While romantic comedies seem to be limited to the 30 and under crew, there are those few films that connect with an audience that deserves more love than it’s given.
Book Club, starring Jane Fonda, Diane Keaton, Mary Steenburgen, and Candice Bergen, offers a new look at the stereotype that the 50+ don’t have sex when four women in a book club reevaluate their love lives after reading 50 Shades of Grey.
Even though this is a regular romantic comedy, it also makes its audience question how we portray older men and women on screen and whether or not the film industry should be tapping into this kind of an audience.
As I walked into the theatre to see this movie, the entire audience was over 50 years old. Of course I’m just speculating there but generally that demographic doesn’t regularly go to the movies unless it’s something that they can relate to.
So why not make films that connect with all audiences?
Book Club challenges the stereotypes that falling in love is restricted to the 20 year olds and allows its viewers to see themselves on-screen with positivity and liveliness.
As we all know, Netflix is the new outlet for films that may not have gotten the attention it needed. It’s great because when they slap that well known label on it then people are guaranteed to come across it. Not only are these stories given a bigger platform but, actors are given roles beyond being typecast in the same role. This is the case with the new Netflix drama, 6 Balloons.
When Katie (Abbi Jacobsen) attempts to throw a birthday party for her boyfriend, she’s disrupted by her heroin-addicted brother, Seth (Dave Franco), who is in need of a detox center. The two take an overwhelming journey around the city while also dealing with his toddler daughter.
The plot is as simple as any other film- simpler than most addiction-based films. But instead of it being in the perspective of the addicted, it’s in the perspective of the enabler. Katie’s life revolves around her brother’s issues as she takes him to detox and rehab centers only for him to relapse. She then ends up buying him drugs to help with his pain even though she knows he won’t actually get better. It’s a complex story with complex characters that you don’t normally see in cinema – even if these people exist in real life.
6 Balloons is strong in not only the plot, but also the acting. It’s headed by actors who are normally found in the genre of comedy. Broad City’s Abbi Jacobsen and The Disaster Artist’s Dave Franco are surprisingly successful in bringing these characters to life in the most authentic way. They’re the performances that we’ve always wanted from Franco and never expected from Jacobsen.
Franco doesn’t shy away from showing the glaring and harsh realities of being an addict who needs to stay high just to survive while Jacobsen gives us a spoonful of the truth and what the difference is between caring for someone and letting them continue their destructive habits. Not only were these roles a little daring but they were the perfect start for these actors to branch out and gain more recognition for their true range of talent.
6 Balloons is a powerful indie drama with actors that prove themselves to their regular audience and fans and a story that is just as gripping and meaningful as the movies on the bigger silver screen.
When I think of late 90s cinema, there are dozens of movies that come to mind. We have American Beauty (1999), The Sixth Sense (1999), Good Will Hunting (1997), Clueless (1995), and so many others that quickly became classics. For me, however, none touched me quite as much as Titanic (1997).
Titanic is a movie that nearly everyone knows about as most grew up having seen it once or twice. Maybe they’ve even heard about its impressive eleven academy award wins at the 1998 Oscars. No matter how one may have heard of it, it’s a movie that’s touched the hearts and minds of everybody.
Given that everybody knows what the film is about, I’ll keep the summary brief. When poor Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and recently engaged Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet) meet aboard the RMS Titanic, they find love in one another. They build a relationship beyond anything many have seen, but realize sometimes love doesn’t last as long as you may like it to. In their case, however, it wasn’t a break-up that brought this realization.
The sinking of the RMS Titanic was the climax of this movie, and showed – practically in real time – the sinking of the ship and the drowning of the lives on board. Director James Cameron knew how to capture this emotional tragedy and make it so the audience doesn’t even care about its running time (194 minutes).
Everything about this movie was astonishing to me and millions would agree. Being able to witness such stellar performances by DiCaprio and Winslet (as well as such notable names as Kathy Bates, Billy Zane, and Frances Fisher) under equally beautiful writing makes any moviegoer fill with joyful tears from beginning to end.
It doesn’t happen often in modern cinema that you see a cast of actors and actresses who are all so individually dedicated to their roles. It was obvious that each wanted to portray their characters with the seriousness that those on the real Titanic would’ve maintained.
Much of this is due to the main man himself, James Cameron (Avatar, Aliens). People are no stranger to the work of Cameron, as he had already released Aliens in 1986, eleven years prior to Titanic.
Not everyone was too confident in him for Titanic (given that the budget was incredibly high – the highest of any movie in history at the time – and that most thought it would be “just another romance flick”), and many lost faith before it had even been released. That concept in itself is a marvel to me given its brilliant reception and continued adoration today.
It’s not doing Titanic justice by calling it a brilliant historical adaptation, when it felt like so much more. It was a near spiritual awakening for most who watched it, whether you’ve seen it once, twice, or two dozen times.
Let me start out by saying that this movie is easily in my top 3 movies this year and deserves an Academy Award nomination. No other movie has felt so real and candid while still being enjoyable and fun.
Charlize Theron (Atomic Blonde, Monster) plays Marlo, a mother of three suffering from severe postpartum depression. Her husband (Ron Livingston) doesn’t do much for the kids, except being the homework helper. Marlo’s rich brother (Mark Duplass) sees just how sleep deprived and exhausted his sister is becoming and recommends a night nanny who can take care of the baby at nights so Marlo can sleep.
At first, Marlo is iffy and uncomfortable with the idea. The thought of having some stranger take care of their newborn baby Mia and leave before they even wake up was strange. They decide not to call the night nanny at first, even though Marlo knows she can’t handle it. Eventually this catches up to her and she calls Tully (Mackenzie Davis), the 26 year old “fun facts for fourth graders” night nanny who is ready to not only care for the baby, but to care for Marlo.
That’s the first part of that movie that I find very meaningful. Tully’s overall philosophy is that she is also taking care of the mother if she’s taking care of the baby. This is because, according to Tully, the newborn Mia’s cells will remain in Marlo’s body for years to come. This makes it so they are one whole, therefore another “baby” Tully is here to take care of.
The acting from each of the characters was absolutely phenomenal. First we have Charlize Theron, who is always phenomenal. This movie was different though. It was extremely easy to notice just how much power and dedication she put into this role to give the “postpartum depression” storyline her all, given its sensitive material.
Mackenzie Davis, who has previously been in Black Mirror, gives us a brilliant portrayal of a “light at the end of the tunnel” type of character that everyone absolutely loves. Neither of these characters (Tully and Marlo) would be quite as appealing if the actresses behind them didn’t know what they were doing.
This was a movie where I didn’t have even the slightest interest to check the time on my phone, or question how long it’s been going. I was genuinely interested in Marlo and Tully’s entire story, beginning to end, and you will too.
Tully teaches love, care, neglect, nourishment, and how it is for some people entering motherhood for their first, second, third, or fourth time. It shows that even already having two kids and another on the way doesn’t mean it needs to be easy, persay. Postpartum can come from any child, and it’s important to have either the husband or somebody caring for you when you’re going through that. Nobody should have to go through that alone.
Netflix has returned with Dude, a movie about drugs, prom, high school, death, and everything else involving the teen lifestyle. Don’t be afraid though! This movie is far from stereotypical. It’s a completely unique blend of acting and a story worth paying attention to.
Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars, Truth or Dare) stars as Lily, the Student Council President who is just trying to get through her life with her three best friends, Chloe (Kathryn Prescott, Finding Carter), Amelia (Alexandra Shipp, Love, Simon), and Rebecca (Awkwafina, Ocean’s 8). On top of that, she finds the rest of life’s pleasures in prom planning and PCP.
Hale is not new to the four best friends whole shebang as she became very experienced in Pretty Little Liars. Even being a huge fan of that show myself, I confidently believe that she plays the best friend role at her best in Dude.
Along that, she gets to stand aside such outstanding actresses who all know what they are doing. Seeing Shipp play such a badass teen character (which is nothing new, she did the same thing in Love, Simon) was so much fun and just added to the performances of everyone else. Prescott and Awkwafina also did this well, providing to the environment and story as a whole.
Aside from that, shoutout to Alex Wolff who gave an incredibly good performance as Hale’s almost counterpart, Noah.
The acting was obviously one of my favorite parts of this movie, but it wasn’t the only good thing.
The preppy school girl with her friends taking several types of extreme drugs was another interesting plot point to look at. The girls made their way through tons of PCP and several Donkey Bongs full of weed. Not every class president you see in a movie is going to be that wild, so it’s important to give movies like these a chance. Several of the characters in the movie were dealing with the death of another character at the beginning of the movie, and it gives an underlying tone to the message at the end of the movie.
