Thoughts on Captain Marvel and her MCU debut.

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From the second this movie was announced, I was excited. We were FINALLY going to get a female led, Marvel, superhero movie- and not only that- we were going to get Carol Danvers.

When the world premiere of the movie happened, I started to worry. There were a lot of people that I rely on reviews from to gauge how I should feel going into a movie saying that the movie was good, but not great; that there were things they liked but there were also a lot of problems. Between that and the obvious review bombing that’s been going on, it was hard not to feel nervous the entire day, especially sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start.

And then the movie started, and I never had another moment of worry through until the very end. I’m not going to discuss spoilers here, but here we go.

I really enjoyed the tone that the movie set. It was a lot of fun, with humour that hit way more than it didn’t. The packed theatre we were sitting in was filled with laughter, and that was a great kind of energy to be surrounded by. The jokes that were made, even the ones that didn’t quite hit, felt true to the characters that were saying them and always made sense in the context of the film. There were serious moments in the movie- one that made me cry and a few others that almost had me at that point- but it wasn’t jarring. It was very well balanced with the lighter tone that a lot of the movie has.

Going into the film, I was excited to see what Brie Larson was going to do with the role. To me, she has the perfect look for the character. But I had heard from people that the movie didn’t quite work for that they felt she was miscast, and more than anything, I didn’t want to leave the theatre feeling that way- and I absolutely didn’t. She was everything I could have hoped for in terms of an onscreen portrayal of this character; especially in a debut. Origin stories can be tough to sell, and this one was everything it needed to be. We don’t learn everything there is to learn about Carol, or exactly how her powers work and what the limitations are- but I didn’t mind that. We’re learning who she is and what she can do right along with her. It didn’t feel like we were constantly waiting for her to catch up with our knowledge (in terms of what the movie itself has told us) in a way that makes us feel like it’s being dumbed down for us as an audience. We were given just enough about where she came from, who she was, who she is becoming, and what she can do, to want to see more from her- both in more of her own movies, as well as ensemble movies where we see her interact with other characters in the MCU.

Carol is a messy and complicated character. She’s rough around the edges, she’s strange (in the best ways), she has a sense of humour and personality that feels like it’s plucked from the comics that I’ve read. It’s inspiring to see a powerful, female superhero that is so imperfect; that is allowed to struggle and make mistakes. She is given the room to stumble through figuring out who she is and what she wants, and what she’s going to do with the abilities that she has. There’s a lot of uncertainty for her, but she’s still powerful. For a first movie for a character like this, I’m glad that she wasn’t completely polished. I’m glad that there are still questions to be answered and things to explore.

The supporting cast does exactly what it should do. Samuel L. Jackson is a fantastic co-pilot to Carol in this movie. He adds a lot to it, without taking her limelight. We get to learn a bit more about who he is as a person, rather than just being his usual, ultra-mysterious character we usually see. The chemistry that Fury and Carol have throughout is one of the highlights of the movie. In both the serious situations and the lighter moments, their interactions feel natural and genuine. The other supporting cast member that really stands out in this movie is Ben Mendelsohn. He does an amazing job as Talos, and his part of this story adds depth to Carol’s overall character development that I was not expecting to get from that particular character. He fits in well with the rest of the cast, as well as the tone of the movie.

When the movie ended, I had the biggest smile on my face. I was having a moment, and I was afraid to ask anyone else around me what they thought, because I didn’t want anyone taking that joy from me. It was everything I had wanted, and everything I didn’t even know I wanted. I was completely engaged the entire time, and I was trying to appreciate and take in seeing Carol Danvers on screen for the first time. Because it felt like they had done it so well, and everything I had feared was disappearing with every second that passed. I’m still finding it difficult to put into words just how much this movie has effected me, and to genuinely express the love that I have for it. I don’t think that Brie Larson will get the credit she deserves for bringing this character to life the way she has, and the way she will continue to- at least not right now. Hopefully, in the future, people who weren’t impressed with this movie, or with her in this movie, will get to have the moment that I got to have with this first installment.

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Thoughts on ‘Free Solo’

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This year, I’ve surprisingly been on top of seeing as many possible Academy Award contenders as I can, before the award show actually happens. So now, I have the absolute pleasure of actually diving into seeing some of the Documentary nominees, and the first one I’ve had the opportunity to see is ‘Free Solo’.

