Friday, November 7, 2014

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Fault in Our Stars - While everyone praised recent teen angst movies like Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Spectacular Now, I was sort of unimpressed by both. I lumped this movie in the same category before watching it, which now I realize is a bit unfair. There is an obvious "sympathy vote" in the previous movies, which frustrates me. Sure, the characters in both of those films have legitimate issues, but when a character is crying out for sympathy, I get really annoyed. Everyone has issues, it's so conceded to have a "feel bad for me because of A,B and C" attitude. With The Fault in Our Stars, the main character, played by Shailene Woodley in her best performance since The Descendants, has terminal Cancer, yet, I never feel her craving sympathy. She's accepted her fate, with grace and wit, hoping to spend the rest of her life the way that she wants to spend it. I don't know, some may think she is "negative", but I find her to be a breath of fresh air. In contrast, the boy that she meets is more "positive" about Cancer, and life in general - and they both fill a void in each other. I love that he woos her and that he is kind of dopey. It's actually really sweet - and I'm totally not a "sweet" kind of movie person. There are very few that get to me, but this one did. I can't say that I was surprised at the end, *spoiler* but I love that he does lose his humor and positivity in the end; because that just made the whole thing that much more devastating. I actually felt very emotional during a few scenes ("The great and terrible 10" almost broke me).

2. Godzilla - *spoiler central* I've never seen a Godzilla movie in full, just some clips here and there. I've never really had any interest, but I thought an updated version with Bryan Cranston sounded like a solid plan. I missed seeing this in the theater and I really think it would have had a stronger impact on the big screen, but I'm still glad I didn't waste my money. It's really boring. I appreciate that they gave a history of the monsters and focused on the mythology a bit; instead of just throwing in a random monster to destroy a city. However, most of the action was really dumb and the story is just all too convenient (the kid finds his parents among the MILLION other people there...seriously?). Plus, the only reason that I wanted to see it (Cranston) fucking dies 40 minutes in!! What the fuck?! Aaron Johnson is such a mediocre actor - he can not hold a movie (although I didn't hate him here as much as I usually do). It really did nothing to separate itself from any other disaster movie. While it may be a better made blockbuster movie than say, Transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I would much rather watch them again than this movie - at least they were fun. The ending is really spectacular, though. That last roar?! Epic.

3. Cold in July - This movie was a big surprise for me. I expected to like it, and I did - just not in the same way that I thought. The first half followed the way I thought it would, but then the second half just goes in a completely different direction and I have to say...I totally dug it. It's really interesting and fast paced, but also has a slow burn effect (which is a contradiction, I know. Yet, that's how I felt watching it). I actually thought that it was adapted from an Elmore Leonard story - it definitely has that feel to it (it's not). There are some genuinely funny moments (like when the one guy goes to fight the guy in the car and then sees how big he is, "We can split it.". I laughed out loud at that one)Michael C. Hall is my absolute favorite television actor (from two of my all-time favorite shows: Six Feet Under and Dexter). I didn't love him in this role, even though he did a solid job - I just feel like the role is a bit dim-witted, and he usually plays more complex roles, so it is a hard adjustment. I would love to see him in more movie roles, or another outstanding television series, and I am totally going to see him on Broadway (in Hedwig and the Angry Inch).

4. In a World... - I like this movie, I like Lake Bell, and I like the story. It's not as amazing as I was led to believe, but I do think it is extremely interesting; especially if you are fascinated by all things movie related (and you can probably relate to it, if you are a woman). It's so weird that something like voice-over work is a male dominated industry. When you think about how iconic the words "In a world" are featured in trailers, and that it's considered a controversial stance to have a female voice utter those words, it becomes a little ridiculous. It's also a really sad commentary that someone like her own father wouldn't support her (and even try to steal the job from her). This is what women have to go through in the workforce and I appreciate that it's a feminist story that deals with an actual feminist topic (not "I broke up with my boyfriend and now my life is miserable until I find a new boyfriend"). Lake Bell really makes the movie enjoyable, though. It's so refreshing to have a story like this from a female perspective, instead of a male writer/director appropriating and assuming how a woman should feel. I love that Bell can make fun of herself and that rapping scene is just glorious. You can't NOT smile after watching that. The only issue I take is with the featured line "women should sound like women, not babies who answer everything with a question". The intent is a harmless joke about women who think it's sexy to play dumb, yet there is a high connection linked with the "baby voice" and sexual abuse as a child. It's not something that is proven (because most women won't admit to the abuse they've endured), but it's hard to ignore it as a symptom. I know two women who do the "baby voice" thing and both have admitted sexual abuse to me (and both have obsessive over-eating disorders). The psychology behind it is the exact opposite of what Bell is making fun of; they do not want to be seen as sexual beings. Like I said, I think Bell's intent is innocent, but she has to understand that words do damage; it's disappointing to have a strong feminist movie, still judge certain women. It's pretty much the worst thing you can do as a feminist. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: If women just supported other women, we would rule the fucking world. Let's get it together, people.

5. Sex Tape - The best thing I can say about this movie is that it's watchable (except for the full minute when Jack Black recites porn websites. A FULL FUCKING MINUTE).  Plus, Rob Lowe always makes me laugh and he is definitely the best part of this movie (Literally!). I think the only part of the movie that I laughed at is when he yells, "Hakuna Matata", as a dog command. HILARIOUS. The rest of the movie is pretty bad, but not nearly as painful as I was expecting it to be. I liked the insightful child "when will it end? won't I get bored doing this stuff again, and again, and again?". I wish she was featured more. I think the movie will still end up on my worst of 2014 list, simply because it should have been better. Two funny leads, fantastic supporting actors and a timely story should have been one of the funniest movies of the year.

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