Review: 20th Century Women

It takes a village...somewhat.

In the 1970's, a single mom, Dorthea (Annette Bening) owns a boarding house with her teenage son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) and two other tenants. When she feels she isn't reaching him, she enlists the help of one of her tenants, Abbie (Greta Gerwig) and her son's friend, Julie (Elle Fanning) to help "raise" him with her. 

I really love the way this story was told. We get to hear each of the main character's inner monologue some point and developed well. It's much more than just the struggle between Dorthea and Jamie, the film makes sure everyone gets their say. We see Abbie deal with recovering from cervical cancer, to Julie essentially using Jamie as her quasi-therapist at times. Jamie is probably the most interesting teenage boy I've seen in a movie in a long time. You don't often see teenagers questioning their parents unhappiness, or picking up feminist literature. Jamie is truly one of a kind.

The acting in this movie is astounding, particularly Bening, who was robbed of an Oscar nomination. Her face alone when her son tells her he got in a fist fight over "clitoral stimulation" should've earned her one. Zumann is also very strong and I'm always here for Gerwig playing un-Gerwig type characters.

While the pacing can be off here and there, the story and the acting elevate this to one of the most original films I've seen in a long time.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Pretty music is used to hide how unfair and corrupt society is." - Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann)

2017 Academy Award Winners


Holy fucking shit. That's about the most articulate thing I can say at this point. The Best Picture envelope fiasco quite literally sobered by ass up. I was a bottle of wine in. I'm actually really mad for a number of reasons. 1) That Moonlight didn't get to properly enjoy its Best Picture win, and it will forever be remembered by this fuck up. 2) That the La La Land team actually got through their entire speeches before someone stopped them and 3) Why didn't they question that envelope more? 

Anyways, aside from that colossal fuck up. Kimmel was an excellent host. I love his ongoing "feud" with Matt Damon and how it made it into several parts of the broadcast "Ben Affleck and Guest" I went 15/25 with my picks (would've been 16/25 with the first movie they called Best Picture) Below are the winners + my thoughts. 



Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight
I got my wish and didn't even get to enjoy properly. Even worse, the actual WINNERS didn't get to enjoy it properly. 


Best Actor
Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling - La La Land
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington - Fences
I really thought Denzel was going to be an upset. I'm disappointed they went with Affleck. He was good, but he wasn't Denzel. Brie Larson's face after she read the name said it all.


Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Ruth Negga - Loving
Natalie Portman - Jackie
Emma Stone  - La La Land
Meryl Streep  - Florence Foster Jenkins
*sighs* I'm sorry, Natalie Portman. I love Emma Stone, and I loved her speech, but *sigh*


Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Jeff Bridges  -Hell Or High Water
Lucas Hedges  -Manchester By The Sea
Dev Patel - Lion
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals
Another gracious speech from the wonderful Ali. Great win.



Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis - Fences
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Nicole Kidman - Lion
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea
This wasn't going to anyone else. So happy for her. 


Best Director
Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Chazelle goes down in history as being the youngest person to win Best Director at age 32. All things aside, that's pretty cool.


Best Cinematography
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence
I really wanted Moonlight to win this, but I can't be too upset. All 5 of these nominees looked great.


Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
OJ: Made in America
13th
OJ: Made in America also goes down in history as the first mini series to ever win an Oscar. 


Best Documentary Short Subject
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets


Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode


Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann
I should've picked The Salesman. I had Toni as my win. 


Best Sound Editing
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully
Soooooo happy about this one!


Best Film Editing
Arrival 
Hacksaw Ridge 
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
Moonlight 
This surprised me. While I didn't like Hacksaw, it was edited very well. But I thought for sure La La Land would win here. 


Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Best Costume Design
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land
I thought La La Land was taking it too, but Fantastic Beasts surprised. I can't argue with that. 


Best Makeup and Hair Styling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
And do think "Academy Award Winner Suicide Squad" didn't end up being the most fucked up thing we heard tonight. 


Best Sound Mixing
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi


Best Original Score
Jackie 
La La Land 
Lion 
Moonlight 
Passengers 


Best Original Song
“Audition” - La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” - Trolls
“City of Stars” - La La Land
“The Empty Chair” - Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” - Moana
This was so predictable. I wanted How Far I'll Go to win. Poor Lin-Manuel Miranda was cock blocked for his EGOT. But if they were going to give it to La La Land, it should've went to Audition. That was the better song. 


Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival 
Fences 
Hidden Figures
Lion 
Moonlight
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassss


Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
The Lobster 
Manchester By the Sea 
20th Century Women 
I thought La La Land was taking this too. I didn't like Manchester, I was rooting for the Lobster, but from what I hear Manchester had an amazing screenplay. Maybe it didn't translate well. 


Best Production Design
Arrival 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 
Hail Caesar
La La Land 
Passengers
I'm happy La La Land won this. Amazing production. 


Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle


Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

queen

Indie Gems: Train to Busan

All aboard.

Do you know what movie I shouldn't have to file under "Indie Gems?" This one. This film at its height was opened in 36 theaters total across the U.S. From what I could find, it was a big hit in its native South Korea and other Asian countries but it didn't find its footing here. A film like this should've been given a wide release. People need to get over their fear of subtitles.

/end rant

Anywho, Train to Busan follows a very preoccupied father, Seok Woo (Yoo Gong) whose  daughter, Soo-an (Soo-an Kim) begs him to take her to see her mother in Busan for her birthday. He's a workaholic, but after being guilt tripped a bit he plans to take the train there quickly and come back. A sick passenger also boards the train, and when they die, they turn into zombies. Suddenly the mass outbreak that is now affecting the other cities is effecting the moving train, and Seok Woo, Soo-an, and a group of other passengers must fight their way through.

The thing about most zombie movies is at the end of it, I really don't care that much about the characters. Sure, you root for them along the way, but most of the time I feel like I watch for gore. Train to Busan is different. I felt for these characters, I nearly cried when I lost some of them. The tension built in some scenes was incredible. It had the perfect blend of creepy, loving, intense, and subtly amusing. 

Acting wise, my favorite performances were Dong-seok Ma and Yu-mi Jung who play a couple expecting a child. They were wonderful and truthfully exactly the kind of people I would want to be around if this ever happened. 

Grade: A

Memorable quote: "Hurry up, asshole!" - Sang Hwa (Dong-seok Ma)

Thursday Movie Picks: Superheroes - TV Edition

We have another TV Edition from Wandering Through the Shelves. This week we're talking about Superheroes. I decided to go with one show I enjoy now, and two I loved when I was a kid.

1) Daredevil

I was never a huge fan of Daredevil, especially after that disastrous Ben Affleck movie, but add a wonderful actor in Charlie Cox and Netflix's vision and this has easily become my favorite of all the Marvel TV efforts.  

2) Batman: The Animated Series

I loved watching this on Saturday mornings as a kid. Until Nolan got his hands on Batman, this was my favorite way to watch him. 

3) The X-Men

Another one I loved when I was a kid. I miss liking all things X-Men. I haven't enjoyed anything since X2. 

LAMB devours the Oscars - Supporting Actress

I case you missed it, this piece was originally published over at LAMB for "LAMB devours the Oscars."

In 2014, I got to talk about the supporting actors for LAMB Devours The Oscars. This time around, I've got the actresses. Though there's a clear winner in this category, it's full of strong performances. I'm going to talk briefly about some of the things I adored from each one of these talented ladies.

Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures

At first, Octavia over her co-star Janelle MonĂ¡e bothered me slightly. It just felt too "safe." In retrospect, it makes sense. Octavia's Dorothy Vaughan is one to take charge. She organizes and holds everything together. Her hard work, like Spencer's pays off. It's easy to rally behind her. Spencer plays Dorothy very calmly, even though you know she has so much more to say. She keeps it professional. In a powerful moment when Kirsten Dunst's character attempts to justify her stance on racism, Dorothy's short reply, "I know you probably believe that" speaks volumes. 

Nicole Kidman - Lion

The minute Nicole Kidman's Sue walks on screen, I immediately just wanted to hug her. She radiates warmth. Sue is an unbelievably strong woman. She loves her adopted sons so much, and when Saroo explains he's been looking for his birth mother, she responds with "She needs to see how beautiful you are." Kidman's performance is extraordinary. She only gets a short amount of time on screen, but she makes every minute of it worth it. 


