WARNING! Do NOT watch the Southpaw trailer.

The trailer for Southpaw recently came out. Do NOT watch it. Antoine Fuqua’s new film about a boxer played by the incredible Jake Gyllenhaal features one of the worst trailers I have ever seen. Want to know everything that happens in the film? Well then go ahead, watch the movie. They literally paint the entire three acts in the nearly three minute long trailer.

WHAT THE FUCK? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS STUDIOS?

This serves as a warning. I know you people. I know you love film as much as I do and like to go into a film blank as to actually experience the film. This trailer is fucking insulting. I feel myself going into a giant tirade about this, and honestly, fuck that. I’m not letting this shit get the best of me.

Don’t watch the trailer. Just don’t. If you have any interest in seeing the film, skip it.

I’m done with trailers.

The Netflix List : Overlooked Films and Hidden Gems (TV Included)

I’m going to assume that about 95% of the people who read film articles online have some sort of streaming service in their homes. I’d say the most common service would be Netflix. How could it not? I think standard streaming service is what, eight bucks a month? That’s still one of the best things you can buy. I plan to cut my cable bill in half in two weeks by getting rid of cable TV. Why? It’s not needed anymore. If I want to watch a certain show I can always just stream it on my own but most services like Hulu or Amazon have day after television streaming. There’s just no need for cable anymore. With that luxury however comes one burning question.

What the fuck am I going to watch?

With thousands of titles at your fingertips, the frustrating dilemma of having too many options comes up. It happens to me all the time. I have like 400 titles in my queue and some nights I can’t pick one out of the bunch. I’ve also run into the problem where some streaming services don’t give you access to every single title. They give you genres and about 50 titles to choose from and that’s it. This list is designed to help make you aware of some of the hidden films and television shows that you otherwise can’t find browsing your Netflix app.

Sound of Noise

Fun little film from Sweden about anarchists who terrorize their city with music. Unique film that while being a bit surreal, manages to keep the gimmick fresh with new “movements”.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day

Remember that cartoon that you showed your friends ten years ago? It was a Don Hertzfeld cartoon where stick figures did bizarre things? “My spoon is too big!” Yeah, he’s back with a new film and it’s much of the same. Strangely funny and completely Hertzfeld.

The Fall (TV Series)

This one may not be so hidden now that Jamie Dornan became everybody’s favorite woman abuser. I hated the last ten minutes of the second season but the whole series intrigued me because we know from day one who the killer of these women are. The POV switch from our killer to our detective was well done and features some nice direction.Plus, Scully is in it. YAY SCULLY!

Whitewash

Cool little film about a man who kills a guy driving his snow plow drunk and just decides “Whelp, I guess I’m living in the woods now”. Quiet and funny. Also boasts one of the best final lines ever.

We Are What We Are

I’ve been championing this film since I saw it two years ago. It’s about a strict religious father raising his two daughters in a town that has had multiple missing people over the years. It’s one of my favorite horror films and it doesn’t utilize barely any jump scares. That’s how you know it’s good. The performances are amazing. The ending is amazing. The direction is amazing. I love it.

Top of the Lake (TV Series)

Excellent police drama with Elizabeth Moss from Mad Men and Peter Mullan from British stuff that is awesome. Lots of small town secrets and lots of beautiful shots constructed by Jane Campion. I usually never here anybody talking about this.

Gimmie The Loot

I love this film. Nothing really happens. It’s just the day in the life of two friends in New York City. The two actors are fantastic although they are pretty much unknown. Great for a day in bed while it’s raining. I love hangout movies.

Gasland

Yeah, that’s a guy lighting his water on fire. This documentary attacks fracking companies who drill for natural gas, poisoning the ground and water supply of nearly a quart of the country in the process. A bit bias, but still eye opening.

Let The Fire Burn

One of the most compelling documentaries I’ve ever seen. Tells the story of the standoff between the Philadelphia police department and the MOVE movement, a group of African American people who basically live off the grid, but in the middle of Philly. It’s something that I’ve never even heard about until I saw the film. I don’t think the authorities wanted this story to be told.

Code Unknown

Little know Michael Haneke film that weaves three stories together. Like all Haneke films, it is bleak, slow, and completely unapologetic. The scene with Julliete Binoche on the subway is tense.

The Hunter

Great thriller involving the always amazing Willem Dafoe. The film boasts some serious landscape photography and some brutally realistic scenes. Hell, I’ll watch just about anything with Willem Dafoe and this one features him in nearly every scene.

