Thursday, February 4, 2016

Awards Season Condensed

[NOTE: The following excerpt was written back in December 2015. The font will be different than the remainder of the post, which will be written tonight.]
Greetings to all. The most exciting time of the year is here. Forget the traditional holidays involving gift-giving between loved ones. The time I'm referring to is awards season because what better gift can be bestowed than the gift of the best in film. This is, of course, how I feel personally. The Oscars are much greater than Santa. I mean, please. Though you must admit the interesting twist of awards season beginning right around when the holidays start. Coincidence? Probably.

As usual, I am typing away inside my warm and cozy local coffee shop (Starbucks) because I enjoy the cliche. You know, struggling writers writing in a coffee shop. I enjoy the mindless humor I concoct. I've been meaning to write about the Golden Globe nominations, which were announced last Thursday, and just now I'm finally getting to it. Today is currently the 14th of December, so I can give you a shocking glance at how long it takes me to finish these posts. Expect this to be posted next year. Onto the Globes, there were shocks, snubs, and completely predictable placeholders for the nominees of the Golden Globes. Did that make any grammatical sense? I'll just go ahead and fill some space by presenting you with the nominees, followed by my thoughts on them of course. I'll also include who I think will win and who I want to win. Another note I want to make is that I signed up for a website called The Gold Derby, which is a place to predict winners/nominations in various award shows. What I say will reflect how accurate my predictions were. Because I'm a movie psychic.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Carol
The Revenant
Mad Max: Fury Road
Spotlight
Room
These were pretty much all sure things. I will express my disbelief at the nomination of Mad Max since I summed it up as pure blockbuster entertainment. Considering the first two films, with Mel Gibson (great guy), saw no love from the awards circuit, I expected just as much for the newest installment. And now Fury Road is leading the Critics' Choice nominees with a total of thirteen (that's 1-3) nominations. What will its fate be at the Academy Awards? Time will tell. I'm also surprised that Bridge of Spies received little accolades because Americans adore films that are majorly anti-Russia. You know it's true. I also expected nominations for The Danish Girl and Steve Jobs but as you can see, nothing. Prediction: Spotlight. Wish: Spotlight.


Best Motion Picture - Comedy
The Big Short
The Martian
Joy
Trainwreck
Spy
Again, all predictable. This is one of the categories I predicted correctly across the board. I truly cannot contain my joy (pun) at the nomination for Spy, as it was truly (x2) the funniest film of the year that I've seen thus far. Already I've seen it twice and laughed uncontrollably each time. Melissa McCarthy is a comedic force here, and Jason Statham is a surprising hilarity. Here's hoping for a sequel. I am looking forward to watching The Big Short because it involves the 2008 financial crisis and possesses impressive star power. David O. Russell's Joy is a sure-thing to be as amazing as his previous films, and I say this because I have faith in directors and actors. Just them actually, nobody else can be believed in. Prediction: Joy. Wish: Spy, because it was that funny.


Best Actor - Drama
Bryan Cranston in Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant
Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl
Will Smith in Concussion
Michael Fassbender in Steve Jobs
The only confusing actor here is Will Smith. One, I've never heard of Concussion until now. Two, why? I wholly expected Johnny Depp to hold a place here for his portrayal of a real-life criminal, Whitey Bulger, since the Academy--every awards academy really--loves him. Honestly, who is going to get the Oscar nod, the Fresh Prince or Edward Scissorhands? Point well made. (I was about to type the Fresh Prince of Edward Scissorhands. Oh, how ridiculously amusing I am.) The obvious winner seems to be Leonardo DiCaprio because "it's about time." I'm going to coin this phrase, as it applies often in the awards stratosphere for actors who earn every nomination they receive but have yet to win. Kate Winslet in The Reader, for example. I would love to see Leo win, but the film in question, The Revenant, looks terribly uninteresting. And with the director of Birdman at the helm? Well, you can see where I'm going with that. Birdman sucked. Michael Fassbender is another reasonable contender, transforming himself into Steve Jobs when he, himself, does not resemble Steve Jobs. Also, I must say that I am excited for Bryan Cranston this year because (1) I admire him as an actor, (2) the movie Trumbo looks entertaining, and (3) Walter White. Point well made. Prediction: Leonardo DiCaprio. Wish: Bryan Cranston, sorry Leo.


Best Actress - Drama
Cate Blanchett in Carol
Rooney Mara in Carol
Brie Larson in Room
Saoirse Ronan in Brooklyn
Alicia Vikander in The Danish Girl
Once again, I guessed the nominations correctly across the board. Hooray for me. What is curious and somewhat frustrating is that Rooney Mara will be considered for the Best Supporting Actress category at the Oscars, yet she qualifies as a lead here at the Globes. It forces other dramatic contenders from getting the nomination, which I find unfair. The sure-thing appears to be, at the moment, Brie Larson, as she leads every expert's list for winning Best Actress across the board. Phrase of the day: "Across the board." I would have to watch Room before making any accusations or giving support, for Jennifer Lawrence is a major player in the Oscar race as well and I do love her. Time will, once again, tell as the season progresses. Prediction: Brie Larson. Wish: Cate Blanchett, because I know and respect her talent.


Best Actor - Comedy/Musical
Steve Carell in The Big Short
Christian Bale in The Big Short
Matt Damon in The Martian
Al Pacino in Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear
As much as I do like Mark Ruffalo, we can just ignore Infinitely Polar Bear because who's even heard of that? Al Pacino is another shock in the Globe nominations this year, for many have sort of let go of him as a player in the industry, at least from what I can infer from his presence in the Razzies lately. The two Big Short nominees please me, for I like both actors and I root for the movie's continuing success. Why? The deep recesses of the financial world of this country must be exposed and to achieve this feat comedically is utter genius. Exit conspiracy theorist, enter eccentric writer. Much love is being thrown at The Martian, which is apparently a comedy, so the expectations are pretty transparent. No, not like the Amazon show. Prediction: Matt Damon. Wish: Steve Carell, because he's a better actor than people give him credit for.


