Spared or Spoiled Movie Reviews: Nocturnal Animals (or the ANTI-La La Land)

The rules are simple. The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

And Amy…

amy-adams-got-robbed

“I’ll be okay. I’m used to it by now. At least Mel still loves me.”

And Amy Adams gets robbed of a nomination by an Academy of numbskulls!!

Nocturnal Animals (Focus Features)

nocturnal-animals-poster

Written & Directed by Tom Ford

Based on the novel Tony and Susan by Austin Wright

Starring Amy AdamsJake GyllenhaalMichael ShannonAaron Taylor-JohnsonIsla FisherArmie HammerLaura LinneyAndrea Riseborough & Michael Sheen

Nocturnal Animals feels like a 70’s thriller or some early 80’s Brian DePalma suspense shit, except without the suspense. The only thrills in the movie happen in the book. Not the book of the movie but the book inside the movie, which is way better than the real-life story. Amy Adams (winner for best actress on this blog) plays Susan Morrow, a gallery owner whose life is boring as hell. Her life is awful and so is this part of the movie. But she receives a manuscript from her ex-husband of his new novel. It’s good. It’s very good. It’s better than her life. The book is dramatized in the movie and those parts are better than the rest of the movie. They’re supposed to be. That’s the point.

jake-gyllenhaal-in-nocturnal-animals

“I don’t know what the big deal is. I NEVER get nominated.”

But watching Nocturnal Animals so soon after seeing La La Land forced me to compare them because both films are about young artists in a romance. The one in this movie is told in flashbacks, adding a third running narrative to the film. And again it’s better than the main story. So even though I like Nocturnal Animals, this is one of those movies that I have to spoil to talk about it. But as an added bonus, I’m also going to spoil La La Land in the process. So this is a combination Spared/Spoiled/Film Comparison in one.

Verdict: SPOILED (for being too interesting): Nocturnal Animals

AND

Verdict: SPOILED (by association): La La Land

I’m spoiling everything tonight.

Nocturnal Animals Amy Adams

“Spoil them… Spoil them all… Spoil everything… Spoil them all to hell.”

SPOILER ALERT (for both Nocturnal Animals and La La Land)

SPOILER ALERT!!!

First of all, she absolutely becomes her mother. Just like everyone says she would (including her mother). And I also liked the ending. It was poetic. I think I was waiting for the suspense to bleed over from the novel into the real world. And it never did. But Amy Adams is excellent as always. Jake Gyllenhaal is at his regular efficient automatic perfection. Seriously that guy pisses me off with how precise he is. I bet you every take is exactly the same with him. He’s a freaking robot.

michael-shannon-in-nocturnal-animals

“You shut your filthy mouth. The Academy is full of geniuses and saints. Saints, I tell ya!”

Armie Hammer plays the same character in every movie. So he plays that same character again here. The man just looks like a douche. Surprise!! He’s a douche. And Michael Shannon gives a fine performance. I would talk about his nomination but frankly those fools don’t know shit. So it’s not much of an honor. But I liked it. Nocturnal Animals grew on me as the back story got interesting and the fictional story got interesting and I waited for the present story to get interesting and it never did. And that was the point. And I got it. And I liked it. So as Amy Adams is waiting there in the restaurant hoping to rekindle something with the guy who is now successful and he doesn’t show up. And that brilliant awkward last scene drags on, I was digging it. It reminded me of some Neil LaBute revenge porn (that guy’s got serious problems).

amy-adams-in-nocturnal-animals

“Oh Academy. You’re breaking my heart. But then again you break everyone’s heart.”

And every review I (actually) read seems to think that the characters of the wife and daughter in the novel represent her. But I don’t think so. I think she reads that into the story to make her boring existence seem worth a few pages. If anything she’s the three criminals. But yeah he makes himself the lead, weak and powerless to defend his wife and child in the story and she sees him as weak in the back story, but by standing her up in the end, he proves that he isn’t the weak romantic writer that she can manipulate. And his book is better than her life even though everybody dies in it (seriously it’s like some Shakespearean shit. Everyone dies at the end). So I guess he wins… at life.

jake-gyllenhaal-nocturnal-animals

“I win at life!!! I win at… oops.”

Then of course, I imagined the ending of La La Land with only one of them being successful and not the other. (much less of a fairy tale). Because at the end of La La Land both the lovers are wildly successful and exactly where they want to be in life (like the most rags-to-riches depression era musical bull-shit) and it’s mostly due to the push each gives the other. You can say they sacrifice their love and life together for the other’s career and it works well for both.

nocturnal-animals-with-amy-adams

“Mel Rook & the 7 Deadly… nope. Life’s too short. What’s on YouTube? PUPPIES!!!”

Nocturnal Animals isn’t as sweet as all that. While in La La Land they inspire each other with tough love and support, in Nocturnal Animals, she inspires him with betrayal and he inspires her with revenge. It is… a lot more realistic (and nobody sings).  Emma Stone ends up married with a successful career and no guilt about leaving her first real love (and an Oscar nomination). While Amy Adams ends up married to a cheater with a failing gallery and guilt over how she betrayed her first love (and no nomination for her work in Arrival). It’s not fair (but then again Trump is in power and fair is a fairy tale).

Ryan Gosling and Jake Gyllenhaal both get what they want so fuck ’em.

nocturnal-animals

“Trump is the what now? You shitting me? Woo hoo. We got ourselves a white male president.”

Nocturnal Animals is almost too atmospheric at times in the main story. There are a couple of good laughs from her silly artsy friends and co-workers. Especially when she blatantly insults the woman who had too much work done on her face. That was hysterical. Her artwork is awful. Her life is awful. Her husband is cheating. They are hemorrhaging money and her ex-husband writes this kick-ass book. That’s some potent revenge porn. Seriously, Neil LaBute must love this film.

nocturnal-animals-amy-adams

“Operator. I’d like the number for a Neil LaBute please. Misogynist? Yes I’ll hold.”

But if she hadn’t broken his heart would he have been able to write his great American novel? Nocturnal Animals is a good story. But at times I thought it left a little too much on the table. Too atmospheric. Too strange. Too stylish. With wooden performances. Even though that was the point to make the novel more vibrant and more real than life. But because of it, it’s easy to separate the two and think that Nocturnal Animals is a movie about a boring woman reading a book, in the bed, in the tub, looking sexy… but still just reading. And then think the book in the movie is a better movie than the movie. But Nocturnal Animals is good. And it’s definitely worth a look if you’re like me and dated an artist who broke your heart. Or dated someone who didn’t believe in you. Because Nocturnal Animals is usually what you get. La La Land is the fantasy.

amy-adams

“I just read Mel’s blog… I must go to him.” Now THAT’S the fantasy.

In conclusion, Nocturnal Animals is the ANTI-La La Land and I’m glad, because after the Oscar nominations I needed a sober dose of anti-romanticism. And Amy Adams, my love, I’m so sorry, but you got stood up again.

– Mel

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Spared or Spoiled Reviews: Arrival

It’s okay if you don’t remember, but the rules are simple.

The good get spared. The bad get spoiled.

Arrival (Paramount Pictures)

arrival-poster

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Written by Eric Heisserer  Based on “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang

Starring Amy AdamsJeremy RennerForest WhitakerMichael Stuhlbarg & Tzi Ma

Arrival is adult sci-fi. A smart story with a beautiful performance and directed and written extremely well. One of the best movies of the year. Maybe even the best. And I don’t have to tell you guys that I love Amy Adams. And I hope they give her some love come Oscar time. She carries this movie and her character is an emotional roller coaster ride and a true bad ass. I loved it profusely.

Verdict: SPARED

arrival-is-smart-science-fiction

“What you making, Amy?” “I’m just sending a message. This is the amount of times I have read or will read Mel’s blog.”

This is the new Close Encounters but without the famous five tones. Anybody remember the five tones? “If everything is ready on the dark side of the moon…” That was the extent of Close Encounters’ attempt at alien communication. Arrival makes Close Encounters look like kid’s stuff. (Steven Spielberg was actually just a kid back then) Arrival is such an intelligent film. With an amazing message about language and love and loss. I’m gonna have to say it again; I don’t have the words.

arrival-is-epic

“Okay people we’re entering the Amy Adams fixation zone. Everybody keep your hazmat suits on. And don’t touch nothing. This could get messy.”

