Review: Bird Box

Look at it.

Something is causing mass amounts of people to kill themselves. Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is pregnant when it starts and finds herself in a house with several different people she doesn't know. There's helpful Tom, (Trevante Rhodes) sweet Olympia, (Danielle MacDonald) and ass Doulglas (John Malkovich) among others. But that's not where we start the story, we start five years after this when Malorie is alone with two children and have to wait to see how it all unfolds.

It's impossible to talk about Bird Box without comparing it to A Quiet Place. Even though the novel this is based on came out before the latter. Aside from creatures that feed off of one of our senses, the way things play out are quite different.

The stakes feel so much higher in Bird Box. Not only is not seeing harder to navigate, but they're not the only threat out there as we eventually find out. Plus, Malorie isn't a loving mother, she's very to the point with the children she only calls "Boy" and "Girl."  I'm usually not a fan of Bullock but she was very good here, as was the rest of the cast. Rhodes was my favorite.

Bird Box may not answer all your questions but this being on Netflix makes it the perfect film to watch with your family this winter.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "What the hell is that?" - Jessica (Sarah Paulson)

Golden Globe Predictions: Who Will Win/Who Should Win

It's time to guess how I think the Globes are going to do next week. Last year I went 15/24 with my predictions so that's my score to beat. Here's who I think will win, and in some cases, who probably should instead

Best Picture — Drama
Black Panther
Bohemian Rhapsody
If Beale Street Could Talk
A Star Is Born
Who will win: A Star Is Born
Who should win: Black Panther or BlackKklansman
ASIB doesn't feel like the front runner it was once made out to be, but the HFPA love star power so I fully expect them to win even though I personally find both BP and BlackKklansman to be better movies. (I haven't seen Beale Street and BR being here is a joke)

Best Picture — Comedy or Musical
Crazy Rich Asians
The Favourite
Green Book
Mary Poppins Returns
Who will win: Vice
Who should win: Any of these aside from Green Book and Mary Poppins
God, this is hard to predict too. I'm going with Vice since they got so many nominations but I honestly could see any of these films winning. 

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
Who will and should win: Bradley Cooper
He was fantastic in A Star is Born and I don't see anyone from this category beating him. His biggest threat is Christian Bale who he won't have to battle until the SAGs.

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
Who will win: Lady Gaga
Who should win: Nicole Kidman
The Globes already rewarded Gaga for her wooden run in AHS so she'll likely win here too considering all her main competition is Olivia Coleman. I think Kidman looks fantastic in Destroyer and I always tend to be in her corner. 

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
Who will and should win: Christian Bale
I mean, look at him.

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
Who will and should win: Olivia Coleman
I'm so ready to see her in The Crown now.

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
Who will win: Timothee Chalamet
Who should win: Adam Driver
I fully expect Chalamet to pick up "Sorry we had to give Gary Oldman your Oscar last year" awards but Driver is my favorite in this category. Please let him win so he can recreate this:

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
Who will win: Amy Adams
Who should win: Any of these
While I've yet to see Beale Street all of these ladies give wonderful performances. 

Best Director — Motion Picture
Bradley Cooper - A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón - Roma
Peter Farrelly - Green Book
Spike Lee - BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay - Vice
Who will win: Bradley Cooper
Who should win: Spike Lee
Spike should be winning everything for BlackKklansman to be honest. To make a movie like that and then end it the way he did was easily the most powerful directing of the year. 

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
Who will and should win: Vice
As long as it's not Green Book or Roma. 

Best Motion Picture — Animated
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse
Who will and should win: Spider-man: Into The Spider-Verse
Everyone else should go home. 

Best Picture — Foreign Language
Capernaum (Lebanon)
Girl (Belgium)
Never Look Away (Germany)
Roma (Mexico)
Shoplifters (Japan)
Who will win: Roma
Who should win: ?
I've only seen Roma, which I didn't like but everyone else did so I can't really say who ~should~ win here. I'd like to see all of these films. 

