June 12, 2012

No, That’s Perfect. I Just Never Realized John Wayne Walks Like That.

CJ hadn’t seen The Birdcage (I know, right?) so we watched it together a few days ago. The movie is still lovely, but I just found the experience really interesting. The last time I watched The Birdcage was many years ago, when I was still kind of in the closet, hiding, and scared. Now I’m where I am now, and I totally felt differently about the characters.

I distinctly remember not thinking that Val, the son who wants his dads to hide how gay they are to impress his fiancee’s parents, was a huge asshole originally. When I watched the movie now, I was overwhelmed by how much of a dick he was. Sure, in the end, he gets caught and does the right thing once there would be serious, overwhelming consequences not to. But he literally waits until the last possible moment to claim his dads for who they are. He does it because he’s backed into a corner, not because he’s proud of them. He really comes off like a terrible person.

I didn’t used to think that. I understood the incredible fear that coming out of the closet involves. I was hiding, and scared to actually get out and be myself because I expected to be shot down and smacked down for being who I was. Going to such lengths to “tone myself down” and “not rock the boat” made sense to me, even if they sucked.

Now, that’s no longer the case. I associated myself with Armand and Albert so much more than I used to this time around. When Armand told his son “Fuck them, I worked hard to be able to be myself, and I’m not giving that up,” I was like “FUCK YES! Damn right you did!” Because I’ve done that too. When Albert gets really, really hurt about everyone trying to sneakily keep him away from the party so they wouldn’t be embarrassed, I felt that hurt a ton more than I did before, because my mother has done that same exact thing to me. I couldn’t believe their son would hurt them so much, even in the name of love.

I guess things really have changed a lot. I don’t always realize it, but my life is so much different, and so much better. Sometimes it takes something like that, an old experience revisited, to make me see it.

May 11, 2012

Avenging: Not A Useless Pastime.

Sometimes, people gotta avenge, you know? It’s like, you can’t just sit there and NOT avenge. It’s avenging time. Gotta do it.

Anyway, yeah, I watched The Avengers. Spoilers and shit, probably.

First off, we saw it in 3D. This was totally useless, but CJ hadn’t really seen any 3D movies, so, you know. Novelty. Still, don’t waste your money if you don’t have a reason like that.

Secondly, I was just glad they pulled the whole thing off. The worry about this sort of ensemble movie is that everyone is going to be constantly fighting for screen time and nobody is going to do anything worthwhile, or your favorite dudes are going to get completely lost in the dust. Personally, I felt like they nailed that stuff. I had no problems with all of that at all. I figured what would happen going in was that Tony Stark would steal the show, and he did, but that didn’t leave a void of cool things for everyone else to do, which surprised and pleased me.

Thirdly, it’s great that Hollywood has figured out how to make an action movie that is just genuinely funny and entertaining and at times bordering on touching in a way that’s not stupid and frustrating. Death of SHIELD dude got a little close to being a bit over the top for me, but I felt like they managed to handle that in a way that didn’t get too sappy, which was appreciated.

Anyway, what this movie showed me, more than anything else, is that Captain America is screwed. He has 0 mobility! The Captain can’t do anything useful! He was left fighting random dudes and saving civilians during the big fight. If only he had a super jump or something! I dunno! He’s so strong, but he can’t get to the fight, so what’s the use? That sucks. Poor Captain of the America.

Anyway, those are mostly my thoughts? I don’t have a lot of thoughts about it. It was just flat-out entertaining and fun, but really didn’t do anything particularly novel or whatever. The end. It’s a movie you should see. So see it, I guess? That’s a good idea.

April 5, 2012

The Hunger Games, Sponsored By Hungry Man Frozen Television Dinners

CJ was like “I’ve heard The Hunger Games is actually pretty good. Do you want to see it?” and I’m like, “I am all for dates, yo.” Except I didn’t say yo. I would never say yo, unless I was saying something like Yo Tengo Queso En La Bibliotecha which is probably nonsense? I don’t think I remember anything about Spanish.

Anyway, we saw The Hunger Games movie awhile back.

I certainly had no prior knowledge of the thing. I knew Shauna liked the series to some extent. I knew that the premise was kind of similar to Battle Royale (although I found, not especially, outside of “kids murdering kids”). I knew the main character was female. I assumed at some point people would be hungry. But yeah, I didn’t have any reason to be racist or anything.

