Monthly Archives: January 2014

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
Look for the next installment of American Horror Story in October on FX
Rating: 3/5
Overall Season Rating: 4/ 5


This is it, folks. American Horror Story: Coven has concluded. This has been my favorite season so far for reasons I’ve listed quite a few times. The most important of these is the lighter tone this season took. There was non-stop sass in every episode that was coupled with regular humor and darkness. It was a great mix that allowed for a much easier viewing process than past seasons. I now cringe at the thought of re-watching Murder House or Asylum for fear of having terrible nightmares and/or never sleeping ever again.

Overall, I enjoyed this season. The performances were spectacular and the dialogue was sharp. However, it wasn’t as perfect as it may have initially seemed. I took a few days to reflect on the finale and the season to see how I really felt about the character arcs, development and ending. Let’s get to it.

The finale began with a new music video for Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders.” Yup, Stevie Nicks — top hat and all — returned one final time and sang the surprisingly applicable song. I actually really loved this. I think this was a MUCH better usage of Nicks than “The Magical Delights of Stevie Nicks” episode. That was such a clear-cut example of the writing staff’s play it by ear mentality. There was no point in having Nicks in that first episode. She didn’t advance the plot in the slightest. I would much rather her have just done this sequence. Obviously, I’ve now been listening to “Seven Wonders” on repeat.

Everyone at the academy has a “last supper” together for all the girls — Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe), Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), Misty (Lily Rabe) and Madison (Emma Roberts) — are going to attempt to perform the Seven Wonders.

My biggest problem with this season is how inconsistent they were about the witches’ abilities. At first, each witch had her special gift and it seemed to be a big deal when Madison could suddenly do two things. Later on, however, each witch could essentially do just about all of the Seven Wonders. Thus, my apathy for the trials. I’m not impressed by their ability to do these tests since I’ve seen at least one of the girls do them multiple times already. If they really wanted this episode to make an impact, they should have made these powers actually seem important.

kissAfter a small glitch at first, everyone completes the telekinesis task. The actual entertainment kicks off when they attempt concilium/ mind control. Misty and Queenie both make the other attack herself because why not? I don’t actually think these two would be so petty to just do that but it’s a smaller argument I’m willing to let go. I really enjoyed Madison and Zoe’s “duel.” Madison forces Kyle (Evan Peters) to kiss her; Zoe does the same then Madison makes Kyle choke Zoe before Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) makes the catfight end.

I cannot get over how awkward filming this season had to be for Peters. He has to look in pain when he makes out with his real-life girlfriend then make out with his on-screen girlfriend in front of his real-life girlfriend. I feel like Ryan Murphy just loved messing with this odd dynamic.

Next up is descensum/ going to hell. Queenie goes in and out like a pro. Madison returns from her hell, which brilliantly consisted of her starring in a network live broadcast of The Sound of Music (yaaaassss. I LOVED this!). Zoe’s hell was Kyle saying he wanted to break up and that he never loved her. That was so sad. They never really developed their relationship this season like they did in season one with Tate and Violet, but this at least showed us there is love there.

Unfortunately, descensum claims the first victim: Misty. She is unable to return from her hell and turns to dust. Her hell consisted of her constantly reviving and then being forced to kill a dissection frog in a science class. This was a really surprisingly dark end for Misty. Her character symbolized life — it was her power and her beliefs — and now she is forced to kill for all of eternity. Nothing is harder to imagine than Misty screaming in that class forever. Her ending really goes to show you how AHS is still a horror show. Just because this season was overall more light-hearted doesn’t mean everyone is going to get a somewhat happy ending.

Queenie, Zoe and Madison decide to have fun with the next task: transmutation. They commence a game of tag in the academy and the front yard as they disappear and reappear tagging the next person. The antics end once Zoe ends up impaled on the fence spikes.

Madison and Queenie are rushed to perform Vitalium Vitalis, but Queenie is unable to do so, meaning she is out of the race for the supremacy. Madison is able to revive a fly but refuses to bring back Zoe since she’s now won and bringing her back would only continue race.

Myrtle (Frances Conroy) finally has more to do this week than provide the sassy one-liners and occasional scene transition role. Except, all she did was encourage Cordelia to attempt to perform the Seven Wonders as well. She babbled on about all the power inside of Delia and how all her life she’s been holding it in and now the time has come to let it go.

