Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Liar Liar (1997) by Rhyme and Reason

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Next entry for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is by S.G. Liput from Rhyme and Reason with his review of Liar Liar. Jim Carrey finally makes his entrance into our blogathon. If you haven’t visited Rhyme and Reason before, it is where “poetry meets film reviews”. Their tagline says it all.  Remember to head over there after you’ve read the review and show them some love!

Without further ado, let’s hear their thoughts!

Liar Liar (1997)

I cannot tell a lie, you see;
I tell the truth compulsively.
It’s gotten to the point that I
Clammed up till home to make reply,
So now that I am home at last,
I’ll answer every question asked.

First off, you’re not my type at all;
Your mouth’s too big, your ears too small.
Why won’t I answer what you said?
So you won’t hear what’s in my head.
I don’t much care to stay and chat,
And yes, that dress makes you look fat.

And boss, I love to cause delays;
I was not sick the last two days.
I’ve no excuse, and off the books,
I take the pens when no one looks.
I hate your guts, if you can’t tell,
And think your tie came straight from hell.

Last, I can’t volunteer with you;
I’ve less important things to do.
Like watching TV like a log
And hoping someone reads my blog.
The truth will set you free, they say,
Right now I don’t quite feel that way.

The characters and incidents portrayed in this poem are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased) is intended or should be inferred.

_____________________

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MPAA rating: PG-13

In trying to think of a unique angle for this 90’s blogathon, there was one actor I thought of whose reputation was made and mostly played out in that decade: Jim Carrey. Those were the years of Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, when his name became synonymous with over-the-top goofiness and that snappy smile, and by the end of the decade, he’d ventured into more acclaimed dramatic roles, like The Truman Show and Man in the Moon. I decided to pick a film that fell in the middle of these phases and exemplifies both his comedic and semi-dramatic talent: Liar Liar.

Carrey plays a liar, I mean, lawyer named Fletcher Reede, who has a surprisingly nuanced relationship with his son Max (Justin Cooper) and ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney). He’s not the typical standoffish jerk that one might expect from his character, but actually seems like a good and fun father when he plays with Max, a fact even Audrey acknowledges. Where he fails, though, is in the frequency of broken promises and flawed priorities, always willing to put his job ahead of his son. When he’s on the job, the title is more well-deserved, since he’s a master at both ingratiating white lies and wildly rewritten facts that make him such a strong legal case-winner. When Max has at last had enough of his dad’s dishonesty, he makes a birthday wish that causes Fletcher to tell the truth, no matter what.

It’s easy to recognize that the plot is a mere framework for Carrey’s trademark silliness, in this case the exaggerated spasms he goes into as he tries to eke out even the smallest untruth, and of course what’s a lawyer if he can’t lie? It’s the kind of concept that would work well as a comedy skit, but it’s surprising just how many variations of inconvenient truths were devised to fill a feature film, from the real reason we don’t always give money to homeless people to the worst possible thing you could admit to a traffic cop. And Carrey just chews the scenery up, sometimes almost literally, with ever more hilarious convulsions and vocalizations. I especially enjoyed his inescapable bluntness and his attempts at being truthful enough to get by, such as even beating himself up for the sake of “truthfulness.” Even one of his costars accuses him of overacting during the credit bloopers, but he does do it well.

On top of all the silliness of Liar Liar, there’s a worthwhile moral at its heart: honesty is the best policy, obviously. But watching Fletcher’s inability to lie actually emphasizes just how widespread lying is, even if it’s something small meant to save us some trouble. It proves that some lies are indeed necessary for, well, civilization itself to survive, but lies don’t always have to be big and absurd to start a slippery slope.

As I said before, the characterization of Liar Liar isn’t as clear-cut as redemption stories like this usually are (think of the unmistakable jerks in Ghost Town or A Christmas Carol). Fletcher does have good points, most notably his chemistry with his son, and by the end, his truth-telling ordeal feels like a believable revelation rather than a complete 180° for his personality. Likewise, his ex-wife’s boyfriend (Cary Elwes) isn’t a jerk either and seems like a legitimately nice guy trying to bond with Max, but he’s just not the same as Fletcher. Nuances like that aren’t what I’d expect from a film full of Jim Carrey’s eccentric hamminess, but it turns what might have been mere silliness into a rather heart-warming amusement.

