Review: Annihilation

I don't know...

Lena (Natalie Portman) is a biologist whose husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac) went missing a year prior on a covert mission. When he suddenly reappears in bad shape, Lena is taking to a top secret facility. She meets with Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who explains her husband's mission consisted of him going into "The Shimmer." A strange bubble like substance engulfing an area of national park space. He's the only person they've sent in that has come back. Lena decides to join Ventress's mission into the Shimmer along with three other medical professionals/scientists. (played by Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny) 

I haven't read the book this film is based on so I can't comment on how well it's adapted, but I found this to be very thought provoking. After recently being let down with another scifi film, Mute, seeing this one meet high expectations was a relief. It's definitely weird and doesn't spell anything out for you, but it's quite the experience. 

I had read complaints about the film being slow, and it does take its time building, but it was never boring. I found all the quiet moments leading up to the main event to be very interesting and I wouldn't have cut any scenes. I appreciated how the film tried to build the world around them. When it comes to the characters themselves, aside from Lena the supporting cast get stories that are told, not seen and I think that worked really well here. We got to know a little of them and their professions, and that felt like enough.

The acting is strong from all around. At first it was hard to get used to Jennifer Jason Leigh's Ventress. She speaks slowly and never shows any emotion. It felt like she was coming off a high of some sort, but that is eventually explained. The only questionable thing going on acting wise is Oscar Isaac's accent. He tries to give Kane a slight Southern drawl and it really backfires. Thankfully most of his scenes don't require him to speak. 

Of course all the talk around this film is what Paramount is doing it. Apparently there were a lot of disagreements leading up to distribution on whether or not the film was going to be too complicated and Paramount ended up handing over distribution rights to Netflix, thus ruining its box office. It starts streaming on (I believe) March 16th everywhere, but I'm glad I saw this on the big screen. It deserves to be supported there, and the sound alone made it worth it. I was thankful for that Dolby Atmos

I'm going to be turning this one over in my head for a while. I'm still not sure what all of it meant, but I enjoyed watching it. There is a scene in here that's absolutely terrifying. Without spoilers, if you've seen the film you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. I haven't been that unsettled in a film for a while.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "It's so hot when you patronize me." - Kane (Oscar Isaac)

2018 Oscar Predictions: Who Will Win, Who Should Win

We're almost a week away from March 4th ceremony. There's a chance that I won't be able to watch live which is currently gutting me at the moment. Time will tell. Until then, here are my predictions on who I think should win, and in some cases, who should win.

Best Picture
Call Me by Your Name
Darkest Hour
Get Out
Lady Bird
Phantom Thread
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who will win: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who should win: Three Billboards, Lady Bird, or Get Out
I know The Shape of Water is picking up steam but I still don't think it has a realistic chance of bumping Three Billboards, which is fine with me. 

Best Lead Actor
Timothée Chalamet, “Call Me by Your Name”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”
Denzel Washington, “Roman J. Israel, Esq.”
Who will win: Gary Oldman
Who should win: Kaluuya or Chalamet
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz with this category, I'm sorry but the youngins were better than Oldman this year. I love Oldman, don't get me wrong, this is just a bad year for a career Oscar.

Best Lead Actress
Sally Hawkins, “The Shape of Water”
Frances McDormand, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saoirse Ronan, “Lady Bird”
Meryl Streep, “The Post”
Who will win: Frances McDormand
Who should win: Saoirse Ronan
I'd put Margot Robbie over Frances too, but I'm always team Saoirse. I wish she had a chance at winning. 

Best Supporting Actor
Willem Dafoe, “The Florida Project”
Woody Harrelson, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Richard Jenkins, “The Shape of Water”
Christopher Plummer, “All the Money in the World”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
Who will and should win: Sam Rockwell
No competition. This is his and should only be his. 

Best Supporting Actress
Mary J. Blige, “Mudbound”
Allison Janney, “I, Tonya”
Lesley Manville, “Phantom Thread”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Octavia Spencer, “The Shape of Water”
Who will win: Allison Janney
Who should win: Laurie Metcalf
I still can't believe Metcalf is being robbed this season.

Best Director
“Dunkirk,” Christopher Nolan
“Get Out,” Jordan Peele
“Lady Bird,” Greta Gerwig
“Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro
Who will win: Guillermo del Toro
Who should win: Christopher Nolan
I mean, if we're doing career Oscars this year, where's Nolan's? I like The Shape of Water, but directing wise, del Toro would come in last in these nominees. 

Best Animated Feature
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Loving Vincent
Who will and should win: Coco
Fuck you, Boss Baby

Best Live Action Short
DeKalb Elementary
The Eleven O’Clock
My Nephew Emmett
The Silent Child
Watu Wote/All of Us
Who will win: DeKalb Elementary
Who should win: ?
I haven't seen any of these so I'm guessing. I also mistakenly had these labeled as the animated shorts in my original post and I'm too lazy to fix it. 

Best Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name
The Disaster Artist
Molly’s Game
Who will win: Call Me By Your Name
Who should win: The Disaster Artist
You all know my love for The Disaster Artist but no way CMBYN doesn't win this.

Best Original Screenplay
The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,
Who will win: Three Billboards
Who should win: Get Out

I'm really torn here. Part of me thinks the Best Picture winner needs to win this award too, but on the other hand, no one should be winning other than Jordan Peele. He truly had the most original screenplay. I'm torn. This could go either way. 

Best Cinematography
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water
Who will and should win: Blade Runner 2049
Finally Roger Deakins is the front runner. I will murder my TV if he doesn't take this. 

Best Documentary Feature
Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
Faces Places
Last Men in Aleppo
Strong Island
Who will and should win: Strong Island
I know Faces Places is popular right now but Strong Island was really something else and would be a worthy winner. Last Men in Aleppo was a great doc too, but I can see this not winning since The White Helmets won Doc Short before and this is about the same thing. 

Best Documentary Short Subject
Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Knife Skills
Traffic Stop
Who will win: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405
Who should win:?
Another one I'm guessing because I haven't seen any. 

Best Animated Short Film
Dear Basketball
Garden Party
Negative Space
Revolting Rhymes
Who will win: Lou
Who should win: ?
Another guess. It's Pixar, it's got a chance, right? Though Garden Party actually looks the best. 

Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman (Chile)
The Insult (Lebanon)
Loveless (Russia)
On Body and Soul (Hungary)
The Square” (Sweden)
Who will win: The Insult
Who should win: On Body and Soul
I actually have no idea who's going to win this. I've only seen OBAS and The Square - which definitely should not win. The other three sound like great movies. I give Lebanon the edge because that's the one I hear people talking about the most. Though really, On Body and Soul is great and it's on Netflix. 

Best Film Editing
Baby Driver
I, Tonya
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who will win: Baby Driver
Who should win: Dunkirk
Baby Driver was a bad movie with excellent editing. I think it wins here, though Dunkirk should.

Sound Editing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Who will and should win: Dunkirk
I think Dunkirk, The Last Jedi, and Blade Runner all would be worthy winners but this is one I think Dunkirk takes home. 

Best Sound Mixing
Baby Driver
Blade Runner 2049
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Who will and should win: Dunkirk
See previous comment about sound editing, it applies here too.

Production Design
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Darkest Hour
The Shape of Water
Who will and should win: The Shape of Water

Best Original Score
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Who will and should win: The Shape of Water

Best Original Song
Mighty River - Mudbound
Mystery of Love - Call Me by Your Name
Remember Me - Coco
Stand Up for Something - Marshall
This Is Me - The Greatest Showman
Who will win: Remember Me
Who should win: Mighty River
Honestly, I'm not crazy about any of these songs. It would be nice if Mighty River won, but I don't think it will. This Is Me is catchy but not the best song from The Greatest Showman. 

Makeup and Hair
Darkest Hour
Victoria and Abdul
Who will win: Darkest Hour
Who should win: Wonder

Best Costume Design
Beauty and the Beast
Darkest Hour
Phantom Thread
The Shape of Water
Victoria and Abdul
Who will win: The Shape of Water
Who should win: Phantom Thread
I do think Phantom Thread has a shot at this, but I expect Shape to be showered with love, especially if it misses out on Best Picture. 

Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Kong: Skull Island,
War For the Planet of the Apes
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Who will win: Blade Runner 2049
Who should win: War for the Planet of the Apes
The BAFTAs voted for Blade, and if there's a big overlap of voters I think the same will happen here. Of course, that is wrong because no one but War should be winning this. LOOK AT THE WET FUR! A film doesn't have to have pretty colors to have astounding CGI. Please for the love of God give Apes this Oscar. 

