Category Archives: Movies

Beginners: Movie Review

One of the great things about being in Los Angeles is that I’ve started doing things I would never, ever have done otherwise. Like climbing a mountain, or eating meat. But I’ve also started seeing films that were never high on my list of must-sees for this summer.

So, last night I went to see Beginners. I had heard pretty good things about it from people, but had no real expectations.

It is not only one of the best films I’ve seen this year, but possibly in my entire life.

This comedy-drama follows 38-year-old Oliver (played brilliantly by Ewan McGregor and his faux American accent that I find oh-so attractive), his childhood relationship with his mother (Mary Paige Keller), his new relationship with the fun and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent), and his relationship with his terminally ill, homosexual father Hal. Oliver meets Anna only months after his father died (but not before coming out to him).

I know that synopsis may seem convoluted, but the film does a great job of telling a near stream-of-consciousness story, without it being horribly confusing. Normally, I hate stream-of-consciousness stories. But Beginners was something different.

The script itself was great, but what really brought it alive for me was the acting. I do tend to watch more comedies or sci-fi than anything else, which don’t get me wrong can have great acting. But I think dramedies often feature the best actors, because it can be difficult to make an audience want to laugh and cry, sometimes in the same scene. Every scene with every actor (including Goran Visnjic, who plays Andy, Hal’s lover AND Arthur, Hal then Oliver’s dog) feels so incredibly real, like I’m peering into the lives of other people.

That sounds pretentious, I’m aware of that. And yes, I’m sure some critics would say that stylistically, this film kind of jumps around a bit. Fair enough. I liked that.

But I just don’t think I’ve ever watched a movie that’s made me really feel so much in under two hours, whether it’s happy, sad, contemplative or anything. It’s sweet and hopeful and weird and amazing. And I think that means something.

Maybe it means I should just watch more experimental art dramas. It probably does.

Nevertheless, Beginners is one of my new favorite films. It’s about finding love and keeping love and, basically, being a beginner at it. I think that’s pretty universal.

Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer and Mélanie Laurent



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Could you tell by this title that I’m excited? I hope you could.

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins

Click the pic for source (EW, obviously) and two more pictures!

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Just bought my tickets for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 premiere…

And before you ask, yes, of course I’m dressing up.

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X-Men: First Class

Okay. If you’ve been checking this blog out for a while (and why wouldn’t you, right? I’m clearly awesome) you’d have noticed that I’m somewhat into superheroes. Just a little.

And that I’ve been talking about this summer’s superhero movies for a few months now. Enter, stage left: X-Men: First Class.

The story is set in the 1960s (with the exception of a few scenes in the 1940s), when Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) first meets several other mutants, including his soon-to-be rival Erik Lenshierr (Michael Fassbender). The two show completely opposing views on being a mutant in a human world. Charles wants to live in peace with humans, and Erik knows they are better than humans. Nevertheless, the two join together, along with Raven AKA Mystique (played by the much talked about Jennifer Lawrence), Hank McCoy AKA Beast (Nicholas Hoult, Skins), and more.

The villains of the film are Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and his sidekick Emma Frost (January Jones), who are planning a nuclear war where only mutants will survive. The result of their plans? Cuban Missile Crisis. Yeah. X-Men went there.

Okay, enough plot talk. Here’s the thing.

I loved this movie. And I don’t say that lightly because I know how iffy people can be about superhero films, and how they can either have no substance story-wise, or just be all about exposition. X-Men: First Class had a perfect mix of action, story, interesting background of character, and let me watch McAvoy and Fassbender act amazingly well in roles passed down to them by Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellan.

I was not huge fans of either actors previously (McAvoy and Fassbender, that is), having seen them both (and find them both attractive) in films like Becoming Jane Shakespeare Re-Told (McAvoy), Jane Eyre and Inglourious Basterds (Fassbender). So, can I just say, with both of their performances: wow. Seriously. I am just floored by how well both of them did. It’s hard to really describe, but they have such nice chemistry with each other. Also, I love Charles Xavier as a young Casanova. It’s amazing. And there should be a spin-off series of Michael Fassbender, as Erik, just killin’ Nazis. Really.

Kevin Bacon was also great as Shaw, and the up and coming mutants (especially Banshee) were funny, interesting and well characterized for having not a lot of screen time. The one actress I wasn’t really impressed with was January Jones as Emma Frost. I’m not sure exactly what it was that I didn’t love, but she didn’t hold up to the standards set by the rest of the cast.

The location did jump around a bit, but I’m okay with it. The writers (Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz) had a lot to cover and I think they handled it really well.

Needless to say, I’m going to see it again. Soon.

EDIT: Okay, so after some thought, I guess I was kind of hoping that they wouldn’t give Charles the cripple so soon, only because in the sequel (there NEEDS to be a sequel), McAvoy will be in the wheelchair the whole time. Which, I suppose, never stopped Stewart from being awesome. Nevertheless, there better be a sequel.

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The Tree of Life

Let me begin this review by sharing a general fact about me.

I’m not big on experimental films. I’m not saying I never watch them, because as a cinema major, they make us watch everything. Everything. Nevertheless, experimental films make my head hurt and they’re just generally not something I go to see of my own free will (in this case, it was a group field trip of sorts).

With that said, I didn’t hate The Tree of Life. Honestly, I didn’t. I completely understand what Terrence Malick, the director, was trying to accomplish, and he succeeded in that.

I understand the relationships, and the balance between grace and nature, and I even, somewhat, understand the 30-minutes of nature and universe clips that made me feel like I was watching the Discovery Channel. It’s a beautiful film. It really is.

I understand it. I get it. Really. I do.

But I can’t say I liked it.

This is the kind of movie that TONS of critics will say “this movie is a beautiful, cinematic masterpiece and if you understand film and beauty, you’ll love it and bask in the wonderment that is art, but the general public of Cro-Magnons will hate and never understand.”

And if that’s the case, I think I’d fall somewhere in the Neanderthal or Homo-Erectus (hehe) category.

Rating: N/A because it just isn’t…rate-able for me. I can’t even tell you the story, because there is NO STORY ARC. I DON’T GET EXPERIMENTAL FILM.

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American Pie 4?!

So, apparently, there’s going to be another American Pie.

And not of the ‘Band Camp’/’Naked Mile’ variety.

According to the internet sources I stalk daily, it’s going to be a reunion movie, and Jason Biggs, Sean William Scott and Eugene Levy are all signed on. Universal is in talks with most of the rest of the original cast (Tara Reid, Thomas Ian Nicholas, etc.), but Alyson Hannigan is the only one who doesn’t have any attachment to the film yet.

And she better.

I probably won’t see it unless she’s in it. Probably. I’m a sucker for the American Pie movies. I really am.

But…I don’t know. Every time a major character is missing, there’s always a random throwaway line like “Oh, she’s at home with the kid” or “she transferred somewhere out of state” and I can’t stand that.

So if they’re going to do it, they better do it right. So I don’t have to make up excuses to my friends about why I’m seeing it.

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Summer. Get Here Faster.

All the movies that I’ve waited my whole life to see, even if I didn’t necessarily know I was waiting my whole life to see, are coming out this summer.

The final Harry Potter movie.


Bridesmaids (an actual female comedy. Thanks, Mr. Apatow).


The sequel to the Hangover.

The Green Lantern.

Super 8.

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon.

Captain America.

Cowboys and Aliens


Why am I still surrounded at the movie theater by Topher Grace in the 1980s (which is a decade later than the one I actually like him in), and gnomes ruining Shakespeare for me? WHY CAN’T I CATCH A BREAK AND JUST FAST FORWARD TIME?


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