Movies

Pépé le Moko (1937)

Image missing because my video card decided today would be its last day of service so I’m not able to grab a good enough shot to do this post justice. Instead, just imagine a close up of a man standing face to face with a beautiful woman in an old black and white french movie.

I’ve been agonizing over whether I should write anything about this movie or not. Pépé le Moko is a classic film noir, gangster movie that was influential in creating the anti-hero archetype. It cemented Jean Gabin as one of the greatest male leads of the time in France and his character was the inspiration for Pépé Le Pew. Movies like this almost seem untouchable for a review. I didn’t go to film school or study film history in depth, I’m just someone who watches movies for my own enjoyment . So for this review, that’s just what I’ll do… I’ll talk about my enjoyment of this movie.

I didn’t hate it and I didn’t love it, I’m just completely neutral. Some scenes hit their mark, but I had a huge problem investing in the “romance”. I understand this was made 80 years ago and things were different back then, but I just can’t support a romance where the man says something like, “A pity I don’t know you better so I could smack you one.” Yeah he’s the anti-hero, but this has nothing to do with being an anti-hero character it was just how women were treated back then. I think that line made it too hard for me to care for him as a person and as a result I couldn’t invest in his struggles. Jean Gabin was great in this role though… he really brought the character to life. When he gets mad and starts yelling, that is acting to rival anything you’d see in movies today, I absolutely loved it.

Storywise, I went in a little too cold with this movie so I didn’t even know what it was about and that caused me to be somewhat confused at the beginning. They start right up with Pépé being a wanted criminal and you don’t get to see what he did or what got everyone to where they are now. It took me awhile to figure out who everyone was and what they were trying to do. This might end up being better on a second viewing since I won’t be so confused, but it did hamper my enjoyment this time around. I might’ve liked to see an opening scene of Pépé committing some crimes or something along those lines just to introduce him and give me a real sense of who the police are after.

If you like classic movies then at least give this one a shot because I don’t think you’ll hate it. If you come armed with a little knowledge about the movie, and a longer attention span than I have, I dare say you might actually like it.

Verdict: 7/10 Pepé le Meh

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Anime, Movies

A Silent Voice (2016)

a_silent_voiceIt’s finally happened! I’ve watched an anime that I actually liked! I’m ashamed that I’ve had this movie queued up for so long because this is the best anime I’ve seen in at least the past year. A Silent Voice is about a teenage boy trying to find redemption after bullying a deaf girl as a child. This story isn’t something I can remember seeing before in an anime or even in a live action movie and I enjoyed it a lot.

I loved how the bullying felt so realistic because it didn’t just start out with the group picking on her, but it developed gradually as they got more fed up. You could see how Ishida, the main character, would do or say something then look for approval from his friends, and once he got that approval things escalated quickly. Most of the reactions of the characters felt so grounded in reality that never once did I roll my eyes and think, “That would never happen.” I will immediately contradict myself though and say there was one part in the movie that was so anime cliche that steam started coming out of my ears. Why does every anime assume that girls always look at other girls’ breasts and want to touch them? I am actually female and I can guarantee I never once discussed the size of another girls’ breasts at school or even entertain the idea of groping them. Can we please just stop with this stupid anime trope? That one cringe inducing scene aside, this movie deals with bullying in a different way by following the bully instead of the victim. I found it very refreshing and it gives you a chance to really step back and look at both sides. Is this guy unworthy of redemption for something he did as a kid? Can people ever really change? Would you forgive your childhood bully? All these questions ran through my head as I was watching this and I love a movie that can pull me in so deeply.

The part that stands out the most for me is that one of the main characters is deaf. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a deaf anime character before, and if I have, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one where they use sign language. I thought that aspect of it was awesome and it really warmed my heart when some of the kids wanted to learn it so they could talk to her easier. I loved her character because they really took the time to flesh her out. You get the sense that she believes she’s a burden to everyone around her and that’s why she always feels the needs to apologize and not complain. It’s heartbreaking as you learn more about her struggles and there were definitely more than a few times that this movie made me cry.

