It's SAG time on Sunday, and here I am again running late with my predictions. Below are who I think is going to win, and in some cases, who should instead.
It's SAG time on Sunday, and here I am again running late with my predictions. Below are who I think is going to win, and in some cases, who should instead.
We meet Cherry (Tom Holland) as your average college kid experimenting with weed he has a crush on a girl in one of his classes, Emily (Ciara Bravo) and then begin dating. They break up, and in his heartbreak he joins the army, goes to war, comes home with severe PTSD and ends up addicted to drugs. Emily also gets addicted, and Cherry starts robbing banks to support their habit.
The Russo Brothers are apparently really tired of directing Marvel movies, so they decided to throw EVERY trick they learned in film school into this absolute mess of a film. The funny thing is, if you listen to interviews this film is supposed to say something about the opioid crisis and PTSD from war. Yet, it says nothing. Cherry never reflects on these feelings and his only scene with a psychiatrist is just a quick segue into him getting prescribed OxyContin for the first time.
This film has everything. Plenty of operatic overtures, "artful" flashback shots, voiceovers, breaking the fourth wall, and camera shots from the POV of someone's butthole. Not to mention scene after scene of what can only be described as junkie gross out porn. I kept thinking about Trainspotting, and how I never thought the scenes of the squalor those people were living in were ever as distracting as they were here.
Tom Holland is very good in this, but it was a huge mistake from his team to make this his big Oscar movie push when he was so much better (in a far better movie) with The Devil All The Time. Ciara Bravo struggles with the material she's given. I thought she was very good when she had to cry and act distraught, the rest of the time it felt like she was given no direction. This is the epitome of style over substance. It's insane to me that two directors who so effortlessly handled 20 movies worth of continuity to make a gigantic send off could also make this mess.
Memorable Quote: "Why are you being so sweet to me?" - Cherry (Tom Holland)
This week's TV theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is something I love talking about. TV opening title sequences. It's a weird thing to be obsessed about but I love it. I normally just stick with 3 picks every week but for once I'm going to bump it to 6 because I just can't narrow it down. Instead of the normal gifs I use, I'll link youtube videos to each title sequence.
1) Game of Thrones - This is the undisputed winner of opening title sequences. The wonderful music, the ever changing map, this is my all time favorite opening title sequence. I still listen to the music from this show often, it's just so perfect. Watch
2) Mad Men - This is another one where the music really elevates it. While it's just a drawing of a man falling from a building past so many advertisements, the music accompanying it makes it perfect. Watch
3) Daredevil - The blood red covering New York, his saints, everything. Of all the Marvel shows, this one definitely had the best opening title. Watch
4) The Night Of - This was a limited series and the opening titles showed bits of New York and various crimes the series would talk about. It's very underrated and HBO always has amazing opening title sequences. Watch.
5) His Dark Materials - A newer show, but I'm obsessed with the theme song and the imagery is beautiful. Watch
6) True Blood - These credits show no one that is actually in the show but they are so very Southern and it just fits the tone of the show perfectly. Watch
Writer/actress Allison (Aubrey Plaza) is in need of some inspiration and retreats to a secluded mountain cabin with a friend of a friend, Gabe (Christopher Abbott) and his wife Blair. (Sarah Gadon) What starts as an awkward meeting turns into full on jealously when the lines begin to blur.
I've heard nothing but good things about Aubrey Plaza's performance in this, but I had never watched a trailer and all the reviews I read were spoiler free. The quick synopsis on IMDb doesn't really do this justice either. I was surprised to see the turn it took.
I won't give spoilers either, but Black Bear in a way is two versions of the same movie. It takes a very meta approach that is pretty interesting, though I did prefer the first half of the movie to the second.
Plaza is as wonderful as everyone says. This is easily her best performance. Gadon and Abbott were also very good in their roles. I think the film goes a bit too hard into showing us that they're having problems, but they handle it all well.
You can rent this film on VOD. I did for $5.00 through Prime, and it's worth the small cost. This is a film I wish I could've gone to my favorite indie theater to see.
Memorable Quote: "You're alienating our guest." - Blair (Sarah Gadon)
Mara (Katherine Langford) is having another boring day in homeroom when one of her classmates violently explodes right in front of her. Afterwards, a classmate Dylan (Charlie Plummer) confesses his crush on Mara when he realizes they might not have a lot of time left. These two fall in love while their classmates continue to mysteriously explode all around them.
The premise of this film immediately caught my attention because it sounds so ridiculous. So when I signed up for a free trial of Epix to watch Saint Maud, and saw this was on there too. I knew I had to check it out.
The film is very funny and Langford is a natural in this role. Mara is an overly sarcastic cool girl, which I find can be a trope that often feels phony. Like it's how someone who felt awkward in high school wishes they could go back and do it again with this perspective, but it works very well in this set up. No one knows why this is only happening to her classmates, and someone being incredulous and smart assy during it makes sense.
