Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Impossible - I am one of those people who are bothered by the casting of this movie.  Spanish director, Juan Antonio Bayona, made a movie about the survival of a Spanish family during the 2004 Tsunami, but cast a white family and then described the movie as an "English-language Spanish drama".  Bayona admits that the casting was for financial reasons (he claimed he could only get funding with internationally recognizable actors) and also, that it shouldn't matter what race or social class the family is because the story is about humanity.  That doesn't seem to make much sense...right?  If it doesn't matter, then why not stay true to the story?  Instead, he succumbed to the racist claim that an audience wouldn't care as much if the family aren't white (also, there are PLENTY of internationally recognizable Hispanic actors and there are PLENTY of films that succeed without "recognizable" actors).  It's a cowardly move, in my opinion.  I tried not to let that effect my viewing of the movie, but it's an underlining problem throughout the story.  When you personalize a story by focusing on one family (among thousands...over 200,000 people were killed), then we should actually get to know the family.  Instead, we know very little about them (other than, they are wealthy, white and on vacation).  The tsunami hits very quickly, which I guess is the point - to take the audience by surprise, but I think that is why I spent the film with dry eyes.  I expected to cry. I was prepared to cry. It just didn't happen.  It's not that I didn't care about this family; of course I wanted them to survive (and knowing that it is a true story, I expected that it would have a "happy ending"), but not knowing anything personal about them left me void of any tears.  There was one point, when the son begins to help other families reunite, that I felt a lump in my throat, but it disappeared pretty quickly.  Other than my problems with the story, I will say that the actual tsunami scene is breathtaking.  The amount of detail that goes into shots like those are astounding.  Naomi Watts is one of my favorite actresses and she deserves an Oscar, but certainly not for this role (she should have won 10 years ago for 21 Grams - one of my favorite female performances ever).  This role was physically demanding, but she didn't have much else to do but be "almost dead" for most of the movie.

2. Save the Date - I can't resist a movie starring both Lizzy Caplan AND Alison Brie!! Two gorgeous females who are hilarious and talented.  The movie is about two sisters; Lizzy is Sarah, the sister who is in a bit of a relationship catastrophe and Alison is Beth, the sister who is planning her wedding.  Sarah is obviously the interesting character, while Beth literally spends the entire movie talking about wedding details. She is given nothing else to do, and she is terribly uninteresting.  Plus, the amount of time and money that go into weddings is disgusting; my stomach turns just thinking about it.  Sarah, on the other hand, is a little bit of a heightened disaster.  She turns down a wedding proposal to her current boyfriend, which ultimately means a break-up.  It's impossible to stay in a relationship after someone proposes and is turned down. I've tried it. I can relate to Sarah, in the way that she doesn't see the "certainty" in a relationship that most people find.  She doesn't believe in marriage and finding a (nice) guy who feels the same, is pretty much impossible (even the ones who say they don't want to get married end up changing their minds).  I can also relate to her insights on "careers".  She works at a small bookstore, while her friends all have "real jobs".  She claims "I work in this shitty bookstore, and I sometimes feel like, perhaps, I have life figured out way more than those people do".  I would much rather work at a job that I mildly enjoy, in which I can pay the bills and enjoy my free time with family, travel and relax; instead of having a stressful career, in which I have tons of money sitting in a bank account and no free time to do anything with it.  Other than being able to relate to Sarah, I found nothing else useful about the movie.  It's a little slow-paced, not really funny and I can't really find a point.  I have a really hard time believing that Geoffrey Arend would ever get a girl like Lizzy Caplan (mean, I know), but then I have to remind myself that he is married, IN REAL LIFE, to Christina Hendricks, so there has to be something there. I just don't see it.  Also, I was confused about all of the weird shots of the cat, then realized he would become part of the story - *spoiler alert* - the cat goes missing.  This hurts the story, for me, tremendously because all I could think for the rest of the movie is "WHERE IS THE CAT!??".  I would not be able to function if one of my cats went missing.

3. Hit & Run - I was mildly entertained for most of this movie, even if it was really stupid.  I was never a fan of Dax Shepard, until the television show Parenthood came around.  He is amazing on that show (as is the rest of the cast).  He still wasn't the main draw of this movie, for me. *Cough* Bradley Cooper *Cough*.  It was a small role, but he was hilarious.  I also LOVE Ryan Hansen (from Party Down. I still laugh at this on a daily basis:  I wish he had a bigger role in this movie, but he barely has any lines.  He just sort of stands in the background of a few scenes.  I still don't really get Kristen Bell's popularity (I tried watching Veronica Mars once. Painful experience).  She's cute, but not very memorable.  Her character doesn't really make much sense; she is a non-violent conflict resolution expert, yet she is perfectly o.k with her boyfriend racing through the streets putting the lives of everyone else at risk (yes, he is a professional driver, but everyone else around him, is not).  But then again, there isn't much that makes sense about this movie.  Her ex-boyfriend protects putting her life at risk.  The main couple spend the entire movie bickering, even though there are much more important things going people shooting at them! There was very little research done about the Witness Protection Program, because everything about it was wrong.  You get the point.  Just watch it with your brain shut off and you may be mildly entertained like I was.

4. Chernobyl Diaries - Worst movie I've seen in a while.  A group of people visit the deserted town where the Chernobyl disaster took place, only to realize it's not so deserted after all.  I don't understand the point of filming it documentary style unless it's a "found footage" film, but the person recording the story isn't a character and is never referenced.  So, the shaky camera is pointless and unnecessary   The group of people have zero personality or wit.  I never knew who Jesse McCartney was, although I've heard the name before.  His face looks plastic. Is it?  The group seem really excited to visit abandoned buildings (I'm not sure why) and take tons of pictures of....nothing.  Then, they are stuck in a van that won't start and begin to hear and see creepy things outside and they say stupid things like "stay away from the windows!" (in a van...surrounded by windows).  After an hour, we still don't know what it is we are supposed to be scared of. Ghosts? Dogs? Ghost dogs?  It doesn't start to get interesting until the end. Then it's over.

5. House at the End of the Street - Elisabeth Shue!  She plays Jennifer Lawrence's mom, which is sort of sad, but it's Elisabeth Shue!!  It's actually great casting; they do sort of look alike and technically they could be mother and daughter, considering Elisabeth is my mom's age and Jennifer is (much) younger than me.  This movie was exactly the type of movie that I was in the mood to watch.  It's a fun horror movie, with a surprising twist.  It wasn't exactly scary, but I was entertained for all of it.  There are so many moments of "why are you doing that!?" that go along with horror movies (like...why are you putting the key there!), but it was all good fun. Max Thieriot is fucking sexy (He's like a younger Ryan Phillippe). He's also on Bates Motel, which everyone needs to watch - not just because of him; it's a fantastic show.  Plus, I know Jennifer Lawrence has a lot of fans, and she pretty much runs around in a tight white tank top for the last half of the movie. Enjoy!

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