Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What's That Smell? Oh, the Five Shittiest Movies of the Year

The tree is trimmed...the presents are wrapped...and the eggnog is poured. It's the end of the year, and the top ten lists of 2014 are trickling online, but my personal list isn't ready yet (so many movies left to see!). The present you can open early this evening is my list of the five worst movies of the year. And, no, Winter's Tale didn't make the cut. Sure, it is probably the worst thing to come out of 2014, but it's so weird and stupid that a drinking game can be devised. 

5. Magic in the Moonlight

Woody Allen always gets a pass from me, but not this time. Magic in the Moonlight is the costume comedy cousin of Midnight in Paris that you don't want to invite to your party. Allen's casting of Emma Stone feels misguided, and she has more chemistry dead as Gwen Stacy from Spider-Man 2 than she does with Colin Firth. It's forced, boring and bland.

4. That Awkward Moment

Oh, you like that picture of Zac Efron atop a toilet with his muscled bum bared? Of course you do. The only good thing that came out of That Awkward Moment was Troy Bolten Efron showing off his ass in this male-driven romantic comedy. If they showed this image in a movie theater for 2 hours, I'd pay for it, but I definitely wouldn't again sit through the nagging tale of 3 brahs too embarrassed to admit they are all in relationships. Really, guys? Plus, Neighbors (which came out 2 months later) upped the hot Efron quotient a lot better.

3. Men Women and Children

Jason Reitman's cell phone cautionary tale features enough characters that everyone can see themselves in someone. Those same characters, however, aren't fully fleshed out, and the end result is so melodramatic that none of it seems real. Swipe left. 

2. The Other Woman

The Other Woman legitimately gives me a headache. Initially, it appeared that we would have a First Wives Club 2.0 on our hands. Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann are comic pros, so this women-get-even-on-the-cheating-sleaze looked like a light, care free good time. This movie is a mess, and that's coming from a guy that appreciates cinematic messes. It's not funny, poorly written, and shockingly dated. 

1. Let's Be Cops

Let's not, shall we?

Monday, December 22, 2014

'Whiplash' Wiped Me Out

There is a lot of talk about "the next great..." something in Whiplash, the feature directorial debut of Damien Chazelle. Miles Teller's music student incessantly listens to recordings of Buddy Rich and aspires to have a career like the famous drummer. In the hunt for creative catharsis, young artists look for approval from their mentors and peers. One thing is for sure: I'm sure glad I decided to go into choir instead of band in high school.

Teller's Andrew Nieman feels like his life is falling into place. He's been accepted to Shaffer Conservatory, and he finally musters up the courage to ask out the pretty girl who works at the concession stand at a nearby small theater. His earnestness is given a reality check when he's invited to play as an alternate in Terence Fletcher's award-winning jazz ensemble. Fletcher is played by the great J. K. Simmons, and, sadly, his performance was the only thing I liked about Whiplash

The biggest problem that I had about Whiplash was that Simmons' character never felt real to me--ever. You're telling that this award-winning band director at the most prestigious music school in the country doesn't have a reputation for bullying his students beyond recognition? Not just bullying. Neiman's first session as an alternate under Fletcher's direction ends with furniture being thrown and Fletcher slapping Neiman across the face repeatedly. Tone it down, guys, tone it down. 

In Andrew's quest for artistic breakthrough, he leaves a lot behind. He quickly breaks it off with the girl from the movie theater, and stops hanging out with his dad (Paul Reiser). The more Fletcher tries to break him, the harder he pushes back. In one shocking scene, Andrew leaves his music behind, and he rushes back to get it, resulting in an accident that made me jump in my chair. 

Is his obsession with becoming one of the greats just a product of him butting heads with Fletcher? He becomes so petulant angry, and self-righteous that it was hard for me to root for him. It quickly became the story of two pricks trying to finish first in an abusive measuring contest. It's appreciated that Simmons didn't make Fletcher one of those teachers trying to "teach a lesson," but it just spirals too out of control. Fletcher is fleshed out by Simmons' ferocious performance (seriously, he's terrifying), but it wouldn't have worked without such a seasoned actor. Teller isn't an actor that I personally respond to, and his performance (while spectacular in energy) didn't make me like him any more. 

