This week: 50 Shades of Grey

written by Lhynette Alejandro

When Anastasia Steele, a literature student, goes to interview the wealthy Christian Grey, as a favor to her roommate Kate Kavanagh, she encounters a beautiful, brilliant and intimidating man. The innocent and naive Ana started to realize she wants him, despite his enigmatic reserve and advice, she finds herself desperate to get close to him. Not able to resist Ana's beauty and independent spirit, Christian Grey admits he wants her too, but in his own terms. Ana hesitates as she discovers the singular tastes of Christian Grey - despite the embellishments of success, his multinational businesses, his vast wealth, his loving family - Grey is consumed by the need to control everything. 

“I exercise control in all things Ms. Steele." -  Christian Grey

Three main thoughts about the movie -

Uno: Elegance...elegance everywhere...
As much as we all know or at least have a slight idea of what this movie is, whips, the BDSM culture - the movie's style, characters and settings were over the top sophisticated and tasteful. It all revolves around Christian Grey and his success in life. The classy feel of the movie was established right in the beginning as Anastasia Steele went into Christian's office for some interview for a friend. She enters his office (she trips and falls on her face) - and the camera pans to a huge office, with a beautiful view of the Seattle skyline - his office being the CEO/President/Founder of everything sexy...had floor to ceiling glass windows. The super modern and masculine office furniture, very minimalist and a great contrast the the shiny marble floor (i am assuming it's marble). The freaking helicopter that took Ana and Christian back to Christian's penthouse suite...COME ON…is this real life? Can I get a ride? Let's not forget to mention the new car Christian gifted Ana for graduation. But what really stood out for me is the “playroom”. Whips, handcuffs and harnesses hanging in every corner of the room but they were neatly organized and placed in these shelves and holders. It takes out the “kinkyness” and the awkwardness of the movie for me. The BDSM culture (and I am sure this movie is a bit over the top and doesn’t quite capture the culture itself so please pardon me and I don’t want to offend anyone) is more than just the tools..and the sex. It exists in real life, and this movie portrayed it in a way where…it’s not awkward, it’s not taboo, it’s just how people live. It’s not in some dungeon or someone’s basement. It got me past the giggling and the blushing – because Christian Grey is serious about this secret. It’s not some game to him. It’s part of his sophisticated, high-class standards, and that definitely shows through his one passion. his playroom.

Dos. Anastasia's transformation.
From girl to a level with Grey. Her wardrobe slowly evolved, and the innocent little virgin girl persona was also transformed to a more dominant character - even though Ana's character was the "submissive" in this movie, she was playing Christian Grey...and has him eating out the palm of her hand.

Anastasia Steele throughout the whole movie, keeps Grey hanging by not signing the contract and going back and forth on her feelings for him. Two scenes that are my favorite were the meeting scene, where Anastasia and Christian discuss the contract for Ana to fully agree and commit to be Christian’s submissive. The whole meeting, Anastasia was being a tease to Christian by showing him what he wanted to see – body language “ your legs are pressed together, you’re flushed” making Christian think she wanted him…but at the end of the meeting---even when Christian asks her to stay, Anastasia just leaves. Second scene I liked is when Anastasia left Christian’s penthouse for good, which is the last scene of the movie. She’s had enough of Christian’s unwillingness to give her romance and love – and to top it off, Anastasia let Christian take her in the playroom to be “punished.". Anastasia goes to the playroom, bends over on the leather bench/table and Christian instructs her to count with him as she whips her six times…after the sixth whip, Anastasia is crying – and tells Christian “You will never do that to me again!” She bolts off and leaves. As much as the movie was such a back and forth on what Ana wanted from Christian, and what Christian was willing to give to her – that was the final straw. She should not understand why Christian would want to “punish” her and see her unhappy while getting pleasure out of it. I’m not going to lie, the majority of the movie shows Christian and Anastasia doing this back and forth dance towards each other, but within those scenes, you can see Anastasia’s transformation as she takes control over her own emotions and actions..and chooses herself over what Christian wants from her – despite the fact that she has fallen in love with Christian. NO MORE MS. NICE GIRL!

Three. Beyond the shades...the love story is endearing.
The scene after Grey’s family dinner – where Christian declares “you’re the one changing me," the two characters are falling hard for each other. I was confused – because for Christian to be the “dominant” why is he chasing after this girl? Why is he taking her on these plane rides and lavish dinners and taking her to meet is family? Giving her first edition books of some famous authors…WHY? THEN BAM...this dude is head over heels for her too. As cheesy as it is…I liked the love story between Christian and Anastasia. They both bring something to the table. Anastasia enlightened Christian to a type of relationship he has never had before, and Christian enlightened her…to well….you know, de-flowering her and helping her find out how she likes it in bed. And the possibilities are endless. Christian takes care of her, and she takes care of Christian emotionally…by being by his side – and the whole movie…Anastasia doesn’t sign the contract one bit. So, not to get into more cheesy stuff, because I’m a girl and I am well aware this is JUST a movie, it is endearing and it sucked me in. It’s a really good contrast to the whole sexy theme of the movie. Because what girl doesn’t want to be romanced by a young, tall glass of handsome every now and then. Sign me up! Sign me up for the “love and handsome man” deal, sans the other things.

