Why Shameless (2011-2021) is awesome.

Created (developed for American TV) by: Paul Abbott and John Wells

Starring: Emily Rossum, Ethan Cutkosky, Jeremy Allen White, William H. Macy, Emma Kenney, Cameron Monaghan, Noel Fisher, Steve Howey, Shanola Hampton, and so many more…

When the 1st episode of Shameless (2011-2021) came out, I was in the 7th grade. Needless to say, I was not aware of the show. Even a trailer would have been too much for me. I would not have even known what I was watching.

A few weeks ago I came across the show on Netflix. I noticed that the dude from The Bear (2022-) was in it, only he was a kid back then. (That’s how the aging process seems to work. You start as a small human and then grow to a bigger one with more hair and teeth. I’m very observant, as you can tell.)

I decided to start watching, expecting not to get through an episode because I am picky with the T.V. shows I watch. If I am going to spend hours watching a story, I need it to be good, or I will spend my time elsewhere. Little did I know that I would spend the next few weeks watching all of the seasons.

Overall…

Shameless is one of those special T.V. shows that is funny, shocking, and also full of heart. At the core of the show is family, and all that entails.

The Gallagher family is flawed, like all families are, but they are more intense than most families, or are they? While not every family has a raging narcissistic alcoholic at the head of it, every family I know has their own very specific dynamic that everyone in the family learns to live with, or chooses to leave. Watching the Gallaghers grow up, learn to live with each other, and take care of one another is beautiful. As the children age, they are presented with different scenarios, their roles in the family change, and some lessons repeat over and over until the person involved learns their lesson.

To me, this show is a long allegory for life. Ups and downs. Loss and learns. Friends and family. Mistakes and growth. A little bit of it all. It made me feel ok with my mistakes, being imperfect, and becoming ok with who I am right now. I feel like I know the Gallaghers after watching hours and hours of them growing up, through happy tears and sad.

from Warner Bros on YouTube

Should you watch it?

Yes. It’s intense at times but it is also funnily outrageous. There are 11 seasons so you have a lot to watch, but take your time. When you’ve watched it all, you’ll probably wish you could watch it all for the first time again. I know I did.

Finally, I love how they make hard times funny but without glazing over how hard those hard times still are. It’s a perfect balance really. Dealing with trauma, making it funny enough to get through it, and then learning from it. I dig it.

9.25/10

I rounded this one. Some of the seasons are more inventive than others, but the underbelly of the show is something special. Truly revolutionary in so many ways. One of the first, if not the first, show to bring important taboo topics front and center and unapologetically at that. I love them for that, for the writers for writing how they did, for the network for letting it air, and for the actors’ courage and confidence needed to make those stories come alive. Brilliant and unbelievably special.

Sentence Summary

When a family run by an alcoholic is forced to fend for themselves, they lean on their core values, and on each other.

Favorite Quotes

“We’re all addicts are just trying to fill a void, but some of us are just better at hiding it.”

“I just wish I could skip the part where I don’t know the right thing to do and get to the part where I do.”

“We have only two jobs on this earth. The first, to learn. The second, to cope.”

“I’m good at this job because of my illness.”

“Don’t run, be the guy who has nothing to run from. The system will be rigged in your favor, because you’ll be the one rigging it.”

Where can you watch it?

Netflix & Showtime

My Policeman (2022) starring 1D.

Directed by: Michael Grandage

Written by: Ron Nyswaner

Based on the book by: Bethan Robert’s

Starring: Harry Styles, Emma Corrin, Gina McKee, David Dawson, Rupert Everett, and Linus Roache

My Thoughts Going Into It

The thought of watching Harry Styles act makes me nervous. It brings me back to the episode of iCarly where One Direction guest stars. The acting was yikes, for lack of a better word, but that was to be expected for a group of singers who were not known for their acting.

Nevertheless, watching a movie where he was cast for his acting skills made me nervous and I honestly put off watching this movie for that sole reason. Would people say his acting was good just because he is already a star? Or, would he actually be good at acting? Or, would everyone be extra harsh on him because he is so known for, you know, being himself?