Best line: (Max) “My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside.”   (Fletcher) “That’s just something ugly people say.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2017 S.G. Liput
451 Followers and Counting

Thanks to Rhyme and Reason for this awesome review (and poetry piece) for Liar Liar!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s Ultimate 90’s Blogathon entry!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Batman Returns (1992) by DB Movies Blog

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Next up is DB from DB Movies Blog with a sequel of the 1989 Batman by Tim Burton, Batman Returns! One of my personal faves because it has the fantastic Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. DB Movies Blog has a range of film-related posts from reviews to trailer to lists and awards recap, etc. Lots of great material to check out! Without further ado, let’s pass it over to her to talk about her choice!

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Batman Returns (1992)

Three years after directing “Batman” (1989), Tim Burton came up with yet another Batman film “Batman Returns”. Visually stunning and well thought-out, the film is about the rise to power of Oswald Cobblepot/Penguin (Danny DeVito), who has been hidden away and shunned by society for 33 years in the city of Gotham. In his quest to become the mayor of Gotham, Penguin is unwillingly helped by a dishonest businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) as the Penguin’s freaky followers intermittently wreck havoc on Gotham to discredit the present mayor and eventually make it look like the Penguin is fighting crime. Meanwhile, Shreck’s shy secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out too much about Shreck’s illegal activities, causing Shreck to try to get rid of her, and the result of his efforts is Selina’s transformation into a Catwoman. Bruce Wayne/Batman (Michael Keaton) is also not indifferent to the crimes orchestrated by the Penguin and is determined to stop the Penguin and his gang while having a love-hate relationship with Selina/Catwoman.

From the very first scenes of the film, we are intrigued. We are confronted with a Dracula-inspired-setting and gothic surroundings as we see a couple who gives birth to a deformed baby, and then some time later, on a cold Christmas night, rushes across a Gotham park to throw their newborn baby into a river crossing the park. The eerie wintry landscape and the menacing soundtrack by Danny Elfman complete this picture as we then see a crib of a baby-monster floating down the sewer of the city.

Prior to “Batman Returns”, Burton also directed “Beetlejuice” (1988) and “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), already establishing himself as the director for shooting the themes of supernatural, odd, unknown and dark. In that vein, Burton makes “Batman Returns” his very own. With Burton’s flair for presenting a Gothic fantasy, “Batman Returns”’s cinematography is moody and grim, now reminding of “Sleepy Hollow” (1999) or “Sweeney Todd” (2007), but with a comical twist, a freaks-show setting and more stand-alone odd characters. Burton transforms the city of Gotham into a lavish wintry high-buildings landscape populated by mysterious pale-faced personalities, odd freaks and brave anti-heroes. In his prior and forthcoming work, Burton relied heavily on the old German expressionist cinematography and “Batman Returns” is no exception. From the very first scenes, the film is all about sharp dark edges, futurism, and the macabre, similar to “The Cabinet of DrCaligari” (1920). We also see the skyline of the Gotham City, and the tall buildings, grim atmosphere and fog reminds of “Metropolis” (1927). The elaborate sculpture work of the Gotham Zoo and the camerawork are also similar to the camerawork and the town scale model found in Burton’s “Beetlejuice”.

Action-wise, “Batman Returns” is also great. From the firebombing of Shreck’s department store to a faulty Batman car racing, the action is fast-paced with great visual effects. Add to this a rich animal symbolism, distinctively-gloomy, but deliciously macabre cinematography and a thought-provoking ending and it is safe to say that Burton has probably crafted the best Batman movie ever.

Having said that, “Batman Returns” is, primarily, a character-driven film. Michael Keaton reprises his role of the Batman, but the spotlight is not on him and he has to give way to “more interesting” and “crazier” characters. Keaton’s performance is unimaginative and unenthusiastic, though he is a very dignified and “intellectual” Batman; that kind of a Batman who will snug in on a weekend in front of a fireplace with a book rather than practise his combat moves in front of a mirror.

