Friday, July 25, 2014

Indie Gems: Child's Pose

Ma! You're smothering me!

That's how this film would probably start if it were set in the Bronx, but fortunately us, this one is set in Bucharest, Romania. Corneila (Luminita Gheorghiu) is bitter over the fact that she can no longer control her adult son's (Bogdan Dumitrache) life. When he gets into a car accident that results in the death of a 14 year old boy, she sees an opportunity to assert herself in his life once again.

Fisti over at A Fistful of Films reviewed this film and brought up a great point about Munchausen by Proxy, which I couldn't be on board with more now that I've seen this. The relationship between Corneila and Barbu is fascinating and really makes you wonder what she was like when he was a child. You get a good idea of it. Child's Pose reminds me how much you can appreciate a film that is really just characters having conversations with one another. Not a lot of action, or physical things to drive the plot foward. Just well written dialogue and brilliant acting. Luminita, she was wonderful. She reminds me a bit of Jacki Weaver in a way. She was intense, and even though I hated her character, I loved every second of watching her.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "You have another child. I only have him" - Corneila ( Luminita Gheorghiu)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Women in Film Blogathon

John over at Hitchcock's World has been running a blogathon about strong female characters in film. Here are the rules.

1) The female character in question should have qualities that make her strong. That doesn't necessarily mean better than the guys, just well-written; we're trying to promote equality here, not reverse misogyny.

2) Unlike my previous blogathon, I'm going to be a bit stricter here and say that each entry should only focus on one character. However, if you like you can write multiple entries examining different characters.

3) If you can, do try to find less obvious choices. There are a few that I can expect are likely to get picked: Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, etc. If you decide to write about any the "obvious" choices, I encourage you to at least try and find something new to say about them.

4) You are allowed to pick characters from any film from genre or time period you like.

There's so many strong female characters to pick one, but I decided to go for one whose strength may have seen more subtle at first glance: Anna in Eastern Promises

Anna is a meek midwife that's just gotten out of a long term relationship and had recently suffered a miscarriage. But let's think about what she did here.

She finds the diary of a Russian teenager that dies giving birth on her shift. She does a little detective work, and makes her way to a restaurant where she thinks the girl may have worked. After speaking with the owner, she realizes something more complicated is at play. But she doesn't back down.

Anna was in the position where these men could've easily intimidated her, but she didn't let that happen. Sure, she befriends Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen) but it isn't because she's afraid, she just wants to get to the bottom of this and he's the decent one.

She stands up to Kirill (Vincent Cassel) and calls him and his father out on their insane bullshit. She isn't afraid of what he might do. When they threaten her family, or come to her place of work, she still doesn't back down.

Spoilers ahead! Then after all of this, she saves the orphaned baby from Kirill and raises it as her own. How sweet is that?

When people see Eastern Promises, it's easy to see why they leave transfixed with Nikolai and how badass he was, but so was Anna. Just in a different way. 

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)