I am giving Fifty Shades a 2 out of 4, Hell Yeah. But not as enthusiastic...the actors are new, Anastasia's fake naive thirst for Christian Grey got old really quick. The whole back and forth got annoying. But the overall story behind BDSM was quite a learning experience for me, the culture truly does exists. I tried to really hate this movie, because I felt shy for liking it and telling everyone to watch it because it has that enigma of “oh you freak…” but seriously, it’s much more than that. I was drawn by the sophistication and elegance the movie has, the evolution of Anastasia’s character and the love story of Christian and Anastasia. You’ll giggle, you’ll laugh, you’ll be annoyed and frustrated…What the heck…go watch it! 
Five thoughts from watching the trailer:
1. Who is this actress?
2. Show his face already.
3. ....well Hello Mr. Grey. Nice office.
4. This Crazy in Love remix is catchy.
5. What the hell is this room?

2 out of 4

This week: Into the Woods

written by Lhynette Alejandro

Into the Woods is a modern twist on several of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters' wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy). These stories are tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them. (C) Disney

Uno: the aesthetics
Can we please talk about the fancy seamless special effects that populated this movie? From the costume, Cinderella’s  transformation from the girl hanging out by the fireplace to a very pretty princess to head to the ball. Even though Johnny Depp was only in the movie for a hot second, his character as the wolf was impressive as expected. The endless hours the actors spent in the make-up chairs reflects in how amazing everyone looked in the movie. We can’t forget about Meryl Streep with the blue hair, snaggle teeth and looking like a crazy bum off of the streets of Compton in the 80s. The way the actors were dressed and made up were so perfect for each character in the movie and definitely tied everything together, by everything I mean the environment they were in. The setting of the woods, as the precocious little girl in the red cape stupidly frolics through the deep dark woods (side note: I mean seriously, what little girl will be THAT happy to go into the woods?) The castle, the bean stalk, the village of the baker and his wife, Rapunzel... the special effects brought all these whimsical themes into life. I was hooked. Sitting in my movie chair, I was in a daze…living happily ever after.    

Dos: the great musical talent of Kendrick, Blunt and surprisingly Pine.
This totally surprised me, Chris Pine? Singing? Let me back track - I didn’t know Into the Woods is a remake of a musical from the '80s until I started reading more about the movie. It’s based on the play by this guy named Sondheim. Then I also read that the same person who produced/directed Chicago is the same person who directed/produced Into the Woods. So I was definitely intrigued. I had high hopes, but I definitely had my doubts – especially with this movie being a musical and all. I think of musicals similar to waiting for your newly painted nails to dry. You hate it, you have to sit there, and wait patiently and live through it because you paid money to get your nails done and you don’t want it to get smudged or ruined. Similar to a musicals – I paid for it, but hurry up with the singing, where’s the acting? Then bam, we all know Streep is, as always, nothing short of remarkable. Kendrick and Blunt didn’t disappoint either. Chris Pine blew me away though. I know it might sound lame, but he totally “Captain Kirked” his singing in his role as the Prince. He was fit for the part - he had the face, the blonde hair, the blue eyes, and to top it off he was singing like a bad ass. It blew me away and surprised me. Chris Pine’s singing was like finding that fifty dollar bill in your jacket pocket from last winter while you were spring cleaning. Chris Pine, you blew me away!!! Great singing voice!

Three: great mashup of all fairytales I know by heart presented so differently from what I knew as a child!
Even though the movie put some twists and intertwined each fairytale with one another – it was a great mashup of everything I had hoped. The movie kept the original story line for each fairytale which I really liked and added the baker and the baker’s wife story –Rapunzel gets in the mix of things with Cinderella and Jack with the beanstalk. It was nostalgic to start the movie with the words “Once upon a time…” The movie was whimsical and kept me interested the whole time. I liked that the dialogue was very witty and definitely smart. The fairytale characters definitely held their originality, but in this movie, the characters I knew as a child had something dark. With the Prince falling for the Baker’s wife, and Cinderella questioning the Prince’s motives. It was a good balance of surreal and then the dialogue made the characters seem like “real people” dealing with issues of love, grief, longing, sex, and envy. It was pretty much a fairy tale for grown-ups.

My two cents – If you don’t like musicals, just suck it up. This movie will change every bad opinion you have about musicals being boring and pretentious…maybe for at least 90 minutes you’ll be impressed. Did I mention that Chris Pine sings his heart out in the movie? Totally did not expect that. This movie definitely puts a grown up twist to the fairytales you knew as a child. The actors, the costumes and the whole story line are all together making the best movie sundae of all time. I also read that the movie has already snagged a few supporting actors award and best musical blah blah blah award…How can you go wrong with that? Just go, grab your keys, take a friend and enjoy the film as much as I did!
Movie trailer thoughts:
  1. WOW Meryl Streep! Tha snaggle tooth though...
  2. All my fairytales in one movie? I don’t get it.
  3. Hahaha the Prince was being a smart ass.
  4. Anna Kendrick! Pitch Perfect!
  5. Oh God, Johnny Depp looking wack!

2.5 out of 4

This week: Horrible Bosses 2

written by Lhynette Alejandro

Three reasons why I enjoyed Horrible Bosses 2:

Uno: The amazing chemistry between the three main characters definitely played a huge part.

Dos: You have the ever so stupidly hilarious Charlie Day, the horndog of a single guy, Jason Sudeikis...and between the two, Jason Bateman as the father figure who looked after the group, convincing everyone "we are not going to see mother fucker jones, because we are not going to kidnap anyone."

Three: The dialogue was fast and witty-usually this banter was between Day and Sudeikis. The kind of sarcastic humor I was hoping for was there...and it was definitely shown in the first scene where the three characters are on a makeshift morning TV show...introducing their "shower buddy" invention. Once I picked up the interaction between the three characters in the first scene, I was convinced that the movie will be peppered with unexpected funnies! 