Thursday Movie Picks: TV Edition - Legal Dramas

It's another TV week over at Wandering Through The Shelves and this time we're talking about legal dramas. Please allow me to take the stand and confess. Despite really loving legal dramas in film form, I actually don't watch any on TV. I thought about stretching the rules a bit and picking shows that just feature lawyers, but I'll play it straight. So below is one I watched and loved, one I've caught a few episodes of, and one I tried to watch and hated.

1) American Crime Story: The People vs OJ Simpson

The OJ verdict is the first big news story I can remember. I was seven. (Which makes me wonder what my own child will remember news wise? Hopefully it's Trump's impeachment.) Anywho - Aside from the verdict and everyone saying he was guilty, I actually didn't know much about the case to begin with. This show was pretty eye opening for me because I never researched it thoroughly and I was on the edge of my seat even though I knew the outcome. This mini series was fantastic. 

2) Law and Order

I've watched a few episodes of this, usually when an actor I like is starring in it. The most recent episode I've seen is the one where they took inspiration from the trainwreck of a family that is the Duggars. It's probably more about cops than lawyers, but I'm stretching it this week. 

3) Suits

I don't know why I turned this on but it just reiterated that (aside from Mr. Robot) every single show on the USA Network looks alike. They might as well be one shared universe. Everything I saw on Suits I probably saw on Burn Notice or any of their20 polished and brightly colored other shows. 

DVD Review: Logan Lucky

It's a curse.

When his ex wife decides to move their daughter further away, Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) talks his brother, Clyde (Adam Driver) and their sister Millie (Riley Keough) into robbing the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a Nascar race. They need the help of an incarcerated thief, Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) to pull this off, so they find a way to temporarily break him out of prison to assist.

This film is a textbook example of actors elevating the material because script wise there were a lot of issues here. I felt like there were a lot of plot holes in their plan that they never properly filled in, and there were all these extra side characters played by Seth McFarlane, Hillary Swank, and Sebastian Stan that served little to no purpose. But there's something charming about Logan Lucky that makes it possible to look past these things. 

Adam Driver was the standout for me. He's tremendous and while it has nothing to do with the film, I'm still baffled on why everyone is drooling all over Channing Tatum and not him. Daniel Craig does a great job finally playing someone different and Riley Keough is always solid. 

I can see why this film wouldn't work for everyone. With a different cast, I don't think it would've worked for me. But it has some great laughs and an excellent cast. I think it makes it worth seeing.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Did you just say cauliflower at me?" - Clyde Logan (Adam Driver)

Review: Black Panther

The King has arrived.

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman) is heading back to his home country of Wakanda to officially become their King. When an old enemy Klaue (Andy Serkis) is spotted about to make an illegal vibrainium deal, T'Challa along with his general of his Dora Milage guard, Okoye, (Danai Guriria) his ex girlfriend and War Dog spy, Nakia, (Lupita Nyong'o) and some virtual help from his tech genius sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) They stumble upon Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) who has a very compelling reason to hate everything Wakanda stands for.

Black Panther was a stand out in Civil War and now he comes to us with one of the most nuanced stories Marvel has every done. This is more than just a comic book movie. It's that, it sets up Infinity War subtly and nicely, but it's also a Bond film. A social commentary on privilege. A film showcasing female empowerment. It's so much and director Ryan Coogler balances it beautifully. This guy is a powerhouse. 

The funny thing about T'Challa, while he's wonderful and amusing, he's not the most interesting character here. The stand out to me was Shuri. Wright was fantastic as this genius teenager who can't help but to mouth off every now and then. She's my new favorite Disney Princess. Of course you all know the abusive relationship I have with The Walking Dead, so you know I'm a huge fan of Danai Gurira and she shines here. If only the TWD writers could give her something this good. Other supporting characters played by Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Basset, Forest Whitaker, and Wintson Duke all have amazing moments as well. But there's a lot to be said about Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger.

A lot of people say Marvel has a villain problem, which is true. It's not specific to Marvel in my opinion but really only Loki and Ultron stand out as memorable villains. But now there's Killmonger. He's easily the most layered villain out there. He's extreme and dangerous, but I understood where he was coming from 100%. His environment made him the way he was and in a way I sympathized in a way I haven't with the other villains. His last line in this film is one of the most powerful things ever said in any comic book movie.

The film does fall victim to a few tropes, but I don't care. I had too much fun. If I have one complaint it's weirdly with Andy Serkis. He was really over the top. His character was a tad goofy in Age of Ultron but he dialed it to 11 and it just didn't work as well as it could've. I'm saying this now, even though it's early, this film needs an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. I will accept nothing less.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable (non spoiler) Quote: "WHAT ARE THOSE!?! - Shuri (Letitia Wright)

2018 Blind Spot Series: Philadelphia

What I knew going in: The story

Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a lawyer who is wrongfully fired by his partners after they find out he has AIDS. He hires another lawyer, Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) to defend him during his trial. Joe has to grapple with his own homophobia as he gets to know Andrew and fights for justice. 

I love courtroom dramas. I haven't came across many that I didn't like and thankfully this didn't go that route either. I do think it played it rather safe. There are better films out there that address the AIDS crisis within the gay community. I feel like the filmmakers really wanted to touch on it, but were too afraid of how the public would take it.

Tom Hanks is wonderful in this. You can see the pain in his eyes throughout. Denzel also brings his A game. Sometimes I wanted to laugh with Joe, and others I wanted to scream at him. He could've easily been completely unlikable but Denzel never lets it get to that. 

This film however has some pretty major faults. The first is that Andy and Joe are really the only fleshed out characters. Everyone else feels like a caricature. Scowling lawyer, asshole boss, sexy lover. No one else felt like they had a personality. I also found the constant close ups of the actors' faces to be completely distracting. Everyone made fun of Tom Hooper for doing that in Les Miserables but this one felt way more excessive. Still, aside from that I enjoyed this film and as always, I'm glad I got around to it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Explain this to me like I'm a four year old." - Joe Miller (Denzel Washington)

Thursday Movie Picks: Break Into Song (non musicals)

Would the world be a better place if we all spontaneously broke into song? Maybe. This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is all about that, but with a twist - they can't be from musicals. Here's what I came up with.

1) (500) Days of Summer

Okay, they technically break into dance in this film as the lead isn't singing, but I absolutely loved the little number they did to "You Make My Dreams" in this movie. 

2) 10 Things I Hate About You

Heath Ledger singing "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You" will never not be sexy. 

3) Step Brothers 

I almost went with another one of my favorite comedies - Anchorman when they sang "Afternoon Delight", but then I remembered how hard I laughed in the theater when Derek's family sings "Sweet Child O' Mine" in the car. The kids are hamming it up, the wife is phoning it in, and the husband is annoyed.

Quick Ramblings - Oscar Docs and Foreign Language Films

Like most Oscar Seasons, the foreign language and documentary features I rarely get to see before the ceremony. Thanks to Netflix, I was able to catch a few of them before the Oscars. Here are some quick reviews of the ones I saw.

The Square - I liked the idea of this movie far more than I liked the execution. It's about an art curator who has an idea for a new exhibit, but it really ends up being about an hour too long. With its avant garde style filming, having this film at 2 and a half hours just wasn't a good choice. It left too much room for dragging. C

Last Men in Aleppo  - This film was incredibly heavy and I was heartbroken while watching it. It follows a group of White Helmets who stay in Aleppo helping their fellow Syrians during the on going civil war. It's atrocious what's happening there and how normal it has become. There's literally a scene where they have just pulled a dead baby out of the rubble, and someone mentions he has to leave at 6:00 to attend a wedding. That's how frequent this is. It's devastating and I don't think this doc will be leaving me for a while. A

Strong Island - I think this may be the most intimate documentary I've ever watched. Yance Ford details the murder of his brother, William back in 1992. He was shot dead by a white auto shop worker after an argument, and it never even went to trial. But this doc isn't about getting the bottom of this case. William's murder isn't given any platform here. No photo, no interview, nothing. This is more of an examination of grief and racial discrimination. I keep thinking back to a conversation I had recently with someone who didn't understand why I was a supporter of Black Lives Matter (because like many, they were uneducated on what the movement was actually about and just believed the shit they hear on Fox News) This is why. You can't look at something like this (or any of the million other examples) and say that the police force doesn't discriminate against black people. You just can't. Strong Island really did something different here, and the visuals and camera work are stunning. A

Icarus - This was a very well researched documentary, but I simply don't care enough about doping in sports to be completely enthralled by this. I like to watch all kinds of documentaries, even ones that I don't suspect will interest me. I give them all an equal chance and for me this one just didn't capture my attention. Even if it's not for me, it's very thorough and you can tell the filmmakers put a lot of work into it. C+