Thus, cue the montage of Cordelia breezing through the Seven Wonders that were already tested. My favorite moment was when she made Queenie do some sweet jazzercise moves. That was a great little moment. Unsurprisingly, her hell was her trying to gain Fiona’s (Jessica Lange) approval.

I’m not going to rant again but I’m really annoyed that the rules about powers are so flimsy. Are you really telling me that Cordelia can suddenly feel all of this power and perform all of these tasks? I understand her character was held back but I still feel cheated. Before, all Cordelia could do was botany. Now, she can levitate a piano.

But I digress. The next trial is divination. Cordelia easily finds the hidden item after reading some stones — I especially don’t understand this method — but Madison doesn’t find it so easy. She gets frustrated over her failure and goes upstairs to pack.

kyleKyle meets her and yells that she let Zoe die. This is of course after he broke my heart as he cried over Zoe’s body, asking why she left him when she promised she would never leave him. My poor baby. But now, he’s less than pleased and wants to know why she left Zoe in that dark place they both had been to and hated. Madison claims she did it because she loves him, but he replies, “You’re not that good an actress.” He then strangles her to death.

He strangled his real-life girlfriend on camera. I can’t say it enough but Ryan Murphy must love messing with their relationship. I think Roberts actually did a good job this season. I was really rooting against her when I first found out she was cast, but her performance proved me wrong. She was great in the role even if the role wasn’t always well written. I just found it too meta to have a love triangle between her, Farmiga and Peters.

It’s important to remember Cordelia’s vision last week. Zoe was hanging up on the wall, in a similar state as her intial end. I believe Misty was just lying on the floor/piano, and she ultimately did just lie down and die. Madison was shown bleeding from the neck, and Kyle ended up strangling her to death. They essentially told us what was going to happen.

Spalding (Denis O’Hare) helps Kyle around the whole murder thing and sets up a plan to make it look like she had left since she had already started packing. Except, instead of burying her we all know she’s going to be his creepy dead doll again.

At the same time Kyle killed Madison, Cordelia performs Vitalium Vitalis on Zoe and brings her back to life. Because why not, right? I’d prefer Zoe to live, but I’m annoyed with the endless back and forth with life and death in this season. Cordelia passes out after reviving Zoe, and I instantly think that she’s gone. However, she awakes — fresh and regular eyes and all — as Myrtle crowns her the next Supreme.

I can’t really see the show ending any other way. I never felt like any of the younger girls deserved/ should be Supreme. Cordelia fits because she seems like the only logical choice. Also, Cordelia hadn’t really done anything this season except gauge her own eyes out. There was a useless side storyline for her trying to get pregnant and the kind-of storyline with Hank, but suddenly now she’s the most important character.

Quickly, she turns into Lana Winters (Paulson’s character on Asylum) and is in a full media blitz and she talks about how witches shouldn’t be in hiding and how Miss Robichaux’s is open to everyone, just “call, email or come to New Orleans.”

While she deals with expanding the witch network, Cordelia also has to deal with Myrtle’s plea to be burned at the stake for killing the Council. Even with Cordelia’s pleading and refusal, Myrtle insists and is burned. Her final word is Balenciaga, a designer.

Cordelia’s day got even busier when she had a visit from Fiona. YUP. Fiona put the memory we saw in the Axeman’s (Danny Huston) mind so that she could wait until everyone figured out who the next Supreme was themselves. I always thought Fiona would seriously just kill everyone and the ending would just her being her sassy, bitchy self. In reality, she’s about to die — for real this time — and doesn’t want to be bald anymore so she wants Cordelia to kill her. She refuses and forces her mother to finally live and experience being a human, not a divine being. Fiona dies in Cordelia’s arms after cordeliathey finally had embraced. But we see Fiona one more time as we see her wake up in hell: She’s living with the Axeman in the farmhouse in the country. This was an ending to Fiona’s story that I never expected. I’m also really surprised Fiona didn’t end up stabbing Cordelia so that her powers could be restored. I sitting anxiously waiting for that to happen.

Cordelia opens the doors of the academy to the ridiculous amount of girls lined up outside. Honestly, where are they going to put everyone? With Zoe and Queenie as her council, she announces, in the last scene of the season, that witches are no longer going to just survive; they’re finally going to do more. They’re going to thrive.

