Five Movies. Five Words – Vol. 5

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Well, it’s been more than a year since I did the last edition of Five Movies in Five Words. Seems that the only blog series I managed to keep up with is Five for the Fifth 🙂

I really should do this more often, maybe a few times a year, as it’s a fun challenge to capture the essence of a film, or whatever that comes to mind when I think of that film, in just a single word. As a general *rule* I’m picking films (old or new) I saw in the last few months that I haven’t had the chance to review yet.

So here we go:

The Eagle Huntress (2016)
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LION (2016)5movies_liontearjerking

Cairo Time (2009)
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The Shallows (2016)
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Allied (2016)
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Have you seen any of these? How would YOU describe them in one word?

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FlixChatter Review: Moonlight (2016)

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It’s been nearly a month since I saw Moonlight, yet I still constantly think about it. I had heard the buzz coming from Sundance and TIFF prior to its regional premiere at TCFF, and the premise of a coming-of-age story spanning three time periods intrigues me. The film is written and directed by Barry Jenkins, adapted from Tarell McCraney‘s unproduced play titled In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue.

In terms of story-telling, Moonlight is certainly one of the most unique as well as challenging. Some might think it’s similar to Richard Linklater Boyhood (though I haven’t seen it yet) with the protagonist played by two actors. In Moonlight, the life of black-American Chiron is portrayed by three actors, from young adolescence (Alex R. Hibbert), mid-teen (Ashton Sanders) and young adult (Trevante Rhodes). The casting is impressive as all three actors, despite not looking that much alike, somehow shares a certain quiet grace about them and ability to conveys much with so little.

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As a young boy, Chiron (called Little) lives in Miami with his single, drug-addicted mother Paula (an intense Naomie Harris), while being bullied at school and struggling with his sexual identity. It’s whilst he’s being chased by a group of kids that he meets a crack dealer Juan (Mahershala Ali) who takes him to his girlfriend Teresa’s (Janelle Monáe) house and gives him food. I love the scenes between Little and Juan, teaching Chiron how to swim, in the water as well as in the rough waters called life.

“…you gotta decide for yourself who you’re going to be. Can’t let nobody make that decision for you.”

It’s also the first time the issue of sexuality is explored, with Little asking Juan ‘what’s a faggot?’ and Juan’s answer certainly one that’d leave a mark in the young boy’s life. Juan is definitely not the typical drug dealer, or who we often think of someone in that profession. But then again, this film never resorts to oversimplification.

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The transition between the three different periods in Chiron’s life is handled well, it never feels abrupt or jarring. As with many young boys in their teens, this time period is crucial in shaping their lives. The scrawny teen is still bullied at school, Chiron’s only friend is his Cuban-American friend Kevin (André Holland). I honestly have never seen Black sexuality/masculinity depicted in this way and it struck me just how beautiful and nuanced the story was. Forgoing explicit scenes, Jenkins’s way of depicting the sexually-charged scenes is far from gratuitous. In fact, it’s one of the most heart-wrenching scenes that really took my breath away.

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In his adult life, Chiron now goes by the name “Black,” a nickname given by Kevin as a teen. He’s now a tough, muscular young man who now treads the same life as his childhood hero Juan, right down to the kind of car he drives. There’s an emotional exchange between him and his mother, but nothing quite as the reunion between him and Kevin. I won’t spoil it for you but that ending really hits me hard emotionally.

On top of the three actors portraying Chiron, the supporting cast is solid. Harris deglamorized to play the role of Chiron’s junkie mother, amazing that she filmed her role in between her busy press tour schedule for Spectre, a film that couldn’t be more different from this one. I love Monáe as the sympathetic mother figure to Chiron, and Holland did an affecting turn as the adult Kevin. But I’m most impressed with Mahershala Ali, I hope to see more of him in prominent roles, he’s got the screen presence and confidence of Denzel Washington. Moonlight deservedly earned the Robert Altman Award at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards that honor the entire ensemble cast.


