Review: Uncut Gems

Let's bet on this.

Howard (Adam Sandler) is a shifty New York jeweler who spend a lot of time placing bets, sometimes with money he doesn't have. When he gets his hands on a rare Opal that catches the eye of Kevin Garnett (playing a version of himself) he makes the biggest gamble of his life.

This movie gave me so much anxiety. Howard makes so many awful choices and everyone is constantly yelling that it's just ~a lot~ to deal with in a two hour film. At one point about half way through the film, I thought to myself "Someone should probably just kill him now, because it's never going to stop." We get a bit of respite at one point, then when Howard makes another bet I could hear several people in the theater shifting in their seats again. I think we were all in physical pain.

If you don't mind being on the edge of your seat for a long period of time, Uncut Gems is a solid second effort from the Safdie brothers, and a stronger outing than their last film, Good Time. It has a quick pace for most of the film and the score is very interesting and enhances the film well.

Adam Sandler was an actor I loved as a kid. His humor worked for me, as an adult, the only performances of his I can say that I still like are Punch Drunk Love and Spanglish. Until this film, I don't think I have ever said "I'm excited to see an Adam Sandler performance." The pay off is wonderful, because he's excellent here. This is probably his greatest performance of all time. He also has a very strong cast of supporting characters. LaKeith Stanfield is always reliable, and Julia Fox playing his way too young for him girlfriend was also a standout. Kevin Garnett coming in and playing himself was very surprising. He's not wooden at all and I really enjoyed his performance.

Uncut Gems isn't perfect. For all the distress is causes, there were parts of the film that I felt could've been trimmed a bit. It also gets very repetitive. But I think this film is worth your time for Sandler's performance alone. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Holy shit, I'm gonna come." - Howard (Adam Sandler)

Best Shots of the Decade: 2018

This month, I wanted to start sharing "Decade" posts celebrating the 2010's. It's extra fitting that this year is the 10 anniversary of Rambling Film. I decided to split up each year, with 10 gifs from 10 different films. Here are some shots that stood out to me. Onward to 2018!



Spider-man: Into The Spiderverse (2018)

Avengers: Infinity War

Black Panther

Annhilation

BlackKklansman

Crazy Rich Asians

Blindspotting

Wildlife

The Favourite

Leave No Trace

And we're done for now! Best shots of 2019 will have to wait until all the films I love come out on DVD so I can find the most beautiful scenes easier. 


Review: Bombshell

It's not my job to protect you.

Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) is fired from the network and in turn sues her former boss Roger Ailes (John Lithgow) for sexual harassment. At the same time, anchor Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) grapples with speaking up herself after just getting out of a dust up during Human Dumpster Fire's campaign trail. Then we have Kayla (Margot Robbie) another Fox employee who wants to be put on air but isn't aware of the cost..

The very first trailer for this film was so polarizing but it came with so many questions. How is it possible to make a story like this where the heart of it is a network that spreads so much hate? How can we be asked to show empathy to someone such as Megyn Kelly, who is still out there saying harmful things?

The answer to that is ignore most of it. The awkward thing about Bombshell is that structurally, it's a very good movie. It's engaging, the acting is wonderful and the pacing is near perfect. It's easy to root for women to take down a serial abuser like Ailes, but more often then not I was thrown out of the film because it barely addresses the elephant in the room.

Most of the critique comes from Kate McKinnon's Jess, and O'Reilly staffer and a closet Hillary Clinton supporter, but it's fleeting. Her purpose is so Kayla can have someone to voice her concerns to. Unlike Gretchen, Megyn, and several other real life people, Kayla is entirely fictional. She's the audiences' avatar, instantly likable after a hilarious line about not knowing "secular artists" and since she's not a real Fox employee, we can feel comfortable rooting for her without all that extra baggage. At least, that's the idea.

