Mount Rushmore of Movies vol 2

If you're not familiar with m.brown's blog, Two Dollar Cinema you need to be, because whether you know it or not, something is missing from your life. 

He's brought back his Mr. Rushmore of movies blogathon, which I'm thankful he still talks to me after I submitted this last time around.

The rules are simple:

1) I'd like to have all posts done by Friday, March 3rd (where I'll create a master list, linking back to all of your, er, both of your sites), but it's cool if you finish way before that. Or later. I'll update as they come in.
2) Send me a heads up on twitter @twodollarcinema , reply in the comments below, text me, e-mail me (, smoke signals, Bat-signals, non-verbal cues, Beastmaster handshakes - whatever! when you've finished, okay? Cool.
3) In your post, please use the rad banner my wife designed after forcing me to do the Truffle Shuffle. Okay, she would never do that...but still. 
4) Share the announcement with the good people you know. Hell, the bad ones, too. Anyone can (and should) participate.

5) Be awesome. 

I'll admit, I had something very, very juvenile in mind at first. But I'm short on time this week, so while I really wanted to poorly photoshop my favorite movie butt scenes onto Mount Rushmore, I had to go the serious route instead. Since the beautiful La La Land is still all the buzz, I thought I would point out some other great "modern musicals" that are out there that didn't get anywhere near the attention La La Land did. So I bring you:

 "The Mount Rushmore of "Modern" Musicals That Are Not La La Land" 

1) God Help The Girl
This adorable little musical is about a girl who is in a mental hospital who writes songs as a way of coping, and meets two other muscians along the way At first glance, the costumes might scream 60's at you, but it was shot in present day. (in this case, 2014)

2) The Last Five Years
While popular on Broadway, the film itself didn't get a wide release. It's about a five year relationship between a couple. When we meet Cathy, we see her at the end of it. Jaime starts at the beginning, they eventually meet in the middle.

3) Camp
Yes, another Anna Kendrick movie, but she makes good musicals. This little scene indie is about a theater camp for young performers. It features just about every theatre stereotype there is but it's an amusing film.

4) Sing Street
Okay so this film was set in 1985, but you know what? Modern enough. I'm still annoyed this it didn't get a Best Original Song Oscar nomination this year. It's about a boy who starts a band at his new school to win over a girl, and it's a touching little film. 

Thanks for hosting, m.brown!

Review: 20th Century Women

It takes a village...somewhat.

In the 1970's, a single mom, Dorthea (Annette Bening) owns a boarding house with her teenage son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) and two other tenants. When she feels she isn't reaching him, she enlists the help of one of her tenants, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and her son's friend, Julie (Elle Fanning) to help "raise" him with her. 

I really love the way this story was told. We get to hear each of the main character's inner monologue some point and developed well. It's much more than just the struggle between Dorthea and Jamie, the film makes sure everyone gets their say. We see Abbie deal with recovering from cervical cancer, to Julie essentially using Jamie as her quasi-therapist at times. Jamie is probably the most interesting teenage boy I've seen in a movie in a long time. You don't often see teenagers questioning their parents unhappiness, or picking up feminist literature. Jamie is truly one of a kind.

The acting in this movie is astounding, particularly Bening, who was robbed of an Oscar nomination. Her face alone when her son tells her he got in a fist fight over "clitoral stimulation" should've earned her one. Zumann is also very strong and I'm always here for Gerwig playing un-Gerwig type characters.

While the pacing can be off here and there, the story and the acting elevate this to one of the most original films I've seen in a long time.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Pretty music is used to hide how unfair and corrupt society is." - Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann)

2017 Academy Award Winners

Holy fucking shit. That's about the most articulate thing I can say at this point. The Best Picture envelope fiasco quite literally sobered by ass up. I was a bottle of wine in. I'm actually really mad for a number of reasons. 1) That Moonlight didn't get to properly enjoy its Best Picture win, and it will forever be remembered by this fuck up. 2) That the La La Land team actually got through their entire speeches before someone stopped them and 3) Why didn't they question that envelope more? 

Anyways, aside from that colossal fuck up. Kimmel was an excellent host. I love his ongoing "feud" with Matt Damon and how it made it into several parts of the broadcast "Ben Affleck and Guest" I went 15/25 with my picks (would've been 16/25 with the first movie they called Best Picture) Below are the winners + my thoughts. 

Best Picture
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester By The Sea
I got my wish and didn't even get to enjoy properly. Even worse, the actual WINNERS didn't get to enjoy it properly. 

