DVD Review: Pariah

Being a teenager is hard enough as it is.

Now imagine Alike's (Adepero Oduye) situation. She's a lesbian hiding it from her conservative and domineering parents. She brings a change of clothes to school so they don't know, she spends her time at clubs with her friend, Laura (Pernell Walker) who her mother hates. When her mother essentially picks out a friend for her, she toys with her emotions even more. Alike is a smart girl with absolutely no support from her family.

This film really moved me. You know an actress is good when you literally just want to reach through the screen and hug their character. That's how I felt about Alike. Every time someone screwed her over I just wanted to tell her that it'll be ok and things will get better. As a parent I found the film a bit frustrating. I could never reject my own child because of their sexual orientation. How terrible is that? When Alike tells her mother she loves her, and mom's response is "I'll pray for you." That just broke my heart. It breaks my heart even more to know that parents like that actually exist. I look forward to more films by director Dee Rees. She made one hell of a film.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I'm not running, I'm choosing." - Alike (Adepero Oduye)

Indie Gems: Rachel Getting Married

Every family has their issues.

Kym (Anne Hathaway) has been given a weekend off of rehab to attend her sister Rachel's (Rosemary DeWitt) wedding. Kym's addictions have caused a lot of havoc in this family so it isn't the traditional wedding weekend as one would expect. Both Kym and Rachel will have to deal with their issues and try to come together for this happy day.

Anne Hathaway gives her best performance by far in this film. She plays a recovering addict well, looking disheveled and sad most of the time. Her outbursts against her sister, her sister's maid of honor and other members of her family seem rude and unfair, yet we sympathize with Rachel for all that she's been through despite her flaws. The only flaw I see is that Anne Hathaway shines so bright, her co stars fail to match her at times.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "May you live to be 100, and me? 100 minus a day. So I don't have to know that good people like you have passed away." - Rehearsal Dinner Guest

DVD Review: Attack The Block

Allow it.

Normally I have a special place in my heart for low budget horror/sci fi movies. So when I came across this on Netflix, I figured I'd give it a go. Bad idea.

Moses (John Boyega) leads a gang of teenage thugs. While they're mugging a woman (Jodie Whittaker) a strange being falls from the sky. They kill it and realize that it is an alien. When more of these creatures come to earth, they must protect their beloved block and step up and fight. Nick Frost also has a small part as a neighborhood drug dealer, and he's not in it nearly enough.

The main probably I had was this film was not the acting, not the special effects, or even the dialogue. It was the character's themselves. Why on earth would I care about a group of little pricks getting attacked by aliens? Especially when the first scene of the film is them mugging an innocent woman? Even if the characters do some what "redeem" themselves, and I use that term loosely. I still couldn't care less about them. I can give the film credit for trying to think outside the box and put the would be antagonists front and center, but that's what truly ruined this for me.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "Aren't you going to thank me for saving your life? - Moses (John Boyega)

DVD Review: Shame

The first step to overcoming an addiction is admitting you have one.

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is addicted to sex. His private life has accommodated his addiction well until his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) and yes, that is her name shows up unannounced.

I know, it's a little late to still be bitching about the Oscars, but the fact that Fassbender didn't get a nomination for this is beyond criminal. He plays Brendon to perfection. He knows he has an addiction, even just looking at an innocent married girl on the subway turns him on. His computer is filled with pornography, he frequently has prostitutes over, and when he feels like he needs to stop, and throws all of it away. He relapses and falls back in, like many addicts do. It's obvious that Brandon and Sissy had some sort of dysfunctional relationship prior, and that's one part of the film I wish they would've spent more time on. Giving us a flashback or a quick explanation. Sissy and Brandon do not act like your every day siblings

At the end of the day, the NC17 rating hurt this film. But really, how could they have gotten around it? This is a film where sex is the focus, front and center. The actors do not hold back, nor should they have to. This film needed to be raw and real.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "We're family, we're supposed to take care of each other" - Sissy (Carey Mulligan)

Indie Gems: The Oh! in Ohio

Don't be a statistic.

Priscilla (Parker Posey) seems happy enough. She's just gotten a promotion at work, she's married to her high school sweetheart, Jack (Paul Rudd) and always has a smile on her face. But their marriage is crumbling, mostly due to the fact that Jack has never given Priscilla an orgasm. In fact, she's never had one at all. As her and Jack drift apart, he gets out of his depressed loop hole by screwing one of his students. (Mischa Barton) and Priscilla learns the power of masturbation, and all the doors it opens for her.

Posey was an absolute joy in this film. She plays Priscilla with the perfect amount of spunk. She's happy on the outside, yet every so often you see the stress on her face. This isn't a gross out sex comedy. Even though that's the main topic, it's tasteful and touching (no pun intended). I enjoyed watching the characters go through their journey. The film had a great vibe to it, and definitely wasn't short on it's laugh out loud moments.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "I think you're addicted to your vibrator." - Justine (Heather Graham)

DVD Review: You and I

This is what curiosity gets you.

I've been on a bit of an Anton Yelchin kick lately, so naturally I just threw a bunch of his features in my Netflix queue and watched away. But that's not the first time I've come across You and I. No, I came across this movie back in 2007 when it was shot. When I was attempting to make a case of Mischa Barton's acting talent. (by the way, I came to the conclusion that she ran out) This movie, while the premise seemed kind of weird, two girls falling in love at a tATu concert it still had a two time academy award nominated director and it premiered at Cannes in 2008. Suddenly, it's stars no showed for press, tATu broke up (remember them? Their entire schtick was that they were lesbians, but in reality they weren't. It was just one giant marketing ploy), and this movie fell of the face of the planet only to reemerge in Direct to DVD Hell in 2012. Here's why.

Lana (Mischa Barton, with a failed attempt at a Russian accent. I applaud her effort, but it was so cartoon-y) is a small town girl who dreams of moving to Moscow to become a model. She meets Janie (Shantel VanSanten, who cannot act her way out of a paper bag based on this film) is an American living in Moscow on a tATu website. They meet up for a concert, but their tickets are fake. That plot is quickly dropped and how suddenly they are clubbing in Moscow and rubbing elbows with douchebags like Edward. (Anton Yelchin, convincing Russian accent at least. His parents are Russian, so it doesn't really count) Suddenly Janie is a drug addict and gets kicked out of her house, and Lana get shot down at being a model, and winds up in jail for some totally unbelievable reason. But Janie and Lana wrote a song before all of this happened and posted it on youtube. Of course the tATu camp see it and want to use it, and then everything is all happy in the end.

The plot is all over the place and seriously felt like it forgot what it was doing half way through. Barton seemed like she put a lot of effort into speaking Russian fluently in the film, but it just didn't work out. Not to mention, the cheap shots of Moscow manage to make a beautiful city look plain and boring. The acting was so terrible I don't blame the cast for not wanting to talk about it. How did all of this get by the director? Maybe this was a good idea at the time, but the movie failed on just about every level there is.

Recommended: No

Grade: F

Memorable Quote: "We can do anything." - Lana (Mischa Barton)

Happy Mothers Day - Worst Film Mothers

While all of you may (or may not) being celebrating how wonderful your mother is today, I decided to make a list of horrible mothers from movies/tv and why they are so bad.

1) Joan Crawford (Faye Dunaway) in Mommie Dearest. Because you will not be allowed to have wire hangers. Ever.

2) Julianne Moore in The Freedomland and The Forgotten. Because she'll lose you.

3) Mother (Victoria Tennant) in Flowers in the Attic. Because she'll make you move in with your Grandparents (who have questionable morals) to say the least. Then she'll forget about you, try to poison you, oh, and by the way. You're the product of Incest.

4) Margaret White (Piper Laurie) in Carrie. Because she won't accept you for being different and she's batshit crazy. that and she stabs you.

5) Hattie (Martine Bartlett) in Sybil. Because her horrid abuse will scar you for life. Seriously, she's the worst mom on this list. I wish they would make a fantasy sequel where Sybil and her 13 personalities go back in time and kick her mother's ass.

6) Mary (Mo'Nique) in Precious: Because she's lazy, abusive, and blames YOU for being molested by your own father. Come to think of it, maybe Hattie isn't the worst on this list. Oh, that and she throws a fucking TV at you and your newborn.

7) Mother Bates (who do I credit? Anthony Perkins?) in Pyscho: Because she's still messing with Norman's head even in death.

8) Betty Draper (January Jones) in Mad Men. Because she hates everything.

9) Erica Hershey (Barbara Sayers) in Black Swan. Sure she wants you to do your best in ballet, but her obsession is pretty creepy and extremely uncomfortable. I mean, she tapes mittens on your hands while you sleep!

10) Joyce/Rachel (Penelope Ann Miller) in Kindergarten Cop. Because she married a drug dealer, can't put you in a proper witness protection program when things go bad. When she tries to save you from her ex husband who has managed to light your school on fire and steal you, she fails. But the ferret succeeds at setting you fr ee. Then she hooks up with your teacher. awkward...

Indie Gems: Memento

Christopher Nolan: Fucking with your mind, one day at a time.

I wish I could say Memento was the first time I was introduced to director Christopher Nolan, but it wasn't. However when I did get around to seeing it I realized he was so much more than just "the guy that rebooted Batman." And because of films like Memento, he's become one of my favorite directors today.

Leonard (Guy Pearce) wakes in a motel room up unable to form new memories. The last thing he remembers his is wife dying. He kills one of her attackers, but the other strikes him in the head. Now he needs to find the man who killed her, and his body is tattooed full of notes. The story flips back and forth between color and black and white. The black and white sequences are in chronolocial order, the colored ones in reverse.

When ever people say they hate movies that they had to "pay attention to" I always recommended Memento. Just because I think that statement is pretty ridiculous, don't you want any surprises in the films you watch? I will hand it to the film makers, Memento can be really hard to follow at times, but it is so interesting and captivating that you can't look away. The ending would normally annoy most viewers, but this is typical Nolan, and you know what? He doesn't have to tell you what he's thinking. He just wants his movie to linger in your thoughts as well.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "What's the last thing you remember?" - Natalie (Carrie Anne Moss)

For Your Consideration: Lammys!

It's that time of year again! If you are a member of LAMB you can vote for your favorite movie bloggers in a number of categories right here.

I've never been nominated, but this year I want to push my Indie Gems column I do every Friday. I hope my love for independent film shows in it. But you know, if you want to nominate me for other things..like Funniest Writer or Best Movie Reviewer, I'll take what I can get. :)

DVD Review: J. Edgar

The most powerful man in the world.

J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) was the head of the FBI for a very long time.  The people who know him best are his secretary, Helen (Naomi Watts) and his assitant director, Clyde Tolson, (Armie Hammer) who may or may not be his love interest. The film shows us Hoover's purpose in some high profile casses such as the Lindbergh kidnapping, and the arrest of many thugs and theives. It also shows us his relationship with his mother played by Judi Dench.

I found the amount of make up the actors had to wear in J. Edgar horribly distracting. It didn't feel real. The actual story of J. Edgar is very interesting, and I learned a few things, but that being said, I also felt like I could've watched this in my 9th grade history class. I don't know if this was just the DVD, but I felt like only Edgar's voice was clear, everyone else I was constantly messing with my volume to hear. I can tell director Clint Eastwood wanted this to be bigger, but it just lacked that spark. It wasn't a movie that was fun to watch, it was more like a lesson.

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "I don't like to dance, and I don't like to dance with women." - J. Edgar (Leonardo DiCaprio)

Review: The Avengers

They'll come because we'll need them.

Man, the bar for The Dark Knight Rises just got even higher. Sure they're different films, but while I prefer Marvel over DC, I've always preferred Batman over everyone else. Needless to say I LOVED The Avengers. It had a lot riding on it, and here are the things they got right.

1) The Hulk. Mark Ruffalo is the 3rd actor to portray The Hulk on the big screen. We had Eric Bana, who's version of The Hulk bombed. And Edward Norton, who is apparently too hard to work with to reprise his role. I thought Ruffalo was the best, and a reason for that was because the movie wasn't completely centered around The Hulk. Face it, Hulk smashes, that's what he's good for. We really don't need to delve into his psyche more than the fact that he's smart, angry, and breaks things.

2) Thor and Loki shined. I thought last year's Thor was pretty "meh." I actually really dug both Thor and Loki in this, they provided a lot of great comedy and still were completely bad ass.

3) Equal parts for all Avengers. You could say Iron Man was the star, but in a way he should be. He's got the most Charisma. They gave appropriate time to each hero. (Although I would've LOVED a scene with Captain America and an older Peggy.) I like that they made Hawkeye a "villian" so to speak at the beginning. He's the only Avenger we haven't seen before, and since they didn't have the time to give him a back story, the audience still felt for him because he was captured and brainwashed early on. Black Widow was pretty annoying and cheesy in Iron Man 2, I like that she didn't come off as just a sexy object here. Her fight scenes we better, and not cringe worthy like the one with Happy in Iron Man 2.

4) Stellan Skarsgard. I love Stellan Skarsgard, it would've been sweet if Rhodes would've shown up as War Machine though.

5) Director Joss Whedon. This movie was great on so many levels, and nearly all can be attributed to Whedon. You could say he's one of the ultimate "geek" directors. Sure he didn't have full control over the script (he was told the villain had to be Loki and how it had to end) but he still made everything in between his own. I loved all the goofy references throughout.

6) The Action. That's some impressive CGI that this movie used. Michael Bay is probably jealous.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote Exchange: "He's my brother." - Thor. "He killed 80 people in the last two days." - Natasha. "...He's adopted." - Thor.

And can we talk about the scene after the credits? **SPOILER******


That should be enough warnings:
Who did you think the villain at the end was? The scene was pretty "blink and you'll miss it." I wondered if it was Apocalypse? If so, they could get the X-Men involved. (Bryan Singer's version, not the First Class ones, please) *EDIT* I know it's Thanos, but Apocalypse was still my first guess. Thanos did manage to piss of Silver Surfer if I remember right. That would be cool to see SS be done right.

Indie Gems: Leon: The Professional

The start of something great.

Little Mathilda (Natalie Portman) is a 12 year old girl living with her shitty drug dealing family. When her father pisses off the wrong cop, Stansfeild (Gary Oldman) he kills her entire family while she's out shopping. She seeks refuge with her strange neighbor, Leon (Jean Reno) who happens to be a hitman. She convinces him to teach her his profession so that she can get revence against Stansfeild for killing her poor 3 year old brother.

Natalie Portman turns in one of the best child performances of all time in this film. The relationship between Mathilda and Leon was sweet and never got into creepy territory like it very well could have. While this film treads in action waters, with Oldman playing a corrupt cop with ease, it still manages to have a lot of heart. I would say this is easily one of the most underrated films of all time.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Is life always this hard, or is it just when you're a kid" - Mathilda (Natalie Portman)

DVD Review: London Boulevard

Not every criminal wants to be one.

Mitchel (Colin Farrell) recently got out of prison. Like many former criminals, he wants to turn his life around but his friends make that a lot more difficult. Mitchel takes a job as a bodyguard for an actress, Charlotte (Keira Knightley) who is a paparazzi magnet.

While London Boulevard boasts the talents of Farrell, Knightly and David Thewlis (in a bad wig) I found it to be incredibly boring. It's in no way unique when it comes to crime dramas, and I feel as if all this talent was wasted.

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "If you needed to physically remove someone from the property, could you?" - Carlotte (Keira Knightley)