The class we all wished we took in college.

written by Jessica Elliott
For the past two months, I’ve helped myself to an extra cup of coffee on Fridays in an effort to keep my sleep-depravity at bay (a direct link to raising a 15-month-old) so I can stay awake to watch the latest episode of Sonic Highways. Even then, I made sure the DVR was set to record (God help me if there are technical issues!) and calmed even further knowing the latest episode would be available on On Demand. Why the sense of urgency? I blame the premiere of the series set in Chicago. At the end of that episode, I knew I was in for a musical education and it was exactly what my Friday nights needed but more importantly, it reinvigorated my love and interest in the musical culture and community which, until now, had exponentially waned - I’m looking at you Taylor Swift.

Sonic Highways follows the Foo Fighters as they visit eight cities across the U.S. with the purpose of showcasing how the community and surroundings influence the creation and recording of an album. At the end of each episode, they perform a song inspired by the interviews, people and history of that city. Each song is written by Dave Grohl and comprises their eighth album, also named Sonic Highways.

How Americans slowburned their country to a dimwitted cinder.

written by Audy Elliott

*Jim Carrey’s comedic abomination came in number one the past weekend at 38 million, winning over better contemporary films ‘interstellar’ and ‘Big Hero 6’. 

The prevailing question over the past weekend was “How the hell was this movie number one?”. It doesn’t look like it should be number one, it doesn’t smell like it should be number one, and it has enough premise dust on it to stay into oblivion, and rot in an idiot clichéd punch- lined retirement home. Dumb & Dumber To went up against, better, tactfully more entertaining quality of films for the weekend, mercilessly prat-falling past its competition to an unjustifiable win. So again, how the hell did this movie come in number one this past weekend? Movie analysts strip down all the logistics to one vital element: Nostalgia. And my response to that is - FUCK NOSTALGIA! American moviegoing audiences have been personally killing me with their slack-jawed movie choices for quite some time, but even this is an all new low. It’s as a piss dumb flu of a movie came, leaving me afflicted with a bad case of shitty cinema-itis, and the only robitussin-like cure would be to kill myself by a western movie, high noon styled hanging where I made sure there was no slack in my rope. I’m not that desperate yet, but it’s getting there.

I've got heaven right here on earth.

written by Jermaine Lowery
Now we’re getting somewhere, the Doctor has arrived! It took him all season, but he’s a Time Lord, give him a break. He probably only spent two days of his own time. Season 8 of Doctor began in a seemingly amorphous state that was held onto until the bitter end. It left viewers wondering, who is this guy, really? What does one story line have to do with the next? Where are we going with this? Who is Missy? Well, now we know... all of it. What began as one raised eyebrow ended in an "a-ha" as the Doctor arose from his dream state and walked into his own glory. Was it a bumpy ride? Yes. Did he leave the brakes on the T.A.R.D.I.S. again? Absolutely. Was it worth the turbulence? You bet.

In the final four episodes of Dr. Who Season 8, we were encountered with beings from another dimension, a not so enchanted forest, and the afterlife, twice! The T.A.R.D.I.S. also know as “Sexy”, has seen more visitors than I can remember. The dynamic between the Doctor, “Clara my Clara”, and Danny Pink shifted throughout; sometimes uncomfortably so.  People died… and the band played on. 

Philosophical, exhilarating, somber, cohesive, unsettling, compassionate. 

These are the DROIDS we’re looking for.

written by Audy Elliott
Ex Machina or the “Great Machine” is a super naturalistic hyper sci-fi movie that preys on your heart as much as it does on Domnhall’s little cubicle trapped program engineer. The movie, written and directed by Alex Garland (writer for 28 Days Later), is predatory like a titanium razor-sharp hug from a beta tested C-3P-OH MY, Audrey Toutou looking robot. The teaser trailer for this sci-fi film is a socratic, scientific art of war like gesture, where one keeps his robot friends close, and the little mobster guy from Drive closer. There is a predominant motive apparent in the trailer where Gleeson is, in his own way, being controlled either by Oscar Isaac’s brilliant but eccentric robot “whose-a-was-it” creator Nathan, and the coy, angelic “Fritz Langian” Ava, played convincingly by Alicia Vikander, whose come-hither programmed look is convincingly enticing to our young pip. If this was Dickens' “Great Expectations” Gleeson’s Caleb character would be off to bigger and better ascendency to life (as he is called up his entry level techno-silicon valley like droning from a contest getting “the golden ticket” to have face to face time with C.E.O. Nathan) and like Pip in Great Expectations, he is chosen to attain a better wealth (of knowledge), a better shine (attention, study with the big secluded boss), but still couldn’t possess the one thing he wanted: Estella (Ava and her natty wig). You can clearly tell Caleb is not only fascinated with Ava, but also entranced by her needing to be seen by him. He can’t, for all intents and purposes carry a relationship with her even though they are both chained to the same endemic trapped circumstance. 

You can see that for a sci-fi thriller this trailer is made out of some good things: Oscar Isaac, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors, to a claustrophobic, scenic environment where things are not as attractive as they seem, in Nathan’s mono-chromatic fortress of solitude/Resident Evil “Umbrella” research lab. But the main draw is Ava. She is the oil tin-can woman wild card to this movie. The more she becomes “real” and enticing, the more we are perplexed and awed. Clearly, it’s established that manipulation is going to be a precursor to Gleeson’s character before, during and possibly after all of the shrapnel of metallic bullshit resides. He cannot determine, if he is being manipulated by Nathan or Ava or both. Maybe, it’s the trailer that is manipulating us. Isaac looks as he is continuing to string together quality roles that show him off to people without shoving him into the lime light. This movie also comes together with the anticipation, of two principal actors for the upcoming Star Wars Episode 7. I feel it’s a nice added bonus in which I can see if they have chemistry or not, and how that might (probably will) translate to Abrams over-agreeable franchise operatic hypebeast. Isaac, who is small in stature, comes across like a whopping Teddy Roosevelt bull-like intensity that may be good natured, but is more than likely insincere, or again, this is what an impressive teaser trailer is showing us. Gleeson in contrast, plays the same character he did in the wildly off-beat Frank as a young, impressionable but likable kid that is the right combination of “gee whiz” and “oh gosh” with a little of his father’s acidic reactionary wit. 

