Breathe (2017)

When it comes to playing CGI characters, there's nobody like Andy Serkis. That is his kingdom and he has proven that many times over the years, especially in War for the Planet of the Apes. But when it comes to directing, he is not the guy. Maybe he doesn't have enough experience or he just doesn't have it, but Breathe, his directorial debut, is far from being a great achievement. 

The story is that of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), a tea leaf distributor who falls for Diana (Claire Foy). They get married and travel to Kenya where Robin contracts polio. Diana, pregnant with their child, refuses to let him die and will help him become an advocate for the disabled.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

I always snubbed Galaxy Quest as I believed it to be some dumb Star Trek parody and I didn't want to waste my time watching it. Recently though I learnt that Sam Rockwell is in this so, yeah, I had to check it out. I wasn't wrong about it being a Star Trek parody, but it's a brilliant one. 

Galaxy Quest is the name of a TV show very similar to Star Trek cancelled 18 years earlier. Now the stars of the show, Jason Nesmith (Tim Allen), Gwen DeMarco (Sigourney Weaver), Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman), Fred Kwan (Tony Shalhoub), and Tommy Webber (Daryl Mitchell), are making a living signing fans' autographs and being cast in awful store openings. But things are about to change when the Thermians, good-natured and intelligent aliens, arrive and, having mistaken the show to historical documents, take them into outer space to save them from the ruthless Sarris (Robin Sachs).

Thursday Movie Picks: Television Edition: Non-English Language TV Series

This being the last Thursday of the month --see you next year, March--, it's time for another TV-themed Thursday Movie Picks (the awesome weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves). I guess last year's was a success so we are doing another non-English language TV series week. As you probably know, I'm Italian aka I watch non-English series all the time. Unlike last year when I went with three German series, this year I'm taking advantage of it and doing theme within a theme. 

Delhi Belly (2011)

If I knew what it meant, I probably would have never watched Delhi Belly. Or maybe I would have, after all, it's listed as a dark comedy and I love those. Anyway, I'm glad Sid suggested it to me. It's not the best Bollywood movie I've seen (I haven't seen a lot though) but it isn't that bad. 

The story revolves around three flatmates and friends, Tashi (Imran Khan), Arup (Vir Das) and Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur). Tashi is engaged with Sonia (Shenaz Treasury), a flight attendant who agreed to deliver a package for a friend but then asks Tashi to deliver it. Tashi asks Nitin to deliver it, but since he's indisposed, he asks Arup. He messes up, delivering the wrong package at the wrong place and soon the three find themselves hunted by a gangster (Vijay Raaz) and his men.

The Fate of the Furious (2017)

Furious 7 wasn't a great movie. It was quite a mess, to be honest, but at least it provided a nice ending to this worn-out franchise. What I'm trying to say is that The Fate of the Furious wasn't necessary at all. They made it anyway because these are the movies that make money which is why they made another mediocre action flick.

Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) are on their honeymoon, enjoying their 'normal' life. All of a sudden, a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) seduces Dom and makes him betray his family, and the old team must team up with Mr. nobody (Kurt Russell) and Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) to bring Dom back home. 

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (2016)

This year I really committed to watching all the Oscar nominees for Best Documentary Feature and therefore, though I wasn't crazy about its subject, I watched Abacus: Small Enough to Jail.

This documentary centers on the Abacus Federal Savings Banks, a small, family-owned community bank in Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan's District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., Abacus became the only financial institution to face criminal charges as a result of the 2008 financial crisis.

Happy Birthday, Martin McDonagh!

On this day, 48 years ago, a little boy of Irish descent was born in London, it was playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh.

Six Shooter (2004)

I never watch short movies. There isn't a reason behind it, I just don't. But when I had the idea of writing a piece for Martin McDonaugh's birthday, I figured I should watch Six Shooter, his Oscar-winning short film. 

