Tuesday, July 22, 2014

2014 Blind Spot Series: The 400 Blows

What I knew going in: Nothing, really. 

Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud) is a schoolboy that's neglected by his parents. His mother seems to dislike him, his father is disinterested, his teacher has no patience for him. It's no wonder he gets bad grades and makes questionable decisions. Soon, he starts skipping school, sneaking in movies and stealing. 

This is my first "French New Wave" film. I think it can be risky when you have a child lead, but Leaud did a wonderful job. I feel like Paris as a city really does enhance every film it's in. I found the parents in this film pretty insufferable, but it just made me sympathize with Antoine even more. (It's sad when the bed at the juvenile detention center looks more comfortable than the one he has at home)  I ended the film with the hope that he can turn everything around.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "They don't believe me when I tell the truth.." - Antoine (Jean-Pierre Leaud) 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Rambling TV: True Blood Recap

This gif has nothing to do with anything. This is just what happens when I get bored.

Well, after last week's awesome episode we're back to mediocre. To be fair, this was a big transition episode that is setting everything up for the rest of the season. It ended up feeling very soap opera-ish. As always, click those gifs to be redirected to their makers.

At Fangtasia, Willa refuses to help Eric and Pam find Sarah Newlin, but she offers up information in exchange for Eric releasing her. He does, and she tells them about Sarah's vampire sister in Dallas. (Who was briefly mentioned as missing in season 2) Dallas was also were Godric lived. Please give us a flashback and leave Nora out of it.

At Sookie's, Lafayette and James are there to take care of her. I liked seeing these scenes between Sookie and Lala. It reminded me of season one after Gran died. They decide that they're going to throw a party to celebrate life instead of moping about death. The whole town shows up. So does Alcide's father. Lots of shit goes down in no particular order:

1) Sookie gets drunk and has a heart to heart with Arlene over what it's like to lose a loved on. Arlene says sometimes when no one is around she puts Terry's coat on so she can feel his arms around her. I honestly almost teared up. Carrie Preston is so amazing.

2) Andy proposes to Holly with a ring Gran left to Jason. They're making Violet extra bitchy for her and Jason's inevitable break up when we're supposed to take his side. Holly says yes. Jason tells Adilyn and Wade "If ya'll are fucking, you won't be anymore."

3) James and Lafayette bond, which leads to them having sex and Jessica catching them. She makes a huge scene which would normally be called for, but due to the nature of the party feels highly inappropriate. 

4) Lafayette puts Jess in her place and says “If he is, what’s so fucking unimaginable about that? Red? Huh?! Everybody else in this fucking town is falling in love and getting engaged and having babies. Has it ever fucking occurred to you that Lafayette, that QUEEN that make all you white heterosexuals laugh and feel good about yourselves, has it ever fucking occurred to you that maybe I want a piece of happiness too?!”  

the queen has spoken

He asks Jessica how James turned, where was he from before he turned? She doesn't know the answer to any of these, but he does. Clearly she doesn't love him. This inevitably leads to Jessica and Jason having a long talk, then a fuck, only for Violet to overhear them. Because of course she does. Deborah Ann Wohl still apparently has a "no nudity" claus in her contract, because that scene felt extremely staged so that they didn't show anything.

(honestly, I agreed with Lafayette throughout this entire scene and don't even feel the least bit sorry for Jessica. Is that weird? I like Jessica too.)

5) Girl I Don't Give A Fuck About, aka Sam's pregnant wife tells everyone that their behavior is ridiculous and this kind of thing doesn't happen in other towns. Good, can you leave please? Go back to whatever town you came from and stop wasting screen time.

6) Lettie Mae shows up to say a few words about Tara, then ends up stabbing Willa to try to get her blood. (I guess Willa is sticking around. Zzzz) She says Tara is trying to reach her, and everyone thinks she's crazy because she used to be an alcoholic. Lafayette points out everyone thinks she's crazy because SHE JUST STABBED SOMEONE.

7) All throughout the night Bill was having flashbacks of his days as a human. They paint him in a very positive light because apparently Bill is end game and everyone must be forced to love him.  He and Sookie hug while their theme song from season one plays. More on Bill later.

Eric and Pam are in Dallas at a fund raiser trying to track down Sarah Newlin. Her parents are there, so she must be too. Eric is wearing a ridiculous cowboy hat and Pam says she's a Republicunt. Sarah manages to find her mother there and tells her she's in trouble, and that the Yakuza are after her. They show up, kill her parents (and several others) and just as Eric has Sarah and is about to choke her out, they show up, and Eric DROPS SARAH to go rip their faces off. I kind of feel like he could've snapped her neck and did all that in the same amount of time. 

