Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Roma, Green Book, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn, Widows, Killer Kate


In 2014, Alfonso Cuaron made history win he became the first Mexican filmmaker to win the Academy Award for Best Director, for his work on Gravity.  This year, Cuaron is back with Roma, a 135-minute film about a middle class family living in Mexico City in the 1970s.  Roma will be released on December 14th and its trailer leads off this week’s trailer round-up.

Directed by Peter Farrelly, Green Book, is based on the true story of Jamaican pianist Don Shirley’s tour of the deep south.  Serving as his chauffeur and bodyguard was a New York bouncer named Tony Lip.  Shirley is played by Mahershala Ali while Viggo Mortensen play the role of Lip.  (The real Tony Lip later became an actor and played Carmine Lupertazzi in The Sopranos).  Green Book will be released on November 21st.

Judging from the trailer, An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn appears to be a typical heist comedy, enlivened by the presence of Aubrey Plaza.  Prepare to spend an evening with Beverly when this film is released on October 19th.

Based on a BBC miniseries and featuring a killer cast, Steve McQueen’s Widows is one of the most anticipated movies of the fall.  Widows will be in theaters on November 16th.

Finally, Killer Kate will be released on October 26th, just in time for Halloween.

Catching Up With The Films of 2017: The Little Hours (dir by Jeff Baena)


You don’t necessarily have to be from a Catholic background to find The Little Hours to be hilarious but it probably helps.  You also don’t have to be an expert in satirical Italian literature from the Medieval era but, again, it probably helps.  Of course, what helps the most is to have a good sense of humor.

Technically, The Little Hours is based on The Decameron, though not even that famously bawdy  book featured dialogue like, “Don’t fucking talk to us!” and “Stop fucking looking at us!”  Both of those lines are delivered by Aubrey Plaza, who plays a nun in a medieval convent.  The fact that Plaza is playing a nun tells you a lot about the humor in The Little Hours.  The sets and the costumes are meticulously accurate. It’s easy to imagine that, if you got your hands on a time machine and traveled back to the Fourteenth Century, what you would see would look a lot like The Little Hours.  But the dialogue and the attitudes are all straight from the 21st century.

The Little Hours tells the story of three nuns and the people who get in their way.  Aubrey Plaza plays Sister Fernanda, the sarcastic nun who is willing to beat up anyone who looks at her for too long.  Ginerva (Kate Micucci) is the repressed nun who can’t wait to get everyone else in trouble.  Alessandra (Alison Brie) is the nun who is only a nun because her father (Paul Reiser) is making her.

When you’re bored and stuck in a convent, you find interesting ways to keep yourself amused.  For instance, gossip is always a fun way to pass the time.  Or you can get drunk on communion wine.  If you get really bored, you can always join the local coven and dance around a fire.  Or you can lust after the new handyman, a handsome deaf-mute named Massetto (Dave Franco).  Of course, Massetto isn’t really a deaf-mute.  He’s just pretending because he doesn’t want to be executed for having sex with his former master’s wife.  Life was never easy in medieval Italy.

The film may be based on The Decameron but all of the dialogue was improved.  Whenever I hear that anything’s been improvised, I always know that the end result is either going to be hilarious or it’s simply going to be unbearable.  Fortunately, the cast of The Little Hours is full of comedic pros.  They all play off of each other well.  Each line of dialogue seems like a challenge being delivered by both the character and the performer.  Behind every joke is a subtext of “Try to top this.”  Supporting roles are played by everyone from Molly Shannon to Nick Offerman to John C. Reilly.  Fred Armisen plays the Bishop who has the unenviable task of trying to keep straight everything that’s happened and his display of exasperation is absolutely brilliant.

As you can probably guess, I enjoyed The Little Hours.  It’s probably not a film for everyone.  As I said, it helps to not only have a Catholic background but to also have a sense of humor about it.  But, for those in the right mood, it’s a hilarious film.