A countdown to the top 10 movie scene’s in Nolan’s filmography. 

Nolan’s latest film – Interstellar, in case you haven’t heard, is coming out in theaters this week and the twitterverse is set ablaze with giddy, hopeful slavish anticipation. Some people will love it, some will really love it and some will give it a passing grade, while the remaining deconstructionist will be more selective when handing out superfluous commentary, on why he chose to do this, or didn’t choose that. Either way, Interstellar has arrived and it’s ready for consumption whether you are ready or not. Expectations have, for the most part, been befitting to a likely passable experience, even if it’s possibly, not up to the standard of his film’s normal stature. Don’t worry if it’s not the next Inception, that’s fine, no director has ever batted a .1000 when it comes to their collection of work from beginning to end, with the exception I’m told of Andrei Turkovsky. But again, I digress. Case in point of contemporary directors pooping the bed every once and awhile: Scorcese - Gangs of New York, Kubrick - Eyes Wide Shut, Hitchcock - Birds (come on, you know you didn’t like that movie!), Spielberg – War of the Worlds, War Horse and everything that Roland Emmerich has done. I’m not saying that any of these aforementioned films are horrible, or less than the standard of quality, but let’s face it – it’s not their most memorable work or the films you name drop at your next film buff vs. film buff cage match. 

About a month ago I posed a question: why isn’t anyone excited about Interstellar? Excitement has picked up from most Nolan fan boys (me included) but there is still a collective ho-hum from casual moviegoers. Like Nolan himself, the marketing has been refined and subtle, not pressing or desperate in seeking approval from the people say like Abrams, and the new Star Wars. For the promotion Nolan has given interviews, held Q & A panels, and even stopped by the air and space museum here in my home city, Washington D.C., demonstrating a certain self satisfaction of his film that is coupled with his reassurance that he can do, ultimately whatever he wants to. The whole handling of the movie from a marketing standpoint has been done sublimely, in which adds to the movie’s overall mystery, while distancing itself (possibly harming itself) with a lack of mainstream accessibility. The beauty about watching Nolan’s career unfold right now in the moment is that I have seen a masterful, artisan, budding landmark auteur of the highest cerebral levels grow from one movie to the next. We are at the ground zero of greatness. We were told of Bergman, Kurosawa, Allen, Ford, Demille etc., we were preordained with their greatness already gifted to us like an inheritance, taking away the very immediacy of the moment in time of how they were viewed in their heyday as they too were discovering themselves. Rarely, do we see greatness in present time. But we are seeing it with Nolan, and we should be grateful that we get to see his mastery as a first hand experience that we will be telling the next generation of movie fans as they discover their Nolan like we did with ours. 

Regardless, if Interstellar misses the mark on its quest of self-imposed directional pantheon of The Dark Knight, Inception or Memento, it will undoubtedly be a fitting piece in his overall filmography (I have not seen the movie at the time of this article) – so I’m not worried one bit. Having said that, during the trailers, news and alleged Marvel “real movies don’t do that” pimp smack, nothing has gripped me about this movie except that there is a movie to begin with. Inception was a visual masterpiece that played on your mind's comprehension of what it was witnessing. The Dark Knight was everywhere, fronted by Heath Ledger’s promise of an outstanding rendition of Joker, to even where The Dark Knight Rises, had the opening 15 minutes with Bane hijacking a plane. Keep it real – you didn’t see go to see Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol just for Paula Patton alone, right?! I thought so – the bigger Nolan’s movies became, the louder the bellowing sound of the anticipatory music boom box would drop its heavyweight IMAX beats, but not so this time with rustic leading man, Rust Cohle, and the little Twilight glitter baby in Interstellar (from what I hear she is a little gem in this ). So to pump you up, if you need that sort of thing, I will go over the TOP 10 Movie Moments thus far in Christopher Nolan’s career that span from his very first movie (Following) to his most recent one (The Dark Knight Rises). Hopefully after I see Interstellar I can add another remarkable scene to the catalog of the preexisting visionary movies from the ambitious man himself. Like the maxim that holds all truths to be self evident: In Nolan we trust, and with that trust comes an uncanny ability to hold our collective imaginations while delivering them with expected confidence. 

Onto the countdown you have been waiting to see, and I have been waiting to show. As the Joker would say: “And here, we, go.”

10. The chase scene in Insomnia 
First of all  - R.I.P. to my boy Robin Williams. Secondly, If you think that was actually Pacino and Williams running you need to get kicked in the head and trapped under the logs in this scene like Michael Phelps with two broken legs. This is probably the film that gets forgotten when discussing Nolan’s films. I saw this in the theater, and it was a faithful adaption to the original with Stellan Skarsgård, with Nolan trying to understandably make it his own. Not his best movie, but underrated, and still dealt with the same psychological complexities that we have grown accustomed to seeing in his films. Nolan uses quite a bit of ingenuity to portray heightened action, but really masking Pacino who is running frantically in place. Both characters faced more hazards in this scene then all of the contestants on all of seasons of Ninja Warrior combined. This scene could have easily been a throwaway, routine chase scene, but to Nolan’s credit he made chicken salad out of U.S. adaptation chicken shit. 

