Movie Reviews

Netflix Binge: GirlBoss

I'm going to preface this with the fact that I did little research about this new Netflix show before brain dumping the whole first season (yeah, roll your eyes, you know you do the same damn thing).

I mean, I watched the trailer about a week ago and knew it was about the now bankrupt webstore NastyGal creator, Sophia Amoruso, but I had little idea about much more of it.

Then I mass binged on GirlBoss and wasted an entire weekend of my life.

Okay, so it wasn't a full weekend. But it was a good 6.5 hours... and that time is gone. GONE FOREVER.

The show started out mildly amusing. I'm a fan of Britt Robertson, I dig her snarky deliveries. She was pretty awesome in Ask Me Anything and when Secret Circle & Life Unexpected were on, I remember digging her style.

But it's literally not her fault that I disliked the show: It's Sophia Amoruso's fault.

I thought the flow of the show was great, I thought the acting was good, and that's about it. The content of the show pissed me off. I HATED Sophia Amoruso as a person (or, at least, how she is portrayed in the "loose retelling of true events... real loose").

I watched the trailer and was drawn to the world I was a part of: the internet in the 2000's, making a name for yourself, being empowered, and empowering others.

This chick...

The whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way. This is a girl who I would purposefully avoid talking to at all costs (and avoid being associated with) and not just because she's rude. Because she's an asshole.

Somehow the shows direction becomes about a boy.

Yawn. Eyeroll.

COME ON. You've gotta do better than that.

The end of the series may have been me circa 2006-2009. And maybe that's why I disliked the show. I know how it feels to run a website where the awesome comments are what keep you going. But I never treated anyone the way this psycho treats her friends, her boyfriend, her parents, or her neighbors.

Also, if RuPaul is your damn neighbor, you best come with a little bit more respect then that.

I've never been to LA and maybe I just don't get it. I don't know, nor do I care. And damn, do I feel really bad for disliking this show. I'm supposed to be a supportive woman to other women, right?

Well, except for Sophia and Lena Dunham... I dislike both of them.

I'm all for making money, I can't discredit anyone for trying to get that paper. But this show just didn't do it for me.

Rental Review: Inferno

I specifically did not read Dan Brown's Inferno before watching Inferno. To be fair, I did read The DaVinci Code and Angels & Demons before watching their respective films. Angels & Demons specifically was better in my opinion than the book; there were some aspects of the book that I didn't like as much, and I'm glad they escaped the film.

However, Inferno was great to watch for my wife and I because we spent time in Florence and Venice on our Honeymoon and enjoyed seeing all the spots that our tour guides pointed out as "That's where Tom Hanks was a few months ago filming for the new movie!"

We begin Inferno in a nightmarish sequence of hell, and groggily Robert Langdon wakes up to find that once again, his life is a whirlwind to prove his innocent from something or other.

I like these movies, don't get me wrong. I love the scenery and how the film is shot. The score positively soars and lifts your spirits. And I love Tom Hanks: He's a great Robert Langdon.

But good lord, is Robert Langdon dumb? He needs to abstain from ending up with these crazy people all the time. He never sees that the person he thought he could trust are lying to him. You think he'd be better at calling that sort of thing by now.

I've heard that the next Dan Brown book to be filmed is Origin, and not The Lost Symbol. Whatever they do, can the hair stylist stop dying Tom Hanks hair an unbelievable color as to make it look a little less shot out of order? Please and thank you.

   Also, for the love of photoshop... why did someone okay this? It's awful. It looks like a computer generated image of Tom Hanks and not a photo. Why? Just why.

Also, for the love of photoshop... why did someone okay this? It's awful. It looks like a computer generated image of Tom Hanks and not a photo. Why? Just why.

Review: Southside With You

I figured what better way to "celebrate" the incoming administration than by watching a film about the beginning of the previous administration's relationship: Southside With You.

Barak and Michelle are the absolute epitomai of SERIOUS #RelationshipGoals. I didn't think I could love them anymore but man... if this is even a little bit true, I love them even more.

Southside With You is set in summer 1989 and loosely follows the story of Barack and Michelle's first date. There are some events portrayed in the movie that didn't happen on the Obama's first date, but soon thereafter. But it doesn't matter. IT'S SO GOOD.

The essence is that Michelle puts Barack in his place over and over again. Just as she does now. That portrayal is priceless. Big ups to the lovely Tika Sumpter and Parker Sawyers for career-making roles. You guys... You just are awesome.

