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Showing posts from June, 2015

Review: Dope

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90's nostalgia  Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his friends Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) and Jib (Tony Revolori) are nerds. They dress like they're from the 90's because that was the prime of hip hop to them. They live in a tough part of California, and Malcolm dreams of getting into Harvard. He's gets good grades and stays out of trouble, but after a mix up at a party, he ends up with a bunch of drugs in his possession and people trying to find him to get them back.  Malcolm, Jib, and Diggy are perfectly awkward and are a joy to watch. The actors have excellent chemistry and they do feel different from the other kids we're used to watching in these coming of age type movies. That being said, the rest of the movie falls into a familiar pattern, with each obstacle Malcolm faces predictable and kind of annoying. Still, even though I got a little antsy with some of this, the end result was worth it and the film was amusing enough to keep things interesting. I lik

DVD Review: The Babadook

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Do you want to die? Amelia (Essie Davis) is a single mother who is still struggling with the death of her husband 7 years later. He died on the same day her son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman) was born. He has behavioral problems that she refuses to get diagnosed, but is also growing tired of handling them herself. When a mysterious book called 'The Babadook' shows up at their house, and Samuel becomes obsessed with seeing the monster, Amelia begins to wonder if there's not something more at play. I think this might have been the most hyped horror movie I've heard of in awhile. It got nothing but glowing reviews last year, and of course came nowhere near me. After watching it, though it does hit a lot of horror cliches (Kid sees monster, kid is teased, kid pushes accidentally hurts and arguably brattier kid) the message itself is what makes this film stand apart. This film isn't about supernatural monsters, it's about grief. It's about dealing with gri

Rambling TV: Thoughts on True Detective, OITNB + more

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True Detective Apparently everyone in this episode has gone to the Rick Grimes School of Eye Fucking . There is so much to think about here. Frank getting his hands dirty for Ray and becoming more desperate. What's up with Ani's bondage obsession? And I NEED to know more about this cult she was in. I loved those scenes with Ani and Ray in the car. Calling smoking an e-cig the equivalent to sucking a robot's cock. LOL What's the deal with Paul? What happened to this guy? He's obviously been through some traumatic shit, and his mom is going full Norma Bates creep on him. On top of all this, I'm wondering if he's perhaps in the closet?  Also ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww to that autopsy scene. About that ending with Ray? Is he dead? Alive? Would this should really use Farrell for only two episodes? I'm leaning towards alive. They didn't make anything definite in the preview for the next episode. (Not like Game of Thrones showing Selmy's funeral)

DVD Review: A Most Violent Year

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A Most Tame Movie Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac with the worst wig ever) is trying to expand his truck/fuel business in 1981 New York City. But trucks everywhere are getting robbed, and their fuel stolen. He's also under investigation by the D.A (David Oyelowo) for illegal activity. He and his wife, Anna (Jessica Chastain) attempt to do whatever they can to protect their investment, even though their methods of doing so are quite different. For a movie called A Most Violent Year , our lead spends the entire film trying hard not to be violent. His wife is the one we worry about blowing someone's head off, not him. I found Abel's struggle with that fascinating, unfortunately the film itself didn't match that. It was slow, many things were left unexplained, and at the end of the day it just fell short. Oscar Isaac has been growing on me. I'm starting to see what everyone else does, and he is a fine actor. Chastain is great here too. Oyelowo isn't in this

Indie Gems: Blue Car

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Po-em. Meg (Agnes Bruckner) is a high school girl that's having a lot of problems at home. Her parents are divorced, she never sees her dad. Her mom works nonstop, her little sister is depressed to the point where she's self harming and has stopped eating. Meg channels all of this through poetry in her AP English class. Her teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn) takes an interest in her and encourages her to enter a poetry contest. Bruckner is an actress who I'm always shocked hasn't gotten bigger. She's the lead in one of my favorite films, Dreamland , and her performance in this film is incredible. This is a very hard drama. Nothing good actually happens to poor Meg until the very end, and that's less of a "good" and more of an acceptance. Strathairn was great here as well, even though the scenes of Mr. Auster getting closer to Meg are wildly uncomfortable to watch. It's hard to sell a "downer" movie to people. But the st

Thursday Movie Picks: Sibling Relationships

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It's another "All in the Family" edition at Wandering Through The Shelves  This time we're asked to focus on sibling relationships. The only restriction is that they must be biological.  1) Dogtooth This movie is so twisted. These siblings are isolated in their house and are basically taught the most backward things by their over protective parents. (Examples: that a "cunt" is actually a large lamp and cats eat children) It's so fascinating.  2) The Savages How can you not love a film with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Laura Linney? Their relationship is tested when after they've spent the majority of their adult life avoiding their father, they're forced to care for him all over again. Their chemistry is amazing. 3) Radio Flyer This movie has an ending that I wrote about  a little over five years ago . These two brothers, one being abused by their drunken step father while the other is forced to keep it a secret provoke a lot of

