Review: Hotel Transylvania 2

There's a reason they're called a litter.

I never saw the first Hotel Transylvania, my kid was still an infant, so I never bothered. Thankfully you don't need to see the first one to follow along.

Dracula (Adam Sandler) is a new grandfather after his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) has a son with her human husband Jonathan (Andy Samberg). Fast forward five years, and he still doesn't have his fangs. Dracula is having trouble accepting that his son might actually be a human instead of a vampire.

Of all the animated films I've taken my son to this year, this is the one he laughed the hardest in. Same with me, this movie has some hilariously stupid moments. I'm a sucker for some of the voice actors in this, like Steve Buscemi and Keegan Michael Key. My only complaint - the music. I love Mark Mothersbaugh, but I hate when films overly feature one artist just because they're also a voice actor. In this case, that person is Selena Gomez. It was just too much. My husband complained about the same thing in Home. (With Rihanna) 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Big foot is doing really well in the German football league." - Dracula (Adam Sandler)

Review: The Green Inferno

Rain forest Shmainforest 

I had to get the South Park joke out of the way first. Justine (Lorenza Izzo) is a college Freshman who after getting worked up over a lesson on female gender mutilation in class gets invited by Jonah (Aaron Burns) to join an activist group lead by Alejandro (Ariel Levy) and his super bitch girlfriend, Kara. (Ignacia Allamand) Their mission is to go to South America, where a small tribe is about to be destroyed along with the rain forest around them. After they arrive and manage to live stream some bulldozing, their trip is cut short when their plane crashes and the tribe they are trying to protect has other plans for them.

Eli Roth's ode to Cannibal Holocaust (though thankfully without all the rape and actual animal killings) has been a long time coming. Originally scheduled for a 2013 release, it got stuck in distribution hell and was released this week with zero promotion. It's a shame, because Roth knows horror and a brutal film like this could find a decent audience had it actually been promoted a bit.

The film takes the slow burn approach. The wait for the students to get to the jungle is almost agonizingly long and it hammers in the foreshadowing, but once they arrive to their doomed destination, it wastes no time getting to the gore.

Acting-wise, the film starts off terribly as we're introduced to Justine's friend, Kaycee (Sky Ferreira) who I'm not even exaggerating - is one of the worst actresses I've ever seen. Immediately after seeing her I was afraid I'd be in for some wooden performances, but the core group of actors who are taken are much stronger and play "terrified" very well. 

The film is brutal and at times very hard to watch, but I've always enjoyed Roth's directing, and Greg Nicotero's make up is perfect for this type of film. The score is very menacing balances everything well. There's a part after the credits that almost ruins the ending a bit. I wish I would've made it out of the theater before it started because I liked how it ended better before seeing it. Either way, this is a good way to kick off "horror season." 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I wish I would've died in that crash." - Amy (Kirby Bliss Blanton)

Random thought: Read interviews with Eli Roth about making this film, or at least the IMDb trivia section. It's insane. 

Indie Gems: '71

Left behind.

Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is a young British solider whose platoon is sent to Belfast in 1971 to assist with looking for weapons hidden by the I.R.A. When a riot breaks out, he's injured and left behind. He tries to navigate his way back to his barracks, but he can't tell who he can really rely on as everyone has their own agendas. 

O'Connell is really shaping up to be one hell of an actor. I'm sure those in Europe probably already knew that, but for me, seeing him in this and Starred Up was wonderful. He's very intense. In a film where a lot of the characters sort of blend with the rest, O'Connell makes our lead stand out. He's backed up by some great smaller performances as well. Corey McKinley, who plays one of the most amusing children I've ever seen, and Richard Dormer because Beric Dondarrion. 

At first, I found a few things hard to follow. They explain the different factions of the I.R.A at the beginning of the film, and there were a few times I had a bit of an issue with remembering who belongs to who. But it makes sense more sense as we go along. This film was a very brutal and interesting ride.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Why didn't he take you with him?" - Loyalist Kid (Corey McKinley)

Thursday Movie Picks: Adopted/Foster Families

This year's final "All in the Family" edition of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks centers around families with adopted children and/or foster care. There's definitely no shortage of these films, but I found that I actually used some of them for other categories before. Luckily, some great ones were still out there: 

1) Short Term 12

This is one of my favorite movies in recent years, and it really showed what it's like to work in a short term foster home/rehabilitation facility. This film got everything right. It was incredible and Brie Larson is a gem. 

