Thursday Movie Picks: Heist Movies

This week, Wandering Through the shelves asks us to explore heist movies. Since I'm complete Joseph Gordon-Levitt trash, I decided to do a theme withing a theme. All of my picks are JGL films, because while heist movies aren't my favorite, sticking him in one is a sure fire way to make me see it. 

1) The Walk

This is probably one of the most unique heist movies out there because there's no guns and no one dies. That doesn't make it any less thrilling and this is also one of the few 3D films that absolutely needed to be shot that way. 

2) The Lookout

This is a very quiet heist movie. JGL plays a janitor at a bank who suffered from a traumatic brain injury years before. Because of this, he's suckered into a robbery.

3) Inception

Stealing things from dreams. Now this is one hell of a heist movie and is still one of my favorite movies of all time. I love everything about it. I'm still pissed Nolan didn't get a best director nom for this.

DVD Review: Straight Outta Compton

Express yourself.

This biopic of the iconic rap group NWA starts with following the three biggest stars, Eazy-E, (Jason Mitchell) Ice Cube, (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) and Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) from the very beginning. E selling dope, Cube writing lyrics on the school bus, and Dre with his DJ gigs. They eventually start to record with two more artists, DJ Yella (Neil Brown. Jr) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and become a sensation on the club scene. This leads to a man named Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) coming on as their manager, but specifically closest to E, and the eventual downfall of NWA, and the rise of many other things.

The run time kept putting me off seeing it in theaters. 2 1/2 hours is steep. The movie feels it, but there's so much to cover that it's completely understandable. I really enjoyed Straight Outta Compton. I can't call myself a massive NWA fan. I only knew of their big hits, but I listed to plenty of Dre and Cube afterwards. The nostalgia is strong in this film. Not only from hearing their songs, (which were expertly mixed with the actual tracks, and the actors rapping them) but seeing small cameos from artists like Snoop Dog, Tupac, and things like Ice Cube writing the Friday script. I loved it. 

Acting can be something that is so hit or miss in bio pics, and this film hit it. Jackson is obviously a spitting image of his father and I'm so glad he got to portray him. It's almost jarring to watch mini Cube. Corey Hawkins, who is currently being wasted on The Walking Dead was excellent as Dre. He cuts a very intimidating, yet vulnerable figure at times. The biggest star, however is Jason Mitchell. A lot of this film is seen through Eric's eyes and Mitchell is tasked with a variety of emotions throughout. I read that one of Eric's sons auditioned to play him, and it didn't work out. While that's sad there couldn't be another child of an NWA member playing their dad, I cannot picture anyone else but Mitchell. He nailed it. 

Straight Outta Compton might not be for everyone. I wasn't sure it would be for me, but it was. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "How do you like your new decor?" - Kim (Alexandra Shipp) 

Rambling TV: Bad showrunning + more


The Walking Dead

Has there ever been an episode of television with such an obvious plot device?Nothing this week felt natural. It was all forced to get our biggest fighters outside of the walls, and to get Carol and Morgan separate from the rest of the group. (Because God forbid Carol be with her family in one of the biggest episodes of the series next week.)

The showrunning in this show is terrible. I don't know why someone doesn't reel him and and tell him "enough with the fake out deaths. Enough with trying to force comic character traits into TV characters. Enough." 

The high lights of this episode? Well, we saw Glenn and Maggie in the shower, Rick and Michonne rolling around in bed, and Rick told Morgan he agrees with Carol on essentially everything, so that was hilarious considering so many within the fandom try to condemn Carol for her actions while excuses characters with penises who do the same things. Everything else was shit.

Better Call Saul

More Breaking Bad nostalgia this week with the twins showing up. Mike's story overshadowed Jimmy's this week, and I was fine with that. Though I felt really bad for Jimmy seeing that his firm changed his commercial to a generic one. 

I was practically screaming at Kim to take that job offer too. She needs to leave, screw Howard and Chuck.

Agents of SHIELD

Another action packed episode showing our agents out in the field. The ending to this one was sad, with Bobbi and Hunter leaving SHIELD. That bar scene was really well done and emotional. Now we know this isn't the last we'll see of them, ABC ordered a pilot called "Marvel's Most Wanted" about them on the run after these events. Truthfully, I doubt I'll watch. I like Bobbi and Hunter, but I don't think I want to see an entire spin off around them. I'd rather ABC just throw all their eggs in Agent Carter's basket because that show is still up in the air on whether or not it will be back. I suppose if Marvels Most Wanted doesn't do well, we'll see Bobbi and Hunter back on AoS, and I'm fine with that. 

