I just left the theater after watching Ingrid Goes West and I'm crying. This movie affected me in ways I'm not fully comfortable admitting to and I doubt that I'll be able to accurately express.
Ingrid is a troubled girl whose mother has recently passed away. She finds herself obsessed with another young woman from following her on Instagram. When Charlotte gets married, Ingrid attacks her on her wedding day and ends up in a mental institution. After "graduating" her program, she goes back to her old life where she is still alone and depressed. Ingrid happens upon an article about an Instagram "It" girl named Taylor and quickly becomes obsessed. Ingrid moves to California and begins systematically stalking Taylor, eventually ingratiating herself into Taylor's life little by little until the inevitable discovery of her obsession.
I wanted to see this movie because of Aubrey Plaza. Plaza is one of those actors who gives everything to the roles that she plays. Every nuance of Ingrid's obsession with Taylor is played out on Plaza's face. Her eyes suck you into her intense portrayal. From moment one to until the very end when she is delivering her self-realization monologue backlit by candles you are drawn to Plaza and subsequently Ingrid. The awkwardness that Plaza radiates so naturally was a perfect fit for this character I wouldn't be surprised if you were to tell me that the role was written for her.
Underscoring the entire film is a commentary on the dangers of social media obsession. It shows a more dangerous side of the need for validation that so many feel. Getting posts on social media noticed or liked has become big business and for many it helps them feel cared for even when they are alone in the world. The idea that our online persona has to be well liked is a new-ish concept of the last five years or so. I'm old enough to remember life without the internet and social media. It's been fascinating to watch it grow over the years into the juggernaut that it currently is. Even this blog's existence is tied into the idea that people will want to hear what others have to say.
The movie was both sad and lovely. Funny and off kilter. It makes you want a deeper connection with those around you. It points out the loneliness of the world while trying to include you in it. It reminds you that there are people around who do care about you, if only you'll give them the chance to do so.
I can't recommend this movie enough.
In the midst of all of the Hurricane Irma planning, I took a break with some friends to see IT. I only really knew the basics of this movie. I had never seen the original and my attempts at reading the book before the movie came out were dissuaded by the length of the novel. I just didn't have time to read an 1100 page book either in print or via audio (forty-four hours). I have friends who are afraid of clowns specifically because of the original movie. I've never personally understood it but after seeing the new one, I can see why.
The movie centers around the lives of a group of young kids in Derry, ME. Each has their own set of personal issues and fears that they are trying to overcome. These are played on by Pennywise, the evil clown that lurks in the sewers abducting the children in town one by one. He eats their flesh and feeds on their fears. Because he feeds on their fears, a clown is not the only thing chasing these kids all over town. Their fears manifest themselves in other forms. The story is about overcoming the fears you have, both literally and metaphorically.
The movie is set in the late 80's and as such it managed to impress me with its ability to make life look like it did then. Especially during the scenes in the drug store. When it comes to movies set in other time periods that involve well known products, I'm always impressed by the ability of the production designers to find a way to get the old packaging right. The sets perfectly captured life in a small New England town at the end of the decade.
I couldn't find any glaring plot holes in the movie, although there were a few scenes that felt as though they may have been cut for time. That being said, there are a few scenes in which the feel of the scene doesn't really match the seriousness of what's happening. As an example, the young girl in the movie, Beverly, ends up calling her friends over because her entire bathroom is covered in blood. The kids decide to get to work cleaning it. Up until this point, the mood has been serious and somber. Suddenly you're forced into the cleaning montage which includes odd and upbeat music as though the kids are trying to clean up after a raging party before their parents get up. The music pulls you out of the serious mood of the film immediately. Perhaps that's the point?
I had a little trouble with how quickly they each began to overcome their fears. Each kid would have a meltdown and then immediately be OK. I understood that in a scary situation such as they were in a decision would have to be made internally to buck up and get themselves together but it didn't seem true to life. Perhaps I've just seen too many horror films where people freak out and continue to carry on and on and on with it instead of collecting themselves and powering through.
As for Pennywise the Clown himself, Bill Skaarsgard was equal parts terrifying and ridiculous. Most of the time when he was attacking or chasing the children he was scary and creepy. But once he opened his mouth to talk, it didn't seem as bad. Well, at least until his face unhinged and revealed rows upon rows of teeth. I do have to admit that I couldn't handle that part. I realize that it's not really part of the story to have the clown be silent, but I think it would have added to the level of terror more.
The creators of this movie did an excellent job of ensuring that we did have some laughs to fall back on from time to time. One of the characters settled into a grove of "your mom" jokes that was somehow not just nostalgic but still funnier than it should be. Somehow they managed to make a horror movie with a Stand By Me feel to it and I applaud them for it.