The film really loses its way during the 3rd act. Not enough to completely ruin it, but it doesn't match the quality of the hour or so that came before it. One of the things that gets pushed to the side is Mara's relationship with her best friend, Tess. (Hayley Law) I really wanted more of them together and Mara just kind of dumps her for Dylan. I felt like they dropped the ball with that friendship because Langford and Law were great together.
I'm glad I was able to watch this for free. It would've been worth renting but I'm not going to complain about finding it through a free trial. It's worth seeking out.
Memorable Quote: "You're right. You have it way worse." - Angela (Piper Perabo)
This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about those characters that have to fake it to make it. This week we're talking about fake identities. There's plenty to choose from, so here are three of my favorites.
1) A Knight's Tale - About a poor man who poses as a lord to enter a jousting tournament. This is one of those movies that's on TV quite frequently and if I catch it, I always sit down and watch it. I miss Heath Ledger and he and the rest of the cast are so great in this.
2) A History of Violence - About a family man who has tried to invent a new persona to step away from his violent past. This is one of my favorite Viggo Mortensen performances.
3) Parasite - About a poor family who lie about their credentials to become staff in a rich home. I still think about this movie so much. I very rarely buy films on DVD any more and this is one I bought immediately when it came out. It's so good.
Rosemary (Emily Blunt) grows up on a farm in Ireland falling in love with her aloof next door neighbor, Anthony. (Jamie Dornan) When Anthony's father, Tony (Christopher Walken) threatens to sell their farm to his American nephew Adam (Jon Hamm) Rosemary realizes she's on borrowed time getting Anthony to love her.
My watching this is entirely Film Twitter's fault. Many of my mutuals watched it, and every single one of them expressed exasperation with this film's ending. What could possibly be so ridiculous that everyone was commenting on it? I won't spoil it for you, but the hyperbole is true. This film's third act is completely batshit...and it brings a smile to my face.
This movie is bad. This is what foreigners think Ireland is like before traveling there themselves. It's got everything, stew, Guinness, extremely bright greens. None of the dialogue feels natural and some of the Irish accents, mainly Walken's are beyond tragic. But the film's biggest flaw is I cannot for the life of me understand what Rosemary sees in Anthony.
Every one of their interactions is strange. Rosemary is beautiful and she's over here begging for Anthony's dick when it's so clear she could do better. I'm mostly perplexed on how so many talented people ended up making this movie. It had to be the free trip to Ireland.
This film is worth seeing for the 3rd act alone, but don't expect anything interesting before that. Just trust that you will at least laugh at it.
Memorable Quote: "I gave up the smokes." - Rosemary (Emily Blunt)
Jacob (Steven Yeun) his wife Monica (Yeri Han) and their two children Anne (Noel Cho) and David (Alan S. Kim) are Korean immigrants who have recently moved from California to Arkansas to fulfill Jacob's dream of starting a farm. Told mostly from the perspective of David, they face many hardships adjusting to farm life. Monica's mother (Yuh-jung Youn) also comes to live with them which David has a hard time adjusting to.
I've been a huge fan of Steven Yeun since watching him on The Walking Dead so this has been one of my most anticipated films for ages and it absolutely lived up to my expectations.
Director Lee Isaac Chung makes a very heartfelt and honest "American dream" film. Even though we've seen plenty of these in the past, this didn't feel repetitive. Immigrants often face a lot of harassment in the form of racism and xenophobia, and while there are a few quick comments of it, I liked that it wasn't a huge part of the narrative. I think that helps set it apart. Their struggles are about money and what it takes to run a farm. It doesn't overwhelm us with knocking the family down over and over.
Yeun is wonderful like I expected. This was such a different role for him. All the actors were great, but he was the standout for me. Yuh-jung Youn was amazing as the grandma as well, and I'm glad she and Yeun are getting so much attention for these roles. Young Alan S. Kim did a great job carrying this film. He's adorable and I just fell in love with that kid immediately.
While I wish it would've had a more of an ending, I felt more watching this film than I did several of the 2020-2021 releases this year. It's so lovely.
Memorable Quote: "Let's give them Mountain Dew." - David (Alan S. Kim)
We've finally made it to our last big nomination list. This season has gone on forever and now we finally have our Oscar nominees. Thankfully this year I'm much more happy about the list of nominations than I was last year when there was so much garbage. But of course, there's always a few misses I'm sad about. Here's a list of the nominations + my thoughts.
Bette Davis is an actress that's sorely missing from my personal watch list. Every time I've seen her in a film, I've loved her performance. So this year, I made a point to have a few of her films on my Blind Spot list. The first of which being Of Human Bondage
Phillip (Leslie Howard) has enrolled in medical school and falls for a very indifferent waitress, Mildred. (Bette Davis) Over the span of a few years, she rejects him, runs off, comes back, gets pregnant, ruins his life, etc. But Phillip just can't let her go.
