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.

THE CLAIROMETER:

Clairometer

Clairometer

conclusion

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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Monday, October 12, 2015

Out Now Review: Sicario

Sicario (2015)
Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin
Written by: Taylor Sheridan
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

My Rating: 8.0
Worth: paying to see it in the theater. It's probably a much better film in a theater setting.
Clairometer: The Bride, yep.

See this movie if you like suspense and can handle violent images. Sicario was completely different than I expected, and that's for sure a tick in the pro column. Just another Tomb Raider-y drug movie, was the phrase pulsing through my mind. That is, until the first 10 minutes were over. Then I was hooked. Basically, Emily Blunt's character Kate is an FBI agent who is "recruited" to work with the CIA across the border in the war on drugs. As the audience, we find out each detail of the case as Kate does. Which is to say, we are both left in the dark throughout most of the film. But you know what's interesting about the dark? .... It's bloody terrifying.

I read a few perspectives on the role of Kate. There seemed to be a general consensus that she was "annoying" and "bad for women in film." To this I yawn just as Tina Fey yawns when she gets asked questions in interviews about whether or not women are funny. In other words, are we still thinking this way? The argument for more women in lead roles isn't that the women need to be perfect. It's simply that there should be the roles available to begin with. Kate is left in the dark on purpose. That is the premise of the film. Just because she's a woman "in a man's world" doesn't mean that she can't be confused about something, or get beaten up a few times, or even appear emotional. Every movie can't have Furiosa as its lead. C'mon people. Let's celebrate a film like this with a woman as it's lead and not analyze it any differently than we would if a man were in that role.

Hold on while I ice my knees from standing up on a soapbox for so long.

The film is incredibly well done overall. The music is outstanding. The score seems as iconic as Jaws'. A few loud notes blown out by horns (can you sense my level of music knowledge?) and you have a villain. The desert shots rival the cinematography of Breaking Bad. In sum, see the movie, and never never ever visit Juarez - even if accompanied by Benicio Del Toro.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Watch This Not This

Watch This... 


Stuck In Love (2012)
Written and Directed by: Josh Boone
Starring: Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Lily Collins, Logan Lerman, Nat Wolff, Kristen Bell

My Rating: 8.1
Worth: Full attention and cost of a rental
Clairometer: Mathilda


I don't mind the term "chick flick." But I don't think every time love or romance is at the center of a storyline we should label it as such. A chick flick is 27 Dresses. Stuck in Love, is a dumb name for a fantastic movie that happens to discuss romance. Much of the romance involved is from the male perspective.  This film is about writing, divorce, and self confidence. It's about relationships between parents and their children. It's about falling in love at three different stages of life.

"Rusty, a writer is the sum of his experiences. Go get some."

I can't say enough good things about this movie. The three main characters are all writers. And yet the film is without a whisper of pretentiousness. The details are impeccable, down to the fact that Lily Collins and Nat Wolff actually do look like a combination of Jennifer Connelly and Greg Kinnear. I really appreciate things like that - casting directors thinking about good, quality actors, but also taking into account who is playing a family member. Like when Jamie Lynn played a young Britney at the beginning of Crossroads. That's cinematic gold. Did you know Shonda Rhimes wrote that?

In all sincerity, Stuck in Love is a great movie. It doesn't try too hard. It's not overly indie. There are no ukuleles played. A man (or anyone for that matter) dared to write men who show emotion on a regular basis - not just at the climax when he's trying to win the girl back. I (usually) applaud uniqueness, and this post is a standing O for Stuck in Love.



Not This... 

Barefoot (2014)
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Scott Speedman
Written by: Stephen Zotnowski
Directed by: Andrew Flemming 

My Rating: 4.5
Clairometer: Mrs. Doubtfire
Worth: A solid 5 minutes of pondering why Evan Rachel Wood and J.K. Simmons said yes. 
This reminded me of The Last Song.