Best Actor
Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling - La La Land
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington - Fences
I really thought Denzel was going to be an upset. I'm disappointed they went with Affleck. He was good, but he wasn't Denzel. Brie Larson's face after she read the name said it all.

Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Ruth Negga - Loving
Natalie Portman - Jackie
Emma Stone  - La La Land
Meryl Streep  - Florence Foster Jenkins
*sighs* I'm sorry, Natalie Portman. I love Emma Stone, and I loved her speech, but *sigh*

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Jeff Bridges  -Hell Or High Water
Lucas Hedges  -Manchester By The Sea
Dev Patel - Lion
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals
Another gracious speech from the wonderful Ali. Great win.

Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis - Fences
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Nicole Kidman - Lion
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea
This wasn't going to anyone else. So happy for her. 

Best Director
Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Chazelle goes down in history as being the youngest person to win Best Director at age 32. All things aside, that's pretty cool.

Best Cinematography
La La Land
I really wanted Moonlight to win this, but I can't be too upset. All 5 of these nominees looked great.

Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
OJ: Made in America
OJ: Made in America also goes down in history as the first mini series to ever win an Oscar. 

Best Documentary Short Subject
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann
I should've picked The Salesman. I had Toni as my win. 

Best Sound Editing
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Soooooo happy about this one!

Best Film Editing
Hacksaw Ridge 
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
This surprised me. While I didn't like Hacksaw, it was edited very well. But I thought for sure La La Land would win here. 

Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Best Costume Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
La La Land
I thought La La Land was taking it too, but Fantastic Beasts surprised. I can't argue with that. 

Best Makeup and Hair Styling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
And do think "Academy Award Winner Suicide Squad" didn't end up being the most fucked up thing we heard tonight. 

Best Sound Mixing
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Best Original Score
La La Land 

Best Original Song
“Audition” - La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” - Trolls
“City of Stars” - La La Land
“The Empty Chair” - Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” - Moana
This was so predictable. I wanted How Far I'll Go to win. Poor Lin-Manuel Miranda was cock blocked for his EGOT. But if they were going to give it to La La Land, it should've went to Audition. That was the better song. 

Best Adapted Screenplay
Hidden Figures

Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
The Lobster 
Manchester By the Sea 
20th Century Women 
I thought La La Land was taking this too. I didn't like Manchester, I was rooting for the Lobster, but from what I hear Manchester had an amazing screenplay. Maybe it didn't translate well. 

Best Production Design
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 
Hail Caesar
La La Land 
I'm happy La La Land won this. Amazing production. 

Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes


Indie Gems: Train to Busan

All aboard.

Do you know what movie I shouldn't have to file under "Indie Gems?" This one. This film at its height was opened in 36 theaters total across the U.S. From what I could find, it was a big hit in its native South Korea and other Asian countries but it didn't find its footing here. A film like this should've been given a wide release. People need to get over their fear of subtitles.

/end rant

Anywho, Train to Busan follows a very preoccupied father, Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) whose  daughter, Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) begs him to take her to see her mother in Busan for her birthday. He's a workaholic, but after being guilt tripped a bit he plans to take the train there quickly and come back. A sick passenger also boards the train, and when they die, they turn into zombies. Suddenly the mass outbreak that is now affecting the other cities is effecting the moving train, and Seok Woo, Soo-an, and a group of other passengers must fight their way through.

The thing about most zombie movies is at the end of it, I really don't care that much about the characters. Sure, you root for them along the way, but most of the time I feel like I watch for gore. Train to Busan is different. I felt for these characters, I nearly cried when I lost some of them. The tension built in some scenes was incredible. It had the perfect blend of creepy, loving, intense, and subtly amusing. 

Acting wise, my favorite performances were Dong-seok Ma and Yu-mi Jung who play a couple expecting a child. They were wonderful and truthfully exactly the kind of people I would want to be around if this ever happened. 

Grade: A

Memorable quote: "Hurry up, asshole!" - Sang Hwa (Dong-seok Ma)

Thursday Movie Picks: Superheroes - TV Edition

We have another TV Edition from Wandering Through the Shelves. This week we're talking about Superheroes. I decided to go with one show I enjoy now, and two I loved when I was a kid.

1) Daredevil

I was never a huge fan of Daredevil, especially after that disastrous Ben Affleck movie, but add a wonderful actor in Charlie Cox and Netflix's vision and this has easily become my favorite of all the Marvel TV efforts.  

