Yikes. I am really far behind on this movie review/blog thing. The worst part is I don’t have a good excuse. I’m just super lazy. So I’m going to nock this one out quick.
I saw this movie many weeks ago through the Milwaukee Film Club. It’s a movie about an American doctor (Will Forte, in his first dramatic role) who comes to live with an Irish family to document the recovery of a man who suffered a stroke. While studying the man, his presence also greatly affects the man’s wife and children.
It’s a nice movie. I very much enjoy Will Forte as both a comedic and a dramatic actor. He did this movie prior to Nebraska, and I don’t know if the experience had anything to do with his subsequently doing Nebraska, but if it did I’m glad he did this movie. Because I loved Nebraska. I only liked this movie. I enjoyed it while I was watching it but it didn’t make much of an impact on me. I stopped thinking about it almost immediately upon leaving the theater. Some people may like that, but I don’t. And this movie was nice and had a lot of great elements, but in the end wasn’t super memorable. Especially in contrast to Nebraska, which had such an impact on me that—4 months after seeing it—I still find myself thinking about it on occasion. But if you’ve ever known someone who sustained an injury that fundamentally changed his or her personality, this movie may affect you like Nebraska affected me. Or maybe it won’t. Who the fuck knows.
Run & Jump: Wait for it on Cable
The Divergent series is my favorite young adult book series. Wait—let me clarify: the Divergent series was my favorite young adult book series. I loved it right up until the very end. The third book in general had its faults, as final installments of YA series are wont to, but I was still on board for most of it. If you haven’t read the series I won’t spoil anything for you here; let’s just say I hated the ending. Hated. Hated. Hated. It was completely unnecessary and showed a distressing lack of substantial character development, scenarios by which I cannot abide.
I mention my disappointment with the book series because I think it impacted my ability to fully enjoy this movie. Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed this movie. But I absolutely adored the book. I couldn’t start reading the second book fast enough and ended up reading it in one sitting. I felt like this movie is a faithful adaptation of the first book, and even though some changes/shortcuts were necessary I was okay with all the choices that were made. Yet I couldn’t help but let my enjoyment of the movie be colored by my knowledge of how it will all end. If you know an adventure is going to end badly, can you still enjoy the journey?? I think Buzzfeed said it best: The Big Problem with Divergent is Allegiant (Beware: contains spoilers).
But again, I still enjoyed this movie. I was excited to see it and the movie itself did not disappoint. Everything pretty much looked like I pictured it in my head (with a few minor exceptions), and I delighted in seeing it all the action play out on screen. I also feel like the casting was pretty brilliant. Shailene Woodley is adorable and I’m becoming a big fan of hers. I also very much enjoy John Cusack for the Millennial Generation, (aka MIles Teller), and any movie that involves Hollywood Prince Tony Goldwyn is a movie I’m at least somewhat interested in seeing. But let’s get down to brass tacks: Theo James is the perfect Four; he’s strong, intelligent, brooding, and handsome. Seriously, if you leave this movie not completely enamored with Theo James there’s a good chance you’re a dead person and you should just drive yourself straight to the cemetery for burial. His lips alone…I mean…just…ummm what was I saying? Oh yeah: Theo James is perfection.
Anyway, as with the first Hunger Games movie, if you haven’t read the book you probably aren’t going to like this movie as much as those that have. I do, however, think Neil Burger did a way better job with this movie than Gary Ross did with The Hunger Games, which is to say it’s not virtually unwatchable for non-readers. You might miss some details or think the plot feels a bit rushed, but if you go in with that expectation I think it will be at least entertaining. You may even feel inspired to go home and read the book, which I fully support. Read the second one too. Heck—even read the third one. Just stop before you get to the end.
Divergent: Put it in Your Netflix Queue.
I love Wes Anderson movies. This is a Wes Anderson movie. Need I say more? Probably not, but I will. It should come as no surprise that I loved this movie. As I believe I mentioned when I reviewed Moonrise Kingdom in 2012, I just love everything about Wes Anderson’s movies—the colors, the symmetry, the humor—and I don’t see that ever changing. You probably either love Wes Anderson or can’t stand him, and I am firmly in the former camp. His movies simply delight me to no end and I find myself revisiting each installment over and over, my affection growing with each viewing.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is an excellent addition to the canon. If you love Wes Anderson movies, you’ve probably already seen it (I was delayed by living in Milwaukee and it not arriving here until last week). If you’re on the fence about Wes Anderson, maybe give this one a whirl. It’s a murder mystery, in a sense (it’s not exactly a whodunnit, but more a “how will our hero prove hedidn’t”), so maybe if you haven’t been drawn to his previous movies this one will suit you better. It’s got some fun action, plenty of laughs, and lots of heart. All the usual Wes Anderson suspects show up at some point, each more delightful than the last, with some fun new faces thrown in for good measure. If you hate Wes Anderson, why are you even reading this? Just go live in a cave already and save the rest of us the trouble of having to roll our eyes every time you embarrass yourself by admitting it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel: See It In the Theater
This movie, you guys. THIS. MOVIE. This movie is my everything. EVERYTHING!! Seriously, I was so very jazzed to see this movie, and it did not disappoint. In fact, it might have been the movie I was most anticipating this entire year—NAY, this entire century! AND IT WAS AMAZING!!!!!
