All good things must come to an end, and alas...I can cancel my Hulu subscription. Just kidding...well, I probably could, but that's not what's important here. What's important, is that The Mindy Project has come to end. That show is actually the reason I subscribed to Hulu in the first place. I've loved this show from the get-go, and Mindy Kaling is probably my spirit animal.
My husband went out with the guys one night this week, and while I had a ton of things I needed to do, I decided to treat myself to a solo date night, and finally got to see "Lady Bird," Greta Gerwig's directorial debut and starring Saoirse Ronan. Greta also wrote the screenplay. I adore Saoirse, but I was worried it was going to be another long, drawn out, indie drama that required me to use my intellectual brain to find the deeper meaning and artistic vision, and ultimately leaving me depressed and uninspired--it's just what I've come to expect of many film festival selections. But, it was actually brilliant and I LOVED IT.
I did not know I could be so inspired by battle rap. Next to Don't Talk to Irene, this was my second favorite movie out of the Toronto International Film Festival this year. It's about half an hour too long which makes some of the battle rapping feel overly redundant. However, I really enjoyed how the filmmakers addressed diversity and political correctness in a way that isn't forced and uneducated.
This was definitely one of my favorite films out of the festival this year. It is so fun, so witty, so heartwarming, at times heartbreaking, and so on point. This "little" Canadian film stole my heart away. I laughed out loud so much my face hurt afterwards.
Unicorn Store, directed by and starring Brie Larson, was the first film I got to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year, and one that I was super excited to see...I mean, it's Brie Larson and something to do with unicorns! How could I not be excited?? In reading the logline and based on the photo used on TIFF's site, I thought, this could be really cute or really indie arthouse weird. Of course, there's nothing wrong with indie arthouse weird, I've enjoyed a number of such films. I am an emotional film watcher, so I enjoy almost anything I emotionally connect with, but I honestly had no idea what to expect, because you just never know with some of these films at film festivals. I guess what I was really hoping for was just not the kind of depressing ending or an ending that leaves you with a sort of vacant and unsatisfied feeling that many of these more arthouse films tend to leave you with. Let's just say at the end of the movie, I was pretty happy and satisfied, and ready to let my inner unicorn out if I hadn't already.
AT LAST...Leo got his Oscar!!! I've never cried so much during an award show. Absolute tears of joy were streaming down my face, I didn't even care what happened next. So, I feel a little bad for the SPOTLIGHT team, because everyone was probably still overjoyed about Leo's win when they got up to accept their awrad. However, I'm really glad SPOTLIGHT took Best Picture home, because it's such an incredible and important piece of storytelling.
Overall, I enjoyed the evening--mostly because I was so anxious to see Leo finally win. Needless to say, Chris rock started off the night instantly hitting it out of the ballpark. However, as he continued to go on with his wordy opening monologue addressing the diversity issue, all he talked about was black and white, and then he tried to include a little more by spending about a minute talking about women. There are more colours in the rainbow than black and white!
Thankfully, the Academy tried to make up for that by peppering some extra diversity throughout the show by having an Asian award escort lady, Sofia Vergara and Byung Hun Lee presenting an award together, adding a rap song to the end of the show as the credits rolled about "fight the power," and even inviting Mindy Kaling! Good job Academy for hearing everyone's anger over the lack of diversity. Good job.
Still, one of the most powerful moments of the night was when Joe Biden came out on stage to introduce Lady Gaga. I could not stop applauding him and crying. He's been so important in protecting women against assault and violence, and it's incredibly important that he was able to stand up with that message on such an influential platform in front of an industry that has a lot to do to improve how it address sexual assault and violence against women. And then I just crumbled during Lady Gaga's performance. I was bawling. Thank you Mr. Vice President for continuing to fight for us, and thank you Lady Gaga for sharing your truth and being such an important and powerful voice.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Ever since I was a child, celebrating my birthday was always traumatizing for me. However, a couple years ago I discovered both COLCOA and Brit Week—both of which take place the week of my birthday. In case you’re not familiar, COLCOA is the City of Lights, City of Angeles Film Festival, a nine-day French Film Festival that takes place in LA, premiering some of France’s well-received and/or much anticipated films of the year. Brit Week is a number of events spread throughout LA celebrating the Brits. It’s my favorite thing—films, fun, and fabulousness. So now, I always look forward to my birthday, because instead of saying “nothing” in response to questions about my birthday plans, I now have a less pathetic response.
While I didn’t have the chance to screen all the films showing there, of the ones I did screen, I can tell you a few standouts. I highly recommend these films.
