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


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!
_ _ _ _ _ _

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

What's Next On My List? The Iron Giant

In my sci-fi class we are coming to robots and androids and we had to read a very good essay that detailed almost all available forms of AI seen on TV shows and movies. While reading it I kept remembering someone who should have been included in both that list and the list of aliens that pose a threat to us humans:

Hogarth Hughes stumbles upon a giant robot who behaves like a big puppy due to a blow to the head that made him forget his prime initiative. Hogarth becomes friends with him, cares for him, and together they go on adventures. However, the robot's arrival on our planet didn't go unnoticed and Hogarth has to help him in order to let the government see his isn't evil. When the giant robot's head wound heals we do find out that perhaps his mission on this planet was really more than making friends with a local boy.

This movie came out when I was just 8 years old, and writing that down is surreal because I'm not even that old... I fell in love with it immediately as the story was centered around a small very American town, where everyone knows each other and strangers stand out in a crowd. Hogarth doesn't have many friends, so he gets affectionate right away, and you can easily tell why: this is a dream come true. Think of all the movies that deal with alien encounters. They are either the reason for comic relief, because they don't know our planet (E.T., Earth Girls Are Easy, even Thor!), but they can also be the villain. Now, with Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics you have a shorter range of possible stories. In the end the robots either want to become us or take over because of years of humiliation. I can only say that it is a pretty good social criticism when we look at how robots are used and abused in certain stories...
Here you have both. First of all, an alien. Second, he is a robot. Third, he is as a comic relief character, same way as anyone coming into contact with the unknown would be, and on top of that, they are also a killing machine. The giant's real purpose was destruction. He is the villain. I can't really say that the government was wrong, and that they are the antagonists, because we find out that indeed the giant wished to attack us. Their salvation ultimately is the fact that this alien-robot is capable of human-like emotions. His connection to Hogarth was their salvation. Now, after reading Dan Dinello's chapter, "Cybernetic Slaves", I had to ask a lot of questions. You see, the Iron Giant is a good example of how many strive to be human, but have an initial programming that doesn't permit them to get there.
My question is, was his alien qualities that added his humanity? Was someone else in there? Were aliens who created him aware of the fact that he is capable of emotions? Is that the standard on their planet? I am asking these questions because that is what a good story does: it makes you think and think. I don't have the answers to those questions, and that is alright. I'll just rewatch it a couple of times and see if I find anything new! This movie in particular portrays a whole new world of ideas within a story that you have heard a thousand times before. Its ability to make it new is incredible. At first watch you are moved, at the second you laugh at the jokes a bit harder, the inner conflict of the main character and the giant both resonate with you, but when you grow up... you just really want to know more. More because this too was made by mere humans who were clearly familiar with the sci-fi background before making this movie. I just want to have coffee with the makers, is all I'm saying! :)

Watch it? It is a childhood classic. I think it teaches you to fear the unknown, but also to embrace it. To showcase how adults see the world differently from children, and that is alright, as long as you are willing to listen to the other side. I also find that it captures the kind of adventure we all dreamed of as kids and seeing it come to life is a real treat.

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

Hogarth Hughes - Eli Marienthal
Annie Hughes - Jennifer Aniston
Dean McCoppin - Harry Connick Jr.
The Iron Giant - Vin Diesel
Kent Mansley - Christopher McDonald

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

What's Next On My List? Ex Machina

I need to share that this movie was the most bizarre experience. Here is why: I knew nothing about this movie. Not the actors, not the story, I have not seen a single trailer or even a poster for it, which is weird in retrospect, but it made me realize something: since I don't watch TV, since I don't go through channels randomly, I am never surprised. There is no excitement to the things I watch. I purposely don't watch trailers for TV shows, because a one minute trailer can ruin a 40 minute episode easily... but there is a continuity to a series that can't get me excited the way a movie used to. The fact that I refused to look up anything before watching this movie was the best thing I could have possibly done!

Caleb, a programmer at a major company, wins a trip at the house of his boss, where he finds out that he was chosen to perform the Turing test on an AI. Ava is the name of the robot, and Nathan, her creator, take Caleb on a very emotional journey. Nathan has qualities about him that make Caleb question his morals, whilst the purity of Ava enchants him. In the end, all three just wish to become survivors of this eventful week, but not all make it.