I don't tend to do well with the type of horror movies that depend on things jumping out at you or loud noises. I can say honestly that I only jumped a few times but mostly because I didn't see it coming. Many of the scares you can see are about to happen and you can prepare your brain for them. Unfortunately for me this was only part one of two movies about this wretched clown.
As someone who hates horror movies, I have to say that I actually enjoyed this one for the most part. If you're into this sort of thing I think you'll probably like it too.
Prepare yourself. I am about to be the next in a long line of people who have been singing the praises of Baby Driver. I originally saw the trailer and thought it was going to be enjoyable, once I heard the reviews were really good I knew I wasn't wrong. The movie was written and directed by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim, et al). If you've loved his previous movies then you won't be disappointed with this one.
The film centers around "Baby", a teenage getaway driver whose life is set to his own personal soundtrack. We find out that as a child, he was stealing cars and stole the vehicle of Doc, a man who coordinates robberies and other various other criminal activities. Rounding out the cast are John Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal, and Lily James.
Baby is a reluctant criminal but he is paying off his debt to Doc. While doing so, he meets and begins to fall for Debora, a waitress in the diner that Baby frequents. Despite the seriousness of his "job", when Baby goes home he behaves like a normal teenager in love. He dances and sings and behaves so charmingly that you forget the roughness of his life for the brief moments that he does.
There are a ton of single camera motion shots in this film and it feels like you're strolling (or running) along with Baby. The lyrics of the music he's listening to show up in the graffiti on the wall behind him. The scenes in which Baby is driving are choreographed beautifully and in a way that makes you wonder how that got that in a single shot.
My only real criticism of the movie is one that I had to have pointed out by a friend. I didn't realize it was bothering me until they said something. If they had kept Jon Bernthal throughout the movie instead of introducing Jamie Foxx, it would have been that much better. Foxx did well in the role his was given, but the two roles could have merged into one and been just as impactful. I'd even argue that you could have reversed the roles and let Foxx play out at the beginning. This all being said, the real star of the supporting cast was John Hamm. His transition in the film was stellar and I really hope to see him be able to get more roles like this one so that he can dive deeper into darker and heavier subject matter.
Overall I'd recommend this movie to anyone who likes Edgar Wright movies, movies about capers, movies with fantastic car chases, or music, or love. Honestly, it's such a well-rounded movie I'd recommend it to everyone regardless of favorite genre.
When I heard that there was going to be a remake of the classic TV Show into a movie I kind of ignored it. These things rarely go well and are often not funny in the slightest. I became a little more hopeful when I later read that Dax Shepard would be the one who was taking the helm. I enjoyed the movie Hit and Run that he made with his wife Kristen Bell and this seemed to be right up his alley.
Shepard plays Jon, a down on his luck former motor cross racer who joins the LAPD in order to get his wife back. Michael Pena plays Ponch, an undercover FBI agent trying to investigate reports of crooked cops after a heist that went wrong. The rookie and the veteran get paired up together and things don't go according to plan.
Shepard has a very specific point of view for movies like this. He likes skirt the line between simplicity and complication when it comes to his vehicle chase scenes. He's also incredibly skilled at comedy. While the dialogue sags at times with over-burdensome exposition and attempts at humor, where the movie really shines is the physical comedy and the heart infused into the movie overall.
I was rooting for Jon even though his wife was the worst. His broken body played as a perfect metaphor to his broken heart. There's a sincerity in Shepard's writing and directing style that makes you want to give that big lovable oaf a hug.
The movie is good guys vs. bad guys and you know how it will end…mostly. I liked that this movie was well-rounded in its humor, action, and heart. If you enjoyed Shepard's Hit and Run, then this will also be up your alley.
I can’t remember when it was that I first saw the trailer for the movie Fist Fight. I only remember that I saw Charlie Day was in it so I committed to seeing it. I’m glad that I ended up waiting until it was released for home viewing though. If I had paid full price I think I would have been extra disappointed in it.
The premise is entertaining enough, Day’s character gets Ice Cube’s character fired. Ice Cube threatens to fight Day at the end of the school day. While all this is going on, the school itself is constantly being pranked by seniors. The pranks continually escalate which is what leads to the actions taken by Ice Cube that get his character fired. The fact that I can’t remember the character names ought to tell you something about the movie in general.
It’s a forgettable movie. It suffers from just not going far enough. Yes, there are over the top gags, but when Ice Cube utters what is probably his most famous quote? You’re not IN the movie enough to even care. It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Not by a long shot. By the time you get to the end you’re ready for it to be done. The fight itself was pretty epic and ended the way you will predict that it will.
Ice Cube’s character is too dark without cause. Day’s character isn’t as charming as you want him to be. Even Jillian Bell, who is arguably the funniest person in the movie falls flat from time to time. A refreshing character was Tracey Morgan’s naive coach. He plays that character Morgan always plays and it was probably one of the better things in the movie.
I didn’t hate this one. I just didn’t love it like I wanted to. It’s a rainy day-nothing else to watch kind of movie. I can’t recommend that you run out and watch it, but I won’t warn you off it either.
I'm writing this as I just got back from watching the new Baywatch movie. It was absolutely ridiculous in all the best ways. Months ago when I saw that they were going to make it and who the cast would be (Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, etc), I was in. I knew what I was in for and I didn't care.
I've not read any other reviews about the movie so I don't know if I'm the only one who enjoyed it or not. I am certain that there will be plenty of people who hate it. It's a dumb movie. The dialogue isn't deep, the action is ludicrous, the plot is completely far-fetched, and it's so meta it could make you groan. I would argue that this is exactly what makes it an excellent brain candy movie.
From the opening credits where Johnson is carrying someone out of the water while the title sequence blazes behind him and dolphins dance in the background, to the very end with the gag reel and the conversation with Hasselhoff…everything about this movie matches your expectations and completely holds true to what the original show was for me.
The plot is simple. The lifeguards stumble onto a drug smuggling ring and are determined to stop the drugs from reaching the public. Johnson plays Mitch Buchannan, the veteran lifeguard; while Efron plays the cocky new guy trying to regain control of his life. There are water rescues, CGI, exploding boats, fireworks, and the requisite slow motion running and walking down the beach. Added to that are some fairly gratuitous montages of Johnson and Efron competing and showing off their obnoxiously ripped physiques. For every set of boobs bouncing in slow motion you have a shot of one of the men as well.
As I mentioned, the dialogue isn't exactly deep and I didn't mind. You don't go to watch Baywatch to think. It's a predictable movie with sill quips and ridiculous situations. Weirdly the movie is a full two hours long and it does feel as though they probably could have trimmed it down a little bit more, but it didn't feel two hours long. Another star of the movie was the soundtrack. It was all over the place. From Lionel Ritchie to the Notorious B.I.G. It sets the tone of every scene in its own special way.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable movie and I left having forgotten about things for a little while. That's all you can really ask of a movie isn't it? To make you forget about life for a short time?
During my vacation, I ended up at the movie theater (as one does). I found myself settled in nicely to see the movie Gifted starring Chris Evans and Jenny Slate. Going in to this movie I knew exactly two things about it:
Chris Evans is taking care of a gifted child and someone is going to try and take that child away.
Chris Evans and Jenny Slate dated briefly because of meeting on this movie.
I was unprepared for this movie. It follows Frank (Evans) as he tries to care for his sister's child after she commits suicide. The child Mary, is exceptionally gifted like her mother was. In attempting to give Mary a normal life, Frank enrolls her in public school where things quickly escalate. The principal ends up calling Frank's mother who is generally a wretched human being.
His mother pushes for custody of Mary and things disintegrate from there.
Both Evans and Slate are ridiculously charming both in scenes together and individually. The characters feel true to life and the dialogue matches. The actress playing Mary was as precocious as she needed to be to do the work. She was silly and serious and it was a well balanced performance.
There were plenty of tears and more laughs than I expected. I would say that my two favorite scenes in the movie are during the sunset and at the hospital when Frank is teaching Mary about what parental joy and love looks like. When you watch this movie, what you're getting is a love story and it's nice to see Evans outside of the Captain America suit and flexing his acting muscles (pun intended).
If you're looking for a movie about loss and love, this would be a good bet.
Let me start by saying that I never thought that I would willingly go to see a movie about the Power Rangers. I have no connection to the characters and while I can appreciate how much they meant to an entire generation of kids, I was not part of that generation.
By the time the Power Rangers debuted in 1993, I was well into the pre-teen habit of plastering similarly aged TV and movie stars on my wall. I had a type. I'd still have Jonathan Brandis's babies if he were still alive today. Anyway…
Other than the fact that they exist, I have no base of information of the Power Rangers. I know they wear different color suits and fight evil. That's about the gist of it. Right?
This movie was an origin story for the Power Rangers. Five kids accidentally become the new team. They push themselves and each other to train in order to stop Rita Repulsa from destroying the world and their small town too. That's it, that's the plot.
Considering that they have to do an entire origin story for each of the Rangers, Zordon, Rita, and everything? I'd say they did pretty well. I will admit to having been impressed. Maybe I was impressed because I expected it to be absolute crap. It really wasn't all that bad. The acting was passable considering the dialogue they were given, the action sequences were visible, something that some of the bigger budget films struggle with.
There was a fair amount of comedy and pulling at the heart strings. I really only have a couple of critiques. Elizabeth Banks was completely underutilized here. The few actual lines she was given were completely dull and practically lifeless. She did seem to be having fun as the villain though. I know it dates back to the original show, but just the name Rita Repulsa itself is kind of lame. The other is that the casting of Jason with the Zac Efron look-a-like was completely distracting. All I wanted to do is pull out my phone see if this guy was Efron's cousin. Lastly, they say the character name of "Billy" an extraordinary amount. It was a lot. Seriously.
