Monday, March 10, 2014
The Oscars were last Sunday, and by this point everyone is already tired of hearing about the nominees and the winners, so I talk about a few Oscar "snubs". Sorry for the pretentious air quotes, but as much as "snub" is a convenient way to express what I want to talk about, I really hate that word. I feel like it's generally used to imply that a movie deserved an award which it was denied due to incompetence or some other variety of insult to the members of the Academy. Whatever, who cares about the Academy? It should be about the movies, not the people who pick them off a list. In that light, here are some movies I saw from last year which I thought were exceptional in one way or another but which didn't get a chance to be recognized.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
|Notably hilarious exception|
See, the problem with the cultural/ideological view that women are inferior is that it doesn't make sense. No, not because they're actually equal to men, that would be silly! The problem is that it leaves open the question of why women aren't constantly fawning over men. If we (men) are superior, why don't they (women) pay attention and/or make love to us? The answer is simple: aliens.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
On this week's episode of Something Interesting From Last Week, the lesser-known movies from Guillermo del Toro!
Last week I watched two movies from director Guillermo del Toro, each of which embodied a significant element of what I consider his masterpiece, Pan's Labyrinth (2006). First is his debut feature film Cronos (1993) and its use of color. It has two worlds which it differentiates by the colors which constitute them: the first is primarily orange, gold or brown and represents our normal, average, everyday reality; the second is primarily blue, black or grey and represents an evil, fantastic, and almost unreal underworld. The two worlds are strictly separated at first (scenes occur in one or the other of the color schemes) until the protagonist falls under an evil spell and the blues and blacks of the underworld begin to seep into his reality. Del Toro uses a similar segmenting and contrasting of colored worlds in Pan's Labyrinth to distinguish between fantasy and reality and between the world of children and the world of adults.
The second movie I watched from Guillermo del Toro was The Devil's Backbone (2001), a movie which separates the world of children from the world of adults against the background of a larger historical/cultural milieu in a way similar to Pan's Labyrinth. It takes place during the Spanish Civil War but has almost none of the imagery we'd expect from a film about war. Instead it is about a young boy in an orphanage and the people who take care of him. There are scenes shot from the children's perspective where they know something is happening but have no idea what it is and there are scenes shot from the informed adults' perspective, and this juxtaposition serves the dual purpose of highlighting the innocent nature of the children and the inhuman nature of war (we have to grow up before we can understand it, it's not something inherent to our knowledge or comprehension).
Both Cronos and The Devil's Backbone were the best films from Guillermo del Toro I've seen since Pan's Labyrinth and any fan of the director will likely find a lot of enjoy in each.
Related: My Ranking of Guillermo del Toro's Filmography
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
The Lego Movie (2014), the recent 100 minute advertisement for Lego's popular line of construction brick toys, has been receiving astronomically positive reviews. Of all the movies nominated for Best Picture this year, the only one with a higher rating on Rotten Tomatoes is Gravity. Everybody is in love with it. Maybe it's just because it's February and we're stuck in between Oscar Season and Summer Blockbuster Season and most of the movies coming out right now are kind of trashy (Winter's Tale, Endless Love, Ride Along, Barefoot, Vampire Academy, and Nut Job all have less than 20% as I write this). In any case, as much as I'd love to be the dissenting voice here and tell you that this is just another kids' movie, it actually kind of lives up to its hype.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
On this week's episode of Something Interesting From Last Week, surprisingly long flashbacks!
Coincidentally I also watched another film with an odd flashback structure (and also featuring Vincent Price), 1958's The Fly. Here again we get half an hour of setup only to rewind several days, but in this case the flashback lasts almost an hour (53 of the film's 94 minutes). More of the movie happens in the past than in the present, but with significant bookends on either side. The flashback houses the majority of the film's central events involving a woman with a husband who conducts a dangerous scientific experiement which mysteriously leads to his death. The effect is first of having you question the murderer's innocence and sanity (before the flashback) and afterwards of forcing you to believe in and side with the murderer (by having the flashback take place from her perspective).
Both solid movies which I would recommend for any fans of science fiction oldies, a bit slow by today's standards but fun for any who might be interested.
Related: The Best and Worst of Movie Remakes
Related: The Best and Worst of Movie Remakes
Friday, February 21, 2014
RoboCop (2014) is the new remake of the original RoboCop (1987) and as such was doomed to begin with. The original has a large fan base and is widely considered influential if not masterful. As with any kind of remake or reboot, there was significant backlash even before this new film came out. This preparatory backlash is silly, and comparisons to the original are unnecessary and unjustified. The new movie's not going to erase the old one, and in this case it didn't even ruin anything. The new RoboCop might not be better than the old one, but taken on its own merits it's a solid, enjoyable movie.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Last month I wrote a largely negative and somewhat nit-picky review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The thing is, while I may be disappointed with the fact that Jackson's Hobbit movies don't live up to the standards of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, it's not like they're bad movies. They could be better, but there are two sides to every argument. I'm on both sides with this movie, and I can see how elements which I criticized can also be enjoyable. So with that in mind, here is my counterpoint to myself, my defense of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.
Monday, February 10, 2014
The Counselor was one of the most divisive films of 2013. Its detractors criticize it for failing in all the same areas where its fans praise it for succeeding: it's either contemplative, philosophical, and literary, or soporific, uninteresting, and superficial. However, turning the tables a bit to look at the film from a slightly different perspective reveals something in it which should interest any movie lover whether or not you enjoyed watching it. The structure of the movie is unique especially for a production with such big name talent attached to it. The Counselor runs much more like an experimental film than a blockbuster, which makes sense with a first-time screenwriter but is nonetheless surprising given its professional appearance. Whether or not you think it worked is a matter of personal taste; I want to look at how it rewrites the laws of the screenplay.
Monday, February 3, 2014
Frozen is the newest animated feature film from Disney Animation Studios and is, as many Disney movies are, a movie for children. So why should you care about it? You're a grown woman and/or man! Sure, you may have enjoyed The Lion King back in its day, but we're in the middle of awards season and can watch Big Kid Movies like The Wolf of Wall Street. What's more, if you've seen anything on television or even in theaters about Frozen it was probably limited to the fact that there's a cute snowman and a cute reindeer and they get into cute wintery high jinks. There's much more to the film than that: it has an actual story with actual characters, and more importantly it enacts a reversal of two major ideological trends characteristic of Disney and Hollywood.