Review: Love & Mercy

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Smile. Love & Mercy follows the story of The Beach Boys' Brian Wilson. We start off in the 60's with a younger Wilson (Paul Dano) who takes a break from touring to try to create new music, which doesn't always mesh well with his band mates. We switch back and forth with 60's Brian, and 80's Brian (now played by John Cusak) as a man who has been struggling with mental illness for years and is kept on a tight leash by his doctor, Eugene Landy. (Paul Giamatti) Brian meets Melinda (Elizabeth Banks) who sells him a car and becomes his girlfriend, but not without conflict from Landy. You don't have to be a big fan of the Beach Boys to enjoy this film. I certainly wasn't, though I was always aware of their music. I mainly saw this film for Paul Dano, and I was certainly not disappointed. He's amazing in this performance. He gained nearly 40 lbs to play Wilson, and alternated (wisely) between his actual singing voice and lip syncing to Wilson. Th

Review: Inside Out

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Just cry it out. Riley (Katilyn Dias) is an eleven year old girl that moves from Minnesota to California with her parents while the emotions in her head, Joy, (Amy Poehler) Sadness, (Phyllis Smith) Fear, (Bill Hader) Anger, (Lewis Black) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling) try to handle it all. Joy and Sadness accidentally get sucked out of Riley's "headquarters" and end up in her "long term memory." They have to get back since Joy has mostly been running things all Riley's life and Anger, Disgust, and Fear aren't going to help. You have to hand it to Pixar for thinking outside the box. The story here feels very original and the animation is stunning. But it's just sad. Even the short film paired with this feature, Lava borderlines on very depressing territory. My kid kept whispering "it's so sad" to me throughout this movie and I was worried he was going to start crying. (Hell, I almost got ugly cry face there for a second) The film

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Veep, True Detective + more

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Veep In my bitching about Game of Thrones last week I forgot to talk about the Veep finale, which ended in a very interesting place. Selina tied the election with her opponent, so now each state gets one vote, and if they tie again, the Vice President elect automatically becomes president. That's how I think it will go next season too. Tom will win, and Selina will be back in the Veep position.  I did love Amy coming back to the Meyer camp, and Selina specifically running over to her when she got the bad news. Now all we need is Dan to be back in with the group. True Detective Season two premiered last night and it was very interesting. The episode was mostly build, getting to know the characters since they're not partners like Cohle and Marty were in season one. They all eventually came together at the end. Colin Farrell's character also took his son's bullying into his own hands: By beating the shit out of said bully's father with brass knuckles th

Indie Gems: Maps to the Stars

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Cronenberg's take on satire.  Remember when Julianne Moore got nominated for a Golden Globe in the comedy category for this film? Well sure, her character is amusing, but this film is not a comedy. Or a traditional satire for that matter, and that's okay. Havana Segrand (Moore) is an actress determined to star in a remake of a film her late mother did. She thinks is has "Best Supporting Actress" written all over it. She also hallucinates her young mother (Sarah Gadon) who taunts her and calls her a liar. She see's a strange therapist (John Cusak) who happens to be the father of an insanely bratty child star, Benji. (Evan Bird) Then there's Agatha, (Mia Wasikowska) who has just arrived in Los Angeles for a very specific reason that she does not share at first. Like I said before, it's not a traditional satire, though for some reason it's talked about as one. It never felt like Cronenberg was poking fun at this lifestyle to me. It was li

Thursday Movie Picks: Animated Movies

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This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is animated movies. I left WALL-E and The Lion King out of here even though those two are my favorites, as I've used them before. This was really hard to narrow down to three, but here are some animated films that I adore. 1) Sleeping Beauty Aurora has always been my favorite Disney princess, despite saying very little in this movie at all. She just has the best singing voice, okay!? 2) The Secret of NIMH This movie was a staple in my house growing up. It was darker than most Disney films, and for some reason most of my friends had never heard of it, so it felt cool to me.  3) InuYasha: Swords of an Honorable Ruler Alright, I feel like I can be honest with you guys. I don't watch a lot of anime, but I have this weird obsession with InuYasha. When I was in high school, it was on Adult Swim every night when I got off work, so I'd watch it and do my homework. Then I got really into it. Someone was

