Tess (1979)


Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy is one of my favorite novels. It’s the story of a young peasant girl, Tess, and the event that changes the course of her life. Tess struggles to make her own way in the world, but is oppressed time and again by the Victorian society she lives in. It’s an incredibly beautiful novel that captures the beauty of one woman’s soul in the midst of terrible circumstances. It’s a hefty, dense novel that in incapable hands could easily become another boring historical period piece. But Roman Polanski is more than capable. He manages to create a film that is both faithful to the novel, but also improves upon it. Tess is an amazing feat and one of Polanski’s best.
When I first sat down to watch Tess I was very intimidated by its running time. It’s nearly three hours and I anticipated getting bored about half way through. But was I ever wrong. This film is engrossing in a way that few films are these days. Other directors (ahem, Christopher Nolan and Peter Jackson) could learn quite a bit from this film. There are no action sequences or special effects, but still this film flies by. It was so enjoyable, it felt nowhere near three hours long.

Tess is about so many things, but what stands out to me is the impact coincidences have on one person’s life and the power one event has to change everything. At the beginning of the film, Tess’s father is told that his family (the Durbeyfields) are descendants of the great d’Urberville’s. Tess’s family is very poor, but this bit of information gives her parents hope. They beg Tess to go claim kin with the d’Urbervilles and hopefully bring home some money as well. This sets the whole narrative in motion. Tess does not want to go, but her family’s extreme poverty forces her to.
Nastassja Kinski plays the role of Tess quite well, especially since it was her first English film. She seems a little reluctant on screen, probably due to the fact that she had only very recently learned to speak English just prior to shooting. But somehow this weakness actually becomes an advantage. Tess is shy, quiet, and mysterious. But when she has to be, she is very firm and willful. Kinski’s has quite a few powerful scenes, but my favorite is her conversation with the vicar after her baby has died. She is eerily calm as she describes how she herself baptized her child. Then in a flash she becomes angry when the vicar refuses to bury the baby. The pain Tess feels is undeniable and the credit goes to Kinski’s performance.

Roman Polanski on set with Leigh Lawson and Nastassja Kinski.
Roman Polanski on set with Leigh Lawson and Nastassja Kinski.

Leigh Lawson (Alec d’Urberville) and Peter Firth (Angel Clare) are good actors as well. But my praise goes mainly to Leigh Lawson. He takes a character that should be extremely unlikeable (he rapes Tess after all) and somehow makes him almost sympathetic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an actor do that before. Alec takes advantage of Tess, yet he is charming and always there for her when she is in need. Leigh is simply amazing. He walks such a fine line so incredibly well. Peter Firth on the other hand is quite good, but I hate his character, Angel Clare. Peter plays him well, but he can’t compete with Leigh. One of my only problems with the film (and also the book) is that Tess is apparently so in love with Angel. He abandons her and mentally treats her so cruelly that to me it surpasses anything Alec did to her physically. Yet in the end Tess still loves Angel. It would have been more understandable with a more charismatic actor.

Tess (Nastassja Kinski) tries to refuse Alec.
Tess (Nastassja Kinski) tries to refuse Alec.

One of my favorite scenes in Tess is a short, but powerful one. Tess is in the garden with Alec d’Urberville (Leigh Lawson) when he offers to feed her a strawberry. “No,” Tess declares, “I would rather take is with my own hand.” But Alec insists. The scene speaks volumes about the relationship between Tess and Alec and also brilliantly foreshadows what is to come. The way the scene is framed is wonderful (the cinematography throughout the film is brilliant). And the look in Tess’s eyes seems shy, reserved, but also curious.
This film is visually a very beautiful film to watch. Between Kinski’s mesmerizingly beautiful face and the pastoral backgrounds (France masquerading as England) I could watch the film with the sound off and still be entertained. I’ve never seen a film that shows the changing of the seasons so well and without any special effects. The costumes are great as well, I particularly like Tess’s final outfit, the red dress (the woman always has to wear red :P).

The Lady in Red.
The Lady in Red.