The first is a charming film called, Gemma Bovery. Anne Fontaine, the mastermind behind great films like Coco Before Chanel, Chloe, and The Girl From Monaco, brings us this romantic dramedy and Madame Bovary inspired tale. It’s about Martin, who has moved back to a Norman village from Paris, to take over his father’s bakery. He is intrigued by the English couple who has moved in across the road from him, and how their lives seem to be taking bits out of the classic Flaubert novel—not to mention their names are Gemma and Charles Bovery. The French countryside sets up and immediately draws you into this romantic and whimsical story. Gemma, played by the sensual and mesmerizing Gemma Arterton (Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters), perfectly captures the bored but curiously intriguing essence that is Madame Bovary. However, it’s Fabrice Lochini’s impeccable comedic timing that moves this story along. You see classic novels be remade, modernized, or used as the pivotal metaphor in films all the time, but the way Anne Fontaine executed this, both as writer and director, is a fresh and unique twist. I bet you never thought Madame Bovary could make you laugh.
The second is a riveting performance by Pierre Niney in Un homme ideal. Niney won Best Actor at the César Awards (the French version of the Oscars), for his performance as Yves Saint Laurent, in the film about the late designer. At 26, with his talent, his classical training, and his passion, he is no doubt to become a household name worldwide. Un Homme Ideal, will take you for a psychologically thrilling ride—be prepared. The whole time you are just wondering what is going to happen? How is he going to get out of this alive? Is he going to get out of this alive? Often times, thrillers can be quite predictable—this is not that kind of thriller. This film will keep you in suspense even through the ending.
The third film I greatly enjoyed was a romantic comedy titled, Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglément and Clovis Cornillac’s (A Very Long Engagement) directorial debut. This was another refreshing take on a genre. It reminded me of the romantic comedies from the 1940’s, like the Fred and Ginger movies—minus all the singing and dancing, though there was a bit of singing—and the leads don’t kiss until the very end, and you can feel the passion, and fireworks exploding out of your heart. It’s a quirky little story that starts with Chopin, and shows us all the senses that make love all that it is—passion, companionship, liberty, individuality. Mélanie Bernier, the leading lady here, is a darling. She reminds me of a delightful combination of Emily Blunt and Zoey Deschanel. Cornillac, though not so well-known in the States, is a star in his own right. I thought his directorial debut was brilliant, and that he was equally brilliant as the lead. I know he had preferred to stay out of this film, but I’m glad he ultimately decided otherwise. Another thing—I think what tied this story up nicely with a sparkly pink ribbon was the outstanding soundtrack.
If you’re looking for just good storytelling and entertianment, you really must see these films when possible. I don’t know their release dates in various territories, but do look them up. I also don’t believe any of them have US distributors yet; however, I’m sure we will see them on at least Netflix soon.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
The first time I saw the trailer for this most ridiculously awesome film, I was 1) so excited for a new Colin Firth movie, 2) completely intrigued by seeing him in an action film, and 3) highly curious about this interesting array of cast. It’s one thing to have a good British ensemble, but another to throw Samuel L. Jackson into the mix—who, I might add, made quite the hilarious villain.
Well, I was thoroughly entertained--it starts out with a bang and ends with a bang. Who doesn’t love a show of sharp suits, fine shoes, an assortment of nifty and discreet weapons, and a fantastic arrangement of explosions? Not to mention, the classic English gentleman, bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks who learns to become a gentleman, and a mix of very cool and outrageous fight scenes. The way some of the gore and action scenes were executed, I was reminded a bit of Quentin Tarantino.
It’s a different kind of action movie and there was a bit of a satirical message about society’s current state, which the filmmaker’s relayed through Richmond Valentine's (Samuel L. Jackson) evil plot to kill off most of humanity. Another thing I enjoyed about this film is the various twists. So, I urge you to go see Colin Firth in action, and allow yourself a fun escape into an action-filled movie full of thrills and a good laugh.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
In my hometown, there is a little airfield about 5 minutes from my house, called “Zamperini Field.” It’s barely noticeable and sometimes you’ll find strawberry fields, cornfields, or what have you, on the far perimeters. It wasn’t until tonight did I know the great history behind the name Zamperini, after watching “Unbroken,” directed and produced by Angelina Jolie.
I have been dying to see this movie ever since the first teaser came out. This movie is hands down Disney's best animated film since Up. Disney has conjured up the magic it is known for in the form of a giant, huggable, marshmallow robot (which also looks like the Michelin man), and through it has brought the kind of warm fuzzy feelings that fill your heart with giddy love when you've watched a movie that takes you through the spectrum of emotions.
I laughed--A LOT--I got teary eyed, and I laughed some more. There's a kid, there's a robot that teaches life lessons and gives bear hugs, there's an unsuspecting villain, there are heroes that save the day, and there's a made up city called San Franokyo. Like a child, the movie stirred and inspired my imagination and I walked out of the theater high as a kite in 30mph winds.
I foresee some awesome Halloween costumes in 2015.
BIG LOVE & HUGS