Saturday, January 23, 2016

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Mortdecai - Obviously, after seeing the trailer, and reading the reviews, I wasn't expecting a good movie. At all. However, it does have an intriguing cast. I know everyone hates Johnny Depp now (not me; never will), and I know he hasn't picked the best roles lately (although, I haven't seen Black Mass yet, I've heard it's a "return to form" role). He's still entertaining to watch; he definitely dissolves himself into every role, whether it's good or bad, so I don't really agree with the criticism that he's "given up" and "only in it for the paycheck now". I thought that him and Gwyneth Paltrow were an odd pairing, but it could work (it didn't), and the supporting cast is awesome (Paul Bettany, JEFF GOLDBLUM, Ewan McGregor). The movie is sort of fascinating, to be honest, it reminded me of those cheesy 90s movies like Once Upon a Crime (and fuck yes, I LOVE that movie in all of its cheesy glory); it just wasn't funny enough to really hit those levels of "so bad it's good". The running joke was about his mustache and it wasn't funny, at all. The plot was all over the place, and it didn't seem to make sense, although, I was pretty bored so I found it hard to pay attention to any of the intricate details that may have helped the plot. Bettany was, by far, the best part of the movie; he has some great reaction scenes. Overall, though, it's catastrophically awful, and even worse, a gigantic waste of money.

2. Dope - I adore this movie. It's so much fun. I think the biggest reason that I enjoyed it is because it reminded me of the movie Go, and that was one of my favorite movies when I was a teenager. It's completely different in tone and structure, but it has that same plot points and pace. Someone recommended this movie to me, based on my love of independent movies; I didn't really know anything about it and I really haven't heard many people talking about it, which is a shame. The cast is excellent. The dialogue is smart and hilarious (my favorite scene is when he is arguing against the metaphor that is being thrown at him - "I wouldn't order a Macklemore CD. That wouldn't happen."). My favorite aspect of the movie, though, is the story of this kid, a minority, who lives in a bad neighborhood, and is raised by a single mother, absolutely refuses to use it as an excuse, and furthermore, he refuses to use it to gain sympathy on his Harvard application. He deserves to go to Harvard because of his hard work and determination; not because of his "story". The second best part is the music. At first, it's a little jarring because he's listening to 90s hip-hop (on cassette), and dressed like DJ Jazzy Jeff, but then the dialogue refers to bit coins (which I still don't understand) and Justin Bieber (ditto). It's like he's the hipster of hip-hop. He talks about Summertime as a "classic" song, which is true and is in clear contrast of "new" hip-hop, especially during the club scene when that God-awful song is playing (it literally just repeated "these girls let it pour" over and over again. What does that even mean?? Wait...I don't want to know.). The third best part of the movie is that it is memorable. I will remember the scene when he is being seduced by the beautiful, naked stranger who questionably offers to take his virginity because it is such a cliched, unrealistic scene that is in every teenage coming of age story, and then it taints the whole thing in the grossest way possible (I won't spoil it, but it's definitely memorable). I will also remember the last line of his Harvard essay (which should have been the last line of the movie, but they ruined it with an unnecessary scene), because it stings so much. And lastly, I will remember the credits because I could not stop watching him dance; it made me smile literally from beginning to end.

3. Infinitely Polar Bear - I think I built my expectations up too high for this movie. I figured it had an interesting subject matter, a bipolar man trying to care for his two daughters, and it had one of my favorite actors (favorite might be too strong of a word, but certainly one of the most likeable actors), Mark Ruffalo. The movie is just ok. There really isn't any depth to it, which is a shame because it could have definitely dug a little deeper into this complicated mental illness. It did show the ups and deep downs that this character suffered through. It did show the effect that his illness has on his family; and that, in some small cases, domestic abuse isn't always black and white (trust me, this is hard for me to admit, but there ARE certain cases where mental illness is a huge factor, and if you love someone who suffers from one, and you know they love you, etc...). I think they did a good job of showing that this person would never truly mean to be hurtful; he loves his kids (even when he is screaming at them and giving them the finger. I honestly laughed so hard). I didn't really like the wife's story. I don't know; I understand her motivation to give her kids a better future, but you have to consider their "present" before their "future" and leaving them in the hands of a mentally ill person while you go to school in another state doesn't seem like the best idea. I just question the whole plot (he comes from a very wealthy family, I highly doubt they would let those children starve). I think the bigger picture is just too problematic, but there are some nice small moments that work really well.

4. The Walk - I think if you've never seen the documentary Man on Wire, then this movie might be of interest (but I highly recommend you watch the doc instead of this movie). It's such a well-known story, especially in NY, the movie just doesn't play out with any sort of excitement. Visually though, it is better than I was expecting. The ads and trailer looked horrendously fake, but it works somehow as a whole film. I love JGL, and I don't think I've said anything bad about his acting, ever, but there is a first for everything. The accent? ATROCIOUS. The movie was difficult to watch because of it. However, I definitely understand why he was cast. He is this type of entertainer - one who is passionate and determined (if you want proof, search his opening number of his SNL episode.). The movie tries to tell the story of "why", but it doesn't actually answer this question, other than this man wanted to achieve the impossible. I guess it must be an amazing feeling, to defy the odds, it would make one feel invincible. But, honestly, I still don't get it.

5. Sicario - I was really looking forward to this movie. I was quite upset with myself for not having seen it in the theater, but again, 2015 was a tough year for me (2016 is amazing, so far, FYI). Denis Villeneuve teaming up again with Roger Deakins, is an automatic win. Villeneuve is definitely moving up on my list of favorite directors (Incendies, Prisoners, Enemy are all very solid movies). Plus, a fantastic cast of Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin AND Victor Garber (I know, I know, not many people include Garber when talking about this movie, but I adore him always and forever.). The story seems pretty straight-forward at first, the plot is actually a little bit dull in the beginning, then the middle bit is a little hard to follow, but THEN the last 40 minutes are spectacular. I should have expected a twisty story, considering Villeneuve's previous films, but I didn't really know where the story was going. There is a very shocking scene, that I think most filmmakers would shy away from, which is exciting (and stomach-turning at the same time). I like that it just ended without any particular resolution, but instead, an impending sense of doom. Overall, I wish the whole movie was as intense as the third act, but it's still one of the best movies of the year (but probably my least favorite of Villeneuve's films).

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