The season ending on a concise, less bleak note was a breath of fresh air. Murder House ended with so many questions unanswered (what’s going to happen with the demon baby?!) and Asylum was just confusing (did Lana imagine the whole thing?!). Coven, on the other hand, gave us closure and hope, and I can appreciate that.

My final thoughts on Coven:

  • Even though it was a much smaller role and oftentimes forgotten about character, Peters was amazing this season. For a majority of his arc, he didn’t speak but his grunts and groans were just as effective as one of Lange’s monologues. I still am annoyed they never explained what happened when Kyle ran out of the house on Halloween. Fill these gaping plot holes!!
  • They should have given Cordelia more than being blinded. As I said, her character did nothing essentially all season and now she’s Supreme. It was way too quick and rushed.
  • I want to point out the bad decisions made for LaLaurie (Kathy Bates). For quite some time, we saw LaLaurie learning and repenting. Then in one monologue, everything was erased. They should have thought out a clear path for the character instead of just flip-flopping.
  • Why did they never explain Spalding’s weird obsession with dolls? We deserved something.
  • The first teaser released for the season actually revealed EVERYTHING about the ending. It shows tons of girls marching up to the academy, led by Zoe, Queenie and Nan — Nan is in black while Zoe and Queenie are in white, aka she died — as Cordelia opens the doors. Kyle looks on from the upstairs window (he’s now the butler). It ends with Fiona, Marie and LaLaurie revealing themselves from behind black masks as they all wear long black gowns. I’m not kidding when I say everything was revealed in this video. EVERYTHING.
  • Lastly, I’m going to miss the sass.

By William Hoffman | | @Wilbur_Hoffman

The Compartments

Silent Lions couldn’t be a better name to describe the unexpected explosive and bombastic bass riffs contrasting the at times subdued melodic lines of this duo that is consistently surprising and fresh.

Silent Lions joined The Post in the Fall to show off two tracks on our Athens Sessions video series, and now the full 6-track album, The Compartments, is here and available on the duo’s bandcamp page on a name your own price basis.

Listening to the music an observer would never know it’s being made by two people. With frontman Dean Tartaglia playing a heavily distorted bass with his left hand and a sample board on his right alongside drummer Matt Klein’s heavy and grooving beats, this duo is able to make the fullness of a four-piece band.

Where Silent Lion’s previous EP The Parliaments felt intentionally in your face about just how heavy and dark the music was, The Compartments feels more subtle and mature. The album is bright where it needs to be and is always followed with that signature bass drop to create a solid eb and flow throughout the album that always keeps you interested.

“Stolen In The Heart Of The Moment,” can be extraordinarily full and also enticingly minimal with the the sampled piano lines throughout the track. It’s also the albums most energetic and confident track where Tartaglia really shines on the vocals by not holding anything back. “Running Me Down,” the album’s opening track, drags a lot due to the lack of enthusiasm in the vocal line despite some seriously cool beats.

But obviously Silent Lions is still developing its sound. The bass and samples can be overly fuzzy where they could use cleaning up, and Tartaglia’s voice can be muddled in distortion quite frequently. All these things add to the charm of the band and give it a certain quality, but a balance could still be found between the two worlds of grinding bass and melody.

“Everybody Freeze” and “Space In Time” are able to find some of that balance and bring out the same confidence from earlier in the record that really makes this music shine. And the sampled sound solos of squeaky distortion give these songs the edge they need.

The Compartments, along with the rest of the Silent Lions downloadable catalogue, is worth a purchase as Ohioans and Athenians, who fell in love with the pop-outfit Mind Fish, watch this band grow and learn with each successive album. But the real way to experience this group will be live as they come to Athens Saturday for a house show and again at the end of the month at Casa Nueva.

If the Athens Sessions recordings are any indication, Silent Lions is at its best when the passion for the music is visibly there and the high octane bass riffs rattle the room and make your heart race.

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS
Rating: 5/5


Recently, one could argue I’ve given How I Met Your Mother more credit than it may have deserved. I honestly did like the “Slapsgiving 3” episode and last week’s episode wasn’t half bad, but here I can truthfully and wholeheartedly gush over the wonderfulness that is HIMYM. Tonight we learned “How Your Mother Met Me” as we went back in time, all the way to the pilot, until we caught up to present day to see what had been happening in the Mother’s (Cristin Milioti) life this entire time. This episode gave the Mother a beautiful background and even answered some of the questions we have had as the creators teased us with little known facts about the Mother all throughout the series.

