Thursday, April 27, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Meddler - I saw the trailer for this film a while ago, and I really wanted to see it, but then I heard nothing about it. I guess it didn't have much of a release, and it's a "smaller", quieter film. I really liked it. Susan Sarandon is one of the greats. And she definitely excels in this movie with her NY/NJ hybrid accent. I actually looked it up to see what it was supposed to be - and several critics listed it as either "Brooklyn", "Jersey", or "New Yawk", which seems like a failure, but it's actually brilliant. No-one around here has a "typical" accent. You pick up bits and pieces, and it all blends together. I think her accent is spot-on perfection. I thought the movie would focus more on a mother/daughter relationship, but it really just focuses on the mother. She "meddles" in her daughter's life, but her daughter (played by the always delightful Rose Byrne) is absent for most things because she's focused on work (and hanging on to the hope for a relationship with her ex). I am very close with my mother, but in a really distant way - I know that doesn't make much sense, but she really knows nothing about my personal life. I am glad that she's not a meddler, but I don't really see the problem with the mother's actions in this movie. She's just a lonely, and very charitable, woman who wants to connect with people. It's a little offensive that the audience is supposed to think that her random acts of kindness are somehow unhealthy?? It's kind of weird. I do agree that she needs to get a life of her own, but helping others is hardly something we should discourage. Anyway, overall I really enjoyed this movie. It's sweet, and that's something that's rare nowadays. Also, the small scene with the telephone in the hospital made me cry! It's so weird that a scene like that - one that isn't even essential to the story - can bring on such emotion. It just shows how well-written the story is.

2. The Handmaiden - Park Chan-wook is brilliant. I knew this movie would be brilliant. And it was. I love his use of sound and silence. It was more noticeable in Stoker than this, but it's still really well done. I didn't know what the movie was about, other than it focuses on a Handmaiden (probably), but it's a really twisted story of love, seduction, loneliness, revenge and betrayal (which seem to be themes in all of his films). *spoilers ahead* I definitely did not expect the twist at the end of the first part - I don't know why, I definitely should have. However, once that twist was laid out, I knew how the rest of the film would go. It's obvious that these two women were going to conspire together and form their own plan in order to escape and live happily ever after. I have to admit, while I found it visually stunning, and the story is originally twisted, I got a little bored. It felt very long, which I've never found with Chan-wook's films before. It's definitely not my favorite of his, but it is still one of the best films of 2016.

3. Mascots - Where has Christopher Guest been??? His movies make me laugh so much, and I didn't even realize how much I've missed his "mockumentaries" until I saw this pop up as a recommendation on Netflix. Best in Show is my favorite of his, but all of them are wonderful in some way. This was a bit of a disappointment, mostly because two of Guest's "regulars" are missing - Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara. Their absence can definitely be felt. Presumably there were scheduling issues due to the fact that these two are now on one of the funniest shows currently on television - Schitt's Creek (seek it out, it's worth it - Levy's son, Daniel, is superb). There are still some regulars in this - Parker Posey, Bob Balaban, John Michael Higgins, along with some newcomers (in respect to Guest's films) - Zach Woods, Chris O'Dowd. There are definitely some laugh out loud moments - some of my favorite include:"coming from every place you can imagine " and then lists a bunch of boring states; "'In Your Ear' otherwise people think you're talking about something else"; the micro-penis discussion; the fact that everyone has Hockey player names that are spelled wrong; The Gluten-Free channel. I could list a dozen more, but that's all the movie is. Just some funny, random lines here and there. I don't really care about any of the characters, and I got bored with the story after about an hour.

4. Live by Night - Well, the streak is officially over. This is the first Ben Affleck directed film that I not only didn't love, but I actually didn't like it at all. I can find some nice things to say about it - some stunning shots, satisfying performances, interesting story. However, there is much more awful than good. As many stunning shots as there are, there are also some really unnecessarily complicated ones - like, what was up with weird circular tracking shot when Zoe Saldana is introduced? And for every satisfying performance, there is also some terrible ones - ahem Sienna Miller (was that supposed to be an Irish accent? LOL). And for every part of the story that is interesting, it's also been done a million times before (it reminded me a lot of the TV series Magic City). I enjoy these Prohibition gangster stories, but it has to do something new. This one focuses a lot on the KKK, which is actually pretty interesting, but it doesn't go deep enough. I have a feeling the book might be better - which reminds me that I probably should read some of Lehane's books, because I like some of the adaptations (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone).