Every imaginable Hollywood actress was considered for the role of the Catwoman: from Demi Moore, Nicole Kidman and Jodie Foster to Cher and Meryl Streep. In the end, Annette Bening was cast, but was replaced by Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is perfectly cast and gives a very convincing, almost iconic performance. She is good as a sexually-frustrated shy secretary Selina and as a confident and blood-thirsty Catwoman. Selina’s duality and her transformation into a Catwoman are particularly well-presented. We see something close to the nowadays “Black Swan” transformation, because Selina is first surrounded by her pink soft toys and immaculate kitchen and then goes berserk and lusts for a dark and mysterious side of life. Her chemistry with Bruce Wayne is also very good, and it is interesting to watch how the pair is mentally trying to figure out each other’s true identities and thoughts.

The real revelations in the film are Danny DeVito in the role of the Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot and Christopher Walken in the role of Max Shreck. DeVito’s Penguin is very memorable: he is hideous, totally demented and power-hungry. Walken’s Shreck is also a show-stealer. Cool, strange and menacing, Walken as Max Shreck makes the atmosphere very uncomfortable, and it is a pity that the Shreck’s energy aspirations idea is left underdeveloped in the film.

It is true, however, that “Batman Returns” is not a perfect movie. We hardly get to know anything about the title character and his personal development (a hero’s journey) is questionable. The reason why Batman as a character is so neglected in this film is maybe because Burton/Waters/Strick is not really interested in him. In fact, Burton agreed to do “Batman Returns” only on condition that the studio gives him more creative control over the material and that Daniel Waters, a screenwriter known for his black-comedy “Heathers” (1988), comes on board. The influence of both is evident in the final product.

Another weakness of the film is that it has too many villains which form surprising partnerships, but the biggest criticism at the time of its release was that Burton’s version of a Batman movie was too gloomy and grotesque, sexually too suggestive (e.g. the Catwoman finds herself often on top of the Batman) and violent (e.g. child-kidnapping takes place on a regular basis). There are valid points, but should be seen in a perspective. Unlike the Superman and even the Spiderman series, the Batman series is all about the dark nature of humanity, mysterious personal duality, masks and camouflage, the colour black, unclear freaky characters’ origins, underlying childhood trauma and gloomy settings. Taking this into account, Burton’s gothic, macabre and dark take fits the Batman adaptation perfectly.

Batman Returns” may not be the film to immediately spring to mind when you think “the films of 1990s”, but its unusually presented-superhero theme, advanced computer-generated special effects and the director’s distinctive influence on the style and plot of the film are the features which later came to define films shot in 1990s (wasn’t it the decade of the rise of independent cinema after all?). “Batman Returns” is a Tim Burton film through-and-through. Rich in visuals, it is grim, dark, fantastical and strangely enticing. It also a film which is very entertaining: it has an interesting plot, perfect casting, great soundtrack and a very memorable presentation of such oddball characters as the Penguin and Catwoman.

8/10

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Thanks to DB for a fantastic review of Batman Returns. Definitely a great title (with its flaws) from the 90s!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews on Monday for the next entry!

Ultimate 90s Blogathon: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994) by Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews

The next participant for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is from Charlene at Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews with her review of The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert (1994). Head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews to check it out!

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Today’s Ultimate 90s Blogathon entry comes from Charlene from Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews.  As her blog’s name suggests, she mostly reviews movies from Classical Hollywood cinema but she doesn’t shy away from more modern films either.  Go give her site some love once you finish up here. Now, onto her review of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert!


Road trips have been a mainstay of travelling for as long as motorized vehicles have been invented. They involve a small group of individuals who often reveal a variety of emotions and opinions within a claustrophobic, confined space. This may create closer bonds among said parties or invoke greater distance and argumentativeness. Regardless, personal truths, epiphanies, and an increased sense of clarity can emerge from such heated discussions. All of the above occur in the vibrant 1994 Australian film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”…

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Valentine’s Marathon: Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Next up in the Valentine’s Marathon is a tale really as old as time and probably one of the first Shakespeare plays I had to read in school but super renowned and adapted a ton of times and that is Romeo & Juliet. This version is the 2013 one with Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth.

Let’s check it out!

Romeo & Juliet (2013)

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Director: Carlo Carlei

Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Douglas Booth, Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti, Kodi Smit-Mcphee, Ed Westwick, Christian Cooke

Romeo and Juliet secretly wed despite the sworn contempt their families hold for each other. It is not long, however, before a chain of fateful events changes the lives of both families forever.-IMDB

 Its always hard to review Romeo and Juliet adaptations. We all know how the story will go and the tragic fate of these lovers. It becomes even harder each time to feel moved by the characters and the story somehow because of that familiarity. I’m not sure if this is the most recent movie adaptation but I think so with these young stars playing the popular roles. In reality, it feels like quite the task and one that I’d eventually like to do to talk about the play and all adaptations (or as many as I have access to). Maybe I’ll give that a go one day. However, we’re here to look at this adaptation and to be fair, it was fine. There were some familiar faces, some good performances, the set was pretty decent and so were the costumes. I’m not a Shakespeare extreme connoisseur so I don’t know the play front and back. It been a long time since I’ve read it but from what I remember, its seems pretty close (if not the same) in dialogue.  However, something seems missing which I can’t quite pinpoint so maybe as I write this out, I’ll figure it out.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet are played respectively by Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld.  I haven’t seen a lot of Hailee Steinfeld but I have seen Douglas Booth in few of his previous roles, probably the one I remember most is LOL and Jupiter Ascending (review HERE). To step into Romeo and Juliet is a big task (like I mentioned before), there was to be passion and believability in their roles. Perhaps one of the things I didn’t quite feel was their connection. Sure, they were passionate in their lines and I could see it working but when they were together, something just didn’t click. Although, I feel that it progressed a little fast also. I get that its supposed to be a few days of events like most Romeo and Juliet movies are set in but it took two seconds to jump to seeing each other, dancing and then going to to the back and kissing. I never felt like other Romeo and Juliet movies progressed the love arc that fast for them and maybe its why those movies had a more impactful performance. Oh, and I actually did like Hailee Steinfeld’s performance. I feel that she has potential to do more and that’s where I think I probably should check out The Edge of Seventeen from last year.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

Talking about the Montague boys now, we’ve already discussed Romeo as the lover boy but possibly a great bromance trio goes to these guys who felt naturally good together. Somehow they worked well in showing their different personalities of Mercutio, Romeo and Benvolio. It was easy to believe that they all held different views of the rivalry between the Montague and the Capulets but also that they each also had different values. Mercutio is played by Christian Cooke, who is a familiar face and I liked him in the role. However, I love Kodi Smit-McPhee ever since I saw him in Let Me In (review HERE). This guy has some really great acting chops. He did a great job at Benvolio even if it was just a supporting role.

Romeo and Juliet 2013

The Capulets are much more individual but also has a lot more screen time. We have Tybalt, played by Ed Westwick who is incredibly known to me as Chuck Bass in Gossip Girl and I loved his character there. Ed Westwick does have some good acting and in the right roles, he can do quite a bit. As Tybalt, he really just does the cocky guy with a ton of anger issues who has incredible hate for Montagues who can barely keep his actions in control. Plus, he does a whole lot of odd grunting angry voices and always has a grimace, which I get is in character but something about his character felt a little overacted perhaps. I can’t say that its his best performance in my book. The other part of the Capulets is Damien Lewis as Lord Capulet. I honestly haven’t had much contact with Damien Lewis but he seems like a really powerful actor because Lord Capulet’s role really carried especially when he was having the whole scene with Juliet and making his point clear of her marrying Count Paris. That was a fantastic scene.

Overall, Romeo and Juliet in this 2013 adaptation was okay. It probably won’t be memorable but its not horrible either. The pacing of the script could probably use some work to help make us care more about Romeo and Juliet especially when everyone already knows how this all works out and pretty much knows what to expect. There are some decent performances that I haven’t even mentioned other than Hailee Steinfeld, Damien Lewis and Kodi Smit-McPhee but also we have Paul Giamatti who plays as the Friar and as always, he does a nice job in the supporting role. Its hard to not compare Romeo and Juliet adaptations to each other especially since there’s already been so many but here’s my shot at it.

