Wednesday, August 30, 2017

3 Thoughts on Dunkirk

1. That sound - I'm at a loss for words when it comes to describing the immense sound that blared through the theater. It was unrelenting, emotional, stressful, anxiety-inducing, haunting, and brilliantly experimental (and I still don't feel like I'm describing it well enough!). I've never heard anything like it. And I'll never forget it. I'm so glad that I experienced watching this film in IMAX, even though I scoffed at all of the critics and movie fans who insisted that *this* is the only way to see this film. It's true though. I think it will still be a fantastic film on a normal television screen, or however you choose to watch films. But, you will miss an essential part of the experience if you don't watch it in IMAX. The sound, combined with some pretty stunning visuals, allows the audience to immerse themselves into the chaos of war like no other film has before.

2. That scene - I remained fairly unemotional throughout the film, which I think was due to the sheer anxiety that I was experiencing. However, Nolan is masterful at creating emotion without explicitly pandering to the audience. It happened with one single shot - the shot with the little civilian rescue boats coming into view. It's just perfect. I had to control myself from bursting into tears. I feel like with the current state of the world (particularly America), I needed the reminder that there are people who are inherently good, altruistic and heroic.

3. That story - I really, really, really did not want to see this movie. I feel this way with most modern war movies - it seems impossible to tell the same story in a new way. Yet, I'm constantly gobsmacked by how extraordinary some of these stories are. Last year, we had Hacksaw Ridge that told a beautiful story about one heroic man. This year, Dunkirk told the story of hundreds of thousands of men, and yet it didn't tell any "one" particular story. We had several characters to focus on, but we know NOTHING about them. And this makes this a uniquely told war movie. It always bothers me when a movie tells the story of a hero, as a newly married man or a new father, as if we are supposed to care about someone more because they have family. Shouldn't we just care about everyone because they are human? This movie makes me care about everyone without giving me any information about them, and that is GENIUS. It's also genius to focus more on survival than the actual war because fighting to survive is a heroic act. I loved the way the stories are inter-cut, and have different timelines. It makes it interesting; forces the audience to figure out how and when they connect. Overall, this film has received mostly positive reviews (and is personally my pick so far for best film of the year - surpassing Baby Driver, I didn't think it was possible), but some of the critiques that I've read are downright baffling. People confused at the timeline ( attention?), people complaining that the characters are indistinguishable (I had no trouble at all - although, I have no idea which one is the guy from One Direction. All of them were terrific actors. So, kudos One Direction guy.), and the worst take, people complaining about another male-centered story (I'm not even going to dignify that one, but if you are a feminist complaining about such trivial nonsense, then YOU are part of the problem).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fall Movie Preview: 13 Films That I'm Excited About

1. It (9/8) - I saw the original probably when I was 12 or 13 (over 20 years ago), and I definitely wasn't scared by it (clowns are not scary, sorry guys), and I definitely don't really remember a thing about it. I was really excited for the version with Will Poulter, and am sad that version got nixed. However, they are doing a fantastic job with the marketing for this and I feel like Stephen King stories are timeless and easily remade.

2. Mother! (9/15) - I have no idea what this movie is about...but, man, that first poster is just glorious. And it's Darren Aronofsky. And Javier Bardem. And Michelle Pfeiffer. And....I guess Jennifer Lawrence (when she's great, she's great).

3. Stronger (9/22) - It's amazing that Jake Gyllenhaal has only been nominated for an Oscar once (and that was over 10 years ago). He has given several award worthy performances and this will probably be another one. Plus, TATIANA MASLANY!!! I'm sad that Orphan Black is over, but it's time for Tatiana to be a star. Also, I'm probably going to cry hysterically through the whole damn movie.

4. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (9/22) - I LOVED the first one. It's one of the few movies released over the past few years that I've watched several times. It's just so much fun. The pace is perfect, the actors seem like they are having a lot of fun, and the action sequences are sublime. The trailer for this one had me smiling from beginning to end. They added some fantastic actors to the cast - Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Julianne Moore (also, it's weird that Moore received first credit in the trailer??).

