Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. 3 Days to Kill - I love Amber Heard. I repeat, I love Amber Heard. She's the ONLY reason I wanted to see this movie. From the trailer, it appears that she is an important role in this story, but sadly, that is not the case. She barely even exists - just shows up from time to time, looking fabulous and reciting vague threats. The movie actually revolves mostly around Kevin Costner trying to bond with his ridiculously bratty daughter. It didn't help that the daughter is played by Hailee Steinfeld and she is AWFUL. How did she ever get an acting job (and even more baffling, how did she get an Academy Award nomination??? It had to be a fluke. I still haven't seen True Grit). Her entitled upper-middle class white girl whine is really grating ("the kind of kid who never had a father to teach her" to ride a bike. Waaaaaaaaaaaaa. Shut.It.). She's definitely the downfall of the movie, but the dialogue is a close second. I actually could predict the next line of dialogue (and I did so, out loud 6 times). The ending didn't make much sense, either - the whole scene was supposed to be the girl's prom, but there were a shitload of adults there (and not just chaperons). It's just plain stupid. It's co-written by Luc Besson and directed by McG, and honestly, it may be the worst thing they both have ever done (and that is saying a lot).

2. Odd Thomas - I was expecting something dark and twisted; something inline with the Dean Koontz books that I used to read as a teenager. The movie is cute. A little too cute. It confused me a bit. I haven't read a Koontz book since 1997 (roughly) and the ones I am familiar with are super thrilling and intense. This movie felt like it was made for pre-teens. Is that how the book is? Did he change his style? Or did the movie just go in a different direction? Anyway, aside from my confusion, the movie is okay - nothing very memorable or special about it. Anton Yelchin is charming and witty in the lead role, but the movie just feels very small and inconsequential.

3. The Double - I really, really love this story - based on the Dostoyevsky novel, which I've never read but now I really, really want to (and actually, I've realized that I've never read ANY Dostoyevsky!? Isn't that weird? Shouldn't I have read Crime and Punishment at some point in my life?). I think the movie is let down by the lead actor, Jesse Eisenberg. I have enjoyed Eisenberg in many roles, but he doesn't have range as an actor. He can play the fast-talking, awkwardly sarcastic asshole better than most, but that's about it. This is a challenging role, and I appreciate his effort but it just doesn't work for me at all. The two characters that he plays feel EXACTLY the same (instead of having subtle nuanced similarities, which I believe is the intention). I do love Mia Wasikowska (she's such a strong presence that I don't even have to look up how to spell her name anymore!), and she always chooses challenging roles and executes them with grace. The movie (directed by Richard Ayoade) is superbly dark and beautiful; haunting and fascinating, had it starred a different actor it surely would have ended in my top 10 of the year (it still might make the top 25). Side note: How cool is that poster?

4. Le Week-End - I love Jim Broadbent, and him dancing to "How Does it Feel" is just so touching, and beautiful - it makes the whole movie worth watching. The movie felt like a future sequel to the Before trilogy, except not quite as well written. I'm not a fan of romantic movies being set in Paris (with the exception of Before Sunset, of course). It just doesn't seem like a very romantic place; it's just like any other big city - too many tourists, all experiencing the same thing - seems very unromantic to me (and if you're wondering: Yes, I've been to Paris and it was very blah). I do like that this movie is about an older couple who are realistically analyzing their relationship. AND he is still sexually attracted to a woman his own age (that like never happens in movies). It's a really sweet, well-acted movie with some insightful dialogue on aging relationships. It must be tough thing to do...imagine being with the same person for 20, 30, 50 years??? Seems so impossible to me.

5. Obvious Child - I thought this was going to be *my* kind of movie. A story challenging a controversial topic with a smart, funny and feminist approach. Then, the beginning happened and my heart sank. What the hell kind of feminist story starts with a woman getting dumped (by an asshole), causing her WHOLE LIFE to be ruined? Have we not come to the conclusion, by now, that most women don't revolve their entire life around men? She literally shuts down, gets completely drunk and leaves him stalker-ish, obsessive messages on his voice mail - leading into "women are batshit crazy" territory. Instead of feeling sympathy for her, I start to conclude that she probably deserved to be dumped because she is a fucking lunatic. Good for him for escaping her crazy train!! I think the writer (too lazy to look it up) is just a little confused. I get that she is purposely comparing a young woman to a young man - as a "child-like" character (men are often written like this and it is somehow acceptable). However, she just seems kinda whiny to me - and extremely dependent on other people (like a child - as the title claims: it's that obvious) and it's hard for me to feel anything but frustration towards her. I was deeply heartbroken and distraught for the first 30 minutes of the movie. Then, it starts to get a little bit better. Not much, but a little. The abortion issue is handled with care and respect; it's presented as something that many (most?) women HAVE to deal with, instead of villainizing it. Although, again, I think the writer is confused. Gabby Hoffman's character goes on a pro-choice tirade about her rights as a women, which include not telling the man who got her pregnant that she is, in fact, pregnant. While my overtly feminist thoughts are clear in most of my posts, one can conclude that I am pro-choice (which is true), but I have a deep, personal, moral objection to the act itself. I know many women (friends and family) who have had abortions and I do not judge, but I would never consider the option for myself. In this complicated view of the topic, my solution is simple (not really, that was sarcasm...but in my head it seems simple): sex education & free condoms (and Christ, can someone invent the male birth control already?). So, while I do agree that it is a woman's choice, I do think it is her responsibility to make sure the man is aware (and that in keeping with "equality" he pays for half of it - and he sits his ass in the waiting room and suffers as much as he can with her). Anyway, I like Jenny Slate a lot, but this script doesn't serve her well - and if that was her actual stand up routines, then I can safely say, I am not a fan of her as a comedian (like really painful). She is really likable, though - and, as she is described, "unapologetically herself". Her performance felt genuine and that is something that I can appreciate. I like the guy too (again, lazy); I really like that he turns out to be a "good guy" (but then again, we saw her crazy in the beginning, so part of me wants to tell him to "RUUUUUUNNNNN!"). Overall, this movie is a clear disappointment for me, but there is some good stuff in there.

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