even going to dignify that one, but if you are a feminist complaining about such trivial nonsense, then YOU are part of the problem).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fall Movie Preview: 13 Films That I'm Excited About

1. It (9/8) - I saw the original probably when I was 12 or 13 (over 20 years ago), and I definitely wasn't scared by it (clowns are not scary, sorry guys), and I definitely don't really remember a thing about it. I was really excited for the version with Will Poulter, and am sad that version got nixed. However, they are doing a fantastic job with the marketing for this and I feel like Stephen King stories are timeless and easily remade.

2. Mother! (9/15) - I have no idea what this movie is about...but, man, that first poster is just glorious. And it's Darren Aronofsky. And Javier Bardem. And Michelle Pfeiffer. And....I guess Jennifer Lawrence (when she's great, she's great).

3. Stronger (9/22) - It's amazing that Jake Gyllenhaal has only been nominated for an Oscar once (and that was over 10 years ago). He has given several award worthy performances and this will probably be another one. Plus, TATIANA MASLANY!!! I'm sad that Orphan Black is over, but it's time for Tatiana to be a star. Also, I'm probably going to cry hysterically through the whole damn movie.

4. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (9/22) - I LOVED the first one. It's one of the few movies released over the past few years that I've watched several times. It's just so much fun. The pace is perfect, the actors seem like they are having a lot of fun, and the action sequences are sublime. The trailer for this one had me smiling from beginning to end. They added some fantastic actors to the cast - Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Julianne Moore (also, it's weird that Moore received first credit in the trailer??).

5. American Made (9/29) - I'm really only interested in this because I have some newfound interest in the whole Medellin cartel thing since Narcos. This movie is about Barry Seal - a pilot who was a drug runner and an informant. He was only slightly featured in the series, so I'm interested in this story from that perspective. Plus, it's Doug Liman and Tom Cruise - both of whom usually make good choices, and even when they don't, they still give it their all.

6. Blade Runner 2049 (10/6) -  When they first announced this, I groaned in disgust. Yet, everything about it has just been a spectacular YES. Harrison Ford (obvi), RYAN GOSLING, Jared Leto and Robin Wright??!! Then, they got Denis Villeneuve to direct and Roger Deakins as DP??!! Like, I can't imagine anything more perfect. THEN, they released a trailer that was absolutely perfect. I can't wait!!!

7. Suburbicon (10/27) - I love a George Clooney/Matt Damon collaboration (ok not always...The Monuments Men sucked). Written by the Coen brothers, it's sure to be a dark, dry comedy - I just hope it's good like the first two seasons of Fargo and not boring as fuck like the third season.

8. Killing of a Sacred Deer (10/27) - I still think about The Lobster. A lot. I'm excited to see what's next from Lanthimos, and I'm glad that he is working again with Colin Farrell (another actor that deserves some Oscar love, but is often snubbed).

9. Thor: Ragnarok (11/3) - I'm not really a fan of the Thor films. They aren't bad, but just pretty predictable and boring. But this one looks batshit crazy, and I love it. I love the addition of Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum (genius!), and I really like Tessa Thompson. Also, I'm so glad that Hemsworth cut his hair - I know it's dumb thing to focus on, but he just looks so much better.

10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (11/10) - I watch Seven Psychopaths about every 6 months and I love it more and more every time. Martin McDonagh is a genius (because In Bruges is also pretty great). I'm sad that Colin Farrell isn't in this, but Frances McDormand makes up for it. I think it will be interesting to have McDonagh tell a female story since he's been accused of creating sexist movies (especially with Seven Psychopaths - which is so dumb because that's a whole part of the movie, there is a whole self-referential crisis about writing female characters).

11. Murder on the Orient Express (11/10) - I'm in because of the cast and the trailer. I've never read the book (I KNOW). I'm actually really excited for Michelle Pfeiffer. I feel like she is slowly making a comeback and it is very, very welcome.

12. Justice League (11/17) - I don't know...the trailer looked kind of crap. There is a lot of focus on Aquaman, and I just can't get excited - although I adore Amber Heard, so I'm excited that she is joining the DCU (as Mera). I am excited for more Wonder Woman (although I hope it's more essential to the story than Batman v Superman), and I actually really liked Affleck as Batman.

