Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Hey, what does this coke smell like?
Don't let this film's hefty 3 hour run time scare you away. If anyone can make a 3 hour comedy work, it's writer Terance Winter and director Martin Scorsese. Yes, you read that right.
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is an ambitious young stock broker who after making decent money with a firm that abruptly closes, decides to turn his attention to penny stocks instead. You see, he gets 50% commission off of those, and soon he's assembled some of his friends, Donnie, (Jonah Hill) Nicky, (P.J Byrne) Robbie, (Bryan Sacca) and Alden (Henry Zebrowski) and teaches them his sales approach. Soon, they've turned a shady operation from an auto garage into a massive multi-million dollar company that loves spending its money on hookers and drugs. And no, none of this is very legal. Soon Jordan finds himself under the eyes of FBI agent Denham. (Kyle Chandler, the film's sole weak link.)
When you think of Scorsese, and even Winter for that matter, you don't normally think of comedy. I think John LaRue over at The Droid Your Looking For but it best: "It’s as if Scorsese saw a few Judd Apatow movies and said, “That’s all you’ve got? Watch this” and then dropped an epic 3-hour Judd Apatow movie on everyone." The film is outrageous and contains probably one of the best performances Leonardo DiCaprio has ever given, and that says a lot. This role feels like it's out of his comfort zone so to speak, but he nails it. The entire cast, minus the terribly bland Kyle Chandler are amazing. (tip: I got over Chandler's boring-ness by just pretending he was Ron Livingston from Boardwalk Empire season 4.)
You could argue that the film is a little misogynistic, there's tits and hookers galore, but I thought it worked in a way. To me, it's not hard to believe that people with this much money (and drugs) could act in such a way. I appreciated the final 1/3 of the film too. That's where it takes it's dramatic turn, and it's welcomed because up until then, I was actually kind of enjoying Jordan's antics and almost forgot that this guy really is a total sleazebag.  
Needless to say, there was a point in The Wolf of Wall Street where I laughed so hard I nearly had tears in my eyes. This film quickly because one of the best I've seen all year.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: A+
Memorable Quote: "Stand aside, hunnie!" - Jordan (Leonard DiCaprio)

Review: American Hustle

You're nothing to me until you're everything.
"Some of this actually happened." Those are the words that greet us on screen when this film starts. The film follows Irving Rosenfeld, (Christian Bale) a con man who has been running business smoothly with his mysterious lover Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams) until they accept a bribe from an undercover FBI agent named Richie DiMaso.(Bradley Cooper) He is very energetic and has high hopes for these two. He wants to use them to con some politicians, their first target is Mayor Carmine Polito, (Jeremy Renner) a really good guy that's caught in a bad place. DiMaso is not that stable, that we get just from his interactions with his boss (Louis C.K) He starts falling for Sydney, only she's "Edith" a British Lady with connections in London. Then there's Irvings spaztastic wife, Rosalyn. (Jennifer Lawrence) Calling her a "loose canon" is the biggest understatement of the year.
God, this cast. I loved this cast. They were fantastic across the board, the biggest stand out for me was Amy Adams. Her character is utterly fascinating. We never really know who we're seeing. She's Sydney to Irving, she's Edith to everyone else. She's unpredictable and we never quite know what's going on in her head. Adams fearlessly plays her. Christian Bale is hilarious, he's one of the best actors out there, but comedy is not something we see from him. Just the looks his gives his wife in this film are priceless. And Lawrence and Cooper are oh so crazy. I can see why director David O'Russell used them again. My other favorite performance has to be Louis C.K as Stoddard Thorson. He's so subtle and such a push over, if you've seen Louie or any of his stand up, you know that's the exact opposite of how he is in real life. So seeing Cooper bully him around was even funnier to me. The Boardwalk Empire fangirl in me went crazy over bit roles played by Jack Huston (complete with Harrow mustache, sans Harrow drawl) and Shea Wigham (in the worst wig ever)
When I first saw the trailers, I didn't view this as a comedy at all. After watching it, I think that's what it is through and through. They were right to categorize it as such. It's fast paced and interesting and the score fits perfectly. I think this might actually be my favorite O'Russell film to date.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: A+
Memorable Quote: "We fight, we fuck. That's what we do." - Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence)

Indie Gems: Violet and Daisy

They only look sweet and innocent.
Violet (Alexis Bledel) and Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) are two young assassins. On the outside, they could be any other 20 something and teenager. They're obsessed with a singer named Barbie Sunday, and take an easy job with the sole purpose of using the money to buy expensive dresses from Sunday's new line. Of course, the job can't be that easy. Violet gets a little lazy, and Daisy is, to put it lightly, a bit of a spaz, they fall alseep waiting for their target, a kind man named Michael (James Gandolfini) who seems to be expecting them. He's very courteous and kind, and now the girls are a little apprehensive of killing him. Plus the ran out of bullets.
I really liked this one as a whole. You can tell the film took inspiration from Quentin Tarantino, what with the ultra violence yet light heartiness of some scenes. Violet's been in this game awhile it seems, yet she's still haunted from some of her past experiences, and Daisy is super green. The only thing that kept distracting me was Bledel. When casting was first announced for this film, Carey Mulligan was cast in her part. I don't think Bledel is that strong of an actress, and at times I was wishing for Mulligan, but this film mostly belongs to Ronan and Gandolfini. (Whom I miss even more after watching this) Their characters share a sweet bond. Plus Ronan's character is just adorable, especially when she fails to understand the punch line to a dirty joke early in the film.
Grade: B+
Memorable Quote: "We'd get so fat, but it would be worth it." - Daisy (Saoirse Ronan)

