Now You See Me (2013)

now_you_see_me-banner-2

I may or may not have treated myself to a free second movie after seeing Star Trek last night. And it was worth it. The last time I did that I nearly fell asleep watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Are We Still Doing This? This experience was much better.

I’m going to get to the point: Now You See Me is not a quality or critically-acclaimed movie. And I don’t know why anyone would expect it to be. It’s a movie about magic and heists. Dave Franco is in it (who is totally a babe, but, y’know, Dave Franco.)

It’s fast-paced, funny (I’ll watch Woody Harrelson in anything), and at times, kind of clever. If you’re going into this movie to pick everything apart and “figure it out”, don’t bother. I don’t think that’s the point. It’s a pure entertainment movie. And I was entertained. I laughed out loud at a blockbuster movie. That rarely happens for me. I think the last time that happened to me was during Cabin in the Woods.

I was interested the whole way through. I wanted to know the reasons behind the magic tricks, I love movies that involve heists, and the twist of the movie hinged on something they repeat over and over throughout the movie. Clever, fuckers.

So. Ultimately? Enjoyable. I was thoroughly entertained and glad I did some sneaking to see it. It was thoroughly implausible and it wasn’t especially deep. But sometimes, I just want to watch a movie to be entertained and not spend two hours watching it analyzing and two hours after it reflecting.

And you guys, Morgan Freeman is in it. Plus, Jesse Eisenberg playing a smarmy asshole with some questionable hair/facial scruff.

**** stars

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

star-tek2-255688

I realized about halfway through Star Trek Into Darkness that it’s pretty much every geek’s dream movie – and not just because it’s Star Trek. You’ve got…

Benedict Cumberbatch – Sherlock Holmes and he’s in The Hobbit
Zachary Quinto Sylar from Heroes. I know it got weird during Season 2 but we can thank the writer’s strike for that. He was an awesome villain.
Zoe Saldana – Neytiri in Avatar. Admittedly, not my favorite movie or anything but it was mainstream geeky.
Noel Clarke – I had a small freakout when Mickey from Doctor Who popped up. Whaaaaat?
Simon Pegg – Simon Pegg
Peter Wellers – he’s in a lot of things but…Robocop.
Deep Roy – he’s been in a lot of sci-fi-y stuff. For me, I’m all about him in The NeverEnding Story, Return to Oz, and The Dark Crystal. He was also in the old Doctor Who series.

Geek party, I tell ya.

I enjoyed it. It wasn’t sublime or anything, but it was enjoyable. Benedict Cumberbatch killed it (just like I knew he would). That man must have put on some muscle because he looked…ah,tough, and I did not hate it. Him kicking a whole lot of ass is a.) something I never thought I’d see and b.) far more enthralling than I ever could have imagined.

startrek18f-10-webI also quite enjoyed his swoopy emo hair. I just kept thinking “Trent Reznor” in my head. Now he was Sublime.

I’ve come to wonder if J.J. Abrams is in on the joke with all the lens flare. He has to know that that’s all anyone ever says about Star Trek/everything he makes, right? At this point, I think he has to just be doing it to get everyone riled up. I mean, the sheer level of lens flare makes me wonder why everyone isn’t walking around with sunglasses on at every moment.

Ultimately, it was what everyone thinks it would be. Some sci-fi goodness, a few quips between Kirk and Spock, a dash of drama, a fair amount of action, and things that Star Trek fans (I’m talking the TV show) will appreciate. It’s a popcorn movie and that’s okay.

And for geeks like me…well, feast your eyes.

**** stars

 

Bitch Hug (2012)

I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories. Something about teenagers/young adults finding themselves and seeming very real…it’s the kind of thing I’ve related to since I was about 8 and saw Now and Then. I think it’s a tricky genre to really do well. So many writers and directors have these great ideas but try so hard to make their characters cool, creating these fads and slang that just aren’t real.

bh

Bitch Hug did a pretty good job with the coming-of-age movie. The premise is that Kristin (probably 18), who is pretty cynical and can’t wait to get out of her small Swedish town gets the chance to go to New York. While there, she’ll be writing about her new life for her hometown’s paper.

