Review: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

It's official, he's a has been. 

In Hollywood, 1969 - Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a fading TV star trying to hold onto relevancy with his stunt double, Cliff Booth. (Brad Pitt) Cliff has a chance encounter with members of the notorious Manson family that will eventually change their lives forever.

I've been torn about this movie ever since it was announced. At first, I was bothered by the fact that Tarantino was including Sharon Tate, which I felt had potential to be kind of exploitative. Then the trailers came out, and the film actually looked really good. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he probably wasn't going to actually show Tate's murder - and he doesn't - but I'm not sure what he does with her even makes her appearance in this film worth it.

To be clear, this movie would be unwatchable without Brad Pitt. It's not that DiCaprio is a bad actor or that Dalton isn't an interesting character, DiCaprio is great and Dalton's predicament is both compelling and sometimes amusing. It's just that nearly every scene he is in for the first two hours of the film drags. For instance, we see Dalton mess up a take on set and pitch a fit about it in his trailer afterwards, but we watch what feels like an entire 20 minute sequence of said scene that we didn't need to understanding that messing up his lines in front of the entire crew is hard for him.  And there are plenty more scenes like that throughout. Booth's story, the one that directly involves the film's antagonists moves at a much quicker pace. This brings me to Sharon Tate. (Margot Robbie)

The only purpose Sharon Tate serves in this film is that of an interlude between scenes. Her arc is literally going to a movie theater to see one of her own films. That's it. That's where nearly all of her dialogue is, otherwise, she's there to look beautiful while we transition to the next scene. It's such a weird use of her considering so many other actors - Dakota Fanning, Bruce Dern, etc all show up for one scene only and are never seen again. And the one part of the film where they could actually insert her into the main plot, we instead get her voice over an intercom. It's a bizarre part for someone like Robbie who is receiving 3rd billing. 

I know there's already plenty of better written pieces out there talking about the violence against women in this film, but it is quite jarring. Yes, the violence "makes sense" within the context of the film, but it's the way its shot that I found uncomfortable. The camera absolutely revels in the gruesome deaths two women receive in this movie, while the man being murdered is largely off screen and is shot with many cuts. There's a clear difference in the way each death was shot. Not to mention, Booth for some reason killed his nagging wife in the past. It's hinted at in a flashback, and then it goes nowhere. It's an excuse for why he doesn't get work, but after watching the glee taken in murdering the women at the end, it seems like an odd choice. In fact, this entire movie is just a bunch of odd choices.

I like Tarantino's movies more than not, but his last few efforts really haven't done it for me. I never expected him to put out films that would become less watchable than Death Proof but here he is with two in a row. This one wasn't for me. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "Anybody accidentally kills anybody they go to's called manslaughter." - Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt)

Five VHS Tapes I Wore Out As A Child

The subject of VHS was brought up in a conversation I had recently, and it got me thinking about how many VHS tapes my family owned. My childhood home had shelves full of VHS tapes that were not purchased, but recorded off TV. Most of them far before my time. I was going to avoid children's movies all together, but I had to squeeze a little known one as my final pick. Here are five random films that I watched in the 90's to the point where the tapes became unusable. 

1) The Color Purple
This and My Girl where my go to movies when I felt like crying. I had a habit when I was younger of only watching the first hour and a half or so of this, then not finishing it. Because I did that so often when I sat down to watch it in full when I got older the back half was almost completely foreign to me. Eventually  the tape started to get fuzzy right in the middle where I'd stop and rewind it. 

2) Troll
This movie is so beyond belief stupid. I'm not sure what drew me to it. I knew when I was young that I liked horror movies, I think this one was accessible because it wasn't scary. I didn't technically wear this one out, but I did accidentally record over part of it.

3) Flowers in the Attic 
My mom loves V.C Andrews so I blame her with my fascination with this movie. I actually have a lot of terrible memories of the movies she'd force me to watch with her on Lifetime (along with the "all men are dangerous" lesson that came after) but this is one that I really enjoyed watching despite it being a fucked up mess. I still to this day can't pinpoint why I liked it. 

