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Showing posts from April, 2020

Thursday Movie Picks - TV Edition: Game Shows

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This week's TV theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is one that will probably never get old - Game Shows. Will there ever be a time without them? I doubt it. Here are three that are special to me. 1) Jeopardy I still watch this almost every day. I really got into it again recently when James Holzhauer was tearing it up. It comes on while I'm making dinner every night and it's a fun show to guess along with.  2) Legends of the Hidden Temple This was one I watched with my dad quite a bit when it was on Nickelodeon. I suppose it's more of a competition show, but they did have to answer trivia questions as part of it. I always dreamed of going on this show as a kid. It looks so fun. 3) Wheel of Fortune Apparently when I was toddler if my family had the TV on too loud while I was sleeping and Wheel of Fortune's theme song came on, I would immediately wake up and whine until they let me come out of bed to watch it. I have no memory of this at all,

Review: System Crasher

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There's nowhere else. Benni (Helena Zengel) is a nine year old girl in Germany with severe anger issues. She's referred to at one point by the hospital staff as a "system crasher." She can't keep it together, so she can't live with her overwhelmed and rather aloof mother. (Lisa Hagmeister) Her social worker, Mrs. Bafan√©  ( Gabriela Maria Schmeide) struggles to find somewhere to place her because she's too young for a closed facility and over 30 group homes have denied her. Her new school escort, Micha ( Albrecht Schuch) attempts to get through to her in his own ways. This was Germany's submission to the Oscars last year and has been on my radar ever since. Even though it didn't nab an Oscar nomination, its now landed on U.S Netflix.  Helena Zengel gives a very convincing performance. Many child actors would probably take the opportunity to just scream bloody murder - which she has to do a lot here - and run with it but Zengel really

Review: Bad Education

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Who's the real sociopath here? Frank Tassone (Hugh Jackman) is a popular superintendent at a high school in Long Island, New York. He helped get them "all the way up to #4" as he states at one point. He finds himself in an awkward position when his friend a colleague Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney) is caught embezzling thousands of tax payer dollars from the school after an eager junior, Rachel Bhargava ( Geraldine Viswanathan) starts writing a story for the school paper on a new construction project. Frank isn't exactly innocent in all of this either.. The reviews for this film at festivals were strong, and I was excited when HBO picked it up because I knew I'd for sure be able to watch it as soon as it came out. It didn't disappoint. Jackman gives easily one of his best performances in this, along with Janney who is wonderful in this role. I imagine this is going to rack up a ton of Emmy nominations. I wasn't familiar with the real case this

Indie Gems: Been So Long

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Time to put yourself out there. Simone (Michaela Cole) is a single mother living in Camden whose party girl best friend, Yvonne (Ronke Adekoluejo) forces her to go out and have fun for once. She meets Raymond (Arinzé Kene) who is fresh out of prison and wearing an ankle monitoring device. Sparks fly, but Simone isn't sure if this is right for her. Throw in a bar tender with a crush, (Luke Norris) a strange homeless man with a vendetta against Raymond, (George McKay) and Simone's former addict ex (Joe Dempsie) and some music, and we have our story. Admittedly, the plot isn't anything new. How many romantic comedies start this way? Probably all of them, but the way we see Been So Long is what makes it stand apart. I can't think of many films that show London drenched in neon or have songs where someone sings that they're going to go out, then sit on someone's face. It's not all vulgar but when it wants to be it sprinkles it in perfectly. Cole an

Thursday Movie Picks: Verbal Altercations

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This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is for all those times when a regular conversation just doesn't cut it. Sometimes we just need to shout and yell and say stupid things and freak people out to get our points across. We're talking about verbal altercations. There's no shortage of these, so I picked three very powerful fights and one bonus fight that always makes me laugh. 1) The Go dfather Part II Michael and Kay's fight at the end of this film is the final nail in Michael's "family man" coffin so to speak. He can become Vito on the business end, but he can't keep his family together. Pacino looked like he was about to explode during this scene. 2) Take Shel ter " There's a storm coming and none of you are prepared!" This is what Michael Shannon's Curtis chooses to yell at a club full of people after he's had just about enough of everyone assuming he's crazy for thinking a massive storm is