 9. The narrative explanation/montage scene in Following.
Great Scene/Sequence/Narration – a lot film idealism at play in which you get a narration from the main character as to why he “shadows” people seeing where they would go and how far he could follow them without getting beat the fuck up. Nolan keeps the main character in the shadows with murky, overcast richness of the baby neo-realistic setting. The scene highlights a charming, but delusional protagonist who is a brilliant and methodical in a poor man’s Jeremy Iron sort of way. He wears a mask of an inquisitive, sociopath that frequents coffee and crullers at Dunkin Donuts. You see early traces of narrative layering and writing, coming from Nolan in genius form as we are studying his character, as he is studying people, while walking in one of the most naturalistic shot environments. Promising start of what’s to come from a great director. 

8. Inception – Mal in the hotel scene.
First of all, you are dealing with the point of view of Cobb’s reality from what he remembers the night Mal jumps to her death on their anniversary. This scene, as with numbers 9 and 10 on this list, still play on a mix of emotions and logic and how both don’t apply to Mal, and her sanity or lack of thereof. Elements come at a virtuoso harmony, starting with Cotillard's tragic, but haunting acting, to Zimmer’s music, to Leo doing what Leo does best and angry cries to cap the scene. Also, it’s supposed to be a night of happiness and celebration for the couple, but Like Papa Nolan does, he uses it and twists it to make the scene not only memorable for the characters, but also us - and for the all the wrong reasons.

7.  The Dark Knight – Joker hanging upside down scene.
The unstoppable force meets the immovable object meets the bomb-ass counter camera rotation. This was a brilliant little camera move that still lasts with me until this day. With Joker just hanging upside down like a piece of rotisserie chicken, Ledger still exudes a confidence that even though he is captured, he is still self assured as he knows he's still in control in the best, extreme way possible. Once the camera slowly rotates and moves counter-clockwise forcing the power back in the hands of the joker, Ledger delivers a persuasive dreamlike monologue. Lending to the madness, Ledger is unfazed that he is dangling upwards to 40 feet in the air, is still talking shit to Bats. This camera maneuver gives Joker one last hurrah to show Batman may have won the battle but the war was far from over. The scene only heightens the psychosis of the character, movie and Nolan’s reputation for the search of intelligence even with a “comic book” movie. 

6. Memento – Where he punches Natalie, but then knows he will forget.
Come on Leonard, concentrate, concentrate – stay focused, where is a pen? Excellent scene! Like the ass-backwards narrative structure of the movie, we are first exposed, in the previous scene, with Natalie and her busted lip (Who did this to Trinity?? She’s nice - she didn’t deserve that!!). She tells Leonard that her boyfriend Dodd did it, needing Leonard’s help to put Dodd in a world of hurt. Well come to find out, it wasn’t Dodd, but good ol’ Leonard that molly whopped Natalie thus giving her the bloody lip. The real intensity is released once Leonard knows he needs to write down what happened or he will forget in T-Minus 30 seconds and counting. While he is scurrying to find something to write with, or a bottle of scotch to drink his pain away, Natalie is sitting in the car, with a cunning smirk knowing that she has power over Leonard and there isn’t a damn thing he can do about it. Man, that is messed up, and that is why its number 6. 

5. The Dark Knight Rises opening heist scene on the airplane. 
Now here Nolan is just showing off. This is a byproduct of he can do whatever he likes, and believes in his prowess. Zimmer’s thundering score, coupled with the dense thick slabs of sound effects and the unmasking of Bane is a great way to set the tone for the rest of the movie. Here Nolan took what he learned shooting IMAX from The Dark Knight and decided to push himself further, higher (literally) and with more camera vibrato than we have seen. He is the Nolan we now know – he is in his film making prime. What’s most impressive is the choreography and timing that was required to pull such a shot off, as well as controlling the scene and its participants at such a high, grand level. He makes it look easy, but it’s not. That culminates with the old plane being detonated, spiraling downwards like a baby turd flushed down the toilet bowl of Bane’s primordial wake. You feel the physicality of Bane, or the impression of the pain Bane’s character will bring to the rest of the movie and eventually Bruce Wayne’s back. 

4. Prestige ending 
All of those top hats. The Prestige is a gem of a film, which really questions the motivation of the lengths that both Angier and Borden dramatically strive to “out bro” the other for the ultimate magic trick/disappearing act. What’s really at play here, again, is that Angier clearly won the spectacle but at what price? I mean how many top hats did my man go through to perform this trick? 10? 20? 120? Doesn’t matter – he is a living ghost. He kills himself, but is still alive. It’s perverted, and the utmost macabre, but tragic as well. The last image of Angier’s clone, lifeless, floating, eyes aglaze, and hair directionless but with a face that hints of stale consciousness by its own death by the encumbered hands of the person the clone couldn’t trust the most – Angier himself. 

3. Batman Begins – bats in the cave.
A clear motif in all of Nolan’s films is that the mind is a powerful ally or adversary. In Batman Begins, the movie (in 2005) was met with a tepid but interested response. And like Bale accepting his fears and immersing himself with the bats in the cave, we also accepted this new version, a rebirthed Nolan hero. Bale sells the fear immediately, stilted movements, careful and careless at the same time, hands trembling without coming across as completely intimidated. Zimmer’s score builds and builds cueing Bale to rise and accept his destiny as the Dark Knight Detective, and our new modern, quintessential, Connery of a Batman. The scene is highly symbolic: Bale walks in, looks like he is shitting his pants, and then decides to operate his flash light as if Nolan is shining a light to us, the fans, that there is a new franchise, and is titleholder as the Batman of all Batmen. Once Bale turned the light on, our collective imaginary lightbulbs went off in our mind knowing that we were on to something truly landmark here, that transcends the genre, like Bale transcending his fear, like us transcending the given skepticism. 