The one thing that surprised me about the story, in a good way, was the look of it all. CJ and I agreed that in a lot of ways, it had a very Fifth Element vibe: all the crazy-ass stupid costumes and whatnot for the rich people of “the Capitol” were just kind of fantastic. It certainly, in a lot of ways, made the movie feel less serious, but I felt like it also emphasized the bad shit about the Games themselves by having it be enjoyed and run by such ridiculous people. Not that “kids shouldn’t be forced to murder each other” is a thing that really needs emphasis to make sense, but, you know.

I also thought the music was pretty good. During several points of the movie, when it was really getting all violin-heavy, I remarked to myself how nice the movie sounded. Maybe I’m easy to please, but it struck me as really enhancing things. Maybe if I went back and listened to it more I’d change my mind. Oh well.

Anyway, the only really shitty thing the movie suffered from was “1-dimensional villain” syndrome. The “bad guys” from Districts 1 and 2 were nothing but bad guys. They really had very little about them that was interesting. I mean, sure, clearly they wanted to survive too, but the pleasure they took in killing with nothing to make that make sense just made them feel like cardboard cutouts. Katniss was at least a little interesting as a character, what with her kind of hating dudes but being forced to play nice with them. Her general issues with letting people in were important to the plot, and made things happen, you know? I dunno what I wanted from villains, but that just didn’t do much for me.
Other annoyances barely worth mentioning: Why won’t Katniss fucking retrieve her arrows ever? She needs those. Why would they revoke their special rules? That would only make the viewers turn on the people running the games, as they’ve gotten caught up in the love story and want to see it successful at that point. It makes no sense.

The action was fun, if not particularly special. The plot was also fun, if not particularly original. I really wanted to see what happened, romance-wise, after the movie, when Katniss went home to dude she was totally having chemistry with at the beginning of the movie. I felt like the fallout from all that would have been interesting to see! Of course, the movie ended there. Oh well.

Basically, I guess what I’m saying is that the film was pretty good entertainment. I had a good time. I’m not in a rush to read the books or anything now. I wouldn’t say the movie was something you had to see or anything. But it’s a good time at the movies! If you want a good time at the movies, that’s a good choice.

March 21, 2012

I am under the impression that it is Chinatown.

I mentioned I hadn’t watched Chinatown when asked by my boyfriend if I had seen Chinatown. Then I was forced to see Chinatown immediately. I didn’t mind.

I’m probably lame, but since I played L.A. Noire I could not help but compare the game to the film as I watched it. It was just so obvious how many millions upon millions of cues that game clearly takes from this movie. It looks basically exactly the same, and not just because if the era. It seemed to be that the game was really trying to ape shot style and even the kind of grain I thought I saw. The music is like the same goddamn music. Same kind of stings, and everything. It was kind of crazy in that way.

Seeing Jack Nicholson being all young and shit was really weird, too. It was clear he wasn’t carrying all this baggage with him from his career, unlike in other films I have seen him in. That was pretty neat to experience, certainly. He was all being awesome and generally badass.

Overall, though, I have to admit it was a pretty fucking great film. It was a bit slow, but that’s because modern movies have killed my attention span, and it was totally worth the slowness. (Unlike my experience with, say, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, which I just couldn’t stand because it was so slow.) It also made good on a lot of the memes and references I’ve seen out of context over the years. They still totally paid off.

So good job, Aesa. You won with this movie pick! Yay!

March 19, 2012

Also, Did We Really Need The Scene Of The Four Unrelated Guys In An Apartment Masturbating Together?

I watched this movie with Aesa last night. It was some famous Korean film. I do not know the title. It will probably show up in the next sentence well after I have written this review thing. Something like Mr. Vengeance? (Aesa says the correct title is Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. So.) Anyway, it was a really fucked up movie, and not in the “oh, that is a fucked up movie” kind of way. Like… I just really didn’t understand what it was trying to do.

This film set up literally every single character in it for failure. Every single one. Nobody who was a character was in any way alive by the end of the film. It was all just sort of “last person is dead, so roll credits, we’re done.” It was almost like a snuff film or something. “How miserable can we make these people before they die? You’ll want to see that, right?” That’s supposed to be the point? Watching all this stuff is supposed to have a point, right? There’s got to be some sort of artistic vision going on here, right? But I just have a hard time figuring out what it could possibly be.