What If Lisa Picked The Oscar Nominees: 2017 Edition


With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations. Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated. The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not. Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year. Winners are starred and listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

Best Picture

Baby Driver

The Big Sick

The Disaster Artist

*A Ghost Story*

It

Kedi

Lady Bird

The Meyerowitz Stories

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Wonder Woman

Best Director

Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird

Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman

*David Lowery for A Ghost Story*

Martin McDonagh for Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Andy Muschietti for It

Edgar Wright for Baby Driver

Best Actor

*Sam Elliott in The Hero*

James Franco in The Disaster Artist

Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger

Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out

James McAvoy in Split

Robert Pattinson in Good Time

Best Actress

Gal Gadot in Wonder Woman

Sally Hawkins in Maudie

Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Cynthia Nixon in A Quiet Passion

Aubrey Plaza in Ingrid Goes West

*Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird*

Best Supporting Actor

Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sam Rockwell in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Adam Sandler in The Meyerowitz Stories

Bill Skarsgard in It

*Patrick Stewart in Logan*

Jason Sudekis in Colossal

Best Supporting Actress

Holly Hunter in The Big Sick

Catherine Keener in Get Out

Sophia Lillis in It

*Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird*

Carey Mulligan in Mudbound

Ella Rumpf in Raw

Best Voice-Over or Stop Motion Performance

Will Arnett in The LEGO Batman Movie

Gael Garcia Bernal in Coco

Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2

Doug Jones in The Shape of Water

*Andy Serkis in War for the Planet of the Apes*

Dan Stevens in Beauty and the Beast

Best Original Screenplay

The Big Sick

Get Out

A Ghost Story

*Lady Bird*

The Meyerowitz Stories

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before I Fall

*The Disaster Artist*

It

Logan

Their Finest

Wonder Woman

Best Animated Film

Cars 3

Coco

*The Lego Batman Movie*

Leap!

Best Documentary Feature

Karl Marx City

*Kedi*

Risk

Step

Strong Island

32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide

Best Foreign Language Film

First They Killed My Father

Frantz

*Kedi*

Raw

Best Casting

The Big Sick

Detroit

Dunkirk

Get Out

Lady Bird

*The Meyerowitz Stories*

Best Cinematography

Blade Runner 2049

Dunkirk

*A Ghost Story*

It

Lost City of Z

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Best Costume Design

Beauty and the Beast

The Beguiled

Free Fire

Thor: Ragnarok

Victoria & Abdul

*Wonder Woman*

Best Editing

*Baby Driver*

Before I Fall

Dunkirk

A Ghost Story

It

Wonder Woman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Disaster Artist

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Lady MacBeth

Logan Lucky

My Cousin Rachel

*Thor: Ragnarok*

Best Original Score

Blade Runner 2049

A Ghost Story

*Good Time*

Dunkirk

The Shape of Water

Wind River

Best Original Song

“Buddy’s Business” from Brawl In Cell Block 99

“Evermore” from Beauty and the Beast

“Friends are Family” from The Lego Batman Movie

“How Does A Moment Last Forever” from Beauty and the Beast

“Myron/Byron” from The Meyerowitz Stories

*”The Pure and the Damned” from Good Time*

Best Overall Use Of Music

Atomic Blonde

*Baby Driver*

The Disaster Artist

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

Thor: Ragnarok

T2: Trainspotting

Best Production Design

*Beauty and the Beast*

The Beguiled

Blade Runner 2049

It Comes At Night

Logan

Thor: Ragnarok

Best Sound Editing

Baby Driver

*Dunkirk*

Kong: Skull Island

Spider-Man: Homecoming

War For The Planet of the Apes

Wonder Woman

Best Sound Mixing

Baby Driver

*Dunkirk*

Kong: Skull Island

Spider-Man: Homecoming

War For The Planet of the Apes

Wonder Woman

Best Stuntwork

Baby Driver

Dunkirk

Logan

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Thor: Ragnarok 

*Wonder Woman*

Best Visual Effects

Blade Runner 2049

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Thor: Ragnarok

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

*War For The Planet of the Apes*

Films Listed By Number of Nominations

9 Nominations — Wonder Woman

7 Nominations — Baby Driver, Dunkirk, It, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri

6 Nominations — A Ghost Story, Lady Bird, Thor: Ragnarok

5 Nominations — Beauty and the Beast, The Disaster Artist, The Meyerowitz Stories

4 Nominations — The Big Sick, Blade Runner 2049, Get Out, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Logan, Spider-Man: Homecoming, War For The Planet Of The Apes