4) Lucas 
There were a lot of 80's movies we had because of my sister. Stand By Me, Gremlins, and The Lost Boys were ones we frequently watched together, but no one else in my family seemed to care for Lucas aside from me. It's funny to me now because Charlie Sheen looks so out of place in it. I think I was just really into young Winona Ryder's movies. This shared a tape with Stand By Me and Willow and eventually all 3 went to static hell.

5) The Last Unicorn
This one I had to throw in because none of my friends knew what it was. I was the only one that had siblings that were significantly older so there were a lot of 80's cartoons that I enjoyed. Whenever I would show it to someone, they hated it. It was just too weird. It wasn't until I was in high school that I met someone who had seen it and when we tried to watch it then, my VCR promptly ate it. 

Indie Gems: Entanglement

Finding where you went wrong.

Ben's (Thomas Middleditch) life is a complete mess. His wife just left him, and the opening scene is him failing at several suicide attempts. He's determined to figure out where he went wrong in life so he can attempt to fix it. He finds out from his parents that he almost had a sister. They adopted a daughter, but when his mother found out she was pregnant they had to give her back to the agency. With the help of his neighbor Tabby (Diana Bang) he eventually finds Hanna (Jess Weixler) and they fall in love. Don't worry, there's more.

This is going to be a strange review because I both loved this film and had a serious problem with its execution. I can't stop thinking about it. I actually watched it twice. (It helps that it's available to stream on Netflix and is a whopping 85 minutes long) First thing, when Hanna gets introduced, you're going to immediately think you walked into some manic pixie dream girl bullshit, but just stay with it. It will all make sense. Without getting into spoiler territory this film is obviously a study on mental illness and it takes a very whimsical approach to it. I think this works at the beginning, but not so much at the end. I felt there was a lot more this film could've addressed and it would have benefited by an extra 10 minutes.

The actors are wonderful. I enjoy Middleditch's work in Silicon Valley and he gets to show a bit more range here that I really enjoyed. Jess Weixler is always a welcome presence in film. Diana Bang was new to me and I really liked Tabby as well. 

At the end of the day, this is a heavy topic disguised as a romantic comedy. It asks you to question all of the tropes that go along with that as well. It's a delightful film that may annoy you after you finish that they didn't take a bit more care in it, but at the same time, were they ever aiming to do that in the first place? 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix

Memorable Quote: "I wanted to be awake again." - Ben (Thomas Middleditch)

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Crime

This week's TV theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is crime. I'm addicted to true crime shows. I find them so fascinating. I decided to do a mix of episodic TV and true crime here.

1) Sherlock

This is hands down my favorite version of Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have amazing chemistry. Sure, the last episodes got weak when they decided to add Mary but they still made for interesting watches. 

2) The Keepers

This is a true crime documentary on Netflix and it's fascinating, but so infuriating because you know this is a case that is probably never going to get solved. 

3) True Detective

Season 1 of this was near perfect TV and the two seasons that follow were good too, though they never reached S1's heights. 

Review: The Art of Self Defense

I'm tired of feeling afraid all the time.

Casey (Jesse Eisenberg) is an awkward loner who is mugged one night while out buying dog food. This scars him even more and now he won't leave the house at night and is intimidated by everyone. He comes across a karate class, led by Sensei (Alessandro Nivola) who tries to teach him the art of self defense.

I'm happy to support an indie film getting released in the middle of what feels like a sea of Disney remakes. I had seen a few trailers for this and the cast looks enjoyable. When I rounded out the first hour, I actually pulled my phone out to see if the same person who directed Napoleon Dynamite had anything to do with this. (he didn't) It turns out it's directed by Riley Stearns, the same man who brought us Faults back in 2014. Once I got to the end of the film, that made sense.

Your enjoyment of this film will likely depend on how your tolerance is for dead pan mostly emotionless delivery. For me, that's something that can overstay its welcome. But like Faults, the ending is the best part of the film because it finally breathes some life into the script, even if it was somewhat predictable. 