5. American Made (9/29) - I'm really only interested in this because I have some newfound interest in the whole Medellin cartel thing since Narcos. This movie is about Barry Seal - a pilot who was a drug runner and an informant. He was only slightly featured in the series, so I'm interested in this story from that perspective. Plus, it's Doug Liman and Tom Cruise - both of whom usually make good choices, and even when they don't, they still give it their all.

6. Blade Runner 2049 (10/6) -  When they first announced this, I groaned in disgust. Yet, everything about it has just been a spectacular YES. Harrison Ford (obvi), RYAN GOSLING, Jared Leto and Robin Wright??!! Then, they got Denis Villeneuve to direct and Roger Deakins as DP??!! Like, I can't imagine anything more perfect. THEN, they released a trailer that was absolutely perfect. I can't wait!!!

7. Suburbicon (10/27) - I love a George Clooney/Matt Damon collaboration (ok not always...The Monuments Men sucked). Written by the Coen brothers, it's sure to be a dark, dry comedy - I just hope it's good like the first two seasons of Fargo and not boring as fuck like the third season.

8. Killing of a Sacred Deer (10/27) - I still think about The Lobster. A lot. I'm excited to see what's next from Lanthimos, and I'm glad that he is working again with Colin Farrell (another actor that deserves some Oscar love, but is often snubbed).

9. Thor: Ragnarok (11/3) - I'm not really a fan of the Thor films. They aren't bad, but just pretty predictable and boring. But this one looks batshit crazy, and I love it. I love the addition of Cate Blanchett and Jeff Goldblum (genius!), and I really like Tessa Thompson. Also, I'm so glad that Hemsworth cut his hair - I know it's dumb thing to focus on, but he just looks so much better.

10. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (11/10) - I watch Seven Psychopaths about every 6 months and I love it more and more every time. Martin McDonagh is a genius (because In Bruges is also pretty great). I'm sad that Colin Farrell isn't in this, but Frances McDormand makes up for it. I think it will be interesting to have McDonagh tell a female story since he's been accused of creating sexist movies (especially with Seven Psychopaths - which is so dumb because that's a whole part of the movie, there is a whole self-referential crisis about writing female characters).

11. Murder on the Orient Express (11/10) - I'm in because of the cast and the trailer. I've never read the book (I KNOW). I'm actually really excited for Michelle Pfeiffer. I feel like she is slowly making a comeback and it is very, very welcome.

12. Justice League (11/17) - I don't know...the trailer looked kind of crap. There is a lot of focus on Aquaman, and I just can't get excited - although I adore Amber Heard, so I'm excited that she is joining the DCU (as Mera). I am excited for more Wonder Woman (although I hope it's more essential to the story than Batman v Superman), and I actually really liked Affleck as Batman.

13. Molly's Game (11/22) - I don't know much about this movie but it's Jessica Chastain in an Aaron Sorkin film. Um....holy shit. That's like a perfect match. Chastain proved that she can handle heavy dialogue with Miss Sloane.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. Ghost in the Shell - I didn't really think I would enjoy this - I'm not really a fan of Anime, or of Scarlett Johansson's acting. Plus, the trailer was laughably bad. I didn't really know what the story was about, and honestly, it's a great story. It's just not told well. It's basically just the story of Jason Bourne if Bourne was part robot. It's technically beautiful, but the story is over-explained in dialogue that is painful to listen to. The editing and pace were all over the place, and by the end, I was extremely bored. I think it could have been made into a pretty strong television series, because there is a lot of depth to it, if it was given the proper treatment. Johansson does a typically robotic performance (which fits the role). They try to explain the white-washing of her character, but it's just a pathetic excuse to hire an internationally known stunningly beautiful white girl. I'm sad that Michael Pitt is in this, because I long for the day that he is given really strong, starring roles, instead of popping up as side-characters causing me to go "ooooh Michael Pitt is in this?!?"