My 6 readers are probably too high-brow to know what that is, but it's a Nicholas Sparks movie starring a (long-haired) Miley Cyrus. Except it differs in one crucial way. Barefoot didn't even utilize Evan Rachel Wood's lovely singing ability!?! With a plot line this thin, it could've easily been worked in. Here's how they're similar: the main characters are a girl who is by society's definition very flawed and a guy from a rich family who falls for this girl. The family must accept the girl despite her issues and the girl must learn to overcome her obstacles. Honestly though, The Last Song is a much better movie. That should really be all you need to know. 


Evan Rachel Wood plays Daisy, a girl who has schizophrenia and usually doesn't wear shoes. She was raised in isolation her whole life by her mother who also had schizophrenia. The film is lighthearted on the surface, but interlaced throughout various points are Daisy's debilitating panic attacks and severe mental instability. She needs to be counseled and eased back into the real world. Her naiveté, her lack of any personal possessions, and at times even her past seem to be a punchline. Which is possible.... thanks to Tina Fey. But Barefoot does not gracefully navigate this delicate area of comedy. One minute Daisy is burping when she drinks champagne for the first time. The next, she is on her hands and knees scrubbing the bathroom because that's how she was taught to show love. I constantly felt uncomfortable, and simultaneously bored. It didn't attempt to break the stigma of medication for mental illness (you do you J Law). It just made me feel sad and like I had wasted two hours. I'm here to save your time, and tell you to watch Stuck in Love instead.  



Thursday, September 10, 2015

Apartment-Ridden Love

So this has turned into a romantic comedy blog. Thank God Nancy Meyers is still working (#theintern). I have watched two rom coms worth mentioning (and loads not worth mentioning - Sex Ed, oh adult Haley Joel Osment, how I wish you were still Walter-esque), and my snarky thoughts on both are as follows:



1. Two Night Stand (2014)
**ignore the cheeseball trailer
Starring: Analeigh Tipton, Miles Teller, Jessica Szohr, Scott Mescudi
Written by: Mark Hammer
Directed by: Max Nichols

My Rating: 7.1
Clairometer: Erin Brockovich
Worth: a couple of hours of mostly paying attention. I don't think you'd be angry if you clicked buy for a $4.99 On Demand rental.... but no need to buy an HBO subscription.

As with the next movie I discuss, I like this movie for its original premise. A blizzard sticks these two in a room together for a weekend, after they had a one night stand. If this were a worse movie, that sentence would be sufficient information. But as the goddess known as Lake Bell once said, "You watch romantic comedies for the middle, not for the beginning and ending." This movie isn't dependent on the answer to will they, won't they. It's a movie devoted to the genuine thoughts of people who just graduated from college (the word millennials makes me want to barf). Do you hold out for the perfect job? What do you do with a BS (Bachelor of Science or Bull Shit - your choice) degree and no real plan? Why is it so hard to have a productive conversation with someone you are sleeping with about sex? The wall of snow forces these two characters to breakdown the answers to these questions.

For those of you who saw Fantastic Four and are morning the loss of the intelligible Miles Teller - watch Two Night Stand, then watch it again, then maybe Whiplash, but only if you have cool neighbors. When I watched this movie I told my boyfriend that Miles Teller reminded me of a young Tom Hanks. He responded that Miles Teller is the poor man's Shia Labeouf, because society can't handle his weirdness. I'm not entirely sure how that is relevant, I just thought it was funny.


2. Take Care (2014)
**watch it without knowing much about it.
Starring: Leslie Bibb, Thomas Sadoski
Written and Directed by: Liz Tuccillo

My Rating: 6.3
Clairometer: Mathilda
Worth: Absolutely no more than half of your attention. I may or may not have "studied" for the Bar with this on in the background. As far as paying for it goes - it's on Netflix, but hurry and watch it before Netflix loses all its contracts with decent distribution companies!

This premise is similar to Two Night Stand but slightly more intricate. The main character, Frannie, gets into a car accident and needs someone to take care of her while her bones heal. She winds up soliciting her ex-boyfriend. That alone doesn't sound that great I know, but the reason he agrees is pretty good. And no I won't ruin it.

