not only do i love this movie but it's visually stunning too

anonymous asked:

Opinion on serobaku and serokiri?

SeroBaku kills me in the sweetest way and SeroKiri brings me back to life when I feel dead inside and SeroBakuKiri is like heaven on earth tbh I love those ships they make me feel warm !!!

Anon said: Yes but i loved minas hair like that??? So either ur hair is also p good or ur art is just that great n I’m %99 sure that it’s both, also r u ever planning to post a picture of urself?? ? I’m sorry if this question makes u uncomfortable, have a nice day!!!!

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh thank you!!!!! And pictures aren’t really my thing so that’s probably not gonna happen, but I assure you you’re not missing anything by not seeing me, anon hahaha

Anon said: Fraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan! ilu

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ヽ(o♡o)/  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Anon said: Imagine Bakugo drawing pictures of his squad without them noticing. Like Kiri looking out a window or mina and Denki trying their best to study or sero scrolling on his phone. I wonder how they would react to finding his sketch book

I’m sobbing this is so nice ;A; Sero and Kaminari’s reaction would probably be along the lines of “how is this guy good at everything” haha I like the headcanon of Mina drawing too so her reaction would be a bit different, probably, but still very very awed 

meanwhile Kiri is on the ground dying

(Kiri is me)

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17 Standout Scenes from 2014

“American Sniper”

Clint Eastwood’s dispassionate directorial style makes a fascinatingly fluid document of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle’s Iraq War experience: viewers may see it either as celebratory or condemnatory. The scene that best exemplifies this ambiguity, however, occurs back home, as a young veteran (Jonathan Groff) approaches Kyle in public to salute him for his service. Kyle’s response, delicately measured by star Bradley Cooper, is one of chilly uncertainty, in line with the film’s own tacit questioning of heroism. 

-Guy Lodge

“Birdman”

Since Alejandro G. Inarritu’s backstage comedy is designed to look like a single take, it’s tempting to praise the entire film as a standout scene. Movie magic aside, let’s focus on the moment when washed up actor Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) steps outside the theater for a smoke, gets his robe caught in a locked door and finds himself darting through New York’s jam-packed Times Square in nothing but a pair of socks and tighty-whities to make a dramatic entrance for the play’s next scene. Nothing else distills Riggan’s peculiar mix of desperation, dedication and borderline madness quite so perfectly. 

-Geoff Berkshire

“Boyhood”

There’s a moment in “Boyhood” where it seems as if all this beautifully messy acne-marred splendor is going to explode in one big bloody pulp: Mason, our adolescent hero (played to natural perfection by Ellar Coltrane) is messing around with saw blades and neighborhood chums. We fear the end is nigh — surely one of these kids will accidentally wind up with a fatal slice. But they emerge unscathed, which is a testament to Richard Linklater’s creative approach. The film’s brilliance comes from its subtlety: It’s not only the crushing, catastrophic moments that shape our lives, but also the smaller, more innocent ones. 

-Malina Saval

“Foxcatcher”

Sometimes a scene can sum up an entire lifetime in just a few minutes. John du Pont (Steve Carell) is talking to his mother (Vanessa Redgrave). Up until that point, du Pont has been brooding, awkward and vaguely creepy, but it’s hard to get a handle on him. However, as Mrs. du Pont airily diminishes his interests (decreeing wrestling a “low” sport), audiences suddenly see years of rejection and loneliness (and perhaps genetic weirdness). It is a perfect blend of writing, direction and acting. 

-Tim Gray

“Gone Girl”

Delivering the monologue that ignited a billion think pieces, beautiful sociopath Amy Dunne (Rosamund Pike) explains what drove her to frame her adulterous hubby, Nick (Ben Affleck), for murder. As she speeds away from an oppressive suburban existence, she ponders the pressure to be a “cool girl”: “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes and burping … Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile … and let their men do whatever they want.” Director David Fincher intercuts scribe Gillian Flynn’s piercing words with images of Dunne scrutinizing passing female drivers for signs of the “cool” burden. 

-Marianne Zumberge

“The Grand Budapest Hotel”

The poignant comedy immediately establishes that M. Gustave (the sublime Ralph Fiennes) is stylish, calm and devoted to serving the needs of others. When he gets into hot water, a quick montage shows his fellow concierges around the world phoning each other, in a sort of bucket brigade of support. Each concierge is in the middle of an emergency situation (which becomes increasingly urgent with every new person), but each calmly tells an assistant “Take over, please” so he can attend to the top priority: M. Gustave’s rescue. It’s a brief, funny-sweet merger of writing, direction, editing, design and deadpan comedy acting. 

-Tim Gray

“The Imitation Game”

It was never easy for eccentric genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to make friends, let alone romantic partners. But in flashbacks to his younger days at a British boarding school (when Turing is played by Alex Lawther), we see the evolution of his bond with classmate Christopher (Jack Bannon). Just when Alan has worked up the courage to declare his forbidden love to Christopher, he discovers some devastating news from the headmaster. As Alan is forced to hide both his grief and his broken heart, young Lawther delivers a scene for the ages. 

-Geoff Berkshire

“Interstellar”

Like so much in Christopher Nolan’s space epic, the most transcendent moment defies layperson description: Suffice to say that Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) faces the challenge of docking his vehicle on the damaged, spinning-out-of-control Endurance spacecraft. The action sequence that follows all but abandons narrative logic in pursuit of a glorious state of visual and sonic abstraction: The whirling, dizzying images seem to envelop us, while Hans Zimmer’s score pushes itself to astonishing new heights of Straussian bombast. Rarely has incomprehension been so unbearably tense, or so unbearably moving. 

-Justin Chang

“Into the Woods”

Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s musical contains no shortage of emotionally rich observations about life, dreams and growing up, but Rob Marshall’s film adaptation also serves up one of the year’s best comedic sequences. The uproarious duet “Agony” between a pair of preening princes (played to the hilt by Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen) trying to one-up each other in their devotion to idealized dream girls nails the exquisite torture of romantic pursuit and that universal feeling “when the one thing you want is the only thing out of your reach.” 

-Geoff Berkshire

“A Most Violent Year”

For much of writer-director J.C. Chandor’s slick and measured thriller, the tension remains on a slow-burn as self-made businessman Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) tries to keep his cool. But in a sudden, and stunning, centerpiece halfway through the film, Abel’s world comes crashing down. Two of his employees are assaulted in two different locations simultaneously. One of them pulls out a gun to defend himself and starts shooting on a bridge on-ramp, only to flee when the police arrive. It’s a nail-biting sequence that expertly showcases the film’s top-notch cinematography, editing and original score. 

-Geoff Berkshire

“Mr. Turner”

As the cognoscenti sour on JMW Turner’s increasing abstract and muddy canvases, the painter visits a photography studio to have his portrait taken (and satisfy his curiosity about an emerging visual form). “The image you create is not one of color, for why?” asks Turner (Timothy Spall) with a scowl. “I am afraid that is a question we have yet to answer,” responds the American photographer. “Long may it remain so,” Turner mumbles to himself as he remains perfectly still for the required 10 seconds. “It is finished, sir,” says his portraitist. “And I fear that I, too, am finished,” concludes Turner gravely. 

-Steve Chagollan

“Nightcrawler”

Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) has big ambitions, and most of the twisted fun of screenwriter Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut comes from watching — with mouths agape — just how far Bloom will go to achieve success. The high point of his despicably low behavior arrives during a dinner date with scrappy local news producer Nina (Rene Russo). She thinks she can brush off his unwanted romantic advances. He calmly explains why she has no other option than to give in, or risk losing her career. It’s a chilling look at good old-fashioned American self-determination run amok. 

-Geoff Berkshire

“Selma”

Ava DuVernay could easily have kept off-screen the 1963 Birmingham church bombing that incites the critical wave of Civil Rights protests depicted in her exacting historical drama — it’s a symbolic event already embedded in America’s consciousness. But DuVernay’s sensitive observation of four young girls obliviously gossiping in the moments before their death in the church bombing, exquisitely caught in d.p. Bradford Young’s honeyed lens, sets the tone for the film to follow: one about momentous events occurring via intimate human exchanges.

-Guy Lodge

“The Theory of Everything”

Jane (Felicity Jones) and Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) are celebrating the birth of their third child, Timothy, when she’s confronted in private by her mother-in-law (Abigail Cruttenden), who drops a bombshell at point blank range: Is the baby actually Stephen’s, or is the true father Jane’s choir master friend, Jonathan (Charlie Cox)? A visibly shaken Jane asks, “Is that what you really think of me?” Overhearing the exchange, Jonathan vows to step back from his friendship to avoid innuendos. Meanwhile, Stephen plays outside with his other kids, blissfully ignorant of the drama unfolding just a few feet away. 