Daredevil

I finally got a chance to start this! (and now I won't be able to continue until next week. Boo)

I watched the first two episodes. I'm loving the Punisher so far, Jon Bernthal is perfect for him. That scene in the pawn shop was brilliant. The fight scenes between he and Matt have been really well choreographed too.

I'm not feeling this crush Karen has on Matt. She had it last season but it was a lot more subtle, it's really in your face now. Can we please have Claire back? I know with Elektra coming, that's where Matt's relationship will go, but I still love the one he has with Claire. 

Foggy getting to swing his lawyer dick around is always a plus. 

Vinyl

This episode was really frustrating, especially the end. I hate plot points where characters lose large sums of money, it's just annoying conflict. (Though I admit it's necessary) but finding out that Richie actually gambled this money away instead of it getting stolen like we all thought? Wow. 

Also Ray Romano's bare ass, that was something.

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

DVD Review: Bridge of Spies

Bridge of fucking over Tom Hanks

There's a story Rudolf Abel, (Mark Rylance) a Soviet spy arrested in New York in the height of the cold war tells his lawyer, James Donovan. (Tom Hanks) He tells him about a man he knew as a child that was a friend of his parents. How his father told him to watch him, and he did, and saw the man did only unremarkable thing until one day, he did one thing that wasn't. That's how I felt watching this film. It gets several Oscar nominations, it's like the Academy is telling me to watch it. Yet, it's a completely unremarkable film except for Rylance (the one remarkable thing)

The trailers of this film never excited me, but I wanted to see this before the Oscars aired (I'm sure this won't be published until sometime in March/April, but know I'm writing this review on February 22nd.) I tried to look on the bright side of things, Spielberg doesn't make bad movies, but he does make typical ones, and that's where this falls. Tom Hanks is good, he always is and Donovan is a really likable guy that keeps getting screwed over. You can't help but root for this guy to triumph. I swear every time he took a drink of something I was expecting it to be poisoned. 

But that's just it. It's typical, it's what you would expect, and it never strives to be anything more than passable. Like I said, a bit unremarkable.

Recommended: Sure, if you're a Hanks/Speilberg/Rylance fan.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Would it help?" - Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance)

Indie Gems: Chi-Raq

No peace, no pussy.

Chi-Raq is a play on Chicago and Iraq. Particularly the South side of Chicago with all its gang violence. The film is a modern retelling of the Greek play Lysistrata, and our Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) is fed up with her boyfriend, a gangster actually going by the name Chi-Raq. (Nick Cannon) After witnessing a mother (Jennifer Hudson) weeping in the street over her 10 year old daughter being shot, Lysistrata decides to organize all the women together to hold back giving their men any action until the violence stops.

Where did this film come from? I didn't hear about it until a few weeks ago when bloggers began posting glowing reviews. After watching it myself, I'm shocked this film wasn't bigger, it has so much to offer. The film tackles serious social issues with a touch of humor and heart break. They speak as if they're in a play, with frequent rhymes and lengthy dialogue. Plus, how many other films are you going to see counter protests complete with crotch thrusts? None. See this one. It's completely fucking ridiculous at times, but it works. 

Parris is an absolute dream. Every time she wasn't on screen I eagerly waited for her to get back. She's perfect for this role. Hudson, who I'm usually quite critical about was so strong here too. She had to do the bulk of the emotional scenes and she sold it. That couldn't be easy for her, as she's lost family members to gun violence in real life. Nick Cannon is always good for playing a douche, and Wesley Snipes, John Cusak, Angela Basset, Samuel L. Jackson, and Dave Chapelle round out the cast. Isiah Whitlock Jr. even shows up to udder his famous "SHHHIIIEEEEEEEET" line from The Wire

If only solving violence was so simple as refusing to put out.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Be a good man." - Irene (Jennifer Hudson)

Thursday Movie Picks: Musical Biopics

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is musical biopics. I think this genre tends to be more mediocre then amazing. Still, there's some excellent films out there. Here are three of my favorites. 

