Review: Bad Words

What's your favorite word?

Guy Trilby (Jason Bateman) is a 40 year old man who through a loop hole in the rules of the national spelling bee, enters himself. He proof reads for a living, so he's a good speller. Following his story is a journalist, Jenny (Kathryn Hahn) who's having a hard time really getting anything out of him. Guy has a very specific reason he's doing this, he just won't tell anyone. Along the way he befriends a lonely boy, Chaitanya (Rohan Chand) who is also a fellow contestant. 

I was a little worried that all the funny parts were going to be from the previews, but I was wrong. There's plenty of laughs throughout, especially if you like crude humor. Guy says a lot of really fucked up things to children (and their parents) through out. The ending was surprisingly touching too.

This is Bateman's directorial debut. (side from TV episodes) I think he's off to a good start. He and Hahn had good chemistry. I'm starting to love her even more after Afternoon Delight. Chand was was a great edition as well. He managed to be adorable and not come off as a complete phony.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "Don't look at me." - Jenny (Kathryn Hahn)

Rambling TV: The Walking Dead season finale

The season finale of The Walking Dead, A, was like having really good sex with your partner. Then they get up and leave before you finish.

Sticking to the awful bottle format, we start off with Carl, Rick, and Michonne. They camp out in a car overnight, and get surrounded by Daryl's group of Marauders. Comic readers recognized this scene, it's a re-imagining of a similar one with Carl, Rick, and Abraham instead. Daryl tries to offer himself instead, but he gets his ass kicked instead. Pervy marauder decides he's going to try to rape Carl, Rick goes full Shane and rips out his throat with his teeth. 

Rick and Daryl have a little bonding moment, but instead of appreciating it, it just made me angry. Rick says he doesn't blame Daryl for being with them, he was alone. That was a key word for me. Alone, like Rick left Carol alone. Daryl was supposed to care for her, this would've been a good moment to bring that up. Either for Rick to apologize to Daryl for doing that, or for Daryl to bring up the fact that he was still angry about it. Nope. The powers that be hated the 'Caryl' ship, and this felt like just another way of them stomping all over it. 

One thing I really enjoyed about this episode was Michonne and Carl's bonding. Michonne talked more about what happened to her son, what she did to her boyfriend, and they hugged it out. I like that Carl and Michonne have each other. I hope she keeps that strong friendship with Carl and Rick. I used to want Michonne and Rick to hook up, but I'd be happy if they just stayed close friends as well. 

They get to Terminus, it seems legit, then they start noticing all the people having Team Prison's belongings, they get lured into a trap, and put into a train car where they FINALLY meet up with Glenn's group. Rick stares at Tara like a total asshole until Maggie explains that they're friends. The episode ended with "They're messing with the wrong people."

Twat blocked.

This episode was littered with flashbacks, which at first I really liked. It was good to see Hershel again. In hindsight, they were a total waste of time. I would've rather spent that time getting further into Terminus and checking in with Carol and Ty. It's starting to feel so redundant. How many epiphanies is Rick going to have about brutality?

I'm so disappointed with this season overall. Especially when I was liking this episode so much until the last 10 minutes. But that's okay, because quality TV starts again next week with Game of Thrones. Then I have that, Veep, True Blood, The Newsroom, and Boardwalk Empire to keep be occupied until I (hopefully don't) suffer through The Walking Dead again. Scott Gimple said on Talking Dead that next season will be very different. I fucking hope so, because this one was by far the worst. (And that's not just because I'm a jaded Carol fan)

Thankfully Sati tweeted me these gifs, so I can at least laugh about something.

Indie Gems: Afternoon Delight


Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is a bored yet privileged housewife. She used to work, but she quit when she had a baby, who's now 5. Because of this, she doesn't feel she fits in with the other moms in her PTA group. She never has sex with her husband, Jeff. (Josh Radnor, who's uninteresting douchiness actually fits well in his role for a change) After a trip from a friend, they decide to spice things up and go to a strip club. There she meets a dancer, McKenna. (Juno Temple) Rachel is enamored by her and automatically thinks she needs to "save" her from this life, despite the fact that McKenna seems pretty okay with her line of work. After semi-stalking her, Rachel invites her to move in with her family.

