Monday, September 16, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Star Trek: Into Darkness -  I enjoyed J.J.'s Star Trek much more than I was expecting to, but I really had no interest in watching the sequel.  I read very mixed reviews about it; strong reactions on both sides of the spectrum from people that I usually trust with movies, so I had no idea what to expect.  I think I land somewhere in the middle.  I am just not a big Star Trek fan, I don't like the characters and obviously I don't "get" all of it since I've never seen the original series. The only real problem that I had with the movie, is the choppy editing. It did not flow well at all. It's a decent summer flick, though. It features a really strong villain (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and some really intense visual moments (the ship crashing into the city is really well done - I'm sure that looked brilliant on a big screen).  So let's talk about that famous, gratuitous shot of Alice Eve. **Prepare for my venting** Yes, the shot is completely unnecessary, but so are most shots of women in their underwear. I get so aggravated when someones sole criticism of a film is that it's misogynistic or sexist (and it's a real struggle to read critics who don't know the difference between the two words.  I read an article from a well-respected film blogger about the "rise of misogyny" in the movies from this past summer and literally every example he gave was about sexism and objectification - none of it was based on a hatred of women. Even worse, a ton of women commented how great it was that a man was writing about misogyny in the movies. It took every inch of restraint to not comment.).  My theory is this: Films are art. Art is a representation of life. Misogyny and sexism will be represented in art as long as it exists in life. If you want to "fight the good fight", then focus on rape, sexual abuse, domestic abuse, equal pay, sexual harassment, etc. IN REAL LIFE! I know, I myself, have criticized films for this very thing (I'm a walking contradiction! aka - human), but I often point out romantic comedies because they usually perpetuate an unrealistic stereotype of women and relationships. It's different when you a have a movie, like Mud, for instance, that is just a product of its environment.  The story in Mud is very misogynistic in nature, but it is a representation of life; it's a fantastic movie, criticizing if for something like misogyny is pointless. Criticizing a movie like Star Trek, a film geared towards men, for an underwear shot of a beautiful woman, is also pointless. Get it? It's confusing, I know. Personally, I don't think a man wanting to look at a beautiful woman is sexist (it's called human nature).  But my point is this: focus your anger and energy on real life issues.  The movies won't change until life changes.

2. Now You See Me - I really love this cast. I don't think Jesse Eisenberg has much range as an actor, but he does this sarcastic, wise-ass, borderline asshole character really well.  Isla Fisher is adorable.  Woody Harrelson is hilarious. And I'm slightly in love with Dave Franco.  The four of them are the "four horsemen" - a group of magicians, mentalists and illusionists that use their talents to rob banks.  Mark Ruffalo and Melanie Laurent are the cops trying to stop them (and figure out how the hell they are accomplishing such a task through the use of "magic").  There is a lot of elaborate planning that goes into the plot, it moves rather quickly, has a lot of witty dialogue and keeps the audience guessing through its entirety.  There is also very little character development and the elaborate plots are completely ridiculous.  A lot of the "magic" is explained, but too much is left unexplained which, to me, felt lazy.  I wasn't blown away by the twist, even though I didn't guess it, I still felt like it was a little obvious.  It would be interesting to watch it again, to see if it works (reminds me of the way I felt after Trance), which leaves me with an uneasy feeling.  I prefer when twists are like "HOLY SHIT! I DIDN"T SEE THAT COMING, BUT IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE" and then I spend hours feeling like an idiot for not predicting it.  Instead, films like these have such a ridiculous twist, it's more like "Well, of course, I didn't predict that...because that's dumb".  It kept me entertained, though, and I think that's all it is meant to do.

3. Safe Haven - This is not a good movie. At all. I mean, it's based on a Nicholas Sparks book. Still, I have to admit, this isn't the worst movie of the year. Surprisingly, it's not even in the top (bottom?) 10.  I assumed it would make me really angry, as most of these types of movies do.  I call them "domestic abuse-lite" movies; ones that take this serious topic that effects millions of women and turns it into a cute romance.  This is probably the one time, where I won't go into my usual personal experience/tangent, because it's just too personal.  However, because of my past, I have a lot of emotions when it comes to the subject, but I find films like Sleeping with the Enemy (which is pretty much what this movie copies) far less intrusive on my emotional stability as opposed to haunting movies like Tyrannosaur.  It's a hard subject to tackle (and to get it right).  Safe Haven plays it pretty "safe".  While it shows how dangerous it is for some women to leave abusive relationships, giving insight into the "why don't they just leave" argument; it also makes it seem incredibly easy. Women can't just leave and become another person (buy a house, get a job, etc.) on a whim. There has to be a plan (and that's not even considering that she may have children to think about). The movie also ignores the psychological effect of abuse (nightmares would be the least of her problems).  The reason that I was able to look past all of this is because of the "other" part of the story.  The "twisty" part. I actually looked up the twist in the movie when it was in theaters, because the fact that there was a twist in this sort of film is intriguing.  The twist is really, really stupid. However, it did add a little bit of depth to the story.  Julianne Hough has a strong screen presence, here.  I haven't liked her in anything prior to this, but I think this is a more fitting role for her.  She is also one of those lucky women that look far better without makeup on.

4. Parker - Really silly action film.  I really liked parts of it, at least more that I thought I would.  I think it would have been a much better movie if JLo wasn't in it. I mean, if her character didn't exist.  It felt like the only reason they brought a female character into the plot was to make it sexier (which is exemplified by the "Take off your clothes" scene).  It makes no sense as to why she would get involved in such a dangerous situation. The movie did a terrible job at making me care for this "thief who cares".  I really had no investment in his story. They could have cut JLo and used that time to develop the main character more, and that would have been a solid story.  Also, I always thought Michael Chiklis was a respectable actor (I've heard amazing things about The Shield, but I know him from The Commish), but he was terrible in this movie. Embarrassingly bad.

5. To the Wonder - I really wasn't a big fan of The Tree of Life.  It's a beautiful film, but it's just so empty and pretentious.  To the Wonder feels exactly the same way, but I liked it slightly more, simply because I liked the story more.  I can connect to stories about relationships more than I can connect to stories about family.  It's not a better movie, but I liked it better.  There is still the monotonous dialogue and people wandering around, for no apparent reason - i.e shots like this: 
That is from To the Wonder; but it could have easily been from Tree of Life. It's beautiful to look at, but it gets tedious after a certain amount of time (my max is at about 90 minutes). Malick does have a way of making drop dead gorgeous females, even more drop dead gorgeous.  The best thing that I got out of To the Wonder is the line, "To commit yourself, is to expose yourself to failure...". It sucks that people let the idea of failure control how they live their life and the relationships that they choose to explore (or not explore).  

1 comment:

  1. Hey Michelle, great reviews. The underwear scene in Star Trek didn't make me mad, just kind of annoyed. It seemed so pointless but I wouldn't say its the sexist disgrace that some writers have said. It was more childish than offensive