13. Molly's Game (11/22) - I don't know much about this movie but it's Jessica Chastain in an Aaron Sorkin film. Um....holy shit. That's like a perfect match. Chastain proved that she can handle heavy dialogue with Miss Sloane.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Ghost in the Shell - I didn't really think I would enjoy this - I'm not really a fan of Anime, or of Scarlett Johansson's acting. Plus, the trailer was laughably bad. I didn't really know what the story was about, and honestly, it's a great story. It's just not told well. It's basically just the story of Jason Bourne if Bourne was part robot. It's technically beautiful, but the story is over-explained in dialogue that is painful to listen to. The editing and pace were all over the place, and by the end, I was extremely bored. I think it could have been made into a pretty strong television series, because there is a lot of depth to it, if it was given the proper treatment. Johansson does a typically robotic performance (which fits the role). They try to explain the white-washing of her character, but it's just a pathetic excuse to hire an internationally known stunningly beautiful white girl. I'm sad that Michael Pitt is in this, because I long for the day that he is given really strong, starring roles, instead of popping up as side-characters causing me to go "ooooh Michael Pitt is in this?!?"

2. Beauty and the Beast - At first, I admit, I was a little excited by this. Beauty and the Beast was never one of my favorite Disney movies, but it was still a big part of my childhood - along with The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin - it was the perfect quadfecta (did you know that was a word? Me neither!), and I was the perfect age for all of their releases (8-13). But, my mind quickly changed with the continued poor acting performances from Emma Watson. She's just really not a good actress. And she constantly seems like she's a child pretending to be an adult (which is partly bc she's tiny, which isn't her fault. I'm even tinier than her, and people always confuse me for much younger). This performance is no different, and it is enhanced by how much older Luke Evans and Dan Stevens are (I don't actually know their ages, and I'm too lazy to look it up. I mean, I already looked up whether "quadfecta" was a real word, and I only have so much energy, people). The "Beauty and the Beast" message is already a terrible one - give abusive men a chance, because they could change into a prince! But, it's even "ickier" when she is so child-like and immature. Also, why hire Dan Stevens if The Beast is mostly CGI and his voice is altered to be lower? Why not just hire someone with a lower voice? And why is Josh Gad in anything? He can't sing at all. Like, my body actually uncontrollably shuttered when he began to sing. Anyway, the highlight of the movie is shockingly, Ewan McGregor. I have no idea why anyone would cast a Scotsman as a French dude, but McGregor actually gets the accent right (there is a first for everything!), and adds some much needed life into an otherwise dull rehash. "Be Our Guest" is clearly the best song, and McGregor does it proper justice.

3. A Cure for Wellness - I'm embarrassed to admit, but I just don't get this movie at all. I liked parts of it, mostly the visuals and the acting, but the story went right over my head. *spoilers ahead* From what I gather, it's about this guy who has to rescue someone from a "wellness center" that uses hydrotherapy. The guy that runs the place finds a cure for ageing, that's in eels (?) so he filters them through humans (for some reason?), and he tries to rape his own daughter to create a "pure" human? And people go to his "wellness center" and then don't leave because for some reason they are ok with being used as eel filters? UMMMM....OK? I GUESS. This movie reminded me a lot of Shutter Island, and I didn't like that movie (but at least it made sense, for the most part). I do think that Gore Verbinski gets a lot of shit, but he does make some gorgeous movies. There are some stunning scenes - like the initial car crash, the scene with his father on the bridge, and the shots of the gorgeous castles in Germany (I would love to do a castle tour there). The atmosphere is perfectly creepy, but after an hour into the story, there really was not much that happened aside from melancholic music and mysterious stares. On the plus side, Dane Dehaan is excellent as always, and Mia Goth is creepy as Hell.