When he was a host on SNL a few years ago. I have to admit that he surprised me with his improved acting skills. But starring in a feature film offers a lot more screen time and more serious content. Welp, let me click play.

While Watching It

I don’t know if it’s the subtle, yet serious English banter that is keeping me from falling into this story, or if it is me being nervous about being critical of Harry’s performance. Either way, something doesn’t feel right. Maybe it is mostly because that is Harry Styles and not Tom?! Partly, yes, indeed, sir.

Also, the actors don’t feel in sync with one another. For people who are supposed to be very connected and indulgent with one another, this confused me. Where is the chemistry? Were there screen tests between the actors before filming began? Overall, I think the lack of chemistry is what is preventing me from caring about the plot, the characters, and the movie as a whole.

I paused the movie and looked up reviews to see if I am the only one feeling this way. While there are many people who loved the film, there is also a group of people who feel the same as I do. There is little to no magnetism between the stars of the film, and being that this movie is based on a book about intense relationships between its characters, this is a major, standout problem.

The second half of the movie is better than the first half, likely because the exposition is over and the story begins. It starts to feel more meaningful and with clear direction. The depth of the movie is all loaded here and it’s heartbreaking in more ways than one. The cinematography also improves a bit and the ending is profound and hard hitting.

from Prime Video on YouTube

It’s Done And Over

Am I missing something here? I really don’t like being so critical of movies because I respect how much work goes into it, from behind-the-scenes, to writing, to acting, to all the bits and bobs here and there. Many people who saw this film at a film festival raved about it, so maybe watching it up on a big screen changes it’s delivery success rate. However, watching it at home alone did not result in it landing well with me.

While it was overall predictable and slow, the older versions of the characters touched me more than the younger ones did. Their stories felt more real, emotions more engrained and intense, and thus, those plot points more poignant and successful in my mind. I have to point out that Emma Corrin, too, was a convincible Marion and brought the charisma the other characters were lacking.

Maybe the soundtrack needs work, maybe the character development needs expansion, maybe all of the above and more. But even with all the negatives I previously pointed out, the ending of the film is still powerful. I think that goes to show how brilliant this movie could have been if the pace was worked with a bit and the character’s emotions were more tangible.

My Rating: 6/10

Harry. Styles. One Direction will always have a place in my heart and good on Harry for giving acting a try. He is a talented guy and I know he is in touch with his emotions enough to be a great actor, but this movie did not showcase that. Maybe that’s entirely because he will always be Harry, the baker from Holmes Chapel, to me. But I wish him well in all that he does. He even said recently that he wants to take a break from acting because it involves a lot of sitting around and he would rather be recording music and preforming instead.

Sentence Summary

When a policeman, schoolteacher, and museum curator walk into a bar, a secret, predictable, and heartbreaking love triangle ensues.

You can watch it on Amazon Prime.

Thanks for reading,

Arianna

Catherine Called Birdy (2022) could fly away.

Directed and Written by: Lena Dunham

Based on the book by: Karen Cushman

Starring: Bella Ramsey, Billie Piper, Andrew Scott, Lesley Sharp, Joe Alwyn, Dean-Charles Chapman, and more…

Set in a time when women had few rights regarding land, their bodies, and their future, Birdy (Bella Ramsey) tries to hold onto the little power she does have. This involves hiding her monthly cycles from her father so he does not marry her off. While the time period (sorry for the pun) seems like such long time ago, there are sadly still eerie similarities with modern day.

With shows such as The Great and Dickinson showcasing how you can brilliantly combine the dialogue of today’s age with clothing, settings, and mindsets of the past, while also captivating audiences and making moral statements, this movie peaked my interest. During the exposition section of the film, I was gripped. I wanted to learn more and see where it was heading. It is revealed that Birdy is far from perfect, yet her reactions seem pretty logical and realistic considering the circumstances she is dealt.

However, as the story proceeded the pace did not pick up. There was no sense of urgency in the script. The timeline could have been more concise without so much space in between plot points. It was lagging and I had to make myself keep watching, hoping it would eventually pick up again. Surprise: it did not.

from Prime Video on YouTube

Many of the characters feel flat. I did not feel particularly attached to most of them. Even though the friendships and relationships between the characters feel relatively real, that’s not enough to give the characters the life they need. While I wanted to root for Birdy, and did through much of the film, I didn’t feel like it paid off in the end.

The final sequence of the movie was fine and dandy, but the characters did not develop gradually and just changed at the drop of a dime. It would have been nice to see the characters grow naturally, rather than change in an instant. It was not as rewarding this way.

I was excited to watch this film because I am a fan of most of Lena’s work, from Girls (2012-2017) to Nobody Walks (2012). But honestly, this film could have been much better. The middle is where it needs the most work. That is where the meat and bones should have been, but it lacked the depth I was searching for.

I wanted to enjoy this movie. But I cannot honestly say I did.

My Rating: 6/10

While I like Birdy’s attitude, facial expressions, and overall weird nature, the structure of the film is lacking and keeps the story from hitting it out of the park. While the writers of Dickinson and The Great seem to have perfected the ‘present in the past’ morale dilemma story, Catherine Called Birdy could have used some revising.

Sentence Summary

When Birdy biologically becomes a woman, she decides to hide it as long as possible in order to hold off getting married to an old, money-rich, but personality-poor man.

You can watch this film on Amazon Prime Video.

Thanks for reading,

Arianna

Dinner in America (2020) is my new favorite film!

Starring: Emily Skeggs and Kyle Gallner

Directed and Written by: Adam Rehmeier

Dinner in America is not a conventional story. I found myself halfway through the film wondering where it was going with the characters. At that moment, I thought the story was just beginning and that all I had just watched was fluff. But as I continued watching, the opening began to make more sense as I let it color the world of the characters.

The first half of the film establishes the context of the environment in which the characters call home. The exposition presented here makes the second half of the film more compelling, heartfelt, and real. I have to admit that as I watched the beginning of the movie, I was worried it would turn into something basic with surface level actions, emotions and with nothing remotely deep. Happily, I was wrong.

Simon (Kyle Gallner) and Patty (Emily Skeggs) end up having a more sincere bond than I originally anticipated, and it feels real, not rushed or painted on for some comedic effect. While this movie is funny for sure, there is something pure about the story. The connection between Simon and Patty feels real and unbothered by what outsiders may think. While Simon is running from the law, and may seem so different from Patty from the outside, they are more similar than most would predict. That message is at the core of the story and I am a fan of that message.

After I finished watching Dinner in America, I found myself writing several pages on why I liked it so much. The story started out as ordinary, and I patiently waited for it to pick up. By the end of the film, I observed that the pace at the start of the film is what made the second half more fulfilling and successful in my mind.

from Arrow Video on YouTube

With so many movies made these days, it can feel like a mechanical copy and paste machine. Nothing original: change the characters’ names, the genders, the location, and add a few side kicks for added humor. But this movie is different. I think that’s why it left me feeling the way it did. I hadn’t watched anything like it before.

Also, to the screenwriter, Adam Rehmeier, thanks for making the characters over 18. It would have felt strange watching this if the characters were still in high school. The fact that they are adults matters a lot in my perspective.

9.75/10

Some parts of the story are slow and some scenes are not necessarily needed to advance the plot. But I view it as an independent film with more creative liberty than most films heavily marketed on streaming services. Maybe those extra scenes meant something to the writer, maybe when I watch the film again (which I will) I will be clued in on their extended meaning.

You can watch this film on Hulu.

Thanks for reading,

Arianna

The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020) is pretty good.

I did not expect much from this movie. I think that’s becoming a habit for me now. There are so many movies made these days that it’s becoming harder and harder to choose one and have it end up being good, enjoyable, and just my type. At least that’s been my experience lately, unfortunately.

So what?

This film certainly won’t be for everyone, but the dialogue is smart and specific. It kicks back and does not hold back at all, it has attitude for sure. The attitude becomes more and more clear as more and more fearless characters are introduced.

At first you might think this is a typical teenage horror movie, but it steadily builds into something more. Somehow, in the end, I not only cared about the characters but also found the horror scenes to be funny to watch (which is weird to say because I normally turn away at the most visceral scenes because they either creep me out or just are unpleasant to watch). I have to say, this story is a bit more relatable than other horror movies where the characters make the same mistakes which we have all seen before.

What makes it special?

The music, the comedic acting, and the creative direction makes this film stand out. The ending has a turning point twist that made brilliant and comedic use of Queen’s song, Killer Queen. Even if you don’t want to watch the whole movie, watch that scene. However, I doubt it will have as powerful of an effect on you because then you won’t be aware of the story you are watching. Ok, just watch the whole movie! Put it on in the background while you do homework, or laundry, or make dinner. Ok, maybe not dinner…

8/10

I am pretty sure that this is one of the highest ratings that I have given to a “horror” movie. At this point, it is fair to say that I like childish Halloween movies and comedy horror films if they are done with specific intention and a little bit, or a lot, of creative ingenuity. Scary, spooky horror films scare me too much so I can’t pay close attention or care too much about them, otherwise I can’t sleep at night! And that’s just the plain truth.

Should you watch it?

Yes, even if only for the soundtrack.

Sentence Summary

When a high school kid is called crazy by nearly everyone around him, he gets confronted by his demons once again, but this time he overcomes them!

Where can you watch it?

Netflix

My Favorite Halloween Movies aren’t scary.

Scary films are not for me. I have enough anxiety and nightmares without giving them more fuel. So if you’re looking for gore and jump scares, then maybe this list isn’t for you. I have some “horror” movies on this list, but the majority are fun, feel-good movies that won’t keep you awake all night. And that’s exactly how I like my Halloween movies.

Halloweentown (1998)

A classic. All of the movies in this series are pretty good, aside from the last film where they recast the main character and expect us to be ok with it. I am not ok with it. I miss the real Marnie. Also, Halloweentown High (2004) has Finn Wittrock in it, thank me later. 😉

from Disney Channel on YouTube

Hocus Pocus 2 (2022)

I am not a fan of the first Hocus Pocus. Did you just gasp? I really do not like it and find it super cheesy. I cannot understand why so many people love it so much. I watched it once and barely got through it. But, that being said, the second movie which came out this year is pretty dang good. It’s still cheesy, but vegan cheesey. It’s on Disney+ and I recommend it for all ages.

from Walt Disney Studios on YouTube

It (2017)

Ok, this is a scary movie that I like. There are jump scares, but I can handle them. It didn’t keep me awake all night. The cinematography is well done and it is kind of beautiful? The director and cinematographer really did a great job. I was not expecting that from a horror film. And it’s funny? Chapter 2 is great too, it was fun to see the cast that was chosen to play the children as adults.

from Warner Bros Pictures on YouTube

Twitches (2005)

Another classic! A childhood favorite that isn’t as good as it was back then, but it gives me that nostalgic feeling that gets me in the autumn mood. I used to love this movie and the darkness scared me! Seriously, I am not lying or over exaggerating at all. Be honest, did it scare you?

from Disney Channel on YouTube

Scooby-Doo

The classic cartoons, not the new ones. The Scooby-Doo gang are the original mystery solving gang long before Stranger Things was even a thought in the Duffer Brothers’ minds. There are plenty of Scooby-Doo movies and T.V. episodes to cycle through for the entirety of the Halloween season and beyond!

from WB Kids on YouTube

Have a spooky, Spooky Season!

We all have those movies that bring back good memories. Holiday movies do that for me, Halloween included. I like a gently spooky movie, not one with gore and nightmares guaranteed. My idea of a good Halloween movie involves a laugh and a good mystery story.

As always, thanks for reading,

Arianna

X (2022) is not a movie for everyone…

I don’t know what I expected from this film. I don’t think I was prepared for it. Horror movies aren’t my thing and neither are over-the-top explicit movies. But still, I gave this movie a try because I like to have an open mind. In the end, I was captivated by the storytelling and cinematography. I don’t know what it is, but when a creepy movie is filmed beautifully, it kind of makes it even more creepy.

Overall…

If you have seen the trailer for this film and read the synopsis, you have a pretty good idea what it’s all about. It’s not a crazy unique plot and the characters aren’t something we have never seen before. What stands out is the directing, the music used to set the tone, and the overlapping of different life stories.

Should you watch it?

Maybe. If you don’t like gore, it happens all of a sudden and you likely won’t have time to turn away. There are definitely times I looked away from the screen because it felt like something I didn’t want to keep watching. I think this movie has an audience, but it might not be for the general population. There is something dark about it, the tone isn’t stable and that makes it even more creepy.

6.5/10

I like something about this movie but it is hard to pinpoint what exactly drew me to keep watching. I like how it was filmed and the acting is great. However, the setting and storyline don’t stand out to me. I wanted some other twist, something unexpected to come up and pull me in. (Excuse the accidental innuendo.) If there were more carefully planned twists, I might have rated this a 9 or a 10.

Overall, the story needed a few extra plot points instead of relying on the shock of gore to keep the story moving forward and the audience watching.

Sentence Summary

When a group of creatives go to a secluded barn to film their next film, they get interrupted by an elderly lady who has other plans for them.

Where can you watch it?

Showtime

Luckiest Girl Alive (2022) is intense!

I started watching this movie on a whim since I’m a fan of Finn Wittrock. I liked him in American Horror Story (2014-2021) and was pleasantly surprised when I was watching Halloweentown High (2004) and saw his familiar face.

I didn’t expect this movie to be so heavy and to catch my attention in a concerned way. There were moments I needed to look away and take a step back because the storyline is a lot to digest. It includes many traumatic moments and on top of that, many different kinds of trauma. It’s not for the lighthearted, it’s not a chill night rom-com. This is a stark drama with more dark moments than happy ones.

But that being said, this is a solid movie. It’s worth watching and worth talking about. It starts conversations and brings up points that need to be discussed. One of the main talking points of this movie is trauma and who is considered a victim. Sometimes trauma leaves a very physical mark on someone, while other times the mark is more internal and not visible from the outside. When the mark is internal, sometimes the victim is not viewed as a victim, even though they very much are. I think this is such an important message to present.

Favorite Quotes

“Write as if no one will ever read it, that is how you write something worth while.”

“I’ll make it easy for you: just say what it is that you want, not what everyone else wants. And then, do that.”

“I’ve denied myself and denied myself, and that I’m not hurt, and I built up this rage inside of me.”

Overall… (kinda spoiler ahead)

I liked the ending, it sealed this movie for me. The main character, Ani (Mila Kunis), learned her value and how to stand up for herself. She won’t let people treat her any way they please anymore. She learns that people are wrong about her, she has every right to be sad. She was/is a victim and if someone doesn’t see that, it’s ok, but it’s still true!

You may not be able to always see her pain from the outside, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt like hell. From personal experience, I know that it can hurt even more when no one can see the scar because no one else sees the pain but you. As a result, you might feel like you have to prove how terrible you feel, which likely will make you feel even worse.

Should you watch it?

Yes, but be prepared to get upset. It’s unsettling and can trigger anxieties and past traumas for sure. Remember, you can pause the movie if you need to and come back to it later if you feel like you can handle it.

8/10

I like the structure of the story and how it is told with flashbacks intertwining with present reality. I think this really showcases what it’s like coming to terms with past traumas and working through what happened. It could have been confusing without the right direction, but I was able to follow it smoothly.

Sentence Summary

When a woman is forced to look back at her past, she has to make a decision to stand up for herself, or keep quiet and stay in the shadows forever.

Where can you watch it?

Netflix

*This film was based on the book Luckiest Girl Alive, written by Jessica Knoll.

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