Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Atomic Blonde - Ugh...I was so excited to see this and it was just so disappointing. It isn't terrible, but it had so much potential to be great and it is mostly boring. James McAvoy is epically hot, though, so that's one big plus. There is also one very well-done fight scene that is pretty intense and raw. Other than that, it felt like a fancy big-budget episode of Alias (which is one of my favorite shows ever, but I would have preferred if this film did something new). The twists at the end felt really forced and most scenes seemed to be trying to hard. I'm a big fan of Charlize Theron, and she is pretty strong, but there is still something off about her performance that I can't put my finger on. I think it's the interrogation scenes that bothered me the most - the dialogue is eye-rolling. Oh, I forgot, another plus is the exceptional 80s soundtrack - it actually elevates the movie. Perhaps, to trick people into thinking they are watching a great movie?

2. The Edge of Seventeen - I've heard tremendous reviews of this movie, but the trailer looked so cliched and I don't think Hailee Steinfeld is a good actress (I know I'm alone on this one). And even after this movie, after another lauded performance, I still would argue that she's not good. She exaggerates too much and it feels very unnatural. However, I'll admit that the movie did suck me in, and I felt all of the emotions during a certain scene involving her brother, who is portrayed by the delightful Blake Jenner (and I just looked up what else he's been on aside from Everybody Wants Some, and surprisingly learned that he was a winner of The Glee Project and was on Glee. Holy do I not remember him? I did stop watching the show once Cory died (STILL NOT OVER IT), but apparently he was on the show before that). The rest of the movie was....okay. Super cute, but just okay. I don't really connect with spoiled, selfish teenagers. I do connect a little bit to her relationship with her mother - I've literally experienced the same conversation with my mom. When I try to complain about my day or vent about something and she'll just interrupt me with "oh well, you have no idea the kind of day I had" and then continues to talk for an hour about herself, never asking why I'm upset. I've confronted her about it several times, and she's gotten better, but it still drives me crazy. There are parts of this story that I thought were really dumb - one being that the guy that likes her is sooooo much more attractive than the guy she likes. And he's nice. And he's interested in her even though she's a bitch. In all honesty, I kind of wish he would have found someone better than her. The second thing is the dumb scene where the guy she likes is annoyed that she won't have sex with him, and I guess we're supposed to think he's an asshole? She literally texted him that she wanted to have sex with him so it's not really his fault that he assumed that's what they were meeting for. Anyway, I LOVED everything about the relationship between her brother and her best friend, and how it effected their relationship. Again, all of the emotions.

3. Hidden Figures - I really don't understand how this could be nominated for Oscars. It's just so paint-by-numbers. Don't get me wrong, it's a wonderful story and the acting is top-notch. Janelle Monae is the obvious highlight - that "first" speech is just perfect. Overall, though, this movie is just plain boring. I can't argue that it's a great story - and one that needs to be told, but I feel like it's one of those great stories that would be hard to make a "bad" movie out of. Like, anyone could make this movie. And I just don't feel like movies like that should be winning awards. Anyway, about the story - I appreciate that the real Katherine Johnson clarified that her work was very much a team effort (but it would be very difficult to make a movie about 300 people) and that she was treated with respect by NASA. I think the movie should have highlighted her upbringing a little bit more - like how difficult it is for under-privileged youth to succeed. Just thinking about how many geniuses there are in this world that were/are never given a chance is truly depressing (which is why I think education and healthcare should be free - and I also believe in Capitalism, but it would work so much better if everyone is healthy and educated). I was actually just talking to a co-worker whose mother is a teacher at a STEM school and she said that this year is the first year in her 20 years of teaching that she has more female students than male students (YAY), but they are almost all white (BOO).

4. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets - Visually and thematically wonderful. The world building is stunning - I would love to see more of these aliens, these planets, and an entire movie around Bubble (played to perfection by Rihanna - yes, you read that right. There is no-one else who could have done that character justice). The introduction of Bubble is perhaps my favorite scene of 2017. However, the movie, itself, is completely bonkers. It is a little hard to follow, the dialogue is woeful, but the worst part of the movie is definitely the leads. Perhaps with better leads, the dialogue wouldn't have felt so forced and robotic. They lack chemistry and are just downright boring. I like Dane DeHaan, but I'm not sure he can handle a "leading man" type role (I'm not going to hold this against him, he's done more good than bad in my opinion), but, man, Cara Delevingne is THE WORST. I don't know who decided that she can act, but she just keeps getting roles and it amazes me. If they replaced the leads with two more interesting actors (there is a lot of young talent to choose from right now - Olivia Cooke & Ansel Elgort, perhaps? or Kiersey Clemons and Blake Jenner?) and edited a few scenes to make it more cohesive, it would be the next big thing - a series of blockbuster films. Instead, this wonderful, beautifully fascinating world will never be heard from again on the big screen. How sad.

5. The Big Sick - I appreciated this movie so much more as soon as the credits rolled with pictures of the "real" Emily and Kumail. I knew it was a personal story, obviously, because Kumail uses his own name and plays a comedian. I just didn't know the love story was real (clearly I didn't look at the poster that declares "an awkward true love story"). It's a really cute movie. I'm not sure it's worthy of all the praise and it certainly won't be included anywhere near my top 10 of the year (I don't even think it would make top 20), but I did love a lot of things about it. First, the dialogue is wonderful. It's authentic, funny, sometimes awkward, and feels really fresh. Second, I laughed out loud several times - the white guy saying "it's a struggle to succeed effortlessly" & Kumail screaming out "we hate terrorists!" are two lines that come to mind, but the most ballsy joke is the 9/11 joke. It is downright masterful. So hard to pull off, but it was executed perfectly. Third, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are the best. The only thing I didn't like was Zoe Kazan. She's not terrible in this, but definitely the worst part of the movie. She just annoys the crap out of me.

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