Indie Gems: Passenger Side

Sibling bonding time.

Michael (Adam Scott) is a writer who agrees to drive his brother, Tobey (Joel Bissonnette) around Los Angeles for the day to run errands. It's clear they haven't spent much time together recently. They find themselves taking a long look at their relationship as they go from one place to another, much to Michael's annoyance.

When I first saw The Vicious Kind, which I raved about here many times, I loved it because it felt so different from what I had seen Adam Scott in. It turns out he's just had those dramatic performances hidden. Passenger Side doesn't match The Vicious Kind in greatness, but it does have one of the most realistic portrayals of sibling bonding I've seen in a long time. Tobey is very laid back, Michael is too uptight. Being forced into a shitty car for a day makes Michael in particular re-examine some things about his life.

The film isn't without its flaws. Since it's essentially a "road trip" type film, some patience may be tested, and there's still a very illogical moment where a hooker jumps in Michael's car, beats off, then makes HIM pay for it. Like, why did you give her money? What the fuck was that? The ending was unexpected, and the chemistry between Scott and Bissonnette was enough to make me glad I watched.

Grade: B-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I can bend spoons with my mind now." - Tobey (Joel Bissonnette)

Thursday Movie Picks: World War 1

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is movies about World War 1. I bet all of us could name 10 movies we enjoy about WWII before we could name 3 about WWI, right? This is actually tough to think about. This one doesn't get dramatized as much. So this week, I'm sharing the three WWI movies that I know for sure I've seen. (I know, sad)

1) The White Ribbon

Of these three films, this is the most recent one I saw and also the one I actually want to rewatch. This movie was heavy, like really fucking heavy about a small German town right before WWI. I actually stopped it and picked it up the following day because I wasn't in the right mood for it. 

2) Joyeux Noel 

I saw this at the theater in the Mall of America when I ended up getting stranded in Minneapolis after a cancelled flight.  The film itself was a bit flimsy, but the acting was great. It's about various soldiers in WWI that call a truce on Christmas Eve. 

3) Flyboys

This movie was about fighter pilots in WWI, and honestly, I don't remember shit from it. I saw it because James Franco was in it. 2006 was a bad year for him by the way. Flyboys, Annapolis, Tristan + Isolde, saw them all. Still couldn't tell you a thing about them. 

Review: Star Trek Beyond

There is strength in unity

Three years into the USS Enterprise's five year mission, the crew is getting bit restless. Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) feels lost and wonders if Star Fleet really was for him. Spock (Zachary Quinto) is having a rough time with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) and is torn between what he feels is his duties on New Vulcan. When a distress call that turns into a trap destroys the Enterprise, the crew are split up on an unknown planet trying to fight off a being called Krall (Idris Elba) who is after an artifact that was on the ship.

I've always had a soft spot for the Star Trek reboots. I grew up in a house hold where my dad loved the show and I thought it was so boring. The new films helped me look at it in a completely different way. That being said, when I saw the first trailer for Beyond, I was worried new director Justin Lin was going to stick us with The Fast and the Furious in Space. I'm thankful that wasn't the case.

Beyond has a lot of heart and with smaller groups, we're able to not only get more development with our old characters (particularly Spock and Bones) but we get the time to get to know our new characters, like Jaylah (Sofia Boutella) as well. 

The film's weakness does lie within it's directing. Lin isn't Abrams and there's a few shots that reminded me of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, where things are moving so quickly it's hard to focus on what's happening. Still, the cast has great chemistry and I can't help but want to know more about them with each passing minute. They even throw out a sweet nod to the old cast from the original series.