One of the first things I would try to teach somebody about writing a story is that you have to have somebody who you can root for: somebody that you want to succeed. You can want them to succeed in spite of what that actually means: you can associate with terrible people, and often that creates some pretty compelling narratives. But in general, to get someone engaged, you have to let them relate to somebody in the story.

I could not relate to basically anyone in this story.

The “main character” with the green hair seemed like a guy I should relate to, but if I’m being completely honest, his disabilities made that tough. His character was not much deeper than just those flaws, to me. I could never really see what made him tick. The movie sort of went out of its way to make him seem dragged along by circumstance, instead of his own decisions. Even the big decision he makes, kidnapping the girl, was really more him just agreeing with his girlfriend more than anything. The girlfriend was a plot-forwarding device for most of the movie, as was the sister. Neither of them felt really developed. The little girl felt like more of a character in a lot of ways, but she didn’t really seem to desire anything. She was just kind of there. The father figure is probably the one that’s easiest to potentially connect with, but I still had trouble because it just felt like he jumped to murder so quickly. There was never a doubt in his mind that he was going to throw his company, everything he worked for, away and do some killing the moment he found his daughter dead. It makes it hard to sympathize with him. It’s not like he didn’t potentially have other venues to deal with this. He found all this info. He could have went to his police contacts with it. But then everyone wouldn’t have died, I guess.

Even in a story where everything is terrible and nobody gets what they want, though, normally SOMEBODY gets what they want, just not anyone who we as an audience gives a shit about. A corporation, the guy who’s kind of an asshole… someone triumphs. Literally nobody triumphs in this story. Nobody in it comes out better than they were before. Everything in this film is downhill.

I just don’t understand what I as a viewer was supposed to take away from this movie. I mean, make depressing stuff, sure. And maybe if I had a knowledge of Korean film-making this would fit into a mold that would make more sense. But it just seemed like someone set up dominoes to fall down perfectly until they were all gone. It didn’t feel like real life. I didn’t feel like I could learn a lesson from it. I was just flummoxed.

That was a thing I watched! Uh, yeah. So. Next time we’re watching a comedy. Heh.

March 13, 2012


When I got my PS3 from CJ (not the CJ I’m now living with, but another good friend CJ) it had a bunch of random movies left on the hard drive that he told me I could enjoy for whatever reason. I never really have, though. I mean, I watched the one that most interested me (The King of Kong) and The Room is on there for some reason, and I know what that is, but I’ve never really watched any of the rest.

However, when we were just sitting on the couch wasting time, CJ (this one is Aesa, not the CJ I got the PS3 from) went “what are these?” and looked through the movies. And then we ended up watching Rad.

It was pretty rad!

Words cannot truly do this masterpiece of a film justice, so I’m just going to suggest you watch this key scene of how Rad does romance. I’ll wait until you get back.

Now just imagine an entire movie basically exactly like that, and you have the movie Rad.

Seriously, though, as a movie, it’s just kind of crazy. It’s like the writers knew what the tropes and such of a gimmicky movie like this were, but they had no idea about how to use them. They piled in tons of cliches, none of them made sense, and then just made everything around them either ridiculous or unrelated to what was actually going on. It’s kind of fantastic in that way. If someone was paying me to put together a BMX movie as quick as possible to cash in on a craze, I would have never come up with a movie like this. Bits and pieces that were in this movie would have appeared: a big race, local guy who knows he can make it big, mother disapproving because her son should go to college instead of doing BMX, asshole professional coming in to town, and so on. None of them would have been anything like the bizarre configuration this movie put them in. That’s what it’s such a great view.

I certainly recommend Rad if you like really, really bad movies that just flummox and perplex. It is quite an experience, and one I’m glad Aesa and I ended up having.

March 2, 2012

I Don’t Believe A Consumer Product Testing Company Tests Parachutes.

This Means War is a fantastic film.

I went to it knowing basically nothing about it: I just wanted some social time with Mr. JSpants, who invited me to go. He said it was funny? Sure, I’ve got this gift certificate, let’s go. I really had a fantastic time, though. It’s not some art piece that will change your life, but it is a finely crafted and enjoyable piece of cinema. It’s a fun evening. It’s a perfect date movie.

