Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Movie Palooza 2014

Thanks to the Polar Vortex, a scary snow-slip, and a well-timed lack of work, I spent several days in a row in bed just watching movies. And some TV shows. And reading a lot of fanfic, something I haven't done in years and feel like it's a dirty habit I've picked up after years of being clean.

But the point is the movies! In no order at all:

- Frozen. There are no words for how happy I am with Disney for finally, in recent years, thinking a bit more about the concept of "true love". Between Frozen and the first season finale of Once Upon a Time, I'm very impressed with how much the Mouse-produced stories are growing up. In addition to that: great singing (middling quality songs, to be fair- just catchy enough not to forget them all) and a great story (that, in a good way, has almost nothing in common with the Ice Queen fable, other than ice shards to the heart). The only story it could really draw a lot of comparison to is Wicked, also starring Idina Menzel, but Frozen is not nearly as depressing or disturbing. My score: A-

- The Heat. Another movie with two strong female main characters! Made in the same year! It's a miracle! It's a little over-indulgent in its own wackiness and runs long due to it, but ultimately a great buddy-cop movie with a great cast. My score: B

- Kings of Summer. There are some truly amazing lines in this movie, incredibly funny moments, and some great cinematography but it fell a little short emotionally for me. I just didn't like Joe or Patrick enough, to be honest, and felt that Kelly was little more than an object that could talk. This movie is all about the supporting cast and the dialogue, though, which are both fantastic. Especially Offerman. But when isn't Nick Offerman fantastic? My score: B

- The Way Way Back. This hit me in a spot where Kings of Summer just did not, for whatever reason. I loved seeing Duncan's change over the course of the movie. I loved that there was no easy fix to his relationship with his mother or her relationship with Trent. I love that the relationship between Duncan and Susanna actually has substance behind it, where they see common ground between each other. While not as packed with great lines as Kings of Summer, this feels more consistent and the supporting cast is given more to work with emotionally with their characters. My score: A

- Gravity. One of those movies where you keep checking the time because you can't watch someone be in misery for that long. Which is to say: IT'S AMAZING. But also: so, so stressful. The camera work is beyond impressive, making the long shots from Children of Men look like child's play. And, most importantly, I'm very distressed by how in the first set of credits, George Clooney has equal billing with Sandra Bullock. Which is ridiculous, as he's gone for most of the movie! It's her movie! Get the fuck out of here with that, George! My score: A

- The Dallas Buyer's Club. They went a little too far with making Ron as homophobic and shitty as possible in the beginning, but it is a good story. And while it may be a story that feels like it has been done before, there was an excellent topical angle to it: the corruption of the FDA, the high price for necessary medications, and healthcare rights in general. But without going "LOOK! This is just like NOW!" every five seconds. Amazing performances. A little too long. My score: B+

- World War Z. Made me want pancakes. And then made me bored and wish that Brad Pitt's family would die already so that the movie would start. Then I made pancakes and the movie still hadn't gotten interesting. How do you make zombies so uninteresting? When you have that many good script writers getting credit for their doctoring and you have one of the best books of the past twenty years as source material? How does it go so boring?! My score: N/A as I didn't finish it.

- Carrie. I gave up 9 minutes in when the locker room scene was a disaster. No one's reaction to the situation makes any sense. First off, from the amount of blood shown, Carrie clearly is actually hemorrhaging and not just having a period. Why didn't any blood show in the pool if she was bleeding that heavily? And the other girls seem to be in a completely different movie, as they are clearly not reacting to someone as worked up as ChloĆ« Grace Moretz was playing the character. If you can't make reverse shots seem to take place in the same universe, you're doing your job wrong. Especially when you're doing a scene as iconic as that one. My score: N/A as I didn't finish it.

- Behind the Candelabra. OMG, you guys, ROB LOWE'S FACE. Seriously. It is the greatest thing ever. You have to see it in motion, though, don't just look at pictures. As for the rest of the movie? It's a little bit better than your average HBO biopic. Michael Douglas is great. Matt Damon shows off his body a lot. My score: B

- Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story. Your average VH-1 biopic. Distressingly, most of the movie was recreating footage rather than filling in the gaps between footage, which results in very little character development other than on the surface. More than anything, it's a cautionary tale about signing contracts without looking at them and not having a clue about money. But I wonder if it's even relevant in this day and age, as the music industry is completely different now from how it was then. But also: I love TLC. My score: C

- The Great Gatsby. It's like a parody of a Baz Luhrman film. But way too freakin' long. Holy crap, is it long. After an hour and 40 minutes, I couldn't take it anymore. My score: N/A, as I didn't finish it.

- The Butler. It's good, but it could've been better. I'm so proud of Danny Strong for writing such a high-profile movie but... I feel like even the personal events in Cecil Gaines's life had all been seen before. The only interesting thing to me was all the stuff about how the wait staff functioned and interacted in the White House. And while I do think it's important to remind people of the horrors that happened during the civil rights movement, nothing shown was new nor was it very profound. Also, LBJ on the toilet will haunt me in my nightmares, but Yaya's black panther 'fro is the stuff of dreams. My score: B-

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