Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. About Time - This movie could have been a complete disaster for me. I'm about the only female in the world who does not like the movie Love Actually (same writer/director). This story is about a guy who can travel back in time (a genetic gift that he inherited from his father); so he uses this magical power to get (and by get...I mean trick) a woman to fall in love with him. There is a lot wrong with that sentiment, but the movie does its best to gloss over that fact. Instead of falling into romantic comedy tropes, the movie focuses on a really sweet father/son relationship and also, refreshingly, puts a nice, positive spin on marriage, having kids and living a "normal, ordinary life". I'm certainly not the "ordinary life" type of person (and I don't even believe that marriage should be legal), but it's really frustrating to constantly see movies like this shit on this lifestyle and then end by glorifying the whole "happily ever after" message. Not every movie has to be cynical about love. About Time is a charming, sweet love story with a moral lesson of enjoying every second of your life and living in the "present day" - and it's completely unapologetic about it. That being said, I still have some issues with the story. First, the obvious one mentioned earlier, using this power to manipulate someone is morally disgusting. Second, I hate when a beautiful woman, like Rachel McAdams, plays someone who is supposed to be insecure and mousy. I mean, I'm sure beautiful women have insecurities, but it still sends the wrong message to young women who don't look like movie stars. Also, Margot Robbie is in this!! She rightfully portrays a woman who is drop-dead gorgeous ("she's so beautiful, that if you had sex with her, you would die" - totally accurate). Third, we are supposed to believe that this guy has a chance with either of these women? Come on....really? He's cute, in an awkward sort of way - but he has NO PERSONALITY. And last, I spent the whole movie going "but couldn't he just go back in time and change that???". The plot holes are so gaping that it's really just one big hole - the logic disappears completely.

2. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - Just like the first one, everything outside of the actual "games" is awesome. I love all of the social and political implications behind the story, the build up of intensity before the games begin, and the glorification of our "hero" is fantastic to watch. Then, the games begin and it's all a bit dull and repetitive. Having never read the books, the ending is superb, though! It's a huge twist that I wasn't expecting - and sets the tone for the next movie. Which, if we're lucky, will not feature any more "games" and will instead focus on a revolution of epic proportions. I love Jennifer Lawrence in this role - if you've read previous posts from me, then you know, I'm not absolutely memorized by her every move like everyone in the world seems to be. But here, she excels. Also, I want that 1/2 sweater/ 1/2 poncho diagonal thing she wears in the beginning. I'm surprised I haven't seen every retail store copying the design, as soon as they get on the ball with that, I am buying one. The rest of the cast is outstanding as well, and I just love the way the story shows the negative ramifications of the "pretend" love story. It's all just brilliantly done.

3. Ender's Game - Other than the controversy behind the writer of the novel, I didn't hear anything about this movie. It seemed to come and go rather quickly and quietly, which doesn't necessarily make it a bad movie. I thought it could have some interesting sci-fi behind it. Unfortunately, it is really, really unbelievably boring. So boring, that I couldn't bother to pay attention to it after about an hour. I never turn movies off; I'm a bit of a completist (I need help!), but I really wanted to press the "stop" button. The movie wants to make a statement about children and war; but it never really makes it. It also has something interesting to say about the effects that video games have on developing minds, but again, it doesn't actually follow through with anything solid. I've never really been a fan of Harrison Ford, other than The Fugitive, I can't really say I've liked anything he's done (and YES, I realize what I am saying. Movie geeks attack!!). He does the same dull, curmudgeon shtick here that he ALWAYS does, and I just can't be bothered. As for the kids, they are also pretty terrible, mostly because they are very dull. I was actually surprised to learn that that was the much praised Hailee Steinfeld. She looked like she was reading off of cue cards; I find it hard to believe that she ever gave an Oscar nomination-worthy performance (I still haven't seen True Grit).  I would put this movie on my worst of last year, slightly below After Earth - and that's only because After Earth was bad, but still entertainingly bad.

4. Blue is the Warmest Color - I like this movie, and the more I think about it, the more I like it. I just really wish it wasn't 3 hours long. It doesn't need to be - it could easily be edited to 2 hours (still too long) without losing the integrity or depth of the story (lose all of the shots of Adele sleeping, for one). The one thing that I wouldn't cut at all, surprisingly, is the extremely long, drawn out, graphic sex scenes. The movie basically turns into a porno for what seems like forever, however, it is all necessary for the story and it is meant to be a stark contrast to the straight sex scene earlier in the movie. It's also a stark contrast to 99% of straight sex scenes on film. Love, passion, lust and sex are all very different things - when they combine, it can be magical, and that is what is represented in this sex scene. Often during sex scenes, I find myself wondering if it was supposed to represent good sex or not. This is certainly not the case here - it's a bold choice, but I think I understand the intent behind it. I know there are a TON of articles around about the fact that this is a lesbian love story told from a male perspective, and that the actresses involved were put into uncomfortable situations, and now that I have watched the movie, I plan on reading them - I'm just waiting for the movie to fully absorb into my brain (it takes a while for me), so I can fully accept my own conclusions, before I let the opinions of others try sway me. I will say that I find the way the story turned (spoiler alert), with Adele comforting her own insecurities by sleeping with a man, extremely problematic - it's basically reinforcing the idea that lesbian relationships are "missing something". However, again, I see the intent behind it - Adele is seeking comfort and is in need of reassurance that she is desirable, something any man would be willing to give her. There is a lot of depth to this woman, perhaps because the movie is 3 hours long, we get to fully understand her, and also perhaps, because Adele Exarchopoulos is absolutely superb in portraying her naivete, while also letting her change and grow within the story. The scene where she breaks down after the children leave the room is heartbreaking, and so perfect. Her annoying character traits make her more personable and realistic (and also made me wonder if it is part of the character or if these are her actual traits - the way she kept putting her hair up and taking it down and the fact that she never closes her mouth, not once). I'm actually surprised that she didn't get an Oscar nomination for it - I know that the film wasn't eligible for the foreign category, but if I understand correctly, it was eligible for all other categories, and it received zero nominations. Very odd.

5. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 - Super cute and clever animated movie. It's not my favorite genre, but if it's done well, I am fully entertained. I enjoyed the first one a lot - it's smart, original, visually captivating and it has a cute message for both males and females. The same can be said for this one (I especially like the message that your girlfriend is ALWAYS right. It must suck for guys, but it's totally true), but it did feel a little repetitive and it's also strangely creepy in the way it humanizes food (if I were a child watching this movie, I would never want to eat anything again, ever). There are several laugh out loud moments, though, so all is forgiven - my favorites: "There's a leek in the boat!", "It's fooooooodicide" and "You got the special sauce".

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