But can we talk more about the goddess that is Amy Adams? And yes I know that my devotion for her does venture toward the creepy. But I love her like a sea mollusk loves the sun. I can only experience her brilliance as her light shines on the screen like the surface of the ocean but from underneath. I’m going to do an entire Amy Adams post with my top ten favorite performances and films. No. I’m gonna do that right now.

amy-adams-in-arrival

“He knows I’m human right? I’m HUMAN.” “I think we have some spray paint in the truck.”

Here it is:

My Top Ten Favorite Amy Adams Films & Performances:

10 Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice EXTENDED VERSION (2016) She’s my Lois Lane. Amy is my Lois Lane. (and I got a pocket full of Kryptonite)

9  The Master (2012) Nominated Best Supporting Actress

8 Sunshine Cleaning (2008)

7  The Fighter (2010) This is when the world started to recognize her brilliance but I knew way before this. Nominated Best Supporting Actress

6 On The Road (2012)

5 Julie & Julia (2009) Amy more than holds her own with one of the best.

4  American Hustle (2013) Great performance and she is so sexy in this movie. Another powerhouse female co-star that she gives a run for her money. Nominated Best Actress

3 Enchanted (2007) This is when I fell in love with her. She is simply magic in this film. So funny. So beautiful. So talented.

2 Her (2013) Love Her.

1  Arrival (2016)

I still haven’t watched Nocturnal Animals but I expect it to bump BvS EXTENDED (very important distinction the extended part) right off this list. With the ones I listed above, she was also nominated for Junebug and Doubt for Best Supporting Actress. Neither film made this list but that just means I ran out of space.

arrival-amy-adams

“But… but… but I was amazing in Junebug. I… I thought he loved me.”

Dear Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences,

I know we don’t always see eye to eye. And I want you to know your recent attempts at diversity have not gone unnoticed. But I want you to give the best actress to another white woman this year. A red-head. And yes I know. You can’t get much whiter than that. But over-look race here just this once… please. Amy Adams has been nominated enough times. Enough teasing. It’s time that she won. She deserves it AND (I know this is important to you guys) It would make me very happy. Thanks for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Mel Rook

arrival-stars-a-couple-of-nerds

“Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” “Yeah. I think we’re gonna have to get in there.”

I don’t want to get the reputation of someone who cries at the drop of a hat moving in slow-motion, but this movie had me in tears. Even during the thrilling climax. I think I blubbered something like, “It’s beautiful.” when everything started coming into shape. But I won’t say any more. This is a powerful, action-packed, adventure film where nearly all of the action takes place from the neck up. Smart people flexing their brain muscles. I loved every minute of it. And I’m talking about the original author, the screenwriter and the director as well as the main characters. I complain a lot about dumb movies and dumb writing. I just want to take a moment to say that Arrival is some of the best & smartest film-making and story-telling I have seen in a long time. And the rest of the cast, Forest Whittaker and Jeremy Renner are pretty good too. But to be incredibly corny: Amy Adams has Arrived.

arrival-suits-up-for-oscar-season

“Okay. You grab the laptop and I’ll get his pants. And for god’s sake don’t touch anything.”

Dear Amy,

I hope you thank me in your acceptance speech. But if you forget to, just say, “You know who you are.” just like that. You know who you are. I’ll get it.

– Your Biggest Fan

arrival

“IT’S TOO LATE. He’s gone off the deep end. RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!! He’s writing fake letters that no one will see. THAT NO ONE WILL EVER SEE!!!”

So in conclusion, Arrival is smart sci-fi done extremely well and you should see it in theaters because it has great special effects. It’s an experience movie that needs to be shared with a room full of strangers and if it makes a ton of money maybe Hollywood will realize that the nerds don’t always have to be the side-kick.

We can be the hero.

– Mel

The 10 Worst Things About Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

When they make the end of year lists, Batman v Superman will be at the top of everyone’s worst films of the year. It is god-awful. I’m sure I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last. Batman v Superman is terrible. I went to see it on Times Square in a full house and the crowd started to try to entertain themselves. You know a movie is bad when kids are falling asleep and the best parts happen in the seats behind you.

MILD SPOILERS.

Except for the fact that I tell you the movie is bad and I guess that could be a big spoiler.

