Winter’s Bone (2010)

Winter's Bone

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: DVD Cover

After her deadbeat father jumps bail and mysteriously disappears, 17-year old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) must find a way to track him down or she’ll be left without a home or custody of her two young siblings. To Avoid losing everything, Ree must hack through the lies and threats looming everywhere in her rural town to piece together the dangerous truth about her father — without getting herself killed — in this taut, pulse-pounding thriller.

REVIEW

I would hardly call this a “taut, pulse-pounding thriller” because

  1. I could hardly understand the dialogue in the movie
  2. I only got a gist of what happened to the father
  3. The disturbing behaviors of the town’s inhabitants
  4. The slow pace of the townsfolk

Perhaps if I had not been working while watching the movie I might have been more enrapt, but it’s highly doubtful. If anything, I found the behavior of the townsfolk to be the most scariest thing about this movie. That’s a culture that scares the hell out of me. Thankfully, I have no desire to visit places like that.

Now, at least, I can say I’ve seen the movie that made Jennifer a star. I was surprised to learn that Garrett Dillahunt was in the movie as Sheriff Baskin. I liked him in Raising Hope and find him attractive.

 

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Bad Words (2013)

Bad Words

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: Official Movie Website

Jason Bateman (“Identity Thief”) makes his feature directorial debut with the subversive comedy BAD WORDS. He stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition. While reporter Jenny Widgeon (Kathryn Hahn of “We’re the Millers”) attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward 10-year-old Chaitanya Chopra (Rohan Chand of “Homeland”), who is completely unfazed by Guy’s take-no-prisoners approach to life.

REVIEW

Love, love love! I suppose I loved this movie so much because I could readily identify with Guy and his nefarious ways. From the very beginning – seeing the same scenes from the trailers – I was laughing my ass off. Behind the laugh out loud humor there is a secret plot that really played to me: vengeance. The relationship that develops between Guy and Chaitanya is endearing as it is humorous, as is the relationship between Guy and Jenny.

I think I might even rent it a second time; I liked the move that much. Definitely the highlight of the last six movies I rented.

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Heaven Is for Real (2014)

Heaven Is For Real

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: Official Movie Website

BASED ON THE INCREDIBLE TRUE STORY
Based on the #1 New York Times best-selling book of the same name, HEAVEN IS FOR REAL brings to the screen the true story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world.

REVIEW

I love movies like this, which leave it up to the viewer to decide on the veracity of the proposed plot. While I do believe in God – having received proof, when asked – I have a hard time believing in Jesus as a savior or heaven for that matter. Perhaps I should pray to God and ask him if heaven is for real. Just like Colton, I have also had angels sing to me – in a dream – when I was at a crossroads and lowest point of my life – answering my heartfelt prayer as to what to do next.

Even if I was to believe in heaven, just like it is asked in the movie: Would I change the way I live? That’s a tough one to answer. I strive to be a better person, but have a hard time distinguishing the fine lines that rule faith-based actions.

I loved the cast including Greg Kinnear, Margo Martindale and Thomas Haden Church.

I found the movie inspiring and spiritually moving.

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Transcendence (2014)

Transcendence

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: Official Movie Website

Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the foremost researcher in the field of Artificial Intelligence, working to create a sentient machine that combines the collective intelligence of everything ever known with the full range of human emotions.  His highly controversial experiments have made him famous, but they have also made him the prime target of anti-technology extremists who will do whatever it takes to stop him.

However, in their attempt to destroy Will, they inadvertently become the catalyst for him to succeed—to be a participant in his own transcendence.  For his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and best friend Max Waters (Paul Bettany), both fellow researchers, the question is not if they can…but if they should.

Their worst fears are realized as Will’s thirst for knowledge evolves into a seemingly omnipresent quest for power, to what end is unknown.  The only thing that is becoming terrifyingly clear is there may be no way to stop him.

REVIEW

I just love these type of movies, exploring the future.

It’s official! Johnny Depp is now an adult. He has lost the youthful look. What a pleasure to see Paul Bettany. I have liked him ever since The Da Vinci Code, and that was before I saw him in A Knight’s Tale. I was surprised that I did not recognize Cillian Murphy.

