Review: Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle

The bare necessities

Do I even need to do a plot run down at this point? Mowgli (Rohand Chand) is a boy left in the jungle who is rescued by a panther, Bagheera (Christian Bale) and ultimately raised by wolves. But the dangerous tiger Shere Khan (Benedict Cumberbatch) is hell bent on killing Mowgli as he did his parents.

WB and director Andy Serkis started work on this film before Disney came along and made their own live action Jungle Book, grossed a billion dollars, and won an Oscar. Then they got stuck in the awkward position of telling everyone "but this is the dark version!" Despite the insistence that they were going to go full D.C Universe with this, WB dumped it on Netflix. 

For me personally, Netflix was a good move because I don't think I would've went to this in theaters. The fact that WETA, the same people that brought us the flawless Planet of the Apes movies (War should've won that Best Visual Effects Oscar...I will fight you) the CGI is horrendous. I know Serkis is big on showing the human side of motion capture. While it worked with primates in the Apes films it's distracting and cheap looking. When you know that they're capable of, seeing this result is even more offensive.

Another problem this film faced is its voice actors. I really have to question what kind of direction Serkis was giving them because so many of them are completely over the top. Christian Bale was the only one that I consistently liked throughout the film.

Mowgli does dare to be different. Shere Khan is legitimately terrifying and his and Mowgli's final show down was done really well. I also give props for attempting to be different with the character of Baloo, who Serkis plays like the town drunk here. I'm not sure if it worked, but it was new.

This makes for a fine Netflix watch but I just feel bad for Andy Serkis and all involved at this point. The entire situation is just rough, and the finished product certainly didn't soften the blow.

Recommended: No 

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I haven't come to rescue you, little brother." - Bagheera (Christian Bale)

Indie Gems: Nancy

I'm sorry I wasn't there.

After her mother dies, Nancy (Andrea Riseborough) becomes convinced she was kidnapped as a child after seeing a composite drawing that resembles her on the news. She contacts the family, Ellen (J. Smith-Cameron) and Leo (Steve Buscemi) and puts them in a very emotional situation. 

This was a film I hadn't heard about until the Independent Spirit Nominations came out. J Smith-Cameron is nominated in the supporting actress category, and after watching this film I can see why.

This film was obviously shot on a microbudget but when you have talent like this it doesn't matter if the quality isn't the greatest. When we meet Nancy, she's not someone I warmed up to. I'd describe her as "full of shit" to put it bluntly, but in a strange way Riseborough gets you to almost want her to be right here. Ellen and Leo have been hurting for years, but still remain a strong couple and they are easy to root for. Overall, I just wished happiness for everyone. They all had something weighing on them.

This film has a lot of ambiguity, which won't make it for everyone. But I strongly suggest seeking this little film out. 

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I just changed the time line." - Nancy (Andrea Riseborough)

Review: Dumplin'

Shine, girl. 

Willowdean (Danielle MacDonald) is the plus sized daughter of a former beauty queen, Rosie. (Jennifer Aniston) She decides to stage a protest by entering her mother's beauty pageant along with her friend Ellen, (Odeya Rush) and ends up inspiring two others Millie (Maddie Baillio) and Hannah (Bex Taylor-Klaus) to go along with her. 

Danielle MacDonald is easily becoming one of the most intriguing new actresses for me. I adored her in Patti Cake$ and Every Secret Thing, so when I saw the trailer for this Netflix film, I knew I'd give it a watch.

What I wasn't expecting was how much I was going to love this. This movie checked so many cliches at first but as I kept watching I stopped caring less and just enjoyed watching it. I even cried a few times. Shocking, I know.

Danielle of course was great as the lead but the one that really stole the show was Maddie Baillio. She did a great job last year as Tracy in Hairspray Live and she's got that same sweet nature and amazing singing voice here Millie is such a positive girl, especially when compared to cynical Willowdeen. The friendships between these girls were so well done and lovely. 

From what I've seen, this is the best feel good movie of the year. Sometimes you just need to snuggle up on the couch and watch something sweet. That's what this is for me.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "You didn't teach me how to live without you." - Willowdean (Danielle MacDonald)

Thursday Movie Picks: It's A Party!