Few films hit me as hard as Moonlight did. I was so emotionally-invested in Chiron and I often have tears in my eyes when I think about his arduous life journey. The films also deftly broke stereotypes, challenging our perceptions of what we think of masculinity, especially amongst the Black community. I was also in awe by the poignant, elegant and graceful storytelling style of a subject matter rarely depicted on screen. It won’t be a hyperbole that Barry Jenkins has created a masterpiece in his sophomore effort. I’m impressed that It made me curious to check out his debut, Medicine for Melancholy. I will be really ticked off if this film or Barry Jenkins isn’t nominated for Oscar this year. I’m so glad to have seen this in the big screen. I have to mention the music by Nicholas Britell as well as cinematography by James Laxton, excellent on both fronts that adds much to this beautifully-crafted film. I rarely give a full score but this film absolutely deserves it.

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Have you seen MOONLIGHT? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this film!

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Guest Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (2016)

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It’s going to be hard for me not to turn this into a fifty-page essay, because I am an enormous Harry Potter fan. I have been since I was ten years old. I’ve re-read all the books more times than I can remember, I wrote so much embarrassingly bad fan-fiction as a preteen, and I’ve attended multiple book and movie midnight releases in costume (more recently than I’d care to admit). Like every other Harry Potter fan in the world, I was psyched to hear about the Fantastic Beasts films, but, like many other fans, I was also nervous.

I’ve already been disappointed in new Harry Potter-related media released this year (damn you, Cursed Child), and a lot of the details J.K. Rowling has released about the Fantastic Beasts movie and the Wizarding culture in America has been even less promising (such as Muggles being called “No-Maj”). My expectation was that the writing would fall flat, but the visuals would be beautiful. My expectations were mostly met.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, named for the fictional textbook from the Harry Potter series, follows its author, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), on his adventure through 1926 New York City where, through a series of mishaps, he loses his case full of magical creatures. Several of the creatures get loose, and it’s up to Newt, ex-employee of the Magical Congress of the USA Tina (Katherine Waterston), her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), and No-Maj Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) to retrieve them before the Wizarding World is exposed.

I think J.K. Rowling is a much better novelist than a screenwriter. She’s not used to writing within the time constraints of a movie, which meant this one was messy, disorganized, and lacked exposition in areas where it was sorely needed. The biggest example of this comes toward the end, in the most infuriatingly stupid deus ex machina I have seen in a long time. I won’t go into detail to avoid spoilers, but trust me, you’ll know it when you see it. It was exciting to see the Wizarding World in a different location and time period, but it was a shaky introduction. It was recently announced that the film series was expanded from a trilogy into a five-part series, so hopefully the next four movies will be paced better now that Rowling has more time to work with.

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Queenie and Tina
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Dan Fogler as Jacob

That said, there is still so much about this movie that I loved. The four main characters are incredibly well-written; they’re all likeable and have unique personalities that don’t just feel like movie stereotypes. The actors do an amazing job bringing the characters to life, especially lead Eddie Redmayne; his shy, awkward, quirky personality was delightful. My one critique is that his tendency to mumble his lines made it hard to understand what he was saying. Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski, the sole No-Maj pulled into the magical adventure, is excellent as well. He could have easily fallen into the overused role of a slapstick comedic sidekick, but he brought so much heart to the character.


The most memorable part of this movie, though, was the design of titular fantastic beasts. The visuals in this movie are phenomenal. The creatures range from being so adorable it hurts my heart, to breathtakingly majestic. They’re also surprisingly faithful to the descriptions in the original book; the designers were clearly familiar with the source material, and as a die-hard fan, I appreciated the attention to detail.

