Friday, April 24, 2015

Indie Gems: Little Athens

Slacker nation

This film centers around a group of teenagers/early twenty somethings trying to pass the time in Athens, Arizona. You have Jimmy, (John Patrick Amedori)a small time drug dealer who's got some big problems. Jessica (Jill Ritchie) leaves the young girl she's babysitting home alone and drags along her friend Carlos (Michael Pena) as she tries to find someone to kick her boyfriend's ass for her. (He's pissed because she gave him an STD) Then you have Corey (D.J Qualls) and Pedro,(Jorge Garcia) a couple of slackers that are trying to come up with rent money to get back into their house after their landlord shuts them out. Finally there's Heather, (Erica Leerhsen) who's convinced her cop boyfriend is cheating on her and frequently takes her anger out on her friend Ali. (Rachel Miner)

All of these characters' lives are intertwined and they all end up at the same party at the end of the night. This film feels really authentic in capturing what small town life is like on a boring summer day. Everyone in the cast is a natural and fits perfectly. The film is very low budget, you can tell by the way some scenes are edited. It gets sloppy, but you have to appreciate what they managed to do with it all. The film uses a color palette frequently. Corey's scenes often have blue, Ali's yellow, Jimmy's red, etc. The score is very simple and a lot of the songs they used came from unsigned bands that only had MySpace pages at the time.

I really wanted to see this when it came out back in 2006, and I'm a little ashamed of how long it took me to sit down and watch it, but it was well worth the wait. 

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I don't understand why you do it." - Ali (Rachel Miner)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Superhero Movies

How fitting that as Age of Ultron approaches us that this week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is something that people either really love, or are really getting sick of: Superhero movies. Lucky for me, I'm still in the camp that loves them, so here are my favorites.

1) The Dark Knight

This is my all time favorite superhero movie, and I'm not sure if anything will ever top it to be honest. Avengers came close, but Heath Ledger's Joker is always going to be perfect for me.

2) The Avengers

I wanted to scream "THIS IS AWESOME" several times during this film. I hope Age of Ultron is just as good. (Even though after reading some of the spoilers, something is going to piss me off greatly)

3) Super

In the first time in my Thursday Movie Pick history, I'm doing a revision. It dawned on me after I posted this that I left out one Superhero flick that I really, REALLY love. So I had to swap out X2 for this little gem Super. He might not be an *actual* Superhero, but he tells crime to shut up, so he wins.

Honorable Mention: X2: X-men United, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Spiderman 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, Hellboy 2, Thor 2

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

White Swan/Black Swan Blogathon

The wonderful Sati over at Cinematic Corner has come up with a great idea for a blogathon. She asks us to pick characters to showcase their "white swan/black swan" So basically, to show how they have wildy contrasting traits that they show to some, and now others. Here are the rules:

1. Choose max 3 characters to write about.
2. You can also feature characters from TV series.
3. We are not looking for doppelgangers - we are looking for one person with two sides. For example in Black Swan you can write about Nina and her alter ego but not about Lily and Nina, which are two different people. You can write about Gollum/Smeagol but you cannot write about Bette and Dot - the Siamese twins from AHS: Freakshow - because technically they are two different people.
4. Write about why you chose the character 

5. Provide a theory on what causes the two different sides and what are the signs and contradictions between the two, for example you can write about things like that:

*Spoiler alerts*

Walter White of Breaking Bad

Let's start with the obvious. Walter White and his alter ego "Heisenberg."

White Swan: Kind, family man, somewhat of a push over, insecure.

Black Swan: Over confident, murderer, liar, schemer.

The difference between Walt and Heisenberg is for obvious reasons like I pointed out. He's a secret drug dealer. But I chose Walt because I find him to be one of the most fascinating characters I've ever watched. It was almost impossible not to root for him at times. Starting out as the teacher who had a part time job at a car wash, and had to clean his cocky student's car to becoming "the one who knocks" was brilliant. The lines between the two eventually began to blur, but we were constantly reminded that even though Walt is in the big times now, we still knew where he came from.

In the final episode, Walt says it himself. "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. I was really...I was alive."

Angela Hayes of American Beauty

White Swan: Low self esteem, a virgin, seemingly needs love and structure.

Black Swan: Confident, greatly exaggerates things, sexually experienced. 

In Angela's case, it's the black swan we see the most of. She tells the world she's had all the experiences, yet she's hiding behind false confidence and tells people things that she thinks they want to here. There's an interesting parallel between Angela and her friend Jane in the film. Jane gradually starts wearing less make up as her character begins to come into her own, and Angela gradually wears more and people start to see through her facade. I think what it boils down to is Angela is someone that craves attention because she probably isn't getting much of it at home. She's disappointed her modeling career isn't taking off, so she tries to make herself sound bigger than she is. She's in need of a good friend or a steady parent to learn from. I chose Angela because American Beauty is my favorite movie and I find each and
every character endlessly interesting. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: The Crying Game

What I knew going in: The big reveal - which did not play out like I thought it would.