Here is my list of the ten worst things about…

Batman v Superman : Dawn of Justice (Warner Bros. Pictures)

BVS Poster

Directed by Zack Snyder

Written by Chris Terrio & David S. Goyer  Based on Characters published by DC Comics

Starring Ben AffleckHenry CavillAmy AdamsJesse EisenbergDiane LaneLaurence FishburneJeremy IronsHolly Hunter & Gal Gadot

A movie that will be at the top of nearly everyone’s worst films of 2016. Mark my words.

It’s that bad.

#10 The Destruction is Excessive AGAIN.

batman-vs-superman-fight

This is not that big a deal but I thought they had handled the vast amount of destruction when they use it as a reason for Batman to go after the man of steel this time out. But then they go and destroy Gotham just like they did Metropolis. Ever think about leading the monsters away from the city? No? Okay but how about when they go away from the city and it’s pointed out to the audience that they’ve gone away from the city, that the good guys don’t actually lure it back to the city? You don’t have to bring the monster to the (portable) weapon. You can bring the weapon to the monster. And don’t tell me it was okay because they were in a run down part of town. Still destroying stuff. Still killing people. Just not rich people.

#9 They Don’t Explain The Science Behind Anything.

Batman-V-Superman-Doomsday

Lazy writing. They don’t explain Doomsday. They don’t explain Kryptonite. They don’t explain Wonder Woman. They don’t explain all of the other Justice League. They don’t explain Lex Luthor’s database. Or anything to do with anyone’s “secret” identities. You just have to know these things already. I’d say it was a movie for people who already know the comic books. That sound you hear is people in the theater trying to explain to their friends what the hell’s going on.

#8 There Are Too Many Dream Sequences.

I am the Night

The movie is two and a half hours long. They could have cut the dream sequences in favor of a little excitement. There are three dream sequences and all but the last half of the last one are meaningless to the story. Something interesting happens in the last half of the last dream that may or may not have been a dream but since they had already established the Batman’s penchant for day dreaming, it just seems weird and pointless. They could have used the time wasted on dreams to explain shit better.

#7 The Interesting Parts in the Trailer are from Dream Sequences.

batman-v-superman-dream

This was so annoying. Because all those cool scenes with Batman tied up and Superman un-masks him. And Batman fighting countless Superman acolytes, are fucking dreams. So if you’re watching the trailer and you’re wondering how he gets tied up and you’re waiting for this or that cool scene… Batman is asleep.

# 6 Jesse Eisenberg is wasted (and he’s good… he just has nothing good to say)

batman-v-superma-lex luthorThe best thing about the movie (and there is not a lot to choose from) is Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor and he has nothing good to say. At one point they have him mangle a passage from Lolita and I nearly threw up in my mouth… so close. He’s great as Lex Luthor except that Lex Luthor says some of the dumbest shit ever on-screen. All those cool lines from the trailer that are out of context. They have more context in the trailer than they do in the movie. The dialogue is incredibly bad.

#5 Amy Adams is Wasted (and I love her)

batman-v-superman-love story

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time then you know of my undying love for Amy Adams. Amy Adams is a waste as Lois Lane. Except for in the best two or three seconds of the movie toward the beginning when she’s being held by a guy with a gun… no spoilers. There’s this look. It’s gorgeous. This is a love story. Superman has always been a love story since the beginning, but it’s like these guys forgot to bring the love. There’s that one moment when Amy Adams shines above the material and then everything else that comes out of her mouth is stupid.

#4 The Story is Crap.

Batman v Superman religious imagery

The story is full of holes and stupid things and idiotic leaps of logic. The main conflict is that people think Superman went to the desert (that’s what they call it) to shoot a bunch of people with guns. No really. But the bullets were special. (these were bullets used to kill regular human beings, so they could just be regular bullets but no) And we all know Superman didn’t shoot those people because of the special bullets. There are a thousand other things but I promised no spoilers. The story is horrible and full of holes.

#3 The Dialogue is Stupid.

Batman v Superman Clark and Bruce and Lex

The dialogue is so bad. It sounds like it was written in a dead language, mistranslated by a team of linguistic experts who couldn’t come to a consensus so they left huge sections blank, into English, into Spanish, then translated into Portuguese (except half the translators are from Brazil and the other half are from Portugal) and then finally back into English as part of a tenth grade midterm assignment the student barely passed with a D. Nobody talks like that. What is wrong with these people?

