Thursday, July 9, 2020

What's Next On My List? Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind

For this summer season, I am going to go back to old movies. The quarantine left many looking for new content, I, on the other hand, went back and wanted to re-watch some movies that I was fond of but never got around to seeing again. A story can be very different if you grow up, if you experience life, if you are no longer just looking for a "happy ending" but for the story that leads there. I decided to talk a bit about all those movies that I re-watched during the quarantine, and will keep on watching this summer. Yes, it is good to have new content to watch, but certain films really merit another look.


The story of game show impresario Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell), who is recruited by the C.I.A., through Jim Byrd (George Clooney), to become a hitman and use his TV cover to travel around the world in the Cold War period.

It has been quite few years since I watched this movie. But there are a couple of things I noticed back then that still hold true today, so I would like to share them with you in this small post, and allow me to recommend this movie to you, if in any case it has not reached you under the rock where you live. One, George Clooney is a far better director, than he is an actor. Don't get me wrong, he is very talented, but he insists on serious roles, and I wish he would just be fun and easy, because even a Nespresso trailer shows wider range from him. And so far, any movie he worked on behind the camera has received much deserved attention. He does deserve every praise he receives for directing, writing and producing. Two, the star of this movie, Sam Rockwell, despite that Oscar, I fear is still too underrated. He is probably the best actor of my time and just a full blown star. He has played real life people several times now during his career, and everytime I forget that I am watching him. He has a very peculiar face, and yet, he is a total chameleon. I was blown away by his performance in this movie, and have been following his career since. Cannot wait to see what is next for him! And three... real stories are the most interesting. I deal with representation in popular culture, and of course, I know far too well, that Hollywood is in the business of making stories digestible, but if the original story does not make it possible, neither can the writers get creative with it. It is incredible to see the life of a spy, the idea alone gives goosebumps, but the way it was delivered was remarkable. The movie jumps back and forth in time, among undercover operations, and the weight of taking a life, even if it is for your country.

Watch it? Be ready, it is a serious film, with a couple of twists, that will leave you wondering if you are seeing right, or imagining things along with the main character. BUt this is one story that you want to know about, trust me.

Until the next item on my list!

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What's Next On My List? Little Italy

Along with a series of old favorites, I am also trying to keep up with new things coming out. Well, this is going to be one of those rage entries that, is put on paper because somebody has to say out loud if a movie should not exist under any circumstance. So here we go:
Little Italy (2018)

Nikki (Emma Roberts) goes back to her old neighborhood before moving away for good to work for the chef she trained under. Once home, she meets her childhood best friend Leo (Hayden Christensen) and the two connect, despite their families fighting over who has the best pizza place in the street. Whether or not they are allowed to be together, is up to them.

OK, I hated this movie with every fiber in me. I am not even going to try to be nice to it. First of all, it is a Romeo & Juliet adaptation, of course, except the two grandparents who find each other shared more chemistry on screen (even in the terrible product placement Starbucks scene, of which one was just not enough...), than the main characters. Second, who died Hayden Christensen's hair? Just fire that person retrospectively, because why was that necessary?! Three, how did this movie manage to offend Italian-Americans, British people, Asian minorities and gays within the same 90 minutes is outstanding to me. This should be called "Stereotypes: the movie". Nobody is allowed any growth as characters, nobody learns their lesson, nobody gets from A to B. There is only one single attempt at a character showcasing any kind of positive change, when Leo's friend Luigi reveals that he thinks of himself as Italian because his family did not want him when he came out as gay. And I felt that scene to be very strong, and I did not think the movie was going to allow for any depth (besides the importance of pizza!!!!!), and it seemed that we are finally getting somewhere, but then 1, Luigi gropes his best friend... and 2, he also falls in love with the only one other OBVIOUSLY gay character thrown in at the end of the movie and just... JUST DO BETTER MOVIE, YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS.
I did not care if these two were going to become a couple, because they forgot to show us why I should care. They did not give a shit, about the feud among their parents, they were completely untouched by the events unfolding around them, again, the grandparents showcased more emotions in fewer scenes, and the outcome was the dumbest twist in the history of movies... I just don't understand how this movie happened. Of the most disturbing scenes, the worst was one police officer, who started to literally grope Leo in the middle of the street, as a sign of assurance to the fact that apparently if it is men who are sexually objectified and assaulted, than it is "ha-ha" for some reason. Yes, we get it, everyone in the neighborhood is in love with Leo, show that in some other way than by physical assault by a person of authority.

Watch it? NO. I had to, because I am writing my dissertation on the representation of Italian-Americans in Hollywood, and this is literally what we call "research", but I wished this movie had never seen the light of day, especially because I love every actor in it and they deserve better, than whatever paycheck they got for this offensive piece of shit. And before you tell me that I am biased, I am really not. I decided to go into it with an open mind, but I was let down even more than I thought I would after the trailer. How can a movie like this happen in 2018... just do better Hollywood, do effing better.

Until the next item on my list!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What's Next On My List? UglyDolls

Along with a series of old favorites, I am also trying to keep up with new things coming out. I am already a year late watching this movie, but oh my, I am so happy I finally got around to it. And I highly disagree with the rating of the film so I am gonna get you all to watch it again!
UglyDolls (2019)

Moxy (Kelly Clarkson), along with a few of her friends, travels to the world adjacent to theirs, so she can be adopted by a child and make their life full. A seemingly perfect doll, Lou (Nick Jonas), however, stands in her way, claming that she is in fact ugly, just does not know it, and children do not want ugly toys.