Have you seen this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet? Which adaptation is your favorite?

Nerve (2016)

In a serious effort to catch up with 2016 movies, although not exactly Oscar nominees, Nerve came onto my radar with its discounted rental price at the Google Play store. I’m a fan of Emma Roberts. In fact, I haven’t seen many movies of hers that I disliked so I’m pretty confident that I’ll like it plus the plot looks something right up my alley.

Let’s check it out!

Nerve (2016)

nerve

Director: Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman

Cast: Emma Roberts, Dave Franco, Emily Meade, Machine Gun Kelly, Miles Heizer, Juliette Lewis, Kimiko Glenn,

A high school senior finds herself immersed in an online game of truth or dare, where her every move starts to become manipulated by an anonymous community of “watchers.”-IMDB

The world of games and reality are not unfamiliar territory and the world Nerve actually feels quite authentic in the most high stakes way. Nerve is a game of truth and dare set by an anonymous group of watchers which set around a set of rules to get to the finals with each dare being more and more risky. Nerve isn’t only a game but a server that hides its watchers behind the screen. Perhaps the side message to get from this game extends to one about cyberbullying and how easy it is to be anonymous behind a computer screen and cause irreparable harm and not have regards for the consequences while also manipulating its players for money, sometimes a lot of money. But then, you can’t clap with one hand. The players’ greed or inner satisfaction or adrenaline rush also pushes them to follow through. The game itself is set up in a believable way, depending on what crazy things you would believe others to do. Nerve is everywhere on the community and perhaps that makes it even more compelling as the directors shoot this film in a mesmerizing way, blending in colors to aid the tone, keeping it fun and dangerous and mysterious, and also using the camera angles that remind us that we are also a watcher as we follow primarily Vee and Ian on their Nerve team-up to the top.

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One of the best parts of Nerve starts when we meet Vee and learn about her fears and how she really doesn’t stand up for herself or do anything for herself. All this leads to her jumping into Nerve and choosing to be a player. The first task leads her to kiss a stranger or we soon learn isn’t really one because said stranger, played by Dave Franco is Ian who had instructions to be there. See the manipulation already? However, they are asked to team-up on each of their dares amd as the movie progresses, they have a much deeper connection. Except what also starts out fun turns out to be even more chaotic. Emma Roberts and Dave Franco were great in Nerve. They embraced their role perfectly whether in the silly fun parts to the more dangerous bits, there is a great connection between them that makes it authentic and work.

nerve

There are some little parts in this one that I’m not sure works well. For one, there isn’t a fleshed out enough devotion to the side characters. The supporting cast themselves consists of a few roles. One which is done well although used in a very convenient way is Vee’s hobby hacker friend (who also seems to have a crush on her), Tommy (Miles Heizer). Tommy is a key character because without reliable and loyal friends, its hard to have progressed. Plus, he has a skill set and connections that helps. Other than him, there is Sydney (Emily Meade) who is the one who introduces Nerve to Vee and also a good friend who always wants attention and is also a player who likes to push the limits. However, what falls apart a little is the predictable conflict between Sydney and Vee. I can see how it contributes to the story especially as we step into the third act but secretly, a part of me wanted the story to be focusing on Vee and Ian and the whole Nerve issue because it didn’t feel like there was a bigger purpose. This is really the only issue I had with the movie. On the side, there was also two supporting characters which are familiar faces from Orange is the New Black who are incredibly likeable as well. They  are one of the other friends, Liv (Kimiko Glen) in Vee’s group which follows Sydney around mostly as a watcher and outside from the scene is Tommy’s friend, Hacker Kween (Samira Wiley). Finally, wildly underused is one of the somewhat “villainous” characters that show up everywhere is TJ (Machine Gun Kelly). If there was something else that should be more fleshed out would be his character who mysteriously pops up here and there but somehow has more significance in the end but never enough to make us really care.

