August 18, 2015 § 1 Comment
The other day I went to go see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and was struck by the 20 minutes of trailers that played before it. Not because they were so long, though it has gotten pretty ridiculous, but because of how testosterone-fueled many of them were.
The two that stuck out most were In the Heart of the Sea and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi — they’re movies with men, men and more men. In the former, Chris Hemsworth’s wife gets one line, and the rest of the story portrays how the crew of men get stranded at sea by a giant whale.
And there isn’t a single woman in the two-and-a-half minute trailer for 13 Hours. It’s a war movie, so…no surprise there.
Both these films are based on true stories, so arguably there isn’t much the filmmakers could do to include more women. But it’s dull (to me) to see men’s stories told over and over again with barely even the presence of women. (And it did make me wonder what the world would be like if women were in charge instead of men; I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any wars, but I’ve no doubt they would be less destructive.)
The recent study about lack of diversity in movies — “women made up only 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films released in the United States” — rang true in Mission Impossible 5 as well. Other than Rebecca Ferguson, there were only two other women (with or without lines) in the whole film…and they both die shortly after we meet them.
There’s also a scene toward the beginning of the movie where Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin are sitting in front of a panel of judges, trying to justify why IMF should or shouldn’t be disbanded. The row of at least eight judges were all old, white men. Only a couple of them even talk! How difficult would it be to just throw a woman on there? Or a person of color?
But no. Men are the default. Every eastern European thug, every security staff member at the secret Moroccan plant, all men.
I would feel so disheartened if I were an actress. Where are the roles in big movies? There isn’t even the excuse that you’re not pretty or white or young enough; you’re a woman, and there’s only room for one or fewer of you.
February 16, 2014 § 6 Comments
Over the weekend, I had the chance to watch Disney’s Frozen with a few friends — well, it was almost 4 a.m. when we started the movie, so we only got through two-thirds of it.
A little background: I absolutely love watching animated movies. Two of my favorite movies of all time are Coraline and The Secret of Kells; one of my favorite films of 2013 was Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2. However, this doesn’t mean I’m not picky about what I watch. Almost none of the other animated features of last year (Monsters University, Despicable Me 2) appealed to me, including Frozen.
Overall, I’d say the movie was charming. The animation was beautiful, and the songs and voice acting were superb. But I couldn’t get over the fact that the entire plot was based on a hugely flawed premise.
I can accept without question that Elsa was just born with magical snow-making abilities. Fairy tales usually have an element of fantasy, after all. But what I cannot wrap my head around is that she has to go through a huge period of her life believing that she needs to hide this superpower.
Her parents are largely to blame. It’s strongly implied that they knew about this ability even before the incident and had told young Elsa to keep it under wraps. Why else would nobody in the kingdom know about it? But the thing is…what are they afraid of? They’re the royal family. Can you imagine if the Queen of England had the power to shoot icicles?? Wouldn’t awe and respect of the throne be magnified by a million percent?! Did they think that the police were going to come and cart their daughter off to join the circus?? (Were they afraid ice-haulers like Kristoff would be put out of a job???)
That brings us to the part where Anna’s memories gets erased/replaced. It’s weird enough that we don’t get any explanation (other than a map that falls out of a book?) of why stone trolls are the end-all, be-all of magical maladies. I guess their reasoning was that if she forgot about her sister’s power, then she wouldn’t tempt her to use it and would therefore be safe. Really? The king and queen went with that kind of logic? That whole sequence was basically shoved down our throats in a don’t-ask-any-questions way, but I demand better.
If Elsa were encouraged to cultivate her powers instead of trying to act like they don’t exist, this would’ve been a much better story. Seriously, what kind of parent tells his child to “conceal, don’t feel”?? We as the audience are asked to simply believe that her abilities are automatically bad and to be feared without being given good enough reasons as to why.
February 9, 2013 § 5 Comments
Anybody who knows me well should know that I still enjoy watching children’s movies — for example, Wreck-It Ralph was one of my favorite films of 2012. So last fall, when a trio of horror-based animated films came out, I ranked them in the order I wanted to see them the most:
ParaNorman, as I expected, was clever and thrilling and even a little bit disturbing, which is what I liked so much about its predecessor Coraline (one of my favorite movies). I decided not to watch Frankenweenie after reading some “meh” reviews and watching Tim Burton’s original live-action short film.