4. How to be Single  - Oh man, I knew I was in for some torture, but I tend to watch everything - especially with Leslie Mann and Alison Brie, and hope for the best. It just blows my mind when a film like this is clearly written to empower single women, yet is so incredibly offensive and anti-feminist. Here's a list of things in this movie that actually hurts feminism instead of helping it: 1. female characters who expect to have drinks paid for by men they have no intention of talking to (ok, yes, I did this when I was 22 and that's about how old I think the main girl is supposed to be, but when I was 22, it was 2003 - a lot has changed since then). 2. have the main character ask a fantastically thoughtful feminist question like "why do we always tell our stories through relationships?" and then continue to tell her story through relationships. 3. have a professional female doctor tell a pregnant woman that her life is going to be ruined by having a baby - and basically shame her because of her "femaleness" all while secretly wanting a baby of her own, which brings me to...4. create female characters who are not true to themselves and their wants - as if women can't control their own identities. 5. create a narrative in which all surrounding men are terrible (except one!) 6. shame a woman for her pubic hair - and assume that she has a bush because she was in a long term relationship and therefore not having regular sex, instead of deciding what she wants her body to look like, you know, for herself. 7. write a "crazy" female character who obsesses over a guy after just 3 weeks of dating (and have her have a mental breakdown bc this 3 week relationship ends. Also, there is no fucking way that Alison Brie needs spanx. That's just downright offensive.) and finally 8. give the most emotionally resonating storyline to a man. THIS IS A STORY OF A WOMAN CLAIMING HER OWN IDENTITY for fucksake. OWN IT.

5. Alien: Covenant - I'm a fan of Prometheus. Yes, it was frustrating and yes, the characters were super dumb, but I liked the questions that it asked and visually it was pretty stunning. I knew that the people who were angry at Prometheus were going to tear down this movie because even though it bears the Alien name (bare? or bear? I think it's bear...), it's very clearly a sequel to Prometheus. And unfortunately, it deserves most of the negative critiques (at least it's more deserving than Prometheus was, in my opinion). However, I didn't hate it. The tone was off - and I felt like it didn't really know whether it wanted to be an Alien movie, or an existential "how did we get here" story. So, just like it's predecessor, it's a little bit of both. However, it answered way too many of the questions that Prometheus presented, but not the right questions. The major problem exists with the focus on David & Walter - and on the creation of artificial intelligence. It's just too much. While Fassbender absolutely kills it (he even has slight variations in his accent that are sheer perfection), the whole plot-line is embarrassingly bad. I much preferred the subtle references in Prometheus. As far as the other characters, none really stood out, even the main actors, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup (both of which I like), are really dull - and yes, very stupid. I mean, why would they go out on a different planet without so much as a helmet? My theory from Prometheus was that humans relied so much on technology that it actually makes them stupid, still holds with this one, but I think it would have been useful to show that more.

Friday, August 11, 2017

3 Thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming

1. Spider-Man is super adorable - Spider-Man has always been the cuter, lighter superhero character, but this movie felt a little over-the-top with the adorableness. It was almost sickening. I did enjoy many scenes, laughed a few times, but I never felt invested in the story at all. Maybe if I was 16, I might feel different? However, I have read that many people who are fans of the original comic felt that this movie was the closest to the comic version, and seem to be thrilled with it, so I guess I am happy for them. I just prefer my movies with a little more meat to them. I did appreciate that they didn't rehash the Uncle Ben storyline or the "origin" of his spider-man abilities. Instead, it's a continuation of The Avengers plotline - giving Iron Man some grandiose moments of mentorship.

2. Tom Holland is super adorable - UGH, LIKE, SO ADORABLE I CAN'T EVEN STAND IT. He does such a great job as Spider-Man, but an even better job as a believable kid from Queens (which is something that neither Maguire nor Garfield were able to do - even though I liked both of them in the role). He's the perfect amount of awkward and endearing, with a big heart, and even bigger enthusiasm. Plus, he's freaking adorable. And also sexy? I know, it's a very weird combination. But if you haven't seen his "Umbrella" lip sync performance, then watch it and maybe you'll understand. I've watched it more times than I will care to admit. Boy can move.