2. The Dark Knight – truck flip/bike scene.
This whole sequence is paramount to the movie, Nolan, and the Bat Universe as a whole. It plays to a wonderful score where the slicing string notes escalate and release tension, as Batman is racing to destroy the Joker on a collision course of a glorified “Made ya flinch first” game. Batman is determined to put an end to all of the anarchy caused by the Joker, with the Joker daring him to do it. It’s apparent these two really need each other – yin to the fucked up yang. If the sequence played like a song, with Joker and Batman doing the harmonies, the truck flip is the high note! The way Nolan shifts the action gears with Batman speeding up, shooting his bat hooks – intercut with Joker looking puzzled, to Batman flipping the shit out of the truck, like someone’s little brother in backyard wrestling, ending with Bats looking as pleased as he can look without showing it. Nolan is masterclassing his ass off, playing tension, drama, and high action theatrics. And the greatest part at this point is, you haven’t seen shit yet. 

1. The hallway fight/van chase sequence in Inception.
As I have previously stated above, I have been very fortunate to watch Nolan in his prime, challenging, himself and taking what you can do in cinema even further with a beautiful marriage between big budgets and big ideas. So far every moment I have put in the countdown is obviously not in chronological order, but they all served traces of his inventiveness, and directional knowledge from the raw elegance of Following to the physical brutality that inhabits Bane and The Dark Knight Rises. For me personally, this scene is the one that lingers and holds the most reverence with its textured presentation, layered relationship physics to the sheer audacity of Nolan not using a green screen to pull off the rotating hallway effect. He kept the camera mounted, fixed, and with extraordinary choreography, rotated an actual hallway model to keep the entire sequence with the illusion harnessed within M.C Escher like “kick punch-ability.” There are many key sequences that all need to naturally co-habit with one another, along with brilliant editing, to make Nolan’s mind warp thriller attain its impact at its absolute zenith in the film. First of all, the focus here is Joseph Gordon Levitt. This helped him go from a stage kid in meaningless teen roles, and hidden gem poster boy to a bonafide, A-list co-star. This movie along with 500 Days of Summer presented him to audiences in a different light. He was solid, tactical, and unemotional. He exhibited an everyman strength and fortitude that would make Edward Norton proud. He is the person in the movie that holds the scene together. Second, in the same action frame, one of the dream henchmen pulls out a gun and gets ready to pull the trigger, but Nolan quickly cuts to the second level during the motorcycle chase scene, and immediately the cyclist shoots in syncopation at our driver. It’s a brilliant subliminal trick that not only thrills, but also psychologically presents a connective thread to the simultaneous connective dream world levels: danger lurks at every sleep awakened place. The hallway demonstrates that Nolan at times is now playing filmmaking chess, while everyone else, like Fincher (whom I like) is still playing repetitive filmmaking monopoly. Pass go, collect your 200 hundred dollars, and come out with the same style and vision, and that’s fine, perfectly fine. Nolan looked at the board, and decided that it wasn’t big enough and decided to create his own game by his own rules, as he did with this scene, and to a grander extent, the movie, and this countdown itself.  
of November 2, 2014

Creepy member’s only jacket Gyllenhaal barely beats Ouija to a slow Nightcrawl, while John Wick got 86’ed out the Top 5.

Halloween was upon the box office this past weekend, marking death upon any opening film that isn’t a shitty horror remake to get stabbed numbly in the bloody heart any credible movie that feels it can overcome the predetermined of box office failure. Nightcrawler confidently knew it could perpetrate Halloween’s tightly gripped pumpkin box office, with a semi-creepy premise, anchored by a semi-creepy character that video tapes provocative L.A. news at night presented theatrically under the guise of a sneaky snuff film idea. Audiences accepted it, but not for the reasons you think. The movie won with an opening tally of 10.91 million, beating powerpuff girl Ouija, the slumber party from hell movie’s total of 10.9. Gyllenhaal won the popular vote, but there is still the electoral of the general pop culture consciences, and you, my sir, were about to get snuffed out of your own pseudo snuff movie promise. Apparently, the young kids (tweens in some tribal circles) had nothing to do this weekend that was short of asking mom or dad for the car. Can’t go to a party - you’re underage, can’t go trick or treating - you’re too old. So where do dumbass middle schoolers and high schoolers go to celebrate? That’s right, to the movies. And what movies do they actually see? Ones where Ouija is on a dish best served idiotic, that’s where.

