Saturday, December 10, 2016

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Nerve - Surprisingly, this was a much better film than what was advertised. It seemed like it had a very Millennial "too cool" attitude to it, but instead it was more like an episode of Black Mirror (not nearly as good, of course). I really like the concept of having social media produce a visible effect on society, and specifically our youth. Having your every moment documented via pictures, videos, tweets, etc., HAS to change the way you live your life. I've always been a bit weary of social media - I stick to twitter, and I don't even communicate with anyone I know in real life. It's mostly just film buffs discussing the latest releases (and the nice ones, not the assholes with film superiority complexes). This movie takes the whole social media frenzy to a higher degree, with a website that offers a high stakes "dare" type game in which one is given a dare, which they must complete (and film) in order to win money - they don't win the money until they complete each dare, and with each increasingly more dangerous dare, the amount of money becomes more enticing. It's fascinating to see what people will do for money, but I think this movie exaggerates this to a ridiculous degree. It works though, because it held my interest. Dave Franco is excellent (as usual), and I adore the kid from Parenthood (I have no idea what his name is, but he's so adorable). Also, I was really excited to see Soso from Orange is the New Black because she's a great actress, but then I SCREAMED OUT LOUD when Poussey shows up too. How wonderful to have then in the same movie (and heartbreaking....UGH...). I'm not the biggest fan of Emma Roberts. I used to like her, and I want to still like her, but she's so awful on Scream Queens that it kind of ruins her whole persona. She just annoys me now. I definitely don't think she's ready for a starring role like this. Overall, though, I enjoyed this movie up until the ending - which was clearly trying to tidy up everything, but it's just so dumb.

2. Swiss Army Man - Aw man, I really wanted to like this movie. I thought for sure that I would simply because every review that I read used words like "imaginative", "clever", "absurd". Also known as "the farting corpse movie" which is hilariously accurate - and really, it's not much more than that. I think it tries really hard to accomplish more - like tackling loneliness, depression, male friendship, etc., but really, it's about a guy who is a creepy fucking stalker and the audience is made to empathize with him (at least until we realize that he is a creepy fucking STALKER). The whole farce is actually really annoying and made me pretty angry. I think I'm so disappointed because I used to work with two of the producers, and I really love the choices and risks that they have been taking lately. And also, because this could have been a great story - first, make it a stage play, and second, make it about isolation, masculinity, survival, literally anything other than a story about a guy who takes pictures of a woman that he doesn't know without her permission. Literally ANYTHING ELSE. Sure, Paul Dano does a great job, and Daniel Radcliffe is doing a wonderful job of washing away his Harry Potter character, but overall, this movie kind of sucks.

3. Dog Eat Dog - Oh my goodness, what a terrible movie. Worst movie of the year - and the competition isn't even close. I'm usually always game for an insanely stupid Nicholas Cage movie, even though no-one can ever convince me that he is worthy of his cult-like status. This movie is among his very worst. It's poorly acted (Willem Dafoe at peak Willem Dafoe), poorly edited, and half of the story is left completely unresolved. The most laughable part, though, is Cage comparing himself to Carey Grant (and even trying to imitate him...LOL). I can't even write anything else about this movie because I'm trying to block it from my memory. The best thing I can say about it is that hopefully it's forgettable.

4. Bad Moms - The trailer for this looked a bit weak - a mixture of The Hangover and Project X but without the humor. I'm happy that I was completely wrong about it. It's actually really funny, sweet, and heartfelt while also breaking into unconventional domestic territory. There's been comedy, criticism, and opposition to the "soccer mom" - but I can't think of any other comedy that tears it all down in such a positive way. While it's about motherhood, it's more about how women judge other women (a debilitating action in our society - an act that hurts feminism just as much as any other oppressing action). The pressure for women to be "perfect" specifically in how they care for their children is very real, and as this movie points out, it's not exactly good for the mental health of the next generation. There is this over-coddling that's happening and Mila's character just stops and says "enough is enough" - there is a specific scene in which she tells her perfectly old enough children to make their own breakfast and it gave me a big sigh of relief. I can't imagine being a mom; it seems like the most difficult job in the world, but I also think it's about time parents stopped babying their children. Maybe it's because my mom was very much a "hands-off" parent. She didn't drive me to school (it's called a bus), or go to PTA meetings or bake things for the school bake sale (I don't even think those things really exist), but she did raise a very independent, competent, and confident individual. While I enjoyed this movie, and laughed quite a few times, there are a few things that bothered me - like how she's only 32 years old and has her shit together - gigantic house, super trendy job, etc. Even her breakdown about not being a perfect mom comes off a bit false simply because they LIVE IN A GIGANTIC HOUSE AND SHE HAS A SUPER TRENDY JOB, and oh yeah...she's one of the most beautiful women on the planet. This brings me to my next critical point - It's super depressing to watch a movie in which someone cheats on Mila Kunis. That's either extremely unrealistic, or there is NO HOPE for any of us normal looking women. There are also many really successful moments - Christina Applegate listening to "I Wanna Know What Love Is" - "my DVR stopped recording Castle!", the dog in the bike helmet, "Kent and I have sex every Friday night after Blue Bloods. All of these moments made me laugh out loud. The good definitely outweigh the bad, and overall I think it's a very successful comedy, and definitely my favorite comedy of the year (so far). P.s. How hot is Jay Hernandez?!? Super hot. Oh and P.s.s How adorable were the mother/daughter interactions during the credits? Super adorable.

5. The Invitation - I watched this movie without really knowing much about it. I saw a few people give it high ratings and included it in their top movies of the year (although it is a 2015 release...), plus it has Logan Marshall-Green. He will always be Trey Atwood to me (or according to others, a Tom Hardy lookalike, which is also acceptable). This movie is very weird. Much weirder than I was expecting. Also, a little boring. I like slow-burn, if it's done well, but I felt like this lacked the intensity and depth that slow-burn stories need to have in order to succeed. I don't really understand why the cult showed the group a video of someone dying?? That's not exactly the best way to convince others to join your mission...right? And wouldn't your natural reaction be to leave? I guess I just don't get it. Cult stories can be fascinating (Sound of my Voice comes to mind), but this one failed at convincing me anyone would be this stupid and/or obvious. It lacked motivation from every character angle. The acting was pretty solid though, so that's something. I guess.

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