People think she’s going to fail and that she’ll be back within a month. Unfortunately, she misses her flight to New York. In order to prove everyone wrong, she hides out in the country with Andrea. And surprise! They become friends!

I’m going to regret saying this, but Kristin verges on being an almost Holden Caulfield-esque character. She sometimes goes a little far with her realism and brings it into a cynical and mean territory. And that I could relate to. She’s got some good angsty lines that I think everyone has thought, like: “I don’t know what I want, but I know what I don’t want.”

There’s some nice cinematography, the acting was good (somehow, it’s kind of hard to tell in a foreign language how good the acting really is), and the soundtrack was killer. Perfect? No. Enjoyable flick? Yep.

And if you want to know what a bitch hug is, you might just have to watch the movie.

*** stars

Brideshead Revisited (2008)

brides

I was skimming through Stoker today because I really wanted to rewatch the “Summer Wine” scene – talk about a prime use of music and volume. Shivers, you guys. Shivers – and I thought to myself “Matthew Goode, you are great looking.” Which lead me to downloading a bunch of movies he’s in.

I started with Brideshead Revisited (which also stars Ben Whishaw and Hayley Atwell) and spent a long evening (2 hours and 10 minutes) with some fancy prose and subtle metaphors. And Matthew Goode’s beautiful face.

As someone who has never read the book nor seen the critically acclaimed miniseries from the 80s, I got what seems to be the least favored of all its incarnations. Which is not to say it isn’t good – it is. But everyone else raves about the other two. Oh, well.

It’s absolutely beautiful. The costumes are immaculate and scenery is…well, you’d have to be a real asshole to not want to travel in time to England in the 1920s. Aside from the lack of the modern amenities that we have now. Give me an English countryside in a big ass castle and some WiFi. Heaven, methinks.

vlcsnap-00001

I was hoping it would be sexier. There, I said it. I wanted some scandalous 1920s action and I just didn’t get it. It was very much a character-development heavy movie, a study of relationships, faith, family, and society. It certainly wasn’t a thrill.

A highlight was Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon – that’s Professor Trelawney and Professor Dumbledore – playing an estranged married couple. They kicked all the ass; class acts, those two!

It was definitely reminiscent of something like Atonement. Kind of split up in two parts – the first being intriguing and almost mysterious. The second part being devoted to basically every character becoming depressed, dying, dealing with inner demons (how’s that for some alliteration?) So, a bit of a long, drawn-out downer but kind of lovely.

This has been a real bullshit review.

*** stars (solid acting, lovely to watch, kept me interested. Not a lot of rewatch qualities. Except to check out Matthew Goode’s aaaaaass)

Sleepaway Camp (1983)

Tonight was The Red Wedding on Game of Thrones and as someone who doesn’t read the books (yet), I was stunned to say the least. So, I thought to myself, “I’m trying to have my mind bent tonight.” And everyone says Sleepaway Camp is known for its twist ending. So, I decided to go for it.

15 minutes in and I don’t know what the fuck I’m watching. Dead parents, an open pedophile at a kid’s camp, a too-old camp counselor sporting the shortest, tightest shorts I’ve ever seen on a man…I am bemused to say the very least.

Some cult movies I see and I totally get why it’s a cult movie. Like Evil Dead. It’s over-the-top and it didn’t quite jive with a lot of people. But then there were quite a few people who quickly saw its merits. Sleepaway Camp…it could never be a cult movie for me but it was, well, interesting.

There’s an all-boys baseball game which is one of the most homoerotic sports scenes I’ve seen since Top Gun. And the fashions that these guys are sporting are odd, regardless of gender:

sleepaway

The baseball scene also contains one of the funnier exchanges in the movie:

Ricky: No problem, Gino. This guy blows dead dogs. Just lay it in there!
Bill: Eat shit and die, Ricky!
Ricky: Eat shit and live, Bill.

There’s also a point in the movie where Meg, one of the camp counselors (who can’t be older than 16) gets the night off, so she goes up to the head of the camp (Mel) who has to be at least 55 years old and this exchange happens:

mel

Meg: Hey, guess who has the night off tonight?
Mel: Oh congratulations.
Meg: Listen, I was thinking. Remember that dinner you promised me? Up at your place?
Mel: Yeeeah. 9? 9:30?
Meg: You got it. See you then. (later, to her bunkmates) Got me a date tonight!

