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Monday, March 31, 2014

March Week 4: The Post Commandments

Whoops, a rare occurrence happened yesterday. I completely forgot that it was Sunday. I guess I got too caught up in reviewing Noah to remember the one real thing I actually require myself to do on the weekend. Eh, no big deal. How’s everybody doing? Me? Oh, you know, still looking for work. I had been trying to set up some ads on the blog, because I will take money where I can get it at this point, but Google AdSense kept denying my application because of “Copyrighted Material.” So, if for some crazy reason you were to go back through the archives, you would notice that I took down all the pretty pictures and videos in order to appease these weirdos. But, it was of no use. Even after removing all of that content I was still being rejected. So screw it, back to putting pictures up. Adventures in blogging amirite? Here’s what I watched last week:

I am still playing catch up on reviews. I’m missing one for Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, Halloween (1978), and Heartland, which I just watched and will be the last in the March Project movies. I was really considering taking this week off from film, finishing my reviews and reading a book or two, but I am so excited for the April 2014 Film Project that I don’t think I can wait to get started! For April, I will be watching the best rated films (according to the Letterboxd community) of the 1970’s, which I haven’t seen yet. That list is sooooo cool. We’ll see how far I get with this project.

I hope you all have a good week. I’m planning to.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Review: Noah

Noah (2014):

Synopsis – Listen, the world is full of terrible, awful people. So God tells his one follower left to build an ark and he shall fill it with CGI animals. Then He turns on all the faucets at once and kills man.

What was the last bible oriented movie that was of any note? The Passion of the Christ? I certainly can’t remember the last time I was interested in seeing one. It took a special director, a special cast, and the expectation of not being preached at to finally get me in the theater again for one. It’s not that I have any problem with the occasional sermon in my movies, I just go to them for other, more enjoyable reasons. My problem with the average bible film is that the creators tend to be too afraid to stray from the source material, and you know what? They should be afraid. There is nothing scarier than a mob of angry religious folk in my opinion. Except for sharks. And don’t get me started on a mob of religious sharks.

What I Liked:
-Whenever the movie was allowed to go “full Aronofsky” I was enthralled. These were scenes that usually showed that time was passing, in creative ways of course. How life began on Earth (via the Creation story) was a particularly moving scene.
-I think everyone did an excellent job acting their parts, with the exception of Douglas Booth. It isn’t that he was terrible, but compared to the other main actors he was given little to do and when he was called upon to act he did not have the gravitas to pull off what was needed. It seems like they hired a pretty boy instead of a man for the part.
-I feel like the story was handled with a very deft hand. I have seen complaints saying that the movie makes Noah seem like a crazy person, and other inaccuracies when compared to the source material. Most of the rumors about why not to see the movie are just that, rumors; unsubstantiated and made up without actually having seen the film. The movie is very respectful to Christianity, and while it takes certain liberties none of them are offensive in my opinion. The most offensive thing in the film is the violence that takes place, and more offensive is the fact that at my screening parents had brought in children much too young to see some of the intense scenes that took place. Some people are just too stupid to know better.

What I Didn’t Like:
-The real reason I wanted to see this movie at all was because of its director, Darren Aronofsky. Black Swan was one of my favorite movies of the year it was released, and I liked The Wrestler well enough. As I said in the “Liked” section, there were some great Aronofsky bits that I am glad I got to see. The rest of the movie was for the most part pretty average. I was surprised to see “The Watchers” in the movie, but instead of adding to the air of mystery that might surround a movie about a prophet who receives messages from God, I felt the CGI creatures gave off a distinctive “Transformers” feeling, just without the hip hop attitude.
-I’m not sure Aronofsky quite knows how to film battles, but it may have been his intent not to make it a spectacle. Because it totally was NOT spectacular in any way.

What I Hated:
-What I hated was that I allowed my expectations to be raised more than they should have. My disappointment with the film is partially my own fault.

As with any film I watch, I am glad that I saw it. My pal Jose and I saw it in the extra-large XD screen, and I don’t think it was worth the extra few dollars we shelled out. I say if you have any interest in the movie, go see it in the theater. It is enjoyable enough. Otherwise, might as well skip it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Review: A Room with a View

A Room with a View (1985):

Synopsis – On holiday in Florence, Lucy and Dame Maggie Smith are accosted by two brutish men who insist that they exchange their rooms. The room they receive turns out to have an amazing view and is the trigger to a series of action packed moments including: kissing in a field; nude men bathing together; Lincoln/Bob the Butcher being a gigantic nerd; Dame Judy Dench!

This movie belongs in the prestigious halls of “Movies That Sarah Love.” I don’t know how many times she has watched it, but I know it’s up there. I got her a Blu-Ray copy for Christmas last year, which had to be imported from England and cost me quite a bit, but anything to make her happy. This is the first time, as far as I know, that we had put this copy to the test. I was actually quite worried that there would be a region issue with the disc and we would only be able to watch it on a computer (the only computer we currently have is a crappy laptop, from which I am currently typing). Luckily, it played perfectly fine and looked great on the tv. I am falling in love with this movie, just as much as she already is in love with it. It is a film along the lines of some of Oscar Wilde’s work, without all the snark and sexuality thrown about. A milder affair that is just as funny and very relatable. What makes me like it the most though is how much Sarah likes it. When someone loves a movie, and any movie, I feel a secret tingle of joy for them. That means that there is something important to be found in the footage that they treasure, and everyone is unique in what works for them.

What I Liked:
-Sometimes a movie is just fun. Do you watch Downton Abbey? You know how in-between the drama bits there are light slice-of-life snippets that are funny? Well, this is a whole movie of that with a plot that compliments it. I don’t want to be dismissive as I mean this as a compliment, but this is the kind of movie you can just put on in the background whilst going about your daily business. Any time you look at the screen, chances are you are going to smile at what you see.
-While the romantic protagonists don’t actually have much screen time together, the sense is that love is in the air and in the back of people’s minds throughout the movie. But this isn’t really a movie about romance; it is a comedy through and through, and a great one at that.

What I Didn’t Like:
-No one, and I mean NO ONE, needs to see that many grown men naked at once. Argue as much as you want. But seriously, that scene is pretty hilarious.

What I Hated:
-Nothing to hate.


When it comes to flaws, the only thing I can think to point out about this movie is that it is slight in nature. There is no big lesson to be taught, nothing spectacular being done by the film makers. It is just a perfect little period piece comedy, one that isn’t forced in anyway. It’s so nice to have a film like it to rely upon to deliver a satisfactory experience every time you decided to watch it. Like that warm blanket you’ve had for years, it is pure comfort.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment (1983):

Synopsis – A mom and daughter are always on the edge of a fight, but their communication skills allow each other to grow as people and maintain a loving relationship through hardship and joy. A family drama with laughter and tears.