I felt sad leaving the theater though, after watching Anton Yelchin and knowing I'm only going to get to see three more new films from him. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "...You gave your girlfriend a tracking device?" - Bones ( Karl Urban)

Indie Gems: Colonia

Put the camera away

In 1973 Chile, Daniel (Daniel Brühl) is a German man who is getting involved the resistance there. He's been drawing propaganda posters for the Chileans who want changes in their government. His girlfriend Lena (Emma Watson) is a Lufthansa flight attendant who comes to visit him. After a few days, Daniel is arrested and thrown into a torture chamber/cult commune by the secret police. This is run by Paul Schäfer, ( Michael Nyqvist) who his followers treat as a vessel of God. Lena decides to infiltrate the commune to help free Daniel.

Yes, I know. Another cult movie. Thankfully, Emma Watson has a better turn out in this one than she did in Regression. Don't get me wrong, she's still a wooden actress. But she's not asked to do much here other than keep a straight face, so it's bearable. Brühl and Nyqvist above others carrying the acting weight.

I didn't know about Paul Schäfer and the despicable things he did before watching this film. It made me want to research it immediately. Daniel is very savvy once he's in the commune, and Lena keeps her eyes open. The tension builds well, especially in the last 10-15 minutes of the film.

Despite the lead actress being less than impressive, everything else about this film was fascinating. It's well paced and gives us yet another look into the morbid reality that is religious cults. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable quote: "Take off your shoes, you look like a slut." - Gisela (Richenda Carey)




Thursday Movie Picks: Summer Camp

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is something every kid either treasures or despises: going to a summer camp. I fucking hate camping. I did church camp once and girl scout camp another time and I hated every minute of it. I love being outdoors, but I also love coming home to warm shower and a nice clean bed...inside. Not getting rained on in tents. These three films are camping movies I preferred watching as a kid instead of doing the real thing.

1) Camp Nowhere

These kids are total shits, right? They don't want to go to real camp so they black mail their teacher into starting a fake camp with no adult supervision. Actually, I thought that was kind of awesome and Christopher Lloyd was sort of the man when I was a child. He was Emmett Brown AND the Pagemaster.

2) Heavy Weights

AKA that movie with all the fat camp jokes. You know that big trampoline into the lake looked awesome.

3) Bushwhacked 

This movie is inherently creepy when you think about it. An escaped convict posing as a scout leader while on the run? A training bra gets used as a slingshot at one point. I watched this movie so much.

BONUS: Moonrise Kingdom - I love this movie, and I had to throw one serious pick in there.

DVD Review: 45 Years

2nd place.

Kate (Charlotte Rampling) and Geoff (Tom Courtenay) are about to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Six days prior to the party they are going to throw for the occasion, Geoff finds out that his old lover Katya's body has been found preserved in a glacier. Back in the 60's, she had fallen off a cliff while on a hike with Geoff. Kate knew about her, but did not know that Geoff told everyone they were married so he is considered next of kin. Geoff begins to openly reminisce about their time together and Kate is faced with the realization that her happy marriage has really been here in 2nd place the entire time.

Kate takes this all in a stride, at least more than I think I would've. As I watched, I wondered how I would've acted in this situation. It probably would've resulted in me yelling, swearing, and possibly punching Geoff for his bullshit at some point. But Kate doesn't lash out. She's heartbroken, plain and simple. Everything she's known about her marriage she now questions and the reality is so depressing.

Rampling is amazing. The play of emotions that go across her face is desperately sad. The film solely rests on her shoulders, and would've failed otherwise. She's the best thing by far, everything else struggles to match her intrigue. I remember when Oscar screeners went out, there were complaints that this film felt "too long." I couldn't disagree more, It had a strangely fast pace for a film meant to study such a depressing subject. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "No, I think I was enough for you, I'm just not sure if you do." - Kate (Charlotte Rampling)

2016 Blind Spot Series: The Miracle Worker


What I knew going in: The story (Which I think everyone knows) and that of all the film adaptations, this one is considered the best.

Captain Keller (Victor Jory) wants to have his blind, deaf, and mute daughter Helen (Patty Duke) institutionalized as she grows harder and harder to control as she gets older. His wife Kate (Inga Swenson) begs him not to, and instead they hire a woman named Annie Sullivan (Ann Bancroft) to teach her to communicate. However the Kellers aren't accustomed to Annie's harsh teaching tactics and refuse to admit any faults of their own. 