3. The supporting cast is super adorable (ok, not really) - Michael Keaton is a great as a villain (and possible the best Marvel villain so far???). The reveal of who his character is, was done so well - I audibly gasped in the theater (and so did everyone else). Marisa Tomei is as lovely as ever as Aunt May. Donald Glover is not used nearly enough, but is probably going to have a larger role in future films. Jacob Batalon is super adorable as the sidekick character (SEE...there was one!). The only two characters/actors that I have a problem with are Laura Harrier and Zendaya. Harrier, I could deal with, because I figured she was ultimately an insignificant character, but then my bf pointed out that she could be the villain in the next one (to seek revenge) and OMG please no. She is a terrible actress. And Zendaya? I did not believe her in the role for one second. Her line delivery was off, and her tomboy persona was not believable at all. On a side note, I do actually like Zendaya - this is the first time I'm seeing her act, but as a person/role-model for young women, she is aces. She will obviously be featured in the next films, so maybe with some acting lessons, she could actually thrive?

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Hell or High Water - I like this movie, however, I watched it about 5 weeks ago (I'm really behind in my blogging) and I barely remember anything about it. So, that's not a very good sign. The only thing that really stuck with me is Chris Pine's performance. It's not spectacular or anything, but I think he is currently showcasing that he is a much stronger actor than everyone initially gave him credit for. I can refer to my notes for the rest of my thoughts. Apparently, I found the story cliche (bank robbers fighting for a "good cause" and a cop ready to retire), but it was told well. The whole "we're stealing from the banks because they are evil" is good in theory, but realistically they are putting a lot of lives in danger; especially since it's "Open Carry" territory. Ben Foster is always wonderful, but a little too over-the-top here. I like the girl from Legion - she plays a completely different character here, very meek and quiet, and she nails it. I love the last hour of the movie, and especially how it ended. Oh, that's right! Now I remember, the ending is actually fantastic - not expected at all.

2. Get Out - *spoilers ahead* I was completely skeptical about the praise for this movie, especially considering it's in the horror genre, and I rarely agree with critics on great horror films (I'm sorry, but The VVitch is boring as fuck, and It Follows is overrated, but has its moments. I did enjoy The Babadook, though). I'm happy to say that this movie lives up to the hype. The first 45 minutes, not so much, but then it gets good, and then it gets great, and then when it's over, I analyzed it as a whole, and it's fucking genius. The horror genre is often a strange dichotomy for women's issues - they often highlight sexism by showcasing sexism. It's revolutionary to use the genre in the same way, but for racism. And, while there are some brilliantly subtle moments, overall the movie is very "in your face" which is needed. The way he reacts so calmly when the cop is asking for his ID, because he's used to it, is the same way I react when a strange man (usually older, ALWAYS white) puts his hand on my waist or my shoulder, or touches my hair; It's just a part of life and it fucking sucks but it's exhausting to keep fighting it. The use of "the sunken place" to emphasize this paralyzation is just stunning. The more subtle metaphors with the silver spoon, and the picking cotton were just subtle enough to be really effective. The only real issue I have with the movie is that mind control is dumb - and not realistic, but it's done really well here - so I can forgive it. I don't really think it's very surprising, either - OF COURSE she's in on it. Allison Williams is surprisingly great (I only know of her from Girls, and that show is fucking terrible). She goes from sweet-girl-next-door to creepy-as-fuck within seconds. Daniel Kaluuya (Posh Kenneth from Skins! I KNEW I recognized him!) carries the movie even with such a strong supporting cast (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford!). Also, it's much funnier than I was expecting it to be.

3. Life - It's hard to treat this movie fairly, when it was clearly set up for severe criticism and comparisons to previous "trapped on a spaceship with an alien" movies. It's not even in the same category as many that came before it in terms of story and intensity. However, it's not a bad movie. There is some good to it - particularly the diversity in the cast, and the way it shatters the cliched/expected outcomes for these characters (*spoiler* the black guy doesn't die first!). Also, the ending is fucking aces. I don't know how they pulled it off without it being expected, but after the reveal happened I screamed out "OF COURSE! HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT COMING?!". It's so good that it makes the whole movie memorable. Jake Gyllenhaal shines, as usual, and seems to do much more with the material than the other actors. I like everyone else, but their personalities are basically interchangeable.

