Saturday, November 16, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Midnight's Children - I don't think I can express into words my love for this book. In college, I took a course on South Asian literature, simply because it fit into my schedule. I heard that it was a tough class and that the professor was intense, but I didn't really believe it (I went to a state college because that's all I could afford, and no offense, but none of the classes were particularly "tough") The first book we read, The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy had my interest because it was so different than anything I've read before. Coming from a public high school in Upstate NY, I can't say that I had much exposure to South Asian literature.  We had to write a paper at the end of each book, and on my first paper, I received a C. I admit that I hadn't put much effort into the paper, but I was still baffled by the C.  I asked the professor why the grade was so low and she said "I looked into your background, the paper is an A if I compare it to other students, but it's a C if I compare it to what I think you're capable of ". I was super pissed at this answer - it's not fair to hold someone to a higher standard and I gave many excuses (I worked a full-time job and a part-time job to afford school, rent, food etc.  I didn't have time to give my best effort). Then, we started reading Midnight's Children and I was absolutely blown away.  It helped that my professor was so passionate about Salman Rushdie and the history of India.  She would explain the significance of every word, the structure of every sentence, and how every inch of the story related to historical events.  I suddenly realized how lucky I was to have a professor who actually cared about what she was teaching, and invested time in her students.  I owed it to her (and myself) to give my best.  I've never put so much effort into anything as I did with my paper for Midnight's Children (and I only got a B+, with the comment "now I need you to start participating in class". Although, I received an A as my overall score.). This experience changed the way that I read books. Now, when I read something that I'm not familiar with, instead of glossing it over, I engage with it. I do background research, I look up cultural significance, etc.  I was happy to hear that they decided to make a film version, and that Rushdie was involved with the screenplay.  I thought seeing the story, visually, would be a moving experience.  It's an epic story about a man inherently linked to his nation, but for some reason it just doesn't work on-screen.  The pace was a little slow, the characters weren't fully developed and it doesn't feel as personal and as magical as the book did.

2. Iron Man 3 - I actually got really excited about this movie once the great reviews started pouring in - some claiming that Shane Black revived the Iron Man movies (after the super boring second one), but I'm going to have to disagree with the critics on this one.  It's only slightly better than the second one, and miles away from the awesomeness of the first one.  I hardly see Black's influence at all.  I found most of the movie annoying - Tony Stark having anxiety attacks, the Mandarin "twist", the stupid ending.  There were some bright spots - some of the action sequences, James Badge Dale (love him!) and of course, Downey Jr. is perfection.  Overall, I can't say that I'll remember any of it in a few weeks time (and I honestly, barely remember anything about the second one either).

3. Maniac - Movies about serial killers are scary enough, but when you add the adorable Elijah Wood as a creepy psycho it's bound to cause me nightmares.  The movie is a remake of the 1980 movie Maniac!, which is a super creepy horror movie about a guy who kills women, scalps them and then uses their hair for his creepy mannequin dolls. The remake stays true to some of the original in plot, but it updates the story by shooting the film using only POV shots from the serial killer, still creating that personal insight into a killers mind (the original uses dialogue to do this; the killer has conversations with himself as well as mannequins).  Because of the shooting style, you only see the killer through the use of reflections and mirrors.  I both like and dislike this concept.  It's a cool idea, but it gets repetitive.  Plus, you need to fully commit to the idea and this movie falters a few times.  Elijah did a fantastic job, but he is a much different version than the original version (younger, more attractive - I fully admit, if Elijah Wood approached me, I probably wouldn't be scared. The original guy, however, I would ignore him and walk as fast as I could away from him).  Also, the girl in the beginning drove me insane. First, she was way too old for the teenager outfit combined with the baby talk, I could not wait for her to die a painful and gory death.  Not sexy at all. The movie is obviously misogynistic, as most movies about serial killers are (you know, he kills women because his mom was a whore), but it was a little too obvious.

4. The Woman in Black - I am a bit surprised that I enjoyed this movie.  Actually, I really only enjoyed the last half of it.  The first half is booooooring.  It's atmospheric and creepy, but it's not scary at all.  The second half, however, is really great.  It starts with the haunted house sequence and then continues the quick pace until the end.  Then, the ending was the best (which is rare for horror movies; I'm usually severely disappointed in the ending - most recently with Mama).  I'm really not a fan of Daniel Radcliffe.  I've only seen him as Harry Potter (I don't know which one that I watched) and he was absolutely terrible.  Watching it was one of the most upsetting experiences I've ever had watching a movie in the cinema.  I know the series has a massive fan base, but I really don't get it.  Most of my issues had to do with the acting, however Daniel did a much better job in this movie (he didn't really have that much to do, though).  I wish the beginning was better, so I could call this movie "great", but I have to downgrade it to "decent". 

5. The Purge - Fantastic idea, not fully executed.  The concept is interesting - there is one day a year that "laws" don't exist, so humans can "purge", therefore allowing an outlet for anger.  The problems with the movie are simple ones that could have easily been fixed - first, the filmmakers needed to decide what message they were trying to convey; they went back and forth between saying that violence was "American", but it is also "human nature".  There is a lot to be said about violence in America, but if they were going with the "human nature" element, then they needed to reference the world and the human race.  Second, if the story took place with a family that wasn't part of the "one percent", then the audience would be able to relate to them better. Instead, we are forced to root for spoiled, wealthy people who, in reality, could have easily used their wealth to create a panic room to survive in for 12 hours. I would rather see this story from someone who couldn't afford protection.  Third, the story could have used some subtlety - it was incredibly obvious that the neighbors would be actively involved in the story.  I heard they might make a sequel, if these things are fixed in it, then it could very well be a terrific thriller.


  1. Can you please do more on The Purge movies? I want to know if it's a worthy movie to see.

    1. I think they are both worthy viewings. I like the second one a bit more. The idea behind it is really unique and interesting, but I don't think they explored it deeply enough in the first one. My advise is always to watch and decide for yourself, though. : )