3 Nominations — Good Time, Kedi, The LEGO Batman Movie

2 Nominations — Before I Fall, The Beguiled, Coco, Kong: Skull Island, Raw, Shape of Water

1 Nominations — Atomic Blonde, Brawl in Cell Block 99, Cars 3, Colossal, Detroit, First They Killed My Father, Frantz, Free Fire, The Hero, Ingrid Goes West, It Comes At Night, Karl Marx City, Lady MacBeth, Leap!, Logan Lucky, Lost City of Z, Maudie, Mudbound, My Cousin Rachel, A Quiet Passion, Risk, Split, Step, Strong Island, Stronger, T2: Trainspotting, Their Finest, 32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Victoria & Abdul, Wind River

Films Listed By Number of Wins

3 Oscars — A Ghost Story, Lady Bird

2 Oscars — Baby Driver, Dunkirk, Good Time, Kedi, War For the Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman

1 Oscar — Beauty and the Beast, The Disaster Artist, The Hero, The LEGO Batman Movie, Logan, The Meyerowitz Stories, Thor: Ragnarok

Will the Academy be smart enough to agree with me?  Probably not.  We’ll see what happens tomorrow!

 

Playing Catch-Up With The Films of 2017: Ingrid Goes West (dir by Matt Spicer)


We start with a wedding.  The bride is beautiful.  The groom is handsome.  Everything looks so perfect that you’re almost relieved when Aubrey Plaza suddenly shows up.

Seriously, why wouldn’t you be?  We all know Aubrey Plaza from her role as the apathetic and sarcastic April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation.  If anyone’s going to bring this potentially bland wedding to life, it’s going to be Aubrey Plaza!

Aubrey Plaza walks up to the bride and starts screaming at her … wait a minute, that’s not typical Aubrey Plaza behavior … where’s the deadpan snarker that we were all expecting…

Suddenly, Aubrey is pulling out mace and spraying the bride in the face.  The bride is writing in pain while Aubrey screams at her…

So begins Ingrid Goes West.

Aubrey Plaza, of course, plays the title character.  Ingrid spends some time in a mental hospital after crashing that wedding.  She explains to both her doctors and the bride that she was just acting out because she was upset over her mother’s recent death.  Ingrid seems to feel that she and the bride were good friends but, as we quickly learn, they actually barely knew each other.  The bride just made the mistake of commenting on one of Ingrid’s social media posts, leading to Ingrid deciding that they were actually best friends.

Using the money that she inherited from her mother, Ingrid heads out to Los Angeles.  She has a new obsession, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen).  Taylor is a paid social media influencer, famous for being famous.  Ingrid left a comment on one of Taylor’s pictures and Taylor left an innocuous reply.  It’s the type of thing that happens every day on social media but to Ingrid, it means that she and Taylor are destined to be BFFs.

And, amazingly, it all seems to work at first.  Online, Taylor shares just enough about her life to allow Ingrid to come up with a plan to meet her.  Ingrid not only gets to know Taylor and her husband, a painter named Ezra (Wyatt Russell), but she is briefly allowed to enter into Taylor’s world.  Of course, Ingrid fails to notice that no one in that world seems to be very interested in her.  To Ingrid, everything is perfect.  Or, at least it is until Taylor’s obnoxious, junkie brother (Billy Magnussen) shows up and starts to call Ingrid out…

Ingrid Goes West really didn’t get as much attention as it deserved when it was released earlier this year.  Unfortunately, it was advertised as being some sort of wacky comedy when, in fact, it’s a deeply unsettling and, at times, rather disturbing movie.  Yes, there is humor but very little of it is of the “laugh out loud” kind.  Instead, it’s the type of humor that makes you pause the movie so you can make sure all of the doors and windows are locked.  Ingrid Goes West eventually goes to a very dark place.  In some ways, it’s a Taxi Driver for the social media age.