I saw the bad rating on imdb and I just... was it just the lack of proper marketing? This little movie has everything I ever wanted in a kids movie. The animation is wonderful, the characters are wholesome (and cuddly), the songs are not forced, and they have a great messages, not to mention the star studded cast, the wonderfully positioned comical moments, and finally the perfect twist at the end of the story. I cannot think of one thing that I did not love in this story. I do believe that the make over song, that really sings about how you are already beautiful and should make yourself pretty for yourself and no one else, has the best message. My favorite character was Giberish Cat, who has a literal name, and he just appeared out of nowhere and he got me laughing so hard I started to cry. And of course the best part of the story is how we all love the ugly dolls more than the perfect Barbi like ones that are being brainwashed into having the same personality. I have seen a lot of kids movies, but none of them hit all the right marks with me the way this one did. It is really... outstanding.

Please go watch it. I swear, the ratings are lying to you. If there are any kids movies your children should be learning self love from, it is this one. And the story has a few jokes just for the adult viewer, and they will not be disappointed, I promise!

Until the next item on my list!

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

What's Next On My List? Murder Mystery

Along with a series of old favorites, I am also trying to keep up with new things coming out. I am already a year late watching this movie, but oh my, I am so happy I finally got around to it. And I highly disagree with the rating of the film so I am gonna get you all to watch it again!

The Spitzes, Nick (Adam Sandler) and Audrey (Jennifer Aniston) travel to Europe for their honeymoon - that they forgot to celebrate 15 years earlier -, and on the plane ride over meet a fascinating man, Charles Cavendish (Luke Evans), who finds himself in the middle of a soap-opera-like love triangle, that will also define if he inherits anything from his uncle. After a series of murders the Spitzes find themselves being blamed for each victim, and they have to solve the case themselves.

OK, right off the bet, I just love the title. Every good crime book that actually made it to world-wide fame, had either murder or mystery in its title in some way, so this is just fun. Now, the story had a great twist, the clues were there in front of us, but the movie wanted us to put it together with the main characters. And well, you might say that the detective and his wife who loves crime novels should not be able to solve this case -- but listen to yourself, he is a detective (!) --, and you see, the killer was also not a mastermind, just a bit smarter than the others involved in the crime. So next to the awesome plot and twist at the end of the story, it had a wonderful casting. You don't really know if two people will have chemistry until they are in front of the camera, and I was surprised how well this cast did and I was happy someone put them together. And the characters they played were both funny and intriguing. Yes, Aniston is a 10/10, which played to the favor of the movie, as instead of incredibly standing out in this crowd of rich people, she actually made them look like they belonged even if they were not "royalty". You understand her love for her husband and also her curiosity for something more in the world, and how that curiosity got them into this mess. The only thing that this movie lacked was MORE David Walliams! He was the most awesome character and I was so sad when he died (whoops spoiler...), so yeah, if you have him in your cast, you should make sure he gets as much screen time as possible. 

Watch it? Please do. Every once in a while Adam Sandler does something that has no toilet humor and he just knocks it out of the park for me. Not to mention that I am on board with any movie he has together with Aniston. Overall, I am happy that I watched this movie much later, because I was in the right mood for it and wanted desperately to get out of my apartment, and this story got me out of my living room: I laughed a lot, I was surprised and just entertained altogether. It is definite must watch during the summer!

Until the next item on my list!

Friday, June 12, 2020

What's Next On My List? Evening

For this summer season, I am going to go back to old movies. The quarantine left many looking for new content, I, on the other hand, went back and wanted to re-watch some movies that I was fond of but never got around to seeing again. A story can be very different if you grow up, if you experience life, if you are no longer just looking for a "happy ending" but for the story that leads there. I decided to talk a bit about all those movies that I re-watched during the quarantine, and will keep on watching this summer. Yes, it is good to have new content to watch, but certain films really merit another look.

Evening (2007)

A drama exploring the romantic past and emotional present of Ann Lord (Vanessa Redgrave) and her daughters, Constance Haverford (Natasha Richardson) and Nina Mars (Toni Collette). As Ann lays dying, she remembers, and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life fifty years ago, when she was a young woman (Claire Danes). Harris Arden (Patrick Wilson) is the man Ann loves in the 1950s and never forgets.

I have watched this movie almost as soon as it was available and I was blown away. I know that I am not a mother of two, with failed marriages, someone who lost the love of her life at a young age or any of those traumas that this strong woman went through in her life. Yet, somehow, that feeling of having one night of your life stay with you for forever is one that I believe in. I have had countless nights that I forgot, but then again, they did not involve the death of someone special... And I am yet to see what will come back to me on my deathbed, but there is something about the adventure that is "life"... for the daughters of Ann it might seem strange that their mother is thinking of a moment that was prior to them being born, but in fact, that might be the reason her life was shaped as it was. I also understood the struggle of her daughters, one that is happily married, and another that refuses to grow up... they were the biggest fears that Ann also had to face. These two sisters seem each other's opposite, yet they share enough to have eternal love for each other. Ann thinks of herself as a bad mother, but she gave the love she could not give to Harris to her daughters and this is just one of the hundreds of aspect and lessons that this movie teaches. Every time I re-watch it I focus on another character and to see this vibrant independent woman breaking with traditions in the 50s, unafraid of what is come... and she is just one of six incredibly well written characters who go on quite a journey in just two hours. 

Watch it? I do believe that when I think of people who make Hungary proud, director Lajos Koltai is definitely up there. Rarely do I advertise where I from, because we are mostly known for terrible political decisions, but sometimes a couple of  remarkable artists make it to worldwide fame, and he is definitely one of them. This is one of those movies that has something for everyone. And well, if you see it again and again over larger periods, it is gonna give you even more!

Until the next item on my list!