Friday, October 21, 2016



Can there ever be too many films with a Groundhog Day premise? The answer is no, there cannot. But at the same time you can't expect all time-loop movies to achieve the same level of brilliance as Groundhog Day did. For one, Arrow's cousin is a far cry from Bill Murray no matter how you slice it.

Written and directed by .

The Netflix original film ARQ really has more in common with Edge of Tomorrow anyway. It's heavily focused on the sci-fi. It differs from Tom Cruise's alien invasion flick though, by being very small-scale and intimate. Only six or seven characters exist in the whole film, and 97% of the movie takes place inside one small building.

The premise, in my opinion, doesn't need much explaining besides the time-loop part, but it follows , who wakes up to his home being invaded by a group of men and is killed trying to escape them -- only to have it happen again, and again, and again. He (along with his ex, , who is unaware of the time loop) must figure out what the men want, how to stop them, and what in the world is causing time to loop in the first place. The result is a twisty, winding thriller flick that keeps things fresh in spite of its repeating events.

As Edge of Tomorrow proved, the ability to kill off your main characters and effortlessly bring them back is a huge win-win situation.

This film is small budget, so the best things it has going for are the things that separate it from other films of its kind. And it doesn’t have the wow-and-dazzle element of a big production, so it’s forced to be smart to keep the plot moving. It is smart, giving out plenty of neat plot twists along the way. However, it’s clear that it wants to be a bigger film than it could be. It’s set in the midst of a post-apocalyptic war, which is talked about as if it’s a huge thing, but we never get to see that side of things. And the world is used to try and push the steaks up higher than they probably needed to go. The plot worked out well; that didn’t need a change, but the focus was spread too wide by then end, when it probably would have been more compelling if it had stayed intimate and personal. Instead it didn’t quite land solidly on either front.

I don’t think the film was successfully made to be exactly what it was meant to be. It isn’t that drop-everything-and-watch-right-now Netflix-produced entertainment that we’ve tentatively come to expect, but those are high standards. ARQ still has plenty to recommend it – even if it just comes down to its premise. The actors give convincing performances, and create characters that are worth rooting for. Thrills are delivered in good quantity via the fast-paced script that seems dead and determined to not just copy other time-loop tales. And just enough explanation is given along the way to keep us interested and not too confused. The R rating doesn’t go over the top and sticks with a handful of language and violence.

Not so smart that you can't understand it, but not so dumb that it gets boring. A nice balance on a small scale.

There’s really nothing about this film that makes it unmissable, but neither does it have any glaring failings to make it not worth recommending. For sci-fi fans who are not content to stick to the mainstream of action-heavy science fiction thrillers and crave a movie that makes you think a little, this is definitely a worthy trip to take.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Some spoilers... though there's not much to spoil.

I've finally had to admit to myself that I'm just not a fan of the rebooted X-Men franchise. It seems crazy. How could I not like a superhero franchise? That has so many favorite actors in it no less? I look at that cast of the new X-Men films -- particularly this one -- and think there's no way I could possibly not love the movie they all inhabit. Not to mention they all play such cool characters. Yet, here I am again, underwhelmed after an X-Men movie -- and this one more so than ever.

"What does this button do?" "That makes the movie more interesting. Never push that button Hank."

This time steps up to the plate as the villain: Apocalypse, an ancient, powerful being -- the original mutant, who had been slumbering for the past couple thousand years, but has now been awakened. (Side point: was it actually 's fault he woke up? Cause those men were doing the chanting, but it seemed like to me it only worked because she forgot to close the door and sunlight got in. Like, they've been going down there and chanting daily for hundreds of years, and this is the first time someone accidentally left the door open? Anyway...) Apocalypse doesn't exactly like how earth has changed since he ruled it and means to do some spring cleansing before he takes office.

The most disappointing aspect of this film might actually be that Oscar Isaac is unrecognizable in his role. And I get that in his normal state he doesn't exactly exude the kind of power and menace a character called Apocalypse would require, but seriously, covering his face in prosthetics and digitally changing his voice was not the answer. Cast someone else. Or just let him act. I spent the whole movie trying to recognize him (knowing that it was him!) and it only came through in a brief glimmer one time -- in his voice. He didn't even get to do any acting; he just delivered a bunch of speeches in a deep, digitally altered dramatic voice. Anyone could have done it! The final blow was of course that he didn't have the superpower to grow into a giant like the trailer implied. Turns out the most powerful mutant ever needs others to do everything for him, and can't take on more than one person at a time in a fight.

