Saturday, February 6, 2016

Movie Review: The Worst Year of My Life (2015)

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The Worst Year of My Life (2015)
*Streaming on Amazon Prime as of Dec 17, 2015*

Starring: Trevor St. John David, Amy Vorpahl, Cate Beehan, Nicholas Tucci
Directed By: Johnathan Smith
Released: February 13, 2015
Rating: 2/5

Summary: A man gets finds out his girlfriends been cheating on him and goes on a do what? I don't actually know.

My Thoughts: This movie was entertaining. It was funny, it was engaging, it just made no damn sense! It was a telling of a break-up, obviously, but it was trying to take the non-linear story-telling aspect to a place that it just looses the person watching the damned thing. The acting was the only thing keeping me watching and it was something else. For an indie flick, I was impressed. It wasn't anything phenomenal by any means, but it felt real. However, I just...I couldn't follow it with all the jumping around it does because instead of explaining what's going on and what part in the relationship you're at, it takes you out of the movie and what part you're in and places you there in that part without much explanation at all and that's my main problem with this film. 

But it's an interesting take on a relationship as you follow him around with a therapist who's trying to help him and explain why things didn't work out. This could've been better, but it wasn't. You can sit around all day, watch this movie and you can sit an analyze it, but you won't get it because there's nothing really to get and that's that.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Movie Review: Sleeping With Other People (2015)

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Sleeping With Other People (2015)

Starring: Alison Brie, Jason Sudeikis, Adam Scott, Amanda Peet, Adam Brody
Written By: Leslye Headland
Directed By: Leslye Headland
Release Date: August 12, 2015
Rating: 3/5
Summary: Two people who have obvious relationship issues, one being a sex addict(?) and the other being a cheater, begin a platonic relationship, but it soon leads to more, but how will they act on it when they both are so messed up.

My Thoughts: I've been waiting for this movie for forever and after seeing it, I'm glad to say it did not disappoint. This is not a giant career leaper for either of our leads (Jason Sudekis and Alison Brie) but seeing these two as romantic interests was something else. One. Because this is the first time I've seen Jason Sudekis in this kind of role and Two. Because this is the first time I've seen Alison Brie in anything decent because I was not a fan of Get Hard.

Their chemistry was perfect as just two, everyday messed up people who are just trying to live their lives and even though the film falls into the typical rom-com trap with the whole 'Will they or won't they get together?' thing, you don't care. You just want them to be together and you're so tied up in this fun little story, you don't care if you've seen it time and time again. But what's new is that you have the two leads being terrible people when it comes to relationships is something I haven't seen and you don't really notice this at first because you're supposed to root for these people, but they kind of suck. They constantly are cheating on their partners and that's not okay, but you overlook it with these two because they're so damn charming. 

 And finally, we're dealt the same old age question that comes time and time again: Can men and women be just friends? It's When Harry Met Sally with a funner, sexier twist and I noticed it right off the bat with the meeting several years later and the constant banter between the two regardless. However, unlike When Harry Met Sally, the mutual attraction is silently mentioned between looks and glances and not mentioned until the very end. They know the problem, but wait until it's good and ready to try and solve it and while the problem is the two are in love with each other, you are okay with them being friends for the time being because you know what's going to happen at the end. You just know it, but it doesn't stop you from enjoying the hell out out it.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Movie Review: The Revenant (2015)

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The Revenant (2015)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson,
Written By: Mark L. Smith & Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Directed By:  Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Release Date: December 25, 2015
Rating: 4.6/5

Summary: Frontiersman, Hugh Glass, goes adventuring on with his crew until he gets mauled by a bear and left for dead in the woods and now he must survive on his own.

My Thoughts: I kept telling myself that this wasn't going to Leo's year because of the other movies I'd seen this year and boy, was I wrong. That was before I saw this movie. This movie is great and Leo deserves that Oscar because he acted the hell out of this movie, which is weird because I don't typically enjoy these kinds of movies, but this one was different. It was entertaining and a lot of scenes left me on the edge of my seat, but was I entertained throughout the whole thing? No.

