2018 Blind Spot Series: Singin' in the Rain


What I knew going in: I had seen some of the musical numbers


A silent film star, Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) finds himself having to get with the changing times when the first "talkie" film is a big hit. A chance meeting with a young up and coming actress, Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds) blooms into a secret romance when she is talked into dubbing over Don's frequent costar, Lina (Jean Hagen) in their newest films.

I decided I wanted to think of something other than A Clockwork Orange when I hear the song "Singin' in the Rain." As much as I love tap dancing, I'm awful at watching these classics all the way through instead of just looking up specific routines.

This film is absolutely delightful. The fact that Debbie Reynolds didn't have any dance experience before she made this is extraordinary. Gene Kelly is always a reliable leading man and Donald O'Connor is a joy to watch. The funny thing is this film makes me hate The Artist even more in retrospect. I should've watched this then. 

I think they captured the 1920's feel well, and while a later routine gets a bit self indulgent, the spectacle is worth it. I loved that my son sat down and watched this with me. And that he tried to tap dance himself afterwards while singing the title song. Moments like these make me love movies even more.

Recommended: Yes


Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "I'll do it, but I never want to see you again." - Kathy (Debbie Reynolds)

Thursday Movie Picks: Meltdowns

We've all had them, right? Maybe not as dramatic or messy as some. Or maybe our children have had them, and we have to handle it while trying not to die of embarrassment. Or perhaps someone has wire hangers in their closet. But Wanderer wants us to talk about meltdowns this week. Here are some of my favorite films where the characters are just done.

1) Hello I Must Be Going

Amy (Melanie Lynskey) is going through a divorce, has moved back in with her parents, then starts to have an affair with a guy a lot younger than herself. When everything gets heavy, she has one of my all time favorite moments in film where she falls over and says "where the fuck is bottom?" 

2) Black Swan 

This might be the most controlled and beautiful meltdown of all time but Nina is essentially losing her shit during her performance. *puts Black Swan DVD in*

3) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy

HE'S IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!


Indie Gems: BPM (Beats Per Minute)

I want you to live.

Members of the French advocacy group ACT UP Paris are struggling with getting their leaders to acknowledge the AIDS crisis in 1990. Our main view point is a young HIV positive man, Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) who finds a new relationship with Nathan (Arnaud Valois) a new recruit.

This is yet another movie that gets the AIDS crisis better than Philadelphia does. I know it's a weird way to start a review but I keep thinking back to my February Blind Spot and I still can't believe how the Academy embraced something that played it so safe. The extraordinary thing about BPM is that a number of the scenes take place in a classroom where the group meets. They just debate and talk out their issues, and it's fascinating. A film that relies so heavily on scenes like that already has an up hill battle with keeping everyone's attention and this film tackles it perfectly. I could've sat it on these meetings all day. 

Biscayart and Valois have excellent chemistry together, and Adèle Haenel who was in another French film I love, Water Lilies also has a big role. The cinematography in this is gorgeous as well. Not only is there a stunning shot of the Parisian skyline (you'll know it when you see it) but even the way they shot their protests and marches was beautiful. They made it feel like you were really there with them.

If there's one place BPM struggles, it's towards the end. Obviously, the film is going to get heavy but I just didn't think the last 20 minutes or so was as engaging as the rest of the film. There was a stark contrast between the two parts. 

I wish this would've been on the Best Foreign Film ballot at the Oscars this year. It certainly deserved to be.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix DVD

Memorable Quote: "You gave it up? For five years?" - Sean (Nahuel Pérez Biscayart) 

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Movies

This week's theme from Wandering Through the Shelves is something we all doubly love, right? MOVIES about MOVIES! There's actually some great films in this little sub-genre, one of them was a favorite of mine last year.  Here's what I came up with. The only rule I gave myself was that I couldn't re-use the three I chose when we had this topic back in 2014, and those were Tropic Thunder, Bowfinger, and Boogie Nights.