The ending was certainly a bit of a surprise and mildly disturbing. In a way, I suppose it’s essential viewing for horror buffs. It’s a movie that gets referenced a lot in the world of pop culture. But it isn’t a good movie by any means.

** stars

P.S. The whole movie is on YouTube so if you’re bored…

Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

FastFurious6-banner

You’d better fucking believe I spent my hard-earned money seeing this gem in a (massive) theater. It was everything I hoped it would be. This is not to say that the movie was good, it just…was.

In the latest installment of the FF movies, we’ve got The Team back together and they are suuuuper ready to ride or die (I should know. They only said it a dozen times throughout the movie.) An evil, thieving crew is stealing parts to make some kind of bomb that will shut down an entire city for 24 hours.

Dom Toretto doesn’t give a shit.

But wait. Letty, Dom’s presumed-dead girlfriend, is alive and a part of the evil, thieving crew. Although, she has lost apparently all memories aside from how to build cars, drive cars in a serious way, fire weapons, all of that.

Dom Toretto gives a shit and he will be there and so will his team.

I love imagining this movie getting workshopped. A bunch of guys sitting around saying, “Okay, so then these guys launch these little devices onto the other cars that takes over the steering…” “Yeah! And then Shaw takes an exit and is driving a level below The Rock…” “Yes! And then The Rock climbs out of his moving car and jumps across the highway rail…” “AND LANDS ON SHAW IN HIS CAR!” And then they all high-five and bump chests and it is pure magic.

My brother and I chatted about the budget of these movies and how, yeah it definitely lends itself to some nicer cinematography and more outrageous action scenes, it kind of takes away from the, dare I say, gritty aspects that the first two movies had. It was meant to be comic and over-the-top in a nearly cheesy way. But the last three FF movies have really started taking themselves seriously.

I kind of like that – we get some actual plot which is nice and the movies are a lot prettier. But at the same time, it’s verging into a territory that wants me to take the movie seriously but still maintain the over-the-top quality. Which, I’m sorry, in the sixth movie a car bursts out of the front of a plane. C’mon son! I wouldn’t believe that for a second.

I can’t wait for this movie to pop up online so I can create a collection of the most ridiculous quotes. And believe me, there was an abundance.

Now, prepare yourself for a little spoiler. If you know me, you know that I nearly peed my pants over this little scene.

Don’t rush out  of the theater the second the movie is over. About 30 seconds into the credits, it cuts to Tokyo where the (very delicious) Han is racing in the city. This is meant to be the same scene from (the despicable outlier) FF3: Tokyo Drift, where Han (presumably) dies.

So, a silver vehicle crashes into Han’s ride and who should step out? JASON MOTHERFUCKING STATHAM.

And he picks up his phone and places a call and says, “Dominic Toretto. You don’t know me yet, but you will.”

BOOM! Cut to Fast & Furious 7 and my brain/ovaries exploding!

Back to FF 6. As always, it delivered with car chases, me laughing in my seat, defying laws of physics, excellent one-liners, weapons, and being really serious about either riding or dying.

**** stars

The Brass Teapot (2012)

I love movies that manage to mix together some interesting genres. Kind of like Midnight in Paris did with romance, comedy, and fantasy. It was subtle.

brassThe Brass Teapot was a good little movie. The premise of the story is that a young married couple who aren’t doing so well financially happen upon a teapot. They soon discover that the teapot gives them money when pain is inflicted upon them. Simple premise with interesting consequences.

Juno Temple killed it in this movie, as usual. (I’ve been a fan of hers since she played a horrible brat in Atonement). Michael Angarano…he’s a good enough actor but something about him really rubs me the wrong way. I just think I’d dislike him so much if I ever met him. But that’s never going to happen so who cares anyway?

It was nice to see a movie that actually had character development and was honestly relatable. That kind of movie is few and far between. And it was kind of great to see a movie that blended genres rather than being hard comedy or hard fantasy or hard drama. It took parts from all of those and managed to turn into a solid little film.

I won’t go on too much. I recommend it if you want something (mostly) light-hearted, with little twists and some good acting.

**** stars (I’m not giving it 5 because I enjoyed it quite a bit but I’m not sure it’s worthy of owning or re-watching or quoting or what have you. That’s really the only reason for that lack of a point.)

Identity Thief (2013)

identity

I don’t know why I watched Identity Thief. I knew exactly what I was getting into and still, I did it. Well, let’s just say I did it all in the name of research.

This is going to be short you guys: don’t bother.

I wish I had liked this, or rather, I wish this had exceeded my expectations. I like Melissa McCarthy and I have since Gilmore Girls. I like Jason Bateman. And despite my like for both actors, eugh.

I should have known better. The guy that wrote The Hangover II and III, Scary Movie 3 and 4 among a few other junk titles wrote this little piece of Hollywood bullshit.

The movie has a dilemma in that it can’t quite find its footing: a comedy or a tragedy/drama? It’s got a bit of both in a way that doesn’t work even a little. I’ll give it to Melissa – homegirl goes for it with her physical comedy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter. It’s “funny”, it’s “touching”, it’s offensive (just in some parts. Not enough for me to full on Black Rock rant) and it falls short. Everywhere.

If you want a funny road trip adventure comedy just save yourself the trouble and acquire a copy of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. And don’t watch that shit on TV or you’ll miss one of the funniest movie scenes ever.

No stars for this one, guys.

Black Rock (2012) – a little feminist analysis for you guys

black-rock-banner

I spent a better part of my time in school analyzing movies and in this instance, I’m going to go ahead and do it now. And yeah, there might be spoilers. Then again, this movie is kind of predictable. Please to enjoy.

Black Rock, a movie written and directed by a woman – god damn yes! – might just be a movie. It might just be Deliverance starring women as the victims instead of men. It definitely might be and if it is, fine. That’s fine. Some movies are that and not all movies have to be deep and film-y and chock full of metaphors and symbolism. But for this review? We’re going to pretend that it is deep and film-y and chock full of metaphors and symbolism.

The story is about three women who, deep down, are best friends but have some rocky history get together to go camping for a few days. Once they get there, they happen across three guys – one of whom went to the same high school (I think) as the girls. Drinks are had and one of the women starts flirting with said guy. They sneak out into the woods to fool around. Meanwhile, the other two guys tell the other two girls about how they were all in the military together.

The “couple” in the woods are making out but the woman, Abby, decides she doesn’t want to take it any further and says “NO.” And then the guy shoves her down and gets ready to rape her. After he punches her twice, he says “You wanna have fun? You wanna get fucked tonight?!” To save herself from being raped, she grabs a rock and hits him in the head. Oops, he dies.

Everyone else back at the campsite hears Abby yell and they run to her. The women are shaken and trying to calm Abby down, meanwhile the guys realize their friend is dead and start saying shit like “Get your gun,” and then getting said gun and pointing it at the women. The women run away.

And so begins the hunt.

Everyone sees this as just being another Deliverance. Some reviews from Rotten Tomatoes have this to say:

– “It feels amateurish, as though it was made up as they went along. The violence – because that’s what most of the action consists of – feels phony.”

– “The concept is there, but a movie like this needs a much more polished execution that “Black Rock” gets.”

– “A soundtrack of churning rock songs by the Kills is as close as this misfire gets to authentic grrrl power, borrowed as it is”

The way I see it is that Katie Aselton sought to make a movie that looked at gender as well as victim blame and being a survivor. I saw a lot of this movie as being about the sexual dynamic between men and women and rape culture.

I hate that for some people, the violence isn’t real enough. That it isn’t polished enough. That it just isn’t really grrrl power. (I really don’t think Kathleen Hanna would be a fan of such a nonsense comment.)