Yes, my sci-fi class likes to dig deep and oh my god this movie... it was brilliant truly, this means that there are a lot of questions I had to ask myself while watching it. Just based on all the things that my teacher made me read all over the years, I need to say right away that sci-fi, especially post apocalyptic sci-fi, loves to play with the boundaries of morality. This story in particular really went all out on that regard and you are sitting there wondering what the hell you just saw, followed by a series of questions that would arise if you ever found yourself in a similar situation. To start off with, I can't pinpoint what it is, but I loved both guys. I think they were written perfectly, these two guys exist out there. This element of reality made the story all more accessible and believable and... more scary. After watching it my sister and I started to talk about it and we were trying are hardest to understand the ending. She, having seen the film already, tried to watch it from the Ava, the AI's point of view. If we are looking at this as a story of survival of the fittest, then really, the ending is perfect, as the strongest did get out alive.
But was this story really about that? I have huge problems with Caleb being left behind. We discussed that he might have been saved, not returning from the trip will raise eyebrows even if Nathan liked to keep to himself. Nonetheless, what was the point? I mean really. I understand that he was a pawn in her game, I understand that she was programmed to survive by any means necessary and she did just that. I remember that it was Caleb's visions of her being free in which they were together and not hers. Nonetheless, he was an idiot... I'm sorry to say, but he was an idiot. And I would go as far as to say that Ava did not pass the Turing test. The idea would be to forget that you are talking to a computer, or not be aware of it, but I strongly believe that Caleb fell in love with her as she is. His mind was clouded to begin with. Being an IT guy himself, he could've just as easily fallen for the technology and the finesse of it, not the personality or the girl Ava pretended to be.
I would like to devote a paragraph to Nathan. Yes, the idea of the AI alone deserves a whole dissertation, as I am sure there have been written many on it. I remember my sister asking why doesn't Caleb question Ava, and my answer was that she has already given him a villain. Ava says that Nathan is a liar, and Caleb finds out on his own and he really is up to no good. He likes to play God, he makes jokes about it, he is so smart that the only thing he can turn to to slow things down is alcohol. In his right mind he is dangerous, but once drunk, he is useless. My sister said and I agree with her that this tortured genius is a peculiar but very believable character. Someone who can have anything money can buy and he turns his knowledge into something designed to entertain himself.
Of course we find out that Ava was not the first successful experiment. I strongly believe that he designed these robots for something completely different, and then thought, hey, I can add brain to it. It became a quest of doing something nobody has ever done just because he can. I believe that nothing is more dangerous than people going around doing things just because they can. That is what makes Nathan a villain, and that is what made Ava in the end a villain too. She wishes to see an intersection, to see the people, and she does and I don't know what I was meant to feel in that moment. Be happy for her? Remember this was her wish? Think that she was not lying, she really did long for earthly things? Maybe all of those, but I did not feel the happy ending and the peace that came with this last scene because I did not agree with her choice to leave Caleb  behind in the first place.

Watch it? I definitely will in a couple of years, because just like my sister, I want to see it with experienced eyes. See if my opinion changes. See if I understand something new, notice something else. It is a peculiar story, but it is effective for the degree of reality. The movie has a good pacing that it keeps till the end and the music makes you shiver in your seat. The question of morals needs a bigger discussion than this blog entry would permit, but if anyone cares, we can continue this discussion in the comment section below!

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

Nathan - Oscar Isaac

Saturday, October 7, 2017

What's Next On My List? Arrival

I am going to write a bit of a personal entry instead of the typical review, in case you are looking for that I would much rather have you go to imdb, instead of reading my details and thoughts on the movie. However, if you are interested you are welcome to see what emotions this movie got out of me. Let's then cover:

Dr. Louise Banks is recruited by the army as a linguist specialist to help them communicate with one of the alien vessels that landed on planet Earth. She starts to work alongside a physicist, Ian Donnelly, and together in a matter of long months start to learn the language that the so called 'heptapods' speak. They realize that their written language is different from the spoken, and not only that, but they realize that the written one holds certain elements which enable the mind to travel back and forth in time. However, only those who speak this language are able to see time.

