Review: Star Trek Beyond

There is strength in unity

Three years into the USS Enterprise's five year mission, the crew is getting bit restless. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) feels lost and wonders if Star Fleet really was for him. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is having a rough time with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and is torn between what he feels is his duties on New Vulcan. When a distress call that turns into a trap destroys the Enterprise, the crew are split up on an unknown planet trying to fight off a being called Krall (Idris Elba) who is after an artifact that was on the ship.

I've always had a soft spot for the Star Trek reboots. I grew up in a house hold where my dad loved the show and I thought it was so boring. The new films helped me look at it in a completely different way. That being said, when I saw the first trailer for Beyond, I was worried new director Justin Lin was going to stick us with The Fast and the Furious in Space. I'm thankful that wasn't the case.

Beyond has a lot of heart and with smaller groups, we're able to not only get more development with our old characters (particularly Spock and Bones) but we get the time to get to know our new characters, like Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) as well. 

The film's weakness does lie within it's directing. Lin isn't Abrams and there's a few shots that reminded me of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, where things are moving so quickly it's hard to focus on what's happening. Still, the cast has great chemistry and I can't help but want to know more about them with each passing minute. They even throw out a sweet nod to the old cast from the original series.

I felt sad leaving the theater though, after watching Anton Yelchin and knowing I'm only going to get to see three more new films from him. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "...You gave your girlfriend a tracking device?" - Bones ( Karl Urban)

Indie Gems: Colonia

Put the camera away

In 1973 Chile, Daniel (Daniel Brühl) is a German man who is getting involved the resistance there. He's been drawing propaganda posters for the Chileans who want changes in their government. His girlfriend Lena (Emma Watson) is a Lufthansa flight attendant who comes to visit him. After a few days, Daniel is arrested and thrown into a torture chamber/cult commune by the secret police. This is run by Paul Schäfer, ( Michael Nyqvist) who his followers treat as a vessel of God. Lena decides to infiltrate the commune to help free Daniel.

Yes, I know. Another cult movie. Thankfully, Emma Watson has a better turn out in this one than she did in Regression. Don't get me wrong, she's still a wooden actress. But she's not asked to do much here other than keep a straight face, so it's bearable. Brühl and Nyqvist above others carrying the acting weight.

I didn't know about Paul Schäfer and the despicable things he did before watching this film. It made me want to research it immediately. Daniel is very savvy once he's in the commune, and Lena keeps her eyes open. The tension builds well, especially in the last 10-15 minutes of the film.

Despite the lead actress being less than impressive, everything else about this film was fascinating. It's well paced and gives us yet another look into the morbid reality that is religious cults. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable quote: "Take off your shoes, you look like a slut." - Gisela (Richenda Carey)

Thursday Movie Picks: Summer Camp

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is something every kid either treasures or despises: going to a summer camp. I fucking hate camping. I did church camp once and girl scout camp another time and I hated every minute of it. I love being outdoors, but I also love coming home to warm shower and a nice clean bed...inside. Not getting rained on in tents. These three films are camping movies I preferred watching as a kid instead of doing the real thing.

1) Camp Nowhere

These kids are total shits, right? They don't want to go to real camp so they black mail their teacher into starting a fake camp with no adult supervision. Actually, I thought that was kind of awesome and Christopher Lloyd was sort of the man when I was a child. He was Emmett Brown AND the Pagemaster.

2) Heavy Weights

AKA that movie with all the fat camp jokes. You know that big trampoline into the lake looked awesome.

3) Bushwhacked 

This movie is inherently creepy when you think about it. An escaped convict posing as a scout leader while on the run? A training bra gets used as a slingshot at one point. I watched this movie so much.

BONUS: Moonrise Kingdom - I love this movie, and I had to throw one serious pick in there.

DVD Review: 45 Years

2nd place.

Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Six days prior to the party they are going to throw for the occasion, Geoff finds out that his old lover Katya's body has been found preserved in a glacier. Back in the 60's, she had fallen off a cliff while on a hike with Geoff. Kate knew about her, but did not know that Geoff told everyone they were married so he is considered next of kin. Geoff begins to openly reminisce about their time together and Kate is faced with the realization that her happy marriage has really been here in 2nd place the entire time.

Kate takes this all in a stride, at least more than I think I would've. As I watched, I wondered how I would've acted in this situation. It probably would've resulted in me yelling, swearing, and possibly punching Geoff for his bullshit at some point. But Kate doesn't lash out. She's heartbroken, plain and simple. Everything she's known about her marriage she now questions and the reality is so depressing.

Rampling is amazing. The play of emotions that go across her face is desperately sad. The film solely rests on her shoulders, and would've failed otherwise. She's the best thing by far, everything else struggles to match her intrigue. I remember when Oscar screeners went out, there were complaints that this film felt "too long." I couldn't disagree more, It had a strangely fast pace for a film meant to study such a depressing subject. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "No, I think I was enough for you, I'm just not sure if you do." - Kate (Charlotte Rampling)

2016 Blind Spot Series: The Miracle Worker

What I knew going in: The story (Which I think everyone knows) and that of all the film adaptations, this one is considered the best.

