Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Kingsman: The Secret Service - Soooo much fun! It's almost embarrassingly unoriginal, but it works really well as a mashup between James Bond, Men in Black and The Recruit. However, it does put its own spin on things, and the biggest success is the action scenes. Holy shit, they are intense. The infamous church scene absolutely blew my mind. Did anyone ever expect to see Colin Firth in a hyper-intense action sequence like that? I sure as hell didn't. I don't think I'll ever be able to listen to "Free Bird" again, without thinking of this scene. The other success is the guy who is "the recruit" (Taron Egerton), he is fucking hot. There is a decent amount of humor and self-referential commentary about spy movies ("give me a far-fetched theatrical plot any day"), and best of all, it moves with a pace and a purpose. The ending was given some flack for being misogynist (I'm not even sure that 90% of social media users even understand what this word means), but once again, it's called a JOKE. And it's a successful joke - maybe not laugh out loud, but it's appropriately and sarcastically funny. The whole movie references James Bond and the "gentleman spy", this JOKE is smart commentary on the women featured in Bond movies (not the Bond girls or the female villains, but the ones I refer to as "throwaway women"). I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end; it will probably make it into my favorite movies of the year.

2. The Longest Week - I watched this for the cast - Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman and Billy Crudup (oh how I love Billy Crudup. I miss him so much. He deserves to be a much bigger star than he is). The movie is about over-privileged people in a love triangle and I have no interest in this story, whatsoever. Olivia Wilde's character seems like a snobby bitch and the two guys that she is basically using, both seem like very boring individuals who have no other character traits other than being rich. I adore Olivia Wilde, but I've seen her give terrible performances and this is one of them. Plus, her eyeliner is on so fucking thick that you can't even see how gorgeous she is. She usually wears heavy eye makeup (why?!), but this is beyond over-doing it. It looks like she can't even open her eyes properly. Anyway, I can't think of one solid reason as to why anyone should watch this movie.

3. While We're Young - I consider myself a fan of Noah Baumbach even though I don't love all of his movies. The Squid and the Whale and Greenberg, are the only movies of his that I would give high praise to. I really didn't enjoy his other praised films, Margot at the Wedding and Francis Ha. However, oddly, I still look forward to his movies because there is something tangible and flawed about his characters. While We're Young excels at this. I relate to both characters of this aging couple - terrified of the next part of your life as "middle-aged", losing friends to marriage and babies, becoming the people that you never thought you would be. The characters are stubborn, selfish and insecure - and therefore, human. The problem that I have with the movie is the "hipster" element. It starts off with a title card exchange between characters of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, which is perfect (a little too perfect, meaning subtlety is lost), and continues with its characters giving way to the younger generation. While it's an interesting look into the "hipster" generation, I don't think it's very representative of the actual younger generation. So, for me, it's a tale of untrustworthy hipsters instead of commentary on the younger generation. This hipster couple collects records and VHS tapes, they make their own ice cream, refuse to google answers to questions, and don't have Facebook. That literally describes maybe .5% of people under 30 in America. Then, the story is actually very hateful towards these hipsters because it shows them as inauthentic leeches. Overall, I have mixed feelings about the movie, because I think it fails at what it sets out to do (shine light on the generation gap), but there is something about it that I find interesting. Plus, Stiller and Watts are superb. I could watch Naomi Watts dance to hip-hop for hours on end. Adam Driver, though. It's official, I really don't like him. I've given him plenty of chances even after I hated him on Girls, but he failed to impress me in multiple movies, plus he seems like a dick in real life (social anxiety is not an excuse to be an asshole).

4. Jupiter Ascending - I have a hard time criticizing a movie like this because I can tell that so much work went into it. It's just...not very good. It's not as horrible as the critics made it out to be. The cast is great and it at least *tries* to be an original story. If it didn't have a constant "damsel in distress" plot, it probably would have been a more successful movie. Visually, it's pretty exciting to watch. There's a lot to look at and there are ideas that have never been explored before. It's really just the story and the pace that are the problem. It's all over the place in terms of editing. The scenes are abruptly put together - none seem like a smooth transition. As for the really hilarious performance from Eddie Redmayne, I think it fits the movie really well. It's deliberately over the top and brilliantly bizarre. Honestly, if more of the movie were like this, it might be better. The movie is a space fantasy sci-fi and I think that genre tends to get shit on right away, until years later when it receives cult status. The only recent movie that seemed to escape the criticism is Guardians of the Galaxy. I loved Guardians, but it's absolutely ridiculous. The reason it's a success is because it revels in its ridiculousness. Something this movie missed the mark on.

5. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her - Everyone was right, this is the best version. I absolutely loved the "Them" version, but the "Him" version felt incomplete. I think this version could hold its own because the story is a female story. With the "Him" version we are left with the same confusion that he is suffering from (which is effective, in a sense, but it's more frustrating than anything else). This version holds more depth and insight into her depression; her need to "disappear". I can feel her heartbreak more with this version and it is utterly perfect. There are some differences though, and they are very subtle - it's sort of like the show The Affair where their memory of certain events is different, so you don't know which to believe. In this case, I tend to believe his version because her mental state is a bit blurry. Jessica Chastain is mesmerizing - the scene with her and Viola Davis where Davis tells her "Now you sound maternal" is just so heartbreaking. This is the type of movie that I can watch over and over again, because I know I will find more depth - especially between the three versions. On a side note, how does Chastain manage to look so classy with a see-thru white t-shirt and black bra combination? It's just not fair.

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