Best Actress - Comedy/Musical
Jennifer Lawrence in Joy
Amy Schumer in Trainwreck
Melissa McCarthy in Spy
Maggie Smith in The Lady in the Van
Lily Tomlin in Grandma
The winner here is pretty obvious, but I'll give some input anyway. Melissa McCarthy was absolutely hilarious in Spy and truly deserving of the title Best Actress in a comedy. Granted, Jennifer Lawrence is an extremely gifted actress; however, the movie Joy doesn't seem like a comedy. It doesn't seem like a drama either. I don't know what it is, but David O. Russell, it seems, has been placed permanently in the comedy category for the Globes. I can't say much for Amy Schumer, since I'm still getting used to her presence in Hollywood. As for the older ladies nominated, they're merely placeholders. And their time has passed. I'm mean. Prediction: Jennifer Lawrence. Wish: Melissa McCarthy, because it would be nice to see a truly funny performance win for best performance in a comedy.


Best Supporting Actor
Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies
Paul Dano in Love & Mercy
Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation
Michael Shannon in 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone in Creed
Here is a category where the most infuriating of snubs occurred. None of the male supporting actors in Spotlight received a nomination, and the omission of Michael Keaton is especially enraging to critics. I cannot account for this frustration since I've yet to watch Spotlight, but I can say that I am disappointed not to see Mark Ruffalo nominated. Michael Keaton is a man I could care less about, considering his stint in Birdman last year. The nominees here really don't stir me in a good or bad way because (1) I haven't seen any of their performances and (2) I don't have an opinion about the actors themselves. Though I would like to see Stallone win, just because he's older. His time, clearly, hasn't passed. Prediction: Mark Rylance. Wish: Sylvester Stallone.


Best Supporting Actress
Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs
Alicia Vikander in Ex Machina
Jane Fonda in Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh in The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren in Trumbo
Another nomination for Trumbo! I know that this is only the second Globe nomination, but acting nods are significant. And I'm allowed to use exclamation points, damnit. It's impressive to see Jane Fonda still hard at work and getting recognized by the awards circuit. The past few months, I've been watching documentaries about the 70s and 80s, and Ms. Fonda was a dominating presence outside of Hollywood. She also happens to look phenomenal for her age. This is Alicia Vikander's second nomination this year, as she was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama for The Danish Girl. Because I don't know her, I find this to be unfair. Of course, I'm tickled pink to see Kate Winslet mentioned in the awards because she is an exceptional actress. Exceptional. Prediction: Jennifer Jason Leigh, because she apparently "needs" a win. Wish: Kate Winslet, because she's exceptional.


I hope you enjoyed this little relic of the past. This was started around the time Golden Globe nominations were announced, which was mid-December. While I hate myself a tad for not posting in the moment, I do appreciate the element of accuracy. That is, seeing how accurate my predictions were; the ones I predicted correctly will have stars next to them, and by stars I mean asterisks. I'll just type a list out of it and we'll just see and you'll just enjoy my late writing.


Best Motion Picture - Drama: The Revenant not Spotlight
Best Motion Picture - Comedy: The Martian not Joy, and I have no idea what made me think that such a low-rated, inadequate film would actually beat The Martian
*Best Actor - Drama: Leonardo DiCaprio naturally
*Best Actress - Drama: Brie Larson deservedly, if you'd read my last post
*Best Actor - Comedy: Matt Damon which makes me smile
*Best Actress - Comedy: Jennifer Lawrence which makes me smile as well, though only because I adore her
Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone surprisingly enough
Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet pleasantly, miraculously, and wonderfully enough

Literally fifty-fifty here. This is a glass half-full/half-empty situation, for I could be an awards guru or just lucky enough to guess some correctly. Anyway. The Golden Globes themselves were very entertaining, mostly due to the return of Ricky Gervais, who I personally find to be hilarious and just biting enough. Apparently the ratings fell this year because of his presence, which I find to be an absurd accusation. Then again, who am I to argue with ratings? I am a lowly amateur critic after all, if that. Another pleasant aspect of the ceremony was the shocking attendance of Mel Gibson, who had been shunned from Hollywood's good graces for years. Granted, this appearance does not serve as his comeback by any means, but it is so good--so good--to see his face again. I do miss him, and I can admit that because I have not fallen in line with the mindless followers of indirect boycotts--but I dwell into controversial territory when I say that. Considering all the things Mel Gibson was accused of doing and saying, that is. By showing my prolonged admiration for him, I'm practically drawing a target on myself for criticism. Untitled criticism. Thank you very much.


Moving on. In addition to the Golden Globes, several other awards have been distributed, helping legitimate award experts to predict the outcome of the Academy Awards. During this extended period between the Golden Globe nominations and now, the Oscar nominations have been announced, giving experts a gauge of who's in the running. I won't get into that whole hashtag campaign about the absence of African-American performers because I just won't. It is far too controversial to discuss and I really don't know how to talk in these settings anymore. So I will simply say nothing. What's done is done, so let's focus on what is for the time being. The following segment will present my Oscar predictions, and from there I'll wrap things up since this post is becoming rather chunky.


Best Supporting Actress: Kate Winslet for Steve Jobs
I say this a bit daringly because I am very aware of the current rankings. According to experts, Alicia Vikander will take home the gold for her role in The Danish Girl. The reason for my defiance is because I have hope in Kate's talent as well as hope in the element of surprise. I was sure that she was to be merely a placeholder in this year's competition; however, the Golden Globes presented an astoundingly fantastic turn for her chances. I am sticking to my loyalty to Kate Winslet. Also, I really don't care for newcomers, especially when they're Michael Fassbender's booty call. That was mean. Overall, Kate Winslet gave the performance of the year when it comes to supporting ladies.


