Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Boyfriend's Back

I'm looking into encouraging a lot more people to write - it's just such an incredibly fun experience that nobody seems to get anymore. So, inspired by last week's appearance by my friend Shannon on the pages of this blog, I encouraged my wonderful boyfriend Sergio to submit an article. It has been a running theme on this blog that our tastes are very different and I wanted him to argue for his side of things. He asked me to stick in an editorial here and there so everyone can see how much better his taste is than my own. Enjoy!

It was a fine Spring day when I met Brennan Matthew Klein on the banks of the Mississippi River. He was preparing to board a ferry boat that would take him west toward the Appalachian Trail, where he would begin his journey across all fifty states that would make or break his writing career. I’m of course only fooling, I met Brennan when he (rudely and unapologetically) bumped his chair into me at school, on January 29, 2014. I had no idea when I met this spritely young Irish/German/French lad that I would eventually sign on to what has been the best relationship of my young adult life. Sappiness aside, the boy has a thing for talking pictures and has made me watch my fair share of them since our first date.

[EN: For the record I was not rude OR unapologetic and he immediately ran away.]

Unfortunately for Brennan, he has a VERY specific taste for his idea of a good movie. As you may have already noticed, he loves Horror, which has been the bulk of his reviews thus far. Luckily, I have found ways to convince him to watch movies from other genres and, as a result, add diversity to his bland, blood-soaked palette. Under my tutelage and the use of various weights keeping him tethered to the ground, he has seen quite a few of my ‘indie dramas with strong female leads,’ as he affectionately describes them.

Thanks to his dear friend Shannon, who wrote a lovely piece on date nights and horror flicks, he asked me to compile a list of some of my films to showcase on his blog. Because not all of my suggestions fall under his label, I have dubbed this post "Nine Films for Nine Nonconsecutive Dates". 

Enjoy, Brenbots!

Nine Films for Nine Nonconsecutive Dates

#1 Ghost Town (2008, David Koepp)

With a budget of about $20 million I know this is not by any means an independent film, but with a box office of only $27 million, its net revenue qualifies it as such.

[EN: Sergio, your Econ major is showing.]

Ghost Town is a movie that follows the life of a dentist, Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais) who suddenly finds himself with the ability to see dead people. Upon his travels with the newly deceased, he runs into the ghost of a schmuck businessman, Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear) who wants him to interfere with his wife’s (Tea Loni) new relationship. With a runtime of 102 minutes, the movie is a great way to spend an afternoon laughing at Gervais shtick or the comedic stylings of Kristin Wiig, who shines in her small but laugh-packed role. The movie is a heartwarming comedy that can move even the most bloodthirsty horror fanatics to tears (that’s right, Brennan cried) and for five dollars on Amazon, it is most definitely a great buy.

[EN: The movies I decided to watch on our very first "stay in" date were Ghost Town, [REC], and The Devil Wears Prada so don't say I don't have diversity in my tastes. Ghost Town is one of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. And I'm not ashamed to admit it made me cry. Very few films can accomplish this, but Ghost Town and The Sixth Sense are two of them. Don't look at me like that. Also, yes that is a young Aaron Tveit in that screencap. Meow.]

#2 Winter’s Bone (2010, Debra Granik)

The film that launched Jennifer Lawrence’s career into the stratosphere features her as Ree Dolly, a girl who is responsible for her younger siblings and invalid mother in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. The film starts off slowly, painting a picture of an average day in the life of Ree and her family, but picks up running when Ree finds out that her father has skipped town and posted their family home as collateral for his bail. Ree knows the types of unsavory characters that her father (and extended family) associated with and begins her trek to try and find him. Besides the fact that she is eventually joined by  her uncle played by John Hawkes, that is as much as I will give away about this movie. My only criticism of the film is that there are far too many blue tones. I get it, Missouri sucks.

[EN: This is the one film that Sergio has suggested to me so far that I just can't get into in any way. It's a lovely-looking piece, but I never connected with Ree's journey. I prefer my characters with more personal agency, but I know I'm in the minority with not being a fan of this film. You can read my review here.]

#3 A Single Man (2009, Tom Ford)

Tom Ford’s only movie to date is a little gem that packs great performances by its all star cast. Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode are featured, and even Lee Pace makes a cameo discussing bomb shelters and setting the mood that is the Cold War era of the early 1960’s.

Ford adapted the film from the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood and follows Firth’s character as he attempts to move past the loss of his partner (Matthew Goode). Though not necessarily somber, A Single Man depicts life as a gay male in the sixties as a less than ideal situation. In one scene, an uncreditided Jon Hamm has just delivered the news that Firth’s partner died in a car wreck, and that Firth would be an unwelcome funeral guest due to his being Goode’s Partner. This movie is anything but subtle and in the era of Mad Men it is a welcome addition, adding more emotion in a single still than January Jones' entire performance of Betty Draper.

[EN: I was mystified by the film's ending, but impressed with its un-self conscious and bold aesthetic. You can read my review here.]

#4 An Education (2009, Lone Scherfig)

Carey Mulligan plays a precocious high school senior (or the British equivalent) who is planning on attending Oxford in the fall. She asks herself the sort of questions that all young adults ask themselves at some point or another. Why am I doing what my parents tell me? What is the end goal of all this intense studying? I’m a female in the sixties (yes another one, I’m sorry), my only job opportunities are becoming a teacher or a secretary, why even bother? Ok, that last one is a question that thankfully today’s female youth does not have to ask themselves, but the theme of being young, foolish, and reckless is one that is any young college kid can relate to.

[EN: I honestly have never seen this one and, as such, can have no opinion. Especially considering the fact that I definitely thought this was a Holocaust movie, which it doesn't seem to be.]

#5 Doubt (2008, John Patrick Shanley)

Never have I ever been more afraid of nuns than when Meryl Streep played Sister Aloyisious, a nun who runs her parish with an iron fist. The movie begins with the suspicion that a priest (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) has been more than friendly with one of the students at the Catholic school. Streep is a nun, and like all nuns she answers to the priests of the Parish and must find a way to remove the student from the watchful eye of the priest without ‘stepping out of line’. Featuring additional performances by Amy Adams and Viola Davis, the movie leaves you guessing as to who you hate more: Meryl Streep for ruining a man’s career without a shred of proof, Hoffman who is the potential pedophile in question, or Davis for essentially being a mother who is willing to sacrifice her child’s innocence if it means he advances academically. I left Amy Adams out because no one can hate Princess Gisele.

I warn you that this movie is not for everyone. Described as “Streep porn,” if you found yourself in the audience that disliked August: Osage County, then I suggest you go another route and watch The Exorcist. It has nuns and guts, what’s not to like about that?

[EN: Ah, the first time I can chime in seeming like an expert. Unfortunately The Exorcist has neither nuns nor guts, but it does have doubt, a priest, and the unparalleled exorcism scene that you've seen poorly recreated in (insert modern possession movie here), so I highly recommend it. You can expect a review of Doubt coming soon, as Sergio is sending in a high pressure front to convince me to watch it.]

#6 Weekend (2011, Andrew Haigh)

Writer/Director Andrew Haigh hit a homerun when he released this earnest yet gritty gay indie film. What makes this film special in the world of LGBTQIA cinema (I’m sure there are more letters but I’m just not that progressive), is that at its core, the movie is a love story where the main characters happen to be gay. That’s it. There is no gripping coming out process, no ‘woe is me’ attitude, just two men with fantastic facial hair who fall in love in the course of a weekend. I will warn you that the film features graphic sex scenes between newcomers Chris New and Tom Cullen, but if you’ve seen Game of Thrones or Orange is The New Black, then you have been adequately prepared for the beauty that is man-on-man sex.

[EN: Weekend was a great film! I watched it over a year ago with our guest star, so its unfortunately outside the scope of this blog until I watch it again and have it fresh in my mind, but I agree with Sergio and highly recommend it. It's like a gay Once without the music.]

#7 Insidious (2010, James Wan)

Fun fact: This is the first horror film that I showed Brennan. He, of course, had many things to say about everything and I of course adore him for his criticism of James Wan.

With a budget of only 1.5 million dollars, the movie manages to pull off scary while avoiding cheesy… mostly. The film follows the ruggedly handsome family guy Patrick Wilson and his beautiful wife Rose Byrne as they settle into their new home with their average looking kids when things start to go awry. According to Mr. Klein, P.I. (Paranormal Investigator) the film follows in the footsteps of Poltergeist and The Exorcist, but I find it delightful just the same. Whatever your take on his filmmaking, Wan provides you with a cheaply made movie that will sustain your interest far more than the Michael Bay’s Robots Do Things.

[EN: I'm so lucky Sergio liked horror films before I met him. He's obviously more low key than Yours Truly, but I'm grateful for his contributions. And he's right. Insidious is an immensely derivative haunted house film - much like Wan's 2013 effort The Conjuring - but like The Conjuring, is a terrific example of the classic form utilizing its influences to elevate the material. And it's one of the scariest horror films rated PG-13 you'll find this side of 1960. You can read my review here.]

#8 In a World... (2013, Lake Bell)

A film that Brennan begged and pleaded to go see last year, this is a gem of a film featuring the crowd-pleasing Lake Bell who starred, wrote, and directed the entire production. In a World... follows Bell as she attempts to break into the voice-over world, which is primarily dominated by men. It’s a quirky feminist comedy that delivers a breath of fresh air into a room of old man dank. There are multiple definitions for the word ‘dank’ and this one encompasses them all, that’s just how smelly that room is. It might be too late to catch this movie on RedBox but you always find it On Demand or borrow it from Brennan. He will be only too happy to spend hours discussing it with you and what a fool (with your pants on the ground) you are for having waited so long to see it. You have been warned.

[EN: For the record, you are not a fool, but you do need to see this movie. It's my number 3 film of 2013 and a delightful comedy that I can rewatch endlessly. You can read my glowing review here.]

#9 Paranormal Activity (2007, Oren Peli)

This one is purely for Brennan. I hated it, but it is an independent film where the main actress kills everyone and if that doesn’t qualify it as an ‘indie film with a strong female lead’ than I don’t know what does.

[EN: I'm a big fan of the franchise despite my immense (and supported) hatred for PA4 and my intense (and divisive) dislike for PA3. I'll have to do a retrospective of the original trilogy soon. Let me know if that sounds like something you'd be into.]

That's it. I'm done. I hope that you found I have convinced you better than I have convinced Brennan to try out new movies. This has been a blog post by me, Shawn Ashmore. Hah, Brennan wishes.

[EN: What? Shawn Ashmore? Wherever would anybody get that idea? Clap clap for Sergio. Thank you for your contribution! So everyone? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Do you think I'm a fool for ignoring Meryl Streep's expanded filmography? Please let us know in the comments!]
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1 comment:

  1. " [EN: Sergio, your Econ major is showing.]"

    I approve of this union.

    Anyway, this list of date movies is woefully incomplete! Where is Evil Dead 2, the sexiest film of all time? I suggest giving it the #3 spot. You don't want to seem forward... or maybe you do.