Review: Jurassic World

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What's the worst that could happen? Things don't escape anymore, right? Twenty two years after Jurassic Park crashed and burned, the park has now been re-opened and has turned into a full on SeaWorld inspired theme park. It's got animals in captivity doing tricks, a petting zoo, poorly insured rides. (Seriously, who lets a teenager drive a vehicle, in this case, a moving hamster ball with another child in it?) and plenty of safe guards that are destined to fail so this movie can smack us in the face with some more nostalgia.  Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) is the typical uptight childless workaholic whose nephews Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson, and the worst child actor on Earth, Ty Simpkins) come to visit her at the park, by themselves. Of course since she's SO focused on her job, she pawns them off on an assistant. Meanwhile, there's Owen (Chris Pratt) and ex-Navy turned raptor trainer whom she consults to see if the cage the built around their genetically

DVD Review: The Last Five Years

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On my fucking birthday? Cathy (Anna Kendrick) and Jamie (Jeremy Jordan) have been in a relationship for you guested it, the last five years. This musical follows this couple at different points in the relationship. Cathy's songs start at the end of it, while Jamie's are at the beginning. This is based on an (apparently) popular Broadway show that I had never seen nor heard of until this film went in production. I guess I'm not theater geek enough, but I can see why people like this. It feels different from most musicals, and I can always appreciate it when the word "fuck" is dropped in a song. I liked how the film was styled, and the costumes were gorgeous. Seriously, just give me all of Cathy's wardrobe. Kendrick and Jordan have excellent voices, though sometimes I don't think their faces are matching up to the emotions in their singing voices. I'm not sure how Jamie has fans either, he was kind of a douche. Cathy isn't the best cha

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Game of Thrones and "snobby book face."

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Yesterday was the season finale of Game of Thrones. Now unless Winds of Winter is released prior to April of 2016, we're all going to be Unsullied for the most part. This season has made quite a few controversial decisions. I've hated plenty, and didn't mind others. I've always tried hard to separate book from show. I know they're different and not everything in the novels can be in the show. But I failed to do that in the finale, and I ended up watching with "snobby book face." Winterfell - Stannis is apparently the heaviest sleeper in the world because half his army managed to leave before he woke. Then his wife hung herself in grief over the burning of their daughter. Then Melisandre bailed on them. THEN he has to march to Winterfell on foot and take on the Boltons as they're all on horses. THEN after losing said battle (the most underwhelming ever) Brienne shows up out of nowhere and kills him in the name of Renly. Stannis is having a terrible

2015 Blind Spot Series: Taxi Driver

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What I knew going in: I had seen the first 15 minutes or so of this movie a long time ago, so I figured it was time to finish it. Travis (Robert De Niro) is an insomniac who drives a cab at night to keep himself busy. He becomes infatuated with a woman named Betsy (Cybill Shepard) who works on a political campaign. He becomes consumed with the idea that the scum must be cleaned from New York City. On his personal quest of becoming the moral police, he focuses on Iris (Jodie Foster) a 12 year old hooker he wants to free from the life she lives. I remember thinking the film was a bit slow when I started it so long ago, but I didn't get that feeling this time around. I actually loved how quiet was. How everything felt so meticulous. De Niro was just excellent here. Probably the best I've seen him.  That shoot out at the end was pretty ridiculous. No one knows how to properly aim a gun apparently, but damn that shot of De Niro putting his own fingers to his head was haunt

Indie Gems: Starred Up

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Punch first, think later. Eric (Jack O'Connell) is 19 and has recently been "starred up" from a juvenile facility to an adult prison due to his violent behavior. He ends up in the same wing as his estranged father, Neville (Ben Mendelsohn) who attempts to micromanage his son's life on the inside. He also bonds with Oliver (Rupert Friend) a counselor who is determined to rehabilitate him. Despite following a similar formula that prison dramas tend to abide by, Starred Up is pushed beyond that due to the powerful performances. Admittedly, I haven't seen a lot of O'Connell's work, but he was brilliant here. He perfectly embodied Eric in all his anger and trauma he has suffered. Same with Mendelsohn as his father. I found Neville to be rather annoying, but towards the end of the film it becomes very obvious why he's acting that way. I have to give Friend credit as well. I've been referring to him as the "poor man's Orlando Bloom&qu

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Set in High School

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This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is movies set in a school. Allow me to pressure you high school style and tell you that all the cool kids are participating in this weekly event, so you should too. This was actually kind of hard as I've used a LOT of my favorite high school set movies on previous themes (Mean Girls, Superbad, American Pie, etc) so here's what I came up with: 1) Not Another Teen Movie This is a good example of a parody done right. I love this movie. It's so stupid, but so hilarious. Plus now it's even funnier to think about Captain America doing that.  2) Brick While the other movies I picked spend most of their time within the halls and the classrooms of school, Brick spends most of it on the grounds. This is one of my all time favorite movies. It's so good I actually looked past one of my biggest pet peeves in films, adults that are playing teenagers. 3) Lucas So in retrospect, this movie has so many cliches

DVD Review: Predestination

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Some things are just inevitable.  We first meet a man, whose name we don't know. He's a temporal agent, traveling through time to prevent tragedies. After an apparent accident requiring surgeries, we meet him again as a Barkeep. (Ethan Hawke) A man named John (Sarah Snook) comes to his bar. After a bit of banter, he offers to tell the barkeep the most interesting story he's ever heard for a free bottle of liquor. She starts. That's right, she. John wasn't always John, at one point she was Jane. Smart, awkward, orphan Jane who was selected by a man named Mr. Robertson (Noah Tyler) to join Space Corp. After a fight she gets in, and a secret Mr. Robertson doesn't bother to tell her, she's let go. It gets worse, and the Barkeep offers to put the man that ruined her life in front of her, she accepts. Candice over at Reel Talk brought up an interesting question awhile ago on her blog. Can you love a film you don't understand? At the time I left my comm

Rambling TV: Thoughts on Game of Thrones, and Game of Duggar Excuses + more

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Game of Excuses The Duggars interview on Fox News aired this week, and like everyone predicted, it went terribly. Jim Bob and Michelle tried to white wash the whole thing. I copied down some of most outrageous excuses they made so that you can lose faith in humanity right along with me. They will be bold, my thoughts will be in italics. "It was over the clothes" because that makes it less of a crime "There were some under the clothes, but only like, for a few seconds" because child molesting is protected under the five second rule. Like when you drop your food on the floor. "It wasn't rape or anything like that" Well thank god, it was JUST child molestation and incest.  "Parents are not mandatory reporters" But parents are supposed to be parents and report crimes. Technically clergy are mandatory reporters, but home churchs must not qualify. Silly me. "We needed to focus on his heart" You need to focus on your daug

Review: Every Secret Thing

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The importance of communication.  When Ronnie and Alice (Eva Grace Kellner and Brynne Nyquist as children, Dakota Fanning and Danielle MacDonald as adults) were 11, they were responsible for an infant's death. An infant who was a stranger to them that they just took. It sounds simple, but it isn't. Seven years later, they are out of juvie, no contact with each other, trying to live their lives. Sullen Ronnie works at a bagel shop. Snobby Alice spends her days walking, trying to get in shape. When a toddler goes missing, her resemblance to the daughter of the woman whose baby they killed is uncanny, so that brings Detectives Nancy Porter (Elizabeth Banks) and Kevin Jones (Nate Parker) to question them. The film opens with a scene that isn't revealed until much later in the book. I felt like that may have taken some of the mystery away. Though obviously having read the book it's hard to say. It just seemed like a strange thing to open with. Like they wanted you

Indie Gems: Tracks

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Walkabout.  Tracks follows Robyn Davidson (Mia Wasikowska) as she intends to make a 1,700 mile trek across the desert alone. She's sick of it all. Sick of city life, and she seems sick of people too. Since Australia has a large ferel camel population, she intends to tame 3 camels to carry her gear. She takes the time to work on camel farms to learn more about them. She writes a letter to National Geographic to sponsor her trip, and they agree to do so if American, Rick (Adam Driver) can meet up with her occasionally and take her picture along the way. Depending on who you are, this is a film about a seemingly lost woman on the quest for self discovery, or according to some people online, a "horrid animal abuser who makes her dog walk along with her and steals wild animals and forces them to carry her shit." I've heard that last one in several places. Still, a film like this sounds pretty boring on paper, but was anything but on screen. Director John Curran

Thursday Movie Picks: Kids Movies Adults Would Enjoy

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This week Wander asks us to pick non animated children movies that adults would enjoy. When I first saw that theme, I thought it was going to be so hard. Then I realized it was actually harder to narrow it down to three. The only rule I made for myself was that I couldn't use Shirley Temple movies, because then I would just use all Shirley Temple movies. Here are my favorites: 1) The Santa Claus The sequels were all terrible, but I have very fond memories of watching this film as a kid. I watched it again this Christmas and it still holds up. Plus I could watch that scene where the step dad gets the weenie whistle over and over and over again. 2) Hocus Pocus I think I've watched movie once a year ever since it was made, so I know for sure that adults can enjoy this one too. It's ridiculous fun, and it's also the only Sarah Jessica Parker performance I've ever liked.  3) The Secret Garden This last one was hard, I almost went with A Little Princ