Thursday Movie Picks: Small Towns

I should put a trigger warning on this topic from Wandering Through The Shelves for myself. Small towns aren't for everyone. I was born and raised in one, I hated every minute of it. I hate walking into any given establishment and knowing somebody. I hated limited everything. And movie wise, I hated that I always had to drive two hours away to see indie films. Moving was one of the best things I ever did, even if it's not in a huge city. At least it's not a small town.

Anyways, rant aside, here are some films about small towns that subtly capture how horrible they can be for some. And how well they fit for others.

1) Waitress

This is probably one of the sweetest movies I've ever seen. Jenna is a small town waitress/pie extraordinaire who finds herself pregnant by her loser husband when that's the last thing she wants. 

2) Snow Angels

An ensemble drama about life in a small town before a tragedy strikes. The performances in this one are great, particularly Sam Rockwell, Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby

3) Junebug

The film that stopped making me think of the ditz in Drop Dead Gorgeous. Amy Adams absolutely steals this movie to the point where it's kind of funny.The film is about a man bringing his new wife back to his home town, but the only thing that matters is Amy Adams, who plays his pregnant sister in law. 

2018 Screen Actors Guild Nominations

I got to watch this one live unlike the Globe nominations on Monday. (I'm feeling better too, strep throat is a bitch) Did you all suffer through that awkward banter that made these nominations last way too long? In case you didn't, here are the nominees plus my thoughts. 

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Big Sick
Get Out
Lady Bird
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I love this category. Every single film. I'm especially happy for The Big Sick after the Globes snubbed it completely. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.
I'm so happy Daniel Kaluuya got in. I'm surprised they went with Denzel over Daniel Day-Lewis who I figured would get nominations no matter what. *Continues praying that my theater opens The Disaster Arist soon*

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
This is probably how the Oscars will look too, right? Unless Meryl replaces Judi for The Post. Intersting how the Globes showered that with love and it came up empty handed here. Guess not everyone got those screeners. Anyways. SAOIRSE!!

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Woody Harrelson, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Wait, so Steve Carell is supporting now? I'm confused. No Michael Stuhlbarg for Call Me By Your Name either? I love that Harrelson got recognized along with Sam Rockwell, which is what I hope the Oscars do too. Especially since they're hellbent on ignoring Rob Morgan. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Holly Hunter was a surprise, I didn't expect SAG to love The Big Sick like they did. The rest I think will all be here on Oscar morning. 

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
The Crown
Game of Thrones
The Handmaid’s Tale
Stranger Things
This Is Us
It's nice to see Game of Thrones back after sitting out the Emmys. We all know Handmaid's Tale is going to win this though. 

Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Orange is the New Black
GLOW is a big surprise too. OITNB has won this award for the past three years in a row. Do you think someone will unseat them this time around?

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul
I wish Noah Scnhapp would've gotten nominated for Stranger Things. They always show Millie love, but never the boys and this one out acted her this season. I haven't seen Ozark but it's next on my binge list since I just finished The Crown. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Claire Foy, The Crown
Laura Linney, Ozark
Elisabeth Moss, the Handmaid’s Tale
Robin Wright, House of Cards
I'm going to miss Claire Foy in The Crown. She is outstanding in that role. I know Elisabeth will likely win. (it's too bad Ann Dowd couldn't sneak in here too) 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series
Anthony Anderson, black-ish
Aziz Ansari, Master of None
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm
Sean Hayes, Will & Grace
William H. Macy, Shameless
Marc Maron, GLOW
This is the only category that had a tie this year and it's hard to see a front runner right now. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Alison Brie, GLOW
Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
I really don't get why the SAGs love Grace and Frankie so much. It's a bit baffling. Uzo barely had anything to do in OITNB this season yet I'm still not surprised for her nomination. I'm on team JLD all the way. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
Jeff Daniels, Godless
Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies
Geoffrey Rush, Genius
Alexander Skarsgard, Big Little Lies
That Sherlock movie seems like it happened years ago now. I keep forgetting it was in 2017. I'm here for Alexander Skarsgard, but bummed Ewan Mcgregor didn't make it in for Fargo. 