#2 The Movie is Boring.

batman-v-superman-joker

That’s right. A movie billed as one big fight scene between two of the most popular comic book characters in history is boring as shit. Zack Snyder has no concept of pacing. There were children snoring in the auditorium. One kid woke up and had to ask if Batman and Superman had fought yet. If your comic book movie is putting children to sleep in a crowded theater in the middle of the day, it is boring as hell.

And the number one worst thing about Batman v Superman…

# 1 The Music is Annoying.

batman-v-superman-diana-wonder-woman

The music is the worst thing about Batman v Superman. It is incessant and it is annoying. The music doesn’t seem to know whether a scene is a love scene or a fight scene and it doesn’t care. It just drones on non-stop in a cacophony of ignorant sound. The music is so bad at one particularly and supposedly quiet scene someone in the audience shouted, “Turn the music down.” and everyone applauded. The music is torture. The music makes a bad film even worse.

And that’s the list.

I knew I would hate it. I knew it would be bad. I just didn’t realize how bad.

Batman_v_Superman_Dawn_of_Justice

Batman v Superman is a poorly written, badly directed, terrible film. The story is awful. The pacing is awful. It fails to build excitement for any future DC comic movies. It accomplishes the incredible feat of being worse than Man of Steel.

Even the ending is crap.

After it ended, all I could say was, “What the hell was that?”

Someone shouted, “There’s no after-credits scene.” and someone else answered, “Good.”

– Mel

 

Batman v Superman (All the Trailers Footage cut together)

This is not so bad.

It makes me more hopeful of the movie being decent.

There’s a lot of good stuff here. A whole hell of a lot of bad. But a lot of good.

That’s a lot of footage. The movie is two and a half hours but there’s a good ten minutes of it right there. I kind of get the gist now and while it isn’t the movie I want to see. It might be alright after all. I just hate Zack Snyder so much. I can’t believe he’s doing Justice League too. Whatever.

What do you guys think?

– Mel

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Trailer

I tell you truthfully. This movie is gonna suck. No lie. Zack Snyder has little to no talent and I have very little confidence in him. He’s Michael Bay without the early success. However, this trailer looks awesome. (If you ignore the fact that the scenes from the movie are pretty stupid) Because this is the dumb guy trailer. I don’t mean to insult you if you think this looks good but hats off to the person who created this trailer for making it look good. You made a work of art with crappy materials. Mona Lisa with broken crayons.

Watch this. This things is awesome.

“I thought she was with you.”

This is a classic example of the trailer being better than the movie.

This movie is going to be very bad. I kid you not. But I’m loving the way the trailer uses Lex Luther. Soon as he walks in it gets really good. Amy Adams looks like she’s going to be underutilized again and the dialogue well… don’t even. This is a dumb guy movie. The Transformers of superhero movies. If you liked the Transformers, again I apologize.

I’d love to be excited about Doomsday. I’m not. I’d love to be excited about Wonder Woman. I’m not. I’d love to be excited about the Justice League but I’m not. Though I bet many many people are. And that’s who will go opening weekend. (and I’ll be there too)

This movie is going to break the bank on opening weekend and then attendance is going to fall off sharply. Off a cliff. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is opening in a couple weeks, right? I predict that Star Wars beats this at the box office. And you would say, of course. So let me explain. I don’t mean opening weekend to opening weekend. That’s a no-brainer. I mean 3 or 4 weeks in, The Force Awakens will beat Dawn of Justice at the box office, DURING THAT SAME TIME. SW:TFA will still be playing somewhere (See it again… for the fist time). It will. It’s Star Wars. And I predict, seriously, that it does better than Dawn of Justice after three weeks, in the Summer, after being out for seven months.

Yeah. That bad.

Great trailer though.

– Mel

Batman v Superman Extended Trailer

Okay that’s crazy…

I don’t know what to say. It looks awesome. Like truly truly awesome but it also looks crazy. Like there is too much going on for one movie. Seriously. if it’s not three hours long, it’s gonna suck ass. I kid you not.

That’s just crazy… too much awesome… so yeah it’s gonna suck.

Sorry.

– Mel

Best Picture: 4 Quick Reviews of 4 Movies (that are NOT Gravity)

Award season is upon us… and I have a blog to maintain. Time to post about the Oscars.

