2018 Blind Spot Series: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

What I knew going in: Tis but a scratch!

King Arthur (Graham Chapman) goes on a quest to gather knights of the round table and find The Holy Grail. 

A lot of comedians who make me laugh hysterically today all credit Monty Python as an inspiration to them. Yet, they've always managed to escape me. I'm still very ignorant of the majority of their work, but I figured this would be a good place to start. 

All the members in this troupe have a ton of charisma, and while this film did make me laugh, it wasn't as funny as I hoped it would be. Comedy really is generational isn't it? While I've seen and loved plenty of classic comedies I rarely find anything before the 90's that makes me laugh the way comedies do now. (Except Airplane! and that horse getting punched in Blazing Saddles.)

Thankfully I wasn't expecting to be on the floor over this, and I still really enjoyed myself. I can see now what people where saying when they said sort of spoofed The Seventh Seal, another one of my Blind Spots. I definitely want to watch more of their films after seeing this.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "... I got better" - Peasant 3 (John Cleese)

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Spin Offs

I'm super excited about this week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves because I get to talk about a show that my dad and I used to watch when I was a kid. It just brings back so many wonderful memories. We're talking TV Spin Offs today, and here are three of my favorites. 

1) Better Call Saul

Breaking Bad is one of my all time favorite TV shows but when they said they were doing a spin off on shady lawyer Saul Goodman, I wasn't sure how they could make that last. I should've known to trust these writers because Better Call Saul is fantastic and this past season had one of the best episodes I've seen on TV lately. 

2) Space Ghost: Coast to Coast

Growing up, we had this little TV in our kitchen that hung below one of our cabinets and my dad and I would always sit at the counter and watch shows that the rest of my family deemed too ridiculous. Space Ghost Coast to Coast was one of them. A spin off of the old Space Ghost cartoon, this one was set up in talk show form and always came on late on Cartoon Network. I loved staying up to watch this. It was hilarious. 

3) Daria

A random character on Beavis and Butthead gets her own spin off and becomes a better show all together. I loved watching Daria with my older sister when I was a kid. I was a bit young to understand everything about this show, but she was the perfect age for it. We had fun. 

Indie Gems: Please Stand By

I'm ready.

Wendy (Dakota Fanning) is a young woman with autism living at a group home run by Scottie. (Toni Collette) She sticks to her routine, but she's ready to deviate a bit to submit her Star Trek script to Paramount Pictures for a contest. When her sister Audrey (Alice Eve) fails to take her to the post office to mail said script, she runs away to deliver it herself. 

Dakota Fanning is truly a wonderful actress and she's great her. Apparently they had an "autism coach" on set to help make sure everything was going smoothly and not running into offensive territory and I think they did a pretty good job at that. Toni Collette is always a joy to watch as well.

Unfortunately the script does end up with forced conflicts. Wendy gets robbed on her way to Los Angeles, she loses some of her script pages, those times of plot points that are meant to extend the film but wind up being a little frustrating, but they don't distract from the film as a whole.

I enjoyed this. It's different from a lot of things I've been watching lately and it has probably the cutest dog I've ever seen in any film. And he wears a Star Trek sweater. You can't beat that.

Grade: B+

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "This is what happens when you pee on the bus, Pete." - Wendy (Dakota Fanning)

Rambling TV: Thirteen Reasons Why

It's been a hot minute since I've talked about TV on my blog. With Game of Thrones being on a long hiatus and The Walking Dead turning into a trash fire, I've mostly stuck to Twitter with my TV thoughts. But I've still been watching a ton of TV and I just need to talk about it.

More specifically, I really need to bitch about 13 Reasons Why...

I know, I know, I'm making my TV comeback all about negativity but I can't help it. Aside from some pacing issues, I adored season one. It was well acted, the story was good, and it was there for me in a time when I really needed to binge a show and cry my eyes out. So to be served a second season that managed to be even more unnecessary that I ever imagined, I can't help but be massively disappointed.

So here are thirteen reasons I hated season two. These things range from petty to unforgivable in no particular order. 

1) The plot should follow the actual cliffhanger
Remember that school shooting that was teased? Doesn't happen.

2) Hannah and Zach's relationship retcon
Remember when Zach told Clay he knew Hannah better than anyone else? Apparently not because in an effort to show Hannah in a happy place, they invented a relationship with Zach that for some reason was never mentioned in her tapes, and therefore impossible to believe.

3) Jessica/Justin/Alex love triangle
This didn't do any of the characters justice and I'm still struggling with what Jessica sees in Justin in the first place.

4) Showing visions of Bryce/Hannah making out was a poor choice cinematically.
For a show that is so careful about trigger warnings I'm not sure what they were thinking having Clay imagine Hannah making out with her rapist.

5) Skye and Clay's dinner date/fight
Sometimes shows ask you to suspend your disbelief and you do so willingly. Other times you cannot wrap your head around what is happening. That's Skye and Clay's date where she attempts to jack him off under the dinner table with his parents sitting right there. Then after obviously leaving the table to go fuck, they proceed to have the loudest fight ever and not once do either of the parents intervene. I'm sorry, I can't accept this. When they try to brush it off a few episodes later as bipolar disorder it almost makes it worse. 

6) These kids are old enough to teach at this school.
Here's the petty one. I'm sorry, but some of these actors are my age. It's distracting. I'm sorry. 

7) Hannah's bullying past.
Hannah being a former bully didn't add layers to her character, it felt like a cheap way to get the defense attorney some points. Speaking of which..

8) Ghost Hannah
I understand why they would want Katherine Langford to have as many scenes as possible. She's a tremendous actress, but her appearing as a Ghost to Clay only worked in one scene. ( her memorial, which was heartbreakingly beautiful. I give the show that. It was one of two amazing scenes in this season) but the rest of the time it was forced. 

9) The world's cattiest defense attorney.
I felt like I was watching a teenage girl cross examine these people. I'm no lawyer but the way she was acting didn't feel believable at all. 

10) I'm not sure this will help rape victims come forward.
I know what the show was doing with Hannah's trial. They were going for what is the most realistic outcome, that the rapist goes free. But I felt like the show had an opportunity here to give their viewers some hope. Bryce should've gotten his comeuppance. They had a chance to give viewers the justice they likely don't think they can achieve themselves and they didn't. They used just about ever rape cliche possible. As a sexual assault survivor, had I been contemplating telling someone, then watched this, I don't think I'd say anything. 

11) Don't forget Clay is the privileged white male.
Clay is the epitome of white privilege but the show went to great lengths to stretch out the amount of time it took him to learn a lesson. It got extremely unbelievable. 

12) Tyler's rape.
This is my biggest problem by far. They didn't need to use rape as yet another tipping point. Tyler already had demons. He already had motive to want to shoot up his school. Having a bunch of boys rape him in the bathroom with a mop handle was not only unnecessary but it was shot in the most gratuitous manner possible. Kyle Patrick Alvarez directed this episode. I loved his film The Stanford Prison Experiment. But he shot this scene like he shot that film and it didn't work. Gregg Araki directed a few episodes this season and probably would've been better suited to handle this particular scene. It still wouldn't make up for how useless it is.

13) Why did we need a season two to begin with?
Why though? and WHY did they greenlight season three?

Thanks for sticking with me. Did you watch season two? What are your thoughts?

Thursday Movie Picks: Juvenile Delinquents

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is probably pissed at their parents and run off somewhere. We were all there once, right? Here are some great movies of kids doing bad things. The only rule I set for myself was to not use one of my favorite movies, Thirteen, because I think I've used it once every year in this blogathon so far. 

1) Dirty Girl

I really hate the title of this film, but Danielle is text book Juvie. So much so that she ditches school and takes her reluctant friend and a bag of flour they are supposed to be pretending is their child for Home Ec on a road trip.

2) Lords of Dogtown

We all know the Z Boys weren't so innocent. I love this film following their start in becoming the Skate Board giants they are known as today. 

3) Manic

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a teen prone to angry outbursts who is admitted into a mental institution and tries to navigate his way through treatment. You can tell this film barely had a budget but the performances are excellent. 

Review: The Tale

It's how I wrote it.

Jenny (Laura Dern) re-examines her first sexual encounter at the age of 13 with her running coach, Bill. (Jason Ritter). She always considered it a relationship and not the abuse that it truly was. As she goes back to talk to the people involved, she's forced to take a different view of it. 

When The Tale premiered it Sundance earlier this year, there was a lot of chatter about how this is the perfect story to tell in the era of #MeToo. And it is, still, I was iffy when I heard they would be showing scenes of abuse. But director Jennifer Fox - who is dramatizing her own experiences - went to great lengths to use a double for the more troubling scenes, and the film lets you know it. She handles it the same way Gregg Araki did the harder scenes in Mysterious Skin. Knowing all of that, I gave it a shot when it premiered on HBO recently. 

It's still incredibly hard to watch at times. Isabelle NĂ©lisse, who plays Jenny at 13 looks is just so innocent. Thankfully the majority of the film is almost shot like a detective story, with Dern's Jenny slowly picking up more pieces and interviewing those involved. That part worked incredibly well. 

Dern is fantastic here, and I thought Jenny's struggle with accepting the fact that this was rape and Bill wasn't just a boyfriend was completely believable. For me, the film just ended too soon with adult Jenny's story. I wanted to see what she did with her epiphany, but in a way, what matters is that she has one to begin with. I really admire Jennifer Fox for talking about her story and having the courage to make it into a film like this. I imagine we'll be hearing about them again come Emmy season.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I'm the hero." - Jenny (Isabelle NĂ©lisse)

Thursday Movie Picks: Legends/Mythology

Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend

Not really, but this week at Wandering Through the Shelves we're talking about legends/mythology. There's plenty of legends in film, but this topic stumped me a bit. I wanted to be creative but I couldn't stick it. I'm sure I'm going to be kicking myself over and over as I read everyone else's posts.

1) Star Wars: The Force Awakens

"Luke Skywalker? I thought he was a myth." I loved how Rey and Finn talked about our original heroes like the legends they are. 

2) Troy

I love this movie, I know it's shit on all the time but Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom are so hot in it. All those oily bodies.... Oh that's right, we're talking legends. Achilles is a legendary fighter that can't help being so damn gorgeous.

3) The Sword in the Stone

The legend of King Arthur starts here. I feel like this is a Disney film that's forgotten but I always liked it. 

Review: Hereditary

All in the family.

After Annie's (Toni Collette) mother passes away. Strange things begin to happen to her family, particularly with her children, Peter (Alex Wolff) and Charlie. (Milly Shapiro)

It's hard to escape the "scariest film of all time!" hype there is out there right now. While nothing will ever take that title away from The Exorcist for me personally, let's be real; Hereditary is seriously fucked up.

A24 got tricky with their trailers again. Without giving away spoilers something I expected to be a huge plot point in the film wasn't at all, and it was better for it. Hereditary doesn't rely on jump scares like it could have. Instead it's just plain unsettling all around. It plays with shadows and sound. 

If I had one complaint, it's the film's pacing, which was incredibly slow at times. I'm a patient person but I was getting to the point where I felt like we were taking a beat too long to get from point A to point B. And it wasn't just to build tension, I think it almost took away from some of it because it was going on so long. There are also a few illogical decisions that are forced in for plot purposes, but this is a horror movie. We're all used to that by now. 

Toni Collette is wonderful in this, and I hope all the talk about A24 getting behind her for an Oscar campaign is true because she'd deserve it. The biggest surprise for me was Alex Wolff. I tend to get him confused with his brother Nat, which is unfortunate because Alex is the one with the talent and he really shows it here. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "You tried to kill me." - Peter (Alex Wolff)

Thursday Movie Picks: Speech/Soliloquy/Monologue

I was going to come up with some witty, drawn out speech to fit the theme, but it wouldn't really fit my rambling theme here now, would it? This week's theme at Wandering Through the Shelves we're talking about films with a famous monologues. Here are the first three that came to mind.

1) Call Me By Your Name

Of course I'm kicking things off with this recent Oscar nominee. Michael Stuhlbarg's monologue at the end of the film when he's trying to ease his son's broken heart was beautiful. He's a parent that is so understanding he's making the rest of us question ourselves. 

2) Doubt

Doubt is a movie I haven't thought about in a while, so it surprised me a bit when it came to mind so quickly. Viola Davis is in this movie for about 10 minutes total, but her plea to Meryl Streep over her son is extraordinary. This film has plenty of memorable speeches. On top of Viola's, there's Meryl's final "I have doubts" words that stay with you even after you leave. 

3) Pulp Fiction

A speech so famous that it's responsible for nearly everyone misquoting the Bible. I'm talking about Jules of course. English motherfucker, do you speak it?

Indie Gems: In The Fade


Look at this! Another Indie Gem. Because my ass is too lazy to go see something new at the theater and instead went and saw Infinity War for the third time. 

Katja's (Diane Kruger) husband and young son are killed in a bombing. When the neo-nazi's responsible are put on trial, it ends up not being as simple as she expected.

Germany's submission to last year's Academy Awards didn't disappoint. I'm still making my way through last year's foreign releases. The Insult is up next. I wasn't sure about this going in because of my feelings towards Diane Kruger but she was excellent in this role. I believed her grief and her self medicating. Another actor that really stood out was Denis Moschitto, who played Katja's lawyer Danilo. He was a lovely addition and I hope to see more of this actor.

The way this film is shot is interesting. It's told in three different acts, and each act looks different. It starts gritty, then becomes more polished when they enter the courtroom scenes. The final act almost has an ethereal look about it. The middle act was my favorite as I end to enjoy those type of films. Even though I wanted to punch the defense attorney in the face.

In The Fade clocks in at 1 hour 46 minutes but feels much shorter. The pacing is very to the point, but doesn't move too fast where we don't get the chance to examine how Katja feels.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Fuck off" - Katja (Diane Kruger)

Indie Gems: Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Just love.

This might not be the least heard gem I've done in a while. It was nominated for a few BAFTAs. But the release this film got in the states was pathetic. This should've been an Oscar contender. More on that in a bit.

Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) is a struggling actor when he meets former screen legend Gloria Grahame. (Annette Bening) despite their age difference, they form a relationship that lasts several years and comes to a close as Gloria seeks out Peter again while dealing with a terminal illness.

Bening and Bell are both so good in this film that it's an absolute joke that they were robbed of Oscar nominations. They had amazing chemistry and I loved their scenes together. I almost wish this movie was three hours long so I could continue to see them together. I haven't read the source material, nor am I even that familiar with Grahame as an actress, but now I want to be.

While it's Bening and Bell's show, the supporting cast works nicely as well. Especially Julie Walters as Peter's mother. The film also makes great use out of it's small budget. You can tell a few scenery shots are up against a green screen but they don't look awful and it's the acting and the way this film deals with aging that makes it stand out. 

I wish this film had been a bigger hit over here. I wish I had seen it last year as well because it would've easily made my top 10 list. 

Grade: A+

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "How do I look?" - Gloria Grahame (Annette Bening)