Movie Review: Trainwreck (2015)

Trainwreck (2015)
Directed by Judd Apatow
Written by Amy Schumer

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For Judd Apatow’s film Trainwreck, he coupled up with Amy Schumer who wrote the screenplay, to deliver a film that is much more heartfelt and poignant than any of his other films.

I have to say I absolutely adore and love Amy, I feel like she is a voice for all us thirty-something’s out there. After seeing it though, I left feeling disappointed and let down. Maybe I had too high of expectations, but I was not really feeling this film. I wanted to like this so bad, but unfortunately it was not one of my faves.

The movie centers on Amy and her relationship with her father Gordon (Colin Quinn), who is suffering from multiple sclerosis. She and her sister Kim (Brie Larson) were raised by their father and were always taught that monogamy was an impossible goal to achieve in relationships. Amy carries that lesson with her, but her sister does not. She is coupled-up with Tom (Mike Birbiglia) and is helping him raise his son Allister (Evan Brinkman), who is a little eccentric and odd, but totally sweet.

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Amy writes for a men’s magazine and is asked to do an article on an up-and-coming sports physician Dr. Aaron Conners (Bill Hader). Dr. Conners has worked on a bunch of athletes including LeBron James, who stars in the movie as himself, and while working with athletes he is given many perks like free games and introductions to hot women. As Amy goes behind the scenes with him, she sees how cool in a way his life is, yet she still sees him as kind of a geek. This doesn’t stop her though from going out for dinners and drinks with him, which all lead to heavy flirtations and moments of hooking up. Amy does all this because this is what she is used to doing with men. But soon Aaron starts to kind of like quirky Amy and this leads her into a tail spin that she is not used to because as her father tells her in more ways than one that monogamy is not realistic.

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Throughout the film, Amy battles with her inner conflicts to go back to being the wild girl she used to be, to maybe deciding to settle down with someone. He is not sexy like John Cena who she hooks up with in the beginning of the film, nor is he the best in bed, as her sister puts it “you don’t want the best sex you ever had guy” because he is probably in jail. I thought that line was priceless and cracked me up. But the point is she can never be with those types of guys again if she wants to settle down and have a normal relationship with a guy who will respect her.

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This movie had so much potential, so much that I could feel it and grasp it with my fingertips, but unfortunately it was lost with all the cameos of athletes and Saturday Night Live actors. LeBron James had so many lines, I just couldn’t take it anymore. He really needs to stick with what he is the king of, which is basketball. Please stay on the court and off the sound stage.

Bill Hader is one of the funniest actors out there and I felt that I wanted to see him deliver a little more humor into the role. I think he did a great job with what he was given, but I wanted to see him up his game just a tad more. I think if they stopped focusing on all the scenes with athletes and corny moments, he would have had more to work with to his advantage.

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I did like Vanessa Bayer in it, who played Amy’s annoying co-worker. Seeing her do the transition from SNL was great, much better than the other people who just did quick cameos. Larson was great too, she always delivers and I enjoy her dead pan hilarity.

Amy though, despite me not totally loving this movie, was still good, the way she delivers her always made me laugh. I just wished they would have stuck to making this more of a funny movie and had given us less serious moments that just felt so boring in the end. It’s like they would set up the audience to laugh, then totally bring us down and depress us. I guess the trailer confused me, I thought I was in for a funny movie.

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I mean my girlfriend and I made this our girl’s night movie of the week, we had expectations. And yes we snuck in some wine and red vines, we were so ready to laugh and ended up falling short in that department. Apatow has given us these funny movies with male-centric roles, so to see a female led one was really appealing to me. I hope that Schumer and Apatow make a do-over movie and come up with something better because I really do believe they still have it in them.

Overall I thought this was an okay movie, one that you should watch when it comes up on Netflix or HBO for free. What did you guys who saw this think of this movie?

}}Melissa

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Movie Review: Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton (2015)
Directed by F. Gary Gary
Written by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff

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There are very few biopic films made that cover an artist or performer who is still living. There are a few, but it seems that stories are never worth really telling until the artist has passed or lived their life to almost completion. In other words, a film could not be done until they had a story worth telling. In F. Gary Gary’s film, Straight Outta Compton, he details the rise and eventual break-up of the infamous rap group N.W.A.

