Thursday, April 17, 2014

God is in the Movies Blogathon

Andrew (Or Fisti) over at A Fistful of Films is hosting a very interesting blogathon. Here's what he has to say:

The basic idea behind this blogathon came from the recent swell of biblical inspired films.  I mean, at first we heard of Noah, and then Exodus…but then out of nowhere came Man of God and it became clear that 2014 was the year to bring back the biblical epic.  Biblical films were at one time pretty popular, but they’ve all but faded from mainstream cinema, and while faith based films come and go, unless you’re an avid fan of Kirk Cameron’s style of BEAT ME OVER THE HEAD WITH YOUR BELIEFS cinema, you probably don’t watch many of those kinds of films anymore.

So my question is this; how do you like God in your movies?

The concept is simple.  I want you to rack your brains for the film that, to you, defines how the bible (and all of its facets) should be presented in film.  Do you like your scripture presented in a grand, sweeping epic like 1956’s The Ten Commandments?  Do you like your scriptures tampered with, as in Scorsese’s polarizing The Last Temptation of Christ?  Do you want to see an artistic approach to God’s book, like with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat?  Or, do you prefer your faith handled in a more provocative and less direct way, as in the many works by Ingmar Bergman?

·         Pick a movie (or style) 
·         Write a post explaining WHY it is your preferred dip into the Bible 
·         Link this post (and use my heavenly header) 
·         Leave your link in the comment section

When I saw his post last month, I was stumped. I've never really thought about how I liked God in my movies. Religion has always been a very private thing to me. I identify as a Christian, but I've always kept my religious beliefs somewhat to myself.  I still don't know how to answer the main question, but it did bring back an interesting memory for me, and when I told Andrew about it, he said it would count as part of his blogathon. 

I'm going to talk about the most obvious religious movie out there, The Passion of the Christ. This came out in theaters while I was still in high school and actually working at a movie theater at the time. I have never quite seen a reaction to a film much like I have to this one.

To start, it sold out like mad. We weren't prepared for it. We had all these wacky show times for church groups that went. We actually ran out of concessions except for Sprite and Snow Caps (seriously, what the fuck are people doing eating during this movie?) But the reaction to the violence in this film was something else. People literally were running out of the theaters screaming, gagging, or both. I had never seen something like this.

We got to the point where we would actually be holding the theater doors open for these people that couldn't take it anymore and had to excuse themselves, and every single person always left crying. What is it about religion that has people act like this?

POTC was gory, but it's not the goriest thing I've ever seen. I never see people running out of horror movies, or war movies. My friend and I pondered this after we watched the film. I remember saying "Well, that really happened. That's why it's so hard to watch." but when I think back on it, why was I more disturbed after watching POTC than I was after watching Schindler's List or Saving Private Ryan or Roots? Those things really happened too. Why did this seem to hit harder? It's not like I can relate to one more than the other. They're all about awful things that shouldn't have happened. Is it because I feel like I have a strong relationship with Christ? Is that why more people can't handle the gore of POTC but just scrunch up their faces when they watch something like Evil Dead?

I still don't know the answer. What do you think?

*Thanks for hosting, Andrew!!*

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blind Spot Series: Vertigo

What I knew going in: I recognized the man falling into the spiral image. Seriously. 

What's kind of nice about most of the films on my Blind Spot list is that I haven't bothered to read the plot lines of some of them. I chose them all out of hear say. So when I got Vertigo in the mail and saw it's PG rating, that was a surprise. I didn't know what I was getting into.

When we first meet Scottie, (James Stewart) a detective, he's running across the roof tops chasing a criminal with his partner. He slips and nearly falls off a building, he looks down, and vertigo hits. Turns out Scottie is petrified of heights. it doesn't help that the other police officer trying to save him falls to his death while doing it. When we see Scottie again, it's been some time since this highly publicized incident. He's retired now, and approached by an old college friend, Gavin Elster (Tom Helmore) who wants him to tail his wife. (Kim Novak)

Vertigo is quite fascinating, it's also kind of a mind fuck. When the credits hit, I nearly restarted the film just to make sure I processed everything correctly. I didn't though, I just gave it a bit of time to settle in. The film doesn't age particularly well. The effects are kind of awful, but it's one of those things you just have to dismiss. I really enjoyed the story Hitchcock told here. It was very complex. James Stewart was also a high light for me. I was surprised to find a lot of negative things said about him on the net about his performance in this film. I thought he was great.