Review: Disappearance at Clifton Hill

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What do you remember? Abby (Tuppence Middleton) has returned to her home town following her mother's death to settle her estate. She's plagued by a memory of something she witnessed as a child while spending time at Clifton Hill with her family. She was seven years old, and wandered off only to run into another child with a bloody bandage over his eye, who was then thrown into a car by two adults. In some of her family photos from that day, her mother had captured said car. When she tries to tell her sister, Laure (Hannah Gross) and report it to the police, she's met with skepticism. We learn Abby is a pathological liar and her sister believes this is another tall tale until she starts coming up with more proof, including a run in with a conspiracy theorist podcaster played by David Cronenberg. (seriously) Abby becomes obsessed with cracking the case. I love mysteries and after reading a few positive reviews around the blogosphere, I was sold on this. It's av

DVD Review: A Dark Place

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Steel Country In a small Pennsylvania town, a socially awkward (and likely on the autism spectrum) sanitation worker Donnie (Andrew Scott) becomes obsessed with solving the mystery of a missing boy that he recognizes from his route. This might be one of the dumbest movies I've seen in a long time but man was it a wild ride. At one point I almost shrieked with laughter at the sheer audacity of a plot point this movie had. It was so bonkers that I'm forgiving Amazon Prime for bait and switching me once again into thinking I could watch something because of my Prime membership. (You can watch this film for free, but technically it's not from Amazon but IMDb TV so you have to watch it with ads) The script is so beyond belief stupid. See Donnie might be strange, but he's a good person! He takes care of his elderly mother like every other strange single guy does in film because it's so original and how are we supposed to know they're GOOD people deep do

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies with Numbers in the Title

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This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is films with numbers in the title. I made myself a rule not to use anything from a franchise. I've also already used a few films that had numbers in the title so here are a few more I enjoy that I haven't used yet.  1) Cleo from 5 to 7 I came so late to the Agnes Varda party a few years ago but this is such a wonderful film. For a story about a woman waiting to find out if she has cancer it's quite light and lovely. It's one I'd love to rewatch again. 2) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest This was on a past Blind Spot list and yes, everything I had heard about Jack Nicholson's performance in this was true. It's a solid film all around. 3) 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days This Romanian film is about a woman who assists her friend with having an illegal abortion and it packs a powerful punch. There's one particular scene in this film that gets the most attention and is quite shock

Review: Swallow

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I feel in control. Hunter (Haley Bennett) is a newly pregnant stay at home wife. Her husband, Richie (Austin Stowell) as his name suggests, is super rich and also very controlling along with his parents. (David Rasche and Elizabeth Marvel) As they consume her life, she begins to compulsively swallow random objects around the house in order to regain control.  Frankly, Richie and his family are lucky that all Hunter felt compelled to do was swallow marbles and batteries and not meticulously plan their murders, chop them up into little pieces, then hide them in the walls. They are the worst . You are never for a second on anyone's side but Hunter's. This film is hard to watch at times. It's almost body horror, watching Hunter swallow something like a thumb tack. But those moments are thankfully spaced out quite a bit, and the rest is filmed with easily the most gorgeous cinematography I've seen all year. The production design is also stunning. Everything is

2020 Blind Spot Series: Re-Animator

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What I knew going in: That it was essentially a body horror type film. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) is a strange new medical student who has found a way to reanimate dead people with his experiments. He ropes his new roommate Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) in on this as well to disastrous results.  Have you ever watched a film and felt okay about what your were watching? Maybe you like it, maybe it's not perfect, but not bad, then one thing happens. ONE thing that makes you do a complete 180 and immediately lose all hope? Well, that's what happened here. I generally like campy 80's horror. It's not free of misogyny, a lot of them have a very exploitative view of women that some would call "dated" even though it was wrong back then too and no one gave a voice to those who objected, but Re-Animator is easily the grossest example of this that I've came across. And consider this spoiler territory a favor.  Why the hell is there a rape scene in this movie?

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Animals

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This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is films about animals. I feel like this would be a good opportunity to once again bitch about how much I hate sad dog movies but I did that already. So this week, I'm focusing on films I like that have animals in the cast. 1) Zootopia This is one of the best animated films to come out in recent years. I love that it teaches lessons on classism and prejudice that children can understand and adults can enjoy.  2) How To Train Your Dragon  Of course my favorite animated franchise had to make an appearance here. Sure, dragons aren't real, but it's an animal nonetheless. 3) Robin Hood Yes, my favorite adaptation of Robin Hood is still the 1970's film where he is a fox.