Captain Keller (Victor Jory) wants to have his blind, deaf, and mute daughter Helen (Patty Duke) institutionalized as she grows harder and harder to control as she gets older. His wife Kate (Inga Swenson) begs him not to, and instead they hire a woman named Annie Sullivan (Ann Bancroft) to teach her to communicate. However the Kellers aren't accustomed to Annie's harsh teaching tactics and refuse to admit any faults of their own. 

I had seen the Lifetime version with Hallie Kate Eisenberg as Helen, and now after watching this, I feel I can finally understand how terrible that one is in comparison. Everything looked far too polished. Bancroft and Duke are outstanding in their roles. Duke never for one second looks like she's acting. She's so convincing in her eyes, they're never focused on anything. Bancroft also makes us feel about a fraction of what the real Annie must have felt. Watching this film can sometimes be frustrating, especially seeing Annie try so hard to get through to Helen. You wish you could speed up the process for them.

The film did have some downsides. The acting aside from Duke and Bancroft ranges from terrible (Jory) to just okay. (Swenson) They don't match the greatness of the leads. The film is very well shot and staged. The black and white feels even more washed out than normal, like it's capturing the bleakness of the situation. I case could be made for Duke being far too old to play Helen, though I didn't mind. I'm not sure if they could've found a better one. 

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "The room is a wreck, but her napkin is folded." - Annie (Anne Bancroft)

Indie Gems: Deathgasm

That's so metal.

After his mother is institutionalized, Brodie (Milo Cawthrone) is sent to live with his religious aunt and uncle in a small New Zealand down. He's into metal music and is an outcast with his family. One day he meets Zakk (James Blake) a fellow metal head who convinces him to find an old musician with him living in an abandoned house. When they do, they are given some sheet music that's called the "dark hymn" and when they play it, they accidentally release evil demons. 

I love a good campy horror film with lots of gore, and in that aspect, this didn't disappoint. It's vulgar and gross and works perfectly. There's some clear homages to the Evil Dead trilogy as we get quite a bit of chainsaw action later on. Our lead characters even get more outlandish and beat a possessed person to death with dildos. Seriously. 

Story wise, it could've used some polishing. Zakk is overwhelmingly irritating to the point where I was kind of wishing he'd just disappear. There's also a subplot involves some members of an occult that are after the boys and the sheet music they possess. They're not fleshed out, and for half of the movie you kind of forget they even exist until they show up again towards the end.

Being a small film from New Zealand, I wasn't familiar with the cast, but Cawthrone did a great job carrying this film. It was easy to root for Brodie, even when he's making mistakes.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "All caps. Lower case is for pussies." - Zakk (James Blake)

2016 Emmy Nominations

It's that time of year again. The Emmys don't get up early like the Oscars, so they didn't announce their nominees until 11:30 am. Anthony Anderson screamed a few times too. Here's a list of the 2016 Emmy nominations. My thoughts follow in green.

Outstanding Drama Series
The Americans
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game Of Thrones
House Of Cards
Mr. Robot
I'm really happy to see Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, and Mr. Robot here. The Americans finally getting some love has to feel good for their fans.

Oustanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler - Bloodline
Rami Malek - Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys - The Americans
Liev Schreiber - Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey - House Of Cards
RAMI MALEK! That's my favorite nomination in this category.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes - Homeland
Viola Davis - How To Get Away With Murder
Taraji P. Henson - Empire
Tatiana Maslany - Orphan Black
Keri Russell - The Americans
Robin Wright - House Of Cards
Anderson butchered Tatiana's name, which I thought was fairly straightforward pronunciation wise. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks - Better Call Saul
Peter Dinklage - Game Of Thrones
Kit Harington - Game Of Thrones
Michael Kelly - House Of Cards
Ben Mendelsohn - Bloodline
Jon Voight - Ray Donovan
I'm happy to see Harington here. I wish they would've submitted Liam Cunningham for Thrones. He did better than Dinklage this year. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Emilia Clarke - Game Of Thrones
Lena Headey - Game Of Thrones
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Maura Tierney - The Affair
Maisie Williams - Game Of Thrones
Constance Zimmer - UnREAL
Of course the wonderful Melissa McBride is snubbed again. It's a shame that she's SO good on a show that's so poorly written. Maisie Williams for example, her story on Thrones this year was terrible, but her acting was great, and here she is. It's really a testament of how bad TWD's writing is if even Melissa McBride can't rise above it. Ranting aside, someone give Lena Headey this Emmy.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Mahershala Ali - House Of Cards
Hank Azaria- Ray Donovan
Reg E. Cathey - House Of Cards
Michael J. Fox - The Good Wife
Paul Sparks - House Of Cards
Max von Sydow - Game Of Thrones
Max von Sydow got nominated for just being himself, and I'm okay with that. 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Ellen Burstyn - House Of Cards
Allison Janney - Masters Of Sex
Margo Martindale - The Americans
Laurie Metcalf - Horace And Pete
Molly Parker - House Of Cards
Carrie Preston - The Good Wife

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
The Americans ("Persona Non Grata")
Downton Abbey ("Episode 8")
Game Of Thrones ("Battle Of The Bastards")
The Good Wife ("End")
Mr. Robot ("")
UnREAL ("Return")

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Downton Abbey ("Episode 9")
Game Of Thrones ("Battle Of The Bastards")
Game Of Thrones ("The Door")
Homeland ("The Tradition Of Hospitality")
The Knick ("This Is All We Are")
Ray Donovan ("Exsuscito")

Outstanding Comedy Series
Master Of None
Modern Family
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep is love. Veep is life. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson - black-ish
Aziz Ansari - Master Of None
Will Forte - The Last Man On Earth
William H. Macy - Shameless
Thomas Middleditch - Silicon Valley
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent
I love seeing Thomas Middleditch here. 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Ellie Kemper - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Laurie Metcalf - Getting On
Tracee Ellis Ross - black-ish
Amy Schumer - Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin - Grace And Frankie

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Louie Anderson - Baskets
Andre Braugher - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell - Modern Family
Tony Hale - Veep
Keegan-Michael Key - Key & Peele
Matt Walsh - Veep
I'm so happy for Matt Walsh. It's about time the Emmys nominated more Veep actors, their ensemble is spectacular. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Anna Chlumsky - Veep
Gaby Hoffmann - Transparent
Allison Janney - Mom
Judith Light - Transparent
Kate McKinnon - Saturday Night Live
Niecy Nash - Getting On

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Larry David - Saturday Night Live
Peter MacNicol - Veep
Tracy Morgan - Saturday Night Live
Martin Mull - Veep
Bob Newhart - The Big Bang Theory
Bradley Whitford - Transparent

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Christine Baranski - The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live
Melora Hardin - Transparent
Melissa McCarthy - Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf - The Big Bang Theory
Amy Schumer- Saturday Night Live
How is it possible for Fey and Poehler to share an acting nomination? Like, what the fuck is that? Maybe that's how Key and Peele should start submitting. I'm happy for them beacuse I love them, but seriously, wtf?

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Catastrophe ("Episode 1")
Master Of None ("Parents")
Silicon Valley ("Founder Friendly")
Silicon Valley ("The Uptick")
Veep ("Morning After")
Veep ("Mother")
I'm surprised that Mother is getting nominated for Veep because I thought that was hands down the worst episode they've ever done. 

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Master Of None ("Parents")
Silicon Valley ("Daily Active Users")
Silicon Valley ("Founder Friendly")
Transparent ("Man On The Land")
Veep ("Kissing Your Sister")
Veep ("Morning After")
Veep ("Mother")

Outstanding Limited Series
American Crime
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
I'd be happier for American Crime if they didn't end season two in the worst possible way. They answered no questions. I hope Fargo takes this. 

Outstanding Television Movie
All The Way
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
A Very Murray Christmas
I liked Sherlock and Confirmation. Still need to see Luther. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Bryan Cranston - All The Way
Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Idris Elba - Luther
Cuba Gooding, Jr. - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Tom Hiddleston - The Night Manager
Courtney B. Vance - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
This time last year I would've been psyched for Tom Hiddleston, but now he's just embarrassing. I'm sure Taylor Swift is excited for the red carpet opportunity though.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Kirsten Dunst - Fargo
Felicity Huffman - American Crime
Audra McDonald - Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grille
Sarah Paulson - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Lili Taylor - American Crime
Kerry Washington - Confirmation

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Sterling K. Brown - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie - The Night Manager
Jesse Plemons - Fargo
David Schwimmer - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
John Travolta - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Bokeem Woodbine - Fargo
Yay for these Fargo nominations! Though I'm surprised Patrick Wilson didn't make the cut. You go, Meth Damon.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Kathy Bates - American Horror Story: Hotel
Olivia Colman - The Night Manager
Regina King - American Crime
Melissa Leo - All The Way
Sarah Paulson - American Horror Story: Hotel
Jean Smart - Fargo

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
Fargo ("Loplop")
Fargo ("Palindrome")
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("From The Ashes Of Tragedy")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("Marcia, Marcia, Marcia")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("The Race Card")

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
All The Way
Fargo ("Before The Law")
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("From The Ashes Of Tragedy")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("Manna From Heaven")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("The Race Card")

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
Dancing With The Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef
The Voice
It's pretty cool that American Ninja Warrior is here, even though I'm still bitter that they don't show the Japanese version on television here anymore. 

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Documentary Now!
Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
Real Time With Bill Maher
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
Inside Amy Schumer
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Full list of nominations here