This is one of two Hitchcock films on my Blind Spot list, the next being North by Northwest.  Venturing away from his horror movies is off to a good start.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "It's a brassiere!" - Midge (Barbara Bel Gaddes)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Rambling TV: Game of Thrones recap

I think The Lion and the Rose might be the funniest episode of Game of Thrones so far. So many great facial expressions here. A bad head cold ruined my master plan of getting drunk while watching this, but of course this show is solid and I still managed to enjoy myself, mountain of tissues and all. Also if you click the gifs used in this post, they should redirect you to the lovely Tumblr artists they are from.

We start off with the PG-13 version of Ramsay's hunting activities. (Thank God) I still think it's kind of stupid that Ramsay has a crazy chick helping him. I don't imagine her living quite long to be honest. 

Tyrion and Jaime have a little heart to heart. Tyrion drops an awesome line: "Cersei can't get enough boar since one killed Robert." Jaime confesses to Tyrion he can't fight left handed, so Tyrion lends him someone to practice with...

Bronn. In the books, Jaime sparred with Ser Illyn because he had no tongue, therefore he couldn't talk. Since the actor that played him was diagnosed with terminal cancer, I'm assuming this is why they made the switch. I'm okay with it. Sure, it makes less sense, but there's no such thing as "too much Bronn."

Ramsay meets Roose and his new wife, Walda at the Dreadfort. Did Ramsay seriously call her "mother?" Did I hear that right? Roose meets Theon and gets a little pissy with Ramsay for torturing him, as he wanted to trade him for Moat Cailin. Ramsay proves Reek's loyalty by letting him shave him while he tells him that Robb Stark is dead. Alfie Allen was great here. He also drops the bomb that Bran and Rickon are still alive. Roose sends Locke after the boys, and tells Ramsay to take Theon to Moat Cailin. Then he'll "reconsider his position" in the family. Honestly, I liked this scene, but I don't care for Ramsay having THAT much pull over Roose. In the books, it's rather clear that Roose is the brains behind everything. I kind of think book Roose would've bitch slapped Ramsay here.

Varys tells Tyrion that Cersei found out about Shae.

During Joffrey's gift giving ceremony, Cersei points Shae out to Tywin. (I'm actually surprised they are putting THIS much stock into this) Joffrey makes an awful joke about swinging his new sword and it being like chopping off Ned Stark's head every time. Sansa is getting real tired of Joffrey's shit.

Tyrion breaks up with Shae. Shae The Funny Whore still needs acting lessons. 

We finally catch up with Team Dragonstone as they casually burn people alive. Davos has taken a page from Sansa's book and is 100% done with this shit. Stannis looks that way too, but he's not going to fucking say it. Selyse is still kind of bat shit. "I hate many things, but I suffer them all the same." Stannis says to her during dinner. Obviously, we couldn't tell by that look on your face, Stannis. I did love how defensive he got over Shireen when Selyse threatened to beat her. That made me happy.

Melisandre and Shireen have a little chit chat where Shireen, taking a page from Sansa and Davos' book tells Melisandra that she is also 100% done with this shit.

We check in with Bran and company now. They're still in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. I can't believe the kid that plays Jojen is 23. Anyways, Bran has his greenseeing visions when he touches the heart tree, and just like that, I am proved wrong when I thought that scene of the dragon flying over King's Landing was just for promotional purposes.

Wedding Time! We're going to do this rapid fire style.

 You know one thing that kind of drives me nuts, when Joff and Margaery are being married off, it's "Joffrey of the Houses Baratheon and Lannister" If there were wide-spread rumors of your kid being a product of incest, wouldn't you want to step as far away from that as possible? I would be like ALL BARATHEON ALL THE TIME. No House Lannister, no lions, no red. Nothing. Why draw attention to it?