DVD Review: The Frozen Ground

There is only one prop I can give this film..
Based on a true story, a man named Robert Hansen (John Cusak) has been kidnapping, raping, and murdering girls in the middle of bumfuck nowhere Alaska for ages. One of these girls, Cindy Paulsen (Vanessa Hudgens) actually escapes him, and the police won't believe her story because she's a prostitute and he's some outstanding citizen. It's up to about-to-move-away police officer Jack Holcombe (Nicolas Cage) to bring this man to justice since he's the only one that believes Cindy.
I'd say "no one can possibly be this stupid" but since this actually happened, apparently the police can actually discredit a bunch of very related deaths as the work "not of a serial killer" and not believe a victim that gives a pretty clear description of who took her. That's really a damn shame for the real Cindy Paulson. (who came forward with her story to the film makers)
Cage and Hudgens are not strong actors, but they are surprisingly not the worst ones here. (Hell, I was expecting Cusak to be more along the lines of his Paperboy character) It's nearly everyone else. The guy that plays the DA? Terrible. 50 Cent shows up as a pimp - really!? The acting all around is over the top and flat out awful. Not to mention, you can really tell where the "added drama" was in regards to the real story. If you're going to alter a story like this, let it flow freely. It shouldn't be painfully obvious that you are adding a "close call" scene in here or there.
That prop I can give this film? They had the opportunity to show a bunch of gratuitous rape scenes, but they didn't. They didn't show any at all. That I can appreciate.
Recommended: No
Grade: D
Memorable Quote: "I had stuff happen to me. Stuff that ain't supposed to happen to little kids." - Cindy (Vanessa Hudgens)

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, fellow bloggers! I wish you and your families all the best, and I hope your holidays are full of joy...and cookies. Always cookies.

I leave you with this - One of my favorite songs from an animated movie. Once Upon A December from Anastasia.

DVD Review: The Crystal Fairy

& the Magical Cactus and 2012
Apparently the title of this film got longer after it was released on DVD? Anyways..
Michael Cera's 2nd feature with director Sesbastian Silva is certainly interesting. (Their other is the far better Magic Magic) The IMDb trivia says they filmed this while waiting for Magic Magic to get financed. I can tell.
Jaime (Michael Cera) is an American student traveling through Chile. While on the hunt for some drugs with his buddies, he runs into the enigmatic Crystal Fairy. (Gaby Hoffmann) They don't exactly hit it off. But after eating some "magical cactus" they go on a journey that changes Jaime's tune all together.
This movie was fucking weird. That's the best way to describe it. It had no structure. There's movies like Uncertainty where 90% of the film is adlibbed and the actors do wonders with it, this film was apparently shot the same way, only it doesn't benefit from it. Parts are certainly amusing, and Gaby Hoffmann actually gives a great performance. (Though her character's excessive nudity was a little much. I thought it fit at the beginning, but then it got old.) It's nice to see Cera play kind of a prick after seeing how awesomely prickish he was in This Is The End.
Recommended: No
Grade: C
Memorable Quote: "She's embarrassing herself.." - Jaime (Michael Cera)

Indie Gems: The Hunt

Lucas (Mads Mikkelson) is a man who's recently gone through a divorce. He works as a kindergarten teacher where his best friends young daughter, Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) attends. She has a bit of a crush on Lucas, and when he politely puts a stop to it, Klara, hurt and confused tells a lie to a another teacher, Grethe. (Susse Wold) Grethe, faced with the situation of a young child claiming abuse proceeds to deal with said situation in the most unprofessional manner possible, and inadvertently orchestrates a witch hunt against Lucas within their small town.
The Hunt is an absolutely stunning film. The cinematography is wonderful, and there's never a shortage of the beautiful Danish countryside in the Autumn. Mads Mikkelson is the heart and soul of the film. It's very clear early on what the truth is, even if they try to bait you here and there. Lucas can't simply flee town, that would make him look guilty. So he puts up with the awful small town mentality all while his teenage son tries to cope along side with him.
The film can be frustrating. For me, having worked with children that have actually suffered abuse, the way Grethe approached this situation was horrifying. It was absolutely something she should've brought to the police first, and not her acquaintances. Plus, there's doggy death and we all know how I feel about doggy death. Despite the frustrations, it creates great conflict and you cannot take your eyes off of it. Denmark makes some damn good movies.
Grade: A
Memorable Quote: " want to tell me something?" - Lucas (Mads Mikkelson)

DVD Review: The Hangover Part III

The Wolf Pack takes their final bow.
Alan (Zach Galifianakis) has gone off his meds, and off the deep end following his father's death. His brother-in-law Doug (Justin Bartha) and his reluctant "friends" Phil (Bradley Cooper) and Stu (Ed Helms) offer to drive him to a rehabilitation facility in Arizona. They are intercepted by Marshall (John Goodman) who wants revenge against Mr. Chow. (Ken Jeoung) Chow's recently broken out of prison, and he stole a bunch of gold from Marshall. He thinks Alan is the only one who can get him Chow since he's the only one he's communicated with. He takes Doug as collateral, and Alan, Stu, and Phil are off on yet another crazy adventure.
I actually appreciate how deep they dug into the Marshall/Chow story. Seriously, most sequels/series do less to make the new conflicts relevant. This one, Todd Phillips actually went back to an offhanded remark Black Doug (Mike Epps) made in the first film to tie this all together. I applaud the effort.
I also enjoyed the fact that this wasn't a carbon copy of the original like Part II was. This one, wacky at times didn't stick to the same formula and was still full of laughs. Although it was a little too Chow heavy for me. Part III never had to be funnier than the original. That will never happen, but I still think it was enjoyable way to end the series. I almost missed the "crazy picture montage" at the end, even though no one surprisingly got drugged in this film.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: B-
Memorable Quote: "You should take your shirt off. I heard it's easier." - Mr. Chow (Ken Jeoung)

DVD Review: TWA Flight 800

Conspiracy Theory?

TWA Flight 800 might ring a bell. It's the real life flight that the film Final Destination was based off of. It was a subject in the series Seconds from Disaster, which you can view on youtube here. There's also another documentary called Silenced available on youtube here. It is arguably part of a giant conspiracy theory.