There is a scene where Andrew practices so hard that his fingers start to bleed. That's how I felt after watching Whiplash. All the blood was drained out of me, and it was only going to get wiped up by a poor janitor who isn't paid enough. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Well, This Crappy 'L5Y' Poster Came Out...

This poster for The Last Five Years certainly isn't terrible, but it's just kind of boring and too clean. I get they are going for a photo album/surrounded by memories theme, but it feels overly familiar. Oh, and I wish the tagline was "There are two sides to every marriage" instead of "love story." Then again, they could have gone with this...


Friday, December 12, 2014

Fifty Shades of Suck: The Color of Idiocy

Megan and I recorded this episode of Fifty Shades of Suck, but I forgot to post it! What does that say about this series?! 

Chapter 10 is the shortest chapter of the entire book (maybe of the series so far), and that's a relief since it's pretty unbearable. Not very much happens except EL James tries to make billiards sexy. All she does is mention Christian look at Ana's ass as she bends over to play, and lots of balls are mentioned. So sexy, right? I would much rather watch this scene play out with Tom Cruise and Paul Newman from The Color of Money

Megan introduces me to a movie coming out at the same time as Fifty Shades. Entitled Old Fashioned, this love story is about a man and a woman who meet and, I guess, kind of date. I think it's aiming to be an antidote to the sexuality of Fifty Shades, but it's probably more insulting with its overbearing chastity. Man, it looks horrid. Cue it up and watch it with us!

If you are new to Fifty Shades of Suck, my best gal pal Megan and I meet up every week to read a chapter from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but we provide our own snarky commentary.  Last year, we subjected ourselves to the first book, and now we are chugging right along through the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  If you would like to play catch up, the first set of podcasts are available here, and Fifty Shades Darker chapters are available below.  We hope you enjoy, and share them with your friends!!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

You Want Golden Globe Nomination Predictions?! Here Ya Go!

My Screen Actors Guild nomination predictions were pretty off, so let's just throw these nominations out there, shall we? They will probably be all wrong since I always put waaaaay too much thought into these things. 

Best Drama
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best Musical or Comedy
Begin Again
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Woods
St. Vincent

I can easily see Annie get nominated, so prepare for the hysterical tweets and message if that happens. Begin is original and better, so hopefully the Hollywood Foreign Press has more sense. 

Best Director
Clint Eastwood, American Sniper
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Actor - Drama
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Brad Pitt, Fury
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Not sure if Pitt will get in, but I don't see the HFPA resisting the notion of Pitt and Jolie both been nominated for something.

Best Actress - Drama
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

I came thiiiiiis close to putting Gugu Mbatha-Raw in for Beyond the Lights, but they would probably honor the star power of Aniston before they nominate the newcomer.

Best Actor - Musical or Comedy
James Corden, Into the Woods
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Chris Rock, Top Five

Best Actress - Musical or Comedy
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Angelina Jolie, Maleficent
Keira Knightley, Begin Again
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Emma Stone, Magic in the Moonlight

Best Supporting Actor
Johnny Depp, Into the Woods
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

The ONLY reason I have Depp in there is because they loooove their stars. They would probably love to have Depp at their party. I will need shots...

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Both Stone and Knightley might end up going head to head into 2 categories.

Best Screenplay
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie

Best Foreign Language Film
Force Majeure
Wild Tales


Best Original Score
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song
"Lost Stars" from Begin Again
"Everything Is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie
"Mercy Is" from Noah
"Glory" from Selma
"Miracles" from Unbroken

Screen Actors Guild Award Predictions!

The Screen Actors Guild announces their nominations this morning, so let's just dive into some predictions!

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods

I allllmost put Gone Girl here, but I'm a wuss. If it gets in, maybe Selma switches out? Or Imitation? The Grand Budapest Hotel could also get in here. 

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role 
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Jakey is my gutsy prediction here. It's a showy role that actors might appreciate. If he got in here, could it transfer to an Oscar nominaiton?

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Chris Pine, Into the Woods
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

For some reason, I put up Pine. I've heard he steals every scene he's in, so why not have a (in the words of Sasha Stone) a No Guts, No Glory prediction?

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actress in a Supporting Role
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

'L5Y' Trailer: All About Anna

My initial reaction to the trailer for The Last Five Years was muted probably because I love the musical so much. It's one of my all time favorite shows, so I was naturally hesitant that they were going to destroy something that I loved. My heart would have been ripped out like Cathy's from the beginning of the musical. Everyone reacts to L5Y in a slightly different way, because everyone has had their heart broken in different ways. Ultimately, it's a universal story packed inside a very specific tale. 