While there were obvious flaws in this movie, I still really enjoyed it, both as a Harry Potter fan and as a moviegoer. I would absolutely watch it again, and I’m eager to see how the next four go.


laurasLaura Schaubschlager is a Winona State University graduate with a B.A. in English, which is seldom put to use in my health insurance career (outside of cringing at the grammatical errors my superiors make in their emails). I’m an avid horror fan (movies, novels, video games- anything that makes me hesitate when I go to turn off the light at night), and I’m always looking for writing opportunities, although my current portfolio is made up of partially-completed short stories and an occasionally-updated blog: schaublahblah.wordpress.com.


Have you seen ‘Fantastic Beasts’? Well, what did you think? 

A Thanksgiving Post: 24 cinematic things I’m thankful for in 2016

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To all my friends celebrating Thanksgiving today… I hope that you’re all enjoying yourselves, whether it’s time spent together with family/friends or just chillin’ with your loved ones (like my hubby and I). It’s nice to be able to sleep in today and going to dinner/movies later today. To those in other parts of the world, I bid you happy-almost-weekend day 🙂

This has been quite a tumultuous year to say the least… but I always try to focus on the positive side of things. As this is a film blog, I thought I’d take the time to express my gratitude for blogging/cinematic-related things I’ve been blessed with this year… so naturally I have to start with…

1. My blogging friends who’ve supported my blog and comment regularly… Jordan, Keith, Cindy, Steven, Michael, Margaret, Jenna/Allie, Courtney, Nostra, Dan, Jay/Sean, Brittani, etc.

2. Living in a city with not one but TWO robust film festivals… TCFF and MSPIFF!

3. Being a part of TCFF staff as the official blogger, which allows me to meet wonderful filmmakers and talents.

4. Discovering indie gems at film festivals (esp. Blood Stripe and Moonlight at TCFF, and Beeba Boys and The Fencer at MSPIFF)


5. The wonderful opportunity to meet Lea Thompson and director Jim Hemphill during the MN screening of The Trouble With The Truth.

6. Discovering awesome new actors I’d love to see more of (I’ll be blogging separately on this later next month), special shout out to Kate Nowlin & Dominic Rains!


7. Getting an interview with the composer of Age of Adaline, Rob Simonsen, one of my favorite soundtracks I recently discovered.

8. The breathtaking New Zealand scenery in one of my fave films of the year, Hunt For the Wilderpeople.

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9. The amazing trifecta performance from the actors portraying Chiron in Moonlight

10. Wonderful classic films like Casablanca, which I rewatched on Thanksgiving eve.

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11. Female filmmakers in Hollywood & beyond…  here’s hoping to see even more of them in years to come!

12. Amy Adams’ performance in Arrival

13. Sam Riley‘s wonderfully-amusing performance as Mr Colonel Darcy in Pride + Prejudice + Zombies

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14. Aneurin Barnard‘s soulful performance as Richard III in The White Queen miniseries (that spurred my obsession on the last Plantagenet King.

15. The delightful Love & Friendship & discovering the droll Tom Bennett as the scene-stealing Sir James Martin.

16. Awesome Marvel series on Netflix: Daredevil + Jessica Jones (hoping to catch Luke Cage soon!)

17. The Wonder Woman trailer… which I’m feverishly anticipating to see come Summer 2017!

18. The fun cast of The Magnificent Seven remake

19. The wonderful,  music of Sing Street… a love letter to the 80s and the power of music.

20. Viggo Mortensen‘s bravura performance in Captain Fantastic.

21. The arresting beauty of Jeff Nichols’ film LOVING, and the affecting performances of Ruth Negga + Joel Edgerton.

22. The wonderfully uplifting Queen Of Katwe, featuring wonderful performances of Lupita Nyong’O + David Oyelowo.

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23. The originality and thought-provoking concept of The Lobster

24. Last but not least… I’m thankful that I finished my script this year… plus having the opportunity to do a script reading later in January! 🙂

 


What are some of the things you are THANKFUL FOR this year? 

FlixChatter Review: Doctor Strange (2016)

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I have to admit I wasn’t really anticipating this movie at all. I wasn’t familiar with this character at all and honestly, I have grown a bit tired of seeing Benedict Cumberbatch, though I did like him before he was super famous from playing Sherlock. Now it’s no fault of his but I tend to lose interest fast when an actor becomes overexposed.