4. Split - If you want to see the best performance of 2017, look no further than James McAvoy's portrayal of Dennis, Kevin, Patricia, The Beast, Hedwig...the list goes on. The transition into these characters is a masterclass lesson in acting. It's nothing short of spectacular. Anya Taylor-Joy is also really, really strong (and while I didn't like The VVitch, I thought she was incredible in it). By now, everyone should know the "twist" of the movie. If you don't, then stop reading. I read of the twist before I watched the film, and I don't think it effected my enjoyment of it at all. I would argue that it's not really a twist, anyway, it's just a connecting narrative - to one of the better Shyamalan films, Unbreakable. I wasn't that keen on Unbreakable when it first came out - I liked it, but after a second watch, I liked it more. I still don't think it's as great of a movie that some seem to think, but it could be very interesting as an extended universe. While I like this movie, there is a glaringly problematic storyline involving abuse. I don't *think* the intentions behind the movie were meant to be as offensive as they are - in fact, I think the creators believed it was a supportive message. The climax of the movie revolves around the idea that "the broken are the more evolved". It promotes the idea that survivors/victims are inherently stronger, as if being abused has a positive effect. Also, while the main character in this movie does utilize the skills she used from being abused as a child to survive another harrowing act, it doesn't define her as a person. Again, I don't think any of this was intentional. They were just utilizing a popular theory - "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger", but when it applies to child abuse, it becomes a little more complicated than that, and some sensitivity should have been included.

5. T2: Trainspotting - Sequels to movies that are 20 years old are never a good idea. This is the exception. Honestly, I don't remember much from the first one (because it's been 20 YEARS!), but it is the movie that I fell in love with both Jonny Lee Miller and Kelly Macdonald, and of course the "Choose Life" speech lives on forever in my brain. I actually thought that Kelly wasn't in it (why would she be, really.) since she wasn't on the poster, but they did a good job bringing her character back for a quick scene. This sequel is everything I wanted it to be, a continued story for these lively characters, great writing, superb dialogue, fantastic soundtrack, and an updated "Choose Life" speech that almost brought tears to my eyes. It's just perfect; so perfect that I have nothing else to say - just read it and see for yourself:

'Choose life'. 'Choose life' was a well meaning slogan from a 1980's anti-drug campaign and we used to add things to it, so I might say for example, choose... designer lingerie, in the vain hope of kicking some life back into a dead relationship. Choose handbags, choose high-heeled shoes, cashmere and silk, to make yourself feel what passes for happy. Choose an iPhone made in China by a woman who jumped out of a window and stick it in the pocket of your jacket fresh from a South-Asian Firetrap. Choose Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and a thousand others ways to spew your bile across people you've never met. Choose updating your profile, tell the world what you had for breakfast and hope that someone, somewhere cares. Choose looking up old flames, desperate to believe that you don't look as bad as they do. Choose live-blogging, from your first wank 'til your last breath; human interaction reduced to nothing more than data. Choose ten things you never knew about celebrities who've had surgery. Choose screaming about abortion. Choose rape jokes, slut-shaming, revenge porn and an endless tide of depressing misogyny. Choose 9/11 never happened, and if it did, it was the Jews. Choose a zero-hour contract and a two-hour journey to work. And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and maybe tell yourself that it's better that they never happened. And then sit back and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody's fucking kitchen. Choose unfulfilled promise and wishing you'd done it all differently. Choose never learning from your own mistakes. Choose watching history repeat itself. Choose the slow reconciliation towards what you can get, rather than what you always hoped for. Settle for less and keep a brave face on it. Choose disappointment and choose losing the ones you love, then as they fall from view, a piece of you dies with them until you can see that one day in the future, piece by piece, they will all be gone and there'll be nothing left of you to call alive or dead. Choose your future, Veronika. Choose life.

Friday, July 14, 2017

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

The Good: 

-Honestly, it's ALL good. Television is great. I love it all. Better Call Saul, Westworld, Veep, Stranger Things, Atlanta, Feud, Black Mirror, Master of None. The list just continues to grow.

-While The Americans slipped this past season (it went from my favorite Drama on television to not even in my Top 10), Keri Russell is still incredible.

-This is Us getting nominated makes up slightly for the years of Parenthood snubs. Sterling K. Brown is fantastic, but it's a supporting performance (as is Milo Ventimiglia who should not have been nominated at all). Why is Crissy Metz in the supporting category, while the males are for lead? It doesn't make any sense. Although, it was smart on Metz's behalf, because she could not compete against the female lead competition.

-How great would it be for Donald Glover to win Actor, Writer, and Director for Atlanta? I would love that so much. Although, Aziz Ansari definitely deserves the Writing win for Master of None because the second season is pure joy.

The Bad: 

-This was easily the worst season of House of Cards. The only nomination that I'm sort of ok with is Robin Wright

-Stranger Things is great, but a nomination for Barb? A character that is only remembered because of an Internet meme? Oh, do fuck off.

-People being angry for Modern Family nominations: You can fuck off, too. I'm glad the Emmys have continued to nominate this show even in the face of criticism. It's still one of the funniest shows on television - and it still feels fresh. That's hard to do after so many years in this television climate.

-I know it's a weird thing to complain about, but there is simply too much television! It's impossible to keep up. I haven't seen The Handmaid's Tale, The Leftovers, Big Little Lies, The Crown, Transparent, or The Night of. I need them to just stop making new television for like 3 months so I can catch up with everything.

The Snubbed:

-The biggest snub of the year is easily Michael McKean, who probably should have won the category. I adore Jonathan Banks (Mike has always been a favorite character of mine), but McKean owned this season of Better Call Saul.

-I haven't seen The Leftovers yet (I KNOW), but I trust the majority - and everyone seems to be saying that this was the best television had to offer this year (which is a huge statement)

-Nothing for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, really? Andre Braugher, Terry Crews, and Chelsea Peretti are a given. My comedy category always seems to defer from awards shows (mine would be: Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Better Things, Mom, Master of None, Atlanta, Modern Family, and Speechless, and Veep. Yes, I know that's 8. I don't care!).

-I'm surprisingly ok with Mr. Robot getting snubbed - I don't even remember the second season at all

3 Thoughts on Baby Driver

1. The technique - This seems to be a film that is universally loved, although I have seen a few people claiming it doesn't live up to the hype. But I think everyone can agree that technically, it's brilliant. Like, a stunning piece of film-making. Most are talking about the practical effects used for the car chases (which is why it seemed so real, as opposed to the Fast & Furious franchise) and/or the use of musical cues for action sequences and editing scenes. But, I for one, am obsessed with a well done long tracking shot, and this film has several. One even competes with Shame, as it has Baby walking through NYC, and I just smiled for its entirety. This scene alone won me over. The rest of the movie is filled with spectacular car chase scenes, beautifully quiet character-driven moments, and downright genius musical cues. To set the pace of a film along with music - and not in a soundtrack way because the music is an integral part of the story, is probably the most creative thing I've seen done in a film in years. It will be hard to top this as my favorite movie of the year.

2. The cast - Another thing that won me over is the cast. I was a big fan of Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars. He displayed the perfect amount of positivity and vulnerability, and it literally broke my heart. However, I kind of assumed that I liked him just because I connected with that movie so much (I *still* use the "great and terrible 10" as a guide for painful experiences). I didn't actually believe that Ansel was ready for a lead role. I think I described him as "dopey" back then, and my description still stands. Yet, he absolutely killed it in this role. Jon Hamm was unexpectedly really fun, while Jamie Foxx and Kevin Spacey played more expected roles (still fun to watch). I was on the fence about Lily James (she was boring as Cinderella but great in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), but damn if she wasn't trying to perfect a modern day version of Alabama Whitman, she did it anyway (more on this later). And to round out the cast, Eiza Gonzalez is stunning (from the series of From Dusk Till Dawn, I knew I recognized her!!). All actors displayed the perfect amount of grit and cheesiness. And it was all extremely fun to watch.