-Shalini Dore

“Unbroken”

Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) has been floating in a lifeboat on the Pacific Ocean for weeks with two fellow U.S. Army Air Corp soldiers and less than minimal provisions. They’re finally able to catch an albatross with their bare hands, but eating the fowl quickly causes them to vomit. Instead, they decide to use the meat to lure in fish. That leads to an even bigger catch: sharks, which they capture and rip apart to feast. Every gruesome detail is made all the more remarkable because they’re exactly as Zamperini described to biographer Laura Hillenbrand. 

-Kirstin Wilder

“Whiplash”

In a film filled with great scenes, it’s hard to single out one for special praise. But there’s no arguing with the final moments, in which drummer Andrew (Miles Teller) plays the solo of his life: an opera of pain, rage and jubilation that ultimately wins over his abusive former instructor Fletcher (J.K. Simmons). When Fletcher tries to get him to stop, Andrew strikes a cymbal in his face in a moment of hilarious defiance. And as the playing continues, the shifting emotions on Fletcher’s face — from fury to grudging respect to triumph — makes for a cathartic victory. 

-Jenelle Riley

“Wild”

It’s nearly impossible to imagine hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo and not encountering some highly precarious scenarios — especially if you’re a woman. For Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) the freakiest moment happens when she comes face to face with a creepy, would-be perpetrator who eyes her lustily. The scene is flush full of tension; we fear for her life. In the end, the guy backs off, but the encounter leaves us marveling at Cheryl’s bravery to press on and pursue her goal, especially in a day and age where going it alone as a woman can often spell disaster. 

-Malina Saval

Source: Variety

Two Smoking Guns 17

Summary: AU: New Job, New class, should be all peaches and cream, except for the fact that your new Boss and your Professor are the most attractive men you’d ever met, and they won’t stop staring at you.

Author: @i4z-0892-imagines

Pairing: Sam x Reader, Dean x Reader

Word Count: 1,978

Warnings: Nothing unusual for me.

A/N:  Feedback is always wanted and appreciated! I love hearing what you guys think, it motivates and drives me! I live for feedback!

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9 - Part 10 - Part 11 -Part 12 - Part 13 - Part 14 - Part 15 - Part 16 -


You changed your clothes, shrugging into a pair of jeans and a thin, plain, solid black long sleeved shirt, and wiped the make-up from your face, hoping the action would somehow allow you to blend into the background when you inevitably went to class. You considered skipping it all together, unsure as to whether or not you could manage to see Sam’s face when you could barely look at your own. Dean kept flashing through your mind, the hurt echoing in his olive eyes as he stumbled back from your forceful shove. Ruby’s smug smile, and her dark eyes that followed you as you moved…

You dropped your book bag at your door, and walked to the couch, dialing Jess on your phone as you slumped into it, allowing yourself to wallow in your own misery.

“Hey loser! On your way?” She piped up, her usual jolly, cheerful, bubbly, over-the-top self.

“No, actually. I don’t think I’m going to make it to class tonight. I-uh… I’m not feeling well.” You said. Jess paused on the other end, knowing that you were both lying and telling the truth.

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A calm hush came over the auditorium, filled with adults and children of all ages, as the lights began to dim and I can think of very few companies who garner such immediate respect from their audience more so than Pixar. The customary short film Lava began and the quiet remained, we watched an anthropomorphised volcano sing as he longed for his love. It’s not the best short Pixar have produced, nor was it the worst. Obviously, it’s visually stunning, especially the time-lapse sequence of clouds moving and the sky changing overhead (having lived with several animators during my time at University and knowing just how much work went into such a sequence, it made me feel a little ill), and my only criticism of it is it’s perhaps a bit too twee

Lava ends leaving everyone to sit quietly satisfied in anticipation of the headline act. There was one small problem however. As the Disney ident lit up the screen, it refused to leave, remaining half faded to black for a minute or two before somebody left to alert a member of staff. We then sat in a darkened auditorium in front of a blank screen for around ten minutes before the film started again. Unfortunately, as the screen faded came to life one more, we were returned back to the beginning of Lava; an audible groan emanating from everyone over the age of eight filled the air. I’m sure the groan wasn’t representative of the film’s quality, more so a combination of anticipation to see the main feature and the fact that Pixar shorts don’t have much rewatch potential and only really require one viewing to understand them completely.

“Do you ever look at somebody and wonder what’s going on inside their head?” it’s an opening line that probably began Inside Out’s first pitch, swiftly encapsulating the narrative and overall theme of the film in a single sentence. Inside Out is magnificent even by Pixar standards, and possibly even their smartest film to date. Not once do the creative team of director Pete Docter and writers Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley and Ronnie del Carmen assume children need their comedic storytelling dumbing down, and as a result they’ve created a level of intelligent comedy that can be universally understood and appreciated by its entire audience. 

What I mean by their smartest film to date is that here is a film that’s fantastical in its entirety, convincingly depicting something equal parts scientific and emotional. Creating a film based on science and the idea that emotions interact with each other forming who we are as people; but visualising it with a level of whimsy befitting a child’s imagination is a task perhaps impossible for anyone other than Disney/Pixar. For a long time I thought they were mad for not thinking of this idea sooner, but then reflecting on the idea, I realised that perhaps Inside Out is an idea Pixar have always had in the back of their mind but never felt they could accurately depict it, to the best of their abilities, in the way they wanted to in the studio’s first two decades. Such an explanation would make sense, because Inside Out is a visual feast both stylistically and conceptually, and I feel that had it definitely would have been a huge success at any point in the last ten or fifteen years, but probably not on the level that it will be today. Pixar had to get this one right, not just because they’re coming off a period seen by some as a decline, but because they’re stepping into new territory. They’re no longer creating characters modelled around things that already exist in our physical world, nor are they creating monsters which everyone has imagined at some stage in their life. With Inside Out, Pixar had to create characters that inhabiting the limitless world of the human mind, ironically a place more creative and more powerful than our own brains and imaginations themselves can conceive of. 

Unsurprisingly, they succeeded in doing so and no amount of description on my part will ever truly do the film justice. Inside Out has to be seen.

The film is a testament to the ingenuity and consistency of Pixar, because it’s everything we’ve come to expect from them; a concept scrutinised to the smallest detail, then fully realised on-screen, covering every conceivable aspect of its premise applied to a master class in storytelling. At its core, Inside Out is a study of how our emotions change with us, surrounded by smaller ideas such as how our emotions interact with each other, how they can forge and change our memories, how they shape us as individuals and how emotional maturity begins. Each one of these concepts is explored throughout the movie, not one after another but simultaneously interacting with one another constantly. 11-year-old Riley’s emotion operate on the same level; Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader), Disgust (Mindy Kaling) and Anger (Lewis Black) all work from the same command console at her HQ, each emotion performing their functions as-and-when needed, with each emotional task is a collaborative effort. 

Beloved by her parents, Riley is an bright and energetic young girl, and as such, Joy is unequivocally the emotional Team Leader, in a state of perpetual motion ensuring her job is done correctly. Joy is the star of the film by a mile; borderline frenetic, her feverish quest to keep Riley happy highlights the notion that happiness requires the most work with clarity and humour. Joy is coercive, confusing and borderline manipulative, but never malicious or ill willed. As Riley edges closer towards her teen years, events begin to unfold that to her will change her life dramatically, as a result her brain goes into emotional overdrive and it’s here that our story truly begins.

It’s difficult reviewing a Pixar film, not wanting to spoil anything. To describe any aspect, any second of the film, would be depriving you of discovering it yourself, which brings with it an overwhelming sense of wonder. Nostalgia plays a big part in the success of Pixar films, I’m sure, as each release the same feeling of childhood wonder arrives in me. Whenever I watch Up, Wall-E, Toy Story 3, I’m taken back to being a child watching the first Toy Story or Monsters Inc for the first time and being amazed long after I’d left the cinema. 