There's nothing particularly fabulous about the dialogue or the set or [insert film school term here]. Truly, I watched the whole movie because of the creative set up. The beginning is as slow as Frannie moves. The ending is predictable (recall Lake Bell's quote). But something about how these two ended up spending so much time together in an apartment, as well as their painful backstory completely intrigued me. I think Take Care will intrigue you enough to watch it too. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

2 Movies I Couldn't Finish

1. Bachelorette (2012)
I hated this so much I can't even be bothered to tell you who made it. But I will tell you who is in it - Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Horatio Sanz. I can honestly point to work that each of these actors has done with wholehearted adoration. How is this so bad? It's mind-boggling. Cocaine use is supposed to be funny. And as Andy Samberg proved, it can be. But it is absolutely not in Bachelorette.


This movie is a clear attempt to capitalize on the success of Describing that attempt as merely unsuccessful would be insulting to Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo. I hate to be such a snob. But I'd rather be a snob than be someone with bad taste, or someone who thinks snorting cocaine through a baby powder bottle in and of itself is a punchline.
Bridesmaids.

2. Man of Steel (2013)
Ok so I'm going against my title a bit. I saw it in the theater and my ride wanted to stay. But mentally, I did not finish this movie. This is honestly one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Ever. And for your point of reference, as superhero movies go, I enjoyed Iron Man 3. Why Amy Adams? Why? - I know the answer to this. She says all the time that she takes almost any part she can get because she loves acting so much and didn't get a real role until she was 30. Still...

I think Zack Snyder is secretly the little boy narrating Starlight Express. He's just a little boy playing with his toys that happens to have millions of dollars in a budget and access to famous people who do what he says. "Flying into each other" not only constituted the bulk of the action sequences in Man of Steel, it was also the climax - which lasted approximately 45 minutes. I normally think Cinema Sins is [a YouTube channel devoted to] poking unneeded holes in decent films [just to get views]; however it is SPOT ON for Man of Steel. Perhaps because the video is finally pointing out flaws that I actually agree are flaws. Check out the video here. It says everything I want to say, describes everything I was thinking while watching this movie, and provides every reason why you shouldn't watch Man of Steel, or even agree to put it on in the background.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Save This in Your Netflix Queue

Save the Date (2012)
Written by: Jeffery Brown, Michael Mohan, Egan Reich (screenplay)
Directed by: Michael Mohan
Starring: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Mark Webber, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend

My Rating: 7.1
Worth: 3/4 paying attention, cost of a rental (maybe I should delete this category? It's becoming redundant)
Clairometer: Jenny Curran

I'm getting older. With age comes the tendency to gravitate towards movies like this. No not with a "marriage" theme and/or title. Just a movie about relationships and life in general. When I was younger, I gravitated towards movies like Men in Black and Austin Powers. Now, I find myself thinking "oh great another movie about aliens," or "penis and fart jokes, how inspired.")
My mom used to pass on seeing movies like that with me and my father. At the time, I couldn't understand why; but with age, her reasoning isn't just becoming clear, it's becoming my reasoning. This anecdote is in response to the fact that most of the films I have reviewed on this blog seem to be romantic. That was by no means my intention in its creation. I think, in addition to my aging, this is due to my actual intention in this blog's creation. The fact that I want to recommend movies that you might not usually see or even hear about. Independent movies usually have a low budget (insert laugh by any independent producer for the biggest understatement since that time Lorne Michaels told Amy Poehler "everything will change for you now that you're on Update.") So independent movies must rely on good dialogue and everyday themes. They don't make too many low budget action movies. So you've heard of most good action/alien/crime/dystopian/post-apocalyptic movies out there, thus making my blog posts unnecessary. Still want a recommendation? The Cornetto Trilogy never gets old.

Save the Date is a great movie about romance. I think it was marketed at a romantic comedy but it is definitely not one. There might be one funny line, but even Million Dollar Baby has more comedic bits than that. I think people just label things romantic comedies because that's a commonly used phrase. All that to say, don't expect to laugh. But that doesn't mean it's not good - just miscategorized! I think it was categorized as a comedy because people confuse charm with humor. That being said, Lizzy Caplan and Mark Webber's characters are positively charming. You can't help but love them both. The acting is great all around, not surprisingly. The music isn't too Juno-esque. It's a Jenny Curran rating because there are some intense, but beautifully romantic sex scenes, plus a quantity of f-bombs that have become casually used and commonplace in modern society. Perhaps I should adjust my Clairometer scale?