I came into this film with an open mind. I had seen Seconds From Disaster, and I'm not expert in that field, but I accepted the findings. What I find kind of interesting about TWA Flight 800 the documentary is they don't even explain how the NTSB came up with their report in the first place. They say catastrophic engine failure, but they don't go into the same details that Seconds From Disaster did. What this documentary wants you to believe is that not one, or two, but THREE missiles shot this commercial airliner down. Three. Mind you, they don't actually say "three missiles" until the last few minutes of this flick. (right after the narrator gives us a totally irrelevant sob story about how he lost his mother when he was a child.)

I'm sorry, you had me going until just there. The Missile defense has been brought up several times before. Many eye witnesses saw what they thought was a missile shoot up and explode near the plane. The NTSB report didn't interview any of the witnesses during the trial. (Which admittedly, is a little weird) but they explain that what they thought these witnesses saw was part of the plane ascending after the explosion. (They show a graphic of how the nose of the plane blew off immediately, while the rest of the body shot up, then fell back down.) I would be willing to believe the missile theory if it was just one missile, but not three. Another thing this documentary doesn't address is "Why?" Why would our government cover this up? If it was a missile, and it simply was a mistake, why not own up to it like they did when they accidentally shot down that Iranian airliner? Why fire 3 missiles at a commercial aircraft? I cannot think of a good reason. Can you? Could the government really get 100's of people (because that's what it would take, wouldn't it?) to actually keep their mouths shut?

I think the people that made this film have nothing but good intentions. My heart breaks for the families that lost their loved ones, and feel that they still have their questions unanswered, but the way this documentary is presented comes off as more of a "tin foil hat" theory than a good engaging documentary. It's almost like they bait and switch you by having the "big reveal" be that there are THREE missiles instead of the alleged one. It is far better than Silenced, which seems like it was put together by hearsay. ("So and so TOLD me this." "I'm paraphrasing here but.." "All of these pilots said this." with no names given. It's just "law" that all boats go assist with a rescue mission, this boat drove away from the scene) They also state that "no one saw the head of the plane fall off then the body shoot up." Yeah, because the human eye allows us to see things flying 17,000+ feet in the air clearly.

Recommended: Yes, I would recommend watching this and Seconds from Disaster to compare if you have the time or interest. I stop from calling this a good documentary, but it is somewhat interesting.

Grade: C-

Indie Gems: Chatroom

A pleasant surprise.
So the funny thing about Chatroom is that I was searching through Richard Madden's filmography, saw he was in this, and threw it in my queue, assuming it was a horror movie. Well, he's only in it for about 2 minutes, so don't watch it for that purpose alone, but it's not a horror movie and it's actually quite interesting.
William (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) starts a chatroom online called "Chelsea Teens!" It attracts wannabe model Eva, (Imogen Poots) goody two shoes Emily, (Hannah Murray) shy and tormented Jim (Matthew Beard) and seriously confused Mo. (Daniel Kaluuya) As they get to know each other, they feed into each other's bad behavior. Particularly William, who tries to take Jim's depression down a horrifying route.
Don't worry, the film isn't a bunch of kids sitting in front of their computers, the chatrooms are staged like an old abandoned hotel, with each room represented by the creator's personality. So even though these kids have never met face to face, we see them sitting in chairs together around a room. I thought that was a really neat way to show this. The film did tend to get a bit theatrical, but this film is also based on a play, so that's what is to be expected.
I loved the cast, these are some of the best young British actors around. Taylor-Johnson and Poots have started to make an impression in the U.S. Hannah Murray is on Game of Thrones, so she's familiar, but it's Daniel Kaluuya who I hope gets more recognition. This kid is awesome (just like he was in The Fades) even if he's essentially playing the same type of character.
Grade: B
Memorable Quote: "...myself." - Jim (Matthew Beard)

2014 Golden Globe nominations.

Happy Globe Day! Here's a list of the 2014 nominees. My thought, as always follow in green.
Best Motion Picture - Drama
"12 Years A Slave"
"Captain Phillips"

Maybe I should've have put off seeing Rush? I think it's still at the discount theater here..may have to check it out. Otherwise, this category is pretty status quo. I've yet to see Philomena. I'm angry Prisoners didn't get in here. That movie was fabulous and critics mostly loved it. Was it released too early?

Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical
"American Hustle"
"Inside Llewyn Davis"
"The Wolf Of Wall Street"

I didn't know Her was a comedy. It must be hilarious like My Week with Marilyn. I was really hoping the Globes would've thrown us a curveball and nominated This Is The End. I know this was a huge long shot, but I would've LOL'd big time.

Best Director
Alfonso Cuaron - "Gravity"
Paul Greengrass - "Captain Phillips"
Steve McQueen - "12 Years A Slave"
Alexander Payne - "Nebraska" 
David O Russell - "American Hustle" 

Best Actress - Drama
Cate Blanchett - "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock - "Gravity
Judi Dench - "Philomena"
Emma Thompson - "Saving Mr Banks"
Kate Winslet - "Labor Day"

I totally forgot Labor Day existed.

Best Actor - Drama
Chiwetel Ejiofor - "12 Years A Slave"
Idris Elba - "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"
Tom Hanks - "Captain Phillips"
Matthew McConaughey - "Dallas Buyers Club"
Robert Redford - "All Is Lost"

Best Actress - Comedy
Amy Adams - "American Hustle"
Julie Delpy - "Before Midnight"
Greta Gerwig - "Frances Ha"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - "Enough Said"
Meryl Streep - "August: Osage County"

Greta Gerwig! Aww, that's wonderful. Go Frances Ha! I'm psyched to see Amy Adams. I didn't realize August: Osage County was a comedy either. It looked like a Lifetime Drama.

Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Christian Bale - "American Hustle"
Bruce Dern - "Nebraska"
Leonardo DiCaprio - "The Wolf Of Wall Street"
Oscar Isaac - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
Joaquin Phoenix - "Her" 

I wonder if Leo will actually win something here.

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins - "Blue Jasmine"
Jennifer Lawrence - "American Hustle"
Lupita N'yongo - "12 Years A Slave"
Julia Roberts - "August: Osage County"
June Squibb - "Nebraska"

Sally Hawkins is a surprise. I still think this is Nyong'o's to win. I can't stand Julia Roberts.

