Film Review: Focus

via Screen Relish

Will Smith was such a smooth operator back in the day. I mean that as far away as the days he was chillin’ out maxin’ n’ relaxin’ in Fresh Prince all the way until he and Eva Mendes were the moniker New York movers and shakers in Hitch, which was released nearly a decade ago.

It is nice to see that he’s still got it as a guy’s guy/hero in  Focus, a pseudo romantic comedy that stars Smith as con-man Nicky who meets fellow heist helmer-in-training Jess (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street) and recruits her for one of his team’s biggest jobs.  While Jess proves to be a fantastic asset and helps them pull off their biggest con, Nicky gets too close to her and ditches her post-assignment. Three years later, Nicky is hired for a job in Buenos Aires at an international race competition, only to discover that his boss’ girlfriend is his ex love and protegé, Jess, who completely throws him off track in a time when his focus is the most critical element to getting the job done and receiving a huge pay-off.

This film is charming , starting with Robbie and Smith as a dynamite on-screen duo who are constantly teetering on the is he/isn’t she playing him line, particularly in the second half to the film when their story picks up in beautiful Buenos Aires. In the down-on-her-luck and most unexpected moments, Robbie is so convincingly cool, taking her work in The Wolf of Wall Street a step up. It is easy to accept Smith in this kind of role because it is familiar territory; he’s still got a handle on how to be that guy, the one who is well-polished and quick-witted with an emotional blindspot.

The swanky aesthetic is very similar to directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s last feature, Crazy, Stupid, Love, which was also dressed in the city locals and suits dedicated to the who’s who and cheeky humor. In this movie some of the funnier moments are due to supporting characters portrayed by Adrian Martinez (The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and Gerald McRaney (House of Cards) who easily distract you from the gradually tumbling plot in the second-half of the movie. The entire package remains slick and sophisticated, but the story ultimately makes several unexpected turns that are more disappointing than they are shocking. If Focus really required your attention, then you would see how the chase, while initially thrilling, ends up completely anti-climatic.

I attended an early screening of Focus last week courtesy of ticket giveaway from Warner Brothers Canada. Focus will release in North American theatres tomorrow. 

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15 Favourite Moments from the 2015 Oscar Night

Like any other year, the 87th Academy Awards had many moments with beaded dresses, controversies, snazzy suits, snubs and predictable wins. While I was extremely happy that J.K. Simmons won Best Supporting Actor in Whiplash and The Grand Budapest HotelWhiplash and Birdman were the big winners of the night, I was genuinely surprised that Boyhood‘s only recognition came in the form of a Best Supporting Actress win for Patricia Arquette. I quickly dipped into disappointment territory when The Imitation Game won for Best Adapted Screenplay because I wanted/anticipated a win for Whiplash, but alas – that is the nature of award shows. 

Then there’s Neil Patrick Harris, the host of the Academy Awards. There were a lot of groan-worthy puns, awkward pauses and segue ways and an overly extended bit about a briefcase that were relatively family friendly and all the more dull for a glitzy night. It wasn’t all bad, though. Neil had some pretty great one liners that called out the various controversies surrounding the awards and the attendees were game to not only have a lot of fun, but to also make the most of their stage time. Between some beautiful performances, heartfelt speeches and the philanthropic, political and feminist advocacy, last night’s awards (and the pre and post events) had some pretty fantastic moments. Here are the ones I enjoyed the most (in no particular order):

1. The Everything is Awesome Performance

Everything is Awesome was nominated for Best Original Song from the much-talked about and snubbed The Lego Movie. It didn’t win the Oscar, but quite literally everything was awesome about the performance. From Tegan and Sara (yay Canadians!) to The Lonely Island (be still, university heart) to Quest Love to Will Arnett to Lego Academy Award statues, the performance brought some much needed levity and colour to the show.