2) Running With Scissors

Poor Augusten's mother not only randomly puts him up for adoption when he's a teenager, but she gives him to her odd shrink and his even more bizarre family. Someone is going to be wtf'ing for life. 

3) Gigantic

This cute little indie is about a guy named Brian(Paul Dano) who feels very empty in his life and is trying to adopt a child from China. Then he meets Happy (Zooey Deschanel) and things get a bit weird. It might be the typical "quirky" indie, but I've always liked it. 

Bonus: Child of Rage - Sure, this is a Lifetime TV movie but it's based on a true story of a family that adopts a child with severe reactive attachment disorder. It's not a film I'd ever watch again, but I thought of it when I saw this theme. It's intense. 

Review: Black Mass

It's not what you do, it's where you do it.

It almost feels redundant because Bulger is so well known, but here's the story - James "Whitey" Bulger (Johnny Depp) ran crime in south Boston in the 70's. He was feared and he was careful. He rose to essentially king pin status because of a deal he made with his childhood friend, John Conolly (Joel Egerton) who was in the FBI. In exchange for an "agreement" (Whitey insisted that he wasn't an informant, nor a rat) he fed the FBI intel to take down the Italian mafia, all while they turned a blind eye to him. Of course, Whitey never stayed out of trouble, and soon all the drugs dealings, murders, eventually come down on him.

Even if you know a lot about Bulger and his story, this film still demands to be seen. It has a majorly talented cast, even though some of the big players like Corey Stoll and Peter Sarsgaard only have a few scenes. It's been awhile since I had read anything on Bulger, so I didn't mind the refresher. 

It's nice to see Johnny Depp back in this form. He's a force as Bulger. Quietly terrifying and unpredictable. This is the Depp we've been missing over the past few years. Egerton is still on a roll as of late, playing the cocky and disingenuous Conolly.  You get to the point where you're really rooting against him. Especially when Conolly is speaking with his fellow co-workers played by Kevin Bacon, Adam Scott, and David Harbour - who is supremely underrated and gives the best performance second to Depp in this film. He's obviously a guy trying to do the right thing who gets way in over his head, and you can slowly seem him come apart as he realizes this.

For a film about a crime lord, It's not nearly as violent as it could've been. It earns its R rating, but for anyone that is afraid of it being too gory, it's not bad at all. The atmosphere of the film is intense and the pacing is perfect. (They apparently edited out at least 30 minutes from the original cut) Sure, some were shaky on their accents (Benedict Cumberbatch some of the time, Dakota Johnson all of the time, but yell yes to Juno Temple who nailed it in her one scene) but none are bad enough to distract for very long.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "If you ever come into my office again with a fucked up idea like that, you will rue the day you joined the FBI." - Billy Bulger (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Random thought: How the hell did Dakota Johnson secure top billing for this film? If any female should've gotten that honor, it should've been Julianne Nicholson. 

Review: Grandma

Women are assholes.

No, really. Every single person in this film either tells someone to stop being one, or admits they're acting like one.

Elle (Lily Tomlin) is a sharp tongued writer who has just broken up with her girlfriend of four months, Olivia. (Judy Greer) Right after that, her teenage grand daughter Sage (Julia Garner) shows up unexpectedly looking for $630 to have an abortion. She's too afraid to ask her domineering mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and with Elle being temporarily broke, they go off visiting people in Elle's life trying to get the money. 

It's hard to go wrong with a cast like this. Thankfully, Grandma doesn't. Lily Tomlin should be a shoo-in in the Best Actress in a Comedy category at the Globes. She's harsh and hilarious. Julia Garner is always good at playing sweet and innocent. Sage is just that, but you can tell deep down she has the potential fire that her grandma and mother both have.

The film takes place in the span of one day. We meet the douche who impregnated Sage, who Elle promptly beats with a hockey stick. A few of her friends, and even a former lover. That's where the film stalls temporarily. Even though said lover is played by Sam Elliot, everything out of his mouth is a platitude. It threw the entire tone off. Thankfully, after that scene is when Harden appears and gets things back to where they were.

