Monday, January 25, 2016

Three Movies

Michael at Orange Crate Art posted mini-reviews of twelve movies today.
Blogger envy strikes! I must write some too. (Also see more movies, I'm way behind.)

1. STAR WARS: The Force Awakens   

NO SPOILERS . . . though if I told you the entire story, there'd still be no spoilers because you already know it, unless you've paid no attention to pop culture since the '70s (BCE).

Last night, feeling emotionally worn out, I went to the new Star Wars, to sit in the dark and be filled with something that wasn't me. 
I hadn't particularly wanted to see this movie, but it was the only one at the nearby theater I hadn't already seen or could stand to see. (The Room? No, thanks. The comic Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is as close as I can come to the topic of plucky women trapped and raped by men in small spaces.)

Anyway... I totally enjoyed the Force Awakens––even though I'd walked in 30 minutes after it started. You could walk in halfway through and still pick it up because... 

a) There's no plot!  Hooray! Who needs plot in mythic sagas? 
Naturally there's a little mcguffin of a plot: some folks are looking for someone.
But you can time when to get up to go get candy (I did) or leave to go to the bathroom (I did), because you know how the movie's paced and, pretty much, exactly what's going to happen. 

b) You already know the characters too! Double hooray! As full of emotion as John Williams's famous score, I teared up when some of the old ones appeared. 
But you know the new ones too, cause they're just like the old ones. And you can tell by their costumes who plays which role.

Yes, this is fan fiction, done right. 

(Director J. J. Abrams is a Star Wars fan, and, mercifully, the original creator George Lucas is not involved. As with Star Trek, the franchises improve when the ham-handed creators [Gene Roddenbery in ST] aren't involved.)

Everything is something old, borrowed, or blue... plus something a wee bit new (but not very)--people of color, and more females, and females of color, sort of, and one character who is Conflicted with a capital C! In true fanfic fashion, this character swans about in a way perfectly suited for fanvidding to the emo classic "My Immortal" (by Evanescence) like-- *random search*---this Harry Potter one.
Probably someone's already done it? (I'm not going to even search.)

I liked the new Skywalker-colored (tan, that is) hero Rey (links to article in the Atlantic about what a real hero she is). She could be (probably is) set to another done-to-death-but-still-perfect-song, "Looking for a Hero".

A quick google reveals more than ten Harry Potter vids to that song.
And why not?
Fan productions are like fairy tales or Greek classics---there are endless variations. 

And the comic sidekick (there's always a comic sidekick) is adorable. BB8! The child of Baymax + a soccer ball!
I want a toy of it. [Gee, I wonder if such a toy exists...]

Below: BB8 and Rey looking all samurai. Lucas always said he borrowed a lot from Kurosawa (expecially his movie with a great girl hero with comic sidekicks, The Hidden Fortress---watch it!) 

Verdict: Totally predictable, totally enjoyable, if you like that sort of thing.

2. The Big Short
 Same theater, same motivation (to get out of my brain), different day.
NO SPOILERS, though you know the story--you were there [2007- 2008 housing market...].

If you can give economics personality, you have my vote, and the guy who wrote Big Short (Michael Lewis, also wrote Moneyball), does that.

[John Maynard Keynes, anyone? 
Portrait, right, by JMK's sometime-lover Duncan Grant, who had a child with fellow painter Vanessa Bell (Virginia Woolf's sister), etc....]

The topic of Big Short is depressing (the persistence and destructiveness of human stupidity + cupidity), but the presentation is energizing:
the characters are full of smarts and drive--the movie reminded me a little of the similarly zippy Social Network.
If you could harness that intelligence and drive to something good, imagine that...

And the movie is funny. Among other things, it takes mini-breaks to have pop culture stars explain economic terms, including Selena Gomez (Justin Bieber's ex: synthetic CDOs are "like if a guy bets that I'm going to win this hand at cards, and then people bet on his bet on my hand, and...") and Anthony Bourdain (celebrity chef: bundling bad mortgages is like presenting three-day-old halibut recooked as seafood stew).

Verdict: Great story, great storytelling. (Well, maybe not great, but good value.)  Also, invest in water.

3. I enjoyed reading about movies Michael hated as much as those he loved, so...
Trainwreck. I hated it.

Utter dreck.

What can I say? It's like three-day-old halibut presented as seafood stew . . .  with no salt.

Have we heard this before: 
Women are sluts because they fear intimacy. We really want to settle down with nice, monogamous guys. And by the way, don't dis cheerleaders--they are incredibly hardworking athletes!

OK, yeah, I'd eat that if it was amusing and I was starving. 
But this warmed-over slop wasn't smart and it wasn't funny and it made me queasy. 

Verdict: And don't eat old fish, even if it's free.


Michael Leddy said...

I await The Big Short on DVD. Already gone here.

The Room : that’s what it’s about? I would never know from the ad. Now I now that it’s not for me.

Frex said...

The Room, via Wikipedia:
"24-year-old Joy and her five-year-old son Jack live in a squalid shed they call Room... captives of a man they call Old Nick, Jack's father, who abducted Joy seven years ago, and routinely rapes her while Jack sleeps in the wardrobe."

Horribly, it's similar to several true stories, but it's "inspired" by one in particular:

The Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt "jokes" about how many cases there are like this:
Kimmy's roommate googles Kimmy's case, but has trouble finding it because google keeps turning up others like it.

Frex said...

P.S. Yes- I hadn't though about it--- the ad for The Room looks like it could be a companion to the movie "Joy"--and both feature a main character with that name....