Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's Next On My List? Grosse Pointe Blank

Focusing super hard not to be destroyed mentally by all the bad news and sexual harassment accusations coming from Hollywood nowadays, I decided to review an old favorite of mine. Hope you will enjoy the entry!


Martin is an assassin for hire, he is quite talented and does OK in his job, but he is given an impossible decision: go home for his high school reunion or not? The little town he left behind, and the love of his life Debi, are still there, unaffected by time or anything out in the world, while he has changed quite a lot. While at home he realizes that he does not want to be in the business anymore, but quitting is not as easy as it sounds...

Now, this is of course dark humor, but I think it is one of the best examples. Martin is troubled much more by the ghost of his former self than he is by killing. His biggest regret is leaving the love of his life behind and when life gives him a second chance with her, he makes sure to take it. The two best characters in the movie are his assistant Marcella (played by his sister Joan Cusack, and let me add here that I simply adore that they are always in each others' films!) and his psychiatrist Dr. Oatman. The former always helps him keep his humanity, not to get dragged down into the dark world that surrounds them. So much so that she is the one who pushes him to go home for the reunion. The latter on the other hand has to listen to his terrible stories and the work he does and he tries to help him but he always falls short. However, you gotta admire the doctor's tenacity in trying to help someone who is somewhat beyond redemption...
Well, I also need to mention that whilst this movie tries to be a romantic comedy, it has some awesome action scenes. In it the main character has to kill someone sent after him and he does that during the reunion, in the end having to fight off his former boss in his ex-girlfriend's house. A lot of blood is involved in this process and he ends up telling the girl about his insecurities and why he left her, as they are trying to run for their lives. The set up of the movie is quite unique, in my opinion, as instead of a boring romantic comedy it added a very unusual setting for it and it simply works. You care about them, you laugh at them, you understand the struggle and it completely puts a high school reunion into a different perspective!

Watch it? Most definitely. In my humble opinion this is John Cusack at his best! I adore this movie and try to rewatch it as often as I can. It has a marvelous cast with very good jokes and entertaining action scenes.

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

Martin Q. BlankJohn Cusack
Debi NewberryMinnie Driver
Dr. OatmanAlan Arkin
Grocer Dan Aykroyd
Marcella - Joan Cusack
Paul SperickiJeremy Piven
Mr. Bart Newberry - Mitchell Ryan

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

What's Next On My List? The Handmaid's Tale

Oh, I have been putting of this review for a while now for various reasons. First, I would deem my relationship with Margaret Atwood 'complicated', despite the fact that I have grown to love her as a person. As far as her works are concerned, I am still not sure if I like them due to the stockholm syndrome that I am sure I have developed over the years, or because simply I do. By this I mean that she has written a lot of things that I enjoyed right off the bat, and some that I needed warming up to. But she is very much present in my life still, I have recently read a thesis that was written on The Blind Assassin, my best friend is currently writing to me under the nickname of MaddAddam on facebook, and we had to re-read The Handmaid's Tale for my sci-fi class. I have spent all summer reading short stories from her, many of which I have already written about in my blog post "Margaret Atwood and I". The main reason I have been putting of this review is that I have a few commentaries about the show that are not really positive... altogether I wish I hadn't read the book before seeing it.


The story of one of the handmaids of Gilead, who was known by the name of Offred, belonging to a couple without children, where she ensued a relationship with one of the drivers of her Commander. The story moves back and forth between Offred, formerly June's past and present. How she lost her husband and daughter and how the people of her country slowly allowed for a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship to rise.

