Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What's Next On My List? The Girl Next Door

Well, when I saw it, this movie was a real sexual awakening for me. I learned a lot of things about myself, and I have to say that even today I look back at it with a smile because of the little elements in it, and well, the overall idea.

Matt is about to graduate from high school, and for the first time in his life he cannot focus on his studies because the most beautiful and dangerous blonde girl moves in next door. Danielle is funny, smart, charming and everything a boy could ever dream of but she is, nonetheless, a porn star. Not only does her past haunt her, but Matt as well, and together they come up with a way to be able to start new. It only involves money, more porn stars, and everything illegal they can think of!

Yes, this is an older movie, compared to how many things there are at the cinema that I could be talking about instead of this is, but I looked it up on purpose. Just today I had a class where we went into detail about the terrible sexual education that is provided in some Hungarian schools. Let me add that U.S. schools are not better... goes to show that they made a whole movie out of it! The shame we still associate with porn baffles me, because let's be honest, almost everyone today gets answers from the internet to their questions regarding sex. And is that OK? I had a debate about abortion today and the common understanding we came to is that people are not really educated. Following another debate about how parents always say that 'How am I supposed to explain gay couples to my children?' and my answer is: 'Why are you afraid of talking to your child?'. Do you think anyone enjoys these? No, of course not, but the more embarrassing the more need to talk about it! The thing this movie focuses on is that kids might laugh at sexual education for several reasons, mostly I think because of the same embarrassment, but not trying to educate them is still a bigger crime - both of the parent and the teacher's alike. There should be no scapegoating here!
There is room for debate here, let me just say that the movie tackles it in a very smart manner, adding a great twist at the end and handling everything with a great subtle sense of humor. The whole situation is absurd, and as such so is the solution. But at least the movie offers one...
That said, I also love the cast. I keep seeing these actors again and again and I am completely mesmerized by the talent they showcase with every new role they take on. Let's be honest, young actors can be tricky, you never really know how far they will be able to go. Finally, I challenge anyone to watch this movie and not fall in love with Elisha Cuthbert... seriously, this girl has such natural charisma and presence on screen that is very hard to ignore. From the industry that gives you incredibly grotesque sexual comedies with the main characters being completely unable to understand the mechanics of sex (or even question what they are putting their dicks into...) I was incredibly gracious to have come about this simple movie about youngsters working super hard to make their dreams come true in a world that is full of obstacles and stupid vindictive adults. You'll get this sentence if you watch the movie.

Should you watch it? Absolutely. It is fun comedy that packs a punch.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Matthew KidmanEmile Hirsch
Danielle Elisha Cuthbert
Hugo PoshJames Remar
Klitz - Paul Dano

Monday, March 12, 2018

What's Next On My List? Everything Must Go

Well, you might have guessed it, but I am currently watching Rebecca Hall movies, and I am fairly certain I will write about all of them. First up is a the tale of a guy who just can't catch a break.

Nick gets fired from his job following a law suit in which a co-worker accused him of sexual harassment. He gets home just to find all of his stuff on the lawn and the locks changed to his house. His wife Catherine is gone and he cannot reach her. While living on the lawn he keeps drinking but slowly hits rock bottom. A kid from the neighborhood, Kenny, helps him organize a garage sale and he decides to get rid of everything in order to start a new life.

I really liked the trailer and so I decided to get my hands on it. I had no expectations, but as the story progressed I got more and more invested. This movie is not unique in its style, but it was peculiar to me for a whole set of other reasons. Movies always emphasize how hitting rock bottom for alcoholics is usually a near death experience for them or someone around them, but... is that really it? I mean, do you really need to push someone into a car accident for them to get their shit together? I don't want to believe that. I refuse to believe that people cannot change, I don't care how evil the world is. I liked that for Nick it was realizing that he was simply hurting those around him that got him to get it together. I also know the boost that de-cluttering and throwing away all your shit can mean. A lot of it he donated to friends that he knew will take care of the things that were the most important to him. They will do a far better job than he ever did.
Above all I liked that there was one possible future love interest, but it wasn't forced. Nick goes to see someone from his high school to see why she thought he was 'a diamond in the rough'. They just have a nice talk with a possible coffee date in the future, but nothing more. She tells him that he had a good heart and that is something quite rare. I asked myself what does exactly make an alcoholic a good hearted person, and it was then that he started watching home videos and his father was an alcoholic too. He brought this from home and his wife too was an addict, but having recovered she could no longer handle him falling off the wagon every now and then. There were no grand gestures and no Hollywood moments. It was a simple story about a simple man trying to use what he had learned from years of working his ass off to start again.
The neighbor across the street is a pregnant woman by the name of Samantha, who spends her time alone as her husband works instead of being near to her. She is a photographer and teaches photography too, feeling sorry for Nick they start to talk but all of their conversations end up being very intimate. This is quite rare, I have found, that movies portray a friendship that is not about love or getting physical, but that two people can get in sync so fast and talk so easily that they don't even notice it... It happens more often than one would think. Samantha is careful with him, but he is also the only one she can talk to. There was one scene where he tells her that this is their future too, with everything in rubbles and the next day he goes and apologizes. My sister and mom pointed out how one always has to apologize for saying the truth, and although I agree with the fact that many of us have a problem with accepting the truth and would much rather look the other way, in this case I think that the apology was directed to how he attacked her and her privacy after all the help she has given him. Whether or not Nick's predictions of Samantha and her husband's future will become reality is of course up for debate, but I think that by being honest with her he managed to help them avoid it. And that is not something he should apologize for.

Watch it? It was a good story. Simple, but on point. A week from a man's life, but the week that will change it for good. I have found myself wondering about a lot of things, asking myself about the value we place on objects and money and work while we remain blind to the things that matter. And not just that but we choose to be blind far too often. There is a lot to learn from this movie, that is for sure.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Nick Halsey - Will Ferrell
Samantha - Rebecca Hall
Frank Garcia - Michael Peña
Delilah - Laura Dern

Saturday, March 3, 2018

What's Next On My List? Starter For 10

In a previous entry I mentioned that I am a big fan of Rebecca Hall and it all started with this movie, that I ended up watching for other actors but... I could not help falling in love with her. A couple of days ago I re-watched it and I thought I would write about it.

"Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be clever. Some people are born clever, same way some people are born beautiful. I'm not one of those people."

Brian has been dreaming to learn and improve himself since he can remember in order to become the best version of himself. His plans derail when he meets Alice, a dream girl who even seems to reciprocate his feelings, but something is always not right with them, and it is here that Brian realizes that he has feeling for someone else, someone, who cares for him even when he hurts her, Rebecca. It is only after having lost almost everything that he finally wakes up and admits that he has lost nothing, he just needs to keep fighting.

I had no idea what to expect when I watched this movie, like most people, I think I stumbled onto it while searching for one of the 300 famous British actors in it. Thinking about it, I believe that is has literally everyone who was left out of Love Actually, and that should account for everyone who is English and famous today :D Joking aside, I had no expectations going in, I remember and I liked it a lot. It is a pretty simply straightforward story, nonetheless, it has several layers that I myself only noticed upon re-watching it. At first it seems that everyone is there to help Brian along on his journey, being the protagonist he is of course the most important character, but... everybody has a story that goes from A to B, even those characters who are completely in the background. And those who don't advance?  Well, that's the lesson there. Some people are just not meant to learn.
I know that this movie too is based on a book, which I have not read yet, but I plan to in order to see what this story looks like written down. The reason for that is that I completely fell in love with Rebecca's character. Needless to say that it was the point of the story to portray her as the one that us audience should want to pick over the pretty blondish girl. But that is not it. I have met a version of this girl in real life, I have even been her in some instances, and all together I have fallen in love with this girl before. She was the one you don't want to say got away. What I like about her is being completely aware that Brian is an idiot and still caring for him and loving him. She shows up, she helps, she is present and forgiving even when it seems like she should not. Of course she is the logical choice, but the logical one still does not get picked all the time in reality, do they? Brian learned the lesson, as every hero does in their own little tale, but me? I would have picked Rebecca over Alice from the beginning.

"The people who really care about you don't mind if you make mistakes. It's what you do next that matters."

What more is there to say? Having so many actors in it, you won't be surprised to know that most of them have already appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and outside from that Benedict Cumberbatch has worked together again with almost all of them: with James McAvoy in Atonement, with Mark Gatiss in Sherlock, with Alice Eve in Star Trek: Into Darkness and finally he portrayed the husband of Rebecca Hall in the mini-series Parade's End.

Watch it? Well, yes. I don't know what it is, but it just works. The soundtrack, like in most movies I have seen lately, is simply fabulous. This is a story you have probably seen a hundred times, but to me there was an emphasis put on the fact that it wasn't a forced best friend in love with this idiot that you were waiting for him to finally notice... she was never in the shadow and never forgotten, it just took him time to see who is the one who wants him for him. Might just be a romantic comedy for most, but I have found myself wanting more, something that rarely any happy Hollywood ending achieves.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Brian JacksonJames McAvoy
Rebecca Epstein - Rebecca Hall
Alice HarbinsonAlice Eve
Julie JacksonCatherine Tate
Spencer Dominic Cooper
Patrick WattsBenedict Cumberbatch
Bamber GascoigneMark Gatiss

Monday, February 26, 2018

What's Next On My List? Rambo: First Blood II

Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. And this is the fourth year that I am dedicating February to Stallone movies. And why wouldn't I? They are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. So please enjoy this years last review of the the fourth installment of #StalloneMonth.

