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First official ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ trailer promises plenty of steam!

BreAna Hansen:

Although I’m not a huge 50 Shades fan…this is worth watching. Spice up your morning!

Originally posted on The Daily Quirk:

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Image Credit: Universal Pictures and Focus Features)

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (Image Credit: Universal Pictures and Focus Features)

I just watched the trailer for Fifty Shades of Grey and I’m already a little inappropriately excited to see this film and I hate the books! I know, you’re all balking at me for disliking the books but that’s why my recommendation to watch this trailer (and eventually patron the film) means even more. I genuinely thought I’d be relatively underwhelmed by the teaser but I was definitely mistaken. Here are a couple reasons why I found it so tantalizing:

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The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret)

KeeperFinalPoster-thumb-300xauto-41015The first in what appears to be a series of Danish detective films based on novels by the same name, The Keeper of Lost Causes follows police inspector Carl Morck (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) and his assistant Assad (Fares Fares) as they solve cold cases. The reason Carl Morck is relegated to department Q was due to a fateful case a few months prior that ended with Carl injured and his partner dead. Unfortunately, his partner was the only police inspector that could stand working with Carl due to his unique personality or lack thereof. The story sets us up to know that Carl has no personal life to speak of, he is recently separated and living alone with nothing to do but think about work. Does this mean he plays by the rules? Of course not.

I’d classify this film as a fairly typical detective film with well-timed humor delivered by the two polar opposite protagonists creating an irresistible pair of heroes. If it weren’t for the Danish humor, I wouldn’t have enjoyed this film. However, I’ll give credit where credit is due. The screenwriter, Nikolaj Arcel, and novelist, Jussi Adler-Olsen, put together an interesting story that wasn’t too bland for the seasoned viewer. Beyond the relationship between the partners, which was definitely my favorite element, I also thought they fate of the woman they are searching for was unique. I won’t reveal anything other than to say it wasn’t something I’ve seen in recent memory.

Just a FYI, you may recognize the actor playing Assad from Zero Dark Thirty or Safe House. Fares Fares (yes, this is his real name) has an impressive resume of films of different languages from around the globe but mostly sticking to Scandinavia and the U.S. His character, Assad, makes up for all that Carl lacks including compassion, fortitude, and sociability.

Overall, I thought the film was definitely worth watching and who knew the Danish were so funny? My two viewing companions also enjoyed the film. As with any film involving violent crime, I wouldn’t recommend this film to anyone under 16 but it’s fairly tame in the grand scheme of things. I rate this film three out of five spectacles.

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The Trip to Italy

The-Trip-TO-Italy-Poster-518x740A sequel to The Trip (2010), The Trip to Italy is about Steve Coogan (as himself) and Rob Brydon (as himself) who are tasked by The Observer to write about their tour of Italy as they dine at fine restaurants. WARNING: this is not a documentary. My unsuspecting roommate bought a ticket to this film thinking it would be a documentary about Italy and its food so she could take notes for her upcoming trip. Little did she know this was a comedy where the two main characters are indeed quasi-accurate versions of themselves who have humorous conversations over their delicious Italian meals but is in no way educational.

Honestly, there isn’t a ton of substance to this film but it is definitely a good time especially for Italiaphiles and cinephiles alike. Their humor includes numerous impressions of actors or characters, quoting lines from famous films, which we all do in our own circle of friends. Admit it – you’ve shove bread into your cheeks and proceeded with a Marlon Brando Godfather impersonation. It is a very chatty film with lots of back and forth between the two silly Brits, if you’re into slapstick or other physical comedies – you won’t enjoy this. If you like Steve Coogan’s style of humor in any of his previous roles, you’ll probably find this funny as well.

If you want to see a light-hearted film for a date or just can’t get enough of Steve Coogan, go see this in the theater. Otherwise, it’s not really worth the exorbitant ticket price – you can wait for Netflix. I give this film two and a half out of five spectacles.

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Life Feels Good (Chce sie zyc)

Life Feels Good movie posterI saw this film on its premiere night at the festival and with a packed house it touched nearly everyone in that theater. Countless sniffles, eye wipes, and teary laughter occurred throughout the 112 minute film. A Polish movie based on the true story of Matuesz, a man who has lived through Cerebral Palsy for over twenty years before a doctor devised a way to help him (and others like him) communicate and prove he in fact was not a vegetable (tear).

The film follows Mateusz from early childhood living with his mostly loving and supportive family in a modest apartment. Until his mother’s age and physical health leaves her unable to care for Mateusz properly and he’s sent to a home. Once in the home, he is cordoned off with the other disabled residents with low cognitive functioning. His inner dialogue about boobs, love, hate, etc. is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. He manages to have a couple of love affairs with women without saying a word.

The caretakers at the home are indifferent to Matuesz’s attempts at communicating until a fateful day at physical therapy when he meets a doctor interested in helping him communicate. That poignant moment in the home for the mentally disabled when he tells his mother and sister, “Not I vegetable,” threw the SIFF crowd into fits of sobs. Beware, you’d have to be heartless not to feel for this guy, so have Kleenex on hand.

Dawid Ogrodnik’s performance as Matuesz was stunning, absolutely worthy of awards. I immediately exited the theater and wrote in Dawid Ogrodnik for the Best Actor Golden Space Needle Award. He won! In the running credits the audience gets to meet the real Matuesz while he meets Dawid and it is almost as touching as the film itself. I can imagine that Dawid Ogrodnik will never be the same after knowing Mateusz and learning his story then going on to depict him on film. It really puts life into perspective. Although I’ve mostly outlined the tear inducing moments, there is plenty of hilarity as well. Matuesz definitely has a great sense of humor. I highly recommend this movie to anyone, it was brilliant. I give this film four out of five spectacles.

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Seattle International Film Festival 2014

SIFF Volunteer SwagSorry, loyal readers, for being absent the last few months. I have been taking mindful action in my life to turn it in the direction I want which has included two volunteer gigs, a full-time job, and a million dates (maybe not a million but it feels like it). One of those volunteer gigs was working for SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival) during its three-week long festival. I also gave up my Memorial Day weekend to work for the Northwest Folklife Festival as the SIFF House Manager. Needless to say, it has been a busy yet fruitful few months.

SIFF Film Center - NW Folklife FestivalI’ll admit that I probably won’t be blogging as much as I have in the past since I have a ton more commitments ahead of me. The most prevalent being the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (training, training, training!) and…wait for it…a movie project I’m hoping to help develop! I have no other commentary on this project because it’s in super secret mode at the moment but I am so stoked to be working on something that actually has a great chance of being produced. Making movies is the best thing ever. I digress.

#siffselfieAs for SIFF, I was only able to take up four shifts due to my other commitments but they were for special events, venue, and guest relations. Here are a few highlights:

  • I saw Chris Messina, aka Danny from The Mindy Project, outside the W Hotel!!! As a volunteer, I’m banned from asking for photos but I did bounce a little with excitement. I decided not to fangirl out on him since it appeared that he was trying to get some privacy for a phone call. Ugh, he was so cute.
  • I was able to drive around some indie filmmakers and film critics last weekend. I listened to their opinions on the films at the festival and what they’re working on now. A fellow film writer, Jai Tiggett, was a cool guest that I met and drove around on her first visit to Seattle. Check her out at Indiewire’s Shadow and Act!
  • I met a bunch of Seattleites that love film, which is always a treat, but even better were all the vouchers to see free movies. I managed to break the SIFF cherries of three friends by having them accompany me to a few screenings.
  • These amazing films I saw for FREE: Life Feels Good (Chce sie zyc), Attila Marcel, The Trip to Italy, The Keeper of Lost Causes (Kvinden i buret), and The 100-year-old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared (Hundraåringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann). I managed to avoid seeing any American made movies during the festival. Reviews for above-listed films coming in separate posts so check back for those.

If you’re a fellow Seattleite and you love film, you should definitely volunteer! I made a friend while working the SIFF Film Center for NW Folklife who has convinced me it is worth volunteering for SIFF year-round so I can earn a Sponsor pass for the next festival. SOLD!

Captain Phillips

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After the Oscars, I was still in the mood to tick all the Best Picture nominees off my watch list so I got a hold of Captain Phillips. I know that Oscar nominated films are never bad but I didn’t have high hopes for this film – why? I’m not sure, especially since it stars Tom Hanks who I generally love, but I just didn’t think the heroic true story of a cargo ship captain would really touch my heart. Well, I was wrong. Dead wrong. I will try not to ruin too much of this movie for you but I can’t really speak to its strengths without inherently suggesting plot points. So, don’t read ahead if you are planning on watching this soon or just generally hate spoilers.

It was pretty obvious from previews and articles about the film that the Somali pirates that invaded Phillips’ ship weren’t going to be portrayed as clear-cut bad guys, rather victims of their countries corruption and famine. If you aren’t an Oscar fan like me, you might want to know that the man who played the leader of the pirates (Barkhad Abdi) was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for the role. Now I understand why, while watching the film I knew that things would not end well for the pirates so I had a feeling of dread for these desperate emaciated men. Even though Abdi’s character (Muse) continuously tells Phillips “everything going to be alright” you know it isn’t true and it makes you feel sorry for him because Muse is clearly naive. The movie didn’t dwell on Somalia’s socio-economic climate but the opening scene in their village and looking at the rags the men were wearing (one without shoes) you knew their circumstance was not good. It sort of ripped my heart out knowing that every American man on that ship was plump, relatively healthy, and unionized. The drastic comparison between these two cultures/economic situations made it hard to completely hate or demonize these pirates who were blatantly breaking international laws. When the U.S. Navy shows up to rescue Captain Phillips you know their fate is sealed and it made me sad.

However, the moment I lost control of my emotions was at the very end when the Captain is saved and taken into the medical bay by Navy staff. His mental state is exactly what I think I’d be like after a horrifying trauma. The multitude of emotions he’s feeling comes out of every pore as he tries to allow the medic to examine him while he’s simultaneously told to calm down. I’m not sure about all of you out there but telling a person experiencing extreme emotional trauma to “calm down” is not helpful. In fact, I think it deserves a punch. The entire time I was watching the scene I wanted to slap the crap out of that woman.

One last aspect of the film that I found well done was the language barrier between the American ship crew and the Somali pirates. The filmmaker was able to include us in the confusion by ensuring that no parts of the Somali conversations were ever translated. As an audience we have to infer from facial expressions, tone of voice, and physical demeanor what exactly is being said between these men. Captain Phillips didn’t know what they were saying and neither do we. I give the film four out of five spectacles.

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Poll: Which travel blog post is my best?

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