Thursday Movie Picks: Legends/Mythology

Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend

Not really, but this week at Wandering Through the Shelves we're talking about legends/mythology. There's plenty of legends in film, but this topic stumped me a bit. I wanted to be creative but I couldn't stick it. I'm sure I'm going to be kicking myself over and over as I read everyone else's posts.

1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Luke Skywalker? I thought he was a myth." I loved how Rey and Finn talked about our original heroes like the legends they are. 

2) Troy

I love this movie, I know it's shit on all the time but Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom are so hot in it. All those oily bodies.... Oh that's right, we're talking legends. Achilles is a legendary fighter that can't help being so damn gorgeous.

3) The Sword in the Stone

The legend of King Arthur starts here. I feel like this is a Disney film that's forgotten but I always liked it. 

Review: Hereditary

All in the family.

After Annie's (Toni Collette) mother passes away. Strange things begin to happen to her family, particularly with her children, Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie. (Milly Shapiro)

It's hard to escape the "scariest film of all time!" hype there is out there right now. While nothing will ever take that title away from The Exorcist for me personally, let's be real; Hereditary is seriously fucked up.

A24 got tricky with their trailers again. Without giving away spoilers something I expected to be a huge plot point in the film wasn't at all, and it was better for it. Hereditary doesn't rely on jump scares like it could have. Instead it's just plain unsettling all around. It plays with shadows and sound. 

If I had one complaint, it's the film's pacing, which was incredibly slow at times. I'm a patient person but I was getting to the point where I felt like we were taking a beat too long to get from point A to point B. And it wasn't just to build tension, I think it almost took away from some of it because it was going on so long. There are also a few illogical decisions that are forced in for plot purposes, but this is a horror movie. We're all used to that by now. 

Toni Collette is wonderful in this, and I hope all the talk about A24 getting behind her for an Oscar campaign is true because she'd deserve it. The biggest surprise for me was Alex Wolff. I tend to get him confused with his brother Nat, which is unfortunate because Alex is the one with the talent and he really shows it here. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "You tried to kill me." - Peter (Alex Wolff)

Thursday Movie Picks: Speech/Soliloquy/Monologue

I was going to come up with some witty, drawn out speech to fit the theme, but it wouldn't really fit my rambling theme here now, would it? This week's theme at Wandering Through the Shelves we're talking about films with a famous monologues. Here are the first three that came to mind.

1) Call Me By Your Name

Of course I'm kicking things off with this recent Oscar nominee. Michael Stuhlbarg's monologue at the end of the film when he's trying to ease his son's broken heart was beautiful. He's a parent that is so understanding he's making the rest of us question ourselves. 

2) Doubt

Doubt is a movie I haven't thought about in a while, so it surprised me a bit when it came to mind so quickly. Viola Davis is in this movie for about 10 minutes total, but her plea to Meryl Streep over her son is extraordinary. This film has plenty of memorable speeches. On top of Viola's, there's Meryl's final "I have doubts" words that stay with you even after you leave. 

3) Pulp Fiction

A speech so famous that it's responsible for nearly everyone misquoting the Bible. I'm talking about Jules of course. English motherfucker, do you speak it?

Indie Gems: In The Fade

Justice

Look at this! Another Indie Gem. Because my ass is too lazy to go see something new at the theater and instead went and saw Infinity War for the third time. 

Katja's (Diane Kruger) husband and young son are killed in a bombing. When the neo-nazi's responsible are put on trial, it ends up not being as simple as she expected.

Germany's submission to last year's Academy Awards didn't disappoint. I'm still making my way through last year's foreign releases. The Insult is up next. I wasn't sure about this going in because of my feelings towards Diane Kruger but she was excellent in this role. I believed her grief and her self medicating. Another actor that really stood out was Denis Moschitto, who played Katja's lawyer Danilo. He was a lovely addition and I hope to see more of this actor.

The way this film is shot is interesting. It's told in three different acts, and each act looks different. It starts gritty, then becomes more polished when they enter the courtroom scenes. The final act almost has an ethereal look about it. The middle act was my favorite as I end to enjoy those type of films. Even though I wanted to punch the defense attorney in the face.