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
Who will win: Alexandre Desplat
Who should win: Ludwig Göransson
Alexandre seems like the safest bet but Ludwig's score is my favorite. 

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
Who will and should win: Shallow
While I prefer All The Stars and think it could've used another verse, there's really no denying how great Shallow is. 

Best Television Series — Drama
The Americans 
Killing Eve 
Who will win: Homecoming
Who should win: ?
The only one of these I watched is The Bodyguard. The Americans should get a send off but this is the Globes and they like Freshman shows, stars, and Amazon. Homecoming has all three. 

Best Television Series — Musical or Comedy
The Good Place 
The Kominsky Method 
Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 
Who will win: Barry
Who should win:?
Again, I don't watch any of these. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won last year and if my memory serves me, the Globes don't often reward the same shows back to back unless they're Mad Men. The Emmys loved Barry (I couldn't even make it through three episodes) so many that love will bleed over here. 

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
Who will and should win: Sharp Objects
I liked The Alienist a lot but nothing is on part with Sharp Objects here. That was something else. 

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
Who will win: Stephan James
Who should win: Richard Madden
So I can watch that sweet ass walk up on stage. 

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
Who will win: Julia Roberts
Who should win: Elisabeth Moss
Do you really think the HFPA would give this to someone besides Julia? 

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
Who will win: Bill Hader
Who should win: ?
I'm torn here. Michael Douglas on paper sounds like the winner but people loved Barry so Hader could take it. The only person I'm confident won't win is Glover, everyone else is a newbie. 

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
Who will win: Kristen Bell
Who should win: ?
Broshnahan could be a surprise repeat but Kristen seems like such a Globes win. 

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
Who will and should win: Daren Criss
I'd be surprised if anyone other than Criss won. I'll never look at this guy the same after Versace. 

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
Who will and should win: Amy Adams
Give my girl some gold!

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
Who will win: Henry Winkler
Who should win: Kieran Culkin
No other reason other than my bias. 

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

Who will and should win: Patricia Clarkson
To be honest, I'd be happy if Thandie or Yvonne won too because they were fantastic this year as well, but I'm rooting for Clarkson.

Indie Gems: Blindspotting

Can your brain unsee this?

When we meet Collin (Daveed Diggs) he's coming off a prison sentence and is being put on probation. We catch up with him in his final three days of it, where he's trying his hardest to lay low. His short tempered friend, Miles (Rafael Casal) is making this difficult. On top of that, he witnesses a police officer shooting an unarmed black man and it keeps coming back to haunt him.

I remember when I first saw trailers for this, I wasn't sure if I would rush out to see it. But after hearing so many positive reviews, I bumped it to the top of my Netflix queue as soon as it came available. This film was nothing like I was expecting. I didn't realize they would fuse so much humor and poetry into this. Director Carlos López Estrada has a lot of ideas. Sometimes that effects the tone, is this a surreal comedy? A racial politics drama? A music video? It's all of those things. It's a little messy but there's never a part where I went "this really doesn't work."

Daveed Diggs is extraordinary and gives one of the best performances this year. I was so worried for Collin throughout. He's in a constant state of disadvantage and there was one particular scene where I held my breath throughout. Casal is also wonderful here. It could be easy to hate Miles, he's volatile and a bit unaware of his privilege despite feeling like a victim of it, but Casal humanizes him. They could've gone the typical annoying sidekick/best friend trope route, but they don't. Everything about Collin and Miles' relationship is important.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "You monsters got me feeling like a monster in my own town." - Collin (Daveed Diggs)

DVD Review: To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Why did you address these?

(I realize this is a Netflix movie and not a DVD but it's no longer a new release so that's why I labeled it this way)

When Lara Jean (Lana Candor) has an intense crush on someone, she writes them a letter. She pours everything into them, addresses them, but they've never meant for the mail. They hide safely in a hat box in her closet. Which is good, because one of them is about her sister Margot's (Janel Parrish) long time boyfriend, Josh. (Israel Brossuard) When someone mysteriously mails them, Lara Jean uses one of the recipients, Peter (Noah Centineo) as a cover to avoid talking to Josh about this and they begin a fake relationship to make Peter's ex jealous.