The Wait

“It’s about time. We been waiting for movie reviews… …and freedom.”

Sorry Captain Phillips. Sorry Philomena, Nebraska. Sorry Dallas Buyer’s Club, but of the nine Best Picture nominees, only four movies have a punter’s chance to win and only three of those four are NOT Gravity. I know Gravity. Gravity is a friend of mine and you guys are no Gravity.

These are my quick reviews of those three very special (NOT Gravity) movies. And also my dark horse pick. My Cinderella team, so to speak.

The one I want to win. The one I do not want to win. The one I think will win. And a wild card. What I liked about them, what I didn’t like, and why they are NOT Gravity. 

To the reviews…

American Hustle (Columbia Pictures)

American HustleDirected by David O. Russell

Written by Eric Warren Singer & David O. Russell

Starring Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner & Jennifer Lawrence

First of all. Amy Adams. Oh my god, Amy Adams. I was already in love with her. Now I’m just at a loss for words. The woman is amazing. Beautiful, funny, talented, amazing.

"You flatter me, sir."

“You flatter me, sir.”

Jennifer Lawrence too. I have never seen her this good. Yes, she is awesome in Silver Linings Playbook but this performance is even better than that. So good.

"Yes!"

“Yes!”

There are great performances all around in this one. The entire cast is on point, but this movie belongs wholeheartedly to the ladies. Amy & Jennifer drive American Hustle forward and keep it entertaining, sexy, funny and little bit heartbreaking. Just an amazing film.

"What do we look like... chopped liver?" "Shhhh. Let the man write."

“What do we look like… chopped liver?”
“Shhhh. Let the man write.”

American Hustle is a wonderfully directed film about a love triangle. A love triangle of emotionally manipulative con-artists. Amy, Jennifer & Christian Bale play the girlfriend, wife and husband. David O. Russell is at the top of his game. He is in a class by himself with regards to bringing great work out of great actors. An excellent actor’s director.

"I've been on Mel's blog five times. Can you say the same." "No. But I've been in Mel's dreams. Quite frankly, you scare him."

“I’ve been on Mel’s blog FIVE times. Can you say the same?”
“No. But I’ve been in Mel’s dreams. Quite frankly, you scare him.”

Even with the seventies hair, the cast is exceptionally sexy. The characters are deliciously flawed and… real. They feel as if they could step off the screen. A bunch of credit goes to the costumes which are exquisite (and I hope award-winning). This is how you make movies. Amy Adams SHOULD finally get her Oscar win (my fingers are crossed)… but alas she probably will not (Cate Blanchett has the inside track). Amy has been one of my favorite actresses for years and this is her best to date. Love her.

"Me?" "Her?"

“Me?”
“Her?”

Rent it. (American Hustle is wonderful. The performances are all award worthy. It is my personal pick for best film of 2013… that is NOT Gravity)

Next… we get loud & wrong (and so so long)…

The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures)

The Wolf of Wall Street

Directed by Martin Scorsese

Written by Terence Winter Based on The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, Kyle Chandler & Rob Reiner

The Scarface of Penny Stocks; The Wolf of Wall Street has no moral center. It is a very long movie that plays like a string of TV episodes. Not a movie but one great season of a TV show, a HBO or Netflix Drama, (even though it jumps the shark somewhere in the middle of the ocean heading to Switzerland). All build up, no pay off.

"I will give you this hundy if you shut the fuck up."

“I will give you this hundy if you shut the fuck up.”

The performances, however, are some of the best of the year. The best I have seen from Jonah Hill and from Leonardo DiCaprio (though Matthew McConaughey steals the movie early on) And Margot Robbie is scrumptiously good. Just like with American Hustle, the entire cast brings the meat. Martin Scorsese is still a master and like all of his films, The Wolf of Wall Street is seamless and flawlessly perfect; Visually & rhythmically.

"Just stop right there."

“Just stop right there. Don’t say one more fucking word. We’re good.”

AND YET (editorially), I wish I had never watched The Wolf of Wall Street because it angered me. Like Natural Born Killers with SEC violations. The Wolf of Wall Street is cartoonishly amoral. And because it stays true to life and rooted in the author’s own fucked up reality. Nobody learns nothing. Moreover, like Scarface and Natural Born Killers, this is a movie that inspires and will inspire psychopathic, sociopathic and narcissistic behavior.

