Posts Tagged ‘actors’

I’ve been on a Jane the Virgin kick (more like obsession) since my cousin recommended me the show.  I binged all three or four Netflix seasons literally as fast as I could.  It was especially helpful I was also home sick in the middle of the binge for four days, so it was quite optimal binging-netflix conditions.  A little background here: I’ve always been interested in actual telenovelas.  I wanted to learn Spanish better and the first thing I was going to do once I did that – in all seriousness – was watch a telenovela.  I could apply for bilingual jobs, but, of course I would watch a telenovela…

And you know what?  In all honesty, I have no idea why.  They’re just so dramatic and over the top, from what I’ve heard, that the pull is significant.  Even if they appear to be entirely ridiculous, there’s still some comedic value in ridiculousness, even if it’s not intentional.  I think this mild obsession to watch one stems from my Spanish high school teacher, who very much loved the language and the various aspects of the culture along with it.  Maybe it was just so I could say I could watch a Spanish telenovela, I don’t fucking know why I had such a thing with it.  The point is, it hasn’t gone away, and here I was binging Jane The Virgin, in all of it’s occasional insanity, hilarity, and utter ridiculousness.  And, it’s fair to say, I was hooked from the 5th episode.  Lucky for me my graduate school work hadn’t taken off horribly, so I had extra time at my disposal to just binge, and binge, and binge, until I realized the Netflix portion was over and I had to actually watch it on T.V., and wait like a normal goddamn human being.

Regardless, as much as I was falling in love with the show, I was also frequently evolving my emotions on certain characters.  I will try to keep this spoiler free, HOWEVER, THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES.  SO SPOILERS AHEAD.  

What I can say I love about this show is that your feelings toward a character, or their predicament, is constantly changing.  Everything is fluid and it’s one of those shows where missing an episode really is not an option.  Were I to miss one of the new season, I would not watch the week after.  Past a certain point the narrator can’t even keep up with everything, because he’s slowly cut out Petra’s and Raf’s divorce and entire history.  Or where Rogelio came from.  Because some attitudes in the present, at least of this post, are inexplicable without some context, and that context is no longer being explained by the narrator.  So, you really need to start from the beginning.

And that’s precisely what I will be doing.

My now favorite character, hands down, without a shadow of a doubt, is Petra.  Yes, THE Petra.  The evil villain one.  The master manipulator one.  The one who sleeps with men to get them to agree to her demands.  The one who fakes emotions better than she actually deals with them, and is more convincing she cares when she actually doesn’t – because once she does, she doesn’t know what to do with it.  Yes.  That Petra.

Image result for petra gif jane the virgin shock

You.  Right now.

Here’s the thing: Petra initially starts off as nothing more than the crazy ex-wife.  She literally starts off as nothing more than a trope – the gold-digger sexy blonde who thinks she can just get away with anything she wants, and get anything she wants, because she is a sexy blonde and more importantly, is aware she is a sexy blonde.  If Petra is confident in nothing else, it’s that she’s too sexy for her shirt.  It’s only once she takes in a particular hostage at her mother’s urging that we start to see the real Petra.  Her mother is, as it seems, extremely toxic to Petra – as it stands, she only took in Ivan from what I recall because her mother urged her to.  Then her mother fed him the food he was allergic to in order to either kill him, or make it seem as though they saved him to get him to trust them.  So basically, you might think Petra is the master manipulator, but her mother really is.  Because her mother did, indeed, manipulate her all those times.  If she were as masterful as the viewer might think, she would have no problem with dealing with her mother.  Simply, that’s just not the case.  The only time I remember Petra really, truly, without a plan, it was because of her mother.

And this is where we delve into the rest of Petra’s problems.

We learn that Petra left her native country because of an abusive stalker boyfriend who threw acid at her mother, who she seemed to care about, genuinely.  The problem is, this is where all of her problems lie. Petra cared about her mother, who did nothing more than manipulate her to get what she wanted in the end, even willing to throw Petra under the bus to do so.  So, essentially, she escapes a boyfriend who, stereotypically, is supposed to care about you with her mother, and an incident regarding her mother is what prompts this.  Then her mother plays her own tricks on Petra, who is now left broke (a la the split with Rafael) and clamoring for the same stability – not necessarily love.  Petra had to become someone else to escape her abusive ex, in a war-torn country, in a family without a father.  Even if she did love Rafael, well, that’s not really what she’s after.  She’s not necessarily just after his money – she’s after his stability, and maybe even was after that the whole time during their courtship.  She can’t figure out what she wants – but that’s because she’s never had a chance to be Petra or Natalia.  Natalia was, as previously mentioned, stuck in a war-torn country with an abusive ex-boyfriend after her and a manipulative mother.  Petra is now just the first-world-problems version of Natalia.

