Thursday Movie Picks: Private Eyes

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about those detectives that work on their own. I don't know about you, but this stumped me a bit. Every time I thought of a private eye movie I realized they didn't technically qualify as private. They were always part of a police force. This is what I came up with.

1) The Nice Guys

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling are a match made in private eye heaven. This movie was so much funnier than I expected it to be. It still gets quoted a lot in my house.

2) Harriet The Spy

I loved this movie when I was a kid and my friend and I used to pretend to be her and spy on our neighbors. Classy.

3) V/H/S/2

This is a cop out, but like I said. This was tough, but V/H/S/2 does start out with private detectives uncovering the tapes. One of the shorts in this film is really good and the rest range from meh to bad. But it was better than the first V/H/S

2019 Blind Spot Series: Enter The Dragon

What I knew going in: That there would be excellent fighting scenes. 

Growing up, I had family members in Karate, I would play Mortal Combat with friends on their Nintendos. I would watch movies like 3 Ninjas, Karate Kid and anything with Jackie Chan, but of course I didn't see a damn thing with the famed Bruce Lee. I'm not sure how that was possible. I even saw The Crow with his son but yet I had seen nothing but clips of Lee's work. Now here I am in my 30's trying to make up for that oversight.

Enter The Dragon is actually kind of a mess. It's not only about Lee (Bruce Lee), who plays a secret agent infiltrating a crime lord Han's ( Kien Shih) tournament. His henchmen are also responsible for the death of Lee's sister. But it also features two Americans, Roper (John Saxon) and Williams (Jim Kelly) who are also there dealing with their own things.

It's a bit distracting, but I was drawn to Williams, not only because Kelly is insanely hot but he was escaping racist cops so I was immediately on his side..and he's the first to die of the bunch. It just had weird pacing and I found myself getting annoyed whenever Roper was on screen because I didn't care for him the way I did Lee and Williams. Lee's character weirdly gets treated like an afterthought at times despite this being his movie. 

The martial arts however was fantastic and did not disappoint. Lee is a joy to watch. Over all, I was expecting this to be a bit faster pace but I still had a good time watching it. I think my expectations were just slightly too high.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "A board can't hit back." - Lee (Bruce Lee)

Indie Gems: Other People

I thought this happened to other people. 

David (Jesse Plemmons) is a writer living in New York who flies home to Sacramento to be with his dying mother, Joanne (Molly Shannon) as she quits chemo. His relationship with his family is strained since he came out 10 years prior and they did not take it well, especially his father. (Bradley Whitford) Now the current situation forces everyone to rethink what family means to them.

This fell into my Netflix black hole after reading Jay's review on Assholes Watching Movies and while I thought it sounded like something I'd like, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. What I've found during this Netflix clean out is I tend to drift towards my cell phone while watching some of these films, I never did once here.

Cancer dramas can be very cliche, but writer/director Chris Kelly (Who apparently wrote this based off his own experiences) litters his film with genuine humor and skips all the platitudes. David and Joanne, as our main focus feel like mother and son. You can tell just by listening to Joanne where David gets his knack for comedy from, even though he's at a point in his life where he's not successful. 

Molly Shannon is absolutely amazing here. For me, when I see her I think of Superstar, even though I know she's done a ton of more dramatic work since then. I didn't get a single second of Mary Katherine Gallagher here. I stayed strong with her at the beginning and wept for her at the end. Plemmons also puts in great work. David isn't the most likable character, but he's never so bad to where I don't care about him. All of this is just happening at the worst possible time.

If you need a film to amuse you for a while, then make you cry it all out at the end. (or maybe I'm a wuss and you'll power through it) This one is for you.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix

Memorable quote: "When you miss me, come visit your sisters." - Joanne (Molly Shannon)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies You Thought You'd Hate, But Ended Up Enjoying

This week Wanderer was kind enough to take one of my suggestions. We've all been there, right? Gone into a movie with the lowest of low expectations and them come out pleasantly surprised? Or in some cases loving what you saw? That's what we're talking about this week. Here are some films that surpassed my expectations. 

1) Nebraska

I put off seeing this until the very last second the year it was nominated for an Oscar because what would a black and white film set in the Midwest have that could possibly interest me? Turns out a decent amount. This was far better than I expected.

2) Aquaman

I wasn't a fan of the character, I wasn't a fan of Momoa, and The DCEU's track record sucks, but I had a ton of fun watching this. It surpassed every expectation I had. 

3) Red Eye

I remember the night I saw this very clearly. I worked at a movie theater, and we were opening this and The 40 Year Old Virgin. We stayed after work the night before, and everyone wanted to watch the latter, but our boss was like "Come on, this is like 90 minutes, we can watch both." And we did, and this ended up being amazing for what it was. 

What Movie Sparked Your Love for Cinema?

I saw this question on Twitter as part of a "get to know me" game and when I tried to think of the answer for myself, what I came up with kind of surprised me.

I've mentioned before that working at a movie theater as a teenager is what broadened my horizon for films, but what was the movie that got me to look at cinema beyond the comedic and horror films that I normally stuck with?

At first I thought of American Beauty. It's my all time favorite movie which I saw for the first time at age 13. While it's very important to me because it was the first time I considered dysfunctional families and stopped feeling alone about it, I never really got into anything like it until years later. 

I thought of all the Shirley Temple movies I would record off of AMC when I was little just so I could watch her tap. I loved those too, but I never watched other classic films. 