Best Supporting Actor: Sylvester Stallone for Creed
While I sort of cemented this prediction the moment he won the Golden Globe, I now can accept his win because I have finally watched the movie. Seeing the praise for Stallone in Creed--forty years after the first Rocky--is heartwarming, though I can't help but sense the "honorary" aspect of this nomination and acclaim. I hate to say it, but I feel this award is simply to make up for the fact that he did not receive an acting Oscar for Rocky. It's purely an honorary award in this suspicious sense. However, Stallone's performance was excellent, surprisingly, for he usually slurs his way through a picture. In Creed, the heavy emotion in Stallone's eyes was undeniable, and the nostalgia factored into his delivery of the character favorably well. Is it okay to say favorably well? As good as the performance was, I cannot help but hope for Mark Rylance to win. After watching Bridge of Spies, I came down to two conslusions: (1) Mark Rylance deserves the Oscar for his unusually entrancing portrayal as a Soviet spy, and (2) Bridge Of Spies is highly underrated and should be at the top of critics' lists.


Best Leading Actress: Brie Larson for Room
I believe my previous post explains my reasoning behind this prediction. It is rather unsettling to say that the critics and I actually agree on the poignancy and power of a performance for once. This prediction is hardly one in that the certainty of her victory is unwavering and most deserving indeed. Also, I would like to point out the vicious snub by the Academy: Jacob Tremblay, the magnificent little boy in Room, was not nominated. Granted, he's only nine years old and his time will come. this argument, however, is infuriating because his performance here and now was worthy of a nomination. His hypnotic innocence was just so impressive, and even writing about it now and recalling his performance brings tears to my eyes. I actually mean it when I say that too.


Best Leading Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio for The Revenant
Now, this one is an absolute, 100% certainty. There is no margin of error here. It is just his time to get an Oscar. I must stress my undying love and admiration for this man before I say that I regrettably do not think this performance was worthy for esteem. Typing that out feels sinful, for I truly do love Leo. I've said it once and I'll say it again: I hated The Revenant. I cannot for the life of me understand why the movie is held in such high regards by not just critics, but audiences as well. Whenever I ask or search for an answer, all I get is pretentious praise and flowery explanations that make zero rational sense. I apologize for this ignorance solely because of my love for Leo. The fact that he will finally win an Oscar for a film I detested is astonishing and, above all, depressing. Beyond this disagreement, I also believe Michael Fassbender and Bryan Cranston to have delivered excellent performances this year, each more complex and attractive than Leo's performance. Again, I hate to admit it. Another interesting point, made by my dear old dad, is that Leonardo DiCaprio will surely have another chance at Oscar, while Bryan Cranston, for one, has a smaller chance of returning to the film award circuit. Though I would love to see Walter White getting an Oscar. Breaking Bad.


Best Motion Picture of the Year: The Big Short
I'm going for the ballsy prediction here. For months, critics have predicted the winner to be Spotlight, and I merely joined in the chorus at the time. As of now, I've seen six out of eight. the ones I've missed are Brooklyn and The Big Short. You're probably wondering why, then, I chose The Big Short as my tentative victor without even seeing it. You probably also knew I was going to direct that hypothetical towards you, my nonexistent reader. My rationale behind picking The Big Short is that the topic of the film is incredibly controversial for Hollywood, considering it appears to be anti-Wall Street. Of course, my understanding of Hollywood's machinations is limited, but I enjoy my blissful assumptions that are most likely far-reaching. Anyway, I not only predict a surprise victory for The Big Short, but I root for the film to win because it would be amazing if a comedy won. Not only that, but a comedy directed against the wealthy powers that be, that actually enlightens average people as to why life is as it is. Again, far-reaching, especially considering I haven't seen the film. Nevertheless.


Well, there you have it. A combination of predictions, some old and already announced, some pending to be announced. I think it's high time I stop writing out a storm of various thoughts. I find it interesting that I began this very post when awards season began, and I am now posting it as it comes close to an end. Just know that, even though I haven't been diligently reporting as often as I'd hoped, I was productive on my own in my quest for finding the deserving victors. Among the list of nominees handed down to us, anyway. Cheers to one and all.



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Room

Greetings one and all. That's going to be my greeting, it seems like. First off, happy new year! I'm going to dedicate this post to emotional mindsets and the movie, Room. I also would like to note that I've been writing two separate posts prior to this one, a habit that allows me to write in inspired bursts yet prevents me from posting often. There are moments where the writing simply flows from my brain through my fingertips, giving me the drive to write a lot. The structure and wording of this post may be uneven and simple, so bear with me. I have the urge to write after watching Room because it was a film that provoked a waterfall of emotion from me. Beyond loving the movie, it also gave me the chance to be alone with my thoughts and mental demons. Yes, mental demons. The past week of 2016 involved major emotional turmoil that, objectively speaking, is quite meaningless. No traumatic events occurred to invoke these feelings, just my own neurotic (?) and overemotional tendencies. I suppose these feelings make for a better writer. Probably not, since this blog isn't that good. Anyway, here we go.

I'll start by talking about Room. The sole reason I watched the movie was because Brie Larson, the lead actress, will most likely receive the Oscar for Best Actress. In this time of awards season, the movies I set aside time for are nominated features that strike some interest. What I found interesting about Room is that it is about a woman held captive for seven years and her life in a small room with her son, Jack. She is referred to as Ma by her son Jack, who narrates the film in the speech of a five-year-old. The first portion of the movie focuses on their life in the room. Ma nurtures Jack by giving him an alternative childhood, accustomed to their cramped living conditions. Many people, myself included, may find this sequence dull and slow-paced, since it is isolated in a single room and concentrates on only two people. That being said, I was a bit skeptical when the movie started. Interestingly enough, I was captivated by the movie, and this mindset remained with me throughout the course of Room. I won't get into a plot synopsis, so I'll highlight the points of importance in a vague manner. As simple a plot as it sounds, Room had moments of suspense and genuinely heartfelt drama. Their escape from the room--spoiler alert--was incredibly tense and poignant, which is a praise for the skillful director who managed to work in such emotions into the film. The second portion of the film revolves around Ma and Jack adjusting to the real world. While there are many naturalistic scenes in the movie, such as Ma and Jack looking through old photo albums, they all blend into one very real and touching film. Brie Larson's performance was truly breathtaking, so she has my blessing to win the Oscar deservedly. Jacob Tremblay, who plays Jack, gave an incredible performance, as well, capturing the "wild" little boy who was raised in a room and must adapt to the outside world. I could argue that he, too, deserves a nomination. Most child actors follow the same schtick: act cute, but inevitably end up annoying the audience. Instead, Tremblay assumed the role of a child realistically, which allowed him to evoke emotion in viewers and make them love and worry for him. Both performances were excellent in their simplicity, as was the film itself.