Then, to really get things going, Petra’s twin sister Aneska shows up, and forcibly puts Petra in a coma.  Now most people do not have a coma-crazy sibling no matter how bad your siblings may be, but all of this is why I truly adore Petra as a character.  Everyone Petra knows she is supposed to care about is constantly throwing her emotions for a loop – her mother manipulates her, her sister is a bit out of her mind, and even her lover wasn’t really who he said he was.  Regardless if you view those events as ridiculous telenovela events, this speaks to why Petra is the way she is.  She even so much as teams up with her abusive boyfriend from five years ago to determine if he was correct, and see if her mother was lying to her – and if you must know, he pretended to kill her, at that (which is always a possibility in abusive relationships).  Perhaps more than anything else, it is apparent Petra is a woman trying to just do one thing, and that’s look out for herself, in between all of the manipulation and wrongdoing done to her.  After you’ve been through so much, it’s easy to simply remove your feelings from a situation and just sit and smile and pretend you actually give a shit.  Which she does incredibly well… and just about all she does with the exception of a few situations when she’s first introduced.  Even when Petra is nice, she reverts back to being manipulative and angry after nobody realizes SPOILERS Aneska isn’t Petra.  It’s just another way of protecting herself.

Image result for petra gif jane the virgin

One thing I noticed about Petra when she and Jane were trying to get a friendship together was that Petra was really bad with emotions.   We never really saw her and Rafael’s  marriage while it was happy – we simply saw it in snippets – but you can imagine, perhaps, her problems with emotions probably played some part in it’s inevitable downfall.  Petra is more convincing she cares about you and whatever situation is there when she is lying.  The times she was sleeping with Locklan? Convincing.  The times she was playing the hotel owner next door? Also convincing.  Her becoming friends with Jane,  even temporarily,  opened a new door to Petra we never really saw: how hardcore emotional she really is, which is a testament to just how affected she probably was by her mother and her sister. She’s even so much as mean to Jane when Jane is nice to her, probably because she’s a little like “what the hell”.  It is worthy to note she also doesn’t have any friends.

Petra now gains her own real, genuine power by playing the field and obtaining shares of the hotel, initially as a means to get back at Rafael.   The thing is, this is when I truly loved Petra as a character and when I – yes, I’m going to say this – related  to her.  She didn’t want to be a mother,  but out of sheer desperation to keep someone in her life, she made that happen (not that part).  Upon finding her footing in the hotel, I finally feel like I have a Petra that belongs.  I feel like Petra fits in.  It is Petra, not Rafael,  the so-called hotel owner who gets the hotel back on track and she is aware of that.  She is at home in her office,  she’s extremely analytical and even more complicated.  Put simply, this is the exact moment I knew Petra was one of two favorite characters in this show.  She didn’t fit the role of motherhood, she was manipulative our of desperation, and now that her own situation has changed she has all the power – and is finally feeling sure of herself.  She stepped into the role of motherhood and got used to it, but I would definitely say not as much as Jane has.  No – Petra is the badass kind of mother.  She doesn’t fit the usual stereotype anymore, does she?

And that, is in part thanks to Rafael.   When Petra is pregnant,  Rafael becomes less of the former spouse Petra is pining over and more of her life coach.  How to respond to things,  how to handle Jane,  etc.  He encourages her to try her best at motherhood and that she can handle the hotel and kids at the same time.  And she listens.

Teaching us how to take our shirts off.

And this, in the end, benefits her enough that she finds herself.  His absence, both in his hotel and seemingly in Petra’s life, forces her to find who she is and what she wants.  As you learned last episode SPOILERS Petra dumps Rafael after spending so long pining after him.  She already rejected him once already, saying she feels second-best to Jane and always has.  She realizes she will never be anything more than a cheater and a manipulator to Rafael, who threw some shade at her behavior for manipulating men to get what she wants.  And this is when I realized Petra had her own stability and life she created for herself.  We even see a little bit of a sisterhood – albeit very dramatic, pothole-laden one – between she and Jane.  Petra lashed out to Rafael on Jane’s behalf, and Jane did the same for Petra to ensure she wasn’t hurt by Rafael.  And this is a thing women actually do, as a woman: when it comes to a man hurting another woman, we put everything aside, because fuck that. She cares, but she also holds people accountable for their actions, now.

