31 days to go!

Happy last Thursday of January, FFLs!

The Oscars are in a little over a month (they air Sunday, March 2nd), and boy do I have quite a few Oscar-nominated film reviews coming your way.  After seeing “The Square” last night, I still have 38 films to see (yikes).  I’m sure I won’t be able to fit in all of the Oscar noms, but it sure is fun to try.

Stay tuned for some reviews…

-FJ

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Review: Prisoners

FJ Rating: Renter

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Melissa Leo, Paul Dano

Director: Denis Villeneuve

R, 2 hr 33 min

Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) and his family are spending a quiet Thanksgiving at their neighbors’ house just down the street, when their peaceful holiday takes a turn for the worst: Keller’s six-year-old daughter and her friend go missing.  After a lack of evidence forces the lead detective on the case (Jake Gyllenhaal) to release their only suspect, Keller decides to take his daughter’s fate into his own hands.

I think “Prisoners” is definitely worth renting.  The film kept me guessing, and had me playing my own role as lead detective to the case.  Hugh Jackman did a great job at portraying the terror and sense of urgency that (I’m sure) goes along with having a child who’s gone missing, although you’ll think (more than once), he’s taking this wayyyy too far.  Maria Bello, who plays Hugh Jackman’s wife, did a fine job playing a mother whose life gets put on hold when her daughter’s whereabouts are completely unknown.  As for Jake Gyllenhaal’s role in the film,  I have never felt completely blown away by his work; I’m pretty impartial to him as an actor.  I thought his performance in “Prisoners” was okay.  All in all, “Prisoners” kept my attention throughout the film, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I find myself watching it again on a Friday night.

Reserve your copy of “Prisoners” at Redbox!

40 days until the Oscars!  Have a great Tuesday, FFLs!

-FJ

Review: The Act of Killing

FJ Rating: Renter

Cast: Anwar Congo, Herman Koto, Syamsul Arifin, Ibrahim Sinik, Yapto Soerjosoemarno

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

R, 1 hr 56 min

“The Act of Killing” tells the chilling real-life account of gangsters-turned-death squad leaders in Medan, Indonesia.  After the Indonesian government was overthrown by the military in 1965, Anwar and his friends went from scalping movie theatre tickets to killing Indonesia’s so-called “communists.” Through dancing and make-believe gangster scenes, ‘The Act of Killing” captures the reenactments of these death squad leaders’ memories of mass murder.

This film was incredibly powerful and eye-opening.  At the same time, watching a film about a country whose people praised death squad leaders in the killing of innocent people, it was incredibly hard to watch.  This film took me back to a feeling I experienced the first time I read a book about the Holocaust; this uneasy, surreal feeling.  Sometimes, amidst the work day and watching “reality” television on my couch at home, I forget about some of the terrible shit that happens around the world. “The Act of Killing” brought me back down to a place of actual reality, not the kind you see on Bravo or E!  I thought Joshua Oppenheimer did a great job at capturing the reality of what actually happened, through the tellings of Anwar and the rest of the death squad leaders’ haunted memories.

The reason I rated “The Act of Killing” a Renter is because I would much rather watch this film in the comfort of my own home over a theatre full of strangers, due to the subject matter of the film.  Although I think the film is a top-contender to go home with an Oscar win for Documentary Feature, there are still a few of the other documentary features I need to see.

“The Act of Killing” is available on Netflix and On Demand (check your cable service provider), but there are some other ways to watch it listed here.

-FJ

41 days to go!

Happy Monday, FFLs!  I hope everyone had a great weekend, filled with lots of movie reviews to share.

My weekend was jam-packed with movies.  Friday night I watched the Oscar-nominated documentary “The Act of Killing,” Saturday my family and I rented “Runner Runner” (Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake), and last night I watched “Enough Said” (Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini) and the Oscar-nominated film, “Prisoners.”  Since “The Act of Killing” and “Prisoners” are both up for an Oscar, I will post more in-depth reviews later today.  As for “Runner Runner” and “Enough Said,” I will give you guys a little snippet of what I thought:

Runner Runner – I thought “Runner Runner” was okay.  I think it’s worth seeing once, but I probably wouldn’t care to watch it again.  The acting was fine, but I didn’t think it was great, and I found myself confused throughout parts of the film.  I just didn’t really get it.

Enough Said – I haven’t seen much of James Gandolfini’s work, but it really is a shame the industry lost him at such a young age.  From Sopranos to “Enough Said,” James Gandolfini had a wide range of talent.  His likability and softer side shined through in this film, and the chemistry between him and Julia Louis-Dreyfus was undeniable.  I loved this film; it was cute, witty, touching, and real.  It made me think about life and the changes that come with aging.  I would watch this movie again and again.

Photo credit: IMDB.com

Photo credit: IMDB.com

I’d love to hear your reviews from over the weekend, so feel free to comment below!

Stay tuned for my reviews of “The Act of Killing” and “Prisoners.”

-FJ

The Movie Lover’s reading list for 2014

Happy Friday, FFLs!

Years ago, when I was in elementary school, I remember reading “The Giver.”  Quite a few years have passed since then (and just a tad of added maturity), so when I heard “The Giver” was being made into a movie, I had no other choice but to revisit it once again.  I luckily still had the book over all these years, so I decided to get a jump start on it before the film comes to theatres (August 15, 2014).

One of my “resolutions” for 2014 is to read more, so why not combine this goal with my love of film and create a reading list of books being made into movies this year.  If you enjoy reading a book before seeing its film version, check out this list I found on BuzzFeed.  There’s a pretty great variety on the list, if I do say so myself.  If anyone does read any of the books on this list, reviews and comments are always welcome!

MONEY SAVER: If you don’t want to spend a bunch of money buying each book at a bookstore, check your local library or online (Amazon is a go-to of mine) to get the book at a better (or library=free) cost.

Photo credit: BuzzFeed

Photo credit: BuzzFeed

Have a great weekend!

-FJ

And the nominees are…

Today is the day, FFLs!  Oscar nominations have been announced, and you can check them out here!  If you’d prefer a printable list, you can get that here.

Best Picture nominees.  Who do YOU think will win?

Photo credits: IMDB.com

What do you guys think of the list?  Is there anything that surprised you?  I want to hear your predictions!

Have a great Thursday, everyone.

-FJ

Review: Her

FJ Rating: Big Screener

Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Scarlett Johansson, Amy Adams, Chris Pratt, Rooney Mara

Director: Spike Jonze

R, 2 hr 0 min

Her” tells the story of Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix), a lonely and heartbroken man who makes a living writing love letters for other people.  While he tries to get over his failed marriage, Theodore becomes fixated with his new operating system, “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), and the two eventually form a bond much stronger than friendship.

I will start off by saying I very much enjoyed the film.  Joaquin Phoenix is such a talented actor, and after seeing the film I really understood why people were raving about Scarlett Johansson’s performance.  I will admit that before seeing “Her,” I thought the concept of the movie seemed a little weird and I chuckled when I heard talk about how great Scarlett Johansson was as the voice of Samantha.  I just didn’t get how someone could really call a voice performance Oscar-worthy. However, after seeing the film, I get it.  Scarlett Johansson makes Samantha likable and convincing.  She really does bring Samantha, an operating system, to life.  I found myself hoping that Samantha would somehow come to life in the physical form and that her and Theodore would live happily ever after.

The film just had the right amount of everything.  It made me laugh, it made me sympathize for the characters, and it definitely got me thinking about the influence of technology and what’s to come for the future of the modern world.  The film takes place in a futuristic, not-so-far-down-the-road Los Angeles.  Theodore (and everyone around him) wears an earpiece and carries a device used when needing to see something visually, and with a simple spoken “delete”, an email is magically wiped off his hands.  The film created the future of the modern world as being completely driven by technology, and to be honest, it seemed more realistic than far-fetched (not to say that that isn’t somewhat depressing).  It made me wonder if the world will eventually get to a place where people fall in love with a Samantha.  Scary thought, isn’t it?  The film was great, the acting was great, let’s just hope people continue to fall in love with other people and not operating systems.

EXTRA: Kristen Wiig does the voice of SexyKitten, and Spike Jonze does the voice of the alien in the video game.

Check Fandango to see where “Her” is playing in your area.

Have a great Wednesday, FFLs!

-FJ

Oscar nominations announced tomorrow!!

Although there’s still 46 days left until the 86th Academy Awards (March 2, 7e/4p on ABC), we only have to wait ONE more day until the nominations are announced (!!!).

Last year I tried to see as many Oscar-nominated films as I possibly could before the Oscars aired, and I am going to attempt the same thing again this year (hopefully with a better outcome). Some of the nominated films will still be playing in theatres, but for those that are not, I will do my best to share with you what outlets these nominated films will be available (Netflix, Redbox, On Demand, etc).  If anyone is able to add to the list, please do!

Check out my blog tomorrow as I will be posting the Oscar nominations on FJ!

Happy Wednesday, and look forward to my review of Her (will be posted today).

-FJ

71st Golden Globes

The 71st Golden Globes was on this past Sunday.  Here are some of my thoughts on the show…

1) I was a little shocked by all the awards “American Hustle” won.  Like I said in my review of the film, I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t think it was great enough to win an award for Best Picture. I am a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, but I will admit, I was shocked when she won the award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture.

2) I am so happy Jared Leto won for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.  He more than deserved it.  His performance in “Dallas Buyers Club” was amazing.

3) I am so glad Bryan Cranston won for Best Actor in a TV Series, Drama.  Same goes for Breaking Bad‘s win for Best TV Series, Drama.  Bryan Cranston was incredible as Walter White, and Breaking Bad was a great series.

4) I couldn’t help but be shocked by both of Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s wins.  By the reactions of the cast and crew, I think they shared the same sense of shock.  Good for the underdog, though.

5) Most Awkward Award Speech goes to Jacqueline Bisset, hands down.

6) My picks for Worst Dressed: Drew Barrymore, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lawrence, Caitlin FitzGerald, Jacqueline Bisset, Paula Patton, Melissa McCarthy.

7) My picks for Best Dressed: Elisabeth Moss, Sandra Bullock, Amy Adams, Zooey Deschanel, Margot Robbie, Naomi Watts.

8) Bono needs to stop wearing sunglasses everywhere he goes.

9) Why were Usher and P. Diddy there?

10) Tina Fey and Amy Poehler did a great job hosting.  There is no need for 20-minute musical numbers during a 3-hour award show.  They had the right amount of jokes, I thought.

11) I’m glad “The Great Beauty” won for Best Foreign Language Film.  It was the only film I’ve seen from the category, but it’s definitely worth watching.  A little long, but a cool film.

What did you guys think about the Golden Globes this year?  Anyone you wanted to win who didn’t?  Any films you were surprised won?  Let me know your thoughts!

Have a great Tuesday.

-FJ