Friday, December 19, 2014

Indie Gems: Parts Per Billion

A different take on the end of the world.

A deadly pathogen has been released in the Middle East as chemical warfare. It's spreading rapidly and killing millions. You know there would be people stocking up on supplies, barricading themselves in houses, but there's always going to be those people that still try to go about their day. This movie is about those people.

Andy and Esther (Frank Langella and Gena Rowlands) are scouring a children's hospital for remaining oxygen tanks, trying to survive as long as possible. Andy is the one that sold the information on how to make this deadly weapon in the first place. Then there's his lawyer, Mia and her husband (Rosario Dawson and Josh Hartnett) that were having a rocky marriage to begin with. Andy's grandson Erik (Penn Badgley) and his fiance Anna (Teresa Palmer) take a different approach as Anna tries to let go of her fear of what's going in.

This film is a lot like Bobby. There's a big important event happening, but this film really isn't about that, it's about this small group of people. That's not everyone's cup of tea, but I thought the film worked. Sure, this it's depressing, but it feels very different from other films of this genre. And I will watch anything with Teresa Palmer in it.

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Why is the deepest thing I've ever read on the back of soap?" - Anna (Teresa Palmer)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Movie Picks: Coming of Age Movies

This week's theme from Wandering through the Shelves is Coming of Age movies. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting too old for films like this, then I find a good one that I just fall in love with. Here are three of my favorites

1) Stand By Me

I imagine this film is on everyone's favorite coming of age lists. It's one of those that I loved as a kid, and still loved as an adult.

2) Blue is the Warmest Color

I'm not sure if I've ever rooted for a character like I did with Adele in this film. I legitimately wanted to hug her at the end of it.

3) The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I wish I would've read this book when I was in junior high, I feel like I could've related to it more back then, but it still didn't stop me from enjoying the hell out of this film now. (Particularly Ezra Miller's performance) 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: The Theory of Everything


That word easily describes both Jane and Stephen Hawking. Especially after watching this.

The film takes a look at Dr. Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne), a now world famous physicist and his first wife, Jane (Felicity Jones) when they first meet at Cambridge University. Early on in their relationship is when Hawking is diagnosed with motor neuron disease which slowly destroys him physically, but Jane vows to fight with him. 

I never read Traveling to Infinity, Jane's memoir of which this film is based, but I knew enough about it to be a little concerned with the way they were initially advertising this as some epic love story when in fact, things were very difficult for them. I'm glad I see I was wrong about that first impression. The film captures both their love and hardships.

Redmayne and Jones are both spectacular here. I can't say enough about how great their performances are. The film is shot beautifully and had a lovely score on top of it. I can see how some would think this is obvious Oscar bait, I believe it deserves all the recognition it's getting. It went far above my expectations.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "I have loved you. I tried my best." - Jane (Felicity Jones)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Rambling TV: Thoughts on the series finale of The Newsroom + more

Go fuck yourself, Aaron Sorkin.

It had to be said. I've actually been saying it all season. I get that The Newsroom isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I loved the show. I liked the concept the cast was immensely talented. It's too bad Aaron Sorkin, the show's creator didn't feel the same. 

Sorkin's a genius, but let's face it. His ego is massive. He didn't get the same ratings he had for The West Wing, so he was ready to move on. Which is his right, I know, but it sucks for the people he put out of a job, and the viewers who liked the show. Not to mention he threw his entire production under the bus last week when he said the penultimate episode was the first one he actually liked. The Newsroom ended ahead of it's time because of Sorkin's ego. It's not like he wasn't putting out quality work.

Now let's talk the episode. In what seems to be a trend with HBO shows on their final season this year, this episode centered around unnecessary flashbacks of how Charlie got Mac to come to New Night. The present time was at Charlie's funeral. The series ended with Mac being promoted to Charlie's job, Jim being promoted to hers. Maggie is interviewing for a field producer position in D.C, and Jim vows to keep a long distance relationship with her because he loves her. Neal is back in the states, and lays a gentle verbal smackdown on Bree upon his return. (Though he has no scenes really with the rest of the cast, which is a damn shame) As many guested in the last episode, Mac is pregnant. The final scene was everyone in the Newsroom doing their job like Charlie would've wanted.