Overall, I was more impressed than I thought I would be. I didn't leave the theater feeling as though I had wasted my money. The joke at the very beginning of the money may have been worth the price of admission.
You know how there's always this one movie that you're ignoring in your Netflix recommendations? It's been there for quite a while now but you just scroll past it because it just isn't catching your attention. Every day you go past it thinking, I really ought to go to Netflix and block this movie from being recommended. For me this movie is In Your Eyes.
Over the weekend I finally decided to (got bored enough) to watch it. It's scary how well Netflix knows me at this point. Of course I liked this movie. I only vaguely knew that it was a love story. The movie poster alone will tell you that. Even reading the premise had me concerned that I wouldn't like it. A guy and a girl share a psychic connection from across the country and fall in love? Sounds ridiculous.
I should have looked into it further. The movie is written and produced by Joss Whedon. That alone should have sent me running back to my TV. Only Whedon could pull off something like this.
For the entire movie, the main characters are talking out loud to each other. They can see what the other person sees, they can hear/smell/taste/feel what the other person does. Both Rebecca and Dylan are lonely and just trying to make it through the drudgery of everyday life. Dylan is an ex-con and Rebecca is a purposeless housewife who appears to be controlled by her husband.
As they get to know each other you learn more of their backstories and you start to see them try and improve themselves. Dylan starts to clean up his life and Rebecca basically works on getting herself out into the world. Of course, they struggle with the surrounding world since they appear to be crazy. They keep looking like they are talking to themselves. At first Rebecca occasionally attempts to play it off by scrambling for her phone. One wonders why they wouldn't just use ear pieces so that it would always look like they were on the phone, but without that part of the movie, the plot fails to move.
One of my favorite scenes occurs when there is something wrong with Rebecca's car and the mechanic tries to overcharge her. Through her eyes, Dylan is able to help her fix the car and put the mechanic in his place.
What should be a ridiculous premise ends up being charming and delightful. Even with the drama at the end, you already know they are going to find their way to each other and it's a heartwarming union. The movie is both predictable and unpredictable. Considering this is primarily a movie about two people talking to each other, the extraneous cast is well rounded and fleshed out. What could have come off as cheesy comes off as rich and layered.
Thanks Netflix and Joss. You got me again.
While trying to get into the holiday spirit a little more last night, I decided to watch two holiday movies that I had not yet seen. Christmas on the Bayou and Wish Upon A Christmas.
Both were equally cheesy and ridiculous. Both involved a single parent in some way. Both involved going back home and rediscovering what is "truly important". Both involved discovering that the first love that got away was the true love. Aside from all the incredibly obvious things that are wrong with these scenarios, I think what bothered me most about them is how they made me feel and how they portrayed women in general.
Maybe it was watching them back to back. Maybe it's just me. I had a hard time with the idea that being a career minded woman is somehow wrong or at the very least unfulfilling. The idea that a guy is the only way a woman can be fulfilled or happy is a long standing trope that has always irked me. It especially irks me around the holidays because these movies imply that the only gift worth receiving is the gift of love from an unexpected man.
Honestly this whole portrayal of women in movies is an entire other blog post. It'll be a while before I can fully form the words to express my disdain for the majority of the movies out there. One of the very first scenes in Christmas on the Bayou is of the main character behaving as though she is harried and scattered. She thinks her life is together but it's not and she clearly needs to find a way to be grounded. Oh no! She accidentally played the video of her kid begging her to come to his soccer game. Oh that pesky promotion she keeps getting passed over for! But her boss is worried she'll quit after she completely flubbed a client pitch? It makes no sense.
There I sat on my couch last night. A fully formed and self-aware woman and I'm watching movies that make me feel as though I'm missing something. And listen, I get it. Love is an amazing thing. I'd like to believe that someday I'll experience an actual reciprocal romantic love. In the meantime though, my life is full. I have a wonderful family, great friends, and a job that I'm really good at. I feel like when love comes around for me it's going to be a nice addition to my life, not something that will replace some theoretical gaping hole.
So why do I still watch this drivel? Partially because it's the only thing on TV right now aside from weird reality shows about the Real Housewhores of Plastic Surgery County or Little People wedding planners (side note, WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE ON TV AND I'M IN A CUBICLE?!?!) Partially because despite all my gruff and complaints, I just like happy endings in whatever form they take.
There is so much hatred and anger and death happening in the world right now. I need a little cheese. I need a happy ending. Even if it's fake. It makes the rest of the BS on TV that we're bombarded with worth it.
I realize I'm a flip flopper on this one. It happens to the best of us. Do you have a favorite Holiday movie?