Review: Dunkirk

A colossal military disaster. 

In 1940, allied troops are stranded on the beach of Dunkirk, France with enemies closing in from the land, and picking them off from the sky. We follow three different stories spanning different times. The Mole, lasts one week and follows soldiers attempting to get off the beaches. The Sea takes place in a day, and follows a civilian Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) as he and other sailors respond to calls for help from Dunkirk. The 3rd story is The Air, which takes place in an hour and follows a pilot (Tom Hardy) as he attempts to stop the enemies from above. 

I can't think of another movie where I had this sentiment, but character development barely matters here and Nolan spends no time on it. It works, because we don't need to know these soldiers' and civilians' back stories. We already sympathize with them trying to escape a desperate situation. We start right in the action and stay there the entire time. Anything else would've bogged down the narrative. Because of that, no performance in particular really stands out. They're all equally good. 

I mentioned on Twitter how shocked I was that this film was under two hours, it absolutely flies by. I'm thankful for that shorter run time, this movie was so tense I'm not sure if I could've handled it being any longer. I was already holding my breath for much longer than I should have been. Dunkirk is beautifully shot and I expect this to be all over the sound nominations come Oscar time. Nolan as a director never disappoints me. He's crafted an amazing film here.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A-

Memorable Quote: "I'll be useful, sir." - George (Barry Keoghan)

Thursday Movie Picks: The Chosen One

That's a lot of pressure, right? To know you've been chosen to do something that's probably really dangerous and important. This week Wanderer asks us to talk about said chosen ones. We're about to get franchise-y up in here.

1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The boy who lived, come to die. Words cannot describe how much the Harry Potter franchise means to me. This film is my favorite of the bunch. Mostly because Ron and Hermione finally kissed.

2) Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith

Okay, so the Star Wars prequels were mostly awful but RotS was at least watchable. You were the chosen one Anakin, and look where you are now. Obi Wan kicked your ass.

3) The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Frodo finally brings the ring to Mordor. He never expects to make it, but he does. I love these movies too. I only re-watch the extended versions though, especially of this one. One does not simply exclude that Saruman death scene.

2017 Blind Spot Series: Boyz in the Hood


What I knew going in: I had seen parts of this film before, but never in order.

We follow three boys in inner city Los Angeles. There's Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who is raised by his father "Furious" (Laurence Fishburne) to have a strong sense of character and his friends, half brothers Ricky (Morris Chestnut) and Darren (Ice Cube) who are taking two very different paths. 

For all the times I managed to catch this film on TV, I never realized that it actually started with our three leads as children. Another one of the many reasons I love the Blind Spot Series. 

Boyz in the Hood still feels very relevant today with its commentary on racism and violence. It's well paced and even though you know something awful is likely going to happen, that's not the point. The violence in that place and time was predictable and that's the saddest thing of all. 

Fishburne was the standout to me. Furious' name seems like it would come from what lies beneath. He's a very steady character, intimidating, and gives you the instant feeling that you do not want to disappoint him. Gooding, Cube, and Chesnut all do a good job with their roles as well, even if their characters aren't always likable. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "Any fool with a dick can make a baby, but only a real man can raise his children." - Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne)  

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes

Hail, Caesar

Two years after hate filled Koba started a conflict between human and apes, that war is still raging on. Caesar (Andy Serkis) has hidden his colony of apes deep in the forest. When he shows human soldiers mercy, their Colonel (Woody Harrelson) repays him in kind by orchestrated a night time raid on Caeser's colony. Now hellbent on revenge, Caesar attempts to leave on his own to find the Colonel, however a few of his loyal followers, Maurice (Karin Konoval) Rocket (Terry Notary) and Luca (Michael Adamthwaite) don't let him go solo.

I've really come to love the Planet of the Apes franchise. I've always enjoyed the movies, but in the past year or so I've really come to love them even more. I'd go back and bump up my original letter grades from B's to A's on each film if I believed in altering my old reviews. War does what I wish the other films had done more of: they focus on the Apes, the humans have even less screen time here. 