Michelle Williams - Manchester by the Sea

If you've read my blog, you know I'm one of the few who isn't a fan of this film. Michelle Williams for me is the only one that breathed some life into it. This is a cold film, I wasn't connecting with any of the characters on screen, then Randi showed up. Only sporadically at first, but it's her final scene that made me feel something. She brought me to tears when she apologized to Lee about everything that happened after their own personal tragedy. Then as soon as she left, all that emotion left with her. She was the strongest part of the film. 

Naomie Harris - Moonlight

Moonlight was a film I never wanted to end. When we first meet Paula in her work clothes, you don't sense that she has drug problems. Watching her spiral out of control and verbally abuse her son, Chiron is heartbreaking. Of all the nominated performances, Paula is the only character I hated. It's unfair, addiction is a disease, but it's impossibly not to care about Chiron so much. To think that Harris shot her entire part in three days in the middle of a press tour, and that she conjured those types of emotions is nothing short of amazing. 

Viola Davis - Fences

And then there's our winner. (Seriously, no one else is going to take this) Okay, technically it's category fraud. But it's not as glaring as Alicia Vikander and Rooney Mara last year so I'm willing to excuse it. (just like I do for Dev Patel in Lion too, by the way) Viola is an absolute powerhouse in this film. Rose is everything. She's loving, she's the caretaker, the mediator, and often the biggest voice of reason. This family would not function without Rose and she makes that known. I can't help but be in awe with what Viola does here. 

Which actress gave your favorite performance? 

Review: A Cure For Wellness

The creepy resort where no one ever returns is totally safe.

Lockhart (Dane DeHaan) is an ambitious executive for a powerful company in New York. Once the big wigs get word of a hit of a scheme he pulled, he's sent off to Switzerland to retrieve his colleague who went to a wellness center and has no intention of returning after sending an ominous letter. When he gets there and meets with Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs) he starts to realize that what's packaged as a luxurious spa is far more than it seems. 

I feel like the filmmakers took what was actually an interesting concept and said "Make it look like Shutter Island!" It's impossible not to see the comparisons between the two. It almost seems like DeHaan was cast simply because at certain angles he looks like Leonardo DiCaprio. It's not a quick shot here or there either. Since A Cure For Wellness moves at an absolute snails pace, you're forced to contemplate the similarities more and more.

The Spa's secret ends up being a bit of a convoluted mess. Lockhart also meets a mysterious girl, Hannah (Mia Goth) who's entire arc is built up to a creepy sexual assault scene that made me think my eyes were never going to return from the back of my head. Even without them trying to be like a superior movie, it feels all the good ideas they had were wasted on the faulty structure. 

I really like DeHaan and he's the reason I went to see this, and while he gives a good performance, I can't shake the fact that he was probably cast for his looks. Jason Isaacs does the exact same thing he did in The OA earlier this year, so it's more of the same. Mia Goth is intriguing, but her role is essentially that of a mysterious object.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I'm a special case." - Hannah (Mia Goth)

2017 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win


We're a week a way from the Oscars, now it's time for predictions. For what it's worth, I always get the technical categories wrong. Seriously, I have to look up the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing every year for a reminder. You'd think after doing this for 8 years I'd remember. Anyways, here's who I think will win, and in some cases, who should in. 

Best Picture
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell Or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester By The Sea
Moonlight
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: Moonlight or Hidden Figures
La La Land NOT winning at this point would be a bigger shock than Crash swooping in over Brokeback Mountain. I like La La Land a lot, I just happened to like a few other films more. 


Best Actor
Casey Affleck - Manchester By The Sea
Andrew Garfield - Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling - La La Land
Viggo Mortensen - Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington - Fences
Who will and should win: Denzel Washington
I'm making a bold prediction here. I think Denzel will have gathered enough steam to beat Casey Affleck. Sure, Affleck will have the Globe and likely the BAFTA later today (they didn't even nominate Denzel) but him winning the SAG is huge. I think Casey's sexual assault accusations will catch up to him and it'll show on Oscar night.


Best Actress
Isabelle Huppert - Elle
Ruth Negga - Loving
Natalie Portman - Jackie
Emma Stone  - La La Land
Meryl Streep  - Florence Foster Jenkins
Who will win: Emma Stone (or Isabelle Huppert as a dark horse)
Who should win: Natalie Portman
Natalie Portman not winning this is a shame. Seriously, she's spectacular in Jackie. I haven't seen Elle yet. My theater has it, but I don't know if I can sit through it. I'm not sure if the Academy will award her in a rapey film over Emma in their Oscar darling.


Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali - Moonlight
Jeff Bridges  -Hell Or High Water
Lucas Hedges  -Manchester By The Sea
Dev Patel - Lion
Michael Shannon - Nocturnal Animals
Who will win: Mahershala Ali
Who should win: Him, Patel, or Shannon.
I love Ali in Moonlight and I will be so happy when he wins. I do think Dev Patel was better in Lion though. 


Best Supporting Actress
Viola Davis - Fences
Naomie Harris - Moonlight
Nicole Kidman - Lion
Octavia Spencer - Hidden Figures
Who will and should win: Viola Davis
There's no one else. 


Best Director
Denis Villeneuve - Arrival
Mel Gibson - Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle - La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan - Manchester By The Sea
Barry Jenkins - Moonlight
Who will and should win: Damien Chazelle
La La Land was wonderfully directed. I think he takes this along with Best Picture. 


Best Cinematography
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence
Who will and should win: Moonlight
I don't see this as a lock for La La Land. I think Moonlight looked better. 


Best Documentary Feature
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
OJ: Made in America
13th
Who will win: 13th
Who should win: ?
I haven't seen I Am Not Your Negro yet, but I think that has a decent chance of winning too. I've only seen 13th and OJ: Made in America. I like both, but I really don't think OJ should've been eligible here. It was a mini series. Who went to see a 7 hour doc in theaters?


Best Documentary Short Subject
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets
Who will win: Watani: My Homeland
Who should win: ?
I haven't seen any of these, I'm just guessing based off their subject matter.


Best Live Action Short
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode
Who will win: Sing
Who should win: ?
Again, I haven't seen any of these. Sing seems to have the best reviews, so Silent Nights sounds like something I'd watch. 


Foreign Language Film
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann
Who will win: Toni Erdmann
Who should win: A Man Called Ove
I've only seen Ove, but Toni Erdmann has been winning everything. I think The Salesman could see a surge too, so I wouldn't count that out. 


Best Sound Editing
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully
Who will and should win: Arrival


Best Film Editing
Arrival 
Hacksaw Ridge 
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
Moonlight 
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: Hacksaw Ridge
The only thing Hacksaw has going for it is that the 2nd half is very technical and should win, but La La Land needs to rack up more wins. I think they'll take one here. 


Best Visual Effects
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Who will win: The Jungle Book
Who should win: Doctor Strange
I can't see anyone but Jungle Book taking this, though I think Doctor Strange was the best film visually I saw all year. Still pissed Civil War didn't make it in. 


Best Costume Design
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land
Who will and should win: La La Land
Present day films never win in the costume category, it's always older ones or period pieces. I'd like to see La La Land take this one just for Mia's wardrobe alone. 


Best Makeup and Hair Styling
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad
Who will win: A Man Called Ove
Who should win: Anyone but Suicide Squad
Star Trek Beyond has great make up but I could see the Academy going for a quieter film like Ove. It would be a very deserving win.


Best Sound Mixing
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Who will and should win: Hacksaw Ridge


Best Original Score
Jackie 
La La Land 
Lion 
Moonlight 
Passengers 
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: Jackie, Moonlight, Lion.
Those three had amazing scores that beautifully shaped their movies. I would really rather them win. La La Land score wise had Mia and Sebastian's theme, which I liked. But it wasn't as good as the others. I'm not very confident that it will win here, but I think the Academy will try to give it as many Oscars as possible in categories where they can pretend it was the best. 


Best Original Song
“Audition” - La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” - Trolls
“City of Stars” - La La Land
“The Empty Chair” - Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go” - Moana
Who will win: City of Stars
Who should win: How Far I'll Go
How Far I'll Go is catchy AF. I've been listening to it ever since I saw Moana. City of Stars is a great song too (though I like Audition better) so I think it wins. Still bitter about Drive It Like You Stole it not being here. 


Best Adapted Screenplay
Arrival 
Fences 
Hidden Figures
Lion 
Moonlight
Who will and should win: Moonlight
I love all of these films. I think Hidden Figures might actually have a shot at winning this now too, but it should stay with Moonlight which was the boldest film of the year. 


