Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - I had really high hopes for this movie. I usually like Guy Ritchie films, with the exception of the Sherlock movies (which are still decent). Snatch is one of my favorite movies ever. Ritchie has a really fun style, not only aesthetically, but with his use of dialogue. It usually movies really quickly, with lots of throwbacks to previous scenes, forcing the audience to pay attention to every detail. I liked the look of this movie from the trailers, it seemed to be Ritchie back in form, but I think the actors fail to sell the dialogue, and therefore, it falls flat. The back and forth banter felt forced and awkward (the accents, although necessary, were a disservice to the pace that the dialogue should have followed). I'm not a big Henry Cavill fan (pretty, but blah), but Armie Hammer and Alicia Vikander have interesting chemistry. It was probably the only thing that kept me entertained through the entirety of the film. Although, I did look at the clock at one point and gave a heavy sigh that I still had a whole hour to get through. The end did pick up, and had some surprising twists and turns, but overall, it's just a very pretty movie, with very pretty people, with very little fun, especially if you compare it to the similarly themed movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, also from last year.

2. Tangerine - There is always one movie every year that is critically praised to an extreme (currently at a 96% RT rating), that I absolutely loathe (see The Grand Budapest Hotel from last year). This is that movie. I am absolutely baffled as to how anyone enjoyed this movie. I can appreciate the very basic level of enjoying the fact that it's starring characters that are under-served in the film industry, but it's a really annoying movie with annoying characters who basically run around creating drama and yelling at everyone around them. It's literally just two people walking around the dirty streets of LA, screaming. That's it. As I watching in astonishment that something like this can receive critical praise, I started to read about the movie (because anything was better than actually watching it) and I discovered that it's all filmed on an iPhone. So, yes, that's pretty impressive, too. However, creating a film about horrible, conceded, self-absorbed people who YELL AT EVERYONE and create chaos everywhere they go and presenting them as the "funny", is disturbing to me. And if you think I'm exaggerating, watch the scene when they are screaming at each other at the donut shop at the end, in which one of them is holding a child who is screaming out in fear and confusion while the adults around her are fighting. That child's scream was real and I strongly feel everyone involved should be arrested for child endangerment. And if it wasn't real, someone give that kid an Oscar.

3. American Ultra - I'm not a huge fan of Jesse Eisenberg or Kristen Stewart, but I thought this movie looked fitting for both of them and the trailers were pretty interesting. It's a great concept; it's been done before but not really in a stoner setting. I really liked her character - she supports him and loves him, and most importantly, believes in him. She makes a conscious choice to stay with him, even though he tries to push her away. I think it's increasingly hard to find female characters that are like this. The movie is a little silly at times, and not nearly as funny as it should be, but I did enjoy it for the most part. The twists kept me interested and it features an awesome supporting cast - John Leguizamo, Connie Britton, Topher Grace and Tony Hale - all are perfectly cast. It's written by Max Landis, who also wrote Chronicle (which I loved). He seems to be a pretty controversial person on social media recently, but you can't knock the fact that he has a knack for creating something new out of old concepts. I don't really understand the hatred towards him.

4. Ricki and the Flash - My mother begged me to see this with her in the theater, but I refused. It looked absolutely ridiculous and cheesy. The title alone, is off-putting, but then the trailers....ugh...the trailers. I thought for sure it would make my worst list, but good news, it's not awful. It's mediocre, and yes, absolutely ridiculous and cheesy. Meryl Streep will always be praised just for being Meryl Streep, but she's certainly earned her reputation with some stunning performances. I like the choices that she makes, and this is certainly a different role for her. But singing Lady Gaga? No thanks, Meryl. Her daughter, Mamie Gummer, who plays her daughter in this movie, is usually someone I enjoy, but I think they both overdid their roles here. Also, I can't take Rick Springfield seriously in any role except Dr. Drake from General Hospital. I hated the whole feminist aspect of the story. Ricki declares "if I were a man, it would be ok if I left to be a rock star". There are plenty of people with abandonment issues because their father left (for whatever reason). Sorry, this is NOT a feminist issue. This is a "you're a shitty parent" issue. Surprisingly, the part that I liked was with the guy that all the girls love from Captain America (Bucky!). I don't actually like him (IT'S CARTER BAIZEN FROM GOSSIP GIRL), but he was super cute in this movie.

5. Tig - Wow. If you are having a shitty day/week/month/year, then I suggest you watch this documentary on comedian Tig Notaro to put some things into perspective. I knew of her because she became famous after her breast cancer diagnosis. She infuses her diagnosis into her stand-up, and to be honest, I was skeptical. Without having seen the sketches, I assumed that she exploits her situation (a situation that millions of women are dealing with, and aren't as fortunate as Tig), to gain fame. After watching this documentary, and absolutely bawling my eyes out, I want to kick myself for assuming the worst in humanity. The cancer diagnosis is actually the third horrific event that happened to Tig in a series of extremely unfortunate events, and it was her breaking point. She never meant to use the diagnosis as a way to gain attention, it just sort of happened that way, because her now infamous routine hit the audience and fellow comedians with a wave of inspiration. The documentary explores this surprising reaction, but also Tig's apprehension to continue talking about it, and also her struggle to follow it. It's incredibly inspirational to see someone who has experienced the worst kinds of pain, pull herself out of depression, determined to discover the joys of life, such as love. As someone who suffered from depression last year, and am proud to say that I survived it, I can't explain in words how much someone like Tig effects my mindset. I'm glad that she shared her story.

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