I'm struggling because I truly did like this film, but I felt they could've said a lot more. The barely address the fact that Fox News is out there enabling these same serial abusers. That they spread racism and bigotry on their network unchecked. That Megyn Kelly, painted as a hero here gives us plenty of reasons to dispute that every day when she reports. 

As far as the acting goes, I'm surprised Nicole Kidman had so little to do, though I thought her Midwestern accent was spot on. Charlize looks eerily similar to Kelly. I'd often forget I was watching an actor until she spoke. Margot Robbie is the star of this though. To quote her own line, she's "freaking' phenomenal." Especially her big scene towards the end of the film. She's just a gem.  Liv Hewson and Brigette Lundy-Paine, who play some of Megyn's staffers are also wonderful and it's a shame they were left out of the SAG ensemble nomination. 

I know I sound harsh in this review but it truly was a good movie. I only have that one complaint, even though it's a very big one.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "That's all of our jobs.." - Kayla (Margot Robbie)

2020 Blind Spot Series + 2019 Recap

On a personal level, 2019 has been a struggle, but Blind Spot wise, it was mostly wonderful. My favorite film I saw this year is hands down The Godfather. I went full stan on that. I bought the whole set on blu ray and I watched part one and two several times each. Then I read the book because I wanted to get in the characters' heads more. Cinema Paradiso was also a beautiful film with an ending I don't think I'll ever forget. The worst film I saw was The Godfather Part 3. Andy Garcia was not only rude to John Mulaney at a Lakers game but he's fucking terrible in that movie. 

So what does Blind Spot 2020 look like? Take a look below, let me know if you've seen any of these. I'm getting a bit ambitious again. I couldn't decide which Judy Garland and Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire to go with so I'm going to attempt to watch 14 films this year instead of the normal 12. I've done trilogies as one pick before so hopefully this won't be too much handle.

1) Belle de Jour
2) Reanimator 
3) Malcolm X
4) Dial M for Murder
5) On The Waterfront
6) Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
7) Raging Bull
8) Top Hat/Swing Time
9) Jules and Jim
10) Nosferatu
11) Meet Me In St. Louis/Summer Stock
12) Mildred Pierce

Alternates: Seven Samurai, Jungle Fever, Life of Brian, Velvet Goldmine, The Graduate

Have you seen any of these? What am I getting myself into?

Best Shots of the Decade: 2017

This month, I wanted to start sharing "Decade" posts celebrating the 2010's. It's extra fitting that this year is the 10 anniversary of Rambling Film. I decided to split up each year, with 10 gifs from 10 different films.Here are some shots that stood out to me.  Onward to 2017!


The Last Jedi (2017)

Thor: Ragnarok

Columbus

War for the Planet of the Apes

Raw

Ingrid Goes West

Get Out

Lady Bird

It

Logan

Mudbound

Wonder Woman

Blade Runner 2049 

Yes, you just scrolled past more than 10 gifs. 2017 was a lot harder to narrow down than all the other years, so I went a little overboard.

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Rivalries

It's our final Thursday Movie Pick of 2019! This week Wanderer wants us to talk about rivalries in TV series. That's easy enough, there are plenty of those.This post is kind of bitter.

1) True Blood

Eric and Bill had a bit of a rivalry over Sookie. Of course, Eric's fine ass was the right choice. I look back at the first four seasons of this show foundly

2) The Walking Dead

Back before TWD turned into a zombie infested dumpster fire, Shane and Rick had an amazing rivalry. The episode where Rick is forced to kill him - Better Angels - is one of the strongest episodes of the series and was beautifully shot. Not to mention it contains the creepiest ending in the entire series to date. 

3) The Office

Dwight and Jim had a rivalry for the ages. To be honest, I'm team Dwight. Fuck Jim. He was boring, and Krasinski is only hot with a beard so he didn't even have that going for him.

Review: The Two Popes

German jokes don't have to be funny.

Told between 2005 and 2013, this film follows Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) and the eventual Pope Francis (Jonathan Pryce) as they dicuss their faith and differences.