The trailer focuses almost entirely on Anna Kendrick, and that's fine by me. Cathy starts the show crushed over her husband, Jamie, leaving her, and Jeremy Jordan is barely in the trailer. It's seriously almost all Anna. Anna, Anna, Anna. Perhaps they are doing it on purpose for 2 reasons: 1. Kendrick is much more well known that her co-star. 2. Kendrick received most of the praise when the film debuted in Toronto earlier this fall. 

That's not something you should brag about...

This is my favorite moment from the trailer. Who knew Wayne would get a cameo?!

Jason Robert Brown!!!

I haaaaaate this tagline. It's very much appreciated that the trailer is telling the world that this is a musical from the very beginning (get into it, Into the Woods!), and it was nice to see "Tony nominated" before Kendrick's and Jordan's names. This tagline is terrible, though. The characters don't know it's a musical. They are just expressing their emotions through song.

Ultimately, I think it looks good. I need to let go more with this show. There's a fear that every single little teenager is going to start belting out "Still Hurting" or "Climbing Uphill" at auditions, and that would be a travesty. Let go, Joey, let go. I'm on board.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Are You Shaken or Stirred by 'Spectre'

James Bond fans must be plotzing over this news. I admit that I was even excited about all of the reveals regarding the latest James Bond film. Do they do this every time, and I've just missed it? My ex-boyfriend, Shane, probably can't work on anything today since he's the biggest 007 fan I know.

This morning director Sam Mendes revealed that the title of the 24th Bond film will be titled Spectre before he unveiled the latest model of the Astin Martin that will be featured. If that wasn't enough, the cast came out to greet the rabid audience. And, yes, Christoph Waltz will be playing the latest villain. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

'Most Violent Year' Crashes Oscar Race with 3 NBR Wins

JC Chandor's A Most Violent Year surprised by winning three awards at the National Board of Review on Tuesday afternoon. Its two leads, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain, were also honored for the film. There were some other surprises as well (Eastwood...really...), and it's exciting to have something crashing the race as December begins.

Best Picture: A Most Violent Year

I am as surprised by this as I was with Her last year. 

Best Director: Clint Eastwood, American Sniper

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. The NBR honors Clint a lot. It's rather disheartening to see him take the spot of some other deserving director coming up this year. 

Best Actor: (tie) Michael Keaton, Birdman & Oscar Isaac, A Most Violent Year

Keaton has two wins under his belt.

Best Actress: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton, Birdman


Best Supporting Actress: Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Best Original Screenplay: The LEGO Movie


Best Adapted Screenplay: Inherent Vice
Best Animated Feature: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Breakthrough Performance: Jack O'Connell, Unbroken
Best Foreign Language Film: Wild Tales
Best Documentary Feature: Life Itself


Best Directorial Debut: Gillian Robespierre, Obvious Child

It's great to have 2 women take the first two debut directing awards this year (Jennifer Kent won at the NYFCC for The Babadook)

Best Ensemble: Fury

Spotlight Award: Chris Rock for writing, starring in, and directing Top Five

National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award: Selma & Rosewater

Top Ten Films of the Year:
American Sniper
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game 
Inherent Vice
The Lego Movie

Top Five Foreign Language Film:
Force Majeure
Gett: The Trial of Vivian Amsalem
Two Days, One Night
We Are the Best!

Top Ten Independent Films of the Year:
Blue Ruin
A Most Wanted Man
Mr. Turner
Obvious Child
The Skeleton Twins
Stand Clear of the Closing Doors
Starred Up 
Still Alice

Will NBR's Supporting Actress Ever Line Up with Oscar?

The National Board of Review announces their awards Tuesday morning, and most consider it the official kick off to the awards season. Last night, I was looking at the major awards categories since 2000, and only one Best Supporting Actress honoree from the NBR lines up with the Best Supporting Actress winner of that year (Penelope Cruz for Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Will this be the year that someone wins both awards?