Tika Sumpter takes on the role of Michelle Obama and did her homework for sure. There is one scene where Michelle Robinson (imagine, she actually had a maiden name!) joins a group that is having fun in the park and dancing. This is an obvious foreshadowing to her very successful #LetsMove campaign. 

It's honestly refreshing to see someone of Tika Sumpter's caliber absolute knock one out of the park. I can't wait to see what Sumpter does next. And for the record, yes I'm biased because she was in Bessie. But still: THE GIRL CAN ACT. 

Parker Sawyers does an awesome job as Barack Obama. He's not super over the top about it either. He's confident and committed. He's going to be an actor to keep an eye on for sure.

It doesn't matter what your political viewpoint is. When you watch Southside With You, you'll enjoy it. Trust me on this one. It's just....

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Rental Review: Christine

As most of you know, I was a chef before I went back to school to learn video production. It was there during 2014 in production school that I learned about Christine Chubbuck's on-air suicide in Sarasota, FL in the early 70's.

When the story was first told to me I was taken back. How had I never heard of this before now?I researched the story as much as I could and found that all tapes were thought to have been destroyed. It's since come out that the station managers widow does have a tape of the incident but has no intention (thankfully) of releasing it. Some things don't need to be released: This being one of them.

Christine, however, tells Chubbuck's story gracefully. Rebecca Hall takes on the lead role in a humanizing way. Most people think about Christine Chubbuck as an urban legend and not an actual human being with severe mental health issues.

Christine starts off with Chubbuck (R. Hall) doing a mock interview and then analyzing and over analyzing how she says her script. This is something I've watched hundreds of reporters do. Soon we find out that Chubbuck has a massive crush on her coworker, George (played by Michael C. Hall). He comes off as sweet, condescending, and smarmy.

Station Manager, Michael (Tracy Letts), nags about ratings and makes it known across the station that sensationalism is in. This bothers Chubbuck and it ultimately leads to her on-camera demise.

My favorite scene from this film is during a meltdown of Chubbuck's. She's in a room and she's trying to talk while people are talking over her when she suddenly screams, "Why is no one listening to me?" At that point, no one is listening to her. Her mother, her coworkers, everyone has a quick solution to fix her problems. But no one actually listens to her.

It's probably unnecessary to point out how isolating depression is in general, let alone when you're an on-camera reporter who, most of the time, is alone in a room in front of a huge camera.

Here is the part of my review where I guess I'm supposed to stand up for the news industry. As a rather new career, I really don't have much to say on this topic. I don't work in the "news" department, I work in the production department. My opinions are my own on what I've seen in the time I've worked at various stations.

The 1970's were a different time. That's honestly the best I can do for you. The reporters I work with are (mostly) compassionate people. I've watched as some of my coworkers internalize stories and become reactionary to them. I myself (though not a reporter) am still dealing with the long-term effects from seeing the Pulse Massacre unfold while I was at work.

Christine does an excellent job of showing the difference between what a person feels and what they put out into the world. Chubbuck was an interesting example of what happens when mental illness is ignored. I encourage you all to watch this film.

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Rental Review: The Fits

I cannot say enough good things about The Fits.

The Fits is a surrealist portrait of a tomboy boxer, Toni (Royalty Hightower) who works out a a community center that shares space with a dance team. She decides to try out for the team and learns routines, pierces her ears and assimilates into a new group of friends.

Then something mysterious starts to happen: some of the girls fall into fainting spells or violent body fits (hence the name of the film).

This isn't a typical film for most audiences. To the lay person, this will feel uncomfortable and drawn out. But to someone that sits still, pays attention and appreciates film art: this one is for you.

Can we talk about director Anna Rose Holmer for a minute here? Because damn.

Holmer cut her teeth as a cinematographer for Twilight, and I'll let her slide on that one because the girl learned so much. The Fits is absolutely gorgeous to look at. So much so that I'd actually call it hypnotizing.

I'm very impressed and I look forward to seeing what else Holmer has for me to enjoy!

Rental Review: Jason Bourne

Oh Jason Bourne… how I wish you would have just faded away after the first installment in 2002.

Oh hey guys, remember when Matt Damon said he'd play Jason Bourne again if it was called "The Bourne Redundancy"? CAUSE I DO!

This time around, we find Bourne bare knuckle fighting to make ends meet, because what's a former assassin who doesn't really know who he is to do for cash… honestly.