Kathryn Hahn is pretty fascinating. She's always been kind of a background character in comedies that's given juicy one liners (Step Brothers, for example)

In this film, she proves she's far more than that. Especially when Rachel isn't likable at all. I actually felt far more sympathy for McKenna, even though we're clearly meant to side with Rachel. In the end, I was actually really upset about how Rachel uses McKenna. Normally, you'd hate a movie like that, right? Nope. Hahn is so damn good that the whole thing remains interesting through out. I really hope this film gets her more roles, because she really was wonderful. As was Juno Temple. Anyone who reads this blog knows I'm a big fan of hers, and she keeps turning out these wonderful little independent films. She's bound to get noticed by Oscar voters sooner or later. The most impressive thing to me was that Josh Radnor didn't totally suck for once. That's fucking shocking.

Afternoon Delight did falter a little at times. (Who let a masturbating joke about The Accused in there? Seriously?) But it's a good little film that deserves a watch, especially if you're ready for Hahn to break out of the background.

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Oh, I'm a sex worker." - McKenna (Juno Temple)

Fun Fact: This topped Quentin Tarantino's "Favorite Films of 2013" list. If you're a fan of his, I think you can pick out the scene that probably sealed the deal.

DVD Review Oldboy (2013)

Why even call it 'Oldboy?'

A man named Joe (Josh Brolin) is locked away in a motel room for 20 years. He has no idea why. While he's in this isolation, he finds out he has been framed for his wife's murder, and his 3 year old daughter has been raised by foster parents. He decides to kick his alcohol habit, get into shape, and escape. He doesn't get the chance to do that last thing, because one day he wakes up in a suitcase in the middle of a field. He's got some cash and a cell phone on him. As he wonders around, he runs into Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) a woman that works for a clinic that offers to help him. Together with his old friend, Chucky (Michael Imperioli) they try to figure out what happened. Eventually the person who did this (Sharlto Copley) reveals himself, but he's not finished with Joe yet.

Spike Lee's version feels like he watched the original and said "I can 1 up that." There's more blood, more torture, hell even the stranger's reason for doing this tried to push the envelope a little further. The problem is, in doing all of this, he really lost the point of the entire story. Joe is an asshole. We're introduced to him acting like a total douche nozzle to everyone he runs into. Why the fuck should I care why he gets imprisoned? Dae-Su (the man in the original) wasn't shown in this light. Yes, he was shown as an alcoholic, but we never saw him being unkind to anyone. That made me sympathize with him.

The original Oldboy, despite having its grisly moments wasn't nearly as gory as this version, and it worked better. The infamous single take hammer scene is ruined by coming off as overly cartoonish (and not filmed in a single take) and worst of all, both Brolin and Copley over-act  throughout the entire film. Elizabeth Olsen was the only saving grace, but I mostly felt bad for her getting stuck in this film. There's also a major part of her story that is left out in this version* and frankly, it makes her story kind of unbelievable. 

I can appreciate the subtle nods to the original that Lee through in there. The angel wings, the octopus, but that's about all I can appreciate.

Recommended: No

Grade: D

Memorable Quote: "It's time to feed our pets!" - Chaney (Samuel L. Jackson)

*hypnosis. Not hypnotizing Marie seems like a huge risk, doesn't it? How could Adrian be absolutely sure she would do what he desired just by "raising" her to be who she was?

Rambling TV: Thoughts on The Walking Dead

After last week's episode, The Grove ripped everyone's hearts out, we were treated with something a little more uplifting in the form of Us

The best part of the episode was the focus on Glenn's group. Glenn is one of my favorites and he's really elevated Tara for me as a character. I wasn't too keen on her in 4A, but her loyalty to Glenn is very moving. Glenn got to reunite with Maggie, which was adorable, despite the fact that I think Maggie is kind of a bore. She tells him "You'll never need a picture of me again." as she burns the one of her sleeping. Yeah, That's not going to come back and bite you in the ass or anything.

I loved how Maggie hugged Tara to thank her as well, but I'm a little worried about Glenn lying about who she is. Rick and Michonne are going to recognize her for sure when they all meet up.

Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene have got to be some of the best casted people on this show. The comic relief they provided was hilarious. More of that please.

We saw Rick for the first time in a few weeks, but only for a minute. At least he smiled!

Daryl's story line continues to bore the hell out of me, but the marauders he's traveling with are hot on Rick, Carl and Michonne's tails.

Next week's preview is focused heavily on Rick, Carl, Michonne and Daryl. I knew it would be, and I know we're in for some action. I just hope that we get to check in with the other groups. It would be incredibly stupid NOT too, but I'm still a little nervous.