This is a gorgeous movie with an excellent, moving story that anyone who is a fan of anime should check out. I wish they’d keep making movies like this because I’d love to get back into anime again. Check this one out, if you like anime or not, it is definitely worth your time.

Verdict: 8.8/10 I knew that wasn’t a boy!

Movies

The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster is a sci-fi movie set in a world where everyone must be paired up at all times. If you’re single you’re brought to a “Hotel” where you can meet a partner… or be turned into an animal if you don’t. Loners are the scum of the earth: police are constantly asking them for papers, they’re tranquilized and captured like wild animals, and they’re turned into wild animals if they don’t find partners.  In this extremely weird world, we follow a newly single man into the hotel where we learn about the rules and consequences of this society. Scene by scene we’re fed more information until, by the end of the movie, we finally feel like we have the whole picture. There are essentially 3 different sections of society: the Hotel, the City and the Woods. The Hotel is for loners looking for partners, the City is for partners, and the Woods is for loners who want to stay alone. This movie manages to take us through all 3 sections so we can see how each of them live and how each of them might feel about the society as a whole. It also allows the audience to form their own opinions about each of the sections.

While the structure of the story was the strongest part of the movie, I did have problems with some of its details. The first is that I don’t really understand why they had to be turned into animals. It brings up a lot of unanswered questions for me, like are all animals on earth former humans? If that’s the case, then whenever we eat a lobster or cow are we really eating people? Do the animals have memories of their past human lives? One scene in the movie suggests that they do retain some memories which makes the prospect of us eating people even more disturbing. How can a camel survive in the woods? Why would a person want to be a lobster when obviously it’d be cooler to be a bird since you can fly? I wish I knew the answers to these questions, but sadly I’ll never find out. Just like I’ll never find out what happens to the main characters because the movie just ends. I’m really getting tired of movies that end with ambiguity and unanswered questions. I can appreciate this in the right movie, but I don’t feel like this movie deserved that kind of ending. You don’t know for sure whether he’ll end up with her or not. For me it doesn’t work because the movie never played with the “will they, won’t they” story element. It’s sort of tacked on for a cheap ending. Sometimes I don’t always want to make up my own ending for movies, I want to watch the ending that the director envisioned. When the scene cut back to the woman sitting in the booth I had this feeling the movie might be ending and then I saw the black credit screen and I was just more upset than anything.

Aside from the ending and unanswered questions, my other problem with this movie is the fact that it’s supposed to be a dark comedy. I didn’t actually realize this until I finished the movie and was reading other reviews. All these reviews were harping on how funny it was and that’s when I looked back and realized that I didn’t laugh once. I legitimately thought it was a serious movie. I can see scenes that were probably supposed to be funny, but it didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, comedy is very subjective, but as a dark comedy this movie missed the mark which might be a problem since it’s supposed to provide some satirization of our own society and satire generally implies humor.

Lastly, in rapid fire, here are more things I just didn’t enjoy about this movie. I didn’t enjoy the way the lines were delivered, the bluntness of what they were saying, the narration, the fact that a near sighted person can only be with another near sighted person, the weird no masturbation rules at the hotel, and the weird grinding of the men to get them all excited. This movie has some interesting ideas, but nothing felt fleshed out enough for me to really get invested in it. I watched the entire thing but I don’t think I’d ever re-watch or recommend it.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs less bad omen dog killing and more Léa Seydoux being French

Movies

Love is in the Air

So it just happened to work out that the next two movies I watched were both romances. Unfortunately that’s where the similarities ended as they couldn’t have been executed more differently. One turned out mindblowingly well and the other left me wondering why I even bothered to watch it.