I had seen the Lifetime version with Hallie Kate Eisenberg as Helen, and now after watching this, I feel I can finally understand how terrible that one is in comparison. Everything looked far too polished. Bancroft and Duke are outstanding in their roles. Duke never for one second looks like she's acting. She's so convincing in her eyes, they're never focused on anything. Bancroft also makes us feel about a fraction of what the real Annie must have felt. Watching this film can sometimes be frustrating, especially seeing Annie try so hard to get through to Helen. You wish you could speed up the process for them.

The film did have some downsides. The acting aside from Duke and Bancroft ranges from terrible (Jory) to just okay. (Swenson) They don't match the greatness of the leads. The film is very well shot and staged. The black and white feels even more washed out than normal, like it's capturing the bleakness of the situation. I case could be made for Duke being far too old to play Helen, though I didn't mind. I'm not sure if they could've found a better one. 

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "The room is a wreck, but her napkin is folded." - Annie (Anne Bancroft)

Indie Gems: Deathgasm

That's so metal.

After his mother is institutionalized, Brodie (Milo Cawthrone) is sent to live with his religious aunt and uncle in a small New Zealand down. He's into metal music and is an outcast with his family. One day he meets Zakk (James Blake) a fellow metal head who convinces him to find an old musician with him living in an abandoned house. When they do, they are given some sheet music that's called the "dark hymn" and when they play it, they accidentally release evil demons. 

I love a good campy horror film with lots of gore, and in that aspect, this didn't disappoint. It's vulgar and gross and works perfectly. There's some clear homages to the Evil Dead trilogy as we get quite a bit of chainsaw action later on. Our lead characters even get more outlandish and beat a possessed person to death with dildos. Seriously. 

Story wise, it could've used some polishing. Zakk is overwhelmingly irritating to the point where I was kind of wishing he'd just disappear. There's also a subplot involves some members of an occult that are after the boys and the sheet music they possess. They're not fleshed out, and for half of the movie you kind of forget they even exist until they show up again towards the end.

Being a small film from New Zealand, I wasn't familiar with the cast, but Cawthrone did a great job carrying this film. It was easy to root for Brodie, even when he's making mistakes.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "All caps. Lower case is for pussies." - Zakk (James Blake)




2016 Emmy Nominations


It's that time of year again. The Emmys don't get up early like the Oscars, so they didn't announce their nominees until 11:30 am. Anthony Anderson screamed a few times too. Here's a list of the 2016 Emmy nominations. My thoughts follow in green.

Outstanding Drama Series
The Americans
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game Of Thrones
Homeland
House Of Cards
Mr. Robot
I'm really happy to see Better Call Saul, Game of Thrones, and Mr. Robot here. The Americans finally getting some love has to feel good for their fans.

Oustanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Kyle Chandler - Bloodline
Rami Malek - Mr. Robot
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys - The Americans
Liev Schreiber - Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey - House Of Cards
RAMI MALEK! That's my favorite nomination in this category.

