Indie Gems: Reservoir Dogs

One of the greatest independent films of all time.
Oh Quentin Tarantino, how could I have gone all these years with my Indie Gems and not included this one. (Seriously, major wtf moment for me.)
A group of criminals are given a job to rob a jewelry store. They have fake names, they don't know each other personally, what could possibly go wrong? Well, the cops show up. Mr Brown (Tarantino) is killed. Mr Blue (Edward Bunker) is missing. Mr Orange (Tim Roth) is wounded and is brought back to their rendezvous point by Mr. White. (Harvey Keitel) Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi) managed to get the jewels and meet up with Orange,White, and Mr. Blonde, (Michael Madsen) but he is sure that someone ratted them out.
This is film is brutal - but it also became signature Tarantino. The way he handles violence is astonishing. We know right off the bat that this is not any ordinary crime movie. It doesn't start out with a shoot out or a robbery. It starts in a diner with causal conversation and escalates from there. The performances are great - especially from Keitel, Roth, and Buscemi. The film at times can be really hard to watch (I'm sure you know what scene I'm referring to) but the payoff is great.
Grade: A
Memorable Quote: "I don't give a fuck what you know, I'm going to torture you anyways." - Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen)

My Movie Alphabet

I'm a little late on this one, but after reading so many fabulous lists I just couldn't stop thinking about it. Mettel started this blogathon, click that link to see his blog and other blogs that have participated. I'm no good at graphics, but I figured I'd give it a shot.
It's hard to make a light hearted movie about cancer, but somehow, they pull it off.
Others: (500) Days Of Summer, 4 Months, 3 weeks, and 2 days, 10 Things I Hate About You, 127 Hours

American Beauty
My all time favorite movie. Of course it was going to be on this list.
Others: American Psycho, Amy Adams, Aaron Paul.

I've been a Batman fan since I was a child, but Christopher Nolan's version made me love it even more. Speaking of which..
Others: Bryan Cranston, Brad Pitt, BASEketball, Black Swan

Christopher Nolan
 He is one of my favorite directors today. His films are never boring.
Others: Christian Bale, Carrie

One of my favorite little indies. Whenever I'm browsing my DVDs for something to watch, I always linger on this one.
Others: The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Daniel Day-Lewis

Evan Rachel Wood
One of my favorite actresses today. She never turns in a dull performance.
Others: Eastern Promises, Ezra Miller, Emily Browning

Fight Club
Rule #1: We don't talk about fight club.
Others: Forest Whitaker, Friday

"Geriatric fuck!"
An insult Brennan (Will Ferrell) hurls at Dr. Dobek (Richard Jenkins) in Step Brothers. Seriously, this movie is so quotable.
Others: George Clooney, Gary Oldman, Gabourey Sidibe

 Heath Ledger
One of the greatest actors to ever grace this planet and he left us far too soon.
Others: Harry Potter, Horrible Bosses

"It's a great thing when you realize you still have the ability to surprise yourself."
My favorite line in American Beauty. Actually, it's probably my favorite line ever written in ANY movie.
Others: Inception, The Ice Storm, IMDb

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
My favorite actor.
Others: The Joker, (Heath Ledger's) Johnny Depp, Javier Bardem, Juno Temple

Kirsten Dunst
She's been one of my favorites since I was a teen. I pretty much wanted to be her when I was younger.
Others: Keira Knightley, Kill Bill vol 1, Kate Winslet

Lt. Aldo Raine
Of Inglorious Basterds fame. He's in the Killin' Nazi business, and cousin, business is a booming.
Others: Looper, Laura Linney, Liam Neeson, Lord of the Rings

Mysterious Skin
When Stevee wrote her review of Killer Joe, she mentioned having a hard time explaining to people why she would like a movie like that. I have the same issue with Mysterious Skin. This is a damn hard movie to sit through, but the performances are great and I really admire Gregg Araki for taking this on.
Others: Moonrise Kingdom, Michael Fassbender, Me and You and Everyone We Know

The Nightmare Before Christmas
No matter how old I get, I will always love this.
Others: Nikki Reed, (except Twilight) No Country For Old Men, 

"Of course this is happening in your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it isn't real?"
This was my favorite line in the Harry Potter films. It's also one of those phrases that I read in the book and immediately thought: "Please let them put this in the movie!" (Along with "Not my daughter you bitch!)
Others: Olivia Thirlby, The Oscars, The Omen

The Piano
Beautiful score, stunning performances, ok it had a bit too much of naked Harvey Keitel, but hey, I loved this film. Especially for Anna Paquin.
Others: The Perks of Being A Wall Flower, Paqin (Anna!) Pan's Labyrinth

Quentin Tarantino
I wonder what it would be like to be inside this guy's head?
Others: Quiz Show, The Queen

 Ricky Bobby
From Talledega Nights, if you're not first, you're last.
Others: Ron Burgundy (from Anchorman) Robert Downey Jr, Rian Johnson, Rorscach (Character from The Watchmen)

Lately, Boardwalk Empire has given me a reason to recall the "WHAT'S IN THE BOX!?!?!" scene from Seven. Great film.
Others: Saoirse Ronan, The Social Network, Star Wars

Teresa Palmer
A wonderful up and coming Aussie actress who I've been a fan of for a long time.
Others: Tom Hiddleston, To Kill A Mockingbird, Tarzan (The Disney one. Seriously)

Up In The Air
I once watched this movie 4 times in one week. It never gets old.
Others: None - I'm stumped on U.

 He Who Must Not Be Named. You Know Who. Ralph Fiennes was perfectly cast to bring this villain to life in the Harry Potter films.
Others: Vera Farmiga, Viggo Mortensen, Vince Vaughn

"What gear are you in?" "Geeeeaarr??"
This is one of my favorite exchanges in Dogma. I think it's the way that Jay says "Gear."
Others: What's Eating Gilbert Grape, We Need To Talk About Kevin, Watchmen

X-Men 2
There's not a lot going on for the letter X. Luckily X2 is one of the better comic book movies out there. (Yes this picture is horribly blurry. I blame photobucket for not letting me link the picture in its actual size. I had to link the thumbnail)
Others: X-Men

That Yellow Bastard
This was kind of the catalyst that made me put this list together. I was re-watching Sin City, Nick Stahl was being crazy awesome and I was like "Oh man, I have to do that blogathon and put that Yellow Bastard in there."
Others: Y Tu Mama Tambien

This is always a fun movie for me. I saw it in a theater that served booze to you while you watched it. It was pretty rad.
Others: Zodiac, Zoolander, Zooey Deschanel

5 Horrible Movie Hairstyles

While re-watching Jackie Brown recently, and being reminded of Samuel L. Jackson's horrible fucking ponytail, I decided to throw together a quick list of horrible movie hairstyles that I could think of off of the top of my head.

1) No Country For Old Men
The first picture perfectly captures this bob in all it's horrible glory. The second picture was so damn funny I had to include it too. Luckily for us, Anton Chigurh was such a menacing presence that we didn't spend too much time looking at his awful hair cut.

2) Mouth to Mouth
Thankfully Ellen Page's Sherry didn't have to spend the entire film with half of her head shaved. Only part of it until they shaved the rest. This horrible haircut pretty much sums up the life of this poor teen influenced by her gang like peers. P.S don't go dumpster diving.
3) Horrible Bosses
Who's idea was is to put this terrible comb over on Colin Farrell's beautiful face? WHO'S IDEA WAS IT!? Actually, despite making me want to die a little on the inside this do really worked with the tone of the film. Which was obviously 'fucking hilarious.'
4) Napoleon Dynamite
Perms are not Jon Heder's friend. The only thing more awkward about Napoleon's lop sidded perm is the fact that he never shuts his mouth. (His lips hurt real bad, you know.)
5) The Labyrinth
If you can get past not staring at Jareth the Goblin King's giant bulge (I can't, that's why the picture is only shoulders up) then you are forced to lay your eyes on his hideous mop. It can only be described as a hillbilly mullet that belongs in Motley Cru.

What horrible movie hairstyles come to mind for you?

Indie Gems: The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things

Another chapter in Bad Parenting 101.
I had an interesting experience with this film. Around the time the movie was coming out, my friend lent me the book. I was researching child abuse cases for a class and this book was supposedly based on the author's life. I remember searching IMDb to see when the film was coming to DVD, then I found out the whole thing was fake. I was kind of disgusted, the things that happen in that book are so outrageous that I thought they just HAD to be real. In fact, the author wasn't even a guy. It was out there, looking back I was a little late on realizing the whole thing was fake.
The story is about Jeremiah (played by Jimmy Bennett as a younger version, then Cole and Dylan Sprouse as a bit older) and his relationship with his mother, Sarah. (Asia Argento) She had him while she was a teen, he was in foster care, then she rips him away from his foster family only to take him into her strange, drugged out world.
This isn't a movie for the faint hearted, and some people even think it's exploitative. I thought of it as incredibly ballsy for Argento (who also wrote the screenplay and directed it) to even go there in the first place. She took a fake story and made it feel as real as it did when I read it. Lots of known actors pop up here and there. Jeremy Renner, Ben Foster, Michael Pitt, Peter Fonda. Hell even Marilyn Manson shows up. The film felt dingy and the editing is sloppy, but that actually works well with the tone. Sarah is pretty fucked up, the movie has to be too. On a side note, I think it's kind of hilarious that the Sprouse Twins, after reaching so much fame threw the Disney Channel will NEVER mention that they were in this film. Like it's an embarrassment. Shame, it's probably the best work they'll ever do. Another fun fact: When this DVD was first released a lot of them (including my own) was missing a key scene. I'll never understand how that happened, but the company that distributed the DVDs gave everyone the correct cut of them film when they mailed their original DVD back. You can also find the missing scene on youtube.
Grade: C+ (Yes, my go to rating in the "that was kind of bad but I liked it" category. Seriously, there's a bit of clay animation in there too.)
Memorable Quote: "If I die..who will watch the walls?" - Jeremiah 

DVD Review: Grave of the Fireflies

The increasingly poor decisions of Seita.
Bambi's mother, the old lady that had to take Todd back to the forest, and Dumbo's mother in a cage have nothing on Seita and Setsuko of Grave of the Fireflies. If there were a prize for "Most Depressing Animated Movie of All Time," this would win by a landslide.
The movie doesn't sugar coat it. The first scene is our main character, Seita (a young boy, his age isn't specified, he seems around 14) dying of starvation, alone and on the streets. As we flash back in time, we see he has a younger sister Setsuko. (she's around 4 years old) She wasn't with him when he died, so we can all but guess what happens to her beforehand. They are living in Japan at the end of WWII and they're city has just been set on fire by air raids. Their mother dies, their father is off to war. First they stay with their stingy Aunt who points out that Seita is lazy and is doing nothing to earn his keep. Angry, he decides that Setsuko and he will live on their own, in a cave, doing what they can for food. We already know where it leads him.
The author of the book on which this is based wrote it as an apology to his own sister, who he lost to malnutrition during WWII. What this film does well is shows the horrible effect war has a children, no matter who's side you are on. Everyone suffers. Seeing young children slowly starve, even if they are animated is a hard thing to watch. Still, I felt like I spent more time trying to justify this film to myself than I did actually enjoying it. The author wrote it as an apology, so he's aware of the horrid decisions Seita makes. Seita is young, (yet he mentions holding a job prior to the air raids) he refuses to work while at his aunts, and refuses to apologize when his sister is on her deathbed. Perhaps if they said he was 11-12 years old, it would be easier to accept his poor decisions because of his young age. Perhaps, since he was also malnourished, he was hallucinating. There's a scene where he goes to the bank to get money to buy food. We know currency is no good during the war because people would rather trade goods. Seita finds out the war is over AFTER he withdraws money. Why would he wait that long to do that? I just wanted a better explanation for the choices Seita makes, other than; "he's a kid and kids are stupid."

If anything, this movie made me over think it. While I can call it effective, I can't call it a masterpiece.
Recommended: No
Grade: C+ (Can't deny it's impact)
Memorable Quote: "I made you rice balls" - Setsuko

Review: Take This Waltz

We'll set a date.
Margot (Michelle Williams) meets Daniel (Luke Kirby) in an airport. They bond on the plane, share a cab, and find out they are neighbors. While the attraction is there, Margot admits she's happily married to Lou. (Seth Rogan) They have a seemingly nice relationship, full of inside jokes. However they don't seem particularly affectionate. When Margot's mind starts to wonder to Daniel, she realizes she's no longer happy. Can she have with Daniel what she already has with Lou?
I thought this was a very unique approach to a storyline about an affair. Margot and Daniel's affair is certainly more emotional than it is physical. There's a scene were Daniel tells Margot (very explicitly) what he would do to her, but they never go as far as actually *doing* anything. Michelle Williams plays Margot almost child like, and it's easy to see what her and Lou had in common. Seth Rogan certainly stretches himself as an actor here as well. Sure, he provides most of the comic relief, but it's still heartbreaking to see his character lose the one he loved the most. It's also easy to see why Margot is instantly attracted to Daniel. He's good looking, interesting, and a free spirit. What's not to like? I would go as far as calling director/writer Sarah Polley one of the best female film makers out there. Her writing is brilliant, and I hope she directs more films. My only gripe with Take This Waltz is that it should've ended a little sooner. Otherwise, it's a fantastic little gem.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: A
Memorable Quote: "I was going to tell you this when we were 80. That it had been me the whole time." - Lou (Seth Rogan)

Indie Gems: Waiting...

Do not fuck with the people that handle your food.
If you've ever waited tables (I did for a few years) then this movie will speak to you. If not, then it probably comes off as just another raunchy comedy.
Dean (Justin Long) doesn't wait to be a waiter forever. He's offered the assistant manager position at the restaurant and he has until the end of his shift to decide. He tries to keep it to himself, and goes about his day. We also get to know the rest of the staff. Womanizer Marty, (Ryan Reynolds) sweet Serena, (Anna Faris) always pissed Naomi. (Alanna Ubach) Add in crude cooks, lazy dishwashers and snarky bar tenders and we've pretty much met the whole gang as they prepare for their dinner rush.
There are a number of things Waiting does that are pretty spot on. Some of the characters in the film are easily co-workers I had. The trash talking of bitchy customers, the cooks playing games, the fake smiles the servers put on as they hit the floor, it all made me laugh. Am I pushing it by calling this film an Indie?  (yes) It had a limited release to start with, and a pretty small budget. I didn't get to see it until it was on DVD. For me, it was worth the wait. It was funny, very true, short and simple.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: B-
Memorable Quote: "There are few things in this world more unsettling than going in the back to grab some condiments and end up staring at a huge, steaming pile of cock." - Marty (Ryan Reynolds)

The Good, The Fab, and The Ugly of Nicole Kidman

I wanted to do something a little different for LAMB Acting School this time around. So I came up with this. Here is a run down of the good, the fab, and the ugly of Nicole's impressive career.
The Good
I have a soft spot for musicals, even if they aren't that great as a whole. Nicole has a wonderful voice.
The Interpreter
This is a movie that would've been completely forgettable if it were anyone other than Nicole Kidman playing the lead. I remember seeing this, extremely hung over the day after my senior prom. I wasn't expecting much, but I just found it so interesting.

Cold Mountain
Cold Mountain makes me laugh because I had the shittiest expectations ever going in to it. I had watched Matchstick Men, Mystic River, and Cold Creek Manor all in the same day a few months prior to this, and I was ready to lump this one together with them for no particular reason. I'm glad I went, while I think Renee Zellweger stole the show, I thought Nicole was nearly matching her punch for punch.
The Others
Despite guessing the ending about half way through the film, I still really enjoyed The Others. Of all the 'haunted house' movies there are, this is easily my favorite.

Birth is a very creepy film. It was borderline uncomfortable to watch at times. Nicole Kidman (and Cameron Bright) totally sold it though. I thought they were wonderful, and I think this is a film of Nicole's that gets overlooked quite a bit.
Happy Feet
Ok, this is kind of a cop out, but not really because Nicole Kidman DID provide her voice. It was a cute kids movie at the time, and everybody loves penguins.
The Fab
Moulin Rouge!
I freaking LOVE Moulin Rouge! Everything about it. The songs, the costumes, Nicole's gorgeous red hair. This is just a feel good movie and Nicole's performance is nothing short of brilliant.
Rabbit Hole
Nicole made me want to cry, and cry, and cry in Rabbit Hole. She was so convincing in playing a mother who had lost her child. You could feel her grief through the screen. I remember waiting for the Oscar nominations to be announced and being prepared to throw a gigantic viral bitch fit if she didn't get her well deserved nom. Thankfully she did.
The Hours
Nicole was nearly unrecognizable in this film film that won her an Oscar. When I first saw this, I was expecting Meryl Streep to kind of take over the film and Nicole stole the show. That really puts it into a unique prospective. It's hard to better Meryl Streep. (and in this case Julianne Moore and Ed Harris) I'm not trying to make it sound like it was a competition, it's just that Nicole stood out as the best among this wonderful cast. 
I'm not quite sure why Fur tends to fly under the radar when both Nicole and Robert Downey Jr were both so good. Admittedly, I waited far to long to see this as well. It's a wonderful gem of a film.
Margot At The Wedding
When my friend and I went to see this in theaters, she HATED it. I mean seriously hated it. I was expecting her to storm the projector booth and light the damn thing on fire. I tried to explain that Nicole Kidman was actually really wonderful despite the rest of the movie being on the boring side. I finally got her to agree with me years later.
The Ugly
It's no secret that I despise Lars Von Trier movies. I hate myself even more for the countless times I've tried to enjoy his films. I figured this one can't be that bad. I mean, Nicole, Paul Bettany, Stellan Skarsgard. Wrong, this movie was horrible and *SPOILER ALERT* I was glad when most of them died at the end.
The Stepford Wives
Cue the 'Nicole Kidman's face looks frozen in botox' rants, right? This movie did her no favors. I place most of the blame on Matthew Broderick being a completely inept actor.
The main problem with Australia to me was that it didn't feel like one movie. It felt like one really bad ranch movie and one mediocre WWII movie. There was no marrying them together so to speak. Kidman and Hugh Jackman did have good chemistry though, the same cannot be said for my next pick..
Nicole and Will Ferrell has zero chemistry in this remake of the classic (and in my opinion, lame) TV series. None. Zilch. Nada. What the hell were these two people doing in a movie together? I think they could probably pull it off now, with Ferrell having some dramatic turns under his belt, but at this time, it was horrible.
Eyes Wide Shut
This may not be a popular choice here, but I hated Eyes Wide Shut. It's not Nicole's fault, in fact, she's the best thing about it by far. This is the only film I can think of where the score actually drove me nuts. Despite Nicole and Tom Cruise being married, their chemistry felt weird and forced in all of the movies they were in together. Maybe it's because my perception of Tom Cruise is a little off, and I'm not the biggest Kubrick fan around, but this movie just did nothing for me.