FUCK. THAT. NOISE. This movie is simple and honest. The men – or rather, soldiers – represent the weird focus on hyper-masculinity (which I think is also a major point of this movie. Guys also have a right to be irritated by gender dynamics. I think Aselton aims to bring that up but of course, people are just like “Why you gotta hate men so much?! Why can’t you be naked all the time?! Why can’t you love men without question and then be naked around us?!”) and the women act as survivors of sexual offenses. It isn’t meant to be pretty or polished. It’s meant to just be. Is there a way to make rape sound better or worse? Not really. It’s fucked up and it is what it is.

Right after Abby accidentally kills the guy, the women try to reason with the now incensed men:

Sarah: Listen, what happened to Henry was a terrible –
Derek: Shut up.
Sarah: – terrible fuckin’ mistake, okay? It was an accident. Abby is sorry. She is sorry. But please, understand that what she did was protecting herself. Can you get that? She thought that he was going to rape her. Can you understand that? Can you get that?
Derek: Here’s what I get. Your fucking slut friend lures my buddy up into the woods, flirting with him all night, smashes his fuckin’ head in with a rock. That’s what I understand.

Aw, look at all that victim blame. Unfortunately, shit like that actually happens.

I made the mistake of checking out the IMDB message boards. Here’s what I found:

Should have premiered on Lifetime
It is right up that network’s alley.

1. Men portrayed as despicable – Check
2. Women fight back against despicable men – Check
3. Cast is made up of C-list, not very attractive (therefore relatable to target audience) women – Check

[God forbid a television network aimed toward women make a few movies about how women can overcome terrible situations involving the men in their lives. It also makes Drop Dead Diva and Army Wives and broadcasts Frasier and Unsolved Mysteries. And really? Commenting on the attractiveness of the stars as well as the “target audience”?]

dat body heat scene!
Complain about the flick as much as you want… You’re lying to yourself if you to see them make-out.

[Yeah brah, after they got out of the frigid water they had to swim in to escape their assailants, I was like “Please kiss! Oh, yeah, take your clothes off and press your icy blue skin against each other.”]

The Rape Sequence Made Me Hard
It was fun to watch. Let the guys have some fun.
—> It’s a shame he died raping the ugliest of the bunch. Such is life.

[Can’t.]

Any bush in this?
I sure hope so.

[That’s what you’re hoping to get out of this movie? You know, there’s this thing called porn. I think it has what you’re looking for.]

Anyone that has seen this film, I have a question
How much does lake Bell show? Is it true that it is topless and ass?

[The main interest of everyone going to see the movie. Will someone get naked?!]

I’m not going to say anything about the involuntary reactions that people have to seeing someone in the nude. The body does what it does and that’s that. But I will say something about people actively saying shit about how rape scenes turned them on and actively seeking out a movie whose entire plot hinges on a woman fighting back against her about-to-be rapist to see a little TnA.

It’s shit like this – this unrelenting focus and commentary and entitlement to critique women. To decide their worth and value. To place some sort of price on a woman. To basically say, “Eh, yeah I guess I’d rape her. I mean, I don’t think I’d have sex with her willingly – on her part. But if she was saying ‘no?’ Yeah, I’d probably fuck her.” Has the male gaze worked its way into DNA make-up?

It’s midnight. I don’t know what this review has turned into. This ended up being more of a review of critics/reviewers than a review of the movie. It just rubs me the wrong way when people look at a movie like this – whether it’s meant to be this feminist movie or just a horror/thriller starring women – and have some ass backwards opinions and thoughts and logic.

I don’t know. I liked the movie. Was it the most perfect film ever? No. But the fact that a woman made a movie that starred women and passed The Bechdel test and had something to say? I can get down with that. Oh, and the soundtrack features The Kills! Nice!

**** stars

Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) – with more spoilers than a Fast & Furious movie!

oz_the_great_and_powerful_banner

Sure, Oz the Great and Powerful was fun to look at and had its couple of “haha” moments, but ultimately, I was totally unimpressed by Sam Raimi’s Oz.

As someone who grew up loving all things Oz – even the freak party Return to Oz movie (Jack Pumpkinhead and the Wheelers are some of my favorite characters) – I figured that this movie wouldn’t live up to anything else Oz related. And it didn’t.