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
Laura Dern, Big Little Lies
Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies
Jessica Lange, Feud: Bette and Joan
Susan Sarandon, Feud: Bette and Joan

Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies
I laughed when I saw this category. Those two shows had too much talent to let anyone else in. 

The 10 Best Christmas Movies of All Time - Relay!

Nostra brought back his relay blogathon and this time we're looking for the ten best Christmas movies of all time. The rules are simple.

The rules are, just like the past relay races, very simple: The list has 10 Christmas movies (in random order) and when the baton is handed over to a new blogger, he or she has to remove one title of the list (with an explanation why) and add one new title. Once that is done a new blogger is contacted who will take the baton and run with it, doing the same (you can reinstate a title which has been previously removed). As Christmas is in three weeks I want to ask you to publish your entry as quickly as possible to make sure the list changes as much as possible before the 25th of December. Add the logo of this relay race to your post and also add links to those who came before you making it easy for everyone to find all the entries

It's funny, as I was watching this relay go around, I kept waiting for someone to add Nightmare Before Christmas. I swore if it came to me that's what I would add, but I have to play it a little differently. The current list is as follows:

Home Alone


A Muppet Christmas Carol

Die Hard

It's A Wonderful Life

Miracle on 34th Street

Arthur Christmas

Eyes Wide Shut

A Christmas Story

Joyeux Noel

One of my favorites bloggers, the lovely Ruth was so kind to tag me. She added Joyeux Noel which is an excellent choice and coincidentally one I saw in her home city of Minneapolis! But in doing so she removed my all time favorite Christmas movie; Gremlins. I'm sorry Nightmare Before Christmas, I hope someone else adds you. But I gotta add Gremlins back on the list. Picking what I wanted to remove was actually kind of tricky. I've never seen Arthur Christmas, so I was tempted to remove that on principle, but I had to go on with removing Eyes Wide Shut as Christmas just isn't the first thing that comes to mind when I think of that film. 

New pick: Gremlins

Now who to pass it too? This is always the hardest part. I want to see what everyone in my blogroll picks, but I'm passing it on to someone who I can always count on to make me laugh: m.brown of Two Dollar Cinema! The baton is yours, my friend. 

2018 Golden Globe nominations

This was the first year since I started tweeting that I didn't get to live tweet the Globe nominations. But I have strep throat so I slept in. Here are a list of nominees + my belated thoughts. 

Best Motion Picture - Drama
"Call Me by Your Name"
"The Post"
"The Shape of Water"
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
The usual suspects here. I think all of these will be nominated come Oscar morning too.  It's too bad Wind River or Mudbound couldn't sneak in. 

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
"The Disaster Artist"
"Get Out"
"The Greatest Showman"
"I, Tonya"
"Lady Bird"
I knew The Greatest Showman would get nominated here despite looking like a hot mess, but leaving out The Big Sick is some old bullshit. I'm happy for Lady Bird and Get Out and I really want to see The Disaster Artist and I, Tonya.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
Jessica Chastain, "Molly's Game"
Sally Hawkins, "The Shape of Water"
Frances McDormand, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Meryl Streep, "The Post"
Michelle Williams, "All the Money in the World"
Wait, they saw All The Money In The World? 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Timothée Chalamet, "Call Me by Your Name"
Daniel Day-Lewis, "Phantom Thread"
Tom Hanks, "The Post"
Gary Oldman, "Darkest Hour"
Denzel Washington, "Roman J. Israel, Esq."
I expected Jake Gyllenhaal to get in for Stronger, so Denzel was a surprise. I haven't seen any of the films in this category yet. 

Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Judi Dench, "Victoria & Abdul"
Margot Robbie, "I, Tonya"
Saoirse Ronan, "Lady Bird"
Emma Stone, "Battle of the Sexes"
Helen Mirren, "The Leisure Seeker"
What the fuck is The Leisure Seeker? Aside from Ronan and Robbie who will likely (hopefully) be here Oscar morning this category feels a bit weak. 