2. Oprah/Emma Stone/Channing Tatum Win Lego Oscars

“YOU get an Oscar and YOU get an Oscar and Oprah, YOU get an Oscar!” Image via USA Today

Emma Stone posing with her trophy as her name is announced during Best Supporting Actress (Image via Vox.com)

There’s also a really great .gif out there of Channing Tatum making his Lego statue dance behind Steve Carell. Celebrities do have fun at these things.

3. Patricia Arquette’s Acceptance Speech
It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all, and equal rights for women in the United States of America.

It was a brief part of her speech which she later expanded upon in the press room but it mattered. It mattered that she used her time on a stage broadcasted across the United States and around the world that she acknowledged such issues in her home country, especially as a seasoned actress who may have encountered barriers to equal pay in her career. It was short, but it impactful.

4. Meryl Streep Is All About Equality

Jennifer Lopez, too. You go girls!

5. “Stay Weird. Stay Different.”

I tried to commit suicide at 16 and now I’m standing here. I would like for this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. You do. Stay weird. Stay different, and then when it’s your turn and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message along.”

I’ve already said that I was quite disappointed that The Imitation Game won for Best Adapted Screenplay, but I have an immense amount of respect for screenwriter Graham Moore taking a career-high celebratory moment and transforming it into one of outreach, one that could mean something to someone else out there with his speech. Stay weird. Stay different. Be who you are, be true to yourself and don’t give up.

6. “Glory”

I don’t think there’ll ever come a time when I see a performance of “Glory” and not instantly be moved by it and/or be reminded of Selma‘s craftsmanship and beauty. It felt like a triumphant, climatic moment for a film that should have received more recognition throughout this award season than it did. It also brought many audience members to tears, including Chris Pine and Selma star David Oyelowo.

7. Reese Witherspoon pushing to #AskHerMore

You know, this is a movement to say we’re more than just our dresses,” she told the ABC presenter. “The dresses are beautiful; we love the artists that make these clothes. But, this is a group of women — 44 nominees this year, Robin, that are women — and we are so happy to be here and talk about the work that we’ve done, you know? It’s hard being a woman in Hollywood or in any industry. It’s exciting for me to get to talk to other nominees about all the hard work that they did…it’s been a great year producing Gone Girl and Wild, and [my company] just hopes to have more success in the future bringing great leading roles to women.”

#AskHerMore is an online movement and ongoing conversation that encourages media and journalists to ask questions that are much more significant and relevant to a woman’s career, especially on red carpets where women are usually only asked “What are you wearing tonight?” #AskHerMore actually kicked off last year but it is great to see the conversation gaining momentum and having a prominent figure like Reese Witherspoon get behind it as well. The above is what she told ABC reporter Robin Roberts on the red carpet.

8. Lady Gaga Sound of Music Medley and Julie Andrew’s appearance

I cannot believe that the Sound of Music is turning fifty years old this year! It is definitely a multi-generational spanning cinematic achievement and Lady Gaga did a fantastic job honouring it. I loved hearing her vocal range get pushed into a completely different zone than what she showcases in her own music. My dad and I fondly recounted memories of watching the musical while her performance was going on, only to have our conversation quickly transition into how graceful and beautiful Julie Andrews is when she appeared on stage to give away an award. The way she exclaimed “Lady Gaga!” was the cherry on top of a wonderful tribute.

9. Anna Kendrick and Jack Black in the Opening Song

I loved Neil Patrick Harris’ opening performance as a whole, but having Anna Kendrick and Jack Black in there added some comedic punch to it (and also called out the repetitive, blockbuster nature of a the Movie Picture Show in the last few years.) I’m also now campaigning for Anna Kendrick to host next year’s ceremony because I think she’d do an amazing job in that position.

10. Eddie Redmayne’s Excited Disbelief

Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor award for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. If you haven’t seen it, please do – it is a beautiful film with some remarkable work from Redmayne and his co-star Felicity Jones. I couldn’t find a video which featured Redmayne’s reaction from the moment his name was announced by 2014 Best Actress Cate Blanchett, but he completely freaked out in his seat and continued to do so on stage for about ten seconds where he just held the Oscar and was wowed by the moment. I found it adorable and human, especially for someone whose received a lot of recognition and stood behind a few podiums this award season. It was very personable.