Frank L. Baum’s books are hailed as being the first real example of a feminist hero in literature. You can read a lot more about this elsewhere, because I’m not trying to write an essay right now. Either way, there were women abound – good women, bad women, in-between women – and the books would have easily passed The Bechdel Test. Solid.

But this Oz? Please. Sure, it was a unique take on the story but really? The women in this movie could not have been any…less. This simplistic idea of good=beautiful and evil=ugly is so heavy-handed in this movie.

THEODORA: Ah, the old adage of “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” come to life. She gets the dazzling entrance, entering the frame front and center, with a slow-motion walk where we’re all supposed to “ooh” and “aah” over her. And of course, Oz acts like the womanizer he is and sweeps this (fucking powerful) witch off her feet with a couple of gestures that should hardly seem like magic to a witch.

When homegirl gets a little too serious to fast – saying some stuff about being his queen and spending a lifetime together – he wigs out. So, he’s an asshole that we’re meant to like because hey, he just hadn’t found the right girl to not be an asshole to. But she just screams “CRAZY ATTACHED GIRLFRIEND” and I think we all already know where this story is going.

EVEANORA: The good/beautiful woman that’s clearly cloaking her evil/ugly ways. Come on, we could see that shit from a mile away. She has an ominous entrance where she’s just a silhouette and she has a manic energy about her. She knows that her sister, Theodora, is into Oz and when she realizes Oz is going to end up on the good side, she turns Theodora against him. She tells Theodora Oz was all over her and he was into her, so Theodora runs off crying before turning full on evil/ugly – green, pointy chin, and big nose. That’s right, this douchebag drove her to being the most powerful, evil witch Oz has ever known.

GLINDA: Beautiful and good. Same kind of god damn reveal that Theodora got. Pulls her hood down and shows off her blonde hair and fair skin. And she’s good through and through so she maintains that beauty for the duration of the movie. And she’s powerful. She has a big shield around her “kingdom” and her people bow at her feet but they love her. She is benevolent. She is capable.

And yet, Oz is the big savior. This guy who cons audiences and cons women. He appears to commit adultery with married women. He’s greedy. Oh, sure, at the end of the day he does the right thing but for 90% of the movie he’s an asshole and the development of him realizing the error of his ways and deciding to do the right thing comes from out of nowhere.

So, all of these powerful women are reduced to nothing by this asshole; Eveanora is scared away by him, Glinda is entranced/in love, and Theodora is spurned by him, muttering “I may not be able to kill you, but I can kill the one you love! I hate you,” like a girlfriend who’s been unceremoniously dumped.

Really? This is the movie they chose to present to people? Moreover, Frank L. Baum – the author of the Oz series – firmly believed there should not be romance in children’s books. God forbid two attractive characters work together to do something great and high five at the end rather than kissing dramatically.

I know it was just a movie and one primarily meant for kids or whatever, but c’mon. Look at the obvious sexualization of those witches!

The original image of the Wicked Witch (of the West) vs supermodel wicked witch. C'mon son!

The original image of the Wicked Witch (of the West) vs supermodel wicked witch. C’mon son!

And God, Oz is still such an asshole at the end. He gives everyone gifts and when it comes Glinda’s turn this is what happens:

Oz: I saved the best for last. For you, a sight envied by all and seen by none. You’ll be astounded by what you find behind the curtain. (They go behind the curtain and Oz shuts it with a satisfied grin. Then they’re standing unnecessarily close, face to face.)
Glinda: Oh my! It’s very tight in here.
Oz: It’s nice, isn’t it?
Glinda: I know what you’re up to wizard.
Oz: What? I’m just giving you a tour. And I want to thank you. For opening my eyes.
Glinda: And what do you see?
Oz: That I have everything I ever wanted.
Glinda: For the record, I knew you had it in you all along.
Oz: Greatness.
Glinda: No. Better than that – goodness.

And then they mack. Something about that shit rubs me the wrong way. One, he’s such a creepy prick – knowing full well that he intends on getting handsy with her and referring to it as “saving the best for last.” Fuck you, Oz. And then! He’s like “ha ha! I’m great! I’m the greatest! I’m amaaaazing!” when really she was just trying to tell him he’s a good guy.

oz

Conclusion: Oz is a dick.

* star