Tag Archives: indie

Binky International Film Festival: Day Two

Hello and welcome back to the first ever “Binky International Film Festival”! πŸ™‚ Day Two officially begins and this time around we are going to take a look at a few movies that got indie lovers buzzing during the Sundance Film Festival, and I will call this genre “Sundance Darlings”.

As you know, Sundance Film Festival has grown from a little indie film festival in Park City, Utah to the place to scout out the most promising movies of the year. And this year, there are quite a few gems that I highly recommend you to watch, if you haven’t already. What are these promising indie movies? Let’s take a look!

NOTE: (Dec 21, 2011) As promised, now updated with Margin Call.

“Sundance Darlings”

Our Idiot Brother

Release Date: August 26, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 90 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jesse Peretz & Evgenia Peretz, David Schisgall. Story by Jesse Peretz, Evgenia Peretz & David Schisgall.
Stars: Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones, Adam Scott etc

Possibly one of the most successful movies to come out at Sundance this year, this lighthearted sibling comedy was the first one bought by a major distributor (the Weinstein Company, no less) and is probably the easiest to market to mass audience. Our Idiot Brother tells the story of a sweet, loving idealist (Paul Rudd) who, after a brief stint in jail for selling pot to a cop, reunites with his three sisters only to accidentally wreak havoc in their already complicated lives. It’s funny but not idiotic (despite the title) and even though halfway through the movie you’d feel like strangling each and every one of the three self-absorbed sister, they manage to redeem themselves by finally banding together as a family and help their “idiot brother” the way he has helped them all along. It’s a family movie for those who can’t stand family movies, and if you love Paul Rudd (and Adam Scott!) as much as I do, I recommend giving this movie a watch. Especially during this time of the year.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Art of Getting By

Release Date: June 17, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 83 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Gavin Wiesen
Stars: Freddie Highmore, Emma Roberts, Michael Angarano, Elisabeth Reaser, Rita Wilson, etc

Spoiler alert: that adorable Charlie from Tim Burton’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is no longer that adorable kid who charmed the pants out of Johnny Depp (and all of us). He’s now a tall, lanky teenager who wears a long black coat, refuses to do his coursework, and waxes philosophical debates about life and death and what it means to be a kooky and depressed teenager in The Art of Getting By. If this movie doesn’t make you feel old, then you’re probably still a teenager. The Art of Getting By is a coming of age movie for a generation who has seen too many coming of age movies, and is now lost and wondering if there really is a meaning to all this shit. Life is complicated, and even more so when you’re a teenager and you have no idea what you’re doing. That isn’t to say this movie isn’t enjoyable, it is very much so. It ends in a hopeful note, and at the very least it makes you appreciate being an adult. It’s not perfect, but then again, neither is life. πŸ™‚

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Like Crazy

Release Date: October 28, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 90 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Drake Doremus & Ben York Jones
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence

I was a little scared watching this movie, not because it’s a thriller (it’s not), but because I was all too familiar with the story: I know what it’s like to be separated geographically from the one I love, and not being able to do anything about it. I know the frustration, the loneliness, that overwhelming feeling of sadness from missing that person too much and not knowing what to do about it. In short, I have been where the couple in Like Crazy has been and it was not a fun experience. But I’m glad I didn’t chicken out and decide to watch this movie, because aside from Felicity Jones’ phenomenal acting, this movie gave me a glimpse of what would happen if my ex and I had insisted to stay together against all odds. There are relationships that are only meant to last a season, and Like Crazy shows us what happens if we try to stretch out that season to a lifetime. It can still work out, but you may have to sacrifice your own happiness in the process. So if you’re pining for the one that could have been, maybe this is the movie for you this holiday season, to put things into perspective.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Release Date: October 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 102 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Sean Durkin
Stars: Elizabeth Olsen, Sarah Paulson, John Hawkes, Hugh Dancy