Best Director
Guillermo del Toro, "The Shape of Water"
Martin McDonagh, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Christopher Nolan, "Dunkirk"
Ridley Scott, "All The Money in the World"
Steven Spielberg, "The Post"
So the Globes went for star power (Spielberg, and Scott) over a first time directors in Greta Gerwig or Jordan Peele. Okay. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Steve Carell, "Battle of the Sexes"
Ansel Elgort, "Baby Driver"
James Franco, "The Disaster Artist"
Hugh Jackman, "The Greatest Showman"
Daniel Kaluuya, "Get Out"
Elgort for Baby Driver is a massive joke. Kumail was better in The Big Sick. All I care about is Franko and Kaluuya. 

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Mary J. Blige, "Mudbound"
Hong Chau, "Downsizing"
Allison Janney, "I, Tonya"
Laurie Metcalf, "Lady Bird"
Octavia Spencer, "The Shape of Water"
When I first glanced at this category I thought they snubbed Allison Janney and almost wtf'd hard over it. I guess this is going to be Mudbound's only awards love all season? Blige deserves it but there is so much talent in that film. They should be getting more noms. 

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture
Willem Dafoe, "The Florida Project"
Armie Hammer, "Call Me by Your Name"
Richard Jenkins, "The Shape of Water"
Christopher Plummer, "All the Money in the World"
Sam Rockwell, "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
Kevin Spacey is weeping somewhere. I"m really happy for Rockwell and Dafoe here. I'm still having a really hard time believing Armie Hammer is giving an awards worthy performance in anything. I hope that film opens up near me soon so I can be surprised. I really wish Rob Morgan or even Jason Mitchell could've gotten in here for Mudbound. They were fantastic. 

Best Original Score in a Motion Picture
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
"The Shape of Water"
"Phantom Thread"
"The Post"

Best Screenplay in a Motion Picture
"The Shape of Water"
"Lady Bird"
"The Post"
"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"
"Molly's Game"
I've seen Lady Bird and Three Billboards so I'm happy to see them here. I want to see the others as well.

Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language
"A Fantastic Woman"
"First They Killed My Father"
"In the Fade"
"The Square"
The Globes love Angelina so I'm not surprised they nominated her film. I haven't seen any of these. I rarely get to see the foreign nominees before awards season.

Best Animated Film
"The Boss Baby"
"The Breadwinner"
"Loving Vincent"
Boss Baby was fucking cancer, did y'all forget Lego Batman came out this year?

Best TV series - Drama
"The Crown"
"Game of Thrones"
"The Handmaid's Tale"
"Stranger Things"
"This Is Us"
I'm really surprised The Crown qualified. The HFPA must have gotten early screeners. If I were Netflix I wouldn't have even bothered, all their Crown categories are going to lose to the Handmaid's tale this year anyways. They could've sat a year out and came back strong next year. The only show I don't watch here is This Is Us, I'm happy with the other nominees.

Best performance by Actress in a TV series - Drama
Caitriona Balfe, "Outlander"
Claire Foy, "The Crown"
Maggie Gyllenhaal, "The Deuce"
Katherine Langford, "13 Reasons Why"
Elisabeth Moss, "The Handmaid's Tale"
SO happy for Katherine Langford in 13 Reasons Why. The Globes are good about picking freshman shows/performances so I'm glad she got in here. 

Best performance by an Actor in a TV Series - Drama
Sterling K. Brown, "This is Us"
Freddie Highmore, "The Good Doctor"
Bob Odenkirk, "Better Call Saul"
Liev Schreiber, "Ray Donovan"
Jason Bateman, "Ozark"
Rami Malek should be here for Mr. Robot. 

Best TV series - Musical or Comedy
"Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
"Master of None"
"Will & Grace"
Okay this is going to sound weird but I'm really happy for SMILF despite not watching the show. I don't get Showtime so I can't watch it, but I love Frankie Shaw and I'm so happy for her. Going by the normal freshman routine with the Globes too, it might actually have a shot. 

Best performance by an Actor in a TV series - Musical or Comedy
Anthony Anderson, "Black-ish"
Aziz Ansari "Master of None"
Kevin Bacon, "I Love Dick"
William H. Macy, "Shameless"
Eric McCormack, "Will and Grace"
There's a show called I Love Dick?

