Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. The Last Five Years - I had this on my list because of Anna Kendrick, but then I saw that it has the guy from Smash (who is now on Supergirl), and I really like him, so I watched it immediately. I didn't like it, for a few reasons. First, I like some musicals (Chicago, Moulin Rouge, Once), but this was hard to pay attention to. It reminded me of Into the Woods (also starring Kendrick), because it just sounds like they are singing the SAME song for the entire movie. Second, I hated the story. In a way, I actually really like the concept because it's about a marriage that disintegrates within five years (I'm a sucker for a realistic approach to marriage), but it's the way that this marriage falls apart that I have a problem with. It boils down to him being an asshole and her being an unsupportive bitch. It's hard for a writer and an actress to find success in the real world, so if one of them actually does, then wouldn't the other one be ecstatic? I don't understand jealousy/resentment of someone that you love. After becoming successful, he has a world of opportunities, and in turn, temptation, which is probably the best song in the movie - the insight into his conflicted mind is interesting, but if he feels this way, I question his "love" for his wife. It seems like he settled because he couldn't do better, and now that he's famous, well, all bets are off (and *spoiler* then he cheats on her). However, maybe if she was supportive of his success, he wouldn't feel the need to stray? She is essentially living off of his success, the least she can do is support him. The whole story is just really obvious that these two don't belong together. I did appreciate the lyrics to the songs; if you force yourself to pay attention, there are some lines that are real gems ("these are the people that cast Russell Crowe in a musical") and I appreciate how difficult it is to film a musical like this.

2. Straight Outta Compton - YOU GUYS, I'm sorry, but I don't understand. This movie is nothing more than a made for television movie but with swearing and mild violence (and I mean the old school *cough* terrible *cough* tv movies). I was slightly too young to really consider myself an N.W.A fan; my rap days started with a solo Dr. Dre and Snoop, but really, I was a gigantic Biggie fan (I cried the day he died). So, as someone who knew very little about the N.W.A saga, I thought this movie would give some fantastic insight and it fails. It doesn't tell me anything that I didn't already know even in my limited knowledge (except that Dr. Dre's brother died). I mean, the whole movie is about how they got screwed by their record execs (*GASP* NO WAY! THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN TO PRETTY MUCH EVERY ARTIST THAT EXISTS. Quick someone make an *N SYNC/Lou Pearlman biopic and enter it in the Oscar race). They did a terrible job of presenting the *only* interesting/relevant story which is the history of police brutality against the black community. I mean, the fact that this is still happening almost 20 years later, is disgusting. It's interesting when life effects art (as they state "art is a reflection of our reality"), but it's more interesting when art effects life - and in the case of the N.W.A, they didn't really effect anything, did they? According to the actors introducing the film at the SAG awards, they claim that the N.W.A "started a revolution", but I'm not so sure about that. The Rodney King verdict happened after the N.W.A became popular, and race relations among the police force hasn't changed (and is arguably worse). I personally think it's a mistake to not at least address this. The other part that I found problematic (and essentially poorly written) is Jerry Heller, portrayed by Paul Giamatti. At first, he is seen as a very generic white savior character (they could have easily focused their success on their hard-work, their instant popularity in local clubs, their talent, etc., instead it's because a white guy discovered them? Um...ok). Then, he is turned (almost instantly) into the villain of the story. I just think there has to be a lot missing from those sudden turn of events (and I think it's interesting that Heller filed a lawsuit because of how he was portrayed). Anyway, it's not a bad movie. The cast is decent and it has a few really great moments. I just don't see anything to rave about.