Truth be told, had this not been on my radar as a possible Oscar contender for Jonathan Pryce in the Best Actor category, I probably would've skipped this. I don't know much about, nor do I care about the Catholic Church and how they function. But, this ended up being a lot lighter than I imagined.

It's subtly very funny. There's plenty of moments that got a chuckle out of me and Hopkins and Pryce play off each other very well. I didn't know anything about how a new Pope was chosen so I found the discussions between the two and the set up fairly interesting. They also have one of the best uses of an ABBA song I've seen in a while.

Pryce is really good. Yet another actor giving a better performance that Joaquin Phoenix in his garbage movie. (Yes, I'm still over here being petty) I don't think Hopkins was quite as memorable. Juan Minujín is also another standout in this film. He plays the younger version of Pryce's character and the film intertwines their scenes well.

I can't say I would've paid theater money to go out and see this, but for a Netflix watch, this made for a fine evening.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "No, this is my pizza." - Pope Benedict (Anthony Hopkins) 

Review: Pain and Glory

The heroin takes you..

One of director Salvador Mallo's (Antonio Banderas) movies is being given a re-release in Madrid 30 years later. He had a falling out with one of his actors, Alberto Crespo (Asier Etxeandia) but he attempts to make amends with him. Salvador is very sickly, suffering from many different illnesses and when he meets up with Alberto he takes up heroin to cope. He then reflects on everything that brought him to this point.

Banderas is getting a ton of Oscar buzz for this performance, which was the main selling point for me. And he's very good. All the actors here are, but overall I just did not like this.

Mallo's life stories are wildly uneven. Some of his early scenes as a child are interesting, then we'd go back to reality and his new found love of drugs and the film would just stop right in its tracks. The best part by far is when an ex-boyfriend visits him and I thought to myself "I'd like to see this explored more" then immediately followed that thought with "Oh wait, then I'd be here longer." 

It's strange because everything else I've seen from director Pedro Almodóvar has been really engaging but this just did not resonate with me. I was quite happy to leave the theater afterwards.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I don't know why they love me so much in Iceland."

Best Shots of the Decade: 2016

This month, I wanted to start sharing "Decade" posts celebrating the 2010's. It's extra fitting that this year is the 10 anniversary of Rambling Film. I decided to split up each year, with 10 gifs from 10 different films. Here are some shots that stood out to me. Onward to 2016!

Previous posts: 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015

Moonlight 

La La Land


Captain America: Civil War

Green Room

Arrival

Loving

The Handmaiden

Midnight Special

Jackie

Hell or High Water

The Neon Demon

Okay, there are a few other shots from The Handmaiden I'd choose first but all of them would get me slapped with a content advisory on Blogger.

2019 Blind Spot Series: Scenes From a Marriage


What I knew going in: That it was originally aired as a mini series, then edited into a film.

We meet Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) giving an interview regarding their marriage for a magazine. Unfortunately, that marriage will eventually end, and we see all the ups and downs along the way.

The DVD I got from Netflix gave me the option of watching the mini series version, or the movie cut. Since Blind Spots are supposed to be about film, I chose the later. It's nearly three hours and split into 6 acts. I was shocked at how quickly time went by. This has to be one of the best paced longer films I've ever watched.

Marianne and Johan felt like a very real couple and we see them almost go through just about every emotion imaginable throughout their divorce. The actors are captivating, especially Ullman. I felt on her side throughout the film. It's certainly not a "fair" look at their divorce. 

Ingmar Bergman has been a popular fixture throughout my Blind Spot journey and I'm happy I finally got to this. I was afraid I was going to feel similarly to another film of his I watched - Fanny and Alexander but this didn't feel nearly as indulgent. I'm happy to check it off my list.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "But we're not like that." - Marianne (Liv Ullmann)


Review: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

All the power lives in you now.

