Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Jack Reacher - Satisfying and fun action/thriller.  I probably would have enjoyed it more if I liked Tom Cruise, but I am not a fan.  I am most certainly not a fan of him as a person, but I can separate the art from the artist (case in point: Woody Allen).  However, Cruise hasn't impressed me since the early 90's; most will probably argue that he was great in Magnolia, but my response to that is: it's not hard to play an egotistical douchebag, if you are an egotistical douchebag.  He's not bad in the Mission: Impossible movies (especially the most recent one) and he's not bad here.  It just would have been a better movie, for me, if I liked the central star of the movie.  Also, I don't think I've seen Rosamund Pike in anything other than Wrath of the Titans, and I thought she was bad because of the writing, but she was really bad here, as well.  I can't blame the writing because it is a solidly written screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie (known for writing The Usual Suspects, but he also wrote and directed one of my favorite action/thrillers, the criminally underrated, The Way of the Gun).  The story is tense and interesting, the pace is fast and the dialogue is mostly witty (my favorite part: "I can't afford you".  "I'm not a hooker". "Well, then I really can't afford you.").  Yes, there is a fair amount of cheesiness and implausibility but that doesn't make it any less fun.  The only part that really bothered me, plot-wise, is when Reacher is running from the police and the crowd hides him.  I screamed "HE COULD BE A TERRORIST! SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING, YOU FUCKING IDIOTS" at my television.

2. John Dies at the End - I struggle coming up with ways to describe this movie without it sounding awful. "Incoherent mess" comes to mind, but then it seems like I didn't like it.  I did.  It's a fun and wacky, incoherent mess.  Combining horror and comedy with some genuine gross-out moments, it's certainly never boring.  The plot was a little too complicated, but I think that will only be enhanced on multiple viewings.  There's multiple dimensions, alternate universes and a drug called "soy sauce," creating a fantastically chaotic environment that you just can't look away from.  I can't really say anything else, because honestly I'm not sure I understood all of it, but I did have a ton of fun watching it.

3. We Bought a Zoo - I cried. I cried hard.  I can't remember the last time I actually cried real tears during a movie (every once in a while I get a little emotional, like with The Intouchables, but I can usually hold back the tears).  I thought I would get emotional with all the animal stuff.  I get really upset even thinking about animals in zoos. I refuse to go to them, because watching wild animals confined to small spaces is not my idea of a good time.   However, I was actually able to contain my feelings on the matter.  The part that made me hysterical (seriously, it was a flood of tears) was the last 5 minutes of the movie; the "20 seconds of courage" story about Matt Damon's character meeting his future wife.  What the fuck?! Why did I cry about a love story between humans?! What is wrong with me? Really though,  Matt Damon is just too good within the scene and the real reason it made me cry is because it reminded me of the scene in Good Will Hunting with him and Robin Williams ( - makes me cry. Every time.).  I think it makes me cry because I can't imagine anyone ever loving me that much.  That sounds really depressing, but it's totally true. Anyway, in regards to the rest of the movie, other than Matt Damon, the acting is horrible. The movie makes a great case against Scarlett Johansson, as an actress.  She's awful. Like, truly terrible. I honestly don't understand how no one else sees what I see.  Don't get me wrong, she's an absolutely stunning girl and in interviews she seems nice, intelligent, funny and well-spoken.  She just can't act. Also, the kid that plays Damon's son looks just like him (and a little like a young Brad Pitt, as well), so I understand why he was cast, but I cringe thinking about his emotional scenes.  The movie bordered on made-for-television territory for its entirety.  If I caught it on the Family Channel, I might be impressed; but it's not too impressive for a feature film.

4. Upstream Color - Kudos to you if you actually understood what was going on in this movie without looking it up.  I understood the first part fine, and it is an amazing concept, but the second half started to lose me. I looked it up after I finished the movie, and I still don't fully understand.  If you tell me you do, I honestly won't believe you.  It's obviously meant to be abstract. Even without a full understanding, it is still mesmerizing. Actually, hypnotic is probably a more apt word to describe it. I don't think the audience is meant to fully understand the science behind it; otherwise we would be able to pick apart the flaws in logic. Instead, we can focus on the beauty and intrigue of it all.  There are some really intense "horror" moments as well, which makes me question which genre it really belongs to (Psychological horror? Science fiction drama?).  The sound design is intoxicating and definitely enhances the creepiness.  It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, with themes of human behavior, psychology, post-traumatic stress disorder, genetic manipulation and so much more, this film is surely going to end up in my top 10 list for 2013.

5. Struck By Lightning - As a former fan of Glee, I really want certain stars of the show to succeed in a post-Glee world.  Lea Michele needs to go back to Broadway (when this happens, I will be there. Front row.).  Cory Monteith is a movie star (Trust me. I'm right about these things 95% of the time.).  I really like Chris Colfer, so I was excited to hear that he was doing some writing (this screenplay and he has a book deal, with one book already published).  I thought this movie would be a cute, cheesy high school movie with a great message about accepting people for who they are (that seems to be his thing), and that's what it was.  It just wasn't any good.  Colfer struggled a lot in the main role, because he seemed to be fighting his Glee character so much (a character that was created around Colfer, himself) but instead of becoming a different character, he is still Kurt, just with more snark and attitude (making him unlikable, instead of lovable).  He also stole a lot from Glee (the same type-cast characters, the blackmailing of students to write for the literary magazine).  He seems to think he is much more clever than he actually is, because he really isn't saying anything profound or new about the high school experience.  I hate to say it, but the whole thing is just a bit of a mess.  It's amateur screenwriting, at best, that would never have made it past the interns desk and onto the desk of an executive, if it wasn't for the power of Glee.  The film also, somehow, attracted some great actresses for supporting roles - Allison Janney and Christina Hendricks.  However, their story-line is just plain ridiculous and over-dramatic to even pay attention to.

1 comment:

  1. I've read the book of John Dies at the End, and it's just as kooky, although the structure is a lot looser than the movie. The Vegas part isn't even midway through the book, and the rest is just random 'stuff happens' until the interdmensional climax. This is sort-of a problem, but sort-of not. I'm not quite sure.