Wednesday, July 1, 2015

DVD Review: Faults

Mom, dad, just let me be in a cult, okay?

When we first meet Ansel (Leland Orser, or the unfortunate guy who got stuck with the strap on from hell in Se7en) he is a total ass. He's cheap and an obvious scammer. He's giving a speech at a hotel about a book he wrote on escaping cults. It ends with him getting punched in the face by a man whose sister died after one of his deprogramming sessions. A man and a woman (Chris Ellis and Beth Grant) approach him and want him to help save their daughter, Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) who has become part of a cult known as The Faults. At first he doesn't want to, but he owes his manager money and severely needs this job.

I've read nothing but good reviews about this film, so when Film School Rejects pointed out that you can rent it on iTunes for 99 cents, I jumped at it. The great thing about this film is that I expected it to go one direction, and it went in the complete opposite. 

Orser and Winstead are phenomenal. The film is mostly those two in a hotel room and they make up for the lack of, let's say budget in this film. They carry it, give you a constant sense of uneasiness, then almost make you feel comfortable in it. While the film can be a bit sluggish, it's conclusion is so interesting that it can be forgiven. The supporting cast (mainly Lance Reddick and Jon Gries, who have two small but important roles) provide much needed amusement.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I was meant to find them" - Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review: Dope

90's nostalgia 

Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori) are nerds. They dress like they're from the 90's because that was the prime of hip hop to them. They live in a tough part of California, and Malcolm dreams of getting into Harvard. He's gets good grades and stays out of trouble, but after a mix up at a party, he ends up with a bunch of drugs in his possession and people trying to find him to get them back. 

Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy are perfectly awkward and are a joy to watch. The actors have excellent chemistry and they do feel different from the other kids we're used to watching in these coming of age type movies. That being said, the rest of the movie falls into a familiar pattern, with each obstacle Malcolm faces predictable and kind of annoying. Still, even though I got a little antsy with some of this, the end result was worth it and the film was amusing enough to keep things interesting.

I like the use of a narrator. It added another layer that was needed. The soundtrack on this film is wonderful, and I loved watched the three main actors. It was especially nice seeing Revolori again after his turn in The Grand Budapest Hotel. It might be more of a DVD movie than a theater one, but it's still good enough nonetheless.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "We're just doing what geeks do." - Malcolm (Shameik Moore) 

Monday, June 29, 2015

DVD Review: The Babadook

Do you want to die?

Amelia (Essie Davis) is a single mother who is still struggling with the death of her husband 7 years later. He died on the same day her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) was born. He has behavioral problems that she refuses to get diagnosed, but is also growing tired of handling them herself. When a mysterious book called 'The Babadook' shows up at their house, and Samuel becomes obsessed with seeing the monster, Amelia begins to wonder if there's not something more at play.

I think this might have been the most hyped horror movie I've heard of in awhile. It got nothing but glowing reviews last year, and of course came nowhere near me. After watching it, though it does hit a lot of horror cliches (Kid sees monster, kid is teased, kid pushes accidentally hurts and arguably brattier kid) the message itself is what makes this film stand apart.

This film isn't about supernatural monsters, it's about grief. It's about dealing with grief on your own without any help. That was Amelia's biggest problem. This film is expertly cast. Davis and Wiseman are absolutely perfect and natural in their roles. I didn't find the film to be scary, but it did have some creepy imagery. This didn't bother me because in the end, I didn't think that was what this film was about.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I can't stand to be around your son." - Claire (Hayley McElhinney)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Rambling TV: Thoughts on True Detective, OITNB + more

True Detective

Apparently everyone in this episode has gone to the Rick Grimes School of Eye Fucking. There is so much to think about here.

Frank getting his hands dirty for Ray and becoming more desperate.

What's up with Ani's bondage obsession? And I NEED to know more about this cult she was in. I loved those scenes with Ani and Ray in the car. Calling smoking an e-cig the equivalent to sucking a robot's cock. LOL

What's the deal with Paul? What happened to this guy? He's obviously been through some traumatic shit, and his mom is going full Norma Bates creep on him. On top of all this, I'm wondering if he's perhaps in the closet? 

Also ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww to that autopsy scene.

About that ending with Ray? Is he dead? Alive? Would this should really use Farrell for only two episodes? I'm leaning towards alive. They didn't make anything definite in the preview for the next episode. (Not like Game of Thrones showing Selmy's funeral)

Orange is the new Black (episodes 3.2/3.3)
So last week I complained about Piper's lying, and in episode 2, both Red and Alex found out about said lies. I'm glad to get that out of the way, but it didn't help that Piper and Alex's scenes were still endlessly boring when they were alone. They only shine when they're with the rest of the cast.

Let's talk about Natasha Lyonne in episode 3. WOW. What a performance she gave. That was a tough episode for Nikki, who's now on her way to Max, but damn Lyonne killed it. 

Daredevil (episodes 1.3/1.4)

I'm being slow as hell watching this show despite the fact that it's very good and I love Charlie Cox. But holy shit the ending to 1.3. I wish more Marvel movies would go there because that was brutal. 

19 Kids and Counting
No, don't worry. Pedo cover ups and their quiver full of ignorant children are not back on the air. But they are back in the news and you know I can't take my eyes off this train wreck. Jill and Derick announced that they are going somewhere over seas to be "missionaries" (I put that in quotations because we know their missions are more about trying to convert people and handing out lollipops then actually trying to make life better for them.) Jill's the one that said poverty is caused by people having faith in the world and not in Jesus Christ. So what exactly are they going to do to help when they have a newborn baby? Jill was a student midwife whose instructor lost her teaching license, so she's nothing. Plus, she'll probably be pregnant again shortly. Derick just had surgery on his mouth and has braces on his teeth. You'd think he would wait until all of that is removed before leaving. And in true Duggar fashion, they're asking for donations to sponsor this trip. Why use any of their own millions? Missionaries are great when they put in time and resources to help, but the Duggar's missions have never been about that. They're about telling other people to adopt their own religion. To put it bluntly, Derick is now drowning in the fundie Koolaid, (he quit his job at Walmart to do this) and Jill is dumb and has a baby she can't even put in a sling properly. What good exactly are they going to do?

Oh hey, and in honor of those hateful Duggars

Saturday, June 27, 2015

DVD Review: A Most Violent Year

A Most Tame Movie

Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac with the worst wig ever) is trying to expand his truck/fuel business in 1981 New York City. But trucks everywhere are getting robbed, and their fuel stolen. He's also under investigation by the D.A (David Oyelowo) for illegal activity. He and his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain) attempt to do whatever they can to protect their investment, even though their methods of doing so are quite different.

For a movie called A Most Violent Year, our lead spends the entire film trying hard not to be violent. His wife is the one we worry about blowing someone's head off, not him. I found Abel's struggle with that fascinating, unfortunately the film itself didn't match that. It was slow, many things were left unexplained, and at the end of the day it just fell short.

Oscar Isaac has been growing on me. I'm starting to see what everyone else does, and he is a fine actor. Chastain is great here too. Oyelowo isn't in this film much at all, which is disappointing, but a lot of faces from Boardwalk Empire popped up. I was hoping there would be more to this movie, but I think it will just end up being forgettable to me.

Recommended: Yes if you're a fan of Isaac and Chastain, but no for the story

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "This was very disrespectful." - Anna (Jessica Chastain)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Indie Gems: Blue Car


Meg (Agnes Bruckner) is a high school girl that's having a lot of problems at home. Her parents are divorced, she never sees her dad. Her mom works nonstop, her little sister is depressed to the point where she's self harming and has stopped eating. Meg channels all of this through poetry in her AP English class. Her teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn) takes an interest in her and encourages her to enter a poetry contest.

Bruckner is an actress who I'm always shocked hasn't gotten bigger. She's the lead in one of my favorite films, Dreamland, and her performance in this film is incredible. This is a very hard drama. Nothing good actually happens to poor Meg until the very end, and that's less of a "good" and more of an acceptance. Strathairn was great here as well, even though the scenes of Mr. Auster getting closer to Meg are wildly uncomfortable to watch.

It's hard to sell a "downer" movie to people. But the story here is so rich. Considering this was shot for next to nothing, then edited on an early 2000's version of Final Cut Pro, it looks pretty good. I'll still hold out hope for Bruckner to get more mainstream roles.

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Lily, you don't need wings." - Meg (Agnes Bruckner)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Sibling Relationships

It's another "All in the Family" edition at Wandering Through The Shelves This time we're asked to focus on sibling relationships. The only restriction is that they must be biological. 

1) Dogtooth

This movie is so twisted. These siblings are isolated in their house and are basically taught the most backward things by their over protective parents. (Examples: that a "cunt" is actually a large lamp and cats eat children) It's so fascinating. 

2) The Savages

How can you not love a film with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney? Their relationship is tested when after they've spent the majority of their adult life avoiding their father, they're forced to care for him all over again. Their chemistry is amazing.

3) Radio Flyer

This movie has an ending that I wrote about a little over five years ago. These two brothers, one being abused by their drunken step father while the other is forced to keep it a secret provoke a lot of thought about how this film actually ended. Plus Elijah Wood and Joseph Mazello are two of the best child actors of all time. 

Bonus: Frailty 
I'm kind of kicking myself for not using this during the father/son week, so I think I'd stretch a bit and include it here. The relationship between these two brothers is tested throughout, and that twist involving them is pretty shocking for us.