Inside Out is as surprising as it is brilliant. I tired to second guess where the film was going at every turn and each time I as wrong. I mean, sure, there is the Totally Unachievable Objective™ in the middle of the film, like there is in every Pixar film (and, to be fair, the majority of mainstream cinema) but even I couldn’t anticipate how the five central characters would move past this. The thing is, it’s this impassable obstacle that is the film’s one flaw. That’s it. However, I can’t in good conscience even mark it down as a flaw because I understand the absolute necessity of it as a narrative tool. We tend to forget sometimes, because they’re so good, that Pixar films are first and foremost kids films, and Pixar know their target audience very well. The issue being that children aren’t renowned for their ability to graspi subtlety, especially the very young children that come to see these films, so the fact the protagonists have to overcome some challenge to succeed has to be fairly obvious and very dramatic for it to be understood. Pixar is the only studio, bar maybe Dreamworks, who are allowed to use this narrative tool and me not be at all bothered by it.

I don’t know what it is but Pixar clearly love trying to make adults cry, or maybe just making me cry (although I’m sure I’m not alone in this). Not only did I have to fight back tears during Inside Out but I had to do so twice. TWICE! I didn’t even think I was going to cry twice during Up or Toy Story 3. Once again it’s a testament to the originality of Inside Out, I was so immersed in this amazing, hyper-fairytale funfair theme park science lab of a world that I just stopped thinking. Or more precisely stopped overthinking. Watching Toy Story 3 for the first time, I was immersed, incredibly so, but my cynicism and adulthood had me scanning for minute mistakes or flaws. I wasn’t doing so intentionally but the film’s release was such a surprise, we were all caught somewhat off guard and many of us were sure something had to go wrong. With Up, so many people had hyped it up I was determined not to find it heartbreaking. I did obviously because I’m not dead inside, but I feel like I had protected myself against the most devastating elements of the story through prior warning. Inside Out though… I experienced as a child would have and my viewing experience was heightened tenfold. After seeing the first trailer I avoided all subsequent promotional material like the plague; I wanted to just sit and absorb as much of the film as I could without any preconceived ideas of what it was, from viewing four hundred different trailers months before. As a result Inside Out hit me hard, because I went through the emotional rollercoaster in real time with these characters, not knowing what was going to happen next and not being able to prepare myself for it. I laughed so hard, smiled constantly and as I’ve said really had to fight back tears because Inside Out is a part of all of us. It’s our emotions, our memories good and bad, playing out in front of us reminding us of who we are now and who we once were. This film has done the really annoying thing, of creating a world I so desperately want to be a part of because, although it’s scary sometimes, and dark and difficult, it’s fun, exciting, colourful and every moment feels important. The emotions living inside of Riley’s head, this is their reality and they take what they have to do very seriously. Riley’s emotions employ the seriousness children do when playing a game of their own invention and it’s this focus, this inhabiting a particular world wholly in our minds that we can all relate to.

Inside Out is perfect. Some people may disagree with me, but for what it is - a children’s film designed to entertain everyone who watches it - it couldn’t have done anything more to succeed in doing so. Pixar have a story that happens outside and inside of several characters heads, involving hundreds of different characters and locations and not once - NOT ONCE - does it feel overly saturated, chaotic or out of control. I will go on record as saying I consider Inside Out to be Pixar’s greatest film. It doesn’t build on the success of previous films nor does it draw on our perceptions of other things. Inside Out takes our brains, our emotions and our imaginations and shows us all, adults and children alike that we’re all different, we’re all special and we’re all very important to a lot of people.

★★★★★

anonymous asked:

ok its all over my dash so i need to ask someone.. what is rooster teeth???

To completely tell the story, I’ll need to go back a few years. 

The mid 90s were a confusing time for our nation. Being politically correct was envogue, Madonna was just beginning to show the first signs of old age, and three sub-standard students met on the campus of the University of Texas At Austin. Realizing that their grades would no doubt keep them out of any of the higher paying jobs the world had to offer, Burnie Burns, Matt Hullum and Joel Heyman began to explore other ideas. A seed was planted, and an independent movie was born. Burnie and Matt (being the ugliest of the three) wrote and directed the film, while the much more aesthetically pleasing Joel starred in it. It was called “The Schedule” and centered around a regular Joe who got stuck with the unfortunate duty of collecting souls for Death, the lowest paying employer of them all. They trio toured the film festival scene, and encountered some success. Unfortunately, as their friendship grew, so did other feelings. As love triangles usually do, their relationship ended in shambles. Joel, unable to handle the complicated feelings and emotions, fled to Los Angeles to further pursue a career in acting, the other lowest paying job of them all. Matt was torn, but decided to follow his heart (i.e. Joel), and ended up in LA as well. Still too ugly for acting, he began a career in Hollywood doing visual effects. He also began the long process of healing and growing said relationship with Joel. 

Burnie was crushed. To deal with this double heartbreak, he became emotionally vapid, and did the only thing available for the apathetic and soulless, he entered the tech industry. His entropy helped propel him to the top, and eventually he became the Director of Operations at a tech support center, where a new group of poor students were just beginning to emerge. 

Gustavo Sorola, fleeing from his stunning failures at Rice University, met Geoff Fink, a man who was simply too dumb for College. They embraced their low paying tech jobs, falling in love with the primary colors and blinking text of the internet. A kinship was formed, and the pair became fast friends, often playing video games till all hours of the morning while sharing their feelings and desires. Pillow fights were had, toenails were painted, and much alcohol consumed. It was heaven on earth. 

The two quickly became disillusioned with the internet and learned to hate its mocking ways, so they created a website in defense. It was called Uglyinternet.com and it was mean. Too mean for the world. Lawsuits were filed, and death threats issued. The pair bought a baseball bat and hid in a closet for 6 months. When they emerged, they had a dream, to start another website, one that combined god’s two greatest gifts to mankind - drinking and video games. 

Drunkgamers.com began soon after in the spring of 2000. The site began to grow a small following, and much like the moth is drawn to the flame, Burnie was drawn to their radical ideas and raw passion. Slowly, Geoff and Gus taught Burnie how to care again. He began to write for them, and soon became the most prolific drunken video game writer of all time. 

Drunkgamers quickly grew, adding a cheese-loving, shoe-hating hippy named Dan Godwin, and a pseudo homeless kid named Jason Saldana. Not a lot is known about how Jason actually became a part of the group, but one can assume it had a lot to do with pity. A few other staffers were added, but they all died in a car crash. It was sad. 

Trying to find a way to weasel his quasi-filmmaking experience into the site, Burnie started adding weekly gameplay videos. No one watched them, but he refused to stop. One day while making a video showing how great he thought he was at Halo, he remembered a recent conversation during a game of CTF. It might have gone something like this. 

  • Burnie: Hey, do you ever wonder why they call it a Warthog? I think it looks more like a Puma!
  • Geoff: You’re an idiot.
  • Gus: Die.



Burnie couldn’t shake the thought provoking conversation. It haunted him. Why WAS it called a Warthog? Not a single other person in the entire world cared (and still doesn’t), but he had to know. So he decided to create his own answer, and RedVsBlue was born. He frantically called Geoff and Gus to tell them about his new idea, a movie INSIDE of a video game. They mocked him (and continue to, to this day). The world wasn’t ready for his idea. No one could grasp the concept. Undaunted, he “filmed” a trailer to show them. They still didn’t care. Burnie was heartbroken. Soon after, in a completeley unrelated incident, Drunkgamers.com ended. No one knows exactly why or what caused the sites demise, but some sources say a middle finger (possibly two), combined with six Irish Car Bombs, were partially to blame. This looked like the end. 

Until… 

One day, four months later, Computer Gaming World contacted Geoff, to ask if they could use an old drunkgamers video on one of their cover mount CDs. Geoff graciously accepted, and he and Burnie lamented about the pointlessness of having a video in a magazine of such stature, with no website to point to it. The group reunited in a flurry of activity. Plans were made, schemes were hatched, and just as they were settling on the idea of a Justin Timberlake fan site, Burnie remembered his little Halo movie. He knew there was only one way to convince Gus and Geoff (who were already drawing up scanning in their Timberlake pics), so he got them stinking drunk. They awoke the next day, hung over and strangely sore (but that’s a story for another day), to see that Burnie had convinced them to sign their lives away for the promise of more Banana Daiquiris. They were beaten. He immediately called Matt and Joel to gloat, only to discover that they too were beaten. Broken down by the harsh and unforgiving Tinsletown machine. They begged him for a job, even if it was just washing cars. Burnie decided to be the bigger man, and fences were mended (literally, he made them build a fence in his back yard). 

They were onboard. 

