Indie Gems: Jeff, Who Lives At Home

I saw a sign.

Jeff (Jason Segal) is a 30 year old slacker who still lives in his mom's basement. After a strange phone call that he thinks may be a sign of his destiny, he sets off on a reluctant errand for his mother (Susan Surandon) and subsequently runs into his asshole older brother, Pat (Ed Helms) as he follows his wife, Linda (Judy Greer) around town to see if she is having an affair.

About three quarters of the way through the film, I started to think to myself, "This really isn't about Jeff at all." Jeff himself mentions something about realizing that the meaning of life might not be about his destiny, but someone else's. Most of the story is Pat and Linda's crumbling marriage, and a subplot about their mother's office crush is sweet, but doesn't connect well with the story until the very end. That's when Jeff regains control of the film. The ending is when we realize that all of this wouldn't have happened without him.

I have to say I'm really impressed with Segal and Helms. They've proved time and time again that they are funny guys, but they tackle drama very well. Granted this film was a comedy, but there were some serious moments that they completely owned. I really enjoyed the film, for all the times I begin to think the film was just "ok" it turned around and gave me something sweet.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Everything..." - Pat (Ed Helms)

Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Only the living can kill the dead.

The mostly negative reviews for this film kind of baffle me. I don't know what others expected when they bought a ticket to a film called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, but I sure hope it wasn't a history lesson.
The title says it all, Abe Lincoln, besides being one of the greatest presidents the United States has ever seen is also a vampire hunter. Vampires murdered his mother, so he seeks revenge, eventually the Vamps get on the bad side of the Civil War, so now Lincoln must defend not just his family, but his nation.

First of all, a TON of credit has to go towards Benjamin Walker for his Lincoln. To say he was awesome is kind of an understatement. A film like this is meant to rest on the back of the visual effects, but Walker is the film's heart. He looks like Lincoln, and plays him exceptionally well. That's a large load for a newcomer, and he handles it well. So what if the film defies logic/physics/gravity in every aspect possible? It was an entertaining film to watch, and contains possibly the best horse chasing scene I've ever seen in a movie. The middle part drags, but Abe the Hunter was a fun ride through and through. I just don't think it deserves the wave of negativity it's getting. Film's like this aren't meant to be taken seriously. They're meant for you to sit your ass down, eat your popcorn, and enjoy the madness.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "This isn't the only railroad." - Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie)

100 Movie Facts About Me

I borrowed this idea from Stevee and Lesya. Basically, it's like making an IMDb trivia list for yourself, only it's focused on movies. Here it goes..

1) I loved Amerian Beauty as a young teen because it was about a family more fucked up then my own, as I grew older, I began to love it for so many more reasons.

2) The first film I remember seeing in theaters is Jurassic Park.

3) The only film I've ever walked out of was The Devil's Rejects. (though I should've walked out of many more.)

4) I've seen nearly every Shirley Temple film, minus her Baby Burlesque shorts.

5) I visit IMDb daily and get kind of annoyed when I meet people who have never heard of the site.

6) Joseph Gordon-Levitt became my favorite actor after seeing his performance in Mysterious Skin.

7) The Exorcist was the first movie to scare the crap out of me.

8) I cried so hard watching Old Yeller that my daycare had to call my dad to come pick me up early because I was inconsolable. (He never lets me forget this.)

9) Coincidentally every time I was home sick from school I wound up watching Bebe's Kids on HBO. That movie was always on.

10) One of the nerdiest things I've ever done in a theater was say "yesssss" when Skinner showed up in X Files: I Want To Believe.

11) The Olsen Twins were my tween idols for awhile..until my inner film buff kicked in and I realized they were horrible actors and just had cool clothes.

12) I worked at a movie theater when I was in high school, the only movie I ever "wrapped" as a projectionist was The Last Samurai. Melted a bit of it too. Go me.

13) I love coming of age films that take place in "suburbia."

14) As much as I bitch about Emma Watson's acting in Harry Potter, I couldn't picture anyone else as Hermione.

15) The first movie I remember watching in class and actually enjoying was To Kill A Mockingbird.

16) I hate clowns because of The Polterguist, and puppets because of Puppermaster. I'm not afraid of them, I just think they're creepy.

17) My favorite composers are John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and Mark Mothersbaugh.

18) I'm still not sure what exactly happened in The Fountain.

19) Speaking of which, I'll be the first to admit when I don't "get" a film.

20) I love to talk about movies with true film fans that appreciate every aspect of them.

21) I hate when people say they don't want to have to "pay attention" to a movie. Example: I know people who won't go see Inception because they hear you have to really pay attention.

22) The most I've cried in a theater was during Hotel Rwanda.

23) The first animated feature that really floored me with how beautiful it was was WALL-E.

24) Before Netflix I would occasionally buy independent films from Amazon before I even saw them because I wanted to view them so badly and had no other access to them. Thankfully I've never regretted any of my purchases.

25) Ellen Page became one of my favorite actresses after seeing her performance in Hard Candy.

26) I despise Lars Von Trier movies.

27) My favorite bad movie to watch is White Chicks.

28) My friends and I probably quote a combination of Anchorman, Dodgeball and Scary Movie 2 (the strong hand) daily.

29) I love Will Ferrell no matter how crappy of movies he is in. (I sat through Bewitched and Kicking and Screaming)

30) I've occasionally taken up fashion advice from characters in movies.

31) I think The Boondock Saints is the most overrated film of all time.

32) I prefer Katharine Hepburn over Audrey Hepburn

33) I saw Matchstick Men, Cold Creek Manor, and Mystic River in theaters all on the same day and have not seen them again since.

34) The actress I've been told I most resemble is Evan Rachel Wood.

35) My favorite acting voices are Alan Rickman, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett and Denis Leary.

36) Whenever I hear the song "She Will Be Loved." I think of Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams kissing at the MTV Movie Awards after they won Best Kiss for The Notebook.

37)When I saw Ellen Page was starring in a film 'An American Crime' that led me to find the true story of Sylvia Likens, which the movie was based on. It really hit me hard, and was the driving force for me changing my major in college. (EDIT. Just to elaborate since a few asked questions. My major is social work/counseling. I want to find better places for children who live in bad situations. Had someone reported Sylvia's condition to social services, she would still be alive.

38) The first review I ever posted online was Jeepers Creepers 2, and it was because I was so pissed off at how stupid it was. I think it was on epinions.com.

39) I think scenes of characters standing in the shower in deep thought are extremely chliched.

40) I once watched Up in the Air and 127 Hours twice each in the same day.

41) I cannot understand a damn work Sylvester Stallone says.

42) It took me awhile to really enjoy The Godfather movies.

43) One movie I really wanted to enjoy, but couldn't get passed the crazy editing was The Tracey Fragments

44) I saw The Rum Diary being filmed in Puerto Rico and got to say hello to Amber Heard.

45) I love scenes with light snow falling. (think Edward Sissor Hands)

46) I couldn't eat chocolate cake for the longest time after watching the kid in Matilda eat a giant one.

47) I'm addicted to watching the Oscars/Globes/SAGs/Emmys etc. Even the red carpet.

48) I think Crash over Brokeback Mountain for Best Picture is the biggest upset in Oscar history. (Although Shakespeare in Love over Saving Private Ryan is a close second)

49) I actually teared up during Dustin Lance Black's acceptance speech when he won Best Original Screenplay for Milk at the Oscars.

50) One child actor that annoys me to no end is Chloe Grace Moretz

51) I can't watch The Labryinth because I find David Bowie's massive bulge a little too distracting.

52) I don't care for Westerns.

53) If the fate of humanity depended on me watching I Spit On Your Grave, then we'd all be fucked.

54) I love watching foreign films, and hate when people complain about reading subtitles.

55) I think Rupert Grint is the strongest actor of the Harry Potter Trio

56) The funniest thing I've heard yelled in a theater was "Run, Forest, Run" while watching The Two Towers during the march of the Ents scene.

57) I actually prefer to watch movies alone.

58) Speaking of which, when I saw Precious there was only me and one other person in the theater, and we were both crying by the end.

59) I told my employer that I was not coming to work the next day if Heath Ledger didn't win the Oscar for The Dark Knight. I meant it.

60) I could listen to "Test Drive" from the How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack every day.

61) Sometimes I will watch movies just to see how bad they are.

62) I love watching films that are based in Paris.

63) My favorite theater snack is mini donuts or licorice.

64) I hate the 3D gimmick and I cannot wait for it to be over.

65) I worked at a movie theater when Dodgeball came out, and while I was cleaning the auditorium during the credits, no one warned me about the "Milkshake" scene after it. I laughed hysterically, by myself, with my broom and dust pan. The sad part is I had actually seen the original online video they were making fun of prior.

66) I was so intoxicated when I saw Harold and Kumar 2 that I only remember one part, that I believe was in the center of the film.

67) The Avengers made me appreciate Thor a little more, and also made me fall in love with Tom Hiddleston's acting.

68) I do not think for one second that American Beauty is overrated.

69) I love musicals, but I think most of the recent ones have been crap.

70) Kevin Costner bores me to death.

71) I think Sienna Miller's performance in Factory Girl is extremely underrated.

72) Powder was my first "wtf" movie experience.

73) I find the movie Orca hilarious.

74) I will never understand why everyone thinks Napoleon Dynamite is so funny. I think it's incredibly lame.

75) I love the Indie Sex documentaries that aired on IFC. They are so interesting, and led me to a lot of great films. Not because I go looking for films with sex, but because a lot of the indies I like end up being "controversial" in that department.

76) My favorite Disney movies are The Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, Tarzan, and Hercules.

77) My Favorite Pixar movies are A Bugs Life and WALL-E

78) I loved watching The Secret of NIMH growing up, and was appauled by the musical sequel.

79) I was never fascinated with Marilyn Monroe

80) I often wonder what River Phoenix's career would've been like had he not passed away at such a young age.

81) Nowadays I prefer Jim Carrey's dramas to his comedies.

82) I dislike movies that have one character "playing/leading on" another for selfish reasons. (i.e Albert Nobbs, She's All That)

83) I always laugh when there is a birthing scene in a film, and the  "newborn" baby is obviously like 4 months old.

84) I think Frodo and Sam would've made a mighty good couple.

85) I nearly had to put subtitles on while watching Disco Pigs as I could not understand a word anyone said. (Although the quality of the DVD might have contributed to that.)

86) I love reading other blogger's "Top 10 lists" for the years.

87) I recently re-watched the Amityville Horror remake just to see Ryan Reynolds without a shirt.

88) My heart sank when Darth Vader yelled "noooooo" in Revenge of the Sith. SANK!

89) The first time I watched Revolutionary Road was on a plane, and my flight was shorter than the film. It stopped about 15 minutes before the end and I had to wait 5 days to get on my return flight to finish it.

90) A good film related drinking game: Take a shot/swig everytime a racial slur is uttered in Gran Torino.

91) I love the VIP theater in the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. Comfy seats, and they serve you drinks/food during the film.

92) I get "Miracles" from The Prince of Egypt stuck in my head quite often.

93) Normally, I don't mind movie spoilers, the only time it ever got to me was one someone spoiled The Skin I Live In.

94) Superbad remided me of a lot of people I went to high school with.

95) I love it when Samuel L. Jackson starts yelling.

96) I think Hellboy 2 is far superior to the first Hellboy

97) I think Dawn of the Dead is the best remake ever. (Seriously, I freaking love that movie)

98) Tim Burton is responsible for me appreciating art direction in movies a bit more than I used to.

99) I was forced to watch The Goonies every day for an entire summer when I was young. I think that's why I dislike it so much.

100) Christopher Nolan is my favorite director. Quentin Tarantino is a close second.

Indie Gems: Black Snake Moan

Soul saving.

Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) is a former blues musician in a small, southern town. He's going through some tough times, but doesn't have it as bad as Rae. (Christina Ricci) Rae is a trashy, sexually charged girl that's suffered a life time of abuse from her miserable parents. When she's left nearly beaten to death, Lazarus decides he is going to save her. He chains her to the radiator in his home, (seriously) and while this sounds absolutely creepy he ends up being just what she needs. A kind, nurturing, individual that will help not only hear, but her boyfriend, Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) who's suffering from a bit of PTS himself.

First off, the marketing for this film was absolutely horrible. I initially didn't even want to watch it because it seemed like some trashy exploitation flick. I'm glad I gave it a shot, because it's one of the more interesting dramas I've seen in awhile. Jackson and Ricci give brave, raw performances, and even someone as horribly mediocre as Timberlake came off as pretty good. I liked the message the film sent, I liked the relationship between Lazarus and Rae. While the premise seems frightening there was nothing but good intentions there.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "God put you in my path, and I am to cure you of your wicked ways." - Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson)

Mini Emmy Wishlist

With the Emmy nominations only about a month away, I decided to make a little wish list for my current favorite shows. I put wishlist in bold because this is exactly what it is, I don't expect all of these things to happen, but I can promise you I will bitch when they don't.

I'm also only going to use the shows I watch religiously. Creating a full on prediction list would be pretty hard considering I don't watch every show out there. So I will post each show, and what Emmys I think they deserve. I'll be leaving out most technical Emmys besides Make Up since it applies to a few of the shows I watch.

Breaking Bad

Best Drama Series. Sure Mad Men has won the past four years in a row, but I think now is the time for Breaking bad to shine. Season 4 was a roller coaster ride to put it lightly.

Best Actor in a Drama Series: The only reason Kyle Chandler won last year was because Bryan Cranston wasn't eligible. I'm ready to jump back on the Cranston bandwagon. He blows me away in every episode. How the Golden Globes and the SAGs have failed to award his greatness is beyond me. They must not watch.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Aaron Paul once again gives a brilliant performance as the conflicted Jesse. Jesse and Walt spent a good amount of the season apart, when they were together they were electric, and I've never wanted two characters to just hug it out so badly.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Giancarlo Esposito is one of the best villains I've seen on TV for years, and there's no doubt he will go down in history as being one of the most memorable. As Gus, he was cool, calm, collected, and a seemingly outstanding citizen. But underneath, he was a cold blooded killer.

Best Make Up: Anyone who's seen season four knows what episode I'm referring too. No spoilers here.

True Blood

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Nelsan Ellis. Lafayette has always been one of my favorite characters, but this season he had a lot on his place. Not only did Ellis have to play Lafayette, he had to play Lafayette possessed by Mavis and Lafayette possessed by Marnie. He shows so much range this season and still had some of the best lines on the show. He really deserves a nomination.

Best Actress in a Drama Series: Anna Paquin continues to impress as Sookie. I think her work is wonderful, especially since Sookie spends most of her time on an emotional roller coaster.

Best Drama Series: I know most people probably view this as just a guilty pleasure show, and believe me it is. But I honestly think it has one of the best casts out there. Sure, they tend to add a few too many characters to the mix, but the core cast is wonderful and I always enjoy the show. I can't say that I've watched an episode of True Blood that didn't have any progression in the story.

Best make up. I don't know if Eric pulling out some guys heart would count as make up for visual effects, but it was awesome.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones can be really confusing. There's a ton of characters and at times it's really hard to follow if you haven't read the books, but once you catch on it's worth every bit. I was one of those people who thought it was slow and hard to follow, my views have changed.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Peter Dinklage. He deserved his Emmy last year, even though I said at the time it was because Aaron Paul wasn't eligible. Still, Dinklage is fantastic and is probably the only likable Lannister on the entire show.

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Jack Gleeson. Hear me out, when has a TV villain been so universally hated since King Joffrey? Gleeson is obviously doing his job well if more people loathe him every week. Some villains you can relate too, and actually root for. Not Joffrey. I wonder if people secretly consider punching Gleeson in the face when they see him out and about.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Maisie Williams. I know, another young nominee, but as Arya Stark, she's one of the best characters on the show. Her scenes are never boring.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Lena Headey. For the Blackwater episode alone. What a crazy bitch.

Boardwalk Empire

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series: Michael Pitt. Pitt is insanely underrated. What they did to his character at the end of the season was beyond stupid in my opinion. I'd be less pissed off if he got nominated for it.

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series: Kelly MacDonald. Not much to stay her, she's just great.

Best Actor in a Drama Series: Steve Buscemi continues to prove all those people who didn't think he could be the star wrong.

The Big Bang Theory

Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Jim Parsons is the sun on the BBT universe. While some episodes suffer from being too "Shelton-centric", he's still the most talented actor on the show by a long shot. No offence to Johnny Galecki, they just don't give Leonard anything to do.

Best Comedy Series: I know there's a lot of haters out there, I'm note sure why. I've always loved the show, even if some episodes seem far too short. I just hope they drop the stupid "Raj can't talk in front of women unless he's drunk" schtick.

The Walking Dead

DVD Review: Albert Nobbs

A man with a secret. A women with a dream.

Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close) is a woman disguised as a man working in 19th century Ireland. It's easier to come by work as a man, but when she meets Mr. Page, another woman acting as a man she becomes intrigued on how she's managed to keep this secret, get married and have her own career. Albert dreams of owning his own tobacco shops, and hopes that young Helen (Mia Wasikowska) will marry him and help him run it.

Albert Nobbs started off with promise, then turned into a gigantic downer for me. There were some truly beautiful moments in the film, such as Albert envisioning her shop, Albert and Hubert walking along the beach, but the crummy ending kind of ruined that for me. The minute Helen started to use Albert was where it went down hill for me. I don't like to see sweet characters being picked on, and it just lost a lot of promise to me. Close and McTeer both give wonderful performances, but Mia and co-star Aaron Johnson both seemed like they were overacting. Brenden Gleeson plays a small part as a doctor in the film, it's nice to see him, but he certainly can't save this film on his own.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I don't know what makes people live such miserable lives." - Dr. Holloran (Brenden Gleeson)

Indie Gems: Junebug

You. Do. Not!

Madeline (Embeth Davidtz) is an art dealer who travels to the south to meet her new husband's (Alessandro Nivola) family for the first time. There's parents, Eugene and Pam, ( Scott Wilson and Ceila Weston) introverted and angry brother Johnny, (Ben Mackenzie) and his extra sweet, pregnant girlfriend, Ashley. (Amy Adams) On the side, Madeline is also trying to deal with a strange artist, leaving room for plenty of things to fall out of place.

You know how sometimes you can watch a film, and only one actor stands out among the rest? This was Amy Adams in her Oscar nominated performance in Junebug. I almost felt like nothing happens in the movie until she walks on screen. So why recommend a movie like that? Simple. Adams is so damn good. Her character is sweet, naive, and almost child like, towards the end of the film she delivers such an emotional scene I was nearly moved to tears. Adams deserved every bit of that nomination, and she's seen a few more since making this film. For any Amy Adams fan, this is definitely one you can't miss!

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "God loves you just the way you are, but He loves you too much to let you stay that way."

DVD Review: My Week With Marilyn

The most famous woman in the world.

Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne) is a young film enthusiast  who gets a job working on Sir Laurence Olivier's (Kenneth Branagh) new film. The star of this film happens to be Marilyn Monroe, (Michelle Williams) currently the most popular star in the world. She clashes with Olivier with her professionalism, lack of acting skills, and contact company of pills. Colin, however is intrigued by her. My Week with Marilyn is based on his short time with her.

I might as well point out that I was never a Marilyn Monroe fan. Sure, she was beautiful, but I never got into her films, nor did I have her pictures or quotes all over my belongings like many people my age do. I really only saw this movie for Michelle Williams. The film itself was very forgettable. Michelle lights up the screen, and Branagh is his usual, brilliant self. But the story was lacking, Redmayne, while not a bad lead wasn't a particularly interesting one either. Then there was that small part for Emma Watson in a bad wig and equally bad acting. Despite it's flaws, and there are many, it's worth seeing if you are a fan of Williams and wish to see one of her great performances.

Recommended: Yes for Williams fans, no for everyone else.

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Gee, I ought to feel like this everyday." - Marilyn (Michelle Williams)

The Morning After: True Blood's Season 5 Premiere

As many of you know, season 5 of True Blood premiered last night to (sort of) answer the million questions the season 4 finale left us with. I liked last night's episode and here I'm going to recap the burning questions that season 4 left us, with the answers we got from last night.

Tara: Last we saw her she got half of her head blown off by Debbie, while Sookie and Lafayette mourn, Pam shows up looking for Eric and Lafayette comes up with the idea that she should turn Tara. Tara hates vampires, but Sookie and Lafayette are seeing this as giving her another shot at light. Pam doesn't know how well it will work since half of her brain is missing, but turn her she does. At the end of the episode, Tara rises up ferociously, and it looks like she won't be her former self. Last season I totally called Pam turning Tara, I don't know why, but I was right. My husband saw this as a cop out and thinks they should've just killed her. (Maybe he's just used to Game of Thrones killing everyone despite their main character status) Personally, I don't hate Tara as much as others. I think her character's bitchiness is hilarious, and I don't blame her for being emotionally scarred. I'm interested to see where this goes.

Rev Newlin: Ahh, the face of the anti vampire church is now a vamp himself and confesses his love for Jason. I thought this was pretty funny and I look forward to more of him. That being said, Jason really does get the worst story lines on this show. The werepanthers, the high school quarterback on V, now he's pining for Jessica over a game of Rock Band? Please. That was easily the worst part of the show. I don't care to see Jessica hang out with her co-ed pals, I don't care to see Jason so hung up over someone (even though it's probably her blood doing most of it.) I don't care to see Hoyt and his friends come up with a lame comeback like "girlfriend fucker" at Merlottes. This isn't the CW.

Terry: Terry's mysterious friend comes into his life and rubs him the wrong way. We didn't get a lot of answers here, just that like Terry, his friends have lost their houses to fires. Some lost their lives. All because of "that night in Iraq." which hasn't been explained.

Sam: Not much progression here, he agrees to go with the Werewolves to protect Luna and Emma, as they think he killed Marcus. But Luna eventually tells Alcide and they show up at the right time to save him.

Russel Edgington: We didn't find out who dug him up, we didn't even see his face, but Alcide has informed both Eric and Sookie, the latter of which he tried to convince to come stay with him before Lafayette kicked him out of Sookie's house, that he has escaped. Sookie was going to tell Alcide about Debbie, but got interrupted. I'm sure this will come about at a crucial time later.

Eric and Bill: I find their new "bromance" thing a little odd. Eric hated Bill, is he only doing this because he's been hurt by Sookie? Because Bill is the king? Who knows. After they are captured by the Authority a rogue agent sets them free. This girl happens to be Nora, Eric's "sister." They are brother and sister because they share the same maker, Godric. But no one knows about this, not even Pam. This could also explain why Nora wasn't around when Godric was kidnapped in season 2, because she had to stay in the Authority. We already know they are going to play a big part in this season, and it looks like next week's episode will introduce them more.

Although I loved this opener, it also perfectly showcases one of the things about True Blood that I find insanely annoying: They have multiple story lines that do NOT connect at all. Since season 3 they've been going downhill when it comes to tying story lines together. True Blood has a lot of characters that we've gotten attached too, but sometimes I just wish they would all be back in Merlotte's at once like old times. I have a feeling season 5 is going to be killing a couple of these main characters off. I'm going to guess that Terry, Hoyt, Holly, and maybe Luna eventually bite the dust.

Best lines of the opener:

Eric: "We fight like siblings, but fuck like champions."

Holly's son: "On the couch, Mama? Where I sleep!"

Pam: "If your magic powers and super snatch can fix what's broken between me and Eric, and then you still owe me one, we have a deal."

Indie Gems: Brokeback Mountain

Do not call this the "gay cowboy movie."

Seriously, it's one of my biggest pet peeves to date. This movie deserves so much more than that moniker. It's truly one of the greatest love stories of all time.

Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) is a quite ranch hand who takes up a job herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain. It's there that he meets Jack Twist, (Jake Gyllenhaal) a charismatic rodeo cowboy from Texas. Jack attempts to break Ennis's tough exterior, and he eventually does. The two fall in love, but they live in a time where they cannot share this love in public. They part, they marry, Ennis to Alma, (Michelle Williams) and Jack to Lureen. (Anne Hathaway) They have children, they work hard, but they start to meet for fishing trips annually, still trying to hide their relationship. It's only when Alma catches them in a passionate moment that things become a bit more difficult.

It's hard to explain what I love the most about this film. The direction, the sweeping cinematography, the beautiful score, the fantastic breakthrough performances from the cast. Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Williams, and Hathaway had plenty films under their belts prior, but this film really kick-started them as being "critically acclaimed." Oscar noms (and one win) have followed for all four. I found this movie to be tragic to begin with, but even more so after Heath Ledger's death. It's a damn shame we'll never be able to see more of the greatness he provided us on screen. I remember when this didn't win Best Picture at the Oscars my jaw literally dropped. I didn't watch the Oscars when Shakespeare in Love beat Saving Private Ryan, so this was the biggest upset in my viewing years. That final scene of Ennis opening his closet to see his and Jack's shirts hanging neatly together gets me every time.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "Jack..I swear.." - Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger)

Indie Gems: We Need To Talk About Kevin

Nature vs Nurture

It's hard for a movie based on a beloved book to transition well on screen. I try to go into every film like this knowing it won't be as extensive as the book. That being said, WNTTAK is a very well made film, and while it kept all the crucial points of the story, it could've benefited from a few more explanations.

This review will contain minor spoilers from the book/movie.

Eva Khatchadorian (Tilda Swinton) didn't really want a baby, but her husband Franklin (John C. Reilly) did. Their first child is Kevin. (played by Rock Duer as a toddler, Jasper Newell as a child, and Ezra Miller, most effectively as a teenager) Kevin is not your average child. His hate for his mother is apparent. He screams endlessly as a baby, he refuses to talk as a toddler, he wears diapers until he's 6 years old. He swears at Eva, talks back, says horrible things and is very distant. As a child, he's portrayed as nothing but a brat. It's only when Kevin is a teen do we really see how cunning, manipulative, and smart he actually is. Eventually Kevin becomes responsible for a tragedy at his school, the film is about how Evan copes with that. Most towns people hold her accountable for Kevin's actions, but if she really to blame?

The book is written in a series of letters that Eva writes to her separated husband, Franklin. The movies is done in a series of flashbacks instead. We get many montages of Kevin's life accompanied by music. It adds to the story, unlike say, Tree of Life who's montages took away from it. The one thing that annoyed me in the novel continued to annoy me in the film: How everyone treated Eva. I find it a but unrealistic that people would be so cruel to her after what has happened. Then I think about how the world is filled with some pretty simple-minded people that always need someone to blame, and I can understand it better. I think the movie could've benefited by the following 3 explanations:

1) Nature vs Nurture. In the book, it's very clear that Eva is questioning whether or not to blame herself. The movie almost portrays her as just a bad mother and Kevin being born evil, but the book went more in depth. I think a simple scene of Eva telling Franklin she's not ready for children would've helped it. Also when she has their second child, Ceila, showing a quick montage of how much more Celia bonded with Eva would've been the right thing to do.

2) Kevin's prison conversations. We get a few shots of them during visitation, and a quick, yet powerful snippet of an interview Kevin did on TV. However there were a few crucial conversations that I feel should've been put into the film. How Kevin actually felt about his father. Book Kevin bashes his father for being so oblivious and tells the interviewer to "lay off his mother." Kevin's rant in the film about  viewers turning the channel if he "only got an A in geometry" had a lot more too it in the book. He criticized other school shootings in the process and felt he was superior. This really gave us a look at who Kevin really was, but the screenwriters probably left it out for sympathy's sake. Also, the final scene between Kevin and Eva would've benefited from being EXACTLY like the book. The word for word conversation and actions were much more powerful.

3) The massacre should've been better explained. One thing that annoys me on end is reading internet threads were people complain about the set up. "Oh, he just had a bow and arrow, they should've charged him, they shouldve ran." ALL of this was explained in the book. It showed how calculating he was. For the record, he steals a school letterhead and sends a copy to each student (that he carefully picked out for certain reasons) and one teacher, telling them they won an award. He locks every door in the gym with his bike locks, and sneaks the final lock while his victims are conversing. He goes up to a higher platform in the gym so that he is above everybody, and shoots them down with a cross bow. Cross bows are quicker to load, so he would've have to waste time drawing arrows, and they shoot fast giving the victims barely enough time to panic. I don't think they necessarily had to SHOW the massacre in the movie, but they could've at least given him a cross bow and mentioned the letter head.

Those complaints aside, WNTTAK is a great film. Swinton gives a wonderful performance as Eva, who really is one of the best written characters I've ever read. Ezra Miller really was the only actor who got Kevin in my opinion. Sure the other two were young, but they were just making faces. Miller legitimately got under my skin. Tell me that scene of Eva walking in on Kevin masturbating was not the creepiest thing ever.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I used to think I knew, but now I'm not so sure." - Kevin (Ezra Miller)