I’m going to give a special shout-out to Cristin Milioti now because her performance is what made this episode so special and so believable. I cannot stress enough how perfect she is for this role. I can totally picture her character ending up with Ted (Josh Radnor) not only because they are written so perfectly together but also because the chemistry between Radnor and Milioti is unbelievable. You simply have to watch them in order to understand. I adore them and I love her. Also I loved that they had a special title scene for this episode.








Tonight’s amazingness begins with the pilot. It’s the night of the Mother’s 21st birthday and her friend went to the wrong MacLaren’s Pub — the one on the west side where Ted and co. go instead of the one on the east side. It seems like a magical night will ensue until she gets a call that her boyfriend, whom she is in love with, has died. Devastated, she goes back to their apartment and finds the ukulele he had bought her for her birthday.

We honestly haven’t had that much time to connect with the Mother but I felt just as bad for her as I would have for any one of the main characters on the show. I was devastated that such a tragedy had to have happened to her and felt for her as if I had spent nine years with her like I did with Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Ted, Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). I am already deeply invested in this character and that speaks wonders about Milioti’s talents.

robotsThe Mother then sits around for two years, making sporty robot paintings of course, and finally goes out on St. Patrick’s Day. This is important, folks. This is the day she leaves her yellow umbrella at the same club Ted is at (when he gets outrageously intoxicated, remember?). Want to know why she left her umbrella there? It’s because she ran into Mitch (Adam Paul), a guy she had gone to school with, and decides to donate her cello to his school. They go back to her apartment and we find out that Mitch is the Naked Man!! The Mother is not about that move, thus creating the “two out of three” rule. This was a tie-in that I was not expecting! It was so cool how they did that. It’s obviously a major stretch that the Naked Man happens to be her old pal, but still it was funny.

Mitch ends up actually helping her, telling her that she needs to figure out what she wants to do and every decision she makes from now on should be based on that choice.

The Mother decides she wants to end poverty, so she enrolls in school to major in economics. Cut to the fall of 2009 and she’s in class with Cindy (Rachel Bilson), who becomes her roommate. Boy, they just snapped out one essential moment after another! This is also the day when Ted mistakenly went into that classroom instead of the architecture 101 class he was supposed to teach on his first day. She laughs at his corny jokes, and I’m head over heels in love with these fleeting moments between these two.

tumblr_mzvmcmcEmj1qgabr4o3_250In January 2010, Ted is dating Cindy, but we all know it’s short-lived because he can only gush about the things the Mother owns and shows he’s clearly more interested in the Mother’s tastes than Cindy. Here’s the famed scene where we finally see the Mother’s ankle. (Remember when that was a big deal?!) The Mother consoles Cindy, while also remarking about the return of her yellow umbrella, for it to end with Cindy kissing the Mother. Yeah, Cindy’s a lesbian; remember that?!

It was so cool to see how they so accurately and beautifully replicated the scenes we all know so well.

Now, the Mother meets Darren (Andrew Rannells), who gushes over her band, Super Freakonomics. She invites him to jump on stage the next time he sees them play, which evolves into him taking over the band. It’s April 2012; Darren is blabbing away as the Mother struggles with the band’s equipment. A man, Louis (Louis Ferrigno Jr.), helps her and the two go on a date. At first, she is hesitant about continuing anything but then starts dating him.

Did anyone else realize that this is the same guy who was featured in “The Time Travelers?!” This is the guy who punched Ted in his fantasy when he runs to the Mother’s apartment “45 days” before they actually meet. I love the continuity on this show. It’s flawless.

The two date, but Bob Saget narrates how it just wasn’t love. How could you not love someone who does a song to the tune of “One” from A Chorus Line about English muffins?!!! That was the cutest and it made me love Milioti even more.

Now we’re caught up to present day. The Mother is staying at Louis’s beach home in Farhampton, knows about the “Bass Player Wanted” advertisement from Darren, stole Darren’s van, picked up Marshall and bought the best man a drink. She heads back to Louis’s, only to find that he’s down on one knee, proposing. NOPE.

She has to take a moment and go outside to talk to Max, the boyfriend who passed away nine years ago. She cries, looking up to the sky, asking Max if it’s OK that she moves on. Even though she thinks Max sent his blessings, she still doesn’t accept Louis’s proposal. She books a room at the Farhampton Inn, the one Robin’s mom was supposed to stay in, which just so happens to be the room next to Ted.