DVD Review: Give Me Liberty

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I depend on you. Vic (Chris Galust) is an overworked medical driver in Milwaukee, WI who tries to balance his severely understaffed position and caring for his grandfather. After a van meant to take his grand dad and several Russian friends to a funeral, Vic, already running late is guilted into taking them in his transport van along with a con man Dima (Maxim Stoyanov) and a few of his regulars, including a social worker with ALS, Tracy (Lauren 'Lolo' Spencer) unfortunately have to tag along for the ride. Every single person in this chaotic film is in need of the liberty mentioned in the title. The first 45 minutes or so are very hectic. It's meant to be comedic, and I did laugh a few times but I found it so stressful to watch. Vic spends the majority of this film getting screamed at to do this and that. The Russians he's driving around overwhelm the film when it's clear that Vic and Tracy should be getting the focus. But the audience is meant to feel st

Review: Onward

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It's magical if you believe. It's Ian's (Tom Holland) 16th birthday and he lives in a world where magic was once everywhere, then tapered out as newer and newer technology was made. His older brother Barley (Chris Pratt) is still a big believer in magic. Their mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) gives the boys a present from their late father, it's a magical staff with a spell meant to bring him back for one day only to see how his sons have grown. Ian, not believing in himself fully messed up the spell and only brings back his legs. Now they must go on a quest to bring back the rest of him. I'm not gonna lie, I had no interest in seeing Onward (mainly because I don't want to listen to Chris Pratt's voice) until I started reading reviews from my fellow bloggers saying the film surprised them. So when Pixar dropped this on Disney+ and my local theater started selling curbside popcorn, I figured it would make for a nice family movie night at home. And

What I Watched on TV in March

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If there's one thing social distancing has been good for, it's for catching up on a lot of TV. Here's what I watched last month, and I imagine April will be full of shows as well. The Outsider Talk about going out with a fizzle. I still really liked this season but I was not impressed with the finale at all. The way the entire finale was shot made all the sets look so cheap and it was confusing for no apparent reason. Why did Holly say "Who's Terry?" When did she get scratched? wtf is going on? Mcmillions I loved the last episode of this where they talked about who the informant was. This was really interesting. HBO has been killing it with documentaries lately. Better Call Saul I'm getting so frustrated with Kim's story so far. She's one of my favorite characters and seeing her make these horrible decisions with her job and bringing Jimmy into it when you know that shit is going to backfire is just hard to watch. Then when she fi

Thursday Movie Picks: Seven Deadly Sins - Greed

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This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is another Seven Deadly Sins edition! This week we're talking about greed. There's plenty of that going on in film so here are a few of my favorites. 1) The Wolf of Wall Street Can you get any greedier than Jordan does in this film? I'm not sure but this is one of Scorcese's best and is the film Leonardo DiCaprio should've won his Oscar for. 2) There Will Be Blood Daniel Plainview is so greedy that he'll take all your land to drill oil on AND drink your milkshake too. 3) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room This documentary follows one of the biggest corporate greed scandals of all time. Kevin recommended this to me long ago and I'm glad I watched it as it's one of the most fascinating documentaries I've ever seen.

Review: Lost Girls

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They deserve answers Based on a true story, we follow Mari Gilbert (Amy Ryan) whose daughter Shannon (Sarah Wisser) goes missing while working as a prostitute. On a coincidence, police uncover several bodies of other missing sex workers but refuse to take Shannon's case seriously even though she's checking many of the same boxes. Mari is forced to take things into her own hands and press for answers. It's a sad reality we live in that people treat sex workers as less than. The cops in this movie (and in real life) are a special kind of inept at their job. They lose evidence, don't take anyone seriously, and refuse to search basic areas. It's frustrating, and if this were fiction, Mari would swoop in and single-handedly save the day. But it isn't fiction. This really happened, Marie doesn't get her answers easily. In fact she doesn't even get all of them. The film doesn't make anything more straightforward for the benefit of entertainme