The movie covers each individual separately at first and then we see how the friends all came together to create their rap group. Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) was selling drugs on the street, living the life of a thug with not much ambition. Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) didn’t know what he wanted; his mother reprimanded him endlessly for not keeping up with school. I loved how they showed him laying down in his room listening to records, like so many young people do even today. All he wanted to do was listen to old school 70’s type of funk and soul music and come up with beats to spin at his next DJ gig.

We see Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) stare down at the white kids at his school where he was bussed into and see him go back to his neighborhood, and the scene drastically changes for him. All the while writing lyrics to rap songs, as a somewhat poet or bard painting a picture in his songs for what he saw on the streets. DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) contributed so much, from beats to lyrics and we see their influence in the group.

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The story really starts with Dr. Dre pushing Eazy-E into the recording studio. Originally he just wanted to be part of Ruthless Records, giving the group the backing to get started with producing their albums. But Dr. Dre saw something in him, Ice Cube handed him his lyrics and before you know it their infamous song “Boyz-N-The-Hood” was born. After this the music poured out of them like emotions and words that had to be heard for the rest of the world.

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In 1988 police brutality was running rampant; the Rodney King beatings were soon on their way, LL Cool J, Run DMC and Michael Jackson were on the top of the charts. None of these artists exemplified the streets of Los Angeles, more specifically Compton. An urban city in LA, where as the movie puts it so bluntly people come in and leave in body bags. Their first album Straight Outta Compton was prolific and resonated with the youth of the streets, and put West Coast rap on the map.

From here we see their pseudo manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) takes over the business side of their record deal. On the back-end Eazy-E and Jerry worked together to negotiate a contract that would make Eazy-E the most money and leave the other members with much less to their names. Ice Cube soon figured this out and refused to sign with them, leaving money on the table he goes on to pursue his own solo career. The group only put out one more album and that fire that once burned quickly dissolved. The electric energy filled with kismet and force that came from the group with Ice Cube could never be recreated.

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My favorite part of the movie is when Ice Cube comes up with the song “Fuck tha Police,” based on his own experiences in the streets and then goes on to perform it at a concert where they were told they could not by the police. They get arrested and taken down and this alone, this so- called bad publicity makes them even more famous than before. It reminded that in those days, there was no social media to make things known to the world every second of the day; it took these huge leaps of conviction, this momentous event to appear on TV for the world to know that it was happening.

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The movie then takes us into the rest of the lives each rapper and their eventual rise to stardom or demise as what occurred with Eazy-E. We later see Suge Knight, Snoop Dogg and Tupac make appearances into Dr. Dre’s world of rap. Many of us can watch this movie and remember what it was like to first hear some of these albums, either N.W.A.’s or Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and even Snoop Dogg. I used to wait by the VCR and record these music videos when they first came out and couldn’t get enough of them.

The actors in the movie did a phenomenal job. Newcomer on the scene Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. delivered a great performance. I think it helped that he had his father’s nuances down pat and he really stood out to me in the movie. I hope he stays in the acting business and continues to grow his career. Mitchell gave Eazy-E, a rapper most people think of as a womanizer and a back stabber, a lot of heart and depth and did wonderful. Hawkins also did really well and gave us some really emotional scenes coupled with moments of brevity and fun. And Giamatti is magnetic, you can’t keep your eyes off him, yet you totally hate him throughout the film. It almost reminded me of his performance as Kenny Rushton aka Pig Vomit in Private Parts, which I have always loved.

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What I disliked about the movie is the same thing I hated about Jersey Boys, I felt that the first hour was great, I was so hyped up and excited to watch and then I felt like it quickly fast forwarded the lives of everyone. I just wanted to yell and scream, ok let’s slow down here and digest what just happened and delve deeper into the characters. Instead, we quickly get everything that happened to them thrown together rather haphazardly.

Overall I enjoyed the film, the fact that it was rushed made me feel like something was missing, but it was a pretty good movie. I liked it because it embodied a time in history that I thought was worth mentioning because so much of what was touched upon in the movie is now happening today. If you get a chance, check it out and if you are not a big fan of rap or N.W.A., I would say wait to rent it.

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And of course the internet is running rampant with memes, these are too funny not to share.

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}}Melissa

 

Movie Review: Nightcrawler (2014)

Nightcrawler (2014)
Written and Directed by Dan Gilroy

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In Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler, he depicts a man, Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) who has an entrepreneurial spirit that would make Tony Robbins proud and will do anything by any means necessary to achieve the success he believes he so rightfully deserves. Take Norman Bates’ way of smiling his way through conversations, Patrick Batemen’s deadpan somewhat narcissistic way of stating information in a logical and factual way and Travis Bickle’s sense of loneliness and you get the character that is Bloom.

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He is a new psychopath, one for the generation that is obsessed with the media and having information at their fingertips every second of the day. With an understanding that people want to see sensational media footage, Bloom takes it upon himself to buy a camera and a police radio transmitter and learn how to shoot videos that he can sell to local television stations. He sees that there is an opportunity to make quick and easy money, he envisions himself as a go-getter and when no one else will hire him, he starts his own company, aptly named Video Production News.

Bloom chases down ambulances and gets in the face of the victims, he is not afraid to get that perfect shot, one where the audience can see the blood and guts of the story. He takes his footage to a local station run by Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who absolutely loves his graphic footage. The bloodier the better in her books, anything that will get her front billing on the news is what she craves and Bloom can see how her eyes light up when she receives that type of coverage.

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When Bloom realizes that other camera men out there like Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) are arriving at crime and accident scenes before him, he gets discouraged, but he makes a plan. We see him go back to his apartment in Los Angeles every day; he parks his car, waters his plants, uploads his videos and watches the news, thirsty to see his own footage featured in the evening. That aspect of the film was so reminiscent to me of the solidarity that encompasses such famous psychologically troubled characters. They live through seamlessly passing the boundaries of normal to psycho not really feeling a disruption in their personalities. In other words, the things they do, the way they behave and treat people does not affect them.

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In order to get his company running more efficiently he hires his first and only employee, a young man named Rick (Riz Ahmed) who is willing to do anything to work. He hires him on the spot, and sells the job as internship, as if he would be learning from the best in the business, when in reality he has barely been working at all. The only other job we see him do is sell metal for money at the junk yards. Everything he does and says is ripped from Google searches and put together as his own, as if he was as eloquent and well spoken as a Human Resources manager.

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Rick’s job is to help him with shooting and basically be his navigator in the car. They sit around waiting for the police radio to tell them of the next big accident or crime and they run to get to the locations before anyone else. Bloom is relentless, he realizes that he needs to be the first on the scene and is willing to do so by almost driving other people off the road, running red lights and practically killing other camera men in his path.

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What Bloom does is he pushes the envelope and boundaries of reporting. He puts together clips and footage in a similar way to reality shows, edited to tell the truth he wants people to believe. As Nina says, if it bleeds it leads, and he takes that to heart when one night he arrives before the cops and shoots footage that could be considered tampering with police evidence. He deftly leaves out the part where he films the criminals who committed the crime and shows Nina what he found; of course she runs with it and puts it up for the world to see. Causing a commotion and scaring everyone since the crime took place in an upper class neighborhood. What ensues from here is Bloom’s way of fixing the problem, of showing that he takes initiative and can deliver the criminals in the way that he sees fit. Everything is always on his terms in order to make himself seem the most important person in the equation.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays an unscrupulous news cameraman in the thriller Nightcrawler

The best part of this movie is Gyllenhaal’s way of morphing into such a demented person. He delivers each line as thoughtful as possible, but behind the glimmering persona he is perceived to be, it is obvious through his eyes that he is a little off.

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Many of the shots are close ups and this only adds to make the film seem so much more real and fast paced, at times it feels as if we are in the car with no seat belts on whizzing through the city and canyons of Los Angeles. The camera angles and cinematography were all beautifully composed and helped give off that dark Hollywood feel to it. The streets of LA are not as pretty as what we see in TV and in blockbuster movies. They are dingy and filled with people, you never know what is lurking around the corner and we get that feeling in this film.

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Russo was outstanding and it was great to see her back in films. At times when she would talk to Bloom, she seemed both put off by him, but turned on as well. I liked that she portrayed that duality to her, she wasn’t a meek woman afraid of him, and instead we start to see that maybe she is a little more like him than she thinks. Ahmed played wonderfully against Gyllenhaal, he showed emotion and range and I hope to see him in more films.

Nightcrawler is on Netflix now and I have seen it again a few times and each time it gets better. I really enjoyed this movie, I would say it was one of my favorites of 2014, loved the characters and the fast paced action. This was a fantastic movie in my book and I am not just saying that because I am in love with Jake Gyllenhaal.

}}Melissa