And the world was without the best Justin Timberlake site ever…

Interstellar Review

Alright, alright, alright. Reviewing a film such as Interstellar is a monumentally difficult task. It says a lot about a motion picture when you’re so utterly speechless and at a total loss for words to describe what you’ve just seen. That being said Interstellar was one my most anticipated films of 2014, and when I saw it last weekend I was not disappointed. It was a utterly spell-binding film. I decided since then to gather my thoughts in this review of sorts, of which I’ve kept the first half spoiler-free. That being said, do read on at your own discretion, as spoiler tendencies will vary from person to person. I am going to write spoilers, particularly about the ending, but only after a jump in the text. With that out of the way, let’s begin!

I suppose I can expand upon this summary I’ve come up with. 

Interstellar is Christopher Nolan’s beautifully poetic love letter to the human ideals of exploration, hope, sacrifice, and love, in a film that’s replete with stunning visuals, phenomenal acting, and an intelligent story line which triumphs despite a slightly clunky second act.

Interstellar of course is Nolan’s first film since finishing up his Dark Knight trilogy with the The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. It’s scripted by himself and his brother Jonathan, who initially wrote it as a project for Steven Spielberg, but was revamped when Spielberg departed the project and Nolan came on board. It’s very much based on the work of Caltech theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, noted for his work on black holes and astrophysics, who aided the production crew and was credited as an executive producer. 

The premise is basically that at some point in the near future, Earth has been ravaged by blight. Numerous crops have failed, with only corn remaining, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, is a widowed Air Force pilot turned farmer, who raises his two young children Tom (Timothee Chalamet) and Murph (Mackenzie Foy) with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow). When Cooper and Murph stumble upon a secret NASA facility, they meet Dr. Brand (Michael Caine) and his daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway) who inform Cooper that they have discovered a gravitational anomaly near Saturn, which is in fact a wormhole which leads to an entirely different galaxy full of potentially habitable worlds for humanity to migrate to and start afresh.  Brand convinces Cooper to lead an expedition along with Amelia and two other scientists (played by Wes Bentley and David Gyasi), a sarcastic robot TARS, (voiced by Bill Irwin) and another more reserved one, CASE, (voiced by Josh Stewart). Although Cooper accepts, he must face the fact that due to the nature of interstellar travel, it could take decades for him to see his family again, something Murph does not take particularly well. 

That’s all that can really be said about the plot without going into full-blown spoiler territory, but I can safely say that what follows is a thought-provoking and visually arresting odyssey into the far reaches of the cosmos but is grounded in its transcendent otherworldliness in the love story between a father and the family he leaves far behind. 

You really don’t need me to tell you how utterly brilliant the special effects are. You’ve probably seen bits of it in the TV spots and trailers, but they absolutely live up to - and exceed- the hype. Nolan, infamous in the industry for having a reputation as a traditional director, (who amongst other things eschews shooting in digital in favor or film and relying as much as possible on practical effects) incredibly managed to shoot a film of such massive scale without the usage of green screen. All the spacecraft were physical models, so nothing really looked cartoony and it conveyed a sense of actually *being* inside the film. It was a refreshing change in an era of cinema that’s dominated by special effects, and I’m looking forward to what J.J. Abrams does with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a film that similarly utilizes many practical effects. That being said, when the film does use CGI (inevitably for a movie that takes place in space) it’s jaw-dropping. Particular highlights for me would be the initial trip through the wormhole, an amazing, eye-opening, slightly trippy journey that really made you feel as though you were in the spacecraft. Another would be how the black hole, Gargantua, was realized on screen. It is apparently the most accurate depiction of a black hole yet, and the effects crew worked directly with Thorne, using his own equations, to create this massive, spinning illuminated disc. I was awestruck throughout this sequence.  The alien worlds encountered, the water world and ice planet were a spectacle to behold in their terrifying beauty. A tip of the hat to cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema and production designer Nathan Crowley. Oscar-worthy stuff. In light of all this, and the fact that much of the film was itself shot with IMAX cameras, I’d have to say IMAX is the only proper way to enjoy Interstellar, so do go for that option if you can. It’s definitely worth the slightly more expensive cost of admission. 

Comparisons with Stanley Kubrick’s seminal 2001: A Space Odyssey, are inevitable. Nolan hasn’t been shy to describe the influence 2001 has had on his career, and there are a number of homages throughout the film which harken back to Kubrick. Pre-release hype was dubbing Interstellar “this generation’s 2001” or “the next 2001” and some even “better than 2001”. In retrospect it was probably the hype which led to Interstellar’s rather mixed and decisive reception at the box office, but in my view I do think it’s a worthy spiritual successor. And it’s also worth noting that 2001 received a similarly frosty reception when it was first released, but went on to become a cult classic that is now revered as one of the finest films of all time. Perhaps Interstellar will age like a fine wine, and people will appreciate it more as the years go by. It just seems like that sort of movie. 

As with all his previous films, Nolan surrounded himself with a phenomenally talented cast. There were no less than 5 Oscar winners and/or nominees, and I really couldn’t find fault with the principal cast. Matthew McConaughey made for a compelling protagonist, and continued his amazing run of form on the back of performances in True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club. As Nolan described, they were looking for a “cowboy” astronaut in the mould of famous American pioneers like Chuck Yeager and Neil Armstrong, and McConaughey pulled it off so well, I simply can’t imagine anyone better in the role. Jessica Chastain was similarly brilliant, with a very nuanced performance. And while I had a few minor complaints about the motivations of Anne Hathaway’s character, there’s no doubt she too was marvelous and played off McConaughey quite well. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the actress who played the young Murph, Mackenzie Foy, who had some pretty emotionally charged sequences with McConaughey early in the film, and pulled them off remarkably well for a child actress. And as always, it was lovely seeing Michael Caine, it what is now his sixth collaboration with Nolan. Bill Irwin injects some well-needed comic relief into proceedings in a turn as talkative monolithic robot TARS (what a legend he is). A fairly well-known Hollywood star also pops up in Interstellar’s second act in an extended cameo, though I’ll get to him in the spoiler portion of this review. 

Hans Zimmer again does not disappoint. The score for Interstellar is markedly different from Zimmer’s previous one, with a significantly less number of bombastic BRAAAAAAAAMs and more ethereal, celestial motifs played with a church organ. The main theme of the film, the one heard in the very first teaser trailer, is prominent throughout, and the different variations are all so beautiful despite their similarities. It’s a simple 3-4 note theme, just like “Time” from Inception, and in my opinion, is up with the very best of Zimmer’s work. There were however, a few occasions where the loud background music would make it hard to comprehend the dialogue spoken by the actors, especially with the dulcet Southern drawl of Matthew McConaughey in the mix. 

But in my opinion, the good far outweighs the bad. I can’t guarantee that you’ll love Interstellar. Reviews are after all completely subjective, and everybody’s going to take something different from it. I can only say that if you’re on the fence, you should go for it, if only for the special effects. Go for the breathtaking effects, and S.T.A.Y (folks who’ve seen the film will get this reference) for the incredibly tear-jerking emotional story that’s at the center of this stunning journey through time and space. Here I am a week later, writing this review still utterly in awe of what I saw. This is one of the films that really stick with you. I’m dying to get it on Blu-ray to watch it again. And again. And again. And probably again. 

Rating: 4.5/5 

Spoiler section coming up! Thanks for reading if you’re leaving now. 

Keep reading

1989: The Stories Behind The Songs (My Review)

Track 1: Welcome To New York
Hidden message: WE BEGIN OUR STORY IN NEW YORK

In Taylor Swift’s opening track to her highly anticipated fifth album, she instantly gives us an insight of what to expect from the latest era in her career, one that comes with a completely different sound. The catchy, pop-synth anthem almost attacks like a bullet shot from a fired pistol, painting the new picture of a young girl becoming an independent woman, finding happiness even in the absence of love after moving to the “big ol’ city” she’s always dreamed about. Its pulsating melody screams freedom when paired with Swift’s echoed signature sound. Driven mostly by drums, it’s ultimately a love story; not for a guy but for a place she now calls home, where “you can want who you want, boys and boys and girls and girls.” Welcome To New York is the album’s definitive launch, one that sets the scene and tells us we’re on a journey that we’ve never travelled before.