The only thing he really has is good persuasive skills, to convince people to work for him.

Out of all three of the rebooted X-Men films, this one is oddly the least epic and on the smallest scale. That really surprised me. It's called Apocalypse; shouldn't the scale be, I don't know, apocalyptic? The final battle took place within about a square block -- making the Avengers and Superman jealous I'm sure -- and was so sadly static. It bothers me when superheroes destroy entire cities carelessly, but at least other films do a lot of moving around to produce the destruction. Here, we have the worst of both worlds, with Erik just sitting there and whoom -- everything's destroyed. Then they just kick back and have a battle that would have done very little damage otherwise.

That's the brunt of my complaining. Then there's a few things I'm more neutral to, and a few things I liked. On the neutral front come Charles and Erik. They're the main characters, but they never have interested me much as such. I like and I like what was done with the character of Charles under in this film, but it really seems like they're only the main characters because only gets a cameo. X-Men films are best when they're led by Wolverine, and that's a fact. So the movie spends a lot of time focusing on Charles and Erik, doing the same things they've always done, and while it's not exactly bad, (except for that super unlucky accident that started Erik up on his "villain or no?" arc yet again -- that earned a hearty "come on!" from me) it's not exactly compelling to me either.

You know, now that the timeline has been changed, you don't need to contrive reasons for Erik to be a bad guy...

What I did find compelling was, amazingly, one of the things I was most looking forward to. That is, playing Scott/Cyclops and playing Kurt/Nightcrawler. I was looking forward to them because they're talented actors and since I've already enjoyed the older versions of the characters, I thought it would be neat to see them take the parts. I underestimated how good this aspect would actually be. Firstly, Tye Sheridan was perfect casting for Scott. I actually saw James Marsden in him, like he could actually grow up into him. Characterization could have used so much more, but at least that's a testament to how much potential he had.

And Kurt was even better. He got a small arc, but it was complete and interesting. And seriously, the kid is so charming. He was by far the funniest character (even though Quicksilver was there) and had that adorable naivete and a tragic but unexploited backstory. Right now I just wish this had been like a teen comedy where Scott, Kurt, Jean, and friends do typical high school things with a super-powered twist and then in the end have to go save the day like they do (in the best part of the movie I might add) and that's it. I would watch the heck out of that movie!

The trio. Why couldn't they be the movie's main characters?

I should mention while I'm on the subject that as Jean Grey is very good too. I've never felt the biggest connection with the character, but this version of her is sympathetic and as good as ever. Also as Quicksilver; the problem of his being too powerful to participate in the climax they cut off at the pass, but then they had to backtrack a little, because they didn't want him to actually tell Erik he's his son? Whatever. I still like the characterization, but his big scene felt very much like "Quicksilver Saves the Day: The Sequel." It was bigger, and longer, but by no means better.

It's a strange day when there's a movie starring and and I spend all my time talking about everyone else, but as cool as these two are, they spend this movie treading water so there's not much to say. It's also pretty sad that the politics of the X-Men movies is usually what annoys me, yet this one had next to none and I didn't like the film any better. My overall experience was just enjoying the characters as they came in small doses -- particularly the Scott/Jean/Kurt trio -- being mildly bored in between, and then being underwhelmed by the smallness of the ending. There wasn't a whole lot to hate, and neither was there a whole lot to love.

Quicksilver attempts to save everyone from the movie's wreckage. It's unclear whether he is successful.

Since I'm big on characters, the film manages to tip to the positive side. The plot in uninspired, and a lot of characters were only there because they could be, or because it is expected, but there was enough that was worthwhile to bring the rest of the film along with it. So I guess I'm not an X-Men fan, but right now, that's working out for me. I can still enjoy what I can out of the films, but I'm not invested enough to care when there's failings. The X-Men -- the characters and the talent that portrays them -- deserve better films than ones like this, but until they get them, I'll be taking them as I can for what they are.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Magnificent Seven


1: . 2: . 3: . 4: . 5: . 6: . 7: .

The gang's all here. Left to right: 6, 5, 3, 1, 2, 4, and 7.