Tess is a wonderful film, I would even go so far as to say it’s a masterpiece. But maybe I’m just a sucker for this kind of story from my favorite director. I’m lucky enough to have the Criterion edition of the DVD which I would recommend to anyone wanting to buy it. The film looks beautiful and there are plenty of interesting extras. Tess perfectly captures the novel it is based on. I don’t believe there could ever be a better adaptation than this. 9.5/10

I couldn’t find a good trailer, so here’s a scene from the film:

Ray Donovan: Season 2, Episode 12; The Captain.


The season finale closes out not with a bang, but with a whimper. I love this show and I was really excited about this episode. But this had to be the most boring episode of the second season. Sure, there were a few deaths, but they were so inevitable that there was no surprise.
The highlight of this episode was not in the two major deaths (Kate and Cookie), but in the small moments with Ray (Liev Schreiber). This is some of the best acting I have ever seen from Liev (and I’ve seen most of his work). By the end of this season he has fully embraced Ray and is able to capture all the complexities of his personality. The way he sits there after hearing about Kate’s death. He doesn’t sob and go all melodramatic. The audience can just feel the pain radiating off him. And it’s the same during the closing scene as well. Ray has really lost something here, more than just a person or a lover. He’s lost the feeling of being truly known by another human being. The chance to start over again, to be open. And he realizes how much he has lost himself. He loved and connected with Kate in a way that he never will with Abby.

Ezra Goodman (Elliott Gould) and Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) elevate any scene they're in.
Ezra Goodman (Elliott Gould) and Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) elevate any scene they’re in.

The best moment of the episode was the conversation between Ray and Ezra (Elliott Gould). The two best actors on the show are in conflict with each other. And for once, Ray can’t resort to violence. Even Ray wouldn’t beat up an old man. Ezra is Ray’s symbolic father, the father he wishes he had. But Ezra ordered Kate to be killed. Ezra knows Ray better than anyone else. I found Ezra’s speech to be powerful and everything Ray did not want to hear. Ezra tells Ray, “I’m sure you convinced yourself you were in love with [Kate]. It’s all gotten away from you.” Finally Ezra concludes with, “I love you. Avi loves you.” Ray’s face is priceless. I’m not sure if he can’t accept their love or if he can’t believe that such an act could be done out of love. Either way, it’s brilliant.
Overall I would say the second season of Ray Donovan was better than the first. The story telling just seemed a little sharper. Ray’s personality was explored in a deep, meaningful way. He wasn’t just the cool tough guy this time around. He was shown to be an authentic human being with inner struggles that cripple him emotionally. He wants to be a better man, but he has no idea how. He thought Kate could help him. Hopefully he’ll have better luck next season. I can’t wait to see what happens then. Over all rating for season 2: 9/10.

Ray and the best sidekick, Lena (Katherine Moennig).
Ray and the best sidekick, Lena (Katherine Moennig).

• What the heck happened with Terry(Eddie Marsan)? The first season he was so nice and loveable. Yeah, he was a creepy stalker sometimes, but hey, he still loved spaghetti! This season he is such a downer and thinks he is better than everyone else because he’s a Catholic. And he didn’t have a right to blame Mick for going to jail; Terry knew what he was doing, Mick didn’t force him to do the robbery. So annoying, Ray should’ve let Terry rot in jail.
• “Is this the guy Dad said you could fuck in your bed?” Conor’s reaction to seeing Jim. Maybe this kid is alright after all 😛
• Yes!!! The witch is dead!!! Thank you Avi!!! Bye bye annoying Kate, you will not be missed. (Well except for maybe by Ray).
• “Mickey, you don’t have anything ‘cause you’re a fucking asshole.” Finally, Daryl gets a backbone.
• I don’t really like Ashley, but I did feel sorry for her this episode. She looked so pathetic, I’m glad Ray got rid of Preachy Steve.
• Patty, Bunch’s almost girlfriend, tells him she can’t risk him being around her son. “If you’re that worried there must be a reason.” As much as I like Bunchy I’m with her on that. He’s never seemed right around kids, not even in the first season.
• “Shorty, did you see it?!” I loved Mickey’s reaction to winning the horse race.
• Aw, Ashley’s Protective Perv is dead. Kind of sad, but he was a stalker. Mixed emotions.
• Abby is a major problem for this show. For a while there I tried rooting for her, but now even I have to admit that she is pretty damn annoying. When Jim comes to the house to talk to her she says, “You don’t come here.” Wasn’t he at your house last episode? Why is there suddenly a problem with that, Ray doesn’t care. Abby is just a bitch to every man in her life and throws a total hissy fit when they don’t do what she wants. Like, did she really think Good Guy Jim was going to kill Cookie? She didn’t think for a second about how that would affect Jim. Why Jim is in love with her I have no idea.

Abby and the kids. How will the Donovan family change next season?
Abby and the kids. How will the Donovan family change next season?

Hopes for next season:
• If Terry doesn’t go to Ireland, hopefully they will make him likeable again. And maybe he can ditch his annoying girlfriend (although Brooke Smith is a good actress).
• There needs to be more Lena(Katherine Moennig)! She’s hilarious and just one of the best parts of the show. They need to use her more.
• I like Jim, but Abby should dump him and move on. She was never serious about him anyways.
• I want Claudette and Mick to be together again. I felt so sorry for Mick when she tells him she never wants to see him again.
• Are Ray and Abby going to break up? I kind of hope they do, I think it’s the only way for Ray to live more of an honest life.
• What will happen to Ezra and Ray? Is Ray out of a job now? And what about Ray and Avi? Avi’s pretty awesome and he only killed Kate to save Ray.
• Poor Bunchy. Will he ever be happy?

The White Queen: Episode 2; The Price of Power.

This episode wasn’t as good as the first one. It was a little bit of a letdown. The best thing about it was the fast pace. It was never boring. I just would have liked to see more character development.

Queen at last. Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville.
Queen at last. Rebecca Ferguson as Elizabeth Woodville.

There was an emphasis again on women orchestrating things in the background. But the limitations of this were also shown. Anthony, Elizabeth’s brother, tells her “You must do the thinking for [Edward].” Elizabeth initially succeeds in bending Edward to her will using her sexuality, but also simply appealing to his ego. This backfires though as all Elizabeth does is piss off Warwick even more, thus causing him to rebel against Edward. Poor Elizabeth has it pretty rough this episode. You would think now that she’s queen things would be smooth sailing. But that isn’t the case in Medieval England when you have three daughters, but no male heirs. To Warwick, she’s even more of a failure because of this and he uses it to his advantage.
Jacquetta doesn’t have too much to do this episode which is a shame. She strengthens her family’s position through beneficial marriages. What else are you going to do when you have so many daughters? The funniest part of the episode was the betrothal ceremony of young Catherine to the future Duke of Buckingham. The little girl is thrilled while the boy sulks his way through the ceremony.
Margaret Beaufort was shown more in this episode. She’s a strange character. Mostly I find her annoying, what with her constant praying. She comes off as nearly delusional. But the audience does sympathize with her. She has had her son taken away and she was unable to marry the man she loves. Margaret’s mother tells her, “You are a girl. You live the life your mother chooses for you. Or your husband does.” It’s a bitchy thing to say, but an unfortunate reality for women at the time. Elizabeth’s situation is the exception, not the rule. I admire Margaret’s determination to see her son succeed (and eventually steal the throne). But she really is annoying with her constant preaching. The girl needs to loosen up.
The best part of the episode came in at about the last ten minutes. Rebecca Ferguson shines in the scene where Elizabeth and Jacquetta discuss the deaths of Elizabeth’s father and brother. Elizabeth finally breaks down from all the stress she has had to endure. She cries, she screams, and she captivates the screen. She wants revenge. The sheer power of her will is so vehement that the audience really believes she can curse George and Warwick. I really love the witchcraft on the show, it’s made to be very believable. I’ll just have to wait till next episode to see if the curse actually works.
• Margaret’s mother tells her, “I do not care if you are happy.” What a bitch!
• Anne Warwick annoys me. Her sister, Isabel, is much more interesting and a better actress. I wish their roles were reversed.
• I liked that the narrative skipped ahead three years. It keeps the show fast paced.
• Apparently George hates his brother so much that he would side with Warwick and try to disinherit him? That just came out of nowhere, George’s motivations should have been explored more.
• RIP Elizabeth’s father and brother whose name I can’t remember and no one cared about until now.
• Death to George! Death to Warwick!