The Mother goes outside on the terrace and sings “La Vie En Rose” while playing her ukulele. Thank the heavens that they figured out a way to get Milioti to sing on the show! The song is beautiful and is the song she apparently sings to her future children. I wonder how they narrowed it down to that choice. While she sings, we see everyone else in the cast looking quite disenchanted, except Ted. He’s enthralled with this mysterious woman’s voice.



Everything is fine and dandy until Ted goes back inside to find that Barney has disappeared. Oh no!!!!

I think this was a beautiful episode. We got to really know the Mother and where she is coming from when she meets Ted. We know all about him; we’ve seen his journey for nine years. Now, we know about her and have even more reason why we should love the fact that these two will shortly end up together and fall madly in love. It adds so much to a love story when we are given another perspective. When Stephenie Meyer wrote Midnight Sun, it was so interesting to read because we had never known what Edward was thinking while we knew very well of Bella’s every thought. This, even though it’s much better than Twilight, is similar. We know how Ted has felt so now it’s interesting to see just how much this relationship will mean to the Mother as well. I’m simply in love with this show.

What did you think of the 200th episode? Let me know @buzzlightmeryl

By Nathan Gordon | | @GordonRises


10. The Bling Ring
I’m becoming a big Emma Watson fan, so I was intrigued by this movie. She did fine in this movie, as did the rest of the cast. The story just seemed a little too weak and didn’t do anything to spice up its potential. The movie would have just been better off throwing some events in there that were outrageous and clearly didn’t happen to up the entertainment value.
9 . After Earth
Will Smith is in a serious timeout right now for actually thinking M. Night Shyamalan can make a good movie and then participating in it. They tried to mask it by making Jaden Smith the face of the film, but he doesn’t know any better. His more experienced and talented father gets the bulk of the blame for this.
8. Spring Breakers
This movie might contain James Franco’s best performance, but Harmony Korine tried his hardest to edit this film in a way where Franco’s element is almost negated. I mean, I felt like I was watching characters say a few words, and then a set of montage scenes (and that cycle kept being repeated). Korine also took a cool idea and ruined it with just dumb story elements, like setting up Selena Gomez’s character to be the star just for her to disappear completely from the movie early on and having a ridiculous epic shootout at the end.
7. Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor
I’m not a fan of anything Tyler Perry, but I will say this movie wasn’t as bad as I expected. It still wasn’t good, but I expected a travesty. So, in my opinion, this movie should mark that down as a positive and just move on.
6. Movie 43
This movie was clearly made with the intent on being dumb. I was well aware of that going in. Yes, it was really dumb, but it had some funny segments, which is the reason it’s not the worst thing I seen this year.
5. The Lone Ranger
I was looking forward to this movie because I enjoy watching Johnny Depp in his “out-there” characters. But this movie just felt long and boring. The action pieces didn’t grab me, and Armie Hammer just didn’t click with me as the title character. He was good in the great The Social Network though.
4. Dark Skies
This scary movie is one of those easily forgettable movies. I literally don’t remember this movie very well. I just know that it was pretty wack, but not as bad as the movies lower than it on this list.
3. The Last Exorcism: Part 2
The Last Exorcism was a decent movie, until the ridiculous end. The sequel went almost the same route. Ashley Bell kept me entertained until the end. These endings, to me, are just so bad that the ruin any positives the movie had going for it.
2. Only God Forgives
When a movie has Ryan Gosling in it, I’m down to watch it and most likely will enjoy myself. This movie, though, was a forgivable misstep for Gosling. The movie’s lack of dialogue didn’t work out well, and seemed like it tried too hard to be different and “artsy”. I’m all for going against the norm, but sometimes it just doesn’t pay off. It’s all good Ryan, you’re forgiven.
1. Upstream Color
This movie takes the title of my least favorite movie of 2013 because it took me so long to figure out what exactly this confusing film was about. Once I got it, what I had already seen was not worth all the confusion. I don’t mind having to think, but I like to be entertained while doing so. For that reason, and the style in which the film was directed, I couldn’t stand this critically acclaimed movie.