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
Keri Russell - The Americans
Robin Wright - House Of Cards
Anderson butchered Tatiana's name, which I thought was fairly straightforward pronunciation wise. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks - Better Call Saul
Peter Dinklage - Game Of Thrones
Kit Harington - Game Of Thrones
Michael Kelly - House Of Cards
Ben Mendelsohn - Bloodline
Jon Voight - Ray Donovan
I'm happy to see Harington here. I wish they would've submitted Liam Cunningham for Thrones. He did better than Dinklage this year. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Emilia Clarke - Game Of Thrones
Lena Headey - Game Of Thrones
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Maura Tierney - The Affair
Maisie Williams - Game Of Thrones
Constance Zimmer - UnREAL
Of course the wonderful Melissa McBride is snubbed again. It's a shame that she's SO good on a show that's so poorly written. Maisie Williams for example, her story on Thrones this year was terrible, but her acting was great, and here she is. It's really a testament of how bad TWD's writing is if even Melissa McBride can't rise above it. Ranting aside, someone give Lena Headey this Emmy.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Mahershala Ali - House Of Cards
Hank Azaria- Ray Donovan
Reg E. Cathey - House Of Cards
Michael J. Fox - The Good Wife
Paul Sparks - House Of Cards
Max von Sydow - Game Of Thrones
Max von Sydow got nominated for just being himself, and I'm okay with that. 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Ellen Burstyn - House Of Cards
Allison Janney - Masters Of Sex
Margo Martindale - The Americans
Laurie Metcalf - Horace And Pete
Molly Parker - House Of Cards
Carrie Preston - The Good Wife

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
The Americans ("Persona Non Grata")
Downton Abbey ("Episode 8")
Game Of Thrones ("Battle Of The Bastards")
The Good Wife ("End")
Mr. Robot ("eps1.0_hellofriend.mov")
UnREAL ("Return")

Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series
Downton Abbey ("Episode 9")
Game Of Thrones ("Battle Of The Bastards")
Game Of Thrones ("The Door")
Homeland ("The Tradition Of Hospitality")
The Knick ("This Is All We Are")
Ray Donovan ("Exsuscito")

Outstanding Comedy Series
black-ish
Master Of None
Modern Family
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep
Veep is love. Veep is life. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson - black-ish
Aziz Ansari - Master Of None
Will Forte - The Last Man On Earth
William H. Macy - Shameless
Thomas Middleditch - Silicon Valley
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent
I love seeing Thomas Middleditch here. 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Ellie Kemper - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Laurie Metcalf - Getting On
Tracee Ellis Ross - black-ish
Amy Schumer - Inside Amy Schumer
Lily Tomlin - Grace And Frankie

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Louie Anderson - Baskets
Andre Braugher - Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Tituss Burgess - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Ty Burrell - Modern Family
Tony Hale - Veep
Keegan-Michael Key - Key & Peele
Matt Walsh - Veep
I'm so happy for Matt Walsh. It's about time the Emmys nominated more Veep actors, their ensemble is spectacular. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Anna Chlumsky - Veep
Gaby Hoffmann - Transparent
Allison Janney - Mom
Judith Light - Transparent
Kate McKinnon - Saturday Night Live
Niecy Nash - Getting On

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Larry David - Saturday Night Live
Peter MacNicol - Veep
Tracy Morgan - Saturday Night Live
Martin Mull - Veep
Bob Newhart - The Big Bang Theory
Bradley Whitford - Transparent

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Christine Baranski - The Big Bang Theory
Tina Fey & Amy Poehler - Saturday Night Live
Melora Hardin - Transparent
Melissa McCarthy - Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf - The Big Bang Theory
Amy Schumer- Saturday Night Live
How is it possible for Fey and Poehler to share an acting nomination? Like, what the fuck is that? Maybe that's how Key and Peele should start submitting. I'm happy for them beacuse I love them, but seriously, wtf?

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
Catastrophe ("Episode 1")
Master Of None ("Parents")
Silicon Valley ("Founder Friendly")
Silicon Valley ("The Uptick")
Veep ("Morning After")
Veep ("Mother")
I'm surprised that Mother is getting nominated for Veep because I thought that was hands down the worst episode they've ever done. 

Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series
Master Of None ("Parents")
Silicon Valley ("Daily Active Users")
Silicon Valley ("Founder Friendly")
Transparent ("Man On The Land")
Veep ("Kissing Your Sister")
Veep ("Morning After")
Veep ("Mother")

Outstanding Limited Series
American Crime
Fargo
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Roots
I'd be happier for American Crime if they didn't end season two in the worst possible way. They answered no questions. I hope Fargo takes this. 

