Tired of all the Christmas movies and holiday specials blasted at us this time of year? Are you pleased for those who love this season’s happy-happy entertainment options but are kind of done with all the nog and jingles and required enthusiasm?
Check out Kate’s awesome book for more of her amazing art & adages
If you’re hankering for something a little darker, a little raunchier, and unexpectedly hilarious, then folks, look no further. This is the movie for you:
This one came out in 2014 so I’m a little late to the party, but wow did I enjoy it! Filmed as a mocumentary, the movie is about three vampire roommates living in the U.K.. They’re depicted with the traditional vampire strengths and weaknesses – sun burns them, they can turn into bats, they drink blood (obviously) – but it also shows the day-to-day issues that are all too human – arguing over the household chores, cleaning up the carnage from last night’s dinner, figuring out how to “blend in” with regular humans when they go out at night, etc. It’s all completely ridiculous and the movie plays off its own absurdity to perfection. Running time is just 1 hour 27 minutes, but it doesn’t seem too short. More importantly, it never seems too long, ending on just the right note. I can’t recommend it enough, especially if you need a good laugh!
Best of all, not a Christmas prince in sight:)
If you’d like a taste, here are the first six minutes:
Full Disclosure: There are no spoilers in this review about the plot but I am including a couple pictures from the trailers. If you didn’t watch any trailers (which I now notice they were careful to avoid putting spoilers in) and prefer not to see ANY pictures, including from said trailers, then stop here. Otherwise, it’s safe to read on:)
I don’t usually run out to see a movie right after its released. Couple of reasons there: FULL theater (ehhggg) and I kinda like to see some reviews first. After the Star Wars movies, I try to brace myself a bit so my hopes and expectations are so utterly crushed by gut-wrenching disappointment (No, I’m not over it.)
But with Infinity War, the hubs and I didn’t wait. We lived in terror over the weekend of some bozo posting spoilers or spoiler pics and ruining a movie that we’ve been building up to for years. So yesterday night, we went.
It was everything we hoped it would be. Perfectly paced. Just the right balance of action to dialogue scenes. The funny was funny, varied depending on the character, and timed (and delivered) exactly right. I worried with such a big cast of main characters that they wouldn’t be able to pull this off or that some would overpower the others. Granted, there’s extra focus on some, but for those with less screen time they were given truly memorable moments. All of it gelled together seamlessly.
But the jewel of this movie absolutely is Thanos. Which I didn’t expect!! What they utterly missed when they threw a half-baked version of Ultron at us, they redeemed themselves with this guy.
Ruthless, implacable brutality, yes.
Nuanced, surprisingly burdened…that too.
He was a relentless madman whose motivations I came to understand–even when I could never agree with any of his logic. That is some spectacular writing. Wow.
No movie is perfect and there were a couple of nits, but really just a couple and they paled in comparison to the enormous emotional charge throughout this story. We were riveted, seriously. My heart was pounding so much from the action and the tension I started to worry about my cardiac situation. They set the bar HIGH with this one, giving us a movie written with care and attention and a clear devotion the characters.
If you’ve been worried, let me put you at ease. They did good, folks. Go see it.
Trailer below. One last thing: Stay until all the credits are done. There’s an extra scene waaay at the end. It’s worth the wait.
I’ve been wanting to see The Shape of Water movie for a while. Yes, I know it only released on December 1st, but it didn’t reach Minnesota for a while and apparently only a few select theaters actually got it. I kept waiting for it to come to a local AMC theater the hubs and I always go to but the distribution must be super limited because it STILL isn’t there.
You’re probably thinking, “AMC? Anela, did you really think this niche film would show at a chain movie theater?”
To which I’d answer, “Hey, it’s a Guillermo Del Toro movie, okay? He’s not exactly obscure. And AMC has stadium seating and recliners for seats and chocolate covered almonds. I mean, cut me some slack here!”
So, last Saturday we finally locate the movie in Uptown, better known Artsy-Fartsy-town, where even the McDonald’s has to posh up their look in order for the local clientele to deign it worthy of their lofty burger-and-fries indulgences. Am I being judge-y? Well…yes, but I’m not exaggerating. The McDonald’s across the street was all sleek lines and cool blue and grey colors. Don’t go looking for a ball pit or Ronald McDonald in there. Pretty sure the food is still made from animal fat and processed meat though.
We get to the theater and it’s an interesting place, its seating organized as though you’re looking down on a stage rather than a big screen. We had balcony seats and there’s an upstairs bar which helped soothe the absence of my usual reclining chair.
The movie begins.
Now, for those who aren’t aware, Guillermo Del Toro has an interesting résumé. He’s done blockbuster films like Pacific Rim (hate-hate-hate) as well as oddities like Pan’s Labyrinth (disturbing-disturbing-disturbing). Most know him from his Hellboy movies. Ah, the Hellboy movies. They were awesome, not least because of the amazing creatures in them. And also, this:
Hellboy Side note: What I heard is that the trilogy was never finished due to a falling out between Del Toro and the comic’s creator, leading to Del Toro losing the rights to it. Now, I mention this because The Shape of Water’s star sea-creature reminds me a lot of Hellboy’s sidekick, Abe Sapien (much different treatment, but we’ll get to that). Don’t believe me? Well, you decide:
Okay, okay, I’ll quit with the digressions.