Are you ready to party? It's that time over at Wandering Through The Shelves. What's the dumbest thing you've ever done at a party? I immediately thought of when I was sixteen and was drinking at a friend's apartment. The cops came and three friends and myself jumped off their second floor balcony into a snowbank and ran off. Then we had to awkwardly come back later because none of us had our coat or shoes. Here are three films where others have made some pretty dumb moves at parties. 

1) Alpha Dog

This movie is insanely underrated. I would honestly give Ben Foster an Oscar for it and Anton Yelchin a nomination. A group of guys "kidnap" the younger brother of another druggie that owes him money, yet no one is taking it seriously. They take him to parties, he even wanders off and gets laid, but he ends up dead in a ditch at the end of it. (Not a spoiler) It's really phenomenal. 

2) Superbad

This film is pretty nostalgic to me. It came out two years after I graduated from high school and reminded me a lot my class and how we acted.  What made this film even more special is that I saw it in theaters with a bunch of friends from schoolwhen we all happened to be in Minneapolis for a baseball game.   

3) Little Athens

A lesser known pick, but another party gone wrong. This is Alpha Dog's quiet stoner older brother. We run through all the intertwined main character's lives, mundane as they are, only for something unexpected to happen at a party where everyone ends up.

2019 Screen Actors Guild Nominations


Can I just say, 9:00 am announcements? Really? That's late. My ass has been ready since 6:30 am. I can't remember the last time I side eyed a list of nominations this hard. While there's some things I obviously like, girl, WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? The list of nominations is below + my thoughts. 

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
A Star Is Born
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
Crazy Rich Asians”
This biggest wtf here is obviously Bohemian Rhapsody and I'll go the extra mile into unpopular territory and say A Star Is Born shouldn't be here either when all three of the main actors already got nominated. It's not like anyone else got a thing to do in that movie. But Bohemian Rhapsody? Really? Widows, Wildlife, If Beale Street Could Talk, Blindspotting,Beautiful Boy, Boy Erased, hell anything else would've been better. This is taking away how awesome it is that Black Panther, BlackKklansman and Crazy Rich Asians all got recognized. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Christian Bale, “Vice”
Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born”
Rami Malek, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Viggo Mortensen, “Green Book”
John David Washington, “BlacKkKlansman”
I'm so happy John David Washington snuck in. He was the biggest question mark. The other four are locks. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Emily Blunt, “Mary Poppins Returns”
Glenn Close, “The Wife”
Olivia Colman, “The Favourite”
Lady Gaga, “A Star Is Born”
Melissa McCarthy, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
I still need to see The Favourite. Otherwise there's no surprises here like I was hoping there would be. Elsie Fisher, Viola Davis or Thomasin Mackenzie would've been nice additions. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali, “Green Book”
Timothee Chalamet, “Beautiful Boy”
Adam Driver, “BlacKkKlansman”
Sam Elliott, “A Star Is Born”
Richard E. Grant, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”
Sam Elliott got his nomination after missing the Globes but I still argue he was playing himself. I'm rooting for Driver here. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams, "Vice"
Emily Blunt, "A Quiet Place"
Margot Robbie, "Mary, Queen of Scots"
Emma Stone, "The Favourite"
Rachel Weiss, "The Favourite"
Blunt and Robbie were huge surprises here which is fine, I guess but Regina King missing out on Beale Street is a shocker considering she's essentially the front runner. Elizabeth Debecki's Oscar chances for Widows are done, and that breaks my heart.

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Antman and the Wasp
Avengers: Infinity War
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Black Panther
Mission: Impossible – Fallout


Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Americans
Better Call Saul
The Handmaid’s Tale
Ozark
This Is Us
Americans getting Drama Series but nothing for the lead actors is kind of shady, SAGS. Damn. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale
John Krasinki, Jack Ryan
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
John Krasinski is a surprise. I really hope Joseph Fiennes takes this because it's a shame he didn't win an Emmy. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Julia Garner, "Ozark"
Laura Linney, "Ozark"
Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid's Tale"
Sandra Oh, "Killing Eve"
Robin Wright, "House of Cards"
I knew the SAGs would give Robin Wright some love after the Globes didn't. While I tried and failed to get into Ozark, I'm so happy for Julia Garner. She's wonderful. 

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Atlanta
Barry
GLOW
The Kominsky Method
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
I don't watch any of these, though Atlanta is on my list. 

Outstanding Performane by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Alan Arkin, “The Kominsky Method”
Michael Douglas, “The Kominsky Method”
Bill Hader, “Barry”
Tony Shalhoub, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Henry Winkler, “Barry”

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Alex Borstein, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Alison Brie, “GLOW”
Rachel Brosnahan, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”
Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”
I still can't wrap my head around the SAG's love for Grace and Frankie. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Antonio Banderas, “Genius: Picasso”
Darren Criss, “Assassination of Gianni Versace”
Hugh Grant, “A Very English Scandal”
Anthony Hopkins, “King Lear”
Bill Pullman, “The Sinner”
Bill Bullman was awful in The Sinner. It was so distracting. They left Daniel Bruhl out for The Alienist and Taylor Kitsch for Waco for this? Jesus. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Amy Adams, “Sharp Objects”
Patricia Arquette, “Escape at Dannemora”
Patricia Clarkson, “Sharp Objects”
Penelope Cruz, “Assassination of Gianni Versace”
Emma Stone, “Maniac”
I still don't get how Cruz is getting nominated for this. Actually, I do, but still. Emma Stone for Maniac is a bit of a surprise. I thought the Globes would give that some love. I'm pulling for Adams. 

Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series
Daredevil
GLOW
Jack Ryan
The Walking Dead

Westworld

Review: The Wife

The things I do for Oscar.

Joe Castleman (Jonathan Pryce) is receiving the Nobel Prize for literature and his wife, Joan (Glenn Close) who essentially has been ghost writing his work for their entire marriage finally starts to question her life choices. 

Truth be told, if a certain corner of the internet hadn't been raving about Glenn Close's performance all summer, I probably would not have sought this out. But I had to see it. I had to see what has been deemed her Oscar winning performance before the nominations have even been announced.

This ain't it. 

The Wife is easily the most ironic movie I've seen all year. Ironic in the way that Joe laments his son for using cliches in his work, and Joan points out to Joe that his characters are wooden and don't come alive. That's exactly how this movie feels. Joe ticks off all of those stereotypical womanizer boxes. He's got an emo writer son who he doesn't pay attention to and of course attempts an affair with an artsier, younger woman than his wife. It's almost to on the nose.

As for the acting. Close is good, don't get me wrong, but she's mostly required to stare off into the distance while stewing in her anger. A few times she gets to raise her voice, a few more times she gets to laugh. Close has been better than this several times before. I'm honestly a bit perplexed at this being her apparent Oscar vehicle. Pryce and Christian Slater are also quite strong but Max Irons who plays the couple's son, and Harry Lloyd who plays the younger Joe are both quite dreadful. Not that they had much to work with anyways.

The one thing I admire about this movie is that it's short. It clocks in at 80 minutes which is the perfect amount of time to watch poor Joan get overshadowed at every turn. I don't think I couldn't taken any more disappointment of wanting Joan to get the credit she deserves. I suppose the film did make me care about her, but this movie is beneath Joan. Maybe she should've proofed the script. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I am a king maker." - Joan Castleman (Glenn Close)

Review: Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Do you like cats better than people?

Lee Israel (Melissa McCarthy) is an author that normally writes biographies. When they stop selling, she's short on her rent, her cat is sick, her life is a mess and she's desperate. When she comes across a letter written by a famous writer by chance, she begins forging  letters by famous people and selling them off with the help of her new friend, Jack. (Richard E. Grant)

I wasn't familiar with Lee Israel prior to seeing this. This was a story I hadn't heard, and despite being about a crime, it wasn't very compelling. I had a hard time connecting with Lee and Jack. This calls back a bit to what I was talking about in my Wildlife review, another film following objectively unlikable people. It's easy to enjoy a film about unlikable people when the ones you're watching are so well defined. It's almost extraordinary how this film manages to miss that when Lee and Jack are real people. 

I think this movie is paced very well, but I was left wanting more context. I felt like I was given the bare minimum of information on the characters in this film. It's like I was watching a Spark Notes version. The script just leaves so much more to be desired.