11. John Legend and Common’s Acceptance Speech

Besides producing such a moving song, I have to commend John Legend and Common for their poignancy and weight in their speeches every time they’ve won an award this season. While the inspiration for “Glory” comes from Selma, Common spoke about the universal experience of fighting for equality across the world, from the United States to France to Hong Kong, while John Legend once more reminded the audience that Selma is now. The film itself speaks volumes but I think these gentleman have been an integral part of ensuring that its legacy extends well beyond this award season.

12. Don’t Let the Music Bring You Down

The orchestra music played when an acceptance speech goes on for too long is the stuff of scheduling, run-time, embarrassment and irritation, and most people shrug it off as a joke and speed through their speeches if they become a victim to the music. Last night Paweł Pawlikowski, the winner behind the Best Foreign Film Ida, gave the orchestra a real run as he refused to leave the stage without giving an exceptional thank you to his family and team. I think it is the longest I’ve ever heard the orchestra going but Pawel admirably stood his ground for his moment.

13. Birdman Spoof

Was this foreshadowing to the Best Picture win? I was really hoping for some sort of Gone Girl parody but I’ll take the 90 seconds worth of a Birdman spoof in Neil Patrick Harris’ repertoire from last night. The real bite came from a quick cameo from Miles Teller playing the drums as both Whiplash and Birdman had lots of percussion work in their scores.

14. The Kimmel School of Perfecting Acting 

https://www.youtube.com/user/JimmyKimmelLive

I think this is the tenth time Jimmy Kimmel has hosted a post-Oscars live show. This year he had an extensive interview with John Travolta, who addressed the Adele Dazeem teleprompter read last year and a quick cameo from J.K. Simmons. The best part was Jimmy’s two-part skit, The Kimmel School of Perfect Acting. It’s a pretty star-studded affair and of course, hilarious. Eddie Redmayne’s screaming is reminiscent of all of those Jupiter Ascending memes I’ve seen floating around. Watch Part 1 above and Part 2 here.

PS – Maybe Jimmy Kimmel and Anna Kendrick could co-host together?

15. The Grand Budapest Hotel Wins!

Most of the films you see at the Academy Awards are films that come out in the fall and winter, are heavily campaigned and quite often are festival darlings. The Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t quite follow this regime and it turned out be one of the big winners last night; it tied with Birdman at four wins each. It’s such a lovely artistic feat that deserved the attention and recognition it received, despite not being amidst the Oscar-crop in late 2014. My mom and I are huge fans of this movie and I hope you guys take some time and watch it (it’s on Netflix Canada fellow Canucks!) so you can share in my excitement and happiness for its Academy Award wins for Best Original Score, Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hair. Once you’ve watched the film, check out the acceptances speeches for those awards – you’ll find the production team is just as amusing as the film itself.

I hope to do a  fashion post in the coming day or two but for now, I’d love to hear what your favourite moments were from the 87th Academy Awards. Comment or tweet me and let me know!

Locking It In: 2015 Oscar Winner Predictions

Oscar weekend has arrived and with it comes the onslaught of predictions from every journalist, blogger, neighbour, casual moviegoer and cinéphile out there. I am of course no exception to that crowd and am about to list my predictions for this year’s Academy Awards ceremony taking place on Sunday.

Before I share some of those picks (some of which are justified, some of which are random selections, and some of which I have absolutely no clue what I’m talking about), I want to say that the Oscars should never be a sole reflection of the strength, quality and effort made in a film in any capacity. There are plenty of films, performances and technical efforts that don’t get nominated that are worthy of your attention as much as the ones that are nominated. I made a few predictions about a month ago on who may be nominated and was disappointed by some of the resulting nominations. This year’s batch of snubs includes A Most Violent Year, David Oyelowo’s performance in SelmaThe Lego Movie, Angelina Jolie’s second directorial effort, Ava DuVernay’s work in SelmaGone Girl‘s score and many, many more that I probably haven’t even thought of yet.