Here's who the NBR awarded Best Supporting Actress to in the last 13 years (Oscar nominees are in bold):

2000: Lupe Ontiveros, Chuck & Buck
2001: Cate Blanchett, The Shipping News, Fellowship of the Ring & The Man Who Cried
2002: Kathy Bates, About Schmidt
2003: Patricia Clarkson, Pieces of April & The Station Agent
2004: Laura Linney, Kinsey
2005: Gong Li, Memoirs of a Geisha
2006: Catherine O'Hara, For Your Consideration
2007: Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone
2008: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
2009: Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
2010: Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
2011: Shalene Woodley, The Descendants
2012: Ann Dowd, Compliance
2013: Octavia Spenser, Fruitvale Station

The other categories, especially Best Supporting Actor, are more consistent with Oscar. Is there a particular reason for this, or is it just coincidence? I'm not criticizing the NBR's choices at all. They might be one of my favorite voting bodies, because they sometimes recognize films that other awards ignore. The last 13 years in the Supporting Actress category supports that. 

It's odd that Kendrick was awarded when Mo'Nique rook almost every award that season, but Dowd's performance of a weary fast food manager is a great example of the NBR paying attention to smaller films. Dowd put up her own money for a Supporting Actress campaign, but she didn't receive good news on Oscar nomination morning.

Patricia Arquette won in this category at the New York Film Critics yesterday, and she seems to be the odds on favorite this year. Can she win at the NBR this morning and join Penelope in a small group of NBR and Oscar winners?

Monday, December 1, 2014

'Boyhood' Snatches the First Best Picture Prize

Richard Linklater's 12-years-in-the-making film, Boyhood, took three prizes at the New York Film Critics Circle this morning. Not only did it nab Picture and Director, but Patricia Arquette was awarded the Best Supporting Actress prize. The NYFCC is the first awards body to announce their annual accolades, and The National Board of Review will reveal their awards tomorrow.

Best Picture: Boyhood

Best Director: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Best Actor: Timothy Spall, Mr. Turner
Many have been counting out Spall in this crowded Best Actor race, but maybe his name will start trickling in? I would love to see him get some awards recognition.

Best Actress: Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night and The Immigrant

The Immigrant is on Netflix right now, and this award (along with Cinematography) should help it gain some viewers.

Best Supporting Actor: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Let the steamroller begin...

Best Supporting Actress: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Best Screenplay: Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Best Cinematography: The Immigrant
Best Animated Feature: The Lego Movie 
Best Foreign Language Film: Ida (ahem...available on Amazon Prime)
Best Nonfiction Film: Citizen Four

I am still rooting for the Roger Ebert doc, Life Itself, to gain some traction.

Best First Film: Jennifer Kent, The Babadook 

Oh! That's a lovely surprise. Scary movies are noticeably absent during awards season. I rented this from iTunes the other day, and I'm still terrified to press play.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Well, These 'Fifty Shades' Pictures Sadden Me

I was disappointed to hear that Marcia Gay Harden committed herself to star as Christian's mother, Grace Trevelyan-Grey, in the upcoming bangfest, Fifty Shades of Grey, and I forgot all about it. Entertainment Weekly has the first look photos of Harden, Rita Ora, and Andrew Airlie as Christian's family. We will meet them when Christian brings Ana over for dinner, and we are reminded that Ana Steele will never have the grace and poise as one Ms. Marcia Gay Harden. I don't really begrudge Harden--Fifty Shades will be huge, and it will be great exposure for her. Girl's gotta eat, right?

Who Should Make a Cameo in 'Jurassic World'

Everyone was buzzing about the new Jurassic World trailer yesterday, and Megan wrote a short piece about Bryce Dallas Howard's constant villainy. Since it brought up a lot of feelings of Steven Spielberg's original blockbuster, it made me realize that there was one character that I hope they revitalize: Mr. DNA.

Richard Attenborough proudly introduced Mr. DNA early on in Jurassic Park when Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum were taking their boring tour of the facilities, and the animated character popped up on screen for a documentary about how InGen created the dinosaurs. They should bring back Mr. DNA for the newest installment, but they probably won't. Who needs a quirky strand of DNA talking to you about science when the kids who are interested in dinosaurs can just whip out their iPads? I just love how he says, "Dino-SARS!"

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Random Poll: Which Peter Pan Trailer Tune is Better?