Best performance by an Actress in a TV series - Musical or Comedy
Pamela Adlon, "Better Things"
Alison Brie, "Glow"
Issa Rae, "Insecure"
Rachel Brosnahan, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel"
Frankie Shaw, "SMILF"
Aside from Issa Rae, everyone in this category is a first time nominee. You've got to love that. 

Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
"Big Little Lies"
"Feud: Bette and Joan"
"The Sinner"
"Top of the Lake: China Girl"
Limited Series were on fire this year. You all know how much I love Big Little Lies, Fargo, and Feud. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Robert De Niro, "The Wizard of Lies"
Jude Law, "The Young Pope"
Kyle MacLachlan, "Twin Peaks"
Ewan McGregor, "Fargo"
Geoffrey Rush, "Genius"
I really wish I could've gotten into The Young Pope because Law was legitimately good in it from the episodes I did manage to get through. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Jessica Biel, "The Sinner"
Nicole Kidman, "Big Little Lies"
Jessica Lange, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Susan Sarandon, "Feud: Bette and Joan"
Reese Witherspoon, "Big Little Lies"
Jessica Biel for The Sinner seems way out of left field. Especially when you have Mary Elizabeth Winstead for Fargo qualifying. 

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alfred Molina, "Feud"
Alexander Skarsgard, "Big Little Lies"
David Thewlis, "Fargo"
David Harbour, "Stranger Things"
Christian Slater, "Mr. Robot"
There's a Mr. Robot nomination! I wish Noah Schnapp would've gotten the Stranger Things nomination, that kid was wonderful. 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Laura Dern, "Big Little Lies"
Ann Dowd, "The Handmaid's Tale"
Chrissy Metz, "This is Us"
Michelle Pfeiffer, "The Wizard of Lies"
Shailene Woodley, "Big Little Lies"

Thursday Movie Picks: Ugly Duckling to Beautiful Swan

I hope you're ready for some rom coms! This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is about ugly ducklings that become swans. You know, that moment a girl takes off her glasses and she's now totally hot? Yep. That shallow shit. There's actually a handful of films I enjoy despite this trope. Mostly for nostalgia reasons. Here's three of my favorites. 

1) She's All That

This is the obvious choice. I thought of going with something a little older like Funny Face but this is like the Godfather of ugly duckling movies. Lainey's walk down the staircase after getting a hair cut, an eyebrow wax and a nice dress is iconic. 

2) Jawbreaker

I love this movie so much. Fern Mayo goes from frumpy to the ultimate hot bitch Violette. So catty, so ridiculous, so amazing. 

3) The New Guy

You guys remember DJ Qualls? Or that time he was a huge nerd at one school, got expelled and became the cool kid at another? Well, that was this movie. This isn't actually one of my favorites but I didn't want to choose all female stories. 

Review: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

Say it loud.

Behold the field where Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) grows her fucks. Lay thine eyes upon it and see that it is barren. So barren that after months of hearing nothing about her teenager daughter's rape/murder case she puts up three billboards in that field aimed at the town's Sheriff (Woody Harrelson) for not trying hard enough to solve the crime. While he feels bad, he's dying of cancer and doesn't have much time left. Once his racist lose canon deputy Dixon (Sam Rockwell) gets involved, things escalate. 

I love director Martin McDonagh's work. In Bruges is one of my all time favorite films so my expectations for this were high. They were met on every level. McDoagh's signature inappropriate humor is there. The fast quips and the lines that truly make you say "what the fuck?" Underneath that, this film has a ton of heart. 

It presents several characters who both likable and unlikable at the same time. Even our lead Mildred stoops to some pretty low levels but minus a few people you find a way to sympathize with nearly everybody at one point or another. Even after you've previously written them off. That is perfect writing. These characters have layers.

McDormand is outstanding. I loved her DGAF attitude, but at the same time you saw her tenderness and how she was hurting. Harrelson is hilarious yet heartbreaking at the same time. He comes off as a bit abrasive but you can see deep down how much he cares. Rockwell continues to amaze. Dixon's emotions are all over the place, yet Rockwell still manages to drum up a bit of sympathy in all of his awfulness. 