I could tell Eisenberg and Imogen Poots were really restrained here. I wish the film had let them show their chops a bit more. Eisenberg's Casey, whom we're supposed to feel bad for isn't really that sympathetic at all. Every time you want to pity him, he does something ridiculous that takes all of that sympathy away. 

Overall, while I actually enjoyed the last 15 minutes of this movie quite a bit, the hour and a half that came before that wasn't enough to make up for it. I found myself getting annoyed with way this was played out, despite the film having a few interesting things to say about toxic masculinity and sexism. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I tried my best not to coddle him." - Casey (Jesse Eisenberg)   

Thursday Movie Picks: Blockbuster Flops

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about those blockbuster.....flops. Yes, not every big budget movie is a hit and some of them bomb hard. However, there are a few major flops that I have a soft spot for. 

1) Poseidon 

This remake of The Poseidon Adventure ate a 77 million lose. I don't think it's good by any means, but it was entertaining enough. 

2) Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner may have a bit of a cult following but apparently the masses were not ready for a nearly 3 hour sequel. That's a shame, because 2049 was really good and beautifully shot. 

3) Peter Pan (2003)

So Peter Pan has been done....a lot. But 2003's live action version is a lot better than it gets credit for and it lost 70 million. 

2019 Emmy Nominations

I forgot the Emmys were going to be announced yesterday, so I was pretty surprised when I refreshed my Twitter feed and saw it trending. You know I have some thoughts...

Outstanding Comedy Series
The Good Place
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Russian Doll
Schitt’s Creek
I didn't realize Russian Doll was a comedy. I had thrown it in my Netflix queue based on reviews but I was assuming it was a drama. I'm here for Veep and Mrs. Maisel. 

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Game of Thrones
Killing Eve
This Is Us
We all knew GoT was going to get this even with its lackluster finale. What confuses me is The Bodyguard. I found that show SO dull even with sexy ass Richard Madden in it. 

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Kit Harington, Game of Thrones
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Billy Porter, Pose
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
I keep meaning to watch POSE but Billy Porter serves so many looks on the red carpet that I want him to win just to see him accept a statue in whatever he blesses us with wearing. 

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Emilia Clarke, Game of Thrones
Jodie Comer, Killing Eve
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Laura Linney, Ozark
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Mandy Moore, This Is Us
Robin Wright, House of Cards
I'm not on the This Is Us train but I've never been a huge fan of Mandy Moore's acting, so her nom is the surprise. Emilia actually deserves this one too.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Mahershala Ali, True Detective
Benicio Del Toro, Escape at Dannemora
Hugh Grant, A Very English Scandal
Jared Harris, Chernobyl
Jharrel Jerome, When They See Us
Sam Rockwell, Fosse/Verdon
I'm so happy Jared Harris is here. Chernobyl was fantastic. I wanted so badly to like Fosse/Verdon for Rockwell, but I just didn't. Happy Mahershala got in as well.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Amy Adams, Sharp Objects
Patricia Arquette, Escape at Dannemora
Joey King, The Act
Michelle Williams, Fosse/Verdon
Aunjenaue Ellis, When They See Us
Niecy Nash, When They See Us
I can't believe I'll probably have to watch Amy Adams lose AGAIN when she should be winning everything. *heavy sigh* I love it when young people get nominated so I'm thrilled for Joey King. I'm getting my HULU back to watch The Handmaid's Tale and The Act is something I plan on binging.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Don Cheadle, Black Monday
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Michael Douglas, The Kominsky Method
Bill Hader, Barry

Eugene Levy, Schitt’s Creek

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Christina Applegate, Dead to Me
Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Natasha Lyonne, Russian Doll
Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Fleabag
Catherine O’Hara, Schitt’s Creek
Can Julia Louis-Dreyfus do it again? I hope so. Her and Brosnahan are so great. They're the only two performances I've seen. 

Outstanding Variety/Talk Series
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live!
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
The Late Late Show with James Corden
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
John Oliver for everything, please. 

