All posts by shannoncurley

Ant-Man (2015)

Ant-ManA guy becomes ant-sized and communicates with ants to…save the world? Kind of sounds like a bad Raid commercial to me. And yet, Ant-Man, one of Marvel’s most overlooked additions to the MCU, was actually pretty enjoyable — not that this should be too surprising, I suppose, since the most likable man in the world plays the movie’s lead. If you’re thinking of anyone other than Paul Rudd, you’re just wrong.

Ant-Man is the story of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his legendary invention of “Pym particles” — a type of particle that can increase or decrease the distance between atoms in order to shrink or enlarge a person or object. Pym incorporates these particles into a suit that allows the wearer to shrink to the size of an ant, while maintaining the strength of a full-sized person. This invention, however, brings danger and risk, as being able to shrink oneself is a threat to national security — if a person is too small to detect, then they can infiltrate any security system in the world. Pym decides that the risks of his suit are too big and leaves Pym Industries with his secret formula in hand. Little does he know, his young protege, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), is intent on recreating the particles and using them for the exact purpose for which Hank Pym has shut down the program altogether.

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Catastrophe (Seasons 1-2)

CatastropheWhile Netflix has proven itself worthy of quality television in its queue of original series, Amazon Prime still has something to prove. With Catastrophe, it gets a good start.

Catastrophe, a comedy written by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, stars the duo as a somewhat dysfunctional couple that gets together when Sharon (played by Sharon) finds out she is pregnant with Rob’s (played by Rob) baby after the two have a one-week stand. Catastrophe just wrapped up its second season and is getting ready for a third, so now is a great time to catch up.

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Paper Towns (2015)

Paper Towns (2015)When the film adaption of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars went from thickly bound pages to the glowing awe of the big screen in 2014, teenage girls everywhere swooned and sighed as, “Okay,” took on a whole new meaning. Green’s other novel-adapted movie Paper Towns didn’t receive quite as much anticipatory swooning, but also doesn’t require quite as much emotional investment — and that’s okay.

Paper Towns stars Nat Wolff and Cara Delevingne as a boy in love, and the girl who steals his heart, respectively. However, this is not so much a love story as it is the story of being young, of being innocent, of making the most of the moments of youth you have left before you stumble your way into noncommittal adulthood. And it’s good, it really is.

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My Girl (1991)

I’ll be the first to tell you that I’m a sucker for movies that I watched as a kid. You can tell me as many times as you want that Matilda and Harriet the Spy are half-assed attempts at cinematic okay-ness, and I’ll still argue with you that they’re some of my favorite movies ever. I’ll also be the first to admit to you that, despite knowing that My Girl is one of the movies that fits into this 1990s kids-classic genre, I’ve never actually seen it until this week. Sure, sure, I knew the basics — romance between children, tragedy strikes when child dies, etc. — but I’d never actually watched the film. However, when it popped up on my Netflix queue this week I thought, “You know what? Let’s give it a shot.” Turns out a shot was all the kid would have needed to survive the damn thing.

Before I get into this review, let me preface it by reiterating this: I understand that it’s nostalgic. I understand that people love it because of its emotional resonance, because it brings you back to your youth, to a simpler time when movies didn’t have to be elite, they just had to be entertaining (and hey, what’s wrong with that, really?).

But let’s talk about it.

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Hateship Loveship (2013)

Generally speaking, when one goes into a movie, they have a certain set of expectations. If it’s a horror movie, they expect to be scared; if it’s a thriller, they expect to be on the edge of their seat; if it’s a love story, they expect to be moved, and so on and so forth. If you see Hateship Loveship, here’s my best piece of advice: don’t have any expectations.

Hateship Loveship is advertised as a rom-com, but it is far from it. In fact, it might as well be genre-less. This doesn’t mean it’s bad – in fact, it’s pretty good once you can accept that it’s not a comedy at all – but it does mean that if you go in to it expecting it to be your traditional quirky, funny love story, you’re going to end up disappointed.

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Suffragette (2015)

Oh Carey Mulligan. How my heart yearns for you and your perfect period-piece face.