Every review I read mentioned how bleak this film is for a summer blockbuster, and make no mistake it is. It's incredibly sad, but I was surprised at the amount of lightness that was in it. It mostly comes from Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) a new addition. He's funny, yet tragic enough that he doesn't get pushed into the token comic relief box. There's an incredible sadness to him. Caesar of course is the heart of the film. The title, War is less about actual battles fought and more about what's going on inside him. The Colonel has taken so much from him, now he wrestles with the side of him that wants bloody revenge. Andy Serkis gives an incredible performance. Director Matt Reeves uses plenty of close ups so you can see Serkis within Caesar. 

Which brings me to the incredible CGI in this film. If this doesn't win the special effects Oscar, there's something seriously wrong here. These apes look real. The snow, the water, everything on their fur looks so real, and you can see the actor's faces etched into theirs. It's jaw dropping. The score for this film is also beautiful and fitting. I recommend waiting to see the film before listening to it in full. I'm firmly on the "Give Andy Serkis An Oscar Nomination" bandwagon. His work here is amazing. Harrelson, even though he's in it far less makes great use of all his screen time. While we hate him, his reasons for doing the things he does are logical. It's just unfortunate that it comes to this.

The film does follow a formula but most blockbuster films do. It doesn't hurt the film in any way. My only disappointments were some of the deaths. Having read the official prequel novels, there's two characters in particular that feature heavily, yet meet their demise in this film, and it makes me sad because I loved getting to know them so much. Please excuse me while I go cry again.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+ (yep. I'm doing it. I can't wait to see this again. It's not even STID* glasses)

Memorable Quote: "They are the message." - Caesar (Andy Serkis)


*STID glasses = "Star Trek Into Darkness" glasses. When a film has so many flaws, but fuck you I had so much fun watching it.

2017 Emmy Nominations


The nominations for the biggest night in TV are here! With my favorite show, Game of Thrones taking a seat this year, it made the Drama Series category very interesting to me. Below are the nominees followed by my thoughts. 

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES
Better Call Saul
The Crown
The Handmaid’s Tale
House of Cards
Stranger Things
This Is Us
Westworld
Game of Thrones won last year so their spot was up for grabs. I'm bummed Mr. Robot missed out, but with The Crown and The Handmaid's Tale getting raves, I knew it was going to be tough. I still wish I could sub House of Cards for them though. 


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA  SERIES
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Anthony Hopkins, Westworld
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
Last year's winner Rami Malek was shut out. I think that's ridiculous. Did Milo really need to be there? I'm surprised Hopkins was put in lead, but I'm happy for his nomination either way. 


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES 
Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
Claire Foy, The Crown
Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Keri Russell, The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
Robin Wright, House of Cards
Orphan Black wasn't eligible this year so last year's winner, Tatiana Maslany sat out. I'm so happy for Evan Rachel Wood. I may or may not have squealed when her nomination was announced. I thought Claire Foy would be the favorite to win, but now that Moss came on strong with The Handmaid's Tale I'm not so sure. 

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES 
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is The New Black
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Chrissy Metz, This Is Us
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Since Downton Abbey is over and can no longer suck up nominations/wins it doesn't deserve, Supporting is also without its defending champ. I thought Wiley would be nominated for OITNB, which I think she was better in but the Emmys get weird like that. I'm just glad her name is there at all. I'm stoked for young Millie, but I feel bad for her fellow Stranger Things kids because this is the final nail in the coffin that is the media ever treating them the same. 


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul
John Lithgow, The Crown
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Michael Kelly, House of Cards
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld
Ben Mendolsohn won last year and he's also absent. (Jesus, all the Drama categories are like this) I'm stoked for Wright, Harbour and Banks. It's too bad Jimmi Simpson didn't get in for Westworld too.


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES 
Alison Wright, The Americans
Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale
Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder
Ann Dowd, The Leftovers
Laverne Cox, Orange Is The New Black
Shannon Purser, Stranger Things
This Barb thing seriously needs to stop. She was a one off character who really didn't matter as much as fans kept insisting she did. I mean, this nomination is hilarious and I'm happy for Purser but....really? I'm also shocked this is the only nomination for The Leftovers. 