The supporting cast don't get as much to do, but work well in their roles. Peter Dinklage pops up a few times as Mildred's friend. Abbie Cornish is Sheriff Willoughby's randomly Australian wife. (Yes, I know anyone can live wherever they want, I just found it a bit curious she kept her natural accent) While she didn't get much to do she has a really strong scene with McDormand. Then there's Lucas Hedges as Mildred's depressed son. Caleb Landry Jones as the billboard owner who helps Mildred out. John Hawkes as her ex husband. Clarke Peters as another police office. I'm rambling but I can't rave enough about this cast.

Going in, I saw a few people on Twitter hated the ending, but I thought it was perfect. It fit so well with the rest of the film. 

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "I think that midget wants to get in my pants." - Mildred (Frances McDormand)

Indie Gems: The Lure

I wanna be where the people are.

A mermaid named Silver (Marta Mazurek) is drawn to the singing of a man, Mietek (Jakub Gierszal) one night. She and her sister, Gold (Michalina Olszanska) come on land and follow he and his family to a club where their lovely voices and fins that appear in the water land them a part in a cabaret act. But while Silver starts to fall in love, all Gold wants to do is what mermaids do best: eat humans.

It's probably not shocking to anyone who knows me that I'm 100% for a film marketed as a "mermaid musical horror movie." You can't make this up. And a film with that description has no right being as good as The Lure is. They balance it, if you can believe it. 

They essentially take the love plot of The Little Mermaid and spice it up with Europop and gore. The songs are infectious. The blood and guts isn't until later on, which I expected a bit more of, but it's used in a unique way.

Mzurek and Olszanska are perfectly cast. They have amazing singing voices. Mzurek really captures the naivety of Silver while Olszanska has "bad girl" written all over her performance. 

Set in the 80's, there's likely some political subtext here, which unfortunately is wasted on me as I don't know a lot about the Polish government. To me, it felt like it had something to say about women empowerment, and how women need to be in control of themselves. I'd love to hear what you think if you've seen this film.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B

Memorable Quote: "What if you fall in love?" - Gold (Michalina Olszanska) 

Thursday Movie Picks: TV Edition - The Workplace

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is about those people that are up all night, trying to get that rich working hard. I'm really excited about this theme because three of my favorite shows qualify for it. Here are three TV shows I love about work places.

1) The Newsroom

I hate that Aaron Sorkin let his ego go out of control and this only went three seasons. (The rumor is he walked away because it was not getting the same ratings/recognition his previous shows got on HBO) It's an excellent fast paced show about life in the newsroom at a major TV station. The characters were right, the dialogue smart, I loved all of it. 

2) Rescue Me

Denis Leary and his crew made me fall in love with these fire fighters we followed in post 9/11 New York City. Sure, this show had its issues. Most of the female characters were awful and they were under huge scrutiny for the way they handled serious topics at times, but overall, I really liked this series. It was the first time I ever cried watching a TV show.

3) Breaking Bad

The gold standard of TV in my opinion. Walt and Jesse's various meth labs were their work place. I can't recommend this show enough. It's absolutely incredible. Every single moment of it. 

Review: Lady Bird

The Midwest of California

Christine aka Lady Bird (Saoirse Ronan) wants to leave her home town of Sacramento to go to college on the East Coast, but her practical mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) doesn't think it's reasonable. They clash frequently as Lady Bird comes into her own. 

Saoirse Ronan is one of my favorite working actresses right now, but despite that I wasn't initially sold on Lady Bird. Director/Writer Greta Gerwig has a type and I was worried I'd just see Ronan trying to play, well....Greta Gerwig. Luckily that's not the case at all and what I ended up with has been my favorite movie of the year so far. 

Lady Bird is all of us at one point or another during our teens. She's moody, insecure, confident, angry, awkward, in love, a dreamer, a downer, and has two very different relationships with her parents. Her passive father (Tracy Letts) encourages her as best he can but its the relationship with her mother that takes center stage. I felt like I was almost watching my own relationship with my mother as a teenager at times. Particularly the part where Lady Bird asks why her mother doesn't like her, and she gets the response "of course I love you" instead. Like and love are not mutually exclusive. And Lady Bird's mother doesn't like her. Maybe because they're too much alike. Maybe Marion wants her daughter to be exactly like her. There could be a lot of reasons.