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi - "Captain Phillips"
Daniel Bruhl - "Rush"
Bradley Cooper - "American Hustle"
Michael Fassbender - "12 Years A Slave"
Jared Leto - "Dallas Buyers Club"

Hey, Bradley Cooper snuck in there! David O'Russell really brings out the best in his actors.

Best Screenplay
Spike Jonze - "Her"
Bob Nelson - "Nebraska"
Jeff Pope & Steve Coogan - "Philomena"
John Ridley - "12 Years A Slave"
Eric Warren Singer & David O Russell - "American Hustle"

Apparently I need to see Nebraska and Philomena.

Best Foreign Film
"Blue Is The Warmest Color"
"The Great Beauty"
"The Hunt"
"The Past"
"The Wind Rises"

The Hunt!!! I haven't finished watching it yet. (I will today) but I'm loving it so far

Best Animated Feature
"The Croods"
"Despicable Me 2"

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Alex Ebert - "All Is Lost
Alex Heffes - "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"
Steven Price - "Gravity"
John Williams - "The Book Thief"
Hans Zimmer - "12 Years A Slave"

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Atlas" - Coldplay - "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire"
"Let It Go - Idina Menzel - "Frozen"
"Ordinary Love" - U2 - "Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom"
"Please Mr. Kennedy" - Justin Timberlake & co - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
"Sweeter Than Fiction" - Taylor Swift - "One Chance"

They gave Taylor Swift another nomination? Someone wants viewers. I hope she makes that awful face when she loses again.

Best TV Series - Comedy/Musical
"Big Bang Theory"
"Brooklyn Nine Nine"
"Modern Family"
"Parks & Recreation"

I laughed at Brooklyn Nine Nine being in here, but I've never seen it so for all I know it's funny.

Best Miniseries Or Motion Picture Made For Television
"American Horror Story: Coven"
"Behind The Candelabra"
"Dancing On The Edge
"Top Of The Lake"
"The White Queen" 

Congrats on your win, Behind the Candelabra...oh wait, the winners aren't announced yet?

Best TV Drama
Breaking Bad
"Downton Abbey"
"The Good Wife"
"House Of Cards"
"Masters Of Sex"

Breaking Bad, bitches! No Game of Thrones is a shame, though.

Best Actress - Drama TV Series
Julianna Marguiles - "The Good Wife"
Tatiana Maslany - "Orphan Black"
Taylor Schilling - "Orange Is The New Black"
Kerry Washington - "Scandal"
Robin Wright - "House Of Cards"

I'm shocked Claire Danes isn't in here.

Best Actor - TV Drama
Bryan Cranston - "Breaking Bad"
Liev Schreiber - "Ray Donovan"
Michael Sheen - "Masters Of Sex"
Kevin Spacey - "House Of Cards"
James Spader - "The Blacklist"
Bryan Cranston is all I care about.

Best Actress - Miniseries
Helena Bonham-Carter - "Burton & Taylor"
Rebecca Ferguson - "The White Queen"
Jessica Lange - "American Horror Story: Coven"
Helen Mirren - "Phil Spector"
Elisabeth Moss - "Top Of The Lake"

Best Actor - Miniseries
Matt Damon - "Behind The Candelabra"
Michael Douglas - "Behind The Candelabra"
Chiwetel Ejiofor - "Dancing On The Edge"
Idris Elba - "Luther"
Al Pacino - "Phil Spector"

Best Actress - Comedy TV Series
Zooey Deschanel - "New Girl"
Lena Dunham - "Girls"
Edie Falco - "Nurse Jackie"
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - "Veep"
Amy Poehler - "Parks & Recreation"

I think JLD will take this one, but if Amy won, I wouldn't mind.

Best Actor - Comedy TV Series
Jason Bateman - "Arrested Development"
Don Cheadle - "House Of Lies"
Michael J Fox - "The Michael J Fox Show"
Jim Parsons - "The Big Bang Theory"
Andy Samberg - "Brooklyn Nine Nine"

Best Supporting Actor - TV
Josh Charles - "The Good Wife"
Rob Lowe - "Behind The Candelabra"
Aaron Paul - "Breaking Bad"
Corey Stoll - "House Of Cards"
Jon Voight - "Ray Donovan"

They FINALLY nominated Aaron Paul. It's about fucking time, HFPA. Shame on them for leaving out Nikolaj Coster-Waldau though.

Best Supporting Actress - TV
Jacqueline Bisset - "Dancing On The Edge"
Janet McTeer - "The White Queen"
Hayden Panetierre - "Nashville"
Monica Potter - "Parenthood"
Sofia Vergara - "Modern Family"

Hayden Panetierre. Wow. Over Michelle Fairley? Over Anna Gun?*cries*

2014 Screen Actors Guild nominations

The SAGs are upon us! Here's a list of the nominees. My thoughts as always, follow in green.

Ensemble Cast
12 Years a Slave
American Hustle
August: Osage County
Dallas Buyers Club
The Butler

Personally, I would've replaced Prisoners with August: Osage County. That movie just does not look interesting. At all.

Lead Actor
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Forest Whitaker, The Butler

I can imagine the Oscar lead category to look just like this. Dern is the wild card.

Lead Actress
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Emma Thompson, Saving Mr. Banks

I was hoping Amy Adams would sneak in. I still won't count out Adele Exarchopoulos. She could still get in there.

Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Daniel Bruhl, Rush
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Janes Gandolfini, Enough Said
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

There was a lot of surprises in this category for me. Abdi being the biggest one. I wasn't expecting Bruhl or Gandolfini either. I can't imagine the Oscar, Globes of BAFTA nominations matching this category exactly.

Supporting Actress
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Oprah Winfrey, The Butler

I'm so happy for Lupita Nyong'o. Give her this award now.