Hired by the recently widowed to help the people of her small western town by getting rid of , who has taken their land and killed anyone who stood up to him, this group of mismatched men leading another unnecessary remake do something unexpected, and make the unnecessary worthwhile. 

I've not seen the original 1960 Magnificent Seven, but from what I heard the plot plays out quite differently in this film. And that was probably the best decision made regarding the film. What has stayed the same this time is that classic cowboy movie tone that was so popular back in the 50's and 60's, but has since lost its light campiness and been built into something much more serious. Here there are those long, dramatic build-ups to quick-draw shootouts, complete with close-ups and finger twitching and sweat-dripping. There are classically-shot introductions for characters; focusing on their backs or their boots until the cool reveal of their face. Everything milked for all it's worth. And even the plot plays out an old western -- it's a serious situation, but it's meant to be fun for the audience, and that it certainly is. 

Cool dudes and cool gun play. What's not to like?

Instead of re-shooting the same plot in a modern style, what the filmmakers behind this film did was revert back to the classic western method while using modern techniques. The result is a big film, realistic and blockbustery on the action-side, but old-fashioned and nostalgic in its storytelling. The mashup is not without flaws, but it's also something you haven't really seen before, and that's what makes missteps forgivable.

The balance the characters find between classic and contemporary leans mostly to the classic side. They're very simply but uniquely characterized and arcs are tried and true if somewhat predictable; but the performances do cater well to a modern audience. Denzel Washington is an excellent lead, and gets the least complaints. The rest seems to suffer slightly from lack of development, which is understandable considering the cast size. Chris Pratt is always good, and it was fun to see him playing a cowboy. He was cocky and funny with just the right amount of heroism. Ethan Hawke was a surprise favorite. I found his arc very compelling at first, and was a little disappointing that it wasn't more complex in conclusion. 

I'm glad the characters were interesting, but at the same time it only made me wish they were even more interesting.

Vincent D'Onofrio was brilliant and a riot. An epic character, that could lead is own solo movie, but his introduction was so good it was hard to top later. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo I liked immediately, but he faded a little too much into the background later. His character was one of the more grounded ones, but didn't get a distinct arc; as if he were one of the larger-than-life characterized characters who didn't need it as much. Byung-hun Lee had the larger-than-life thing down pat, and so did Martin Sensmeier. Neither had much to say, but had great physical presence. They were also the most engaging to watch fight.

Haley Bennett as a sort of honorary eighth member gets the ball rolling, but then doesn't back off after that, and she's just as good and developed as the rest, if slightly more typical. Peter Sarsgaard saved the villain from being forgettable by playing him well, and not phoning in. For what it is, all the characters were good. They were well-defined and didn't bite off more than they could chew. But this isn't a character movie. It's an action movie with a nice cast of characters on the side. 

I always want there to be more out of the characters, but sometimes (like here) that could just make things worse.

The action itself veers heavily toward modern-day blockbuster stuff, but happily avoids most of the pitfalls that make many actioners these days boring. Even though the entire third act is a battle, there are different things happening in different places featuring different characters that keeps us engaged. And the battle was planned out in detail, so it's easy to tell what's going on. The quality of the action is sometimes lacking -- by today's standards anyway -- with only a handful of memorable stunts. Mostly it's just a lot of well-aimed gun-shooting. But that's when the side of character becomes useful to fill in gaps. 

Undeniably, this movie is silly. It embraces both the cheesiness inherent in the western oldies and the campiness ingrained into modern fun action thrills. It takes it all together, and the silliness becomes a part of the charm. Yes, it is a flaw that a charge of galloping horses would take fifteen seconds to travel twenty yards, but I found it equally as true that the movie needed to milk moments like that for the extra drama in order to live up to its potential. So those moments happened, and were done wholeheartedly, for fun and for entertainment. 

The Seven Who Worked Together to Make a Remake Worthwhile.

The Magnificent Seven never really had potential to live totally up to its name. Magnificent is just too high a standard -- and who needs magnificence anyway, when you can fill your black five-gallon hat up to the brim with classic charm and humor, and cool heroes on a mission to save the day instead? Not magnificent; but everything it needs to be? Absolutely.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Upcoming Movie Roundup - October

As I predicted, I didn't go to the theater in September. I am still interested to see The Magnificent Seven and Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children though, in spite of the not-fantastic reviews, and Deepwater Horizon a little more than before, because of the not-at-all-bad reviews.