I'm not one for rom coms and I've never read the book this is based on (and after reading the Wiki summaries of all three in the trilogy, I definitely won't be) but I was intrigued. It looked cute enough, and Lana Candor instantly grabbed me in the trailer. 

God, teenagers are stupid. This film was filled with so many cliches and caricatures. Essentially every one outside of Lara Jean's family and her friend Chris fit that bill. Lara Jean has no friends outside of Chris, but it's never really explained why. She's shy, sure, but she's so easily talking to others later on in the movie that I never bought her and Chris only having each other. Josh for some reason hates Peter. I suppose because we need to have bro on bro tension? And Lara Jean's former friend Gen is so jealous and over the top that even Regina George would tell her she's being unrealistic.

I also felt like the film was telling me I was supposed to be hoping for one relationship only for it to go with the other. Honestly, I had so many issues with this film that I should probably stop myself right here. I'd love to hear what you think, though.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "Okay Chris, I'm leaving the kitchen." - Dr. Covey (John Corbett)

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Comedies

We're wrapping up 2018 with our final TV pick. This week Wanderer wants us to talk about comedies. My favorite comedy on TV right now is easily Veep, but I used that last year and wanted to highlight a few others I enjoy.

1) Chewing Gum

I stumbled upon this on Netflix in 2016 and it's honestly one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. I instantly became a fan of Michaela Cole. The show is pretty random but it works. 

2) American Vandal

Another Netflix show. I knew immediately after I saw the trailer for this - which they structured to look like an actual true crime documentary - that I needed to see it. The first season involved someone spray painting dicks all over the cars in the teacher's parking lot. It was hysterical. Season two was okay, but season one is what shines.

3) All That

And one from my childhood. Josh Server is the earliest crush that I can think of and I loved Amanda Bynes because she was this tall beanpole like I was at that age. All That is also the first time I ever pondered lip syncing after watching Britney Spears perform and realizing that she wasn't singing a damn word live.

DVD Review: Hearts Beat Loud

We're not a band.

Sam (Kiersey Clemmons) is a few weeks away from heading off to medical school and her father, Frank (Nick Offerman) isn't coping well. His record shop is about to close, they're broke, but they still bond over making music together. Even if Frank has to beg Sam to do it. When they record a song, he puts it on Spotify without her permission and when it gets some attention, he tries to get her to form a band with him.

The music in this film is lovely, particularly the title song, but nice music isn't enough to distract me from the fact that Frank was kind of awful. He has Peter Pan syndrome and he's trying to drag his daughter down with him. She has hopes and dreams but for the majority of the film he's fine with trashing those for what he thinks should be their joint dream. It wasn't played maliciously, but I couldn't look past it. It didn't help that Offerman was way out of his league here. He has a particular range and while I applaud him for trying to get out of it, it didn't work here. His character wasn't great to begin with so it was always going to be an uphill battle. 

Kiersey was very good. I liked the relationship she had with her girlfriend Rose. (Sasha Lane) Their scenes served as a nice break from what Offerman was doing. I'm disappointed I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought it would. It doesn't have nearly enough charm as similar films such as Begin Again and God Help The Girl did. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "It's about mom.." - Sam (Kiersey Clemmons)

Review: Mary, Queen of Scots

Let us rule side by side.

Mary Stuart (Saoirse Ronan) has returned to Scotland to claim her rightful throne and attempts to persuade her cousin Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie) to name her the heir of England. They both have to put up with the men of their courts deciding that they know better than the women in power.

The two messages I got from this movie were 1) Men who don't see women as equals are the fucking worst. and 2) People who get butthurt over religion are the fucking worst. This is a yet another good example of a long hist of things gone wrong because of the two. 

Kidding aside, I enjoyed this. It's been one of my most anticipated all year but recent reviews had me scale back my expectations. That worked in my favor because outside of Ronan and Robbie, Adrian Lester and to a lesser extent, Eileen O'Higgins (Brooklyn is life), no one else really stood out. The majority of the men in this movie could've been interchangeable. No one was bad, they just didn't leave an impression. 