The First Order, led by Supreme Leader Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is still wreaking havoc on the galaxy. When everyone gets word that Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) lives, it's a race between Ren and Rey, (Daisy Ridley) Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) to find him. But the Emperor wants Rey for a very specific reason and Kylo isn't exactly eager to oblige him.

I'll keep my review free of major spoilers. Speaking of spoilers, I read them before seeing this. The entire plot leaked months ago on reddit and I can never control myself, so I knew going in I was going to have an issue with the ending, but I assumed I'd have fun along the way. I'm shocked by how much I actively disliked this movie and that pains me to say as a Star Wars fan. I've never disliked anything from the main trilogy before. I didn't care for Solo, but that film doesn't matter in the scheme of things. This one does.

For a film that feels like it's several different movies and moves almost nonstop, I was surprised at how bored I felt at times. The cast has been pushing the "trio is finally back together!" like they were ever a true trio to begin with. That's always a part of marketing that bothered me. When I left The Force Awakens, I thought to myself "This is Rey, Finn, and Kylo's story." Not Poe's, even though they'd have me believe otherwise. I never cared about seeing the three of them together and their scenes felt so forced. Like it was a constant wink and nod from JJ Abrams that I was supposed to be loving when the strongest bonds these characters made throughout the series were Finn and Poe together, and Rey and Kylo together. This was a story about two sets of duos.

That is a big part of my frustration. What I loved most about The Last Jedi was the force bond between Rey and Kylo, and that's one of the few things from the movie Abrams kept here, but he sticks Kylo back under his mask so it removes a lot of the emotion and nuance from their interactions. They actually have a really wonderful scene together, but it's ended abruptly and then completely disregarded for some fan service that it's insulting. Kylo Ren got Jaime Lannister'd.

The new characters - and there are plenty - are cool on the surface but mostly serve the the purpose of no homo'ing Poe and Finn. (cowards) Remember Rose? (Kelly Marie Tran) Yeah, neither does JJ. He kind of forgot about Hux too. And speaking of fan service, I felt they were more concerned with that than telling a coherent story. So many things happen that are not explained because the movie never slows down. It's a weird choice considering how much exhibition is actually in the dialogue. There's nothing inherently wrong with fan service, look at Avengers: Endgame. That movie is fan service done mostly perfectly and not at the expense of its characters. 

It's not a total bust. I did laugh a fair amount, surprisingly at C3PO who I normally do not like. He had some great moments. Sure, it's nice to see Lando flying the Falcon again. It's nice to do a bit of world building, it's nice to see my favorites again, even though I didn't like how any of their stories ended. Kylo Ren/Ben Solo had a great journey, and Adam Driver plays him wonderfully. But it's so painfully obvious that JJ Abrams doesn't like his character as much as Rian Johnson does. With Finn, who always had potential to be such a huge deal but can't be because he has to share the resistance hero story with Poe, they leave an alarming amount of loose ends with him and he spends most of the movie screaming Rey's name. And finally Rey herself, the one who we so easily fell in love with right away. I hated her ending. It was the exact opposite of everything I wanted for her. 

I'm just sad at this point. It sucks when a franchise you love doesn't leave you with a satisfying ending. It's Game of Thrones to me all over again. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I did want to take your hand. Ben's hand." - Rey (Daisy Ridley)

As an aside: Someone on reddit put together a gofundme to make a donation to Adam Driver's non profit since Ben Solo clearly deserved better. 

Best Shots of the Decade: 2015

This month, I wanted to start sharing "Decade" posts celebrating the 2010's. It's extra fitting that this year is the 10 anniversary of Rambling Film. I decided to split up each year, with 10 gifs from 10 different films. Here are some shots that stood out to me.  to 2015!

Previous posts: 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 


Mad Max: Fury Road

Sicario

Carol

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Crimson Peak

Brooklyn

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Ex Machina

The Martian

It Follows

Note: I must have been in a red/orange/yellow phase this year.