First, the good. This is an incredibly high quality TV series and I am happy that it got made because these are things that we HAVE to talk about today. Just look at how women are treated right NOW in the United States! This isn't a far away future, this is a problem that has to be addressed immediately. And if this show wasn't of such high quality, ignorance would still be the preferred option. But because of it you have handmaids now all over the world protesting for their rights as simple human beings and I gotta admit, when comparing history and looking at the impact popular culture has... it is simply astonishing. The novel itself is wonderful, and people are reading it again, which I could not be happier about. The fact that people are acting as if they JUST discovered that Margaret Atwood can write is somewhat hilarious, but besides the point when it comes to my review.
Now the bad... oh boy. Yes, this show deserved every award it got, from script to acting, to the music and the pacing, directing, cinematography, writing... really, everything. I was, however, still left disappointed by one thing, but a thing that to me was crucial. The Commander and his wife were too young... The book emphasizes something simple about their relationship: they have drifted apart. The Commander himself is a complete loser, no more than a pawn already, he is easily deceived by Offred and the one you do fear is his wife. Now, I was indeed scared of the wife, but by god, there was absolutely no reason for the Commander to be so attracted to Offred in the series! They even added in a sex scene with the wife, proving that one, he is the problem in the bedroom... two, that they are very much easily rekindled into their old ways. The book lets you in on the life of an old couple basically giving up, zero intimacy and a bored husband with a wife still seeking society's approval. Here... the fact that they made them more evil only took away from the hatred I felt for the dictatorship. I was disgusted by him, and I hated her, and in the long run I forgot that they are all just pieces in something much worse. And because of that reason I was quite thrown off.
Overall, is that a huge problem? Not for the simple viewer (by that I mean those who did not read the book), as I have asked around. It is for me because there is a special scene in the book where this defeated old man admits that they only wanted to make the world a better place. And in that moment, for a second there Atwood makes you think and you cannot help but stop hating the enemy. This is something a parent would say, "I was only trying to do the right thing", and yes, they do, but mistakes are made. We sometimes might not see the outcome of our actions. Not to mention that for Offred to pretend was much easier with a sillier inattentive older man, than in the show and some scenes because of it fell short for me. Does that make it bad? No. It is a great adaptation. They decided to answer a few questions the book left open, and I didn't mind. I liked the casting, the way you can tell they opened the book when writing the script, and made use of a great source material. I have absolutely no idea what the second season will be about, but it not being based on the book anymore, I am sure I will be more open to it. I am also curious and waiting to return to this terrible world, just to see the women in it win!

Watch it? Definitely. This is simply a good series. I personally wish I hadn't read the book first, and I rarely do that. I always watch the adaptations first and then read the books, that way imagining the actors already, and I checked the cast first here too, but... no. I'm sorry. That is my mistake ultimately. But as far as adaptations are concerned, this is among the best five out there so trust me, I am not trying to be critical! But you check it out too and let me know what you think!

Until the next item on my list!

PS: Of course read the book too! What are you waiting for?!
_ _ _ _ _ _

June Osborne/Offred - Elisabeth Moss
Serena Joy Waterford - Yvonne Strahovski
Fred Waterford - Joseph Fiennes
Nick Blaine - Max Minghella
Rita - Amanda Brugel
Janine - Madeline Brewer
Luke Bankole - O-T Fagbenle
Aunt Lydia - Ann Dowd
Moira - Samira Wiley
Ofglen - Alexis Bledel

Friday, November 3, 2017

FRESH FROM THE THEATER: Thor - Ragnarok

My best friend and I went to see what is quite possibly one of the best movies ever made by Marvel. And I have been sitting on this review for hours thinking about it and to see if I was blinded by the wonder of cinema or if truly, as I felt while watching it, this was an extraordinary and unique piece of perfection. I will tell you why in a  minute, but I'm going with the second. [WARNING! Spoilers ahead!]


After refusing to take the throne, Thor travels the world on a journey of self-discovery. He, however, encounters someone who warns him of the dangers that are before the doors of Asgard, so he returns home only to find chaos in the absence of his father. He and Loki get together to prevent the destruction of their home, but for that to work they need to have a small team, and even that is not enough to stop Hela, the Goddess of death.

