How It Works

I love movies, but I hate most movie reviews. I hate them for two reasons: First, they always begin with a 3-5 paragraph in-depth description of the film. I don't want to know the entire plot, I want to know if it's good! I may say generally what the movie involves but that's it. Second, most movie reviews are unclear. I've read countless reviews that left me with absolutely no indication as to whether or not I should even see the film. Not here. I developed three methods to rate television and movies:

1. Just your average 10 point scale.
10 is obviously the best and 1 is the worst. Although, Something Borrowed might make below a 1 if I ever get around to reviewing it. I consider myself quite harsh, so if you see anything above a 9, it's probably in my top ten of all time.

2. What's it Worth?
I will tell you if I think it's worth paying for and worth the 2 (and ever more increasingly 3) hours of your time. I also make an educated guess as to whether or not you can multitask during the film.

3. The (not-yet) Patented Clairometer
In honor of my college friend Claire, I developed this rating system in order to display how "appropriate" the film is. It is designed to tell you a more detailed rating system. I find this helpful. Sometimes you want to know ahead of time so you're not stuck watching Black Swan in an empty theater with your mom. The range between PG-13 and R is more vast than the plot holes in a Michael Bay movie. I hope to combat this. The scale shows photos and descriptions of a few well-known women in film and television. The rating is the farthest woman to the left of the scale who would approve of the film. For example, June Cleaver would not approve of
Tequila Sunrise. The woman who would is probably Mathilda.





With this blog, I write as though someone will read it and enjoy what I have to say. I am under no false pretense that I have a wide readership. It is mostly for me and for the one other person who accidentally stumbled across this blog. If that is you, I'm glad you are here. With this blog, I send my thoughts about what I watch on a black box into the abyss of the world wide web. I hope you enjoy reading these thoughts as much as I enjoy writing them.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Watch This Not This: Netflix Comedy Edition

Watch This...

Morgan Murphy: Irish Goodbye

My Rating: 7.3
Worth: Listening to while you wrap presents (if you're tired of holiday movies already. Thanks Lifetime). She's not a very "hands on" or "expressive" comedian. I'm sure there's a word for that. I'll ask Amy Schumer next time we get coffee together. Unlike one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, Morgan is very attractive, and 50% of her jokes don't have to do with her appearance (love ya Jim). So basically, she's just as funny if you only listen to her jokes.

Clairometer: It's standup, so obviously Erin Brockovich. I think other than that christian comedian who went on Leno ages ago, Ellen DeGeneres is the only "clean" standup comedian. God bless her.

Every comedy special always has the same overused phrases to describe it: "Nothing's off limits!" "She's the butt of her own jokes!" "No one is safe!" Jeez. Morgan is very funny. There, that's more original. She's as dark as she is pale. I don't see most of her jokes coming, which is always refreshing. It's dirty, but real. Not lies about explicit sexual exploits. I appreciate comedians who can make me laugh at everyday experiences and who don't rely on degrading everyone and everything to be funny. I could relate to her apathy towards live music and fear of androgyny. There's not much more to say about comedy. Just listen and laugh. I apologize, that reminds me of that year in 2005 when everything you tried to buy said Live Laugh Love on it. Gag.

Not This...

Chelsea Handler: Uganda Be Kidding Me

My Rating: 3 Something, I don't know. Who cares?
Worth: Nothing. But get a Netflix subscription anyways weirdo. Why don't you have one yet? How do you even watch movies and TV?
Clairometer: Erin Brockovich, because, as I explained earlier, it's standup.

Let me start with a disclaimer, I have never read any of Chelsea Handler's books. This is a book, and if you read this book in particular, you may enjoy the supplemental comedy special.

I like Chelsea Handler like I like Betsy Johnson or Taylor Swift. I don't enjoy anything they create, but I'm really glad they exist. I'm a feminist and would never diminish a woman who works her tokus off and breaks records in her field. So as I continue with this blog post, and say how much I hated this comedy special, it should be clear that I am not directing these comments at Chelsea Handler, merely this particular standup segment.

That being said, I did not enjoy this even slightly. It reminded me of my drunk aunt trying to describe a boring trip somewhere whilst simultaneously attempting to work an ancient slide projector. It seemed like every story was an inside joke between Chelsea and whomever she happened to be making fun of at that particular moment. It should've been called Uganda Be There to Get These Jokes. She mostly just threw her good friends under the bus for an hour. I know that's kinda "her move," but I don't find it funny and this seemed worse than her usual emasculating of all her male staff on Chelsea Lately. This was just boring. Another disclaimer, I didn't finish this. So there could be a really amazing closing bit that I missed.