Television Stunt Ensemble:
Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Game of Thrones
The Walking Dead

Film Stunt Ensemble:
All Is Lost
Fast and Furious 6
Lone Survivor
The Wolverine

Actor — TV Movie or Miniseries
Matt Damon, Behind the Candelabra
Michael Douglas, Behind the Candelabra
Jeremy Irons, The Hollow Crown
Rob Lowe, Killing Kennedy
Al Pacino,
Phil SpectorThat's cool that The Hollow Crown got in here. I have it in my Netflix queue. Mostly for Tom Hiddleston

Actress – TV movie or Miniseries
Angela Basset, Betty & Coretta
Helena Bonham Carter,
Burton and TaylorHolly Hunter, Top of the Lake
Helen Mirren, Phil Spector
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

Actor – Drama Series
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels,
The NewswroomPeter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Fuck yeah Bryan Cranston! I can't believe they chose Dinklage over Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. I love Dinklage, but NCW had the better story this season.

Actress – Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Kerry Washington, Scandal

I really hope Anna Gunn beats Claire Danes. I think Michelle Fairley deserves to be in here, but apparently only Lady Sati and I think that.

Actor – Comedy Series
Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock
Jason Bateman,
Arrested DevelopmentTy Burrell, Modern Family
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Jim Parsons,
The Big Bang Theory
I wonder if Alec Baldwin will win this for the 8th year in a row?

Actress – Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Tina Fey, 30 Rock
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Yay for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Boo for Mayim Bialik. (I'm sorry, that actress just rubs me the wrong way)

Ensemble – Drama

Boardwalk Empire
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones

I'm psyched for Breaking Badd, Game of Thrones and Boardwalk.

Ensemble – Comedy

30 Rock
Arrested Development
The Big Bang Theory
Modern Family

I'm sure Modern Family will win this again, but I'd love to see someone new take it home. Like Veep or Big Bang Theory.




Review: Out of the Furnace

It's funny how a film with "furnace" in the title can feel so cold and bleak.
When we meet Russell (Christian Bale) he's just an everyday factory working trying to make end's meet. He's in love with his girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana) and he's trying to keep his brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck) out of trouble before he is sent back on another tour in Iraq. One night, Russell has a few drinks, and after bailing Rodney out of trouble with John Petty (Willem Defoe) he gets behind the wheel and gets in a car accident resulting in the death of the driver and a young child. Once he's out of prison, Lena has moved on with a police officer named Wesley (Forest Whitaker, who despite looking like a teddy bear is someone I would NEVER want to piss off) and Rodney is still having money troubles. He agrees to fight for a ruthless man named Harlan (Woody Harrelson) and when he doesn't return, Russell will do whatever it takes to find him.
Out of the Furnace really is all about the performances. Harrelson establishes early on that his character is a colossal ass hat. Bale's carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and tries to put his head down and accept the terrible things that resulted from his car accident. Affleck's character is like a ticking time bomb. Saldana, Whitaker and Defoe don't get a whole lot to do, but it was nice to see their faces in these somewhat thankless roles)
The score is haunting and one of my favorite things besides the acting, but this film is rather dull and slow moving. It's very grey and moody. I do applaud it for being different, but I just feel that when you have performances this strong, the story should back them up, because this could've been great.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: C+
Memorable Quote: "Since we're standing so close, why don't we try that now?" - Rodney (Casey Affleck)

Making a case for The East

I'm kidding, but that would be hilarious..

You know, I'm having a hard time coming up with something for Stevee's blogathon this year. She asks us to make a case for someone that moved us that's more than likely NOT going to get an Oscar nomination. Last year, I made a case for Pierce Gagnon that adorable FIVE year old kid in Looper that stole every scene he was in. Honestly, a lot of things I've seen this year seem pretty likely to get Oscar consideration. Prisoners is still my favorite of the year. I thought about making a Best Picture case for it, but honestly, I think it could still squeeze itself in there. So, I'm going with a film that I saw back in June that I'm afraid is largely forgot about - The East.

Best Original Screenplay - Brit Marling and Zalbatmanglij - The East
Yes, that guy seriously has 'batman' in his name. They've collaborated together before on Sound of my Voice and Another Earth. (I haven't seen either, but they're in my queue) The East is about a young woman played by Marling that infiltrates an eco-terrorist group. She becomes torn when she grows closer to the group's leader, and starts to understand things from their point of view. Marling's not the only great performance, Ellen Page and Alexander Skarsgard are strong as well. I really just loved The East as a whole. These people are obviously doing very dangerous things, but they're passionate behind their reasoning, and we see consequences from both sides. The film is tense, clever, and expertly shot.
No one is going to remember this little Sundance darling come Oscar time. We can only hope the Independent Spirit Awards give them some love. But, I don't think you should discredit The East. It really is a wonderful little film that deserves to be noticed.

Indie Gems: Frances Ha

How many times can I change my mind?
I've had a really indecisive week when it comes to movies. I recently ran a train on my Netflix Instant queue and watched possibly the weirdest set of movies ever. Yet after each one, I had no idea how I felt. It didn't help that I was tweeting at the same time.
The thing about Frances Ha, a tale of a 27 year old New Yorker (Greta Gerwig) who works for a dance company and is really trying to find her way in life when her best friend Sophie (Mickey Sumner) all of a sudden gets her shit together is that I was kind of destined to hate this movie. I tried to see it in theaters, but a good friend of mine insisted that I wouldn't like it because it felt "too Woody Allen-ish." He's right. I hate Woody Allen. I also don't care for modern black and white films. (Just a personal preference, and I know I'm in the tiny, tiny minority who thinks it didn't suit this film.)
When the credits started rolling I thought "Wow, that was the longest 85 minutes ever" and I felt a little disappointed. Then once I got away from my keyboard and out for my run, I thought about it some more. As it turns out, I was actually quite charmed by Frances Ha. Gerwig really was a wonder to watch on screen, and even though I wanted to slap Frances a few times and tell her to stop being such a fucking spaz, I appreciate her for it. Plus it's always nice to see Michael Zegan in something, he was one of my favorite on Rescue Me.  Frances Ha may scream "Hipsters: The Movie" to some, but it's actually quite a nice little pick me up. There's the obvious nods to French new wave cinema here and there, and Gerwig may have a shot at an Independent Spirit Nom later this year. Either way, even though I probably should've hated this film, I'm actually wanting to see it again.
Grade: B-
Memorable Quote: "Ahoy, Sexy!" - Frances (Greta Gerwig)