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES
Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline
BD Wong, Mr. Robot
Hank Azaria, Ray Donovan
Denis O’Hare, This Is Us
Brian Tyree Henry, This Is Us
Gerald McRaney, This Is Us
The Emmy's really liked This Is Us. I'm happy for BD Wong, repping the only Mr. Robot acting nomination. 


OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta
black-ish
Master of None
Modern Family
Silicon Valley
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep
I really thought Insecure would be nominated, I'm surprised to see it missed. As always, I'm here for Veep.


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Pamela Adlon, Better Things
Jane Fonda, Grace & Frankie
Allison Janney, Mom
Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julie Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Tracee Ellis Ross, black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace & Frankie
I have no idea what Better Things is. Or Grace & Frankie but I'm at least familiar with the name of that show. Go JLD. 


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Zach Galifianakis, Baskets
Donald Glover, Atlanta
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES 
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live
Kathryn Hahn, Transparent
Judith Light, Transparent
Anna Chlumsky, Veep
Holy SNL nominations. I actually think Anna Chlumsky might win this year, the other actresses might split the vote. 


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES 
Louie Anderson, Baskets
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Tony Hale, Veep
Matt Walsh, Veep
Louie Anderson is the returning champ. I'm always all for Tony Hale. Especially this season, he really deserves the win. 


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTRESS IN A COMEDY SERIES
Wanda Sykes, black-ish
Carrie Fisher, Catastrophe
Becky Ann Baker, Girls
Angela Bassett, Master of None
Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live
Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live
Well at least no one is sharing a nomination this year. Wiig is overrated. Carrie Fisher's name still makes me sad. 


OUTSTANDING GUEST ACTOR IN A COMEDY SERIES
Riz Ahmed, Girls
Matthew Rhys, Girls
Dave Chappelle, Saturday Night Live
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Saturday Night Live
Tom Hanks, Saturday Night Live
Hugh Laurie, Veep
Fuck yes Riz Ahmed is a double nominee! I actually watched that episode too. Yes, I watched Girls just because I wanted to see Riz in a sex scene, even if it was with Lena Dunham. Perving is serious business. I thought Lin-Manuel's SNL episode was really weak, but Tom Hanks' was hilarious. Hugh Laurie is so good in Veep, I'm happy to see him here. 


OUTSTANDING TV MOVIE
Black Mirror (“San Junipero”)
Dolly Parton’s Christmas Of Many Colors: Circle Of Love
Sherlock: The Lying Detective
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Wizard of Lies
HOW is Black Mirror in this category? It should've been in limited series. I love Black Mirror, I think it's one of the best shows on television but I hate this shit. This is less sketchy than Sherlock being in this category. That wasn't a TV movie. And if we're really doing that, perhaps Nosedive or Shut Up And Dance should've made it in here. Henrietta Lacks was a bore and this was Sherlock's weakest series yet. 

OUTSTANDING LIMITED SERIES 
Big Little Lies
Fargo
Feud: Bette and Joan
Genius
The Night Of
I haven't seen Genius, so I wish Black Mirror could've been in its place. This category is so stacked. I don't know which show I want to win. 

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE
Carrie Coon, Fargo
Felicity Huffman, American Crime
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan
Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies
It's too bad Mary Elizabeth Winstead couldn't get nominated for Fargo too. The acting in this category is seriously good. 


OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE 
Riz Ahmed, The Night Of
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies
Ewan McGregor, Fargo
Geoffrey Rush, Genius
John Turturro, The Night Of
All I care about is Riz Ahmed. 

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE 
Regina King, American Crime
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies
Judy Davis, Feud: Bette and Joan
Jackie Hoffman, Feud: Better and Joan
Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies
I love that Jackie Hoffman was nominated and I'm happy for the Big Little Lies nominations as well. I think Regina King will repeat her win though, there will be a lot of vote splitting. 


OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A LIMITED SERIES OR MOVIE 
Alexander Skarsgård, Big Little Lies
David Thewlis, Fargo
Alfred Molina, Feud: Bette and Joan
Stanley Tucci, Feud: Bette and Joan
Bill Camp, The Night Of
Michael Kenneth Williams, The Night Of
I'm glad Skarsgard is here. He actually made me hate him in BLL when I normally perv on him. That's talent. I'm always happy to see Michael Kenneth Williams' talent appreciated as well. 