Ok, hyperbole aside, I am still pumped about this movie. Full disclosure: I just marathoned the entire series a little over a month ago. I’m not sure why I didn’t watch it when it originally aired, but it probably has something to do with the fact that I lived in a different state during each season. In other words, I was a girl on the go with other concerns. But over the past few years (and countless Party Down viewings) I had come to realize that Veronica Mars was a show I needed to see. Problem was, it wasn’t available on any streaming services and the thought of getting all the discs through Netflix seemed duanting (I realize there were other options). Finally my salvation came in January in the form of Amazon Prime. I was finally able to watch every episode. And watch them I did!
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The Lego Movie's awesome! Everything is cool when you watch this movie. The Lego Movie's awesome, Staci thinks that you should see!
Ok, sorry. That was my lackluster attempt at parody, which makes no sense unless you’ve seen the movie and/or heard the song. Again, I’m sorry, but I felt compelled to do it, probably due to something that happened in my childhood that I’ve repressed. Anyway, this movie was overall really great, but Everything is Awesome is not just really great; it is a spectacular song. If I don’t see Tegan & Sara and The Lonely Island dressed as giant Legos performing the song on the Academy Awards stage next year I am going to denounce the entire operation as a sham. Seriously. I like it so much the government could probably use it to enslave me (or maybe that was the point and I’m already in the process of being enslaved?!). Whatever. I bought it on iTunes. It delights me.
The entire movie delights me. I don’t typically see animated movies in the theater unless they’re truly special (see Wreck-It Ralph), but last weekend’s movie offerings were so lackluster I decided to see one of the fine animated films that were kicking around the box office. I had a good feeling I would enjoy all three, but something told me The Lego Movie would be my favorite. I haven’t seen Frozen or Mr. Peabody and Sherman, but I’m convinced The Lego Movie is far superior (I know, I know, Frozen is amazing blah blah blah; I plan to see it, ok!).
Even if the plot had been spotty or ridiculous (it wasn’t, it was actually engaging and fun), this movie would have still been absolutely entrancing due to the animation effects. Seeing everything in lego was just fucking cool. Even if you are someone who didn’t grow up playing with legos all the time (if you are, I am so sorry for you) I feel fairly confident that it would still be pretty neat to see everything in lego. I’m not just talking about the people here guys. EVERYTHING was made out of legos, from the people to the food they ate, and the water they showered with, etc. I’m paraphrasing here, but everything WAS awesome!
If you planned to see this movie you probably already have. I’m sorry I waited so long. I’m still going to say see it in the theater though because that’s the rating it deserves.
The Lego Movie: See It In the Theater
Well, we survived February you guys! We did it! This year I largely avoided the horrendous let down that February typically brings for new movie releases, partly because I still had Oscar nominees to see and partly because there were some decent movies released in February this year. This movie falls into that latter category (I technically saw it in March, but it still qualifies.)
I made up my mind to see this movie—regardless of what other options were available to me—when I first saw the trailer back in December. My interest was piqued because I was convinced I had the plot figured out. Who is this mysterious creature texting a U.S. Air Marshal that a plane passenger will die every twenty minutes unless he is paid $150 million? Being the cinematic genius that I am, I though it was obvious. Not obvious in the sense that it would be obvious from the get-go to everyone, but obvious because I knew that they would try to misdirect me with those “obvious from the get-go”-types, and I wouldn’t fall for it, I tell ya’! No siree, I was sure at the end of the movie I would be smugly saying “told ya so.” Because I’m a cinematic genius.
Well, as it turns out I’m just a regular dummy. I was wrong. And thank God for that. Had I been right, I might have been disappointed that I spent my Sunday morning waiting for a conclusion that I had telegraphed months ago. Instead I spent nearly two full hours being totally engaged and thoroughly entertained. Sure, I had my suspicions along the way and pretty much had it figured out before the final reveal, but there were still plenty of surprises and twists along the way. I really want to avoid saying it’s a non-stop thrill-ride, so I’m not going to say that. But if I had said it, it would be a fairly accurate assessment. It’s not winning any awards or anything, but it’s an enjoyable movie. Especially if you’re on board the Liam Neeson as Badass train (who isn’t?).