Track 2: Blank Space
Hidden message: THERE WAS ONCE A GIRL WHO WAS KNOWN BY EVERYONE AND NO ONE

It’s no secret that Swift’s love life hasn’t had its ups and downs and, in previous work, she’s fearlessly dived headfirst into sharing the truth by putting pen to paper. However, in the album’s second single, she decides to write from a different angle by making fun of her previous exposure in the media about her “long list of ex lovers” and creating a gossipy out-and-out pop song that serves as a thrilling riff of her own reputation. The playful and provocative lyrics are unmistakeably Swift, once again proving that she’s completely in charge. The song’s official music video is also a real treat in which she embraces the ridiculousness of her “man-eater” public image by cutting up her ex-boyfriend’s clothes and stabbing at photographs of him with a knife. This unforgettable pop track shows that Taylor isn’t afraid to tangle with the tabloids.


Track 3: Style
Hidden message: HER HEART BELONGED TO SOMEONE WHO COULD NOT STAY

In the hilariously titled third track, Taylor boasts a full-blooded work of synth-pop while telling the tale of a bumpy, on-again-off-again relationship. The song is a smooth and cool ride with one of the album’s most impressive hooks: “You’ve got that James Dean daydream look in your eye and I’ve got that red lip classic thing that you like”. Its poised melody is deliciously triumphant and truly illustrates an 80s masterpiece, but is only a background to Swift’s effortless visuals. Through the music that has a tempo of 90 beats per minute, she tells us of a love that always finds its way back to her because it’s just too tempting to let go of. 


Track 4: Out Of The Woods
Hidden message: THEY LOVED EACHOTHER RECKLESSLY

Since the beginning, Taylor Swift has always had a natural knack for storytelling in music, and this track does just that. It’s especially catchy and the most electronic so far, co-written and powered by Jack Antonoff’s trademark funk-pop guitar. Out Of The Woods recounts a past relationship gone wrong that climaxes in a snowmobile crash, a memory that calls for “twenty stitches in the hospital room”. Swift describes the love as one that was colourful in a black and white world, comparing them to two paper airplanes, supposedly meaning they were free and wild before the grey crept in. In the song’s chorus, she repeatedly questions the fragility of the relationship, wondering if it’s going to go anywhere or if it’s going to end. For this story, the acoustic guitar and violins were most definitely left back in Nashville.


Track 5: All You Had To Do Was Stay
Hidden message: THEY PAID THE PRICE

Inspired by a dream she once had about an ex-lover, All You Had To Do Was Stay is a straight-to-the-point message about how to save a fading relationship when you have the chance. It’s not exactly up there with past “track 5″ hits such as Dear John and All Too Well, but then again, it wouldn’t be. Because 1989 isn’t a devastating album and that shows in songs like this where it’s clear Swift is letting go of the past no matter what, when she sings, “People like me are gone forever when you say goodbye”. However, the catchiest moments come from the heavenly high-pitched chorus, something else that was taken from her dream when this mysterious man turned up at her door and, almost operatically, she asked him to… guess what?


Track 6: Shake It Off
Hidden message: SHE DANCED TO FORGET HIM

The entire essence of Taylor Swift’s fifth album is highlighted in its sassy lead single. Lyrically, it’s a song dedicated to her “haters”, one that loudly and proudly lets them all know that no matter how much they knock her down, she’s going to stand back up even taller. When first heard during a live stream session last year to promote the album, it immediately specified a new chapter in Swift’s story, a drastic departure from what her fans already know and love. Still, even with a completely new sound (and hair cut), she didn’t disappoint, generating a fun and fresh 100% pop track for people to dance to worldwide. Clearly, it shuns all critics and gives people the confidence to feel good about themselves, even their imperfections. Whether you’re a fan or not, this one is pretty much impossible to not get up and dance to.


Track 7: I Wish You Would
Hidden message: HE DROVE PAST HER STREET EACH NIGHT

The seventh track on 1989 was inspired by Swift’s love for 80s movies that she grew up watching such as The Breakfast Club and Say Anything, which would plant lovely yet albeit slightly unrealistic endings to relationships. In them, just like in the song, the girl would “miss him too much to be mad anymore”, the guy would somehow swallow his pride, he would show up on her doorstep and everything would just work out. Driven by groovy electronic vibes, it’s Swift’s way of saying sorry, rounded off by an unsharpened bridge where she beautifully metaphorically describes the two of them as “a crooked love in a straight line down”. It’s not her greatest work to date, but it’s still a fun and playful tune that you’ll be singing in your head for days.


Track 8: Bad Blood
Hidden message: SHE MADE FRIENDS AND ENEMIES

The album’s fourth single is by far the most controversial. At first, it doesn’t offer any obvious answers, but after being quickly studied, was found to not be about a grudge held between Swift and an ex, but instead another female music artist. With its bold lyrics and stark beats, it paints the bloody image of a friendship turned sour with a message as blunt and brave as the one that surged I Knew You Were Trouble from her previous record. Simply, it’s one of the angriest songs Taylor has ever written, and we love it.


Track 9: Wildest Dreams
Hidden message: HE ONLY SAW HER IN HIS DREAMS

As one of only a few slow and melancholy songs on the whole album, Wildest Dreams is a stand out track where we see Swift at her most bare. It’s a sultry tale stuffed with wistful nostalgia and recollection where she uses her own thudding heartbeat as a backdrop against stunning vocals. In previous albums, we’ve seen Taylor’s finest writing shine through in songs such as Sad Beautiful Tragic, You’re Not Sorry and Back To December, and she pulls it out of the bag again with this one, a song that oozes with seductive Lana Del Rey style vibes as she effortlessly changes from fluttery soprano to deadpan alto. In it, she asks a “tall and handsome as hell” mystery guy to always remember her. With a song as beautiful as this, who wouldn’t?


Track 10: How You Get The Girl
Hidden message: THEN ONE DAY HE CAME BACK

Coming towards the end of the record, Swift starts shaking up the concept a little. This is another upbeat track and, of all the songs on 1989, takes us back to the 80s the most. Steered predominantly by cosmic, surging drums, it gives off a classic retro vibe and, with a completely addictive chorus, it’s hard to not sing along as Swift writes to an ex-boyfriend telling him where he went wrong and how he could have saved what they had. In the bridge, we hear a familiar sound - Taylor’s trademark tear-stained guitar - as she softens her vocals and depicts a comforting past picture that includes framed photographs and cheek kisses. How You Get The Girl mixes up everything she can do, a wildly enthusiastic pop hit that is impossible to stop singing.


Track 11: This Love
Hidden message: TIMING IS A FUNNY THING

The power ballad we’re all waiting for comes next in the form of This Love, an almost whispered recollection of a good relationship that was bad for her and a bad relationship that was good for her all at the same time. At first, it doesn’t come off as an especially confident track, but her delicate vocals match her fragile lyrics perfectly, creating a ghostly triumph where she recalls a love that “left a permanent mark” so deep, she had to let it go. It just passes the four-minute mark so for fans of past ballads like All Too Well, we’re definitely not downhearted. 


Track 12: I Know Places
Hidden message: AND EVERYONE WAS WATCHING

Similar to Shake It Off, the twelfth track from 1989 talks about critics and paparazzi who want to see Swift’s relationships fail, comparing them to hunters with boxes and guns. It’s a spunky upbeat track that hits hard in all the right places and is almost like a promise to her man that the outsiders won’t win, with one of the most daring lines Swift has ever come up with: “Loose lips sink ships all the damn time, but not this time.” Mixing anger with sexiness, it’s a brilliant declaration for all love in trouble.


Track 13: Clean
Hidden message: SHE LOST HIM BUT SHE FOUND HERSELF AND SOMEHOW THAT WAS EVERYTHING

As expected, Swift saves the best for last. Clean is a grandiose bittersweet ballad about a broken girl who’s managed to put herself back together after ten months of heartache. Although much different from anything else on the album, it continues to stick to the 80s style pattern that 1989 is stitched with, with British singer Imogen Heap adding warm backup sighs to Taylor’s melancholy vocals that are virtually soaked in soft electric. In addition, the final track is studded with beautiful lyrics that only Taylor Swift could write such as “You’re still all over me like a wine-stained dress I can’t wear anymore” and is heavy on metaphors like “When I was drowning, that’s when I could finally breathe”. Above all else, Clean is the ultimate closure for Taylor and now we know, you don’t have to be in a relationship to be happy. You can cut your hair and move to New York City and find love in friendship and music and freedom, and you’ll be just fine.