This film marks movie #6 on my March Movie Project. Once again, I asked my mom “what makes Terms of Endearment special to you?” Her response:

“I love the acting. The relationship between mother and child. One of my favorite scenes is when [SPOILERS] Shirley MacLaine pounds on the nurse’s desk and demands help for her dying daughter. That is how I feel as a mom. No limit to what I would do for my kids and grandkids.”

My mom feels a real connection with good family dramas like this, and therefore so do I. I am known to run screaming for the hills when it comes to any amount of cheese in a movie that I watch. I was expecting a lot of that sort of content in this film, and to my surprise there was hardly any. It seems like James L. Brooks knows how to handle certain actors, or maybe it depends on the script, but either way this was way better than Spanglish, and dare I say it, I think I liked it more than As Good as it Gets.

What I Liked:
-Debra Winger and Shirley MacLaine play off each other so well. Their dynamic is more like best friends than mother/daughter, but I’m sure that some people actually have that relationship and can relate completely. “A boy’s best friend is his mother”, where did I hear that before? Oh well. Anyway, I was already kind of in love with Shirley MacLaine as an actress, but now I really want to see some other Debra Winger movies and see if the magic is there too. It may be that this was just the perfect recipe for a meaningful imitation of a relationship.
-I enjoyed the way the progression of years was handled. I’m sure at some point showing children growing up became a cliché, but I’m not aware of it. It worked perfectly here.
-I like John Lithgow. I’ll take him anyway I can get him.
-I was under the impression that I don’t enjoy movies that end up being tear jerkers, but I guess I was wrong about that. I think my problem is when a major character in a film is suddenly (and usually obviously for plot reasons) killed off. But when a film takes the time to actually deal with the event of someone dying, it is vastly more interesting narratively. Terms of Endearment handled it really well. There wasn’t even an over the top mourning scene!

What I Didn’t Like:
-This film escaped any dislikes; very unusual for a film that is still flawed. Speaking of flaws though…

What I Hated:
-The score of this movie is downright atrocious. Every time it queued in I was jarred from being fully involved in the story. Why they went with a digital score as opposed to an orchestral is beyond me. And if I am mistaken and it is orchestral, it really doesn’t matter because there was no variety to it. It was all what I can only assume is called Terms of Endearment Theme.


Not only am I glad I watched this movie, it has renewed my faith in dramas as a whole. A drama doesn’t news to contain violence to be good, and it doesn’t have to steer completely away from clichés in order for me not to suddenly take ill. It can coast along those lines and still be an outstanding and heartfelt feature. Also, it made me feel better about the state of my living spaces. Great stuff. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014):

Synopsis – A womanizer is accused of murder when some old bird he had relations with leaves him her prized possession. A mad cap crazy adventure ensues and... Oh jeez, I cannot sum up this movie. So much stuff happens!

Starring – Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, a lot of others. Don't look it up, it's better to be surprised!

What a rush. I knew I was going to like The Grand Budapest Hotel, because I happen to be one of those people who find Wes Anderson movies utterly entertaining. When I see a movie that I like as much as this, I fold. I know that there are words in my head, and I could explain them out loud to someone given enough time, but putting them down in the written form is a daunting task. So I cheated. I asked my girlfriend Sarah to give her 2 cents about the movie. She went above and beyond and I am so happy with the results! Check it out:

The Grand Budapest Hotel was another classic Wes Anderson picture. I was on the edge of my seat when this movie started. I have to admit upfront that I am biased. I’ve loved Wes Anderson since I saw Rushmore. I’ve come to find all of his storytelling comforting. I feel like I know what I’m in for with a Wes Anderson movie. This movie did not disappoint me at all.

The cinematography was amazing (Amazing is an understatement). I found myself wondering how long it took to make all of the uniforms, or how they blended miniatures seamlessly into a live action scene. The sets looked like [Anderson] personally had gone traveling all over the world for years looking for the perfect room to make these scenes work.

The story is framed by a maze of stories within stories. You keep trying to attach yourself to something that you figure will be the jumping off point but as soon as you do, the movie takes another turn. I started wondering where this took place and feeling stupid. I mean I know the title says it’s in Budapest, but you feel like you are somewhere unfamiliar and not just because this is another country in another time. It feels like fantasy. The story is centered on the character called M. Gustave and his protégé Zero. They work in a hotel known as The Grand Budapest. M Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes, is a snooty concierge who is hilarious and perfect in this role. I was so happy with the tenacity in which he took on this ridiculous character that I couldn’t help smiling. Just as in many Wes Anderson movies before, the protagonist is a proud know-it-all that barks orders at others around him, placing extreme importance on things that seem so trivial to the rest of us. I was reminded of the Steve Zissou character in Life Aquatic and Royal Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums. These characters have some really unlikeable qualities and they seem to undermine everyone around them. It’s funny to me when I think about the people [Anderson] chooses to tell stories about. You feel like they could tell you something like “I’m the best t ball player that ever lived!” Also it’s uncanny how they always tend to have minions following them around waiting to hear what wisdom or direction they have to give out next. I don’t want to spoil the story but it is a fun caper complete with trains, prison breaks and sprinting through fields (reminiscent of Oh Brother, Where Art Thou). There were so many famous people in this movie they almost didn’t have room for them all and some of them had very small cameos. [SPOILER] Joel and I both uttered out loud in unison “Fisher Stevens?!” when he appeared on screen.

I had a lot of fun watching it and I recommend it to anyone expecting something silly and beautiful. I left the theater wondering where we had been the whole time.


Seriously, I couldn’t have done a better job. Sarah has a talent for writing that I hope to exploit we will all get to read more often! Listen, when it comes to Wes Anderson movies, you either like his stuff or you don’t. If you don’t mind some foul language you are going to have a really fun time with this movie. AND GO SEE IT IN THE THEATER! It is something to behold with only a few places I could nitpick at. But why do that? Sit back and enjoy the ride!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review (Sort of): Nine ½ Weeks

Synopsis – Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke canoodle in a plotless weird sexy time movie.

Starring - Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke. Yes, there are others involved, but who cares about them.