Room in Rome (2010)

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Room in Rome is about two women who spend the night together in a room… in Rome. I heard about it from a list of movies to watch on Netflix (that have sex in them). This was one of the few that caught my attention so I decided to give it a go. The whole premise of this movie is that these two women fall in love during that one night. There were parts of the romance that felt genuine but then the next scene would undercut it with either bad dialogue or just bizarre character actions. Case in point, nothing in the movie was surreal or hallucinatory up until the very end when Alba gets shot in the heart with an arrow. I understand they were trying to go for a cupid type thing, but it’s too late in the movie to change things up that drastically. The movie was artsy up to that point, but everything was very much real. I lost any emotion I was feeling for the characters and just kind of laughed to myself. The absolute worst, most laughable part of the movie was when Alba tells Max that Natacha is a tennis player and tells Alba that he should check her arms to see if one is stronger than the other. That has to be the laziest way to find out more about a character. Alba just guessed tennis player out of every profession in the world? Clearly the only way to check for tennis players is to compare their arms because no other profession in the world would cause that. Do football players and pitchers have one arm bigger than the other too? Maybe she’s a professional softball pitcher. Give me a break, I’m not going to suspend my disbelief enough for that one.

I was in the perfect frame of mind to invest in this story. I’ve been in situations where I’m with someone and have to leave knowing I won’t see them again. I know how heart wrenching it can be, but they never built the romance up enough for it to work. I couldn’t see how the two of them would ever make it work and I felt like the only reason they didn’t want to leave the room was so they didn’t have to go back to their lives. I don’t believe for a minute that Natacha would leave her fiance for a woman since she was so against it for the first half of the movie. Obviously a few short orgasms is enough to change someone’s mind. Straight my whole life, but sure I’ll switch teams and destroy my life for a person I barely know. The only reason anyone seems to promote this movie is because of the sex and nudity. Without that, it’s a completely uncompelling story and I don’t know why I even bothered to finish it. Blue Is the Warmest Color did everything much better: longer sex scenes, straight and lesbian scenes, more authenticate romance, sadder break up,  and more interesting characters.

Verdict: 5/10 – Watch porn instead


Once (2007)

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Once is about a man who meets a woman while he’s playing guitar on the streets. They start spending time together and she ends up helping him professionally record his music. The entire movie is scored with the most beautiful soundtrack I’ve heard in years. I hadn’t even heard of this movie until a few days ago. I had finished watching Moulin Rouge! and saw this on a list of best music movies. After scrolling through, this one stood out to me and seemed to have decent comments. I was skeptical for the first few minutes and wasn’t really paying attention. That is until the man starts to play Say it to Me Now. Half way through it picks up and once I heard it, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t take my eyes or ears off the movie from that point on. The music just blew my mind, so much so that I’m listening to the soundtrack as I’m writing this. The man and woman in the movie have great musical chemistry and their songs are so beautifully sad and romantic.

Aside from the musical aspect of the movie, the romance is subtle but so present. It’s always there beneath the surface but never spoken about. It seems the two of them enter the friend zone when it’s so easy to see they both want to be with each other. Something is just holding them back from making a move. When she tells him she loves him in Czech it just broke my heart. She didn’t even have it in her to see him off before he left for Dublin. Compared to Room in Rome, I absolutely believe this romance and understand why their parting was so difficult. This movie didn’t have the allure of sex to draw in viewers, it relied on the music and story to spread the word. It’s 9 years later, and it definitely worked on me.

The premise reminds me of Before Sunrise where the two characters are together for a short time and don’t end up together. A sequel worked great for that movie, and I think it’d be perfect here as well. I’d love to see how the man’s music career turns out and see what becomes of the woman and her life. Sequel or not, this one tops my romance list and this soundtrack just made it into my music library.

Verdict: 9/10 – You’ll be falling slowly in love with this movie

Movies, TV

Catching Up

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t felt the desire to really put my thoughts about what I’m watching into words. Not to say I haven’t watched things lately that weren’t worth writing about. I’ve slowed down a lot on movies, but I’ve watched some great TV Shows. I’ll do another quick fire of things I’ve watched recently to get my juices flowing. Then the next movie I plan to watch, At Once, will hopefully have something worth writing a full post about.

The Newsroom (2012)

This is a TV Show that aired on HBO for 2.5 seasons. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I actually couldn’t make myself stop watching it. I watched the first season and a half in just 2 days. I thought the premise to try and run a news broadcast that focuses on the news and not ratings was interesting because I hate watching the news for that exact reason. I immediately fell in love with the ideas, the characters and the dialogue. I’m a fan of the fast talking sarcastic quips they do fairly often. I laughed a lot and ended up caring about almost every character on the show. Season 2 was brilliantly laid out and made it so I had no choice but to keep watching. They start off somewhere in the middle of the season’s plot and then fill in the pieces with each episode until you’re caught up. I watched the first episode and just had to know what could’ve possibly happened that was so bad. Season 3 took a little bit of a dive with the first 2 episodes feeling dull, and the series finale wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t that great. If they were able to do a full last season and finish it off stronger I would have given it a perfect score. It’s definitely worth a watch, just make sure you have a couple hours set aside cause you won’t be able to watch just one episode.

Verdict: 9(.5)/10 


carolCarol (2016)

I absolutely loved this movie, it’s now one of my favorites and is on my regular re-watch list. I’ve seen it twice and am probably going to go for a 3rd watch soon. Maybe tonight because writing about it makes me want to see it again. It was so beautiful and restrained, nothing felt forced or unrealistic. It was slow but it sucked me in completely. Carol is kind, sophisticated and knows what she wants. There is something about her that just draws you in and it’s easy to see how Therese felt drawn to her. The movie had ups and downs that kept me emotionally invested and I felt so much throughout the entire movie. That feeling of thinking you found something special and then having it ripped away from you is devastating. I don’t want to say too much on the plot cause I think not knowing how it turns out really amplifies every decision the characters make and leaves you in suspense. It’s one of my top favorite romance movies and 100% recommend it.

Verdict: 9/10


hushHush (2016)

This is a horror movie where the main protagonist is both deaf and mute. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. As far as thriller/horror movies go, this is one of the most suspenseful and thrilling ones I’ve seen. I really wanted the main character, Maddie, to succeed and get out of there alive. Every scene is straight out of all the other horror movies out there, but it’s elevated to a new level when we know she can’t hear anything. He could be coming up behind her and she would never know it. When she’s trying to be quiet walking on the roof, she doesn’t know if she’s making lots of noise or not. That unknown makes it all the more suspenseful. Not to mention the fact that they inject some realism into the story with her not being able to load the crossbow.  Great, she got a weapon, but she’s still just a regular person and didn’t immediately become some badass who can shoot a man with a crossbow from across the room. Not that I don’t love that, but when I don’t have to suspense my disbelief as much, I enjoy movies a lot more. This one is on Netflix and is definitely worth the time.

Verdict: 9/10


10_cloverfiled_lane.jpg10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

As I was writing my other reviews, I realized a common actor among them–John Gallagher Jr.. He was in the Newsroom, Hush and in this review’s movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane. This is a “sequel but not really” to Cloverfield which I liked a lot when it came out. I didn’t know much about the movie before I started watching it and felt myself getting frustrated wondering when the Cloverfield things were going to start happening. So much so, that I almost couldn’t finish the movie because I thought it was crap and a waste of time. So I paused it, went over to IMDb and realized that it’s a standalone movie that merely exists in the same universe as the other. Once I understood that, it became a lot better of a movie. It was suspenseful and mysterious. I kept going back and forth in my mind wondering if John Goodman was telling the truth or if he was lying to keep her imprisoned. If it were me in that situation, I wouldn’t want to believe him because all I could think is that I’d end up as some idiot who was tricked into living in a bunker for 10 years. Momma didn’t raise no fool, so I really felt her predicament. On the flip side,  I’m really crushing on John Gallagher Jr. now. He was so sweet in this movie as Emmett and in the Newsroom. Ok sure, he was like a serial killer in Hush… but he was also in Short Term 12 which was an equally amazing movie. It all balances out in the end and I loved his character in this movie. When Emmett, let’s just say, was no longer part of the movie my jaw hit the floor. I love when movies have balls and just shock me with a plot decision. Overall, this was a really cool standalone movie that I will definitely re-watch.

Verdict: 8/10


And lastly, one sentence verdicts on some of the other movies I feel deserve a shout out.