I love the cast, everyone plays their parts perfectly but this is Ronan's show. Her American accent is perfection and she makes Lady Bird feel like a real person. Likewise with Metcalf and Marion. Gerwig may often play herself but her writing when someone else takes the lead is exceptional, as is her direction. I wasn't expecting this film to resonate with me like it did, and I absolutely bawled at the end of it. It was perfect.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A+

Memorable Quote: "Some of us just aren't made happy." - Julie (Beanie Feldstein)

Review: Justice League

All in.

In the wake of Superman's (Henry Cavill) death, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) has to form a team of gifted individuals alongside Diana (Gal Gadot) when a creature from another planet, Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) returns to Earth looking for "mother boxes" and plans to destroy everything. They call in The Flash,(Ezra Miller) Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) for help, but of course it's not simple.

It's a shame this film is currently getting Tomb Raider'd at the box office, but maybe this is what Warner Bros needs to push the DCEU in the right direction. Yes, Justice League is a far better film than its official predecessor; Batman v Superman.  But knowing all this box office drama in advance did change the way I looked at this film. I'll get to that in a second.

I went in expecting to have a bit of fun, and I did. When Justice League is good, it's very good. Its strength of course is our core heroes. I loved their chemistry together. Affleck and Gadot proved again they play their characters well, even if you could tell Affleck didn't want to be there. But I never want to see a male director handle Wonder Woman again. Just look at the way the camera lingers on her in this compared to when Patty Jenkins shot her. Here we get almost an up the skirt shot and a character landing on her boobs. Thanks, dudes. Superman was also leagues better here than he was in his other two outings, even with the terrible dialogue they gave him and Lois together. Let's talk about our newbies. As some of you probably saw on Twitter, I'm nowhere near being on the "Jason Momoa is hot" train. He still isn't, but I actually ended up liking him in this role quite a bit. It turns out, drunk Aquabro is a good way for this character to go. Ezra Miller stole every scene he was in, and he didn't disappoint. I was the most excited to see him as I'm a big fan of his work. I was pleasantly surprised with the way they handled Cyborg. I expected them to mostly ignore him and this film actually worked really well as an origin story for him, which can't be said about Flash and Aquaman

And that brings me to looking at this film differently. Full disclosure, I do not buy that reviewers are bias towards Marvel movies. I don't think there's any type of conspiracy out there and I realize some fans come up with a new one every week, but I can't help but look at this film and feel cheated. Flash and Aquaman needed their own films first. I felt like there were more questions than answers there. And now seeing the box office results, I'm not sure if we'll even get a Flash solo movie. There's no way in hell we get a Cyborg one. Aquaman is already in the can and I can only hope that they improve on the atrocious Atlantis CGI and give Amber Heard some better direction.  I know it's a tired thing to bitch about DCEU not taking their time to build their universe, but it's a valid complaint. 

Ultimately, I ended up feeling the same way I felt about Guardians of the Galaxy 2. I loved parts of the film but it's too messy overall to soar. Steppenwolf is a lame villain. And to be honest, that's usually fine with me. Not every comic book movie has a good villain, but if the story around them is strong, it's easy to accept. The coolest thing about Steppenwolf is a flashback sequence that involves a Green Lantern. Otherwise he's just a pile of CGI that you would never know is played by Hinds. The film also falls into Transformers CGI Hell. It's just a bunch of gloomy shit that is moving too quickly. CGI is easier to accept when you can tell what's happening on screen. The entire third act looked awful and was rushed. Then to top that all of, they didn't even give us a money shot of the entire League fighting together. 

WB, for the love of God just let Matt Reeves do what he wants with The Batman. Let Patty Jenkins do what she wants with Wonder Woman 2. Regroup and get your shit together. Your characters work. You don't need to re-cast anybody, you just need to find a good story and keep Zack Snyder away from it.

Recommeded: Yes

Grade: C+

Memorable Quote: "I hope this way is East." - The Flash (Ezra Miller)

Indie Gems: Wadjda

Praise she.

