The trailer for Oblivion looked promising, however reviews largely emphasized boredom. Thusly, I never saw it.
Yet the concept and early reviews for Edge of Tomorrow piqued my interest. Somewhat reminiscent of Starship Troopers but without the war praise and nationalism; rather Edge of Tomorrow is firmly route in novel aspects of alien time, memory, and parasitic warfare. It’s hard not to compare it to Haldeman’s Forever War but Forever War is deeply rooted in its anti-coloniasm message and Vietnam-era feel. Edge of Tomorrow doesn’t get into politics in any real fashion, other than it gets in the way. The film is pure adrenaline and only in needed instances does it delve into emotional ties. These instances help build rapport between audience and lead characters. As a genre sci-fi military is in my wheelhouse; and given the film’s Japanese roots, based on the novel All You Need is Kill, it offers up a lone samurai feel as well. That said, go see this movie.
I’ve been meaning to watch the documentary Marwencol forever. Though I am late to the party, stepping over spilled beer, chip crumbs, and unrecognizable refuse, I can still say it was memorable. I’ll simply offer Marwencol praise, recommend it to you, dear reader, and whet your appetite:
On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside of a bar by five men who beat him nearly to death. After nine days in a coma and forty days in the hospital, Mark was discharged with brain damage that left him little memory of his previous life. Unable to afford therapy, Mark creates his own by building a 1/6-scale World War II-era Belgian town in his yard and populating it with dolls representing himself, his friends, and even his attackers. He calls that town “Marwencol,” a portmanteau of the names “Mark,” “Wendy” and “Colleen.” He rehabilitates his physical wounds by manipulating the small dolls and props — and his mental ones by having the figures act out various battles and stories.
What kid doesn’t grow-up in love with aquatics, marine-life, and Orcas? Having been to Sea World San Diego and constantly in its proximity, I never thought to question their practices (outside of questioning zoos in general). Blackfish shines a light on the sordid and profiteering world of Orca raising/training for entertainment. It is a must-see documentary that is changing world-views, leading me to conclude that Orcas, complex and emotional creatures, have no business in captivity. After I watched the film, I read a bit more about the tragedies surrounding Sea World practices and even discovered that Sea World Entertainment is owned by Blackstone Group, an investment company whose main concern is to generate cash/revenue and focus on the bottom-line.
Spike created a beautiful and immersive world. While largely recognizable as our own it’s the differences in behaviour, technology, and culture that make Her sci-fi. As my 2013 movie pick I could find little wrong. It’d be easy define the main character, portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix, as self-indulgent/selfish but one would miss out entirely on his complex emotions and general character (existing in a world that largely forgives selfish and seemingly sterile). Scarlett Johansson totally blew me away. The depth she conveys in acting-voice only still gives me chills. Her had me mesmerized from beginning to end.
The first 30 minutes or so really took my by surprise: it was pure sci-fi in media res and all that. I could easily rant, like the rest of the net, that Superman doesn’t live up to the comic book and isn’t even a comic movie. Yet, what it lacks in the funny strip department it makes up for in action and zany alien encounters; but then loses in flat acting, redeemed only by Costner and Crowe. I guess this is the Superman people want, a Dark Knight version filled with somber-tones, anger, genocide, murder, etc. Obviously Superman is not Batman, thus the latest movie misses out on what could have been something fun. Reflecting back on the 1978 version, it was better, and the sequel hosted Richard Pryor (though the movie stinks). Adjusted for inflation the predecessor films did make more dinero too. I really wish I had more to say about Superman, sadly it lacked substance and managed to feel contrived.
Gotta say that The Great Gatsby was good but not great. Visually stunning yes, zany and wild sure, but it drops the ball in portraying Gatsby as he should be: calm, cool, and mysterious. Rather we get an angry mobster who loses control. I don’t recommend reading the book prior to seeing the movie, if you’re anything like me you’ll just keep tugging at strings and poking holes in things until there’s nothing left. For example, Jordan Baker is nearly non-existent as a character and T.J. Ecklberg is given completely different lines and portrayal. Small things certainly, but added with the misshapen Jay Gatsby and the story starts to lose what makes the book so compelling to begin with. Plus Fitzgerald really condemns the lifestyle of the uber-rich, while it is alluring and magnificent, it makes for shitty people and shitty culture. So all those “Gatsby Parties” people keep having don’t get it. Gatsby didn’t even attend his parties or even enjoy them. They were a means to an end. An end that turned up sour as hell. /endrant
Iron Man 3 had its moments and plenty of laughs. And if you’re in the mood for a Die Hard/Lethal Weapon type comic-movie this is the one for you. Yet the movie does offer forced feeling and relationships, sadly uses “crazy vets” as villains (thanks for the stereotype), and misses a chance at employing Sir Ben Kingsley in a meaningful manner. I can’t say much for character development or the plot, but in summation: that action- oooh boy that action.