What did I think of the movie?
It was, sadly, very meh for me. I kinda liked it but the more I reflected on it, the greater my disappointment became. I don’t want to spoiler too much but as you go along in the film, at some point you realize that you have the backstory for every freaking side character in this thing but you know next to NOTHING about the two main characters. You know, these two:
The movie barely scratched the surface on their dynamic, to the point that I didn’t feel the bond between them hardly at all. And I soooo wanted to, you guys! Examining what it means to be human as we understand it–intelligent, self-aware, empathetic–is so much fun in stories, especially in ones like these where there’s a non-human protagonist. Is he just an animal like the lab people believe? Or is he more? Is he simply a different sort of sentient creature, one who thinks differently than we do but is capable of joy and sadness and love like we are? One who can see past the exterior to the person within and find something beautiful?
The movie wanted to address these questions but didn’t actually get to it, too busy with all the quirky side character stories that I didn’t give a crap about in comparison. It vacillated between showing the sea creature as a wild animal–no wait! an intelligent being–nope, need a humorous moment, so he’s an animal–to such a degree that I started to feel a little weird about the romance. Kinda like, yeah, he’s incredible, but seals are cute too and I wouldn’t give them the side-eye.
I mean, I get what they were trying to do with themes of communication and love, how all the characters who could communicate verbally were more closed off and isolated from one another than a woman without the ability to speak aloud. I saw that, I did. And I really liked that the heroine had a disability, that while we did see her struggle to deal mainstream society, she was the strongest one in the show, the one with the most clarity and honesty. And they didn’t “fix” her at the end (high kudos on that point). It’s because of these themes that the film is winning awards, but from the perspective of emotional engagement and storytelling…meh.
Here’s the preview below. Definitely grabs your attention. If only it could hold on to it while you’re watching the actual movie *sigh*
Originally I didn’t have any intention to see the new Wonder Woman movie in theaters even though she was one of my favorite super heroes as a girl. The preview looked promising but DC’s movies, eh…*sad head shaking*. They’ve lured me in with awesome trailers before only to find out later that the preview had a better plot line than the actual movie. But then the Wonder Woman released and everyone exploded about it and I thought, “Well, all right then. I guess I better see what it’s all about.”
The result? It’s the best DC movie to date. Hold your applause, people, that’s not a high bar. The truth is, it’s a good movie. It’s not MOVIE OF THE YEAR, but it’s good. It has a coherent story line (apparently DC thought they’d give that a try), a character arc for the protags, and a satisfying conclusion (even though the end was a tad CGI wonky and included some too-stupid-to-live moves by the Big Bad).
So, why is everyone going bananas over this movie?
Well, even if the story isn’t the best ever made, it 100% portrayed the Wonder Woman we’ve always loved. The one who is strong but not vengeful. The one who seeks truth and cuts through the pretenses. The one who believes in the best of us even when we’re at our worst. A warrior who kicks some ass but is also capable of a smile. A woman who can love a man but owns her own destiny.
Gal Gadot portrayed her perfectly. Aside from her obvious knock-you-over beauty, she exuded that hope, strength, and intelligence we associate with Wonder Woman. And Lord, she was TALL. I loved that they didn’t try to downsize her at all. I mean, you could see she was one towering woman. The movie itself started out centered on the Amazons on their hidden isle. In fact we didn’t even see a man show up for quite a while. It’s a bummer that this is something noticeable because it means we aren’t accustomed to movies revolving strictly around a woman’s story.
That’s the part of the film making waves, in my opinion. It felt authentically dedicated to a woman’s journey. It didn’t devolve into anything catty with other women. It wasn’t overburdened with a love story, though there was one. The man never rescued her from danger (excellent job on that score). It also wasn’t a role reversal where she had all the control over the men and they were subordinate to her. It was as though her presence uplifted the situation to one where respect was simply a normative state.
This isn’t to say there wasn’t sexism when Diana traveled to the world of men, but it wasn’t something that seemed to touch her, or at least it appeared to fall below her notice. It was there, we the audience saw it and detested it, but it didn’t have any effect on Diana herself. The comments slid off her like Teflon. Some have said they didn’t like that the character never addressed that issue, but I disagree. Considering the culture she came from, she did not understand she was seen as a “woman” in our world. She didn’t possess that concept as we understand it. She was herself, strong, noble, and heroic, unquestioning in her worth–a wonder in every sense of the word. I only wish we had loads of examples like this to show our girls.
Will there be more Wonder Woman movies, independent of Batman, Superman, and the Justice League? I hope so, because it would be a shame if this fell into the “Okay, we did the Wonder Woman origin story so we’re done with that. Back to the shitty male-centered ones we were busy with before.” That would be a shame, if only because of how unsurprising it’d be.
Has anyone else seen the movie? What did you think?
With “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” out in theaters right now earning wheelbarrows full of cash for its producers this movie review about a low-budget Sci-Fi film that 99 out of 100 people have likely never heard of might strike you as odd…BUT IT WAS AMAZING! Thus, I feel duty bound to spread the word.