"I swear to fucking god I will eat this goldfish if you don't stop right now."

“I swear to fucking god I will eat this goldfish if you don’t stop talking right now.”

And like the best movies about addiction or illegal drug empires, the only thing to be learned is that YOU QUIT WHEN YOU’RE ON TOP or you make sure to cushion your fall.

"It's cool Leo. I think he liked the fucking movie."

“It’s cool Leo. I think he liked the movie. Really man. Read between the fucking lines.”

Which is all well and good but in a movie that mentions Gordon Gekko as a villain and not a hero, it still portrays the financial world’s dark and disgusting core. After Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, Wu Tang Clan and Reaganomics; A financial world populated by the greediest, self-centered, amoral fuck-tards that missed the entire point of Stone’s films.

"He doesn't like us. You fucking idiot. He just compared us to Wu Tang Clan."

“He doesn’t like us, you fucking idiot. He just compared us to Wu Tang Clan.”

It is for those that thought Wall Street, Scarface and Natural Born Killers were comedies or how-to manuals and the lead characters were, in fact, the heroes of the story. Greed is not just “good” in The Wolf of Wall Street. Greed is fun. It’s a whole lot of fucking fun.

"Yeah, baby."

“Yeah, baby.”

This is the world that The Wolf of Wall Street shows us and I believe it will replace those other films as the go-to cinematic sales pitch for selling your soul for a wad of cash, a pound a coke and a DTF blonde with long long lovely legs that go on forever.

Margot Robbie is Scrumptious

“He called me scrumptious. Are you going to stand for that?”

Oh yes. The Wolf of Wall Street made me weep for the world. For the world.

"You're welcome."

“You’re welcome.”

Rent it or Skip it. (It’s fantastic but I wish I hadn’t watched it.  It made me feel like shit. If I had my way it would not win a thing… except for Most Upsetting Movie that’s NOT Gravity) 

Next… the Brits give us an American History Lesson…

12 Years a Slave (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

12 Years a Slave

Directed by Steve McQueen

Written by John Ridley  Based on Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Lupita Nyong’o, Sarah Paulson, Brad Pitt & Alfre Woodard

12 Years a Slave is the brutal true story of a free man kidnapped into slavery and, it’s difficult for me to watch movies about slavery, even though this one is less brutal than the revenge fantasy, torture porn, dreck that Americans make about slavery, I definitely shed some tears during it. There was a lot of anger. Some joy and some sadness. But mostly just anger.

"Dear Mel, Would you be so kind as to not add funny captions to the photos from this movie... out of respect. Sincerely, Solomon Northup Your Homeboy."

“Dear Mel, Would you be so kind as to not add funny captions to the photos from this movie… out of respect. Sincerely, Solomon Northup, Your Homeboy.”

Excellent film-making. Who knew a film about slavery could be so multi-dimensional. It takes a bunch of Brits to make a really good movie about the slave era in this country. Even as it feels like 12 Years a Slave is just a great adaptation of a powerful book that just happens to be about slavery or about one man’s experiences during slavery.

"Did you tell that boy not to put funny captions on the photos?" "No, sir."

“Did you tell that boy not to put funny captions on the photos?”
“No, sir.”

A powerful film with some of the most sublime and, I have to say, “Southern” pacing. Chiwetel Ejiofor is superb and subtle and, in my opinion, the weakest part of the film (sorry dude). Again, the performances in this film, as with the last two, are beyond description. This is the year of the outstanding cast. There were some truly great ensemble performances this year. Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o are sensational. As is Sarah Paulson, Benedict Cumberbatch et al.

"You hear that? He says we go well together." "That's not what he meant you twisted fuck."

“You hear that? He says we go well together.”
“That’s not what he meant you twisted fuck.”

This story is screwed up and fucked up but I can’t help but tell you that I never once identified the lead character as someone who should not be a slave BECAUSE he was a free man, BECAUSE he was kidnapped into it. ALL of the slaves were kidnapped into slavery and I was rooting for ALL OF THEM TO BE FREE in the end. But the timing was just a little bit off.

"I said no funny captions." "They really aren't that funny."