Writing movie reviews is difficult, believe it or not. As long as I've been writing them, I never know how much to share or what words to use. Merely using fancy adjectives doesn't seem like enough to truly capture the essence of a film. When I read professional film reviews, all I see are flowery adjectives and exaggerated statements, such as "the film was borderline miraculous." (A little throwback to that ridiculous review of Birdman I read last year.) I feel as though writers cannot help but laud a picture using adjectives and emotion, whether they liked the film or loathed it. Even moviegoers follow the same pattern: "The movie was awesome!" or "That movie sucked, it was so dumb." All reviews, professional or amateur, are just statements of like or dislike. I don't know why I decided to rant about that, but there it is.

I'll keep this post short, since I don't want to save it as a draft and end up posting it next year. Regarding the "emotional mindset" topic I alluded to earlier, I want to express my gratitude to Room for inadvertently letting me release some bottled-up emotions. As I said, this year, so far, has been difficult for me, emotionally speaking. This is mostly because I let some shit from 2015 follow me into the new year, instead of discarding it and starting fresh. Because of this, most of my year involved long periods of crying and remembering things that made me happy. I was actually miserable for the first few days of 2016. I would be sitting in my room doing nothing, which forced me to face my mental demons and they would make me cry. It sounds very childish, much like what Jack would say in Room, but I feel that every person has a child in them. They allow people to feel the giddiness a child feels, as well as the unexplained tears they encounter on a daily basis. It's weird, I'm weird, but that's how I've been feeling. Watching Room helped me see that. In the middle of the movie, I actually paused it to sit in silence and cry. I cried about the things that have been tormenting me since last year and about how they cannot be changed and about how those memories will always be with me. As emotionally soothing it was to watch Room and wipe away the tears the movie provoked, I know I'm not done crying. Life is experiences after experiences, some full of joy, some full of heart-wrenching sorrow. While it is healthy to recall the past from time to time, one must recognize the good in their present and avoid the bad. Staying stuck to the past will only lead to insanity and endless tears because you will come back to the present and realize it's gone. I know I'm getting deep, but Room inspired that.

That took me about twenty minutes to write. I need some quiet solitude in my life, it would make me so much more productive. I'll end this by saying that I am okay. I'm always afraid that I might make my friends and family who read this concerned about me with the stuff I write about. There have been many periods where I was not at all okay, and I recognize those times and try my best to avoid regressing back into old habits. I've cut people out of my life that I know will only hurt me again. I've stopped doing things that make me unhappy in the long run. Now, I stay close to the people I care about and who care about me, and I go through my days as relaxed as possible. I'm done now. Have a good evening everyone.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year That Was... 2015

Greetings and Happy Holidays! I had to capitalize Happy Holidays because it's just something that needs to be done around the holidays. Technically, it's still "the holidays" since today is New Year's Eve! I'm honestly really excited about writing this because it's been so long since I've written a year retrospective. Or year in retrospect. The year that was 2015 has certainly flown by, as most years seem to do. Fly by at sonic speeds, that is. Aside from my personal life and the landmarks I've experienced this year, 2015 has been a major year for movies, so it is quite convenient to write this post. You know, sharing about my life and movies, the very essence of this blog. As before, I will write in short segments, separating each event as I've done before. Before. After.

1. First real relationship. I don't really know how to start this one off. It was a major turning point in my life--both the beginning and end of the thing. I've always been hesitant to talk about it because I really don't know what to say. There are really no feelings to express, since it's over now. Granted, I'm still trying to move on. Not with another relationship, but still emotionally trying to move past it. This is understandable, of course, since I've never really felt the way I did with him with anyone else. I can say all this on here because I'm pretty confident that he's not keeping tabs on my blog. Who would? I'll continue my train of thought by saying that I've said "really" four times already. The time we were together was truly the best period of recent memory. It was the time I felt most happy about everything, the most secure I've been. It's sort of pathetic to say a guy can have the much of an influence on my self-esteem, since I should know for myself that I am beautiful or whatever, but having someone care about you and tell you you're beautiful helps. It lifted me up from the depths of severe insecurity and issues with the way I viewed myself. This is getting deep, I realize, and I'm describing the relationship as something that helped me, as if it were an elixir rather than a dual partnership. And I do acknowledge that I felt incredibly happy and good about myself with him. Beyond that, I tried to reciprocate and do the same for him, which I hoped I somewhat did for the short time we were together. For how amazing he was to me, I really hope for that. Although I regret ever getting together with him at times when I feel reminiscent and low, I can honestly say that I am thankful for the experience as well as the joy he brought into my life during that time. Fin.

2. Welcome to Tinder. I realize that is quite a jump from the previous segment. I won't get too detailed into this, as it is incredibly embarrassing, but I feel the need to purge as a means of healing. My one resolution for the year is to delete this app from my phone because it only serves as a transient cure to a deeper issue. For those of you who don't know, Tinder is an app where people seek other people in hopes for conversation (delusional statement) or a hookup (more realistic). It truly is embarrassing, especially for someone who, deep inside, wants a serious relationship and, eventually, marriage. At my age, I justify my use of the app by saying that, "I'm young and I should have fun while I can." By saying that, however, I'm insinuating that marriage isn't fun, and I really don't want to believe the movie stereotypes that love dies after marriage. Another justification for my use of the app is, "I need to heal after my break-up." That is a terrible excuse because it's saying that I'm using sex as a distraction or as something to fill the void of my depression. Writing this, I really feel filthy and sleazy, which fortunately motivates me to delete the app. On the bright side, I've never met an absolute creep or someone dangerous. Most of my encounters were actually quite pleasant. Why, one time, back in Baltimore, I met a guy who lived in D.C. who was probably my dream guy. He had his own apartment, he loved movies, he always had wine, and, above all, he was the most relaxed, intellectual person I've ever met. And he was twenty-five. Perfection. Of course, I will be deleting the app, girl scout's honor. I'm not a girl scout. But I will delete it. Yep.