3. The influences - I think everyone's initial reaction is to compare it to Drive. But it turns out, it's nothing like it at all. In fact, remember how upset everyone was initially about how misleading the Drive trailer was? Well, this is the movie that I think everyone was expecting Drive to be. It's fast, thrilling, non-organic, and the complete opposite of Drive in every way. The only real connection is that it's about a driver who doesn't talk much. For me, this film had more of a retro True Romance vibe to it. I've seen a few other reviewers describing it that way, as well. Sure, it has many other influences (Heat, Reservoir Dogs, The Driver), but the overlying plot point is the romance - and it is pure Clarence and Alabama love. I've also seen many (female) critics take issue with this love, and this female character (OH HEAVEN FORBID IT DOESN'T PASS THE ARCHAIC BECHDEL TEST), but the movie is not about her. She's not part of the group - her existence in the plot is to give Baby a reason to get out; to survive. Every character is an archetype, so it's not problematic that she is too. Honestly, a multi-dimensional female character would have felt out of place in this film - none of the characters, with the exception of Baby, were given layers.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Best Films of 2016 ***Updated***

Here is my updated Best of 2016 list. I don't think my updated list has ever changed *this* much in the span of 6 months - a total of 7 new movies added (and therefore 7 movies dropped - but that doesn't mean I love them any less!).

1. Train to Busan
2. La La Land 
3. 10 Cloverfield Lane
4. Captain Fantastic
5. Arrival
6. Manchester by the Sea
7. Nocturnal Animals
8. The Handmaiden
9. Hacksaw Ridge
10. Deadpool 

Unfortunately, I was still not able to see everything I wanted to see before updating my list - I still need to see Hidden Figures, Loving, and The Edge of 17, but I think this is a pretty solid list representing the best of last year!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Kill Your Friends - This is a terrible movie. Just terrible. The best way to describe it is as a wannabe American Psycho mixed with Filth, except with awful acting and a really dumb plot. There is a scene in which the main character violently kills someone accompanied by the song "Smack My Bitch Up". That's how obvious and cliche this movie is. It's about A&R execs at a major record company in the late 90s (which is relevant because that's when record companies were relevant), and they are all very evil people. I interned at 2 major record companies about 5 years after this movie takes place, and I can say from personal experience that people working in the music industry (even on the corporate side) are not this menacing at all - especially in the A&R department. These people tend to LOVE music, and have a passion for discovering talent. Yes, they also party a lot (it's part of the job), but the way this movie represents this whole process is very disturbing. I realize that it's not supposed to be realistic and that it's "just a movie", but I can't help but call bullshit. The audience is obviously not supposed to like the main character - he says things like "I have zero interest in her sexually, so she doesn't exist" about a female co-worker and, oh yeah, murders people. But you're not supposed to like the main characters from American Psycho or Filth, and yet through the writing and acting, I was able to still enjoy watching these terrible, evil people. With this film, I cringed every time Nicholas Hoult spoke and I just wanted to whole thing to end as quickly as possible. Plus, it has James Corden in it, so...I mean, that says it all really.

2. The Infiltrator - Nothing memorable or special, but a solid 3 star movie. Great performances by Bryan Cranston, John Leguizamo, and a stand-out performance from Diane Kruger. Perhaps my opinion of this movie is marred by the existence of the Netflix show Narcos because it's basically the same story but not done nearly as well - although it's actually 2 different true stories told during the same time period. This is interesting to think about, because there were so many different operations going on to take down Escobar, and many of them ended up impeding each other. Too many cooks in the kitchen, as they say. Anyway, this movie had several editing issues, and a ton of plot discrepancies, but the biggest issue I have with it is the nagging, bitchy, jealous wife character. It's never a good sign when you root for an innocent character to be murdered by a drug lord. I guess there really is nothing left to say, except, maybe watch Narcos? I was dragged into a Narcos binge for days and it is totally worth it. I can't wait to see where the story goes after the last finale, because it changes the whole course of the show (which is genius).