What did leave an impression was the stunning hair and make up, The film is quite drab. It's always cloudy, the colors always muted except for the bright reds of our leading ladies' hair and Elizabeth's wardrobe. 

Some might not like the historic liberties taken here, but this makes for a fine watch. I applaud the filmmakers for their diverse casting. Though, the trailer kind of ruined the films titular moment by showing so much of it. It makes the teasing they do leading up to it kind of useless.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I'm more a man now than woman." - Queen Elizabeth (Margot Robbie)

DVD Review: Skate Kitchen

Time to shred.

Camille (Rachelle Vinberg) is an awkward 18 year old girl in New York with a tough relationship with her mother who doesn't approve of her love of skateboarding. Especially after the pretty serious injury the film opens with. Camille finds solace in an Instagram feed called "Skate Kitchen", and when she meets up with the girls who run it she's finally found her place. 

Director Crystal Moselle is apparently the first person to base a feature off of an actual Instagram feed. It's a good idea. How often do you find movies about girls who love skateboarding? We're almost always given the teenage boy's views instead and showing adult women with a love for the sport is refreshing.

But the manufactured drama she adds brings this film down and makes me wish that I had just watched a documentary of the Skate Kitchen girls instead of the narrative created for them. The issue is, these girls seems really interesting. They're a diverse bunch and their chemistry is apparent, but not all of them are actors and it shows. There's nothing wrong with that of course, but had this been a documentary, it wouldn't have mattered at all. The fact that the film is almost shot in a doc fashion just makes it all even more apparent. 

Camille leaves her mom, played by Elizabeth Rodriguez (one of the only two "actors first" in the cast other than Jaden Smith) after a fight. Then she's given the added drama of a live triangle that honestly felt beneath all of the characters involved. It temporarily ruins her friendships, then everything is wrapped up with a pretty bow in the end. It's a boring story that's been done to death. I'd rather know how all these skaters came together in the first place. Who's idea was it to curate "Skate Kitchen?" Tell me about each woman. That would've been the better film.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Oh no, you got credit carded?" - Eliza (Jules Lorenzo)

Indie Gems: We The Animals

Don't be like them.

Little Jonah (Evan Rosado) lives with his volatile parents (Sheila Vand and Raúl Castillo) and two older brothers, Joel and Manny (Josiah Gabriel and Isaiah Kristian) He retreats to his imagination after his parents fights and when his brothers start to mimic their father's behavior.

This is a very thoughtful film and it's shot in somewhat of a cinema vérité style. The hand held camera makes you feel like you're in a home video. Like you're there with the boys. Cinematographer Zak Mulligan gets some stunning shots, not just of the actors but the scenery around them. The film occasionally transitions into Jonah's drawings as well, as equally erratic as his home life.

Rosado is a fascinating child to watch. Jonah knows how different he is from his brothers. The film explores his sexual orientation before he's old enough to put words to it. When a neighbor boy shows them porn, he finds himself watching the men. I think the way the film handled this was very beautiful, yet sad. We want Jonah to feel happy, loved, and accepted. And we know it's only going to get harder for him. Other scenes that stand out are the ones with his mother. We feel for her too, stuck with an abusive husband with no means to escape. 

This is a short film, clocking in at 94 minutes. While it's a melancholy watch, it flies by. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable quote: "You're not 10. You're 9 + 1" - Ma (Sheila Vand)

Review: Roma

A moment in history.

Roma follows Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) a maid to a wealthy family in Mexico City in the early 70's. Particularly during a life altering event for both herself and the family she serves. 

This has been one of the most talked about films all during awards season. It's appeared on numerous "Best" lists and so many interviews have been given about how close this film is to director/writer/cinematographer Alfonso Cuarón. Despite all of this, I was never really hyped for it. Sure, I wanted to see if after reading all the reviews but the trailer never sold me on it. So I started this film with a bit of a skeptical attitude. 