In Suffragette, a movie about the women’s rights movement in Britain in the early 20th century, Mulligan is joined by Helena Bonham Carter and Meryl Streep as part of a hugely accomplished female cast who act out their roles with some seriously personal vested interest.

The film opens with Mulligan, who plays Maud, working in a shirt and laundry factory, a setting that immediately invokes memories of the early scenes of Les Mis and has you wondering if Anne Hathaway might make a guest appearance. In fact, the whole tone of the movie is very Mis-esque: bleak, but empowering; infuriating, but undeniably true. However, to compare the two very separate events in European history is relatively moot, so I will draw no further parallels except to say the setting may seem eerily similar, and the fight, similarly astonishing.

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Dope (2015)

As the Academy Awards have shown us, there are a lot of important elements that go into a great movie: costumes, acting, production, story, etc. In the case of Dope, the most standout category is certainly the soundtrack, featuring killer mixes from the best in the ’90s hip-hop game to current hip-hop and R&B rockstars. Busta Rhymes, Santigold, A Tribe Called Quest, and Public Enemy are just a few of the radio masters that come to mind, but trust me — if you see this movie for nothing else, see it (or I guess hear it) for the soundtrack.

Beyond the soundtrack, Dope delivers on being a fun movie with some important messages about what it’s like growing up as an outsider, and defying the expectations of your neighborhood and culture. The film starts off by introducing us to Malcolm, a straight-A student in Inglewood, California working towards the end of his junior year to get into his top college selection. Malcolm, joined by his best friends Jib and Diggy, struggle to get by as the “nerds” of the school, often falling victim to bullying, petty robbery, and of course, verbal abuse.

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Emelie (2016)

With the release of The Witch in 2016, it seemed that the title of “best scary movie of the year” was already settled. However, the recently released Emelie could give any frontrunner a run for its money as far as I’m concerned. Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, this limited release film is equal parts familiar and unsettling, leaving a lasting discomfort within viewers long after the credits roll.

Emelie is the story of the Thompson children and their unfortunate night in with a new babysitter, Anna, as their parents go out for an anniversary dinner, unaware of the horrors that await their precious threesome. Anna, as it turns out, is twisted and disturbed, forcing the children to participate in antics that become increasingly more perverse as the night goes on.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The final installment of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay – Part 2, received relatively little fanfare compared to the releases of the previous films. Though it is probably fair to say that the interest dwindled after Catching Fire due to many audiences feeling the series had become “too dark,” it wasn’t really until after Mockingjay – Part 1 that the general fan base seemed to disappear entirely.

For me, the issue with the Hunger Games film series is relatively simple: it is neither brutal enough nor committed enough to what the essence of the Hunger Games story is.

I read all of the books in the Hunger Games series, and remember that I felt a similar disinterest about the final book as I did with the final film. It just seemed that the idea had run its course by the end of Catching Fire, and that anything that followed the second book’s publication was just a feeble attempt to bring in more money and to wrap up a story that didn’t particularly need more wrapping.

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Jenny’s Wedding (2015)

Released on Netflix earlier this year, Jenny’s Wedding is somewhat of an enigma. The film, which was originally independently produced, and then featured as part of an Indigogo campaign for post-production costs, stars Katherine Heigl, Tom Wilkinson, Linda Emond, Grace Gummer, and Alexis Bledel as a group of family and friends learning to cope with a daughter coming out as gay and announcing her impending marriage. While the cast is well-known and more than competent in their art, the movie itself is puzzling in its attempt to tell a story of growth, resistance, and eventual acceptance, while never seeming to actually embrace the people around which the story revolves.

I should start by saying that I am always skeptical of “coming out” pieces – whether it’s a play, a TV episode plot, a movie, etc. The arc itself is inherently tricky because of the sensitivity of the coming out trope, and it is easy for writers to fall into the trap of making that coming out process overly dramatic. That isn’t to say that coming out isn’t rightfully dramatic for those who do go through that process, but is merely to suggest that is doesn’t always need to be a thing of tragedy.

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