By Nathan Gordon | | @GordonRises

The Wolf of Wall Street1

10.The Place Beyond the Pines

This film was unique in the fact that it used 3 different story segments, with different stars for each but they all tied together. I thought it was pretty cool. The first story segment with Ryan Gosling was the strongest with the next two each declining in quality. With that said, the stories were still good and created an interesting story-line as a whole. The unique storytelling method just made the story work even more.

9.  Pain and Gain

The story of bodybuilders using extortion and kidnapping to try to get some money in their pockets was a story that was meant to be seen on the silver screen. Michael Bay was able to take the story and make a very entertaining body of work. Although it wasn’t completely accurate (what movies based on true stories are anyways?) it did highlight some actual events from the true story that added to the film’s entertainment. What also stood out was, although the film has sort of a touchy subject matter, the movie was a comedy. The families of those affected in the real life situations might not like it, but I actually thought it worked really well. Dwayne Johnson also put the best performance of his career with his comedic role.

8.  Insidious: Chapter 2

James Wan is my favorite director, Leigh Whannell is my favorite screenwriter and I loved Insidious, so I had high expectations for this movie. Personally, I thought this sequel was on par with, and maybe even better than, its predecessor. But what might make Insidious better is the fact that its last act was more exciting than the sequel’s. I just can’t make up my mind but whatever. I’m a sucker for good plot twists and this movie didn’t let me down. I can’t wait for Chapter 3.

7.   Her

A movie about falling in love with an operating system seems weird, but I like weird. Maybe even love it, because I thought this was a really great movie. The conversations between Theodore and Samantha (a.k.a. operating system) were entertaining and felt more than a man just talking to a random voice. This might be because Scarlett Johansson did such a great job with using just her voice. It almost felt like she was actually on screen at some moments.

6.   Fruitvale Station

Michael B. Jordan, in my opinion, put on one of the top two performances of 2013.  His amazing performance (which was ROBBED by the Oscars, Golden Globes, etc.) was at the forefront of an already great and heartfelt movie. The movie does a great job showing the growth a young man is trying to make even when he’s being hit with day-to-day struggles up until the tragic ending. I saw this movie three times in theaters and each time I almost shed a tear. If a movie can get to a heartless person like myself each viewing, then it must be doing something right.

5.   The Way Way Back

This movie is clearly my biggest surprise of 2013. The movie looked good, but I was surprised at just how good it actually was. I found myself really into the story and the characters and walked away very impressed. The script was a major highlight, as was the performance by Sam Rockwell. He showed great comedic timing and I feel he should have definitely gotten more love for maybe a Best Supporting Actor nomination from some of these many award shows.

4.  This is the End

Clearly the funniest movie of the year. I saw the movie twice in theaters and laughed harder the second time, so that must be a good sign. The chemistry of the cast worked so well in the movie’s favor and created so many laughs. Even with all the great comedic performances from some very hilarious people, it’s crazy to say that Danny McBride stood out the most.

3.  Man of Steel

This film had probably the greatest action/fight scenes I have ever seen. Many people probably don’t agree because they were just so destructive and epic, but that’s what I like to see. I like to live in the now while I’m viewing them and hope later the problems all the destruction has caused are touched on. But anyways, this darker take on Superman had its flaws with pacing and transitioning through scenes, but when it takes off, IT TAKES OFF! I also must sa,y I liked the approach to not rehash what we already know about Clark Kent’s story. That might have played into the pacing issues, which plays into the statement “No one is ever happy.”

2.   Iron Man 3

I’m a sucker for Marvel movies.  The Marvel movies of late just have really clicked with me. Things didn’t change with me when it comes to this latest adventure with Tony Stark. I love for a movie to just entertain me, and that’s exactly what this movie did. The action was great, the humor was there, and, once again, Robert Downey Jr. was awesome. I even have to give the movie credit for its bold twist with a certain villain. I would have preferred that to play out differently, but it’s cool to see it boldly go in a different direction.

1.The Wolf of Wall Street

Leonardo DiCaprio (the man I believe to be the GREATEST actor of all-time) ceases to amaze me. He not only usually takes on interesting roles, but plays them so well. The same can be said for his character in this film. His character, Jordan Belfort, is so crazy and over the top that it’s so interesting to watch. The craziness doesn’t just stop at Belfort; the movie, which chronicles the real life Belfort, is full of wild entertainment throughout its three hours. This movie has no bad performances, keeps you laughing, and on the edge of your seat for what crazy thing is going to happen next.