Going into the movie, I didn’t know much about it, other than the fact that is focusing on Soloing- or free solo climbing. Just knowing that, I knew there were going to be parts I would have trouble watching. I don’t do well with heights, and have a fear of falling. However, it is fascinating to me to think that there are people in this world who get a thrill out of climbing like that, with no rope and in turn, no safety net if they don’t execute their climb almost perfectly. It’s a challenge for them, and for a lot of them, something that means so much to them that the fear of death is driven away; maybe not completely, but far enough away that they’re able to persevere and accomplish things many may deem impossible.

Seeing people do things that I know I never could is exhilarating, and I’m glad we live in a world where it’s possible to see such a breathtaking climb from the perspective of the climber, as well as the perspective of the crew around him, to have a full picture painted for us of what is actually at stake.

If you share the same, or similar fears, that I have, there may be parts of this documentary that get your heartbeat racing- and if you happen to be wearing your Apple Watch, it might vibrate at you, reminding you to breathe and calm down. Even though there are moments that made me genuinely uncomfortable, I’m glad that I was able to experience it, especially in a theatre. Seeing El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park, in all of it’s astounding beauty, on the big screen is captivating in so many ways.

The individual we get to follow through this story is Alex Honnold. He’s a 33 year old American rock climber, and he became the first, only person to free solo El Capitan. There are many other experienced climbers that we see Alex interact with in the documentary, and through these conversations we get to learn about their climbing experiences, the varying degrees of danger that comes with soloing, and the relationships a lot of them form through being in the same community of climbers. The documentary also includes the tragic deaths that have occurred during soloing attempts, and how those deaths impact the individuals in the community- or how they don’t. We also get to see the consequences that having the hobby of soloing can have on familial or romantic relationships. This gets explored through Alex and his current girlfriend, which is endearing, and at moments very grounding.

Overall, the documentary is a very worthy contender in the Academy Award pool this year. It gives the world a glimpse into this community in a way that most people won’t ever see or experience. It’s subject is brutally honest and a bit socially awkward, not emotionally expressive in ways that we might be used to seeing in on-screen subjects. There are moments when it’s clear that not everyone is comfortable on camera, especially when climbing. These elements give the documentary an edge that makes it feel very grounded, and very real, in a way that some documentaries are unable to achieve.

 

A Look Back on the 2019 Golden Globes

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Awards season in my house is always a big deal- and by my house, I mean me, and now my boyfriend. I’m lucky to have someone who loves it as much as I do around now. We woke up at 4am to watch the NFL Wildcard round games, and then settled in for a night of celebrities drunkenly accepting awards, paired with all the glitz and glamour of the other awards shows we’re used to.

When it comes to winners lists, I can’t say that I’m ever particularly accurate with any of my predictions. I usually go with my heart over my head, but this year, I tried not to do that. I tried to put into perspective which films were generally highly received, which actors were popping up on peoples’ feeds the most, and all that other stuff. I geared up for an awards show filled with accolades going to A Star is Born and its cast and crew, with love being given to Roma, and Vice and Beale Street.

But what I got instead was a show full of surprises. Very pleasant surprises.

Right off the bat, I was delighted to see Spider-Man: Into the Sipder-Verse pick up an award for Best Animated Feature. It has quickly become one of my favourite movies of 2018, if not my favourite. I was hoping to see it get some nominations during this awards season, but the slight cynic in me never thought I’d actually see it get the real attention and recognition it deserves- but now, I’m slightly more hopeful. Even though the voting bodies- the HFPA and the Academy- don’t overlap and don’t really impact each other, it’s nice to see that this movie is at the forefront of people’s minds going into voting for the Oscars.

Another big surprise of the night was seeing Lady Gaga not walk away with a trophy for Best Actress. Out of all of the awards, that was supposed to be one of the absolute locks of the night. No one was taking that award from her, and it was hers to lose- and then that’s exactly what happened. I don’t think very many people would have thought Glenn Close was going to be the one walking away with it that night. I still haven’t seen ‘The Wife’, though it is on my list of movies that I still need to watch from 2018. I’ve heard nothing but extremely positive reviews about her performance in that movie, and now I’m even more eager to watch it. I can’t say that I was disappointed, especially after seeing the look on her face after her name was read, and hearing her incredibly endearing acceptance speech.

In the category of Best Film (Drama) Actor, I followed my heart instead of following my head. Bradley Cooper ended up in my #2 spot under Rami Malek. As much as I was blown away by Cooper’s performance, Malek’s transformation into Freddie Mercury had a much deeper impact on me. It resonated with me in ways that nothing in A Star is Born was able to, and for that I was rooting for him completely. The first time I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, I left the theatre feeling like I was given a chance to see Freddie Mercury in ways I never would have been able to due to my age. Watching the Globes, I literally screamed and scared the dog when he was announced as the winner. I’m very much holding out hope that the Academy will at least give him a nomination in the Best Actor category.