Yesterday, due to the impending doom of snowstorm Nemo, I settled in at home to watch Hotel Transylvania. It seemed like an interesting twist on the usual fare. Monsters that are afraid of us? Ha! A human accidentally infiltrating their midst? Haha! Sounds like there’s a lot of humorous material to work with.
Sadly, it was mostly a disappointment.
November 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
The last — and possibly first and only — movie that my parents, brother and I watched in a movie theater together was Casino Royale. It was Thanksgiving week of my senior year of high school, and because I was working part-time at the theater, I could get free tickets for myself and my parents.
Thanks to my rising social media influence (LOL) on Klout, I scored free tickets to an advanced screening of Skyfall, which I braved wind, rain and snow to see on Wednesday night. Below, I spell out my thoughts and give or take points for excellence, logic, etc. in the style of Vulture’s Gossip Girl recaps.
May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
What is it about watching a team come together that is so satisfying? It’s been done again and again in heist movies, secret agent movies, sports movies, Pokémon movies, and it never gets old. (Well, maybe the last one does.) The Avengers is Marvel Studios’ latest production of visual overstimulation, and I think Joss Whedon does a good job of giving the characters a balanced amount of screen time while keeping the film from toppling under the weight of superhero clichés.
As you should already know, Thor‘s jilted adopted brother Loki is leading an evil alien army to conquer Earth. The aliens, of course, are ugly creatures only one step above Power Rangers villains, and we get very little hint of their motive except that Earth is probably a more pleasant place to live than the dank, light-less planet from which they appear to come. I’m not saying that I wanted a half hour of heartfelt alien backstory, and fighting aliens is at least better than casting the Russians, Persians or Chinese as the enemy, but it almost seemed like another installment of the Transformers series.
February 14, 2012 § 2 Comments
For Valentine’s Day, a couple of friends and I decided to go watch The Lady, a movie based on the life of Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Burmese democratic leader Aung San Suu Kyi, starring Michelle Yeoh and David Thewlis (AKA Professor Lupin). It wasn’t my first choice, honestly; while I didn’t doubt that it would be good, I figured a low-key film like that could be equally enjoyed on my laptop without paying for the $11US ticket. In the end, it turned out to be a highly appropriate choice for the holiday. If it were still out in US theaters, I would urge you to skip The Vow or Beauty and the Beast 3D or (heaven forbid) This Means War — if you want a story about the depths of true love, watch The Lady instead.
Some of you might not know who she is. I admit that despite having watched the documentary Burma VJ last year in my capstone class and having read about the country once in an Amy Tan novel, I still get Burma mixed up with Tibet sometimes. I mean, these small, oppressed Asian countries — who can keep track of them, right? Wrong. Irresponsible, even. Some of you [and by you I mean me] might only know her as the woman who was kept under house arrest for years, which sounds like the most boring way to lead a revolution if you ask me. (/sarcasm)
Some of you might even know that Burma is also sometimes referred to as Myanmar, and its naming appears to be quite confused though I like to think of the latter as its slave name. Anyway, my point is that most people in America (I can only speak for us, but the range is probably more like everywhere) know nothing about the country or its present-day politics, so do yourself a favor and get educated. It’s as easy as watching a movie (or two: Burma VJ could be considered a solid chronological epilogue to The Lady and the whole thing is on Youtube!!).
October 30, 2011 § 7 Comments
Yes. The answer in most cases is yes. Yet, Amanda Seyfried‘s character felt convicted enough about that question to have the gall to ask it at two different points during the movie. Unless you’re a superhero with a catchphrase, that’s not acceptable. Then again, she and Justin Timberlake‘s character pretty much thought of themselves as Robin-Hood-esque vigilantes, so I don’t doubt that she would’ve uttered that line more than twice if given the chance.