Here’s the summary:
On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film whose tension intensely ratchets up as its numerous complex mysteries unfold.
I’m not sure how I feel about putting the words “tension intensely” next to each other, but intense is definitely an apt description for this film. You’ll recognize its small cast of actors but might not be sure from where. The guy who played “Xander” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and another woman who was a frequent side character on the TV series “Highlander” are the only ones I really knew. It doesn’t matter though. All of them did a fantastic job.
As the summary said, the movie starts out with a dinner party at a friend’s house. There’s some relationship drama going on as someone thought it would be a great idea to invite over the ex-girlfriend of the main character’s boyfriend. Naturally the ex sashays in fashionably late wearing a slinky red dress. So they get you on the protagonist’s side pretty quickly because, ugh, you just want to smack her and the dopey eyes she makes at the other girl’s boyfriend. Reminds me of this little hussy named Jasmine who had a thing for my husband (then boyfriend) and sat on his lap while I was right there in the room. We were even holding hands at the time. Since this was in Holland I pondered introducing her to the way Americans handle a situation like that. My guy took care of it though, setting her promptly off of him and telling her to get lost. Ah, satisfaction–Um, but let’s get back to the movie review:
The night of the dinner party coincides with a comet passing the Earth. It’s affecting phone signals and internet. Then the lights go out in the entire neighborhood…except for one house two blocks down. They decide to head over there and find out what’s going on/maybe use their phone, but what they find only leads to more questions and an out-of-this-world scenario of mind-bending Sci-Fi awesomeness that keeps your jaw dropping all the way through to the end. Incredibly memorable and amazingly done. Just goes to show that you don’t need millions and millions of dollars to make something spectacular.
Here’s the preview. It doesn’t do the film justice and makes it seem like a big Maury-Povich-style shouting match and semi-horror but that’s not how it was. I think they had to go for that feeling to drive interest because they can’t tell you too much without giving things away. Trust me, this one had a lot of thought put into it. I still plan to see the big Sci-Fi blockbuster but I’m so happy I found this gem.
Last week I went with my eight year old niece to see the uber hyped live action remake of Beauty and the Beast.
My opinion? Definitely recommended.
First: It’s clear this movie was made by people who loved the original Disney cartoon. If they read this I would tell them thank you so much for not taking annoying liberties with the story to make it into something new. They understood that nobody wanted new, they wanted a live action version of the original. This they absolutely delivered. In fact, have a look at the trailer alongside the 1991 version:
Awesome, right?? Made with love, I tell you.
Now, they did adjust a few things since we’re dealing with actors and not drawn characters (although, obviously there was CGI) but the changes were great. Wow, were there some serious wigs going on in this thing. They were so over the top — wink wink at French history — that you couldn’t help but enjoy it. At least I couldn’t.
Second: The makers chose their cast well. I loved Emma Watson as Belle, but hands down Luke Evans as Gaston and Josh Gad as LeFou stole the show for me. You could just tell they enjoyed the hell out of their roles. Considering Luke Evans played the noble and courageous Bard in The Hobbit, it impressed me how he easily switched into the petty and gorgeous Gaston for this one. Well, maybe the gorgeous part wasn’t all that hard for him because, damn.
Third: I worried that Beast wouldn’t have the compelling look as he did in the Disney version, those features of his that could be ferocious at one moment and tender the next, but this too was well done. He looked perfect. Now, the human version at the end played by Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens put me off totally. He just didn’t…do it for me. Something didn’t quite fit there and he seemed wrong next to Belle. Could be because he does better with the brooding frown than the expression of transcendent joy required at the end. I wonder if they chose him because he was so well known from Downton Abbey but I feel like an unknown might’ve worked better.
So, in all, it was a lot of fun. There were a couple of plot parts that were a bit thin but still it was well executed. The Disney version will forever be the true version for me, of course, but live-action or not, Belle is one of those special characters that grabbed my heart as a little girl. As an adult her song, “There Must Be Something More Than This Provincial Life” takes on a new meaning to me.
Haha, sorry, had to share that one.
But seriously, these days it seems like the message to girls is that instead of being true to themselves, they should worry about their appearance and whether the good-looking boy thinks they’re worthy of attention. I’m not saying there’s something wrong with a girl wanting to look nice, so long as she’s doing it for herself and her own power, that she doesn’t change who she is on the inside in order to fit who someone else is. Because there’s plenty of examples of that, like the movies that show being true to yourself requires a total makeover, complete with sassy hair flipping, high heels, and a thigh high split in their dress (*cough* Elsa *cough* Sandy Olsson *cough*).
Belle contradicts this model. She refuses to be pinned down by the expectations of society that say a woman’s job is to find a man, that she can’t take care of herself and shouldn’t participate in things that require thought and action. Belle wants more for herself, even if that means people think her strange and mock her. It’s a lonely path but a brave one that we can’t help but admire her for.
This is a story that warns of the emptiness of vanity and selfishness, a romance based on the beauty within, on kindred spirits and mutual understanding.