But the HFPA saved the biggest surprise of the night for last- the Best Film (Drama) winner. I was ABSOLUTELY SURE that Bohemian Rhapsody was the least likely out of all of them in the category to walk away with that award. I still haven’t been able to see If Beale Street Could Talk, but having seen all of the other films in the category, and having paid close attention to how they’ve all been received critically and by audiences, and Bohemian Rhapsody is the one that I’ve seen critics trashed the most all across the board.  As someone who completely adored the movie, and was very happy to see it win, I don’t think that it was the most deserving. I personally would have liked to see Blackkklansman recognised, and I know a large amount of critics and fans are outraged that A Star is Born was beat out. That being said, I think that the Academy is going to give A Star is Born that love that people were expecting the HFPA to give it, and that the world can keep on turning.

For anyone interested in my Academy Awards predictions (which still change by the week), you can find them here!

 

A Million Things To Be Thankful For

Today is Thanksgiving, and it’s the first time in my 24 years of living that I haven’t been in the United States to celebrate.

This year has been full of a lot of highs and a lot of lows for me, all in varying degrees. I’ve experienced a lot of personal growth, and a lot of growing pains along with it. It hasn’t been an easy year by any means.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m not extremely blessed, because I absolutely am.

 

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I’m thankful for my family. There’s a lot we don’t agree on all across the board, but they love me so much and try their best to support me when they can, however they can. I have a lot of family, and even though I’m not super close with a lot of them now that I’m getting older and don’t spend as much time at home, I know that a lot of people don’t have any family. I can’t imagine what that’s like at this time of year. I know that for some people, not associating with family is better for them, and that’s a choice that everyone has to make. I’m extremely lucky in that I don’t have to make that choice. I love my family, and everything that has happened in our past that has made our relationships difficult, I’ve chosen to move past as best I can and appreciate what we have now.

 

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I’m thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given this year, and the friends that I’ve made as a result. I’ve spent a lot of time in California this year, for several different reasons. Mostly because I’ve been spending time at Collider studios, with the amazing people that work there and that are part of that community. I’ve met some of the best people I know- people that I’d do anything for. I’ve been given chances to be part of a show that I love and have been a fan of for a long time. I’ve been to events and tapings and live shows and have felt like part of a community that means so much to me, and has accepted me and welcomed me in ways I never could have imagined. I spent a few weekends in L.A. working on a feature film that most of you will never see. Whether I ever even see that movie myself, I have no idea; but what I do know is that I made some great friends that weekend as well. One girl in particular helped me through a lot of the things I was dealing with at the time, and she still does now. She has been there for me when basically everyone else decided they didn’t want to be- and for that, I will be eternally grateful. Mina, you’re the best and I adore you.

 

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I’m thankful for my partner-in-crime/boyfriend/best friend in the entire world. This has been a whirlwind of a year for Jacob and I, in terms of figuring out how to pursue a relationship with a 17 hour time difference between us, and deciding if it was even something we could do. As I look back on the 6 months we’ve been together now, I know with absolute certainty that it was worth it. All of the challenges we faced, and all of the days and nights where we were completely over being so far away from each other- all of that feels like it was a lifetime ago. I’ll keep this short because otherwise I’ll just get disgustingly sappy, but I do want to say that he makes me happier than I’ve ever been, shows me how much he loves me every single day, and makes me excited for the future, whatever it may hold for us.

 

I’m thankful for everyone who has supported my YouTube channel, and who supports this blog, and who says that they’ll support me in whatever it is I want to do. I’m thankful that I get to do the things that I love to do and that I live a life where I feel blessed for at least one I have going for me every single day. I could go on for ages about how many things I’m thankful for in this life, and I try to remember that every single day.

Thoughts on Widows

When I’m sitting in a theatre, waiting for a movie to start, it’s extremely rare that I haven’t seen at least one trailer. The moment that I saw that Widows trailer, I knew that I wanted to see this movie. It sold me on what it had to offer right away.

If you haven’t seen Widows yet, this will not be a spoiler-free review, and I suggest that you read this after you have.

