Watch List: Mr. Roosevelt (movie review)

 

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Mr. Roosevelt, a love letter to the lost soul

           Mr. Roosevelt, the debut film from SNL alum Noel Wells and winner of the SXSW Narrative Spotlight award, shines a light on those wandering in the dark alone and lost. The Austin based film follows Emily Martin as she trudges through hardships in order to find her place in a world that seems to be against her at every turn.

After receiving a phone call from her ex-boyfriend that their cat (Mr. Roosevelt) has died, Emily finds herself leaving L.A., and her numerous failed Hollywood auditions behind, as she travels back home to Austin, Texas where she ends up staying with her ex-boyfriend and his seemingly perfect new girlfriend in their home.

The film’s opening scene did an excellent job of setting up the film as a love letter to those wandering with an uncertain destination. In the first scene, Emily is at an audition. For most of her audition she tells the interviewers of how being an outcast in school led her to the path of an aspiring comedian. Unfortunately for Emily, since she spent most of her audition talking about finding her way to comedy, she only has little time left to show off her comedic skills thus Emily fails the audition. This pattern continues throughout the film with Emily making flawed choices which leads her to rambling on about how and why she got to certain points in her life.

Noel Wells wrote and directed an incredible film that enraptured audiences with not a dry eye in sight. Some scenes of the film elicited intense laughter with tears as a result while some scenes were unbearably painful as Emily had to face the decisions she made, such as the emotional realization that moving to L.A. and leaving her beloved cat and boyfriend behind might have been the worse decision she ever made.

Emily Martin may just be one of the most relatable characters that graced the movie screens during SXSW this spring break. Her story was real and honest. Not only did Mr. Roosevelt feature an excellent protagonist, but Noel Wells created an incredible ensemble of characters that demolished stereotypes, which the audience discovers along with Emily. During the beginning of the film Emily is stuck in her own world, viewing others as either evil plot devices sent to make her life miserable (her ex’s new girlfriend) or as love interests sent to tear her heart apart. Yet, after a series of self-destructive choices, Emily finally opens her eyes and sees that she is not the only one lost. Everyone has tiny cracks on their heart. Everyone struggles, fails, and wanders from paths they once thought would always be the only path for them. After the realization that she is not the only one wandering towards uncertainty, Emily is able to free herself from the constrictive ropes of fear and let go of any remnants of self-doubt.

Mr. Roosevelt is a must see film, especially for those who may be feeling a little misplaced in the world.

**I’m not sure if this film will release in theaters or if it will be available on streaming sites, however I hope it gets a theatrical release. This film absolutely deserves to be seen by the masses.

 

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Watch List: Free Fire (movie review)

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WOOOOOO I loved this! Love love love loved this! *heart eyes*

During a Q&A, Director Ben Wheatley said something along the lines of having a huge action movie in mind with thrilling car chases except that when the main characters got together at the  beginning of the story he originally had in mind to exchange guns, the characters fucked it up and thus Free Fire was born. I love this films birth story.

The entirety of Free Fire takes place in a warehouse, set in Boston 1978, after a gun deal goes wrong. The movie captures as each person in the warehouse struggles to survive flying bullets, explosions, and nasty insults.

The main thing I loved about Free Fire? It’s freaking hilarious! I have never laughed so hard during a gritty action movie. From the witty insults hurled at each other to the wry sense of humor they muster up to make sense of the grim situation they currently find themselves in is insanely funny. And the audience in the cinema agreed with me, I’ve never heard hundreds of people laugh as hard all at once during a film.

Although, despite the tongue in cheek hilarity, I will say, for those who don’t like violent movies this may be a bit much for you. Seriously, the bullets fly and hit their target. Sometimes multiple times. The violence in this gets pretty brutal. Yet, for someone like me who usually doesn’t like overly violent movies, I loved this film. The point was the violence. Put a gun in egotistical and insecure hands, you’re gonna get violence.

I can’t end this review without mentioning Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. While the two share similar themes (the botched schemes, ensemble cast, who did what, and the violence) these two films are very different. If you loved Reservoir Dogs, I honestly think you will love this as well.

Free Fire releases April 21, 2017

Watch List: Atomic Blonde (movie review)

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Short review: I liked this. I loved it at first, but then I sat on it for a bit and realized that I didn’t love it quite as much as I originally thought.

Why?

Well okay let’s start at the beginning. So Atomic Blonde is set in an alternate universe where the Berlin Wall is still in place. It’s a depressing place to be near the wall and our titular character,  Lorraine Broughton (played by Charlize Theron) is unfortunately sent there in order to find a traitor in her spy shere. At least…I think that’s what’s happening. See that’s the problem I had with this film, it confused the hell out of me. I wasn’t sure who was who and what was really going on. The end answered the main question, who is the traitor, but even the twist ending left me will a billion more questions.