Outstanding Television Movie
All The Way
Confirmation
Luther
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
A Very Murray Christmas
I liked Sherlock and Confirmation. Still need to see Luther. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Bryan Cranston - All The Way
Benedict Cumberbatch - Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
Idris Elba - Luther
Cuba Gooding, Jr. - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Tom Hiddleston - The Night Manager
Courtney B. Vance - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
This time last year I would've been psyched for Tom Hiddleston, but now he's just embarrassing. I'm sure Taylor Swift is excited for the red carpet opportunity though.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Kirsten Dunst - Fargo
Felicity Huffman - American Crime
Audra McDonald - Lady Day At Emerson's Bar & Grille
Sarah Paulson - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Lili Taylor - American Crime
Kerry Washington - Confirmation

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie
Sterling K. Brown - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Hugh Laurie - The Night Manager
Jesse Plemons - Fargo
David Schwimmer - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
John Travolta - The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Bokeem Woodbine - Fargo
Yay for these Fargo nominations! Though I'm surprised Patrick Wilson didn't make the cut. You go, Meth Damon.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie
Kathy Bates - American Horror Story: Hotel
Olivia Colman - The Night Manager
Regina King - American Crime
Melissa Leo - All The Way
Sarah Paulson - American Horror Story: Hotel
Jean Smart - Fargo

Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
Fargo ("Loplop")
Fargo ("Palindrome")
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("From The Ashes Of Tragedy")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("Marcia, Marcia, Marcia")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("The Race Card")

Outstanding Directing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special
All The Way
Fargo ("Before The Law")
The Night Manager
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("From The Ashes Of Tragedy")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("Manna From Heaven")
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story ("The Race Card")


Outstanding Reality-Competition Program
The Amazing Race
American Ninja Warrior
Dancing With The Stars
Project Runway
Top Chef
The Voice
It's pretty cool that American Ninja Warrior is here, even though I'm still bitter that they don't show the Japanese version on television here anymore. 

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
Documentary Now!
Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Portlandia
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Variety Talk Series
Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
Real Time With Bill Maher
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Portlandia
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Directing for a Variety Series
Inside Amy Schumer
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Full list of nominations here


Thursday Movie Picks: Female Ensembles

On the eve before the gimmicky all female Ghost Busters, this week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is something we could always do with more of: female ensembles. I actually ended up using a lot of female ensemble movies in previous picks, so this is what I came up with:

1) Little Women

My sister was in the hospital when we were kids, and for some reason this is the only thing she wanted to watch. So we watched it over and over. I was too young at the time to fully appreciate it, but I do so much more now. 

2) Girl, Interrupted

It's been a while since I've thought about this film. Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, and Brittany Murphy gave such excellent performances. Now I really want to re-watch this. 

3) The Descent 

One of my favorite horror movies involves a group of women that go spelunking. This film is so creepy, I always recommend it. 

DVD Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane


Would you believe it?

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has just left her fiance and while driving away from the city she's run off the road. She wakes up in an underground bunker with Howard (John Goodman) who tells her there was an attack on Earth and radiation poisoning is in the air. There's also Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.) in the bunker with them. He helped Howard build this before everything went down. Michelle becomes increasingly uneasy with Howard, even though she sees proof that he's not lying about what's happening outside. She and Emmett start plotting an escape. 

I never planned on seeing this, but when early reviews came in, they were good. They also mentioned to go in as unspoiled as you could, so that's what I did. I've maybe read two reviews in full about this film. I skimmed the rest and went straight to the ratings to help form my opinion, and I'm glad I did. This film was great not knowing a lot about it. It really doesn't have anything to do with first Cloverfield at all. I'm assuming they're happening simultaneously. 

Winstead is great, she always is. Michelle is a quick thinker and her bullshit meter rightfully goes off the charts. I love seeing Gallagher Jr in this type of role. I loved him in The Newsroom and he's fantastic here as well. Goodman is perfectly creepy. I feel like I've been watching him play the same character over and over recently, but the same cannot be said for this film.