Tywin and Olenna are chatting. NOT NOW, MACE!!

Of course Oberyn and Ellaria are checking everyone out

Olenna gets up close and personal with Sansa's necklace.

Cersei gives Margaery the funniest passive/aggressive bitch look of all time.

Loras and Jaime get in a shade throwing contest.

Cersei and Brienne speak. For a second, I actually think Cersei is being genuine in her thanks. Then she hears about this business of Jaime saving Brienne. Cersei calls Brienne out on loving Jaime, and I think this might be the first time Brienne has even considered it. Jaime looks confused in the distance.  

Cersei tells Grand Maester Pycelle to go fuck himself.

Oberyn and Ellaria chat with Tywin and Cersei, and he reminds Cersei about 100 times that she is the FORMER queen regent. I never thought the word "former" would ever end up being so hysterical.

In the books, Joffrey has a bunch of dwarfs in a jousting match. Here, he has them reenact the war of the 5 kings, complete with Renly's ass hanging out, and another dwarf taking a page from Marty Hart's book and "skull fucking" Robb's head. Sansa is STILL 100% done with this shit.

And so is Margaery 

And Oberyn

And Varys

And Olenna

Joffrey decides he's going to humiliate Tyrion. Tyrion of course, gives him a smart ass remake, but Joffrey is intent on making it worse. Margaery breaks the ice by shouting "Oh look, the pie!" trying to distract everyone else.

Joffrey cuts the pie with his sword, killing some innocent doves, of course, and demands Tyrion be his cup bearer. He drinks some wine that Tyrion pours, and immediately starts choking.

He collapses, Jaime ridiculously runs towards him. Cersei literally shoves Margaery aside to get to him, the shoves Jaime off of him as well. Joffrey points to Tyrion, accusing him. Because you know, the guy was making fun of you 5 minutes ago and miraculously managed to smuggle poison in front of everyone in those 5 minutes.

Ser Dontos approaches Sansa during all of this and tells her if she wants to live, she needs to leave. Now. 

Joffrey dies, Cersei demands for Tyrion's arrest. The look on her face could kill.

I watched other things on TV this week, but Game of Thrones is kind of just consuming all my thoughts right now.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The 10 Most Iconic Movie Characters (Relay)

The always wonderful Josh over at The Cinematic Spectacle was kind enough to pass me this baton. This relay originates from the also wonderful Nostra from My FilmViews

The Rules:
"A list of 10 iconic movie characters has been made. That list will be assigned to another blogger who can then change it by removing one character (describing why they think it should not be on the list) and replace it with another one (also with motivation) and hand over the baton to another blogger. Once assigned that blogger will have to put his/her post up within a week. If this is not the case the blogger who assigned it has to reassign it to another blogger. After you have posted your update leave the link in the comments here and I will make sure it gets added to the overview post."

This was harder than I thought it would be. I thought about characters like Harry Potter or Gollum, but they were iconic from books before they were on film. I toyed with the idea of reinstating Samuel L. Jackson's Jules. I'd love to throw another horror icon in there, but Josh just did that. So I settled with something currently missing from the list: Animation.

Who Stays

Rocky Balboa

James Bond


Indiana Jones

Mary Poppins

Ellen Ripley

Darth Vader

Dorothy Gale

Michael Myers

Who I'm removing:

The Tramp

When I look at all of the people on this list, I think of their character first, not the actor. Accept for The Tramp. I just see Charlie Chaplin, so for that reason I have to chop you.

Who I'm Adding:

Buzz Lightyear

My first thought was to list Roger Rabbit, as that is an animated character that is identifiable even by people who haven't actually seen the film. Then I thought about Buzz. Buzz falls into that category too, and not only that, he's iconic to many generations. The Toy Story movies spanned long enough to where they each captured a different generation (and their parents) Buzz Lightyear will probably still be marketable for a long time. I feel like he's always going to be a character we remember. Then there's the added fact that the internet has meme'd him.