Grandma is a wonderfully sunny film with a great cast. It's a quick watch and definitely deserves to be seen.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I don't have an anger problem, I have an asshole problem. People are assholes, I get angry." - Elle (Lily Tomlin)

2015 Blind Spot Series: Welcome To The Dollhouse


What I knew going in: I had seen clips of this on IFC's Indie Sex documentary.

Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo) is an awkward 7th grader who is severely bullied at school and neglected at home in favor of her smarter older brother and her perfect little sister. She has no clue how to act in social situations, so when some people are kind to her, her anger gets the best of her and she lashes out. She's so desperate for attention that she latches on to any boy that will say more than a few words to her. 

Being a lover of independent films, I know this is one I probably should've seen awhile ago. It's frequently talked about and has almost somewhat of a cult following. This is a role that Matarazzo will known for the rest of her life for playing. No one could've played Dawn like she did. 

As for living up to indie level hype? I'm a bit torn on a few things. While Junior High is quite literally the worst, I was a bit distracted by some of the things that went on here. They were almost too over the top. Dawn's locker graffiti being left up all year long, the entire class chanting "wiener dog" at her during an assembly without any teachers doing a single thing. I'm sure variations of these things happen, but it brought me out of the moment a bit. I know the film is technically a dark comedy, but that's never the feel I got from it. I always felt like it was quite tragic. 

That being said, the good far outweighs the bad. I liked the performances, the "angry" music that played off and on to transition scenes. Melissa Toth, the costume designer honestly should've gotten an Oscar nomination based on Dawn's attire alone. She's criminally underrated for her work. There's a sequel of sorts in post production right now, though Matarazzo won't reprise Dawn. (She feels that playing her again would soil the ending of this film.) So Greta Gerwig will step in instead. I'm not sure how to feel about that.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Why do you hate me?" Dawn Wiener (Heather Matarazzo)

2015 Emmy Award Winners + my thoughts


"The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity" - Viola Davis. Can we talk about how perfect her speech was? I wanted to cry. That happened a few times, actually. I wanted to cry when Tracy Morgan was talking about his recovery. I wanted to cry when I saw George R. R Martin in attendance NOT writing Winds of Winter. I wanted to cry when they threatened to use Shame Nun from Game of Thrones to play people off instead of the orchestra, then didn't follow through.  I guess I've been drinking too much wine. Here are the 2015 Emmy winners in the acting categories. The winners are in blue, my thoughts as always follow in green


Outstanding Comedy Series
Louie
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep
FINALLY Veep wins best Comedy, breaking Modern Family's streak. They're the funniest thing on TV right now. They deserved it. 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Lily Tomlin - Grace and Frankie
Amy Schumer - Inside Amy Schumer
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation
Lisa Kudrow - The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
I was psyched for JLD, but it seems a lot of people were angry Poehler didn't win. When I saw Seth Meyers was presenting, I actually thought she'd take it. It would've been nice to see her receive an Emmy from one of her closest friends. 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson - Black-ish
Matt LeBlanc - Episodes
Don Cheadle - House of Lies
Louis C.K. - Louie
William H. Macy - Shameless
Will Forte - The Last Man on Earth
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent
Jimmy Kimmel had the best presentation of the night when he opened the envelope early, cut out the name, then ate it. Some poor Emmy employee probably had a heart attack. 


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Niecy Nash - Getting On
Julie Bowen - Modern Family
Allison Janney - Mom
Kate McKinnon - Saturday Night Live
Mayim Bialik - The Big Bang Theory
Gaby Hoffman - Transparent
Jane Krakowski - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Anna Chlumsky - Veep
I'm happy for Janney. She has so many Emmys. I do have to take a moment to bitch about Mayim Bialik being insufferable on the red carpet again. Yes, we know you have a neuroscience degree. That does not mean you are a neuroscientist. Where are you contributing? What papers have you written recently? Yeah Bialik, we get it it. You think you're smart, but you're an actress. That's your job. Stop trying to make yourself sound superior. You play the most annoying character on the Big Bang Theory. 


Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Andre Braugher - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver - Girls
Keegan-Michael Key - Key & Peele
Ty Burrel - Modern Family
Titus Burgess- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale - Veep
The announcer said Hale was so excited to hear about his nomination that he forgot to take his daughter to camp. He thanked her in his speech. 


Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange Is the New Black
I'm so happy that Game of Thrones is finally getting recognized as the best drama, it's just a shame it was for its worst season. 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes - Homeland
Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson - Empire
Tatiana Maslany -Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men
Robin Wright - House of Cards
I quoted Viola at the beginning of my post, but her acceptance speech is seriously so perfect. Henson was so happy for her too. 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler - Bloodline
Jeff Daniels - The Newsroom
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Liev Schrieber - Ray Donovon
Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
I wanted Odenkirk to win this, but I'm happy for Hamm. I think the internet would've exploded if he lost again. Then I wouldn't be hear blogging. 


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Joanne Froggatt - Downton Abbey
Lena Headey - Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Uzo Aduba - Orange Is the New Black
Christine Baranski - The Good Wife



Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks - Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn - Bloodline
Jim Carter - Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly - House of Cards
Alan Cumming - The Good Wife
Peter Dinklage obviously thought Jonathan Banks was going to win because he got up and was like "Jonathan Banks..and everyone else." I'm happy for Dinklage, but this was not his best season at all. Other Thrones actors were better.


Outstanding Mini Series
American Crime
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Honorable Woman
Olive Kitteridge
Wolf Hall
Holy crap, Olive Kitteridge cleaned house tonight. 


Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or Movie
Felicity Huffman - American Crime
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Frances McDormand - Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson - Mrs. Lovett
Maggie Gyllenhaal - The Honorable Woman
In case you were wondering, Frances McDormand still hates everything.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini Series or a Movie
Timothy Hutton - American Crime
Ricky Gervais - Derek Special
Adrien Brody - Houdini
David Oyelowo - Nightingale
Richard Jenkins - Olive Kitteridge
Mark Rylance - Wolf Hall


Outstanding TV Movie
Agatha Christie’s Poirot — Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
Bessie
Grace of Monaco
Hello Ladies: The Movie
Killing Jesus
Nightingale
I thought Bessie would win more, but this is it. 


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a  Mini Series or Movie
Regina King - American Crime
Sarah Paulson - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Angela Bassett - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Mo’Nique - Bessie
Zoe Kazan - Olive Kitteridge
Zoe was the only Olive Kitteridge actor that didn't win, but judging by the clips they showed, these performances were all great. I'm happy for King, she looked very surprised. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini Series or Movie
Richard Cabral  American Crime
Denis O’Hare  American Horror Story: Freak Show
Finn Wittrock  American Horror Story: Freak Show
Michael Kenneth Williams - Bessie
Bill Murray - Olive Kitteridge
Damian Lewis - Wolf Hall

Indie Gems: It Felt Like Love

Bask in the awkwardness.

Lila (Gina Piersanti) is a shy girl that's trying very hard to emulate her more sexually charged friend, Chiara. (Giovanna Salimeni) She mimics some of the stories Chiara tells her to her younger neighbor, pretending she's lived them herself. When she sees Sammy (Ronen Rubinstein) a college aged guy who knows Chiara from his neighborhood, she attempts to insert herself into his life so that she can experience the things she feels she's behind on.

This was a film that had a bit of buzz around the time it was at the Sundance Film Festival a few years ago. It even managed to score a few Independent Spirit Nominations. It's director/writer Eliza Hittman's first full length feature and I think she does a wonderful job. It reminded me a bit of Kids, watching Lila make terrible decisions and put herself in bad situations. Hittman really does capture how awkward those years can be, especially for girls. This film doesn't go as far as Kids did. Sammy, though he never sends Lila away doesn't take advantage of her like you're expecting him too.

Most of the actors in this film were just starting out, or had only a few credits to their name before this. They all felt natural in their roles, and Piersanti showed a lot of promise. It's not a film I'd probably watch again, but I can't help but praise a small film with a great first start by the director and her cast.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "But you've had it happen before, right?" - Lila (Gina Piersanti)

Thursday Movie Picks: Journalists/Reporters

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about journalists/reports for either print of TV. There's lots to choose from this week, and the ones I picked might seem a bit weird,(side note: I need to finish watching Shattered Glass) so let's get to it. 

The Ring

The reporting part of The Ring probably isn't what most people think of when they see this title. (That would be reserved for the girl crawling out of the TV) but going on Rachel's journey to find the truth about the video tape is an interesting and creepy ride.

Zodiac

Everything about these newspaper reporters covering the Zodiac killer is perfect. This film is brilliantly shot and acted.

