1. A Hijacking - First, I have not seen Captain Phillips yet, so I can not compare the two (it's an inevitable comparison. Honestly, I had no interest in Captain Phillips, but I will definitely watch it with all of the buzz it gained during awards season. I am just so absolutely sick and tired of the same freaking clip over and over and over again - "I am the captain now". Seriously, stop.). Second, this film is incredibly tense, the pace is perfect, the actors are fantastic. Third, it was released in the USA in 2013, so it's yet another movie that I will have to adjust my "best of" list for. Fourth, I didn't even realize that it was written and directed by the same guy who also co-wrote another one of my favorite movies of last year, The Hunt (Tobias Lindholm). What an incredible year that guy has had! Fifth, how much is a human life worth? That's the question at hand, and the answer is brutal. When the movie ended, I had this huge pit in my stomach of disgust and outrage.
2. Kick-Ass 2 - I think that I am one of the few who thought Kick-Ass was a pretty mediocre movie. I enjoyed the Hit-Girl character, more than anything else in the movie, but I wasn't as "wowed" as most people. I remember the character being so controversial at the time, but I didn't really get what the big deal was. I felt like the film set out to "shock" an audience, instead of being good. Now with the sequel, it seems even more underwhelming and repetitive. Hit-Girl is still the best part, simply because Chloe Grace Moretz is awesome. Aaron Johnson, on the other hand, is terrible. I don't get the appeal. I don't think he's hot at all, and he really isn't a very good actor (you can't watch that funeral scene and tell me I'm wrong). As far as the story is concerned, it's really stupid. The villain is a joke and the overall story is actually very boring. Plus, the misogyny is even more appalling than the first one - "Act like a bitch, get slapped like a bitch" is actually a quote that is used on official merchandise to promote the movie. While I have very little issue with depicting misogyny in movies - as movies are a reflection of society, I am also well aware of the reputation Mark Millar (who created the Kick-Ass graphic novels) has and his comments about the rape scene (he compared it to decapitation - you know, because the millions of people who have been decapitated have a really tough time, psychologically, watching other people on-screen be decapitated. What an idiot. If you don't understand my point, then you're an idiot too. Sorry.). This seems to be a case where the creator doesn't even realize his story is misogynistic and that is unnerving. The other controversy, regarding Jim Carrey refusing to promote the movie because of the violence, is a little misguided, in my opinion (again, movies reflect society; it's not the other way around.). The weird thing is that I watched the movie and then thought, "wait, I thought Jim Carrey was in that"....I didn't even realize that was him through the whole movie! That's craziness!
3. The Lone Ranger - This movie took a beating with the critics (and the box office, if you consider the budget). I really don't think it's that bad. I was really into it for about an hour, and then it turns into a mess. It's a lot of repetitive actions scenes and it just lasts foreeeeveeeerr. Gore Verbinski just needs to let the editor do his/her job in order to make a concise story. I understand the attachment that directors have to certain scenes, but there comes a point where one has to let go. The other big problem, is that they marketed it as a "summer blockbuster" - it had to be done that way, considering the budget, but I think it caused a lot of disappointment from audiences. I don't think the acting should have been criticized at all, everyone, including Depp, did a satisfying job. I remember watching The Lone Ranger television show with my grandfather when I was a kid, but I didn't really remember the myth behind it. I like the way the movie reinvents the story a little and some parts of it are really funny (again, during the first hour). It's not something I would ever watch again, and I wouldn't recommend it to too many people, but it's not as terrible as some people made it out to be. I could have done without the scene with the scorpions (yikes! fear of scorpions, which I just learned is actually a form of arachnophobia; it's odd to me because I'm not at all scared of spiders. I don't even care if I see one in my apartment, I usually leave it alone).
4. I Give it a Year - Sometimes I watch a movie, solely based on the cast and nothing else. I will watch Rose Byrne in anything and hope for the best (she's much more awesome than most of the movies she does). Plus, a supporting cast including Anna Faris and Stephen Merchant, seems like a good idea. I was expecting something much funnier, but it was pretty dry overall. Thematically, it's very similar to Drinking Buddies, which I watched earlier that day (and it's nowhere near as good as Drinking Buddies is, so that doesn't help my overall impression). There are some parts that are done really well, and I think it touches on some of the issues I have with the concept of marriage. I don't think people enter into marriage with a clear understanding of what they are committing themselves to. I also think that once people have gone through with the marriage, they become scared of admitting they might have made a mistake. The movie is cute, a little predictable, but still an interesting watch.
5. Short Term 12 - Be prepared: I can't write about this movie without comparing it to my personal life. I knew it was a story about a girl who works at a foster care facility, so I didn't really expect to relate to her. The story, though, vaguely dives into her background and the psychological effects that she suffers because of her past. We know that her father is in prison (and that he belongs there) and we know that Grace is trying her best to live her life without talking about her past. She spends her life compassionately helping kids who have no-one else to care for them, and focusing on everyone else instead of herself. Her life comes to a breaking point, when she learns that she is pregnant and her boyfriend proposes. She also learns that her father is going to be released from prison soon. This forces her to confront her situation, and it is heartbreaking. There's a lot going on, in such a quiet story and if you've lived a life similar to hers - like I have, it will force you to confront your own situation. I spend my life, quietly trying to avoid talking about anything from my childhood, but it's much harder than you'd expect. The inevitable question always arises when you meet someone new - about your family. I try my best to avoid it, but I'm also not very good at directly lying if someone asks me a specific question about my father - I have to say "he's in prison". It shocks most people because I've been told I give off a "girl next door" vibe which is really laughable to me. Most people are smart enough to not ask further questions, but if someone asks "why?", I just say because he's a "bad person". I will never give specifics. Ever. Grace is lucky enough to find a guy, who seems genuinely nice and understanding of her needs, while also expressing his frustration that she doesn't confide in him. I like to think of a future, where I find someone who I feel comfortable enough telling everything to (and maybe I already have, but other obstacles are in the way), but another part of me doesn't want to put someone else through it. It's extremely refreshing to have this girl find a nice guy, instead of the tiring cliche that girls with "daddy issues" will end up with assholes. I've never dated an asshole, and I never will. The fact that she's pregnant is forcing her to think about things that not many people can understand - it's not just about whether she is strong enough to be a mother (she clearly is), but it's inevitably about genetics. There is a terrifying reality that your child could carry the same evil traits as your father (it's the nature vs nurture debate - and I'm honestly not sure where I stand). While the story in Short Term 12, doesn't delve into this subject, it's clear that Grace is having trouble with all of the thoughts in her head (and I believe this is one of them). She focuses her attention on a new troubled girl who moves into the facility. A girl with whom she can relate to and confide in, causing her to come to a devastating breaking point. I would not be able to do what she does, my mind is just not that strong. I try to give back to the community and help people who have suffered, like I have, as much as I can, but sometimes I just can't. It's too much for me to handle. It's nice that the story ends positively, with Grace beginning to heal but the story is much more than just this confined space and time. I have to think beyond the ending, the fact that her father will be a free man, it will continue to destroy her sanity (I cried through the whole movie, but I cried even more hysterically when it was over, just thinking about her future). The film, itself, consists of incredible acting from Brie Larson and a tight, effective script. It's probably my favorite movie of last year, solely because I've never been able to relate to a character as much as Grace. There is a lot more to the movie than just Grace, though. It's a story of building relationships, after being abandoned and/or neglected, and I think most people can relate to that. I've seen it on quite a few "best of" lists, so from a critical standpoint, I think it stands on its own - even if you don't relate to the story.