Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: College

It's another TV week over at Wandering Through The Shelves and this week we're talking about college. This was hard for me, because I don't watch Community, Greek, or Undeclared. Most of the big college shows I missed so I had to reach a bit. I wouldn't say I love any of these shows, but I watched them and college played a small part

1) The Big Bang Theory

The main characters in this show all work at a university. I used to love this until Mayim Bialik showed up with her ridiculous character of Amy Farrah Fowler and ruined it all for me. I haven't watched in years. 

2) The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

The later seasons got to college, even though it was mostly just a set up. This was a show I'd usually watch after school. 

3) Sabrina the Teenage Witch

Another show where the later seasons started dealing with college. This show in retrospect is so bad. They didn't give one single fuck about continuity. I remember getting in a fight with my dad over a song they had on the official soundtrack because he said it was about drugs and I said it was about fighting. Guess who was right. Hint: Not the 12 year old girl. 

Review: Crazy Rich Asians

We're comfortable...

Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) is an economics professor in NYC who goes to Singapore with her boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding) for this best friend's wedding. She's meeting Nick's family for the first time, and she knows next to nothing about them. Especially about them being crazy rich.

I had never heard of the best selling novel this is based off of prior to the trailer coming out. So I can't compare the two. I'm also not usually a fan of romantic comedies. I'm struggling to remember the last big studio rom com I even saw in theaters, but this had a lot of hype surrounding it. Not to mention the last time a film with an exclusively Asian cast opened in a wide release in the United States was in 1993. Let that ridiculous stat wash over you for a minute. 

Pro tip: Do not go to this movie hungry. Because not only is the production of this movie absolutely gorgeous, it doesn't stop at outfits and sets. It goes straight to the food. I was starving when I left this. This is also the first romantic comedy that I've actually cried in. Yes, that could be attributed into me just growing into a bigger wuss as I get older but I had tears flowing for a solid 10 minutes in this film, both happy and sad. 

Constance Wu is perfectly cast and it really makes me hate that I haven't seen a lot of her other work. I loved her as Rachel. While this film isn't immune to some rom com cliches, Rachel the character manages to avoid the most egregious ones that the leading lady would normally suffer. Henry Golding in his debut role is also great as Nick. You can tell how much he loves Rachel and there's never a hint of anything else there. For the supporting cast, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Gemma Chan, and Nico Santos are the standouts.

Like I mentioned earlier, the production is spectacular. This is the only film that comes close to rivaling Black Panther this year in the costume department. It also features quite possibly the most beautiful wedding I've ever seen. I'm glad director Jon M. Chu insisted this film be for the big screen and didn't go the Netflix route. There are a few misses. Ken Leong, even though he has a very small part was a tad over the top and annoying and all the catty characters were paper thin, they're not the focal point of this film so it doesn't suffer.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "But you have a Jamba Juice punch use my Netlflix account." - Rachel (Constance Wu)

Dog Day Blogathon

The lovely Allie over at Often Off Topic is hosting a one day blogathon in honor of National Dog Day! Here are the rules:

1)Write a dog-related movie post for your blog. Tell us about your favourite on-screen canine, put together a Top 10 list, whatever your creative minds can think of.
2)Publish your post on Sunday 26th August 2018, on National Dog Day.
3)Either send me a link to your post as a comment here, send it to me on Twitter, or email it to Heck, write the link on a post-it note and stick it on my front door if you like! Just let me know!
4)Optional: Do you have a dog? Or perhaps you had a dog you sorely miss? Share them with us, all dogs should be celebrated!

5)On the following day, I’ll create a master post with links to everyone’s posts.

I've talked about this before, but I cannot handle dog death in film. Any canine death hits me harder than any other animal. I know why. I blame my day care center who thought it was totally okay to show a bunch of four year olds Old Yeller. Because of this, I avoid movies where dogs play a huge part. So I decided to make a list using a popular writing trope. Here's five dog movies that I despise and three that make me happy.

1) Old Yeller - Remind me again what lesson I was supposed to learn from this piece of torture porn? That a poor dogs gets mauled by several different animals to protect some bratty children only to contract rabies and get shot at the end? Fuck you.

2) Homeward Bound - Why did that dog have to fall through the railroad tracks?! Fuck you. 

3) Where The Red Fern Grows - Shout out to my 6th grade teacher who made us read this book AND watch the film version. And you know what, a red fern didn't even grow between their graves in real life. The author made that up. Fuck you. 

4) Stone Fox - A kid enters a dog sled race to win money to save the family farm only for his dog's heart to burst right before the finish line. Another product of my school*. Fuck you.

5) My Dog Skip - Was the shovel hit really necessary? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck you.

And the superior dog flicks....

Beginners - You go Arthur. You beautiful thing that wasn't sacrificed to the alter of shitty doggy death tropes. 

Please Stand By - This adorable little dog wears a Star Trek sweater throughout the entire film. How can you not love that. 

Anchorman - Sure, Baxter gets punted off the bridge but Adam McKay had the decency to make it obvious it was a stuffed animal. 

*Discussion question: Was my elementary school district full of sadists? Yes or no?

Thanks for hosting, Allie!

Thursday Movie Picks: A Discovery/Exploration

This week's theme with Wandering Through The Shelves is about discoveries or explorations. I decided to take it the self discovery route. Here are three that I enjoy. 

1) Everything is Illuminated

Jonathan goes to a small town in Ukraine to find a woman that helped his grandfather during WWII and learns a lot about himself and his family in the process. I really liked this, and I never stopped being amused at the dog named Sammy Davis Jr. Jr. 

2) Tracks

Robyn takes a 1700 mile trek across Australia with a few camels and her dog while she tries to figure things out. This is a quiet little film, but it has a great performance from Mia Wasikowska

3) Wild

Cheryl's mother has died and her marriage has crumbled, so she hikes the Pacific Crest Trail to get her head together. Everything about the plot sounds like a lame Lifetime movie but it works in every way. 

2018 Against The Crowd Blogathon

Oh man, do I love this blogathon. It's my fifth year participating and I'm glad Dell is bringing it back again. Before we get into it, here are the rules from the man himself:

1. Pick one movie that "everyone" loves (the more iconic, the better). That movie must have a score of 75% or more on Tell us why you hate it.

2. Pick one movie that "everyone" hates (the more notorious, the better). That movie must have a score of 35% or less on Tell us why you love it.

3. Include the tomato meter scores of both movies.

4. Use one of the banners in this post, or feel free to create your own.

5. Let us know what two movies you intend on writing about in one of the following ways:

Comment on this or any ACB 2018 post on this site
Tweet me @w_ott3
E-mail me:

6. Publish your post on any day from Monday August 20 through Sunday August 26, 2017.

So what did I come up with? I actually had a hard time finding something over 75% this year. I kept running into 70-72%. Then when I finally found one I couldn't believe it didn't come to me immediately considering the amount of bitching I did about the film last year. Finding a low rating one I loved was much easier. 

These films don't really have anything in common, I attempted to stick with a theme as I had done a few times before, but it really had more to do with one lead being far better than the other. My apologies fellow cinephiles.....but I think Charlie Countryman is so much better than Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour 

There's always one Oscar movie that I just can't get into. Last year, it was Darkest Hour, which eventually won Gary Oldman an "overdue" Oscar even though men like Timothy Chalamet, Daniel Kaluuya, and James Franco acted circles around him. 85% of critics were smitten over this and Oldman's performance. 85%. It didn't matter that we already had a better Churchill (John Lithgow in The Crown...seriously I'll fight you) and a better WWII movie (Dunkirk) The majority loved it.

Goddamn, this was boring. Oldman is a great actor but he was drowning under his prosthetic double chin. A bunch of dudes arguing in a room is rarely compelling and I felt it was playing biopic stereotype bingo. Nothing and no one interested me in this. They stayed inside their box. Do you know who went out of theirs?

Charlie Countryman

I watched this again recently and it held up well. Shia LaBeouf is known for being pretty out there now but Charlie Countryman was the turning point for him. It's when he started picking more peculiar projects. They took a simple premise and turned it into something different, yet it only has a score of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. Just 29%? Unlike Darkest Hour the supporting cast actually stand out. It's grim, wacky, fun, and touching all at the same time.  It never once feels like its simply going through the motions. It wants to be different, and succeeds.

Sure this movie was plagued by a bit of drama with MPAA fuckery and a late title change after it premiered at Sundance, but I adore it. It even has Ron Weasley running around high as a kite. Can you go wrong with that?

Thanks for hosting, Dell!  

2018 Blind Spot Series: M

What I knew going in: Apparently nothing 

In Germany, a man named Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre) kidnaps children. The town is in terror, the police are on high alert, this doesn't sit well with the other non child-murderer criminals. They decide to try to catch the killer themselves so everything goes back to normal.

This is director Fritz Lang's first "talkie" (Though he can't resist leaving a few parts of the film silent) After being unimpressed with Metropolis, this one fared better with me personally. I thought I had a good idea of what this was going to be like. But it ended up being kind of goofy. It's certainly no comedy but for something marketed as a murder mystery it was kind of light, almost upbeat during certain scenes. It's not the tone I was expecting.

Lorre is perfectly creepy in this and he stands out easily while the rest of the cast sort of blends together. I'll never hear "In The Hall of the Mountain King" the same way again.

If I have one major complaint about the film, it's that it dragged in the middle, yet rushed the ending. I would've preferred to have those extra 10-15 minutes where it counted.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I can't help what I do!" Hans Beckert (Peter Lorre)

DVD Review: Goodbye Christopher Robin

Oh bother.

Author Alan Milne (Domhnall Gleeson) is scared after WWI and moves his reluctant wife, Daphne (Margot Robbie) and their young son Christopher Robin (who goes by Moon) out into the country side. Normally he and Daphne are fucking off and being absentee parents while Nanny Olive (Kelly Macdonald) takes care of their son, but for a short time Alan has to actually be a dad, and during the time spent with his son he comes up with the idea to what will be his wildly successful Winnie The Pooh series. 

Man, poor Moon. His parents truly weren't ready to commit. And when they do they exploit him for book sales. I never knew the story of how Winnie The Pooh came to be. At first I expected to never look at Pooh the same again, but this film isn't very memorable so I no longer have to worry about that.

The cast are great, and the film looks beautiful. From the costumes to the sets and locations, it really was a lovely little spot in the country side they created. But there wasn't a lot of substance here. It's not bad by any stretch. They tug at your heartstrings a bit with the Nanny but it's really just an interesting tale that doesn't stay with you for long. 

Recommend: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote.

Thursday Movie Picks: Non-English Movies

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves asks us again to talk about films that aren't in the English language. I gave myself a rule where I would try to avoid the foreign films I talk about the most (you probably know my favs) so here are three other excellent films not in the English language. 

1) The Lunchbox (Hindi)

This movie is just so damn charming. It's about a man who subscribes to a lunch box delivery service in India, only to receive the wrong lunch box and strike up a friendship through letters with the person making his lunches. 

2) Memories of Murder (Korean)

Being a big fan of director Joon-ho Bong's English language work, I finally started to go back and watch the films he made in his native language and this murder mystery was gripping from start to finish

3) Mustang (Turkish)

I'm still annoyed this didn't win the Oscar in 2016. It's about 5 sisters and how their lives change after they are married off by their conservative parents.

Review: BlacKkKlansman

Going undercover.

Ron Stallworth (John David Washington) is the first black officer at the Colorado Springs Police Department. Eager to prove himself, but treated poorly by several other officers, he's finally given an opportunity to go undercover. Wanting to take it a step further, he infiltrates the local KKK chapter using fellow officer Phillip Zimmerman (Adam Driver) to go as his "white" self while he speaks to to them over the phone.

Director Spike Lee is never subtle, nor gentle with his opinions and BlackKlansman is better for it. His direction is incredible. I especially loved how he would show the juxtaposition between the two groups. How we would be watching a klan initiation and flip back to a man telling a group of black college students about the horrors of racism and what they need to do to fight it. Lee manages to make you feel disgusted, laugh occasionally, and overwhelm you with power all within the film's two hour run time. If you think he's taking digs at our current administration during the film, just wait until the end when he flat out calls them out.

John David Washington has his dad Denzel's voice but he doesn't once try to emulate him in any way. He's completely his own character and he's tremendous in this role. Stallworth really believes in being a police officer and wanting to prove himself. Anyone who reads this blog knows that Adam Driver is currently one of my favorite actors and he's great here too as a Jewish officer tasked with physically being around a bunch of psychos. You legitimately feel anxious in these scenes where they're questioning him. 

Another thing Lee did that I found interesting was the way he shot Driver and Washington when they were sharing the screen. I felt like Driver was always subtly out of frame. He'd have his back turned or would be in the background somewhere. Was it because they were both playing "Ron" at different times and he wanted to remind us all who the real Ron was? 

In my first draft of this review, I talked about what he does at the end of the film that really hits it home and had me walking out of the theater with tears in my eyes. But it's best not reading about it first. Just go in and feel... and take those feelings with you when you vote. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Did you get that?" - Ron Stallworth (John David Washington)

Indie Gems: Band Aid

Musical Marriage Counseling

Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Polly) are a married couple that can't stop bickering. To channel this, they decide to start a band with their eccentric neighbor, Dave (Fred Armison) where all their songs are their fights. 

On top of starring, Zoe Lister-Jones wrote and directed this. The plot itself is very clever and the little details she put into it were wonderful. When Anna and Ben are having a good spell, their clothes (and in some cases, lack of) reflect that.  She took on a lot and it paid off.

She and Polly are one of the most believable couples I've seen in a film in quite some time. Their fights were relatable and every married person, myself included has had a few. Listening to them sing it out was fun, and a little heartbreaking one you finally hit that emotional rock bottom you know is coming. 

I've had a few people recommend the show Life in Pieces to me, which Lister-Jones stars in (and a few of her costars such as Colin Hanks makes cameos here) after seeing everything she brought to the table here, I think I may finally check it out. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I just like to sit on a toilet and let my butt hole be free. Makes me more productive." - Ben (Adam Polly)

Thursday Movie Picks: A Siege

Hold steady, this week at Wandering Through the Shelves we're talking about sieges! There's a lot to choose from this week, but my mind went straight to franchises. I'm sure everyone has seen these.

1) Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

The siege of Helm's Deep is the gold standard of cinematic sieges, in my opinion. I loved watching this in theaters, it was so exhilarating and I felt the same way watching it at home. 

2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

While it felt a bit more powerful in the book, the attack on Hogwarts is the most intense thing to happen in the Harry Potter books. There was so much going on, and we lost so many characters we loved.

3) Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia sequels didn't exactly soar at the box office, but I still really liked Prince Caspian. The siege in this film was focused more on Peter fighting Miraz, but it was a good scene over all. I got the feeling from the actor's commentary that it was their favorite to shoot as well.

Strange Things You Associate With Certain Films

You know what I'm talking about. You're watching a movie but because of something that happened during or around the time you watched it, you associate it with something else. Maybe it's a romantic comedy, yet all you can think of is a loud fight your neighbors were having. Maybe it's a horror film, but you think of a nice phone call you got from your grandma during it. Maybe they're so random you just never say them out loud.

Until now. Tell me the weirdest thing a movie reminds you of. I'll share a few of mine below

Beavis and Butt-Head Do America - Tornadoes

It was summer. I was 10 or 11 years old and home alone watching this on TV. Our TV room was in our basement and I had the volume up so high that I didn't notice the blaring tornado sirens that were going off outside. Not until my neighbor ran into my house to get me. I'll never forget stepping outside, looking down my street, and seeing a big ass tornado floating above the sky only a few blocks away. It never touched down, thankfully. But that's what I think of when I think of this movie now. 

Jaws 2 - Cabbage Patch Dolls

I had a Cabbage Patch Doll I inherited from my older sister, but it was never truly ~mine~ I remember watching this with her when my mom came downstairs and presented me with my very first Cabbage Patch doll that I could actually call my own. Her name was Glenda and you could crimp and curl her hair. What I question most about this memory now is if I was still young enough to want a doll, why the hell was I watching Jaws 2?

War of the Worlds - Flooding

After seeing this in theaters with a group of friends, it was raining so heavily when we got out that one of the roads by the theater was covered with water. I drove through with no problem. So did the group in the second car. The third car? Nope. Got stuck right in the middle and we all had to get out and push this car out of shin high water all while cracking jokes of the impending alien invasion. 

The Last Samurai - A tangled mess 
Not my actual photo, but pretty damn similar

If you've ever worked in a movie theater, you were probably familiar with the possibility of having the film "wrap" around the projector. Or dropping an already put together movie (you use clamps to hold it together) to move it from one projector to another. If I remember correctly, a second of footage is about a foot long. So you can imagine how massive The Last Samurai was at two and a half hours. Our copy wrapped and the projectionist at the time decided to move the film from one platter to another, but the clamps he used to secure it didn't secure properly and he dropped it. I got to help him put it back together. If you thought watching that movie was long, imaging unraveling and splicing it back together. I cringe just thinking of that film now. 

Kung Fu Hustle - That time I almost left my future husband before our relationship even started

Man, Kung Fu Hustle is something. Back then, I didn't have the appreciation for bad movies that I do now. So when my first date with the man I would eventually marry was to this, I seriously questioned bailing. It's funny to think about now. Especially when he had tried to justify it with "You really need to see Shaolin Soccer." 

The Passion of the Christ - Sno-caps
My theater was not prepared for this movie. Not only did we end up selling out every showing for weeks but we ran out of every single concession we offered except Sprite, Coke, and Sno-caps. Nobody likes Sno-caps. Although really, with the amount of people that ran out of the theater screaming and crying because of the violence, I don't know why the fuck they thought they wanted refreshments during it. 

Indie Gems: You Were Never Really Here

It's not a dream

Joe (Joaquin Phoenix) is a veteran of the Gulf War who makes his living now as a hitman. He's traumatized not only from the war but from past experiences. He takes care of his elderly mother and wanders from job to job in an almost dream like haze. When he's tasked with finding the young daughter (Ekaterina Samsonov) of a senator that hasn't returned home, things escalate. 

I was a huge fan of director Lynne Ramsay's last film, We Need To Talk About Kevin and I've been looking forward to this ever since it was a huge hit at Cannes. Since it never came near me in theaters, I had to wait for the DVD, but it was certainly worth that long wait.

The film is very dreamlike. Despite being centered around violence Ramsay doesn't show a lot of it. Most of the time the scene cuts to the aftermath of Joe's jobs and it works. It makes this more than just another hired gun film.

Phoenix is phenomenal. I'm hoping Oscar voters don't forget this because he'd surely get a nomination had this had a fall release date. He's so good that unfortunately the rest of the cast doesn't make nearly as good of an impression. He outshone them all.

My biggest complaint is that this film went by so quickly. At 1 hour 29 minutes it completely flew, and I wanted to spend a little more time with Joe. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Joe, wake up. It's a beautiful day." - Nina (Ekaterina Samsonov)

Thursday Movie Picks: Body Switch

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is about switching bodies and of course I already used Freaky Friday this year. Your girl struggled this week. This was hard for me. I know I'm stretching this a bit but here's what I came up with. 

1) In Your Eyes

I really like this indie gem. It's about two people on opposite sides of the U.S who all of a sudden have a telekinetic connection and can see through each other's eyes. That counts as a body switch...right? 

2) Get Out

One of my favorites from last year. When Chris finds out exactly what Rose's father wants to do - put someone else's brain in his body, he takes Get Out into full horror movie mode. 

3) In Her Skin

Now this is a total cheat, but Caroline literally wants to be Rachel. If she could body swap, she would. This movie was based on a true story in Australia that I wasn't familiar with beforehand but it has one of the most horrifyingly realistic murder scenes I've ever watched.