Last week Ouija and its supernatural market tested studio forces, beat out a very smart, very cool, John Wick. It wasn’t even close. Here again this weekend, another lauded subversive thriller of a movie, with an out of mind performance from a guy who needed it (Gyllenhaal) was about to get syllabized to death by mall girls that play spiritual demonic board games in the 21st century (Is Mall Madness still a thing?). Movies in North America, and in particular in the United States aren’t hamstrung by box office grosses, for certain types of films, and to Nightcrawler’s credit it’s one of them. It’s not accessible in a traditional sense. It showcases a handsome lead that we are accustomed to seeing manufactured, but dapper, while also affable, in a non-threatening way. He convincingly portrays his role overzealously as a recluse dungeon and dragon’s burnout, with an attraction to homicidal street portraits: when it comes to getting off other peoples macabre. General audiences don’t want to see Gyllenhaal do that, but then again, general audiences don’t know what they want to see him as. They just know, this ain’t that movie. But it is! They just won’t let down their guard for a fear of betrayal of wanting to keep Gyllenhaal on their wall to preen over. And he is fine with that, with this particular piece, it’s apparent he goes all in, while never seeming to want to be pulled out. Gyllenhaal is getting rave reviews for his work on the role, with Variety magazine stating that he could be a possible dark horse best actor nomination and probably more than deserves it with this latest effort. Ouija on the other hand is the movie that will be playing on Cinemax at 2:00 in the morning on a Saturday sandwiched between soft core porn that will be its claim to buffer tired, tawdry cable misfit fame where it belongs. Don’t worry, we will get more Ouijas and it will be a franchise, but it cannot in no way shape or campy form, touch the creative leering power behind Nightcrawler. People will try to tell you otherwise out of their own ignorance because we all grew up with a Ouija board, or the idea of it, therefore it lends to familiarity and thus it’s a good movie. Whereas Nightcrawler isn’t even invited to the cocktail party. That is what is making Oujia competitive, it's child barren harmless familiarity that actually harms good film. To me that is not a good enough excuse to place a viability name tag on Ouija.

So then how did John Wick lose out to Ouija where Nightcrawler won? It’s because of atypical paint by action numbers marketing strategy and the fallibility of another seemingly generic action film hand delivered not shortly after the lessor intellectual granddaddy Denzel won. Sorry Wick, action triumphed two weeks early with the dumb as stolen hammers The Equalizer. Wick, like your movie’s plot, came out of retirement too late to make a good action film. You still got it done in the movie, and quite convincingly I must add, but we are talking about the box office here, where you were dead like the eventual puppy found on your doorstep. Nightcrawler had less pressures financially: of course movies are in the business of making money, but some films don’t cling to that monetary notion. The film was made for 8 million dollars, and grossed almost 11 million, while coming in first with little to no marketing or advertising, so Nightcrawler slyly won big this weekend, even if the difference between it and Ouija is small.

Coming in third at 8.8 million with a total cume of (60 million) was David Ayer’s World War 2 Space Opera laser tank Film “Tank Wars: A New Hope” starring Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman and a pissed/crying emotive Shia LaBeouf. Regardless of the TIE Fighter lasers throughout the film, and its choppy structure, Fury is holding strong and further cements the “Frat-dude cinematic” genre that Ayer always finds himself inhabiting. 4th is “Not-so” Gone Girl holding strong deserving its notoriety as a good film, not just a woman’s book - becoming Fincher’s highest grossing film. Rounding out the Top 5, The Book of Life,the children's movie with all of the Mexican cardboard box charm starring Zoe Saldana, Ice Cube and Channing Tatum at 8.3 million. 

Lastly, I’m pouring a 40 oz. for my falling homey Jonathan Aloysius Wick III. This movie is where Keanu Reeve’s recent film choices (Man of Tai Chi and the live anime masturbation 47 Ronin) failed him and by a larger extent the film itself. This was the action movie in which it needed people with the right amount of insight to know that the film, on one hand celebrates action films while also parodying itself in a simple understated way. Like Tom Cruise with Edge of Tomorrow, audiences didn’t turn out not just because he is box office pariah, but also Edge looks, feels, sounds like a typical sci-fi action like Starship Troopers, or Cruise’s previous movie Oblivion. That is why John Wick got beat out by the Instagram generation. Wick looks, feels and sounds like any old action film, stereotypically highlighted in a moody off-Pablo picassoian blue matte, intertwined with a lifeless taupe that are all too familiar in its essence. Foolishly presented as a hard, thick as ice, skull basher of an action film that is pretty much expected to look to the untrained, savvy movie going eye, no matter how well it’s really delivered. Wick is supposed to be familiar, but to its credit, no one will know that its intent was to strip what’s familiar while holding down action movie codes in a different, irreverent way. Thank goodness, Nightcrawler beat Ouija because when the Hulk-Buster of a Mecha-Godzillian Nolan Golum monster - Interstellar comes out, all of the aforementioned movies will lie petrified in its trashy pop cultured tasted wake like an Ashton Kutcher trucker hat hangover. But for right now, kudos to Gyllenhaal, and Dan Gilroy for carving out a little box office slice behind the little movie train that barely could. 

Top five films of the weekend:
  1. Nightcrawler — $10.91 million
  2. Ouija — $10.9 million ($35 million domestic total)
  3. Fury – $9.1 million ($60.4 million domestic total)
  4. Gone Girl – $8.8 million ($136.6 domestic total)    
  5. The Book of Life – $8.3 million ($40.5 domestic total)

Source: Entertainment Weekly 
The need... the need for your pop culture news feed.
Nicki Minaj’s 'Pinkprint' (a response to Jay-Z’s 'The Blueprint') is getting pushed back from November 24th to December 15th for who knows what the fuck for. Don’t worry young boys, you can still watch her ‘Anaconda’ video until the album comes out (Like people actually buy Nicki MInaj albums anyways. I know they do, I just wanted to be a little snarky).

Its officially official, John Carter is coming to True Detective 2. Read my thoughts on the casting here. I digress, not the biggest Taylor Kitsch fan, and something tells me that he will be averaging the shit out of this performance. I mean, was Sam Worthington not available? Is he too busy playing himself as a statue in Central Park?

This is a good sign, because the Lego movie was pure unadulterated fun. Had a wonky ending, and too much Will Ferrell than I care to take, but the movie won and won big. Sure this has a certain “we’re obviously coming back” smell to it, which of course is the scent of the mighty green dollar. Both a commercial and creative win – can't wait for it to come out soon.

Look, I don’t know if what the deal is with this whole Dr. Strange casting panty tease. We have gone through Joachin Phoenix rumors, then Ewan McGregor rumors, and now, Cumberpimp may or may not be the dude. Shit! What's really important is that Strange is an important component into Marvel Studios and the next seven phases to take the battle to Thanos’ front door step in space and wreck shit like an intergalactic, Van Damme – bloodsport kumatai.

In unfortunate news, HBO lays off over a 150 employees in response to streamlining their business. In addition, HBO is making plans to have just a streaming service online because Netflix is berating them to a crying oblivion like a cable version of J.K. Simmons complete with a black muscle t-shirt.

Per a Variety showcase piece on Eddie Radmayne (yes the guy who sounded like Kermit the frog with a struggling muppet verbrato in Les Miserables) is intimately explaining what took to copy, live and breathe as one the most brilliant astrophysicist in modern history, but to also convincingly pull off the physical limitations that ultimately hampered Hawking. Excellent article. You could be seeing your best actor at this upcoming Academy Awards.

Studio is releasing Divergent’s second installment titled Insurgent on 3D showing, and titling the overall series Divergent: Insurgent. Makes sense – In the United States, its pretty much a given at this point any franchise blockbuster is going to come out in IMAX, 3D, 3D IMAX, etc. Can’t be mad at the decision makers that be for wanting to maximize the earning potential of the movie/franchise.

Warner Brothers has sped up the release date of Entourage the movie, for those 12 people in the world that are clamoring for nothing to happen, while four average guys, one above average guy, and one guy that used to be in PCU do nothing but party, burn cash, and find Vinny’s next project for him to fuck up, while still tying everything back in nice, neat little bow at the end. Mark Wahlberg has Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet like clout in Hollywood.

One of my existing favorite collaborations are the Coens and Clooney, from Oh Brother to Burn After Reading. "Don’t know much, but I know I love you." 90’s soft rock ballads aside, I’m anxiously waiting for more details to come out of this promising collaboration.

Looks like Michael Bay is taking some time away from profiting off my traumatizing childhood with dumb masterbating non-sensical robots, to craft together something that is more polictically aware. As much as I hate his yahooing bro-off on everything, he does have a certain design style eye that makes me appreciate his presentations, even though he is a douchelord.

Whedon puts his comic geekdom marks on Avengers: Age of Ultron stating it’s a “global” film that will wrap shooting in places like Africa (no ebola please) China etc. I like the manner in which Whedon is taking the, already well built up size and scope of the first one, and enlarging it even greater.

Reboot, reboot, reboot – I’m not a big fan of the Terminator franchise, but I understand its importance. So there you go.

1. Its good to see Bichir doing work - one the best more underrated actors in all of Hollywood, stars in this movie where it focuses on the latino south la culture and lowriders. Bichir plays the father of a boy who is, I guess caught between that life, and still trying to understudy his father’s guidance, which leads me to 2. Didn’t he already do a role like this before in 2011’s A Better Life?

What everyone is waiting for – another Pee Wee movie. Burton’s was fantastic in a weird, trippy adolescent sense, but I wonder what the premise is for this one? Judd Apatow and his golden beard will produce so it will get traction marking a good comeback for Mr. P.W. Herman.

Channing Tatum is coming to the Xavier’s School for the Gifted throwing charged up cards around in his best haphazard Cajun accent. With his recent rise, the star power fits with Fassbender, McAvoy and Old Man Jackman, and to be honest – Tatum is pretty likable. So much better than anything Taylor Kitsch could bring to the role.

Damn, you are Uma Fucking Thurman – you were in Kill Bill Vol 1. and Vol 2. Like Michael Keaton’s Birdman – ::: husky baritone ::: How did we end up here, you were in Kill Bill, they love you, fuck em’ lets do what makes people happy and get back into franchises – Kill Bill Vol. 3: Killer Bill.” Anyways, I digress. Uma, you are better than this, streets got to eat, but get back in film, we need you there, not NBC.

New trailer from the move Serena starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, in a second collaboration, where they are playing post modern couple that probably hates each other, or Jennifer Lawrence walking through the whole picture as if she came up with the idea of life, and has all the answers in her magic 8 ball of obnoxious, ad nausea, mall girl voice.

Gone Girl is now Fincher’s highest grossing film in the United States – beat out The Social Network and The Curious Case of-what-the hell-is-this-ugly-man-baby, by grossing a total thus far of 136 million thus far. I see Best Pic nom, and Best Actress for Rosamund Pike, who was marvelous in this pic. Kudo’s to Fincher and Gillian Flynn.

Variety has an article that says Jake Gyllenhaal could make a push for a dark horse best acting nom, in the highly creepy, late night sleepy Nightcrawler. Gyllenhall looks good as a guy with opaque fashion sense and slicked back hair as if the late great Al ”crazy-legs” Bundy lent him his wardrobe as a sign of good faith for passing the skeevy flaccid American male loser archtype. 

J Law bought a house. I'm surprised she didn’t build it herself, come up with the concept of architecture, and found her own masonry league to construct the house. Like everything else, she has the answers to the universe but doesn’t care to show them, only show us that she has them. Can’t you tell I don’t like her?

Taylor Swift is taking over the world with her passive aggressive pop-rock by having the biggest week on sales since 2002, with 2.1 million units sold for her album 1989. No one I know likes Taylor, I’m not even sure Taylor likes Taylor. I just know she is doing her thing and owes her whole career to Kanye West performing stage seppuku on her at the MTV Awards in 2009. Anyways enjoy your success Taylor, just please trying to shake something that you have no business shaking because if anyone looked at your behind, they could tell your ass is “out of business.”