DVD Review: Flight

The rule of The First 20; The Last 10.
Actually, I made that rule up, but those are seriously the only redeeming parts of this movie.
Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) is an alcoholic airline pilot, whom after a night of booze and cocaine manages to land a doomed aircraft and save 96 out of 102 people. It's a miracle. No other pilot could've done what he did. Oh, but the hospital took his blood after the crash and found out about all that booze and coke. Now he could face jail time.
It's a damn shame that Flight ends up being so boring, because the first 20 minutes of this film are some of the most intense minutes I've ever witnessed. I nearly cried for the horror these people went through. The film gives us a great performance from Washington, but also gives us a kind of useless side story about a heroin addict (Kelly Reilly) who befriends Whitaker while he tries to kick his addiction. His final scene in the court room is moving, but it's not enough to erase the past hour that dragged its feet through the mud.
Recommended: No. Though it is on Netflix Instant at the moment, so check out the first 20 minutes.
Grade: C
Memorable Quote: "Don't tell me how to lie about my drinking, okay? I know how to lie about my drinking. I've been lying about my drinking my whole life." - Whip (Denzel Washington)

2014 Blind Spot Series

Time to get on that classic film bandwagon, Brittani.
For the past few years, Ryan McNeil over at The Matinee has been running a blogathon called The Blind Spot Series. Where he asks that you make a list of films that you haven't seen, but feel that you should. I'm going to stick with 12 like he suggests. One film a month. Mostly, I'm going to focus on the Classics, since I'm terrible at actually going back to the earlier stages of film. I'm calling this a "preliminary list" in case I have to change any of it due to not being able to get my hands on a DVD and what not.

*EDIT It's now time to replace my side bar with my 2015 list, so I've updated this list with the letter grades I gave each film.*
1) Citizen Kane (C+)
2) Persona (A)
3) 12 Angry Men (A+)
4) North by Northwest (B-)
5) Vertigo (B)
6) Some Like It Hot (A)
7) Wild Strawberries (B-)
8) The Deer Hunter (A-)
9) My Neighbor Totoro (B)
10) The 400 Blows (B)
11) Fanny and Alexander (B-)
12) Rebel Without A Cause (D+)

DVD Review: Salinger

I know jack about J.D Salinger
I've never read The Catcher in the Rye. Though I've heard the name Holden Caufield several times, I actually didn't even know what the story was supposed to be about. I had to look it up. Since I haven't read his most famous piece, I obviously haven't read any of his short stories either. Basically, if the entire world depended on me answering Salinger trivia, we'd all be dead.
So why did I watch this? Because I finally became curious. I've passed Catch in the Rye at the library quite a few times, and am only now thinking that I might actually pick it up and read it. (When I'm done re-reading my ASOIAF books, of course.) What is so interesting about J.D Salinger? Why are so many people moved by his work? Why were a select few inspired to kill over it?
This documentary really doesn't offer you any answers to those questions. It's 2nd biggest question; "Why was J.D Salinger such a recluse" isn't really answered either. In fact, it's really just a collection of interviews of people who were around him or had relatives that knew him at various times in his life. The biggest thing this documentary asks is "Is he still writing?" Apparently he was, and his work will be published between 2015-2020.
So here's what I learned about J.D Salinger: He went off to war, and was inspired to write The Catcher in the Rye. He will never give any of the rights of his work to Hollywood because they butchered one of his stories that DID make it to film. He was obsessed about being published in the New Yorker. He may or may not have been a perv who only dated women far younger than himself. He was also kind of an asshole. While I felt like I learned quite a bit, I almost wonder if this isn't everything Salinger fans knew already? Did it offer anything fresh to the table besides "he's got new work...and you'll see it in a few years from now. Maybe?"
Recommended: Yes, if you know nothing about him, and No if you do. I just got the feeling that everything said here was kind of common knowledge about him already. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Grade: B-
Memorable Quote: "This girl needs to go to the airport immediately." - J.D Salinger

Rambling TV: Thoughts on The Walking Dead season finale

The Walking Dead episode 4.8: Too Far Gone
Wow. That mid season finale certainly delivered. I have to say, it was an all around great episode. Of course I still have my Carol gripes, but that's to be expected from me, right?

*The beginning of the episode kind of got on my nerves until members of Team Prison showed up. I could care less about Governor red shirts.

*Daryl and Ricks 3 episode confrontation? Well, I'm glad it finally happened, I'm glad Daryl was clearly mad about it (Caryl is pretty much canon now, right?) but the problem I had with it was Rick's huge speech he gave to the Governor. He said "we can't be too far gone" and that he "doesn't make decisions anymore" Well, too bad he didn't give Carol that courtesy. It was such an emotional moment, I'm annoyed that this out of character bullshit distracted me from it.

*Oh Hershel, I saw that coming a mile away, but it doesn't make it any easier. I'm going to miss him.

*I'm surprised Rick didn't start his conversation with The Governor with: "Hey, remembered that time you raped one of my friends, tortured the other and then murdered 3/4 of your little village? That may have given a few other people something to think about.
*I don't think Judith is gone. I think one of those kids grabbed her, and Rick and Carl will have a tearful reunion.

*Based on filming SPOILERS - Apparently Carol will meet up with Tyreese and those kids. He doesn't know yet. I'm really hoping this stupid story has some decent resolution because I still see it as the assassination of my favorite characters.

*All and all, I'm happy with the episode, it was intense and sad and I will give show runner Scott Glimple the benefit of the doubt that they won't continue to butcher one of my favorite characters.

