Thursday, January 23, 2014

Immorality in Movies

The movie industry is no stranger to controversy, with actors getting into trouble seemingly daily for explicit activities. It's always just assumed that these illegal activities are immoral. So why is it that when the characters they portray do the same, it has to be spelled out for the audience that no one for no reason should ever do anything that the characters in this movie are doing? It's like a warning label put on toys that say “hey don't let your kid put these small pieces in their mouths because they might choke and die”.
Two movies I've seen this in recently are The Bling Ring and The Wolf of Wall Street (both 2013)
Critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, said, “Coppola [Sofia, The Bling Ring director] neither makes a case for her characters nor places them inside of some kind of moral or critical framework.” Right. Instead, she tells the story she was trying to: of a group of spoiled kids who robbed celebrities' houses. What's wrong with that?
For The Wolf of Wall Street, Leonard Maltin said, “Without a moral center, [the movie] seems to revel in this cornucopia of bad behavior.” The movie was actually based on the book of the same title by Jordan Belfort, whose perspective the movie is from. He does exactly what Maltin says. He loves his hookers, he loves his cocaine. The book isn't a “learn from my mistake” book. It's a “this is what happened ps I still love hookers and cocaine” book.
Maybe this is just because I'm a high school student, but I'm not looking for morals when I go to the movies. I'm looking for entertainment, and these movies brought them. Even with Wolf and Ring's perhaps excessive partying scenes, my attention was kept.
And not that movies that give morals aren't enjoyable. In fact, the presence of morals has nothing to do with if a movie is good or not. Okay, maybe some people get their kicks out of morals. But, if that's you, why're you spending $10 plus for your entertainment. Just go to church or something. They'll moral the shit out of you there.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

For Those Who Can't Psychologically Handle "The Conjuring"

This post contains absolutely NO spoilers to the 2013 movie, This is the End. No worries.

I don't know why I haven't written about This is the End yet, but I think it's about time I do considering I saw it for the second time last night. The end-of-the-world comedy, written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, was released in mid-June and stars a plethora of actors and celebrities as themselves, including Rogen, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Craig Robinson, and Danny McBride (all of whom have starred with each other in endless movies such as Pineapple Express and Knocked Up). 

Appearances are also made by Emma Watson, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, Mindy Kaling, Channing Tatum, and many, many more.

The movie starts out light, just some guys getting high and listening to the Backstreet Boys. After partying at James Franco's new house, Seth and Jay go out to get food when an earthquake knocks Seth down and Jay sees what appears to be blue beams coming down from the sky and taking people up in them. They run back to Franco's, where the party breaks up and several people fall into a giant sink hole (fair game, it's in the trailer). Only the main guys are left. They decide to stay in the house and wait it out, but problems arise between them.
Jay has to learn how to deal with the guys he never wanted to spend the night with anyway while he and Seth also have to fight to keep their friendship alive and everyone in general has to survive what they assume is just some crazy storm.

This is the End is an utterly ridiculous movie. I mean, I wasn't expecting some of those scenes or conversations (I don't know why I wasn't. These are the same guys from Knocked Up). It should go without saying that this is a movie you don't watch with your parents. But it's so funny that you should really only drink between scene changes because I started choking on some soda about ten minutes in and almost had to leave.

The turn the movie took about half-way through was surprising. Walking out of the theater, my friend who had seen it for the first time last night said, “What the hell. The first forty-five minutes: comedy, comedy, comedy. But I was scared shitless close to the end. I thought this was supposed to be light-hearted.” I reminded her we could've seen The Conjuring.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Lesson in Movie-Watching

Now that summer's returned, I'm able to spend my days making money, spending money, reading, writing, and not doing homework (okay, well I guess that's the same). And, when I have a few free hours, I'll check my DVR, Netflix, or my own collection for a movie to watch.

Last summer I tried to watch as many new movies as I could, with the belief that most movies are indeed educational in some, sometimes less obvious, way. For instance, The Last Song taught me how many different ways stereotypes can be used, Adventureland taught me that working in an amusement park isn't as charming as it sounds, Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London taught me that Frankie Muniz is awesome and no shitty movie could convince me otherwise, Outsourced taught me how many other ways stereotypes can be used, and Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World taught me that Joel McHale might not actually be perfect.