Holding the film together is Aubrey Plaza, giving a performance that is both bracingly vulnerable and frighteningly angry.  Plaza makes Ingrid both sympathetic and annoying at the same time.  Your heart cries for her but you still wouldn’t necessarily want her to live next door.  Ingrid Goes West is not a perfect film.  At times, it’s hard to believe that Taylor wouldn’t know better than to invite a complete stranger into her life and some of the scenes with her brother are a bit too over the top.  But Aubrey Plaza’s brilliant lead performance makes up for all of those flaws.

Definitely see Ingrid Goes West.  Just expect to be paranoid for a week afterward.

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Announced Their Picks For The Best of 2016!


american_honey_poster

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (of which I am not a member and what’s up with that!?) announced their picks for the best of 2016 earlier this week.

And here they are:

AWFJ BEST OF AWARDS
These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.
Best Film
Arrival
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Best Director
Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
David Mackenzie – Hell or High Water
Denis Villeneuve – Arrival

Best Screenplay, Original
20th Century Women – Mike Mills
Hail Caesar – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Hell or High Water – Taylor Sheridan
La La Land – Damien Chazelle
Manchester by the Sea – Kenneth Lonergan

Best Screenplay, Adapted
Arrival – Eric Heisserer
Lion – Luke Davies
Love & Friendship – Whit Stillman
Moonlight – Barry Jenkins
Nocturnal Animals –Tom Ford

Best Documentary
13th – Ava DuVernay
Gleason – Clay Tweel
I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck
OJ Made in America – Ezra Edelman
Weiner – Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegma

Best Animated Film
Finding Dory – Andrew Stanton andAngus MacLane
Kubo and the Two Strings- Travis Knight
Moana – Ron Clements, Don Hall, John Musker, Chris Williams
Zootopia – Byron Howard, Rich Moore, Jared Bush

Best Actress
Amy Adams – Arrival
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie
Emma Stone – La La Land

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Viola Davis – Fences
Greta Gerwig – 20th Century Women
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best Actor
Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Tom Hanks – Sully
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Ben Foster – Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges – Manchester By the Sea
Michael Shannon – Nocturnal Animals

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director
20th Century Women – Mark Bennett and Laura Rosenthal
Hail Caesar – Ellen Chenoweth
Hell or High Water – Jo Edna Boldin and Richard Hicks
Manchester by the Sea – Douglas Aibel
Moonlight – Yesi Ramirez

Best Cinematography
Arrival – Bradford Young
Hell or High Water – Giles Nuttgens
La La Land – Linus Sandgren
Manchester by The Sea – Jody Lee Lipes
Moonlight – James Laxton

Best Editing
Arrival – Joe Walker
I Am Not Your Negro — Alexandra Strauss
La La Land – Tom Cross
Manchester By The Sea – Jennifer Lame
Moonlight – Joi McMillon and Nat Sanders

Best Non-English-Language Film
Elle – Paul Verhoeven, France
Fire At Sea – Gianfranco Rossi, Italy
The Handmaiden – Chan-Wook Park, South Korea
Julieta – Pedro Almodovar. Spain
Toni Erdmann – Maren Ede, Germany

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
These awards honor WOMEN only

Best Woman Director
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Ava DuVernay -13TH
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Mira Nair – Queen of Katwe
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women

Best Woman Screenwriter
Andrea Arnold – American Honey
Rebecca Miller – Maggie’s Plan
Kelly Reichardt – Certain Women
Lorene Scafaria – The Meddler
Laura Terruso – Hello, My Name is Doris

Best Animated Female
Dory in Finding Dory –Ellen DeGeneres
Judy in Zootopia – Ginnifer Goodwin
Moana in Moana – Auli’i Cravalho

Best Breakthrough Performance
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Janelle Monáe – Moonlight and Hidden Figures
Madina Nalwanga – Queen of Katwe
Ruth Negga – Loving

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry
Ava DuVernay – For 13TH and raising awareness about the need for diversity and gender equality in Hollywood
Anne Hubbell and Amy Hobby for establishing Tangerine Entertainment’s Juice Fund to support female filmmakers
Mynette Louie, President of Gamechanger Films, which finances narrative films directed by women
April Reign for creating and mobilizing the #OscarsSoWhite campaign

EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

Actress Defying Age and Ageism
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Viola Davis – Fences
Sally Field – Hello, My Name is Doris
Isabelle Huppert – Elle and Things to Come
Helen Mirren – Eye in the Sky