Nerve

Nerve is a really good movie. I have my opinions on the direction it chooses to take at certain moments but it is no doubt a fun and adrenaline-filled ride from the moment we start seeing Emma Roberts’ character press the Player button on Nerve and break out of her introvert and controlled world. Some characters could be more fleshed out to follow the direction of where they wanted it to end. But at the same time, if this was a story less about the petty conflicts but more about Ian, Vee and Nerve would be better and more polished. However, there’s still a lot to enjoy in this movie.

Netflix A-Z: The Spectacular Now (2013)

We’re at the S selection for Netflix! Movie reviews craze going on over here, right? I’ve been wanting to watch The Spectacular Now since this movie released back in 2013 but somehow never got around to it. It could be that last year, I took a long drama movie break. There was a few indie S selections that I wanted to watch but The Spectacular Now was one I didn’t want to wait anymore.

Let’s check it out!

The Spectacular Now (2013)

The Spectacular Now

Director: James Ponsoldt

Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brie Larson, Mary  Elizabeth Winstead

A hard-partying high school senior’s philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical “nice girl.” – IMDB

 The first thing to really catch my eye watching The Spectacular Now at this moment is the brilliant cast they have here. I haven’t really seen a ton of Miles Teller so I don’t have much to compare him to (yes, I haven’t seen Whiplash yet) and I’ve only seen Shailene Woodley in The Fault in Our Stars and I wasn’t a fan of that one. Nothing to do with her, just the story was my issue. Aside from our main characters played by Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, there is a supporting roles by Brie Larson (who went on to play her fantastic role in Room), Jennifer Jason Leigh (who I saw in The Hateful Eight) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (in  this year’s 10 Cloverfield Lane) for starters. The Spectacular Now is a coming of age story that delivers something a little different. Sutter is our main guy here and in many ways, I feel like it wasn’t even meeting Aimee that changed him but just that Aimee was the girl that gave him a different perspective on the future and growing up. The power of youth and relationships, right? In all reality, Sutter is afraid of growing up and its why he doesn’t embrace his the concept of living for the future but rather for the now moment. There’s a really honest and relatable coming of age story in between the charming romance drama going on here.

The Spectacular Now

I have a feeling a ton of people are going to be disappointed when I say this. Miles Teller is an odd choice as Sutter. Maybe its because this movie is meant to be odd but I’ve never been able to see Miles Teller as a very good actor. Maybe its the lack of movies that I’ve seen of his. It took me a while to really connect with Sutter’s character but in a rather unexpected and subtle way, he did grow on me, especially because we could see the script giving him and Aimee a very cute young love growth in a way that they influenced each other and gave each other courage to do the things they were previously afraid to face.

With that said, I liked Shailene Woodley a lot. As the nice girl, she portrayed it on point. It was believable in her most innocent ways. She truly loved Sutter and saw the good in him even when sometimes, he wasn’t all that great. The fascination of a relationship is finding the balance of having something in common but enough not to learn something new from each other and Sutter and Aimee had that. Their relationship was a highlight of this coming of age story even if I don’t believe it would be what really changed Sutter because the powerful scene with him and his mother played by Jennifer Jason Leigh was the one that stole the show.

The Spectacular Now

Other than the wonderfully sweet moments between Aimee and Sutter crafted beautifully, the drama truly comes in in a strong scene when Sutter finally meets his father again. It proves that the innocent memory he had for his father was actually very much an illusion. He starts noticing all the bad his father truly is even when he tries to brush it away and in many ways, can see the hints of him really starting to see how ignorant his father is and how he somewhat sees the disappointing similarities and how he could potentially be a lot of bad. It shows a little of the nature vs. nurture influence right there in my opinion.

The Spectacular Now

 Overall, The Spectacular Now is a really good coming of age story. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are great as Sutter and Aimee. The character development for both of the characters carry a lot more than just romance but also what growing up is about. Other than romantic themes, it also has a strong family relationship concept here. The Spectacular Now tells a great story with a compelling message. While I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of the way they ended it because a ton of movies are doing that also, the journey of Sutter and his coming of age story is an intriguing one to say the least.

Have you seen The Spectacular Now? What coming of age movies do you like?