While I loved the concept of the story, it was a bit far-fetched for me. Still it was a terrifying eye-opener and as an anti-government fan, I would not be surprised if some of the things in the movie are not already happening, especially after what Eric Snowden – in my eyes, a national hero – revealed.

Entertaining!

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Fruitvale Station (2013)

Fruitvale Station

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: Official Movie Website

Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler’s FRUITVALE STATION follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family and strangers, Oscar starts out well, as the day goes on, he realizes that changes are not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.

REVIEW
I had been wanting to see this movie for some time now. All I can say is that I am shocked and appalled that the suspect’s charges were downgraded from murder to manslaughter and he only served eleven months of his two year sentence. I remember when this was being reported on the news and not knowing the whole story, I was cynical about the events that led up to the actual shooting. My cynicism was born by the following scenes from the movie:

  • the victim’s attitude that society owes them something, evidenced by him demanding his needed his job back despite being fired
  • control issues: chasing after the car, demanding it slow down, despite the death of the dog, which was unfortunate and sad
  • disrespect: ignoring the guards in the prison visiting center because he can’t get a hug from his mother, who refused

Having seen the movie, my opinion has changed, opposing authority, if what is depicted is accurate. Still, I can’t help, but think, if a cop is arresting/detaining you, your best line of defense is to cooperate, not become indignant, demanding to know why, etc.; you will have your day in court. Becoming indignant just aggravates the authorities, who are just trying to do their job. Just as us, they are human and prone to make mistakes.

This is a common theme that I see repeated in my favorite television court shows; the idea that just because I say something, you must believe it to be true, and that the louder I say it the more truthful my statements must be. I currently see these attitudes in my brother, who is abusive and disrespectful to my parents, in whose house he is currently residing. God forbid he should see the light and move out because he is not happy with his living arrangement; he’d rather wreak as much havoc and chaos in the house to punish those that are helping him.

I have no compassion for the supposed victim in the movie or in my parent’s house. You reap what you sow. This does not mean I condone the authorities actions in the film, which I find disgusting and distasteful.

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Hercules (2014)

Hercules

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: Official Movie Website

Both man and myth, Hercules (Dwayne Johnson) leads a band of mercenaries to help end a bloody civil war in the land of Thrace and return the rightful king to his throne. A tormented soul from birth, Hercules has the strength of a God but feels the suffering of a human.

Unimaginable villains will test the mythical power of Hercules in Director Brett Ratner‘s gritty take on one of the most epic action heroes of the ages.

REVIEW

Not as good as The Legend of Hercules because I think Kellan was a prettier Herc.

After a Bunch of Lunch at Shakey’s – a belated birthday meal from my parents – they took me to see Hercules at the Cinemark Culver City 18 & XD. Originally, dad had looked it up and discovered a 09:30 showing, but today it did not show on the website, so we went to a 14:00 showing. Being the vocal customer I am, I asked for the manager and complained that the am showing had disappeared overnight. To be honest, I don’t know if my dad missed it, or it was really gone, but my displeasure was expressed. While waiting for the manager to confirm our complaint, I struck up a conversation with Toney, who was pleasureable and knowledgeable. I commended her public relations, indicating she deserved a raise.

About fifteen minutes before the movie started, I went out the concession stand to buy some popcorn – this boy needs popcorn when viewing a movie in a theater. The popcorn did not seem freshly popped, the crunch replaced with the staleness that popcorn takes on when it has been sitting too long. Strike one! The young man that assisted me with my purchase seemed put upon, as he dragged behind the counter to fulfill my order. Strike two! And the staff was unknowledgeable regarding the difference between popcorn salt and regular iodized salt packets. Strike three! So, when I left I sought out another manager and re-expressed my commendation of Toney and expressed my dismay with the young gentleman behind the concession stand.

As for the movie: I just love these kind of movies that display a honor of character. I wish there had been more mythological influence in the movie, which is another reason I prefer Legend of Hercules. While I adore Dwayne Johnson, his body appeared to be full of steroids – a total turn off. Don’t get me wrong, I am not accusing Dwayne of steroid use, it’s just that his body had that look, which I find unattractive – tightness bordering on selling. Another reason I did not care for this version as much is because Dwayne was still recognizable as himself, making it hard to believe he was Hercules. And the most shallow reason for my dislike: not as much skin. On the good side there was a twist in the story which I appreciated, moments of levity where I LOL’d, the hott discover of Autolycus (Rufus Sewell) and a moment of emotion surrounding Tydeus (Askel Hennie).