Wasn’t this movie on a bunch lists at one point for being totally sexy? What I watched was sexy, in the sense that any train wreck is sexy, which is not at all. Jeez louise, this movie is a dated relic that, honestly, might belong in a museum. I’m not going to break down this movie, I will instead simply present my notes in the order that I took them. Here they are:

-Movies for 30 somethings
-Seriously, was Mickey Rourke in a car accident or something, because even his voice is unrecognizable
-Sarah said it’s like Tommy Wiseau saw this movie and thought "this is what love looks like"
-I think the film maker might have thought he was making an art film
-I’m not sure this movie has a plot…
-The fucking music!
-Please for god’s sake talk above a whisper

After that I finally gave up on trying to keep a hold on this freaking movie. The music, I cannot tell 
you, explain to you, how terrible it is.

But, even after all my bitching and even after I thought I might be losing my mind, I still kind of liked 
it. I think that means I have problems.

Review: The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption (2011):

Synopsis – An elite police force enters a known drug kingpin’s building, looking to shut down his operations. As you can guess, these guys bit off more than they can chew. Luckily, martial arts, etc.

Uh oh. I think I am about to alienate some people here. I’ve been looking forward to seeing The Raid since it was released stateside in 2011. I remember at the time I was working in Los Angeles at KONAMI, and a bunch of the guys there were going to the midnight showing after work ended. I could only watch in jealousy as they left to have their fun, knowing I had an hour and a half trip home waiting for me like I did every night during that stint in El Segundo. 3 years later, I just had not found a reason to sit down and watch the movie. With the sequel on the horizon, I finally got myself a copy and waited for the ecstasy of pure action bliss to appear on screen. But I never got there. Guys, I’m sorry. I thought The Raid: Redeption was mostly boring. I know, you hate me. It’s ok, I kind of hate me too right now.

What I Liked:
-Well, you’d have to be a real hard ass not to enjoy any of the martial arts. If I had to single out a scene, I think my favorite is the first scene with Mad Dog where he decides to fight Jaka hand-to-hand. Ruhian, who plays Mad Dog, is not a very big man, but he is nimble and strong and he could obviously kick anyone’s ass. When he throws down with Jaka in that room, he gets picked up and thrown around a few times, which was kind of comical, but he really did seem unstoppable. And of course, he wins. He wins gloriously.

What I Didn’t Like:
-When it comes to world building, this movie doesn’t bother with many details. I can see why someone could be satisfied with a throw away story as long as it has amazing action, but I am not one of those people. There was a time when I was, but my expectations have been raised to a point of no return I suppose; I need plot. They enter the building because someone told them they should. Other than that detail it gets pretty fuzzy if you ask me. It seemed like there was a complicated world just on the cusp of being introduced, but someone threw that away in favor of another shoot out. Not that the quiet moments served to improve the movie in anyway. With so little to work with, I think it only left idiots like me wondering what the hell was really going on, and of course we are left without a resolution.  I heard from a friend of mine that The Raid 2 will have more story in it. I can say that I am excited by the prospect.
- I kept waiting to see some of the amazing action I heard so much about, and at first I thought “well, maybe it’s after all this gun play.” The gun play was really tedious for me. So a bunch of dudes got blown away. I have seen that before, many times. Finally, the hero of the movie, Rama, has to fend off a bunch of dudes with a knife, a baton, and eventually just his fists. I did enjoy that part to a point, but after the first 10 guys, I had seen enough of people just running into Rama’s weapons. But it kept going! On and on, one action scene after another. It wasn’t until Mad Dog showed up that my attention was finally perked. Short lived, because we have to go watch Rama fight some more random dudes.

What I Hated:
-Ehhh, even though the movie has its problems I’m saving my ire for another time.

Listen, I can tell that this movie is good and should be watched by lovers of action and fighting. If you have been jonesing for something new and exciting, there is no reason not to give this movie a try. It just wasn’t up to my standards. My problem, not the movie’s problem.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March Week 3: The Red Post Diaries

Hmm, I notice that last week I declared I was finally going to watch Boxcar Bertha. Apparently, I cannot be relied on for anything. Anywho, hello my friends and family! How was your week? I spent mine filling out application online and sending résumé into the black hole known as the internet. Other than that more movies of course. I am a bit behind in my reviews for the week. I still need to write up one for The Raid: Redemption and The Grand Budapest Hotel, although for the latter I have reached out for a little help and am very pleased with what I got. Those reviews will be put up this coming week along with whatever else I watch. I am really toying with the idea of doing some short video reviews. Not as myself of course; I would never force anyone to like at my face any longer then they had to. Something more… creative. I’ll leave it at that. Here’s what I review this week:

Click the link to see the review!

Next week the search for work continues, plus a trip to a strange new doctor because my current and longtime doctor will not take my insurance and will not see me because I have it! Yes, it’s always fun and games in my life. I hope you all have a good week.

Oh, and something I don’t ask for but wouldn’t mind if you did: if you think you have any pals that would like my stuff, have ‘em like my Facebook page? I would be very happy, and even consider being your best friend*!

*Note: The author of this post is a horrible monster of a human being and would not make a good friend to anyone. Not even Hitler.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Review: The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath (1940):

Synopsis – When the dust bowl pushes the Joad family out of their Oklahoma farmland, they head out to Cali-for-ni-a where the jobs are plentiful and Grandpa intends to roll around in some grapes. But guess what? Things don’t work out that way. Things don’t work out at all.

I got to see this projected out at one of the Oxnard movie theaters. I really appreciate getting to see any old movie like that. I can only assume that the person who decided to add this movie to the programming did so because the story seems once again poignant to our times. Well, more like it has and continues to be relevant since its creation. I didn’t read this book in school for some reason (not because I was slacking off, I swear), but the message of the rich taking advantage of the poor and passing the blame over and over; Yeah, no duh right? Pretty heavy stuff for a movie subject if you ask me, the kind of thing I thought the censors of the time would have out a stop to; but I noticed they only mentioned “reds” once in a throw away bit of dialogue.

What I Liked:
-Jane Darwell, who plays Ma Joad, has a face that conveys years of weariness and disappointment. Whether she is warning Tom against becoming a “mean” man or pushing the family along the path to California, she looks like she has seen some shit. While watching the movie, I kept thinking “Jeez, this lady was hired just to be upset.” You spend a lot of time looking at her face in close-ups, seeing every line as she frowns or grimaces. She makes you feel sad and after a while I was tired of looking at that mug. But then, completely unexpectedly, it all paid off. In the scene wherein the transient camp that the Joads are staying at has a dance, we see Tom ask his mother go out on the floor with him. What happens is a transformation of that normally dour face into a brilliant smile, complete with accompanying laughter. And you got me movie. I actually teared seeing her, and everyone else, so happy, even if just for a moment. They deserved that moment after all the hardship, and so did the movie. Bravo you bastards.
-I’m not very good at criticizing cinematography. I need to take a class or something so I can tell why what I’m looking at makes me feel how I do, and then translate that into coherent words. The cinematography in this movie is really good. Boom.
-Casey was my favorite character. I wish I knew that dude in real life.

What I Didn’t Like:
-Although the beginning of the movie starts off with a steady pace, once the Joads get on the road to California the movie begins to drag. Their truck seemed to be the main character throughout that section, and that was a mistake because we know it’s a broke-ass looking jalopy the minute we see it. Watching the car break down over and over just so we can have some character moments was tedious.
-One of the most famous bits in this movie is when Tom (played by Henry Fonda) monologues in a close-up saying things like “wherever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there”; Out of context, that speech has some power. In context to the movie, Tom doesn’t really seem to know what he’s talking about. It’s almost as if he has decided to speak a poem aloud that he had just though of. “Yeah. This’ll make me sound deep.” After he is done with his speech, his mother says she doesn’t understand, to which he replies, “Me neither, Ma, but – just somethin’ I been thinkin’ about.” Perhaps I was supposed to be so entranced with Fonda’s face that I wouldn’t notice he was just talking out of his ass?

What I Hated:
-Pappy. He’s actually Grandpa Joad, but he was playing toothless old pappy. I could imitate this old coot with no effort, because he was goofin it up hardcore for the camera (which I am known to do, sans camera). Luckily he’s not in this for long.


The Grapes of Wrath is a slow burner. I am really glad I sat through it because I found the second half to be very satisfying, mostly because of the pacing and beats of the first half. I don’t know if I would ever just pop a DVD of this in for a rewatch of my own accord, but if some people were going to hang out and watch it, I would be down.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Review: Jeff, Who Lives at Home

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011):

Synopsis – Jeff is an adult who is obsessed with Signs, thinking that if he just pays attention to every detail in his day he will find the path he is supposed to follow. His mother and older brother both think he is a weirdo lay about, and frankly they’re right. While Jeff looks for signs, older brother Pat finds that his relationship with Linda is in the rocks after one bad decision too many and mom just wants a nice birthday, but has come to expect little from her children.

This is another movie in my March Movie Project, recommended to me by my mom, Mom Torres. I asked her, after seeing the movie, why Jeff, Who Lives at Home? She said:

“It really surprised me. Doesn't happen too often.”

While I can say I didn't know what the movie was going to be like before I started watching it, I can’t say I was surprised by any of its developments. I don’t know if it’s because I've seen a few other “mumblecore” movies, or because I tend to have low expectations for comedies now days. Either way, I didn't really enjoy this movie and saw a lot of the plot coming. When a movie is as low key as this one, I don’t expect magic to happen necessarily, but I hope for something new and/or unusual at least. Maybe the money and the stars overwhelmed the script, maybe the directors were pushed into making something more formulaic because of the amount of money that had been given to them for the film. There was something off, and that is disappointing. 

What I Liked:
-When this movie gets serious, it works. Watching Jason Segel and Ed Helms adlib their way through a bonding moment actually came off as if they were brothers, or at least longtime friends. It’s chemistry like that that makes a film interesting to me, especially in a film that focuses on so few characters. And I like every scene with Susan Sarandon. Her character only has to be funny when she is talking to either of her sons on the phone. In fact, I have to say her storyline is the most interesting in the movie. In second place, any part where Ed Helms and Judy Greer’s relationship is dealt with in a serious way. Ed Helms being so dumb it is supposed to be funny doesn't work for me. Ed Helms being too selfish to realize he is losing the person he loves, now you have my attention again.

What I Didn’t Like:
-I’m pretty hard on comedies. I can probably count the comedies I thought were legitimately funny in the last 5 years on one hand. Jeff, Who Lives at Home is not a funny movie to me. This wouldn't be so much a problem if it wasn't evident that the filmmakers or actors were trying really hard to yuck it up sometimes. I don’t find people being assholes funny. I don’t like stoner humor. I am basically the worst funny person ever. The drama works for me, the yucks don’t.

What I Hated:
-Perhaps I am in the minority, but I don’t like looking at Jason Segel’s face. In this movie, that reaction is aggravated further by his unshaven, doughy look. I want to jump into the movie, hold him down, and shave him so that he could look at least slightly presentable. Am I supposed to find his partially lidded eyes and lazy smile charming? If I see him in person I might try to smack him.


I can’t say that watching Jeff, Who Lives at Home was offensive to my delicate film palate, but I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again. Other than a few key moments, it is a flawed film that cannot be saved by its actors or car crashes

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review: Mississippi Masala

Mississippi Masala (1991):

Synopsis – An India family flees from Uganda to Mississippi, and despite the movie’s title does not open up an Indian/Soul food kitchen. Five years later they are members of the community but still outsiders in every way imaginable.

Movie #5 in my March blog project, I asked my mom what made Mississippi special to her:

“I just love the characters. Love me some Denzel. I’m a sucker for love conquers all. Dad and I were an unlikely couple 43 years ago and here we are today.”

Mom, you can’t give me quotes that make me tear up like that; it makes it hard to continue my self-image of manliness. Mississippi Masala was a very interesting movie. They packed a lot of story into its two hour run time, and almost all of it was top notch. They could have based a story simply on the father’s struggles after being forced out of Uganda when Idi Amin (you know, the guy from The Last King of Scotland) took over, but because they took the story in many directions, the film is much more significant than a simple riches to rags struggle story. I’m seriously having a difficult time remembering all of the story points that were laid out in this tale, but I don’t feel that that is a negative of the film. Jay (Father) is obsessed with the land he left behind, neither Indian nor Ugandan anymore. Kinnu (Mother) is worried about father, while also being worried about their daughter and where she will end up in life, married to a rich man? Or forced to struggle everyday as they do. Meena (Daughter) is an attractive woman of low standing who still has the eye of some of the rich boys and is a bit rebellious, as her father taught her to be. This all sounds really cheesy when I type it out, but the movie is not like that at all. That only sums up 1/10 of what is going on in this movie. I haven’t begun to get into poor Denzel’s lot in life, having to work hard to support his family, making his way in a place that thinks the second he slacks off he is just another lazy person, not worthy of a business or any financial freedom. And the emotional turmoil everyone is going through constantly! Jeez, it’s just like real life. Celebrities! They’re just like us!

What I Liked:
-The story covers a lot. When it comes to being prejudice, and not just in the south, there is a lot of discrimination that can be thrown around. We have racism, of course. African-Americans shouldn’t be mixing it up with Indians! That’s crazy sauce (intentional masala related pun)! We have sexism. Unmarried ladies shouldn’t be caught canoodling in hotel rooms with men! We got financially driven discrimination. You can’t marry into that family, they aren’t rich! They work for a living! We even got class and racism discrimination amongst the Indian culture, which is difficult for me to touch on because I only have a vague idea of what class discrimination would even be like. A lot of issues in 2 hours, and most of them only slightly touched on, but I am happy to see a story that doesn’t focus solely on race. It could have, and that would have been one kind of a more generic movie, but this movie contains much more substance.
-Why are the very few romantic scenes so, well, romantic? There is a hesitant steaminess even in the scene where Denzel and Sarita Choudhury kiss for the first time. The camera movement in that scene is pretty great. You can see that it is hand held, or on a very movable podium, and the camera moves closer and around the couple as they experience each other’s lips for the first time. The sex scene was brief and had some kind of goofy music, but it worked well in the film. A longer sex scene would have changed the entire tone of the movie; and even though the main couple, Denzel and Sarita, are the focus of the marketing material for the movie, the film is about a lot of characters.
-What we have here is a nice snap shot of the early 90s. It might be specific to Mississippi for all I know, but there were some things that stood out. Clothes and hairstyles, music and dancing, a guy is wearing a clock around his neck at one point for Heaven’s sake. It’s all really goofy now, but I love it and glad I can revisit it on occasion through film.
-Sarita Choudhury, Roshan Seth, you two were amazing. I am going to seek out more of your work.

What I Didn't Like:
-This is a complaint/compliment for the film. When the film ends, there are a lot of questions we cannot answer confidently. Even the main couple’s story-line doesn't have an ending, unless you count the tiny bit during the end credits. Either way, my complaint is I wanted it to keep going, or at least tie up a few of the loose strings so I can feel a little satisfaction about the character’s places. If this became a weekly television show I would be very happy.
-There were a few scenes where I could feel the director’s hand guiding people as the said their lines. I don’t like it when I can sense that the director has just said “action” and everything starts from there.

What I Hated:
-Jerry curls are gross.


I would, and probably will, watch Mississippi Masala again. I am also now interested in checking out Monsoon Wedding when I get a chance. Very enjoyable, lots to dig through. 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review (sort of): Sideways

Sideways (2004):

Synopsis – Two men, who are probably not much older than me now but at the time I first saw it they seemed way too old to act the way they do, spend a bachelor weekend getting into trouble and drinking wine.

I think I saw Sideways in the theater back in the day. Let’s see; I would have been 23, not really into movies yet. My top movie back then would have been Good Will Hunting or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This was probably the first “dark” comedy that I actually found funny. And Sideways holds up after 10 years. Something scary happened this time though. I found myself relating to Miles, Paul Giamatti’s character a lot. I’m not quite middle aged yet, and I haven’t been through a divorce, but when it comes to certain feelings, like not leaving any mark in the world or wanting to be an artist and being told that I might not be good enough, yeah. It’s pretty depressing, but in the long run I don’t expect to leave a huge hole in this world when I leave it. I just want the people I love to remember me as a good man who loved them. And art, well, art is bullshit anyway. This is my opinion of course.

What I Liked:
-The movie is somehow all about depressing and false subjects, yet is so much fun to watch playing out. Even after multiple viewing I eagerly await every twist and turn in Miles and Jack’s adventures in wine country. It’s a bad situation because those boys are all kinds of shades of gray, and they happen to meet a couple of women who don’t mind walking the line on the dark side. What these assholes do to those women is terrible, but I wouldn’t change this movie for the world. One can practically anticipate each action and consequence right from the beginning, even at a first viewing. You aren’t supposed to be able to judge a book by its cover right? Well, I think with these two dudes, an exception can be made. When it comes to the script, I don’t think it can be improved.
-I finally took notice of the scene that focuses on Virginia Madsen when she begins a monologue about why wine is special to her. That is some Hitchcock level worship there. The way everything goes dark to frame her face, all other noise is gone except maybe a little music, and here we are, gazing at a suddenly stunning Virginia Madsen. That scene is pretty good, but Giamatti’s reaction directly afterwards is what really give the moment its power.
-Sandra Oh is pretty great.


Whoa, wait a minute; aren’t we missing some categories in the breakdown? People, as far as I’m concerned Sideways is a perfect movie. I know it has some flaws and a better critic than I could point them out with ease, but I love this movie through and through. When it comes to comedies this is in my top 5 of all time. So if you haven’t watched it, you really should. And then you can tell me how wrong I am!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March Week 2: Scott Pilgrim vs the Post

A nice and easy paced week for me this time. Writing out the full reviews like I have been has been like a breath of fresh air every time, and I intend to keep it up. But it does slow down my watching. I think the pros vastly outweigh the cons right now. We’ll see down the line. I’m still looking for work. I’ve started rummaging through the retail jobs now, looking for anything that will give me some damn income. Money is money right? Meanwhile I will continue looking for computer jobs.

Films Seen:

Click the links to see the reviews!

I keep meaning to watch Boxcar Bertha, which is Scorsese’s second film, but my film companions always convince me that there is something else to watch. Next week, it’s going to happen. YOU HEAR THAT JOSE AND SARAH? It’s going to happen. I hope you guys had a good week, and a good coming week. Go see some stuff and tell me about it. I want to know what’s streaming or spinning in your place!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: 300: Rise of an Empire!

300: Rise of an Empire:

Synopsis – A prequel, interquel, and sequel to 300, Rise of an Empire sees the Greeks who are left struggle against God King Xerxes and his armies. Also some badass lady who is super smart and cool and EVIL.

How can a movie be so entertaining and yet so incredibly mediocre? I liked 300, but not enough to ever watch it a second time. Now, after seeing the sequel, I am kind of jonesing to see it again only so I can compare it to what I just saw. Rise of Cobra an Empire had me doubled over with laughter sometimes. The ridiculousness of the violence and plotting and acting is so bat shit crazy that I could not help but enjoy myself. But let me put this up front: This is not a movie I will watch again. I mean, yeah, if some friends are getting together and they want to watch it I’m not going to run out of the room screaming, I just mean it isn’t joining my DVD collection. It is like a summer blockbuster without the PG-13 friendliness but just as much dumbitude. Does that sound like a movie you would like? You probably will. Breakdown:

What I Liked:
-Everything effect-wise was glorious to look at. I know a lot of people hate the over use of CGI blood movies like this are known for, but it doesn’t bother me. Everything is of course overdone, from the slow-mo fighting to the slow-mo walking to the slow-mo swimming. The effects and over-the-topness is the only real reason to see the movie.
-Death by horse. ‘Nuff said.

What I Didn’t Like:
-The story features A LOT of time jumping. Like I said in the synopsis, this is a prequel interquel sequel, so the film keeps moving all over time, spending the most of it in the interquel position. It’s confusing, and I can only assume it was an attempt on the film makers to stay true to the material it was based on. I mean, they weren’t trying to smart it up were they? Don’t they know their audience (people like me)?
-Holy shite there are some ridiculous story bits in this movie. I found almost all of them hilarious, therefore entertaining, but it wasn’t good. Bad film makers! I don’t want to go into too much detail here, I will just mention one bit: A sex scene so stupid it makes the one in Watchmen seem practically sane.

What I Hated:
-The attempt of the film makers to keep this movie directly connected to the first movie was understandable, but if anything dragged down the movie it was those moments. Bringing back the hunchback? Bad idea, he’s ugly and dumb. Showing the messenger from the first movie in a role that makes him seem really disproportionately important to the plot? WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? Was this all in the Xerxes book? I guess I’ll never know because I don’t want Frank Miller to get any of my money for comics.
-Maybe this is just me but, and I can’t believe I’m saying this; Sullivan Stapleton has zero charisma compared to Gerard Butler. Gerard Butler and charisma… what is wrong with the world!?!?

This movie is stupid, but it still managed to entertain the hell out of me. My suggestion is that if you think you are going to enjoy 300: Rise of an Empire, go see it now while it is in theaters and be overwhelmed by the effects. At home, I doubt very much this movie will have any impact.

Alternate Titles:
300 2 (deuce)
301 Spartans (inaccurate)
300: Oh, so the Greeks could fight even though you made fun of them in the first movie?
300: Eva Green shouldn’t wear makeup that accentuates her eyes so much

300: Has two women main characters, but still fails the Bechdel test

Review: Funny GIrl

Funny Girl (1968):

Synopsis – She wants to be a star, so she does that. And apparently she’s ugly? I mean, she’s not conventionally beautiful, but ugly? C’mon. Well, anyway, she gets by on her self-deprecating sense of humor and her denial of rejection in all its forms.

Movie #4 in the March movie project, I asked my mom what makes Funny Girl special to her:
“I love the ugly duckling makes good story. I memorized every song. Barbra Streisand became a hero to me.”
“I hated her in Hello Dolly though.”
I just added that last part in on a whim, I don’t know if she wanted me to. My mom is a funny lady, which happens to be the sequel to Funny Girl, but also a fact. I really doubt she was ever the ugly duckling. I’m biased, I know, but my mom has always been a beautiful woman, and she was even in some musical productions (not to mention a band or two). I can’t imagine her ever comparing herself to Fanny Brice from this movie, but perhaps that’s something everyone does. Funny Girl is the most completely acceptable musical I have seen on film in a long time. By which I mean I didn’t have an issue with any part of the story or music. And you know why it works for me? The sense of humor, it gets me every time. I like self-deprecating humor, I use it a lot myself, so with Streisand throwing out all the “who me?” type jokes, I was bound to enjoy everything she said. I can understand why it would be a turn off for some people though. It gets tiresome when you know someone like that in real life. And Streisand now has a reputation as a diva so maybe the jokes would come off false to the average viewer. But she was a practically a nobody when this movie was made. There is an innocence of character that is right there on the screen, and I appreciate that.

What I Liked:
-Barbra Streisand is funny. I know at this point of pop culture history Streisand is considered a joke or not all most of the time, but she shows some serious chops in this movie. Every joke she throws out lands smoothly and her expressions are all perfect for each situation. I don’t know if she was just reading from a script, but it felt perfectly natural for her.
-It was good to hear these songs in context to the movies. I think I had heard most of them before, once again usually poking fun at Barbra Streisand, and until now they hadn’t really had in impact on me. Don’t Rain on My Parade always seemed like a weird and defensive song, but in the context of this film it is quite good.
-It looks like this was an adaptation of the stage production of the same name. If that is the case, then this is how you do that. One of my complaints about My Fair Lady was how stagnant all the environments felt because they seem to have built a bunch of sets directly based off of the play, making it feel unnatural, unlived in. Funny Girl doesn’t have that problem at all. Everything feels real and lived in and still manages to work in a musical.

What I Didn’t Like:
-Well, since this story is semi-based on someone’s real life, I guess faulting the story feels a little hollow. But that ending is really against the tone of the rest of the movie.

What I Hated:


A good and funny musical with a downer ending, this is now another movie I long to see projected. A nice way to spend a few hours.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review: Forks over Knives

Synopsis – Stop eating meat and dairy. Seriously, you’ll live longer.

Here is the full cast. Since it’s a documentary there are no celebrities to speak of other than clips of news casts and Bill Maher.

Sometimes a documentary is so inspirational one cannot help but be driven into action. This was the next film in my March film project, one that my mother had asked me on more than one occasion to watch. Being the terrible son that I am, I chose to watch several seasons of USA shows (Characters Welcome) instead. Today I broke that chain and sat down and watched the movie. After it was over I promptly put on my walking shoes and took a walk over to a Blenders in the Grass that is not too far away, but far enough to justify it as an exercise expenditure. There I got 2 ounces of wheat grass juice, drank it down, and then walked back to the apartment. Sitting at my computer, stirring the movie around in my head, I suddenly found something else stirring unexpectedly. The wheat grass juice soon left my body the same way it came in, and I now have that terrible taste doubled up in my mouth. This was totally my fault. Walking as fast as I was combined with a sudden consumption of something I don’t normally drink and then more walking was a recipe for disaster.
 The movie didn't tell me to do all this by the way. I’m the one who decided it was time to take a step in the right direction health-wise. This film simply presents evidence that suggests that our mostly meat and dairy diet is probably killing us. I think those of us who have at least a passing interest in health probably already know that. How the film assists that knowledge is by showing a few people who change their diet and get results that don’t seem possible otherwise.  Along the lines of Morgan Spurlock’s doc Super Size Me, the writer and director of this movie submits himself to a diet regimen to see the effect it will have on his well-being. This is after he talks about how he just got done drinking 2 Redbulls and a 12 oz Coke (I don’t about you, but that sounds like insanity to me). Anyway, that particular thread is mostly ignored until the very end of the movie, because unlike Spurlock the documentarian decided not to make the film about him. There are others who are also put on a new diet regimen and we get to see the results of their journeys. The film also tells the story of two doctors and their work when pertaining to healthcare. They both figure out that diet is a huge part of what determines our quality of life and the documentary names a lot of studies that back up their findings. Forks over Knives is good that way, not trying to dumb down the information too much as opposed to another documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, which is full of cartoons and pop music, therefore more entertaining but less informative in the long run. It seems to be a well thought out, if sometimes slow, information delivery system, and it definitely has me thinking which should be the goal of any documentary. I only gave it 3 stars out of 5 on Letterboxd because while it is a good documentary, it isn’t necessarily special as a film.

I don’t intend to do my regular breakdown here. I will say that I think watching this doc while be beneficial to almost anyone. I am very glad I watched it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Review: City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts (2002):

Synopsis - Jimmy is a con artist who finds himself in a pickle after his boss disappears when their business comes under scrutiny. Jimmy decides to track him down, taking him on a sleazy journey to Thailand and Cambodia, where everyone is working an angle and monkeys occasionally steal your glasses.

City of Ghosts. Never heard of it? Me neither. I was just surfing the options of my friend’s HBO account and there I saw a picture of internet dreamboat Stellan Skarsgard. There is something special about that man with his mummified yet still good looks, wispy hair, and strange accent. Based on the actual plot description, I thought it might be worth a watch. Like Sci-Fi movies, I am constantly looking good thrillers but more than often find myself disappointed. This was… lukewarm at best. Break down:

What I Liked:
-Although the story spent a lot of time being purposely mysterious and annoying because of its vagueness, I did find myself interested in following it to its conclusion. Matt Damon plays out of his league/element pretty well, and with people like Gerard Depardieu and Stellan Skarsgard doing their best to be cagey and somewhat still likable, there is a lot that could have gone a lot worse. So, props, I guess?
-I like James Caan. He didn’t have to do much in this movie, but I liked everything I saw. I don’t know when the last time I said that about a James Caan performance, at least after the 80’s.
-Cambodia and Thailand are fascinating to me. The hot climates along with a people who seem shady and innocent at the same time are a strange mixture that often makes for a most interesting setting. I am sure all I am seeing are stereotypes; I don’t really have anything to base that on though. Impoverished and unsound buildings in a sprawling maze of a city, dirt roads that leads to the swamplands or fields, or take you to ancient structures with huge amounts of spiritual and historical significance. I find it all simultaneously repelling and enchanting.

What I Didn’t Like:
-Although I did like the characters when it came to their actions, other than the surface level motivations I’m not sure there is much depth in there. Is Matt Dillon’s character a good man? And if so, why was he caught up with these con artists scams? In the beginning of the movie, we find out that the insurance company he is helping to run is not going to be able to pay any of the victims of a recent hurricane. It really doesn’t seem as if he is concerned for the lives of those people who will now be homeless, but when he is in Cambodia looking for his boss and mentor, he appears to be turning over a new leaf. But there just isn’t enough going on to motivate someone toward the altruistic actions that end up happening in the movie.
-I found myself at a strange place when it came to the end of the movie. While I won’t go into too many details, I will say that it ends on a high note. I am both happy and sad it ended this way. Happy because it could have gone extremely dark, which is certainly where I thought it would end and would have been appropriate for the movie’s tone. So when it surprised me by not being a total downer, it earned several points in the happiness column. Even with that said, I also thought the ending felt a little like a cheat. For most of the time, the movie is pretty dark and you might feel as if none of the characters deserve any sort of redemption. So when redemption is received, I could not help but think there was some revision to the script after someone noted it was a bit too much on the negative side. It reminds of the way The Killing Fields has a “happy” ending when it was just darkness all the way up until then.

What I Hated:
-Once again I don’t have any sort of anger worked up at any part of this movie. On a personal note, I could always use more Stellan Skargard. You know, in general.


While I am not in any sort of rush to watch City of Ghosts again, I certainly wouldn’t mind having it in my DVD collection. It was an ok thriller, sometimes confusing, mostly dark with an ending that will please my dad (he only likes movies with happy endings, this was close enough). Not a terrible way to spend an hour and a half. I watched it on HBOgo.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

March Week 1: xXx - Post of the Union

Hey guys and gals, how's your week been? I've been keeping myself pretty busy as you can see if you have been reading my updates. I decided to try this new format out. I was told that while my Sunday post is enjoyable, it can be intimidating to see all those reviews in one place. Some people just don't have that much time to read through my boring musings apparently. I hope that the individual review format is working better for you guys. I am personally enjoying writing them like that, it feels more like a job that way. Keeps my mind in working order too. Give me some feed back if you have any opinions on what I should do with the blog, I am always open to hear some new ideas.

Films Seen:

Two movies from the March project, two for funsies. Just click on the name to go to the review! I have to confess that I have also seen 2 more movie not listed. Rear Window and City of Ghosts. The Review for City of Ghosts is forthcoming and will probably be posted tomorrow. Rear Window on the other hand... well, I have talked about in the past how hard it is for me to write about movies I think are great. Rear Window as far as I'm concerned is a masterpiece. So what I'm saying is I'm working on it. This is cool, I'm excited and I hope you are too. Please let me know if you have any recommendations via comments of Facebook or Twitter. Thanks for reading everyone!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Bullitt

Bullitt (1968):

Synopsis – Steve McQueen plays a man named Frank Bullitt, a cop or detective or something law related (with a name like that there are only so many jobs you can get). When a man being held under police protection is murdered, Bullitt takes it upon himself to track down the killers. Along the way he must dodge politicians and higher ups, all with their own agendas.

So, Bullitt. This is the next movie from my March blog project. I asked my mom what made this movie special to her. She said:
“Steve McQueen. ‘Nuff said.”
I had never seen Steve McQueen in a movie before this. He is striking in appearance; light eyes the color of faded blue jeans, lined and handsome face, able to wear a turtle neck without looking like a dink. His acting will be judged at a later date. In this movie he was just fine, but I don’t think he was required to do much other than look determined. This movie was something else. While I was watching it I began to feel sad for the weirdest reason: I realized I will never be able to make a film like this because it is no longer the 70s. I realize this was a 68 film, but I still associate the fashion and cars and mannerisms with the 70s. This movie branched off to give us The French Connection and Dirty Harry, and you can see how much Bullitt obviously influenced them. Bullitt the character is not a cop on the edge like Harry Callahan was, but he is ready to push the boundaries of the law in order to catch the real crooks. I want to get into my break down, but I want point out first that the chase scene is amazing, better than the one in the French Connection in my opinion. I noticed that they reused a section of the chase, shot from a different angle, but obviously the same because the cars they passed were the exact same cars they had already passed. I mean, there could be a bunch of green Volkswagen bugs all over the place. But anyway, that didn't take away from the excitement in the moment.

