Indie Gems: The Lunchbox

Special delivery.

Saajan Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) is a lonely man living in Mumbai on the brink of retirement. When he's not dodging training in his replacement, the very excited Shaikh (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) he's going through the motions. Meanwhile elsewhere in Mumbai, Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is also going through the motions. She's a lonely housewife with a husband who is too busy to pay attention to her or her daughter. She decides she's going to make his lunch as part of a company's lunchbox delivery service, only Saajan ends up getting her box instead. Impressed with her cooking, they write notes back and forth to each other delivered each day in the lunchbox.

I'm having a fair bit of deja vu here. I swore I wrote and published this review already, but apparently that wasn't the case. Maybe like Ila and Saajan, I fantasized about writing it. It's been a while since I've rooted for a couple as much as I did these two. Not even to be romantic, but just to be friends. They needed it. It falls under that grey area of "should I be rooting for a married person to leave their spouse?" which has happened before in movies such as Little Children. Regardless, I loved these two and wanted them to meet so badly.

I sometimes forget how satisfying PG rated movies can be. Most of the films I watch end up being rated R, but this one is so sweet and well acted. I loved every minute of watching it. This film is also a testament to how wonderful Wandering Through The Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks blogathon is, as that's where I first heard of this film. 

Grade: A

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Salt was okay today." - Saajan. (Irrfan Khan)

Thursday Movie Picks: Police - TV Edition

This week is another TV edition from Wandering Through The Shelves. This week she asks us to pick three shows about police officers. I might be one of the few that have never at any point in their life got into CSI, NCIS, or Law and Order, so there go all the easy picks. Luckily there's still some great shows that deal with protectors in blue. 

1) The Wire

This is my all time favorite show about police officers. I got a late start to this one. It was recommended to me by several people who said I'd love it since I loved Breaking Bad and they were right.

2) Luke Cage

Cage used to be a police officer, but the one I'm going to single out is Detective Misty Knight who is absolutely amazing. She's my favorite part of this show.

3) Walker, Texas Ranger

I watched this show a lot when I was a kid even though nearly all of it went over my head. I'd probably hate every minute of it if I saw it now. 

Review: Free Fire

Shoot outs for all.

It's 1978 and two Irish men, Frank (Michael Smiley) and Chris (Cillian Murphy) meet up with their contact Justine (Brie Larson) to buy some guns. They bring along Bernie (Enzo Clienti) and Steveo (Sam Riley) to help load up the goods. They meet the arms dealers, Ord, (Armie Hammer) Vernon, (Shartlo Copley) Martin, (Babou Ceesay) Gordon (Noah Taylor) and Harry. (Jack Reynor) What should be an easy exchange goes wrong in just about every way possible.

I estimate that about 75 of this 90 minute movie take place in an active shoot out. No one gets to stand upright for more than 2 seconds after that. These characters all manage to get shot in some part of their bodies so the spend the rest of the film crawling, hiding, and you guessed it, shooting. It's a hard narrative to keep interesting but the cast are so charismatic that they make it work. Mostly.

Larson, Murphy, Ceesay, and Reynor were my favorites. Armie Hammer was the one that surprised me the most. This role really suit him well. But I need to take a second to complain about billing. And yes, I realize I'm being the pettiest person who ever pettied right now, but I have no idea why Hammer and Copley are billed above Murphy and Larson. I mean, technically I know why, contracts and what not but it makes no sense. Hammer and Copley are arguably slightly lower on the popularity scale than Larson (an Oscar winner) and Murphy. (A Golden Globe nominee) Screen time wise, I think Larson and Murphy slightly edge the other two out as well. But isn't the point of winning and being nominated for awards to kind of bump you up on the billing list? I hope Larson made as much as these other dudes. She deserves it. 

Rant aside, like I said. This movie is mainly a shoot out, there's not a whole lot to elaborate on without getting spoilery. It's a far from perfect film but made for an enjoyable watch.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "You take what you want, girl." - Chris (Cillian Murphy)


Indie Gems: Ceremony

Maybe it's meant to be?