Okay, so obviously watching movies like The Tooth Fairy and Barbie: Princess Charm School and Fantastic 4 isn't going to make you any smarter. Not book-wise, anyway. (I like to think that movies make you more street-smart in a sense. And you get all these little snip-its of trivia or situations that you can relate to in your own life. Like, “Your parents aren't letting you go to the party tonight? Wow, this reminds me of the time when the headmistress at Princess Charm School tried to kill Barbie and her friends. Haha.”)

But movies are a doorway into other worlds and lives and situations and OHMYGOD suddenly you're in a room with Hemingway and Picasso and wow Picasso's kind of a dick and then WOAH now you're standing five feet from where Batman and Bane are fighting and jeez you better back up or something they're really going at it.

I don't know, man. I started out saying that I think movies are educational, then I said they aren't, but I'm still thinking they are. They are. Maybe you don't learn geography or math or science (or maybe you do), but maybe you learn to love or to hate, what you like or don't like, things or people you want to do. Or maybe you're watching the crappiest movie on the lowest budget with the worst acting, but you still get a chuckle out of it.

And then it doesn't matter if you're learning anything or not.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Star Trek Into My Heart

This post contains spoilers from both the 2009 movie, Star Trek, and the 2013 movie, Star Trek Into Darkness. Dude, you've got to see these two movies.

Let's get one thing straight: if someone had told Young Me that, as a seventeen-year-old, I would love franchises like The Avengers, Batman, and Star Trek, Young Me would probably ask what a franchise was, because I was a bit stupid.
But then Young Me wouldn't believe what you said after you explained it because, well, I never thought I would ever like movies like those because those movies are for nerds and I only watch cool movies like John Tucker Must Die.
But the previously listed franchises have given me my favorite movies ever because they combine the things I absolutely love: explosions, men, swearing, and jokes.

Watching Star Trek Into Darkness, it reminded me how confused I was watching the movie's predecessor from 2009 for the first time. Like, utterly confused. In Star Trek, the element of time travel is brought up when Future Spock opens a black hole with the red matter to try to defeat Romulus but instead it sucked both of them into it and spat them out 129 years into the past. So then everything that happens after that happens differently than it did to Future Spock because now Romulus is in the past and eventually kills James Kirk's father. Even watching the movie five times last February left me a little frazzled still.
Anyway, director J.J. Abrams and writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman continue with the confusing yet riveting plot points with STID. The movie follows Kirk (Chris Pine, bebe) and the rest of the Enterprise and they try to cope with Captain Pike's death and capture the enemy, John Harrison.
Talking with my mom afterwards, she let me in on the fact that Into Darkness actually took from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), which featured a lot of the same cast as the original 1966-69 television series. When, if you think about it, is just a nice little piece for everyone: the people who watched The Wrath of Khan get a bit of nostalgia, the writers get a short break from coming up with their own confusing plot lines, and anyone else just gets a fucking sad death scene (but okay).

Even with a few death scenes, everything about these two movies is perfect. The actors, the dialogue, the wit, the butts, the good guys, the bad guys, the music, and the effects are the reason Star Trek and its sequel uphold 95% and 87% on RottenTomatoes, respectively. They're the reason the franchise now holds a dear place in my heart.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

They Should Just Call it "You're Out of Luck, Joel Edgerton Doesn't Show Up Until Two-Thirds of the Way Through"

I watched Zero Dark Thirty. A quick break-down of the reasons for doing so would be:

I get extra credit in my US History class- 70%
Joel Edgerton is in it- 20%
It's a recent, very well-received movie- 10%
I have the time- 0%

Well I made the time and I watched it, only half a year late for the buzz.

It's hard going into a movie knowing already what people think about it. I do it all the time (I'm looking at you,, and I try as hard as I can to make sure it doesn't actually affect my opinions about the movie. That being said, with a 93% “fresh” rating on RT, I'm sure that it doesn't. At least not in this case.
Not that Zero Dark Thirty (about the journey leading up to the killing of Osama Bin Laden) was bad, I just didn't like it that much. It was a bit lengthy. I get it, you've got ten years and a war to cover in this film, but they had scenes just where the characters were talking about how little was going on. The acting, effects, and idea were all good, but sometimes it seemed like the film was moving in slow motion.

I like the name of the movie, though. The name's good. In all honesty, maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention, but where does it come in? Well, whatever. It's got a nice ring to it. It's like when someone says something and you don't understand it but it's sounds nice and sharp so you just repeat it over and over.

Go rent Inglourious Basterds instead.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Netflix Beer Me Strength

Freaking exams, man. I've never actually wanted to throw myself off a bridge more. So instead of crafting some sort of coherent post about a set topic, I'm just going to put out some stuff over what I've watched recently.
My new boyfriend's name is Netflix. He's like this really great guy with an amazing personality and he's maybe the reason there's been a small slip in my grades. Maybe.

Anyway, about a week and a half ago I decided to watch Warrior just because I wanted to evade my responsibilities and also, I mean, shirtless men punching each other? Why wouldn't I want to watch it? It turned out to be way more emotionally tearing than I thought and I kind of hate myself for watching it. I mean, it's a really good movie, but God Nick Nolte is just so sad and Tom Hardy is just so pained and Joel Edgerton is just so attractive.
I kept on my Edgerton-craze by watching Acolytes (2008), an Australian horror film about three teenagers who get into some deep shit and eventually get two deranged men (one of them Edgerton) trying to kill them (yolo swag). It's pretty decent.
And then I found some short films by Nash Edgerton, Joel's brother. The films, Spider and Bear, are about this doofus boyfriend who plays this pranks on his girlfriend that end up almost killing one or the both of them. It's weird how much I like them and how funny they are, given the previously stated premises.

On Saturday I went to go see The Great Gatsby.

We're not going to talk about The Great Gatsby.

Okay, I'll just say this: there were parts I really liked (mostly the acting (and yeah, I'm biased) and especially how the scene at Myrtle's apartment was done) and parts I really didn't (the whole Nick-at-a-sanitarium was an interesting idea, I just didn't like how it was executed. Also, there was music playing almost constantly. I get it, you've got Jay-Z and Florence and the Machine and Lana Del Ray on your soundtrack, but then there was just piano at times, too, and they really didn't need it over the dialogue in every scene.)
I found a quote in a review that pretty much sums it all up:

The central problem with Luhrmann's film is that when it's entertaining it's not Gatsby, and when it's Gatsby it's not entertaining.” (Christopher Orr, The Atlantic)

And these are the reasons I just failed my AP US History final thankyouverymuch.

Monday, May 6, 2013

You've Got Your Work Cut Out For You, Baz

In order to prepare myself for what is sure to be an extremely emotional day (aka seeing Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby), other than packing my bag with tissues, cheap candy, a paper bag, and a few adult diapers, I also watched the 1974 version, even with the knowledge that it figuratively sucked balls.
And man, did it live up to those expectations.
The biggest problem that this older version has is the actors...and the script...and the directing. (Oh God, this is going to be a long post.)

The script follows the book too closely. Almost exactly, except for some of Nick's narrative. Listen, The Great Gatsby's a fantastic book, but if you just take the words and lay them into a script format, it's going to eff shit up. What holds the book together is Nick's constant narrative of everything going on. When you take that away, all you're left with is this shitty choice of actors whispering about their problems and sweaty faces.

Speaking of the actors (we'll get to the sweat later), I basically have a problem with each one in this movie.
Tom Buchanan is supposed to be this booming, powerful man who acts like he owns everything in the room. Instead it's this guy with a mousy face and a whiny voice and really isn't scary at all.
I suppose Mia Farrow did an okay job at being Daisy, only because Daisy's the most conceited, annoying character of all. So...
Jordan in the book is known to be an athlete, a liar, and overall reckless. In the movie she's this wispy, airy, shallow pool of annoyance. She's set up as Daisy in a minor role.
I don't really know how to describe Robert Redford's Jay Gatsby. He was just there.
Nick? Nick was okay.

But everyone, everyone was whispering. Why? You've got characters in this movie that are supposed to have over-exaggerated everything, but they're all speaking softly, like they're in church. I suppose it's like when you're in a classroom and no one's talking. Then, when someone does begin to talk, they do so quietly because they're the only one. Now if someone else wants to join the conversation, they're probably going to match the volume so as to not be a complete annoyance. But there are always those one or two people in the class that talk so loudly no matter if anyone else is talking. That's how Tom and sometimes Daisy and Gatsby should have freaking talked.

And everyone was so sweaty. No one is ever that sweaty in real life. I don't care if it really is so hot you decide to take your cars and go to the Plaza. You wipe that shit off your face.

So, Dear 2013 Gatsby, please don't let me down. Let Tobey and Leo and Carey and Joel and Isla and Elizabeth fucking rock this movie. And if not, at least I'll have some nice butts to look at.