5. Nine Lives - I needed something light and goofy after watching The Handmaiden, and what's more of a perfect choice than Kevin Spacey trapped in a cat's body??? It doesn't get any more ridiculous than that! And, probably the oddest double-bill ever (what can I say, I have an eclectic taste in movies). I wish I could say that this is a cute movie, but it's a little mean-spirited in my opinion, so it negates the cuteness. Like, why would I root for this guy at all? The "lesson" is for him to spend more time with his daughter, but I feel like he didn't really learn anything about the fact that he is a dick to everyone that he comes into contact with. So, like, maybe she is better off not having him around? I did laugh when Christopher Walken appeared just because I totally forgot that he was in this and it's just so ridiculous. Also, I really wish someone would give Jennifer Garner a meaty role - I don't know why she keeps doing roles as "the wife" in cutesy family movies or mediocre dramas. I read that she has no interest in doing action stuff (I guess she had enough after the intensity of Alias), but why not a psychological drama (in which she is the STAR not a side character)?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Summer Movie Preview: 17 Movies That I'm Excited For

1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (5/5) - The first one is a blast, and also the first movie of the MCU that I've watched multiple times - I think a total of 4 so far (the only other one that comes close is the first Iron Man, which I've seen twice). I've already read some early reviews about this sequel and they seem mixed, but it also just seems to be a bunch of DC and Marvel fanboys finding another excuse to argue with each other. If the movie is as fun as the trailer is, then I will be happy. Plus, Baby Groot makes me happy.

2. 3 Generations (5/5) - If you were to ask me to make a list of my current favorite actresses, Naomi Watts would be number two (although I alternate between her and Cate Blanchett for number one). Elle Fanning would definitely make the list - she's probably my second favorite "millennial" actress (behind Mia Wasikowska). Susan Sarandon has always been incredible; I actually forgot how amazing she is, but lately she is killing it on Feud and she was great in The Meddler. I think this movie looks kind of cheesy and will probably be over-dramatic, but I don't care - with this cast, I can't help but be excited.

3. Manifesto (5/10) - Um, Cate Blanchett as 13 DIFFERENT CHARACTERS?! Why is nobody talking about this? It's like a dream come true! I don't even care what it's about!

4. Alien: Covenant (5/19) - I was one of the few who didn't shit on Prometheus (it has its problems, but overall, I love the ideas that it presents). This looks like it steps back into more of a traditional Alien sequel, which I am all for. Although, I think a lot of questions that Prometheus asked will be answered, and even more will be left in question, but that's the beauty of these films. The trailer is pretty creepy too, plus I like Katherine Waterston.

5. Baywatch (5/25) - Yeah, I KNOW. And yeah, I DON'T CARE. I want to see this for three reasons: 1. Nostalgia - I spent my summers hanging out at Venice Beach when I was a kid and I used to watch them film scenes from the TV show. 2. I think Zac Efron is hilarious. 3. Alexandra Daddario is stunning. I was hoping she would finally do a project that doesn't rely on her looks (bc I think she's a great actress), but maybe next time?

6. Wonder Woman (6/2) - I have contained my expectations to a bare minimum so that I'm not disappointed. It's hard to not be FREAKING OUT that there is finally a Wonder Woman movie arriving on the big screen, but I also kind of hated the trailer. I mean, it was decent, but nothing about it seemed amazing. I have been a big fan of Wonder Woman since watching the old TV show when I was a kid and the tone of the trailer just seemed off to me. But I'm soooooo hopeful that I am dead wrong.

7. Rough Night (6/16) - I've written extensively about not really being a Scarlett Johansson fan (again for any newcomers - stunning woman, seems like a wonderful person, not a great actress). I am really interested in seeing her do an all out comedy though because one of the roles that I actually liked her in was Don Jon because she actually seemed like she was trying, and I adored her collaborations with Woody Allen - and those are lighter "comedy" type roles. I also love Jillian Bell - she makes me laugh so much.

8. The Beguiled (6/23) -  I so want to love a Sofia Coppola movie. My favorite is probably Marie Antoinette, but I don't love it. And I liked The Virgin Suicides when it first came out, but I tried watching it again a few years back and it was horribly dated and not even watchable. There are still many things I admire about Coppola, though. Her films have such a sense of style, interesting visuals, fantastic music, and poetic dialogue. It just never works for me no matter how hard I try. I'm hoping this is THE ONE, though.

9. Transformers: The Last Knight (6/23) - Ok, I concede, this is getting pretty tiring. I'm definitely done with the Transformers universe after the last one (which I still enjoyed to an extent). I won't see this in the theater, but I will still watch it once it's on home release. Just because I have to.