3. Irrational Man - (*spoilers*) I wasn't really aware of what this movie is about. I just knew it was a Woody Allen film with Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone. That's enough to excite me, but unfortunately, this movie is really bland. Allen tends to go through phases, for me, of super highs and super lows. With this, To Rome with Love, and Magic in the Moonlight, I'm afraid he is on a super low (I'm ignoring Blue Jasmine because I'm not sure that movie would have been as good without Blanchett's sublime performance). So, here is why I hated this movie: 1. Emma Stone is no Scarlett Johansson. That would usually be a compliment coming from me, because I'm not a fan of Johansson. However, I think she's excellent in Allen's films. He brings her to life. He has the opposite effect on Stone. She is usually so charismatic and adorable onscreen. But with this and Rome, she is almost unbearably boring. 2. The romance is unsettling. She falls for her (older) professor, essentially choosing him over her more "appropriate" boyfriend. I think this is supposed to be seen as a mistake, but they set the boyfriend up as a jealous, insecure asshole from the very first scene, so honestly, he needed to be dumped. I think some women do tend to fall for more "damaged" guys (no, I don't understand the psychology behind this), but this guy is a psychopath. It should be called Psychotic Man and the Irrational Woman who Falls for Him. 3. This man is a GODDAMN PSYCHOPATH. Allen has definitely written immoral characters before, but usually there is a motive, or at least an understanding to character actions. This guy is not only self-destructive and narcissistic (both common Allen character traits), but he plans a murder of someone he doesn't even know based on the words of a stranger. That's psychotic. And, here's one reason I enjoyed this movie: Parker Posey. The end.

4. Fantastic Four - Oh Lord. I just don't understand how something this terrible gets made and then actually released. Especially when you have a cast that's this good. I don't remember the original Fantastic Four movies being any good, but I know, specifically, that I didn't like the cast (at least for the roles that they played). Remaking it with a group of talented, up-and-coming actors seemed like a fantastic idea, but I think they forgot about the script. I mean, there is no story whatsoever. It introduces characters who then spend the next hour of the movie doing "science stuff", they get super-powers from a freak accident and then....??? They fight off a bad guy (whose name is Victor Von Doom. For reals) for like 5 minutes. That's the whole movie. The bad guy is probably the worst villain I've seen in a long time. He has no motivation to be bad and he says dialogue like "there is no Victor, only Doom". This is obviously meant to set up a series of movies, but if you fuck up the plot, dialogue and characters this bad, then no-one is going to want to see more. So, believe the reviews - this movie is absolutely terrible.

5. The Diary of a Teenage Girl - I had really high hopes for this movie. Not only did it receive tons of festival praise, but I used to work for two of the producers back in the day. I am so happy this film was so successful for them, because they have a knack for picking great scripts. Hopefully, they will continue to see success (which seems likely, since this year they are producers on the famous "Daniel Radcliffe farting corpse" movie). This was advertised as a  "groundbreaking" teenage girl "coming-of-age" story, which actually is the only thing that irked me. There were plenty of these stories when I was growing up (Now and Then and My Girl spring to mind the quickest), but I guess after seeing the movie, I realize that this was definitely more sexually explicit for a female story. There is usually a lot of build-up towards "the first time", and then the story ends. This story begins with "the first time" and continues exploring a teenage girls brain. I don't think I've really seen many stories of young women actually enjoying sex - it's more of a mid-life story that's told, so it's definitely refreshing. It's still not necessarily something I connect with. I honestly don't think I was ever as needy as this girl is (and many girls are). I never really cared if guys found me physically attractive; and I never really cared what guys were thinking about me. That's not to say that I didn't have crushes, I did, but I was just a very independent person. My crushes didn't control how I felt about myself. So, I can't really connect with the story. It escalates from "I just had sex" to "I'm doing drugs and giving blow-jobs to strangers for $15", which kind of negates the healthy "normal" sexual awakenings of a young woman. I feel like someone who is anti-sex before marriage would use this story to prove their point. I'm not judging her, but I don't think that's her proudest moment (but sure, we all have our moments, so I appreciate the boldness of having a character who lapses judgement because of her own insecurities). However, I also find this girl extremely selfish. Sure, she's young and she is disgustingly manipulated by her mother's boyfriend, but she's old enough to realize the damage and hurt that this inappropriate relationship would do to her mother. Plus, any girl who jokes about being raped, is not someone I will ever relate to. So, as someone who doesn't relate to really anything in the movie, I still enjoyed it. It's a strong story, the dialogue is poetic, and the actors (specifically Bel Powley and Kristen Wiig) are excellent. It's definitely one of the best movies of 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment