Quick Review : Love is Strange (2014)

IMDB Score –
Rotten Tomato Score – 94%

Directed By – Ira Sachs
Starring – John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marissa Tomei, Charlie Tahan, Darren E. Burrows, Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez, and Chrstina Kirk

After Ben and George get married, George is fired from his teaching post, forcing them to stay with friends separately while they sell their place and look for cheaper housing — a situation that weighs heavily on all involved.

Today is Easter, and while I’m waiting for a succulent ham to enter my mouth, I’ve got a few words to say about this cute little movie. That’s right, it’s cute. I don’t care.

Love Is Strange is a little indie film from last year from writer/director Ira Sachs. The film features Lithgow and Molina as longtime partners who get married and immediately have their lives uprooted after the marriage. Molina works at a church as a music instructor and gets fired after the church finds out about the marriage, even though they knew of the relationship. This cause them to lose their apartment and have to spend time apart as they stay at their respected family members houses. The distance apart, and the drama at their temporary places of residence tests their love for each other in different ways.

I really liked this. Like I said before, it’s cute. That isn’t to say it’s a bunch of roses and happy endings. The film deals heavily on family, personal art and dreams, and age. Lithgow and Molina at first don’t have much chemistry, but as the film continues, their bond is very apparent. Both actors portray their characters with class and realism instead of stereotypical mannerisms that an older gay man may posses. Think the opposite of Christopher Plummer’s character in “Beginners”. I liked this better. It’s a subtle film that doesn’t put too much on the fact that they are gay, even though it’s basically the whole reason the film exists. The background story dealing with the family of Marissa Tomei’s character was a bit frustrating. The mother, played by Tomei, is a self centered bitch that farts out nice toasts about her uncle, played by Lithgow, and then seems to be annoyed by his existence when he has to stay at their place. The father is always absent or a ghost when present, and the son is a little shit, but young enough to get away with it. Their story is almost as important as the relationship between the two leads. It just pissed me off how much I hated them, especially the mother.

The film is well shot. I’ve been trying to find a still of one of the last scenes of the film were Ben and George are leaving a bar late at night. The streets are empty in what I presume to be the east village in NYC. They live on opposite ends of the city so at an intersection, one goes one way and the other another. The shot is stagnant and pretty as hell. I’ll try to find it and stick in in here. That being said, it’s a wonderfully made film.

It’s totally worth your attention. It’s a small, subtle, and ultimately heartbreaking film about love and what it all entails. Molina and Lithgow are fantastic in it and it’s pretty to look at.

4/5



Film Review : It Follows (2015)

IMDB Score – 7.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 95%

Directed By – David Robert Mitchell
Starring – Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Jake Weary, and Daniel Zovatto

A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual confrontation.

*Insert STD joke that everybody seems to be making here*

There. Now that THAT’S over with…

I feel the need in every horror review I write to point out that modern horror movies are hard to do correctly. First off, studios have trouble greenlighting a lot of horror films because the great ones almost HAVE to be rated R and rated R films hurt box office sales. If your film does get on its feet, then it’s got to be pretty unique or else it’s going to come off redundant and stale. As of late, there has been an almost “rebirth” of 80’s style horror/thriller films that take simple premises and make them unique with style, atmosphere, and callbacks to horror classics of the 70s and 80s. Films like Drive, House of the Devil, The Guest, Cabin in the Woods, and The Innkeepers have done unique things with either tired tropes or dated plot devices. Cabin in the Woods did this perfectly and then spun us onto our head with the 3rd act. House of the Devil fully embodied an 80’s slasher flick. The Innkeepers took a typical ghost story and through atmosphere and brilliant camera work, made it unique and special. That being said, I’ll always respect and applaud films that try to do something different, or try to spice up something familiar. It Follows is a film that I respect, am intrigued by, but am left wishing it gave me a little bit more.

The film has a relatively easy premise. Whoever has “it” is followed by people, seemingly random people, and if they are caught, they die. They have to sleep with somebody and then “it” gets passed along to that person and the chain continues. If that person dies, “it” goes back down the chain of teenager sex until nobody is left. The followers only walk, and can’t be seen by anybody else. Off the bat, that’s a creepy premise. We all have been walking home late at night and notice that somebody is walking behind us. Even if that person is harmless, the sense of unease is there. So an entire film based on random people coming for you dead eyed at all hours of the night scares the shit out of me. I was disappointed though, not so much with the film, but rather by own self. You see, I wasn’t scared, not once, throughout the whole film. Save for one scene, I was watching this film no differently than I would watch a Pixar film. I guess the suspense just didn’t grab me or some outside forces from the day just numbed me to being scared but I just honestly wasn’t tense at all. I did however appreciate how one could find this suspenseful. They certainly did a good job keeping the camera flowing at the right places and still at others. There were many 360 pan shots that revealed some horrible thing or a stagnant show with something coming closer in the distance. I liked that. The film is well made. I just didn’t really get it.

Like I alluded to earlier, the film definitely paid tribute to classic films and directors. The score, which was amazing by the way, is straight from Carpenter himself. The night shots and horror scenes look like they were shot by Wes Craven. Hell, I was even reminded of The Shining a couple times when a scene would concludeand I was left scratching my head as to what the hell I just saw.

I think that’s what is eating at me with this film. It’s not as if I didn’t like it. I liked it plenty. I just didn’t get it enough to really love it. It’s a film that could definitely change my opinion of it over time, but I’m just not there yet. It’s flawed. The 3rd act was kind of a let down. There wasn’t a satisfactory end. Ambiguous is fine, but I needed a little bit more from it before it ended, which it abruptly did. There seems to be a lot of underlying themes that have NOTHING TO DO WITH FUCKING STDS that I just can’t seem to grasp. Is the film about relationships? We have Jay, a girl, played by Maika Monroe, running away from “it” while her friend Paul, played by Keir Gilchrist, is only trying to get closer to her. I enjoyed this dynamic. Is the film about the youth of adolescents? Are these kids literally running away from death which is slowly inching its way towards them? Like I said, “it” walks very slow. Whatever the main theme is, it’s not obvious, which both excites me and frustrates me. I like challenging films. I also like to figure things out. I haven’t figured this one out yet.

You should see the film. Why? Maybe you’ll understand it more than I did. If you’re a horror fan and have been waiting for a unique film that hasn’t been done before, then go see it. It’s a stylish film that does something completely different. Michael Meyers may have started the slow walk killer thing, but this film takes it to another level. I’ll always pay to see films like this. I love ambition. I just may not always get it. I need to watch this again.

3.5/5



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