Poetry

Honestly one of the most heartbreaking films I’ve ever seen. Jeong-hie Yun gives a once in a decade performance as an elderly woman on the verge of Alzheimer’s who unwillingly gets involved in a situation with her grandson, a situation that involves a crime. I was speechless after seeing it.

Exam

I love films set in one location. This one is tense and mysterious and is set all in one room. The subjects are there for a job interview and must take a test in order to show what skills they have. Here is the premise…

“There is one question before you, and one answer is required. If you try to communicate with myself or the guard, you will be disqualified. If you spoil your paper, intentionally or accidentally, you will be disqualified. If you choose to leave this room for any reason, you will be disqualified. Any questions?”

It’s neat.

Kill List

Easily one of my favorite thriller/horror films of the last ten years. It’s a brutal, brutal film. The violence only gets crazier and crazier and it culminates with one of the scariest and jaw dropping endings I’ve ever seen. Come here little bunny, it’s going to get cold. I’m taking your coat off your back..

Swimming With Sharks

Classic Kevin Spacey being a dick. I think the guys who made Horrible Bosses saw this movie and wanted the exact same character. Great film that doesn’t get enough recognition about a guy who has had enough of his douche boss.

Better Off Ted (TV Series)

Vastly overlooked series that got cancelled after two seasons. Fans of Arrested Development and Scrubs should like this one. Portia DeRossie basically plays Lindsey Bluth in this so you really can’t go wrong.

Super

Remember that little superhero movie last summer called Guardians of the Galaxy? The guy that directed it, James Gunn, also directed this little movie that came out the same year as Kick-Ass and is a thousand times better. It takes the makeshift superhero motif and really fucks with it.

Get Low

You can’t go wrong with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray. I love this movie. Tells the story of a backwoods loner who plans his own funeral and also plans to attend it, alive.

Below

I like submarine movies. I like ghost movies. This is a submarine ghost movie. Darren Aronofsky actually helped write this thing and it shows. Some of the story is actually very unsettling and we get to see Bruce Greenwood be awesome. Definitely not going to be liked by everybody but I think it’s fun.

Trollhunter

Easily the best found footage film I’ve seen. Don’t read anything about this. Just watch it. It sounds stupid, I know. Trust me, it’s not. TRRROOOOOOOOOOLLLLL!!!!

Quick Reviews! : The Imitation Game, Housebound, The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and Old Joy

I’ve been busy getting ready for a move so I wasn’t able to give these films a dedicated full review. Here are some quick thoughts on each film.

If I didn’t see Selma this year, Benedict Cumberbatch would have been my lead performance of the year. He’s that good in it. You can tell how dedicated he is in portraying Alan Turing as graciously as he can and it showed. Sure Turing was a bit frustrating to work with, but the man was a genius and didn’t deserve to endure some of the hardships during the end of his life. Graham Moore, who charmed us all with his Oscar speech, deserved his moment in the spotlight after crafting an airtight and seemingly flawless screenplay. From the start to the finish the film runs effortlessly like one of Turing’s machine, turning and spinning on a heartbeat like rhythm. I can see why Morten Tyldum was nominated for an Oscar. This film is just so well put together. The score, the acting, the cinematography, and the writing are all free flowing and synchronized. The film reminded me a lot of A Beautiful Mind, both in subject matter and in storytelling. I didn’t really understand the Keira Knightley praise but it’s always nice to see Matthew Goode in stuff. I love watching him act. Good show.

4.5/5

New to Netflix, this New Zealand film from director Gerard Johnstone actually surprised me. I expected a serious horror film but what the film really excelled at was the sort of horror/humor that guys like Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson gave us early in their careers. The film centers around a brat of a woman who gets in trouble trying to steal an ATM and has to be under house arrest for nine months in the house she grew up in. Stuff starts to happen that you would normally find in a movie like this but then the film takes a sharp right turn. The result is funny, original, fun, and occasionally disgusting. Give it a try if you like movies like Dead Alive of Evil Dead.

3/5

This Studio Ghibli film was recently nominated for Best Foreign Language film at this years Oscars. This is for good reason. The film is gorgeous. What seems to be colored pencil from time to time, Princess Kaguya’s beautifully animated story tells the tale of a girl born from a bamboo stalk that grows as fast as the plants she grew out of. Obviously there is some magical realism here, but that nuance is why I love Studio Ghibli films. This one was directed by Grave of the Fireflies director Isao Takahata, and features his best animation to date. Every scene leaps off the page in a colorful albeit very subtle display of animation. The simple story didn’t wow me as much as Ghibi’s other films, but its the kind of story that you can just sit back on a rainy day, like I did, and just take it all in. The music was also fantastic.