I remember the exact day this movie came out in Hungary last year, it was on the birthday of my teacher, the one who actually made me read the short story on which this movie was based (Ted Chiang's "The Story Of Your Life"). There was a conference at the university and I spent the day with my friend, who that weekend went to see the film. She told me something afterwards that I don't think I will ever forget for as long as I live: she said that she feels 'detached from reality'. I guess me not being able to understand what she meant was one of the reasons why our friendship ended short after. Because of this I have been putting off this movie and have been putting off reading the short story, both of which she recommended to me. Somehow I felt that as long as I haven't read or seen it there was perhaps a chance that her presence in my life had not come to an end. I still don't know what she meant, don't think I ever will find it out, however, I know how I feel after getting acquainted with the story and my words would be 'lost'. Is that the same? Could be. I couldn't tell you for sure. And why do I feel lost? Because our understanding of time is linear, whilst that of the heptapods isn't. It makes me question if we live life right. It makes me question if I personally am living my life right. Is the fact that we are put under pressure by society's understanding of time absolutely necessary for one to survive?

"- Ian?
- Yeah?
- If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?
- Maybe I'd say what I feel more often."

I would say that 'survive' is not the best word, actually. Mostly because it implies that pressure is very much there. But here I would like to turn to the genius of this story. If we could tell what is going to happen, would we change it? I find that Louise's decision to live her life, even if knowing the pain that lay ahead is remarkable. She is capable of reliving some of the most painful things a person could ever face in one life time and she is faced with them daily. But what does she do? She keeps the bad because that means that she can keep the good. I sometimes hold on way too long despite the pain because I love remembering the good things. I have a fear in me that if I let go I'll lose the good too. It might sound dumb to some, but it is essential to me. Seeing this movie was the last promise I made to that friend, and I felt that until I didn't that link would be there. I watched it now because the pain has beaten the good and I need to let go before it becomes completely unbearable. At the end of the movie I was sitting and I had to ask myself: 'would do it all over again even if I knew how it would end'? The answer is yes every time.

Turning to an actual review: all those people telling you that this movie is brilliant were not lying. As far as the actors are concerned it is 10/10, the music and the visuals too are a home run. The short story was changed, slightly, as the movie focuses very much on the outside's world reaction to the arrival of the aliens. And you know what? I loved that. Chaos everywhere. When this story was adapted they grasped the essence of men so well that it was almost terrifying. Let's shoot at it, let's steal, riot, commit unlawful acts because if aliens arrive for some reason we are allowed to be ruled by fear and under fear the first reaction is to rob stores. This sounds far fetched actually written down but we have recorded cases of this! This is how we behave, complete anarchy: in the fear of losing our own lives we have no problem stepping over another person. The addition of the human element I think was wonderfully thought out and written. Not to mention that with it the story had a sort of time travel element that in the short story was only focused on Louise's memories, instead of actual actions. That made it even cooler, I need to say! Truly a marvelously adapted movie, among the top 5 at least.

Watch it? I highly recommend it. I think I personally need about ten years or so before I can rewatch it, I was sobbing pretty hard towards the end. Beautiful story that finally focuses on something other than the appearance of an alien or the apocalyptic world that it is likely to leave behind after first contact.

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

Louise Banks - Amy Adams
Ian Donnelly - Jeremy Renner
Colonel Weber - Forest Whitaker
Agent Halpern - Michael Stuhlbarg
Captain Marks - Mark O'Brien
General Shang - Tzi Ma

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What's Next On My List? X-Men Apocalypse

Oh I forgot to review this! Sorry about that, I have missplaced my notebook with all the reviews I have planned... kinda knew that with the semester starting that is a possibility. Nonetheless, here we are back to good old comic book movies:

One of the strongest, some say oldest as well, mutant is awaken from their sleep. He is Apocalypse, who seeks to be the most powerful and is unaware that the world has since yielded a lot of mutants. Not only that but mutants who don't seek to be gods, but wish to be mere humans. He recruits four as the horsemen of the Apocalypse and prepares to shape the world into his know, however, the X-Men will have none of it as their fight to prove to humans that not all of them are evil.