Outstanding Limited Series
Escape at Dannemora
Sharp Object
When They See Us
I'm very happy Sharp Objects and Chernobyl are here. When They See Us I still need to watch, but I'm surprised True Detective missed out. That was a very solid season.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Carrigan, Barry
Alan Arkin, The Kominsky Method
Stephen Root, Barry
Tony Hale, Veep
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Henry Winkler, Barry
I wish Tony Hale would finally take one of these home for playing Gary. He's been through so much. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
Giancarlo Esposito, Better Call Saul
Alfie Allen, Game of Thrones
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
Chris Sullivan, This Is Us
Alfie Allen is long overdue for an Emmy nomination so I'm glad he finally got one. He should have in season 2. It's too bad D&D screwed over Isaac Hempstead-Wright by removing Bran's personality meaning he never had any chance of an Emmy nom in the last two seasons.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Sarah Goldberg, Barry
Sian Clifford, Fleabag
Olivia Colman, Fleabag
Alex Bornstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Marin Hinkle, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
I'v never seen Fleabag but now I feel like I need to. I'm always here for Anna Chlumsky who gave her best work in Veep this season.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Gwendoline Christie, Game of Thrones
Julia Garner, Ozark
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Fiona Shaw, Killing Eve
Sophie Turner, Game of Thrones
Maisie Williams, Game of Thrones
I love Lena Headey for life, but she didn't do ANYTHING this season. She drank wine on a balcony, fucked Jared LethimselfGo and got killed by a ton of bricks. Gwendoline on the other hand I'm psyched for. Same with Julia Garner, while I don't care for Ozark she's such an underrated actress and was my favorite part of it. 

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us
Michael McKean, Better Call Saul
Glynn Turman, How to Get Away with Murder
Michael Angarano, This Is Us
Kumail Nanjiani, The Comedian
Bradley Whitford, The Handmaid’s Tale
I assumed The Handmaid's Tale missed the Emmy cut off until I came across 
Bradley's name. Wow. 

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
Matt Damon, Saturday Night Live
Luke Kirby, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Peter MacNicol, Veep
John Mulaney, Saturday Night Live
Robert De Niro, Saturday Night Live
Adam Sandler, Saturday Night Live
Hear me out; Rober De Niro is TERRIBLE on SNL. He is fucking painful to watch. Stop nominating legends just because they're legends. 

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
Fiona Shaw, Fleabag
Kristin Scott Thomas, Fleabag 
Jane Lynch, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Sandra Oh, Saturday Night Live
Maya Rudolph, The Good Place
Emma Thompson, Saturday Night Live
Fiona Shaw is killing it with nominations this year. I loved Lynch in Mrs. Maisel. 

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie
Ben Wishaw, A Very English Scandal
Asante Blackk, When They See Us
Paul Dano, Escape at Dannemora
Stellan Skarsgard, Chernobyl
John Leguizamo, When They See Us
Michael Kenneth Williams, When They See Us
I'm happy to see Paul Dano's name anywhere. Also happy for Skarsgard in Chernobyl.

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
Cherry Jones, The Handmaid’s Tale
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Apocalypse
Phylicia Rashad, This Is Us
Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away with Murder
Carice van Houten, Game of Thrones
Carice getting nominated was a huge surprise, she normally doesn't get much to do as Melisandre at all. I forgot about OITNB existing again. They under-use Cox. 

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Movie
Patricia Arquette, The Act
Margaret Qualley, Fosse/Verdon
Patricia Clarkson, Sharp Objects
Marsha Stephanie Blake, When They See Us
Vera Farmiga, When They See Us
Emily Watson, Chernobyl
Please don't make me see Patricia Aqruette steal TWO Sharp Objects trophies. 

Outstanding Telvision Movie
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (Netflix)
Brexit: The Uncivil War (HBO)
Deadwood: The Movie (HBO)
King Lear (Amazon)
My Dinner With Herve (HBO)


2019 Blind Spot Series: Judgement at Nuremberg

What I knew going in: I had seen parts of this on TV before.

Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) goes to Germany in 1948 to oversee three former judges being tried for their crimes during the Nazi regime. 

I enjoyed the way the courtroom scenes were staged. The standout is still Maximilian Schell playing the German defense attorney. I'm glad he's the one who went home with an Oscar that year. 