I can't think of a better indie gem to wrap up my posts for Dell's Girls Week  

In Saudi Arabi, a young girl named Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants to buy a bicycle so she can race her neighbor boy, Abdullah. (Abdullrahman Al Gohani) But she's continuously told that girls cannot have bikes. After she's caught in various schemes at school to earn money, she enters a Quran reading competition in order to raise her remaining funds.

Sometimes you just need to watch a PG movie where you know how the end is going to go, and Wadjda is that. It's predictable, but that's okay. You're immediately drawn to her and you want her to have that bike. I wanted to reach through the screen and buy it for her. It's hard watching a child being told they cannot have something that seems to trivial to you if you grew up in a different culture. 

The film handles the religious aspect of this well. It could easily only show you the ugly side that doesn't let a girl have a bicycle, but I found the scenes where they were reading the Quran very moving and lovely. It doesn't erase the annoyance of her being denied something for being female. But it at least provides some balance. I hope Waad Mohammed has a bright future in acting if that's what she chooses. She carries this film and absolutely deserves it. Same with director Haifaa Al-Mansour (who according to IMDb had to give some of her direction via walkie talkie due to the strict gender laws in Saudi) I can't wait to see what she makes next. 

Grade: A

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "I want you to be the happiest you can be." - Mother (Reem Abdullah)

Thursday Movie Picks: Origin Movies

This week's theme from Wandering Through The Shelves wants us to go back to the beginning. I wanted to alter this post to go along with Girls Week but I kind of screwed myself over by already using Wonder Woman, Alien, and Star Wars. Aside from the Hunger Games I couldn't think of any other female led origin movies I really loved. So in rebellion, I'm going to vent in a completely mature and appropriate talking some shit on my blog. So here are three origin movies that completely failed. 

1) Halloween (2007)

You know who should never be allowed to write a screenplay? Rob Zombie. As a horror director, I have no problem with him. He has a eye for gore, but did we really need Michael Myer's trailer trash origin story? No. We didn't. The only good thing to come out of this was Scout Taylor Compton. She's great.

2) Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning

This one is so bad it's offensive. I have to admit I was somewhat curious about Leatherface's origins but this film quickly made me realize I'm better off without them. I should've walked out of this movie. The only thing it wanted to do is "shock." The gore needs to shock, the rape needs to shock, and fuck logic. Did you know babies can crawl out of their mothers during childbirth? Baby Leatherface practically did that. 

3) Green Lantern

None of you knew me back then, but I was thirsty for this movie. The Green Lantern is legitimately a cool super hero and this was absolute D level trash. It's also proof that Ryan Reynolds clearly has the best agent in Hollywood. This guy's career should've been destroyed by this point and somehow he got lucky and was given Deadpool. It's unbelievable. 

Review: The Florida Project

What daycare?

It's summer in Florida, and six year old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) runs around the shady motel that she and her mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite) currently reside. Halley loves her, but she doesn't have a steady job nor does she put much of an effort in looking after her. Moonee spends her days playing with her friends, destroying things and occasionally bothering the hotel manager Bobby (Willem DaFoe)

It's almost impossible to watch this movie and not get judgy if you're a parent. My child is also six, and the thought of letting him run around the way Moonee and her friends do with zero supervision is baffling to me. Watching Halley not putting in a huge effort to have a steady job is hard to watch too. That aside, seeing everything through Moonee's eyes is a perspective we don't get very often in film. When you first see her, she looks like a precious child. Then she goes off to spit on someone's car window and call the owner a "ratchet bitch." She's definitely a product of her environment and that's what makes her so interesting to watch.

Brooklyn Prince is magnificent is Moonee. Watching her is like watching a home video. She's so natural in this role that there's no sense at all that she's acting. Sometimes with child actors you can tell when they're just saying lines they were reminded of a few minutes prior and that's never the case with her. She has a scene towards the end of this movie that absolutely broke me. Bria Vinaite is also great as her foul mouthed mother. She dials the "trash" factor up to eleven. (a side note, those are the actress' real tattoos and they are gorgeous) And finally there's Willem DaFoe, the manager who's mostly 100% done with everything. You can tell even through his hard exterior that he cares, especially about Moonee and the other kids that are just left to wander. 