Regardless, all of that returns to the cliché high school movie where everyone has to decide what they want to do after high school. What college to go to, what boys to go off to college with, but most of all; who are your true friends? Dude was my favorite Netflix movie of the year so far. There’s tons of lessons that you can pick and choose, whether it’s about what you want to do after high school or just how many drugs you should – or should not – do by the time of your senior prom.
In the relatively new Netflix film Mute, we see another representation of just how far a movie can go to alter what we know.
Mute follows muted man Leo (Alexander Skarsgard) as he tries to find his missing girlfriend Naadirah (Seyneb Saleh) in a very high-tech, scientific Germany that seems impossible to navigate. When the characters try to make their way around the city, they even look nearly confused as to what they’re doing.
The movie also follows a very aggressive and terrifying Cactus (Paul Rudd) and his best friend Duck (Justin Theroux) as they make their way through a very strange – and confusing – surgical operation in Germany. Cactus also has a daughter, but doesn’t have a wife anymore. His creepy best friend Duck seems to have a sexual fascination with his young daughter as well as anyone else under the age of 16. They make that very clear as he tries to hook up with anyone who even looks like a minor.
The whole movie is very messy and very sloppily tries to connect all plots at the end of the movie. Up until the last 30 minutes, you would think that these were two entirely separate stories. I won’t spoil exactly how they are connected, but I will say that it’s one of the laziest storyline twists I’ve ever seen a movie put together.
A movie with tons of potential, but little of that is acted on.
The acting was probably the best part of the movie. All of the high profile actors (Rudd, Skarsgard, Theroux) all bring very solid performances to the table. They each develop their characters in entirely unique ways and did the best with what they had to work with. They knew how to evoke emotion in the audience and played upon that perfectly. Mute is ultimately not a very good movie. It has insane potential but fails to bring that potential to life. It attempts to show emotion, which it only completes through the acting rather than the messy story. It uses a plot twist that has only one purpose; to shock the audience. There was no meaning to it whatsoever.
Amy Schumer, the comedian we all know and hate, has made another movie. Except this time, instead of trying to get by on outrageous jokes that no one’s laughing at, this film has a message. The message that anyone can be beautiful if they could just see themselves as so.
I Feel Pretty follows Renee Bennett (Amy Schumer), your typical girl who lacks confidence and compares herself to everyone around her. Renee’s lack of confidence in her appearance affects every aspect of her life, including holding her back from her dream job and having any kind of love life. That is until she falls off her bike at SoulCycle, hits her head, and then magically sees herself as the most beautiful girl in the world, even though her appearance hasn’t changed a bit.
I actually don’t hate Amy Schumer as much as everyone else (despite my opening line) and went into this movie really wanting to love it. I did love the message and what they were going for with this one, but it just fell short on execution.
Although there were some pretty funny parts of this movie, I didn’t really find myself dying from laughter like I was during other comedies that have come out this year like Blockers and Game Night. I think the premise of this movie was a lot funnier than the actual lines and comedic timing of the actors.
Also, the story lagged a little bit. There were just points where it got a little too absurd for me. There was also a weird 15 minutes of the movie where Renee started acting very rude to all of her friends and almost cheated on her lovable boyfriend Ethan (Rory Scovel) because she was so full of herself. This just seemed counterintuitive to the message they were trying to send with the film.
Speaking of the message of the film, that was my favorite part of it. The whole idea that all you need to be beautiful is to have confidence in yourself is a very important message to be sending to girls of all ages. I also noticed that unlike pretty much every other thing Schumer has done, there was no vulgarity or nudity in this film giving it a PG-13 rating. I loved this because that meant that girls of all ages could go see this film.
The other thing I loved about this film was the satirical element of it. It uses the classic story of a girl with no confidence who magically becomes beautiful, loses that magic and returns to her old self, but then realizes she can have a great life no matter what she looks like. Except in this film Schumer’s character’s appearance does not change and it’s all in her head. This relays a message not that your life can be great even if you’re ugly, but instead that you have control over how you perceive yourself and your own personal beauty.
The satire is also very well played out in Schumer’s acting where she is clearly intentionally trying to be over the top to show how ridiculous of a notion it is that you can magically become beautiful and all your problems will be solved. This shows that it takes self reflection and acceptance to improve issues related to your self esteem.
This film supplies women with a very powerful message that shows that you are in control of your beauty and your own self perception. I just wish it was executed a little bit better.