There's a helpful little recap if you didn't marathon all of the Bourne movies the night before like I did. Nikki (Julia Stiles) simultaneously uploads a virus to the CIA mainframe while the series noob, Heather (Alicia Vikander), tries to stop the attack.

Yawn.

CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) calls in Bournes nemesis, The Asset (Vincent Cassel), because he knows that Bourne is up to some shit.

Kudos to Matt Damon and Julia Stiles being the only OG's from the first run.

Also, side note: Can someone call the camera guy and see if he needs any help? He might still be in the middle of the earthquake that caused him to SHAKE THE DAMN CAMERA so freaking much. I'm all about disorientating shots but this guy doesn't know what the hell is going on.

Rental Review: Solace

Never in my life have I ever fallen asleep so quickly while watching a film for the first time to review it for this site.

I'm serious, I was out in minutes.

Solace tells the story of John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins) who is a psychic. His buddy, Joe (Jeffrey Dean Morgan - Yes, F**king Neegan is in this damn movie), is in the FBI and asks for his help to solve a series of murders that could be linked.

So far we have murder, a psychic, Neegan, and the FBI (insert long exasperated sigh here).

Abbie Cornish pops in as Agent Cowles, or as I like to call her, the one that sticks around the longest. And finally we have Colin Farrell (who seems about as smarmy as ever) playing the villainous Charles Ambrose.

I feel like everyone phoned this one in. From the director (Afonso Poyart), to the writers (Sean Bailey, Ted Griffin) to the actors, to the editors. Even the sound guy was bored with this one.

I think I'm mostly annoyed because the movie felt like it was trying to be Seven with a psychic or two. Like, come on. We've seen that one a bunch of times.

I'm not going to sugar coat it: This one is outright bad.

Rental Review: The Girl on the Train

I feel like at least once a week, my wife would say "Can we watch The Girl on the Train today?" And I'd have to say, no it's not out for rental yet so you'll have to wait.

Well, we finally checked it out yesterday.

This film is based on the Paula Hawkins book, "The Girl on the Train." And part of me sort of wishes the idea stayed as a book.

I said part of me, calm down.

When I read the book, I read the Audible version, as my wife got me into audiobooks because I was spending so much time in the car (either commuting to work, or getting to a freelance shoot takes some serious time in Tampa. Music gets me so far and then my brain needs sustenance). But sometimes, I don't actually hear what is being read to me. So I actually forgot the ending before we started watching this.

I remember the build up being more drastic. I remember feeling suspense even though I was hardly paying attention.

I didn't feel any of that while watching this film.

I'm really rather bummed out by it to be honest. It's a really big letdown.

I realize you're not supposed to know who to like when you read the book. But I can say with all honesty, even after the big reveal… I still don't like any of the characters.

I do appreciate all the hat tips to Alfred Hitchcock (explanations might be spoilers so I won't explain).

This is just too much of a skeleton when you know the full body exists elsewhere.

Check it out for yourself and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Rental Review: Blair Witch

Dear Lord Baby Jesus… why do I get myself into these movies?

Okay, I don't have much to say that's good about this one so I'll keep it as brief as possible.

The original Blair Witch Project was a unicorn: if there is only ever one of them, the nostalgia is endless. Had no sequels been made, a lot of time would have been saved, at least on my part. It's often imitated but never duplicated. It should have lived in the cinema hall of fame, but sadly, sequels have tarnished it's record.

Do you remember the chaos that happened when people thought this was a real story and not a faked documentary? My hair stylist purposefully screwed up my hair in 1998 when he got mad at me for saying that this was a fake story. I'm serious. It's actually the reason I ended up watching this damn movie today - Mama D remembered that as we were flipping through to find something to watch.

Had Blair Witch been made as the second movie, and not the second sequel (try if you must to remember Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows), I think this film would have gotten a better review (from everyone). The little graphics to show the boogy man (whatever you want to call the thing, if it's supposed to be the witch, alright then) would have made 16 year old me probably poop in my JNCOs.

Sadly, it's 2016 and we're still trying to copy a film made with 3 cameras, 3 actors, and a fake story.

Bummer.

 The half star is for the person who did the CGI, that person deserves it.

The half star is for the person who did the CGI, that person deserves it.

Rental Review: The Girl with All the Gifts

The Girl with All the Gifts is not your average Zombie movie. First off, they're all little kids (well, mostly). Secondly, the zombies in this film are non-zombies. Think 28 Days Later and the rage virus. Thirdly, the zombies here are called "hungries," which, I mean, is fitting.