By Will Ashton || @thewillofash
The Great Beauty
| Directed by Paolo Sorrentino | Not Rated

the-great-beauty-80329-poster-xlarge-resizedAlthough I try to stay on top of things in the film circuit, I must admit that the rise in popularity for Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty seemed to come out of nowhere.

Despite the fact that the film played at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and TIFF, I only caught whiff of it when I noticed that it was placed on more than a couple top ten lists. Now, the film I never even heard of a couple weeks ago has now become posed to win Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

Does the film leave up to the hype, though? While not without its hiccups along the way, the short and simple answer is: yes.

As he turns 65, journalist and one-time novelist Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo) is finally starting to reevaluate his life. Having been the king of the nightlife in Rome for the past couple decades, Jep lives a very lavish life, but he doesn’t really have all that much to show for it. As friends begin to pass away and he begins to see the clock tick for himself, Jep tries to find what is the true value and beauty of life, and what it really means to have lived, laughed and loved.

There is no denying that The Great Beauty is, indeed, a beautiful film to look at. Cinematographer Luca Bigazzi and Sorrentino are about to make some captivating images, and provide an illuminating look into Jep’s exquisite life.  But what truly guides the film is its tender, but thoughtful story and Servillo’s nuanced performance.

As his love letter for Fellini, Sorrentino and co-writer Umberto Contrarello are able to provide an engaging, if a bit overlong, narrative that provides humorous and meditative looks into both the lives of everyday people and the lives of celebrities. Unlike, say, a recent Sofia Coppola movie, Sorrentino is able to bring life to the rather thin-spread lifestyle of a celebrity, using humor and color to bring out some integrity into their lives without becoming pompous or pretentious.

As noted before, The Great Beauty is a surprisingly funny movie. Thanks to its humor that is often dry and absurd in equal measure, Sorrentino is able to poke fun at everything from art to culture. Often, throughout the film, I was reminded of 2012’s Holy Motors similar blend of humor, but found that The Great Beauty was better able to avoid the former’s temptation to be weird just for the sake of weirdness. Despite the fact that, on the whole, Holy Motors is also a solid film.

Additionally, as the lead, Servillo is able to bring a lot of heart and depth without every growing flashy or showy in his portrayal of Jep. It’s his refined performance that helps guide the film through its occasionally derived sense of flash and glitz.

Often, in its efforts to find humor in the weirdness of celebrity and art culture, the film will sometimes get distracted from its overall story for the sake of a one-off joke. For example, while scenes making fun of child celebrities are amusing, to be sure, they don’t really add anything to the overall story.

While it is occasionally driven off its beating path, it is the film’s intelligence, humor and beauty that keeps it all together. Whether through its insights, or its inspired and offbeat sense of humor, or its simply gorgeous camera work, the whole film flows through with such grace that it is undeniably an engrossing experience, particularly on the big screen. Also, Cristiano Travaglioli’s masterful editing helps keep everything free-flowing and engaging.

It will not be for everyone, but those who are able to appreciate the film’s unique vision and thoughtful storyline will find a lot of love inside The Great Beauty. For there are few films from 2013 that left as much of an impression on me as this film.

Well hello there John,

Some people may know you as an amazingly talented musician/Tony award-winning Broadway star.  Others may know you as the lovable Jim Harper on HBO’s The Newsroom. Then there are the folks who may know you from the indie film Short Term 12. And obviously there are the folks who know you from all or a mixture of the above. I am one of those people who knew you were an amazing musician, but I have never been able to see your talents live *cries*. As for The Newsroom, I’m late to the bandwagon but I have two more episodes in season 2 to watch then I am all caught up. And yes, I am as in love with Jim Harper as the rest of the world should be. And with Short Term 12? Well, it’s been on my to-see list since I first heard about it, so I’ll get right on that. I have heard nothing but amazing things.

Now, you play these nice guys, and every interview I’ve read just has everyone going on and on about how you really are that nice of a person. Congratulations on being an all-around fantastic human being. It makes me incredibly happy to know that there is a reason my love for you extends past your impeccable hair, flawless style, brilliant smile and marvelous voice.

Also, you have the most adorable laugh in the entire world. I cannot stand the greatness of it.

Anyway, you collect records, and I collect records, so let’s put a record on, make some dinner and relax. I think that’d be quite a swell evening.

Much love,
Anjelica Oswald