Here's how I think the finale will play out. I think Rick's group will run into the Marauders and Daryl early on, Rick will probably brutally kill them. Then they move on to Terminus to deal with the obvious threat there. The ending is hopfully Carol handing Judith to Rick.

Give me a hug like this again, damn it! I also think the "cliffhanger" we're supposed to get will be Beth tied up somewhere. Or her dead body after she's been served to Maggie and co for dinner. (What, there was a cannibal story in the comics!)

On a side note, how many of these memes have you seen since The Grove aired? Too many to count?

*gifs are not mine. 

DVD Review: Capote

In Cold Blood

In the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman's untimely passing, I decided to revisit a film of his that I actually didn't like. I had kind of a weird reaction to Capote the first time I saw it, and now I realize that I sort of misunderstood it. 

You know the story, Truman Capote (Hoffman) was a writer who heard about the terrible murder of the Clutter family in Kansas, and went to write a story about it with his friend Harper Lee (Catherine Keener). Once they've caught the killers, Capote forms a bond with one of them, Perry Smith (Clifton Collins Jr) and initially tries to get them a better lawyer. He ends up writing an entire novel on the case.

The mistake I made when first watching this was not really understanding Capote's motives here. I saw them as glorifying a murderer, no matter how bad said murderer's home life was prior. In Cold Blood to me always felt a little disrespectful to the Clutter family. There were a few quotes in the film that I never put a lot of thought in. The first, being "It's like Perry and I were raised in the same house, but I went out the front door and he went out the back." and "The fact is, you didn't want to." which is something Harper says to Truman towards the end of the film. I realized that while Capote initially related to Perry's troubled childhood, he never fully sympathized with him. He knew the whole time, and honestly, I don't think Capote ever wanted to truly get them off death row. He just had morbid curiosity.

Now do I think the film is a masterpiece on my 2nd viewing? Not really. It still falls a little flat, but I feel like I got a better understanding of it this time around. Hoffman and Keener really are wonderful. If you've heard a recording of Capote's voice, Hoffman really nailed it. I'm glad I took the time to revisit this. I just wish it wasn't Hoffman's death that prompted me to do so.

Recommended: Yes 

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "The fact is, you didn't want to." - Harper Lee (Catherine Keener)

Indie Gems: The Kings of Summer

Who needs parents?

That's a popular attitude among teens. I know, I've been there. It's that attitude that gets the ball rolling in The Kings of Summer

Joe (Nick Robinson) is your typical angsty teen. His mother passed away some time back, and he doesn't get a long with his often dead pan father, Frank. (Nick Offerman) He convinces his best friend, Patrick (Gabriel Basso) to leave his clingy parents and come live with him in the woods. Free of all the adults in their lives, where they can live off the land and live like men. A new boy in town, Biaggio (Moises Aries) also tags along. But his parents apparently don't give a damn where he is.

This film came highly recommended by many bloggers, so like I was previously advised, I suspended most belief (like really, these kids are hiding out in a thicket that's within walking distance from their houses and NO one finds them?) I actually ended up enjoying it quite a bit.

It reminded me a bit of Mud, if the boys were older and more obnoxious to their parents. These kids really did a great job with their characters, and Nick Offerman obviously stole every scene he's in. I sometimes feel like I'm getting too old to enjoy "coming of age" films anymore. I expressed this in my Spectacular Now review, but when you run into a little gem like this, it doesn't matter what your age is. It's good enough for everyone to enjoy

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I decided to go with the Denzel Washington format. Black first name, followed by a state." - Biaggio (Moises Aries)

Rambling TV: The Walking Dead actually made it about a woman for once.

I've been kind of down on writing about The Walking Dead lately. I felt like since I had nothing nice to say, I shouldn't say anything at all. I couldn't bring myself to recap Still, because nothing happened. It was literally just Daryl and Beth playing a drinking game for 45 minutes. I didn't recap Alone because it was yet again more Daryl and Beth doing stupid shit. (And Beth getting kidnapped because of course we need some damsel in distress story) Although we at least got to see Maggie, Sasha, and Bob. They didn't really accomplish anything, but since we haven't seen them in awhile, I'm just happy for something different. Then this week, we were treated to the episode I was impatiently awaiting; The Grove.

I think everyone knows by now that I read a lot of spoilers for The Walking Dead. It's the only show I do that with, so I've known for a long time that episode 4.14 was "Carol's big ep." In this episode we see

1) Carol trying to teach Mika to be strong, because she's reminding her way too much of Sophia and she does not want to make that mistake twice.