I loved big franchises like Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter, but back then I was just enjoying the ride and not thinking about the process. At least not right away. 

Weirdly enough, I think the movie that changed cinema for me was a small, tough to watch indie called Mysterious Skin. You see, when I worked at that theater we'd get magazines showing all the upcoming films. And because I lived in a small town it means we rarely, almost never got independent films. When I read about Mysterious Skin, it intrigued me. And it starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who I was familiar with. 

The funny thing about this is that there was a decent amount of time between me learning about the film and it actually coming out on DVD to rent. But just reading about it changed something. I remember finding IMDb, getting recommendations, saving titles, learning about the Sundance Film Festival and going on a movie watching spree. When I'd actually see it in the fall of 2005, it was heavy. It deals with child abuse and plenty of things that make me uncomfortable to think about but I was in awe of how well it was made and how good JGL was in it. How director Gregg Araki shot around those uncomfortable scenes made me appreciate the film making aspect that I had rarely considered before. All I had to compare it to at the time were those shitty Lifetime movies my mom would try to scare me with. This was in another league. 

That same fall, my boyfriend and I drove to the nearest big city and spent a few days doing nothing but watching all the movies in theaters that our local one would never get. We ended up seeing a lot of the eventual Oscar nominees for that year, and that started my tradition of religiously watching it. 

Because of Mysterious Skin, I looked for more independent films. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stopped being the kid from 3rd Rock and 10 Things and became my favorite actor. Because of Mysterious Skin, I'd look up Brady Corbet's filmography and find Thirteen, a film that remains in my Top 5 today. That led to me seeing Evan Rachel Wood, and her becoming one of my favorite actresses too.  It's probably because of Mysterious Skin that I tend to gravitate towards all this dark and dysfunctional story telling. (Actually, maybe I can blame that one on American Beauty. Or all those slashers my parents somehow allowed me to watch.) 

Regardless, while I always liked watching movies, I don't think I truly loved everything about them until I was 18, reading that theater magazine in between stringing up projectors and having an obscure title catch my eye. 

What movie did that for you? 

Also thank you for making it to the end of this rambling. 

Review: Captain Marvel

What makes her a hero.

Vers (Brie Larson) is a Kree warrior whose life is dedicated to fighting Skrulls. She has no memories of anything else. During a mission, she is captured by a Skrull named Talos (Ben Mendelsohn) who unearths fragments buried deep in her subconscience. After she escapes, she crash lands on Planet C-53 also known as Earth, and meets up with a young S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to fight the infiltrating Skrulls and figure out her past.

After all this time, finally Marvel has given us a female led super hero movie and if you've spent any considerable amount of time on the internet, you know incels are pissed about it. So every time this movie flat out showed a man trying to talk down to a woman, harass a woman, or expected to be owed something from her, I smiled, because I knew somewhere there was a man-baby getting all bent out of shape about it.

Shitty people aside, Captain Marvel was a blast. It gets off to a rough start with a dark battle and mostly uninteresting characters but as soon as Vers lands on Earth and meets up with Nick Fury, this movie comes alive. I didn't realize how much I missed consistently seeing Fury in these movies. Jackson has excellent chemistry with Larson and Vers and Fury together are very similar personality wise. The heart of the story is when Vers finds out she is Carol Danvers and meets up with her old friend, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch)

I liked how they tied things together with the other MCU movies. We see a few familiar faces from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise and our favorite traveling infinity stone also makes another appearance. I think Carol is going to fit in nicely with the other Avengers too. I especially want her to have scenes with Wanda because she's my current favorite.

If there was one thing I was worried about when Captain Marvel was announced, it was how they handle her power. She's been hyped as the most powerful being in the universe so I was afraid they would introduce her as this deus ex machina and that she would run over all the other Avengers. But, I should've just trusted The Russos. Even though they had nothing to do with this movie, they seem to be taking those fears seriously and they have proven to write weaknesses in the already OP characters like Thor, Scarlet Witch, and Hulk. 

Another aside, what they do with the Marvel logo at the beginning of this film might make you cry.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Your ass." - Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) simultaneously 

Indie Gems: The Incredible Jessica James

I'm dope.

Jessica (Jessica Williams) is an aspiring playwright  who still pines for her ex-boyfriend. (Lakeith Stanfield) Her friend, Tasha (Noel Wells) sets her up with an acquaintance, Boone (Chris O'Dowd) who is also fresh out of a relationship and they strike up a friendship.

I have no excuse for how long it took me to watch this film. I think Jessica Williams and Chris O'Dowd are hilarious, and this got great reviews when it came out. It just fell into the Netflix black hole. I'm happy to say this did not disappoint.

If you're familiar with Williams from her stint on The Daily Show, her humor is all over this. I'm guessing she was given a lot of leeway to improvise and it all works in her favor. Same with O'Dowd, only he can sell himself with "Also, I'm good at cunnilingus" so nonchalantly. 

There's not a lot in terms of plot here but that's okay. Jessica is interesting and it was so easy to root for her throughout. I liked how they handled all of her relationships too, between her and Boone, Tasha, Damon, and everyone else around her. It felt very organic and funny. I really wish I would've seen this sooner, because it's something I can easily see myself watching again and again.

Grade: A

Watched on: Netflix

Memorable Quote: " probably I mean she's good with dick." - Boone (Chris O'Dowd)