Category Archives: About a Film

My Thoughts on Movies I Saw for Free

I wrote this last year but kept delaying posting it because I kept thinking I would watch Lincoln. Since I was starting to write one up for THIS year, I figured, what the heck, I’ll post it a year late.

So, because I work in Hollywood, I get screener DVDs sent to my house of some of the movies that are up for awards every year.  (And if they don’t send DVDs, they often give me downloads or free movie tickets.)  Here are my brief thoughts on a subset of this year’s free movies:

(mild spoilers for Silver Linings Playbook, Argo, Hitchcock, Les Miserables, and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel)

Silver Linings Playbook:  Well-written, well-directed, well-acted, and their screw-up of the “big move” was one of the best-crafted actions in a movie scene I’ve seen in a long time.  But I have a bone to pick with Silver Linings Playbook, which is . . . how did nobody tell me this was a ROMANCE???  I’m watching, and watching, and watching, and suddenly, BANG, in the last ten minutes, I realize the entire plot structure was a ROMANCE PLOT STRUCTURE!  I thought it was a drama that was going to end unhappily with everyone miserable or dying, dammit.  I felt very duped!

Argo:  First half: Awesome.  And I was rolling on the floor at the (all too true!) portrayal of Hollywood.  Second half?  Eh.  Way too many exactly timed close calls that were Hollywoodized in just for the DRAMA of it.  Plus, I didn’t think any of the hostage characters were very well-developed, which means I couldn’t bring myself to care as much as I wanted to about their eventual escape.  I would have much preferred to see more antics of the producer and the SPX make-up artist.  (Also: The whitewashing, of course, pissed me off.  We’re at a time when Hispanic people are systemically being painted as non-patriotic, non-real Americans, and here was a golden opportunity to show a Latino as an American hero . . . not.)

Hitchcock: The cast was spectacular.  The story of making Psycho was fascinating.  Alas, if only they could have stuck to that story.  The forays into Hitchcock’s strange daydreams/night dreams messed up the pacing and confused what would have been an excellent film otherwise.  (Also: I want to marry Helen Mirren.)

Lincoln: Didn’t watch it at first because they didn’t send a DVD.  Then they sent one and I . . . still didn’t.  Sounded heavy, so we kept procrastinating on watching it.  I’ve heard it’s narratively pretty problematic (i.e. racist), so I’m not too bothered.  Maybe I’ll watch it eventually.

Les Miserables: . . . no comment.  (We tried to watch it with copious amounts of alcohol; we really did.  We started the fast-forwarding about five scenes in and still couldn’t even make it to the halfway point.)

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: Expected it to be a bunch of awesome elderly British actors getting up to hijinks, and it was completely as advertised.  I’m generally not a fan of the Exotic Location Teaches White People a Very Important Lesson stories, but I was too busy watching Judi Dench being adorable to worry about it much, and from what I can tell (not being Indian) they did have a diversity of reasonably well-developed Indian characters.  (Also: I tend to like movies that don’t focus on young twenty-somethings.)  Other thoughts: Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are both near eighty, what?, and I desperately wanted Penelope Wilton to whip out a badge and say, “Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister!”  (Yes, we know who you are.)

The Impossible: After reading this review, I refused to watch it, even for free.

Thoughts on the Movie “The Heat”

What you should know about me first: Action comedies rock my socks.  As long as there’s just enough plot to hang the banter and gunfights on, I am there with my popcorn.

And The Heat?  The Heat delivered like no other action comedy has in years.  Rock.  On.

Of course, I also dug it because it’s a buddy cop comedy starring two women.  How often does that happen?  It’s so rare I can’t think of another one ever, yet I can think of plenty starring two dudes.  So, was this movie Oscar material?  No, but it wasn’t trying to be.  Was it a solid addition to the action comedy genre?  Hell yeah!  And I think it’s great that women can be the madcap, wild, brawn-before-brain action stars too—just like I want to see Asian men headline dumb romantic comedies.

More thoughts (some spoilers):

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Star Trek: Into Darkness, This Time With More Rant and Many Links

So . . . in my initial reaction post, I expressed my disappointment with this movie.  Walking out of the theatre, I thought it an “eh, enjoyable” action flick but a depressingly terrible Star Trek film.  I ranted a bit about the sexism and the racism and Certain Writing Decisions, but I had liked enough elements to feel it was merely mediocre.

The more I think about it, the more I think that it might not even be a good movie, and as far as being a Trek movie goes, it’s rapidly devolving in my head to “practically a desecration.”

Here’s what I’ve been mulling about (with links!).  Warning: If you liked the movie, you probably shouldn’t click.  I have no wish to rain on anyone’s happiness.

(Spoilers below.)

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Star Trek: Into Darkness

Background: I loved the 2009 Star Trek.  I had to see it twice in theatres (which is very unusual for me) because I couldn’t stop obsessing about it, and I’m always up for a rewatch on DVD.  I thought it did a marvelous job of paying homage to Star Trek canon (which I am nuts about) while making the story its own.

I went to see Into Darkness on Thursday.  The movie’s so new that I’m putting my whole reaction behind a spoiler warning . . .

The verdict:

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Iron Man 3

I go to see maybe 2 to 4 movies in the theatre each year.  (For someone who works in Hollywood, I am horrendously remiss at keeping up with movies.)

This year, two of those movies have already been Iron Man 3.

I cannot articulate the amount of love I have for this film.  The Avengers is one of my favorite movies ever ever ever (and was 2 out of the 3 movies I saw in a theatre last year, the third being Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows), and Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are my favorite characters within one of my favorite movies (is anyone surprised by this, by the way?  After all, Tony Stark’s superpower is being a scientist!).  So I was already predisposed to like it, but they did everything right to hit every button I have.

All the things I loved:


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Conversation(s) of the Night: Highlights While Watching The Incredible Hulk

Bruce runs into a library . . .

Me: Don’t Hulk out in the library!  You’ll ruin the books!

My friend: You are such a nerd.

Tim Roth fires a bunch of grenades at the Hulk from about ten feet away . . .

Me: Come on, that’s not how impact grenades work!  You need a lot more distance to arm them; they won’t go off at point-blank range.

::I proceed to explain exactly how impact grenades arm to my friend while we make fun of the bad CGI::

Bruce says to Betty, “Remember when we were at Harvard and we participated in those experiments that induced hallucinogens?”

Me: Yes, because it’s so normal for students to participate in studies that induce hallucinogens.

My friend: What are you talking about?  That’s what I did all the time at college.  What kind of college is MIT anyway?

Me: I feel like some writer really wanted to say, “Hey Betty, remember when we dropped acid in college?” but then figured Bruce Banner wouldn’t do that.  Cue “studies that induce hallucinogens.”

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Why Intent Matters: The Sword Fights of “The Princess Bride”

The Princess Bride is one of my all-time favorite movies.  In fact, if someone were to ask me for a list of my top five favorite movies of all time, The Princess Bride would be the only instantaneous response.  (I’d have to think about the others, sort through my favorites and see which I thought merited the other four spots.)

[Spoilers for the movie ahead.  Obviously.]

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