I had no expectations really, going in, I had a fear that it would be bad and simply because Days of Future Past was such an extraordinary and wonderful movie. And altogether I liked it very much. I agree that Mystique should've been blue more often and well, I find that a lot of characters were underused. Now, yes, there is a billion of them, it is easy to have them fall under, my only problem is that there is really no need to introduce every single effing character from the comics if you won't be able to use them properly. There were times as well when you felt that they are trying way too hard to make up for mistakes of the past. The new Jean Grey was adorable, the new Scott still has to become... well, himself. What I lacked and what was set up in First Class is Mystique's background story. There is one rendition of the comic in which we find out that she is Nightcrawler's mother, fathered by Azazel, who was in the first movie. Not only that, but the beginning of Days of Future Past is about her finding pictures of Azazel as he was experimented on. They had a connection, spent time together, their union was somewhat foreshadowed and now here we are and NOTHING. I was hoping for that to be unraveled...
Going back to it, the villain was alright, some X-Men showed previously unseen talents, there was a nod to X2 again, which I liked and well, Magneto... Oh dear Erik... I gotta tell you, somebody has to be in charge of building his character. I actually enjoy very much how each movie focused a bit on his back-story. We care for him because that is how he is built but man... you really do get why he hates humans so much. He keeps repressing his inner self and even an act of kindness has a punishment following it. Despite how much pain he has been through he too understands right from wrong and that is what is maddening to him above all.

Watch it? Yes, I do believe it is an entertaining movie. It does not go into depth on moral and teachings. It's more like a simple story, but it is done well and you get more of your favorite characters. Turns out that those who want good for this world are willing to put themselves in harms way for it and that alone is a great message. Could it have been better? Gotta say, yes. But that's just my opinion.

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

Apocalypse - Oscar Isaac
Raven/Mystique - Jennifer Lawrence
Charles Xavier - James McAvoy
Erik Lehnssher - Michael Fassbender
Hank McCoy/Beast - Nicholas Hoult
William Stryker - Josh Helman
Storm - Alexandra Shipp
Angel - Ben Hardy
Nightcrawler - Kodi Smit-McPhee
Cyclops - Tye Sheridan
Jean Grey - Sophie Turner
Moira Mactaggert - Rose Byrne
Quicksilver - Evan Peters

Monday, September 25, 2017

30+1 Thoughts I Had While Watching Alien For The First Time

I have managed to avoid this movie for 26 years and I decided to get it over with. Now, I hate being scared. I just don't like it. People who enjoy horror movies are a different breed as far as I am concerned. I like to laugh and cry at movies, but I hate being scared. Now, this is, after all, a horror movie. Some would argue that it's an old movie, but if it is done right, trust me, age don't count... On top of this my brother loved it growing up, and I felt it my sisterly duty to hate it. This is something siblings do, we tease each other and at the end of the day we high-five. Not to mention that I never understood why someone who like me doesn't like being scared would love this horror movie so much. So I figured I would ask him to watch it with me. We made a family evening out of it, with him forcing his wife and my sister to tag along :D He always warned me before the jump scares, and I am grateful to him for that. Finally, instead of a review I decided to write down the thoughts I had during the movie because I am certain that the world is running out of people who haven't seen it yet and as such I thought it would be entertaining to read! So here we go:

1) Why am I watching this? Oh it's slow... that's not good, suspense is the worst!

2) Are all scientists weird on purpose?

3) Dear God Sigourney Weaver is beautiful! Okay, okay, maybe it really was worth it to watch this movie.

4) I hope they won't kill the cat...

5) I also hope the black guy is not gonna die first.

6) They are going investigating... where's my pillow? *Hides behind pillow.*

7) I changed my mind, TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!! *Becomes one with the pillow.*

8) Jump scare, of course, but you know what? I have always found it stupid when smart people started touching things they shouldn't. These are not doctors or scientists or anything like that, they are just answering a distress call. Did it eat through its helmet? Oh I guess it did. Okay. Still weird, but a lot more acceptable than the dumb sh*t I've seen the trailer of the new Alien movies.