FAVORITE FILMS OF 2013 

Made this list because I think it helps me collect my thoughts on what I saw this year and figure out what these movies meant to me and I really like lists. This year’s films are so powerful and wide and varying, it’s kind of mind-blowing. Every movie on this list knows what it wants to say and is able to say it in beautiful and concise statements. I’d say that every one is probably one of my favorites of all time. And there’s so many I didn’t get to see!

I actually originally ended up writing way too much so i just took mostly blurbs from what I wrote and put em together, except for the last one, so they might not even make any sense. It’s not a ranked list, I actually think a lot of the time ranking just takes away from actually talking about them.

Let me know what your faves are too! Watch more movies 2K14~

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Fucking Scorsese. Knows exactly what each shot needs, a whip here a fast forward pan there, and knows when to hold back and let shot speak for itself (country club scene!). Sinks it’s teeth in from getgo. Film understands that to really hold these people responsible it has to make us feel what the pursuit of power is like: primal + blinding. Has to make us culpable. Distills thrills and dangers of allure and addiction right onto the screen into one huge punch of a film. Intoxicating and important. 

Fuckin’ Scorsese

FRANCES HA

Like watching a great pop song: fresh, full of youthful energy, ephemeral, but revels in the moment. Gets how transitionary periods in life feel like, when you’re trying to figure out the person you’re going to be, when you’re trying to figure out how to be happy socially, creatively, and financially. Modern day, but feels ageless in silvery digital black and white as French New wave film (lots of Truffaut) scores move it along. One of the sweetest movies about a female friendship, and the special bond and sadness of best friends in general.  

INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

Singular, purposeful and separate from any other Coen film. Asks what artistic instinct is worth in cold world that might never recognize it, may never care. About how loss can be a thing of utter isolation, incommunicable. Losing someone means losing something inside you too, and film interested in trying to get just what that thing is. Title says it all, it’s about what’s on the inside.  Sad but maybe one of the most hopeful Coen films (outside Raising Arizona + Hudsucker Proxy maybe.

+ hilarious. Adam Driver scene had me and my brother in stitches in the theater

THE WIND RISES

One of the best explorations of the beauty + inherent selfishness of artistic pursuit. Visually stunning, saw it on huge screen @ Lincoln Film center and animation just sings. Ends up being Miyazaki’s bittersweet meditation of his own life and work, if it was worth it all, if it means ultimately means anything. Places these feelings into the highest stakes, Jiro Horikoshi creator of Zero Plane @ the height of WWII. Never backs away from unsavory aspects, never glorifies, but reminds us why we’re so obsessed with creating in the first place.

Plus casting Hideaki Anno, person who has always been self aware of his role as artist, as Jiro is perfect

THE ACT OF KILLING

One of the wildest things I’ve ever seen in a theatre. Film ended and I was physically shaking as audience sat in silence through all of the credits. Comes from a place of the deepest empathy. Easy to simply pull back and vilify, but there are no heroes or villains. Vilification makes them caricatures, takes away power of their crimes, and distances us from them. Film is more interested in the circumstances that lead to people committing evil.  Never seeks to pass judgement, just to show the whole picture of a person, the whole context, socially or otherwise.  

Letting warcamp generals recreate their executions somehow also becomes about how we use art to alleviate our anxieties. Either as a way to further escape from our demons or to face and understand them.

So many scenes where I couldn’t believe what I was seeing was really happening, that it could be really captured on film. Somehow seems like this is exactly what movies are made for.

UPSTREAM COLOR

Woah. Feels like Shane Carruth figured out a different way to tell a story, a shorthand that. It’s cyclical and smooth, about how the smallest things can affect things in far reaching ways and what happens when we’re stripped of all the things that have shaped us into who we are. And he did everything himself, directed, acted, edited, scored, designed the poster, self distributed the movie, even held the fucking camera in the scenes he’s not in. It’s singular in every sense of the word. A film that never stops moving towards something new and of it’s own. 

Amy Seimetz is lovely

SHORT TERM 12

This is the one that really got me. About a short term care facility that fosters children in difficult circumstances, kids who may gone through terrible abuse and trauma. It handles the subject with utmost care, with beautiful shots, patient pacing that knows how to let scenes breathe, and acting that just rings so true. 

The actual circumstances aren’t something a lot of us have ever gone through but the film gets at something at universal. You don’t need to have gone through the same circumstances to understand trauma. How can wreck you, can reduce you to nothing. It can ruin all facets of your life and sabotage every relationship.

It can get so bad and you just want to be ok, for it to go away, to get better.  And to get better you need to let it out. But how can it when you can’t even tell anyone about it? 

How do you put it into words? What happens if you tell someone what’s going on inside and the words that come out aren’t able to convey just how awful it feels. The enormity of it. Because when something is so constantly painful you need to make sure they understand that. You need to make someone understand that it’s larger than anything to you. That it’s reduced you even being able to be a functional human being. You need people to understand because if they don’t then it’s like it never even mattered. It means the thing that has wholly consumed you can just be brushed away like it never even mattered. 

And that’s terrifying.

You become afraid of even the possibility of healing.  The very idea that you could ever be ok again is terrifying because you need the pain you’ve felt really mean something.  What does it mean if it can just go away? If you can just  be ok again was it ever really that big a deal anyways?

It has to matter. 

You become obsessed with it mattering. You can try to hide it, to make it seem like you’re ok on the surface, but it becomes the only real thing in you. You become nothing but your trauma. It has to matter. But when it becomes the only thing that matters, everything that you are doesn’t.  

You disappear. You become broken.

That’s why this movie is important. Because Short Term 12 gets what it feels like when you’re that desperate and isolated in yourself. When reaching out to a person becomes the most difficult thing and it’s unimaginable that you could just be ok.

It knows that talking about it has power.  When you let it out your trauma loses its power. And it knows that when in stops consuming you it still matters.

It knows that there are people that want to understand, that want to get you through the toughest ordeals. Other people go through trauma but that doesn’t mean that yours matters any less. It always matters. Instead of running away from it these people make it matter by wanting to be there for you.  Sometimes they’re a partner sometimes a short term facility employee but there is always someone that will care about you. They want to help because they know what it’s like to be at your lowest. It doesn't  mean that it’s the same trauma, we all go through pain but your pain will always be yours and it always be real. 

And It knows that it takes real strength to be able to tell someone how broken you feel. Trusting someone comes the highest of stakes because there’s a chance that your words mean end up meaning nothing, changing nothing, never mattering. It’s the biggest risk of all.  It knows how hard that is and believes that even at your lowest you can be strong enough to be ok again. Because sometimes by letting someone know what lies in the depths of your heart comes true healing.

Short Term 12 is a film about long term trauma, dealing with it and not letting it define you. It’s a small film that feels bigger than anything, because it is. And it means the world to me. 

OTHER FILMS I LOVED BUT DIDN’T WRITE ABOUT

The World’s End 

Pacific Rim 

Much Ado About Nothing 

Mud

Gravity

Blue Jasmine

Stoker

Spring Breakers

12 Years a Slave

STILL NEED TO WATCH

The Great Beauty

Post Tenebrus Lux

The Grandmaster

Before Midnight

Fruitvale Station

Blue Caprice

Fast & The Furious 6

Blue Is The Warmest Color

Stories We Tell

Behind The Candelabra

Cutie and The Boxer

The Spectacular Now

Rush

The Hunt

Her

<3

Adam's Favorite Films of 2014

It’s been a pretty fantastic year for film, but there were a good bunch that stood out among the rest. I usually try to only do 10-15 on these things, 

        Honorable Mentions -  (no particular order) 

  • I Origins
  • What If
  • Wild
  • Big Hero 6
  • Chef 
  • Edge of Tomorrow 
  • Obvious Child 
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 
  • The One I Love 
  • Neighbors
  • Palo Alto
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 
  • The Babadook 
  • The Raid 2

20. The Fault in Our Stars 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is an excellent book. I know that’s not the popular thing to say, as it has turned into something of a running joke on tumblr, but I do genuinely believe it. My fear for the film is that it would turn into yet another schmaltzy-teen drama and would lose the meat of the story in translation. I was wrong. A more than poignant love story between two teens who have very little time to fall in love and enjoy it, but do so anyways. A great story of loss, grief, but as well as youth and young love. I think a lot of people only look at the surface of this one and not at the true message, and that is to cherish the time you have in this world and who you have to spend it with. It moved me, shook me, and got me to cry. It deserves it’s goddamn’ recognition. 