Best Original Screenplay
Hell or High Water 
La La Land 
The Lobster 
Manchester By the Sea 
20th Century Women 
Who will win: La La Land
Who should win: The Lobster
La La Land, while a great film does NOT have a great screenplay. It shouldn't be in this category at all. The Lobster is by far the most original thing here. 


Best Production Design
Arrival 
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 
Hail Caesar
La La Land 
Passengers
Who will and should win: La La Land


Best Animated Feature
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia
Who will and should win: Zootopia
That's still my favorite animated film of the year. I haven't seen Red Turtle or Zucchini. I'd be happy with a Moana win too. Kubo, while pretty, wasn't the greatest



Best Animated Short
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper
Who will win: Piper
Who should win: ?
I've only seen Piper and I love it. I can't say much else. 

Indie Gems: Latter Days

Why are you all named Elmer?

Elder Aaron Davis (Steve Sandvoss) is a Mormon missionary that is sent to Los Angeles. It's his first time away from home. He meets his new neighbor, Christian (Wes Ramsey) a gay man that doesn't hide his sexuality, even though it makes Aaron's fellow Elders (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rob McElhenney and Dave Power) angry. Christian at first is amused at their discomfort, so when his friends casually bet him to try to sleep with Aaron, he's all for it.

There's plenty of movies with this plot line, but none quite like Latter Days. It's a very green film, in fact the opening scene almost looks right out of a corny 80's movie despite being filmed in 2003. But don't let that throw you off. I felt very moved by the story, even though you can tell only some of the actors were seasoned. It's a testament of how much heart it really has.

While I watched it for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, his part is very small. Sandvoss and Ramsey have incredible chemistry together. They may be a bit stereotypical but they have enough depth not to feel like caricatures.  While it's not the best made film out there, it keeps you interested and leaves you with a lot to think about.

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Having sex for my career would be noble." - Andrew (Khary Payton)


Thursday Movie Pick: Shakespeare Adaptations

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is movies adapted from Shakespeare's work. Thankfully this theme leaves a lot of wiggle rooms because there's plenty of films that are loosely adapted, and those work for me. I'm going to share my favorite, one that I forgot was based on Shakespeare, and one that I have a really stupid memory of. 

1) 10 Things I Hate About You

Loosely based on "The Taming of the Shrew" This one is my favorite. I love the cast and it's just so fun. It's easily my favorite rom com of all time. 

2) My Own Private Idaho

Loosely based on Henry IV. I love this movie, but I almost always forget that Van Sant was basing this on Henry IV. Aside from some the way some of the characters speak, it's very subtle. Either way, great film.

3) Romeo and Juliet (1968)

Now here's my stupid memory. We read a lot of Shakespeare in my freshman lit class and our teacher showed us this film. Being as we were all hormone driven teenagers, all anyone seemed to take in was the fact that Juliet's boobs were huge. Our teacher tried to fast forward through their "love scene"and ended up hitting play right as we got a shot of a topless Juliet. I swear no one laughed hysterically.

Everyone laughed hysterically. 

2017 Blind Spot: The Three Colors; Blue, White and Red


What I knew going in: I had read plenty of reviews on each of the films.

Blue: "Liberty" - Julie (Juliette Binoche) loses her husband and young daughter to a car crash. Now she's determined to shed every thing from her old life and to keep to herself in Paris. However the music from her composer husband's last piece of work haunts her, and she can't shake it.

Reading the synopsis of each film,  I thought Blue would be my favorite but it's kind of a downer. However, it really is an incredible piece of filmmaking.  I like how introspective the film was. It had to be that way, because that's how Julie lives now. She's distancing herself, and the film almost distances us from her. While I would normally hate the "fade to black" cuts director Krzysztof Kieslowski uses frequently, I like how it sort of forced us to focus on the music instead. B

White: "Equality" Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski) is a Polish man living in France, but is divorced by his wife, Dominique (Julie Delpy) and forced to move back to Poland with no money. He starts to forge a new life for himself, but he has one thing on his mind now: Revenge.

White needs some serious suspension of disbelief at times. A little more than I'm willing to give, unfortunately. I really liked the characters of Karol and his new friend, Mikolaj (Janusz Gajos) and acting wise, they were fantastic. They elevate the story. I wasn't a fan of the ending, mostly because I just don't understand how Karol could still feel the way he did after everything that happened. Blue and Red will probably stick with me for a long time, but I can't see White doing that.  B-

Red: "Fraternity" Valentine (Irene Jacob) is a model living in Geneva. She accidentally runs over a dog one night (don't worry, he lives) and when she tracks down the dog's owner, she finds a retired judge, Kern (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who has taken to wire tapping his neighbors phone calls. They form a unique friendship over his crime.

Red takes a while to get going. I had the strangest sensation while watching this film. It's like I was just idly enjoying it, then it hit me; wow. I really love Valentine and Kern's relationship. I always feel like I can relate to curious characters. Valentine's curiosity is what propels their friendship. There's a subplot with her neighbor, Auguste that I thought was a massive waste of time, though it makes sense at the end, but even that couldn't dampen just how invested I was in Valentine. They talk about love whilst eavesdropping and I felt like I was falling more in love with the film as it went on. A-

I'm glad I got ambitious with this. I can see why this trilogy is so highly regarded from a film making standpoint. You can tell by my ratings what order I'd put them in. I definitely recommend all three. 

Review: The Lego Batman Movie

I don't need anyone.

Batman (Will Arnett) doesn't need anyone. He doesn't need The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) to be his greatest enemy. He doesn't need need a family, and he definitely doesn't need that kid, Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) he accidentally adopted. When The Joker gets fed up with not being appreciated as his arch nemesis, he releases a ton of other villains (all from WB movies) from a prison known as the "Phantom Zone" and forces Batman to consider working with the new commissioner, Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) to help stop them.

Batman was a breakout in 2014's Lego Movie, but there's zero connection between the two films. They mention being a "master builder" once, I believe and none of the other characters make an appearance. That was slightly disappointing, and though Lego Batman doesn't capture the same magic its predecessor did. It still has plenty of laughs for the adults and kids.

I loved all the jokes about previous versions of Batman and DC movies and the voice actors were really strong. (Though it's super weird to hear someone else as Voldemort when Ralph Fiennes is voicing Alfred) Batman and Joker's story is essentially that of a break up, which made it even funnier.  I kept thinking to myself throughout how Trump-like Batman acted at times, which was a bit depressing. But none of those things stop this film from being a good time. 

Now I just have to get my kid to stop saying the password to the Batcave over and over...

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Well, children can be cruel..." - Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett)

Indie Gems: Complete Unknown

Who do you want to be?

It's Tom's (Michael Shannon) birthday and his wife Ramina, (Azita Ghanizada) has organized a get together with their closest friends. They're at a bit of a crossroads. Tom wants to stay in New York City to follow up with a proposition he made at work. Ramina was accepted into a program in California to further her jewelry business. When his friend/coworker Clyde, (Michael Chernus) invites a woman named Alice (Rachel Weisz) that he met in a cafeteria. Tom realizes he knew her from before, but her name was Jenny and she was nothing like the woman that stands before him.

I have to admit I was a little mislead by Netflix on this one. I expected it to be somewhat of a thriller, where we learn why Alice does what she does and that there would be something sinister behind that. It's nothing like that at all. Alice is up front on why she changes identities so freely. The film stops short of saying she has some type of dissociative identity disorder, but it makes you wonder.

That's what I liked the most about the film. It makes you wonder what it would feel like to be someone in one profession for a short amount of time, then leave. Shed your skin, and become someone new. Alice is practically a paper doll with how often she changes. It makes you almost afraid for Tom, who I didn't want to live that life. 

It's a slower film, but Shannon and Weisz make for intriguing leads. I could watch Shannon in anything. 

Grade: B-

Watched on: DVD

Memorable Quote: "Now you see how easy it is?" - Alice (Rachel Weisz)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Prodigies/Geniuses

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about prodigies and or geniuses.  There's so many to choose from. Since we're in the middle of Oscar season, let's go with a few of my favorite Oscar winners about geniuses.

1) The Imitation Game

A film about Alan Turing, the man who cracked enigma, and whose studies went on to make computers what they are today. He doesn't get talked about enough. I'm glad this movie re-started the conversation.

2) The Theory of Everything

A film about the early life of Stephen Hawking. Yes, it's Oscar bait, but damn it it's GOOD Oscar bait. And I'm a whore for this fireworks shot.

3) Good Will Hunting

It was tough to choose between this and A Beautiful Mind. I went with this because how can you not love how excited Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were when they won their Oscar?

Review: Lion

I don't know where I'm from.

In India, a young boy named Saroo (Sunny Pawar) is helping his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) steal coal to sell. Guddu is leaving for a "night job" that Saroo insists he's strong enough to handle. Guddu is hesitant, but lets him tag along anyways. When they arrive, he's too tired to do anything, so Guddu leaves him on a bench to sleep and tells him to wait there. When he wakes, he wonders onto a train, falls asleep again and winds up on the other side of the country. Eventually he winds up at an orphanage, and being adopted by a kind Australian family, Sue (Nicole Kidman) and John. (David Wenham) 20 years later, older Saroo (Dev Patel) starts having dreams of his former life, and he sets out to try to locate his home using Google maps.

I was worried I wasn't going to get to see this before the Oscars, then my indie theater came through. It easily lived up to my high expectations. I was kind of iffy about the whole Google Maps part of the story, because I've heard it being referred to as an "ad" but I actually thought those scenes were handled quite well, especially backed by the film's lovely score.

The acting is what completely elevates this above a normal feel good story. First off, Sunny Pawar is a treasure. He easily carries the first half and seeing what he went through after he was lost is downright horrifying. Then there's Nicole Kidman, who I just wanted to hug from the moment we meet her on screen. Sue is so warm and loving and she's trying SO hard. It's impossible not to feel from her and even though she's not in the film very much, she makes every minute of her screen time worth it. Finally, there's Dev Patel. Sure, he should probably be in the lead actor category, but like Viola Davis, I can see why they put him in supporting and I'll roll with it. Patel gives a career best performance. He nails his Aussie accent (at least it sounded good to me) and his eyes are so expressive. They focused a lot on Saroo and his girlfriend Lucy (Rooney Mara) and you could tell in those scenes how strained their relationship has become with all the searching, but how strong it is underneath.

I really want Dev to win that Oscar. I love Moonlight, and Mahersala Ali and I will be psyched when he's an Oscar winner, but looking at the performances in that category, I think Dev was the best. 

If the film has one fault, it's probably the pacing. It clocks in at just under two hours but feels much longer than that at times. But the ending is so satisfying it's not a huge problem. You'll likely ugly cry.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "She needs to see how beautiful you are." - Sue (Nicole Kidman)

Rambling TV: Thoughts on all of it.

It's been a while since I've written about TV. It's Oscar season, and there's so many movies to write about. But now that I've seen all the Best Picture nominees at least. It's time to get back into the swing of things for TV. Here's what I've been watching:

Agents of SHIELD

The Ghost Rider theme was a hit, but now they're on LMD, which after watching Westworld feels like a very cheap rip off. It isn't very good. As usual, Fitz and Simmons are the only interesting parts, with a few great moments from May and Mack thrown in. I really don't see this show getting picked up for another season. They've already had May (well, LMD May) and Coulson kiss which feels like an ending point. 

Luke Cage

Speaking of Marvel, this show was better. I hate that it took me so long to watch it. Jessica Jones left me so disappointed. This wasn't perfect, Mahersala Ali was amazing as Cottonmouth, the villain for the first half, but then they swapped him for Diamondback and the back half of the season just wasn't as good as the first. It leaves a lot of interest for the second season at least. But Claire Temple hooking up with Luke? No. Go back to Matt in Daredevil, there's more chemistry there.

The OA

This was a quick binge on Netflix. I love Brit Marling's work, and yes this is very similar to a lot of things she's done. But overall, I'd definitely watch a 2nd season. It got weird when they got into their "movements" but the story was strong.

Taboo

I tried to watch Tom Hardy's new show, which has an amazing production, by the way. But I couldn't continue with it. It bored me. I'm still DVRing the episodes so if something changes, I'll give it a chance.

The People v O.J Simpson

Netflix is finally streaming this. I can definitely see why it won so many Emmys, it was amazing. It was an interesting perspective for me. I was 8 when this trial happened. I remember Cochran jokes and not knowing a single person who thought O.J was innocent, but it's something else seeing it played out like this. Now I have to tackle that OJ: Made in America documentary.

The Young Pope

This show has some seriously hilarious moments but then it just drags on. Overall, it's okay. Jude Law is spectacular in it.