In The Fade clocks in at 1 hour 46 minutes but feels much shorter. The pacing is very to the point, but doesn't move too fast where we don't get the chance to examine how Katja feels.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Fuck off" - Katja (Diane Kruger)


Indie Gems: Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Just love.

This might not be the least heard gem I've done in a while. It was nominated for a few BAFTAs. But the release this film got in the states was pathetic. This should've been an Oscar contender. More on that in a bit.

Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) is a struggling actor when he meets former screen legend Gloria Grahame. (Annette Bening) despite their age difference, they form a relationship that lasts several years and comes to a close as Gloria seeks out Peter again while dealing with a terminal illness.

Bening and Bell are both so good in this film that it's an absolute joke that they were robbed of Oscar nominations. They had amazing chemistry and I loved their scenes together. I almost wish this movie was three hours long so I could continue to see them together. I haven't read the source material, nor am I even that familiar with Grahame as an actress, but now I want to be.

While it's Bening and Bell's show, the supporting cast works nicely as well. Especially Julie Walters as Peter's mother. The film also makes great use out of it's small budget. You can tell a few scenery shots are up against a green screen but they don't look awful and it's the acting and the way this film deals with aging that makes it stand out. 

I wish this film had been a bigger hit over here. I wish I had seen it last year as well because it would've easily made my top 10 list. 

Grade: A+

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "How do I look?" - Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening)

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: The Entertainment Business

It's another TV week from Wandering Through the Shelves. This week we're talking about the entertainment business. This one was a bit tough for me. (Seriously, I almost chose Hannah Montana) but I managed to find three shows that I enjoyed.

1) Feud: Bette and Joan

This was such a fantastic mini series. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford were already larger than life and Susan Sarandon and Jessica Lange were the perfect powerhouses to play them.

2) American Dreams

This show wasn't on very long, but it was about American Bandstand and they frequently had singers like Kelly Clarkson guest star in roles. Most of those performances can be found on Youtube.

3) 30 Rock 

I didn't watch all of 30 Rock, this is one of those shows that I would sit down and watch if it was on, but never followed it all the way through. Even so, every episode I saw was hilarious. 

Review: Solo: A Star Wars Story

Never tell me the odds.

Because he became the smuggler/war general we all know and love, Han (Alden Ehrenreich) was just another scrapper trying to get off of a nowhere planet with his girl, Qi'ra. (Emila Clarke) He meets Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson) and joins him and his team on a mission that changes everything.

Despite Han Solo being one of my favorite Star Wars characters, I can't say I was hoping for an origin story for him. I love Harrison Ford as Han and seeing someone else fill his shoes was never high on my priority list. After watching this film, fun as it is. It's easily the most mediocre of the new batch of Star Wars films.

The thing I loved the most about this movie ended up being Chewbacca. After seeing the previews, Lando stood out to me. I was interested in seeing Donald Glover's take the character but he still came in second to Chewy. I knew I was supposed to feel some type of way about Han stepping foot in the Falcon for the first time, but Ehrenreich wasn't selling me. The minute Chewy got in the copilot seat though? I felt that.  For the most part I really enjoyed the script. Especially the dialogue, everything Han and Lando said felt like something we would've heard the original counterparts say, and I appreciated that. Even if they threw in a pun or two at our expense. ("I hate you/I know")

Where the film didn't work for me was the rest of the characters. Ehrenreich didn't sell me as Han. He came off as someone who was concentrating really hard on doing a Han impression. At times it's like he was trying to scrunch up his face to make it stick, and he left me incredibly underwhelmed. On top of that, he had no chemistry with Clarke and their romance felt so empty. The new characters also didn't resonate with me the way Rogue One's did. The one that did was killed off after about 15 minutes of screen time. The ending of this film teases a sequel and I cannot imagine spending any more time with these newbies again. 

That said, the good outweighs the bad here, but it's still nothing spectacular. Especially following something as rewarding as The Last Jedi. I had fun, but I can't see myself purchasing this like I have the other Star Wars films, or even wanting to watch it again in the near future. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I don't think you know her well enough." - Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson)