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)

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)

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)