I'm a The Office freak, so I just cannot leave this unsaid. I know that this meme doesn't depict the actual scene where Michael says this. It's in the hotel room with Dwight, Jim and Josh. But this is all I could find. And what am I going to do, make a gif myself? Uganda Be Kidding Me!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Out Now Review: The Theory of Everything

The Theory of Everything (2014)
Written by: Anthony McCarten (screenplay), Jane Hawking (book)
Directed by: James Marsh
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones

My Rating: 7.1
Worth: Rent this (by whatever means you use). This isn't an Avatar scenario where 79.5% of the movie's value was in seeing it in the theater. But it's worth your time and the cost of the rental.
Clairometer: Mrs. Doubtfire

I am of the Disney "greatest generation," beginning exactly the year I was born with Ariel's quest for Prince Eric. My brainwashed view of romance ends with the wedding. So any story that begins (for the most part) with a wedding is intriguing and an invigorating view of love. My first complaint is in conjunction with an exculpation. The film does not devote enough time to the construction of Jane and Stephen's relationship. This is a necessary element to explain why Jane chooses to marry Steven, and why she chooses to devote herself to him. (Side note, it is difficult to give a review without the appearance of spoilers. But I assure you, these plot points are obvious from the trailer and incidental to the thesis of the film.) In fact, Stephen doesn't say much at all prior to the actual wedding. He does little to woo her. I expect we're supposed to assume Jane has a virtuoso ability to read people. However, this could be my brainwashing at work. Perhaps we are supposed to simply say "yeah yeah yeah they meet and get married, lets get to the real story." Which leads me to my exculpation: brava to filmmakers who take this risk - that people are brainwashed like me, and are thus dissatisfied with the seemingly incongruous love story.

My next complaint is just flat out weird, and will likely alienate my 2 readers. I wish it had more math. When Stephen's beautiful mind (not to be confused with John Nash) formulated his major theories, it never really explained them or how he did so. Was I expecting a two hour physics lesson? No. Would I have enjoyed that? Maybe. [*Click*] That's the sound of both of my readers exiting the page. But in all seriousness, Stephen's eyes would glaze over, he'd stare at an every-day object and suddenly black holes exist. Maybe that's how it works for geniuses. If you are one, let me know in the comments. But overall, I wish they would've gone into more detail with his life's work.

Lastly, I don't like films that leave me questioning the plot at the end. Leaving plotholes has become artistic. Who decided this? Christopher Nolan probably. The Theory of Everything does not reach the heights of many modern films in the tally of unanswered questions, but it does leave a few.

Overall, The Theory of Everything is a deep and lovely look into life and love. The film shows the waxing and waning of marital love and devotion, the slippery slope of jealousy, and the joy of linking one's life to another. I left the theater inspired to become more intelligent, like Stephen, and stronger as a woman, like Jane. I hope you see it. It certainly provides a more detailed explanation of a dreadful disease than watching your friends dump water over their heads. ALS is a truly horrifying condition. I witnessed its effects in a family friend and words cannot describe the heartache that ensues. If you feel so inclined, here is more information about the disease and a place for you to donate to finding a cure. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Happy (almost) Halloween

The blog Best of Netflix has done us a solid and dethroned ABC Family's 13 Nights of Halloween as the go-to for cheesy Halloween movies and television.

This list is everything spooky, gory, and frightful Netflix has to offer. This year I'm going as slutty "girl who studies while watching Netflix" (photo not to come). What would that constitute? Sweatpants that are comically short and a cardboard cutout of a crudely drawn Netflix logo, most likely.

In case you were wondering, yes the title of this costume at the Halloween store is "Locked-Up Dream Girl Orange is the New Black." Hooray for adults with no children who celebrate Halloween.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The Opposite of a Disaster

It's A Disaster (2012)
Written and Directed by: Todd Berger
Starring: Julia Stiles, David Cross, Rachel Boston, America Ferrera, Blaise Miller, Erin Hayes, Kevin M. Brennan, Jeff Grace

My Rating: 7.9
Worth: Renting, 2 hours, full attention
Clairometer: Mathilda


My method for selecting movies to watch is trailer-viewing on The Internet Movie Database, putting what looks good into my "watchlist" and, of course, watching it later. It's A Disaster recently came on Netflix, and when Netflix and my watchlist collide... I watch! That obvious process being said, I had entirely forgotten what the film entailed; and not knowing made it that much better.