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award
Dirty Grandpa – Robert De Niro (b. 1943) and Aubrey Plaza (b. 1984)
Independence Day: Resurgence – Charlotte Gainsbourg (b 1971) and Jeff Goldblum (b 1952)
Mechanic Resurrection – Jason Statham (b. 1967) and Jessica Aba (b. 1981)
Rules Don’t Apply – Warren Beatty (b. 1937) and Lily Collins (b. 1989)

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent
Jennifer Aniston – Mother’s Day and Office Christmas Party
Melissa McCarthy – The Boss and Ghostbusters
Margot Robbie – Suicide Squad and Tarzan
Julia Roberts – Mother’s Day
Shailene Woodley – Divergent Series

Bravest Performance
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Sasha Lane – American Honey
Ruth Negga – Loving

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t have been Made
Ben-Hur
Ghostbusters
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Magnificent Seven
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award
Sharon Maguire and Renee Zellweger for Bridget Jones’s Baby
Nicholas Winding Refn and Elle Fanning for The Neon Demon
David Ayer and Margot Robbie for Suicide Squad
David E. Talbert and Mo’Nique for Almost Christmas

Film Review: Dirty Grandpa (dir by Don Mazer)


dirty_grandpa_teaser_poster

Epix is doing a free preview this weekend so, earlier tonight, I watched Robert De Niro and Zac Efron in Dirty Grandpa.  You may remember Dirty Grandpa as being the film that came out in January and made a ton of movie despite the fact nobody will admit to having seen it.

Myself, I hope that the cast of Dirty Grandpa was paid in cocaine because then, at the very least, I could be assured that they had a better time making the movie than anyone else has had watching it.  The plot, as it is, features De Niro as a widower who is obsessed with getting laid and Efron as his straigher-than-straight grandson who takes him down to Daytona for Spring Break.  Efron is engaged to Meredith (Julianne Hough) who we’re supposed to dislike because of …. reasons, I guess.  The film certainly hates her, even though all she’s trying to do is plan a nice wedding.  De Niro would rather Efron get together with a boring political activist (Zooey Deutch).  Meanwhile, De Niro himself is obsessed with Deutch’s friend, played by Aubrey Plaza.

Anyway, this is one of those films that’s even worse than it sounds.  The pacing is so off that even the scenes that should work fall flat and visually, the film resembles a high quality YouTube video.  The majority of the humor is racist, misogynistic, and homophobic (but, of course, we’re not supposed to notice because the “good” girl is vaguely defined as being a liberal political activist).  Zac Efron, who is really only a credible actor when he’s playing dumb (read into that whatever you want), is miscast as someone who actually has something that’s going on in his life and Aubrey Plaza, one of the most unique comedic performers working today, is almost totally wasted.  Both Zooey Deutch and Julianne Hough struggle within the confines of a script that obsessively hates women.

(By the way, would you believe that the script for this movie was included on the Black List, the annual list of the “best” unproduced scripts in Hollywood?  I would.  Being included on the Black List is perhaps the most overrated honor that Hollywood can provide, seeing as how most Black List films end up sucking.)

As for Robert De Niro, his performance actually isn’t that bad.  But that doesn’t change the fact that he’s Robert freaking De Niro playing a role that could have just as easily been performed by Johnny Knoxville in old age makeup.

Anyway, I watched Dirty Grandpa because I wanted to see if it was as bad as everyone said it was and it was.

Go to Hell, Dirty Grandpa.

Sorry, Enterntainment Weekly, Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever Is Not The Worst Christmas Movie Ever


If you go over to Entertainment Weekly right now, you can read an article entitled Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever Is The Worst Christmas Move Ever.  The author of the article, Samantha Highfill, claims that “Grumpy Cat would hate her movie.  Like hate-hate it.”

Well, of course, Grumpy Cat would have hated Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.  That was kind of the point of the whole damn movie.  The reason why Grumpy Cat has become such a popular meme is because her permanently sour face confirms what many of us suspect but often try to deny — i.e., that our cats are, for the most part, disgusted with us.  However — and this is why people like me cherish our cats — they all have one or two people who they love enough to set aside their natural disgust and allow to be a part of their life.