3. First real job. Once I moved back home from Baltimore, I decided to fill my summer with work. For the very first time. After futile job searching, my mom hooked me up with a job at a little Irish pub-themed restaurant called Bennigan's. I was a hostess there for the summer, from June to the end of August, and, since I no longer work there, I should be free to share my experience there. It was a simple enough job: greeting and seating guests, keeping the restaurant clean, bussing tables sometimes, cleaning windows (pain in the ass), taking orders over the phone, making deliveries to the hotels next door, etc. Nothing too complicated. However, by some inexplicable means, the job was made into a gruesomely laborious task. I dreaded going to work every single day because the management made the job a literal fucking hell. Granted, most people feel this way about their jobs, and this is my initial exposure to such aches and pains. But I am sure everyone loves to read the troubles of a disgruntled employee. I sure love to bitch about it. Even after four months, the pain of the god-awful place still haunts me. The single refuge that place offered were my co-workers. I loved every single one of them, pretty much, and I still keep in touch with a few. Every party I had, I invited them all and they are a fantastic addition. I'll leave it there with a sweet note. Bennigan's sucks.

4. Brand new car. As the spoiled little Daddy's girl I am, I received the amazing gift of a brand new car last August. Not much to say about this. Other than the fact that I am now driving a 2016 Mazda 6 around town. Cruising is more like it, for I am truly riding in luxury. I'm purposely bragging about it because I think it's funny how people become spoiled brats when they get new cars. I actually did a little photoshoot where I was lying on the hood of the car with a huge fan blowing at me with "She's my Cherry Pie" playing in the background. But why do you need music for a photoshoot? To pump you up, that's why. I hope you can sense the heavy sarcasm. One little hiccup I had so far with the beautiful car is a fender bender with one of those yellow concrete poles they have in parking lots. I bumped into one and had to pay $900 for a new bumper. All we can learn from this is that I am a stupid driver and I have a creative imagination.

5. First ever road trip feat. Disney World. Here's the part where we all say, "Road trip!" like a bunch of awesome frat guys. Yes indeed, my best friend and I embarked on our very first road trip a couple weeks ago. We travelled from our little hometown in New Jersey all the way to Orlando, Florida. It was a radical ride and lasted about eighteen hours total. On the way there, we drove primarily through the night, which was an exhilarating experience. How we managed to stay awake all the way through without stopping is a mix of espresso, excitement, and Red Bull. First sip of Red Bull circa 2015. By the middle of the afternoon the next day, we were basking in the glorious sun of Florida. My friend and I stayed at a gorgeous three-bedroom townhouse ten minutes away from Walt Disney World--a magnificent vacation that lasted one week. We spent our days shoving through sweaty crowds in various Disney parks; and we spent our nights getting fucked up. I exaggerate and tease you all of course. We drank every night, but not quite as much as I anticipated. That's a win for our livers, I suppose. Walt Disney World itself was absolutely breathtaking, as it always is. Being there with just my best friend was fantastic as well, the ultimate Disney fun experience I would say. Going with just my mom was amazing too, just saying mom. The drive back home was less exciting since we were leaving the most magical place on Earth. Despite the heavy fog around the D.C.-Maryland area in the middle of the night, the drive was just as smooth. Although we didn't take as many pictures as I had hoped, I have the mental images and feelings of a truly splendid trip. Success.

Well, there you have it. My year in a nutshell. I am absolutely positive that there is more to talk about, but for the time being, that's all folks. I'm mostly cutting this post short because I'm having a New Year's Eve party that starts at 7 and I need to get all dolled up for the occasion. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year's Eve! Stay off the roads at all costs because those coppers be lurking everywhere tonight. And remember, better safe than sober. Cheers everyone.

6. Special Movie Edition. Just a brief mention, since I completely forgot about the movies of 2015. I really hate to cursor over this significant aspect of the year, especially since this is a movie blog. In this emergency case--that is, I'm in a hurry to get drunk with my friends--I'll make a list of movies I loved this year, as well as major movies that were released that I want to watch (featuring an asterisk). Enjoy. Also, I will forget many of them.

Spy
Ted 2
Joy
Trumbo
Sleeping with Other People <-- i="">excellent
Steve Jobs
*Inside Out
*Star Wars Episode XVII: The Force Awakens <-- i="">biggest movie of the year
*Daddy's Home <-- i="">Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell; 'nuff said

That's a pathetic list, but blame my memory being awful. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Opposing Sectors of Cinema: An Academic Paper

Greetings one and all. I am here tonight to acknowledge my absence once again, only without the theatrically long intro. The purpose of this post is merely to share a movie-related paper that I had to write for my English class. In case you cannot already imagine, this assignment was an absolute thrill to receive. Seriously, I do not recall enjoying a school assignment this much, and when I finished I felt genuinely happy. I felt myself glowing as if I went under some sort of detox. I never went through detox personally, but I think you would feel pure or amazing or whatever. I wouldn't even consider detox. I like drinking way too much. Anyway, the topic of this paper was to contrast two movies. My choices? Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman. Refer to An Unimpressive Year for the Oscars where I discuss both films. Spoiler: Birdman sucked. As you read the paper, just remember that this had to be turned in to an English professor, so it's written as a formal essay. Enjoy!