3.5/5

This was a bit of a slow watch. I’m a fan of Kelly Reichardt. I thought “Wendy and Lucy” and “Meeks Cutoff” were wonderful examples of what you can do with still images and slow burn story telling. Night Moves was a bit of a disappointment but after seeing that Old Joy was on Netflix, I decided to check it out. I didn’t realize a movie that has a run length of only 73 minutes could drag so long. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like the film. It was just the opposite of entertaining. Instead, it was a film that featured two friends going on a camping trip where their past and present only ever so slightly hits the surface of what we can see. There is a lot going on in the background of their lives that we aren’t directly told. I enjoyed it for what it was but I don’t think everybody will like it. It’s literally a car ride and a camping trip. Nice to see NJ natives Yo La Tengo doing the film score though. That helped.

2.5/5

Film Review : Foxcatcher (2014)

IMDB Score – 7.2
Rotten Tomato Score – 88%
Academy Award Nominee for Best Director, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Makeup, and Best Original Screenplay

Directed By – Bennett Miller
Starring – Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Venessa Redgrave, Anthony Michael Hall, Guy Boyd, and Brett Rice

The greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team joins Team Foxcatcher led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont as they train for the 1988 games in Seoul – a union that leads to unlikely circumstances.

(I’m going to try a different writing style with this one and see if it works out. Just a FYI)

Like Whiplash, I’ve been aware of this film for a long time as it had a very early run at film festivals early last year. I heard Steve Carell was a revelation, that the film was a contender for Best Picture, and that Bennett Miller crafted a tight thriller aimed to get under your skin. Well, some of those things ended up being true, some didn’t. Let’s get into this.

Steve Carell – This was really the first thing I heard about the film. Steve Carell, Michael Scott himself, can act with the big guys. Considering he was recognized by the Academy, I’d say that he has found his way into talk of great working actors today. I didn’t think however that his performance was as monumental as most are claiming. I think that the fact that it was Steve Carell behind that enormous shnoz added to the talk of greatness. The guy who was speaking gibberish on Bruce Almighty and throwing tridents at people in Anchorman was now taking on a serious acting role in trying to portray John duPont. I think he did as fine a job as anybody could have, I just think the actual part was a bit underwhelming. duPont doesn’t say much. This role was all in the eyes for Carell and by all means did he nail it. My favorite parts of the film were when Carell, as duPont, is confronted with a problem, and his gaze goes cold, and his mind seems to be racing, but there is zero emotion on his face. That’s all Carell. He was able to give off such a creepy and subtle psychosis that even though I didn’t know the outcome of the story, I knew something bad was brewing. David Oyelewo should have been in the Best Actor category, but I had no problem with Carell being there.

The screenplay – This is where the film had its flaws. I love quiet films. This film is VERY quiet. There is a very subtle score consisting of light piano and strings but most of the film is dialogue and while that is happening, there is silence. There were times where this kind of slowness was totally important in the building of these characters. Other times it meandered. There were scenes involving duPont and his obsession with being in control that were important theme wise but seemed to drag on film wise. The two hour and fifteen minute run time felt like three hours mostly due to this meandering. The end of the film was also very abrupt and didn’t really give us reactionary points of view from all parties. Shocking? Oh, hell yeah. The pivotal scene that begins the end of the film is one of the most chilling scenes I’ve seen this year, but after that the film just kind of fades away. I needed more resolve. There was also a lot of holes in the film where Shultz and duPont start to get closer to each other. There’s a scene on a helicopter before a ceremony that leads right into bad haircuts and total character change. Nothing explained it other than what happened on the helicopter. Just felt forced.
Other than that, I felt that the comparison and development of duPont and Mark Shultz was fascinating to watch. Both these characters had father/mother issues, felt like they were in the shadows of somebody else, and loved America a whole lot. It’s a great character study.

Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum – Both of them, teamed with Carell of course, kicked major ass in this film. I said as the film was starting that I wanted to see if Tatum could actually act or if he was just a one trick pony with his sexy dancing and his buddy cop comedies. The dude can act. I’m now in the group of people that sees him as an actor rather than a celebrity who tries to act. For the record, I loved him in 21 Jump Street. Like Carell with duPont, Channing portrayed Mark Shultz as a silent time bomb, ready to explode at a given point. I was impressed. Ruffalo has been a favorite actor of mine for a while and even I didn’t understand the praise he got for this film until about three quarters of the way in. Then I got it. The last quarter of this film, Ruffalo becomes one of the more sympathetic characters I’ve seen in film in a while. He portrays the character and personality of Dave Shultz so well that all sorts of emotions were flying by the films end. He earned his praise.

The liked the film. I’m glad I didn’t see it in theaters because I may have fallen asleep but the film worked in most ways in telling the chilling tale of what happens when you mix immense power and money with mental illness. The three actors knocked it out of the park and the film had great tone and color. It dragged in bits, but overall it’s a film that I can see getting better with age. The character study alone of duPont and Mark Schultz was worth the watch.

3/5




Film Review : Obvious Child (2014)

IMDB Score – 6.8
Rotten Tomato Score – 90%
Amazon Watch Instant

Directed By – Gillian Robespierre
Starring – Jenny Slate, Gabby Hoffmann, Jack Lacy, Richard Kind, Polly Draper, Gabe Liedman, and David Cross

A twenty-something comedienne’s unplanned pregnancy forces her to confront the realities of independent womanhood for the first time.

Rom-Coms. Like the ever so fragile horror genre, there is a very small window of success when it comes to romantic comedies. At least for me. I know a few people that can’t get enough of them. A few professional critics I read laud films like Love Actually and 500 Days of Summer. I’ve seen the latter. I thought it was okay. One of my favorite films of all time, Lost in Translation, could possibly be categorized as a Rom-Com but I wouldn’t say so. That film is a dream like look at empathy and loneliness but surprisingly establishes the exact quality that I look for when I watch something romantic, realism. Whether it’s funny or not, realism is what makes a good film from a bad one. I also think that tragedy can be a very useful but overused tool when it comes to these films. The Apartment had heavy tones dealing with adultery and suicide, yet was still hysterical and endearing. Blue Valentine was devastating as we see two people spiral out of love. Obvious Child is hilarious but deals with unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Maybe I’m just fucked up, but I just can’t like a romantic film unless something horrible happens. I guess that’s why I don’t consider Lost in Translation to be a rom-com. Nothing bad really happens. It’s just two people hanging out and developing a relationship.

Obvious Child does the opposite. It starts with the end of a relationship which catapults the films protagonist Donna, played INCREDIBLY by Jenny Slate, into a bit of a spiral. Donna is a comedian and brings her life on stage every time she gets up there. She eventually meets Max and here is where the films starts to develop into what ended up being such a pleasant surprise.

Like I said before, realism is important to me. I have to be able to feel like the characters in the film could actually exist in real life. No woman that Jennifer Lopez or Cameron Diaz have ever existed outside of Beverly Hills, Miami, or the upper west side. The majority of rom-com female leads make up the smallest percentage of what real women are like. Jenny Slate brings realism to this film. She’s awkward, anxious, and has no idea what she’s doing in her life. She reminds me of Greta Gerwig from Frances Ha except a little less hipster cool. Donna lives in Brooklyn, somehow pays only $500 in rent (which totally contradicts this whole realism theme), and works at a failing bookstore. She’s an everyday person. Thankfully, she’s also hilarious. I had a few laugh of loud moments while watching this. Slate, who appears regularly on comedy central shows such as The Kroll Show, has a natural sense of comedic timing which really helped me connect with her character. She just seemed like a person who is struggling to make an impact at 26 years old just like everybody else who is 26 is.

As the film progresses, Slate’s acting chops really start to show. I was surprised. I had heard that she was great in the film and saw that she was nominated for a Spirit award but she still caught me off guard. The tornado that her life ran into required some serious emotional cutbacks and Slate handled it perfectly. She was able to convey a girl who has no idea how she got herself into the situation perfectly. I was impressed.

The film tackles some sensitive subjects with honesty. Abortion isn’t a very widely used subject for film, especially comedies, but Obvious Child was able to take it on without getting too heavy, but also not insulting the situation with humor. I’m the type of person that cracks jokes at funerals and is laughing while being taken to the ER. I always have been. I use humor as a defense mechanism when things are too serious to handle, at least in public. When I’m alone or with family, the true feelings come out, and they did in this film. Those scenes were touching.

The supporting cast was good, but this is really Slate’s show. She didn’t carry the film because I think it was a very well written and directed movie, but I don’t think it would have been the same without her. The film is currently streaming on Amazon Instant and I’d totally recommend it.

4/5