Category Archives: Movies

Posts about movies I’ve seen, and my recommendations, typically in the genres of drama, comedy, thriller, gay & lesbian, indie, romantic comedy, and whatever else Netflix recommends (i.e. “Critically acclaimed cerebral dramas with a strong female lead”).

Never Again

So my supervisor and I were having a casual conversation today, when I mentioned that both my brother and my friend had considered getting me a politically-themed birthday card. (My brother did, actually, get me a card with a photo of Obama with the Justin Bieber hairdo.) She mentioned to me that I’m probably the most outspoken person she knows about political beliefs, which was at once surprising and not. I do often talk about my views on the issues, but for some reason, hearing someone say that I’m very open about what I believe made me feel a little vulnerable and insecure for a second.

It is often heard that you don’t discuss religion or politics, for there is never an end and the arguments are nothing if not circular. Perhaps that’s true, but I continue to do so nonetheless.

I started to think about what might be the reason that I find it important to express myself, other than the obvious desire to be heard (and the First Amendment, no doubt).

This is how I said it to my supervisor:

I spent most of my childhood and teen years studying about the persecution of Jews and others throughout history — from the Biblical times to Ancient Rome, to the Hellenistic period, the Ottoman Empire, The Crusades, The Inquisition, Stalin’s reign, and most recently but not least significantly, The Holocaust.

What I took away from these teachings was the resilience and perseverance of the human race. I learned about the power of standing up against intolerance and hatred, and the gravity of the consequence if it goes unchecked.

I can’t tell you how many Holocaust survivors I have met over the years. Many of them have remained silent about what they endured, and who can blame them for all of the trauma and horror they witnessed. Many have also become outspoken for the plight of innocent groups of people. They told us stories in such graphic detail that I couldn’t imagine how they were still standing. Stories of their parents being gassed, their siblings being murdered, and their unimaginable escape from lock-down concentration camps.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dachkammer/314063674/The mantra of “Never Again” has echoed through these eras and stories, and it plays through my head on loop. Never again should we sit idly by while others are being mistreated, persecuted, or denied rights. We know what happens, and old patterns die hard.

(Side note: Check out the famous poem “First they came…”  attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller on this very theme.)

(Another Side note: this theme is portrayed very nicely throughout the X-Men movies, as mutants fight for the right to exist. The most recent movie also does a great job highlighting the “Never Again” mantra. I’m not sure where I  fall between Professor X and Magneto — probably somewhere in between.)

That is why I stand up, and voice up against what I perceive to be injustice.

In the modern day political situation, I believe we’ve seen the extremes of both Capitalism and Communism, and a balance must be sought after — one where social causes and rights of citizens are just as secure as our borders and our wallets.

I may not always be right, and yes, some may call me a dreamer, but my intentions are pure, and no, I’m not the only one.

Picturing the Oscar Winner

I have a weird, unexplainable attraction to awards shows — I love the anticipation of who will win, what they’ll say, what awkwardness will ensue when they go over their allotted speech time, and what other antics will arise (Hey Kanye, I’m gonna let you finish, but…). I heard recently about how awards shows are somewhat masturbatory – a whole group of people congratulating themselves; I agree, it sounds pathetic that I want to watch these elites congratulate themselves, but there’s something electric about these shows (well, depending on which awards show and who wins; some fall extremely flat).

Last year’s Oscars were a disappointment for me on several levels, mostly because I didn’t like The Hurt Locker at all, and was shocked that it won against a giant like Avatar. Yes, yes, Katherine Bigelow was recognized and I’m very glad that she, the underdog, beat her ex-husband James Cameron, but her film really wasn’t that great, and the win ultimately felt contrived.

So this year’s Oscars are on the 27th of February. I’m excited for the hosts – Anne Hathaway and James Franco! You can check out the whole list of nominees here. I’m trying to decide who I’m rooting for, but I find that in order to do so, I need to be able to say that I’ve seen most of the movies (and thereby the nominees for best actor/actress) in order to pick.

So, I’m making a goal to have watched all of the nominees for Best Picture by Oscar Night. So far, I’ve seen 5 of the 10.

Toy Story 3 – seen it

It would be really neat if TS3 won because it was such an emotional revisiting of many peoples’ childhood favorites! The plot was interesting, and the animation was pretty awesome, too. I like the idea of including animated films in this category (like last year’s phenomenal Up), but I’m not entirely convinced yet that TS3 stands up against the other giants in the category.

The Social Network – seen it

I would call TSN a pretty good movie – it’s got an excellent score, good acting, and a plot that delivers scandal as well as intrigue about the most popular social networking tool on the planet. But yet it also leaves the palette wanting more; in fact, I left the movie sort of deflated, and all of the drama surrounding its accuracy is also disconcerting. Although, it is a fictional adaptation, so perhaps it doesn’t matter how accurate it was. But when you’re drawing in crowds on the promise of a “Facebook movie” the hopes are that it will actually center around real events and real personalities, and not distorted ones. I guess I’m just not entirely sure of the purpose of this movie yet, and thus I can’t claim it to be deserving of this Best Picture win. Maybe it was too soon for a Facebook movie?

Inception – seen it

As of now, my vote hovers at this movie. Not only was it epic in its visuals, score, and intricate, multi-layered premise, but it featured an amazing cast. I still remember seeing every update on my news feed about the film, and it was quite a good conversation piece for quite some time. Was it a dream, or reality? Were parts of it reality? Did the totem falter? Did his children age? Was he insane? Leonard Dicaprio really hit it out of the ballpark, in my opinion, and the rest of the cast was just as good.