I think I need to use that spinning top Inception gif in every movie review these days. To decode that for you, the ending is incomplete. One of the reasons why I loved What If so much, was because it carried the plot to the very end - how refreshing! But overall, Save the Date is a great movie exhibiting the depth of love between friends, lovers, and sisters. Watch this with an open mind and a guarded heart, because most scenes in this will break it. But that can sometimes be a good thing - and this is one of those times.


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dear All People, Watch This

Dear White People (2014)
Written by: Justin Simien
Directed by: Justin Simien, Adriana Serrano
Starring: Tessa Thompson, Tyler James Williams, Kyle Garner, Teyonah Parris, Brandon P. Bell

My Rating: 6.8
Worth: 3/4 paying attention, cost of a rental
Clairometer: Erin Brockovich


I am white. That affects the lens by which I viewed this movie, and I suppose everything. This is an incredibly smart and relevant movie. It presented many views on what it means to be black in America. I enjoyed hearing each side. I found myself thinking, "wow, I've never thought of it that way." Justin Simien would likely click his heels with joy, as that is the basis for which most films like this are created - to challenge the normative thought process. Dear White People succeeded in that goal and even surpassed it. The film is absolutely worth watching, simply to hear so many well crafted arguments about topical issues.

The ending did leave me with a few questions. As a white person, what is the correct way to behave (other than not throwing an incredibly racist themed fraternity party - this is a plot point)? I heard a lot of "don't do this" and "don't do that" but most of those things seemed obvious. And the ones that didn't seem obvious made me feel as though my feet were permanently atop egg shells. I still feel just as uncomfortable talking about race as I did before I watched Dear White People. I'm sure it wasn't the film's intention to alleviate my naiveté and insecurities. I just like to let you know how I feel after a movie and my emotional status throughout. It also seemed in the end, with the exception of a mixed-race couple, that separation is the best option. I understand that homogeny is important for development and social security, but isn't diversity the goal? The "happy" ending was only possible when the races were separate. This gave me the gnawing feeling you get when you read Plessy v. Ferguson. But then again, the movie is referred to as a satire, so who knows what the real point is.  

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Actor Spotlight: Daniel Radcliffe

It's "new segment that I won't keep up with" time! Remember when I thought I could start a new TV show every month? In the words of the How I Met Your Mother cast, "Oh Honey." I have no preconceived notions of time for this segment. I'm just going to post about an actor (yes I'm one of those snobby people who refer to women as actors) that I think is unappreciated (not in dollar bills -pound notes? - 'cause Dan be rollin' innit*) and underrated. I will also attempt to exhibit them in a comedy, drama and television show. Obviously, I will be recommending the comedy, drama and television show. Leggo*



I like Daniel Radcliffe. I think he's serious about acting. I think he doesn't try to run from being known as Harry Potter. I think he embraces it, is incredibly grateful for the opportunity, and moves on. The following 3 items are my favorite Dan Radcliffe works since Deathly Hallows.





Comedy: What If (2013)
Written by: Elan Mastai, T.J. Dawe (Play, "Toothpaste & Cigars"), Michael Rinaldi (Play, "Toothpaste & Cigars")
Directed by: Michael Dowse
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Rafe Spall

My Rating: 8.4
Clairometer: Mathilda


I cannot recall the title, blog or author of the review that led me to watch this film. Being in law school, it frightens me and also exhilarates me to say something without providing the reader with a source. But the essence of the article was this: "this makes 500 Days of Summer look like garbage." Excessive much? Pandering for readers much? But I was intrigued, clearly. I love What If for 6 reasons. You have to write articles in reasons now. Thanks Buzzfeed. Hashtag 21 reasons why Buzzfeed is ruining modern society every writer will understand.