I may not get to the theater again this month, (unless I make a point to go, which I may try) as there are no must-see-in-theater releases, but there certainly are a few very interesting releases that may become must-sees if they turn out as good as they look.

Did you see anything in September? Anything look good to you in October?

The Girl on the Train
Oct 7th; R
I read the book. And I enjoyed it, which was nice since I've been having bad luck with books lately. But after reading it and rewatching the trailer, I have very little interest and very little confidence in this film. Emily Blunt and Haley Bennett are well-cast I think, but otherwise -- even though I love Luke Evans and Rebecca Ferguson -- it's kinda off. Also the film isn't set in England, but NYC, which takes away a LOT of appeal for me. And what's the point of doing that, anyway? Unnecessary changes are indicators of bad adaptations for me. They've also amped up the sexiness a whole lot. So maybe they're trying to increase appeal and tweak it to be more exciting. It is an introverted story, and the book's strongest aspect was the writing style, which can't translate. If it releases to acclaim I'll probably watch it someday, but as of now they've lost me. We'll see if I'm the only one.

The Accountant
Oct 14th; R
This is an excellent trailer. And it looks to be a very unique story, and Ben Affleck is always at his best when he does the trifecta of writing directing and starring, so I'm pretty confident about this film's quality already. Based on the title only I was wondering how exciting it could be, but after watching the trailer, I think it's got that covered too.Very interested to see how this does.

The River Thief
Oct 14th (limited); NR
Ever since I saw Super 8 I've been waiting for Joel Courtney to be in more movies, and finally one has crossed my path. You can't tell much about plot from this trailer, but the write-up makes it out to be interesting and promising. And it certainly has a beautiful look to it which you can see from the trailer -- lots of great shots. In a lot of ways it reminds me of Mud, which is very appealing to me, since that one of favorite films. If it turns out half as good a Mud it'd still be a good movie!

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
Oct 21st; NR
(I can't find a MPAA rating, but I'm assuming it'll be PG-13.) The first Jack Reacher film didn't impress me much, but right now the sequel's actually looking to be an improvement! Firstly, Tom Cruise doesn't just do sequels for the sake of doing a sequel. The way I heard it he wasn't even interested in a sequel until he had a good idea for one. Then there's the addition of Cobie Smulders who is excellent at being an action heroine. She might be the biggest appeal of this actually. And of course there's the fact that there's no Mission: Impossible film this year, so why not? You gotta have you Tom Cruise action flick fix!

Keeping Up with the Joneses 
Oct 21st; PG-13
I'm gonna go ahead and include this movie since I've watched the trailer twice now, though I'm not very interested in the film. And by "not very interested" I mean "really really not interested almost at all." The most interesting part is Gal Gadot who is cool, and it would be neat to see her play a spy... and comedy for that matter too. The premise is not bad, if typical, and could make for a fun action comedy, but based on the trailer, it's not gonna be of good quality in either the comedy or the action sides.

In a Valley of Violence
Oct 21st; R
I like the look of this movie. The trailer is very simple, exposition-heavy, and not terribly eye-catching, but that is actually what got my attention. It feels classic, like an honest-to-goodness straight-forward western tale of old. Ethan Hawke is the lead, John Travolta is the baddie, and Karen Gillan's there too. Yeah. I'm liking the look of this movie. A lot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


A lesson in the real-life effects of storytelling, expectations vs. reality, and the vast difference between a mass view of something and a personal one.

 Major Spoilers.

With Jaws being one of Steven Spielberg's most iconic movies, and with me being pretty well-steeped in film culture from a young age, I have almost always been aware of this movie, but never watched it. For a while I was too young for its scary and maturity level, and for another while I believed I still was. But I always figured I would watch it someday, and that day has finally come.

Okay. Don't look now, but... you're in an iconic movie moment.

Watching this film after so long a time made me realize some things: I realized that avoiding seeing it because I was afraid it would make me scared of sharks was a completely moot point, and I'd been delaying for no reason. The reality of the matter is that the moment I learned that this film made people scared of the water, it had its effect on me. Fortunately I have great parents who explained how sharks really work and how unlikely shark attacks are, and fortunately I'm a reasonable person who believed them, and fortunately I love the ocean so much that the idea of sharks will not deter me from the water, but the fact remains. Just knowing that this film scared people was enough to scare me.