The trailer for Joe Wright's re-imagining of Peter Pan (titled Pan) hit today, and it looks like a fantastical version of the beginnings of Peter Pan. We seem him getting kidnapped out of his bed, meeting Hook, and facing off against Hugh Jackman's Blackbeard. What do I think of the trailer? Well, I can't hear anything other than the Christina Perri song playing in the background. 

Does anyone remember when Coldplay's "Clocks" played in the trailer for the 2003 version of Peter Pan? All I keep thinking of is Jason Isaac and Olivia Williams running to find their children in a kind of slow motion while that song played. Perri's "I Believe" blares throughout the trailer amid flying ships and scenery chewing. Which do you like more? You can check out both trailer below the poll in case you need a refresher!

Hold On To Your Butts...'Jurassic World' Tease Drops

Seeing Jurassic Park in the theater in the summer of 1993 was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. When the T-Rex attacked the SUV with Tim and Lex in the backseat, it was sheer pandemonium: people were screaming, kids were bawling, and concerned parents left the theater. Perhaps moviegoing experiences will never be that insane again with everything being chatted about on social media, and the first trailer makes me yearn for the original dinosaur blockbuster. Jurassic World's first teaser leaked today, and I have some mixed feelings. 

I'm generally against reboots, but I was originally very stoked about this. I am shaking my cane like an old man, but everything in this trailer seems too CGI-ed. 

"What do they got in there? King Kong?"

No, just a team of special effects technicians. 

The tease features some very clear homages to the original Park, and that's great to see (the gallimimus running and the bait used to lure a big baddie), but I am hesitant about the genetically created dinosaur. Up the stakes? Sure. Play more into the "man isn't God" theme? Absolutely. The shot of the whale-y dinosaur splashing the audience made me realize that animals in captivity might never be free. Yeah, that's right. I got all Blackfish on you for the Jurassic World teaser.

I was ready to write off the entire thing...and then that slowed down version of John Williams' score kicked in. I was sort of transported back to 1993, and I realized that the Jurassic Park movies are so much a part of my childhood that I don't think I will be able to have a rational reaction to it. This one's about a genetically modified hybrid dinosaur...and then things alllll go to hell. Natch.

Oh, hey Bryce Dallas Howard as a gorgeous but shortsighted scientist. I assume she is bad because she's talking about genetics one minute and then she's running for her life with a flair not unlike Laura Dern with a flashlight dragging behind her.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Cool Rider! It's Maxwell Caulfield's Birthday!!!

I love Grease 2, and I will never apologize for it. The shy-brooding-nerd-turned-motorcycle-hunk leading-man, Maxwell Caulfield, went over the top to impress Michelle Pfeffer's leader of The Pink Ladies. Let's be honest here. We'd all do a lot less for the adoration of Michelle Pfeiffer, right? Caulfield is celebrating his 55th birthday today! Let's all celebrate by watching "Who's That Guy" from the much maligned musical sequel, shall we?!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Fifty Shades of Suck: I'm (Banging) On a Boat!

The Fifty Shades of Suck podcast has returned! We are going to get back on track to recording this on a weekly basis, so we are going to bug you more frequently now. Isn't that great?!?!

We start off the podcast with a live viewing of the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer. Somehow Megan avoided it all this time, and you get to hear our reactions as we watch it, If you like watching along, use the video above! The Fifty Shades of Suck podcast is interactive now! 

Megan and I almost get to the halfway point of the book, and we tried out something different. She read all of the Christian stuff, and I read the rest, including all of Ana's idiocy dialogue and action. It's to the point where feminism is truly dead. Sure, it's been dead since page one of the first book, but now that Christian and Ana have declared actual love for each other, it's going to get to an entirely new level of annoying. 


There's a strangely detailed segment about how Christian had someone dry his hair as a kid, and Megan and I spend way too much time talking about it.

Oh, and they bang on a boat. Just when readers are thinking, "are they going bump uglies in this chapter," EL James has our insipid pair do it in Christian's cabin. 