9) OMG THAT FACEHUGGER IS SO EFFING UGLY! Oh stop... stop choking him, no, that tail *holds back barf*, just gross...


11) (My brother warns me in advance that it will fall onto someone's shoulder, so I don't scream.) Nonetheless, this thing is disgusting. This mucous membrane on the outside and the belly looking like a rotten mushroom dipped in honey... It is very effective, I'm not criticizing, I'm actually impressed by how disgusting it is, I'm just saying... yuck.

Spaceballs (1987)
12) Ah! The dinner scene. Oh it's so cute the way it ran away. I immediately start singing the song from Spaceballs because of course I do.

13) "Micro changes in air density, my ass." I love her! #RipleyIsLife

14) Need to admit, the music is fantastic. And as far as my claustrophobia is concerned, it's getting worse by the minute. #Impressed

15) OMG! The black guy is still alive! I am so proud of you Alien movie!

16) Oh that's a brilliant twist. They were sent there on purpose. Now I get--- WOAH! "There is an explanation for this, you know." Ash, wtf man, why isn't she screaming? How did he get in there with her and Mother?

17) Oh god it's a robot. It's an effing rob--- uhm. That paper does not look like the most efficient tool for killing someone, but you do you, Bilbo Baggins.

18) That white stuff coming out of him is just wrong.

19) "Purity." ... hmm... it's killing people. What purity? The fact that it's soul is not burdened they way that of humans are? Is this robot looking down on humans because of their emotions? This is actually fascinating, comparing an animal with a killer instinct and saying it is pure as opposed to humans. I think I'm going to be thinking about this for a while for sure.


21) Huh, funny, I'm sure people thought that Ripley was gonna die, of course I know she survives, but that scene was intense nonetheless.

22) Wow, the black guy was almost last to die, I am officially moved.

23) I hope they stick a warning sign for epileptic people on this DVD because I'm close to barfing and I'm not even that sensitive.

24) It's in the ship.

25) It's in the f*cking ship.

26) It's gonna jump out, it's in the effing ship for sure!

27) Okay, why is the mother ship blowing up 3 times in a row?

28) Ah! Finally the tank top scene! Worth it! #LoveRipley

29) Why doesn't it attack her? Is it sleeping? Did its encounter with the cat make it calm down? Why isn't it killing her? Does it only attack beings that attack it? But Brett didn't attack it either, he was just looking for the cat. WHY ISN'T IT ATTACKING HER?!! *Throws pillow on the ground.*

30) "You are my lucky star. You... Lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky." You got me singing Madonna, that kinda ruins the suspense towards the end.

+1) That is clearly a man in an alien costume. 

Now... it's been a couple of hours and I'm still thinking about it. You might ask me why I watched it if I am so bent on hating it. I wasn't, actually, I just simply never got interested enough to watch it. I met more and more people who loved this movie and there were more arguments for it, than against it, I just didn't get around to it. I will have a class where we will talk about it and I did not want to miss it. Yes, I could have sat there still, nobody forced me to watch it, of course, but I knew in advance that I would be glad that I did. And there were some culturally funny moments, like smoking in a confined space in actual space is no problem. Their attire is simple, and... believable. That's the real scary part, that everything in the story is believable. The way the alien works doesn't have to be explained and everything else kinda says 'hey, maybe the future will be like this, who knows?', and that is what you fall for. You start to believe this is the future and it actually might be one day. And that is some scary stuff...
The set was incredible. CGI can only go so far... it amazes me that movies like this were made in the 70s. Of course, Star Wars has to be mentioned here too. And my brother kind of gave a director's commentary to it that made it all that more magical to me. I am not a fan of spaceships with tight air vents... I am a Trekkie at best, wide spaces, spaceships that are practically cars rather than small ships that bring about claustrophobia. For example, I can't watch Gravity (2013), the trailer alone made me want to suffocate. It's a problem indeed. However, this movie did it for a different effect, to enhance the difference between us as the capabilities of this creature, to showcase how unprepared they are and it worked very well. (But I do feel sorry for Ben Kerritt for having to crawl in that space with that open flame in his face... mustn't have been fun!) Before ending this short review, I would like to take a minute and remember John Hurt, playing Kane, and Harry Dean Stanton, playing Brett, whom we lost this year. They were wonderful actors and will be remembered!