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the other Olsen sister, the one who didn’t start out as a child star and become a millionaire before she’s even old enough to drive, the one who hasn’t parlayed her fame into a billion dollar merchandising (and now fashion) industry, and the only one who can actually act: Elizabeth Olsen. At only 20, the younger Olsen sister stunned the world in her breakout role as a traumatized, troubled young woman who has just returned to her family after years living in an abusive Charles Manson-like cult. Her raw yet understated performance in Martha Marcy May Marlene made her the talk of Hollywood post-Sundance, and I hope she’ll be the one Olsen girl that we’ll be taking seriously in the years to come, because she is just that good. But aside from Olsen, this movie is worth checking out for the sublime performances of her co-stars, especially John Hawkes who is even more creepy and unsettling in this movie than I’ve seen him before. It can be a little hard to watch in a couple of scenes, but it gives good insight to the psyche of a cult, and it leaves you with something to think (and talk) about.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Another Happy Day

Release Date: November 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 119 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Sam Levinson
Stars: Ellen Barkin, Ezra Miller, Kate Bosworth, Thomas Haden Church, Demi Moore, etc

This is the only one of this year’s Sundance movies that I didn’t hear about until I followed Ellen Barkin on twitter (you should all follow her, she’s a riot – @ellenbarkin) and it’s a shame since everyone is so amazing in this movie, from Ellen Barkin all the way to young Ezra Miller, who you may know as Tucker, Hank’s hemophiliac patient in Royal Pains, or as creepy teen psychopath Kevin in We Need To Talk About Kevin. In Another Happy Day, Miller also plays a complex, troubled teen who makes his mom’s life even harder – and seeing this relative newcomer and seasoned actor Ellen Barkin go toe-to-toe onscreen is just a delight. They both give incredible performances, and surprisingly enough so did Demi Moore and Kate Bosworth (but more surprisingly, Bosworth! She has depth after all!). This family reunion movie may be more depressing than uplifting, but that doesn’t mean you should pass on this Sam Levinson movie, if only to wonder why no one seems to notice how good Ellen Barkin is in it.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Margin Call

Release Date: October 21, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 107 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): JC Chandor
Stars: Zachary Quinto, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Simon Baker, Stanley Tucci etc

This movie is definitely fresh in my mind since I just saw it a few hours ago, but that doesn’t mean I actually get it. πŸ™‚ Not the movie’s fault, I’m just totally clueless when it comes to the financial market. I failed Economics twice in college, and then I had to change my major from Mass Communications because apparently, I had to at least get a D in Economics to be able to survive – and I couldn’t even get that. So, I’m probably the wrong person to judge the movie since I do not understand what the hell is going on half the time. BUT. I do know my pop culture and I know a good movie when I see it, even if I’m a little hazy on the core dilemma that the characters are facing. It’s a very relevant movie in these times, and yet it doesn’t point the finger and play the blame game. Sure, these Wall Street people screwed up. But when they did their job well, we enjoyed the benefits too (at least that’s what I got from Paul Bettany’s monologue). Please don’t argue with me on this, like I said, I am so so dumb when it comes to the financial market, so I may be getting the message of the movie all wrong. Bottom line, what I get is that behind of every crisis, whether it be financial or otherwise, there are individuals who have screwed up and now are trying to cover their asses. And that is human. Doesn’t make it right, but that’s the way it is. See the movie if my review confuses you. πŸ™‚

And that concludes Day Two of Binky International Film Festival, now updated with Margin Call. Also, check back in tomorrow for Day Three, where we will be taking a look at this year’s “Chick Flicks”. There are quite a few to get through so I’ll see you then!

Binky Bee

Binky International Film Festival: An Introduction

It’s almost Christmas again, and around this time last year I decided to celebrate the holidays by doing my “12 Days of Christmas Countdowns”, where I do what I do best, make a list of all my favorite things. This year, I plan on doing almost but not quite the same thing because hey, it’s the holidays, I got nothing else to do! πŸ™‚ However, instead of another 12 Days Of Christmas Countdowns like last year, this year I’m going to treat you all to my first ever “Binky International Film Festival”.

You see, to say that I’m a pop culture junkie would be a gross understatement, because I devour pop culture like an obese kid devours big macs. Not only am I TV-obsessed and I watch more television than is humanly possible, I just discovered that in 2011 I have watched A LOT of movies, almost as many as Roger Ebert and all those other high and mighty movie critics. So in the next… I don’t know, week or so, I’m going to basically be your guide to the movies that I’ve seen all throughout 2011. Note that some are so unmemorable that I don’t even bother mentioning them, and some are old movies I’ve seen a million times but still love and watch over and over again (i.e The Princess Bride) that I have to omit from this “film festival” series.

Just like most film festivals, I’m going to divvy up the movies according to genres, however, unlike most film festivals, I don’t stick with the traditional “drama”, “comedy”, “thriller” genres, instead I pretty much come up with my own names for them. Such as, “big budget awesomeness” “indie darlings” “romance that makes you want to stick a fork in your eye”, etc. I’ll start with “Big Budget Awesomeness” (because there aren’t many) tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll be done before the new year’s. πŸ™‚

Also: I don’t live in the United States so there are a few gems that people rave about but I haven’t seen, not because I’m not aware of their greatness but because they’re not available to me yet. So I would really appreciate it if you don’t leave comments such as “I can’t believe you didn’t see The Artist. It’s like, the best movie of 2011.” You know, that sort of a thing. πŸ˜‰

Alright, now that I’ve explained what it’s all about, I hope you’ll join me as we review 2011 in movies with the first ever Binky International Film Festival.

See you tomorrow for day one!

Xoxo

Binky Bee

I Heart Quirky Girls

Quirky.

The dictionary defines the word as: a peculiar trait, idiosyncrasy, original, individual, unusual, peculiar, odd, strange, eccentric and unpredictable.

In other words, quirky defines me.

That’s probably why the main characters in my novels are usually quirky, because let’s face it, every writer is narcissistic enough to always insert a piece of themselves into everything they write.

Or maybe it’s just me.

As I’m writing Sara Beth and The Magic Nails, my newest novel with five quirky main characters, I would take a two-hour break everyday from writing to watch my favorite movies featuring quirky girls I love and I can relate with the most.

So I thought today I would share with you my five favorite quirky women (in no particular order) that help inspire me in writing my novel.

1/ Amelie Poulin in Amelie

Audrey Tautou as Amelie Poulain in Amelie

Audrey Tautou as Amelie Poulain in Amelie

I love Amelie Poulain because she’s not just quirky, she has such a good heart that just wants to see other people happy. She may be shy, introvert and lives in her own reality but she goes out of her way to touch the lives of the people around her in the most inconspicuous and genius way. She even devises an elaborate plan just to meet the man she’s secretly in love with, the man who is just as much of an oddball as she is. And in turn, the people whose lives she touched help her to be brave and go after her own happiness. The movie just makes me all warm inside and gives me hope, that even oddballs can make a difference in the world, and of course find each other and fall in love.

2/ Summer Finn in 500 Days of Summer

Zooey Deschanel as Summer Finn in 500 Days Of Summer

Zooey Deschanel as Summer Finn in 500 Days Of Summer

I love Summer Finn not just because she’s played by my girl-crush Zooey Deschanel and because she’s an avid The Smiths fan. I love Summer because she reminds me of myself, and her relationship with Tom Hanson in this movie is the kind of loving but damaged, passionate but heartbreaking relationship that I think we all can relate to, the relationship we thought was the be-all-and-end-all and yet as it turns out, it just wasn’t the one we are willing to settle in. Summer is the kind of girl who does what she wants, says what she feels like and is not afraid to admit failures when she needs to. I love that about her. She makes me feel that it’s okay to not know what you want for a time, life is about the journey and not really about the destination.

3/ Claire Colburn in Elizabethtown

Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn in Elizabethtown

Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn in Elizabethtown

I love Claire Colburn not just because she’s outspoken and assertive, but also because she’s very creative, persuasive and she’s willing to take a chance on a total stranger she meets in a flight just because she finds him interesting. I also love her offbeat way of getting to know a man she finds interesting: instead of going the normal first date, they have an all-night phone conversation and finally meeting halfway in the morning to watch the sunrise. But the thing I love most about her is of course the effort she makes in guiding the grieving Drew Baylor home, by creating him a special “map”, complete with mixed CDs and interesting places to see and things to do. She makes me realize that sometimes it’s okay to take a chance in life, with someone you don’t really expect anything from.

4/ Sam in Garden State

Natalie Portman as Sam in Garden State

Natalie Portman as Sam in Garden State

I love Sam because she’s not only quirky, but she’s also a truly amazing girl. First, she admits openly that she likes to lie, even telling Andrew Largeman that she sometimes hears herself say something and thinks, ‘Wow, that wasn’t even remotely true’. Second, she can laugh at herself and her condition. She doesn’t let being epileptic stop her from living her life and enjoying it to the fullest. Third, she actually picks up a guy in the waiting room of a clinic by asking him to listen to The Shins. How is that not amazing? Sam, just like Claire Colburn in Elizabethtown, became the catalyst for change for the man who eventually falls in love with her. The movie inspires me to just laugh at myself and enjoy life, even if it’s filled with challenges

5/ Celine in Before Sunrise

Julie Delpy as Celine in Before Sunrise

Julie Delpy as Celine in Before Sunrise

I love Celine because she is idealistic and romantic, and she dares to take a chance on a romance that she knows isn’t going anywhere. She doesn’t let it stop her, even though she knows a future with the man she meets on the Euro train is wishful thinking and she’s enough of a realist to understand that – she decides to spend one night with him in Vienna anyway, not caring of what comes next, just excited for the adventure that lays ahead of her. I wish sometimes that I was more like her, I’m just too much of a control freak to live in such abandon. This movie of course has amazing conversations between Celine and Jesse, and even though it doesn’t end with the traditional Hollywood happy ending, this is still a cherished love story between two people who just happen to find each other at the right time.

Those are the quirky girls that inspire me as I continue writing Sara Beth and The Magic Nails.

Who are your favorite quirky characters?

xoxo

Binky Bee

Awesome New Tunes

awesome new republic

My love for the bitchy and truly addictive CW show Gossip Girl has introduced me to a few new bands that I would otherwise not be exposed to, and one of them is this indie pop/dance/electronica duo with an awesome name and sound: Awesome New Republic.

Awesome New Republic hails from Miami, Florida and consisting of Michael John Hancock and Brian Robertson. The duo had previously performed together in a 5-piece band called Empirical Mile with other students from the University of Miami music school. In 2005, “MJ” and “B-Rob” combined two previously hand made studio albums Courageous and Witness Now the Birth of An Awesome New Republic to create their debut release “ANR So Far”.

In 2008, they were featured as a center piece in a New York Times article about the budding Miami music scene which hailed them as “one of the newest exponents of this growing tropical bohemia.”

Their first studio album, “Rational Geographic Volume I”, the beginning of a trilogy inspired by the dichotomy of George Lucas’ original Star Wars and the past three decades of American government, was released in April 2009 with its lead single “Birthday”, which brings us to Gossip Girl. Lead actress Leighton Meester, who played uber bitch and queen bee Blair Waldorf in the show, did a cover of the single which was subsequently leaked on the web.

rational geographic

What I love about this band is not only the awesome, catchy, dance-able songs but the fact that they encourage the free, yes, FREE, distribution of their album Rational Geographic Volume I via torrent site isoHunt. Now that’s the mark of a true artist. They don’t care how you get their album, they just want you to listen to their music.

So if you like electronica tunes that you can not only dance to but also sing along to, check out this awesome new band. Get their first album free on isoHunt and get ready to dance, dance, dance!