1) Walk The Line

This is easily my favorite music biopic of all time. It's so wonderfully acted by its leads and you can't go wrong with Johnny Cash's music.

2) Nowhere Boy

This isn't the most factual bio pic of John Lennon, the film takes a lot of creative liberties, but it still works so well. It's a nice little gem. 

3) Love & Mercy

The Beach Boys might not be the flashiest band out there, but I have to mention last year's film staring the wonderful Paul Dano. It does a nice job of showing the "Then and now" aspect of lead singer Brian Wilson. 

Bonus: Sid and Nancy - The reason this is a bonus is because it's been so many years since I've seen it, where as the rest I've seen recently or enough times to make them stick. I enjoyed this film, but it's one I need to revisit. 

DVD Review: American Ultra

What's in this weed?

Mike (Jesse Eisenberg) is a simple stoner who lives in West Virginia. He works at a gas station, he's in love with his girlfriend Phoebe, (Kristen Stewart) but he has extreme panic attacks when he tries to leave town. He's stuck. But Mike isn't really just a stoner, he's actually a secret CIA experiment that when activated by Victoria (Connie Brighton) turns into a one man killing machine when another CIA agent, Yates (Topher Grace) tries to terminate him.

American Ultra is billed as an action comedy. It fails on the comedy part, but it's got the action scenes down very well. It's spectacularly gory and I loved that about it. I only wish the film was a bit more cohesive. It's strange trying to describe it. It's not hard to follow, but it's completely convoluted at the same time. It's like the only think we're really meant to retain in this film is all the kills Eisenberg gets.

Now, I love Eisenberg and Stewart. They have their haters, but I think they're both very talented actors and they have wonderful chemistry together. I could watch these two in movies all day. I'm not sure if another pair of actors could've made this worth watching like the two of them did. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Am I the tree?" - Mike (Jesse Eisenberg)

2016 Blind Spot Series: The Passion of Joan of Arc


What I knew going in: No much, other than it's frequently raved about.

Jeanne d'Arc (Maria Falconetti) is on trial for heresy since she says she has visions of God during the 100 Year War. I'm sure you know the story of how she becomes a martyr and is burned at the stake. This film focuses on her trial.

The DVD gave me two options of watching this. The Silent version and the Voices of Light opera version. I decided to go out of my comfort zone and stick with the silent version, which I started to regret about half way through the film.

Sometimes, movies just aren't for you, and The Passion of Joan of Arc is one of those for me. I don't completely oppose silent movies, but I don't think drama works well with that gimmick. Slap stick comedy, sure, but a film like this started to feel unintentionally campy at times. Falconetti is 95% brilliant in this movie. The pain on her face is so powerful, but there's that 5% where her eyes go a bit too wide and she looks like she's seen Frankenstein's Monster. It takes away from the beauty of her performance. All of the men, the judges and the priests are terrible. They're over the top (and those awful hair cuts don't help) and it was really hard for me to take them seriously.

I think elements of this movie work wonderfully, but over all I just couldn't get into it, no matter how much I wanted to like it. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "When the mission that God has entrusted to me is over, I will again dress as a woman." - Jeanne d'Arc (Maria Falconetti)


Rambling TV: Constant misery + more TV thoughts.

Rambling TV is a weekly series where I ramble semi-coherently about the things I've watched on television. This week is brought to you by sadness because I believe I'm watching a character assassination on TWD

The Walking Dead

Another week, another chapter in Carol's misery tour. I've lost a lot of faith in show runner Scott Gimple for a number of reasons but the fact that he can't seem to get Carol out of this funk is only making it worse. I'm not sure why he felt giving Carol all the negativity comic Andrea and Michonne ever had was a good idea. It's not going to get him an Emmy nomination. (hint: the writing needs to be better and you have to display a variety of emotions, not just sadness. Melissa McBride is an amazing actress. She can do it all) So now he makes her leave? And part of the reason this  seems to be dragging out is per Lennie James (Morgan) Gimple accommodated his schedule and shifted the arc he wanted to give him in season 5 to season 6. So he stalls other characters for Lennie James, but can't find a way to accommodate Chandler Riggs when Carl is one of the main characters? I wish I could actually stop watching this show, but I'm in too deep. It's just so depressing to see how sad Carol is. How she still wore that mask with Tobin, and she looked to Daryl while they were burying Denise and he, like her, internalizes all his grief and didn't even notice her hurting. I find it interesting they were both burying a woman who couldn't say "I love you" to her girlfriend. They're two characters that I think (hope) eventually will say "I love you" to each other. They need to learn how to work through grief together. These last few episodes are going to be rough. I really hope Gimple doesn't do to Carol what Mazarra did to Andrea; completely assassinate her character, get the audience to hate her, then kill her in the dumbest way possible. Please, do not let that happen.

In other news, Denise got an arrow to the face. I'm just glad it wasn't Tara who I was predicting to get that death. Now it appears Maggie and Glenn will have reason to go to Hilltop, a doctor (and a better one) is there.

Eugene was the star of this episode though. I hated every minute of it except when he was on screen. Okay not every minute, I like Rosita too, but Eugene was salvaging this. 


Agents of SHIELD


This episode felt like a Bond movie. Everyone was out in the field, there were twists and turns, it was exhilarating. 

FrankenWard killed a bunch of people...I can't even describe it. It was weird. Cool visual, but weird.

I'm still not feeling Daisy/Lincoln. I'd rather watch Fitz and Simmons in that scenario. 

Better Call Saul

This week was more like Better Call Kim. I could've screamed at my TV when Howard told her she had her hands full in doc exchange. What a dick. 

Did any other Breaking Bad fans completely nerd out at seeing Hector Salamanca? I did. I wasn't expecting that at all. I love seeing these characters again. I have so much love for Breaking Bad and it's so exciting to see more of this universe.

Daredevil

Oh wait, my husband wants to watch this with me so I haven't gotten to start it yet. Boo.

In happier news, the season 5 trailer for Veep was released.


Click those gifs to be redirected to their makers. 

Indie Gems: Backcountry

Reason #651324 why I hate camping.

Alex (Jeff Roop) loves the outdoors. He takes his lawyer girlfriend, Jenn (Missy Peregrym) out on a hiking trip in the backcountry of Canada. He wants to bring her to this beautiful lake he remembers fondly from his teenage years. On their first night, they meet a lone camper, Brad (Eric Balfour) who is pretty creepy and rattles Alex enough that he leads Jenn off the main trail to avoid him again. Only they've now wandered into the territory of a very predatory black bear.

I first heard of this film over on Rhino's blog and immediately threw it in my Netflix DVD queue. I love horror movies, and I'm always on the look out for small indie ones. 

The build in this movie is intense. Alex sees bear tracks early on, so we're left on the edge of our seats for not only the bear, but we wonder if the creepy hiker comes back into play as well. Jenn and Alex are a believable couple and even though the film has to use a few annoying tropes ("No, I don't need a map!" "No cell phones!") watching them never stops being tense. 

There isn't nonstop gore, but the stuff that is there is brutal. You have to give a small film like this props for what they did with the bear. They don't have the comforts of a huge budget like The Revenant did. They had to rely on quick camera movements.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "This is the last one, I promise." - Jenn (Missy Peregrym)

Thursday Movie Picks: Intersecting Stories

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is intersecting stories. The funny thing is, the two movies that immediately came to mind were Crash and Babel, two films I didn't like at all. Then there's films like Pulp Fiction and Magnolia, excellent movies, but I expect to see those quite a bit this week. I tried to think outside the box a bit, while my first pick could be a popular one too, the others were smaller indie films.

1) Snatch

It's almost embarrassing how long it took me to finally see this. My husband laughed at me the entire time we were watching this because I was like "This is so good!" and he kept saying "nice if you to arrive in 2012." (when I watched it) The quick pace of this film is fantastic. Boxers, robbers, jewelers, gangsters, and assholes all intertwine here.

2) American Gun

This is a very interesting film about gun culture in the U.S. We follow a high school principle in an inner city school, a mother who had one son who committed a school shooting, and another son who is now a high school student, a woman working at a gun store, and several teenagers.

3) Red, White, and Blue

This is actually one of the most frightening films I've seen in recent memory just for all that it represents. Each person, represented by each color is committing terrible crimes. Which is worse? Are they all equally bad? Whose going too far?

DVD Review: Amy

Back to black.