Well, the trailer lied to you, let's start there. And boy... am I glad it did! I am so tired of 2 minute trailers that go and ruin whole movies. I have been watching less and less as the years pass because I don't want it to ruin anything for me. I could not contain myself when it came to this movie, but I am 100% fine with being deceived for the purpose of leaving a better viewing experience.
I want to talk about everyone, but instead of going by cast order, I'm going to start with our villain, Hela. She is my favorite Marvel villain. Now, I think you'll agree that these movies are not so much about the villains anymore. Think of Civil War (which I am yet to review, thank you me for reminding me), there was someone pulling the strings but is that what you remember from that movie or the fight between Iron Man and Captain America? I thought so. That means that people obsessing over Iron Man 3 not having a good villain need to learn that their purpose is not to be either good or bad, but to elevate your main character and it very much did in that movie, just as much as it did here. Hela comes in and points out something I have been saying for quite sometime: Odin is a shitty dad. Seriously, 90% of Thor's problems are caused by this guying lying left and right! Thor's love for his father is although admirable, it is also childish because he cannot see his many faults. He somewhat does in this movie, thankfully, but it took for Hela to return for that to happen. She was the funniest and at the same time scariest villain in my opinion. The latter because I was asking myself, how are you going to defeat her? And that doesn't happen often, does it? You know that the good guys always win, but I was honestly scared for them more than once. To this they added a comedic side to her and I was just gasping for air from laughter. She was beautiful and charming and simply aesthetically so pleasing that she put a lot of other villains to shame. I can just imagine the two Australians enjoying filming every single day!
Speaking of villains, you have the return of the ever so charming Loki, who mostly played himself. Do I mind? Know, because the movie was aware of it through and through, so much that it even commented on it. I did not understand where his awesome green clothes went, but that was the least of my worries. When it comes to Loki the story almost always repeats itself, what changes is Thor's approach to it. The writers love to play with this love-and-hate relationship that the fans have with him. What I need is to not feel his inclusion forced, I don't want fan service, if you have no story for him, DON'T include him. But it was well written and well thought out, so I was very happy. I am curious to see what is going to happen in the next movies!
Although there is a lot that can be said about the side characters, I don't want to go into that particularly. You see, I have just no clue where we are going with Bruce Banner, and that bothers me a great deal because he is my favorite character of all time. I can easily blame the studios for not giving him a solo movie, because this way there is a lot that is left unsaid and for me it is becoming a problem. His inclusion here, despite all that, was simply great and needed. I missed him a lot.
Let me know move onto the hero of this movie, Thor, who I believe has come a great deal since we last saw him. There is always a fear that some of these movies will try and repeat the gimmick of one of their stories and you have to be careful. Thankfully this was not the case. So much so that perhaps this third movie was the best one so far, and I don't think you can say that about any franchise. Thor's optimism makes you grab a hammer and go and fix the world yourself. Turning over to the moral message of the story, I love that whilst the Avengers on Earth are arguing about what is wrong and what is right, you have this one guy who knows exactly what is right and he goes for it. He says that he runs towards his problems, because that is what heroes do, and my god, did I want to high-five him in that moment! You see? This is why he wasn't part of Civil War, he would've solved that shit in less than 5 minutes!
And really... Any movie that has Jeff Goldblum in it is a win for me!

Watch it? Forget everything you thought you knew. You will get Sherlock jokes, finally quality Thor and Loki interactions, with the best villain available in the whole Marvel universe (yes, I said it!), side characters who, I am not kidding, have more of a character development in one movie than any hero did in the whole entire DC universe! [That's right, f*ck you DC!]. GO SEE IT!!!

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

Heimdall - Idris Elba
Grandmaster - Jeff Goldblum
Valkyrie - Tessa Thompson
Skurge - Karl Urban
Bruce Banner / Hulk - Mark Ruffalo

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

OLD vs. NEW: Ghostbusters

Of course I watched the original because of Sigourney Weaver! What other reason would I have?
Ghostbusters (1984) vs. (2016)

I feel dumb writing down the plot, like really, how do you not know by now? Anyway, New York starts to exhibit a serious of ghost appearances and a group of scientists and friends who have always believed in the paranormal get together to make the city safer. Unfortunately, however, something much bigger is coming and they might not be equipped for it, but they will nonetheless do their best to save their city and with it the world!