The episode ends with Bill looking at himself in the mirror, and he notices he now has Hep V veins. Dun dun dun. I guess that blows the theory of fairy blood being a cure out of the water. By the way, the preview for next week looks like a gigantic clusterfuck. Oi. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Six Degrees of Separation Blogathon

Nostra over at My Film Views has another new blogathon! I think everyone's familiar with the 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game. The theory that anyone can be connected to someone else in show biz in 6 steps or less. I was assigned Groucho Marx to Leonardo DiCaprio by Jenna and Ellie over at Flick Chicks. Here it goes!

Groucho Marx was in Skidoo with Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney was in The Muppets with Amy Adams

Amy Adams was in Catch Me if You Can with Leonardo DiCaprio

I'm passing this on to M. Brown over at Two Dollar Cinema Connect Leonardo DiCaprio to Shirley Temple!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Indie Gems: Light and the Sufferer

You wanted to make something happen, right?

I debated using this in my Indie Gem column at first. I liked it, but I still had a few problems with it. Then I realized this is one of those films that NEEDS to be given a chance, because it has one glaring flaw that's going to turn a lot of people off from it.

Paul (Michael Esper) has just dropped out of college. He decides he wants to start a new life in California, and goes to look for his estranged younger brother, Donovan, whom he and his family haven't seen or heard from in a year. (Paul Dano) Eventually he runs into him wandering around a Brooklyn park. Don thinks they could get more money before they leave, so they attempt to rob some dealers he knows, but that doesn't go as planned. Soon after their botched attempt, an alien begins to follow Don. They are relatively known in society, they're referred to as 'Sufferers.' They don't speak, they don't interfere, they just follow. But why they are following is unclear. Do they follow because they need to protect someone in trouble? Or are they a sign of impending death?

This film is based off a short story from Jonathon Lethem (It's part of his The Wall of the Sky, the Wall of the Eye collection) and until recently I had no idea they even made it into a film, let alone one starring one of my favorite actors. (Paul Dano) The film is practically identical. The story itself is fascinating, and makes you wish it went beyond it's short 70 minute run time, but then there's that flaw I talked about at the beginning of the review:

This movie has the worst production value I have ever seen. It's like it was shot on a cell phone, then edited with the cheapest computer program out there. THE CGI Sufferer looks like it came straight from DeviantArt. That's what bums me out about this film, more budget would've done it WONDERS and it's a shame it didn't get that. People will see the opening shot and judge it harshly, and not give the full film a try. (Or they'll just go read the story, which isn't a bad thing either) I made fun of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D for being more ambitious than their budget, but now that I watch this, I feel bad for saying that. This was a film that had no budget and therefore couldn't be ambitious with it. They got stuck with using bottom of the line techniques because they had to do something.

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "No one will get hurt." - Don (Paul Dano)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Why can't we all just get along?

We pick up more than 10 years after the virus eliminated seemingly all of man kind. Caesar (Andy Serkis), still living in the woods of California is in charge of his colony and has a family of his own. However there are a group of humans, led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) near by, and they need access to a generator that is underneath a dam near the Apes' home. Caesar makes the decision to trust them, particularly Malcolm (Jason Clarke) but his confidant, Koba (Toby Kebbell) isn't as trusting.

I realize now when watching this that even though I enjoyed Rise, I didn't really remember a lot of it. This film, though it still has its flaws feels like it will be far more memorable in the long run. Everything is turned up a notch. The CGI looks even more realistic, there's far more action. There's a scene of Koba, riding a horse wielding two machine guns that I'm still trying to decide if I thought it was hilarious or terrifying. 

Clarke isn't as interesting of a lead as Franco was, but it makes sense for Franco's character not to be there. That's nothing against Clarke, he's still good in his role. Far better than Oldman was, anyways. His character felt a little pointless. Dawn has some issues with pacing and it almost feels like a marathon at times, but it offers a unique perspective from both the humans and the apes' side of things. Caesar in particular has become such an iconic character because of all of this.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B- 

Memorable Quote: "I have you and your father now.." - Ellie (Keri Russell)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Review: Snowpiercer


In the future, an attempt to slow down global warming goes horribly wrong, leaving the world frozen. The only people who survived are on board a train run by the mysterious Wilfred that travels the globe. The rich enjoy comforts while the poor live in poverty. We meet Curtis (Chris Evans) who wants to change all that. He and his fellow passengers, Gilliam, (John Hurt) Edgar, (Jaime Bell) Tanya, (Octavia Spencer) etc stage a plan to move to the front of the train, but first they need to free a prisoner, Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) who is the only one that can open all the doors.