I think I may be biased as to how fabulous this movie is. It is exactly my type of humor: unexpected, dry, smart, and at times, barely there. There is excellent character development, a well-established tone, and an acting gold mine. But then again it could just be my love of David Cross (cough* biased *cough cough).

This film is like M. Night Shyamalan and Emma Thompson at the 2014 Golden Globes collaborated. It's full of plot twists and confusing but hilarious drunken stunts. For the most part, I didn't see jokes coming but when I did, they delivered. You may not laugh out loud. You may be slightly disappointed when it ends (or how it ends). But in the words of Oscar Wilde (probably) it's about the journey, not the destination. Actually it's most likely a Nigerian Proverb. Everything wise is a Nigerian Proverb. 

Fall TV Premiere Schedule

In case you're wondering when your favorite show is coming back (or if it made the cut, and if it was on FOX it probably didn't), buzzfeed actually posted a helpful list:

2014 Fall TV Premiere Schedule

Friday, September 5, 2014

Out Now Review: Boyhood

Boyhood (2014)
Written & Directed by: Richard Linklater
Starring: Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke

My Rating: 6.0
Worth: wait to rent it, you can multitask just pay attention to the changes in time, definitely multitask because it's 3 hours
Clairometer: Mathilda

The description of this movie on IMDb is as follows: The life of a young man, Mason, from age 5 to 18. That is the most accurate description the database has ever drafted. The film is like watching a home movie of a family of which you would not want to be a member. It is interesting to see actors age naturally and not with makeup, but not interesting enough to sustain my undivided excitement for 3 hours the way an excellent movie can. I've discussed my aversion to films that appear too "real" see Too Real for Comfort. It's a trend in filmmaking that is apparently here to stay. So clearly some people do enjoy it, and if that's you, then you'll love this. However, with the exception of Mason and his father, I found the acting awkward and uncomfortable. There was really no plot; Mason simply ages.

I did however, enjoy the concept. Linklater did an excellent job of incorporating topical technology, music, and pop culture. The film shed light on what (I presume) it is like to be an American teenager with divorced parents. Don't expect an ending, or for any person to be in a better place than where the film started. Simply watch the actors age and travel through time with a few decent lines of dialogue. It is an impressive accomplishment. They filmed every summer for 12 years, and that's impressive despite my criticisms.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Out Now Review: Wish I Was Here

Wish I Was Here (2014)
Written by: Zach Braff & Adam Braff
Directed by: Zach Braff
Starring: Zach Braff, Mandy Patinkin, Kate Hudson, Josh Gad, Joey King

My Rating: 6.0
Worth: 2 hours (I'd wait until Redbox/Netflix)
Clairometer: Erin Brockovich

Let me begin by stating that I loved Garden State. In my top 20 for sure. However, Wish I Was Here left much to be desired. It starts with the nondescript title. Wish who was where? That question was left unanswered. Next, the "spaceman" pretend game that Braff's main character references and visualizes constantly is just as confusing. Why does he keep talking about it to strangers? I pretended to be a mermaid while swimming in my neighbor's pool. I don't think this has a deeper meaning that I espouse as my religion as an adult.

Thirdly, the chemistry between Kate Hudson and Zach Braff falls somewhere between nonexistent and humorous. Jim Halpert had more of a connection with a blowup doll (I certainly, in all seriousness, do not mean to compare Kate Hudson to an inanimate object). They both had great performances, they just weren't believable as a married couple.

I'd like to provide you with a synopsis of what the movie is about, but I cannot. It is a disjointed combination of inspirational moments and F bombs. Where Garden State is a colorful, beautifully sewn quilt, Wish I Was Here is a free fleece blanket you got in college with holes in it. So the proverbial question arises once again: why a 6.0 if it was so bad? It wasn't so bad. The children are entertaining and poke fun at their Jewish heritage. Some of the aforementioned inspirational moments are just that: quite inspirational. It also provides an interesting commentary on modern relationships and what it means to "provide for one's family." That being said, the color of the daughter's hair tends to be the most memorable thing three weeks later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Oh Captain, My Captain.

About a year ago I did a post about The Crazy Ones. I said it possessed promise as a new show. I'm glad season one exists, though it was short lived. It allowed Robin Williams to figuratively come into my apartment once a week. It provided me an opportunity to simultaneously giggle and marvel at the immense talent, fast-talking wit, and overall warmth that I grew up watching. 

"I don't have very much time these days so I'll make it quick. Like my life. You know, as we come to the end of this phase of our life, we find ourselves trying to remember the good times and trying to forget the bad times, and we find ourselves thinking about the future. We start to worry, thinking, 'What am I gonna do? Where am I gonna be in ten years?' But I say to you, 'Hey, look at me!' Please, don't worry so much. Because in the end, none of us have very long on this Earth. Life is fleeting. And if you're ever distressed, cast your eyes to the summer sky when the stars are strung across the velvety night. And when a shooting star streaks through the blackness, turning night into day... make a wish and think of me. Make your life spectacular. I know I did."
- Jack

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Frances Ha is very aware of itself

Frances Ha (2012)
Written by: Noah Baumach & Greta Gerwig
Directed by: Noah Baumach
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Mickey Sumner

My Rating: 7.8
Worth: 2 hours multitasking, cost of rental
Clairometer: Erin Brockovich

Andy: What do you do?
Frances: It's Complicated. 
Andy: Is it because what you do is complicated?
Frances: No. It's because I don't do it. 

If you've ever said, "well that was a little too 'indie'" after watching a movie, avoid Frances Ha. For example, it is in black and white, for no explained reason, cigarettes are practically a main character in the first half of the film, and it's filled with lines like "I internet-acquired three pair of very rare  Ray Bans; I'm doing awesome." However, if you can weed through the urban-outfitters wardrobe and Girls'-minus-the-nudity vibe, Frances Ha is a very good film.

"Sophie, I f*&cking held your head when you cried, I bought special milk for you, I know where you hide your pills, don't treat me like a three hour brunch friend!" - Frances

This is a love story of two best friends, Sophie and Frances. They lived together in college, then got a small apartment in New York together after graduation. But as life often does, it separated them. Frances must learn to grow up and live without Sophie by her side. Frances' dependence on Sophie is not a matter of finances or because Frances has trouble being alone. Sophie gives her a confidence to be herself that no one else can. Frances Ha is a grown up  Frozen, with less singing and more dancing. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's About Time for a Good Rom Com

About Time (2013)
Written and Directed by: Richard Curtis
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams, Billy Nighy, Lydia Wilson

My Rating: 8.0
Worth: cost of rental, undivided attention
Clairometer: Mathilda

"Oh goody, Rachel McAdams with another time traveling lover.""Man that trailer looks cheesy." "Yet another movie relying solely on Rachel McAdams' perfect face and adorable personality." These were my thoughts when I saw advertisements for About Time. But I was happily disproved when I went against my better judgement and watched it. I should've known with Richard Curtis behind the scenes. Forgive me Working Title. I'll never doubt you again.

"It's very bad for a girl to be too pretty. It stops her from developing a sense of humor. Or a personality." - Tim's mum 

About Time is filled with vibrant characters and the most beautiful settings outside of a constructed Nancy Meyers set. You wish you had Tim's sister, uncle, mum and dad. You wish you grew up in Tim's house. The character development is perfect, not lacking, but not excessive. The lines are unpredictable but fit the overall theme. Domhnall Gleeson is delightful in an untraditional but not unreasonably quirky way.

"And so he told me his secret formula for happiness... part one of the two part plan was that I should just get on with ordinary life - living it day by day - like anyone else." 

About Time is about a time-traveling father and son who use this power to harness the true meaning of life.

"But then came part two of dad's plan. He told me to live every day again almost exactly the same. the first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be but the second time noticing."

Keep in mind, this is a romantic comedy. There are obviously time travel plot holes. Even JJ Abrams can't fix his, so why would Richard Curtis be able to? Just ignore them and admire Rachel McAdams easy going demeanor, laugh at Billy Nighy's artfully humorous comments and learn to love each moment the way Tim does. The film leaves you with a new appreciation for ordinary. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What I'm Watching This Month

Derek (2012 - present)
Created and Written by: Ricky Gervais
Starring: Ricky Gervais, Kerry Godliman, David Earl
Where to watch: Netflix

My Rating: 9.1
Worth: a Netflix subscription, and 30 minutes of undivided attention
Clairometer: Mrs. Doubtfire

The cliche "It made me laugh it made me cry" is necessary to describe Derek. Every episode literally makes me laugh and makes me cry. Apparently the now cliched use of literally is necessary as well. Derek is heartfelt, funny and like nothing I've ever seen. We all knew Ricky Gervais was a mean comic genius, but who knew he could be a kind comic genius. Derek shows his acting chops and his ability to put his plethora of random animal facts to good use (insert any Daily Show interview clip here).