It's nice to be surprised by something like this. I'm glad I watched it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Howard has a black belt in conspiracy theory." - Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.)

Mini Rambling Reviews

Here's a few movies I watched recently that I didn't post full reviews of for one reason or another. (Yes, I know I should've done a full one for Finding Dory as I loved it so much)


Everest

I had no intentions of seeing this in theaters, but it's on HBO now so my husband and I gave it a watch. It was decent. Nothing spectacular but it was suspenseful and I did find myself caring for the characters. I had read about the 1996 Everest tragedy prior, my husband hadn't, so he was surprised at the ones who perished where as I was ex pectin it.
Grade: C+

Summer Storm

I didn't finish this movie. I actually can't remember the last time I got a movie from Netflix and returned it without finishing. I just didn't buy this as a self discovery story. It's a German film about young men at a summer camp for rowing, and one of them realizes he has a crush on his best friend. Only the first few minutes of this story make it quite unbelievable as they act like a couple, including laying side by side and jerking off...for some reason. This one wasn't for me.
Grade: Quitter

Finding Dory

Did we need this sequel over 10 years after the original? Who the fuck cares, this was amazing. I loved this film. I'm not sure if it unseats Zootopia as my favorite animated film of the year yet, but it's close. The sea lions were my favorite part.
Grade: A-

The Brothers Grimsby


This film was very choppy. I felt like there was a lot they edited out of it. It had a few funny parts, but overall was a bit of a letdown. Though, I suppose if you're interested in seeing two men crawl into an Elephant's vagina, only for another elephant to initiate sex and ram it's massive dick into the two men inside AND finish all over them. This is for you. No seriously, that all happened.
Grade: D

Indie Gems: Wild Tales

When keeping it real goes wrong..

I'm sure I've used that title for my review before, but it applies so well to this series of vignettes about how people handle stressful situations.

Wild Tales gives us six unconnected stories; 

Pasternek - Passengers on a plane realize they all know Pasternek and question why they're all there.

The Rats - A waitress comes face to face with a man that ruined her family's life, and her cook suggests they put rat poison in his food.

Road to Hell - The most intense case of road rage I've ever seen. 

Bombita - A demolition engineer is really pissed off about getting a parking ticket. 

The Deal - A man in a rich family kills a pregnant woman in a hit and run, and his parents attempt to pay their gardener to admit to the crime.

Til Death Do Us Part - A bride finds out on her wedding day that her husband has been cheating on her.

Do you ever laugh at completely inappropriate things? That's the feeling I had during this film. Everything is so tragic but a few times you can't help but laugh at how absurd it is. It's probably one of the best dark comedies I've ever seen. Of course some of the shorts aren't as strong as the others. The Deal is at the bottom because it reminded me so much of that Affluenza douche that was in the news a few years back. Til Death Do Us Part, the most expansive of the shorts is my favorite because the bride (Erica Rivas) is a gem herself.

The film doesn't have many downsides, if anything some of the shorts, like The Rats end far too quickly, but it leaves us a lot to think about in a good way. 

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Sometimes I have to hurt a young man's self esteem to save the ears of millions." - Salgado (Darío Grandinetti)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Set in a Single Location

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is movies that are set in a single location. I'm kicking myself for using Moon already, that would've worked perfectly here. Movies like this always fascinate me when they work. Look at Phone Booth, that movie had no right to work, but somehow it did. Here are three of my favorite single location movies. 

1) Buried

The location: A Box, underground. It's terrifyingly claustrophobic and aside from Deadpool it's the best performance Ryan Reynolds has ever given.

2) 12 Angry Men

The location: A conference room. Watching this jury work out whether a men is guilty or not is one of my favorite things to happen in a classic film. I love this movie. 