In any case, I still went into the screening expecting to be entertained. To a degree, Doctor Strange was a pretty fun movie with some humorous moments. Yet I feel that it treads such familiar grounds. It’s basically similar to Iron Man‘s origin story, but with magic thrown in. We also got a hero who started out as a rich, arrogant genius who suffered a major accident. They also extend their hand just so to exert their power. Perhaps because Iron Man was still a bit of a novelty when it came out 8 years ago in 2008, it made a lot more impact to me and Robert Downey Jr’s performance was quite indelible.

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Stephen Strange’s journey all the way to the Himalayas also reminds me of Batman Begins. But instead of an East-Asian character as The Ancient One, Strange’s spiritual mentor is now a bald woman of Celtic origin with posh British accent (Tilda Swinton). To be honest, all the quantum physics and mysticism concept are lost on me. It was some gobbledygook that never became involving enough to me, though I did get a kick out of the rather comedic Cloak of Levitation. I think my favorite part in the entire movie is when the cloak attaches itself to Strange as he walks on, it was a moment he sort of becomes a superhero.

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Just like the lead, the supporting cast are full of massively accomplished actors. Fellow Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor and British actor Benedict Wong are both in the camp of the Ancient One who became Strange’s allies. It’s rare to see an actor named Benedict to begin with, let alone having TWO of them in the same movie! I love the interactions between the two Benedicts, though the Beyonce/Adele joke seems rather out of place in this universe. There’s also the talented Mads Mikkelsen, once again sporting weird eye makeup as a villain, but he’s nowhere near as menacing nor effective as he did in Casino Royale. There is very little character development in this movie and none of the relationships elicit any kind of emotion, especially the one between him and fellow surgeon Christine (a wasted Rachel McAdams). That said, Cumberbatch himself acquits himself well in the role. He certainly has that ‘cocky genius’ thing down pat, though I wouldn’t call Doctor Strange my fave Marvel superhero by a long stretch.

As for the visual effects. I think it’s to be expected that a $165 mil movie would deliver something great to look at. The space visuals is reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, whilst the whole folding architecture thing is slightly more robust than what we’ve seen in Inception. The movie has a a Groundhog day-style finale with a character encountering death over and over again, going against an entirely CG character, a nemesis called Dormammu that’s apparently also voiced by Cumberbatch. It was kind of a ho-hum ending to me, it was neither intriguing nor emotional in the slightest. The plot seems predictable and seems rather ‘convenient,’ and not once do I feel that the hero was in any great danger.

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I generally like Marvel movies, even those I was initially skeptical about like Thor. But overall I was underwhelmed by Doctor Strange. I think it could’ve been a much better film, or at least just a tad more thought-provoking instead of just mildly entertaining. The script (partly written by director Scott Derrickson) just wasn’t provocative, thought provoking nor memorable. I’m feeling generous in rating this one because I do like the cast, though the movie probably more of a 2.5/5 for me. I think it’s one of the weakest MCU movies so far, and I’m honestly flabbergasted by the high Rotten Tomatoes rating! (But then again I think their algorithm is botched. I mean the same exact rating from two reviewers can be fresh or rotten, huh??) In any case, there’s a post-credit scene but by then I have lost interest in this inevitable franchise entirely.

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So, what are your thoughts on ‘Doctor Strange’?

Week In Review: Hunt For the Wilderpeople + Loving + The Little Prince

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How’s your weekend everyone? It’s been a while since I did a roundup post, but I figure it’s a good way for me to ease my way into blogging again. It’s been a particularly gratifying week as I saw two of my highly-anticipated films, Loving and Hunt For the Wilderpeople. As Winter has officially arrived, we pretty much hibernated this weekend so my hubby and I saw The Little Prince on Netflix Saturday night.

Below is my mini reviews of two of the films I saw this past week, plus quick thoughts on the New Zealander adventure comedy…

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

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I became a huge fan of Taika Waititi‘s work since the hilarious vampire mockumentary What We Do In The Shadows. Well, he’s come up with yet another riotously-funny movie that could practically double as a travel video for New Zealand!

I will do a full review of this later in December, but right now all I can say is… RUN, don’t walk to rent this movie!! I’m gutted that I missed this on the big screen, not sure that it even had a theatrical release here in MN. In any case, I enjoyed the heck out of this one. LOVE the unlikely duo of veteran actor Sam Neill with newcomer Julian Dennison, a riotous 14-year-old NZ child actor with an amazing comic timing and screen presence. He’s inspired me to do a top 10 list of great 2016 performances by kid actors, so stay tuned for that!


Loving

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Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, are sentenced to prison in Virginia in 1958 for getting married.

This film couldn’t have come at a better time, as America is surely in tumultuous times right now. It seems appalling that interracial marriage was still illegal in some states fifty some years ago, but have we really come that far since? The latest film from Jeff Nichols is beautifully-told, graceful and affecting as the filmmaker focused on the couple themselves instead of making a political statement. Yes of course the film has a major political and social implication, as the Supreme Court decision on Loving v. Virginia put an end to all miscegenation laws in 1967. But at the end of the day, the story is about two human beings who loved each other and wanted to raise a family together.

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Both Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton portrayed Mildred and Richard with such quiet grace and sincerity. It’s an understated performance that speaks volumes and conveys the tension as well as poignancy of what they went through. For someone withe the name Loving, Richard surely lives up to that and it’s truly a beautiful marriage built on not just love, but mutual respect. Michael Shannon has a small–but–memorable cameo as a LIFE magazine photographer who took the iconic shots of the couple as they simply hang out in their home, watching tv, playing with their kids, etc. There’s also Marton Csokas as the ‘villain’ of the story, the Virginia sheriff who arrested them.

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The script, direction and performance all work beautifully to bring the Lovings’ story to life. The cinematography and music are beautiful and evocative, it works in transporting us to a certain period of Americana. But it’s the journey of the Lovings that I shall never forget. By making the film about the couple, forgoing court drama theatrics, Nichols made a deeply moving film that connected with me in a refreshingly real way.

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The Little Prince (2015)

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A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.

Truth be told, I’m not that familiar with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, despite it being the fourth most translated book in the world. This is the first animated feature film adaptation of the book, directed by Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda), boasting a terrific cast that includes Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, Ricky Gervais, etc.

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I have a penchant for these kinds of imaginative stories, one that blends in reality and fantasy set in striking visuals. The little girl’s relationship with her overly-ambitious mother is an interesting commentary about the overly-structured life of an adult vs the wide-eyed openness of a child exploring the world. I have to admit it took me a while to get into this one at first, even after the girl (Mackenzie Foy, who was in Interstellar) meets the narrator, an elderly man (Jeff Bridges) who told her the tale about the aviator and the little prince. I’m often lost in the beauty of the visuals, especially the stop-motion scenes in the desert created using paper. It’s absolutely gorgeous with a dreamy quality, but yet for some reason I couldn’t connect to the story nor the characters as much as I wanted to. I wonder if at times there’s a case of ‘lost in translation’ here from the original story.

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There are philosophical quotes that resonated with me however, such as “One sees clearly only with the heart. The essential is invisible to the eye.” I also enjoyed the music by Hans Zimmer and Richard Harvey, which nicely complements the ethereal, watercolor look of the film. It certainly is worth a watch, for sure it’s a technical/visual marvel, even if the film overall isn’t as breathtaking as I had hoped.

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More reviews coming your way…

I’ve written up my full review of Doctor Strange coming later this week. My hubby and I saw Arrival last weekend, right after we’re back from our Zion/Vegas trip, which was truly one of the best, most affecting sci-fi film I’ve seen in a good while.  I plan on writing my review of Arrival and Moonlight (one of the two October Movies of the Month!) later this week. I’ll be seeing the new Brad Pitt/Marion Cotillard spy drama Allied tonight, and if the snow storm doesn’t wreck havoc on traffic, hopefully I’ll be seeing Hidden Figures tomorrow night! Oh and my new blog contributor Laura S. also gave me a review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, so stay tuned for a slew of new reviews in the next few weeks!

#SlowlyGettingMyBloggingMojoBack 😉


So did you see anything good this weekend? If you’ve seen any of these movies, I’m curious to hear what YOU think. 

Guest Review: Bleed For This (2016)

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I was a little nervous to write this review. My first two posts for FlixChatter (Ouija and The Eyes Of My Mother) were for horror movies-a genre I enjoy and feel comfortable writing about- so being assigned a movie outside of my wheelhouse was a little daunting, especially considering this one is a boxing movie. I am not remotely a sports person. When I voiced my concerns to my sister, she pointed out that regardless of the subject, a good movie should make me empathize with the main character. I should be able to relate to their struggle and their eagerness to achieve their goals. Was I able to do that in Bleed for This? No. Not really. And for a movie like this, that is really a problem.

Bleed for This tells the true story of Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller), a world champion boxer who suffers a near-fatal car crash, breaking his neck and being told he may never walk again, let alone fight. Despite this major injury, concern from his parents (Katey Sagal and Ciaran Hinds), and lack of support from his manager (Ted Levine), he works relentlessly to not only heal, but return to his former strength and fight again.

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A story like this should be tense and emotional, but it was surprisingly underwhelming. This mostly has to do with poor pacing. A substantial amount of the first half of the movie was dedicated to introducing Vinny and establishing his identity as a boxer, but the events following his car crash-specifically, his journey to recovery- were rushed, showing very little of his physical challenges or his emotional turmoil over potentially never boxing again. We see him struggle to lift a barbell in his parents’ basement which created a moment of suspense (would he be able to even move it? Would he injure himself further?), but the subsequent training montage with trainer Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) is brief and shows virtually no extreme effort, so when he finally enters the ring again, it doesn’t feel like as enormous of an achievement as it should.

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Vinny’s feelings about his boxing career possibly ending could have been addressed better as well. Before the accident, his manager suggests he consider retiring, infuriating Vinny; he can’t imagine ever not being a boxer, but when he’s presented with that very real possibility after the car crash, we don’t really see him explore his feelings about it, which seems strange after making such a big deal about his commitment to boxing in the first act.

That’s not to say the movie didn’t have its good points. It had a strong cast, and the chemistry between Teller and Eckhart was especially impressive. There were a few moments of genuine tension toward the end of the film- but not enough to save it from being boring overall.

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I’m sure the real Vinny Pazienza’s recovery was incredibly difficult. I’m sure the training was exhausting and painful and required unbelievable self-discipline, and the idea that he might not reach his goal was probably terrifying. But if none of that is conveyed, what’s the point of making a movie about it at all?


laurasLaura Schaubschlager is a Winona State University graduate with a B.A. in English, which is seldom put to use in my health insurance career (outside of cringing at the grammatical errors my superiors make in their emails). I’m an avid horror fan (movies, novels, video games- anything that makes me hesitate when I go to turn off the light at night), and I’m always looking for writing opportunities, although my current portfolio is made up of partially-completed short stories and an occasionally-updated blog: schaublahblah.wordpress.com.


Have you seen ‘Bleed For This’? Well, what did you think? 

Scene spotlight: INCEPTION – ‘You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling’

Hi everyone! My blogging break has been longer than expected, but for some reason I haven’t got the energy to write reviews. I actually tried to write my review of Doctor Strange and Jack Reacher yesterday but never finished it. I guess my heart just wasn’t in it lately… I’ve been focusing on other things [read: my screenplay and the dream of turning it into a feature film]

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image via WeHeartIt


Thinking about dreaming big… somehow Tom Hardy‘s Eames quote from Inception is one that keeps coming to mind. Hardy is the absolute scene stealer here, his charisma eclipse everyone here including Leo DiCaprio himself. It’s a memorable little scene that’s said in a tongue-in-cheek way, it really has nothing to do with anything philosophical at all. Yet that line, and the way Hardy’s gorgeous voice saying it, resonated with me and in a strange way, inspires me. It’d look good as a framed quote too!


It’s been ages sinceI watched Inception, I should rewatch it again soon as I’ve got the Bluray. Now if only I could enlist Dom Cobb & co. to help plant an idea on some studio executives that my script is worth investing on, ha! Interesting too that Christopher Nolan based the roles of the Inception team similar to those used in filmmaking – Cobb is the director, Arthur is the producer, Ariadne is the production designer, Eames is the actor, Saito is the studio, and Fischer is the audience. What a troupe of actors to portray a perfect team for the perfect heist. The grand scale of idea for this film is mind-boggling… it’s just a phenomenally-written script that’s executed so well.

 


Thoughts on this Inception scene? Feel free to share a scene that’s inspired you recently.

FlixChatter Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

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It’s been ten years since Mel Gibson‘s last directed a film; the violent adventure Apocalypto was a mild success for the controversial actor and director. Many thought that film would be a comeback for Gibson, but then his personal life took another controversial hit and he’s been out of the limelight for a few years. He’s now back with another violent film that’s based on a real life WW2 American Army named Desmond Doss, who became the first Conscientious Objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Doss (Andrew Garfield) who grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, learned the true impact of violence at a young age. During a scuffle with his older brother, Doss almost killed his sibling and after that he sworn not to hurt or kill another human beings. His alcoholic father Tom (Hugo Weaving), who happens to be a war veteran himself, tends to physically abuse his mom Bertha (Rachel Griffiths), also made him despise violence. During a visit to a local clinic, Doss’ eye catches Dorothy (Teresa Palmer), a nurse who takes a shine to his humble-but-determined ways, with the pair eventually getting engaged to be married.

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However, before they’re eloped, Doss enlists in the army, uncomfortable with the idea of staying behind while others fight for their country. When he arrives for basic training, Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist, proclaims his interest in being a combat medic, refusing to take part in gun training. Frustrating superiors Howell (Vince Vaughn) and Glover (Sam Worthington), Doss’ faith is put to the test through hazing and menial labor, making an enemy out of Smitty (Luke Bracey). When the unit is finally shipped over to Japan to take Okinawa, the ferocious battle of Hacksaw Ridge presents Doss with a supreme challenge of survival and duty.

Gibson, who I believe is an excellent director, didn’t really do anything new when it comes to storytelling. We get the usual romance montage between Doss and Dorothy, Doss being resented by his peers when he refused to pick up a weapon. But when the battle starts, here’s where Gibson shine as a director. Since he had appeared in several action films, Gibson knows how to staged some of the most intense and bloodiest war battle sequences ever put on film.

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Even though his Southern accent were inconsistent, Garfield’s performance is very good here. He’s a man of faith and really stick to his principles. I was quite surprised by the effective performances by Vaughn, Worthington, Bracey and Palmer. Weaving’s drunken father character is a bit more clichéd, but it’s nice seeing ‘Agent Smith’ playing something other than a bad guy.

It may not be in the same class as other great WW2 pictures like The Thin Red Line or Saving Private Ryan, but I was glad Gibson decided to tell this story. I’ve never heard of Desmond Doss before and after seeing this film, I have nothing but respect for late war veteran.

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Have you seen Hacksaw Ridge? Well, what did you think?

Five for the Fifth: November 2016 Edition

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Hello everyone! As I’m posting this, I’ve just finished packing for a quick trip to Zion National Park, UT and Las Vegas! I’m in desperate need for a break after a super busy October, so suffice to say I’m taking a bit of blogging break as well.