10. Baby Driver (6/28) - I am trying my best to avoid the trailer because I don't really want to know anything about it, but everyone seems to say really good things about it so I am excited.

11. The House (6/30) - Um, Amy Poehler. Done.

12. Spider-Man: Homecoming (7/7) - I really liked Tom Holland in the role of Spider-Man, so I've been looking forward to the solo film. I have successfully avoided the trailer so far, and hopefully I can continue this streak. The Raimi films are very special to me (the third one doesn't exist in my world), and I don't think anything will ever replace them. But, I enjoyed the "Amazing" Spider-Man movies very much. Probably because I just really like Spider-Man.

13. A Ghost Story (7/7) - I heard a lot of great things about this movie coming out of Sundance. Plus, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara were already great together in Ain't Them Bodies Saints (even though I didn't love the movie). They have great chemistry, and I feel like they are both on the same acting level.

14. War for the Planet of the Apes (7/14) - Is this the last one? I don't even know, but I hope so. I have enjoyed them all, but enough is enough. Let's not drag it out anymore (AHEM Pirates of the Caribbean). I'm hoping for an epic ending though!

15. Atomic Blonde (7/28) - This is my most anticipated movie of the summer because of one reason: JAMES MCAVOY. I know, I know, Charlize Theron is the star and is going to undoubtedly kick some ass. But did you see how great McAvoy looks?! I might die of happiness while watching it. I admit, that this movie could end up being terrible, but McAvoy usually only picks quality projects so I think it's going to end up being AWESOME.

16. The Dark Tower (8/4) - I don't really know much about this Stephen King series, but Idris Elba is always a reason to watch a movie.

17. Detroit (8/4) - Katheryn Bigelow's next directorial effort, starring John Boyega and Will Poulter. I really like both of them - Boyega was bound to be a star even without Star Wars, and Poulter was the highlight of We're the Millers. I was honestly really looking forward to his rendition of Pennywise, so I was disappointed when that fell through. However, he's still making some strong acting choices.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Train to Busan - Wow. It's brilliant. I was instantly put into a state of awe after the first scene with the deer (note to self: reanimated zombie deer are terrifying). I wasn't even aware that this was a zombie movie. I've seen constant, almost overbearing, praise for it among film twitter but never really researched what it was about. I knew while watching it, that it would definitely place among my top 5 of last year, but after that ending, it shot right up to number one. It's probably going to remain my favorite film of 2016 (I still have so much to watch) and one of my favorite zombie movies of all time. I loved every second of it, every shot, every character, every relationship (ok maybe not every second - the "washing the blood off his hands" scene was a little too literal and obvious, but nothing is perfect). The zombies are actually terrifying - the virus is transferred instantly, and the zombies are fast and react quickly. It makes the film move really fast and you feel a sense of urgency for the entire length of the film. I love that it addresses this natural human instinct to fend for yourself, but ultimately in situations like this, humanity would only survive if people stick together. And how about that little girl? Best acting performance of 2016? Damn straight. (FYI - her name is Soo-an Kim, and I will be watching her career intently).

2. The Dressmaker - I don't even know what to say about this movie. It's just so weird, and not in a good way. We are made to sympathize with the main character, the almost always spectacular Kate Winslet (is it weird that I think her worst performance is in Titanic? Also, the poster and the scene in the beginning with Winslet in the gigantic hat is so reminiscent of Titanic. That had to be on purpose.), even though she is rude and elitist. We are made to believe that she is an innocent victim of a childhood tragedy even though the small town around her believes in her guilt. But then it ends with her doing something so horrendous and self-serving - it actually made me angry that I spent time sympathizing with her. That's not even the worst part of the movie. The worst part were all these weird scenes of wacky physical humor that just didn't fit with the movie at all. Also, I do think that fashion is important (for some people) because it can give people confidence to express themselves through art (and yes, fashion is art, don't even try to debate me on this). However, it's used in this movie as a way to show superiority over other people and that isn't cool. And I'm really glad that the scene with the rats was actually important to the story (I guess), because it was so weird to just have a random scene with a guy that jumps into a group of rats.