Cats aren’t like dogs.  A dog will love anyone.  A cat picks someone to love and then they do it despite all of their better instincts.  And because of that, cats will occasionally do stuff that they normally should hate.

Like starring in a holiday-themed film, for instance.

Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever, which premiered on Lifetime last night and was watched by me and a thousand other cat lovers on twitter, works because it not only realizes that it should not exist but it also has no problem admitting that it should not exist.  In Entertainment Weekly, Grumpy Cat’s sarcastic narration and continual breaking of the fourth wall is described as being “oddly meta.”

Personally, I call it being clever, cute, and funny.

But, let’s be honest.  The majority of critics were never going to give a fair review to a film called Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.  (A fair review, by the way, would have been: “The story’s dumb, the film looks cheap, but the cat is cute and, seeing as that’s the only reason anyone’s watching, that’s all that matters.”)  Most critics probably had their review already written in their head before they even saw the movie.  Complain about the commercialization of Christmas.  Whine about how an internet meme now has her own movie while your coming-of-age screenplay remains unproduced.  Make a few snarky comments about Lifetime, in general.  Admit that Aubrey Plaza totally kicks ass as the voice of Grumpy Cat (because she so totally does).  End it by sadly predicting that Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever will lead to a sequel.

Bleh.  Forget the other critics.  Speaking as the only critics who really matters, here’s what I think you need to know about Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever:

If you own and like cats, you’ll find a lot to enjoy about Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever.  Yes, the story is dumb.  Yes, the movie was obviously cheaply made and, in case there was any doubt, Grumpy Cat herself pops up to point out how cheap the movie was.  But Aubrey Plaza was born to be the voice of Grumpy Cat.  And Grumpy Cat herself is adorable in her grumpy way!  Along the way, we get to see Grumpy Cat drive a car and shoot a paintgun.  We also get to meet Grumpy Cat’s British equivalent.

And it’s all really, really cute.

And really, that’s all that matters.

Grumpy-Cat-drives-a-car

6 More Films That You May Have Missed: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Goon, Headhunters, Jeff Who Lives At Home, The Philly Kid, and Safety Not Guaranteed


Hi there!  Continuing my effort to get caught up, here are six more films that I saw earlier this year but, for whatever reason, had not reviewed yet.

1) Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (dir by Alison Klayman)

One of my favorite films of 2012 was this revealing documentary about the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei.  Filmed over the course of two years, this film follows Ai as he uses the tools of social media to try to stand up to the oppressive Chinese government.  In the film’s strongest scenes, Ai reveals how the government attempted to cover up the massive destruction of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.  For his efforts to give identities to the victims of this natural disaster, Ai is beaten by the police and eventually imprisoned.

Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry is a film that should be seen by anyone who thinks that any greater good can be accomplished by sacrificing personal freedom.

2) Goon (dir by Michael Dowse)

Based on a true story, Goon tells the story of Doug Glatt (played, in a winning performance, by Seann William Scott), a Boston bouncer who joins a minor league hockey team.  Eventually, he gets called up to play in Canada and faces his idol (and new rival) Ross Rhea (played by Liev Schreiber) on the ice.  Along the way, he also romances a hockey groupie (Alison Pill) and befriends a burned out teammate (Marc-Andre Gondrin).

I have to thank Arleigh for suggesting that I see Goon because, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have given this film a chance.  I don’t know much about sports in general and I know even less about hockey.  (Leonard is our resident hockey expert here at the Shattered Lens.)  However, Goon turned out to be a truly pleasant surprise, a sports film that even someone like me can enjoy.

While the film’s plot may be predictable, director Dowse and his cast tell the story well and they all manage to strike the perfect balance between humor, melodrama, and sentimentality.  Seann William Scott is usually not thought of as being a versatile actor but, on the basis of his performance here, he deserves to be reevaluated.  Williams makes Doug Glatt into a truly likable thug and he and Alison Pill make for a very cute and likable couple.  When you start watching Goon, you know where the journey is going to lead you but that doesn’t make the trip any less enjoyable.