I watched this on Amazon Prime, which totes this film as "gloriously remastered" but in all actuality, the quality is still very poor so it's hard to appreciate any beauty this film once had. I don't hold it against a film made in 1934. I'm just happy I was able to see it at all.
From a story standpoint, it's frustrating seeing Phillip make so many mistakes. He's not completely innocent all the time, Mildred shouldn't have to settle with someone she doesn't want either, but it's sad all around. But Bette - she's amazing. The context of this role matters to, as it was so unlikable and Bette was a rising star. For her to take it was a big leap. She even got a write in vote at the Oscars for Best Actress.
This film is pretty short, I believe it comes it at under 90 minutes so it makes for a brisk watch and quality aside, it's definitely worth it for Bette Davis.
Memorable Quote: "It's just as though you were bound to her in some way." - Norah (Kay Johnson)
Now onto my second Bette feature, which I watched because Joel suggested it.
Now Voyager stars Davis as Charlotte Vale, a woman who is falling into what society deems "spinster" territory and her controlling mother is wreaking havoc on her mental health. After spending some time in a hospital, she gains some confidence and goes on a cruise at her cousin's suggestion. She meets Jerry (Paul Henreid) who is married but they strike up an affair that will change her life forever.
First off, I think I had a mental breakdown of my own watching this. Davis was 33 when she made this movie, the same age I am now and the makeup they have her in during the beginning of this film ages her so much. They make her look like a nimble old maid and we should never look at anyone in their 30's (or 40's or 50's) like that. Jesus.
That aside, she was wonderful in this. I felt so much for Charlotte. It's hard trying to be a woman in your own right with an unsupportive mother breathing down your neck and always comparing you to siblings. It's easy to root for her to succeed. I can't even fault her for wanting this affair. What else does she have? A third act introduction of a character named Tina (Paul Henreid) is a clever way of helping Charlotte move forward.
I thought this dragged a bit in the second act after Charlotte leaves the cruise and goes back home. I think I just expected more of the story to take place there, but it comes around and I ended up enjoying this more than Of Human Bondage.
Memorable Quote: "I didn't want to be born. You didn't want me to be born. It's been a calamity on both sides." - Charlotte Vale (Bette Davis)
The White Tiger - This Netflix movie has been slowly gaining some awards momentum so I decided to check it out. It gets off to a really good start. It's very energetic and I enjoyed the narration, then it just fizzles out. While it says something interesting about the class divide in India, I just got bored with it. I felt it was all over the place. C
The Climb - This film starts off with a long one take tracking shot of two friends riding bike and it's wonderful to look at. There's a lot of clever shots in this. It can at times feel like the directors are showing off, but I really enjoyed this story of two men and their friendship. It was sharp, funny, and a little bit morbid. I will say all the female characters are written terribly, but since the main story is the friendship between these two guys, I won't hold it against them *too* much. B+
Palmer - What a waste of Juno Temple. A lot was made of the non binary actor playing Sam, and I expected that to be part of the story but it really isn't. Sam is just berated for being different, though some people eventually warm up to that. I'll give Justin Timberlake credit, he's pretty good here and the film kept my attention, but it's nothing to write home about. C
The Happiest Season - Add me to the never ending list of people who think Kristen Stewart's character should've just ran off with Aubrey Plaza. It was fine, but it could've been better. B
The Dig - We need to talk about age appropriate casting because as much as I love Carey Mulligan she is so miscast in this. Edith Pretty, the real life woman she was playing was in her 50's when this all went down and you can tell that this role was meant for a woman of that age. Why aren't we giving actresses in their 50's these opportunities? Why are we passing this stuff off to women in their 30's? Maybe they dodged a bullet. This film was incredibly dull. D
This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is movies that haven't stood the test of time. There are so many films that are going to fall into this categories. Mainly comedies. We could probably talk about the entire Hangover trilogy here, but I decided to pick from a few different genres. Here's what I came up with.
1) Ace Ventura: Pet Detective - When I was a kid, I watched Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls all the time, but I believe I only saw the first one once. When the trans community started talking about how offensive this movie was, I struggled to even remember what happened in it. Then I watched the documentary Disclosure where they showed clips of the awful transphobia that happens in this film. I struggle now to even think how anyone found this funny.
2) Swing Time - This was on my Blind Spot list last year and I was absolutely loving this movie until Fred Astaire dawns black face in order to perform a tribute to Bill Robinson. This totally ruined the movie for me. If you removed this scene entirely, it would honestly be an A+ but it is just so offensive and out of place. I hate that scene so much.
3) The Aristocats - Because of Disney+, I've revisited a lot of those classic films I watched as a child and to say one of the characters in this film is offensive towards anyone from East Asian decent is an understatement to say the least. A Siamese cat playing piano with chopsticks and singing about fortune cookies? Voiced by a white guy? Yeesh.
This is the one awards show I never get to watch due to the time difference but I can't resist talking about them because this year they're even more out there than usual. Below are my thoughts.