The Opposing Sectors of Cinema
Entertainment is usually considered to be the primary purpose of cinema. Ideally, every film should fulfill this purpose in some aspect. Whether it involves an interesting plot or a meticulous detail in cinematography, the viewer should be captivated by what they perceive on the screen. The films Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman differ in various ways. For starters, the actors’ portrayals of their respective characters are remarkably real in Grand Budapest Hotel and clumsy and artificial in Birdman. As the plot in Grand Budapest Hotel moves forward gracefully, the plot in Birdman experiences disturbing halts that ruin its overall flow. Lastly, the director of Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson, orchestrates a symphony on the screen, while the director of Birdman, Alejandro G. Iñárrito, stumbles in the procession of his flawed creation.
         While the casts of Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman are full of talent, the performances given in each film were vastly different from one another. Beyond filling the roles of quirky characters, the actors in Grand Budapest Hotel gave praiseworthy and realistic performances. Like most directors, Wes Anderson has a specific posse of actors he utilizes in each film. This specialization works in the film’s benefit, for it enhances the quality of the film and its characters while allowing the actors to exert their utmost potential. Among Anderson’s oddball round-up of actors are Ralph Fiennes (who has never appeared in his films yet fits right in), Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and more. Each of his team members has a unique role to fill in the movies, to some degree, which provides the actors an opportunity to embody a zany character. Edward Norton, who is known for more serious, Method roles, assumed the persona of Inspector Henckels of Zubrowka (the fictional region in Eastern Europe where the films takes place; moreover, his performance was seamless and utterly amusing, permitting the film as well as Norton himself to shine that much more. The centerpiece of acting in this fine picture is, indubitably, Ralph Fiennes, who portrays the suave concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, M. Gustave. Like Norton, Fiennes is recognized for dramatic roles like the ruthless Nazi commandant, Amon Goeth, in Schindler’s List. In Grand Budapest Hotel, however, Ralph Fiennes had the surprisingly challenging task of a lighter role; indeed, making audiences laugh is typically more difficult than making them cry. As expected, the talented Fiennes shrouded himself into the role, transforming on screen into the dashing M. Gustave and captivating viewers in the process. His performance was enveloped into the smooth elegance of his character, convincing audiences that was the greatest concierge in Zubrowka. It is truly abhorrent that he, as well as the rest of the actors, received no award recognition for his astounding performance. The acting in Birdman, on the other hand, did not merit the accolades it received, for it bordered along the lines of mediocrity. The assembly of actors in this film equates the caliber of those in Grand Budapest Hotel, more or less; however, the acting portrayed in Birdman did not mirror the talent of its players. In situations where the actor’s performance is not compatible with their capabilities, the director is the prime suspect to blame. Interestingly, the sole actor whose performance was not lacking was Edward Norton, who also appeared in Birdman as a Method actor with “performance problems” off stage. As for the remainder of the cast, their acting faltered due to some anomaly. Michael Keaton, the leading man of the film, assumes the role of a washed-up actor, Riggan Thomson who directs and stars in a play he hopes will serve as his comeback. Irony aside, Riggan used to be a superhero in a franchise called “Birdman,” which has led him to form mental manifestations of the actual Birdman character to constantly whisper insults in his ear. Subsequently, Keaton must portray a mentally disturbed and slightly manic person; instead, he utilized the comedic chops which served him favorably in 1980s goofball roles to embody a depressed and realistic individual. This results in an awkward, haphazard performance that jolts viewers, confusing them as to who exactly is he trying to portray. Perhaps his character demanded this brand of madness, but Keaton was far too agitated and scattered, much like the film itself. As talented as the actors in both films are, the performances in Grand Budapest Hotel gleamed while those in Birdman stumbled upon each other.
         Moreover, as the script of Grand Budapest Hotel flows smoothly onto the screen, Birdman exhibits awkwardness in its progression. Indeed, the enchanting originality of Wes Anderson’s script becomes realized once the image of the Grand Budapest Hotel and its characters reaches viewers’ eyes. With this film, Anderson demonstrates his signature craft which includes aesthetic screenshots and idiosyncratic plot twists. The band of unusual characters in the film is amusingly varied: a decrepit and wealthy widow, a diabolical heir, a mysteriously peculiar assassin, a naïve and thorough inspector, and a secret society of hotel concierge. These characters make up a supporting portion of the film, contributing to its overall eccentricity and level of enjoyment. The essential plot of Grand Budapest Hotel involves the murder of the aforementioned widow and the implication of M. Gustave, who supposedly sought to gain the wealth she had left behind for him. As intriguing as this story already seemed, the film managed to branch out to degrees of sheer hilarity and adventure. The concise dialogue that resonates Anderson’s style somehow conveys purpose in an objectively meaningless film; truly, it is the artistic value of the film that makes it consummate cinema. On the contrary, the banality of Birdman’s premise is exceeded by the ineptitude among the players on screen. The general idea of the film sounded reasonably pleasant: an actor who once portrayed a superhero in a movie franchise seeks his comeback on stage, while having to confront his ego in the midst of a mid-life crisis. In fact, this plot sounded very familiar and therefore hackneyed. With this categorization in mind, it is nearly impossible not to notice the clichés the film succumbs to. In addition to the protagonist’s status as a flawed, desperate has-been, he must face his troubled daughter, Sam Thomson, who has just overcome a drug addiction in rehab. Sam, portrayed by Emma Stone, is now begrudgingly working as her father’s assistant; however, as expected with her addict background, there are critical issues between the two as she belittles his stance in the world of fame that he craves. She roasts her father’s intentions for producing the play not for the sake of art but as a pathetic attempt to stay relevant in cinema. Another obstacle Riggan Thomson faces is the appearance of Edward Norton’s character, Mike Shiner, a last-minute replacement of a supporting actor in Riggan’s production. Because Mike is a renowned Broadway star, Riggan feels he may be overshadowed in the play; therefore, he would return to a life of nostalgia and inferiority. The primary conflict is within Riggan himself, which is evident in the external ridicule he has faced. These scenarios of conflict are very predictable with such an insecure protagonist, and, as a result, the entire film becomes irksome and pretentious. The writing of a film can contribute to its dreamlike production as in Grand Budapest Hotel or to its pitiful prosaicism as in Birdman.
         Finally, the methods in which Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman were filmed demonstrate why one film triumphed and the latter plummeted in quality. Wes Anderson, like most talented directors, understands his task is to create a setting where all aspects of Grand Budapest Hotel are in harmony. Indeed, he dazzles the audience’s eye with his distinctive filming style and choice of setting. Here in Grand Budapest Hotel, he transports viewers to the fictional city of Zubrowka, a region in Eastern Europe that beautifully mimics the charm of folk villages. In some scenes, he reportedly used handmade miniature models for certain shots; the wide shots of the hotel itself, for example, are artificially constructed, giving the film a kitschy ambience. Many of the scenes are filmed in a rather two-dimensional manner, such as the ski chase scene between M. Gustave and the inspector. This simplicity gives the film a sort of pure innocence that characterizes both Grand Budapest Hotel and Anderson’s technique alike. Beyond the visual pleasures of the production design, the course of the film as a whole evolves tastefully. Wes Anderson conducts his cast with finesse, ensuring that the set environment is productive yet balanced. He organizes his troop of performers in a manner that provides a foundation of sound direction that permits them to act to their fullest potential. With this golden formula, Anderson brings to a life a gratifying rapport between the actors on screen, which in turn satisfies audiences with absolute entertainment. The execution of Birdman, however, was jarring and faulty in practically every sense. Films are often designed as a play within a play, underlining the historic link between the stage and the screen. What Birdman accomplished was a futile attempt to honor that cinematic tradition that resulted in pseudo-intellectual disorder. The entire production felt as if director Iñárritu was purposefully trying to make an artistic film, and this intention forces Birdman to enter the realm of pretentious cinema. Aside from the setting of a Broadway play, there are several other facets of the film that give away its pompousness. The cinematography itself was unsettling, as the cameraman hurriedly follows Keaton’s character around New York City. The camera movement gave the film the feel of a reality television show, which is enormously unfavorable for audiences expecting a movie. While many viewers interpreted this shaky cinematography as artistic, aesthetically-speaking, it is rather disturbing and redundant. The musical score of the film was bombarded with cacophonous jazz and rat-a-tat drumbeats. Oftentimes, this noisy score blocked out some of the film’s dialogue, inevitably making part of the script lost in translation. Throughout the film, Keaton’s character is harangued by this imaginary Birdman figure who represents his own self-loathing as a washed-up actor. While this inner conflict is logical considering Riggan’s insecurities, what the director choreographs near the end of the film is a preposterous action-packed scene involving building-size robots reminiscent of Transformers. This demonstration is all in Riggan’s head, of course, yet the transition in the movie itself is sudden and discordant; moreover, as Riggan witnesses this action circus, he begins to believe that he himself is actually the Birdman. The final act of the film perhaps completes the absurdity of its production: Riggan Thomson confronting his Birdman identity and flying out of a window into the sky. These countless inconsistencies and lack of order render Birdman as a film to be meaningless and appalling with no attributes of virtuosity. Direction of a film is incredibly significant regarding the final product, as it is verified with the illustrious Grand Budapest Hotel and the atrocious Birdman.