This was one of the films I was most looking forward to on my Blind Spot list because I enjoyed the parts I've seen previously. I realize now that I must have been watching an edited version on TV because a lot of the non courtroom scenes were completely new to me. The run time for is over three hours and I did feel that length at times.

I'm glad I finally saw this in one sitting. It wasn't as thrilling as I had hoped it would be now that I got to take it all in at once. I'm struggling to talk about it a bit because I didn't love the one thing most people seem to about this film, and that's Spencer Tracy. He was fine, Haywood in theory is an interesting character, but I walked away far more impressed with other actors instead.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "It came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death that you knew to be innocent." - Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy)

10 Things I Love About Movie Blogging

Can you believe this little blog has been around for TEN YEARS! When I picked Blogger as my place for sharing my full length reviews, I hoped I would keep it up, but I never imagined I'd be around a decade later still typing away. To celebrate, I figured I would share 10 things I love about blogging.

1) YOU. I've been online since 1999 and have found myself in many fandoms and groups along the way, the movie blogging community, while not free of drama has been the most welcoming and consistent. I wouldn't still be at this without the lovely and interesting people I've met along the way. Especially those who take the time to read and comment. Thank you!

2) Not having to worry about catering to a specific audience. I shared movie reviews on another site at one point in time and I'm pretty sure no one there liked the same kind of movies I did. It's nice that most film fans are open to anything.

3) Another excuse to go to the theater.

4) Expanding my horizon. There are plenty of directors I never would've sought out had it not been for the movie blogging community. 

5) Visibility. There's more visibility for foreign and LGBTQIA films and more diversity in the bloggers themselves. I love that. 

6) Lists. I love making them and they're a fun, quick way to share tastes.

7) Oscar season. I have no one in my real life that cares about the Oscars as much as I do so having so many people to tweet and blog with about them is a Godsend.

8) Blogathons. Those are so fun to participate in and a great way to find a new blog to read. I enjoy the clever themes everyone comes up with.

9) Twitter. #FilmTwitter and blogging go hand and hand for me. I couldn't have one without the other. 

10) And finally, I just love having my own space in general. I was never one to keep a diary or a journal so having a place to share my movie thoughts that's saw me through my entire 20's and now into my 30's is magical. I need this mentally.

Thanks again for reading my ramblings, even when they're not very interesting. You're the best! 

Thursday Movie Picks: Muses

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is searching for some inspiration. We're talking about muses today. Is it just me or is there a shortage on movies with male muses? Every one I thought of was female. Here's what I came up with. 

1) Factory Girl

Sienna Miller gives a career best performance as Edie Sedgwick, who goes on to become Andy Warhol's muse with tragic results. 

2) Girl With A Pearl Earring

Greit becomes somewhat of a muse for painter Johannes Vermeer. While this film is a tad slow, there are great performances all around. Even Cillian Murphy in that awful wig. 

3) Phantom Thread 

Alma becomes a muse, and wife, and eventually something much stranger to Reynolds Woodcock. I didn't love this movie as much as Film Twitter did but I certainly laughed my ass off at a part that probably wasn't meant to be laughed at. 

Review: Midsommar

Join the festivities. 

Dani (Florence Pugh) has been going through a lot emotionally. Her boyfriend, Christian (Jack Raynor) wants to break up with her, but keeps putting it off. His friends are mostly assholes about it too. When they plan on going to Sweden for a festival, Christian reluctantly invites Dani along. Saying things get weird is an understatement.

Ari Aster has really made a name for himself in the past few years. His brand of horror is weird and very psychological. He's not just interested in gore, he's interested in emotions and this film is very in line with what he's done in the past.

Midsommar is the prettiest nightmare you'll ever see. Its full of flowers and sunlight. It never once gets dark and gloomy, even though the subject matter certainly calls for it. Florence Pugh gives an amazing performance. Dani suffers from panic attacks and the way they're portrayed here was so realistic. This is easily one of the best performances of the year so far. Pugh and Lupita Nyong'o for Us are currently the Best Actress queens. The rest of the cast is great. Jack Raynor and Will Poulter are always reliable as well.