“But I told him no funny captions.”
“They really aren’t that funny, dude.”

This is a movie that is ONLY about the adventures of Solomon Northup. And the other Africans, or sons, daughters, grand & great grand sons & daughters of Africans, who were born into, sold into, kidnapped into, and forced into slavery are no less deserving of liberty than our hero Solomon, a musician before his ordeal, an abolitionist after, and their struggle felt the same to me. None of us are free if only some of us are free.

"So, we're all in agreement. The captions just aren't that funny." "Yep."

“So, we’re all in agreement. The captions just aren’t that funny.”
“Yep.”

12 Years a Slave is not your run-of-the-mill American slavery tale. It is an exceptional story, well written, expertly directed and brought to life by an extremely talented cast of actors and, in my opinion, the best movie about slavery ever made.

"I saw what you did, Mel. I am no longer your homeboy."

“I saw what you did, Mel and I am no longer your homeboy.”

Rent it. (Steve McQueen has made the movie of the year with 12 Years a Slave and if it doesn’t win best picture at the Oscars something went terribly wrong… or it was penalized because it was NOT Gravity)

Next… a Cinderella story…

Her (Warner Bros. Pictures, Entertainment Film)

Her

Written & Directed by Spike Jonze

Starring Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde & Scarlett Johansson

Her (a Spike Jonze Love Story) is an interesting story and a fascinating premise. It is about a man who starts a romantic and sexual relationship with an operating system. At first I was disappointed that it would be a run-of-the-mill relationship movie with a twist. If that’s not a horrible contradiction. It is about the romance between a man and an OS; A constantly evolving Operating System that strives to become his perfect mate.

Joaquin

“I am a creepy creepy man… playing a creepy creepy man in a movie.”

Every thing about their relationship feels real. It felt just like relationships I’ve had or ones I’ve witnessed. (At times it was something I’d never had but wanted). Her is a very good relationship movie, but then it became something else. It evolves. It gets really good.

"You're dating a computer program while Amy Adams is right... you know what I'm done with you."

“You’re dating your computer while Amy Adams is… you know what I’m done with you.”
“Siri? Don’t be mad at me, Siri.”

I don’t want to give it away but it was moving and emotional and it made me think. The science fiction element that creeps into the story turned a good movie into a great movie.

"Seriously, are you blind."

“Seriously, are you blind. I’m Amy fucking Adams.”
“Huh? Do you think Siri likes me?”

I didn’t feel their relationship was unique enough at first. But it redeems itself. The movie redeems itself. I am not saying the romance wasn’t good. If it had just been that, I would have been more than happy with it. Joaquin Phoenix is remarkable at what he does. He disappears into a character. While Amy Adams and the rest of the cast are these, only slightly, futuristic versions of social vs non-social, Isolated within a sea of people people. Living their lives virtually. It is a wonderfully prophetic vision of our not-too-distant future.

"He's right you know. I'm not even real while Amy Adams is hot." "Shut up Siri."

“He’s right you know. I’m not even real while Amy Adams is hot.”
“Shut up, Siri.”

But Spike Jonze creates these beautiful science fiction question marks that left me thinking when it was done. I love movies that do that. Her is Spike Jonze’s best film. The best thing he’s done. I wasn’t the biggest fan before. I loved his quirkiness and his wit but little else. I enjoy his films but this is the first one where I wasn’t bludgeoned by his style. Her was a little more adult, more real, more grounded even while being science fiction fantasy and I’m glad he is evolving as well. I am a fan, now.

"I think Mel's a little obsessed with Amy Adams." "You noticed that too?"

“I think Mel’s a little obsessed with Amy Adams.”
“You noticed that too.”

Rent it. (This melancholic, psychotic, romantic and psuedo-solitary cyber daydream lasted for only two hours but it will stay with me forever. It’s not going anywhere)

So to recap…

The Oscar goes to… NOT Gravity!

Reactions…

12 Years a Slave: “The Academy is racist. You know we should have won.”

American Hustle: “We were robbed. This was Mel’s favorite. Don’t they read his blog?”

The Wolf of Wall Street: “Thanks Obamacare. Income inequality forever! More hookers!”

Her: “We weren’t watching. We were playing Second Life. Who won?”

We all did, Siri. With all of these great movies, we all won.

– Mel