Rambo: First Blood II

After being incarcerated at the end of the first movie, Rambo is now working off his debt. One day he is freed by his colonel from the war and is tasked with a top secret reckon mission in the jungles of Vietnam. There he discovers that his life is secondary and that it is money that decides wars and not the time and effort that the soldiers put in to save their country. At this point he becomes a one man army and he takes care of things his own way.
"- Rambo, you can feel totally safe because we have the most 
advanced weapons in the world available to us.
- I've always believed that the mind is the best weapon."

Gotta say, this won't be my favorite movie of all time, but I was again amazed by the acting skills of Stallone. Rambo is not what you think of when you are talking about Academy Award winning stories, but... It was amazing to me that years passed again between movies and I could not tell. Stallone got back into the skin of Rambo as if he had never left it. This character is very different from the others he played, he is taciturn and capable and clearly suffering from PTSD, which is understandable after the hell he went through. Because of the jungle they had to include all kinds of disgusting animals and those in particular did not make this story particularly attractive to me... but that is literally the only bad thing I can say about it.
All these have the feeling of being senseless action movies, but in the end Rambo always says something that has me crying. "I want, what they want, and every other guy who came over here and spilled his guts and gave everything he had, wants! For our country to love us as much as we love it! That's what I want!", I have read articles of soldiers claiming that being told 'thank you for your service' is not their favorite thing... and I can understand that, seeing that it can become something without actual value. The Vietnam war in particular left a scar in the American society that I find has not healed yet, especially with the addition of the Iraq war on top of it.
If you have seen Hot Shots! Part Deux you will know exactly what were the things in this movie that they made fun of and I kept laughing under my breathe :D Not to mention that there is a scene were Rambo describes that he is expendable and I immediately realized that is where he got the idea for his series and I loved that! Funny thing is that if you watch this movie you'll think that it has a series of cliché, but then you need to remind yourself that this was the first one: all the cliché that you see today are based on this movie and not the other way around!

"- How will you live, John?
- Day by day."

Watch it? Sure, it is incredibly satisfying to see Rambo shoot a bunch of stuff like there is no tomorrow. I will go on with the series next year, in the next #StalloneMonth, until then if you would like me to review something from his movies let me know, I am already compiling the list of possible things for the next season!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Col. Samuel Trautman - Richard Crenna
Marshall Murdock - Charles Napier
Lt. Col. Podovsky - Steven Berkoff

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What's Next On My List? Rocky II

Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. And this is the fourth year that I am dedicating February to Stallone movies. And why wouldn't I? They are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. So please enjoy the fourth installment of #StalloneMonth

Following exactly right after the ending of the previous story, Rocky enjoys his newly found fame and money, but having retired at the highlight of his career does not leave him much of a chance to make enough to take care of his wife. Despite a bad eye he decides to get back into the ring with Apollo who keeps wishing to prove that he is indeed the best. In the end Rocky is the one (barely) standing.

I gotta say, as far as sequels go, this one is pretty spot on. I mean, I could easily forget that I was watching the second movie, it felt that it was just the continuation of the first. The colors, the songs, the interpretation of the characters... it was incredible. At the same time it was not the same movie, a mistake a lot of sequels make while trying to make something new. Now being so similar to the first one it is hard for me to take them apart. But I was pleasantly surprised because the first one opened some doors and allowed for elaboration. As far as the man of the hour goes, Stallone was incredible. His character is not a smart person, exactly the opposite, but in his innocence he still managed to show more emotions than some actors who have won awards... Adrian ends up in the hospital and he does not leave her side, teary eyed, he reads her books, he gives up training, she is his whole life and I loved how the movie told the viewers their story. With the mandatory montage scene and the speech about him being nobody this movie set up all the other fight movies that came after it, but it is a good one nonetheless. 

Watch it? Of course, it is not a bad movie. You can hear Adrian talk a lot more and see Rocky in a new setting with new problems. I also liked that he finally won, I mean, the first movie was open about the fact that people can't always win. Also, I do agree that it would've been far too unrealistic if he did defeat the best of the best. But at least here we could have the Hollywood ending.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Rocky Balboa - Sylvester Stallone
Adrian Talia Shire
Apollo Creed - Carl Weathers
Paulie - Burt Young