2. Beauty and the Beast - At first, I admit, I was a little excited by this. Beauty and the Beast was never one of my favorite Disney movies, but it was still a big part of my childhood - along with The Little Mermaid, The Lion King and Aladdin - it was the perfect quadfecta (did you know that was a word? Me neither!), and I was the perfect age for all of their releases (8-13). But, my mind quickly changed with the continued poor acting performances from Emma Watson. She's just really not a good actress. And she constantly seems like she's a child pretending to be an adult (which is partly bc she's tiny, which isn't her fault. I'm even tinier than her, and people always confuse me for much younger). This performance is no different, and it is enhanced by how much older Luke Evans and Dan Stevens are (I don't actually know their ages, and I'm too lazy to look it up. I mean, I already looked up whether "quadfecta" was a real word, and I only have so much energy, people). The "Beauty and the Beast" message is already a terrible one - give abusive men a chance, because they could change into a prince! But, it's even "ickier" when she is so child-like and immature. Also, why hire Dan Stevens if The Beast is mostly CGI and his voice is altered to be lower? Why not just hire someone with a lower voice? And why is Josh Gad in anything? He can't sing at all. Like, my body actually uncontrollably shuttered when he began to sing. Anyway, the highlight of the movie is shockingly, Ewan McGregor. I have no idea why anyone would cast a Scotsman as a French dude, but McGregor actually gets the accent right (there is a first for everything!), and adds some much needed life into an otherwise dull rehash. "Be Our Guest" is clearly the best song, and McGregor does it proper justice.

3. A Cure for Wellness - I'm embarrassed to admit, but I just don't get this movie at all. I liked parts of it, mostly the visuals and the acting, but the story went right over my head. *spoilers ahead* From what I gather, it's about this guy who has to rescue someone from a "wellness center" that uses hydrotherapy. The guy that runs the place finds a cure for ageing, that's in eels (?) so he filters them through humans (for some reason?), and he tries to rape his own daughter to create a "pure" human? And people go to his "wellness center" and then don't leave because for some reason they are ok with being used as eel filters? UMMMM....OK? I GUESS. This movie reminded me a lot of Shutter Island, and I didn't like that movie (but at least it made sense, for the most part). I do think that Gore Verbinski gets a lot of shit, but he does make some gorgeous movies. There are some stunning scenes - like the initial car crash, the scene with his father on the bridge, and the shots of the gorgeous castles in Germany (I would love to do a castle tour there). The atmosphere is perfectly creepy, but after an hour into the story, there really was not much that happened aside from melancholic music and mysterious stares. On the plus side, Dane Dehaan is excellent as always, and Mia Goth is creepy as Hell.

4. How to be Single  - Oh man, I knew I was in for some torture, but I tend to watch everything - especially with Leslie Mann and Alison Brie, and hope for the best. It just blows my mind when a film like this is clearly written to empower single women, yet is so incredibly offensive and anti-feminist. Here's a list of things in this movie that actually hurts feminism instead of helping it: 1. female characters who expect to have drinks paid for by men they have no intention of talking to (ok, yes, I did this when I was 22 and that's about how old I think the main girl is supposed to be, but when I was 22, it was 2003 - a lot has changed since then). 2. have the main character ask a fantastically thoughtful feminist question like "why do we always tell our stories through relationships?" and then continue to tell her story through relationships. 3. have a professional female doctor tell a pregnant woman that her life is going to be ruined by having a baby - and basically shame her because of her "femaleness" all while secretly wanting a baby of her own, which brings me to...4. create female characters who are not true to themselves and their wants - as if women can't control their own identities. 5. create a narrative in which all surrounding men are terrible (except one!) 6. shame a woman for her pubic hair - and assume that she has a bush because she was in a long term relationship and therefore not having regular sex, instead of deciding what she wants her body to look like, you know, for herself. 7. write a "crazy" female character who obsesses over a guy after just 3 weeks of dating (and have her have a mental breakdown bc this 3 week relationship ends. Also, there is no fucking way that Alison Brie needs spanx. That's just downright offensive.) and finally 8. give the most emotionally resonating storyline to a man. THIS IS A STORY OF A WOMAN CLAIMING HER OWN IDENTITY for fucksake. OWN IT.