3. 20th Century Women - Hmmmm....I heard very good things about this movie, so expectations were quite high. I didn't love it, though. In fact, it was exactly what I feared - a movie about entitled white women, who think the world revolves around them. Which is odd, because the movie is supposed to be about how these women come together to help raise a teenage boy to be respectful of women, to communicate his feelings, and to question societal and social expectations (in other words, be a decent human being). I liked the idea that a young male brain can benefit from female interactions and role models, instead of the typical story of a single mom trying to find a "father figure" for her son. However, I don't think gender is really that important in raising children. I feel like this movie was very subtly shunning masculinity, and that is problematic for me. There is a difference between being "masculine" and displaying "toxic masculinity". There is nothing wrong with being masculine, just as there is nothing wrong with being feminine. I also think it's a little idealistic to think that just because this boy is surrounded by complicated women that he will automatically be empathetic to the female story. Aside from that, I did really like the female stories - Elle Fanning is just more and more spectacular with every movie she does. This is no exception. And I even liked Greta Gerwig (playing the exact same role that she always plays, but boy does she do it well). Of course, Annette Bening is wonderful. I think the poster really has the best way to describe the movie - "A rushing river of gorgeous moments". That is definitely true. The moment when her son declares "I am not all men. I'm just me", and she replies "well yes, and no", is just perfect. The menstruation scene is just glorious, as well. So, there is a lot of good in this movie. Maybe after analyzing it more, I might find even more beauty in it, because just writing this short paragraph about it actually made me appreciate it more. Hmmm...we shall see.

4. Don't Breathe - I'm actually a bit shocked at how much I disliked this movie. It's not a bad movie, at all - decent acting, interesting plot, strong pace and editing. But it's just so unlikable. This is the only type of horror movie that I usually connect with (anything that seems realistic - and psychopathic murderers are extremely realistic). It reminded me a lot of Hush, and similarly just like I felt with The Infiltrator and Narcos, Hush did it MUCH better, so I have no choice to be disappointed. So first, let's talk about the good stuff. Jane Levy is perfect. I need her to explode into stardom, like, yesterday. The kid from 13 Reasons Why (too lazy to look up his name), is really good too, as the "voice of reason" character (even though he turns out to be just as dumb as the rest of them). There are also some really cool circular tracking shots. That's all I got, because even though it has a strong premise, the actual plot is dumb as fuck. Let me break it down: *spoilers ahead obviously* These 3 teenagers (?) decide to break into the house of a man who received a large settlement due to the death of his daughter. They decide he *must* have this money in his house...just because (?). He's also blind. So, these 3 people are the worst that humanity has to offer (they are willing to steal from an old blind man who lost a child). They've broken into homes before bc the "good guy" (?) has a connection to an alarm company -- so they use that to their advantage bc they can just walk out through the front door without any signs of a break-in. However, for this, they break a window (so...obvious break-in) but the guy who is blind, and has other heightened senses doesn't hear a window break (?). He does eventually wake up, realizing that there are people in his house, chaos ensues - along with several gunshots that no one in the neighborhood hears (?). Then, the kids discover *Major spoiler ahead, in case you are still reading and you shouldn't be* that this man has a woman locked in his basement, and that woman is the one responsible for killing his daughter (accidentally). His intent was to get her pregnant, have a new child, and then let her go (?). They obviously had to make him a bad guy too, because otherwise we would root for him to kill the other 3 awful people. Then, the "final girl" gets away, and then gets captured, then gets away, lather, rinse, repeat another 4 times, until she finally does "get away", only to learn that this guy is being seen as a hero for killing 2 intruders into his home. Because apparently he was able to clean up all the blood, the broken ceiling glass, his entire torture chamber in the basement, etc., within 5 minutes of police arriving - all while being BLIND (?). How fucking stupid.

5. Masterminds - Predictably dumb, but also kind of interesting that it's based on a true story. I'm fascinated by people who commit crimes in such a dumb way, and actually believe that they will get away with it. I mean, this guy robbed an armored car company but didn't destroy one of the main cameras! LOL. It's also really dumb that the "masterminds" stayed in the area, and spent all of the money so extravagantly. If I were to illegally obtain money, I would move somewhere off the grid for at least a few years. Also, I realize how jaded I am by living in NJ when 17 million doesn't even seem like that much money. I instantly questioned their lifestyle, but then reminded myself that it took place down south. That mansion alone would cost at least 10 million up here. It could have actually been a good movie, if the characters felt more real. Instead, Zach Galifianakis did his weird dude act, and Kristin Wiig did a mild version of one of her SNL characters. So it's a bit odd that a movie about real people felt really fake. Oh, and it wasn't funny. At all.