3) Headhunters (dir by Morten Tyldum)

In 2012, one of the best thrillers to be released in America was this import from Norway.  Roger Brown (played by Askel Hennie) is Norway’s most successful corporate headhunter.  Along with having a beautiful wife, Roger also has a mistress and all the other material trappings of wealth.  Despite this, Roger is insecure over only being 5’6 and he deals with his insecurity by pursuing a second, secret career as an art thief.  When Roger discovers that Clas, his latest client, is having an affair with his wife, Roger breaks into Clas’s apartment and steals a valuable painting.  However, it turns out that Clas is not only a trained mercenary but he’s also a psychotic killer and soon, he’s pursuing Roger.

Headhunters is a truly exciting film, one that actually keeps the audience guessing with each twist and turn.  Best of all, the film features a truly memorable lead performance from Askel Hennie.  Playing the type of character who, in the past, would have been played by Klaus Kinski, Henie makes his sleazy character into an odd likable and compelling hero.

4) Jeff, Who Lives At Home (dir by Jay and Mark Duplass)

Jeff (Jason Segal) is a 30 year-old unemployed stoner who lives in his mother’s basement and who spends his day obsessing on the movie Signs and talking about his belief in Destiny.  One day, he gets a phone call from some one asking for “Kevin.”  Jeff reacts by finally leaving his mom’s basement and searching for this mysterious Kevin.  Meanwhile, Jeff’s brother (Ed Helms) is convinced that his wife (Judy Greer) is cheating on him and Jeff’s lonely mom (Susan Sarandon) spends her workday at work getting messages from a secret admirer.

Not much happens in Jeff, Who Lives At Home and the film dares you to get as annoyed with Jeff as everyone else in his family.  However, when taken on its own mellow terms, this is an enjoyable and occasionally even moving film.  It helps if you really like Jason Segal and seriously, who doesn’t?  Susan Sarandon gives a touching performance as well and the filmmakers make excellent use of Helms’ needy persona.

5) The Philly Kid (dir by Jason Connery)

Dillon (Wes Chatham) is a college wrestler who is wrongly convicted for the murder of a police officer.  After spending ten years in prison, Dillon is paroled and returns to his home in Baton Rouge.  Managed by his friend Jake (a manic Devon Sawa), Dillon becomes a cage fighter and ultimately finds himself fighting for his life against corrupt promoters and a crooked cop.

The Philly Kid is a pretty uneven film.  The plot will never surprise you and, halfway through the film, The Philly Kid descends into over-the-top melodrama.  However, both Chatham and Sawa give good performances and, as directed by Jason Connery, the film’s many fight scenes are vivid and exciting to watch.  The film was filmed in Baton Rouge and it makes good use of the Louisiana atmosphere.

The Philly Kid may ultimately just be a genre film but it’s a well-done genre film.

6) Safety Not Guaranteed (dir. by Colin Trevorrow)

Kenneth (Mark Duplass) is the type of person that we’ve all met at some point in our life.  He works as a clerk in a grocery store and spends his time talking about his dead girlfriend and how secret agents are watching his every move.  He also claims to have built a time machine and posts a classified ad where he asks for someone to volunteer to go back in time with him.  The ad is spotted by Jeff (Jake M. Johnson), a smarmy magazine writer in Seattle who travels to Kenneth’s hometown in order to investigate (and, it’s later revealed, track down an ex-girlfriend).  Accompanying the reporter is Darius (played by Aubrey Plaza), a disillusioned intern who has her own reasons for wishing that she could go back into past.  Following Jeff’s orders, Darius approaches and befriends Kenneth by claiming to be interested in his ad.  While the well-meaning but paranoid Kenneth trains her for their trip into past, Darius finds herself falling in love with him…

Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those low-key, sweet natured films that I simply can’t help but love.  The film views it’s damaged characters with a wry compassion and it wraps up its story with one of the best endings of 2012.  Aubrey Plaza is best known for being sarcastic on Parks and Recreation but, with this film, she shows that she’s capable of doing a lot more.

It’s Time For The Annual Self-Important Post About The Year In Film So Far


For the entire past week, something has been nagging at me.  I knew that there was something that I needed to do but I couldn’t remember what it was.  Earlier today, however, I was reading the latest critical blathering about the state of cinema over at AwardsDaily.  As usual, that site’s editors were whining about the fact that the Social Network didn’t win best picture and also the fact that my generation is apparently the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER” and blah blah blah. 

Fortunately, however, reading that  post reminded me of what I had forgotten: We are now at the halfway mark as far as 2012 is concerned.  This is the time of year that self-important film critics (both online and elsewhere) tell their readers what type of year it’s been so far. 

So, without further ado — what type of year has 2012 been so far?

(By the way, you can also check out my thoughts from July of 2011 and July 2010 as well.)

(Also, please understand that the act of me posting this in no way guarantees that I won’t change my mind several times within the next hour.)

Best Film Of The Year (So Far): Cabin In The Woods. Compared to both 2010 and 2011, this has been a pretty slow year so far.  There really hasn’t been a Hanna or an Exit Through The Gift Shop type of film so far.  Instead, there’s been a handful of nice surprises, quite a few pleasant but somewhat forgettable films, and then quite a few films that i wish were forgettable.  Cabin In The Woods, however, was a nice little valentine to horror fans like me and it’s a film that actually gets even better with repeat viewings.  Runners up include Bernie, Damsels in Distress, Brave, The Hunger Games, Safety Not Guaranteed, Moonrise Kingdom, For Greater Glory, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, and the Avengers.

Best Male Performance Of The Year (So Far): Jack Black in Bernie.  Runners up include Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man and Jason Segal in Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Best Female Performance of the Year (So Far): Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.  Seriously, just try to imagine that film with someone else in the lead role.  Runners up include Susan Sarandon in Jeff, Who Lives At Home, Aubrey Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed, and Greta Gerwig in Damsels in Distress.

Best Voice-Over Performance Of The Year (So Far): Kelly MacDonald in Brave.

Best Ending Of The Year (So Far): A 3-way tie between The Cabin In The Woods, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Best Horror Film Of The Year (So Far): The Cabin In The Woods

Most Underrated Film Of The Year (So Far): The Five-Year Engagement, a sweet and funny movie that was just a tad bit too long.

Best Bad Film of the Year: Battleship.  Yes, the movie represented some of the worst impulses of big-budget filmmaking but I had a lot of fun watching it and Alexander Skarsgard was to die for in that white Navy uniform.

Worst Film Of The Year (So Far): The Wicker Tree.  I could make an argument for both Rock of Ages and The Devil Inside here but no…just no.  As the Trash Film Guru put it, “BURN THE WICKER TREE!”

Biggest Example Of A Missed Opportunity For This Year (So Far): Seeking a Friend For The End of the World.  A great performance from Steve Carrel can’t save a film that has no idea what it wants to be.

The Get Over It Already Award For The First Half of 2012: The Devil Inside, for being the most tedious example of a “found footage” horror film yet.  Coming in second: Rock of Ages, for reminding me that my parents had terrible taste in music.

The Trailer That Has Most Outgrown Its Welcome: The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.  “Be aggressive…passive aggressive…” Okay, shut up, already.

The Cameron/Fincher Bandwagon Trophy (Awarded To The Upcoming Film That, Regardless Of Quality, Will Probably Be So Violently Embraced By People Online That You’ll Be Putting Your Life In Danger If You Dare Offer Up The Slightest Amount Of Criticism): The Dark Knight Rises

The Ebert Award (Awarded to the upcoming film that will probably get  positive reviews based on the film’s political context as opposed to the film itself): Zero Dark Thirty

The Sasha Award (Awarded To The Film That I Am Predicting Will Be The Most Overrated Of The Year): Lincoln.

The Roland Emmerich/Rod Lurie Award For The Film That I’m Predicting Will Be The Worst Of 2012: Honestly, it’s really hard to imagine a worse film than The Wicker Tree (though, to be honest, Rock of Ages comes pretty close). 

Films I’m Looking Forward To Seeing In The Future (An incomplete list): On The Road, Lawless, The Dark Knight Rises, Cosmopolis, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, and especially The Master and Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina.

And there you have it.  2012 hasn’t been a great year so far but there’s still a lot of time left.

Unless, of course, the Mayans were correct.