Seriously, it’s pretty well the perfect two quadrant date movie. The romance stuff in it is really touching, and for the most part comes off as pretty damn genuine. I bought both the relationships, which is fairly impressive considering a lot of the time a movie can’t make you buy ONE relationship. The action in the film is well-done and fun. It’s not the most over the top stuff you’ve ever seen or anything? But if you like watching some dudes shoot some other dudes, there are some good scenes of that in there. The comedy, too, for the most part works. I did a solid amount of laughing during the film. The two main guys have some really great banter between them. The “comic relief” female friend was actually both funny and a character whose I can believe is a real person and not a caricature. It all just works! It’s great.

Another thing that impressed me about it was how it somehow completely fooled me. I was that engaged. If I had stepped out of the situation I was seeing, and thought “What would somebody writing a Hollywood movie do?” then the path to creating the cliche happy ending for everyone was extremely clear. If I had pulled my head out of the film, I could have easily guessed what was up. However, I didn’t: I was so engaged that I didn’t look at the overall plot arc to see where it was going. I was actually a bit surprised at the ending, as cliche as it in some ways was. I think that says something awesome about the film.

Anyway, This Means War comes recommended by me. It’s not going to win any awards, but it’s just fun. It’s a shame that so much of romantic comedy is garbage, and not good like this movie, as I’d probably really like the genre if it was more… entertaining.

January 29, 2012

When She Pulled Out A Vaio P For No Reason, I’m Like, Must Be A Sony Pictures Movie.

Kohl’s was like “Dammit, have this free movie ticket!” so Cara and I said “Okay!” and we went to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because that was basically the only movie that seemed worth shit that one of us hadn’t already seen. Plus Cara had seen the other films and such, so she wanted to see. I knew very little to nothing about it, but I was game.

It was an enjoyable movie-going experience. I probably would have never seen it without this free ticket, and I wouldn’t have felt like I would have missed something great, but it was entertaining! I’d recommend it.

Cara told me there was a lot of changes from the books and whatnot? But I was going in cold, like I said, so maybe it’d be more interesting if I gave my opinions without all of that comparison.

First off, the opening credit sequence was some of the most ridiculous bullshit I’ve ever seen. It seemed like it was going to be extremely inappropriate, and it was. They could not have done a worse job at introducing the movie they were about to show me. It was basically a James Bond opening, but just because Daniel Craig is in a movie doesn’t mean it’s a Bond movie. It was just fucking wrong, even if it did look kind of cool.

That was almost certainly the low point, though. The movie picked up after that with no problems, and I did find myself interested in the whole mystery going on and these characters. For the most part, I felt like I got the whole story. However, near the end, it seemed like they must have skipped something. Suddenly they were close enough for a huge bit of money-lending to occur without even a second thought. I did not see that character development happen. I mean, sure, Lizbeth or whatever her name is is a bit weird, so I buy her being that attached, but Daniel Craig’s character just didn’t seem to have the motivation to be that involved at that point. They hadn’t been working together long enough. They hadn’t known each other long enough. I dunno. That was really the only time during the film I questioned the characters, though.

Really, the movie just shocked me with how graphic it was. It showed quite a lot! There were some rapes, a very clear shot of a very brutally murdered cat… just a lot of shots you just don’t see a lot! I didn’t have trouble watching it, because none of it was stabbing. (I don’t really know why I can’t stand to watch someone being stabbed, but, you know. I can’t look at the screen when someone is being stabbed. Made playing the end of Dead Space 2 pretty hard to accomplish!) But it still surprised me a whole hell of a lot. I will admit some of that was because my mom said she liked the movie, and she loved the whole series and all the movies, and that just strikes me as odd, seeing some of the content. But, you know, my mother can have grown-up tastes in films, sure. Just takes a bit to sink in, I suppose. Heh.

Really, though, all the actors did a great job, it was an interesting story… I really have no complaints overall. From what Cara told me, maybe some people who were real fans of the book would have? I dunno. I’m not that person. It was a solid, enjoyable film, one worth seeing if you want to know what this whole Dragon Tattoo thing is all about.

January 3, 2012

There Were An Awful Lot Of Silly Disguises, Too, I Suppose.

