Why You Should See Oculus, Even if you Don’t Like Scary Movies

Last Friday, the latest horror movie from the Jason Blum production team (the guys responsible for Insidious, Paranormal Activity, The Purge et. al) hit theatres. That film is called Oculus, and you should go see it. I was lucky enough to see this flick at TIFF’s Midnight Madness last year, and am here to insist you go check it out. Now I must admit, when I bought tickets to see this last October, I had no idea it was a horror movie. I just saw the names Katee Sackhoff and Karen Gillan on the docket, nerded out, and promptly bought tickets. Had I known it was scary, I probably would have hesitated, missed out on tickets and this awesome movie, which would have led to an endless lifetime of kicking myself. And get this: I hate scary movies.

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American Hustle (or, the Golden Globe winning debut of Amy Adams’ sideboob)

Every year I set out to see all of the possible Oscar nominated flicks, and every year I realize that I don’t like being sad all that much, and hate wallowing in white guilt, so I inevitably give up. This year is no different, but I gave up before I even began. I don’t think I could sit through 12 Years a Slave on the big screen without having a complete emotional breakdown (unless I picture Chiwetel Ejiofor as The Operative from Serenity the whole time, but I feel like that would really ruin the whole point of the movie). One movie I have seen from this season’s crop is American Hustle, and damn, is it fantastic.

(sideboob. image courtesy of imdb.com)

(sideboob. image courtesy of imdb.com)

The movie stars Christian Bale as Irving Rosenfeld, a swuave, charming, con-man with an epic combover, who meets Sydner Prosser, (played by Amy Adams (and her sideboob*)) at a pool party and instantly falls in love with her. The pair (along with Amy Adam’s sideboob) join forces in an effort to con a bunch of desperate dudes out of thousands of dollars, with a false promise of a return that will never come. Unfortunately, a con this simple (albeit brilliant) can’t last for long, no matter how great Amy Adam’s British accent is, and how much sideboob she shows.

Enter Richie Dimaso (Bradley Cooper), an FBI agent with a fantastic perm, and a plan. Using Rosenfeld’s brains and Prosser’s sideboob, he wants to set up a sting to take down dirty politicians. Knowing it’s their only option to avoid arrest, the pair play along. Over time, Dimaso’s plan grows exponentially, as do their problems. I should take this opportunity to mention that while he’s gallavanting around with Sydney (and her sideboob), Irving is married with a son. His wife Rosalyn (played by the phenomenal Jennifer Lawrence), knows what Irving does for a living, and while she doesn’t know specifics, and always seems to be a dirty martini away from going completely off the rails, she knows enough to be potentially damaging to the con. Add her insanity to the looming threat from the mob, and the fact that they’re criminals working for the feds, well, Irving and Sydney have to figure out a way to come out of this on top.

I loved this flick. And the more I think about it, the more impressed I am. The movie was not at all what I expected. The trailers make the it out to be a fast paced, heist-y affair; like Ocean’s Eleven with a perm. This is not really the case. I really hesitate to use the term “slower than expected” when describing American Hustle, because attributing the term “slow” to a movie seems like a negative connotation. Like saying a beer is bitter, or chocolate is chalky – it makes it sound undesirable. But you know what, some of the best beer is bitter, quality dark chocolate is chalky, and American Hustle is a brilliant, slower, movie.

The slower pace doesn’t come from a dragging plot; the story moves along just fine. But it also takes pause to turn these four, strange people, into fully developed, beautifully tragic characters. And the actors bring them to life with charm and grace. Christian Bale completely disappears into Irving, and not just because of the physical changes from Batman (Bale put on a sexy 40 pounds for the role). His performance is so… all encompassing, that I’ve talked to people that didn’t even realize it was him until it was pointed out.

It’s really the women of the movie that take the cake (and the Golden Globes Sunday night). Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Rosalyn is gorgeous. The character is a little unhinged, slightly intoxicated, and is susceptible to bouts of hysteria. This could easily make her gratingly annoying, or turn her into a poor man’s Karen Walker (because anyone’s Karen Walker would be poor unless they’re Megan Mullaly. Which J-Law is not). But Lawrence manages to find a layer of vulnerability amidst the funny, that makes the audience want to hug her, while cringing the second she comes on screen because you know something could potentially go wrong at any second.

Amy Adams does a similar thing with Sydney. As a lady con artist, Sydney is a woman who has reinvented herself after being broken by the world one too many times. She is hardened, she is clever, but Adams gives her so much depth, and so many layers, that there are moments you can see that she is one catastrophe away from being broken all over again. Plus her sideboob is bangin’. I’d like to note, that I only mention her boobs excessively because I am jealous that she a) has the confidence and b) has the rack, to wear those plunging neck lines the whole movie. Amy Adams is a rockstar.

Then there’s Bradley Cooper, who, since Alias, I have a hard time seeing as anyone but Will Tippin. Even if he is rockin’ a late 70s perm. What can I say? I latch on and refuse to let go. Case and point: I saw Elisabeth Moss‘ win at the Globes last night as a win for the Bartlett family. I have problems and should probably seek counselling. Don’t get me wrong, his perfomance is wonderful, I’m just ridiculous.

Jeremy Renner is delightful as well as the corrupt mayor, Carmine Polito, Louis C.K. is hilarious as Dimaso’s FBI boss, and the rest of the supporting cast sells the story and the era flawlessly.

While this is the only “Award Season” movie I’ve seen so far, I can hardly say “this is the one to see” with any credibility. But I can say that American Hustle is a wonderful movie. The story is great, the characters are fantastic, and the actors blow the whole thing out of the water. If you get a chance, check this flick out. And be sure to throw it some love in your Oscar pool, because these guys will definitely deliver.

*I’ve had a discussion with my male friends over whether or not Amy Adam is showing gratuitous sideboob or cleavage during this film. They all ruled on the side of cleavage, but I prefer the term sideboob so I stuck with it. Suck it.

Date Night Movie: Don Jon

As two bartenders in the same bar, it’s very rare that my boyfriend and I get a night off together. Extremely rare I’d even say. So when one of these ellusive nights off occur, we like to do one of two things. We either order in an obsene amount of food, watch terrible TV and play video games, or we go see a movie. Since I’m sure no one wants to hear about how much Chinese food two nerds can eat during a Grand Theft Auto binge session, I’ll be writing a lot about the movies.

While the boyfriend (I know everyone reading this knows me, or us, personally, but in case there are some strangers out there I’m going to leave him anonymous until he gives me permission to do otherwise) and I are very similar, when it comes to movies we do have slightly different tastes. He lives under the philosophy that more explosions means a better movie, while I enjoy a more subtle approach to my film making. However, we do always agree on a comedy, which is how we decided to go see Don Jon last week. That was a long winded intro.

Don Jon (2013)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore)
Written By: Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Directed By: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

(image courtesy of screenslam.com)

(image courtesy of screenslam.com)

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I’m resisting the urge to title this “Super 8 was Super”, because it was, but that’s just lame.

To say I’ve been excited for Super 8 for a while would be a vast understatement. I have been dying to see this movie since it was announced. I love me some JJ Abrams, I love me some Spielberg, I love me some monsters running rampant through a small town… there really wasn’t anything about this movie that could have gone wrong in my eyes. So when I finally got to see it last week, I was actually a little nervous it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Turns out I had absolutely nothing to worry about. This flick was everything I wanted it to be… everything I needed it be and more. Awesome story, stellar acting (the cast actually blew me away) and it was pure Abrams. I loved it.


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Apologies and Coming Attractions

Once again, I have fallen incredibly behind on everything this blog was supposed to accomplish. Since I last wrote season finales have come and gone, I’ve finished 4 novels, cooked up a storm with amazing, shareable recipes, and still, I have not found the time to write about any of it. This time, however, I do have a valid excuse: My computer basically imploded on me two weeks ago and updating from a blackberry is way too much work for my poor little thumbs. So, I have been living in the stone age of no computers (or as our parents call it, their childhood) for the past 2 and a half weeks and have fallen gravely behind on all things blog related. To further illustrate my computer related pain, I’m currently writing on an iBook so old that it can’t load twitter. At all.