Indie Gems: The Lifeguard

We all stumble sometimes.
I had a gigantic moral dilemma after watching this film. Did I like it? Did I hate it? Did I just watch a movie that condoned having sex with a minor? (Though some web sleuths over on IMDb in fact have shown that no, the film didn't. The legal age of consent in CT is 16 and as long as the adult is not an authority figure, it's okay.) Good to know.
"Awkward" is the perfect way to describe this film. Leigh (Kristen Bell) is having a bit of a quarter life crisis. Upon turning 30, she skips out on her job in the city and goes back to her small town to be live with her parents and be a lifeguard. Just like she was in high school. She ends up striking up a relationship with a troubled 16 year old, Little Jason (David Lambert) and all while dragging her two adult friends (played by Martin Starr and Mammie Gummer) down the rabbit hole with her.
It was very awkward for me to watch these adults indulge in this kind of activity with teenagers. For me, I can't think of anything worse than being a teenager again. Maybe other people had better experiences as a teen, but I sure didn't. I can never see myself fondly reminiscing on my high school days. (sure, I have great memories with my friends, but very few of them happened during school hours.) I can never see myself going back to home town and trying to re-live that life. It's just not for me. Then I realized I was being too harsh. The theme of this movie is "we all stumble sometimes." and it's true. I sure have. Not to the extent that Leigh did in this film, but I've definitely stumbled and looked back when I should've been looking forward.
After I accepted that, I really did appreciate this film. It dared to be different. Even though I don't think Kristen Bell is the strongest actress out there, this is the best I've seen of her. The whole cast was great, really, even if their characters were oh so flawed. It felt a little unrealistic at times, but it had a light at the end of the tunnel, and I can always appreciate that.
Grade: B-
Memorable Quote: "Careful, we wouldn't want you to get hurt." - Leigh (Kristen Bell)

Breaking Emotions Blogathon: Hate and Love

The last set of emotions in Mettel Ray's blogathon are here! This week, she asks us to examine hate and love. Narrowing this down was really bloody difficult. I could go on and on and on with these. I do have to give a big THANK YOU to Mettel Ray for this blogathon! This is the most fun I've had doing one of these in awhile, and I'm kind of sad that it's ending. I hope she does it again, only with TV shows. *cough cough* *hint hint*

1)"I hate you, and if you ever come near me again, I'll kill you and your entire family." - The Butterfly Effect

I have never really loved and hated a movie simultaneously so much until I saw The Butterfly Effect. This is one of my favorite movies until the last 5 minutes. When Evan goes back and tells Kayleigh he hates her, that way they never become friends, and he never ruins her life. SERIOUSLY? Fuck that. Those two were meant to be together. (Although the alternate ending on the DVD, where Evan strangles himself with his umbilical chord while in utero was worse.)

2) Arliss Coates' face. - Old Yeller

You could say Old Yeller died because he had rabies and had to be put down, or you could say Old Yeller died trying to protect the most irresponsible child of all time. Way to go Arliss. It's not just his fault, his older brother is to blame too. I hate this movie so fucking much.

3) George Lucas tries his hand in romance - Star Wars episode 2: Attack of the Clones

Oh my God, what the fuck is this dialogue doing in a Star Wars movie? -  "From the moment I met you, all those years ago, not a day has gone by when I haven't thought of you. And now that I'm with you again... I'm in agony. The closer I get to you, the worse it gets. The thought of not being with you- I can't breath. I'm haunted by the kiss that you should never have given me. My heart is beating... hoping that kiss will not become a scar. You are in my very soul, tormenting me... what can I do?- I will do anything you ask." " I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. Not like here. Here everything is soft and smooth." - And those are just the ones I bothered to copy and paste. God forbid I re-watch this scene to get the rest.

1) Spectacular - American Beauty

Words cannot describe how much I love this scene. Anyone who's spent all of two seconds on my blog knows that American Beauty is my favorite movie, and this scene is just so perfect to me. I find it breathtakingly beautiful. Really, it's just red pedals falling on white sheets, but it's so much more than that to me. Plus Lester's dialogue is perfect. "It's the weirdest thing. I feel like I've been in a coma for 20 years, and I'm just now waking up."

2) Jamaal and Latika finally kiss - Slumdog Millionaire

I'm not sure if I've ever wanted two people to kiss as badly as I did in Slumdog Millionaire. They had been through so much and I just loved that scene at the train station. Plus the two actors are still together in real life, and that's lovely in it's own right.

3) The first glimpse of The Joker - The Dark Knight

My nerd boner was raging when we first got to see The Joker's face in The Dark Knight. I will always love Heath Ledger's Joker. The more I think about it, this might be my favorite performance of all time.

Review: Catching Fire

The odds are never in our favor.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are back in District 12. They're still trying to cope with what happened in the area. Katniss with having killed people, Peeta with having a fake relationship with the girl he truly adores. Katniss is also confused by her feelings for her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) After their Victory Tour goes south, they find out that the 75th Hunger Games have special rules: That the tributes will be reaped from the current pool of victors in each district. This means Katniss and Peeta are back in the arena, only this time it's much more dangerous.
Catching Fire was probably my favorite book of the trilogy. It introduced us to wonderful characters like Joanna, (Jena Malone) Finnick, (Sam Clafin) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) Who all were spot on here. (Especially Joanna. Her feistiness was awesome and I loved her little on air tirade. Clever use of "bleeping" there) The film was very close to the book as well. Plenty of things in the arena were exactly as I pictured them, and they stretched the PG-13 rating enough to include most of the violence from the novels.
I have to hand it to Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. When I look at Peeta and Gale, I don't see what Katniss' huge dilemma is, Gale is obviously hotter, but whenever we see Katniss and Peeta kiss, there's a lot of chemistry there, and it makes the conflict a bit more believable. I teared up when Katniss made her tribute to Rue. Hell, I nearly teared up during Effie's (Elizabeth Banks) speeches a few times. Sure, non book readers will think the ending is a gigantic cop out. (I read all 3 books back to back so it really didn't phase me) but Catching Fire did what a proper sequel should do: raise the bar higher from the original.

To be perfectly honest, the only real gripe I have about the film is that they didn't explain Joanna's story behind her time in the Games. (She pretended to be weak until there were only a few left, then she viciously killed all of them) But I loved that they kept little touches in like President Snow's (Donald Sutherland, who is SUCH a creep) mouth bleeding - we'll get the story behind that in Mockingjay I'm sure, and the District 3 Tributes being strung out druggies, Mags kissing Finnick goodbye. You've got to appreciate the little things.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: A
Memorable Quote: "They can't hurt me. There's no one left that I love" - Joanna Mason (Jena Malone)
Fun Fact: This is my 700th post on this blog!

Review: Dallas Buyers Club

It's just vitamins.
It's 1985, and Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) lives his life dangerously. He has unprotected sex, does plenty of drugs, and one day after getting hurt on the job, he finds out he's HIV positive. He, like many people back in that era are stuck in the mindset that only homosexuals get AIDS. When his family, friends, and employers abandon him once they learn of his illness, Ron takes it upon himself to find better treatment. The FDA approves a drug that has very toxic results, one that Woodroof's reluctant physician (Jennifer Garner) has tested in clinical trials. He does his research and finds other drugs, minerals, and vitamins that are used in other countries, but not approved in the United States. He meets a cross-dresser Rayon (Jared Leto) and together they form The Dallas Buyers Club. They're not drug dealers, the drugs are free, they just sell memberships to get around that. Of course, none of this is legal, and everyone seems to want to bring Woodroof down.
We knew when pictures of McConaughey and Leto were released that these were going to be good roles for them. Just their physical transformations spoke volumes themselves. I had high expectations for them, and they were certainly met. Both were mesmerizing, heart breaking, and even hilarious at times. I expect both of them will earn Oscar nominations for this. Even Jennifer Garner, who wasn't given a whole lot to do was wonderful with what she had.
It's sad to watch this film and think about how little was known about AIDS back then. It's even sadder to see how Ron's entire circle of friends judged him so harshly. Ron doesn't come across as someone we'd root for at the beginning of the film, but he certainly gets there at the end, and you can only be frustrated by the struggles he and so many others faced.
Recommended: Yes
Grade: A-
Memorable Quote: "It's cranberry mocha...for the holidays!" - Rayon (Jared Leto)

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Boardwalk Empire's season finale + more.

Boardwalk Empire episode 4.12:

*WHY?!?!?!?!??!!?!?! Okay, let's be honest, we did see this coming, but if I have one gripe about Boardwalk Empire's mostly awesome season finale, it's about Richard Harrow.
*SPOILER ALERT ----> Richard Harrow has been my favorite character since he was introduced in season one. A big theme for Richard has been that he's always wanted a family, but is afraid he'll never get one because of his disfigurement. He always envied what Jimmy had, and this season, he FINALLY gets a family. He marries the woman he's come to love, and he's become a father figure to Tommy since his parents are dead. Fantastic. If they wanted to write Richard off of the show, they should've had him just leave with his family to Wisconsin. Then at least we would know Richard is happy. But nope, Nucky has him do one last job, which he totally botches, and in his grief, does not get help when he, himself is shot, and goes to die under the pier. The same pier where he spent his first night with Julia. What the fuck. I knew immediately Richard was probably going to die when he hugged Tommy and kissed Julia goodbye - which is really fucked up when you think about it. When did TV make us assume the worst when something good happens to a character?
*Poor Maybelle, that was so shocking and sad. Michael Kenneth Williams owned that scene too. The look on Chalky's face was heart breaking.
*Eli's fight scene with Knox was one of the most intense fight sequences I've ever seen.
*The Chicago story line is going to get A LOT more interesting next season. I literally said "holy shit." when Van Alden showed up to get Eli.
*Nucky tells Willie that "I'm not the man you think I am" after Willie catches him with a gun to his father's head. That totally rings season 2's theme. Nucky can't be half a gangster, even though he pretends to be.
*They showed us where Jimmy's body is. I suppose it's closure. Now that Harrow is dead, Tommy in Wisconsin, and Gillian in jail, we're losing all our of ties to the Darmody family.
*Narcisse survives? Rosetti only gets one season and Narcisse is getting two? What!?
The Walking Dead episode 4.7: Dead Weight

I want to do this to the writers right now.
*I'm going to be honest, I didn't even watch this episode of The Walking Dead. I read a synopsis of it on Friday. I knew it was another Governor episode, and I knew we'd only get a glimpse of the prison at the end. Personally, I think season 4 is being handled pretty horribly, and it had so much potential. Did we really need TWO Governor episodes to show us what we knew all along - that he's still batshit crazy and no matter how much they try to humanize him, he's STILL going to attack the prison.
*They didn't show any Carol (or any group reaction to Rick's news) in the preview, and the sneaks online are all of the Governor's group who I couldn't care less about. Ugh.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D episode 1.8: The Well
Are they going to bone? Maybe May can fuck some more facial expressions into Ward.
*This was the episode that followed up Thor: The Dark World.
*As much as I hate, hate, hate Ward, I actually liked his interactions with May this week.
*But is anyone else as confused as I am about that flash back scene? We know Ward's little brother was the one in the well, but I'm assuming the bully was Ward, and the fat kid was just a friend or something. But other places are saying Ward was the fat kid? I didn't even give it a second thought when I watched it, but after reading other people's interpretations of it, I'm a little confused.
*Plus you know, I liked that scene where Skye and May were calling Thor "dreamy." Mmmmm Chris Hemsworth.
The Big Bang Theory episode 7.9: The Thanksgiving Decoupling
gif via notyoda
*I love Zack, I wish he was a regular.
*I lol'd pretty hard at Sheldon getting drunk and having a "father/son moment" with Bernadette's dad.
*Penny did bring up a good point about Leonard. How he always makes her feel stupid, this is one of the reasons I'm never fully on board with their relationship. (which I go back and forth on constantly)