I feel like I should write about Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, but I recently watched the first episode of the second season of Sherlock, which was fantastic, and that’s kind of stuck in my head. Not that Game of Shadows wasn’t good. It was silly at times, but it was fun and action-packed, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that Sherlock brings the character development and such along with the humorous bits. But I digress.

I was seeing some backlash on my twitter feed against Game of Shadows, but I can’t say I really understood why. They saw the first one, didn’t they? This is pretty well exactly what you would have expected out of a sequel to that movie: bigger, more explosions, more of the same awesome actors being all awesome. It was certainly exactly what I wanted. Sure, there were some extra-ridiculous bits, like the “fight” at the end of the movie that was all in the mind, but at the same time, that kind of crazy-ass idea for a final fight scene made perfect sense in the realm of the movie, given that that sort of “pre-planning” was always how they showed Sherlock’s prowess, so of course his equal and rival would be able to do the same. They showed that off as best they can, and in a weird way, made a very action-packed sequence that was still a battle of wits. I couldn’t fault it for that too much.

If I really had to place fault on anything in the film, it’s that the character of the tarot card reader person was really, really useless. She does nothing besides show up with magical gypsy supplies to conveniently move the plot along again and again. She’s basically just an explanation as to why Sherlock and Watson can be where they need to be when they need to be. I guess there have been worse characters in films? But she certainly wasn’t as memorable as the rest of the main cast, but at the same time was kind of forced in there because you need a female character, right? Yeah, I don’t know.

I did rather like how they mostly resolved the Sherlock-Watson-Watson Wife love/hate triangle that was set up in the first movie. Sherlock finally kind of gives in, but his solution is to make sure that Watson Wife trusts him, and brings her to his side, as opposed to just kind of apologizing and getting along nicely, which isn’t really a thing he would do. Then again, I guess Holmes’ “death” kind of solves the problem for Watson Wife before she need really do TOO much, though, so maybe they’ll bring it back if they do another sequel. I kind of hope not, though. I liked the subtle way it resolved itself.

Anyway, I didn’t find any surprises in this film. I went in looking for a fun popcorn kind of movie, just like the last one, and that’s exactly what I got. It was fun, and funny, and just plain entertaining. I’m sure if I thought SUPER HARD I’d find some plot holes and even more stupid shit. But eh. This never wanted to be something impressive. It just wanted to be fun. And it was. So there.

December 2, 2011

When Sentimentality Attacks

Everyone loves The Muppets! Like, it’s this film, and everyone loves it! It’s awesome! Everyone should see it!

I found it incredibly mediocre.

Now, I’m not some huge Muppets fan or anything. I haven’t even seen all their movies. But I like the Muppets, and this movie excited me. I really wanted to see it! What I got wasn’t what I was bargaining for.

When the Muppets are being funny, they are awesomely funny. There are amazingly good jokes throughout this movie. I did many laughings throughout the film. But the movie was dead set on constantly killing any momentum of its jokes by becoming amazingly, overwhelmingly sentimental over and over again. Here I am, sitting in a theater, watching a movie called The Muppets, and constantly Kermit the Frog is putting on this super sad face because “nobody loves us anymore, and we need to work together, but how can we make people love us?” PEOPLE LOVE YOU. THAT’S WHY WE’RE IN THE THEATER WATCHING YOUR MOVIE. It felt so fake and so deliberately designed to tug at nostalgia heartstrings. It would have worked if kept to a minimum, but you’d have a scene of fun and funny jokes, and then a scene of this bullshit, over and over. It’s like they couldn’t just establish their premise, which was a fine premise for this movie, and then just move on with it and have fun. They had to treat their plot super serious, which is just not why I wanted to watch The Muppets. But maybe that’s not the case with everyone else. I don’t know. Still, the ending was a very silly resolution that was not the resolution to something serious, so I don’t know what they were thinking with that, either.

Really, them hammering that home is what hurt the movie for me. There was plenty of good stuff. I’ve had this song stuck in my head since I saw the film, for instance. When the Muppets were doing what they do best, they did a bang-up job of it, and reminded me why I wanted to see the movie in the first place. Maybe me and my friends are just broken, and it’s fantastic, but man, it didn’t do enough for me as a movie. So much potential, squandered. Maybe something good will come out of this “relaunch” of the Muppets afterwards, though.