I felt like I shouldn't be watching this, a documentary on the late singer Amy Winehouse. It's as if I was intruding on her personal moments and I couldn't shake how uncomfortable this entire film felt. 

Amy was absolutely singular. She had raw talent, a voice like no one else and from the home videos we are shown, she had that spark at a very young age. She also apparently lacked guidance. Her father bailed, then only came back into her life when she was famous. Her mother dismissed Amy telling her about an eating disorder as a young teen. It's small things like these that just add to the pile of addiction and troubles Amy dealt with in her short life.

It's hard to enjoy something like this. I liked Amy. She put out great records, but everyone knew she had a problem. This entire documentary is based on home movies, televised events, and paparazzi footage. There's very few talking heads, instead the camera focuses on Amy with a subtitle in the corner of the screen telling us who's talking. I just felt really bothered watching someone's downward spiral in real time. I wish she could've gotten lasting help. It hurts that she didn't.

Recommended: Yes, it's well made, just not enjoyable.

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "...his record is called "What Goes Around Comes Around?" - Amy. 

Rambling TV: Thoughts on The Walking Dead, Agents of SHIELD + more

Rambling TV is a weekly series where I ramble semi-coherently about the things I watched on television this past week. In a shocking turn of events, I wrote this post completely sober. 

The Walking Dead

Did you know that Carol and Maggie, despite their groups meeting at the farm in season 2 have only interacted directly 3 times? Once in episode 510, last week's, and now tonight's episode. That's pathetic, but show is the way this show handles female relationships.

That's why this episode was so special. It was pure filler, yes, but it involved two women who should've interacted more saving themselves. They didn't need to be rescued by their respective men. Maggie was ruthless tonight, this has been the most I've liked her character in ages. Gimple forgot about her for the longest time.

Carol finally admitting that she's not okay (To Daryl, her "person," who Gimple has not had directly interact for an entire season) is huge. This is the start of her breaking down, getting that weight off her shoulders and actually talking. That's amazing, and Melissa McBride was so stellar in this episode. Seriously, give that woman an Emmy.



Agents of SHIELD

The focus is again on Inhumans, and even if we met a cool one in Slingshot, I still wish it was less about them. But I'm not going to get my wish so I'm just enjoying the ride.

FrankenWard is actually a good thing for Brett Dalton, who has issues emoting. Iron Chef guy actually had dialogue this episode too. But the real star was Mack. 

Fitz and Simmons decided to "start over" as they miss each other and things have been awkward since coming back from the other world. I wish they'd just make out and get it over with. I think they'd be happier.

Better Call Saul

The Breaking Bad fan in me does a little dance whenever there's a direct reference to that show. This week, it was Nacho wanting Mike to kill Tuco Salamanca. We know he obviously doesn't because he famously tangles with Walt and Jesse in BrBa, but it's interesting that Mike didn't want to kill him? Why? I hope they answer that.

Jimmy being nice to Chuck is understandable, but still irritating. I hate Chuck. I liked him so much at the begging but the fact that he's continuing to fuck with Jimmy so much made me lose all of that. It's funny how this show gets us to root for someone as sleazy as Jimmy.

American Crime

I wish I never would've started watching this show. It was superbly acted, the writing was great, it talked about rape in a way that you don't see on television, and what did the season finale do? It answered NO questions. None. The showrunners were like "I wanted people to decide for themselves." Uh, no. Ambiguity can be a beautiful thing, but not when EVERYTHING on your show is left up in the air. What happened at the party? What did Taylor choose? What did Eric choose? What was the point of of that story Eric's brother told? Did Leslie go to jail? How much jail time did Becca get? Did Kevin's family move? Who was stalking Sebastian? That's too many questions to leave open.

Vinyl

I swear I could watch a 2 hours highlight reel of Bobby Cannavale just snorting coke. 

Hannibal grinding on Devon might be the biggest "fuck you" I've seen on television in awhile. Richie looked like he was going to explode. 

I really feel like Jamie is going to end up getting hurt by the Nasty Bits guy (whose name is completely escaping me right now) I just want things to go right for her.

Did anyone else lol at the fact that the detectives were snorting coke while listening to that wire? Good lord. 


click those gifs to be redirected to their makers.

Indie Gems: Breathe (Respire)

Let me tell you something about Regina George Sarah.

