’20th Century Women’ Review

“Told through a history of Polaroid photos and punk rock, “20th Century Women” follows the story of single mother Dorothea and her quest to help her teenage son Jamie grow into a man by surrounding him with women.

The movie is filled with characters so specifically weird that, on one hand, you can hardly believe their quirks and, on the other, you’d swear they were people you knew. The characters pile up as Dorothea continues to invite strangers to her weekly Sunday night dinners, a microcosm of the lively and moving dialogue that fills the entire film…”

’20th Century Women’ was one of my favorite movies of 2016. It’s clever, wry, and heartbreaking in so many ways and I highly recommend it.

Check out my full review for more gushing.

XX. Shelby Jo

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‘American Pastoral’ Review

I got the opportunity to see a screening of Ewan McGregor’s new film – and directorial debut – “American Pastoral” during the Savannah Film Festival last month. I had mixed feelings, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to review a Ewan McGregor movie, especially not one based on such a famous novel.

Click below to read my review on SCAD District!

‘American Pastoral’ lacks purpose

 

Review: Batman vs. Superman

posterYES THIS MOVIE IS FINALLY REAL. Prepare for fangirling, as I am attempting to do more of a full review for once, because my opinions don’t separate into categories as neatly as they sometimes do.

This is mildly spoiler free. I won’t reveal any major plot points, but I am going to talk about particular events and characters, as well as the look and feel of the film. So if you want to go into the movie blind…why did you open a review?frank miller

From the announcement of the movie, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice promised to be heavily influenced by comics, and when the first teaser was released, fans everywhere raved about how much the batsuit looked like the batsuit from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns three part comic series. That proved to be true, as the Miller’s series clearly played a weighty role in costuming, cinematography, and dialogue.

This is a comic-lover’s review. I’m no connoisseur of either film or comics, but I have to admit that it wasn’t a great movie. As a film it fell short in dialogue and character development and, really, plot. I can see how the movie would be pretty boring if you weren’t a geeking comic book fan; the dialogue did very little besides move the plot forward, and that plot was incredibly straightforward. The little bit of intrigue provided was shelved for later developments in the franchise.

But it was a comic fan’s dream. (Now is probably the best time to admit I know next to nothing about Superman – I haven’t even seen Man of Steel. But, as regular readers know, I can talk about Batman all day long.) The cinematography beautifully mirrored epic comic book angles. There was a 360 shot of Batman on the side of a building with his cape snapping out that made me squeal. The same goes for Bruce busting through a window with his cape spread out like the bat-symbol, in a shot that reminded me very much of Batman: The Animated Series.

A major concern of mine going into the movie was Lex Luthor. When Jesse Eisenberg was cast in the role, I was confused but hopeful: Eisenberg is talented and multi-faceted, but isn’t he young to be playing Luthor? And then the trailer came out and all of that hope fizzled out. Who was this dorky, psycho kid? Sure, the lines all sounded like they came straight from the bald, suit-wearing Luthor we all know so well, but the delivery just felt wrong.

It turns out that Eisenberg is playing Lex Luthor, but not the one we all know and (fewer of us) love. The character is his son. This brought a sigh of relief from me, because I didn’t have to worry about the ruination of an established character, but I’m still disappointed. I think Luthor as a charismatic and powerful political figure is really interesting, and adds another level of depth and interest to plot. The lack of complexity in Batman vs. Superman really showed through, and, obviously, a more interesting villain would have aided that. Also, I’m relatively tired of the tortured-genius-antagonist.

In terms of character development, I loved the movie’s opening scene. That first glimpse of Bruce Wayne-as-a-decent-human-being, before we have to see a hungry-for-justice-Batman (KILLING PEOPLE), is so necessary in opening up the character and creating someone both new and veteran audiences’ can appreciate. When Bruce commented, “We’re criminals, Alfred. We’ve always been criminals.” – a line straight from The Dark Knight Returns – I did another internal happy dance. That line alone makes way for plenty of possibilities for both Batman and Bruce Wayne that are rarely explored, even in comic story lines. All in all, I think Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has so much potential for character development. We just didn’t see it in this film.

_1449632347There is little to say about the other heroes in the film, Superman was Superman, but the film focused very little on him, in my opinion. (Though the truth is, I tend to have eyes for only Batman.) Wonder Woman was, as the kids say these days, on fleek. There are so many different versions of Diana in comics and television, that as long as her strength and abilities are on par with the other members of the Justice League (as she is one of their strongest, and certainly the most consistent), no one can really complain.

I enjoyed the movie, but I recommend it with disclaimers. It isn’t the breakthrough film I was hoping would jump start DC’s new cinematic universe, and DC still has a long way to go to in terms of live action movies, but it was a strong start.

XX. Shelby Jo

P.S. THERE IS SO MUCH POTENTIAL AND FORESHADOWING FOR A JASON TODD.jay I’m really conflicted, because in the Frank Miller alternate universe, Jason never came back to life. But, the ending of Batman vs. Superman allows for him to return. I want to see him in a live action adaptation so, so badly, but I’m terrified of everything that could go wrong. (Like him being the Joker like everyone is speculating right now. That would completely eliminate Jason’s purpose in the Batman narrative. *QUE RANT*)

Friday Favorites 2/27/16

Happy weekend! This week’s favorites are going to be quick and easy because I’m a busy woman!

  1. This post by arse-in-arsenal on Tumblr. I re-watched Young Justice recently, and I feel this post. The era of Kon and Tim being best friends is definitely my favorite.FF 2.27.16

2. This came up on my calendar, because I never entered the new release date for The Raven King. I shed a single tear, but it also means we’re that much closer to the actual date.