The Revenant is melancholy. Very, very melancholy, but also very beautiful. And while it didn't make me sad, it made me feel very empty, just as I feel out main character was left feeling after everything he'd endured. While is movie is tells a great deal about revenge, it is not a revenge flick, it's more about the humanity of man, survival and loyalty. It's about what one man would do for to save himself and try to get revenge for being felt for dead by his supposed caretakers, which of one stabs his son to death and while most of his journey involves him trying to get said revenge, there's a lot of other underlying messages than just revenge because revenge is just dirty. There's nothing to it except more hurt and that's what I saw in this movie. Tom Hardy's character even says it which is wonderful because he sucks! He was supposed to be an ass and we were supposed to hate him, but I understood him and the fact he says this very fines makes me understand his choices even more. He was trying to be rational and while no one likes what he did, he was being real, something you don't see often from an antagonist in a film.

Another great addition to the film was Domhnall Gleeson who definitely impressed me. While I adored him in Ex Machina and Brooklyn, I was stunned to see him in uber-masculine, tough kind of role. At first I doubted him and didn't really believe him as the captain of this crew, but once as the film went on, he settled and held his own amongst the likes of Leo, Will and Tom who definitely make this movie the greatness that it is, but if I'm going to be honest the meaning of the film was better than the substance and action in it. There were a couple of scenes here and there they kept me watching, but other than that nothing much happened in the middle of the film and that was kind of shitty, but we can't have it all, can we?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Movie Review: Garden State (2004) and The Pixie Manic Dream Girl Troupe

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Garden State (2004)

Starring: Zach Braff, Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard
Written By: Zach Braff
Directed By: Zach Braff
Release Date: August 20, 2004
Rating: 4.5/5

 Summary: A depressed young man finds meaning in his life when he heads back home for his mother's funeral.

My Thoughts: This movie made me fall in love me Zach Braff. As a writer, a director and actor, I have a lot of respect for him because of this movie that I decided to catch after looking into the troupe of the "Pixie Manic Dream Girl." It surprised me in a lot of ways and I'm here to say that I'm so glad I watched it.

 Our protagonist, Andrew, is down. He's depressed and for most of his life he's been on a multitude of antidepressants to try and keep his emotions from bubbling up. His home life is shit and he really has nothing going for him until he his mother dies and he heads home to all the people he once knew to bury his mother. Here we have a simple story that's telling a much grander one in-between the lines. Here we have a story that actually means something and it can mean something to anyone, not only those like myself who have depression. We have a story about a man trying to find meaning in his life and thinking about it now, isn't that what we're all trying to do? Everyday we look for reasons to wake up and take on the day, whether it be work or a child or our significant other, but for Andrew, he feels he has no reason until he goes home until he meets Sam, his Pixie Manic Dream Girl.

The term "Pixie Manic Dream Girl" comes from critic, Nathan Rabin of the A.V Club's review of Elizabethtown where he defines these women as “bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures” and in the film that's merely what Sam does and nothing more. She serves as this quirky mentality that life is great and all that jazz, but not an actual person. While I adored her in the movie, we learned nothing more about her character. Yes, we know she's probably mentally ill, but from what? Why does she lie so much? Why was she at the clinic when Andrew first meets her? And Andrew's relationship with Natalie Portman's character, Sam, is something else. While we don't really find out much about Sam, except the fact she's mentally ill of course, her presence and her willingness and hopefulness for life is what draws Andrew in and helps him see the beauty in the world. While I have a lot of personal problems with this, that doesn't make this movie bad. By creating these troupes for women, we take away a little bit of power from the movie itself. We take away some of the meaning from the movie because instead of a character having a message to tell the viewers, time after time, we have these characters become messages themselves and not actual people, which actually kind of sucks, but that doesn't make this movie bad. 

 The writing is great, the dialogue is great and while I wanted more from Sam, I still felt fulfilled at the end because this movie taught me something and that's what movies are supposed to do. It taught me something about life and it taught me that even though we have lives, we aren't supposed to know what we're going to do at every second of the day or what's coming next. As Ethan Hawke's character in Boyhood says, (or something along the times of), "we're all just wingin' it." And that's it. While I wanted to know more about her, I realize now that this movie wasn't about her and her place in the film wasn't her own. She was basically in Andrew's shadow the whole time, but I can't quite place if it was intentional or not. Was she meant to be this troupe the whole time? Was she never meant to be a fully developed character? I can't tell and I probably never will ever be able to tell.

So what I'm basically trying to say is, go see this movie. While it has problems, these problems don't take away from the film. This movie is human. It's real and honest and has you thinking a lot of about your life and just mainly about, 'Why is it the way it is and why are we living this way?' However, the real answer is 'Why not?'

Sunday, January 17, 2016

TV Review: American Horror Story: Hotel (2015-2016)

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American Horror Story: Hotel (Season 5)

Starring: Lady Gaga, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson
Created By: Ryan Murphy
Airing From: Oct 2015 - Jan 2016
Network: FX
Rating: 5/5

Summary: Murders consistent with those of a serial killer lead detective John Lowe to a hotel with a dark past and an even darker future down the line for him, his family and those who reside in the hotel.

My Thoughts: After skipping out on the train wreck that was Freak Show and ultimately being let down with Coven, boy was I surprised when I sat down and watched Hotel. Hands down this is the best season yet and I'm so glad I didn't stop watching after being let down for two whole seasons. We're brought back familiar faces and some new faces, with that being Lady Gaga. When I first heard about her joining the show, I was a bit confused and worried about how the show would go with her basically taking the place of Jessica Lange and let me say this, she is not as good as Jessica, but she's not far from her. I'm going to need to see more of her acting to see if she's as versatile as Jessica Lange is, but let me say, she deserved that Golden Globe. Every facial movement, every line, every movement in general is a performance that adds to the story. A lot of people say she's cold and unnerving, but that's who she is. She's cold because of what she went through and she's in a shitty situation, but you can see the change in her character throughout the episodes. It's a transformation. She's great and I'm just saying, the woman can act. I just hope she can do as well next season. 

Okay, let's move on. Another new face I was excited to see was Wes Bentley. Reminiscent of Brad Pitt in Seven, he is fantastic as a detective on the brink of a mental breakdown trying to track a killer and even Max Greenfield in the two episodes he was in. They both lost themselves in their roles and I could see it and it was great to see some new faces in this show because while I love the cast dearly, it gets a bit boring seeing them over and over again, but again, I love them dearly and none of them miss a step this season, especially Evan Peters who plays someone quite different from his usual on this show. The individual shots, the direction, the pacing, the music, everything was just great about this season and I think it was because I went into it expecting nothing from it. 

I went in questioning it's quality and while the last couple season weren't scary, this season was creepy as hell. I was actually disturbed at some points and I haven't been this disturbed at this show since Asylum. While most of the story is about John's hunt for this killer, the side stories of the characters in the show are what drove it home for me. I felt for them. They were like friends and it makes me sad to see them go because event though it jumped around from storyline to storyline so much, it made sense, it fit and it came full circle at the end for me. Like the ending of Murder House, it felt that everything was wrapped up at the end, but what makes this season better than that is the fact that while the last episode of Murder House felt more like an epilogue and made me want more which is what they wanted, but this finale of this season wrapped everything  up and let me fulfilled and a little bit heartbroken. I didn't want more, I just wanted something better for these people I considered my friends. The ending wasn't bad, it was bittersweet and while it made me sad that the show came to an end and that is was left with such a twisted version of a happy end. 

The show left me on the edge of my seat after every episode. There were cameos from previous seasons, there was drama, blood, guts and twist after twist and what makes this season so great is the fact that there wasn't just an 'OKAY' episode, each episode brilliant! So, go, go watch! I'm very excited for season 6, which I think may be set in the Thatcher Boarding School, but that's my theory.