Maybe it would have scared me more if I'd actually seen it at ten, but at the ripe old age of twenty-three, there was no more effect to be had. And this is an excellent example of what Spielberg himself discovered with this film; that the unseen is scarier than the seen. Because boy, that shark is at its scariest when it's represented by a POV camera, or moving barrels and docks, or the fear on a character's face. Just like the shark didn't need to be shown to scare moviegoers, for me even hearing about not seeing it was enough; my imagination did the rest.

"I used to hate the water." "I can't imagine why."

I imagined a ton about this movie, by the way. Not purposefully, but knowing about it and being interested in it for so long, I could hardly do otherwise. Hearing bits and pieces of plot or filming trivia, and lines like, "you're gonna need a bigger boat" or "this was no boat accident" all added up to an idea of it in my head. One that I never really realized I had until it was shattered into pieces. My preconception of it wasn't terribly far off for a good portion of the film, but it's worth noting that for most of my life I thought that was the lead, and didn't even know who was. Besides that not much was unexpected for the first two acts of the film.

I did, however, have a childish apprehension that it would be too scary. I knew it was silly, but it was a bit of a relief and extremely satisfying to have been able to relish the fear element that the film offered up so beautifully, instead of feeling regret and worry for my future sleeping abilities. That was a smaller side of my wrong expectations. Here are some of the bigger ones:

Show me the way to go home / I'm tired and I want to go to bed / I had a little drink about an hour ago / and it's gone right to my head!

I didn't know that the whole last act of the film would be the three men, one boat and the shark. Having them be cut off from the world made everything so much more personal, which increased the suspense wonderfully. I didn't know that all three of the characters would be main characters; I expected a few red-shirts to be present. I thought that they would actually get a bigger boat! That one seems ridiculous now, but I honestly thought that if they needed a bigger boat, they would go get one. I didn't know that the character to say that line wasn't the biggest expert on either boats or sharks, but in my defense, (and his) he was right.

I didn't expect Quint to get eaten. I don't know why, but all the named characters seemed off-limits for some reason. So that whole scene really got me. I knew that there would be some personal, human drama going on with Brody, but still that climax was the biggest change to my expectations of all. Just him and a sinking boat vs. the most vicious shark a fish story has ever invented. I recently read Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, and the parallels between it and this sequence really struck me. Except here it was a younger, inexperienced man who knew nothing about the sailing or the ocean who found himself face to face with the terrifying, otherworldly power that the sea houses within its depths.

I always look for the Spielbergian wonder in his movies, and this one is shot beautifully of course, but that's not all of it. Here, appropriately, the wonder comes from the ocean. And I saw it in this scene.

I even knew that the shark was killed by being blown up. I knew that, yet I knew nothing about the film's hero, hardly anything about his arc and the personal side of his struggle, and absolutely nothing about the circumstances of his victory. Isn't that strange? That was the part that made the film good! It's what makes the film great as well, but seriously, without Brody (and even Hooper and Quint too) and the human, emotional element he brings to the story, this film would probably be long-forgotten by now. Just an aged monster film with a good score. Even the score wouldn't be so effective if it weren't for the acting, which was excellent all-around, creating the lovable characters that we don't want to see get eaten.

Maybe that's just me, because I never saw it coming and wasn't prepared for how much I would love those characters and the depth they brought, but there it is. It really surprises me, considering it now: All the things I heard about this movie -- from various sources that loved the film -- were the superficial things that didn't really make a difference to me in the end. Maybe they were avoiding spoilers? And it was probably my fault too, since I was more interested in the neat tidbits and trivia and technical aspects than I was in remembering characters I didn't know played by actors I'd never seen. But my conclusion is this: my original idea of it wasn't mine at all; it was just an average; a general overall perception of it from the general movie audience, culminated inside my head. Now, it's been replaced by a personal view; and what will stick as important has been completely flipped around.

Before, I saw a shark. Now, I see a shark, and a man.

Of course, the action and technical side is as impressive as ever, especially now that I've seen it all working! I will always respect practical effects more than CGI effects, even when the practicals become noticeably dated. There's just no replacing the realism that doing things in camera creates. And no one does practical effects like Spielberg. Actually watching the film hasn't dampened that legendary status I've always attributed to it even slightly.

I still have that feeling, that I mentioned in my Jurassic Park review, where I feel almost unqualified to love a film that's a classic because I'm new to it, but in the case of Jaws, the feeling of being new to it seems like a positive thing in a neat way. Like I've gotten rid of some baggage and am free to move forward in my own direction. I still have a little while to go to develop a full personal love, and I look forward to adding to that, and to my familiarity with it, but one thing will probably never change: I've always thought of this film as a masterpiece.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Charlie Bartlett

Some Spoilers.

One of the many movies I watched because of my love and appreciation of , and probably would have never even noticed otherwise. And likewise one of his many movies that wound up surprising me with unexpected greatness. Charlie Bartlett tells the story of a rich high school student who is kicked out of yet another private school and must attend a public school. Charlie's goal in life is to be popular, so he begins to use his rich-kid connections to deal prescription drugs to the student body. Along with listening to their problems and giving them advice, because hey, he's a nice guy.

"Would you like to talk about it?"

I've seen this film twice now, and both times was on TV and edited for content. The original is rated R, just for your information. Also, obviously, the film deals with mature and questionable content. The whole plot is about drugs, and the lead is a full-on drug dealer whichever way you slice it. It's also technically a teen dramedy and ticks all the boxes that usually requires. It touches on a lot of serious subjects and always seems to be on the verge of going down a path that is too dark. The first time I watched it, that all came as unexpected. I was just there to watch Anton and have a giggle, but the movie really is more than that. I sat down with it again yesterday with a totally different mindset, and this time the movie clicked for me.

This time I paid attention to what the movie is trying to say. On the surface it easily seems like a casually promiscuous movie full of characters doing objectionable things and getting away with it. But I was surprised at how morally upright it was in the end (comparatively) and at how good its message and themes were. The movie strikes a neat grey area by having Charlie do bad things with good intentions, particularly selling prescription drugs to students. He doesn't need the money; he does it for two reasons: One, he feel that it's important to be popular during high school years. And two, he actually does care for the students. He knows that they often can't or won't get professional help, and thinks he can be a good third option. And in a lot of ways he is.

The doctor is in.

He spends a lot of time listening to kids who have never had anyone listen to them before, and genuinely tries to help them. When his doling out meds backfires he even continues to listen and give advice free of charge. Charlie always seems to be in the pursuit of doing the right thing. And really this story is about him discovering what exactly the right thing is. He messes up a lot along the way, and almost in some permanent ways, but he mends his mistakes and he gets there, and it's very rewarding when he does.

What's really neat about this character is that, like the film that features him, his surface impression is actually very inaccurate to the real him. Charlie looks and acts like his life is well-put-together, but really he's just as confused and messed up as anyone. His obsession with being liked is very easy to relate to, and slowly we discover ever darker and deeper sides to him. Anger and insecurity which he keeps suppressed -- and even that he does with good intentions -- but it comes out slowly, and impressively subtly for a teen flick. Really I don't think this should count as a teenage movie. It's much too deep, and intricate, and thoughtful for that. Its biggest failings come when it tries to work within the teen flick genre and shortchanges itself.

Charlie's mother played by is excellent.

Anton Yelchin always gave enjoyable performances, but this stands out in a few ways. Firstly he was given a chance to really run wild with exaggerated performances bits. I loved all the scenes where he was at the piano, dramatically showing off. But also there are several moments that required intricate depth too. Like where the character himself his acting -- putting on a front to hide his real emotions -- and he portrays the real emotion and the emotion the character is trying to show. That can't have been easy at all. He pulled it off beautifully.

Also in the cast is as the love interest Susan, and the school principle Mr. Gardner is her father, played by He gives a very good performance too. At first he seems like a bad guy, out to get Charlie like Mr. Rooney in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but he becomes more and more clearly a mess too, with his own desire to be liked. And all that tension between him and Charlie finally culminates at the end in a great scene by the pool. I love that scene. It's the moment where the movie fully and finally transcends the teen flick genre. The stakes slowly climb during the whole film, and there both the characters are finally in over their heads and the facades come down. And then the drama resolves as forgiveness is passed around and things that were for so long right on edge of toppling into cynical tragedy turn around into happy and encouraging endings.

"Some days are better than others."

The theme of forgiveness is very strong, and there's also plenty to be said for loving your neighbor and selfless love (there is great, realistic examples of this shown between Charlie and his mother, and Susan and her dad), and the movie is also very understanding in pointing out the true unimportance of being liked just for the sake of being liked. "It's not the popularity; it's what you do with it," it says. And if a kid like Charlie can figure that out, I guess there's hope for the rest of us, too.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunshine Blogger Award

A big thanks to Katy of Oh So Geeky for tagging me for this! She came up with some fun questions, so lets get right to it! Rules:

To accept our award, we simply have to: 
Post the award on your blog
Thank the person who nominated you
Answer the 11 questions they set you
Pick another 11 bloggers
Send them 11 questions

Katy's Questions:

1. What movie surprised you the most this year? 
10 Cloverfield Lane. It was the only movie I went into casually, with no baggage and no expectations, and it completely and utterly blew me away.

2. If you published a memoir, what would you call it? 
The World Through Sarah-Tinted Glasses or some slightly silly, slightly witty reference to my perspective, and how I see the world by observing it.

3. What movie character would you love to see made as a FunkoPop (that hasn't been made already)?
I just saw on Twitter some mock-ups or something of Stranger Things characters -- Eleven and Barb! (Because Katy retweeted them, actually!) They were perfect and should be made! I would definitely consider buying a Chief Hopper one.

4. You can only place three movies into a time capsule for future generations. Which titles would you pick?
I'm gonna assume that this means more like my personal picks for future generations that encapsulates this time, and not that these three will be the only movies they will ever see -- because that is just way too much pressure even for hypotheticals. And I will say... Super 8, The Way, Way Back, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

5. Is there a movie that took you a couple of viewings to appreciate?
Hmm. Maybe Blade Runner? I didn't understand it at all the first time I saw it, and even now I still probably don't understand half as well as I should, but I do appreciate it now, and will keep on watching it and appreciating it more and more.

6. What actor/actress will make you watch a movie no matter how bad it might be?
I have frequently sat through movies just because the names of... Sam Rockwell, Karl Urban, Anton Yelchin, Cillian Murphy, and Michael Shannon have appeared in the credits. Some of them were very bad. Some are among my favorite movies of all time.

7. What actor/actress will make you less likely to see a movie?
I try not to let a actors influence me negatively towards movies. However, I'm am pretty prejudiced against Keira Knightly, and Kevin Costner.

8. If you had an opportunity to tell a director to their face how much they messed up a highly-anticipated movie, would you? What would you tell them?
I might have a few choice words for Zack Snyder -- over Man of Steel -- but no, I don't think I would tell it to his face. I just don't care that much. But if I did it would involve a lot of ranting about how stupid Kevin Costner's character is, and how pathetic Lois is, and how un-Superman-ish Superman is when he just lets thousands of people die -- and WHY IN THE WORLD DID HE THINK THAT WOULD MAKE A GOOD MOVIE?????? And then I'd be like, "nice job casting Michael Shannon as Zod though." (Actually, maybe that wasn't his call... actually maybe none of that was his call! Maybe I should be more irritated with the writers in this case.)

9. Can a soundtrack make or break a movie?
Absolutely. Though I think it's easier to make a movie with one. An excellent soundtrack can easily be the highlight of a movie, but it's a lot harder to make a terrible soundtrack that ruins a film!

10. What movie made you laugh recently?
Hail, Caesar! There were some moments in that movie that were so unexpectedly and absurdly funny that I couldn't help but burst out is actual, real laughter -- a that happens pretty rarely in films for me.

11. What movie(s) are you looking forward to seeing this fall?
The only one releasing this fall that I can think of off the top of my head is Doctor Strange. The excitement hasn't kicked in for that yet, but I expect it will. Also Arrival looks neat, and there's Jeff Nichols' new film Loving. I am already excited for Rogue One, but that's more in winter. I'm also looking forward to renting/buying all the movies I skipped over the summer, especially the ones that I didn't skip by choice!

I'm gonna opt out of the tagging people part of this one. Partly because I'm feeling too lazy to come up with 11 questions right now. But if you like these questions, and want to answer them then go ahead and do!