         In many ways, Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman contrast with one another. First off, the talented actors in each film gave astonishingly dissimilar performances. Furthermore, the plot development of Grand Budapest Hotel glides along on its own smooth momentum, while Birdman trips on itself innumerable times with its defective script. To conclude, Wes Anderson guides Grand Budapest Hotel with the steadiness of a true artist and Alejandro G. Iñárritu steers Birdman into incomprehensible disarray. The ultimate determinant of a film is the director who must organize his production in a manner that causes everything involved to synchronize beautifully. From the cast to the elements of the set, each aspect of the film must harmonize in order to create a piece of moving art. What is peculiar is the fact that actors can sometimes counteract the symptoms of a director, such as Edward Norton who was talented in both an excellent movie and a terrible one. This highlights the tantamount importance of an effective cast, for they can potentially save a film from infamy. Overall, every aspect of a film is crucial to its success and cinematic value, and talent is definitely key.

There you have it. That is how I am in the world of college and proper academia. While I feel it is a strong paper--I got an A+ after all, applause--I still enjoy my standard of writing on this blog. It resembles more of how I think and speak, and it is not as restrictive obviously. My grammar is better in college essays, of course. Anyway. I hope this post wasn't made in vain and that you at least enjoyed reading it. I said enjoyed a lot already. Have a good night.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sweaty Degradation

Hello everyone reading this, my name is Veronica and I have a slight addiction to YouTube Let's Plays. I felt the need to spice up my intro a little bit and chose to somewhat emulate Markiplier as a way of an homage. Or whatever you would call it. I'll start this post off by discussing this recent obsession, since I don't really have an idea as to what to write about. This hobby of watching other people play video games always festered within me, mostly because I myself cannot play video games well so why not watch other people do it. Play video games, I mean. The YouTube Let's Plays, in addition to showing gameplay, are simply hilarious to watch solely because of the gamer commentary. Two gamers I love to watch are Markiplier and Jacksepticeye. Writing their names in a movie blog may seem irrelevant and even silly, but they are a part of my life so they will be a part of this blog. I'll include links to their channels below so you can perhaps experience for yourself the astounding humor and entertainment behind these videos. All I can say about why I like them so much is that they are charismatic and funny. Markiplier especially because he is very, well, attractive. You know how us ladies are. Let's move on to actual blog content.

In my last post, I was right in the middle of the second season of Prison Break, noting its vastly improved quality from the first season. As I savored the last half of the season, I enjoyed every tense minute of it. The suspense in season two was genuine and not at all staged with the creation of obstacles and delays. The season smoothly ran at its own natural momentum without the need of artificial inconveniences. I realize that, as a television show, everything is artificial but the purpose of creating a good show is to make it feel real. Not reality-TV "real," but realistic as far as you can understand the situation. For example, season two documents the prisoners' life on the run, so of course there are inevitable circumstances that will obstruct the characters' freedom. The suspense in the season is real because they are out in the wide world, targeted by various sources such as the authorities and the ambiguous entity known as The Company. Another great quality about season two was the fact that the characters were not all together at all times like they were in prison in season one. This allowed the writers to branch off in different stories for each of the characters, giving the show much more variety and material to work with. Of course, the branch story I preferred was T-Bag hunting down the woman who turned him in. What happened there was he inserted himself into her household as the father-husband, wanting to make himself an actual family even if they are his captives. The scenes with T-Bag were truly emotional because you could see the trauma he had experienced in the past and how it transitioned into his criminal persona as an adult. In the end, he didn't harm the woman or her children, but rather returned to a life on the run with seething resentment at how his life turned out. Still my favorite character by the way. Note: I decided to start using the word "favorite" because it's hard to tip-toe around it. Plus I use it in everyday speech so might as well type it here. 

You will be missed. On the show.
His departure kind of killed the show itself.
Irony of ironies.
At the end of season two, most of the characters had landed in Panama. Why did the writers choose Panama of all cities, I do not know. Right now, I realize that I did not mention Special Agent Mahone once, which is totally wrong because he is one of my favorite characters. Portrayed by William Fitchner, who is yet another underused talented actor I like, Mahone is dedicated to catching Michael Scofield because he is a highly intelligent criminal who constantly evades him. In other words, Mahone has met his match. To further complicate the character, Mahone has a drug addiction that energizes him yet makes him twitch and falter when he goes through withdrawal. I like Mahone mostly because I like Fitchner's performance. The character himself resembles Kellerman in intelligence and experience, which is very favorable to me. Speaking of Kellerman, this season has made me absolutely love his character. Abandoned by The Company and Madam President, he was a lost soldier who turned rogue out of spite. He helped the Vice President assume the position of President of the United States, yet he was tossed aside solely because he was expendable. Of course, he absolutely was not expendable since he had valuable and dangerous information that could incriminate everyone in The Company, making him a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, fighting an influential force that controls even the government is futile. Knowing his fate, Keller decided to expose the U.S. government and its association with The Company. As these whistleblowing acts end up, Kellerman was killed, making me incredible sad that he was gone from the show. I understand why the writers did it, but it was still a tragic scene to see him know that he was going to die. The martyrs are always the most loved. Sometimes. Almost never actually.

Moving on to the next season, that is season three, we begin in a Panamanian prison called Sona. Why are we back in prison? Well, irony behold, the escapee prisoners are back in prison. Plot twist, but not really. The implicated party includes Michael Scofield, Teddy Bagwell, former Special Agent Mahone, and former prison guard Brad Bellick. Another plot twist? Scofield's brother, Lincoln Burrows, is now a free man who must help his brother escape. It's like the first season but reversed! Neat. At this point, I hope the sarcasm is obvious. I did not like this third season. At all. For starters, the show's setting in the South American prison is utterly disgusting. Take my word for it, the characters look rough in this season. And always so sweaty. Fortunately, this unbearable season was only thirteen episodes due to the writers' strike way back when. Even this reduced amount of episodes could not make it go by any slower. I need to emphasize just how slow and terrible this season was. There was no significant plot point that interested me. Even T-Bag was not as attractive and indelible as usual. The characters, overall, degenerated in how interesting and likable they are, particularly Michael who has become an irritable juvenile. Once brilliant and calm and collected, Scofield now reacts in an exaggerated way to any little frustration. Malone was another huge let-down. Because of his withdrawal, he had mentally and physically degraded into a fidgety junkie who no longer possessed that menacing intelligence. By that, I mean he was no longer intimidating or smart. I just wanted to combine the two characteristics into one sentence. What is somewhat amusing about this season is Bellick, who is now at the bottom of the food chain inside Sona and constantly found himself in embarrassing troubles. That's a laugh. Oh, and this season provides the reintroduction of obstacles.

The central plot, aside from Lincoln helping his brother escape, was helping another prisoner named James Whistler escape. Why you ask? Apparently, he's a special interest for The Company, who "hired" Michael Scofield to help him escape since Scofield is now the go-to savant in prison escape. How did The Company arrange for Scofield to be in prison again? Exactly. Unlike the previous seasons, The Company in season three and on is now a ridiculous circus operation, recruiting so-called tough agents who continuously intimidate those they encounter with threats that they can do "something bad" to them. And they can, we assume. Replacing Kellerman is "Special Agent" Gretchen Morgan, who conferences with Lincoln Burrows in aiding Scofield and Whistler's escape. Played by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe, Miss Morgan is a caricature of an agent, relying on her supposed sexy good looks and cold stare to get the job done. This is B-movie level acting at its worst. If I sound vague when I describe the Company's tactics, it is on purpose because they are so cheesy. That's the ideal word to describe them, in addition to incompetent and buffoonish. Before they were a realistic evil that (most likely) hovers over society and covertly controls the country. Now, they are like a poorly-made action movie villain focused solely on one seemingly inconsequential task that involves bullying and "slick" one-liners. It's horrible how this show has degraded.

Inside Sona, the prisoners from Fox River are experiencing a primal environment where there is one group that rules the fortress and absolutely no prison guards. The leader is a man by the name Lechero who has a big ego and a even bigger booty. Booty means ass. T-Bag inserts himself into his posse as a shoe-polisher-type of confidante, which is disappointing considering what a calculating villain he was before. The entire "operation" Lechero is running in the prison is laughable, resembling pre-revolutionary France in the eighteenth century. It's a prison. They should not be presenting it like a republic regime, not because it is inaccurate, but because it is just silly and moronic. I really don't want to get into specific plot points because writing them down would be like reliving the season, and I really don't want to put myself through that agony again. All I will say is that the characters and interest-factor of the show have seriously rotted to its very core. This statement is further supported by the fourth season. I only watched the first episode of the fourth season so far, but it was enough to assess what the remainder of the show would succumb to. Again, it is a true shame that a show that was so genuinely engrossing had lowered itself to such B-movie filth. Filth not in the vulgar sense but in the pure shit-garbage sense.

Well I'm going to leave this post here. I wouldn't want to write too much because my writing is already eccentric enough as is. Excess writing the way I do would positively annihilate your brains, causing extreme exhaustion and possibly hallucinations. I will say that I've put season four of Prison Break on hold because I really cannot endure another season three. To fill the void of television show needs, I started watching Breaking Bad from the beginning with my dear 'ol dad, who has never seen the show. To my delight, he is really enjoying it! Stay tuned for more on that in the next post. Farewell.

And, as promised, here are the hilarious YouTube channels that I highly recommend you enjoy for yourselves, even if you don't like video games.
Markiplier's Channel
Jacksepticeye's Channel