OUTSTANDING VARIETY TALK SERIES 
Full Frontal With Samantha Bee
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
The Late Late Show With James Corden
The Late Show With Stephen Colbert
Real Time With Bill Maher

Thursday Movie Picks: Amusement Parks

This week Wanderer asks us to talk about amusement parks. I've always been a fan of those. Sure, they're over priced but I like to wander around and eat fair food. Here are three of my favorite films that take place at amusement parks, although I would never want to visit these.

1) Zombieland

It's the zombie apocalypse and the place to be is at an amusement park. Sure, there's zero logic in that idea but why not ride that roller coaster one last time?

2) Jurassic Park

I love dinosaurs. I loved learning about them as a kid. If I was offered the chance to go to an amusement park where they recreated dinosaurs? Fuck no. I know what's going to happen. (it involves being eaten)

3) Adventureland

This park isn't as stressful as the other ones. It's just basic to the point where the entire staff is bored. Still, Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart have great chemistry. 

Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

When you're tired of waiting..

Peter Parker (Tom Holland) isn't exactly adjusting back to his high school life very well after being called upon by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) in Civil War. Parker attempts to prove he's ready to fight alongside the Avengers by trying to help people around New York. He ends up encountering a man named Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) who makes a living selling alien weapons to criminals and this provides Peter with his biggest solo threat since.

It feels good to have Spider-Man back in the MCU. His cameo was perfect in Civil War and his first solo outing was good as well. While Tobey will always hold a dear spot in my heart, I think Holland is the best Spiderman we've had. He captures that naivety and humor Peter has perfectly. 

Homecoming finds a good balance between Peter's school life and his new life of fighting crime. Vulture was a good villain. He felt fleshed out and the film even took the time to give us a quick look at the next film's villain in the from of Scorpion (Michael Mando) They also were careful not to overuse Tony. Like I figured, nearly all of his scenes in the film were in the trailers so he probably had less than 10 minutes of screen time total. The only time it felt forced was when Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) came in. I don't know if it's because Paltrow is so insufferable or if it was because Tony was so much more interesting when they were on their "break" but that was the only time I didn't like the Iron Man cameo.

I liked the cast of teenagers they had here. Jacob Batalon as Peter's BFF Ned was the standout. My man Abraham Attah was even there for a bit (Still annoyed about his lack of Oscar nom for Beasts of No Nation) I liked Zendaya's new character of Michelle, but I think calling her "MJ" at the end was the wrong move.  Let her be Peter Parker's "Rachel Dawes" so to speak. MJ is supposed to be this beautiful, popular party girl. Zendaya being a beautiful, popular party girl herself would've been great at that too, but nothing about Michelle is very MJ like. I'm sure they thought it would be a nice nod for comic fans, but it came off more eye-rolling than anything. Especially when Michelle was cool on her own.

Aside from that, the only issue with the film I really had was how long it felt. It's very rare that I feel that way during Marvel movies, but it's a fun time at the movies and I look forward to more Spidey in the MCU.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I was....looking at porn." - Ned (Jacob Batalon) 

Indie Gems: The Salesman

Therapy all around.

Emad (Shahab Hosseini) and Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti) are a married couple in Tehran who are forced to evacuate their apartment. While performing "Death of a Salesman" on stage, one of their castmates offers them a temporary apartment where the previous tenant had lots of visitors. When Rana is assaulted by one of these visitors, Emad struggles with wanting to go after that person and trying to understand how to support Rana through this trauma.

Director Asghar Farhadi impressed (and infuriated me) in 2011 with A Separation so I was happy to see him getting Oscar attention again for this again. He crafts fascinating character studies. At times it's hard to watch Rana and Emad navigate the murky waters of PTSD. You want them to go to group therapy together and just LISTEN to each other, but it's never that simple.

Farhadi and Alidoosti are great in their roles. The film handles the assault very delicately and nothing graphic is shown or explained. This made it an easier watch for me considering how awful I usually handle that subject matter. 