Six Shooter tells the story of a recently widowed man, Donnelly (Brendan Gleeson), who founds himself on a train in the same carriage as a couple (David Wilmot and Aisling O'Sullivan) who has just lost their son for coth death and an annoying and cynical young man (Rúaidhrí Conroy) who arouses his fellow passengers with rude and offensive behavior. 

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)

If there's something I remembered about Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron before rewatching it --other than the romance between the two horses-- was liking it when I was a kid. Now all I can do is wonder how this movie even get an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Film.

Spirit (Matt Damon) is a young Mustang which grows up to become the leader of his herd. One day, out of curiosity, he deciedes to explore a camp of cowboys but he is captured and a vicious Colonel (James Cromwell) tries to train and break him. It's will the help of a young native man Little Creek (Daniel Studi) that he manages to escape and the two embark on a journey together. 

Irreplaceable You (2018)

When it comes to series, Netflix does so damn good (most of the series I still watch indeed are Netflix originals). When it comes to movies, however, it's different. There are some pretty good ones (Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories New and Selected, to mention a few) and some awful (Bright) and/or disappointing (The Cloverfield Paradox). Irreplaceable You isn't one of the first, but fortunately, it isn't one of the latter either. It's just another average romantic film. 

Abbie (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and Sam (Michiel Huisman) have been together since she bit him on a childhood trip to the aquarium. When Abbie gets pregnant, they make their engagement official and start planning the wedding, but it turns out Abbie isn't pregnant, she instead has three masses in her pelvis and is later diagnosed with terminal cancer. As a way of coping, Abbie beings a search for a woman to take care of Sam when she is gone. 

Stronger (2017)

In spite of the good, if not great things I've read over the past few months about Stronger, I didn't have very high expectations. Why? This movie is signed David Gordon Green who is responsible for such movies as Pineapple Express and The Sitter, so I wasn't sure how good he'd do a dramatic biopic. Turns out my fears were founded. 

The film tells the story of Jeff Bauman (Jake Gyllenhaal), the man who lost both of his legs in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing (I can't believe it's almost been 5 years since it happened, I remember it as if it happened yesterday). 

Thursday Movie Picks: Nostalgia

#ThrowbackThursday they call it nowadays. Nostalgia is the right word for it and that's exactly the theme for this week's Thursday Movie Picks, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. And I picked some pretty good films today.

A Fantastic Woman (2017)

A Fantastic Woman (Spanish: Una mujer fantástica) is the foreign language nominee I was interested in seeing the most, mainly because it was the only one I knew something about, and, even though I haven't seen Sebastián Lelio's Gloria, I had pretty high expectations for this. 

The film is set in Santiago, Chile, and follows Marina (Daniela Vega), a transgender waitress who is in a relationship with an older man, Orlando (Francisco Reyes). When Orlando suddenly dies, her life becomes a nightmare. While Orlando's family attacks her, both verbally and physically, all the time and even ban her from attending the funeral. As if being harassed by Orlando's family wasn't enough, she also becomes the subject of the investigation of Orlando's death.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

Patty Jenkins's Wonder Woman isn't the only movie about the famous superheroine that made it to the big screen last year. There was also Angela Robinson's Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a biopic about American psychologist William Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman. 

It's 1928. William Marston (Luke Evans) and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) teach and work on their research at Harvard and Radcliffe College. Williams hires one of his students, Olive Bryne (Bella Heathcote), the daughter of Ethel Bryne and niece of Margaret Sanger, as a new teaching assistant. The three of them fall in love, which was forbidden at the time, and these two women will be his inspiration for the Wonder Woman comics.

Strong Island (2017)

“Black lives are too easy to take in America because we don't want to question why people are so afraid of black and brown people to begin with,” says Yance Ford, bluntly. “And that's what I want Strong Island to do.” [Source: The GuardianI'm not sure though Strong Island answered to that question.  

Just in case you know absolutely nothing about this Oscar-nominated/winning documentary, Strong Island centers on the murder of William Ford Jr., Yance Ford's 24-year-old African-American brother who was killed in 1992 by a 19-year-old white man. While examining the violent death of his brother, Yance Ford puts on trial the justice system in the United States, a system that allowed an all-white jury decide whether a white man was to be convicted for killing a black man.

Choke (2008)

When someone tells you there's a movie where Sam Rockwell plays a sex addict and keeps posting gifs of said porn movie everywhere, you just can't sit there and ignore it. That, my friends, is the reason I watched Choke. I wasn't expecting much from it --Rockwell being in it was enough-- and I guess that's why it was such a nice surprise. 

As I was saying, Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is a sex addict. He works in a colonial theme park and runs a scam by deliberately choking in restaurants to extract sympathy and financial support from his saviours to pay for his mother's (Anjelica Huston) hospital bills. Then one day Victor learns that his mother has been lying about his father's true identity all along and, with the help of his best friend Denny (Brad William Henke) and his mother's beautiful physician (Kelly Macdonald), he tries to discover the truth.

Maya the Bee Movie (2014)

I saw an episode of the old Maya the Honey Bee anime on TV not long ago (time goes by so fast, it was probably last year) and, though I didn't love it as I used to as a child, I still found it cute and fun, 20 minutes no-brainer. It's a whole different story for Maya the Bee Movie, the dreadful film I watched to "recover" from Oscars night (yes, I watched and reviewed this movie that long ago). 

Maya (Coco Jack Gillies) is a little, overenthusiastic bee who just doesn't and won't follow the rules of the hive, one of them being to not trust hornets. When she discovers Buzzlina Von Beena's (Jacki Weaver) plot to steal the Queen's (Miriam Margolyes) royal jelly, Maya is banished from the hive as she is thought to be an accomplice to the hornets. With her best friend Willy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) tagging along, Maya meets and befriend Sting (Joel Franco), a young hornet, and together they have to stop the plot and the war between bees and hornets.

When We First Met (2018)

When I first saw When We First Met on Netflix I was like, nah, I'm not going to watch this. It's going to be just another of those terrible Netflix movies and I don't want to waste my time with it. Then something got into me and I watched it.

During Avery's (Alexandra Daddario) engagement party, Noah (Adam DeVine) recalls when they first met on a Halloween party three years earlier and he is depressed because, well, he is in love with her. He gets drunk and ends up at the piano bar where he works. He uses the photo booth he and Avery used on their first day and he falls asleep. Turns out the photo booth is a time machine, Noah wakes up on October 31, 2014, the day he met Avery, and has the chance to "fix" things. Over and over again. 

Fruitvale Station (2013)

I saw Creed about a year ago and I was impressed with both Ryan Coogler (co-writer and director) and Michael B. Jordan (leading actor). Last month I saw Black Panther, also directed by Coogler and starring Jordan and I was even more impressed. I then checked their filmographies and Fruitvale Station popped out. I knew nothing about it, I saw the good rating and checked it out.

It's New Year's Eve, 2008. Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan) is a 22-year-old ex-convict who lives with his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz) and his daughter Tatiana (Ariana Neal). He feels something that day and decides to turn his life around. He has had enough with illegal stuff and he is committed to becoming a better son, a better boyfriend and a better father. He won't have a real chance at doing so because that night, on January 1 2009, he is shot in the back and killed by a police officer.

Non c'è più religione (2016)

I remember seeing the trailer for Non c'è più religione back when this was released, I wanted to check out the film but then I completely forgot about it. It was on TV a few weeks ago and though the trailer didn't look that good I still gave it a change. After all, Alessandro Gassmann, the son of Vittorio, is the only Italian living actor I like.

There is no newborn in the small town of Portobuio and that puts in danger the annual representation of the nativity since the only child, the one that used to play Jesus, is now too big, both in age and size, for the role. It's up to the mayor (Claudio Bisio) to find a new Jesus and, with the help of Suor Marta (Angela Finocchiaro), he asks for help to the Islamic community, led by his old friend Marietto (Alessandro Gassmann).

Thursday Movie Picks: Childhood Favourites

When I was a kid, I would get obsessed with a certain movie and watch it over and over and over again. I'm sorry mom for making you go through that. Anyway, I still remember which movies they were and I'm using them in this week's Thursday Movie Picks, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves, since it's childhood favourites week. 

Annihilation (2018)

Though I didn't really like Alex Garland's Ex Machina (but I'm planning on giving it another chance), I was really excited about his latest film, Annihilation, and really pissed off that everybody outside of the US got to see this on Netflix instead of cinemas. It has an upside though, no money wasted if the movie sucked, but that was not the case. 

A year after his disappearance, Kane (Oscar Isaac) goes back home to his biologist wife Lena (Natalie Portman) but he doesn't remember where he's been and how he got home. He suddenly gets sick and is rushed to a hospital. Once there, in order to help Kane, Lena joins a team made up of an anthropologist (Tuva Novotny), a physicist (Tessa Thompson), a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and a paramedic (Gina Rodriguez) and embark on an expedition into the Shimmer, a mysterious electromagnetic field.

Last Men in Aleppo (2017)

I don't watch a lot of documentaries and I review even fewer because they usually are hard to sit through and even harder to review. Last Men in Aleppo falls perfectly into this category because it deals with a very important matter and it feels wrong to say negative things about it, but there are negative things to say about it. 

The title is pretty self-explanatory, this is a documentary about the Syrian Civil war. It was written and directed by Feras Fayyad and follows the White Helmets, a volunteer organisation consisting of civilians who put their lives at risk, rushing towards military strikes and attacks in hope of saving lives, and focuses mainly on the lives of three founders of the White Helmets, Khaled Omar Harrah, Subji Alhussen and Mahmoud.

Home Again (2017)

You know when you see a trailer and you're like, wow this film looks bad? Well, that was my reaction to Home Again's trailer. But I do love Reese Witherspoon so I watched it anyway, consoling myself by telling it would be just another mediocre romantic comedy. And by the way, it looked a tiny bit fun from the trailer I'd seen months ago. Unfortunately for me, it wasn't your average rom-com but something much worse. 

Alice (Reese Witherspoon) is a recently separated mother of two who has returned home, in California, to start over and to be close to her mother (Candice Bergen), a former actress. She is also turning 40 and goes celebrate with her girlfriends. She eventually meets three young aspiring (and homeless) filmmakers and brings them home. The day after, Alice's mother shows up at her house, and, long story short (because I don't have all day and neither do you, I guess), Alice lets them stay in her guesthouse and starts dating Harry (Pico Alexander), one of the three boys. 

Ferdinand (2017)

I saw the trailer for Ferdinand (too) many times and I wasn't particularly excited or interested in seeing it. Actually, I couldn't care less. But then someone thought it deserved an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Picture so I checked it out. Now I wonder whether those people have seen or not the movies they nominate, especially this year. Between The Boss Baby --which I enjoyed, but come on! An Oscar nomination?!-- and this, I'm speechless. 

In a ranch that trains bulls for bullfighting, Ferdinand (Colin H. Murphy) is a sweet and gentle calf with a tendency to smell and protect flowers for which he is ridiculed by his fellow calves. When his father (Jeremy Sisto) is killed, he runs away. Juan (Juanes) and his daughter Nina (Lily Day) finds him and they bring him home. Needless to say, Ferdinand (John Cena) grows into a huge but harmless bull. Eventually, he's mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured, taken away from his family and brought back to the ranch.

Girls Trip (2017)

There's nothing worst than laughless comedies. I mean, sitting through a movie that is supposed to be funny and laughing not even once, who would enjoy that? Unfortunately, many if not most comedies made nowadays are like that which is why I try to stay away from them. With Malcolm D. Lee, well, it's a different story. Although I haven't seen his entire filmography, I did love his Best Man movies. They are fun, enjoyable and they have heart and such a good cast. That's why I decided to check out his latest film, Girls Trip. And you know what, more people need to see this one.

The film follows a group of friends, Ryan (Regina Hall), a self-help guru who has it all, Sasha (Queen Latifah), a celebrity gossip writer, Lisa (Jada Pinkett Smith) a loving but overprotective mother, and Dina (Tiffany Hadish), a hot-head as they reunite after 5 years and travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival to rekindle their friendship and rediscover their wild sides.

Going in Style (2017)

When three movie legends like Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Alan Arkin make a movie together it's very hard to pass it. It's even harder if said movie is a heist movie, a genre I love, and it's even suggested to you by someone you usually trust with movie suggestions. And it's terrible when said movie just isn't that good. Yes, I'm talking about Going in Style

Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman) and Al (Alan Arkin) are senior citizens and lifelong friends trying to survive with their pensions in New York. But when their pensions are cancelled, they plan to rob a bank. None of them has ever done anything criminal in their lives and to pull off the heist, they are going to need help and a lot of practice.

Thursday Movie Picks: Just One Day

How many things can happen in 24 hours? That's the question we are going to answer today with this week's Thursday Movie Picks, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves, as we are asked to pick movies taking place in just one day. The first that came to my mind were 12 Angry Men and Reservoir Dogs but having picked those in the past, I had to settle for some others. Don't worry though, these are great too.

The Square (2017)

After reading several positive reviews about it and after its Oscar nomination, I decided to check out The Square. I didn't have very high expectations though because the only film of Ruben Östlund I had seen before was Force Majeure, a fine movie that however didn't live up to the hype. I guess he is not my type because I didn't love this one either. 

The film follows a few weeks in the life of Christian (Claes Bang), the curator of a modern art museum in Stockholm who, while looking for those who have stolen his phone and wallet, struggles at creating the hype and launching a new work of art, The Square.

The Hitman's Bodyguard (2017)

I remember seeing The Hitman's Bodyguard's trailer back in Septemeber and thinking it would be a mess and saying that I would not watch it. I do love Samuel L. Jackson though and Ryan Reynolds is pretty amazing and months later I ended up watching it anything. 

Triple-A bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) is hired to protect a Japanese arm dealer (Tsuwayuki Saotome). Everything goes smoothly until the Japanese is shot and killed through the airplane window. Two years later, Bryce has fallen into disgrace and makes his living protecting drug-addicted corporate executives in London. But things are about to change when his ex-girlfriend (Elodie Yung) asks him for help to protect Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), a notorious hitman, and get him to Amsterdam to testify against ruthless dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman). 

Faces Places (2017)

"They fight. But human beings fight too." says a woman when asked what happens if you don't cut goats' horns. Well, that's one of the many powerful and thought-provoking things said in Faces Places (French: Visages Villages), a road movie/documentary that works as a tribute to rural France and as a reflexion on art, friendship and morality. 

This documentary follows 89-year-old filmmaker Angès Varda (which I didn't know before watching this) and JR, a very unique photographer and street artist. The two travel together around rural France in a truck equipped as a portable photo booth. They meet locals and learn about their lives, they take their photographs and turn them into art by enlarging and pasting them on houses, buildings, ruins and containers. And along the way, the odd but beautiful friendship between Agnès and JR will grow stronger.

And the Oscar Goes to... Sam Rockwell! & Some Others

Well, hello there, just in case you missed the ceremony, you didn't bother checking who won and who lost and you didn't even read the title of this post, well, in that case, I'm here to tell you that SAM ROCKWELL IS A FUCKING ACADEMY AWARD WINNER! AND IT WAS ABOUT FUCKING TIME.

Suburbicon (2017)

Earlier this year I mentioned what a difficult genre to accomplish dark comedy is. The Coen Brothers used to be some of the few able to pull that off beautifully. Having now seen their latest movie, Suburbicon, I think they've lost their touch. Not only the film doesn't work as a dark comedy but it doesn't work at all. 

In 1959, the peaceful, all-white neighbourhood of Suburbicon is shaken up by the arrival of an African-American family. However, Gardner Lodge (Matt Damon) couldn't care less about it because two men broke into his house in the middle of the night, killed his wife (Julianne Moore). He doesn't care much about that either since he soon picks up the pieces and starts a new life with his son Nicky (Noah Jupe) and his dead wife's twin sister (Julianne Moore). Turns out Mr. Lodge isn't the guy everyone thinks he is and s**t gets real.

The Breadwinner (2017)

Though everyone knows Coco is going to win, there are some darn good animated films nominated at the Oscars this year and The Breadwinner is one of them. It's not as good as Coco or Loving Vincent, but it still is a well done and definitely deserves to be watched by more people.

The Breadwinner tells the story of Parvana (Saara Chaudry), an 11-year-old girl growing up under Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. After her father (Ali Badshah) is unjustly arrested, she must cut her hair and dress as a boy so that she can provide for her mother (Laara Sadiq), her sister (Shaista Latif) and her younger brother. 

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)

Because of the obvious exclusion of James Franco for the sexual misconduct allegations, the Academy had to replace him and instead of picking Jackman who earlier last year gave the best performance ever in a comic book movie, a performance so powerful and emotional, they nominated Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel, Esq., a movie that was already on my watchlist because of two actors, Washington and Colin Farrell.

Roman J. Israel, Esq. (Denzel Washington) is an idealistic lawyer as well as the behind-the-scenes brains of a two-man law firm. When his partner has a heart attack, Israel is forced to become the front man and learns that the firm is broke and hasn't been as altruistic as he thought. Which brings him to work for a larger firm run by slick lawyer George Pierce (Colin Farrell) and he soon finds himself in a crisis.

Mudbound (2017)

I wasn't really planning on watching Mudbound. I don't know why since I didn't know a thing about it but I just didn't care for it. Then I saw it popping up in some best of 2017 lists, Mary J. Blige even got an Oscar nomination for it, so I decided to watch it. 

The film tells the story of two families --one white, one black-- living in World War II Mississippi. The McAllans, headed by Henry (Jason Clarke) and his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), buys a farm but due to a mistake, they end in the farm instead of the landowner's house. The Jacksons, headed by Hap (Rob Morgan) and Florence (Mary J. Blige), live and work on the farm. Their lives will intersect as the story moves forward, and will take a dramatic turn as Henry's brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) and Hap's son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) return home after the end of the war.

On Body and Soul (2017)

This is that time of the year I try to watch as many Oscar-nominated films (mainly foreign language movies because I've seen the best picture nominees already) and documentaries as possible. On Body and Soul (Hungarian: Teströl és lélekröl) caught my attention for a very simple reason: I was yet to see a Hungarian movie. As I always do, I went in knowing absolutely nothing and not only I was stunned by the direction the film takes, but how beautifully the film was made.

Endre (Géza Morcsányi) is an ageing manager of a slaughterhouse who hides his disabled left arm and emotions behind a busy schedule. Maria (Alexandra Borbély) is a young, glacial but gracious quality-control inspector. They barely know each other, they barely talk actually, then one day, as a drug is stolen and an investigation is started, they find out they share the same dreams and they decide to know each other more. 

Thursday Movie Picks: Oscar Nominated Movies That Should Have Won

The Oscars are just around the corner and everyone is so excited about them they even feature this week's Thurday Movies Picks, the weekly series hosted by Wandering Through the Shelves. As every other Thursday, those joining have to pick three to five films to fit the theme, this week being Best Pictures nominees that, in our opinion, should have won.