Melissa McCarthy gives probably her best performance as Lee. If you've been reading me for a while, you know I'm not a fan of hers outside of Spy but I think her fans will absolutely adore this. Richard E. Grant is clearly having a lot of fun in this role as well. I can see why he's getting a lot of Oscar talk, even though I don't think it's the best supporting performance I've seen. The two together have great chemistry and some of their dialogue was fantastic.

Obviously I'm pretty lukewarm on this. If you're a big McCarthy fan, you'll probably love it. Director Marielle Heller's style is definitely all over this film as well, it feels a lot like her last feature, Diary of a Teenage Girl

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "How are you going to taste it with his dick in your mouth?" - Lee (Melissa McCarthy)


Indie Gems: Private Life

I can give you this gift

Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is an author who has been undergoing fertility treatments with her husband, Richard. (Paul Giamatti) Like many going through that, it's taking its toll and the outcome doesn't look good. It puts a lot of stress on their relationship. Then Richard's niece Sadie (Kayli Carter) comes into the picture. She's recently dropped out of college and she's not related to Richard by blood (she's his step sister's daughter) so she offers to be their surrogate. 

Kathryn Hahn has been turning in solid comedy work for years, but she's rarely mentioned with it comes to some of the dramatic things she's done. She was great in Afternoon Delight, which this does slightly remind me of, but she turns in her career best here. 

This film perfectly balances sweet and sad. It's hard watching anyone go through fertility, even more so when a marriage ends up on the rocks and families fight during it. But Carter's Sadie is such a bright spot in all of this mess. She's perfectly likable. The three leads all have great chemistry.

It does tend to fall into that stereotypical boho territory. Sadie's not a love interest so she can't be a manic pixie dream girl but she kind of has a few of those attributes. That didn't bother me personally, I tend to like movies that use that trope, but I know it's not for everyone. Though I really urge everyone to check out this, especially for Hahn who if there's any good in the world will at least get close to an Oscar nom for this. 

Grade: B+

Watched on: Netflix

Memorable Quote: "If the pipe gets clogged, you don't get Mountain Dew. You just get seltzer." - Dr. Dordick (Denis O'Hare)

2019 Golden Globe Nominations

And here we go! Here are my thoughts on yesterday's Golden Globe nominations. While there were some lovely surprises (Black Panther! Elsie Fisher! John David Washington and Adam Driver!) I was mostly scratching my head because there's a lot missing here. Below are the list of nominees plus some quick thoughts as always.


Best Picture — Drama
Black Panther
Blackkklansman
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born
I really thought A Star is Born would be in Musical but only the most prestigious for Cooper's vanity project, I guess. Bohemian Rhapsody shouldn't be in here at all. You're telling me that's better than Wildlife, Widows, Annihilation, Thoroughbreds, Hereditary, The Hate U Give, basically ANYTHING else they could in here? Please.
But... Black Panter. I never thought I'd see the day when a Marvel movie was up for Best Drama. This is glorious. I'm glad BlackKklansman is in there too. The only one I need to see is Beale Street.

Best Picture — Comedy or Musical
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Vice
Green Book...lol. I would've had Eighth Grade or Sorry To Bother You in its place. I'm surprised The Favourite went comedy but I guess it makes sense. Crazy Rich Asians getting in makes me happy. I knew it had a shot here but I still didn't think it was a lock. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama
Bradley Cooper - A Star is Born
Willem Defoe - At Eternity’s Gate
Lucas Hedges - Boy Erased
Rami Malek - Bohemian Rhapsody
John David Washington- BlacKkKlansman
I'm SO happy John David Washington got in. I was prepared for the bitter irony of Driver being the lone BlackKklansman nomination but this was a nice surprised. Ethan Hawke not being here is shocking considering he's picked up so many critic noms. What even is At Eternity's Gate?

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama
Glenn Close - The Wife
Lady Gaga - A Star Is Born
Nicole Kidman - Destroyer
Melissa McCarthy - Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Rosamund Pike - A Private War
Carey Mulligan should be in here full stop and so should Viola Davis. I'm having a hard time with believing any of these performances top theirs. Rosamund Pike is a huge surprise. I wonder if Mary Queen of Scots screeners even went out. The Globes tend to love Saoirse. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale - Vice
Lin Manuel Miranda - Mary Poppins Returns
Viggo Mortensen - Green Book
Robert Redford - The Old Man and The Gun
John C. Reilly - Stan and Ollie
I did not know The Old Man and the Gun was a comedy. Learning something new every day. Lakeith Stanfield for Sorry To Bother You would've been nice but that movie was probably too weird for HFPA. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt -Mary Poppins Returns
Olivia Coleman - The Favourite
Elsie Fisher - Eighth Grade
Charlize Theron - Tully
Constance Wu - Crazy Rich Asians
Can we talk about how awesome it is that young Elsie Fisher got in? That's fantastic. She was so great in that movie. Wu getting in as well is wonderful. I really want to see The Favourite, I can't wait to see Coleman. I wish Kathryn Hahn would've been in here for Private Life, even though that could've gone the drama route too.


Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role 
Mahershala Ali - Green Book
Timothée Chalamet - Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver - BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant - Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Sam Rockwell - Vice
I'm excited for Driver and Rockwell. I know Chalamet being in here is going to spark a lot of category fraud discussions but I actually think he qualifies. He feels very much a supporting player in that movie and it doesn't actually focus on him without Carell all that much until well over an hour into the film. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role 
Amy Adams - Vice
Claire Foy - First Man
Regina King - If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone - The Favourite
Rachel Weisz - The Favourite
I really wish Elizabeth Debecki would be in here for Widows. If I had it my way, Cynthia Erivo would be for Bad Times at the El Royale too, but you know...

Best Director — Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper - A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón - Roma
Peter Farrelly - Green Book
Spike Lee - BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay - Vice
Peter Farelly over Paul Dano, Barry Jenkins, and literally anyone else? Come on..

Best Screenplay — Motion Picture
Alfonso Cuaron - Roma
Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara - The Favourite
Barry Jenkins - If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay - Vice
Peter Farrelly - Nick Vallelonga, Brian Currie, Green Book
Again, there's more I would've put in here over Green Book. 

Best Motion Picture — Animated
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Mirai
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse
This has been such a mediocre year for American (wide release) animation. I hope into the Spider-Verse wows me. I need it. 

Best Picture — Foreign Language
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Girl (Belgium)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)
I had wondered if all the drama behind Girl would hurt the film, apparently not.

Best Original Score — Motion Picture
Marco Beltrami - A Quiet Place
Alexandre Desplat - Isle of Dogs
Ludwig Göransson - Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz - First Man
Marc Shaiman - Mary Poppins Returns
I do not remember anything about A Quiet Place's score despite loving that movie. I'm psyched for Desplat and Goransson though, both of those scores were lovely. First Man's score was okay so I'm not surprised it was nominated. 

Best Original Song — Motion Picture
“All the Stars” - Black Panther
“Girl in the Movies” - Dumplin’
“Requiem for a Private War” - A Private War
“Revelation” - Boy Erased
“Shallow” - A Star is Born
I didn't realize All The Stars was eligible so YES. I'm only familiar with that and Shallow so I need to listen to the rest. 


Best Television Series — Drama
The Americans 
Bodyguard 
Homecoming 
Killing Eve 
Pose 
The HFPA love freshman shows so a lot of their nominations I haven't seen. I meant to watch Pose but never did. 

Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy
Barry 
Kidding 
The Good Place 
The Kominsky Method 
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 
I still don't get the love for Barry, I couldn't make it through the season.

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
The Alienist
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Escape at Dannemora
Sharp Objects
A Very English Scandal
I'm glad to see The Alienist get in, though I wish Waco would have to. I'm going for Sharp Objects personally as that show was perfection.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Drama
Jason Bateman - Ozark
Stephan James - Homecoming
Richard Madden  - Bodyguard
Billy Porter  - Pose
Matthew Rhys  - The Americans
Come to think of it, I'm surprised there's nothing for This is Us anywhere.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Drama
Caitriona Balfe - Outlander
Elisabeth Moss - The Handmaid’s Tale
Sandra Oh - Killing Eve
Julia Roberts - Homecoming
Keri Russell - The Americans
Elisabeth is so good, I expect they will go for Julia Roberts because star power. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy
Sascha Baron Cohen -  This is America
Jim Carrey - Kidding
Michael Douglas - The Kominsky Method
Donald Glover - Atlanta
Bill Hader - Barry