The thing about this film - I loved it - but this isn't going to be something I'd recommend to everyone. I learned that after watching Hereditary. Nearly everyone in my blogging life loved that, but everyone I recommended it to in real life hated it. Midsommar is a lot like Hereditary. It's a bit like The Babbadok as well. If you didn't like either of those, I don't think you'll care for this. A lot happens off screen and there's a fair amount of ambiguity that I know doesn't work for everyone.

The things that happen off screen at times weaken it a bit. This film has a hefty run time, which you really don't feel when watching it but for how many minutes they have, I think had they wanted to delve more into horror, they could've shown a few more terrifying things. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "Does he make you feel like home?" - Pelle (Vilhelm Blomgren)

Review: Spider-man: Far From Home

Back from the blip.

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) has had quite the year. He fought Thanos, died, came back, and fought Thanos again. Now he wants to have a relaxing summer on a science trip to Europe so he can hang out with Ned (Jacob Batalon) and tell MJ (Zendaya) how he really feels. Only Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Maria Hill (Colbie Smoulders) show up and hijack his vacation when strange things start happening.

Far From Home has the tough spot in following Avengers: Endgame and having to show the aftermath of Thanos' snap. They don't dwell on it, but they manage to show both the hilarious side, and the sad one with people being displaced. 

Holland continues to be my favorite live action Spider-man and he does a great job with all of Peter's emotions. He feels the tremendous pressure of no longer having a mentor in Tony Stark yet still just wants to do regular things like give the girl he likes a necklace. There's never too much Fury in a Marvel movie either, and I'm glad he plays a supporting role here.

Mild spoilers about the villain - I don't consider this a major spoiler because I think it's quite obvious what they're going to do, but the trailers show otherwise,  - I liked Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio. Gyllenhaal was really good and even though I can see some fans not being crazy about his reasoning, I like how they inserted it all.

One of the best things about this movie is the special effects. At first they seem strange because we see a lot of Peter flying around without his suit, but they do some really cool things later in the film that reminded me a bit of Into The Spider-verse and it looked amazing.

Far From Home has two very interesting credits scenes that are certainly going to shape the way the MCU moves forward and not just for Peter, so definitely don't miss those. I'm happy to say our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man has yet to disappoint.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Yeah, it's math." - Betty (Angourie Rice)

Indie Gems: JT LeRoy

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things

Savannah (Kristen Stewart) has just moved to San Francisco. She takes over an apartment owned by her brother, Geoff (Jim Sturgess) and sister-in-law, Laura. (Laura Dern) Laura wrote a best selling book under what she calls an "avatar", JT LeRoy, a young man who grew up in poverty and prostitution. She convinces Savannah to pose as JT in public, and the rest is history.

I first heard about JT LeRoy around 2006-2007 when I happened upon a movie based on his book - The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things. Asia Argento starred and directed (Diane Kruger plays a version of her in this film) and actors like Jeremy Renner, Ben Foster and the Sprouse twins were in it. It was very disturbing, and also very different from films I had been watching at the time. It grabbed my interest, so I read JT's novels along with it. Of course a quick Google search showed that JT wasn't a real person but the audacity of his hoax was just fascinating to me. 

There's already been a documentary on this hoax from Laura's perspective, plus many interviews, so I was excited to see that this was being adapted from Savannah Knoop's memoir, Girl Boy Girl. (Which I also read and enjoyed) and her side of things is a breath of fresh air in the LeRoy drama.

Kristen Stewart and Laura Dern are so perfectly cast that I can barely comprehend it. They were perfect incarnations of Savannah and Laura. Laura's manipulation of Savannah is so clear, as is her own temptation with living in the lime light. It covers nearly all of the big beats of her memoir. Unfortunately this film is so fast paced that it feels rushed.

If you've ever followed the JT Hoax, this is a must see for you, and even if you haven't, I think this would be an enjoyable nonetheless.

Grade: B+

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "Art is fucking eerie, man." - Laura (Laura Dern)

What I Watched on TV in June

June FLEW by. A lot went on for me personally in this month so it felt a bit chaotic but I still had my down time to watch some TV. Here's what was keeping me busy on the small screen in June.