True Grit – seen it

If not for Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld (where’s her Oscar nod?), I wouldn’t even know why this movie would be featured in this category. It was a pretty great Western – I liked the humor that the Coen Brothers infused in it, and the acting was sharp, but it certainly isn’t worthy of Best Picture, in my view.

The Kids Are All Right – seen it

I was very excited to see this movie, and I definitely see why it merits the nomination, but as I’ve said for a couple of the other nominees, I don’t know if it has the steam to carry itself through to the win. Acting-wise, it was well above average, thematically – an excellent representation of contemporary family life, but conceptually, the movie was predictable, and a little stereotypical too; I haven’t yet made up my mind about the direction it went in – with one of the moms lusting after the biological dad. Yes, it portays sexuality as fluid and changing, but then does it also risk the message that all a lesbian woman really needs is Mr. Right and she can be ‘turned’? Definitely a thought-provoking film, and I can see why it’s a contender.

So, I’ve got The King’s Speech, Black Swan, 127 Hours, The Fighter, and Winter’s Bone on queue, and I’ll be updating once I do (with my choice for who should win!).

Iron Man 2 Review

The almighty Iron Man! Kinda reminds me of a Power Ranger, no?

Spoiler alert! Go watch the movie and then we’ll compare notes 🙂

I think Sunday nights are now officially my favorite nights to go to the movies. Last night, we went to see Iron Man 2 and there were about 10 other people in the ginormous theater!

But alas, back to the movie. My general impressions are probably much like yours: major fappage. But it was badass fappage! Lots of things went boom, holographic technology was awesome, some neato choreographed fights (albeit weak, as some may say), and lots of gorgeous Robert Downey Jr. ScarJo looked pretty good too, and she blended into her role well for once – maybe because it was the strict, emotionless Black Widow.

My boyfriend and I spent some time on the way home discussing Pepper Potts’ relationship with Tony, and he made an interesting connection: Pepper is to Tony Stark as Cuddy is to Greg House. Only these females can fully understand these complicated, brillliant, and sardonic men (on a side note, both actors deliver phenomenal performances of their respective Holmesian characters). These women are the only ones who can clean up the messes that their counterparts make, yes. But unlike House and Cuddy, the relationship in Iron Man lacks any semblance of chemistry. It’s nowhere to be found! I think the problem lies in the fact that Gweneth Paltrow is completely wrong for the role…but that’s just me.

Speaking of wrong for the role, can we get a hallelujah that Terrance Howard was swiftly replaced with Don Cheadle? Such a good decision, albeit a little rude for Mr. Howard (aka Baby Wipe).

And can I just mention how much I absolutely deplored Justin Hanmer? He represents everything about corporate douchebaggery that I despise, and I think my biggest anticipation was of his impending major FAIL.

Now, onto my biggest pet peeve with this movie…well, all movies and shows that try to intersperse a ‘foreign’ element with flashy language and subtitles. And that peeve is awful awful dialect. Christ, people – there are native Russian people in the film!!! Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash interacts with native Russians in the movie, and he still can’t get his Russian lines to sound coherent? Even on IMDb’s trivia for the movie, he says he went to Moscow in order to try to “incorporate the whole Russian philosophy.” He also wanted to make sure that Whiplash had a Slav accent – but what about the fact that the words sounded disjointed and horrendous? Oy, it’s such an incredible peeve, I tell you. It’s especially a peeve because most non-Russian speaking folks don’t even have a clue! They just think “whoa, it’s another language,” but I think if they’re spending the time to incorporate Russian, they should really work with these guys and make sure they SOUND Russian.

Ah, but I digress. Generally, it was a good follow up movie, and a good scene-setter for the Avengers movies, which I’m actually excited for! Also, I’m pretty excited about some of the previews that I watched, namely Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Inception.

What did YOU think of Iron Man 2?

The Manchurian Candidate

I’m very squeamish about spoilers. I usually don’t want to know much about a movie or show before I watch it — I don’t read reviews, and I avoid the messageboards and trivia sections of IMDb. The only thing I do as I pop in a DVD is note its score on Rotten Tomatoes (which rarely gives me any conclusive information anyway, since the critics are often absurdly cynical), and watch the movie’s trailer.

All I knew about The Manchurian Candidate before watching it tonight was it got 81% on RT, and featured acting giants Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. When I checked it out from the library, I figured I was in for a somewhat formulaic political thriller…funny how little I actually knew! The movie was thrilling and political in scope, but it delved more into the psychological than anything else — is what we see, really what is – or are we victims to a manipulated reality? Washington plays Major Bennett Marco, who served during Desert Storm and experiences strange delusional dreams a decade after the war. He begins to decode the dreams and believes that he’s been brainwashed, and that his army squad-mate, who is running for Vice President (Liev Shrieber), might be similarly brainwashed. But by whom, and how? Is Marco delusional and suffering from Gulf War Syndrome, or is there something to this twisted plot that he’s concocted?

I think the acting generally was damned good – Streep played such a zealous politican, it was brilliant. She definitely channeled her role in Devil Wears Prada. I spotted loads of other B- and C-list actors, and on the whole was very captivated by the unraveling psychological thriller.