The show is about a man who lives in a nursing home. Derek is mentally retarded and loves everyone. Anyone who has ever watch Gervais host the Golden Globes would rightfully be weary of him portraying a mentally retarded man surrounded by the elderly. But rest assured neither of these facts are ever the punchline. The delicate situation is ripe for political incorrectness but is not. It's lovely. Watch it. Laugh. Cry. Then call your grandma and tell her you love her.

P.S. Season (series) 2 has just been added!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Leon the Bouquet Full of Tarantinos

Violet & Daisy (2011)
Starring: James Gandolfini, Alexis Bledel, Saoirse Ronan
Written and Directed by: Geoffrey Fletcher

My Rating: 6.1
Worth: No money, multitasking
Clairometer: Jenny Curran

The title of this post makes no sense and neither does this movie. However, from the limited interviews I watched with Geoffrey Fletcher (yes that is what I do for fun and in preparation for this blog that no one reads), that was his intention. He answers no questions about the plot or the strange, seemingly irrelevant scene during the credits. He merely hopes you will create your own interpretation for everything. Creatively generous, no? In an attempt to explain my title: the film is a combination of Leon the Professional, Pulp Fiction, and taking a stroll through anthropologie. I say Pulp Fiction with a caveat though, as there is only one plot line. And bouquet, because the girls are "delicate" flowers. It is slow, gory, and colorful. It would be painful to watch without Ronan and Bledel's beautiful blue eyes. The four of them are practically characters in the same way Zooey Deschanel's eyes are in any role she plays. The film is also on the semi-recent bandwagon of not establishing a decade. Until Violet uses a cell phone, I thought this was a period piece from the 70s. Perhaps it's the lighting. Or perhaps it's an attempt to create a timeless work.

The girls are technically adults and yet they play pattycake and thumb war. Oh and they also kill people. It's quite an obvious juxtaposition. The girls' boss* assigns them a new kill and this particular assassination is a bit difficult. It's a lovable, fatherly James Gandolfini. That, added to the girls being so pretty and seemingly innocent equals only one ending right? Daddy issues coming out in an R-rated sexual display. In the words of Borat, NAAAT. Gandolfini takes me back to The Mexican and reminds me how he can add heart and chivalry to an action film [you are missed papa bear]. That surprising turn of events, and the beautiful cinematography made this an interesting and, at times, heartfelt movie. It's slow and strange, but you fall in like with the brutal killers.

*played by Danny Trejo. But Trejoites be warned, he's on screen less than Drew Barrymore in Scream. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

More Than Alright Alright Alright

Mud (2012)
Starring: Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Matthew McConaughey*, Reese Witherspoon
Written and Directed by: Jeff Nichols

My Rating: 8.3
Worth: 2 hours fully paying attention, cost of purchase
Clairometer: Holly Golightly

Two young boys give the most outstanding performances by "children" since Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider. They are witty, believably from the small river town in Arkansas, and they frankly steal the show from the main-credited and Golden Globe-winning dramatic actor under whose name the film was advertised. The main character Ellis, shows a side to young boys rarely seen in film. When young people play major roles in a film, nothing is more obvious than when adults write their perception of teenagers. Snotty, shallow, and bored are the three adjectives that come to mind. But thankfully, Jeff Nichols is different, and Ellis is special. Ellis is respectful, insightful, and active. The depth to his character is deeper than the river in which he resides. He is affected by old-fashioned stories of adventure, as are most teenagers. However, he sees as part of that adventure protecting a woman he loves. And what decent woman wouldn't love him back? He witnesses no one in his town embodying this archaic idea of romance and it rattles his sensibilities. Ellis then meets Mud, and finally sees a man in whom he can confide about his ideals.

Mud is an adventure story. It is a love story. And both sides to this story turn out to be far more complicated than a teenage boy is able to fully comprehend. How do we cope when someone on whom our foundations of life are built turns out to be fraudulent? What do we do when the entire world around us provides absolutely no indication that true love is forever, or even possible? Where do we turn when everyone around us fails to live up to our self-imposed standards for them? Mud teaches them that life is full of mistakes and momentary bliss, but as men they must fight for what they want. Ellis shows us a level of integrity only found in the rarest of heroes. Watch Mud and your perception of love and friendship will be slightly altered for ever after.

*In case you're thinking this is the first movie ever where he keeps his (lucky) shirt on, you're wrong. C'mon, It's still the same Matt. I'm pretty sure it's in his rider.  

I'm back...

As obvious in my intro, I am in law school. This requires time and effort all year, but especially November and December, and April and May. January however, has been spent binge watching television of course and traveling - my two favorite activities. I apologize to my three readers for my absence. I missed sharing my insights, complaints and blatherings with you desperately. So, until April....