Everyone, Stop What You’re Doing – This is a Real Movie

There is a movie coming out and it’s called Homefront.

It stars Jason Statham. James Franco. Winona Ryder. And a child.

Jason Statham is a British agent that works for the DEA in America. Jason’s daughter kicks some kid’s ass at school after he bullies her. Kid’s mom sends in the dad, James Franco, who is also a druglord, to terrorize Jason Statham. Jason Statham hulks out. Jason Statham’s daughter is kidnapped. Movie turns into Taken.

This movie was written by Sylvester fucking Stallone.

You guys, I need it like air.

 

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

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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.

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Conclusion: Oz is a dick.

* star

Spring Breakers (2013)

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So I just saw Spring Breakers and am attempting to sort out my thoughts on this one. On one hand, I got it and can see where it has…merits. On the other hand, what the fuck.

Let me get the two parts I actually enjoyed out of the way: it was pretty okay to look at. Not perfect, but there were some nice looking scenes with some inspired lighting, some interesting angles, and some cool single shot scenes. Not consistent enough for me to full on commend it. And the score by Cliff Martinez? Quality, as always. Moving on.

Four girls from some college in the south (I think) are really depressed that they don’t have enough money to go on Spring Break. So three of them decide, “Let’s steal a car, grab a hammer and some water guns and rob a restaurant,” and boy, do they! It’s a rousing success. The three girls – who will undoubtedly be indistinguishable to those who aren’t pop culture junkies like myself – share their inspired plan with their friend, Faith. Faith is a somewhat devout Christian? Faith is Selena Gomez.

spring-breakers-picture01So they go on SPRING BREAK BITCHES!!! And it all starts out as fun and games. They’re drinking, sporting super cute bikinis 24/7, wearing neon trucker hats, hanging out in parking lots. And then they get arrested. Luckily, James Franco – a rapper who sports corn rows, a whole lot of metal in his mouth, some unforgivable tattoos, and a shameful Hawaiian shirt – shows up to the court room (where the girls are STILL only wearing bikinis. Really? What judge allows that in the court room!) and takes pity on them (re: thinks they’re some fine-ass bitches) and bails them out.

Suddenly, the four girls who just wanted to have a little fun on Spring Break are hanging out with a rapper/drug lord/thug. Selena Gomez is not into it. She says over and over that she wants to go home and her three “friends” are shitty to her. They basically say, “Uh…we’re kind of, like, having fun so…why don’t you just go ahead and get on the bus and we’ll see you, like, soonish. ‘Kay?” So she sadly gets on the bus. Leaving behind three blonde girls and scary James Franco.

The underlying idea about this movie? Not bad. It was a good idea and it was executed horribly. The movie was riddled with motifs and metaphors and symbolism and all of that shit to the point of exasperation. The whole point of the movie was a “satirical” look at youth and their view of freedom, of letting loose. Some critics are calling the movie “poignant” or some sort of deep look at what some might call a “lost generation” – which quite frankly I think is a bullshit title to give to any generation. In what era have any teenagers or twenty somethings really felt like they knew where their lives were headed? Who they really were? Moving on.

It’s a week or two of doing things you wouldn’t typically do every day. So the girls hanging out with scary James Franco? An exaggeration, a hyperbolic statement. The girls were playing, acting, just like they said they had to do before robbing the restaurant. They did some messed up shit and bounced. They were just “on spring break”, but as James Franco says over and over “Spring breeeak. Spring breeeak foreeeevaaaa,” what is playing to some people is real for other people. The girls could have made “spring break” their lives forever but they opted not to, all after experiencing varying levels of trouble-making behavior. They had their fun, their small bout of rebelliousness, a taste of crime and that was enough.

But it doesn’t really land. Nothing happens. No one gets in trouble, there are no real repercussions. So was Korine just saying “Hey. Kids do some crazy shit, am I right?” Or was there an actual point about kids doing crazy shit? It’s an empty movie. I was simultaneously bored and fascinated. How can a movie with so much going on be so…meh?

And the movie’s portrayal of women? There’s a scene of the one of the girls, seemingly the only female in a room full of males, clad only in a bikini. She’s drinking alcohol and also getting poured/sprayed all over her. She’s lifting her top up and then writhing on the ground. A whole crew of dudes are circling her – like fucking predators – while one of them tells her to “take it like a stripper.” I can’t even start with that bullshit right now. On one hand, a painfully accurate and uncomfortable depiction of things that actually happen, especially in a setting like spring break. On the other hand, how you gonna put that shit on screen like it’s okay?!

Spring Breakers is the kind of movie you want to deliver. You want to be pleasantly surprised by it’s depth. You want to leave thinking “Wow. I feel like that was a movie experience I could really spend some time talking about at length.” Instead, it’s a huge letdown. When the movie cut to the credits, I let out a monstrous sigh. Because it was obvious and ultimately, predictable. For all of it’s flashiness and loud music and insane amount of gratuitous nudity, I was just bored.

** stars (a star for visuals/score and one star for a good idea)

P.S. I know this wasn’t a particularly comical review. In all honesty, it’s one of those movies just begging to be analyzed, I just thought it was too shitty and obvious to fully do so.

P.P.S. I’ve been reading some people’s analyses of the movie and I will say that if what some are saying about the movie is what the filmmaker truly set out to do, then it was a well-executed scheme. All the same, I still thought that it was a boring movie. As a…work of art, shall we say, it was better.