 

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Almost immediately, in the opening of the film, a decision is made on how this story is going to be told. We get the scene we were shown in the trailer of the husbands’ job going  south as the escape vehicle explodes, and our women of the story become widowed. We’re shown right away that the men aren’t the focal point of this story, even though their actions and the decisions that they made set up the film and present us with the situation that their wives now how to figure out how to live with. I enjoyed this decision, and how it let the audience know right away what they were getting themselves into.

I feel like a broken record at this point, and as my reviews keep coming throughout the rest of this season that’s only going to continue; because, once again, the acting performances we get from this movie are far better than the actual movie itself. It’s a trend that I’ve resigned myself to at this point. Viola Davis was magnificent, as she always is. Her emotional investment in this role is captivating, and the places her character has to go- mentally, emotionally, and physically- to keep up with everything going on around her, and to ultimately stay alive, kept me completely invested in her story until the very end. There are so many things that she has to overcome, whether they’re memories that haunt and threaten to paralyse her, or the new obstacles that seem to pop up every day, she does what she has to do. And that doesn’t mean she’s not allowed to be emotional while doing it. She’s strong, and fierce, and incredibly determined and resourceful- and at times she’s confused, and terrified, and angry and defeated. There are times where she appears cold, uncaring, and even gets called a bitch by other characters in the movie. She faces it, she takes it, she does what she has to. She’s allowed to be everything that real women are, which is refreshing to see.

Elizabeth Debicki is second in the line of women who is given the most to work with in this film. She plays the character who is the showiest, and is able to stand out among the rest of the cast. Not to cheapen the great performance that she gives at all, but the way her character is written certainly makes standing out a bit easier. We get to see enough of her relationship with her late husband, her mother, and the man that she meets during the present time in the film, to understand her motivations.

Michelle Rodriguez’s character feels less familiar in that we don’t see as much of her in her personal life, outside of some interaction with her late husband, and a few moments with her kids. Her performance wasn’t anything that stood out to me. When I look back on the movie now, she isn’t among any of the elements that pop into my head that kept me interested and engaged. There wasn’t anything memorable about her character, other than an awkward scene on a couch that is never mentioned again.

Cynthia Erivo comes in slightly later and ends up being part of the team for different reasons and through different means than the other 3. Her character and performance are more memorable to me than that of Rodriguez. Something about her being on screen is just magnetic to me.

 

All that being said, this movie was slightly underwhelming to me. I enjoyed the parts of the movie that leaned towards being a heist movie, and I enjoyed the parts of the movie that leaned towards being socially and politically relevant, but together, it just didn’t land for me. Both parts were done well, they just didn’t flow together how they should have. Watching these women work out how to pull of this heist, and then watching them do it and follow through with it, would have been a great movie all on it’s own. I do think the politics and that side story that the movie spends a lot of time on takes away from the story that should be the main focus, which is the women. If we could have spent more time with them, rather than learning more about the politicians and their motivations for coming after these women who are already dealing with the deaths of their husbands and the aftermath of that, it would have had a better flow overall. The story that we get with Viola Davis and Liam Neeson is an interesting twist that I can’t say I was expecting. It was set up well, and executed perfectly. It fit well with Davis’ story arc and was more than enough of a side story, without having to go into the politics so heavily.

 

Thoughts on ‘Beautiful Boy’

When the first trailer dropped, I knew I was going to do a reaction to it. Steve Carell AND Timothée Chalamet in the same movie? Both in dramatic roles? Sign me the hell up. Then I actually watched it, and cried my way through. After that, I wasn’t going into this thinking I’d leave the theatre without crying at least once watching the movie.

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Nothing- and I mean absolutely nothing- could have prepared me for the experience I was going to have watching this movie.

I’d like to start off by saying that this movie falls in line with most that are on awards contenders lists this year, in that the performances carry the movie. The movie, on it’s own, isn’t anything special. It’s good, but it’s Carell and Chalamet that elevate it to a place that’s worthy of award contention. Both Carell and Chalamet are on my personal list for possible acting nominations as we roll into awards season. Carell handles this role with such an intense level of care, vulnerability and sensitivity. He works through his character’s emotional journey in a way that allows you to feel his confusion, desperation,  distress, determination, along with the countless other feelings he’s thrown into, right along with him. You can feel him struggling to balance his attention, affection and responsibilities between his son, who very clearly needs love and support, and his wife and other children. It’s an impossible task, and watching it consume every ounce of energy he has is a journey in itself. Chalamet is similarly intense in his approach to the role, and is able to capture the chaotic nature of battling drug addiction. He is openly emotional in every way, allowing us to feel the sharp swings in his temperament and the ever-changing level of his desire to change, and to ask for or reject the help that he so desperately needs. It doesn’t sugarcoat how quickly and randomly this can change or present itself, and Chalamet absolutely gets you to believe it whenever it does.