On Body and Soul - Hungary's foreign language nominee follows two employees in a slaughter house who find out they share the same dreams. They dream that they are deer together in the forest, but with social anxieties in real life they have trouble connecting outside of their dreams. I liked this far better than the The Square. It too is a bit of a slow burn but it never once drags. I really enjoyed the two leads. I'd say this film wouldn't be for you if you're easily offended over meat consumption. While they're not overly graphic with animal death they do show them (off screen) putting down a cow before it is carved up. I also like how much anxiety played into this. I seem to gravitate towards movies were someone feels uncomfortable and I like how they addressed it head on instead of just making it a quirk. B

DVD Review: Good Time

5 star idea.

Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) robs a bank with his mentally handicapped brother, Nick (Benny Safdie) in an attempt to make life better for them. Great idea, right? Of course it goes horribly wrong and now Nikas has to spend the rest of the night breaking his brother out of jail. Things get complicated in ways he never imagined.

When I first saw previews for this film I thought it looked terrible. And to a degree, it does. It looks like it was shot by the actual characters in the film. The editing is jerky, some shots that were seemingly meant to be artistic are out of focus and "Good Time" is weirdly trademarked in the title cards (that practically go on for 20 minutes) But this film did something that I never expected, and it threw a curve ball I did not see coming. 

I love when films surprise me. Maybe others saw the big wrench in the plan coming but I did not and I practically gawked at my TV when it happened. Robert Pattinson also gives an excellent performance. I think he falls victim to the same syndrome everyone else that starred in a Twilight movies does, and we forget that some of them actually have talent. Pattinson does, and I'm glad he got to show it off here. Safdie, who also directed with his brother is good too. Jennifer Jason Leigh also shows up for a minute playing a hot mess, so there's that. My favorite performance however belongs to Taliah Webster who plays a kind girl caught up in Connie's mess. 

Like I said, the film isn't the most sharply made, but I liked the story they were telling and that makes everything worth it.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "Don't be confused, it's just going to make it worse for me" - Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson)

Thursday Movie Picks: Romance

Romance is in the air! Wanderer wants us to talk about romance movies. These are hit and miss for me. I love romances, but not always movies centered around them. But there are a few I'm always here for. I swear I wasn't trying to do a depressing ending theme either. 

1) Blue is the Warmest Color

I was so into Adele's life and her love affair that I actually caught myself wondering if everything was going to work out with her after the credits rolled. That's remarkable. And on a completely immature note. This film holds a special place in my heart for having a sex scene that was long enough for my husband to go outside, shovel the sidewalk, and come back in to say "they're STILL having sex?"

2) Brokeback Mountain

I'm not sure there will ever be a tragic romance I love more than Brokeback Mountain. This film is perfect in every single way. 

3) Atonement

Speaking of tragic romances, I felt like this film punched me in the face at the end. 

DVD Review: Marjorie Prime

Who would you like to talk to?

In the near future, a service provides holographic images of your lost loved ones so you have a chance to talk to them and cope. Marjorie (Lois Smith) is elderly and suffering from early dementia, but she chooses to speak with her late husband when he was in his 40's (John Hamm) Her daughter. Tess (Geena Davis) doesn't know how to process this, though her husband Jon (Tim Robbins) is very supportive.

You can tell this film is based on a play, but it doesn't come to life on screen the way say, Fences does. It's very quiet and relies on long cuts. The problem with this is that even though there's conversations going on, when we jump to a new timeline it's almost jarring and it took me a few seconds for my mind to catch up with it. Whose passed on, who's a hologram now, the film doesn't do the greatest job of seamlessly changing scenes.

I really like Lois Smith. I knew her from True Blood and she played this same role on stage. She's fantastic in this as she gets the most to do. The rest of the cast is decent as well, but they don't get much material to work with.

I think I expected this film to be a bit more. The sci fi elements were attractive but ultimately it just felt very slow and I was not satisfied at the end.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Do you remember the movie? It was My Best Friend's Wedding." - Walter (Jon Hamm)

Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

This is how it starts.