Nightcrawler

Accident journalism is a thing! Between Lou trying to document the goriest things he can find and Nina trying to turn them into ratings gold for her news station, they're a match made in shady journalism hell. 

2015 Emmy Nominees. Who will win, who should win

This is the part where I attempt to guess what Emmy voters are going to do, which is almost pointless because these bastards can get really unpredictable with their winners. (But never their nominees, we always see those coming) I managed a pretty amazing feat this year: I did not see a single mini series/TV movie nominee. That's never happened to me before. So full disclosure, all of those are guesses based on what other people are saying, and my own actor bias. 

Here's who I think will win, and in some cases, who should win instead.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Louie
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep
Who will win: Parks and Rec. It's their final season, so they might actually get some love. Or they could play it safe and Transparent will win again.
Who should win: Veep or Louie. Mostly Veep, it's the funniest show on TV now.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Lily Tomlin - Grace and Frankie
Amy Schumer - Inside Amy Schumer
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Amy Poehler - Parks and Recreation
Lisa Kudrow - The Comeback
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Who will win: I think Julia Louis-Dreyfus will take it home again, but critics love The Comeback, so Kudrow could be rewarded too.
Who should win: Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson - Black-ish
Matt LeBlanc - Episodes
Don Cheadle - House of Lies
Louis C.K. - Louie
William H. Macy - Shameless
Will Forte - The Last Man on Earth
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent
Who will win: Jeffrey Tambor
Who should win: Forte was hilarious in Last Man on Earth. And I love Louis CK. I really wish I could see Transparent, because I hear Tambor is great. Nearly everyone in this category would be a worthy winner. Except LeBlanc, I'm not sure what he's still doing here. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Niecy Nash - Getting On
Julie Bowen - Modern Family
Allison Janney - Mom
Kate McKinnon - Saturday Night Live
Mayim Bialik - The Big Bang Theory
Gaby Hoffman - Transparent
Jane Krakowski - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Anna Chlumsky - Veep
Who will win: This is tough, but I think Krakowski will take it home.
Who should win: Always Anna, she's amazing.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Andre Braugher - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Adam Driver - Girls
Keegan-Michael Key - Key & Peele
Ty Burrel - Modern Family
Titus Burgess- Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale - Veep
Who will win: I think Tony Hale will take home another.
Who should win: Hale, but I love seeing Key in here too.

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange Is the New Black
Who will win: Game of Thrones. This was (IMO) their worst season, which means they'll probably win their first Emmy for drama series. Mad Men might get a grand send off though, but I have a weird feeling about this one.
Who should win: I love GoT despite the shit they turn out sometimes, so I always root for them. But OITNB (this is season 2 that's competing) was great and Better Call Saul got off to an excellent start.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes - Homeland
Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Taraji P. Henson - Empire
Tatiana Maslany -Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss - Mad Men
Robin Wright - House of Cards
Who will win: Elisabeth Moss. I expect Mad Men to win quite a few trophies for their final season. Henson has a good shot as well.
Who should win: I don't watch any of these shows, but judging by the internet, Maslany should have an Emmy. 


Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler - Bloodline
Jeff Daniels - The Newsroom
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Liev Schrieber - Ray Donovon
Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
Who will win: Jon Hamm will finally, FINALLY take home an Emmy now that he doesn't have Bryan Cranston wiping the floor with him.
Who should win; I love me some Odenkirk.  

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Joanne Froggatt - Downton Abbey
Lena Headey - Game of Thrones
Emilia Clarke - Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks - Mad Men
Uzo Aduba - Orange Is the New Black
Christine Baranski - The Good Wife
Who will win: It's a close race between Hendricks and Aduba, it will almost certainly be one of them.
Who should win: Headey because she's great. I'm still annoyed Clarke is here.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks - Better Call Saul
Ben Mendelsohn - Bloodline
Jim Carter - Downton Abbey
Peter Dinklage - Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly - House of Cards
Alan Cumming - The Good Wife
Who will win: This is tough, but I think Banks might take it.
Who should win: Banks or Dinklage. 