• Not enough sex. Isabel and George don’t do it for me.

Trailer Review: Blackhat


Blackhat is Michael Mann’s first film since 2009’s Public Enemies. It stars Chris Hemsworth as some kind of hacker who is released from prison to track down another cyber criminal. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get it. This kind of stuff just goes over my head sometimes.
Some people are complaining that Chris Hemsworth doesn’t look like a hacker. I think that’s a pretty shallow criticism to have and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Not all hackers have to wear glasses and pocket protectors. I would have preferred someone a bit older in the part though, someone a little more weathered, like James McAvoy. This may be Chris’s chance to show some range outside of Thor, I think he looks alright so far.
A minor thing, but I don’t like Viola Davis’s wig. That thing looks ridiculous and distracting. Another thing, I hate the name of the film. Blackhat? What the heck does that mean?
The subject matter doesn’t interest me much, but I like the feel of the trailer. You can tell that it’s a Michael Mann film what with the cinematography and the filter. I like Public Enemies and Heat, so I’ll probably see this film. But I think I’ll wait for the DVD. This trailer doesn’t convince me to spend a lot of money at the theater opening weekend.

How to Get Away with Murder: Season 1, Episode 1; Pilot.

I don’t normally watch network TV. The only exception to this is Hannibal (which always amazes me that it’s on NBC). But my mother watched How to Get Away with Murder the other night and thought it was really good, so I thought what the hell, I’ll give it a try. The show is basically about a criminal defense professor who teaches law and her students. Each episode there is a crime that has to be solved/covered up.
The best part of this show is by far Viola Davis as Annalise Keating, the criminal defense lawyer. She elevates this show from your typical who-dunnit. She commands the screen and reminds me of a few hard ass professors I had in university. She is very cool, intelligent, blunt, and she looks great. I envy her wardrobe. I also like how the students have to compete with each other to come up with the best defense. It’s a nice twist on having to solve a case. And I liked the sex on the show. There was plenty of it and it was funny at times too.

Viola Davis as Annalise Keating.
Viola Davis as Annalise Keating.

What I don’t like about the show is first of all the students. None of the main four made an impression on me. Except for Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) and Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King). Wes is annoyingly dumb and also poorly acted. Michael is just stuck up and stereotypically kisses Annalise’s ass. The constant flashing back and forth really irritated me. I guess they want the audience to be intrigued about this murder the students apparently did. But I just found it kept taking me out of things. They could have hinted at it a little bit and maybe it would have been more intriguing. What really bugged me is the scene between Annalise and Wes in the bathroom. It came out of nowhere and was confusing. Does she want to have sex with him? Is she trying to get sympathy from him? I have absolutely no idea.

Annalise and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch). What the heck was going on here?
Annalise and Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch). What the heck was going on here?

Overall this show is okay. I like that it isn’t necessarily about right and wrong. It’s just about a criminal defense lawyer doing her job, something that’s always interested me. How do you defend someone you know is guilty? How to Get Away with Murder is a relatively pleasant way to pass an hour on Thursday night. But there are plenty of other shows I would rather be watching.


  • “You can spend [your life] in a corporate office drafting contracts and hitting on chubby paralegals before finally putting a gun in your mouth, or you can join my firm and become somebody you actually like.” Annalise tells Wes how it is.

The White Queen: Episode 1; In Love with the King.


It hasn’t come to light on this blog yet, but I am a huge history buff. When I read books, whether they are fiction or non-fiction, they are usually about history and in particular women. So when I saw this DVD at Walmart I picked it up without any hesitation.
The White Queen is a mini-series produced by Starz and the BBC about the English War of the Roses. It is based on books by Philippa Gregory. I haven’t read the books this series is based on, but I have read the sequel The White Princess. Wow, was it a terrible novel, I hope they do better with the show if they make another installment. It is repetitive and boring and the main character is completely bland and unlikeable. I don’t know how Gregory continues to sell so many books, they are terrible for the most part. So when I finally sat down to watch this show after the DVD sat under a thick layer of dust, I was prepared for the worst. But I was very pleasantly surprised. I really like this show. Border line love it actually.

Edward IV (Max Irons) and Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson). Is it love?
Edward IV (Max Irons) and Elizabeth Woodville (Rebecca Ferguson). Is it love?

As I said before, I love reading about female historical figures. I’ve read quite a bit about the wives of Henry VIII and a few other random queens and mistresses from all over the European continent and all through the ages. Marie Antoinette will always be my favorite, but English history comes in a close second. I don’t totally understand all the details of the time in which this series starts, but basically the old Lancastrian King, Henry VI has been disposed by the new York King, Edward IV. Our protagonist is Elizabeth Woodville, a woman from a Lancastrian family that’s on hard times. In the first episode she ends up falling in love with (or is it seducing?) the King and becomes the Queen, despite many protests against her. As a woman I really enjoyed the focus on powerful women and I look forward to seeing it explored more, especially now that Elizabeth is at court. I loved the part when Elizabeth pulls a knife on Edward when he tries to rape her. It’s refreshing to see women that aren’t damsels in distress.

Rebecca Ferguson.
Rebecca Ferguson.

The acting on this show is really good, I was quite surprised. I was expecting something a little more like a soap opera. The stand out, the girl who steals both the heart of the King and the hearts of the audience is Elizabeth played by Rebecca Ferguson. Wow, she was absolutely stunning. She makes Elizabeth likeable and intelligent. There’s a mystery behind her eyes. The audience doesn’t know how conniving Elizabeth really is. Did she seduce the King for her own gain? She doesn’t act like it, she acts genuinely in love. But there is one conversation that subtly hints otherwise. Rebecca’s face is beautiful, captivating. It’s easy to see why the King would go so far as to marry her. Rebecca Ferguson is currently filming the next Mission Impossible movie and I’ll be watching her closely then. I think she has great potential.

Jacquetta Woodville (Janet McTeer) with her daughter, Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson).
Jacquetta Woodville (Janet McTeer) with her daughter, Elizabeth (Rebecca Ferguson).

The other stand out for me was Janet McTeer who plays Elizabeth’s mother, Jacquetta. She was excellent. Anyone would love to have her for a mother. A highlight of the episode for me was when she tells off Duchess Cecily (Edward’s mother). She keeps her cool, but she’s also firm and knows how to look after her family. I really enjoyed the magic and almost witchcraft that she used to predict Elizabeth’s future. I thought it was a good way to set up the rest of the series and the two actresses made it seem very believable.
This show has me hooked. It’s a very interesting time in history, the production values are really good, and the acting is outstanding. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
• Edward doesn’t seem very kingly so far. Maybe he will grow into it. He was only 19 at the time.
• I like that Elizabeth is smart, but she’s not a genius. She makes a few understandable mistakes. It makes her all the more human and likeable.
• Warwick is going to be trouble. James Frain is great in this role.
• Margaret Beaufort is going to be a bitch, I just know it!
• Cecily tries to get away with the lowest curtsy ever. Haha, no way was Elizabeth going to let that slide.

Fight Club (1999)


I felt like re-watching some of David Fincher’s older films because I am extremely excited to see his new film, Gone Girl, when it arrives next week. I absolutely loved the book and I love most of Fincher’s work so it’s a win-win for me. Anyways it’s hard to believe Fight Club is now 15 years old. As I was watching the film last night I found it hard to review because it is so ingrained in pop culture now it would be almost sacrilegious to say something bad about it. Fight Club is based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk. It is about a nameless narrator (for simplicity’s sake I’m just going to refer to him as Jack) played by Edward Norton. Jack lives a boring life where he works at a job he doesn’t like and buys Ikea furniture he doesn’t need. That is until he meets Marla Singer (Helena Bonham Carter) and Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt).