19. John Wick 

Why the hell was this so fucking rad? A film that got a trailer only a month prior to its release, with barely any buzz behind, became one of the most entertaining and simply bad ass action films of the past few years. John Wick is a very, very, very, special action flick. In a world in which directors are incapable of framing and shooting their action sequences properly, this film has some of the most creative kills, outrageously awesome set pieces, and beautiful cinematography. Keanu Reeves has proved time and time again he is a more than capable leading man, and this is a great return to form for him. John Wickis fact paced, dark, funny, violent, brutal, and just all kinds of bad ass. Do yourself a favor and see it. 

18. The Imitation Game 

A biopic that viciously fought, from start to finish, to get into my heart. A biopic of Alan Turing and his team trying to break a nazi-code in attempt to win World War II. At the core of the film, though, is about Turing’s journey as a gay man, in a time in which it was illegal, while he was revolutionizing the world and the war in which he is fighting. Benedict Cumberbatch works wonders with a top notch screenplahy with fast paced dialogue and wit, and wonderful direction and cinematography. It’s a more than capable biopic with a lot to say and even relates to many situations today. 

17.  The Grand Budapest Hotel

While I’ve never been quite as big of a fan as others are of Wes Anderson, I’ve always found pleasure in his work. The Grand Budapestis the answer to everything people have always wondered. Will he ever move on from his style? Nope. That doesn’t mean he can’t crank out some, truly, amazing films every now and then. This one truly is amazing. Anderson has outdone himself with the visual style and pure comedic gold presented here. At the core of all the silliness is a very modest and genuine heart about loneliness. It moved me, made me laugh and smile, and basically everything a great film should do. Can’t wait to see where he goes from here.

16. Unbroken 

Probably my pick for the most underrated movie of the year. Angelina Jolie has crafted the story of Louis Zamperini. A story of of hope, bravery, and forgiveness. Roger Deakins’ beautiful cinematography eats up every shot and may be some of the years best, and Jack O’Connell shines brightly and provides deep complexity and emotion as well. His dynamics with Miyavi’s chracter is both intense and heartbreaking to watch, but by the end, I was floored by inspiration and overwhelming emotion. Without a doubt a story that needed to be told, and Angelina Jolie did a magnificent job at doing so.

15. 22 Jump Street 

2014: The Year of Phil Lord & Chris Miller.I hold a lot of nostalgia with 21 Jump Street,it is one of my favorite theater experiences and its one of my “go-to-cheer-up” movies. I had a lot of hope for the sequel, and it exceeded my wild expectations. It takes the meta humor and style of the first film, along with its statements on rehashes of remakes and reboots and turns it into an even better and wildly intelligent statement on the current state of Hollywood. Poking fun at sequels, budgets, studios, and honestly just anything you can think of. More importantly? Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum still have the most adorable “bro-love” out there. 

14. Top Five 

A grand mixture of Chris Rock’s best stand-up techniques and comedic styles, with his genuine nature and true voice. Top Fiveis a beautifully shot and told story about a comedian turned movie star who is just simply lost and incappable of providing for himself, his famly, and his fans. The film explores the beauty of New York as Rosario Dawson’s character and his have some of the most in-depth and sharply witty conversations about comedy, society, politics, and everything in between filled with hilarious cameos. It even has something to say about the celebrity limelight and the damage of it all. I really loved this one.

13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I’m very much a fan of Marvel. I guess you could call me a bit bias. I’m a huge nerd and I really think they’re the best at what they do. Even their lesser films (Thor: The Dark World) I still tend to find enjoyment in. Just because I love the characters so much. Even as a fan, I’m still shocked at how goddamn’ good this is. Like, seriously, this film is fantastic. I’d say it is still my favorite theater experience of the year. So exciting and tense from start to finish. The dynamics between Bucky and Steve are strong, the messages about politics and a dirty Government are in tact, the action sequences are absolutely incredible with amazing set pieces, and the story fills the need of just about any comic-book nerd. 

12. Nightcrawler 

I could blabber about how this film might have underlying meanings and undertones about the media and the lengths we go to when trying to provide ourselves with the “american dream,” or even our appetite for gruesome images because they often make us feel comfortable that its not us or whatever, but I’ll just say that Nightcrawler is one of the most entertaining and darkly funny films of the year. Jake Gyllenhaal gives a tremendously creepy and layered performance. More importantly? His man-hair-bun.

11. Force Majeure 

A strikingly hilarious and sincere statement on how we imprint gender roles within ourselves as a society, in relationships, and maybe even as parents. What does it take to be masculine? Who should hold the most strength? Who puts the foot down? Who takes control? Who has the most morality? Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The drama hits, the cinematography is beautiful, it’s uproariously funny, and so very important. 

10. Guardians of the Galaxy

Even the most cynical of moviegoers can find enjoyment in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy.I’m sure there are better, more well-crafted films out there right now, but I really don’t care at all. This movie makes me happy. I fell in love with all of the characters and their imperfections. I loved the wit, the style, the soundtrack, the action.. honestly, just the everything. I don’t think a Summer Blockbuster has gotten me so well acquainted with characters, let alone fall in love with them, as much as this one did. Marvel always knows how to make me feel like a little kid again, and I feel so warm inside anytime I think about this one.

9. Selma 

Perhaps my pick for the most overdue telling of a story in cinema history. Selmais important. Not just the casual use of the word, but truly a film that is much more than one you buy a ticket too. It’s one that should be shared and watched for years to come. Socially and politically relevant, powerfully acted, and beautifully shot. Ava Duvernay is a force to be reckoned with. I had to hold back tears more times than I care to admit.

8. Under the Skin 

Maybe the closest we’ll ever get to Kubrick-style can be found in Jonathan Glazer’s Under the SkinI usually find that the best science fiction films are the ones that have something to say. This is a visually stunning and strikingly effective piece of art. So minimal dialogue, but the imagery speaks for itself. A grand statement on what it means to be a human being and the importance of what is underneath rather than above surface. Potent, beautiful, and, well, creepy. Creepy as shit. 

7.  The Lego Movie 

Statements on society, media manipulation, politics, individualism.. yeah. I’m talking about The Lego Movie. Who knew?? Not only could Phil Lord & Chris Miller cook up something so deliciously entertaining, funny, touching, meta, and visually masterful out of something that was basically bound to suck and just be a giant commercial, but something that should be shown to every kid around the world? Highlighting the importance of becoming your own person and not losing your creativity. Don’t live by the instructions,do your own thing. Perhaps the Toy Story of our generation? One of the best animated films to come out of Hollywood in a very, very long time. 

6. Interstellar

Interstellar is without a doubt Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date. I really don’t give a damn’ if it wasn’t scientifically accurate throughout its entire running time. I still tend to believe movies can be escapism. Sorry to all the boring people out there. Nolan has made a sincere, tender, and potent drama focused on the relationship between parent and child and how love is without a doubt the most powerful thing in the universe, as it can travel with you, even a billion lightyears away. It’s an experience, and one that is damn’ well worth taking.

5. Gone Girl

Perhaps the most, unfortunately, truthful yet deliciously and maliciously entertaining and despicable films to come to cinema this year. A satire on marriage, the media, and relationship cliches. The unrealistic expectations that occur for one gender to the other when one watches too many movies and reads too many books with perfect endings. David Fincher has adapted Gillian Flynn’s pitch perfect mystery novel into a, well, pitch perfect film with one of the best performances of the year from Rosamund Pike. I kind of hate the phrase “I didn’t want it to end” as it’s terribly used so often, but with “Gone Girl,” it applies. 

4. Birdman 

Michael Keaton perhaps gives the best performance of the year in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman. A technical, philosophical, emotional, and downright truthful powerhouse. Perhaps about finding the importance of culture in this society of never ending franchises and blockbusters, but as well as individuality in the limelight of success. I promise, you will think about Birdman everytime you pay to see a summer blockbuster from now on. Both a visual and emotional masterpiece with a lot to say

3. Inherent Vice 

Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite working director today. He has, in my opinion, made many of this decades most delicate masterpieces that should be held against the greats. Though, Inherent Vice might be a bit trickier to put in that category for some, it sure as hell is worthy of praise and admiration. Unlike anything PTA has ever done, or really unlike anything we’ve seen in modern cinema in a very long time. A downright groovy exploration into the world of 1970 in LA, all of through a haze of weed with our guide Doc Sportello, played brilliantly by Joaquin Phoenix. Imagine the Looney Toons in a human form, put in a film, somewhere between The Long Goodbye, Chinatown and The Big Lebowski - and you will have only a hint of an idea how crazy and hysterical Inherent Vice is. Something entirely new both to the stoner genre as well as the noir genre - though, more importantly, a new addition to Paul Thomas Anderson’s masterpieces.  