2) Carol having Lizzie freak out on her for killing a walker she was "playing" with, and trying to get that crazy little kid to understand.

3) Lizzie killing Mika, nonchalantly telling Carol and Tyreese that Judith was next. She wanted to prove a point. She pointed her gun at Carol, who had to talk her way out of the situation.

4) Tyreese and Carol make a joint decision that Lizzie cannot be around other people.

5) Lizzie thinks Carol is upset about getting a gun in her face, not for the fact that she just killed her own little sister. Carol tells her to "look at the flowers" and promptly shoots her in the head, breaking down.

6) Carol confesses to Tyreese that she killed Karen and David, that it was quick and painless. (and as Melissa McBride mentioned on Talking Dead, it was a mercy killing, as Karen and David were obviously in a really bad state judging by all the blood) Tyreese FORGAVE her.

7) There are multiple "white people are fucking crazy" gifs on Tumblr with Tyreese's facial expressions.

I've said it before, The Walking Dead loves their "man pain." (or as it's lovingly called, "Mangst") This is a show where we are constantly given perspective on the issues that men are dealing with, and the women are mostly kept to the side. For example, Rick gets on the "crazy train" after Lori dies and sees her ghost for several episodes. Carol watches Sophia come out of the barn, and gets one scene of follow up. The majority of season 4B has been about Daryl's somewhat regression into the person he was. Beth is merely in his story as a plot device. This isn't about us getting to know Beth better. She's been around for 3 seasons and hasn't done anything. This is about her being an accessory to Daryl's man pain. Now that she's a damsel in distress, we can watch him probably swoop in and save her.

This brings me to Carol. When Carol was revealed to be the killer early on, I hated it. It made no sense, but what I hated even more was the PR spin that the writers/showrunner put on it afterwards. Scott Gimple said he wanted the audience to be split 50/50 on Carol and Rick, then he went on to only defend Rick's point of view, as did many other writers. Chris Hardwick came out in full support of Carol on Talking Dead, as did his hosts, Chris Jericho and Gillian Jacobs, then the next week he changed his tune completely. It felt like a producer told him too. I honestly do not think they expected anyone to be on Carol's side. I think they expected that the fans would turn on this woman, much like the majority of people did against Andrea last season. That didn't happen, Carol's fans were loud and quick to point out all the parallels between Rick and Carol. Rick and Carol both murdered "for the better of their own group" yet Carol gets crucified, and Rick gets to deal with his man pain of leaving her out on her own. I'm not going to get into the "Rick vs Carol" discussion again, because I'm absolutely sick of it.

Is The Grove the start TWD actually putting more trust in their females? It became more obvious to me that the reason Carol was given this story was because Melissa McBride is the only actress that could've pulled it off on the show. For once, a woman took center stage, and a man (Tyreese) was her plot device. For once there were scenes of women talking (Carol and the girls) that didn't involve men in the scene, or for the conversation to be about men. (Seriously, there was that scene of the women doing laundry in the quarry in season 1, a few Beth/Maggie scenes and one Beth/Michonne scene.) Otherwise the women are never together on this show without a man. I hope so. If Carol gets to truly "come back" this season. Then I think the show will have succeeded at something. "Coming back from what we've done" has been the theme, and if Carol gets to do that, then it's a step in the right direction. If she dies a redemptive death like Andrea did, then we're only going backwards.

I'm hoping the next time we see Carol (which I don't think will be this next episode) she will be handing Judith to Rick, and will be accepted back into the group. She's obviously sorry for what she did, which has been clear since episode 4.3 and she will have to live with it. That's the worst punishment one could be given. If Tyreese can forgive, everyone else should to. Selfishly, I want this reunion to end in a hug between Carol and Rick, because they were my two favorite characters and this season has really made me hate on Rick more than I'd like to. I think Rick needs to apologize to HER as well. I want their strong friendship to be back. 

 I also hope in the future we get more scenes of the females together. Carol and Michonne could make a badass team. They've never even spoken to each other on the show. I'm sick of the women taking such a back seat. 

Spin Off Blogathon

The always lovely Lady Sati over at Cinematic Corner is hosting her first ever blogathon! If we could pick a background character from any film, and give them a film of their own, who would it be? I'll have to turn to my all time favorite film for this one. Thanks for hosting, Sati!

I picked Barbara Fitts from American Beauty.