That being said, I have come to deliver not only apologies (I’m sorry your life has been so empty without my witty pop culture banter), but a list of things to come. Since I haven’t had a tool for writing the blog on, I’ve been devising a list of what I’ll write about when my computer is safely returned (hopefully with the hard drive in tact) from the lovely people at the Mac store. I must say, it’s funny how not being able to write really motivates you to want to write more… hopefully this motivation sticks around when I get my computer back and the return of constant internet doesn’t just lead to excessive facebook stalking. I mean… I don’t do that.

Anyways, here’s what’s coming your way:

  • As far as TV goes, I do want to do a post-mortem on the season as a whole for each show, as well as take a look at how awesome (Castle) or awful (Glee) the finale was.
  • With summer upon us, True Blood has returned, and I’ll be doing my best to keep up with that this season. I’ve also created a list of shows to watch/catch up on this summer (if you have any recommendations, bring ‘em) so expect some winning commentary on those as well.
  • In my computer free time, I’ve been catching up on a lot of reading. With almost 4 novels and a handful of comic books done in the past month, expect several book reviews as well as a little something I’m devising regarding comic books you should read if you don’t want to read comic books (also looking for advise on that one… Mitch and Sam I’m looking at you).
  • I’ve also been trying to get some cooking in, so hopefully some new recipes will be coming your way in the near future as well.
  • I’ve been doing my best to stay on top of movies lately, and while I’ve seen Scream 4 and Suckerpunch, I feel like the boat has sailed on timely reviews for those two. However, I’ve also got X-Men: First Class and Thor in my recently viewed folder, so expect reviews on those shortly as well as one on Super 8 which I’m seeing on Wednesday (SO EXCITED).

Yes, I’ve committed myself to a lot here, and given my track record I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re laughing at me right now for biting off more than I can chew. But my New Years Resolution was to write more, and it upsets me how miserably I’ve been failing at this goal. But now that work is starting to settle and my personal life is less of a shit show, I’m hoping for more writing time and am going to do everything in my power to ensure I give myself that hour every day to put pen to paper and churn out something worth reading.

Consider this a mid-year resolution; a recommitment to those promises I scribbled down in January. I like writing this thing, and from what I understand there are a handful (albeit small handful) of people who read this nonsense. So for me and for that small handful, I will do my best to keep up with the film and TV happenings of the world, and continue to exercise my writing chops… mostly so when my parents ask what I’m doing with my life I can point to this rather than my green apron hanging in the corner of the kitchen.

Maybe I’ll also start a “Starbucks Nightmare” series… but I’m pretty sure Howard and his minions would sue my ass faster than you can say, “trenta is a ridiculous idea for a beverage size”.

Limitless

Studies show that humans only use a small fraction of their brain, but what could you accomplish if you could access all of it? This is the question posed by the surprisingly good flick, Limitless. Bradley Cooper is Eddie, an unemployable, homeless looking “writer”, who suffers from a dilapidating case of writer’s block. After his girlfriend leaves him, Eddie is on his way to rock bottom when he runs into his ex-brother in law, Vernon. Vernon sees how down Eddie is, and offers him a solution to his problems: a clear, round pill. As there isn’t much going on his life, and he doesn’t have much to lose, Eddie takes it. Suddenly, his world is brighter, sharper; he’s able to write the first chunk of his novel, clean his apartment, and screw his landlord’s wife, all in one hit.

Of course deals like this don’t come without consequences. Soon Eddie finds himself in the middle of something much bigger than your run of the mill drug world. And while the pills continue to help him climb to the top of the business world, there are people who want him brought down. Of course, let’s not forget the side effects of the pills themselves, which contributes just as much trouble to Eddie’s increasingly crazy life.

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“Aside from the fact that it’s been hugely mean spirited with mildly sinister undertones, I’d say the vibe of the show’s been pretty good, wouldn’t you?” Golden Globes 2011

I love the Golden Globes. I really do. They’re the one awards show (that counts…) where TV and Movies come to celebrate everything great that has been accomplished  in entertainment over the year. Since they’re not as important as The Oscars or The Emmys, everyone is a little more relaxed, the atmosphere is a little more casual and they’re generally just a lot of fun. Sunday night, Ricky Gervais hosted 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, and while it wasn’t as much fun as it should have been, and there were some definite upsets and not enough of the host, I still enjoyed the show. For the most part.

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