This film has beautiful imagery and keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. As they move through each train car, another secret is revealed, and it's all fascinating. Evans gives his best performance here, and the cast as a whole is great. (I loved seeing Song again, who was so wonderful in Thirst

If anything, I actually wish the film had been a little longer just to elaborate on a few things. Minsoo's daughter, Yona is a clairvoyant, yet we don't know if that's something relatively known to the general population or not. There's a late reveal with Edgar's character too that reminded me of one of my major pet peeves in film, but I won't complain because Bell is such a joy to watch. I also wondered how the lower class people acquired their tickets in the first place, especially after they make mention of being "herded on."  

Snowpiercer is easily one of the best films I've seen this year, and it's one I hope isn't entirely ignored around Oscar season. (These July release dates are killers)

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Anything in the whole wide train." - Curtis (Chris Evans)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rambling TV: True Blood recap

Oh man, it's been a long time since I've been able to say I loved an episode of True Blood. But I can say that about tonight's. There were so many great lines, familiar faces, and interesting flashbacks. I'm going to jump around a bit in my recap to summarize, but I'll leave the main point at the end. As always, click the gifs to be redirected to their makers.

The episode opens up with a series of calls. Sookie calls Alcide's father to tell him he's passed. "He loved the fuck out of you" Jackson tells her. Jason calls Hoyt to tell him about his mom, and clearly still struggles with Jessica glamouring him in season 5. 

Sookie checks in with Arlene's kids, Kobe and Lisa (holy crap, they've grown up!) and uses her mind reading to help Holly remember where she came from. They narrow down Fangtasia. Sam and Jason now know Kevin is dead from Holly's memories, so they go to tell his wife Rosie. This is going to seriously bite them in the ass later.

We were treated to a series of flashback of Pam and Eric in this episode. Eric tells the pilot of the private jet they are flying to go to Shreveport to get Willa, and we find out how they ended up there in the first place. Turns out, Fangtasia wasn't always a bar. It was a video store and the Magister forced them to own it in 1986. They also mention there's a secret tunnel underneath it. Flash foward to 1996, we see them meeting bar maid Ginger, who was then just a vampire film fan in college. She sees Eric for the first time, in a complete 90's slow mo scene, cheesy music bad hair and all, and immediately asks for a job application. Then we jump to 2006, where Ginger brings Eric's famous throne chair to the store, and pitches the entire idea of Fangtasia to Pam, who glamours her into thinking it was all Pam's idea. As she's telling Eric this story, their exchange goes:

Eric: "You bitch."
Pam: "I know. You still love me, right?"
Eric: "Always"


Back at Bill's house, Jessica and James fight about her not eating. Turns out she hasn't fed in over 2 months. Bill is staging an intervention for her when Sookie comes in. She offers to talk to Jess. (Sookie is playing therapist in this episode) and basically tells her to shut the fuck up and eat. Jess said she will, but she won't drink Sookie's blood. Queue them calling Lafayette's sassy ass in to feed Jess. "Step aside, Hookah" he tells James. Sookie also lets Bill feed from her while I roll my eyes.

While Bill, Sookie, Jason, Violet, James, Jess, Sam, etc are meeting at his house, discussing vampires they can call to help them take Fangtasia, the doorbell rings. It's Eric: "Pam tells me you wrote a book in which you claim not to be an asshole anymore?" Bill see's Eric's Hep V veins and legitimately looks sad about it.

Sookie runs to hug Eric immediately, and when she notices his veins, they go to talk privately. Pam isn't pleased. She hates Sookie and her precious fairy vagina. Eric tells Sookie how he traveled the world, how an avalanche saved him from burning alive. (and took out an entire ski village in the process) He asks her what kind of trouble she's gotten herself in as she begs "don't die on me." Alcide who?

playing with her hair? awww

Eric and Pam are going to help Sookie's group get into Fangtasia through said tunnel the Magister mentioned in the flashback. Eric also summons Willa who's PISSED at him for leaving her. 

Sam shifts into a rat and gets into Fangtasia's basement. I forgot Arlene doesn't know Sam's a shifter. She freaks at the sight of him. "Please don't turn into a rat again..oh god. He did."

Eric is trying to bust down a wall out back, but is too weak to do so. Bill does it instead, and I'm instantly pissed because Bill should never be shown to be stronger than Eric. I don't care if he's sick.

Arlene is taken upstairs and nearly drained by the time they all make it in. Remember how I mentioned Sam and Jason talking to Rosie earlier? Well, she told them about their plan to go to Fangtasia, so now the anti vamp mob is on their way to fuck everything up. All hells breaks lose, a lot of vampires die. Bill finally kills that asshole mayor guy who's name I'm too lazy to look up. Eric goes to find a healthy vampire to feed Arlene, she's seeing Terry since she's so close to death, but he tells her to stay. She and Sookie hug as Eric watches on. Jason goes "Jesus Christ, that was intense."