Grade: B

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I thought it was you." - Rana (Taraneh Alidoosti)

Thursday Movie Picks: Summer Vacation

Ahh summer. Remember when you looked forward to that when you're in school? Now when you're an adult and a parent like me. You look forward to the lovely weather then groan internally for three minutes over the fact that you have to find daycare for a few months. Wanderer asks for summer vacation movies, and here's three I think you should see.

1) The Kings of Summer

I was not expecting to like this movie. I'm in that point in my life where I struggle with watching movies about teenagers because I suddenly feel so old. But this one is great, and I can't get enough of Nick Offerman

2) My Girl

One of my favorites growing up. I liked Vada a lot. As a kid, she felt very familiar to me. I still cry when I watch this.

3) My Summer of Love

Teenage Emily Blunt had it then. This movie about two girls and well, their summer of love. It's a beautiful film. 

Review: The Beguiled

You mad, bro?


When young Amy (Oona Laurence) stumbles upon wounded Corporal McBurney (Colin Farrell) in the forest, she brings him back to her mostly empty school for girls. Headmistress Martha (Nicole Kidman) decides they will treat him instead of giving him up to Confederate soldiers but soon the teachers and a few older students find themselves trying too hard to get his attention.

I never saw the original so I can't compare it to that, but this film was very Sofia Coppola. It's slow, methodical, and beautifully shot. It also ended up being way more amusing than I think it meant to be when you realize that some of these women just really want the D.

Story wise, there's not a lot here but it's enough to keep you interested. The cast is wonderful. Kidman is top notch, as is Kirsten Dunst. It's also nice to see Oona Laurence and Angourie Rice when they stole the shows in their last respective films (Southpaw and The Nice Guys) The only one I felt struggled was surprisingly Elle Fanning. I didn't find her character very believable. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B-

Memorable Quote: "I wish to be taken far away from here." - Edwina (Kirsten Dunst)

Review: Okja

All for the super pigs

Mija (Seo-Hyun Ahn) is a young girl in South Korea who has been raising a "super pig" named Okja for the last 10 years. You see, Lucy Mirando (Tilda Swinton) is trying to pass off her company's genetically engineered food as more "heartwarming" so 26 super pigs were sent to farms all around the world 10 years prior to be raised, then entered in a quasi pig beauty contest for the "best" one. However that's all smoke and mirrors as the Mirando company really just plans on chopping them up and making food out of them. Mija is not too keen when Okja is taken from her farm to New York City. She attempts to follow, but runs into some animal rights activists (Paul Dano and Steven Yeun among others) who are trying to save Okja and expose the Mirando Corporation for what they really are.

Okja is a fucking weird movie but in the best way. Nevermind the fact that you have this massive CGI pig running around. Jake Gyllenhaal plays a semi Steve Irwin type TV Zoologist with a high pitched voice and tight shorts. He's completely outrageous to watch. Tilda Swinton is her glorious self and Dano and Yeun together are a treat. Giancarlo Esposito also has a small but memorable role. The real star of Okja is Ahn. Her determination, stamina, and love for friend drive the entire film. 

I loved director Joon-ho Bong's last feature, Snowpiercer. The tone of both films is completely different but they both slide in that effortless strange comedy every now and again. I'm making a point to check out more of his films.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "This is a non-lethal choke hold!" - K (Steven Yeun)

Indie Gems: I, Daniel Blake

A never ending cycle.

Daniel Blake (Dave Johns) suffers a massive heart attack at age 59. His doctors tell him he can't go back to work, but he's getting the run around from the unemployment office when trying to sign up for benefits. While there, he befriends a single mom named Katie (Hayley Squires) who is also having a rough time trying to get benefits after she's forced to move.

I hadn't heard of this film until the BAFTA's gave it a ton of love earlier in the year. It struck me as an American, how amazing Britian's healthcare system is compared to ours with nearly everything covered. You'd think that all their government programs would be the same, but that's absolutely not the case. Daniel is given zero guidance on how to register for the proper help. They won't even assist him with filling out a form online when he isn't familiar with computers. It's frustrating to see him treated that way, especially when he wants to get back to work but is repeated told he can't.

Johns and Squires are perfectly cast here and have great chemistry together. Their friendship is pure and believable. 