I can hear the collective sighing and rolling their eyes before exclaiming, "Not another zombie movie."

But wait, this one was really good. We gotta talk about this one. The film is based on the book "The Girl with All the Gifts" by M. R. Carey (something that I'd love to say I've read, but I actually purchased the Audible version as soon as the credits began to roll).

This film starts off with a little girl, Melanie (Sennia Nanua), quietly whispering to herself. You realize really fast, she's in jail. The lights turn on and she sits herself down in a wheelchair and two guards come in with their guns pointed at her while she greets them politely.

It is at this point that my wife said, "What the hell is going on here?"

The children, you come to learn, are all infected with the same fungus that created the hungry, angry horde outside the prison walls. However, the children are locked to wheelchairs and brought into a classroom each day to learn the periodic table and Greek Mythology. There is a scientist, Doctor Caldwell (Glen Close) who keeps Melanie at an arms length emotionally (and physically since Melanie could eat her) and tests her with a logic puzzle. You come to learn very soon that Doctor Caldwell is trying to cure the fungus.

But why can the kids infected and imprisoned talk? Why do they have emotions? They're supposed to be zombies or something, right? How does this make sense?

I'm not going to spoil this one for you because it's honestly that good of a film. There are so many excellent factors that go along with this film. The soundtrack is equally fitting and haunting. The scenery shows the decay and vegetation that has overgrown in the time since the outbreak. The cinematography is excellent and subtle to show the differences in tone in a scene. I just can't say enough good things about the production of this one.

Fun fact: some of the aerial footage used was actually filmed using a drone over Chernobyl. Yeah, holy crap. Director Colm McCarthy said the following: "I was very interested in post-apocalyptic imagery and urban exploration. We wanted to surprise people rather than have people coming in expecting a studio level film. We sent a micro drone unit to Pripyat, Chernobyl to shoot helicopter footage with Pripyat doubling for urban London."

And listen: I don't know where this kid Sennia Nanua came from, but someone, anyone, hook that girl up with the best scripts for a while. This kid has some serious range as an actor. I'm so impressed.

This was an absolutely great film and surprising as I didn't really know too much about it to set expectations. I was pleasantly surprised and definitely recommend it!

Rental Review: Snowden

I cannot comprehend fully to you how quickly I went on to Amazon.com to get webcam covers for all of my devices and my computers after seeing Snowden (Just to let you know, I got these ones).

Like, you read something and you think, "Oh yeah, I get that it happens. And it's probably happened to me." But then, you see it in a movie, portrayed in a manner that is absolutely terrifying... You get a teeny bit paranoid for a few seconds.

It also doesn't help being out of work at the current moment on high powered pain killers to let that little sense of paranoia run wild.

And it worked out for this movie!

This movie is amazing. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has this way of becoming his subject so wholly that he blurs the lines of reality. Honestly, Gordon-Levitt's voice has completely changed for this role and mimics the real Edward Snowden so closely that it's hard to tell who is who towards the end of the film.

Rental Review: Cloud Atlas

I honestly believe that Cloud Atlas is one of the most underrated films of the past 10 years.

I've read so many awful reviews for this one that I had to talk about it because I really just don't think that people can sit still long enough to follow the storyline to have an appreciation for this one.

Seriously, turn off your ringer and sit there. Watch the film. Immerse yourself in the storyline and pick up all the little subtle lines and looks you can. You'll need to do that to follow the storyline.

There are six storylines to follow, and I do realize that's an awful lot of story to try and follow in a 2:52 runtime for a film but bare with me on this one.

  • The first storyline is about a lawyer making a Pacific voyage to return home to his beloved.
  • The second storyline is about a composer and his lover.
  • The third storyline is about a journalist in the 70's.
  • The fourth storyline follows the life of a publisher and the unfortunate events he finds himself in.
  • The fifth storyline is about a clone in futuristic Korea (referred to as Neo Seoul)
  • The sixth storyline shows us what a post-apocalyptic future will look like someday.

Still with me?

Now, imagine that all of these storylines are played by the same actors.

That's where people get confused. If Tom Hands is playing the weirdo with the scar on his face, how is he also playing the wackadoo, the author, the actor, and the scientist? Because Tom Hanks's character is his soul, not the human forms that the soul takes.