So I definitely recommend this one. Three of my most eagerly anticipated movies of 2014 come out in March, however, so I think you should watch those instead if your movie time/money is limited (I’m talkin’ ‘bout The Grand Budapest Hotel, Veronica Mars, and Divergent, of course). But put this one on the list if you have got the time/money.
LIAM NEESONS IS MY SHIT!
Non-Stop: Put it in Your Netflix Queue at the very least
Oscar Day is finally here, you guys, and since it’s basically my Christmas (Christmas is also my Christmas; I have two Christmases) I’m pretty excited. I love seeing Hollywood take itself so seriously; it somehow validates the important role I allow movies (and TV) to play in my life. Plus, the fashion is pretty rad.
Instead of doing a post about who I think should win each category, I’m just going to give you a rundown of my thoughts on each of the Best Picture nominees. Since these nine films are pretty much the only films nominated in all the major categories this year (August: Osage County, Blue Jasmine, and Before Midnight also snuck in a few nominations), what’s the point of going through each category? So here goes, in order of how much I enjoyed them (not necessarily how I would’ve voted had I been an Academy member):
1. Nebraska. I can’t emphasize enough how much this movie meant to me. I still think about it every day. I would love to see Bruce Dern take home the Best Actor prize, but I’m resigned to that not happening. I know that this film is probably not for everyone, and it’s not a total joyride, but of the nine movies nominated it’s the one that made the longest-lasting impression on me. My love for this movie is entirely subjective. Deal with it.
2. American Hustle. I am 100% on board with the David O. Russell movie factory. He can keep casting these same actors in every movie he makes from now on and I will keep excitedly seeing them (especially if my Welsh sweetheart Christian Bale remains on board). I will applaud any awards it wins tonight. Among the four nominated actors Jennifer Lawrence probably has the best shot of taking home a trophy, but I hope she doesn’t (see below).
3. Her. I love that this film takes place in the future and provokes a myriad of interesting thoughts and ideas and possibilities. It’s the only one of the nominees that has that quality, and I salute its individuality. Plus, I’ve got big girl crush on Spike Jonze. I’ll be rooting for The Moon Song to win Original Song, and of course for Spike to win Original Screenplay.
4. Philomena. I just wrote about this one so I won’t dwell on it here, but i’m pulling for Steve Coogan & Jeff Pope in the Adapted Screenplay category. Really enjoyed this one.
5. The Wolf of Wall Street. This movie was a lot of fun and it makes me wish the Academy gave awards for “Most Mesmerizing Dance Sequence” and “Awesomest Physical Comedy Involving Quaaludes.” I’m rooting for Leo to edge out McConaughey for the Best Actor prize because people don’t give him enough credit. I would also be pulling for Margot Robbie to win Most Beautiful Lady if that were a category, but alas it is not (which is okay because Jared Leto probably would have won anyway).
6. Dallas Buyers Club. It’s basically a foregone conclusion at this point that McConaughey and Leto will sweep the Actor categories, and I’ve made my peace with that. Leto definitely deserves it (plus if he wins he gets more screen time and I want to see him with my eyebs as much as possible), and McConaughey doesn’t not deserve it. I just hope people didn’t just vote for McConaughey because he lost all that weight, or in recognition of his McConaissance, or because of how much they love True Detective (to be fair, that show is ridiculously good).
7. 12 Years a Slave. The only reason this movie is so far down on my list is because of how upsetting an experience it is. It’s most certainly a worthwhile experience though and an amazing movie, and I will not be disappointed in the slightest if it takes home Best Picture. In fact, if I were a member of the Academy it would probably get my vote. I am also actively rooting for Lupita Nyong’o, who is breathtaking and fantastic (and I also can’t wait to see what she’s wearing). I am not rooting for Steve McQueen to win Best Director, however, because he’s being punished. He knows what he did (so does everyone: It was Shame.).
8. Gravity. Good movie, but it’s the one I saw longest ago so it has lost a little momentum with me. My fitness guru (don’t ask) asked me yesterday whether Gravity was any good, and I told her it is a great movie but a traumatic experience. I think that sums it up. 12 Years a Slave was traumatic too, but it has historical significance and I almost feel like it’s a trauma that all Americans should be forced to periodically endure as a reminder. Gravity is terrifying because you feel like you’re lost in space too, but it’s also visually breathtaking and therefore worth watching. The only category I am actively rooting for it to win is Director for Alfonso Cuaron. I’m also pulling for our gal Sandy B in the Best Actress category, but since Cate Blanchett has practically run the table in that category I’m not holding my breath.
9. Captain Phillips. This is the only nominee I didn’t see in the theater; I just watched it a few weeks ago in the comfort of my living room. I don’t dispute it’s nomination, but I have to admit I was never fully engaged. I found myself getting distracted by other things (which is a problem with watching movies at home; I have a short attention span), but I did pay attention long enough to notice that Barkhad Abdi deserved his nomination. Tam Honks was also great (I’m never going to stop calling him that so get used to it). I would say his lack of a nomination was a snub, but I wouldn’t be able to pick a nominee that should have been excluded to make room for him, so I won’t. Sorry Cap’n.
Ok, I lied. This post is clearly about who I think should win each category. The only other category of which I’ve seen all the nominees (other than some of the technical categories) is Live Action Shorts, so I’m going to throw my hat in the ring for Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) for that one. It’s really good and I think far superior to the others. I also really liked The Voorman Problem, but I felt like it needed to be just a bit longer (I know, I know; it’s called a short for a reason).
That’s all I’ve got. Here’s to Ellen Degeneres doing a great job as host, and let’s all say a little prayer that no one says or does anything too embarrassing or scandalous (unless you’re into that sort of thing). And don’t forget to bring your tissues for the In Memoriam segment; this year is going to be a doozy.
Philomena, you elusive minx. You’re in theaters one week, then gone the next. How’s a girl to see all nine of the Oscar Best Picture nominees when you are playing so hard to get? But I finally tracked you down, oh yes I did. And you know what? You were worth the wait.
I wasn’t actually super gung-ho to see this movie, which is part of the reason it took me so long. I had opportunities, but I kept passing them up in favor of other activities (laying on my couch is an activity, yes?). But I persevered, in part because it was Oscar-nominated so I had faith that it would be a good movie (not that a nomination is always an indicator of quality), and—perhaps more importantly—I am a fond admirer of Steve Coogan. Dame Judi is no slouch herself, but she’s not what got my butt in the seat (when the girl that sold me my ticket asked “are you a Judi Dench fan?” and I responded “more of a Steve Coogan fan,” she looked at me like I had just kicked her cat).
Both Coogan and Dench were great in this movie, and I enjoyed it very much. If you aren’t familiar with the plot, it’s based on the true story of a journalist who helps a woman track down the son that was forcibly given up for adoption 50 years prior. It’s alternately heartbreaking and heart-warming, with a fair dash of comedy thrown in for good measure. Plus, of all the Best Picture nominees this year, I’d say Philomena holds the prestigious honor of having the broadest audience appeal. It’s not scary, strange, or alienating. It doesn’t have violence, vulgarity, or depravity. And although there is some sadness, it’s not overly upsetting or depressing and doesn’t leave you with any other emotion than satisfaction. It’s just a super delightful little movie and I highly recommend you check it out as soon as availability allows.
Philomena: See it in whatever format it becomes available to you
Joel Kinnaman. That is all.
RoboCop: See It In the Theater if you love sexy Scandinavians, mostly entertaining but not overly substantial shoot-em-ups with a dose of social commentary, movies that are filmed in and/or take place in Detroit, or the long-awaited resurgence of Michael Keaton. Otherwise, Put It In Your Netflix Queue.
Bill Murray. George Clooney. Matt Damon. Etc. Etc. Let’s be honest, this movie would have to be pretty terrible to not be at least somewhat enjoyable. Thankfully, it was more than somewhat enjoyable. I think I’ve settled on “pretty” enjoyable.
But it’s not perfect. I’m a sucker for World War II stories, and true (or “based on” true) stories are even better. The tale being told here is downright incredible: a group of artists band together with the backing (and so-so support) of the U.S. military to search for and rescue works of art stolen by the Nazis. Unfortunately, the movie felt like an overview or snapshot of the full tale. A necessary evil of trying to condense such a rich saga into 120 minutes, I suppose, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching the CliffsNotes.
My sister read the book (I think she’s read most books), and I had the honor (or was it misfortune?) to see this movie with her. She was very quick to let me know every time the true facts were rearranged or elaborated or whathaveyou in service of the movie version of the story. So maybe it would be best to read the book first. Or if you see the movie first and your interest is piqued, get thee to the library. Me? I think I’ll just re-watch Band of Brothers with a Quick Change nightcap.
I realize the tone of this review might give you the wrong impression. Don’t forget that I JUST told you it’s pretty enjoyable. But I understand why they moved its release to February (the month where movies are sent to die). An entertaining movie to be sure, but it doesn’t have the heft to have been able to survive against this year’s excellent crop of Oscar contenders. I think my dad liked it a lot more than I did though. So there’s that.
The Monuments Men: Put It In Your Netflix Queue