Indie Gems: 5 to 7

Not conventional.

Brian (Anton Yelchin) is a struggling writer in New York City. One day, he passes Arielle (Bérénice Marlohe) on the street and is randomly drawn to her. They start a friendship, then a relationship. Arielle is nine years his senior and he doesn't question her too much when she says she's only available between the hours of 5 and 7, but it turns out she's married with children. Her husband (Lambert Wilson) is aware of their relationship and also has his own mistress (Olivia Thirlby) but Brian is torn between the unconventional relationship they have and wanting something more. 

The dialogue in this film is so rich. Sometimes when I watch films about writers, they can come off as merely saying platitudes. This didn't feel like that at all. It's beautiful, and has great bits of humor thrown in. Whether a juxtaposition of Brian and Arielle trying to tell the differences between wine and beer blindfolded, to Brian's no-nonsense father (played by Frank Langella) being a little bit too frank. It has an excellent flow to it. 

Yelchin and Marlohe have amazing chemistry together. It's easy to see why they would fall for each other. Even if the plot is a tad predictable, I enjoyed watching it unfold. It's very poignant, even more so now with Yelchin's passing. This has turned into one of my favorite performances of his. 

Grade: A

Watched on: Some shady streaming site (I know, but you try finding this movie somewhere in decent quality)

Memorable Quote: "I can't discuss her martial status because if I do my pancreas will explode - Sam (Frank Langella)

Thursday Movie Picks: Comfort Movies

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is comfort movies. I imagine we'll see a wide variety of choices this week since comfort will mean something different to anyone. For me, "comfort" films aren't usually my favorites. There's mostly movies I think are pretty good, but not great. But I can't help but watch them every time they're on TV. 

1) Gothika

Might as well get the weird one out of the way. If I can't decide on a movie to watch, I almost always throw this one in. I don't know why, I find it's creepiness comforting in a morbid way.

2) The Secret of NIMH

This is one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid and we watched it as a family quite often. I watch it with my own family now, and it serves as a nice memory of home when things were normal. Plus, I always remember when we sat down as a family to watch the sequel and were all horrified at how bad it was. That was a Christmas present, and my dad actually apologized to me. 

3) The Shawshank Redemption

This movie is on TV ALL THE TIME. And you'd think I'd be able to click past it. Nope, watch it every time. This is a perfect boring Sunday afternoon movie. 

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Westworld and TWD

With the holiday I almost forgot to write about TV this week, despite Westworld having an amazing episode. Let's talk about that first.

Westworld

SO many theories were confirmed in the penultimate episode. Bernard really is a host made in Arnold's image. There's almost certainly two time lines and William really will end up becoming the Man in Black. 

They didn't let us know what happened to Elsie, Stubbs went looking for her and was captured by hosts, which leads me to believe she's at least alive.

Logan was tormenting Dolores in front of William until she escaped. Logan handed him a picture of his sister, the same picture that threw Dolores' father out of whack in the premiere and gave it to him to "remind" William he has a girl at home. William says he understands, then while Logan is passed out, he kills all the other hosts.

Mauve is still plotting and building her army.

We got a visit from old Clementine again. Bernard corners Ford about hist past and has her put a gun on him. After Ford messes with Bernard a bit, making him relive his painful memories, he finally drops the bombshell Arnold truth on him. This is spliced with a scene of Dolores after she leaves William, her scenery and clothes change back and forth until she comes face to face with Bernard/Arnold, and reveals she is the one that killed him. Then Ford has Bernard put a gun to his own head. I really hope someone brings him back.

Next week's finale is 90 minutes, and that has to tide us over until early 2018. I can't wait.

The Walking Dead

This week in The Walking Bottle Episodes, we check up with Tara and Heath for an entire 70 minutes. They get separated, and Tara runs across an all female community who had all the men and boy killed by Saviors a while back. They have a shoot immediately policy, but Cyndie takes a liking to Tara and saves her. She then walks back to Alexandria and learns about Denise, Glenn, and Abe since that all happened when she was gone.

In theory, this story wasn't bad. Tara is one of my favorites. Even though this new Oceanside community is just a gun filled plot device for our currently gunless group, I liked Cyndie and the thought of an all female community is intriguing, though Gimple will probably fuck it up because he can't write female friendships. But the bottle episode format really hurts this. Had this story been told along side others over multiple episodes ala Game of Thrones (seriously, they try to be GoT so much, you'd think they'd attempt parallel story telling) it would've worked. But sadly, it didn't.

Next week is a 90 minute episode as well. I think Gimple took a page out of Mr. Robot's book with all these extended episodes this season. 

Rambling TV is a series where I ramble semi coherently about the things I've watched on television. Click those gifs to be redirected to their makers. 

Review: Allied

Could you do it?

Canadian Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) is an intelligence officer on a mission in Casablanca. His partner, French Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) are instructed to pose as a married couple and assassinate some German officers during WWII. After completing their mission, they move to London and marry for real. After some time, Max is told that Marianne may be a German spy, and if it's proven she is, he must execute her himself. 

Allied poses a heavy question. If you found out your beloved spouse was spying for another country, one that's consistently bombing the one you live in, would you believe it? If it was true, could you actually kill them yourself? I'd probably chicken out, personally and Max is understandably about 2 inches away from an existential crisis over it for the last half of the film. 

I feel the same way about Allied as I did The Accountant. It's not a bad film, far from it, it just didn't wow me. It's certainly worth seeing, though maybe on DVD. It does quite a few things right. Pitt and Cotillard are perfectly cast, the score is fitting and the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous, but it's missing something. I can't quite put my finger on it, and while it builds suspense very well during the first 3rd of the film, it fails to match that level again. One thing I thought it did very well was the air raids in England. While they don't show the brutal reality of them, the shots of the skies were horrifying.

Recommended: Yes, but no rush.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "A husband always offers his wife a cigarette before lighting his own." - Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard)

Indie Gems: Imperium

What would you do to prove yourself?

Nate Foster (Daniel Radcliffe) is a young FBI agent that's eager to prove himself. When another agent, Angela (Toni Collette) asks him to go undercover as a white supremacist to help her uncover a terrorist plot she believes they're planning, while apprehensive at first, he's eager to prove himself a capable agent.

I didn't intend on watching this movie the same week we found out who will become our next president, but it happened. It's actually scary watching this movie and seeing how normal some of these people look on the outside. Sam Trammell plays one of the leaders who has a loving family (whose younger daughter spouts some surprisingly paranoid shit to Nate at one point) and looks like a normal guy. Every time we see a swastika or a burning cross, you can't help but cringe. It's a scary and sad reality how deep racism can run.  This film builds two different kinds of worry very well. The first and more prominent is that Nate will be found out. The second, and it's more of something that's just in the back of your head is "man, what if he starts buying this?" It's very suspenseful in that way.

Radcliffe is great in a role that's very different from what we've seen him tackle post: Harry Potter. I was a big fan of Trammell in True Blood, it's hard to watch him play a character like this, but he was good as well. There were a few loose ends I wish the film tied up, but overall it was a very interesting peak at the ugliest part of America. The film was inspired by a former FBI agent who helped write the script.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I thought we had a case." - Angela (Toni Collette) 

Thursday Movie Pick: Westerns

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves happens to be the one "big" genre of film I never get into. One I dislike even more than rom coms: Westerns. I tolerate some of them, as I'm sure you'll be able to tell this week as I pick the three most un Westerny Westerns that ever Westerned. 

1) 3:10 To Yuma

The remake, obviously. I saw it for the cast and ended up liking it a lot more than I normally like Westerns. Would I watch it again? Probably not, but it was good enough. 

2) Bone Tomahawk

This film really drags its feet getting from point A to point B, but point B is so damn entertaining. 

3) An American Tail: Fievel Goes West

Don't judge me. I told you Westerns aren't my thing! Admittedly, I'm not sure how this holds up as an adult.

2017 Independent Spirit Award Nominations


Ahh the Independent Spirit Awards. AKA the awards where I immediately save half of the nominees into my Netflix queue because they haven't made it here yet. Quite a few of these I expected, while there were a few surprises. 

FEATURE
American Honey
Chronic
Jackie
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight
Chronic is the only head scratcher. It makes me wonder which year Midnight Special was supposed to be eligible for, this year or last? Because if it was this year, that defintiely should've been in there. 


FIRST FEATURE
The Childhood of a Leader
The Fits
Other People
Swiss Army Man
The Witch
I love seeing Swiss Army Man and The Witch here. 


JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (best feature made for less than $500,000)

Free in Deed
Hunter Gatherer
Lovesong
Nakom
Spa Night

DIRECTOR

Andrea Arnold - American Honey
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Pablo Larraín - Jackie
Jeff Nichols - Loving
Kelly Reichert - Certain Women
I think Jenkins might repeat in the Oscars. Moonlight is the only one of these I've seen yet, though I want to see all five. 


SCREENPLAY

Moonlight
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Woman
Little Men
Hell or High Water
Hell or High Water getting a screenplay nom but not a feature nom is a bit off, especially with how popular this film was. 


FIRST SCREENPLAY

The Witch
Other People
Barry
Jean of the Joneses
Christine
I really want to see Christine. The only one I've seen here is The Witch, which I liked, so I'm happy to see it here. 


CINEMATOGRAPHY

Free in Deed
The Childhood of a Leader
The Eyes of My Mother
Moonlight
American Honey
Moonlight better repeat at the Oscars that film is absolutely gorgeous. American Honey I hear is gorgeous too. I won't see that until December. 


EDITING   

Swiss Army Man
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Jackie
I've actually seen 3/5 of these! That doesn't happen often for these awards at the time they're announced. 


FEMALE LEAD

Annette Bening - 20th Century Women
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Sasha Lane - American Honey
Ruth Negga - Loving
Natalie Portman - Jackie
No Rebecca Hall for Christine is really concerning because I was hoping she would be a dark horse Oscar nominee. I feel like Portman has already won this based on buzz alone. I expect her and Negga will be there on Oscar morning for sure. 


MALE LEAD

Casey Affleck - Manchester by the Sea
David Harewood - Free In Deed
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Jesse Plemons - Other People
Tim Roth - Chronic
Casey Affleck is already winning everything in this category, right? But hey, Meth Damon got a nomination! Good for you, Meth Damon. 


SUPPORTING FEMALE

Edwina Findley - Free In Deed
Paulina Garcia - Little Men
Lily Gladstone - Certain Women
Riley Keough - American Honey
Molly Shannon - Other People



SUPPORTING MALE

Ralph Fiennes - A Bigger Splash
Ben Foster - Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges - Manchester by the Sea
Shia LaBeouf - American Honey
Craig Robinson - Morris From America
I'm so happy to see Ben Foster in here for Hell or High Water and NOT Jeff Bridges. I can't stress enough how wrong it is to push him for supporting actor when Foster was so much better. Aside from Manchester by the Sea, all of these other films are in my Netflix queue, so hopefully I'll be getting to those soon. 


ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD

“Moonlight”: director, Barry Jenkins; casting director, Yesi Ramirez; ensemble cast, Mahershala Ali, Patrick Decile, Naomie Harris, Alex Hibbert, André Holland, Jharrel Jerome, Janelle Monáe, Jaden Piner, Trevante Rhodes, Ashton Sanders

DOCUMENTARY

13th
Cameraperson
I Am Not Your Negro
O.J.: Made in America
Sonita
Under the Sun
I haven't seen any of these (but plan on watching 13th this weekend) I think we'll be seeing a lot of these come Oscar time too.

INTERNATIONAL FILM

Aquarius (Brazil)
Chevalier (Greece)
My Golden Days (France)
Toni Erdmann (Germany and Romania)
Under the Shadow (Iran and U.K.)
I haven't seen any of these either, but that's not a shocker for the foreign language category. I feel like I never see the bulk of them until AFTER Oscar nominations. 


20th PIAGET PRODUCERS AWARD

Lisa Kjerulff
Jordana Mollick
Melody C. Roscher & Craig Shilowich


23rd KIEHL’S SOMEONE TO WATCH AWARD

Andrew Ahn, director, Spa Night
Claire Carré, director, Embers
Anna Rose Holmer, director, The Fits
Ingrid Jungermann, director, Women Who Kill


22nd TRUER THAN FICTION AWARD

Kristi Jacobson, director, Solitary
Nanfu Wang, director, Hooligan Sparrow