If you are new to Fifty Shades of Suck, my best gal pal Megan and I meet up every week to read a chapter from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, but we provide our own snarky commentary.  Last year, we subjected ourselves to the first book, and now we are chugging right along through the first sequel, Fifty Shades Darker.  If you would like to play catch up, the first set of podcasts are available here, and Fifty Shades Darker chapters are available below.  We hope you enjoy, and share them with your friends!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

'Mockingjay' Improves On Everyone's Least Favorite Book

Let's get serious here. Does anyone like the novel Mockingjay? The final installment in Suzanne Collins' mega-successful young adult dystopian trilogy is the most divisive among Hunger Games fans, and the apprehension towards the final film seemed obvious. Not only were fans wondering how the franchise would go out, many (myself included) hated the decision to split it into two separate films. For the record, Harry Potter was the only franchise that needed to do this. Twilight didn't, and, it seemed, that The Hunger Games was simply drawing out the series to a more lucrative close. 

I personally haven't revisited Mockingjay since it was released, and I urge fans to not feverishly re-read Collins' final novel before going into this adaptation. After The Hunger Games left audiences a bit famished two years ago, Catching Fire destroyed everyone's expectations. Mockingjay -- Part I doesn't have the action that whet everyone's last winter, but it sets the stage for an emotional climax. It also features strong performances from everyone involved. Sorry, David O. Russell. Jennifer Lawrence is better in Catching Fire and Mockingjay than she was in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle--Oscars be damned!

The action picks up almost exactly where Catching left off. Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen is now shacking up in the underground barracks of District 13 while plans against the Capital are made. Peeta is being held captive, and District 13's President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) is a quiet, careful presence. Katniss is going to be used as a symbol of the resistance, but Coin is hesitant at first, because she thinks the Games broke Katniss' spirit. Mockingjay reads like war novel, and the tone of the film is very grey and somber. Some of the districts have crumbled altogether, and director Francis Lawrence isn't afraid to show the small towns smoking and destroyed. There is a creepy moment early on where Katniss visits District 12, and the skeletons of her fellow townspeople lay scattered in this young adult wasteland. 

Did Mockingjay need to be split into two films? No. I admit, though, that I was taken by the penultimate segment. It lacks action, and it does feel like it's turning into The Hunger Games: Mockingjay PR Campaign in the first half. A camera crew follows Katniss around to film propaganda material to rile up the other districts, and the audience might wonder when the plot will actually kick in. We wait around for something to actually happen, because we are promised something will eventually transpire. The cast makes it all rather compelling. Lawrence has mastered the single tear cry, and the short scenes between her and Moore are, honestly, thrilling. Where would we get to see two women arguing war tactics in a blockbuster winter release? It's also very bittersweet to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in one of his final film roles (the film is dedicated to him). 

The emotion amps up in the last 20 minutes or so, and I could almost hear my audience drooling for more (Effie's fleshed out film role was much appreciated as well). I could probably watch a Hunger Games film every winter (especially if they continue to dress up Josh Hutcherson in Capital clothing that makes him look like Liberace's favorite rentboy). Mockingjay's seemingly early chilly critial reception seems a bit overblown. This film definitely sets us up for something big, and I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Contract Makes Appearance in 'Fifty Shades' Trailer!

If you have listened to the Fifty Shades of Suck podcast (starring yours truly and Megan), you would know how much we hate EL James' decision to include Christian Grey's dom/sub contract in full multiple times. We are closing in on the halfway mark of Fifty Shades Darker, and it hasn't made an appearance yet. I mean, it probably will. 

The full length trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey just debuted, and it features a shot of the contract! Rapture! Joy! Not only will we read the whole thing, but we will be fucking forced to look at it projected onto a movie screen. Fan-frickin'-tastic! 

Some other things are realized with this trailer:

1. Thank the BABY JESUS that Charlie Hunnam is far, far, far away from this.

2. I mean, I don't hate this...

3. No one could make Anastasia Steele's dialogue sound remotely real/credible/intelligent. Dakota Johnson is fighting a losing battle here. Poor thing. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

'Fifty Shades' Poster: Anyone Else Get a 'Stepfather' Vibe?

When I went to the movies tonight, there were two big Fifty Shades of Grey standees positioned right near the entrance, and, naturally, I have some thoughts. 

They give both Ana Steele and Christian Grey an individual poster, but Ana's just looks like a bad perfume ad. These have to be next to each other or one wouldn't have any idea why Dakota Johnson is just hanging out. Secondly, I get a Stepfather vibe from his poster. Is he going to use that tie to strangle Anastasia Steele. We are supposed to think that he's an iconic figure, but it just supports the notion that they have one of the most unhealthy relationships ever committed to the page. 

Just saying...