I'm passing the baton on to someone I know will add someone intriguing, Candice over at Reel Talk!

Here is everyone that has participated so far:

Nostra from My FilmViews
Ruth from Flixchatter
Andrew from A Fistful of Films
Sati from Cinematic Corner
Alex from And So It Begins
Brittani from Rambling Film

Friday, April 11, 2014

Indie Gems: Mr. Nobody

Do you remember?

It's the year 2092. Nemo Nobody (Jared Leto) is the last living mortal. At 118, he's become somewhat of a celebrity - Truman show style. He tries to answer questions about his life to a reporter, but instead, we're given several different outcomes of how Nemo's life was/could've been.

Now that Dallas Buyers Club reminded us that Jared Leto could act again, it's nice to look back on something he did awhile ago. Leto gives a great performance, as does Juno Temple, another favorite of mine. 

Movies with a dreamy narrative like this can get risky. They might not make sense to some, come off as pretentious to others, but this one is neither of those things. It's beautifully crafted and easy to follow. Then there's the score/music selection. It's wonderful. I'm actually letting the DVD menu roll as I write this because I just love listening to it that much.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "We are NOT brother and sister." - Anna - age 15 (Juno Temple)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

DVD Review: Nebraska

I hear Nebraska's nice..

Woody (Bruce Dern) is an elderly man from Billings, MT who received a letter in the mail saying he won $1,000,000. It's an obvious scam, as his son David (Will Forte) points out. But Woody is determined to go to Nebraska to claim his price. After several attempts of walking there himself, David finally agrees to drive him, much to the disdain of his mother, Kate. (June Squibb)

Despite enjoying Alexander Payne's work, Nebraska wasn't something that caught my interest early on, but I'm happy to say that it was a very enjoyable film. I normally don't care for modern black and white movies. Yes, there are a few gems here and there, but when budget allows you to shoot in color and you shoot in black and white, you risk coming off as a hipster for lack of a better word. I think the reason it worked so well for me was because I'm from the Mid West. I'm used to seeing the rolling flat plains, they're boring as hell, but Payne shooting in black and white actually made them look more beautiful. I didn't think that was possible.

Dern and Squibb both got Oscar nominations for their roles, they were definitely deserved. Squibb makes the most of her small amount of screen time while Dern carries the film. I remember reading an interview with Will Forte where he said he felt out of his league acting along side the likes of Dern and Squibb. There was honestly only one scene towards the end where I think he looked overwhelmed. Otherwise, I thought Forte was a nice addition. It's great to see him do something a little more serious. Plus, this movie includes Stacey Keach getting punched in the face, and that NEVER gets old.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I just wanted to leave you boys something." - Woody (Bruce Dern)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Who can we trust? Nobody? Got it.

The Cap is back. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans and his impressive torso) is still trying to fit in the modern world. He makes friends with a fellow vet, Sam (gorgeous Anthony Mackie) he dodges relationship questions from his co worker, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, with a distracting wig) oh, and S.H.I.E.L.D has become compromised from the inside. Now on top of not knowing who to trust, he has to deal with a new threat in the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) who is actually Rogers' old pal Bucky Barnes.

There's a lot of great things in CA2. First, we finally get a scene with Rogers and Peggy together again, and it's just as sweet as I always imagined. We get to see Nick Fury REALLY kick some ass. We get to see PG-13 violence stretched to it's limit. (Seriously, I was kind of surprised) and of course we get some pretty damn cool action scenes. Sure, this film ends up suffering from "where the fuck are the other avengers" syndrome, but that's something we're going to have to accept. 

The plot may seem like a lot to take in at times, and if I still watched Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, I'd be really interested in how the events of this film are going to affect that show. The real treat for me was actually the first scene after the credits, as it sets up Avengers: Age of Ultron nicely. (The last scene after the credits really isn't anything special. Maybe I'm just a jerk) It's hard not to get excited over a Marvel movie.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "They don't exactly put the numbers on the outside.." - Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)