5. Alien: Covenant - I'm a fan of Prometheus. Yes, it was frustrating and yes, the characters were super dumb, but I liked the questions that it asked and visually it was pretty stunning. I knew that the people who were angry at Prometheus were going to tear down this movie because even though it bears the Alien name (bare? or bear? I think it's bear...), it's very clearly a sequel to Prometheus. And unfortunately, it deserves most of the negative critiques (at least it's more deserving than Prometheus was, in my opinion). However, I didn't hate it. The tone was off - and I felt like it didn't really know whether it wanted to be an Alien movie, or an existential "how did we get here" story. So, just like it's predecessor, it's a little bit of both. However, it answered way too many of the questions that Prometheus presented, but not the right questions. The major problem exists with the focus on David & Walter - and on the creation of artificial intelligence. It's just too much. While Fassbender absolutely kills it (he even has slight variations in his accent that are sheer perfection), the whole plot-line is embarrassingly bad. I much preferred the subtle references in Prometheus. As far as the other characters, none really stood out, even the main actors, Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup (both of which I like), are really dull - and yes, very stupid. I mean, why would they go out on a different planet without so much as a helmet? My theory from Prometheus was that humans relied so much on technology that it actually makes them stupid, still holds with this one, but I think it would have been useful to show that more.

Friday, August 11, 2017

3 Thoughts on Spider-Man: Homecoming

1. Spider-Man is super adorable - Spider-Man has always been the cuter, lighter superhero character, but this movie felt a little over-the-top with the adorableness. It was almost sickening. I did enjoy many scenes, laughed a few times, but I never felt invested in the story at all. Maybe if I was 16, I might feel different? However, I have read that many people who are fans of the original comic felt that this movie was the closest to the comic version, and seem to be thrilled with it, so I guess I am happy for them. I just prefer my movies with a little more meat to them. I did appreciate that they didn't rehash the Uncle Ben storyline or the "origin" of his spider-man abilities. Instead, it's a continuation of The Avengers plotline - giving Iron Man some grandiose moments of mentorship.

2. Tom Holland is super adorable - UGH, LIKE, SO ADORABLE I CAN'T EVEN STAND IT. He does such a great job as Spider-Man, but an even better job as a believable kid from Queens (which is something that neither Maguire nor Garfield were able to do - even though I liked both of them in the role). He's the perfect amount of awkward and endearing, with a big heart, and even bigger enthusiasm. Plus, he's freaking adorable. And also sexy? I know, it's a very weird combination. But if you haven't seen his "Umbrella" lip sync performance, then watch it and maybe you'll understand. I've watched it more times than I will care to admit. Boy can move.

3. The supporting cast is super adorable (ok, not really) - Michael Keaton is a great as a villain (and possible the best Marvel villain so far???). The reveal of who his character is, was done so well - I audibly gasped in the theater (and so did everyone else). Marisa Tomei is as lovely as ever as Aunt May. Donald Glover is not used nearly enough, but is probably going to have a larger role in future films. Jacob Batalon is super adorable as the sidekick character (SEE...there was one!). The only two characters/actors that I have a problem with are Laura Harrier and Zendaya. Harrier, I could deal with, because I figured she was ultimately an insignificant character, but then my bf pointed out that she could be the villain in the next one (to seek revenge) and OMG please no. She is a terrible actress. And Zendaya? I did not believe her in the role for one second. Her line delivery was off, and her tomboy persona was not believable at all. On a side note, I do actually like Zendaya - this is the first time I'm seeing her act, but as a person/role-model for young women, she is aces. She will obviously be featured in the next films, so maybe with some acting lessons, she could actually thrive?