That’s not to say there aren’t some great films nominated at this year’s awards, and if you haven’t checked many of them out, I would definitely recommend making a few trips to the theatre this weekend and study up for the show. Want some help on what you should see? You can read my reviews for The Imitation Game, Foxcatcher, Wild, and Selma here.

I’ve selected my top pick for each category as well as other potential winners I would not be surprised by:

Best Picture

via wired.com

Top Pick: Birdman
Other contenders: (2) The Imitation Game (3) Boyhood (4) The Grand Budapest Hotel

There are so many incredible qualities about Birdman. The cinematography is phenomenal, Michael Keaton delivers an exquisite performance, the supporting cast is just as strong and the story is a great mix of dark comedy meets drama meets tragedy. While many predict that Boyhood is the top film to contend with, I would not be surprised if The Imitation Game slips through and wins the prize over Linklater’s cinematic achievement. The Imitation Game has all the elements of a crowd-pleasing, Oscar-bait flick, akin to The King’s Speech which won Best Picture back in 2011. The Grand Budapest Hotel, with several Oscar nominations under its belt, seems to have grabbed the attention of Oscar voters, and rightly so for a lovely film that came out much earlier in the year.

Best Actor

via collider.com

Top Pick: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Other Contenders: (2) Michael Keaton, Birdman

This is a very tough category. There was such a dynamism to Keaton’s work in Birdman but Redmayne’s physicality is untouched in this year’s batch. I loved both of their performances for entirely different reasons, and would be pleased to see either of them win. I just foresee Redmayne edging Keaton out in this round.

Best Actress

via HitFix


Top Pick: Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Other Contenders: (2) Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl (3) Reese Witherspoon, Wild

I watched Still Alice this past Tuesday and I found several moments of genius in Moore’s performance as a professor suffering from Alzheimer’s. It was a beautiful, honest look at the personal and familial challenges many encounter and Moore handled it so well. She’s been a clear winner throughout award season, and I think she’ll continue her streak this Sunday and will finally receive her first Academy Award. But, Rosamund Pike as Amazing Amy in Gone Girl was so convincing as an incredibly dysfunctional character, shock factor included and she should be a major contender for it. Reese Witherspoon’s resurgence is manifested in her portrayal of Cheryl Strayed, which I spoke about in my review, and she came back really strong.

Best Supporting Actor

via Mashable

Top Pick:J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Other Contender: Edward Norton, Birdman

J.K. Simmons is going to win. It will happen. There is zero doubt in my mind that it will happen, but I’ll throw in Norton for kicks (and he is a major reason why Birdman is so fantastic.)

Best Supporting Actress

via PopSugar

Top Pick: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Other Contenders: (2) Emma Stone, Birdman (3) Laura Dern, Wild

You probably won’t take me as seriously when I tell you that I still have not watched Boyhood. I’ll be watching it this weekend before the award show, but I admit that this is me just going with general critical consensus. That being said, I think Emma Stone was remarkable in Birdman, particularly in the stand-off against Michael Keaton, and Laura Dern has such a presence to her character in Wild. I’d love to see either of them honoured on Sunday.

Best Director

via IndieWire

Top Pick: Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Other Contenders: (2) Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman (3) Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Yes, I just picked a director for a movie I have not seen yet, but theoretically speaking, Linklater has achieved something completely unique to cinematic history that it would be strange if it were not honoured this Sunday. It’s a tough pick because Iñárritu guided a phenomenal cast and curated an incredible viewing experience for audiences in Birdman. Anderson on the other hand also spearheaded an aesthetically creative and quirky film that stuck in the minds of voters during the nomination process. Maybe it will be a frontrunner in voters’ minds again.