Barbara is the epitome of a meek housewife. She seems dazed, uninterested, she's probably terrified of her strict husband at times. Who knows how she ended up with him in the first place?

Let's assume she leaves this marriage after Frank shoots Lester. The original ending of American Beauty had Ricky and Jane going on trial for Lester's murder. Barbara knows it's Frank, and seeing her only son being persecuted for his crime is the one thing that pushes her over the edge. Yet she's too afraid to speak the truth.

The movie would be about her journey to happiness. Barbara was a spit fire before she got married and now that's she's free, she can take the world head on. Perhaps she loses the mousy look and gets make over.

She wouldn't marry again but she finds someone that adores her. Someone who likes bacon and will wear a raincoat in bad weather without her asking. Someone who shares similar interests. Someone that she can laugh WITH when she watches TV with them on a quiet night at home. Of course, since it's me, the movie would have it's darker moments where she has to cope with her son being in jail. But at the end of the film, she will get the courage to come forward and tell the police that it was actually Frank. That she buried his bloody clothes, and that she didn't say anything because she was afraid. Her testimony would ensure her no jail time, just probation, so she can still enjoy her new life and have Ricky to share it with too. However Frank has disappeared, so he never gets tried.

I would watch an entire movie on Barbara just to insure her happiness, because even though she was only in a few scenes, I really felt for this woman. 

Captain America Blogathon

Andy from Fandango Groovers is back with another one of his fantastic blogathons! This time, he asks what 10 movies would we recommend to Steve Rodgers, aka Captain America, who had been frozen for so long. I thought about this for a minute. I could recommend my top 10 favorite movies to insure that he has impeccable taste, but I figured I should be fair, and recommend a wide variety of different films so he can get the feel for multiple genres. So here we go. Thanks for hosting, Andy!

1) American Beauty - This is a good movie.

2) The Room - This is a bad movie.

3) To Kill A Mockingbird - This is a classic masterpiece.

4) Inception - This is a modern masterpiece.

5) The Exorcist - This is a scary movie.*

6) Step Brothers - This is a funny movie.

7) Only God Forgives - This is a pretentious movie.

8) Her - This is a thought provoking movie.

9) WALL-E - This is great animation.

10) Lord of the Rings - These are great book to movie adaptations.

bonus: The Dark Knight - This is the Joker. Be lucky that you are in the Marvel-verse and will never have to deal with him.

*It literally took me like 20 minutes to pick out that Exorcist gif because all the other ones of Regan kept freaking me out.

DVD Review: How I Live Now

Angst. Angst. Angst.

Daisy (Saoirse Ronan) is an angsty teen sent to England to stay with her aunt and cousins during a time when World War III is approaching. She's rude, disinterested, the only thing that seems to catch her attention is her good looking older cousin, Eddie. (George McKay) Okay, they're cousins by marriage, but I'm not going to stop making fun of this. Her aunt leaves for Geneva, then soon after a nuclear bomb goes off in nearby London, and an American consulate employee tracks Daisy down (because they do that?) and gives her a ticket home. However, she declares her undying love for her cousin, and burns the ticket. She holes up in a barn with Eddie, and his younger brother and sister, Isaac and Piper. (Tom Holland and Harley Bird) Soon, army forces find their hide out, separate them, and send the girls to one camp and the boys to another. Daisy vows to get back to Eddie soon.

I think the biggest mistake a book to movie adaptation can make is assume all it's viewers have read the source material. That wasn't the case for me. So Daisy spending roughly 48 hours with her cousin, fucking him, then falling in love with him felt really extreme and honestly kind of ruined the rest of the tone for me. Daisy hears voices and takes pills, which to me means she probably went to some sort of therapy, but none of that is never addressed. She thinks her dad doesn't care for her, but she never elaborates. 

How people would handle themselves in a WWIII scenario is fascinating, and Ronan is a more than capable actress (Harley Bird was a wonderful little spitfire too) but the whole teen love thing really overwhelmed what could've been an interesting story.

Then there's one other thing that bothered me, and I'd love to get my male reader's opinions on this. There's a few scenes that imply rape. In fact, Daisy and Piper escape attempted rape scenarios TWICE. This film (and others) give the impression that if society failed, most men would turn into insane rapists because ain't nobody got time for consensual sex. It offends me greatly, because I think the men in my life are better than that. But does it offend you, as men? That men are portrayed as not being able to keep it in their damn pants? Doesn't that bother you? 