TRC

(And, yes, I still use ios 6. Judge away.)

3. THE FINAL TRAILER FOR BATMAN VS. SUPERMAN. I’M SO PUMPED. CAN YOU TELL I’M PUMPED????

 

XX. Shelby Jo

 

Friday Favorites 2/5/16

Ayyyy, it’s Friday, but it’s also midterms, so the days of the week really have no meaning to me! So I certainly hope you have a better weekend than I do, because it won’t take much.

Time for favorites!

  1. I found this on @blxnsey ‘s Tumblr and it cracked me up and broke my heart at the same time. The positive side of the Raven Cycle ending in April (other than the fact that we get another spectacular Maggie Stiefvater novel, obviously) is that there is a ton of Raven Cycle content floating around right now.

http://blxnsey.tumblr.com/post/137699343485/thanks-for-the-birthday-cake-izzysmovingcastle

2. This gem from Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show. I adore him and this killed me because it had literally never occurred to me before!

tumblr_nzgetbGOK51qc8jh0o6_540

3. The soundtrack for The Hunchback of Notre Dame on Broadway finally released last week and it’s absolutely breathtaking. Check out a sneak peek below, and then go listen ot the full version!

Have a good weekend! If you’re swamped with homework like me come find me so neither of us die alone!

XX. Shelby Jo

An Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the first time I made my family watch the Lord of the Rings movies with me. It marks a glorious era of my life.

I read The Lord of the Rings trilogy when I was ten years old. It took an entire year of my life, but it also changed my life. I watched the movies a few years later and, of course, became obsessed with them as well. The mere mention of anything Tolkien makes my heart swell with inexplicable f e e l i n g s.

My parents are not fantasy fans (in fact, I don’t think they understand the concept) and my brother is not really a fan of high fantasy. So I was expecting a struggle, but I knew it was time. Also they got me the DVDs for Christmas that year, so they couldn’t really escape anymore.

It was somewhat difficult, to explain the story and background to my family, but it was an amazing experience to finally share a piece of this enormous thing that means to very much to me. Also, their reactions were priceless. And that is why you are here today, ladies and gentlemen.

Brace yourselves for: My Family’s Reactions to The Lord of the Rings

The Fellowship of the Ring:

Me: If I turn 111, throw me a party like this.

Brother: If you make it to 111, I’m going to kill you.

Mom: Umm, why did they even give the scary guy a ring?

Elrond: Our list of allies grows thin.

Brother: Like the hair on your massive forehead.

Mom: YOU SAID GANDALF DOESN’T DIE?!

Mom: Where did Orlando Bloom go? We need some arrows down here!

The Two Towers:

Dad: Don’t kill the gardener! No fresh basil!

Mom: GANDALF IS BACK!

The Return of the King:

*Frodo wrapped up in Shelob’s web* Brother: He looks like Tobey Maguire!

Mom: I don’t know anyone’s names.

Dad: Merry?

Mom: FRODO

Dad: AND SAM! I’ve definitely got Sam.

*Theoden dying* Brother: Come on! Treebeard talked faster than this!

Dad: No, Sam! The little diaper guy is still alive!

I kind of love them. Maybe a lot.

XX. Shelby Jo

Weekly Goal: 5,000

Weekly Count: 1,887

Total Count: 6,641

Review: The Force Awakens

Context: I adore Star Wars. I don’t live it and breathe it, I don’t know all of the extended universe lore or anything particularly fanatic; but I’ve been watching the original trilogy since I was 0 days of age and the prequels since they came out. Han Solo was my first love (which I’m sure many people can say) and Star Wars means a lot to me because of how formative it was in my story-telling method and imaginative process. So, even though I still have my doubts about the sale and the future of the franchise, I WAS INCREDIBLY HYPED TO SEE EPISODE 7, THE FORCE AWAKENS. Especially as trailers were released and more information about the film came out, my excitement continued to grow. Until, finally, I was sitting in the theater last night, and the logo leaped onto the screen and the theme played and I cried like a baby.

the force awakens

Positives The movie fit beautifully into the Star Wars franchise. It utilized similar pacing as well as the same character and acting styles. I adored all of the new characters; I feel like I’ve collected a new throng of precious babies because UGH. They were precious! The movie looked gorgeous. The cinematography and production and costume design all worked together well. I’m not really going to talk about the story because spoilers are the bane of my existence but THE STORY. Also, celebration of BASICALLY NO ROMANTIC SUBPLOT !!!

Negatives: The plot arc (even though I just raved about it a second ago, don’t get your panties in a wad.) was cliche, not necessarily in a bad way, but definitely what you would expect from Star Wars. Very similar to the arcs of the previous films. In general, the entire thing was cliche, but for some reason, especially with Star Wars, that was okay with me. That was good, actually. The only other thing that nagged at me was Carrie Fisher’s performance. In fact, I don’t think I can even narrow it down to Ms. Fisher, but just Leia’s lack of a role or character in general (ahahahaha deal with it). She was simply there, and I wasn’t pleased with that.

Summary: The good news is that, even combining the plot, the return of the old characters, and the numerous references to the old films (most of which I could have gone without) the movie did not feel like a parody, rip-off, or remake. It was nostalgic, but it wasn’t a nostalgia trip. It was a brilliant, new experience. I feel like this sequel trilogy has the ability to stand on its own. I am going to see it a second time tonight. 😉

xx. Shelby Jo

P.S. I was anxiously awaiting an “I love you” “I know” and didn’t get one.