1) The Disaster Artist

The hilarious detailing of the making of the notoriously bad movie The Room. I loved this to much. Never betray me. 

2) Scream 3

I love the Scream trilogy, and the subplot in this one involved members of the "Stab" movie within a movie being offed as well.

3) Me, Earl And The Dying Girl

The teenagers in this film try to make a movie for their dying friend. The result was of course me crying like a baby. 


Review: A Quiet Place

Shhhhh

A family of five, Lee, (John Krasinski) Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and their three children Regan, Marcus, and Beau (Millicent Simmonds, Cade Jupe, and Noah Woodward) live on a farm in complete silence. The world is now inhabited by creatures that hunt by sound. They have a bit of an advantage. Their daughter Regan is deaf meaning the entire family already knows sign language but day to day life is still a struggle. Especially now that Evelyn is pregnant. 

After seeing the first teaser trailer, I knew immediately that I wanted to see this and that I wanted to know as little as possible going in. I honestly would not have even chose to watch the second trailer released if it hadn't been attached to some movies I'd seen. That paid off, not because the movie itself is so unpredictable, but it helps put you in the atmosphere.

Calling this movie tense is an understatement. It's almost completely silent. There's maybe 10-15 lines of spoken dialogue in this entire film. It makes you constantly nervous about noise. I saw this in an empty theater and I flinched when I heard the heater kick in. What elevates this are the characters. It's so easy for characters in horror movies to make dumb choices and these people, while not perfect don't fall victim to awful decisions. (Well, aside from getting pregnant in the first place, I suppose)

It's not free of tropes, but the film does everything so well that it earns the right to use them. Simmonds and Jupe don't have any of the typical annoying kid characteristics and I really cared about them. Krasinski and Blunt obviously have wonderful chemistry together, and this directorial effort from him is far better than his previous film, The Hollars. He really captured the mood and brought out the best in his actors.

Recommended: Yes

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: 

Indie Gems: To The Bone

Calorie Asperger's

Ellen (Lily Collins) is a young artist struggling with anorexia. Not only is she killing herself, she's killing her relationship with her family. A last ditch effort by her step mother, Susan. (Carrie Preston) sends her to live in a group home run by Dr. Beckham (Keanu Reeves)

This film got a lot of flak for the way it portrays eating disorders when it first came out. Like any time a mental illness is shown in film, there's the realism vs exploitation debate. I actually appreciated the care they took in showing all of this. Eating disorders on screen for me are shitty Lifetime movies where the bulimic girl for some reason hides jars of vomit in her closet. (because that's logical) No such foolishness goes on in To The Bone. The few "tricks" they show the girls doing to avoid food are not out there and they do not for one second shy away from how devastating these illnesses are.

Collins is really proving herself to be a capable actress. I liked her a lot here. This material was clearly close to her heart. The entire cast work really well together and there are some gorgeous shots in this movie. I can buy Reeves as the cool doctor. And this film does something that I always appreciate in film, and that's portraying the step parents as helpful. That gets overlooked so much.

Grade: A-

Watched on: Netflix Instant

Memorable Quote: "People say they love you. But what they mean is they love how loving you makes them feel about themselves." - Ellen (Lily Collins)

Thursday Movie Picks: Underground

This week's Theme from Wandering Through The Shelves is movies that take place underground. Unless I'm taking this too literally and we're supposed to be talking about "underground" in the sense that the films started with small viewings? I'm going to go with actually underground. Be nice to me if I'm wrong. I have anxiety. 

1) Buried

This film is literally just Ryan Reynolds in a box underground. The premise is terrifying. It's probably the best performance he's ever given aside from Deadpool.

2) The Midnight Meat Train

This is a fun horror movie. While it's not set completely underground, that's where all the gory magic happens.

3) City of Ember

This completely flopped at the box office but I didn't think it was bad. It's not outstanding but it was a decent family film. Saoirse Ronan is great in it, as always.