Attack on Titan

Season 3 came to a very beautiful end and it is announced that S4 will be its last. There's quite a bit of Manga left so I'm hoping there's plenty of episodes to fit that all in. And hopefully the guy running things is reigned in a bit because we don't needed forced Eren/Mikasa in every episode. (Seriously, the worst ship)

Big Little Lies

Season 2 has been great so far. The biggest surprise for me has been Adam Scott. Not that I'm surprised he can act, I knew that, but they gave him great material. You can tell Reese is gunning for that Emmy this year. Meryl Streep's Mary Louise is the worst character I've seen in a long time. I hope she gets tossed down the steps at the end of this season.


Euphoria has been a big surprise. I wasn't sure how much I could enjoy a show following teens as I feel so removed from it nowadays but Zendaya is outstanding. The drama surrounding these kids is mostly very interesting and I appreciate how the show is choosing to show a ton of dick instead of the usual female nudity. The dick pic power point in episode 3 was hysterical.


I've only watched the first episode of the 3rd and final season and as always, I'm confused. We basically followed a new character around for the majority of it. I'm not sure why I continue to watch this to be honest, they're almost too weird for their own good.

Thursday Movie Picks: Parenting

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about parenting. Everyone participating this week that is a parent is going to tell you how hard it is, because that's true. Parenting is fucking hard, and you will never believe how much you can worry over someone else, but it's so rewarding. Even if it turns you into an emotional mess. Of course since I'm me, I'm bringing you some depressing parenting movies that I enjoy.

1) Infinitely Polar Bear

So this one isn't completely depressing, but it is completely underrated. Mark Ruffalo plays a depressed man trying to take care of his two daughters while his wife is away at school. I adore it.

2) The Broken Circle Breakdown

Aside from one terribly misplaced scene, this is a very solid story about two people who start a whirlwind relationship, have a child, then struggle to deal with that child getting cancer. It manages to feel a bit different from your usual sick kid movie. 

3) We Need To Talk About Kevin

I read this book right after I had my son and I swear I gave him so many extra snuggles because of it. A great book translated into a great film, and Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller should've had Oscar nominations for it.

Review: Yesterday

Take a sad song and make it better.

Jack Malick (Himesh Patel) is a singer/songwriter in England trying to make it big while working part time at a warehouse. He's encouraged by his friend and manager, Ellie. (Lily James) One evening, the entire world loses power for 12 seconds, and at that exact moment, Jack is riding his bike and is hit by a bus. When he wakes up following the accident, he realizes that no one else but him remembers The Beatles (among other things) so he takes the opportunity to pass off their songs as his own.

Danny Boyle is one of my favorite directors so I make a point of seeing everything he makes. On top of loving The Beatles, I thought the concept of this film was really interesting. The best thing about this film is Malick and James together. They have absolutely wonderful chemistry and their characters felt the most genuine when they were playing opposite of each other. Unfortunately for them, and Alexander Arnold who plays Gavin, the person who records Jack's first album, everyone else is terrible.

It's extraordinary how much the comedy in this film misses. The two biggest sources of "comedy relief" are meant to be Rocky, (Joel Fry) Jack's stoner friend/assistant. Debra, (Kate McKinnon) the money hungry executive, and to a lesser extend, Jack's parents. Every joke they give goes on far too long to the point where it becomes excruciating to sit though. McKinnon, who I think is one of the funniest people to come from SNL in a long time is spectacularly over the top. She plays Debra like a bad parody, only when no one else is taking that approach it makes her stick out like a sore thumb. 

I had read some early reviews where critics had issues with the world building, which didn't bother me. The scenes of Jack figuring out things like Coca Cola and Oasis don't exist were the only good laughs of the film, though the big "twist" - and I use that term loosely - is bound to rub some people the wrong way.

I never expected to be this annoyed over this film, and it's a shame because I loved James and Malick in it. They deserved a better supporting cast and script that matched their efforts.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Like Benedict Cumberbatch becoming a sex symbol?" - Ellie (Lily James)