Outstanding Mini Series
American Crime
American Horror Story: Freak Show
The Honorable Woman
Olive Kitteridge
Wolf Hall
Who will win: American Horror Story usually does. I haven't seen any of these.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Mini Series or Movie
Felicity Huffman - American Crime
Jessica Lange - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Queen Latifah, Bessie
Frances McDormand - Olive Kitteridge
Emma Thompson - Mrs. Lovett
Maggie Gyllenhaal - The Honorable Woman
Who will win: Maggie Gyllenhaal is getting rave reviews for this, so probably her. Or Lange will be rewarded again for AHS. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Mini Series or a Movie
Timothy Hutton - American Crime
Ricky Gervais - Derek Special
Adrien Brody - Houdini
David Oyelowo - Nightingale
Richard Jenkins - Olive Kitteridge
Mark Rylance - Wolf Hall
Who will win: Richard Jenkins

Outstanding TV Movie
Agatha Christie’s Poirot — Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
Bessie
Grace of Monaco
Hello Ladies: The Movie
Killing Jesus
Nightingale
Who will win: Bessie has the most buzz out of any of these.


Outstanding Supporting Actress in a  Mini Series or Movie
Regina King - American Crime
Sarah Paulson - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Angela Bassett - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Kathy Bates - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Mo’Nique - Bessie
Zoe Kazan - Olive Kitteridge
Who will win:I'm assuming Bates takes this for AHS
Who should win: I'm bias, I love Zoe Kazan.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Mini Series or Movie
Richard Cabral  American Crime
Denis O’Hare  American Horror Story: Freak Show
Finn Wittrock  American Horror Story: Freak Show
Michael Kenneth Williams - Bessie
Bill Murray - Olive Kitteridge
Damian Lewis - Wolf Hall
Who will and should win: Michael Kenneth Williams. You come at the king, you best not miss. 



DVD Review: Waltz With Bashir

Something to help your memory.

Ari Folman has trouble remembering parts of the Lebanon war in the 80's. He decides he wants to speak with former friends and veterans to see what they remember and if they can help him. Instead of interviews in a documentary format. He chooses to tell his story through animation and reenactments of the conversations he had.

This has been on my watch list for ages. I've always heard such wonderful things. Watching it now, I can see why it sticks with people. I'm not sure if I've ever seen anything like this. 

The animation is singular and doesn't feel like I've seen something like it over and over. The way Folman crafts this film together is fascinating. It blends fantasies, the horrors of war, and simple conversations well. It does drag a bit here and there, but it never stops being easy to watch.

Fun fact: I handle cartoon dog death and vomiting about as well as I handle it in live action films....which is really poorly.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "It's fine as long as you draw, but don't film." - Ronny Dayag

DVD Review: The Salvation

What do we say to the God of death?

"NOW. Please now. Please kill everybody"

Okay, so maybe that's not what Syrio teaches on Game of Thrones, but it absolutely applies to this movie.

The setting is 1870. Jon (Mads Mikkelson) is a Danish farmer who moved to America to try to make a better living. When he finally gets his wife and child to move to America to see him seven years later, of course his wife gets raped, then murdered, and his son murdered after only being there for a few hours. Jon manages to kill the men that did this, but unfortunately the dead man's brother is Henry Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who is a notorious gang leader. He terrorizes the small town where the murders happened until someone gives up Jon. His dead brother's wife, who he calls "Princess" (Eva Green) is also by his side, and he decides that he's going to be her new lover now, because of course he did. He's a big baddie and women exist in this movie only to be raped. (Or have their husband shot point blank in front of them)

This does to show that even someone as wonderful as Mads Mikkelson can't save a movie. I love Eva Green too, but she's mute, so she doesn't have anything to work with. I'm not crazy about westerns, so I was probably destined to never like this. But the whole thing was just ridiculous. There's a scene where Henry is standing in a crowd shooting innocent people because no one found his brother's murderer. Yet, there's all these dudes standing around with guns, and no one thinks to shoot him while he's going on this rampage? Jon has a brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt) that gets to do a few badass things in the beginning, but it all gets cut short.

I spent this entire movie just wishing Mads would hurry up and shoot everybody.

Recommended: No

Grade: F

Memorable Quote: "I learned something from war. Never start a fight you can't win." - Peter (Mikael Persbrandt)

Indie Gems: Nowhere Boy

A Day in the Life

Nowhere Boy follows a young John Lennon (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) deals with his complicated relationship with his Aunt Mimi, (Kristin Scott Thomas) the woman who raised him and his mother Julia (Anne Marie Duff) the one that left him as a small child all while trying to start a rock and roll band.

I've been a big fan of the Beatles for some time, though if you're looking for an informative bio pic on Lennon's teen years, this probably isn't for you. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson (Though she was Taylor-Wood when she made this) took a lot of creative liberties. But it doesn't have to be. Even though it doesn't get every detail as it really was, it's still a very rich and engaging story. 

I love how this film was shot. Taylor-Wood (only referring her this way to differentiate between her and Aaron, and this came out in 09 so it feels right) Even though the drama is heavy in some scenes, it has an upbeat feel and the music blended perfectly with it. The acting is excellent all around. Johnson nailed Lennon's accent, even if he doesn't look much like Lennon. Or how we think of Lennon, anyways. Anne Marie Duff was tremendous and even though Kristin Scott Thomas has played a role like this 100 times, she's perfect for it. 

The only part the film really struggled with was when Thomas Brodie-Sangster, who's playing Paul McCartney had to lip sync. Otherwise, I thought he got feel of Paul down. The film is short at around 90 minutes, so it zips by fast and never has the opportunity to drag.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Because I don't go around smashing things and acting like a dick? - Paul (Thomas Brodie-Sangster)

Thursday Movie Picks: Train Movies

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is train movies. Also a nice reminder that I never got around to seeing Transsiberian...

1) Snowpiercer

One of my favorites from last year, the entire film takes place on a train that goes around the world after an attempt to stop global warming ruins it. Sure, there's a few plot holes, but who cares? IT'S AWESOME!

2) The Darjeeling Limited

This movie is definitely wacky, but it's fun and bright and well, it's Wes Anderson. That's most of his films. I think this tends to me on most peoples' lower end of Anderson films, it's actually on the higher side of mine.

3) The Station Agent

Okay, so this film doesn't take place on a train, but it's about a train enthusiast who inherits an abandoned station and it has amazing performances by Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson and Bobby Canavale. 

Review: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

Awkward popcorn staring.

You can have a lot of different emotions in a theater, but there's nothing quite like feeling too awkward/uncomfortable to watch the screen. In this case, I examined my popcorn rather closely, more than once.

Minnie (Bel Powley) is a 15 year old living in San Francisco in the 70's. She wants to be an artist and her drawings frequently come to life during the film, adding psychedelic frames throughout. She also is becoming hyper aware of her sexuality, especially after she loses her virginity to her mother's boyfriend, Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard) Despite loving to draw, Minnie doesn't write down her thoughts, she records them on a tape recorder, and on we go on her journey through her sexual awakening.

I knew going in that Minnie was going to have sex with Monroe, but I didn't realize that it was going to be an extended thing throughout the entire movie. Somehow, I thought it would play differently. Like a one time experiment that she moves on from. Nope. I never stopped being grossed out at the sight of a fifteen year old having sex with an adult. I couldn't wait for those scenes to be over. Powley is just too good at being a convincing teenager.

Speaking of Powley, she's great. She really is a joy to watch (when she's not fucking Monroe) Skarsgard also had a very strong performance. Kristen Wiig, as usual was the weakest link for me. Even Christopher Meloni in his small part out shined her. The best part about this film however is definitely the production side. The costume designers, the art direction, set design, everything looks perfect for 1975. Even the way it's shot, it feels like a film from that era. 

I'm not sure how to grade this film, to be honest. Minnie learns a valuable lesson from all of this, and the final few moments of the film are so strong, but this just wasn't for me. (Weird, I know. I like a lot of uncomfortable movies) No matter how good of a job everyone did.

Recommended: Sure. There is a lot of good things here, it's just a hard watch.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Do I look different?" - Minnie (Bel Powley) 

DVD Review: Two Days, One Night

Could you do it?

Sandra (Marion Cotillard) has been on medical leave for depression for some time. Right before she's due to return to her job, she's informed that her boss has given her colleagues an ultimatum about her position. They think her job can be done with one less employee. So they're either going to pay staff their bonuses, or pay her salary. They voted, and the majority opted to keep their bonus. After a decision is made to postpone the vote until Monday morning. Sandra spends her weekend visiting her co workers to see if they will vote for her to keep her job.

I couldn't even imagine myself in Sandra's shoes. I don't think I would have the lady-balls to actually come face to face with my colleagues and ask them to give up a large bonus for me. The fact that Sandra is dealing with depression and doing this is even more impressive. Her husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) is her main supporter and pushes her along the way, even when she tries to give up.

Cotillard is just astonishing in this film. She's so convincing as a woman trying so hard to overcome her depression and not feeling worthy after so many let downs. There's a scene where she stands in front of her mirror and tries to convince herself not to cry, but eventually gives in, that I found so realistic and moving. It made me feel want to cry for her so she could hold it together. (Which I actually did later on, because of course I did)

A film like this risks feeling repetitive because she's required to ask the same question to about 13 different people, but the reactions of her colleagues are so different from the last that it stops the film from dragging. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "You mustn't cry." - Sandra (Marion Cotillard)

Indie Gems: For Your Consideration

Actors are special.

Marilyn Hack (Catherine O'Hara) is a struggling actress that has a starring role in a small budget film called Home For Purim. When an anonymous comment online talks about her being Oscar worthy good, Marilyn, and the other stars of the film, Victor Allen Miller (Harry Shearer) and Callie Webb (Parker Posey) start to let it get to their heads. It's not just them either, the entire production is caught up in the awards season buzz before they even finish shooting.

The film works as a great satire on Hollywood, actors, and what probably happens behind the scenes during our beloved awards season. O'Hara, Shearer, and Posey are spectacular and both make us feel bad for their characters and cringe at them. The film's extensive supporting cast works on so many levels. It's almost kind of shocking to see the film tackle the behind the scenes aspects of film making. The suits coming in and totally disregarding the writers and changing not only the film's title, but so many other things. 

Everyone who reads this blog knows I live for awards season. So many of us do, it's just fun to predict, see these great films, then get drunk and tweet about them on Oscar night. Although after doing that for so many years, watching the process this film went through regarding the nominations had me going "wait, wait wait!" a few times. "This film is being released in January? It already missed the Oscar cut off." "Why is no one talking about the Globes or SAGs?"

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I don't want anyone to know what I look like from the back." - Whitney Taylor Brown (Jennifer Coolidge)





Thursday Movie Picks: Teachers


This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves  is about those who shape our lives, whether we like it or not; teachers. We've all had teachers from hell, and also the ones we loved and learned from. I still keep in contact with my favorite one. They don't have easy jobs and they're some of the most important people in our lives. Here are three of my favorite films about teachers. 

1) Half Nelson

Ryan Gosling gives the best performance of his career as a drug addicted teacher forming a bond with one of his students. 

2) Precious

I've talked about Ms. Rain so many times on my blog, about how she made me cry when she told Precious she loved her. She's a superhero teacher, plain and simple. 

3) Pretty Persuasion 

Mr. Anderson ends up getting accused of sexual assault when three of his students decide to make up a story about him for fame. Evan Rachel Wood is perfect as a schemer in this film.  

DVD Review: Tangerines

You can't just let this beautiful fruit go to waste.

One of the cool things about blogging is that you "meet" other film fans from all over the world. I never thought I'd chat with not one but two bloggers from Estonia.  A lot of foreign movies are a bit more special to me now because I can associate them with other members of the film blogging community. My first ever Estonian film was just that as well. 

In the early 90's, The Apkhazeti region was fighting to break free from Georgia. In the middle of this conflict is Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak) An Estonian man who has stayed behind to help his friend Margus (Elmo Nuganen) harvest his tangerines so he can sell them and return to Estonia, like the rest of their village has. When a shoot out happens quite literally in Margus' front year, Ivo takes in two wounded men. Ahmed, (Giorgi Nakashidze) a Chechen missionary and Niko (Misha Meskhi) a Georgian soldier. Though they are on opposite sides of the war, Ivo forces them to recover as peacefully as possible in the same house. 

I was a bit nervous going into this, because my memories of learning about this time in history were a bit rusty. Thankfully, the film doesn't require an extensive history lesson as the commentary provided by the characters was enough. (Though I found myself reading more about it afterwards) The performances were grand, and you can't help but admire Ivo for being such a stand up guy. 

I wish this would've taken home the Oscar. It really went beyond any expectations I had. The setting is small, but the story so rich and interesting.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Cinema is a big fraud." - Ivo (Lembit Ulfsak)