Well, I occasionally like to highlight my vacation destination on my blog, and there are tons of movies set in Las Vegas. Here are just a sampling of some of memorable movies set in Sin City:

So what’s your fave film(s) set in Vegas? 

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2. One of my most-anticipated movie of 2017 (if not THE most) is Wonder Woman. Well the second trailer just wet my appetite even more!! Seriously, it’s been over 120 years since the invention of the motion picture and FINALLY we get a feature film of a female superhero!

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I know this is just a trailer, but it’s enough to get me all verklempt on Thursday when I first saw it… thank you Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot, who looks phenomenal as the bad-ass Amazonian princess!! This movie is poised to be the BEST DC superhero movie to date… but not the worst part is the wait! The movie will be released in June, 2017.

 

Now, switching gear to a fun Honest Trailer on BBC’s Sherlock, which is perfect timing considering Benedict Cumberbatch‘s Doctor Strange opens this weekend.

I had a good chuckle watching this, it’s pretty spot on! Watson as the original cumberbitch, ahah! I used to like Benedict before he became ultra-famous, as you know I have a penchant for the more unknown, underrated actors. Not saying Benedict isn’t talented but really Hollywood, there are a plethora of equally talented Brits out there too [hint: Sam Riley] 😉

Anyhoo, thoughts about either one of these trailers?

3. We’re just about three months away from Oscar telecast on Feb. 26, 2017, and award season has pretty much started with TIFF, so it’s never too early to talk about Oscar contenders! Since I just came out of Twin Cities Film Fest, I’ve mentioned on my recap post that one of the films that resonated with me most is Moonlight. I had read several reviews as well as interviews with writer/director Barry Jenkins, particularly this one in Esquire.

… Moonlight is neither a black film nor a gay film. “We’re not reaching for this great statement about [race or] sexuality,” Jenkins said. “What we’re reaching for is a portrait of people who are just trying to get through life.”

It’s so refreshing that Moonlight isn’t a big political/social agenda, it feels grounded and personal and that’s why it resonates so much with me. I think anyone of all races who loves great storytelling should absolutely see this and THIS is the film I’ll be rooting for on Oscar night!

ali_moonlight
Mahershala Ali in ‘Moonlight’

I’d be seriously miffed if this film wasn’t at least nominated, I mean if there is justice in this world, Barry Jenkins should be getting multiple noms for writing & directing, and it’d be a bonus to see Mahershala Ali up in the Best Supporting Actor category! I remember seeing him in the last Hunger Games movie and groaned to see an actor of his talent so wasted. It’s great to see him in a meaty role for once.

So guys, which film(s) are you rooting for this award season?
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4. I grew up watching Disney Princess animated films and lately we’ve got an endless supply of live-action versions. Well, out of those Princess movies, Beauty & The Beast is one I’d think would be challenging to film. But so far the casting and production stills have only made me anticipate it all the more. Behold…

beautybeast_dance

I was swooning hard looking at these pictures… surely on the visual front, it looks absolutely gorgeous and magical. I love how spot-on the casting are, esp. Belle, Beast and Gaston, which I’ve talked about here. Emma Watson looks like she’s born to play this role. Sounds like they’re going to be faithful to the animated version, and I sure hope they use the same music by Alan Menken!

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Images courtesy of EW.com

Updated 11/14: Now we’ve got its first full trailer!!

Are you as ready as I am to be swept away by this fairy tale?

5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Khalid from The Blazing Reel! His question couldn’t be more timely considering this coming Tuesday, November 8 is US election day and this has been, shall we say, a most unusual election year!

election

So here’s Khalid’s question:

With the 2016 Presidential Election nearing close, what is in your opinion is the best election movie? Your choice doesn’t necessarily have to be about a film that focuses on a Presidential election.

Well, I’m sure you have an opinion on this topic, So let’s hear it!


Well, that’s it for the NOVEMBER edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Take part by picking a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!