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series — Musical or Comedy
Kristen Bell - The Good Place
Candice Bergen - Murphy Brown
Alison Brie - Glow
Rachel Broshnahan - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Debra Messing - Will & Grace

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Antonio Banderas - Genius: Picasso
Daniel Bruhl - The Alieniest
Darren Criss - The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Benedict Cumberbatch - Patrick Melrose
Hugh Grant - A Very English Scandal
Happy for Daniel Bruhl, unhappy with Taylor Kitsch's snub, but none of that matters because Criss is taking this home. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television
Amy Adams - Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette - Escape at Dannemora
Connie Britton - Dirty John
Laura Dern - The Tale
Regina King - Seven Seconds
AMY ADAMS YAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS QUEEN

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Arkin - The Kominsky Method
Kieran Culkin - Succession
Edgar Ramirez - The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Ben Whishaw - A Very English Scandal
Henry Winkler - Barry
I love Kieran Culkin even though i couldn't get into Succession, but I'm happy to see his name here. It's too bad his brother Rory couldn't get in for Waco with him. Joseph Fiennes for The Handmaid's Tale is a big snub too.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alex Borstein - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Patricia Clarkson - Sharp Objects
Penelope Cruz - The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Thandie Newton - Westworld
Yvonne Strahovski - The Handmaid’s Tale
Penelope Cruz for Versace is still such a joke, I'm stoked for Yvonne though she was dynamite this season. I wish Dakota Fanning would've gotten in for The Alienist. 

Thursday Movie Picks: Meet The Parents

In a relationship there are few things as nerve wracking as meeting your partner's parents for the first time. You've probably been there. You want them to like you, but how do you know you can be yourself right away? Will you get lucky? This week, Wanderer wants us to talk about movies where the characters have to do just that. I was excited for this week because I get to talk about one big hit, and two little seen films that I enjoyed.

1) Lilting

Ben Winshaw plays a man who's Chinese/Cambodian boyfriend dies, and he meets his lover's mother. She's also grieving, but they don't speak the same language and she didn't know of their relationship. It's a very quiet and beautiful film. 

2) The Big Sick

I'm sure everyone saw this last year. Kumail Nanjiani details meeting his now wife's parents for the first time while she falls into a coma. This was a great film and I'm still so happy they got an Oscar nomination for writing. 

3) The Greatest

This film is admittedly pretty cliched, but I just adored it. Carey Mulligan plays a teenager who finds out that she's pregnant after her boyfriend is killed. With nowhere to go, she approaches his parents, whom she hadn't met before. 

Review: Green Book

Here's your guide.

Tony (Viggo Mortensen) is an Italian-American bouncer in New York who needs a new job when the club he works at closes to refurbish. His reputation for handling trouble (usually by knocking someone on their ass) gets him an interview with Dr. Don Shirley, (Mahershala Ali) a musician who is going on a concert tour that will take him through the deep south. Tony has to put his own racism aside, and he grows as a person with Don throughout their journey.

There's a lot to say about Green Book. With a title like that, you would think it would be about the black story, but that book makes a whopping three appearances in the film, and it's told from Tony's perspective. They were definitely going for "feel good" instead of actually tackling the story of how it must feel to travel with a book that tells you places where you can visit and come out alive.

The problem is, aside from Mortensen and Ali, this movie is just....basic. It is funny in parts, don't get me wrong. It got a decent amount of laughs from me. The scene where Tony handles a man not adhering to Shirley's contracted piano  had me rolling. But it never once tries to be anything extraordinary, which is a shame considering the two lead actors are phenomenal.

It's a fine watch. Tony's point of view wasn't awful but it felt like it was just checking boxes instead of addressing his racism. Don Shirley's view is almost nonexistent. I wanted to know more about him. Maybe the other Farelly brother can go The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby on this and tell it from his perspective?

Recommended: For Mortensen and Ali's performances only. 

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Anyone can play Mozart or...Joe Pen..." - Tony (Viggo Mortensen)


2018 Blind Spot Series: Rear Window + 2019 Preview!




What I knew going in: The basic plot as my millennial ass saw the loosely remade Disturbia when came out. 

