Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Stepfamiles


It's another all in the family edition and Wandering Through The Shelves and this week's topic is step families. Or as I liked to call it: "That week where I tried really hard to pick something other than Stepmom" and also "The week I kicked myself for already using What Maisie Knew and Pan's Labyrinth" So let me give you the good, the weird, and the ugly side of step parents.

1) Juno

I think one of the most important parts about Juno to me was how supportive the step mother was. A lot of films paint step parents in a negative light, but this one we had the step mom being as supportive as she could with the situation. 

2) Step Brothers

It's the fucking Catalina Wine Mixer and also one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. I about died when Farrell called Richard Jenkins a "geriatric fuck."

3) Bastard out of Carolina

This film is so hard to watch. When I first saw it on TV (on Lifetime because of course) it was heavily edited and I had no clue. Then I watched the original cut later on and nope'd the hell out of a re-watch ever again. Jena Malone gives one of the best young performances I've ever seen. Why they didn't throw an Emmy (It was a TV movie) at this child is beyond me. I'm raging all over again thinking of how much I hated both the mother and step father in this film. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

DVD Review: Silk

I don't hate you because you're a bad husband. You're a bad husband because I hate you.

The scene is France in the 1800's, though you would never guess because everyone speaks in an American accent. Seriously, they didn't even use the go to English accent that's at least, you know...European. Herve (Michael Pitt) has recently gotten out of the army and begins working for a silk merchant. His job is to go to Japan and get more silkworms after a nasty storm kills all of theirs. He leaves behind his dutiful wife, Helene (Keira Knightley) but becomes enchanted with a girl (Sei Ashina) who is the mistress of a Baron in Japan.

This film is somewhat like watching a live action poem. It's beautiful to look at. The music, the cinematography, the costumes are lovely. However sometimes poems aren't meant to be feature length films. I think I would've much preferred to read this one. (And I haven't read the book it was based on) Herve's purpose is to basically cheat on his wife. Only, he doesn't even cheat on her with the women he's obsessed with, he beds a random instead. I didn't give a damn about Herve, even when he has his epiphany in the film's final 10 minutes. I just didn't care.

It's a shame too, I love Pitt and Knightley and I always meant to see this film because it's so different from what Pitt is normally in, but they phoned it in. Neither seemed to have a lot of faith in this picture. I felt like the first 40 minutes or so was original content, then we just kept seeing the same scenes over and over, only different places and sometimes with different people.

It's a shame the script couldn't back up the production workers. They did a marvelous job. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Not long after that, I found something that sent me on another journey." - Herve (Michael Pitt)



Monday, August 24, 2015

Review: End of the Tour

It's about loneliness. 

David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg) writes for the Rolling Stone. He sees an article praising an author, David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel) and begs his boss to let him cover a writer for once. He interviews David on the last stop of his book tour in Minnesota, and at his home in Illinois. 

This film is very quiet, very still, it flows easily from once scene to the next. It starts with the news of Wallace's suicide, a brilliant choice by the filmmakers to put it there, because everything Wallace says holds more weight now that you ultimately know where it ends. It's very tragic. The film is essentially like an extended interview between Wallace and Lipsky. It's mostly them conversing, and with the wrong actors, the film could've been a bore.

Luckily it didn't have that problem. Segel and Eisenberg are wonderful. Beyond wonderful, this is the best I've ever seen Segel. (Aside from him flapping his dick around in Forgetting Sarah Marshall because that was amazing) He plays Wallace so thoughtfully. He's also very believable when it comes to showing his addiction . Admittedly, I don't know much about the real David Foster Wallace, yet everything Segel did felt so true. Eisenberg is always reliable. He often gets typecast as the nerdy guy, but he has so much more to offer. This is another one of those films. Lipsky is a cordial guy, but he has a bit of a nasty side, which Eisenberg subtly shows here and there. 

I also can't help but smile at seeing the Mall of America and Minnesota in a movie. I can also relate to all that snow.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I don't even know if I like you yet." - David Foster Wallace (Jason Segel)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

2015 Blind Spot Series: Mulholland Dr.


What I knew going in: That this movie, as many put it is "pretty fucking weird."

A woman (Laura Harring) is being driven in the back of a limo. They pull over on Mulholland Dr. and a man in the passenger seat is about to kill her. Suddenly, another car hits them head on, and the woman is the only survivor. She stumbles into an apartment complex where Betty (Naomi Watts) a fresh faced aspiring actress has just arrived from Canada to pursue her dreams. The woman can't remember anything. She says her name is "Rita" but she got it off a movie poster. Betty decides to help Rita find out what happened to her. At the same time, the police investigating the accident know someone is missing. Meanwhile a director, Adam (Justin Theroux) is broke and being bullied into casting a certain woman in his next production. And his wife cheats on him with Billy Ray Cyrus so you know he's having a bad day.

I found all the scenes of Rita and Betty's story to be completely fascinating. Naomi Watts is such a treasure. I love watching her on screen and she's excellent here. It's an interesting mystery. I also liked seeing the audition scenes in Hollywood. They were exactly how I assume auditions are really like.

There was some filler that I didn't care for. The cops, the botched robbery, though that was hilarious. And the film does get super weird in the last 45 minutes or so. Overall, I enjoyed it, even if parts of it left me scratching my head.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "What are you doing? We don't stop here."  - Rita (Laura Harring)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Indie Gems: The End of Love

Priorities.

Mark (Mark Webber) is a struggling actor and single dad trying to take care of his two year old son, Isaac. (Webber's actual child, Isaac Love) He's not getting any parts, a failed audition with Amanda Seyfried is shown early in the film, and he can't pay his roommates rent. Since Isaac's mother died, he's struggled with relationships. He meets woman named Lydia (Shannyn Sossamon) who runs a children's play center who is slightly awkward and shows her interest in him, but he jumps into things too quickly.

Mark and Isaac's interactions feel so natural. Obviously, because they really are father and son and Webber centered filming around Isaac, but it's refreshing to see that play out on screen. Sometimes it's easy to pick out overly coached moments with child actors and everything flows so organically in this film. It's fun to watch. The opening scene of Isaac simply waking up is presented so brilliantly. The film does lose its way a bit during a scene where Mark attends a party at his friend Michael Cera's house. (Aubrey Plaza, Alia Skawkat, Michael Angarano, and Jake Johnson also make appearances) But once Mark gets back with Isaac, it finds its footing again. 

I've been a fan of Webber's for awhile. Both his acting and directing. It's nice to finally see this film which clearly means so much to him.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Are you talking to Daddy the fish or Daddy the dad?" - Mark (Mark Webber)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Asian Language Movies Set in East Asia

This week's theme at the ever wonderful Wandering Through The Shelves is Asian Langauge movies set in East Asia. The catch is they cannot be horror movies. This made me realize I have not seen enough Asia non-horror. So while my picks are probably going to be very obvious, what I'm really looking forward to is everyone else's for the recommendations. So here it goes!

1) Departures

The Oscar winner is about a man who thinks he's applying for a job at a travel agency when he ends up getting one preparing the dead for the afterlife. It's beautifully shot and acted. (Even though the 4 Ways a Best Picture gents didn't love it as much as I did)

2) Battle Royale

The idea of this film IS horrifying, but I wouldn't call it a horror movie. It's about as much of one as the Hunger Games is, only this is gorier. Middle schoolers getting dropped on an island to fight to the death, it's so twisted.* 

3) Oldboy

Oldboy is the example I always use when I try to argue the cases of dubs ruining films. When I first watched Oldboy, it was the English dub, and I thought it was terrible. The lead actor's speaking voice and "thinking" voice were different and took me out of the moment. Then Netflix finally got the subtitled version and it was like watching an entirely different film.

* And if Battle Royale is too horror-y, then my bonus pick is Spirited Away

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Against The Crowd Blogathon

Dell over at Dell on Movies is bringing his popular blogathon from last year back! I had fun with this last year. I got my hate on with Rebel Without a Cause and told you all how much I love Gothika. Of course I'm back for more!

Here are the rules:
1. Pick one movie that "everyone" loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have a score of at least 75% on rottentomatoes.com. Tell us why you hate it.

2. Pick one movie that "everyone" hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of less than 35% on rottentomatoes.com. Tell us why you love it.

3. Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.


4. Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own.

Let's get the ugly out of the way.

Boyhood

Oh Boyhood, the darling of last years award season, and a film I wanted so badly to like. But the more I think about Boyhood, the more I hate it.

It was slow, aimless, poorly acted (Patricia Arquette, while the best in the movie was highly overrated, in my opinion) and I think it gets far too many excuses made for it. You frequently hear "Oh, that but's how life is." Indeed, life can be boring, but that doesn't mean a film about a mediocre life is going to work. This one surely didn't. The most interesting part of the film was in the first hour, with the abusive husband and having to leave behind their step siblings, but then it's never mentioned again. They fell off the face of the planet.

On top of that, random Twitter fanboys made this worse for me. I'm not talking about other film fans that enjoyed Boyhood. We're a respectful group with a variety of tastes. I'm talking about Twitter accounts that are seemingly set up to only argue with people that didn't like Boyhood. You have no idea how many "Wahhh Boyhood was the best, no one will remember Birdman next year!!!111!!ELEVENTY!!!!" tweets I got sent to me during awards seasons last year. Sorry randoms, I put a good effort towards liking this film, and I just couldn't. 

Running With Scissors

I was actually going to go with another Evan Rachel Wood flick, Pretty Persuasion, but this one had a lower audience score. This was a film I always thought was really interesting and was filled with great actors and great performances. I'm honestly not sure why it has such a low score on Rotten Tomatoes? Was it too weird? I kind of love everything about it. It was really complex and kind of out there, but this cast is amazing. Annette Benning, Evan Rachel Wood, Patrick Wilson, Joseph Cross, Alec Baldwin, Gabrielle Union, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes. I mean, sure Gwyneth Paltrow was in it too, but even she wasn't terrible here. This was a film that I thought would actually have some decent Oscar potential when I first saw it, then nothing.