2) Batman: The Animated Series

I loved watching this on Saturday mornings as a kid. Until Nolan got his hands on Batman, this was my favorite way to watch him. 

3) The X-Men

Another one I loved when I was a kid. I miss liking all things X-Men. I haven't enjoyed anything since X2. 

LAMB devours the Oscars - Supporting Actress

I case you missed it, this piece was originally published over at LAMB for "LAMB devours the Oscars."

In 2014, I got to talk about the supporting actors for LAMB Devours The Oscars. This time around, I've got the actresses. Though there's a clear winner in this category, it's full of strong performances. I'm going to talk briefly about some of the things I adored from each one of these talented ladies.

Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures

At first, Octavia over her co-star Janelle MonĂ¡e bothered me slightly. It just felt too "safe." In retrospect, it makes sense. Octavia's Dorothy Vaughan is one to take charge. She organizes and holds everything together. Her hard work, like Spencer's pays off. It's easy to rally behind her. Spencer plays Dorothy very calmly, even though you know she has so much more to say. She keeps it professional. In a powerful moment when Kirsten Dunst's character attempts to justify her stance on racism, Dorothy's short reply, "I know you probably believe that" speaks volumes. 

Nicole Kidman - Lion

The minute Nicole Kidman's Sue walks on screen, I immediately just wanted to hug her. She radiates warmth. Sue is an unbelievably strong woman. She loves her adopted sons so much, and when Saroo explains he's been looking for his birth mother, she responds with "She needs to see how beautiful you are." Kidman's performance is extraordinary. She only gets a short amount of time on screen, but she makes every minute of it worth it. 

Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

If you've read my blog, you know I'm one of the few who isn't a fan of this film. Michelle Williams for me is the only one that breathed some life into it. This is a cold film, I wasn't connecting with any of the characters on screen, then Randi showed up. Only sporadically at first, but it's her final scene that made me feel something. She brought me to tears when she apologized to Lee about everything that happened after their own personal tragedy. Then as soon as she left, all that emotion left with her. She was the strongest part of the film. 

Naomie Harris - Moonlight

Moonlight was a film I never wanted to end. When we first meet Paula in her work clothes, you don't sense that she has drug problems. Watching her spiral out of control and verbally abuse her son, Chiron is heartbreaking. Of all the nominated performances, Paula is the only character I hated. It's unfair, addiction is a disease, but it's impossibly not to care about Chiron so much. To think that Harris shot her entire part in three days in the middle of a press tour, and that she conjured those types of emotions is nothing short of amazing. 

Viola Davis - Fences

And then there's our winner. (Seriously, no one else is going to take this) Okay, technically it's category fraud. But it's not as glaring as Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara last year so I'm willing to excuse it. (just like I do for Dev Patel in Lion too, by the way) Viola is an absolute powerhouse in this film. Rose is everything. She's loving, she's the caretaker, the mediator, and often the biggest voice of reason. This family would not function without Rose and she makes that known. I can't help but be in awe with what Viola does here. 

Which actress gave your favorite performance? 

Review: A Cure For Wellness

The creepy resort where no one ever returns is totally safe.

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is an ambitious executive for a powerful company in New York. Once the big wigs get word of a hit of a scheme he pulled, he's sent off to Switzerland to retrieve his colleague who went to a wellness center and has no intention of returning after sending an ominous letter. When he gets there and meets with Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) he starts to realize that what's packaged as a luxurious spa is far more than it seems. 

I feel like the filmmakers took what was actually an interesting concept and said "Make it look like Shutter Island!" It's impossible not to see the comparisons between the two. It almost seems like DeHaan was cast simply because at certain angles he looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. It's not a quick shot here or there either. Since A Cure For Wellness moves at an absolute snails pace, you're forced to contemplate the similarities more and more.

The Spa's secret ends up being a bit of a convoluted mess. Lockhart also meets a mysterious girl, Hannah (Mia Goth) who's entire arc is built up to a creepy sexual assault scene that made me think my eyes were never going to return from the back of my head. Even without them trying to be like a superior movie, it feels all the good ideas they had were wasted on the faulty structure. 

I really like DeHaan and he's the reason I went to see this, and while he gives a good performance, I can't shake the fact that he was probably cast for his looks. Jason Isaacs does the exact same thing he did in The OA earlier this year, so it's more of the same. Mia Goth is intriguing, but her role is essentially that of a mysterious object.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I'm a special case." - Hannah (Mia Goth)