I'm gonna be honest with you and tell you that I liked the remake a lot better. You can boo me all you want, it is simply a better movie! The original one is great because of Bill Murray, Peter Wenkman, I think his character is simply genius. Anyone who has fallen in love with him because of it has my vote of approval. He was funny and smart and all together a great character. But... after watching it I had soooo many damn questions! First, was the blow job scene really necessary? Especially because there was no indication that anyone besides Peter was into Dana, played by Sigourney Weaver. Then their friend Egon, he looked like a socially awkward scientist, who then landed the secretary? He became this macho cool guy in a couple of seconds with no indication whatsoever of actually reciprocating her feelings. I am going to be mean and say that people are very much wearing nostalgia goggles when it comes to this movie... I'm planning on watching the sequel because I was genuinely disappointed. My next question was about the dogs... they get into the body of Dana and Louis and just why? They turned back into dogs later on, what was the reason for stealing her body? And well of course immediately everything they constructed from weapons to traps worked perfectly... Not to mention that they were scared of everything - big heroes you guys were... I'm sorry, I really am, I could watch Bill Murray playing this character for hours on and if Sigourney is involved, count me in, but nothing else in this movie was to my liking.

"- That's where I saw that weird sparking thing.
- What was it?
- Baby, if I knew what it was, I wouldn't have called it a 'weird sparking thing'."

That said, I adored the remake. It was the remake that made me want to watch the original in the first place! I did not care for it for over 20 years. First, the girls were fierce and strong and they went head on into action. I loved the all girl cast, the fact that people complain about it still I think is the reason why it was received so bad. I saw pictures of little girls being excited to get autographs from the stars of the movie and my heart moved. And it if wasn't the feminist inside of me, then it is the fact that I laughed my ass off at this movie. Starting from Chris Hemsworth being a pretty idiot all the way to the small jokes among the characters. I actually felt like I know something about these women. In a small series of scenes I was introduced to who they are and why they do what they do. They were badass! Dan Aykroyd created a wonderful world when he wrote the script of the first movie, I am in no way trying to attack him, but of all the things I could see the new one bring to life, the first just felt... simple. I don't know anything about why any of the guys really wanted to pursue this job, or the fact that they were in no way surprised by the existence of ghosts was off-putting. While, in the remake, there is a larger inclusion of society's reception to paranormal activities and it was just too real.
We see the science behind it, we see the motivation of the characters, we see things slowly unfold and go into chaos, we get to know the villain and his motivations for all of this. Think of the original... why did it attack our planet? No really. Tell me. Explain without rewatching the movie, I know it was a portal, it's coming was foretold, but why? The new one, and I'm not even going to call it a remake, because it was really an homage to the first one, it does not try to erase it, as many people would dare to assume and thus shit on it. So the new one gave us a creepy villain who to me was scarrier than anything else in the movie, and I loved that! If you want to make ghosts acceptable than you need to up the villain and the movie did. Fine, fine, I won't complain about the giant marshmallow, admittedly, it was funny, but not scary.


I also strongly believe that the best thing about both movies was the eyecandy purposefully put there to draw people in. I really don't want to choose between Sigourney Weaver and Chris Hemsworth, but let me tell you, it was not enough for me!

Watch it? F*CK YES! I am so sick and tired of people complaining about the new one! I am telling you that it is a very good movie! It could not exist without the original and I can tell you that it doesn't want to. Nobody is rewriting history here or pretending as if the source material wasn't a beloved series. They made it to have a new take on it and I think it worked really well. Both are good movies, trust me on that, I am not saying that the original is bad, but if put next to each other I will choose the new one every time!