Sam (Michael Angarano) and Marshall (Reece Thompson) are going on a weekend getaway. Marshall thinks its to re-establish their friendship after he's been holed up in his apartment suffering from depression for a year. Sam has other plans. These plans include crashing a party at a beach house to stop his lover, Zoe (Uma Thurman) from getting married to Whit. (Lee Pace)

This isn't the typical love triangle. Zoe isn't marring an asshole. In fact, Whit seems pretty decent, and they look like a good pair. Sam just can't accept being - as Marshall puts it - "a mistress." 

Angarano gives a very energetic performance. He and Thompson have great chemistry and their back and forth banter was great. They would get close to talking about their feelings, then get side tracked with something else. It felt very realistic. Thurman, Pace, and Jake Johnson give good performances in their supporting roles, but it's Angarano and Thompsons' show.

For lack of a better word, the film is a bit spazzy but that made me enjoy it even more.

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "If you would've told me the truth I would've listened to you." - Marshall (Reece Thompson)


Thursday Movie Picks: A Disappearance

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is about disappearances. I could probably do a theme within a theme using Julianne Moore movies alone, but I'll try to avoid that.

1) Brick

Brendon attempts to uncovering the story behind the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend in this high school noir. This is one of the few movies that is so amazing that I can excuse the fact that most of these actors don't look like teenagers. 

2) Changeling 

I loved this movie. Angelina Jolie may be kind of ridiculous in real life but I thought she was great here. The only low point was Jeffrey Donovan and his ever changing accent. 

3) Oldboy

Dae-Su disappears for 15 years and he's understandably pretty pissed about it. This movie is exactly as good as everyone says it is. 

2017 Blind Spot Series: In The Bedroom


What I knew going in: I had seen bits and pieces of this movie before, just never in the right order.

Matt and Ruth Fowler (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek) are not thrilled that their college age son, Frank (Nick Stahl) is dating an older woman, Natalie with kids. (Marisa Tomei) Although their relationship is a happy one, Frank is showing signs of wanting to skip out on college, and Natalie has an abusive ex-husband, Richard (William Mapother) who is proving to be a problem. 

In The Bedroom is a good film that could've been great. I feel a bit strange saying this, because I think Wilkinson and Spacek are very talented actors, they're just not very exciting ones. After Stahl and Tomei stop appearing on screen consistently, the film ends up dragging a bit. It's not that the story isn't there, because this is a very interesting character study on Matt and Ruth's marriage and lives after tragedy strikes them. But it just felt like it was missing something after starting off so well.

The acting is very good all around, Tomei being my favorite. Wilkinson gets the most to do and carries the film well. The editing was very choppy. I think they were trying to avoid being grittier than they could've been, but the result is that this film that was released in 2001 feels like it could've came from the early 90's. It just needed a bit more polishing to match how strong the story itself is.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "If he's like this now we're gonna be in trouble." - Frank (Nick Stahl)

Indie Gems: Paterson

Observe.

Paterson (Adam Driver) is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey. Yes, he's aware of the irony. He leads a quite life that is so routine he literally wakes up at the same time every day without an alarm clock. He loves to write poetry, but he doesn't share it. His wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) is his biggest supporter, but also his polar opposite. She's spontaneous and ever changing. She encourages him to step out of his box.

I love Adam Driver. I love that he's getting so much attention lately as he's a very fine actor and he gives a wonderful, understated performance here. This type of film needs an interesting actor like him. I'm not trying to insult the film itself when I say that nothing happens. This is just a day in the life type film. We see Paterson writing, listening to the other people on the bus talk. (Bonus, the two teenagers talking about anarchy are the leads from Moonrise Kingdom and it's so perfect)

Films like this are tricky because you need the sense that the lead character is going to change, and we get that with Paterson. His future could be bright if he wanted it to be. He would start something grand. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "If it's for you, it's a love poem." - Paterson (Adam Driver)

Thursday Movie Picks: Rivalries

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is Rivalries. There's plenty to chose from this week, so allow me to get to it so I can post quicker than my rivals...or something.

1) Bring It On

You don't get much better than a rivalry between the Toros and the Clovers. I lived for this movie as a teen, and I still think it's good fun now. 

2) Talladega Nights

Ricky Bobby and Jean Girard's Nascar rival made for a hilarious film. I loved the fake commercials they did at the end of the credits too. "If you don't like Big Red then fuck you!"

3)  Black Swan

Nina may think Lily is her biggest rival, but in all actuality, her rival is with herself. 