Charlie (Joséphine Japy) is your average French teenager. Somewhat shy, just going about her existence. Her parents fight and are going through a separate so she can be a bit melancholy at times. When a new girl, Sarah (Lou de Laâge) shows up at school. She and Charlie form a fast friendship that ends up getting more intense than either girl, especially Charlie expected. 

This is Mélanie Laurent's second outing as a director, but the first that I've seen. She captures the lives of these two teenagers well. The friendship between these two girls is complicated to say the least. It felt very real to me. How mean and dependent teen girls can be. There was always a part or two I felt like I could relate with. 

The film certainly didn't end where I thought it would either, and that's what makes it stand out from others in this genre. It's beautifully shot and the two leads are perfectly cast. Sure, I could've done without some of the scenes of Sarah just standing there, smoking, but I can't argue the nice imagery that came with it.

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "No more sulking." - Sarah (Lou de Laâge)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies With Narrators That do Not Appear on Screen

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is about Narrators that never grace us with their physical presence on screen. I ended up having to cheat a bit with my 3rd pick. 

1) Little Children

An unknown man narrates this story about two people, their infidelities as they meet up on play dates with their children, and the recently released pedophile in their town. 

2) (500) Days of Summer

Another unknown man explains Tom's mindset as he thinks he's found the perfect girlfriend in Summer.

3) A Christmas Story

This is narrated by adult Ralphie, who technically never appears on screen. I tried to avoid using this one, I really did. But sometimes you just have to go with the first film that comes to mind.

DVD Review: Capturing The Friedmans

The denial is strong with this one.

The Friedmans are a typical upper middle class family in New York. Arthur and Elaine are the parents. They have three sons, David, Seth, and Jesse. In the late 80's, Arthur and Jesse are arrested on child pornography/molestation charges. The documentary examines the case against them and raises questions on whether or not they were actually guilty of all of the things they were accused.

I've been watching a lot of true crime documentaries lately. This was a very unique experience as I'm not sure I've ever wtf'd so hard while listening to a family. The amount of what has to be denial is astounding. 

The documentary is a bit bias, and that's fine. It happens. Andrew Jarecki (who later went on to direct HBO's documentary The Jinx) seemingly wants to clear Jesse Friedman's name. So as I listened to his side, I tried to keep an open mind. They made a few points about the abuse being "outlandish" by those standards, but the sons, mostly David and Jesse since Seth didn't participate don't seem to take into account the MOUNTAIN of kiddie porn Arthur Friedman had and they also seem to shrug off the fact that he admitted to being a pedophile like it wasn't a big deal. Instead, they blame their mother for not being "affectionate" enough towards him. The story is told through several family videos - because this family loved to tape their drama - and it's always the sons yelling at their mother. (or "mommy" as these grown men keep referring to her as.)

While Jarecki doesn't paint the Freidmans as saints (how could he with all the porn they seized?) he apparently left out quite a bit of information, including a 3rd defendant who also plead guilty to abusing these children. He also only interviewed "about 3-5" of the 13 victims, and the only one he actually has on camera is so bizarre that it almost seems as if he was directed to act in a way that would make viewers immediately discredit all the victims. It was so strange.

I went back to Drew's Four Ways a Best Picture round table that I participated in this summer to see if anyone mentioned this documentary, as it was nominated but lost to The Fog of War. No mentions, but I wish this is what we could've talked about. It's very thought provoking. I'm not sure if family dysfunction has ever been captured in this way before. 

Recommended: Yes (and you can watch it on Youtube)

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "It was in plain sight." - Det. Frances Galasso 


Review: Zootopia

Don't dream.

I wasn't going to review Zootopia. I usually don't type up posts about the movies I tag my child to unless they have a strong impact on me one way or another. This one, I wasn't expecting much. I didn't even know what it was about as the only preview I had ever seen was the sloth one. I haven't been this pleasantly surprised while watching an animated movie since I saw How to Train Your Dragon.

Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a small town rabbit who dreams of becoming the first bunny cop in the big city of Zootopia. She has these small town ideals where she thinks everyone gets along in the big city and she's really going to make a difference. She immediately gets put on parking duty and gets conned by a fox named Nick. (Jason Bateman) Fox represent a species that's almost always shit on in Zootopia. They're all called sneaky and untrustworthy. Judy volunteers herself to help solve a missing animals case, and realizes that Nick can help. She has to put her prejudices aside. 