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

(1984)
Dr. Peter Venkman - Bill Murray
Dr. Raymond Stantz - Dan Aykroyd
Dana Barrett - Sigourney Weaver
Dr. Egon Spengler - Harold Ramis
Louis Tully - Rick Moranis
Janine Melnitz - Annie Potts
Winston ZeddmoreErnie Hudson

(2016)
Erin Gilbert - Kristen Wiig
Abby Yates - Melissa McCarthy
Jillian Holtzmann - Kate McKinnon
Patty Tolan - Leslie Jones
Rowan North - Neil Casey

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What's Next On My List? Blade Runner

I need to admit that I cannot recall why I haven't seen this movie yet. Aside from the fact that it played in the future I knew little to nothing about it. It wasn't until last week, when I was reading a chapter on robotics that I came across certain details about the movie and decided that perhaps I should watch it. Needless to say, the good reviews about the sequel Blade Runner 2049 made me curious as well, but I wouldn't see it before the original!

Blade Runner Rick Deckard is recruited to find four replicants who have escaped a ship and gone back to Earth. Whilst trying to find them, we discover that they are running out of time as their life-span is set in production, Deckard encounters someone, a new model, capable of having memories, who struggles with accepting that she too is just a replicant, and of someone who truly existed once.


After a long discussion we had in class about robotics, we have somewhat concluded that most robots either want to become human or, after years of slavery, will wish to overtake us. In the latter case we are always outsmarted because we play Gods.
Now, there are exceptions of course, I just watched a movie called Robot & Frank, in which the robot is treated very nicely, despite the word 'slave' being thrown around, and of course you have Futurama, which I believe is the only real exception to this rule. In it robots have already evolved to be a race of their own, with the same rights and laws as men and they know they are far better and more advanced, so who cares about other species? But this takes us back to Blade Runner. What can I say that hasn't been said in the span of over 30 years? I personally enjoyed this movie a lot, but had a couple of questions. Beware! I will probably not say anything you haven't heard a hundred times already, but I like writing down my thoughts, so here goes nothing! Before we begin... the snake... WHY DOES EVERY F*CKING GOOD MOVIE NEED TO HAVE A SNAKE IN IT???!!  With that out of my system, let's begin:
First, the noir feeling of it was the best I have seen in years. I love detective stories. This guy was truly a great detective, but when it came to the action I would argue whether he is the 'best'... second, you gotta wonder why we are so scared of replicants running around when they have a limited life-span. Actually, I would assume that they only wished to feel alive and live a little, but mankind has always been jealous, especially of its toys... and we mustn't overlook the undertone of slavery embedded deeply in the movie. After all, don't we all just long to be free? Third, the future has a serious pollution problem. I mean that as a joke, but come on... fog doesn't work like that either.
Fourth, I need to admit, that I loved the scenes between Deckard and Rachel. Most people have a reaction and a feeling about replicants that the person who has been hunting them all his life does not share. He feels a sense of responsibility for having revealed to Rachel that she is also a replicant, but at the same time wishes to show her how much she is human. He cares for her as if she was human, and he loves her as one. Makes you wonder what is it that really makes us human... if it is the fact that we can love one and would give everything for them, than these replicants were no less human than me or Deckard. Finally, the only thing I didn't understand was Roy was running around chasing Deckard if he didn't want to kill him. And well, actually, while typing this review I kinda found an answer. The moment he sees in his eyes the fear of death he realizes that perhaps another person out there won't look at him as a replicant anymore, but a man wishing to be able to do whatever the hell he wants in life. There was no point in taking another body with him, Roy managed to live to the fullest in his last minutes. And to be honest I did not mind that he killed Tyrell... playing God is a dangerous game.

"It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?"

Watch it? I'm sure you've seen it already. I will search for behind the scenes footage and director commentary because I would love to get to know more about the production. This also includes reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick, which was loosely the base for this movie. I'm glad I got around to it finally, and I hope to write a review about the new one shortly!

Next week is this year's Halloween review, so don't miss it.

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

Rick DeckardHarrison Ford
Roy BattyRutger Hauer
Rachael Sean Young
BryantM. Emmet Walsh
Pris Daryl Hannah
J.F. SebastianWilliam Sanderson
Leon KowalskiBrion James
Dr. Eldon TyrellJoe Turkel
ZhoraJoanna Cassidy