A film like this is very predictable, but it's so well made that it makes up for it.


Grade: A-

Watched on: Delta Studios in flight 

Memorable Quote: "I feel like I'm going under." - Katie (Hayley Squires)

Thursday Movie Picks: Medical Dramas - TV Edition

Someone is going to need to prescribe me some muscle relaxers for the amount of reaching I'm about to do this week. It's another TV edition from Wanderer, and I just happen to be the only person who never got into Grey's Anatomy, ER, Nip/Tuck or any other medical drama. So brace yourselves, some bullshit is coming.

1) Scrubs

This is at least close to the theme, though it's a comedy. Scrubs is the only TV show I watched that took place in a hospital. It had some dramatic moments, damn it.

2) Agents of SHIELD

What's this madness? Well, Simmons, one of the leads on this show is a doctor and they actually do talk about medical procedures fairly often. Someone is always quarantined, injured, or an alien that needs examining. 

3) Doc McStuffins

You think a kiddie show can't be dramatic? Well, thanks to my son I've seen every single episode of this show and let me tell you, Doc's toys are dramatic as hell. Stuffy always thinks he's injured and Chilly clearly has some form of depression that no one is addressing. 

DVD Review: Beauty and the Beast

This movie sucks, you guys.

I don't think I need to recap what Beauty and the Beast is about. It's one of my favorite Disney movies, and when I heard they were doing a live action version, I welcomed the idea. In my mind, I fan casted Emmy Rossum as Belle as she would've been perfect. Instead, they chose Emma Watson, who cannot act (nor sing as it turns out) and apparently didn't spend enough money on proper CGI because it all looked awful.

This isn't a review; it's a rant. I'll be up front about it in case you want to stop reading. I skipped it in theaters after seeing the trailers but it was an option for an in flight movie and my son legitimately wanted to watch it. 

It's sad when the two most obnoxious characters, Luke Evan's Gaston and Josh Gad's LeFou are the best part of the film. Kevin Kline was atrocious as Maurice, he looked like he couldn't be bothered to emote (maybe that's where Belle got that from?) Emma Watson ranges from "bored" to "trying hard to remember my lines" throughout the entire film and they've autotuned her voice so much that none of Belle's songs capture the same magic from the animated version.

And that right there is the film's biggest problem (aside from poor casting and CGI) they didn't capture any of the magic from the original. Be Our Guest wasn't as flashy. Tale as Old as Time wasn't as romantic. Even the talented voice cast couldn't breathe a bit more life into their characters. It was all subpar. 

I'm mostly in shock that a film who added unnecessary side stories that caused it to drag even more and whose lead has the weakest singing voice is going to make a billion dollars at the box office. Everyone was surprised that Alice in Wonderland managed that feat seven years ago. That was a far better film than this. 

Recommended: No

Grade: F

Memorable Quote: "The Captain has turned the seat belt sign back on, please return to your seats." - the flight attendant while I was watching this. 

DVD Review: Split

It's the voices.

Dennis (James McAvoy) is a troubled man diagnosed with 23 different personalities. His therapist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley) thinks he's a marvel, but his constant emails for emergency meetings have her concerned. And that's for good reason, seeing as he's just kidnapped three teenager girls; the troubled Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her two red shirts classmates Claire (Haley Lu Richardson) and Marcia. (Jessica Sula) Casey is the passive one. She doesn't want to fight, she wants to listen and figure this out first. Things start to escalate.

I gave up M. Night Shyamalan movies long ago because they're trash. But when this one got good reviews, I decided I'd give it a chance as I'm a big fan of James McAvoy. He does not disappoint. He's absolutely wonderful in this film and really gets to show off his versatile acting chops, but I have to wonder if this film is getting over praised because Shyamalan didn't massively fuck up again?

Spoilers are coming

Split, in all honestly was pretty dull. It had some good ideas but it never properly built the dread a film like this should rely on. It was always obviously Casey would make it out, and her two friends would not. They're essentially afterthoughts in this film. Just two people to up the body count. The "big Shyamalan twist" at the end was the reappearance of Bruce Willis' character from Unbreakable, which I give him credit as no one saw that coming. But that wasn't even the thing that stuck with me at the end. It was the last look Casey gave the police officer when they said her uncle was here to pick her up.

That same uncle who from various flashbacks we're shown has been sexually abusing Casey since she was a small child. This is meant to explain why Casey is "different" from Claire and Marcia, self harms, cuts class, etc. But I don't think M. Night was the right director to handle something as terrible and triggering as sexual abuse. It felt insincere in his hands. Like it was just another thing he wanted to use to shock. 

Recommended: No

Grade: C-

Memorable Quote: "I'll let you know when I hear something that makes sense." - Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy)


Thursday Movie Picks: The Woods

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is everyone's favorite creepy place to hang out alone: the woods. It's really hard not to go completely with the horror route this week. Here's what I came up with. 

1) The Cabin the Woods

I gave myself one horror pick because I love this movie so much. It's still hilarious no matter how many times I re-watch it. 

2) The Hunt for the Wilderpeople

This wonderful little film that takes place in the New Zealand bush was one of my favorites from last year. 

3) Once Upon a Forest

I used to watch this movie all the time when I was a kid. It's about some woodland critters (not the South Park kind) who try to find a rare plant to save one of their sick friends (who was voiced by Elisabeth Moss, which I never knew before)  To make this childhood story even more lame, the only reason I had this on VHS in the first place was because I won it at my local roller rink for winning the "Four Corners" game.

2017 Blind Spot Series: Do The Right Thing

It's gonna get hotter. 

What I knew going in: Aside from the themes about racial divide, not much at all.

Sal (Danny Aiello) owns a pizza place in Brooklyn. His customers are almost exclusively black due to the area he built in. His racist son, Pino (John Turturro) thinks he should relocate, but he refuses. One day one of his customers, Buggin Out (Giancarlo Esposito) asks why he only has photos of Italian American white men and no black men on his walls. This disagreement turns into Buggin Out attempting to boycott the pizzeria, which continues to escalate throughout the day. Mookie (Spike Lee) A friend of Buggin, but an employee of Sal finds himself caught in the middle.

Doing "day in the life" films can be difficult. It's hard to follow someone, or a few people around for a set period of time if their story doesn't progress or shift in any way. Do The Right Thing makes it look easy. There's a lot going on in this film. Through Mookie's eyes, we meet all of his neighbors. Some more memorable than others but every single one felt like they served a purpose.

It's hard for me to describe how this film was shot. To me, it looks like a music video, and it absolutely works. The camera is often above our character, shooting them at a downwards angle. It's not afraid to get in their personal space. I imagine that's how Lee wanted his audience to feel. Like we needed to get in there to understand the importance of it all.

It's so strange for me to see Esposito in a role like this after being so used to him as the methodical Gus Fring in Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul.  I'm glad Lee cast himself in this as well. The acting is great all around, especially from the supporting cast. I felt myself getting very defensive of Roger Guenveur Smith's Smiley several times. But I can't for the life of me figure out why out of all these people, Aiello ended up with the lone acting Oscar nomination. He's good, don't get me wrong, but I didn't feel that he was the strongest.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "You should boycott the barber that fucked up your head."  - Sweet Dick Willie (Robin Harris)

DVD Review: Your Name

What is this life?

Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi) is a teenager living in a small town in Japan who dreams of living in Tokyo. Taki (Ryûnosuke Kamiki) is a teenager living an overly scheduled life in Tokyo where he attends school and works part time at an Italian restaurant. Some nights they have dreams where they live the other's lives, and they start to communicate by leaving notes for each other to make those "dreams" easier. 

I'm not familiar with writer/director Makoto Shinkai's work, but when I read a few reviews for this film a while back, I knew immediately I wanted to see it. I was happy to see that it was an option to watch on my long flight to Europe last week. 

The story itself is quite amusing. Obviously you can't just seamlessly transition into living someone else's life. Mitsuha and Taki make a ton of mistakes in each other bodies. Mitsuha also attempts to help Taki's dating life much to his embarrassment. Taki doesn't try to change anything about Mitsuha's life, except for the fact that he fondles her/his breasts every time because he's a teenage boy.