This film makes so many profound statements about racism and classism. It works in way that adult movies like Crash somewhat failed at doing. It also manages to feel unpretentious when it's up on its soap box. I felt that both myself, my husband, and our son connected with this film on a level where we just couldn't with Inside Out (The other recent kids movie to pull in adult themes) Instead of my son feeling so sad like he did in Inside Out, he actually asked questions. "Why are they mean to him?" "Why do they think he's different?" He might be too young to understand the heavy undertones this film has, but he understands enough to know it's not fair to treat other people badly because they're different.

The film also has some of the dumbest gags ever, but they're hilarious. There's also an amazing Frozen jab and a great Breaking Bad reference that I couldn't help but love. And of course, I love crime stories, so being centered around one was a smart move. It drags a bit towards the end, but Zootopia is such an important film and I'm so glad it blew my expectations away. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I bet one of them is going to howl." - Nick (Jason Bateman)

Rambling TV: Thoughts on TWD, Agent Carter + more.

Rambling TV is a weekly series were I ramble semi coherently about things I've watched on television this week.

The Walking Dead

I need to get my ranting out of the way. We need to talk about what they're doing to Carol. I read spoilers, when I read that Carol was going to end up kissing Tobin, I was immediately annoyed, because if Carol's kissing anyone, it should be Daryl. But Eventually after thinking about it, I was hoping this would be a small minute of happiness with this red shirt.

It wasn't. Carol is still hurting badly, and NONE of her family members seem to notice. It's like she's going through an identity crisis. In this episode, we saw her in her normal clothes, then revert back to Suzy Homemaker for a bit. She's hiding what happened with Morgan, like I knew she would, but her interaction with Tobin felt like something an addict would do. Give herself a high for a minute, then go back to misery. Tobin did say something very nice, (albeit a bit misguided with the "mom" comparison, which I think is wildly off base) but when Carol replies with "It's not tomorrow yet" I felt like she was saying "this is for right now, and not tomorrow." Carol NEEDS her family. They are the ones that should be comforting her, not these random red shirts. I'm hoping Carol's scenes with Maggie next week could lead to that, since she was rightly angry that Maggie was out there in the first place with a baby. She doesn't want her to go through the same pain of losing a child as she did. Carol still cares about her family, it's time they showed they do as well.

The rest of the episode was actually very good. A lot of smaller characters like Rosita, Tara, and Father Gabriel got a chance to shine. Glenn got his first human kill, which was so heartbreaking to watch. Team Family was completely ruthless with the Saviors they found.

Agent Carter

I really hope they pick up this show for season 3. Although we didn't get a lone face off between Whitney and Peggy, she was defeated and Whitney went completly bat shit at the end. That was a nice touch. Another nice touch being Thompson actually helping Peggy this week, so of course the show would end with him getting shot in the chest by an unknown assassin.

Please pick up season 3. I know Atwell is attached to some other ABC pilot about lawyers, but how many of those are on TV already? There's only one Agent Carter and I would love to see how SHIELD gets built, because you know what's what the next season would be about.

Better Call Saul

Poor Saul, his job already up in the air because he ran a commercial without approval from the boss. Though it was hilarious seeing the ad the company originally ran.

Saul is really pushing it with Kim. They're going to end so badly.

The ending with Mike and Nacho was so intriguing, I can't wait to see where that goes.

Vinyl

Another expertly shot episode. Richie and Devon had about the worst marriage counseling session ever (seriously, I hope their kids slept through that)

Casper needs to fuck off and Jamie should be given his job.

Lester came back with the ultimate fuck you in becoming the Nasty Bits' manager. 

I'm still no used to hearing Ray Romano saying "fuck" all the time.

This episode had so many great one liners in it as well.

American Crime

My DVR worked this week, though I also tried to record The Family to see what that was all about and instead it ended up being like "Nahhhh gurl, Hot in Cleveland!" Fuck it, I quit.

There are so many questions that need to be answered in next week's season finale, I'm not sure if they all will be. What actually happened at that party? What else is Sebastian going to dig up? Are these idiot parents finally going to do something right instead of protecting their own children's asses?

I have to give a shout out to Joey Pollari, the actor who plays Eric though. Someone give this kid an Emmy immediately, he was polarizing in this episode. All the emotions playing across his face while his mom was standing right in front of him being a homophobic twat was heartbreaking. His character is a tough one to play because even though you want to sympathize with him at times, he's still very unlikable, but tonight I felt terrible for him.

click those gifs to be redirected to their makers. 

Indie Gems: Adult World

You're not special.

Amy (Emma Roberts) just graduated from college. She believes she's destined to be the next great poet, but the reality is that she's 90k in student loan debt and has no job. Her parents tell her they can't fund her aspiring poetry career, so she gets a job at a sex store to pay the bills while she writes. She also takes up stalking her favorite poet, Rat Billings (Jon Cusack) who tolerates her presence. 

I'm always kind of afraid to watch movies like this. I'm 28. I fall into the "millennial" category. And so many are portrayed as entitled brats who think things would be handed to them as opposed to working hard for it. It bothers me because that bad rap is almost consuming, giving off the impression most people my age are like that when in fact, there's plenty of us just over here working and doing our own thing. It's one of the reasons I couldn't get into a show like Girls. It just rubs me the wrong way.

I'm happy to say that Adult World doesn't give off that grating feeling at all. Sure, Amy is entitled. She's a naive spaz who doesn't think critically about her situation, but the film opens up a really interesting conversation. Is Billings being too harsh on her? Was he a bad guy, or was his honesty with someone like Amy the right thing to do? I don't want to spoil the entire plot on what happens there, but I found myself thinking about the film long after it ended.

Emma Roberts and real life fiance Evan Peters have great chemistry here. And Cusack is always reliably weird. The bleakness of the film's setting in snowy Syracuse, NY is fitting for how Amy sees her life at this moment.

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "You're kind of a pain in my ass." - Rubia (Armando Riesco)  

Thursday Movie Picks: Storms/Adverse Weather

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is Storms. Sometimes Disaster films work, right? I decided to pick three that I had very strong reactions to. Reactions that consisted of Sadness, Humor, and Fear. Here we go.


1) The Impossible

Sadness - I have never been so thankful to watch a movie at home instead of a theater. I cried through this entire thing. Naomi Watts broke my heart. That little boy they saved broke my heart. I could cry again just thinking of it. 

2) The Day After Tomorrow

Humor - Jake Gyllenhaal is STILL playing a teenager? (Donnie Darko fan) Wtf is with those wolves? Okay, the CGI in this movie was great, but then I get right back to wtf'ing. 

3) Twister

Fear - The movie itself isn't scary, but the simulator at Universal Studios scared the shit out of me. I've seen enough tornadoes in real life and that felt just as real. Fuck that, 11 year old me nearly cried. 

DVD Review: Dear Zachary

A letter to his son about his father.

When I watched Making a Murder on Netflix, one of the recommended films that came up when I finished was this one. I wasn't aware of the story, though I knew child custody was a big part of it. So I went in with an open mind.

Film maker Kurt Kuenne's initial intention with this documentary was to make it about his friend, Andrew, the documentary's first subject after he was murdered by his ex girlfriend, Shirley. After his body was found, Shirley fled the U.S back to Canada and announced she was pregnant with Andrew's son. Andrew's parents also moved back to Canada to fight for custody, and Kurt made a cross country road trip trying to gather as much footage as possible so Zachary could know his father as he got older.

It's easy to rage over cases where the justice system fails families. I felt the same way watching Making a Murderer, the Paradise Lost movies, etc. This one caused me to have tears streaming down my face by the end of it. I just didn't expect it to go the way it did. I can't even begin to wrap my head around the judge in this case and her completely idiotic handling of Shirley's bail. It just keeps getting worse.

It's not the best made documentary out there. In fact, there's a use of sound effects - and if you've seen it you probably know exactly what I'm talking about - that feels so sensational and inappropriate that it actually threw me out of the whole thing for a bit. It was really disappointing because up until then I really enjoyed the fast paced, and even slightly amusing touches that were there. They felt true to how people described Andrew; by having a wicked sense of humor. It doesn't make the subject matter any less important though. Murder on a Sunday Morning similarly wasn't the best made one out there, but still packed a powerful punch. 

This is on Netflix instant in the U.S. Get your tissues.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorbale Quote: "Then I found a new meaning." - Kurt Kuenne