In the movie In Time, we’re dropped in the middle of this post-industrialized society where people have one year to live after turning 25, and they use their time as currency, dropping dead when the clock on their arm reaches zero. Apparently this is an attempt to fight overpopulation, though I guess I missed that part of the exposition. There are so many questions I had about this society: How could the beauty/anti-aging and pharmaceutical companies let this happen?? Who runs the government, and how the hell did they implement this universal biological clock? Have hospitals become obsolete because people [ostensibly] tend to die of being robbed of time as opposed to ailments from which they can be resuscitated? Did minorities get eradicated early on in this anti-population process? We’re thrown in with little context, but with movies like this, we’re just supposed to accept what we’re told to be reality. Just like when you’re playing Pokémon, it’s better not to ask questions.
For full disclosure, the reason I wanted to watch this movie because one of my favorite actors, Matt Bomer, is in it. Yes, he dies rather early on in the film [it’s not a spoiler if it happened in the trailer!], but seeing him on the big screen was like a dream come true. I almost fainted with glee. His character philosophizes about life and death before “timing himself out ” [ie. suicide], which opens Timberlake’s eyes to the injustice around him.
In fact, there’s quite a bit of philosophizing in this movie. It comes out at an opportune time because the similarities to the Occupy Wall Street movement are easy to draw. The In Time society is separated into “time zones,” and only those rich with time are allowed out of the ghetto and into New Greenwich, which is one of those words [like Newfoundland] that should just be pronounced the way it’s spelled. Naturally, all the poor people in the ghetto rob each other and are themselves robbed by the powerful few, who control the markets and get to live forever. [They are the 1%!!!] It’s not hard to see the undertaking of a political message, but the film takes itself so seriously that the audience occasionally laughed when we weren’t supposed to. Oops.
Also, immortality seems like a throwback to villains of my childhood. Maybe it’s because I don’t watch cartoons anymore, but does anybody really want to live forever anymore?
At some point during In Time, the movie jumps on the crazy train and derails itself. For example, Timberlake and Seyfried concoct the brilliant plan to rob a bank that magically leaves its vault open and uses no guards. They do this successfully multiple times. In fact, the only times they get caught are when they’re in the street and not brazenly stealing from a vault. They make a sexy Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque couple, but there’s very little substance to their relationship, so it ends up being cringe-inducing. [I wanted to die during the strip poker scene.]
And who else expected “fighting” to mean “intense arm-wrestling”??
Some brief character comments:
Justin Timberlake: Is he just a good citizen for the hell of it? Why does he feel obligated to rescue Henry Hamilton? Why don’t we get to learn more about his father? The character development is lacking.
Best quote: “No one should be immortal if even one person has to die.”
Amanda Seyfried: She spends most of the movie in 5 inch heels, an impressive feat considering the sheer amount of sprinting she has to do. Kudos! Her character is introduced to us as a super creeper who just stares at Timberlake wordlessly from a distance for quite some time. It reminded me of Olivia Wilde‘s character from Tron. She’s reckless without much reason, and the way she falls for Timberlake after being held for ransom by him is nothing short of desperate.
Worst quote: “You talk like someone who comes from the ghetto. Sometimes I envy them.” Spoken like a truly out-of-touch 1%!
Cillian Murphy: His wardrobe, according to LC, comes straight out of The Matrix. I have to agree. I guess it’s always a challenge to dress these futuristic societies, eh? Somehow, I don’t expect knee-length leather jackets to come back in style at any point in the future, but I guess I could be wrong.
Vincent Kartheiser: As Amanda Seyfried’s father, he served his role as the insecure time tycoon very well. Maybe it’s because the villains get better material to work with, but his acting was the best, in my opinion.
Alex Pettyfer: I can’t believe he’s actually younger than me. Are minutemen like gangsters? Where do they get so much power? Do they work for the rich?
In the end, I’m glad that we don’t have to live like this — literally living day to day, with death looming as palpably as the green neon numbers on our arms. Writer/director Andrew Niccol is behind classics such as the Truman Show and Gattaca, but In Time isn’t his strongest work. He highlights a very real problem, but his solution is a bit too extreme and simplistic.