Recommended: No

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "This is how I live now." - Daisy (Soairse Ronan)

Indie Gems: Enough Said

Hey, go watch this movie about some 50 year old divorcees. 

Sounds interesting right? If you're me, then probably not. Nonetheless, I decided to check this one out since I've been loving Julia Louis-Dreyfuss on Veep lately, and for the recently departed James Gandolfini.

Eva (JLD) is a masseuse who hasn't really gotten back into the dating game since she's been divorced. Her only child is about to leave for college, and at a party she meets Albert, (Gandolfini) another divorcee with a child leaving for college. He's not her type right away, but they bond. Eva also unknowingly bonds with his ex, Marianne, (Catherine Keener) not putting two and two together until late in the game.

This movie was just so damn charming. I never thought in a million years that I would enjoy something like this. I loved the relationship that Eva had with her daughter and her daughter's friend (even though the latter is probably not the healthiest) It feels like we don't see things like that often in film anymore. Not to mention JLD and Gandolfini have tons of chemistry. The film can be a little bitter at times. Eva gives Albert a lot of crap for his eating habits and "belly" and knowing James Gandolfini died of a heart attack just makes that hard to swallow. I actually found myself getting really offended during those scenes.

Either way, on paper to me, the film doesn't sound interesting, but I was pleasantly surprised and it has become one of the sweetest things I've seen in a long time.

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "What about us? What about protecting us." - Albert (James Gandolfini)

DVD Review: Blue is the Warmest Color

The life of Adele

We meet Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos) when she's 15 years old. She's a quiet girl living in France, her friends pressure her into having sex with a boy from school, who she's really not that interested in. She spots beautiful blue haired Emma (Lea Seydoux) walking by, and is immediately transfixed. We fast forward a few years, and Adele is still thinking about her. (As we're shown in the most over the top wet dream ever) She wonders into a bar by chance, and ends up actually meeting her. They fall deeply in love, but Adele isn't fully ready to out herself as a lesbian. We see how this great love affects her life moving forward.

Make no mistake, Blue is the Warmest Color is a beautiful film. One that will probably get overlooked because of the film's much talked about softcore porn sex scenes. I admit, I'm at a bit torn about how all of this was approached. Does this film need to be 3 hours? No way. They could've easily trimmed down the countless scenes of Adele eating, Adele sleeping, Adele in class, and of course, the graphic sex scenes. But then again, I never felt that those scenes were unnecessary. If I were tasked with trimming, I don't know if I'd actually cut them because although they felt long, they weren't exactly pointless. Does that make sense?

Let's talk about Exarchopoulos, I haven't seen a person carry a film in such a way since Adrian Brody in The Pianist. Everything about her is so raw. Her hair is always a mess and she never wears a stitch of make up and that is absolutely PERFECT. It's so brutally honest. Seydoux was great as well, even though I sometimes got angry with her character. This film was so honest in fact, that I sincerely hoped Adele found great love in her life after the credits started rolling..and she's a fictional character. She really made me care about her.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I'll give it all I've got." - Adele (Adele Exarchopoulos)

DVD Review: Blue Jasmine

That's kind of how I felt when I was watching Blue Jasmine. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) married a rich man (Alec Baldwin) who's lavish lifestyle she became accustomed to. Then he gets arrested for fraud, kills himself in prison, and now "poor" Jasmine is forced to move to San Francisco with her sister Ginger. (Sally Hawkins) Jasmine is not used to life as a "commoner." She hates Ginger's new boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Canavale) and she doesn't know what she actually wants to do with her life.

I had to see this based on the buzz around Blanchett's performance, and she deserves all of it. She's fantastic as Jasmine. Her character has absolutely no redeeming qualities, but Blanchett still captures her and makes us want to see what happens with the train wreck that is Jasmine's life. Hawkins and Canavale gave good performances too, but other actors like Louis C.K and Peter Sarsgard as wasted. 

I honestly think I would've enjoyed this movie more had it not been directed by Woody Allen. I know, I'm one of the few who doesn't like his movies (minus Midnight in Paris) but his signature jazzy music and neurotic-ness (that's not a word) just didn't feel like it fit. Perhaps it would've worked better as a hard drama? Who knows. The point is, there's some great performances in here, but the film itself isn't the greatest.

Recommended: No (Though if you're a Blanchett fan, you should see it for her.)

Grade: C

Memorable Quote: "Who do you have to sleep with around here to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?"

Blind Spot Series: Some Like It Hot

What I knew going in: That many Marilyn fans say this film is their favorite of hers.