Photographer L.B Jeffries (James Stewart) is holed up in his apartment after breaking his leg on job. When he's not getting visits from his girlfriend, Lisa (Grace Kelly) or his at home nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter) he's spending his time spying on his neighbors. Then he becomes convinced one of them, Mr. Thorwald (Raymond Burr) has murdered his wife.

For some reason, I assumed this film would be kind of slow. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't and that I was immediately engaged throughout. I think this is my new favorite Hitchcock film, there wasn't a minute of it I didn't enjoy.

All the actors in this are good (and the ones we watch across the way are amusing) but Thelma Ritter was by far my favorite. Stella was awesome. I assumed she was going to disappear after she stopped by at the beginning and she didn't. I'm so glad she got to be in the final act as well. Stewart and Kelly had good chemistry as well, I especially loved the moment where Jeffries realizes how wrong he was about Lisa being the right woman for him. Lisa and Stella working as a team was another delight. 

The only part of this film that didn't age well are the special effects and that's to be expected. That's always good for a chuckle.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote "That's abnormal." - Stella (Thelma Ritter)

2019 Blind Spot List

And here are the films I plan on watching next year for Ryan's creation, which is now managed by Sofia. Normally I stick with one movie per month, but I'm going to try to tackle the entire Godfather trilogy like I did the Three Colors series in 2017.

What do you think of my choices? Have you seen them? Let me know!

1) Network
2) Cinema Paradiso
3) In The Heat of the Night
4) My Left Foot
5) A Woman Under the Influence
6) Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
7) Eraserhead
8) Enter the Dragon
9) Kramer vs Kramer

10) The Godfather trilogy*
11) Judgement at Nuremberg* 
12) Casablanca

Alternates: Scenes from a Marriage. Suddenly, Last Summer (This was actually on my 2018 list but apparently Netflix has one DVD for the entire country because I've been on "very long wait" all year)

*Indicates that I have seen parts of the film, just not all in one sitting.

Review: The Front Runner

Does it matter to you?

In 1988, Gary Hart (Hugh Jackman) was considered the front runner for the Democratic nomination for president. Within three weeks, he's caught in a cheating scandal and it all comes crashing down.

I've only heard Gary Hart's name in passing. I was way too young to recall any of these events so I went in quite blind. Jason Reitman is a director I've always enjoyed and his style is well suited for a film like this.

I know it's getting pretty mediocre reviews but I actually liked The Front Runner. I like films about journalism and that's what this film was ultimately about; how journalists can turn the tide in someone's political career. Reitman spends a lot of this film not focusing on his leads in Jackman, Vera Farmiga or JK Simmons, but just checking in on the chatter around them. A news crew arguing how to frame a shot, the various opinions of the campaign workers, and discussions about how to write stories by the Miami Herald and the Washington Post. Because of that, this really doesn't even feel like Jackson's film. He's just the common denominator for all of these people.

Jackson gives a good performance but I was more intrigued by some of the others. Mamoudou Athie's AJ, a reporter with the Washington Post who doesn't want his work to turn into tabloid bullshit. His colleague, Ann (Ari Graynor) who is the only one who brings up how Hart doesn't respect women. Irene and Kevin (Molly Ephraim and Chris Coy) who are two of Hart's campaign workers. The only character I flat out didn't like was one played by Tommy Dewey. And it's not really because of the character itself, it's that Reitman shoots him like he's trying to sell the actor as being "sexy." The camera lingers on him awkwardly every time he's on screen.

It takes a while to get off its feet and it's not as exciting as Spotlight or All The President's Men, but it works for an afternoon matinee that you're not expecting to be too deep.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "but he wants to lead our country..." - Ann (Ari Graynor)

Thursday Movie Picks: TV Edition - Adapted From Non English TV Series

Wanderer is making it difficult for me this week. We're talking about shows that are adapted from Non-English series. I watch exactly one TV show (Attack on Titan) that didn't originate in the English language. Only one other thing came to mind right away, and the rest I had to dig for.

1) American Ninja Warrior

Ninja Warrior, or as it is known in Japan as Sasuke came to mind because I used to watch the Japanese version all the time on G4 (remember that channel?) It was great, The American remake has cool courses but makes us sit through every single competitor's back story which really brings the watchability down. 