It’s also important that I express just how difficult it was for me to make it through this movie, and I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to bring myself to watch it again. It would have to be a very special circumstance. This movie is very much grounded in reality. It’s rough, and pulls no punches. It presents the often difficult and reluctant road to rehabilitation and recovery, and the temptations that lead to brutal and often unforgiving and sometimes even fatal relapses. It takes the audience on this journey from the perspective of both the son, who is living with his addictions, and his father and the rest of their family. It’s heartbreaking to watch how the son’s disease, and fluctuating desire to fight it, weighs heavily on his family and the devastation that is leaves in its path throughout the course of the movie.

There were countless moments where the shoulder of my partner Jacob became my source of comfort, and without that- if I had seen it by myself- I most likely would have left the theatre. I don’t think I would finished the movie. Not for any lack of enjoyment- but because it felt that real to me. I was watching someone spiral and those who love him suffer, and in a lot of ways hit very close to home for me. There are people I’ve known throughout my life who have been there, and this very much felt like watching what could have happened unfold in what felt like a very authentic portrayal. Watching drug paraphernalia used on screen, as well as the drug use and the aftermath that follows including some very close calls between life and death- in such an intimate way is not something that I find myself able to do without flinching.

 

Thoughts on Stan Lee & his legacy

The moment that I learned Stan Lee had passed away, I was still on a plane, on the runway, just having finished a nearly 14 hour long flight. I wasn’t in the greatest mental space to process that- even though no mental state would have made it any easier.

For years now, I’ve been dreading the day we would lose Stan. He lived a long life, and for that, I’m extremely grateful. He was a gift to this world, as were all of his seemingly endless contributions.

Over the last 10 years, going into a Marvel movie and waiting for him to pop up in a cameo became one of my favourite things. It was a staple of these movie going experiences, and knowing that the last one we’ll get is quickly approaching is hard to swallow. When the dedication to him pops up in whatever movie they decide to put it in, I know I’m going to be an absolute mess in the middle of the theatre- as I imagine a lot of other people in the theatre will be as well.

I can’t really say that I met Stan Lee or have any personal stories to share in terms of interactions or anything like that. The closest I ever got to him in person was a few years ago when I was a volunteer at Phoenix Comic Con in Arizona. I was working in the photo area and he had just finished a session of taking pictures with fans. I got to wave to him as he walked by with the volunteers escorting him out of the area.

What I can say, is that Marvel has had a huge impact on my life, in so many ways. Both my dad and my step-dad read comics in varying degrees, and I was shown their collections growing up.

I remember going to see the first Iron Man movie with my step-dad and when it ended, we both looked at each other having no idea what to say. We knew we had just seen something special, but we never could have expected it would lead us to the incredible cinematic universe that we have now.

Over the years I have made countless friends and precious memories through mutual love of all things Marvel, and all things comics-based as well. When I think about the people I have in my life now that I’m the closest to, I can’t say with any certainty that we would still know each other without having shared our mutual love of Marvel, and movies and literature in general.

The characters created and the stories told by Stan Lee have taught myself, and so many others, so many valuable life lessons and morals. They are a reflection of us, and our world- in the past, in the present and where we may be in the future depending on who we choose to be individually and as a society right now.

And whether or not every single one of the movies land how we want them to for us, it’s amazing to live in the era of superheroes that we do right now; that we live in a time where we can have discourse about as well as love and respect for these characters that have so many dimensions. Whether you’re #TeamCap or #TeamIronMan, or fall somewhere else completely, we have access to so much material with these characters. Some fans even expand the material themselves by creating art, writing fan fiction, drawing up comics of their own, cosplaying and so, so much more.

 

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For Halloween this year, my boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to actually celebrate that night inside Disneyland, and because we share the same favourite MCU movie- Captain America: The First Avenger- we thought it was only appropriate to go as Steve and Peggy for our first couples costume together.

 

Fandoms can be tough sometimes. They can be toxic if we allow them to be.
But when we all come together as fans to share our love of something that means so much to us, it’s such a beautiful, transformative experience- and thanks to Stan Lee, I can say I’ve experienced that many times in my own life.

I’m sure that there’s a lot more I could say, but to keep it relatively short, I’m going to stop here, and encourage all of you to share your own stories if you have them.

Excelsior!