Other Award Predictions

Cinematography: (1) Birdman (2) The Grand Budapest Hotel
Costume Design: (1) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2) Mr. Turner
Film Editing: (1) Boyhood (2) The Imitation Game (3) The Grand Budapest Hotel
Makeup and HairstylingThe Grand Budapest Hotel
Music – Original Score: (1) The Theory of Everything (2) The Grand Budapest Hotel (3) The Imitation Game
Music – Original Song: (1) “Glory” from Selma (2) “Everything is Awesome” from The Lego Movie
Production Design: (1) The Grand Budapest Hotel (2) Into the Woods
Sound Editing: American Sniper
Sound Mixing: American SniperBirdman
Visual Effects: (1) Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2) Interstellar (3) Guardians of the Galaxy
Writing – Adapted Screenplay: Whiplash
Writing – Original Screenplay: (1) Birdman (2) Nightcrawler
Best Animated Film: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Total guess – I haven’t seen it)

I have absolutely no opinion/guesses for Best Short Film (Live), Best Short Film (Animated), Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short Subject and Best Foreign Film because I haven’t seen any of the nominees in these categories at all. I know. I’m bad.

I am really curious about what your Oscar predictions are , so comment or tweet me @whatthemehek and let me know what your thoughts are for the awards! I’m really excited that Neil Patrick Harris is hosting (and I’m hoping there’ll be some Gone Girl-esque sequence in his opening). I’ll definitely be live-tweeting my reactions, so make sure to join in on the conversation and film fun!

Film Review: The DUFF

via Collider.com

Its been thirty years since the ultimate high school classification guide graced the big screen in the form of The Breakfast Club. The John Hughes-directed film found the lives of five students crash into one another during one fateful stint in weekend detention. The social order of athletes, princesses, basket cases, criminals and nerds blurred together into a very humanizing tale about the North American teenage experience.

While the underlying sentiments of the classic film persist, Hughes’ groupings could do with a refresher. Mean Girls proposed a new system that broke down the primary five categories into a mix of ethnic stereotypes and recreational activities. Easy A highlighted the religious contention and tackled bullying on the basis of personal decision making.

The DUFF suggestion is a blend between a class and a role: a DUFF. Birthed out of author Kody Keplinger’s mind, the DUFF is for the Pinteresting millennials (though it could have worked in Hughes’ days, too); it is the name for the friend in every group whose role is to make others look good. They are the approachable ones. They are the Designated Ugly Fat Friend (but don’t take this literally; the other characteristics are much more definitive of a DUFF than the cruel title itself.)

In the movie (based on Keplinger’s book, which I have not read), the DUFF in question is Bianca (Mae Whitman, Parenthood, Arrested Development), who like the rest of us, has no clue that there is such a thing as a “DUFF”; she just knows she’s different from her two best friends Jessica and Casey. That is, until her ex-best friend/next door neighbour/resident jock-y guy Wesley (Robbie Amell, The Tomorrow PeopleThe Flash) spells it out for her at a high school party held by his on-and-off girlfriend, Madison (Bella Thorne, Blended, upcoming TV series Scream). Horrified by the title, Bianca sets out to rid herself of DUFF status and attract her long-time crush, Toby (Nick Eversman, Missing, Wild). She strikes a deal to help Wesley in school in exchange for his assistance to un-DUFF her.

It’s tempting to call The DUFF out on following several typical teen film devices; there’s an unrelenting mean girl, the main character undergoes an extensive transformation process, the popular guy is an integral part of said transformation, a big dance etc, but it’s also those familiar elements that make teen movies so enjoyable.  Where it differs from other entries (most will likely draw comparisons to She’s All That) is with Bianca. Although she absolutely despises being considered a DUFF, she never really loses sight of her core personality. It’s a pretty important trait, especially in the face of the cyberbullying that she faces over the course of the story because she manages to come out on the other side still true to herself. Those subplots also add some interesting and saddening social context to the modern high school experience, but never at the price of the story’s momentum.

To be clear, The DUFF is very, very funny. It’s drenched in all sorts of colloquial insults and hashtags and it sticks to its Boom, Clap! era so much that the Spinal Tap reference made in the film feels extremely outdated. While the secondary characters tend to get lost behind Bianca’s fully-fleshed out story and sometimes pale in comparison to recent teen comedy additions, the cast does a fairly good job at holding the tent pole characteristics up. This is primarily true for Thorne and Amell. Madison has zero redeeming qualities and it makes it difficult to understand why Wesley would ever want to date her in the first place, but both Thorne and Amell are fun enough to watch on screen. Naturally, seasoned comedic actors Ken Jeong (The Hangover, Community) and Allison Janney (Mom, Hairspray), who play Bianca’s teacher and mother respectively, are strong bets during the small amount of screen time that they receive. Janney drops the film’s only major curse word and it could not have been delivered by anyone else as perfectly.

The easy highlight of this entire film is Mae Whitman, who is a completely brilliant and hilarious lead that helps the audience find a lot of heart with the whole concept of a “DUFF”. It is a difficult feat to achieve; some may criticize the term, but in the film itself it comes across less literal and concerns itself more with the role of such names in high school. Whitman does such a wonderful job at inspiring the audience to look beyond those labels in a performance that is as memorable as her Lohan and Stone counterparts and makes The DUFF an easy addition to a classic roster of teen flicks.

I attended an early screening of The DUFF courtesy of a ticket giveaway from eOne Films. The DUFF is out in North American theatres now. 

The Post-TIFF Recap+Review: The Voices

via ComingSoon.net

 

What was the last movie starring Ryan Reynolds that you enjoyed?

For me, its been a while.  The ProposalDefinitely, Maybe. Just Friends. I obviously have an interest in romantic-comedies, but I also just haven’t enjoyed some his films in the last few years. That being said, Ryan was still a major factor in my last-minute decision to join the rush line for The Voices at TIFF 14′. I didn’t really know much about the film outside of the synopsis and cast, but upon seeing it, I’m really glad I ended up at the screening.

The Voices is a psycho-thriller meets comedy meets drama that at one point meets musical. In the middle of this intersection is Jerry (Reynolds), a lonely, slightly socially awkward but optimistic blue collar employee at Milton Faucet and Fixture. Jerry is also mentally ill; his pets (also voiced by Reynolds), a cat named Mr.Whiskers, and his dog, Bosco, talk to him every night (when he’s not taking his medication.) On a stormy night, Jerry has a run-in with his corporate crush Fiona (Gemma Arterton, Clash of the Titans, Quantam of Solace), an encounter that results in Jerry accidentally stabbing her, and then, because of the voices around him, purposely killing her. This incident sets Jerry off on a path that causes him to stop taking his medication, which implicates his sessions with Dr.Warren (played by Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings PlaybookMagic in the Moonlight) and forces him to live in an alternative world where his actions aren’t perceived to be quite as gruesome as what the audience sees.

This is some pretty heavy subject matter but the film never truly sways towards direct commentary on mental health. Any insights gained underlie Jerry’s characterization, but director Marjani Satrapi (Persepolis) doesn’t take those opportunities to address the stigma attached to mental health. She instead offsets the issue with views of Jerry’s life post-murder, which includes a relationship with coworker Lisa (Anna Kendrick, The Last Five YearsUp in the Air) and the on-going banter between Mr.Whiskers and Bosco. If the cat isn’t taunting Jerry’s attempts to restrain his violent tendencies, then the dog is trying to be his best friend and convince him to continue on a moral path. The comedic aspect is balanced really well with the Jerry’s ongoing conflicts that are constantly teetering on the brink of complete self-destruction. Satrapi’s ability to handle this level of genre-meshing results in something brilliantly weird and creatively intriguing.

This film is a great vessel for Reynolds,  who amidst the gore, talking dead people and sassy animals doesn’t exactly ground the movie, but  is a dynamic focal point that you want to hinge onto for the entire story. Even though his character becomes a murderer, he’s kind of a mix of sadistic, unfortunate and humorous which is a winning combination in this movie. Reynolds boyish charms and knack for off-beat comedy makes this colourful and disturbing off-kilter experience totally worth a view (maybe two, in case you need to process it.) Hopefully it marks the a start of a new chapter in his career. 

The Voices is one of those films that you’re either completely on board with or you don’t get into it at all. The audience at the TIFF screening I attended seemed to be really enthusiastic about it (to the point where there were far too many similar questions, so clearly no one was listening to the others.) Here are a few bits from that session which featured Ryan Reynolds, Anna Kendrick and Marjane Satrapi.

  • This is the first time Satrapi worked with a script that was not hers, but by reading in between the lines, she enjoyed how messed up it really was and that she couldn’t exactly classify it as either a comedy or a tragedy either.
  • Ryan didn’t approach the comedy any differently than other films
  • Ryan likened seeing himself on screen killing other people to hearing himself on a voicemail, but he loved the character
  • Anna watched her character in the film and just kept saying to herself, “Run, idiot!”
  • They tried to reflect Jerry’s character in the aesthetic of the film; Satrapi specifically mentioned Jerry’s comfortable apartment, and how his kitchen was rigid and stuck
  • Ryan does not get creeped out by his films
  • He also did not research mental illness but tapped into the character’s loneliness
  • Anna really loved Persepolis and was excited to work with this script and the chance to be in Satrapi’s film. She specifically enjoyed filming the end sequence.
  • It was a 33 day shoot
  • Ryan was terrified by singing
  • He recognizes that he’s done good and bad films, but believes he’s getting better at distinguishing between them. He considers this the role of a life time.

The Voices will release on VOD this Friday across North America.

10 Favourite Non-Football Moments From Superbowl 49

I am not going to pretend that I am a football fan. I don’t have anything against it (I actually find it pretty entertaining), but I rarely watch it. In fact, the only time I probably ever watch it is during the same time that most bandwagoners watch it – the Super Bowl.

If I’m really being honest, I mainly tune into the Super Bowl for the pop culture frills such as  the high-priced advertisements and movie trailers, the numerous selfies celebrities take with other celebrities and of course, the half-time show. I’m pretty fascinated by the Superbowl’s cultural significance, but I’m also a huge marketing geek and an entertainment writer. Anything that involves an artist-turned performance-spectacle and multi-million dollar television spots will get my eyes glued to every screen in my house.

With that, here are ten of my favourite non-football moments from Superbowl 49 (in no particular order):

1. Missy Elliott Reminding the World Why Missy Elliott is the Best

via US Magazine

Rumours made the rounds late last week that Missy Elliott would make an appearance during Katy Perry’s half-time performance. Hearing about it was exciting enough; watching it happen was a whole other level of nostalgia, ultra. I can’t quite imagine my childhood/adolescent years without Missy’s tabla-infused sounds, brand of feminism, her music videos with the coolest kid dancers and individual style; I’m pretty sure she was the reason that I wanted Adidas in every colour possible. I think the fact that her performance, which featured Get Ur Freak OnWork It and Lose Control, was so well-received is a testament to her sonic artistry back in the early 2000s. Last night, she was as hype and energizing as I remember her being growing up. I wasn’t a huge fan of her creative works later on in her career, but I would love to see Missy return to some of the elements that made her so great. Hopefully she’ll be inspired by the reception to her performance to cook up new-old material.

2. Jurassic World TV Spot 

If I had to pick five movies that defined my childhood, I know Jurassic Park would make the cut. I was in complete awe of Spielberg and co’s cinematic achievements and admittedly had a quasi-crush on Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) for years to follow. My dad would blast the surround sound on Saturday afternoons so that we could experience the full might of the T-Rex’s roar and so I could get extra scared by the raptors rattling around in their cage in the opening scene. I remember going to see Jurassic Park 2 when I lived in Singapore and coming out thinking it was better than the first one. Don’t worry, that thought has since been corrected; but I still really, really enjoyed the sequels. The fact that there was no follow-up to Jurassic Park 3 for more than a decade was really disappointing.

The Jurassic World trailer was released two months ago and while I too was skeptical of the CGI, I was in full-out fangirl mode. The TV spot is very similar to the trailer, but I again got those excited butterflies in my gut while watching it. The CGI is much better than the trailer and yeah, seeing Chris Pratt handle those pesky velociraptors gave 7 year old me a little bit of joy. I am just completely fascinated by the world, and I’m excited to enter it again this year, even if it ends up being completely cheesy. The T-Rex could be talking and I probably would still go see it. I look forward to more teases in the months leading up to its June release.

3. Star Lord vs. Captain America 

Two of Marvel’s most popular superheroes went head-to-head in this year’s Super Bowl. Two weeks ago, Chris Pratt (Starlord in Guardians of the Galaxy), a Seahawks fan, and Chris Evans (Captain America in Captain America and The Avengers), a Patriots fan, entered a bet where the losing fan would have to dress up in their Marvel costume and visit the respective winning fan’s choice of charity. They set up fundraising websites and opened up donation lines in anticipation of the Super Bowl.

While the Patriots took home the trophy, Chris Squared settled their friendly rivalry by promising to visit both charities (Seattle Children’s Hospital and Christopher’s Haven) in their superhero get-up. Lots of wins all around, I’d say!

4. Mindy Kaling Is [Not] Invisible

It’s true, I have an affinity for all things Mindy Kaling. I’m a huge fan of her show The Mindy Project and think she’s such a fantastic voice in television and comedy. I take a great deal of comfort that if she had the chance to be invisible for the day, she would also walk through a carwash and try to sneak up on Matt Damon.

Although I don’t have any statistics on representation in Super Bowl ads (if you do, please send them my way), I generally speaking think it is awesome to see a prominent woman of South Asian descent be front-and-centre in a Nationwide commercial during one of North America’s biggest television events.

5. Say My Name

I don’t think there will ever be a time where I’ll roll my eyes at Bryan Cranston for revisiting his iconic Breaking Bad character, Walter White. Cranston was in one of three Esurance ads aired during the Super Bowl and I think it’s safe to say that he was definitely in his element. I miss you, Walter!

6. “Like A Girl”

I saw Always’ “Like A Girl” campaign back in June 2014. The commercial aired during the Super Bowl is very similar to the original digital short, and the message is still very empowering. I’m glad that Always chose to present their challenge on gender stereotypes not only in front of a wide audience, but one that is tuning into a very stereotypically masculine event. This is a great opener to an ongoing conversation on the impact of gender stereotypes on mental health, self-esteem and other critical issues effecting males and females, especially as they grow up.

7. Sharknado

via Buzzfeed

Katy Perry’s sharks brought some of the best moves seen on the field last night. I’d like to think they’re the real MVPs (Most Valuable Predators, of course.)

8. Empowerment

Microsoft’s advertisement told a short story about how they designed, studied and improved upon the prosthetic legs worn by a child named Braylon. Narrated by rapper Common (swoon), the advertisement reminds viewers that technology is not just about selfies and social media, but about creating real opportunities for people and empowering them to live life as fully as possible. I think Microsoft humanized the relationship with technological advancements through this advertisement and brought the bigger, non-superficial picture of such developments back into focus.

9. #KimsDataStash

In stark contrast to the Microsoft commercial, we have T-Mobile’s advertisement with Kim Kardashian. I recognize that is leans towards the superficial framing of technology (or maybe it’s a cloaked stab at our consumption?), but I also really enjoyed that Kim poked fun at her selfie obsession in this ad about data usage. Tragic (and hilarious.)

10. Lip Synch Battle

Jimmy Fallon hosted a live late night special after last night’s Super Bowl and he invited a few of his guests to join him in his extremely popular segment, Lip Synch Battle. Fallon, Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart delivered one of the best battles yet with some unforgettable images (see: Ferrell attempting the Drunk In Love hip shake.)