What I Liked:
-The cinematography was superb. William A. Fraker could have gone with the standard steady cam, stationary cam sort of action, but he found a lot of places to insert shots from below, shots from hallways, just lots of really tight good work. No doubt he went on to do great things. Let’s see, Rosemary’s Baby, yeah that’s the stuff, Tombstone, cool movie, WarGames, ok, StreetFighter? Uh, sure, everyone has a stinker sometimes. Father of the Bride part 2? You know what, let us remember him for the great stuff he did rather than the mediocre to terrible. Honeymoon in Vegas and Vegas Vacation? That’s it, I’m out.
-I really dug the dialogue in this movie. There wasn't a lot of yelling or arguing. Mostly it was quiet scenes where Robert Vaughn would be trying to apply pressure to McQueen or McQueen and Simon Oakland would have a conversation that mostly relied on the looks they gave each other. One of my favorite bits of the movie takes place in the hospital after one of the crooks gets shot. The doctors and nurses never yell or back talk to each other like what is so normal to see in medical dramas from today. Even when a man is bleeding out on a table everything is very calm and collected, the medical team doing what they can but never panicking. It is pretty groovy.

What I Didn't Like:
-I’ll be honest, even though I know this isn't a perfect movie there isn't much I can single out to complain about. Other than the chase scene and the camera work I don’t think there is anything revolutionary about this movie. It is just a solid thriller/drama.

What I Hated:
-This movie is rated PG. Like Jaws, I can only assume that its lack of sex kept it from an R rating, but PG? I can see why they made the PG-13 rating, as useless as it seems nowadays. There is a lot of blood in this movie, even though it seems like it is rather light on the gun play. When someone does get shot, the guy with the red paint runs over and douses the offending area.


I really enjoyed Bullitt. I am actually kind of jonesing to watch it again. That’s a pretty good sign. I hope I get to see it projected someday. Here’s what you do: Cuddle up with your cutie or a big bowl of popped corn, or both, turn down the lights and enjoy a few hours of atmosphere. I watched it on Amazon Prime.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Review: The Station Agent

The Station Agent (2003):

Synopsis – A quiet man with stature problems loses his best friend and then most of the rest of his life because of that. He resorts to moving into an unused train station building, hoping to live the rest of his life in solitude. He is foiled again and again by a crazy lady who tries to run him over, a Cuban man who won’t shut up, and a little girl who is a little girl. Oh yeah, and a hot librarian.

I’ve kind of been excited to see The Station Agent for a while now. I remember hearing about how amazing all of Thomas McCarthy’s movies were on podcasts like Filmspotting and the /filmcast. I saw one of his three directed movies on a trip to England, and I was not disappointed. Win Win, as I remember it, was a well-directed and well scripted dramedy with tons of heart. It reminded me of an Alexander Payne movie, with a bit less of the “humans are all gross” thing going on. So I’m sure I have built up The Station Agent in my mind over the years. The movie was good, but ultimately disappointing for me. It is Thomas McCarthy’s directorial debut, and I think that is fairly evident throughout the movie. Some heavy direction can be seen, along with dialogue that came off as cliché and forced. But even with these criticisms The Station Agent is a good film with plenty going for it.

What I Liked:
-Peter Dinklage. At this point in his career saying Peter Dinklage is great is kind of a DUH, so I won’t go into that too much. In this movie he played quiet and rude, but he never came off as an asshole, which is something I wish I could pull off in my life. He displays such a depth of character just through his actions. As I said in the synopsis, he is practically tortured into social relationships by the people he meets in Newfoundland, New Jersey, and you just want to give him a great big hug while he begrudgingly allows these people to invade his personal space and bring him out of his depression. He is 100 percent the best thing about the movie.
-Thomas McCarthy sure did manage to make an interesting narrative. I’m going to go through the stuff in the story: Peter Dinklage is essentially homeless and depressed after his friend dies; Bobby Cannavale plays a food truck’s son who is substituting for his father while he is Ill; Patricia Clarkson is a woman mourning a loss and dealing with a separation from her husband at the same time; Raven Goodwin is a precocious child who seems to have no parental guidance and wanders around train yards risking tetanus; Michelle Williams is the local librarian who is a girl and has girl problems. That’s a lot of stuff, but it is all blended into this smooth flowing story that goes down great, like the 23 flavors of Dr. Pepper. Dr. Pepper is not a sponsor of this review. There are only a few hitches to speak of…

What I Didn’t Like:
-Poor, poor Michelle Williams. When I was writing that bit about the story just now, I totally forgot that she was in the movie. From what I could see she was the most heavily directed in this, with every scene coming of as stiff and a bit awkward. When she is introduced in the film, she is a carrying an arm load of books in the library, which she drops as she screams after seeing Peter Dinklage for the first time. I feel like I could practically hear Thomas McCarthy saying “3, 2, 1, ok drop the books!” It was incredibly forced. After that, she is seen at the library a few times, not really developing into a character other than the pretty librarian, which might be all she was supposed to be. Then the bar scene happens. Or rather the right outside of the bar scene happens. I will save this bit for a little later.

What I Hated:
-This little part is just a personal pet peeve of mine. SPOILER to follow: There is a scene where we see the 3 mains sitting on the porch of the train building, and Bobby Cannavale gets up to play soccer with some kids and the adult man who is with them (I’m not going to assume he’s their father, he could have been a kidnapper for all I know! This is not important anyway). The camera shows Cannavale kicking the ball with the kids, then a shot of Patricia Clarkson smiling. That smile begins to disappear from her face. The camera goes back to the game with a closer shot on the little boy. The camera then goes BACK to Clarkson, who is no longer smiling. SHE IS SAD NOW, she must be thinking of her own child who has died. This just felt much too heavy handed to me. The audience is smart; there is no need to force a connection to the character like that. We knew she might be sad the minute we saw those kids having fun, because Clarkson’s character is a bit manic and prone to her emotions more than the other two. Anyone would be sad being reminded of a better time.
-Now here we are, outside the bar. Michelle Williams is hanging out with Peter Dinklage. She is disappointed because she was expecting her boyfriend to show up and instead he called her and gave some bullshit excuse. VROOM! Up pulls a truck and out pops a blond headed doofus, the boyfriend just mentioned. He can’t understand what the Michelle Williams’ problem is, so HE PUSHES HER. Out of nowhere and unprovoked he pushes her, which I guess was the point but it just felt so INCREDIBLY fake. He then pushes Dinklage when he tries to get in the way, and you know what I’m not even going to go on. It was just a terrible scene, forced and fake and not necessary.


It’s always a little tough writing the verdict after I have just listed things I hated. I should probably write this part first so I stick with my original impression and not get too fixated on the details that troubled me. Here’s what I think: The Station Agent is a better than average movie, with some problems that a first time director would run into that don’t take away too much from the experience. Peter Dinklage’s performance alone is worth the hour and a half of your time. Give it a watch. It is currently on Netflix Instant.