Netflix A-Z Double Feature: The Pill & Quartet

I know double features are a rarity in Netflix A-Z with the exception of Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2 ( review HERE). However, the season has been rather busy and I’ve been more obsessed with watching Gilmore Girls than actually watching movies. In fact, this one has a little cheating to it because the Q selection in general on Netflix is so tiny and I only wanted to watch something fun during the holiday season that I just decided to bring back the Q Selection.

Let’s start this.

The Pill (2011)

The Pill

Director and writer: J.C. Khoury

Cast: Noah Bean, Rachel Boston, Anna Chlumsky, Jean Brassard, Al Thompson, Dreama Walker

Worried that he has gotten the free-spirited Mindy pregnant after an unprotected one-night stand, Fred feigns romantic interest and sticks by her side for twelve hours to make sure she takes both doses of the morning-after pill. – IMDB

Its hard to pinpoint how I feel about The Pill. Its something I’ve been saying recently. Its more of an indifferent feeling that I have after watching it. While The Pill has a few rather nice moments, there is also something that lacks believability in it. Let’s break it down a little. For starters, Rachel Boston is fantastic as always as the free-spirited Mindy. Mindy is an intriguing character mostly because there’s a lot of color to her life as we learn about her during the day that she has to take her morning after pills in the company of Fred, played by Noah Bean. On the other hand, the issue I had more was that I didn’t think that Fred was a likable character. In fact, I wanted Mindy to see through his lies especially as he manipulated his way into staying with her during the day while the audience could easily see his intentions was only for his own protection to not have to deal with consequences. However, the story is more about him and his growth and recognition of what to do and what he wanted more than it was about Mindy. Perhaps this is where I think that the way it ended wasn’t necessary because it made the story feel much more generic than it may have been without that ending.

The Pill

There isn’t really much to talk about for The Pill. Its a rather straight forward story and somewhat predictable where its a boy meets girl, one night stand, a day together to get to know each other (probably more than expected from family party, etc.) and then he falls for her, she realizes what he’s been doing and he leaves and realizes how much of it was a mistake. A story like this can only be powered by charming characters and in reality, other than Mindy and at the start, the character felt a little off, Fred and especially his actual girlfriend Nelly was a little unbearable to watch. It helped as the movie went along that we saw Fred and his personality but it was hard to be sympathetic for him or feel like cheering him on. For me, The Pill just didn’t connect the way that it was intended.

Quartet (2012)

Quartet

Director: Dustin Hoffman

Cast: Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, Pauline Collins

At a home for retired musicians, the annual concert to celebrate Verdi’s birthday is disrupted by the arrival of Jean, an eternal diva and the former wife of one of the residents. – IMDB

[Excerpts from review that I wrote in 2015. Full review HERE]

Quartet is a feel good movie under its little bits of drama, its mostly a comedy with some romantic nuances in it as well.  The older cast and location gives this a lovely little twist.  The setting itself is pretty nice.  This retirement home is located in a big elegant house and its interior design is really nice.  Its outside is surrounded by large green fields and forests. All this is paired with some dashing pieces of upbeat opera segments and orchestral music.  Its done with so much heart and charm that its hard to no like this even a little. Sure, its a little predictable.  I mean, it is a romantic comedy sort of thing but its a different feeling from what it usually is.

Quartet

The main cast here is with some rather colorful characters.  We have the two men: Reggie (played by Tom Courtenay) who has this silent gentlemanly charm to him while Billy Connolly’s character Wilf, is more open and straightforward with his words and actions.  At the same time, we have a lovable and forgetful Cissy, played by Pauline Collins, who can’t help but just make us laugh a little.  While Jean, is played by the remarkable Maggie Smith.  I loved her  in the Harry Potter movies and in Downton Abbey.  She always has to lovely little sarcasm and then a little elegance and in the most unexpected way a sweet and funny way at times.  She’s absolutely fantastic.  Here is no different.  In the retirement home, she breaks out of her little world that she’s used to and she sees these old folks, like Cissy learning these salsa dances which to her is completely crazy.  At the same time, this movie reminds us that love really has no age limit.  She acts exactly like a first date or feeling nervous about meeting an old love that we’ve never let go of.  But its about putting the past behind us and sometimes, stepping up and being more proud of who we are and embracing the person we’ve become. I think that is the main message here.