Musicians Joe (Tony Curtis) and Jerry (Jack Lemmon) inadvertently witness the St Valentine's Day massacre and quickly try to leave town to avoid some mobsters from killing them as well. The only way out is to pose as women in a traveling band. They are "reborn" as Josephine and Daphne, they quickly befriend Sugar, (Marilyn Monroe) the naive singer in the band. They have trouble keeping their cover when Joe (out of disguise) tricks Sugar into thinking he's a millionaire and Jerry finds himself the object of a horny old perv's (Joe E. Brown) affection.

Marilyn Monroe is just someone that never interested me. I don't idolize her like a lot of women I know do. When I took public speaking in college, someone used a quote from her in a speech, and the entire class got into an argument over whether she actually said that or not. Clearly, Miss Monroe evoked a lot of emotions. After watching this film, I can almost see why, she was mesmerizing. This role felt like it was made for only her to play. Jack Lemmon was the film's stand out for me. (That and Joe E. Brown's face) I thought he was absolutely wonderful as Jerry/Daphne.

Some comedies don't hold up well over time, this one certainly does. (Even though some of it is probably unintentional) After reading some of the trivia on IMDb, this movie sounded like it was hell to shoot, but it doesn't translate that way on screen. This one was a lot of fun.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Hello, I'm Cinderella II" - Jerry (Jack Lemmon)

Indie Gems: Short Term 12


If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen me complaining about this film since January. I bumped it to the top of my queue a few days before it was scheduled to be released, and patiently waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Never once did it occur to me that some asshole was probably just hoarding the blu ray and the regular DVD version might be available, so I switched the format, and it came right away. Awesome. I'm an idiot. 

At least it was worth the wait.

Grace (Brie Larson) is a supervisor in a youth home. When we meet her, it's obvious she's having some issues. She's somewhat distant to her long term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallangher Jr.) and we meet her at a very difficult time in her life. Then they receive a new resident, Jayden (Kaitlyn Denver) who reminds Grace so much of herself that she digs up past demons, and she's forced to, for once in a long time, to really access this situation she's gotten in.

What interested me about Short Term 12 right away was the fact that I work in a very similar facility to the one in the film. (Although by comparison, mine's a little stricter.) I was immediately impressed by how many things they simply got right. The ridiculous insults the kids hurled at the staff when they were put in a hold, the "levels," the running, even that little bracelet that Grace makes Jayden, all of that so was right. Everything felt so authentic. Especially Brie Larson's wonderful performance. It's a shame this film was so little, I think she could've been a serious Oscar contender otherwise. 

I was literally scared for Grace when she started to take her job *too* seriously. That's kind of what they teach you when you work with at risk teens. You're there to guide them, you're not their parent, and don't take things too personally. This film really is the definition of an 'Indie Gem.' I hope you all get the chance to check it out.

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "This is what I signed up for." - Mason (John Gallagher Jr.)

DVD Review: Grizzly Man

Watching a slow motion train wreck.

Have you ever watched something simultaneously fascinating and aggravating at the same time? Well look no further, that is exactly how I felt watching the documentary Grizzly Man

Film maker Werner Herzog follows the flight of glorified bear enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell spent a lot of time in national parks "bonding" with grizzly bears. In 2003, he and his girlfriend Amie were killed by the same bears he thought had accepted him. In fact, audio of the attack was recorded. We don't hear it, but in one bizarre scene, Herzog actually listens to the audio and describes part of it in front of one Treadwell's ex-girlfriend. 

I almost felt bad watching this. In my opinion, Treadwell seemed mentally ill. This man needed help. The way he communicated with the animals started off kind of cute, but then it just got to the point where it was tragic, delusional, and a little bit disturbing. I know you can't force adults to really do anything, but the fact that he was a lonely alcoholic that went off to "find himself" with bears, with seemingly little to no intervention is kind of surprising. (I don't know his entire familys' story, this is just from observing the doc.)

I think Herzog attempted to show a fair portrait of Timothy, but I think even he thought Timothy was a little batshit towards the end. It's almost like Timothy turned into a villain. Like he started out as Dr. Jekyll, then morphed into Mr. Hyde with his outbursts towards the park staff and the many interviews of people saying Treadwell did more harm than good.

That being said, the film is still fascinating. It's just very tragic and hard to watch at times.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I will die for these animals." - Timothy Treadwell. 