However, despite my confusion and frustration with the ending, I was still able to enjoy this film. Atomic Blonde was beautifully shot. I mean, this action packed movie is seriously so beautiful to look at. The colors are gorgeous and I love the graphic novel feel. This movie is a comic book come to life, which I absolutely loved.

The best thing about this film? THE ACTION SCENES. Oh my goodness these action scenes were amazingly shot. The camera work enhanced the violence that was taking place making audience members sit at the edge of their seats hoping our Atomic Blonde would pull through and kick ass. Seriously, the audience clapped and hollered every time Lorraine managed to get up after an exhausting fight in order to fight another villain. These action scenes are some of the most beautiful and well shot I’ve seen in a long time. And for those who are squeamish and not fans of graphic violent scenes (me)  trust me, these action scenes are easy to take it. It’s so well shot, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.

So despite my confusion and questions I have left unanswered, this movie is a great watch. It’s beautifully filmed and Charlize Theron kicks some major ass. This summer, buckle in and get ready for a wild ride.

Atomic Blonde releases July 28, 2017.

Musical Escape: Love Triangle by RaeLynn

Some mamas and daddies
Are loving in a straight line
Take forever to hearten
And take a long sweet ride
But some mamas and daddies
Let their heart strings tear and tangle, oh

And some mamas and daddies
Ran outta love in ’94
And some mamas and daddies
Don’t even talk no more
And some mamas and daddies
Let their heart strings tear and tangle

And some of us get stuck
And some of us grow up
In a love triangle

Musical Escape: Night Bus by Gabrielle Aplin

I’m on the night bus
I’m thinking about us
The streetlights go fleeting by
The man sat next to me
Is texting somebody
I wonder what that feels like
Maybe I’m reckless
But I just can’t shake this
It follows me home at night, at night
It’s getting clearer every mile we ride

Suddenly I know
That I’m on my way home
To you for the last time
It’s not what you wanted
But I know you got this
And you’re gonna be fine
Oh, I’ve just been watching
The world as it’s turning
And that’s what it feels like
Suddenly I know
That I’m on my way home
To you for the last time

Watch List: Trailers

Here are some films I’m looking forward to seeing!

Song to Song :Directed by Terrence Malik

The Beguiled: Directed by Sofia Coppola

Brain on Fire: Directed by Gerard Barrett (based off the memoir by Susannah Cahalan)

Stranger Things: Directed by the Duffer Brothers

Okay that last one isn’t a movie trailer but who else is excited for season 2 of stranger things?!?! I can’t wait.

Also side note about Brain on Fire, it deals with mental health issues and the stigma behind mental health, the book is a great read if you haven’t yet read it. I highly recommend it.

Why romance and why write about it? Why have a blog anyway?

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I tried to be artsy with this picture. Photography isn’t my talent :p

Why have a blog? Fun fact about me: I’m a Communication major with a focus on Rhetorical and Cultural studies. Basically I’m learning how to think. How to be a rhetorical critic regarding Pop Culture, society, really anything. I look for the deeper meanings in things than what is directly implied. After finding those meanings I look at which cultural groups those meanings apply to. I also look at pop cultural artifacts such as films, tv shows, even advertisements and I try to figure out how they influence society. Does pop culture create the reality we live in or does pop culture react to our reality?

Let me give you an example of meanings and what those meanings mean to different groups in society:

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For those of you who don’t know, this is a portrait of Selena Quintanilla, a beloved Tejano singer who was tragically killed during the rise of her career. Selena sang hit Tejano songs such as Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, Como La Flor, and Amor Prohibido. The interesting thing about these songs is that they were crossover hits, people who didn’t speak spanish, people who had never listened to Tejano before in their lives, listened to these songs. They sang along with her and Selena started to do what no other Latin artist had done before her, bring spanish and Latin American culture into the mainstream.

Thus Selena has become a symbol for minorities across the nation, especially young Chicano/a’s. She was the living embodiment of the American Dream. Selena was a Mexican American who broke racial and gender barriers. Her english debut album Dreaming of You, which she was not alive to see the release of, broke records. Her music bought people of all backgrounds together. So this is why you will see a lot of Selena art in predominantly Chicano/a neighborhoods. Whenever young, especially young Mexican Americans, see her, they think of her success. Selena was proud of her culture, she proudly sang in Spanish and constantly talked of her roots. She never shied away from who she was. So young mexican americans are reminded of that when they listen to her songs or see her murals in their neighborhood, they are reminded to be proud of where they come from, to be proud of their roots. They are reminded that anything is possible for them. So to some groups, Selena is a symbol for the American Dream and cultural pride.

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But Selena also holds different meanings for different groups. Example: women. When Selena first started singing and touring, many venues would deny her from singing on their stages because they did not believe a woman should be singing on stage with men and touring with men. The Tejano scene at the time was extremely conservative and very much against Selena trying to break into the male dominated industry. Yet, Selena persevered. Not only did she perform anyway despite the backlash, she also started to wear bustiers (pictured above) which she would often design herself. Here’s an example of meaning taking on a different shape. Bustiers were considered trashy yet Selena was able to change that perspective. The bustier soon became trendy, feminine, and beautiful. So for many women, Selena became a symbol of feminism. Of empowerment.

