Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Review: Cake

This isn't going to be easy.

Claire Bennett (Jennifer Aniston, not the cheerleader from Heroes) suffers from chronic pain. She's pretty much closed off from everyone besides her maid, Silvana. (Adriana Barraza) In the wake of one of the members of her support group, Nina's (Anna Kendrick) suicide. She gets herself kicked out for being, to put it lightly, a total bitch. She then begins to hallucinate Nina and finds herself drawn to her life. This includes dropping in on Nina's widower, Roy. (Sam Worthington) 

Cake is a very interesting film that's handled poorly. I have to admit, I've been intrigued about this film for awhile, simply because Anna Kendrick talked about it so much on her Twitter account while she was filming it. It's too bad it didn't have more Nina in it. Jennifer Aniston delivers the best performance of her career for sure, but it's only because we're used to seeing her in romantic comedies. That's why it seems to good. I did think she really nailed the movements of someone that experiences chronic pain though, I found that to be very authentic. 

As for the plot, it's very muddled and drags for a film with a relatively short run time. They really hammer in the fact that Claire is hurting, but they spend so much time on that there's little to develop elsewhere. The supporting cast doesn't really get fleshed out, which is a shame because Barraza really shines. The film adds stupid subplots that they could've axed in favor of some actual development. Seriously, Britt Robertson's character is frustrating and pointless and there were 1000 other ways they could've handled the part of the story she "contributes" to.

I was hoping Cake would be an enjoyable little indie, but it completely lost its way.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Your last thoughts are important. They're all you get to take with you." - Nina (Anna Kendrick)

Monday, January 26, 2015

DVD Review: Boyhood

The film 12 years in the making.

We all know what makes Boyhood special. Director Richard Linklater shot this film for a few weeks each summer for over 12 years, using the same actors. So we get to see them grow on screen. That's also where the special runs out.

The story follows Mason (Ellar Coltrane) who starts off the film when he's around 6 or 7. It's about his life with his single mother, (Patricia Arquette) his annoying older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, nepotism at it's finest because she's nearly unbearable to watch) and their father (Ethan Hawke) who comes in and out of their lives.

Other than the fact that Boyhood was filmed over 12 years, this film is generic. Nothing stands out. The 3 hour movie drags along while people go in and out of their lives without a mention of them later on. Which is true, sometimes that's life, but there's a specific set of people they encounter, then leave who I find it a little funny were never brought up again. The acting borders from "okay" to "terrible." I'm not really sure where all the Oscar buzz is coming from this movie. The gimmick is interesting, but the performances are mediocre, the direction feels uneven, and the editing made me feel like I was watching a slide show at times.  

I wanted to like this movie so badly. It was hyped, and hyped, and I read so many beautiful reviews from people who loved it, to say I'm disappointed is a massive understatement. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "What we're watching here is history." - Dad (Ethan Hawke)

*Blogger's note: I wrote this review back on January 4th, and even though I find myself disliking this film more and more by the day, I'm leaving my original grade. In retrospect, C- is very generous. I think it must have been the nostalgia factor for them lining up to get the newest Harry Potter book.*

Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 Screen Actors Guild Winners + my thoughts



Here are the 2015 SAG winners. I did better with these predictions then I did my Globe ones, that's for sure. SAG is a quieter show, so it wasn't overly exciting, but there were a few surprises. The winners are in blue. My thoughts follow in green.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
I did not see Redmayne beating Keaton here. I'm not upset though. Generally, I prefer Redmayne as an actor and even though Birdman was my favorite movie of the year, Redmayne was great in Theory as well. I would've been happy with any of these gentleman. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jennifer Aniston - Cake
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
I just wish Rosamund would win something!

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
His speech was excellent. I still can't wait to see this

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman
Meryl Streep - Into The Woods
Naomi Watts - St. Vincent
Did no one see The Imitation Game? Come on!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
I'm so happy Birdman won here, they were hands down the best. (And wow, Zach Galifianakis was nearly unrecognizable) I would've been happy with anyone but Boyhood winning, to be honest. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Adrien Brody - Houdini
Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock: His Last Vow
Richard Jenkins - Olive Kitteridge
Mark Ruffalo - The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thorton - Fargo
Ruffalo won and he wasn't even there to accept! He gave his acceptance speech on Twitter. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Ellen Burstyn - Flowers in the Attic
Maggie Gyllenhaal - The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand - Olive Kitterage
Julia Roberts - The Normal Heart
Cicely Tyson - The Trip To Bountiful
McDormand's speech was a ball of hilarious, crabby, self promotion. I loved it.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Woody Harrelson - True Detective
Matthew McConaughey - True Detective
Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
So McConaughey loses everything when he's nominated for True Detective, but wins everything when he's nominated for Dallas Buyers Club. I will never understand this. Yes, he was always going to lose to Cranston at the Emmys, but to lose everything else? That's insane. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series 
Claire Danes - Homeland
Viola Davis - How To Get Away With Murder
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife
Tatiana Maslany - Orphan Black
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey
Robing Wright - House of Cards
Her speech was so touching I almost cried. Seriously. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell - Modern Family
Louis C.K - Louie
William H. Macy - Shameless
Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba - Orange is the New Black
Julie Bowen - Modern Family
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep 
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation
Her speech was excellent as well. It was so adorable. 

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Uuuhhhhhhhhhh......

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Brooklyn Nine Nine
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black 
Veep 
I'm happy for OITNB, even though I don't think it's a full on comedy. Veep is the funniest show here for me, but I love OITNB's cast and seeing all those beautiful women (and a few men) on stage was wonderful.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Review: Foxcatcher

Do you have a problem with me?

Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) won an Olympic gold medal at the 1984 games. When we meet him in this story, it's three years later and he's drifting by and training for the Worlds. He trains with his brother, Dave (Mark Ruffalo) who tends to overshadow him. One day, a mysterious billionaire named John du Pont (Steve Carrell) contacts Mark and asks him to train at his Foxcatcher farm. This starts a troubled relationship that ends in tragedy. 

At first, I had planned on not reading about what really happened in this true story. Then I ended up having to read the bare minimum because a lot of reviews talked about the ending in their opening paragraph. This film changes quite a few things, but it doesn't matter. This is the definition of a slow burn. It moves at a snail's pace while building tension. It reminded me a bit of how Audition was structured. 

The score is pretty ominous and sets the tone, but the best thing about this film is the acting. Channing Tatum plays Mark with a stick shoved so far up his ass he barely cracks a smile. That's a compliment, it works here. Then you have Mark Ruffalo, who's so sweet and attentive, but realizes rather quickly something is wrong. Last but not least, we have Steve Carell who completely disappears in his role. The only thing recognizable about him at all is his voice. You've probably seen pictures of him, but seeing him actually move around (all these actors seem to have altered the way the walked) is quite jarring. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Horses are stupid." - John du Pont (Steve Carell)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Indie Gems: In Fear

Look closer.

I first heard about this film from Dan when he reviewed it on his blog. He straight up said, while this hits many of the normal horror movie cliches, it's still something more. He was right.

Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) met only a few weeks ago, but are going on a date to a music festival. Tom decides to surprise Lucy by taking her to a beautiful looking hotel for the night, but when they get lost trying to find it, they realize something far more sinister is at play.

Yes, Tom and Lucy make the typical horror movie mistakes, but where this story goes is quite fascinating, and I certainly didn't expect the end result. Most of this film is shot with them driving in a car, lost in a maze. That makes it feel extra creepy. I'm a big fan of De Caestecker, he's the best actor on Agents of SHIELD and was wonderful in The Fades. I'll really watch this guy in anything, and that's what drove me to see this film. I'm glad I did.

In Fear won't change anything about the horror genre, but it's a good little film to watch and is currently on Netflix Instant. 

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I already told you what happened." - Tom (Iain De Caestecker)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Colors in the Title

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is movies with colors in the title. You should be proud of me, by the way. I didn't include White Chicks even though I wanted to so badly. Here are my favorites.

1) The Color Purple
I wore my VHS tape of this out when I was a kid. I just love this film so much.

2) Blue is the Warmest Color
I don't think I'll ever stop raving about this wonderful French film.

3)Black Swan
My favorite Aronofsky film and also one of my favorites in recent memory. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 SAG Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win


Here are my predictions for Sunday's Screen Actors Guild Awards. Hopefully I do better here than I did at the Globes.
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Who will win: Michael Keaton
Who should in: Jake Gyllenhaal.
Keaton deserves it too, but Gyllenhaal is still my #1 here. I'd be fine with any of these men winning, to be honest.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jennifer Aniston - Cake
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Who will win: Julianne Moore
Who should win: Rosamund Pike
I can still dream for Rosamund, right? RIGHT?!

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Who will and should win: J.K Simmons

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman
Meryl Streep - Into The Woods
Naomi Watts - St. Vincent
Who will win: Patricia Arquette
Who should win: Keira Knightley.
Stone and Knightley both gave stronger performances than Arquette, but they weren't in the 12 year in the making movie so they won't win. It's a shame.

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Who will win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Who should win: Birdman
I like every single one of these casts except Boyhood, and I've been thinking Boyhood would win for the longest time, but with the momentum Grand Budapest has picked up, I think they might take it here. 


Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Adrien Brody - Houdini
Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock: His Last Vow
Richard Jenkins - Olive Kitteridge
Mark Ruffalo - The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thorton - Fargo
Who will win: Billy Bob Thorton
Who should win: Him, or Ruffalo, or Cumberbatch.
Tough category again. So much talent here. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries
Ellen Burstyn - Flowers in the Attic
Maggie Gyllenhaal - The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand - Olive Kitterage
Julia Roberts - The Normal Heart
Cicely Tyson - The Trip To Bountiful
Who will and should win: Maggie Gyllenhaal

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi - Boardwalk Empire
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Woody Harrelson - True Detective
Matthew McConaughey - True Detective
Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
Who will win: Kevin Spacey
Who should win: Matthew McConaughey
McConaughey hasn't won shit for True Detective, but he really should. I think he has a good chance here, but Spacey will probably take it. The dark horse is Buscemi since it's his last season of Boardwalk.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series 
Claire Danes - Homeland
Viola Davis - How To Get Away With Murder
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife
Tatiana Maslany - Orphan Black
Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey
Robing Wright - House of Cards
Who will win: Viola Davis
Who should win: Tatiana Maslany
Viola is getting a lot of praise for her show, so I think she'll take it. But from what I've seen of Orphan Black, Maslany is insane. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell - Modern Family
Louis C.K - Louie
William H. Macy - Shameless
Jim Parsons - The Big Bang Theory
Eric Stonestreet - Modern Family
Who will win: Ty Burrell
Who should win: Louis C.K
Burrell had a strong year on Modern Family, and he won the Emmy. Louie is still the funniest guy in the room. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba - Orange is the New Black
Julie Bowen - Modern Family
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep 
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation
Who will and should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Who will win: House of Cards
Who should win: Game of Thrones.
Dark horse again is Boardwalk Empire. They've won before and it was their final season.

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Brooklyn Nine Nine
Modern Family
Orange is the New Black 
Veep 
Who will win: Modern Family
Who should win: Veep
Veep has the best cast, but for some reason they never win. Modern Family is the safe bet, though OITNB has a lot of momentum as well.