Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Monuments Men - The trailer for this movie looked downright awful, but I love Matt Damon and I love George Clooney - together they are magical. I was hoping that their charm (along with the rest of the awesome cast) would make for an enjoyable movie experience, but this is definitely the worst movie I've seen this year. I think my biggest problem with the movie (aside from the fact that it is boooooooring) is that I can't connect with the story. I have an appreciation for art, but I can't help feeling disgusted at the implications of the story - as if art is more important than a human life. If you are going to sacrifice yourself, wouldn't you want to know you saved a human life instead of a piece of art? I feel as though the movie sort of downplayed the actual war that is surrounding them. I get the impact that these people had (it's based on a true story) and that it is really about saving "a culture", but something about it just doesn't sit right with me. The movie is really slow (and booooooring), the dialogue felt unnatural, and it was really hard to pay attention to.

2. Labor Day - I have so many issues with this movie; I don't even know where to begin. I guess, let's start from the beginning: This seemingly agoraphobic woman goes grocery shopping with her son and at this very public place, a gentleman threatens to harm her son (he doesn't even really threaten, it's just an implication) unless she helps him, so she does. Problem #1: This would never happen. No mother would put their son in harms way like that. No-one would believe that they are going to be safer by taking a strange man into their home with their child. Then, she connects with this man - he seems nice, teaches her how to make a pie, helps her clean her house and plays catch with her son. Problem # 2: All of her problems are solved! A man came into her life, even if he threatened his way into it, she is now a happier person (because women need men to feel fulfilled...duuuuuuh). As he becomes closer to her, her son becomes attached, and is also much happier, which leads to problem #3: The message here: Every son needs a father-figure, even if he is convicted felon (who broke out of jail and threatened a child and his mother). Then, we learn this guy's back-story, which I think is supposed to create some sort of empathetic feelings from the audience. Problem #4: *spoiler* He killed his wife, but it's okay because he didn't mean to kill her (and if you truly think something that like can be considered an accident, please seek therapy before you "accidentally" kill someone. It's murder, any way you slice it). The only redeeming quality of the movie, is the fact that they address the fact that the mother could potentially be charged with delinquency to a minor if she told the truth, but the fact that she doesn't own up to her own mistakes is definitely problem #5. Aside from the obviously flawed story, the cast is good - nothing noteworthy, but the direction seems a little scattered. I think Jason Reitman may have realized the flaws in the story, and he tried really hard to gloss over the problems to create a dramatic love story, but it just doesn't work at all.  

3. Last Days on Mars - This movie looked promising - it seemed like a cool little Sci-Fi thriller, but I didn't really like it. I don't really have a specific reason, it is just really generic and lifeless. It took at least a half an hour for the story to even become slightly interesting. Liev Schreiber and the rest of the cast did a great job, but that's the only positive note about the movie that I can make. I know it's hard to make an original horror movie nowadays, but I am still always shocked by the mediocrity of some stories that get green-lit. The only reason a movie like this was made is because someone just owed someone else a favor - because there is no way a script-reader gave this positive coverage.

4. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit - I actually like all of the "Jack Ryan" movies (The Sum of all Fears is definitely the worst one, but it's still entertaining). Oddly, I've actually read most of the books, as well (my grandmother was a huge Tom Clancy fan) and I found them all entertaining. Generally speaking, I usually dig CIA/spy-type movies and TV shows. I thought it would be interesting to get a little bit of a background to the Jack Ryan character - getting to see how and why he was recruited into the CIA (reminded me of The Recruit with Colin Farrell and Al Pacino - which is not a great movie, but I love it anyway). It's also interesting that it's an origin story with no novel behind it. Last year, in theaters I saw an "extended clip" for this movie, instead of the typical trailer, and it was terrible. I kind of knew instantly that the movie would be a dud, but I still wanted to give it a chance. Unfortunately, it's a big fat dud. Chris Pine really impressed me with People Like Us, but I'm not sure I like him in big blockbuster type movies. He isn't terrible, but I don't think he has much of a screen presence. The absolute worst part of the movie is Keira Knightley. It's hard to believe how terrible she is. I want to like her; I really do, but she isn't doing herself any favors. I think she needs to stick to her natural accent, first of all. Her American accent isn't terrible (I mean, I've definitely heard worse), but I felt like her voice was so flat and robotic because she was uncomfortable with the dialogue. I don't understand how Kenneth Branaugh (who directed the movie, and stars in it as "the bad guy") can sit across from her during a scene with a straight face. I mean, I would consider him an acting "connoisseur" of sorts (he overacts, for sure, but that's his signature style). Aside from the terrible acting from Keira (she definitely downgraded the movie from "okay" to "awful"), the plot is predictable, the story is unoriginal and the action is over-choreographed. Like I said - big fat dud.

5. Texas Chainsaw - So, I saw this movie on Netflix Instant, and the only reason I pressed play was because of Alexandra Daddario. She is a really beautiful, talented up-and-coming actress. Obviously, I knew her "talent" wouldn't be showcased in this type of movie, but a lot of young actresses find their footing in horror franchises. As I pressed play, I realized that I've never seen a Texas Chainsaw movie! I always assumed that I had, at the very least, seen the original, but then I started reading about the plot and it was completely unfamiliar to me. How weird is that? This is probably not the best way to be introduced to the franchise, but I didn't hate it. Of course, I could nitpick most of the plot, but I was entertained for most of it. I realized after, that it was shown in theaters in 3D, so now it makes sense as to why there are a ton of shots of the chainsaw pointed at the camera (which is probably even more irritating in 3D). *Spoiler Alert* The only real issue I have with the movie is the way it ends. I don't really understand why she would have any sympathy towards him - he killed her friends (I guess since her BF and her BFF were having an affair, they deserved to die??). I don't really get the whole "family bond" thing. He's a serial killer!!!

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