It actually started off well. Sofia (Marina de Tavira) and Antonio, (Fernando Grediaga) the couple Cleo works for have some marital issues and Cleo herself is facing an unplanned pregnancy with no support after her boyfriend Fermin (Jorge Antonio Guerrero) leaves her like a total jackass. But then the film stops to marvel at itself instead of diving deeper into how the two female leads actually feel about their situations. In the end, it made me feel like Cuaron was more focused on turning his memories of Mexico City in 1971 into this beautiful yet sometimes volatile dreambox instead of considering the actual characters we follow. 

So many shots in this film are beautiful, but they felt shooed in for art lovers. There's a scene where a forest catches fire during a Christmas party, and as a large group of people start to put the fire out, someone randomly walks into frame and starts singing as everything burns behind him. It's a lovely shot but it served no purpose other than aesthetic. The film is littered with moments like this, so when the time comes for things to get serious in the 3rd act, they didn't feel earned because of the lack of time given to them in the first place. The final beach scene, where Cleo finally expresses how she feels about her pregnancy wasn't even concerned about what she had to say. She got a single sentence out, we got the film's money shot of everyone hugging on the beach, then we moved on to the next thing.

I can see how this means a lot to Cuaron, they are from his memories. I can see why this film is so beloved by many on Film Twitter. But for me it didn't work. I wanted to know more about Cleo and her feelings. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I like being dead." - Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio)

Thursday Movie Picks: 2019 Movies You're Looking Forward To

It's time to start looking forward. Wanderer wants to know what movies you're looking forward to in 2019 the most. There's a handful of films I can't wait to see, these are the biggest ones. 

1) Avengers: Endgame

I'm a Marvel bitch for life and Infinity War just gets better with every watch. I can't wait to see how they wrap it up. I just hope our dusted characters get to come back before the last 15 minutes of the film.

2) Star Wars Episode IX

I loved The Last Jedi and I can't wait to see how Rey, Kylo and Finn's stories wrap up. I am a bit nervous about JJ remaking Return of the Jedi or undoing some of the things Rian Johnson did (Like Rey being a random, which is really the best decision ever) but I can't not be hyped for a Star Wars movie that has to do with this trilogy. 

3) How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

I fell in love with the first film because of its beautiful score, now it's become a series I love watching with my own child. I'm looking forward to the third and final film in this trilogy. 

Review: Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

You can wear the mask too.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is bitten by a radioactive spider and becomes Spider-man in his own right. Soon after, Peter Parker is killed, but King Pin (Liev Schreiber) has opened a portal to multiple dimensions bringing back the thought dead Peter (Jake Johnson) and several other Spider-people Miles must learn from.

Sony should never have bothered with the Amazing Spider-man franchise and should've jumped straight to this. Everything about this film works and still manages to feel fresh despite all the different versions of Spider-man we've had over the years. Of course, Miles is a big part of that. Fans of the comic have been wanting to see him brought to the big screen for years and his debut does not disappoint.

The animation in this film is out of this world. They play with different textures and styles and it can be very in your face at times. But considering how weak wide release animation has been this year, I was happy to have my sense assaulted a bit with this colorful creation. I was just in awe of it. I don't think I've been wowed to this extent since WALL-E

Story wise, I think the film did a great job with not only Miles but introducing the multiple Spider-people and not overusing them. They all fit perfectly. Moore is excellent, Nic Cage as Spider-man Noir was a hilarious surprise. The only two voice actors I didn't care for were Jake Johnson and Hailee Steinfeld. Thankfully their characters were still cool enough to make up for their shortcomings, but I still wish Sony would've gotten Tobey Maguire to voice Peter instead. 

There's so many fun easter eggs for fans of every single Spider-man that came before this, and the obligatory Stan Lee cameo may choke you up a bit. Stay until the end of the credits for another amusing scene. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Sometimes I light a match and let it burn all the way down just so I can feel something." - Spider-man Noir (Nicolas Cage)

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
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
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
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
Jack Ryan
The Walking Dead