The concept of this film is so mind blowing that if you dislike the film, it's because you got confused or bored and couldn't follow what was actually going on.

If you have time this weekend, give it another shot. Trust me. Pay attention.

Rental Review: The Dressmaker

This is by far one of the stranger movies I've reviewed. I'd have to put it right up there next to Kate Winslet's first film, "Heavenly Creatures", as far as strange flicks.

But it was a fun one to watch nonetheless. This film is based on Rosalie Ham's novel, The Dressmaker.

"The Dressmaker" is set in early 1950's Australia, and let me tell you the accents are absolutely fantastic! Apparently, Kate Winslet's character, Tilly, was sent away as a young child for possibly killing another person. She has no memory of the event and goes on a quest to find out what happened. The townsfolk go between hating her for the past she cannot remember and being dazzled by the absolutely stunning clothes she creates.

I'd like to say that some people might have a hard time following this film, but they won't. Just watch the film, don't multitask, and you'll be able to follow the flashbacks and the tone switches from comedy, to drama, to mystery, to romance.

I mean COME ON! There's a gay cop, a handsome neighbor, a looney tunes mom, and a bunch of crazy folks that have nothing but time to gossip. It actually kind of sounds like the town that I'm from in Upstate New York!

This film spent 13 years in production, and the town used as the fictional Dungatar was built from scratch. The production designer, Roger Ford, felt that no town he had scouted had the look of the town needed for production (and if you have seen the ending, you'll understand why this was helpful). Also, during filming, shooting was interrupted several times as wild emus interrupted the scenes.

Also, fun fact: Kate Winslet learned to sew for her role in this film. She then assisted the costume director, Margot Wilson, in creating the elaborate costumes for her character.

I would definitely recommend this film to anyone wanting to watch a dramedy this weekend.

 

Rental Review: The New Adventures of Pippi Longstocking

You know when you have a movie in your head because you saw it SO many times as a little kid and then watch it as an adult and wonder what the hell you were actually thinking?

That's this one.

Dear lord baby Jesus, this one did NOT hold up the test of time!

Having read the Pippi Longstocking books after I had watched this film as a kid, I really understood after watching it again this week how much the filmmakers took off from the original story.

Not only did unnamed characters (the horse was just known as "Horse" in the books but here is known as Alfonso, as well as the monkey being known as Mr. Nilsson instead of Neilson) make themselves known a little more, but also the movie is a retelling of two books and not a "new adventure" at all.

So anyway, the film starts with a happy song sung by Pippi (Tami Erin) and Pippi's fathers boat getting marooned in a storm. She finds herself washed ashore and takes over an old house. She meets the neighbor kids, Tommy and Annika, and teaches them to clean the house while singing "Scrubbing Day" and skating around the floor on brushes. They also dodge "splunks," go down the river in barrels, and try and help Pippi from staying out of the children's home for orphans.

I tried my best to put myself back in the 6 year old mindset that love this film, but it didn't work. Maybe that's because Tami Erin went on to have a sex tape released in 2013 after a former boyfriend decided he was going to try and blackmail her. So like a good businesswoman, she sold it to a porn company first and made a little bit of cash off of it. So good on her, I guess?

Rental Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Okay, I legitimately felt like I was sent back to the 70's with this one. TAOJD has all the right 70's horror movie gags and gore.

What's it missing?

I still don't know. But I know it's missing something.

I know for damn sure it's not talent. Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch give almost brilliant performances. But this movie is missing something. I can't put my finger on it right now.

This is about two coroners, Tommy (Brian Cox) and Austin (Emile Hirsch), a father and son duo. Not creepy at all, right?

What's creepy is when the sheriff brings a body by their mortuary and they start to do the autopsy. Then all hell breaks loose!

I can't get past one scene of this film and here's your warning:

So there's a scene when they notice some small markings on the inside Jane Doe's skin. THEY PULL HER SKIN COMPLETELY OFF. And I'm not talking like a small little fiber of her skin. I'M TALKING HALF HER TORSO.

I kinda almost threw up there. 

It's a good movie, but it's not great. Apparently the director (André Øvredal) was inspired by The Conjuring and asked his agent to find him a horror script to work on. I'm sure it was planned out carefully, as a lot of the sequences made me sick to my stomach.

The ending doesn't solve the whole "there's something missing" vibe as it ends on a confusing note. I'm not a fan of ghosts/demons breaking their promises I guess.

But like I said, there's something missing from this film.