Now You See Me (2013)

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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

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Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

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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

 

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.)

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

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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

Headhunters (2011)

I quite enjoyed Headhunters. It was certainly a little far-fetched but hey, for most crime thrillers, I’m all for suspending my belief and just running with it.

Headhunters is a Norwegian movie about an art thief who gets a little in over his head (an obvious pun. That was nearly unforgivable). The main character is played by Aksel Hennie. He looks so much like Steve Buscemi and a young Christopher Walken and yet, I found him to be attractive. It was messing with my mind the whole time.

headhunters-movie-posterThe movie opens with him emphasizing his height – 5’6″ – and how he probably isn’t deserving of his wife, who is clearly taller than 5’6″ and has model-good looks. He’s clearly a guy who makes up for his height with attitude and spending too much money. I honestly thought it was going to be a heist movie but it turned out to be something else.

It was a goddamn thriller. There were a few minutes where I got so anxious I wanted to skip ahead in the scene because I couldn’t stand to watch the scene play out. For instance, a majority of the movie is Aksel’s character on the run from (the very good looking) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who many will recognize as Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones). Anyway, he’s in a car pretending to be dead after being sent off the road by Nikolaj. His eyes are wide open as Nikolaj comes to the car to check that he is indeed dead and what ensues is an unbearable 30 seconds (that seems like minutes, I swear to god) where AKSEL CANNOT BLINK OR HE’LL BE FOUND OUT AND PROBABLY TORTURED.

The tone of the movie is fascinating. It really is a thriller and is kind of dark. People die and are practically terrorized but it has all of these light-hearted notes. Some jokes. Some quips. Maybe that’s how Norwegian filmmakers are. I’m not sure, I’m not especially familiar.

I generally enjoyed it. There were some really unbelievable moments but, y’know, sometimes you have to roll with it. There was even a good twist. I certainly didn’t see it coming. All in all, not a perfect movie by any means but 100 minutes well spent.

**** stars

[edit: I also just found out that the rights to this have been bought for a god damn American remake. Every god damn time!]

The Italian Job (1969)

Admittedly, I quite enjoy the 2003 version of The Italian Job starring Marky Mark. But I figured that as I get older and can really appreciate some older flicks, I ought to catch up the classics.

So the 2003 version of the movie? Not really at all like the ’69 version. What were the similarities?

– Three Mini Coopers
– Armored truck
– Gold

That’s really about it. The original (from now on, I’m only talking about the original just to clarify) was simple: bunch of guys stealing some gold. There really wasn’t any fancy technology. And more importantly, there weren’t any bad guys thwarting them every step of the way. The heisters (is there a proper noun for someone who does heists? Do you just call them robbers? Thieves? I’m not sure) only had to maintain control in order to accomplish the heist.

The acting was good. Honestly, most of the movie was just Michael Caine’s Charlie telling people what to do. Everyone else had a few one-liners in response to Charlie but that’s about it. And really, what more do you need?

The best part of the movie was the actual heist. 3/4s of the movie was spent watching them plan everything. The getaway starring the three Mini Coopers was some inspired shit. They led the coppers on a wild goose chase but ultimately, the police just couldn’t keep up. Check this shit out:

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Oh, just some Mini Cooper s on top of a building to confuse a cop and then just leaving.

Oh, just some Mini Cooper s on top of a building to confuse a cop and then just leaving.

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Then they go to a car dealership and slide right into three open spots and then boop! Policeman can't find them!

Then they go to a car dealership and slide right into three open spots and then boop! Policeman can’t find them!

It certainly isn’t an action packed movie. It relies more on being clever than it does on being cool or slick as the Marky Mark version does. There’s no safe cracking or cool gadgets. In fact, the best part is the ending because it’s at least a little ambiguous, but I won’t spoil it for you. It’s a good heist movie and it’s Michael Caine. Stop reading this and watch it.

**** stars

Vanilla Sky (2001)

Hey! It’s 2001 and I just saw Vanilla Sky! ~*~Tom Cruise~*~ was in it 🙂

I’m going to have to make this brief. My father has managed to set a time limit on my Internet use and I’m down to about 45 minutes. I spent too much time in chat rooms telling people I was two years older than I am and that I live in California. LOL.

I’m just fucking with you. It’s 2013 and I’m just now getting around to watching Vanilla Sky. I managed to go 12 years without being spoiled so SUCKIT!

I’m a sucker for Cameron Crowe. I wish that wasn’t true but it really is. If I could count the number of times I’ve watched Almost Famous, well, you would all question whether I’ve truly felt the sun on my skin.

So since I’m reviewing a 12-year-old movie, let’s talk probably the coolest theory: NONE OF THAT SHIT WAS REAL. WHAT! C’MON SON! I love the idea that the whole movie was purely fictional and wasn’t even pretending to be “real”. This whole idea stems from the idea that Cruise’s car sticker says 2/30/01 – a date that doesn’t exist. Boom, bitch!

But for real, I get why when people ask “You know Vanilla Sky?” and I say “Actually, no, I’ve not seen it,” everyone reacts with this face:

It was pretty good. I spent a fair amount of time thinking “WHAT THE FUUUUUCK!” and finally all of the reveals started happening and the world began to make sense. The acting was tip top – even Cameron Diaz who usually feels a little too girl-next-door kicked the ass. She plays kind of crazy really well, actually.

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And Tom Cruise. Oh Tom Cruise. You crazy little Scientologist. I can’t help it – he’s got a handsome face. I know he’s roughly 5’2″ but 1983-…okay I just saw Jack Reacher and he did not look terrible in it. I can see your furrowed brows now and you can just stuff it. But the crazy. The crazy makes it impossible for me to take him seriously as a human being.

Well, I won’t review this so thoroughly. 12 years of the Internet will give you enough 411 about the movie. It was cool, it was interesting, I would recommend it, the soundtrack was killer, blah blah blah. It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty god damn good.

**** stars