2. Whiplash 

What was advertised as yet another tale of a master and his protege turned out to be something much more. Whiplash is a film that I think, genuinely, changed my life as I watched it. As I walked out of the theater, I felt a huge rush of inspiration in my love for film and I truly believe that it should be shown to anyone that has a love or passion. It will fuel you with a different mindset and perspective on the world, and how you view your work. J.K. Simmons and Miles Teller turn in excellent performances and make for one of the most intriguing and fierce on-screen duos ever put to film. The last twenty minutes had me gripping the edge of my seat and had me breathless in its final seconds. Without a doubt one of my favorite endings to any film, and one of the most satisfying movie going experiences I’ve ever had. It just doesn’t get better than this.

1. Boyhood

Perhaps the movie that spoke the most to me this year without even saying much at all. For most of my life I’ve been watching my parents argue and eventually separate, and have found pleasure in the little moments opposed to big ones. I’m about to graduate High School, so I couldn’t help but feel as if I felt a connection to Richard Linklater’s Boyhood as me and Mason’s life seem so interconnected both in timeline and the events that happened. Regardless of my personal connection, Linklater has made an extremely personal and touching film about the moments in life that define us as people and make us who we are, and one I will certainly not forget, nor let it leave my heart for a very, very long time. 

Here’s to 2015 being an amazing year in film.

Eggs, Bees, & Toilets: Jupiter Ascending as WomanSpace

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Last year I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy because of its bold visuals, energetic cast, and good pacing. It was not, I thought, an excellent film but I wasn’t bored while watching it, and these days the big ticket spectacle movies that should be my greatest love often bore me (I’m looking at you, Avengers and co) so a film that doesn’t bore me gets a thumbs up.

GotG features the appealing Chris Pratt in the lead role of lovable rogue, together with the well-worn but always popular story of reluctant comrades who turn into friends/family by the end (I’m not being sarcastic; I love this trope). It also features several memorable women characters, although unfortunately with a jolt of random and unnecessary slut-shaming. As is typical in many of these sorts of stories, the women’s roles revolve around or tie directly back into their relationships with men. Star-Lord left behind a newly-dead mother who never told him who his (mysterious) father really is and who left him a legacy of old pop tunes on cassette tapes. Gamora and her sister Nebula are tied together by their complicated relationship with their adoptive father, Thanos; during the course of the film they each ally with a man on opposite sides of a conflict, and it is their relationship to those men that defines them most (within the film universe; I haven’t read the comic).

This is the kind of setting for women I expect in spectacle film-making, alas. I’m usually just happy if there are more than two female characters walking through the ocean of men.

Standard Disclaimer: I like men! Men are great! I even married one!

Compare the opening scenes of Jupiter Ascending.

[If you are totally averse to spoilers do not read on.]

Jupiter’s father is brutally murdered before she is born (all we know of him is that he loves sky-gazing and her mother, and plays Jarvis wonderfully in Agent Carter) and leaves her a legacy of wanting to buy a telescope. She is born in a container on a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean amid a group of women–all women!–seeking to illegally enter the United States, for whom the birth of a girl child is an act of hope during an uncertain journey whose end (we all know) will in most cases involve them working hard to service other people’s needs. We see her first as an adult with the two central figures of her life, her mother and her aunt, and then later with her extended family who are difficult, argumentative, and selfish in the way families can be but who are later (of course) revealed to be supportive and caring in the way families can be.

We see her cleaning the homes of rich people, with her mother and aunt, doing the unsung work that most stories ignore and without which no society can function. Her basic empathy and likability is revealed when one of the rich women she cleans for, who seems oblivious to the gulf between their lives, asks her advice on “which dress to wear” in a conversation which may seem to not pass the Bechdel Test but which (in my opinion) really does. The conversation between Jupiter and Katherine Dunleavy centers on how Katherine must learn to trust and stand up for herself. The man she is to have dinner with that night is inconsequential, merely a vehicle for the discussion.

The veil between Jupiter’s humble life and the world that is coming after her to kill her is revealed when she goes to a fertility clinic to donate eggs (in order to earn money to buy a telescope). Eggs!

In the course of her escape (ably managed by a capable, handsome, and stoically angsty wolf-man) she discovers she is literally a queen bee in one of the coolest (but in retrospect most throwaway and ridiculously inexplicable) bits in the film.

It’s no wonder some people don’t get this film: eggs, bees, living mothers, trust between women, and cleaning toilets (which besides being receptacles for human waste are, of course, bowl-shaped). Even the spaceships are a complex conglomerations of parts rather than sleek pointy rockets. Where the heck have my phallic symbols gone?

Having said that, I take a brief detour to mention that Jupiter Ascending is kind of a hot mess. The visuals are stunning and the plot (despite criticism I’ve heard) is coherent, but the rescue-in-the-nick-of-time sequences feel like repetitive hiccups, several character threads are highlighted only to be discarded without further notice (WTF Sean Bean’s daughter?), and while the action sequences are well choreographed and dynamically filmed they all went on a few beats too long for my taste.

Here’s the thing, though. I feel OBLIGED to acknowledge the film’s imperfections, as if I will lose all credibility if I don’t list out a ream of reasons why we should all criticize its unworthy elements. Yet let me flip that script. It’s all too easy to find reviews of male-written and especially male-centered work that undercuts a mutedly rote recitation of the work’s flaws with a huge BUT WHAT SHINING BRILLIANCE AND GLORY THIS MAN HATH WROT!

So my point is: While I’m happy to acknowledge JA’s imperfections, I didn’t particularly care about them in the face of SPACE LIZARD-DRAGONS, and Bae Doona and David Ajala as competent bounty hunters who trust each other, and Nikki Amuka-Bird as the most bad-ass ship’s captain maybe ever. Plus an elephant pilot.

I didn’t care about imperfections because of the unusual way JA highlighted a woman at the center of a story in which her existence matters within two different family structures.

Now we move into the more spoilery part of the review.

No really. Spoilers.

When Jupiter leaves the mundane world of Earth behind she discovers she is the “recurrence” of the matriarch of an extremely wealthy ruling dynasty. At her death this matriarch left behind three adult children, fabulously played by Tuppence Middleton (the unambitious one who just wants to keep her perks), Douglas Booth (the charming sociopath), and Eddie Redmayne (who ought to be nominated for an Oscar for his magnificently over-the-top performance as The Sensitive One).

As the cleaning of toilets has alerted us, this is a story about those at the height of power, the few who literally consume the substance of the many in order to live longer and better lives. A constant jockeying for wealth and inheritance goes on between the three siblings, and the unexpected appearance of their “recurred” mother throws their usual interactions into disarray. Each in their own particular way try to rid themselves of the mother whose arrival upsets the equilibrium.

In some ways Jupiter (ably acted by an appealing Mila Kunis) can feel passive once she has left Earth behind but while I was sometimes frustrated by the way she let others guide her, I also found realism in the portrayal. She does not kick ass because she is not trained to do so. She has no idea what is going on and does not magically figure it out instantly. She observes, learns, makes the best decisions she can given what knowledge she has (and makes mistakes doing so), and at the last makes the hardest–and in a way the most selfish–decision of all (although in the end the plot gives a victory that negates that choice).

But as much as Jupiter gets rescued one too many times in exactly the same dramatically-constructed way, in her final encounter with Balem (Redmayne) she alone defeats this most dangerous adversary not because she is rescued or because she physically harms him but because she chooses for herself her identity.

When she emphatically tells him, “I am not your mother” she closes the loop and claims a place that is hers alone. She defines who she is in relationship to her own life, not who she is in relationship to someone else’s life.

Think about the radical essence of that for a moment.

I’ve seen at least one snide review that mocks the story’s choice to have her go back to cleaning toilets at the end but that’s exactly the point. She doesn’t go back to cleaning toilets. She goes back to the work that the least among us do, to get her head together, to ground herself in the face of the (ridiculously) astonishing truth about her new status in the world beyond. In no way does she give up on her “spectacular” future, but she is prudently appalled by the economic status quo of that other life because she already knows what it is like to be one of the people whose lives will be used up by others.

She gets romantic love, yes (although note that, within our bee analogy, she and her man have asymmetric status). What she really takes is something far more important: space to understand who she is and who she can become.