In an international space station, a team of scientists from around the world, Hamilton, (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) Kiel, (David Oyelowo) Schmidt, (Daniel Brühl) Monk, (John Ortiz) Mundy, (Chris O'Dowd) Volkov, (Aksel Hennie) and Tam (Ziyi Zhang) are attempting to test a device that would potentially solve the energy crisis going on in parts of the world. Before they try to fire it, we catch a quick glimpse of a fanantic on a news station warning about the terrible things they could cause by doing what they're doing. And of course, this comes back to bite them.

I've said before how genius I thought the marketing for the original Cloverfield movie back in 2008 ones, and now The Cloverfield Paradox is giving them a run for their money. This was a Superbowl ad during last night's game, followed by the announcement that Netflix was going to drop it immediately after the game was over. That's never happened before (or if it has, at least not with a film this big) It worked. I flipped over to Netflix immediately after the Eagles won and sure enough, there it was waiting for me. So did many others.

This film did what last year's Life was trying to do. It has a diverse cast, they all behaved as scientists and didn't make stupid decisions and it had some legitimately scary moments. (On scene in particular actually made me jump, which rarely happens anymore) The cast has great chemistry. I've been on a Brühl kick lately so seeing him was a nice surprise, but it's Mbatha-Raw who is the heart of the film. She gives a wonderful performance.

This was billed as answering the "how" to Cloverfield, but I don't feel it did that exactly. It did answer the question of how the monsters got to Earth, and maybe I just need to re-watch but I don't remember anyone mentioning the U.S having an energy crisis in the first one, whereas the news in this one talks about it being an ongoing thing in Europe. They made it seem global and I just don't remember signs of it from either of the two movies that came before this. But for me, this was a solid watch. I was surprised when I checked the tags on Twitter and saw a lot of people hating on this. I didn't feel it was bad by any stretch. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "That's my fucking arm." - Mundy (Chris O'Dowd)

Review: Darkest Hour

Never surrender

Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) is selected as Prime Minister of England during the worst possible time. This is during WWII, and Churchill must decide whether to negotiate with the enemy or continue to fight.

I have been dragging my feet to see this. I like to see all the Best Picture nominees, but this one never looked that exciting to me. I double featured this with I, Tonya. So I was in an upbeat mood going in, hoping for the film to prove my judgement wrong.....but alas, this movie was just as dull as I expected.

This film is essentially a bunch of old men arguing, with Lily James thrown in just for something different. She's our avatar for this story, she's the only one that stands out amongst the crowd. I appreciate the effort. This story, while important to history was always going to be an uphill battle. Director Joe Wright tries to throw us a few bones of humor but none of them work. It's still just boring. 

I already saw a better World War II movie this year in Dunkirk. I already saw a better Churchill performance by John Lithgow in The Crown. It makes everything feel unnecessary. And that brings me to Gary Oldman. He gets Churchill's mannerisms  and voice down perfectly, but he's underneath so much makeup that you can't see him emote. This baffles me a bit. I kept thinking of Andy Serkis in War for the Planet of the Apes. Even though his face is covered by CGI to be an ape, I still saw the emotions in Caesar's eyes. I saw Andy's eyes and expressions there too. I didn't see any of that with Oldman. He didn't make me feel anything like Serkis, or even like another actor playing a real person - James Franco in The Disaster Artist. This film is being sold on Gary Oldman's performance and he might as well be a voice actor because that's the strongest part. Otherwise it's like he's being consumed by the fat suit they have around him.

It's not a total loss, this film is shot beautifully. The cinematography is wonderful. There's a particular scene with an airplane in a hanger that is still very fresh in my mind. Joe Wright is still a wonderful director (we can pretend Pan never happened) and there were a lot of shots here that reminded me of my favorite film of his, Atonement. But it's not enough to save it. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "It means up your bum." - Elizabeth Layton (Lily James)

Thursday Movie Picks: Story Within a Story

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about stories within stories. This kind of tripped me up a bit because I kept thinking of movies within movies instead, and I don't think that was the intention. I imagine these are going to be common picks. I couldn't think of anything clever

1) The Usual Suspects

Keyser Soze tells the ultimate story. If you haven't seen the film, you've probably at least heard about the massive twist that blew everyone's mind back in 1996 when this film came out. 

2) Nocturnal Animals 

Aside from one directorial choice, I really loved this movie. The story here is so full of tension I was actually wishing it would hurry up and end at one point so I could breathe. 

3) Forrest Gump

This film is like Shawshank, it's always on TV and I always find myself watching it when it is. Film twitter seems to hate this movie, but I've never had an issue with it.