3) Carnage

The location: a house. I almost hate admitting I like Roman Polanski movies, but I liked this one. I think it's largely forgotten too, despite having a wonderful cast and witty dialogue. 


Review: Maggie's Plan

Bossypants.

Maggie (Greta Gerwig) is a 30 something in New York who can't hold down a relationship, but decides she wants to have a child of her own as she's 100% capable of doing so. She finds a token interesting and good looking dude named Guy (Travis Fimmell) to be her sperm donor, but wants no relationship with him. By change she meets and older, married fellow teacher/wannabe author named John (Ethan Hawke) who she falls in love with after believing she can save him from his shrill wife, Georgette (Julianne Moore)

Look, it's hard not to like Greta Gerwig. She's like Zooey Deschanel was in the mid 2000's; the current indie darling. She's always likable and gives a good performance, but aside from that, nothing in this movie felt natural. Maggie and her friends all speak in platitudes, the dialogue was downright cringe worthy at times. It's also fairly predictable, and as we got closer towards the end, I realized that I didn't understand why Maggie would choose John at all. He had no redeeming qualities.

It tries hard to be a quirky indie drama but just ends up in stilted territory instead. While it has some plus sides, the script lets down the talented actors.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I want my own bubble." - Lily (Ida Rohatyn)

Review: Swiss Army Man

Maybe we're all pieces of shit.

Hank (Paul Dano) is stranded on an island somewhere in the north pacific. He's been there for a while, and just as he's about to hang himself, a farting corpse (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore. Within minutes, Hank is riding this thing through the water like a jet ski in hopes that he will find civilization again.

This corpse eventually starts to speak to Hank, his name is Manny, and Hank finds himself explaining the meaning of life to him. Manny isn't just dead weight for Hank to carry around for company either. Aside from fart skiing, he turns into a water faucet for Hank to drink, his boner works as a compass, and he is eventually used to hunt small animals to. Manny is a Godsend, but the more he tries to remember about life, the harder it is for Hank to hit him with reality.

If you couldn't tell by my brief plot synopsis, this movie is fucking weird. The Lobster may have just been unseated in the bizarre movie of 2016 category. What it does do better is keep a coherent story. Swiss Army Man, under all those fart jokes is actually a very sweet commentary on finding love. 

Paul Dano as always is spectacular. He has great chemistry with Daniel Radcliffe. The characters are so different. Manny's child like view on life sets him up for most of the laughs, but it's Dano who has to carry the emotional weight. (And the sound track, most of it is mixes of him singing or humming tunes.) The set design is brilliant. Being lost in a forest should be very minimalistic, but they build some amazing props.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable quote: "If you don't know Jurassic Park, you don't know shit." - Hank (Paul Dano)

Indie Gems: When We Leave

Where's the honor in this?

Umay (Sibel Kekilli) lives in Turkey with her young son, Cem (Nizam Schiller) and her husband Kemal. (Ufuk Bayraktar) Kemal is abusive. He pushes Ulmay around, rapes her, and also hits their young son. Umay takes Cem back to her family in Germany for solace, but since she left her husband, she's "dishonoring" her family and they try to force her to go back. When she refuses, she creates even more tension. Especially when she wants nothing more to be surrounded by family.

Full disclosure, this movie is fucking devastating. I haven't felt this empty watching a film in a long time. It's good, it's very good. You can tell it didn't have a huge budget and was probably shot on a hand held camera, but the story is captivating. Umay really loves her family despite nearly every single one of them slapping her at one point in the film. I would've said "fuck it" and left about 15 minutes in, but Umay stays. She wants Cem to know her family.

Kekilli surprised me. I always thought she was the weakest link on Game of Thrones acting wise but she blew me away here. She's amazing. And Schiller is the most adorable little dude. You feel so bad for a child that small being caught up in all of this. 

It's hard to recommend a sad movie, but you're morbidly curious now, right? Maybe you just need a reason to cry something out?

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "When we leave, it's important that you leave something behind." - Umay