And I think we all have something to learn from both Petra and Jane, who are both extremely different people.  Petra learns how she should be treated and how she should be valued, and clearly she has not found that yet.  There are valuable lessons to learn from their, er, whatever it is at this point., and whatever Rafael is to them both.  In the eyes of them both, Rafael is no longer seen, well, awfully favorably (can’t say I didn’t see that coming – more on that later).  And although their strong attitudes clash and don’t necessarily mesh – as Petra is the no-bullshit woman people fear when she’s angry – and Jane is the forgiving sweetheart who takes a little while to be pushed to the point of anger, when they work together they’re a strong team (as shown by the birth scene and the book scene).

And truly, in the end, we are always stronger together.

Especially when it comes to men.

Because fuck that.

Except Rogelio.

Image result for rogelio de la vega gif

He’s acceptable.

 

 

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As you may or may not know, there are certain movies people watch at certain times of the year.  Some people reviewed Christmas movies in particular.  Some people reviewed classics.  I’m going to review a movie that seems to take place just before or around Christmas – and unlike my other reviews, I’m not going to spoil this movie for you.  This isn’t a superhero movie I could presume you’ve seen.  This isn’t some new movie that young people following me have probably seen.  However, I just want you to know it’s set around Christmas time, and I’m going to intertwine some other messages in this review.  I know I said I was doing Big Hero 6, recently, but I’m actually a little all over the place getting back into the groove of this (and Christmas making it worse).  However, it is connected to superhero movies in a truly bizarre way.  You’ll see how.

The actual name of the movie is The Horse Whisperer.  The premise of the movie is – a young girl, living in New York, owns a horse.  She and a friend go out riding, only for her friend’s horse to slip on ice.  As a result, both friends end up tumbling down onto a road, where a truck eventually hits them both (this is all pretty much within the first 5-10 minutes of the movie).  The friend dies, the young girl we’re following lives but with a handicap (watch the movie), and her horse is traumatized.  Traumatized to the point where he has a complete change in personality.

So… why the hell am I reviewing a horse movie?

I used to ride horses.  I’ve stopped now, but I’ll be going back.  To review a movie such as this is really only appropriate.

Oh yeah… the little girl.  Remember how I said it’s somehow related to superhero movies?  Well, Scarlett Johansson is that little girl.  Her name in the movie is Grace.  If you want a taste for 13 year old Johansson, watch the movie.  But, someone else from a recent superhero movie happens to be in this movie:  Robert Redford, complete with the obligatory question about milk (seriously expected Sebastian Stan to show up).  And I have to be honest, Redford wasn’t terribly interesting – I mean, he was, but Johansson really peaked my interest.  Thinking of her then and now, it’s just really strange.  I mean, I have to be honest, she didn’t actually change all that much, but it’s like seeing a retrospective work of an actor.  It’s like taking a look into their past without even realizing it.  Honestly, Johansson wasn’t a household name until now.  She is a kid in this movie, and she works with Redford long before The Winter Soldier was even on the table – or any tables.  It sort of gives you insight into her acting style, long before Lucy, Avengers, The Winter Soldier, or any other big name she is known for.  You get to see a kid Scarlett Johansson act.

And all things considered, she wasn’t much different.

She was amazing as a child actor.  I mean, it’s easy to say that now because she became Black Widow, but she is actually very true to herself in this movie.  She is still snarky, witty, etc.  Sure, she doesn’t kick Redford’s ass in this one, but they do semi-battle it out in parts.  And I have to wonder: what was it like for her to work with him so long after a movie like this?  This was made in 1998.  Redford literally saw her grow up.  Considering he directed the movie, he was the one who probably found her in the first place.  And I can’t help but wonder how weird that must have been on the set of The Winter Soldier.  I can’t help but wonder their feelings toward each other or if there’s any other movies they did together (actually, if you know that, please tell me).  Seeing two actors suddenly take such a different stage, while one of those actors is so different, is just really weird to me.  I don’t know why.  It just is.

And for the JP fans following me: Sam Neill is there, too.  He’s Grace’s dad.  He presents himself in his usual calm, cool style with some outbursts.  Sam Neill is a smooth actor, I’ll never say otherwise.  I find his acting style quite mesmerizing.  Probably because whenever I see him, he comes off as someone with a lot of wisdom even if he doesn’t actually have wisdom in the movie.  Even in this movie, he just comes off as the Good Guy because of being level headed during a certain moment (watch the movie).

But let me continue my short summary: Because the horse is traumatized, and her friend is dead, Grace’s mom stalks down (basically literally) and drives several thousand miles to meet The Horse Whisperer (Redford).

So… I need to review from here with no spoilers.

Redford is not entirely different from his Winter Soldier counterpart, by the way.  He comes off as cocky in the beginning.  Overall, I feel like this movie really gave me an insight into some of these actors.  A real, serious insight.

But from this point on, Redford tries to work with the horse, and I feel as though the plot could’ve focused a little more on the horse in the end.  I mean, Pilgrim (the horse) is completely and utterly why they drove that far.  The resolution with Pilgrim appears to happen awfully quickly.  The movie was criticized a bit by horse people (don’t be offended, I am one of them) because of the training techniques used, but, I mean, you could kind of criticize any movie for anything like that.  Star Wars depicts space inaccurately.  Jurassic Park depicts inaccurate dinosaurs (oh, shut up).  The Dark Knight doesn’t represent real jokers.  I mean, hello?  You seeing a theme here?  Yes.  It’s hollywood.  That is what Hollywood does.  If you criticize hollywood that much, you will have a breakdown at what occurs in Bollywood.  I can see criticizing an actual movie with actual animals more than I can understand criticizing Star Wars for lack of space realism – how many friends and family of yours have gone into space?
Exactly.

Simply put, while I can understand why it was criticized *more than other movies*, everyone in the general public needs to remember it’s a movie.  If you have a horse problem, talk to a horse trainer.  Do not listen to Robert Redford, no matter how legit he may look as a cowboy… because he does look legit.  The main point is, someone might actually try to be Robert Redford (Darwinism at it’s finest), but nobody is going to try to turn the International Space Station into the Death Star.  While I don’t generally approve of constant nitpicking for accuracy within movies (see: “Documentaries”), I can see why a little nitpicking might be necessary here: people are stupid.

Aside from the possibility everyone tries to become Robert Redford, the plot itself got a little slow, because as I said, it felt like it didn’t quite focus on the horse as much as it was in the beginning.  It’s also a little bit muddled in it’s morals and the moral messages it’s trying to get through to you.  I haven’t actually quite figured it out yet.  Is it about loyalty?  Is it about not always getting what you want? Is it about being open minded?  I can’t actually figure it out, and the general consensus is actually that the ending sucks, at least within my household (I can’t disagree that much, but the polar opposite you’d just call “predictable” so they lose either way).  The problem with the ending is that they picked such a likeable person for it to be involved with.  It’s genuinely hard to hate the person that is involved with this ending.  The ending actually leaves you morally split.  To me, it’s almost as if it embodies the choices we need to make without owning a horse. You know, your dream job or a secure life type deal.  Overall, yes, the messages are a little bit muddled, but I definitely took that home.

I also took home a few other things: the power of animals, and how quickly people can change.  It’s no secret animals help people heal.  Therapy dogs.  Animals that visit nursing homes.  Dogs that visit cancer hospitals.  Seeing eye dogs (companionship).  I mean, if nothing else, Grace has her horse.  After the accident she is somehow disabled, and bullied for it.  You don’t need to own a horse to be disabled or be bullied.  You don’t need to own a horse to have family tension or a mom who works a lot.  If the messages were a bit more clear, I would say this movie isn’t about a horse at all – but it teeters between a horse movie and a moral movie with a horse in it.  It doesn’t fit either clear cut category.  At times it gets corny, as well.  It sort of speaks to people who watch it through one situation or another. It doesn’t really matter if you have a horse or not – you’ll relate to some situation in this movie.  The morals might be a bit muddled, but the fact is, everyone has something they’re grappling with.  The power of animals completely changes one person.  The characters are fairly developed, certainly, but follow stereotype.  Redford seems cold and distant (and underdeveloped), and the chemistry just isn’t there between he and Kristin Scott-Thomas.

And there’s more that makes you step back a bit.

The shots in this movie make you want to hop in the car and go on a road trip.  I shit you not.  It’s drop dead gorgeous.  It really does the mood of the movie itself justice, especially with the constant heartbreak going on.  It’s just awfully contradicting.

Overall, the movie isn’t terrible but isn’t great.  But if you ever want a movie to see struggle, or see a difficult choice, or just need something human to relate to that is in your face, and feeling like nothing is there for you – hug your dog and watch it.