3. Assassin's Creed - I was half expecting a bad movie, half hoping the critics were just exaggerating. They weren't. It's spectacularly bad. Definitely one of the worst of last year. First, I've never played the video game that it's based on, so I was prepared to not "fully" understand it. But shouldn't it, you know, make sense? It's made for a general audience. You can argue against that notion, sure, but my opinion is that if it's a big budget film with A-list actors, it's meant to be for a general audience. And yes, I realize that the video game has a massive following, but so does something like Star Trek and those recent movies are meant to entertain an even wider audience than just the "fans". Anyway, this movie made zero sense to me, and I don't feel like they made any effort to make it accessible. There is actually a ton of explanation and talking, but it never really actually explains anything. Second, I watched it with someone who is a fan of the video game and he didn't like it either, so that's a failure on both levels. Third, at the very least, it should have some visually amazing action sequences, but they are extremely boring and repetitive. And fourth, how do you fuck up a movie with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard? Sure, Macbeth wasn't the best movie, but it was satisfying enough and well-acted. If this was my first introduction to these two actors, I would assume they are just awful. What accent was Cotillard trying to do?

4. Captain Fantastic - I really enjoyed this movie! I didn't really hear much about it until Viggo was nominated for the Oscar. Just little shouts here and there, but I didn't see it on anyone's list for best movies of last year (it will be on mine, once I update - and this year it will be significantly different than the one I did in January). I don't think I want to go into much detail about the plot, because I think I enjoyed it more by not knowing anything about it. I will say that it asks a lot of valid questions about our education system (in America), and that it's quite funny, and also, disturbing. The scene in which the public school kid gets quizzed on the Bill of Rights and fails miserably, while his much younger child can not only recite it, she actually understands what it is. The story does a good job of showing both sides of the coin (his children obviously have no "street smarts", as his oldest exclaims "Unless it comes out of a fucking book, I don't know anything about anything!"). There are definitely different types of intelligence and it's a disservice to all to define one as superior than another. Viggo does an incredible job (and definitely Viggo > Casey x100), but George MacKay is the standout of the film (and George > Lucas x100 - 1. HAHA George Lucas 2. why wasn't MacKay even an awards contender???). The absolute best part of the movie, though, is the end - the cover of Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine" is stunning; so stunning that it actually made me cry hysterically. Although, I am a big fan of GN'R - their song lyrics are wonderful (just try listening to "Patience" and tell me otherwise).

5. Deepwater Horizon - Not good, not bad - just one of those movies that is entertaining but far from memorable, which is exactly what I was expecting. It's really a tragic story of the BP oil spill. It's a bit like the Titanic - could have been prevented if it weren't for ego and money. The cast is strong - Marky Mark as our hero is a given, supported by Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell (have they ever been in a film together?), Gina Rodriguez and John Malkovich (so weird to see him in a "normal" role, but fitting that he's the villain). Directed by Peter Berg who is becoming the poor man's Michael Bay (and I say that with LOVE). There's a whole fuck ton of foreshadowing, then the spill begins and it's just explosion after explosion. I didn't really have a sense of location and perspective, which is important for films like this. There were a lot of moments that I was a little confused as to what was happening and why certain characters did certain actions. I actually laughed out loud when he threw her over the fire - did that really happen? I'll have to look that up, because it's not funny, but it is really funny to watch.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

3 Thoughts on Logan

1. It's beautiful - Like, so beautiful. I could stare at it for hours. There are just so many shots that really captured the story, the emotion, the history, and the genre (Superhero Western. Is that a thing?) so well. It's by far my favorite X-Men movie; Nothing else even comes close. It does beg the question, though, why the Hell were the other Wolverine movies so terrible? Honestly, I actually hated them. I wasn't expecting much with this, and I certainly wasn't expecting to be blown away. Jackman's performance is especially stunning. I appreciate his passion for this character, and his commitment to providing a satisfying closure to this character.

2. It's violent - Of course I expected the violence, but this was like really, really stunningly violent. And some of the most violent scenes revolved around the little girl, Laura. It was shocking (in a good way). The choreography of the fight scenes are so well done, and the natural back and forth between Logan and Laura is just so much fun to watch. It also never pulls any punches - there are consequences to the fight scenes. People die. People you root for are brutally murdered. So, prepare yourself.

3. It's...long - I'm a firm believer that most movies, especially superhero movies, do not need to be any longer than 2 hours. I understand the argument from many cinephiles, that if a film is good then you should want to keep watching it, but for me I believe any good story can be told within a 2 hour time frame. There are exceptions - and this is one of them. This feels like an epic tale, similar to classic Greek tragedies like The Odyssey. It deserves more time, and it uses every second appropriately. However, I honestly felt like I lost a whole day after watching the film. It really drained all of my energy. So, prepare yourself.