My favorite part of the film, what makes it so enjoyable to watch are the actors. Edward, Helena, Brad, and even Meatloaf are all excellent. The first half of the film is brilliant because they all bounce off each other so well. Edward’s narration is particularly funny as he discusses how miserable his life is and how much he wants that yin and yang coffee table. Brad is also quite excellent. He exudes so much charisma and machismo he easily draws in the viewer as well as Jack. And I absolutely love his extravagant wardrobe. But my favorite of all the actors by far is Helena, I think she steals the show in any scene she is in. I may be a little biased because I love her in everything she does and also because she is the only woman in the film and really the only character I can relate to. Her timing is perfect and the way she delivers her lines is just hilarious and shocking. One of the most memorable lines (and there are many in the film) is when she tells Tyler “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school.” I loved every minute she was on screen.

I really love the humor in this film. There is so much of it and it is quite shocking at times. The highlight of the humor for me is pretty much anything to do with Robert Paulsen (Meat Loaf). I guess I just find his big “bitch tits” hilarious, especially when Jack is crying into them. The first half of the film is the more humorous what with the narration and the support groups, so that’s why I prefer it and why I think the film starts to suffer in the second half (basically once Project Mayhem starts).

Edward Norton becomes acquainted with Bob.
Edward Norton becomes acquainted with Bob.

I love how right away the opening credits establish that we are in Jack’s head and the narrative is totally his. My issues with the film mostly have to do with the plot. For the first half of the film there is almost no plot. And it’s awesome. Jack is just going through the motions and meets Marla and Tyler and starts the Club. So things are fun for a while. But right around when Project Mayhem starts suddenly there is a plot and a problem that has to be solved. I found my attention wandering. I don’t care that Tyler is trying to undermine capitalism, I just want to see some fights and laugh at Bob’s tits. I think it might be in part the pacing of the film changes. It’s really fast paced then things start to feel sluggish. Maybe it’s because Tyler disappears for a while and Marla isn’t around much either. The first time I saw Fight Club I did not see the twist of Tyler and Jack being the same person coming. I remember being surprised, but also very confused. I didn’t really understand how it worked then. On the second viewing it is easy to see a million clues pointing to this from the very beginning. Director David Fincher is very clever in how he orchestrates the film by giving you all these hints. He’s very good at walking that tight rope of not giving away too much. The twist is definitely one of the highlights of the film and why it is so memorable. It doesn’t feel cheap to me as some of these things normally do.

I like the commentary on modern society that the film explores. But it is so obvious that it kind of spoils it for me. It just hits you like a rock over the head over and over and over again. I get that society is emasculating men and so Tyler and Jack start the Fight Club as a way to rebel. But I don’t need five different speeches from Tyler telling me this repeatedly. Focusing on the testicular cancer group at the beginning is funny and kind of clever, but not very subtle. The commentary against consumerism is also interesting, but not particularly original. One reading of the film that I found extremely interesting is that the whole film is about Jack’s desire and struggle to commit to a relationship with Marla. I find that rings quite true and you can read more about that theory here: http://thehathorlegacy.com/i-am-jacks-vagina-marla-singer-of-fight-club/

Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt)
Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt)

I will say that overall I think David Fincher has done a wonderful job. He is able to set up this dark, grungy, violent world and somehow make it seem appealing and glamorous in its own way. The characters are so funny and eccentric the viewer wants to join the Club. I enjoy the themes and overall message of the film, even if at times I find it to be a little heavy handed. I prefer to think for myself a little bit and to be able to draw my own conclusions instead of being force fed them by Tyler Durden. Although maybe that’s the point. We are in Jack’s head after all. 8.5/10

Funny enough Cinema Sins just posted this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWftn6rrn4Q&list=UUYUQQgogVeQY8cMQamhHJcg