Review: T2 Trainspotting

"That high cunty voice."

Renton (Ewan McGregor) is a mostly changed man. He's a far cry from the heroin addict we saw take off with a bunch of cash in 1996's original. (Side note, I can't believe that movie is 20 years old) He comes back to Edinburgh intending to pay off his debts to Spub (Ewen Bremner) and Simon. (Johnny Lee Miller) Only Simone isn't ready to let bygones be bygones. He plans on hurting Renton again. Then there's Begbie (Robert Carlyle) freshly escaped from prison and even less happy to hear about Renton than Simon. 

Director Danny Boyle makes it easy on you if you don't re-watch the original right before seeing this. He stitches in scenes from the first one as a reminder to what these lads went to, and I found that welcomed. I'm not sure, even after watching this if Trainspotting actually needed a sequel. Nothing profound happens, but it's nice to see everyone back together again.

The fact paced dialogue, the great performances, the stylish shots, those stay the same. T2 relies on nostalgia and occasionally takes a bit too long to get to the point. It's fairly predictable on top of that, but the laughs I got from it were worth it. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "She's too young for you." - Diane (Kelly Macdonald)

Indie Gems: I Don't Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Well that's just mean.

Ruth (Melanie Lynskey) is a lonely woman who comes home to find her house burglarized one day. They've stolen her lap top, her grandmother's silver and some medications from her. The police are completely indifferent to helping her so she enlists the help of her strange neighbor, Tony (Elijah Wood) to try to locate the thieves.

The is the directorial debut of actor Macon Blair, who also wrote it. To be honest, this film is pretty messy but directors rarely start out perfect. I think he has a lot of potential because the story was very quirky. It's strange how a movie can be enjoyable and kind of a trainwreck at the same time. I liked this. I was never bored, even though pace wise it is kind of slow. I think it's because whenever the film would slow down, something outrageously funny would happen and it would pull me back in. 

Lynskey is wonderful as always. She's so underrated and she continuously puts out amazing work. She's got to be on the Oscar stage one of these days. Elijah Wood is also fun. 

While not perfect, the film makes for a nice watch on Netflix, especially for the actors.

Grade: B-

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "You're gonna look, right?" - Ruth (Melanie Lynskey)

Thursday Movie Picks: Cars

VARRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM, bitches. This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about cars. I have to say, if there's one topic I find so utterly boring, it's cars. The extent of my car knowledge is basically that I know how to change a tire. I've never been interested. I've had so many people see a vintage car and ask me "Doesn't that look amazing?" only for me to respond with "....k" So in honor of my disinterest, I've decided to choose three car movies I hate.

1) Cars

This is one of the most annoying cartoons I've ever seen. I don't understand how it's popular, Pixar didn't even try. 

2) Speed Racer

This movie can only be described as the equivalent of having a two hour seizure.

3) Gone in 60 Seconds

God, this movie. I went on a date in junior high where the boy I was with rented it. It didn't work out. 

DVD Review: The Edge of Seventeen

We've all been there.

Being a teenager sucks. Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld) knows. She's awkward, she doesn't fit in and her only friend Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) hooked up with her brother, Darian. (Blake Jenner) What is she going to do?

I didn't think this movie would be for me. I was a little petty over the title, as there's another film called Edge of Seventeen. But glowing reviews made me change my mind. I never expected it to resonate with me like this. 

Nadine, at times is a really hard character to like. She's quite cruel, even if she doesn't always mean it. She doesn't have a filter. But she's also depressed and awkward and I felt like I could relate to her so much. The crippling loneliness 
and the feeling of no one to turn to. I felt that way at seventeen too. I didn't lash out quite the way Nadine did. But I got that part of her. 

Hailee Steinfeld finally shows that spark she had in True Grit that seems to have been lost in her other work. She's good, she really is. Richardson doesn't have a lot to do but she's always adorable. Woody Harrelson playing the teacher Nadine singles out and Kyra Sedgwick as her self absorbed mother were also very strong in their small parts.

The film was a bit uneven, much of that can be attributed to Nadine's character, but it's a good watch for anyone who experienced awkwardness in high school. I never expected to shed tears over it. (That's probably just me, right?) 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Your head is too big for your body and there's nothing you can do about it." - Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld)