Friday, 20 March 2015

What I've Been Watching In: March

This Is Where I Leave You (2014)
Starring: Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Adam Driver, Corey Stoll
When I was in the US in October of last year, I really wanted to go and see This Is Where I Leave You but no one would accompany me (we ended up going to see Annabelle (review here) which was still pretty enjoyable). So as soon as I saw that it was out on DVD here, I made sure to buy it and I'm so glad that I did.
This Is Where I Leave You centres around the Altman siblings (Bateman, Fey, Driver and Stoll), who are mourning the death of their father whilst staying together in their childhood home for the first time in many, many years for an entire week. This week, known as shiva, was their father's last wish according to their mother (Jane Fonda) so the Altman children oblige and that is where the story really takes off.
The scenes with Timothy Olyphant's character honestly broke my heart. I certainly didn't expect to be on the verge of tears whilst watching this movie but that's exactly what happened. Oh and I've also never been more attracted to Adam Driver. How is that even possible, especially as I've always had a bit of a soft spot for him anyway. Ben Schwartz (aka. Jean-Ralphio Sapperstein from Parks & Recreation) is great in this too, although he'll always be Jean-Ralphio to me.
Again, this is a rare occurrence in which an ensemble piece really works and the characters are actually believable instead of it just being twenty big stars who've been thrown together into the same movie. The supporting cast, who I have already briefly mentioned, are fantastic in this too. Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton and Dax Shepard all appear and interact with the Altman family perfectly.

Gone Girl (2014)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry
After hearing so many great things about the book and subsequently the movie, Gone Girl has been on my list of movies to watch for some time now. I received the DVD for my birthday last month (link here) and finally got around to watching it this month.
This really is one of the best and most interesting movies that I have seen in a very long time. I really did imagine it going one way (even after avoiding all of the spoilers and assuming that there would be at least one big twist) but then it went another way and another way and another. I normally tend to suss out how a movie might end but with Gone Girl I just sat there thinking to myself, "what on earth is going to happen next?!" Without spoiling it in the slightest, there are some shocking and frankly disturbing scenes, ones that even when I think back to them now blow my mind a bit. It certainly lived up to the hype for me and kept me captivated right until the final second and when you take into consideration that the movie is over two and a half hours long and the fact that I am the kind of person who often gets distracted, this really does mean a lot.
If you're a fan of David Fincher's back catalogue (Fight Club, Seven, Zodiac, Panic Room) and his style and aesthetic of film-making, then I have a feeling that you will really enjoy the way in which Gone Girl is shot.
All I can say is, if you've not seen it yet then it's definitely worth checking it out. I'm going to need to read the book next and see how and if it differs from the movie adaptation.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2015-)
Starring: Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, Carol Kane
Every so often there is a Netflix Original series that really does catch my eye (OITNB and Better Call Saul spring to mind) and that's what happened with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
First of all, if the theme song to this isn't the catchiest theme song that you've heard in a while, then there's something wrong with you! Hehe. I haven't been able to get it out of my head for weeks now. And even if you don't intend on watching the series or don't actually have a Netflix subscribtion, you need to hear the theme song (link here).
Ellie Kemper, who you might know from the US Office, 21 Jump Street or The Mindy Project, is absolutely brilliant as the protagonist Kimmy Schmidt. The show follows Kimmy's attempts to integrate back into society as an adult after being rescued from a doomsday cult underground bunker where she was held for fifteen years. So Kimmy has fifteen years of pop culture, experiences and life to catch up on and she's doing that in NYC. The jokes are fantastic and exactly to my sense of humour, so much so that I watched the entire first season, all thirteen episodes of it, in less than 24 hours. It's just so addictive and easy to watch and perfect for binge watching. There are also some amazing guest starts; Jon Hamm, Dean Norris, Nick Kroll, Keirnan Shipka and Tina Fey herself. Definitely give it a watch if you happen to have Netflix and let me know how quickly you find yourself watching the entire season. Hehe.

Failure To Launch (2006)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel
When I saw that this was on one of the movie channels one Saturday afternoon I wondered why I hadn't stumbled across it until now. But after watching Failure To Launch in it's entirety I completely understood why it hadn't appeared on my 'Movies To Watch' list or radar at any point in the past decade or so.
The premise of this movie is; Matthew McConaughey's character, Tripp, is a 35 year old who still lives at home with his parents. Since he has no interest in moving out, his parents hire an 'expert' (SJP) to get him to move out instead of just, you know, asking/telling him to.
This movie really is a strange mix of watchable scenes, ones that remind you of any other romantic comedy that you've seen, especially those made around the same time as this one would have been and then there's these other scenes. These 'other' scenes involve weird animatronic or CGI animals, all of which are trying to bite Tripp. There's a chipmunk, a dolphin, a lizard and even a mockingbird which they do CPR on. Like what the hell was going on there? What were they trying to achieve? Oh and it's not just like there's one or two of those scenes, there are five. FIVE!
It's safe to say I would avoid this movie like the plague and that's even with Bradley Cooper being in it and Zooey Deschanel doing a pretty good job as SJP's character's best friend.

Nightcrawler (2014)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Riz Ahmed, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton
This is another movie that has been on my 'Movies To Watch' list ever since I first saw the trailer all those months ago. If you've seen the trailer for Nightcrawler then you will probably have a good idea about the kind of experience that you will be letting yourself in for. And this movie really was an experience for me. From the get-go I was completely immersed in the world that Nightcrawler takes place in and what makes it so enthralling and captivating is the fact that it's not set in some far off land or fantasy world but it's set in current day Los Angeles and for me that's what makes it so disturbing. Again, if you've seen the trailer, you will have already seen Jake Gyllenhaal as you've never seen him before. He completely transforms into the creepy and remorseless Louis Bloom, a character unlike any that I've ever seen on film before.
Just in case you haven't seen the trailer or heard too much about this movie, 'nightcrawling' is the phrase used to describe camera crews or in Bloom's case, just him and his videocamera to begin with, capturing gruesome and explicit footage of accidents and then selling them on to local news stations for them to run as their 'breaking stories'. And all I could think about when seeing these horrific and terrifying scenes unfold on the news broadcasts was the way in which some news stories have been reported both here in the UK and most notably, in the US in recent years. I was instantly reminded of the coverage of the hunt for the Boston Marathon bombers and it's then that you realise how relevant Nightcrawler is and just how perfectly it encapsulates the current culture of news reporting across the globe. You just have to check it out!

Better Call Saul (2015-)
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, Patrick Fabian, Jonathan Banks
As a big Breaking Bad fan I was one of those individuals who was counting down the days until Better Call Saul made it's premiere on Netflix and now that we're seven weeks (and episodes) in, I can now officially share my love for this show. Saul was always one of my favourite characters in Breaking Bad as he would often provide some much needed comedic relief to some of the darker scenes/episodes.
If you've seen and adored Breaking Bad then Better Call Saul really is the perfect continuation of that style of television, despite the fact that it's a prequel to Breaking Bad. It certainly has the same style and aesthetic as it's predecessor without rehashing the same storylines or character developments. But saying that, you could easily watch Better Call Saul without having seen or even heard of Breaking Bad. It really does stand alone in it's own right and unlike in Breaking Bad where Saul would be there for light relief most of the time, in this the character of Saul is much more fleshed out. But that's not to say that there aren't a few rewards for the Breaking Bad fans. The very first episode of Better Call Saul really did make me smile, for a number of reasons, but the biggest smile came at the very end when we see a familiar face from the early days of Breaking Bad. That in it's itself had me hooked and now every single Tuesday I will literally be counting down the hours until I can switch on Netflix and get my Better Call Saul fix, as unlike other Netflix Original shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt above, Saul is uploaded on a weekly basis, a bit like if you were watching it on TV which only makes me even more excited to watch the next episode.

What have you been watching this month? Do you have any recommendations? Have you seen any of these? If so, what did you think of them?


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