Trailer Review: The Interview


Seth Rogen and James Franco are teaming up again for another comedy, this time tackling the political thriller genre. The Interview is about reporter Dave Skylark (James Franco) and his producer Aaron Rapoport (Seth Rogen) landing an interview with Kim Jong-un, the leader/dictator of North Korea. Things start to get out of hand for the duo when the CIA enlists them to assassinate Kim.
I don’t really watch a lot of comedies. Most of the time they are always disappointing and give away the best jokes in the trailer. So it’s rare for me to drag myself to the movie theater to see one. But this film has intrigued me. I love serious, dramatic political thrillers, so that’s probably what has drawn me to this film the most. I haven’t seen Pineapple Express or This is the End, Rogen and Franco’s two previous collaborations. I like Seth Rogen, I found him very funny in Knocked Up and I really like Superbad. But I can’t stand James Franco. I think it has more to do with his off-screen persona than any movie he’s done. He’s just so arrogant it’s a turn off for me, especially since I tend to watch a movie a lot of times based on the actors in it. Franco is quite funny in this trailer, I’ll give him that. I think he might be drawing on and making fun of the public perception of him as a d-bag (as Star Lord would say).
I think one of the highlights for this film will be the cameos in it. The bit with Rob Lowe at the beginning of the trailer is quite funny. There’s also a super quick shot of Joseph-Gordon Levitt playing with puppies. JGL and puppies guarantees I will be seeing this movie. I also love Lizzy Caplan (just see some of my Masters of Sex reviews), but her role here looks like it will be relatively minor. I have no idea who else will make an appearance, I’m hoping there might be a couple surprises.
I think this film looks funny, but that it also has some substance to it, like it has more to say than just a couple cheap jokes. Well, I will give James Franco a chance to redeem himself in my eyes when I go to see this Christmas day. Okay, probably not Christmas day, but maybe the weekend afterwards.

Masters of Sex: Season 1, Episode 3; Standard Deviation

This episode was okay. A little better than the last one, but not much. Maybe I don’t like this show nearly as much as I thought I did in the beginning. It’s a little dull. All that stuff with the quadruplets was boring, even Masters was like ‘who cares?’ Virigina (Lizzy Caplan) saves the episode yet again by being so charming and resilient. I love her for finally being the one to tell Libby the truth, that William is the reason they have been unable to conceive a child.
Yet again Masters is a jerk in this episode. I guess I should be getting used to that by now, but I still find it irritating. When are we going to see the side of Masters that Libby and presumably Ginny like? He is still very cold to Virginia and screams at her for “taking liberties!” He should be worshipping this woman who continues to save his ass constantly. William is also a jerk when he unsympathetically dismisses Betty and her “fantasy life.” He is terrible at having any kind of relationship with anyone. Although he did seem genuinely upset by the story of the prostitute who had been raped by her uncle. Masters seems to be better with complete strangers than he is with people he intimately knows. He also kicks out the doctors making fun of Betty during her operation. William is also better with his patients than he is with his wife or co-workers. I kind of, almost felt sorry for Masters when he has to blackmail Scully, his old friend. You can tell William feels bad about it. But it’s still a jerk move on his part.
Betty’s scenes were sad. I like her, she’s funny and straight forward. And she’s trying to better herself and her life. Although I guess she’s lying to herself (and the pretzel king) by denying her sexuality. It’s sad that she can’t have a child. And what’s even sadder is that she’s still going to marry the pretzel king because “you have to hitch your wagon to a man.” It seems to be a sad truth, at least for Betty. And maybe Virginia too according to Betty (low blow by the way!)
• The flashbacks with Masters. First of all his hair look ridiculous. Definitely the highlight of the episode for me. And also how eager he is when he talks about “human sexuality!” It almost made me like him. Almost.

That luscious mop of hair on Masters (Michael Sheen).
That luscious mop of hair on Masters (Michael Sheen).

• Masters slapping the prostitute, Ginger. It was so awkward, but so good.
• When the gay guy says to Masters, “Doctor Frankenstein, I presume.” Hahaha, come on Masters, that is funny, get a sense of humor already. And then when he watches them have sex. Hahaha, William looks traumatized.
• When Betty says “[William’s] in love with you” to Virginia. Umm, where is the evidence of this? This is not believable at all. This is the major downfall of the show. If I can’t believe in or care about the relationship between William and Virginia then how can I be expected to care about the show at all?

• Libby’s pregnant! But whose baby is it? It can’t be William’s because of that low sperm count thing. Right?
• Libby calls William ‘Daddy’ again. It will never cease to irritate me.

A Single Man (2009)


A Single Man is a film that came out in 2009 and was largely overlooked (wrongly, in my opinion) other than the Oscar nomination Colin Firth received for his portrayal of the film’s protagonist, George. The film takes place in 1962 on what may presumably be the last day of George’s life. Eight months prior George’s lover of 16 years, Jim, died in a car accident. The grief and depression George has faced in the aftermath of this event have become too much for him to bear, so he sets out that day planning on killing himself in the evening.
A Single Man is designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut and it’s quite a good one. I can see how the film would turn off some viewers, but personally I love it. Aesthetically it is a very beautiful film, which isn’t surprising considering the director’s day job. The opening imagery of George metaphorically drowning is beautiful in a somber, melancholy way. The close-ups of people’s eyes throughout the film was interesting, at least when it seemed to obviously invoke memories of Jim. Other times it just seemed to linger too long to the point of being boring. The use of color was also something I really liked. Most of the time the film’s palate is kind of bland. But when George talks to certain people suddenly all the colors start to brighten and pop. I loved the set design (George’s house is beautiful) and the costumes, but this is also in part because I simply love the 60s. I also enjoyed the use of ambient sounds in the film. The sound of the rain drowning out George’s anguish, a child hammering away, the sound of the phone ringing conjuring up memories of Jim’s death. And the ticking clock throughout the day, but especially at the end, was very effective. I found all this very interesting and the score itself is absolutely beautiful.


I find the film is a good examination of the grieving process. I found it extremely relatable. I found particularly effective how all the little events that occur throughout the day evoke memories of Jim. In this way, Jim, and George’s grief, is always present no matter what George is doing. George struggles to “just get through the goddamn day.” The motif of George drowning is readily apparent. A lot of the credit for how effective this film is has to go to Colin Firth. His performance here is remarkable, in a lot of ways I find it superior to his work in The King’s Speech, which he won his Oscar for. Here he is reserved, but still able to communicate so much pain (and lust) through his eyes, his subtle mannerisms. Julianne Moore is a highlight as well. In the short time she is on screen she is charming, funny, and incredibly pathetic. It would have been nice to see a little more of her. And I loved her eye make-up.

As much as I do like this film there are a few things wrong with it that keep it from being amazing. For one thing, I love how the film looks, but everything just seems to perfect. George is extremely well put together for someone who is in such anguish. It would have been nice to see a hint of some kind of dysfunction in his house or on his clothes. And I found it pretty funny that a few characters remark that George looks awful throughout the film because I’ve never seen Colin Firth look better 😛 A small problem I have with the plot is when Kenny finds a picture of Jim in the bathroom drawer. If we are to believe that George is extremely fussy and keeps everything in its proper place then why the hell did he hide the picture under the bandages? It puzzles me. But anyways, the biggest problem for me in this film was the character of Kenny, a young student of George’s, played by Nicholas Hoult. Hoult’s acting is borderline terrible and really drags things down. He is monotone and comes off as naïve. Kenny talks about things like fear and loneliness, but Hoult’s delivery makes it seem totally unbelievable. Maybe he’s just out acted by Colin. And Kenny’s fuzzy white sweater just looked ridiculous. I understand they probably wanted him to wear something obviously gay, but it really wasn’t necessary.

Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) in that stupid sweater.
Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) in that stupid sweater.

The weakest part of the film is the last third. Near the end George and Kenny meet up and spend the night together. Kenny/Nicholas Hoult really brings the film down here, again because of the terrible acting. Although it’s not totally his fault, the film just starts to drag and you keep wondering when it will finally end. Especially that last shot, it drags on for an unnecessarily long time. I guess the film is a little too self-indulgent for its own good. What I do like about the ending is the image of Jim coming and kissing George as he lies there dying. It brings everything back full circle to the beginning of the film, when George kisses Jim in his dream. It even brought a little tear to my eye.
If I had to give this film an overall rating out of ten I would give it 8.5/10. I really like it visually and I think Colin Firth is brilliant. I also find it unique, both in its subject matter and in the way the story is conveyed onscreen. But there are some things (like Nicholas Hoult) that keep it from being an amazing classic. I would recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a melancholy drama acted out in impeccable Tom Ford suits.