10.000 km (2014) – Another great romance movie, except the characters start out in love and the movie progresses from there. Verdict: 8/10

Victoria (2015) – A 2h 18m movie all done in 1 continuous shot with strong characters and plot. Verdict: 7/10

Moulin Rouge! (2001) – A loud, obnoxious, annoying movie with weak characters and plot. Verdict: 5/10

Ant-Man (2015) – Pretty boring super hero movie that was lacking something that I just can’t put my finger on. Verdict: 5/10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Great movie but needs a re-cut without the Mr. Yunioshi scenes… Verdict: 8/10

Movies

The Best of Youth (2003) Part 2

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What a movie. I am actually amazed that a movie like this could have ever been made. Throughout the entire 6 hour runtime, this movie never dragged or had me looking at my watch. Now I normally give away free spoilers without a care in the world but I wouldn’t feel right this time. If you plan on watching this movie then just stop reading now.

Ok… now that they’re gone, here is why I think this movie is brilliant. I didn’t see Matteo’s suicide coming at all. When he jumped off the balcony my jaw literally dropped in shock and after thinking about it some more I kind of realized that was how his family felt. They didn’t see it coming and were in just as much shock when it happened. I didn’t really even believe it or process it until his brother, sister and mom were walking outside his apartment and started crying. It was amazing how much the movie managed to pull me in and feel how the characters felt. Another great decision they made was to do it about half way through the second half. I looked at the time and thought how will they do the rest of the movie without him? You got so used to him being in the movie and expected him to be there to the end much like his family expected. I don’t normally analyze movies like this, but this was done so perfectly I can’t help it.

Another thing I really admired was how Nicola set Giulia up to be caught by the police so she wouldn’t kill anybody. He really did love her and only wanted the best for her, it’s too bad she didn’t see it. I hated her character for most of the movie, but I guess she is just as human as anyone else… she was so lucky to have a daughter that was willing to forgive her. Her character arc came to an end with her playing the piano for her daughter which was so beautiful and I couldn’t have imagined a more fitting end for her. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed with the end of Giorgia’s story. It was nice that she got out of the hospital and gets to start her life, but I wish she had gotten a little more screen time and had the chance to see Matteo again.

I could go on and on about this movie because… well… there’s a lot of material to talk about. The characters and storytelling were top notch and this movie just goes to show how you shouldn’t judge a movie by its cover (or length, genre or language). If I ran away scared like my instinct told me to, I would never have watched such a great movie.

Verdict: 9/10 Needs nothing

Movies

Notorious (1946)

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Notorious is a movie by the great Alfred Hitchcock that centers on a love triangle between a Nazi, a government agent and a somewhat alcohol dependent woman. As far as Hitchcock movies go, this wasn’t my favourite. It wasn’t bad but I just wasn’t feeling it. The romance developed between Alicia and Devlin felt rushed and half way through the movie I couldn’t really remember why they loved each other in the first place. I find with older movies they tend to rush the romances and sometimes it works while other times it doesn’t make any sense… this falls into the latter for me.

Alicia wasn’t the typical movie woman of the 40s with her drinking and sleeping around so I enjoyed watching her, but Devlin fell flat as a character. I feel like his only use in this movie was to be Alicia’s love interest; there was no development of his character. He is almost like the secondary character, while the movie was actually focused on Alicia and how she was playing Alex to get information. At the end though, they flipped it around and had the man rescue the poor woman. I would have liked it better if they cut out Devlin altogether and at the end Alicia just saves herself.

As far as the plot goes, the movie was solid. Girl seduces old boyfriend to get information on the Nazi’s then he finds out and tries to kill her. It was a good idea and aside from the problems I had with the characters and romance I liked what I saw. In particular, I liked the wine cellar scenes with the bottle smashing and Alex using the dates to find out that someone was in there. However, the fact that he only realized something was up because of the missing key kind of bothers me. I feel like having that clay key copying gadget would’ve been so useful for Alicia to just make a copy of the key instead of taking what appears to be the only one. How did she think he wouldn’t notice that? If he loves wine so much that he has a room devoted to it and meticulously organizes it by year, it’s reasonable to assume that he would visit it often enough to know his key was missing.

All in all, this movie was just average for me. I’m noticing a trend where my least favourite Hitchcock movies always seem to star Cary Grant, hopefully this will change in the future.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs more character romance development