Lastly, I had to complain to the parking attendant: mother chose valet and still had to pay a parking fee. That’s just not right! The parking attendant tried to explain that valet was an up-charge, equaling a comparable valet parking fee. I say, why not make it one charge and let the customer decide. Psychologically, it sucks to have to pay twice. Whether you self park or valet park, you are still parking only once, but paying two fees. WTF! Parking when you patronize a business is just another capitalistic ruse for raping the consumer.

When I got home, I gave Mojo the chicken knuckles I had save from lunch, so I think we are good. :D ha ha ha ha ha!

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Blue Jasmine (2013)

Blue Jasmine

source: impawards.com

SYNOPSIS: Official Movie Website

After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.

Jasmine arrives in San Francisco in a fragile mental state, her head reeling from the cocktail of anti-depressants she’s on. While still able to project her aristocratic bearing, Jasmine is emotionally precarious and lacks any practical ability to support herself. She disapproves of Ginger’s boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who she considers another “loser” like Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Ginger, recognizing but not fully understanding her sister’s psychological instability, suggests that she pursue interior design, a career she correctly intuits that Jasmine won’t feel is beneath her. In the meantime, Jasmine begrudgingly accepts work as the receptionist in a dentist’s office, where she attracts the unwanted attentions of her boss, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Feeling that her sister might be right about her poor taste in men, Ginger starts seeing Al (Louis C.K.), a sound engineer whom she considers as a step up from Chili. Jasmine sees a potential lifeline when she meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a diplomat who is quickly smitten with her beauty, sophistication and style.

Jasmine’s flaw is that she derives her worth from the way she’s perceived by others, while she herself is blind to what is going around her. Delicately portrayed by a regal Cate Blanchett, Jasmine earns our compassion because she is the unwitting instrument of her own downfall. Woody Allen’s new drama BLUE JASMINE is about the dire consequences that can result when people avert their eyes from reality and the truth they don’t want to see.

REVIEW

Add this Woody Allen movie to Match Point and  Cassandra’s Dream. I liked this movie and thought Cate Blanchett’s portrayal was spot-on for the character she was cast to play.

Surprises: Andrew Dice Clay in a movie?

Bobby Cannavale is hot! Just the kind of guy I would consider an ideal mate. Mmm, mmm, mmm! Of course I am speaking physically. As for personality, a bit too macho; the kind of guy I would get involved with and tire of because of the overbearing machismo.

Ironically, I am dealing with someone that derives her worth from others, choosing to be blind to the abusive personality to which she laments being connected. To top it off, she loved this movie, viewing it THREE TIMES!

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Recurring Person In My Dreams

Last night my best childhood, neighborhood friend appeared in my dreams again last night. I had inherited some kind of Asian cabin and my friend had come to visit me. After an out-of-this-world night of love-making, an old crack/sex friend stopped by and my childhood friend was interested in having a three-way with the sex/crack friend and I.

The childhood friend had always been on the fence when it come to having sex with me in my dreams, and this session had been so intimate, I was convinced he had made up his mind once and for all. The curiousness he expressed in a three way confirmed my thoughts. I would not have minded his request so much, had I not been worried that my childhood friend was more attracted to the sex/crack friend, and for my fear of losing my longed-for relationship. As the dream ended, I was on the verge of manipulating my childhood friend out of his desire and seemed to be have succeeded.

I know in real life I will never have that longed-for relationship with this childhood friend, but it still puzzles me that he appears in my dreams. If I broaden my perspective, my childhood friend could represent longed-for relationship, and my manipulation could mean that I am still not ready. I am not happy with my interpretation, but it is what it is.

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More Birthday Fun

This is the party given to me by the Wednesday Morning Knitters, a group I attend at The Knitting Tree, L A. Rachanee made Pad Thai for me and Cathy made her delicious chicken salad. I made the cake because I wanted my famous strawberry cake for my birthday. Thank again to Jacqui for taking pictures.

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Dog Chops

Came across Barba Gato (Cat Beard) today and got inspired…

dog_chops

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