*****Spoiler Alert!*****

Ah, The Crying Game. This movie is rather infamous by now, isn't it? I have a friend who saw this in theaters and said people actually walked out. I wish I had been old enough to be there and yell "Y U MAD BRO!?!?!" after all of them. 

Jody (Forest Whitaker) is an English solider kidnapped by some IRA soldiers. Fergus (Stephen Rhea) sympathizes with him and in the three days he's held captive, they share stories. Jody talks about his girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson) and how if something happens to him, he wants Fergus to find her and tell her that Jody loves her. Well, something bad happens, so off Fergus goes to find Dil.

Okay, I think everyone knows that Dil is a guy. Literally everyone knows that about The Crying Game, but what surprised me was this is actually revealed in the middle of the film. I expected them to kind of go the Sleepaway Camp route and do it at the end. Obviously in 1993 this was a much bigger deal then than it was now, but it was a pretty genius marketing ploy on their part.

The film is so much more than that though. It's interesting, touching, brutal. The performances are great. Neil Jordan is a wonderful director. (have you seen Breakfast on Pluto? You should.) The film is nearly two hours, but it feels much shorter. I'm happy to say that this is yet another positive mark on my 2015 Blind Spot list. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Told you I was fast." - Jody (Forest Whitaker)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Game of Thrones, Agents of SHIELD + more

Game of Thrones

The acting in this episode was wonderful. Wow, I just loved it.

King's Landing: Cersei going full bitch at the Small Council was great, but I hate how pussy whipped they are still making Jaime.

The Inn - Littlefinger, his TBI, and Sansa really bothered me in this episode with their snobbish behavior, but not as much as it bothered me that Brienne didn't even mention Arya was alive. Why the fuck would you not say that? Or bring Pod with you, Sansa might be comforted in seeing him! Ugh.

Dorne - Yes Areo and Doran! Beautiful water gardens. Ellaria needs to chill the fuck out.

On the way to Volantis - Varys praising Tyrion for his duties as hand gave me life. And Tyrion almost drinking the bug. "You might accidentally eat something solid." lol

The Wall - These were my favorite scenes of the episode. I loved Shireen teaching Gilly to read. Jon's scene with Stannis, and Jon being elected Lord Commander. It was perfect.

Meereen - Dany, what the fuck? Go free Viserion and Rhaegal while you're at it.

Braavos - The opening credits spoiled Jaquen's return, but I loved Arya in these scenes. She gives zero fucks. 

Agents of SHIELD

Fitz is about to psych out some bitches and now I have to wait until next week to see it.

This episode really about May. We got to see why she's called "The Calvary" and how loving she used to be before she was hardened by her job. I loved this. Ming-Na Wen is amazing.

We also find out what Raina's power is, and Skye is all happy with her equally terrible actor family. Quaint.

19 Kids and Counting.
They just stitched together a bunch of old episodes, fuck you TLC. You made me witness Josh's awful singing at his wedding again. Beer me. 

That scene with Selena and Gary though! I went from laughing to thinking I was going to start crying in a millisecond. Give those two Emmys, now.  "I am your calender. I am your Google. I am your Wilson the Volleyball!"

Friday, April 17, 2015

Indie Gems: Lilting

When words fail you..

Junn (Pei-Pei Cheng) Is a Cambodian-Chinese woman living in a retirement home in England. Her son, Kai (Andrew Leung) recently died in a car accident. He was her life, and she's having trouble adapting. Also having a hard time is Richard (Ben Wishaw) his boyfriend, though Junn thinks they're just room mates. He struggles with wanting to grieve Kai openly and talk about their relationship with Junn as she doesn't like him and they don't speak the same language. He hires a translator, Vann (Naomie Christie) to make things easier.

Wishaw is an actor that really had to grow on me. I always associated him with that creepy Perfume movie and it was hard to get behind him as anything else. He's really wonderful here. Very subtle and pained. His chemistry with Leung is incredible. We only see it in a few flashbacks, but I wish there was more. Cheng was wonderful as the grieving mother as well.

This film is very touching and quiet, and with it's 89 minute run time it never drags. 

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "I can smell him in your room." - Junn (Pei-Pei Cheng)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Police Movies

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is dedicated to those who protect and serve. I've been binge watching The Wire recently, so I feel like I've spent a lot of time with police on my TV lately. Here are some of my favorites, but honestly there's so many good ones it's hard to narrow it down. 

1) Se7en

One of my all time favorite movies, you can't help but love the detectives in this film. It's so creepy and fascinating.

2) The Departed

How can you not have a higher respect for undercover police work after watching this? I love The Departed, it's just smart film making. 

3) End of Watch

This one is completely different from the other two just by the way it was shot. It's all done documentary style and it feels so real. The ending gutted me.