Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Frances Ha - Beautifully written movie about becoming an adult, figuring out where you belong and being surrounded by people who seem to have things figured out.  There is a lovely performance from Greta Gerwig, even though I have issues with the character, the audience will relate to her loneliness and uncertainty. The issues that I have are highlighted throughout the film, so it's clear to me that these were intentional traits (narcissistic, self-absorbed, clueless, needy etc), however, it doesn't make her any less annoying - like how she acts like she's poor (another thing that was intentional - as one character calls it "an insult to poor people").  It sort of reminds me of the same style that Lena Dunham has - this "please feel bad for me because I have so many problems, even though I'm white, upper-class, educated and I have a family that loves me" - sorry, just because you don't have your dream job or your dream relationship, doesn't mean your life sucks. Get over yourself. Sorry for the rant, but it's just so frustrating. And now my rant is making it seem like I didn't like this movie, but I actually really did! Her problems are real, and I do have sympathy for her, I just feel the need to put things in perspective. I loved her relationship with her best friend; it reminded me of my best friend (and once roommate).  Their conversations were so familiar ("we're like a lesbian couple who don't have sex anymore", "don't pick your face"). When we "separated" it was like the END OF AN ERA! (Friends references are hard to avoid).  I loved the black & white shots of NYC and the lightness of the story. I just wish there was more substance, something real to grasp, something memorable.

2. White House Down - The big question seems to be - which is better, this or the "Gerard Butler saves the White House" movie? I would say that they are pretty much equals, but White House Down is a slightly better made movie.  The effects are better, the dialogue isn't as cheesy, and the story is more interesting.  However, both of these movies make it seem way to easy to take over the White House, rely on one man to save the day, and have scarily predictable villains.  I like Channing Tatum, but got tired of the endless shots of him jumping over furniture trying to avoid gunfire.  Overall, it's one of those movies that is just meant to entertain and it did just that.

3. The Hangover Part 3 - I was expecting so much worse. The second installment was widely criticized for re-hashing the first one, so this one threw out the formula (that worked fine, in my opinion), and was still universally criticized.  I'm not going to pretend this movie is good, but it's certainly not as bad as people claim.  I laughed a few times, the plot was much darker but it moved rather quickly, and Bradley Cooper is fucking sexy. That's enough for me to be entertained.  Ken Jeong is funny in very small doses, so his increased involvement in the story became grating (I feel the same way about his character on Community, the episodes that feature him more are the worst episodes).  There are some parts that are groan-worthy (like the after credits scene) and unnecessary plot holes, but not enough to make me hate the movie.  I'm not sure why John Goodman is dressed like my great-aunt Wendy, or why his character is so boring.  Also, I'm pretty sure that the person who writes the Netflix descriptions didn't actually watch the movie, as she/he describes the plot as "the gang will have to rescue Alan from a mental institution". Actually, thinking about that makes me laugh harder than anything in the movie.

4. People Like Us - I watched this movie because of the cast - Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Pfeiffer and Olivia Wilde.  Plus, it was written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (writers behind Alias and Fringe).  I was interested in seeing something that wasn't science-fiction based from them.  Surprisingly, as sappy and melodramatic as it is, I really enjoyed it.  Sure, if you throw in a Christmas tree, it could have easily been a Holiday TV movie on Lifetime, but there is just something so likable about it.  As expected with the talent, it is written and acted extremely well.  I've never liked Chris Pine in anything...until now. He's fantastic in this, as is the little wise-ass boy.  I appreciate that it is a story about finding family; instead of a traditional "love" story.

5. Girl Most Likely - This could have been a good movie, if it weren't so damn boring.  The beginning starts out as a bit of cliche about another self-centered woman who is dumped by her boyfriend and has her world suddenly fall apart (blah, blah, blah), but it is much darker than your average chick-flick.  She isn't quite convinced that her boyfriend isn't in love with her.  To convince herself that she is right, she writes a poignant suicide letter, scatters some pills around her and calls him to "threaten" taking her own life - completely expecting him to show up and "save" her. Things don't turn out the way she plans, instead she ends up in the care of her "crazy" mother back in her hometown of Ocean City, NJ.  Sounds interesting...right? It has the whole "confronting your demons" themes, but it just doesn't explore any of these demons for any meaningful purpose. The only thing it really proves is that everyone has a "talent"; everyone deserves to be appreciated or "famous" for their talent, but, in most cases, everyone ends up a "nobody"(deeeepressing). Also, it's clear that the writer has a hatred for New Jersey.  From the way the movie is written, it felt like a really personal hatred, but she's from California, so I really don't understand where her anger is coming from. While the movie is really long and really dull, at least the cast is excellent - Kristen Wiig, Annette Bening, Matt Dillon and the highlight, Blaine from Glee. I say he's a highlight because I've never seen him outside of Glee and he was unexpectedly great. His Backstreet Boys performance is the best part of the entire movie.

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