2) Iron Chef America

Based off a Japanese cooking show, I watched one season of this, and it was only because I recognized a bunch of the competitors from Chopped. I liked it, but I'm still confused on what purpose Mark Dacascos serves? It's just awkward. 

3) Fear Factor

Apparently this was based off a Dutch show called Now or Neverland. I found this show incredibly boring for the most part so I was never a regular viewer.

Review: Boy Erased

Why do I have to be angry?

Jared (Lucas Hedges) thinks about men, but keeps it a secret. He's the son of very conservative parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman) and on top of that his father is a pastor. When he's forcibly outed by a man who rapes him in college, he's shipped off to a two week course in gay conversion therapy run by Victor Sykes. (Joel Edgerton)

Joel Edgerton, who also directed the film and wrote the screenplay said he ultimately wanted this film to be about fear. How fear is what motivates some families to go route when their children come out. How that fear is felt in therapy itself. He drives that home by having the one and only scene featuring men in a sexual situation being a disturbing rape scene. Because of this, the overall feeling of the film is very cold.

That is a different approach with this subject matter but the film itself ends up being just fine. I think had he dug a little deeper, it could've been truly extraordinary. Jared is a pretty introverted guy and when he goes to this camp, he's not mad at this parents. He loves his parents and doesn't pretend to hate them even when Sykes is screaming at him to. That struggle is interesting because it's one that so many deal with. How can you love someone when they fundamentally hate a big part of who you are? But aside from his relationship with his mother, the one with his father never goes further than that.

The film takes a small bit of time to introduce us to some of the other people forced into this situation. Joe (Xavier Dolan) legitimately wants this to work and won't even touch anyone while he's there. Sarah (Jesse LaTourette) begs for forgiveness only to be put in the program longer. Gary (Troye Sivan) is telling everyone what they want to hear just so he can leave, and Cameron (Britton Sear) unfortunately gets made the biggest example of. What's frustrating is that I wanted to know more about all of these kids and how their stories ended, but there was no room for it.

The biggest sell is the performances, which are wonderfully measured. Hedges continues to prove he's one of the strongest young actors out there. Nicole Kidman is very nurturing as a mother who truly just wants to do right by her son and ultimately ends up doing a lot of soul searching herself. Russell Crowe plays this evangelical pastor so well it's almost scary. I've met so many men like him in my lifetime and it's just spot on. 

A lot of reviews I've read have been comparing this to Sundance hit The Miseducation of Cameron Post. I haven't seen it yet, but I will as soon as it comes out. At the end of the day, like I said this movie is fine. It's very well acted and made but I just wanted more from it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "He can fall in line with me for a change" - Nancy (Nicole Kidman)

2018 Blind Spot Series: Akira


What I knew going in: That many people consider this either their favorite anime or what got them into anime in the first place. 

Kaneda is a leader of a biker gang into Neo-Tokyo. After witnessing a strange event, one of his friends and fellow gang members, Tetsuo gets kidnapped and put into a secret government test program that leaves him with telekinesis and a raging temper. Kaneda happens upon a group of activists who help him try to save his friend. 

This ended up being one of my alternates. My original Blind Spot pick was Suddenly, Last Summer, then suddenly, someone decided to hoard the Netflix DVD and my local library didn't have a copy for back up. I've been watching a lot of Attack on Titan lately, so I figured Akira would make for a decent watch. 

About that...

To start off, I realize I'm quite sensitive when it comes to sexual assault in movies. I'm not going to lie, if I'm not prepared for it happening and it makes zero sense in the story's context it can easily ruin an entire experience for me. (Hello, The Killing Joke) Which brings us to this film, which is very violent, but of course it's only a woman getting forcibly stripped and punched in the face here. That scene, which happens early on was so sexist that it put me in a mood  and it never got better. Especially when that same character ends up dying for the male she got punched over. 

There are some things I think Akira does well. The premise itself is very intriguing but I didn't feel it did a good job of explaining it. It's over two hours long and it's really running on its last leg by the time it gets there. The characters get little to no development which makes the fact that none of them are likable or remotely interesting even worse.

I wonder if I had walked away from my TV momentarily and missed that early scene if I would've viewed the rest of it with less annoyance? I guess I'll never know.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "This has got to be a trap." - Kaneda