2014 Academy Award Winners + my thoughts

Alright, alright, alright. The Oscars have came and went. I went 18/24 (mind you, I left the short categories blank as I had no clue) As always, I had a great time tweeting with everyone about it. Even though host Ellen actually broke Twitter after taking a selfie. I thought she did a great job hosting. She was very interactive with the audience. (both there and at home) Plus she ordered pizza and told a dick joke, so she wins in my book. Here's a list of the winners. They are in bold, and my thoughts are in green.

Best Picture
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street
This was very deserving, and Steve McQueen gave a great speech at the end of the night. Plus Paul Dano was up on stand, and I will never tire of watching that.
Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
I know I'm in the minority, but I would've rather seen McQueen win this one.
Best Actress
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Her speech was classy,classy, classy.
Best Actor
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
NOOOOO Leo!! Actually, I'm happy for McConaughey, I really am. He gave a great performance, but I shall not rest until Leo is given his overdue Oscar.
Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
He started this whole thing out with an amazing speech, then he was topped by...
Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska
Not only did I squeal and clap when she won, but I almost cried after her speech. It was so beautiful and elegant. It's fitting because she literally looked like a princess last night.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Before Midnight
Billy Ray, Captain Phillips
Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, Philomena
John Ridley, 12 Years a Slave
Terence Winter, The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Original Screenplay
Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, American Hustle
Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack, Dallas Buyers Club
Spike Jonze, Her
Bob Nelson, Nebraska
I'm SO glad Her won something. It certainly deserved this.
Best Original Song
“Happy,” Despicable Me 2; music and lyrics by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go,” Frozen; music and lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song,” Her; music by Karen O., lyrics by Karen O. and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom; music by Paul Hewson, Dan Evans, Adam Clayton, and Larry Mullen, a.k.a. U2; lyrics by Paul Hewson, a.k.a. Bono
Let It Go was really underwhelming (Especially when Karen O. and Pharrell gave awesome live performances of their songs) but the husband and wife duo that won gave a really sweet speech.
Best Animated Feature
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
Best Documentary — Feature
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom
The best part of this was when one of the singers in the film started singing her acceptance speech, and Bill Murray jumped to his feet like a fucking fan boy.
Best Foreign Language Film
The Broken Circle Breakdown, Belgium
The Great Beauty, Italy
The Hunt, Denmark
The Missing Picture, Cambodia
Omar, Palestine
This was the one time during the ceremony that I was like "WHAT!?!?!" I really wanted The Hunt to win. 
Best Original Score
John Williams, The Book Thief
Steven Price, Gravity
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks
Best Cinematography
Philippe Le Sourd, The Grandmaster
Emmanuel Lubezki, Gravity
Bruno Delbonnel, Inside Llewyn Davis
Phedon Papamichael, Nebraska
Roger A. Deakins, Prisoners
Congratulations to this guy and his computer and his green screen. Sorry Deakins, you were just a mere camera man shooting on an actual camera.
Best Production Design
Judy Becker (Production Design); Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration), American Hustle
Andy Nicholson (Production Design); Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration), Gravity
Catherine Martin (Production Design); Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration), The Great Gatsby
K.K. Barrett (Production Design); Gene Serdena (Set Decoration), Her
Adam Stockhausen (Production Design); Alice Baker (Set Decoration), 12 Years a Slave
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews, Dallas Buyers Club
Stephen Prouty, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, The Lone Ranger
Best Costume Design
Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Michael O’Connor, The Invisible Woman
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave
Best Film Editing
Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, American Hustle
Christopher Rouse, Captain Phillips
John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa, Dallas Buyers Club
Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger, Gravity
Joe Walker, 12 Years a Slave
Best Visual Effects
Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould, Gravity
Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick, Iron Man 3
Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier, The Lone Ranger
Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton, Star Trek Into Darkness
Best Sound Mixing
Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro, Captain Phillips
Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro, Gravity
Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland, Inside Llewyn Davis
Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow, Lone Survivor
Best Sound Editing
Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns, All Is Lost
Oliver Tarney, Captain Phillips
Glenn Freemantle, Gravity
Brent Burge, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Wylie Stateman, Lone Survivor
Best Documentary — Short
Facing Fear
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Best Live Action Short
Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
The Voorman Problem
I didn't see any of these prior, but just based on the clips I knew Helium was going to win.
Best Animated Short
Get a Horse!
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom
McConaughey sounded so ridiculously gentleman-y when he announced this winner.

I think this needs to be my new Awards Coverage banner. What do you think?