Parts were very touching and sweet, but this season's 6 episode order really hurt it. There just wasn't enough time. This show deserved more time. We didn't even get to find out what happened with the Genoa lawsuit, which was what SEASON 2 WAS ALL ABOUT!

Other TV thoughts:

Two big things happened in Agents of SHIELD's finale last Tuesday. Trip died, which really sucks because he was awesome, and Skye is revealed to be Daisy Johnson aka Quake. This should be interesting.

If you ever missed Kirsten Dunst's Drop Dead Gorgeous accent, fear not! You'll get to hear it again, she's just been cast in season 2 of Fargo.

I rewatched Sherlock and forgot how much I disliked Amanda Abbington as Mary. Good actress, just no chemistry with Watson. (Which is weird considering they're a couple in real life)

Since 3 of my shows ended this year, I'll be starting The Wire. (finally)

*Click those gifs to be redirected to their makers*

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review: God Help The Girl

She needs all the help she can get.

Eve (Emily Browning) is an Australian living in Glasgow. She's been battling an eating disorder and depression and has been staying at a voluntary rehabilitation center. She sneaks out and goes to a show and meets James (Olly Alexander) and becomes intrigued with him. She loves to write music, he loves good music. Together they team up with one of his guitar students, Cassie (Hannah Murray) to form their own band. 

I've seen this film described as a "musical for everyone." I'm not sure if it's for everyone, (people will complain about the entire cast being hipsters) but I enjoyed it for what it's worth. The songs were sweet. The cast, while not having the strongest voices still have a nice folky charm to them. It does feel different from other musicals I've seen.

The costumes are beautiful. The film is set in modern times, yet they wear a lot of vintage clothing. Sadly, it's the modern costumes that get over looked at  the Oscars, which is a shame. My only real gripe with the film was that Cassie ended up feeling like a 3rd wheel most of the time, and she was far too sweet for that.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "What if everything I'm feeling is shit?" - Eve (Emily Browning)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Review: The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

The way I watched this film was very fitting.

When I saw the Academy put up its shortlist for the documentary Oscar nominations, this one sounded immediately interesting. It's set to release on Netflix next month, but luckily I came across a tweet where someone said the whole movie was on youtube. And it still is. 

Of course a film about Aaron Swartz's life would be on the internet for all to see. That's what he was about. He wanted people to have access to all the knowledge they could. Aaron was a programming prodigy who helped start plenty of sites online that you've certainly heard of. (RSS, Reddit, etc) The former he helped with when he was all of 14. He was arrested when he conducted a mass download of information from MIT. He wasn't selling it or going to blackmail someone with it, he just thought everyone should have access to it to learn. He was going to be charged with nearly 13 felonies and was treated like a criminal. He sadly committed suicide last year at the age of 26.

This doc is very informative. I was somewhat familiar with Swartz prior to watching this. I remember reading about his arrest, his help to stop SOPA, and the general sadness of the online community when news of his death broke. Though nearly all of the parties opposing what he did declined to speak (because of course they did) they still had plenty of interesting things to say.

As far as the Oscars go, I wonder if this will suffer the same problem Blackfish had. It seemed like a lot of this information could've already been found online, so if you're familiar with the subject, it might not be anything new. But I stand by this the same way I did Blackfish, it's nice to have all of this complied into one place. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "In that moment, I regret that I said it." - Quinn Norton

Friday, December 12, 2014

Indie Gems: The Immigrant

Welcome to America, you get to be a hooker now.

Ewa (Marion Cotillard) escapes conflicted Poland in 1921 to come to America with her sister. However her sister has tuberculosis and isn't allowed to leave Staten Island. Ewa has to pay for her care to be released, and her aunt and uncle that she planned on living with have apparently disappeared. Ewa is pulled aside by a man named Bruno (Joaquin Phoenix) who offers to help her. But soon we find that he's not as nice as he seems as he forces her into prostitution. She then finds herself falling for his eccentric cousin, Emil (Jeremy Renner) who performs as a magician. 

This is the type of movie you expect to see during Oscar season, but unfortunately the marketing for this movie was awful and it ends up on Netflix Instant instead. It's a shame, Cotillard gives a fantastic performance here. 

You may see the ending coming from a mile away, but our leads give wonderful performances and the film is never boring.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I hate you, and I hate myself." - Ewa (Marion Cotillard)