The Florida Project does suffer from some pacing issues. About half way through the film I started to wonder if there was going to be a point or climax to all of this. A lot of it is small scenes of Moonee just doing her day to day, but it does eventually have one. 

I'm glad I watched this film during Dell's Girl Week. Hopefully we see a lot of little Brooklyn Prince in the future.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: B+

Memorable Quote: "We gotta come back here again." - Moonee (Brooklynn Prince)

2018 Independent Spirit Nominations

The Spirit Award nominations were released today! A lot of these movies haven't been released near me yet but I have been fortunate enough to see a few. Here's a list of the nominations, followed by my thoughts. 

Best Feature
“Call Me By Your Name”
“The Florida Project”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“The Rider”
I've only see Get Out and The Florida Project, and both are worthy noms. The Rider is the only film I'm unfamiliar with. I was hoping to see Ingrid Goes West here. I figured that, Three Billboards, or I,Tonya would be here.

Best Director
Jonas Carpignano, “A Ciambra” 
Luca Gudagnino, “Call Me By Your Name”
Jordan Peele, “Get Out”
Benny and Josh Safdie, “Good Time"
Chloé Zhao, “The Rider”
No Greta Gerwig is surprising with how popular Lady Bird is. I was hoping to see Dee Rees for Mudbound (assuming it qualified?)

Best First Feature:
“Ingrid Goes West”
“Oh Lucy”
“Patti Cake$”
There's Ingrid Goes West!

Best Female Lead
Salma Hayek, “Beatriz at Dinner”
Francis McDormand, “Three Billboards”
Margot Robbie, “I, Tonya”
Saiorse Ronin, “Lady Bird”
Shinobu Terajima, “Oh Lucy”
Regina Williams, “Life And Nothing More”
Nearly every review I've read for Beatriz at Dinner has been lukewarm at best so I'm kind of surprised to see it here. It's too bad Aubrey Plaza couldn't make it in for Ingrid. Or Brooklynn Prince for her fantastic performance in The Florida Project. I haven't seen any of the these, but aside from Beatriz I'll try to seek out all of them.

Best Male Lead
Timothee Chalamet, “Call Me By Your Name”
Harris Dicksinon, “Beach Rats”
James Franco, “The Disaster Artist”
Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”
Robert Pattinson, “Good Time”
I'm so happy for Kaluuya and it's nice to see Franco in there for one of my most anticipated films. 

Best Supporting Female:
Holly Hunter, “The Big Sick”
Allison Janney, “I Tonya”
Laurie Metcalf, “Lady Bird”
Louis Smith, “Marjorie Prime”
Taliah Lennice Webster, “Good Time”
Hunter was great in The Big Sick, that's the only one of these I've seen. I'l definitely check out the others. 

Best Supporting Male
Nnamdi Asomugha, “Crown Heights” 
Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name”
Barry Keoghan, “The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards”
Bennie Safdie, “Good Time”
My theater just got The Killing of a Sacred Deer so I'll have that to check out soon. 

Best Screenplay
“Lady Bird”
“The Lovers”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
“Get Out”
“Beatriz at Dinner”

Best First Screenplay
“Donald Cried”
“The Big Sick”
“Woman Who Kill”
“Ingrid Goes West”

Best Cinematography
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer”
“Beach Rats”
“Call Me By Your Name”
“The Rider

Best Editing
“Good Time”
“Call Me By Your Name”
“The Rider”
“Get Out”
“I, Tonya”

John Cassavetes Award
“A Ghost Story”
“Life and Nothing”
“Most Beautiful Island”

Robert Altman Award

Best Documentary
“The Departure”
“Faces Places”
“Last Men in Aleppo”

Best International Film
“A Fantastic Woman”
“Lady Macbeth”
“I Am Not a Witch”
Lady Macbeth is in my Netflix queue, so I should see this soon. 

Annual Kiehl’s Someone to Watch Award
Amman Abassi, “Dayveon”
Justin Chon, “Gook”