The latter half of the film started to get messy once the two attempt to meet each other and see that their bond is even stranger than before. That got slightly irritating to watch as I just wish they would've hurried up a bit. (Admittedly, that could've just been the long flight too) But Your Name is a memorable anime that will stick with me for a long time. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "I hate this life! Please make me a handsome Tokyo boy in my next life! - Mitsuha (Mone Kamishiraishi)

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies Based on True Events

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is all about real life. There's a sea of bio pics and movies inspired by famous murders out there. I'll be surprised if there's a lot of overlap at all. I ended up doing a theme within a theme without realizing it. All three of the movies I chose feature James Franco

1) True Story

Christian Longo murdered his wife and three children, then fled to Mexico using the alias of Mike Finkel, a New York Times reporter. He then tells his story to the real Finkel while in prison. Even knowing the case behind this, the film still managed to make you wonder if things were going to be different. 

2) Lovelace

The true story of Linda Lovelace who was pushed into the adult film industry by her creep of a husband and was frequently abused by several people in the business before getting herself out. Amanda Seyfried gives her career best in the lead role, the entire cast is very strong. 

3) 127 Hours

Aron Ralston goes mountain climbing alone in Utah and ends up with his arm wedged between a boulder after falling down a crevasse. He ends up having to cut off his own arm with a small knife in order to free himself. This film was beautifully shot by Danny Boyle.  

Thursday Movie Picks: Double Features

This week, Wanderer asks us to choose films we think make a good double feature. There are endless possibilities here. This is what I came up with.

1) 2:37/Elephant

Both of these movies involve tragedies set in high schools. At one time, 2:37 was accused of ripping Elephant off but aside from one tracking shot, I think they're very different looks into how the worse thing imaginable can happen within a school.

2) Black Sheep/Tommy Boy

Nostalgia pick! I used to watch these two films back to back all the time when I was a kid. In fact, sometimes when I think of a specific scene, I struggle to remember which movie it was from.

3) The Big Short/99 Homes

Both of these movies tackle the American housing crisis in 2008, but they look at it from different sides. The Big Short shows us the rich Wall Street workers that pulled it off, and 99 Homes shows us the poor people that suffered. 

Review: Wonder Woman

Nevertheless, she persisted. 

We've already met Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) in Batman v Superman but in her solo film we see her as Diana, a princess in her hidden land of warrior women called Themyscira. They're sworn to protect man from Ares, the God of war. When a WWI pilot, Steve (Chris Pine) breaches their barrier and washes up on shore. Diane goes with him to help save innocent lives after he tells her of the Great War. 

DCEU finally has a film on their hands that isn't a complete trainwreck, and that feels good. But am I going to lose a little blogger cred here if I say that I didn't like all of it? Don't get me wrong. The majority of this film is amazing. The first time we see Diana dawn her costume, walk into "No Man's Land" solo, with her perfect theme music picking up at just the right moment was masterful. I couldn't believe how emotional I felt watching it. It was stunning, I thought I was actually going to cry for a minute, but the climatic fight scene at the end is horrendous. They had elegant and strangely gorgeous fight choreography through out, but the 3rd act sacrifices all that to special effects that don't live up. I'm actually shocked that something so bad happened in a film that was so good right up until that moment.

Thankfully, that's not enough to sour the movie. Gal Gadot really captures Diana's naivety. Whether she's seeing a baby or tasting ice cream for the first time, it's so sincere to witness. Because of that, I couldn't really get behind her and Steve's eventual romance. Or at least one part of it. It just felt strange. Pine does a good job too. He's an actor I always find easy to watch. The supporting cast is diverse and fun, with the exception of David Thewlis for reasons I can't really get into without spoiling. But most of all, I'm so happy for director Patty Jenkins. She hasn't directed a feature since 2003 and she opened this one to 100 million. Now that's wonderful.

I think it's a testament to how great comic book movies can be when they make us love characters we didn't when reading said comic books. I never liked Wonder Woman until now. Just like I didn't care about Iron Man until Robert Downey Jr. stepped into his shoes. Gadot and that glorious theme music will make me root for her from here on out.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "Well...that's neat." - Steve Trevor (Chris Pine)