Watch it? Sure, you haven't yet? Please do and then come and complain to me about how it isn't creepy and I am a little chicken. There is no news there, though, I can assure you. This is a great movie that left me with a lot to think about and maybe just one or two instances with a wtf plus question mark in the end.

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

Dallas - Tom Skerritt
Kane - John Hurt
Ash - Ian Holm
Parker - Yaphet Kotto
Alien - Bolaji Badejo
_ _ _ _

My favorite place on the whole planet is a comic book shop in Rome, Italy, where if you go down the stairs to the American comic books sections you will see Captain America's shield in the wall on the one side, and on the other you'll see above you the alien crawling out from the air vent. That has always been my favorite thing. It definitely added to my fear of this monster, nonetheless, the detail on that statue is something that is breathtaking up close. If you are ever in Rome, make sure you check it out!
Forbidden Planet, Via Pinerolo, 11-15, 00182.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What's Next On My List? The Guardian

Rewatched one of my favorite movies a couple of weeks back and I realized I never wrote about it, so I will do so now because I think there are a few lessons in it that are worth learning.

Ben Randall is a coast guard swimmer who suffers a trauma and loses his crew in a big storm. He is sent back to the academy to teach a class of new coast guard swimmers and there meets Jake Fischer. Jake is a great swimmer, fast, focused, but he is haunted by the ghosts of his past. Once Jake is able to forgive himself and focus on the job at hand is he then able to become the best version of himself. Ben, on the other hand, passes the baton as he swims to his last rescue.

I saw this movie in the theater and loved it immediately. There is something about movies dealing with military, navy, this one is about the coast guard and even movies about the secret service that simply draw me in. America is big on these, but a lot of them lack an actual lesson or moral. 'Suck it up' and 'be tough' is not always a good premise, believe me... But this movie gives you an insight as to why some wish to help others. Superheroes do live among us, let me tell you that, and I bow my head to those who really put up their life every single day to help others. Of course, the history of law enforcement in America is completely different from the rest of the world. It is no wonder that these movies get made there. A story about the military of a country in Europe will either be about a terrible death or it will be boring as hell, no offense. There are exceptions of true heroes that made it home alive, but most of those stories have already been told because we, the viewers/readers are suckers for a good superhero tale. This movie in is about one in the making: Jake.
Now, Jake has lost his friends in a car accident and this has haunted him for the most part of his life. He questions why he was the one to survive, what it all means and sometimes there is no real explanation. We are not taught how to go on living once we lose someone. But if we make the best of the time we are given than I truly believe that each one of us can become a hero. Jake meets someone, falls in love, excels at his work and, in a way, replaces Ben perfectly. There is a lesson here, that we are replaceable, and I don't mean that in a derogative sense. I mean that sometimes we fear letting go because we condition ourselves to believe that without us something bad might happen. That we are essential. We do not like to think that others can do without us. It is a scary thought, isn't it? But life does go on. We are not forgotten, we are not taken for granted, no, the work we do will not have been in vain. Sometimes, however, we do more damage when we don't let go. In the movie there is a seen when Ben freezes because of his post-traumas and deems someone dead, whilst Jake is able to save them. Ben should not have been in the water in the first place. His legacy is not lost and his life is best honored when he decides to stop holding on.

Watch it? I do recommend it. There are multiple story lines and a lot of characters that can teach you a thing or to about trying your hardest and accepting your losses if they come. I personally should learn about this movie and let go of my monsters too, because they are causing more damage than good lately. I do recommend this movie whole-heartedly!

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

Ben Randall Kevin Costner
Jake FischerAshton Kutcher
Helen RandallSela Ward
Emily Thomas Melissa Sagemiller
Capt. William HadleyClancy Brown