Pop culture icons and artifacts have such huge impacts on our lives, on our day to day being. Sometimes we don’t even notice it.

So that’s a tiny example of what my focus is when I read things, watch films and listen to music. What do these things mean to me? What do they mean to other people? What are they trying to say? Are they political commentary or are they just fun outliers from reality?

That’s why I’ve started this blog. To apply what I’m learning in school to what’s around me. To stretch out my knowledge, put it in practice, so I can get better and better. I love looking at things from different perspectives. I love finding deep meanings in seemingly shallow objects. I love rambling. I love writing. So why not combine all of these things and have this outlet? So I guess my answer to why blog anyway is: why not?

Why romance? again I could shorten this and just respond with the question why not? But I like to ramble so here’s the longer answer.

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My favorite book of all time. Ginger Scott can do no wrong.

I honestly don’t get why romance novels get such a bad rep. Like c’mon, they sell like crazy, have a rabid fanbase, and romance book festivals are like music festivals with authors being the stars. Except at book festivals you get to meet your fav rock star authors (one day I will make it to a book festival, it’s my goal honestly)

Romance novels are more than about the romance and their meanings vary from book to book. Some novels focus on family, some on tragedy, some on healing, some on addiction, anxiety, depression, comedy relief, suspense, political commentary, horror, I mean you name it, there’s a romance novel that tackles that subject.

Take the above novel for example, Wild Reckless by Ginger Scott. This novel tackled so many heavy topics in a beautiful, loving, and respectful way. Scott took on first love, the vulnerability of letting yourself love someone for the first time and being loved in return. She also tackled the subject of addiction and the toll addiction takes on families. She tackled the subject of cheating, divorce, and being the child of divorce. She wrote about suicide and the trickling tragic effect it has on everyone. Wild Reckless was a romance at its core, but it was also so much more. It was about saving yourself, loving yourself, and allowing others to love you too. About allowing yourself to love someone else despite what may or may not happen.

I’m sure Wild Reckless meant so many different things to many readers. That’s what I love about romance novels. For each reader, the novel can take on a different meaning. Someone can relate to the hero or heroine in ways that can save their life. Ways that can better themselves. Ways that can brighten their perspective on things. For me, romance novels are proactive in the way they influence society. They remind people love is out there. They remind people to be themselves, to love themselves and to love others. They remind people that every single person is going through something, you aren’t alone. Romance novels are about vulnerability and being okay with that vulnerability. These novels provide a bit of light in what can sometimes be a dark world.

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The Hard Count by Ginger Scott could be seen as social and political commentary. The Hard Count focused on Nico, a young hispanic teen who attended a predominantly white school where he joined the football team and faced racial and class discrimination. Yet Nico persevered. He didn’t let these barriers knock him down. He took pride in who he was and worked hard for what he wanted. To some readers, this novel might have provoked critical thought. Have I ever been unconsciously discriminative towards someone who is different than me? Whether I have or haven’t, I need to try and be aware of these things. I also need to stand up for what’s right if I were to ever witness discrimination of any kind.

But for other readers, Nico reminded them to keep going, to keep being proud of who you are, to never let anyone make you feel inferior. Nico was the symbol of hard work, determination, and overcoming what may feel like the impossible.

See? Romance novels are so much more than what the label implies. They mean something to different people. They influence us to be better. To keep going. Happy endings aren’t just on the pages, they are for reality as well.

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The most recent romance novel I’ve read is Managed by Kristen Callihan and man did this novel really just grab hold of me and refuse to let go.

Here’s what I love most about romance novels: reading about two people figuring out how to be vulnerable.

In Managed, Gabriel Scott is socially awkward. He comes off as brash, arrogant, and just seems to genuinely hate people. Then he meets Sophie. He starts to melt bit by bit and after a while, readers, along with Sophie, see why Gabriel is the way he is. He finally felt comfortable enough to share his life with someone, even the ugly parts that made him into the man he is today. Opening up to someone like that isn’t easy and doesn’t happen out of nowhere, it takes care and a whole lotta love for someone to reveal themselves in such an unapologetic way. And we can all relate to that.

Sophie hasn’t had it easy either. She used to be something she absolutely hated; she felt dirty, ashamed. She hid those feelings under the exterior of a bubbling personality and a constant barrage of jokes. Yet, with Gabriel becoming her close friend, she was able to reveal her life to him as well. Let him see the broken, ugly parts. And together, they healed. They loved. They loved the beautiful and ugly parts of each other and their relationship blossomed every second into something powerful.

They were vulnerable with each other, and that vulnerability led to strength. Despite vulnerability being our most tender feeling, it is also what makes us strong. Romance novels are about strength. The strength it takes for us to be vulnerable.

So again, why romance? Well, why not?