1. It was filmed in Toronto. I have no affiliation with Toronto, or even Canada. I can just appreciate films displaying cities other than New York. If I hear another critic say "New York City is a character in the story," I truly may vomit. We get it Taylor Swift, NYC is great. It's a concrete jungle filled with bagels and we are "welcomed" to it. But it was so lovely to get to know another city for a change.

2. It shows what relationships are actually like. It's difficult for me to describe this point without giving anything away. Let me give you a hypothetical to explain my point. In most romantic comedies, there is a boy and a girl. In my example, Boy is dating Girl 1. He sees Girl 2 across the room. She is reading a book he likes and is more his type physically. Boy leaves Girl 1 and pursues Girl 2. Girl 2 finds this so romantic. She's his ONE. They're in love. How magical. Talk about garbage! Or vomit! This isn't romantic. I'd be mad if I were Girl 2. How do I know Boy won't find a Girl 3? This is the type of cliched malarkey, peddled to us as romance that What If avoids.

3. Daniel Radcliffe is adorable. No, I don't mean in that "we all kinda wish we were Ginny at times" way. I mean he is cleaver, witty and winningly self deprecating. He is a joy to watch act in this (and frankly all three things I'm mentioning).

4. It gracefully navigates heterosexual, opposite sex friendships. 

5. It is genuinely funny and romantic. I laughed at the banter and held my breath during the vulnerability.

6. It is indie but not INDIE. What If is actually unique. It doesn't try to cover up bad improvisation by being black and white. The director doesn't try to pull any odd camera angles. There isn't any whining folk music. The actors don't say lines that lack purpose.


Drama: Horns (2013)
Written by: Keith Bunin (Screenplay), Joe Hill (Novel)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella, Joe Anderson
Directed by: Alexandre Aje

My Rating: 7.5
Clairometer: Jenny Curran

Everything is based on a book these days. So I'll stop mentioning that I have or haven't read the preceding books to films. One sentence review: If Nicholas Sparks and Stephen King collaborated and you surprisingly didn't hate it. At its core, Horns is an epic love story, spanning the boundaries of actually being alive. But everywhere apart from its core, it is a sickening look at humanity's intentions mixed with gory displays of awkward deaths. I think this is an interesting film. Daniel carries the film and flashes of Juno Temple prove that she is a red-headed goddess. Dan's acting style here is wide-open. Every place in What If where he was reserved, in Horns he is pugnacious. Seeing him display love so vigorously is something to behold. But in his love he becomes wicked. And that wickedness is equally bewitching. Only negative comments: Some of the gore was just odd, bordering and then crossing the line into unnecessary. And secondly, Daniel should probably split fees with Emma Watson for American accent lessons.




Television Show: A Young Doctor's Notebook (2012 -)
I hate myself for the following laziness, but there is a slew of writers and directors accompanying this series. It is unclear who the creator, head writer, EP with the final say or any of those coveted slots belong to. So I will simply say it is a BBC show starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm.

My Rating: 7.9
Clairometer: Jenny Curran

Again with the gore. I don't even particularly feel drawn to horror, blood, or guts. I still can't watch the model village steeple fly into Mr. Skinner's lower jaw. But for some reason, Daniel Radcliffe's humorous demeanor eliminates the need to keep a blindfold or a puke bucket handy when watching this show. (I don't know why I've mentioned vomit 3 times in this post).

His comedic timing is great and he feeds off the stoicism that Jon Hamm cannot help but project. I like to know from a person who really likes the show how far I should watch and if I don't like it by that point then I just won't like it. That sentence was confusing but clear when read twice. For A Young Doctor's Notebook, it's Episode 2 Season 1. If by the end you're thinking, that mootmovies chick is out of her movie-obsessed mind, then by all means stop watching. For example, for Breaking Bad, I would say if you don't like it by Episode 5 Season 5, then you should stop watching. Meanwhile, for The Inbetweeners I'd say Minute 13, Episode 1, Series 1.

*I've been binging on Parks and Recreation lately. Tom's vernacular is more contagious than that flu Leslie got.