As seen in "The Newsroom" and "The Social Network," Aaron Sorkin… MoreAs seen in "The Newsroom" and "The Social Network," Aaron Sorkin obviously writes some great dialogue and speeches, and Kaffee and Jessup's courtroom confrontation is indeed full of vitriol and grand idealistic views on patriotism, security, and truth.
However, what bumps me about this movie and the rest of Sorkin's work is that it's too pat. A callow, legacy, navy lawyer has to defend two Marines accused of hazing a private so extremely that they kill him. Along the way, we tackle issues of whether honor means following a code of ethics or critically thinking for oneself. Will the good guys win? What does it mean to be a good guy?
These are important, heady questions drummed up by Sorkin, but I think he spent more time writing slick lawyer-speak instead of developing a key part of the story: who is Santiago and why should we care about him, the circumstances in which he was killed, and the fate of his killers? Why did he even join the Marines to begin with? Where was he trying to get transferred to? Why did he break the chain of command? Why would he offer secrets for personal favors? Why was he, in short, such a bad Marine? Even if he had health conditions, he should've at least been able to keep his barracks orderly and be punctual. His death seemed so clearly an accident that I wondered why all this hullabaloo. I kept thinking there had to be more to Santiago, not just his death.
Dressed down, sunglassed up Olivia Wilde sans bra and make-up is… MoreDressed down, sunglassed up Olivia Wilde sans bra and make-up is crazysexycool as just one of the guys in a microbrewery of dudes. She has great chemistry with gruff 'n grumble Jake Johnson, and they play platonic, opposite sex besties with camaraderie and tension.
There are some great silent, intimate moments (Kate quietly and awkwardly getting into bed with Luke; Luke bringing Kate a beer and Kate giving him some fries at the end), but the movie is a little indie-slow with not so much as a "will they/won't they" arc but a "will they do the 'will they/won't they' arc...or won't they"...arc...? It's unclear whether Luke and Kate are into each other or not, so the climax that reveals "what could have been" comes out of nowhere.
For the past two years, I've had a hankering to rewatch "Pocahontas"… MoreFor the past two years, I've had a hankering to rewatch "Pocahontas" to see if my childhood love for it still stands, and despite its glaring historical inaccuracies with Pocahontas's and John Smith's love plot, boy does it truly hold up in terms of animation, score, and message.
People are all praising millennial Disney princesses for not wanting to get married (Merida, Elsa, Anna), but they forget that 90s Disney heroines could be strong while still having love interests too. Mulan didn't want to get married at first; after fighting and winning the war, she sensibly invites Shang over for dinner. Pocahontas didn't want to get married at first; she falls in love with a perceived enemy but ultimately chooses to stay with her tribe.
The bold hues and watercolor effects are still captivating; "Just Around the River Bend" and "Colors of the Wind" are still sweeping and mature orchestral masterpieces; and the themes of interpersonal peace, ecological sustainability, and cultural understanding are still relevant and moving. So freakin' good!
So glad to finally see such an iconic piece of Evansville history!… MoreSo glad to finally see such an iconic piece of Evansville history! Bosse Field, America's third oldest ballpark, plays the home of the Racine Belles, and boy does she nail it!
As a series of vignettes, it's fine. I liked the bittersweet… MoreAs a series of vignettes, it's fine. I liked the bittersweet reunion-with-lover-presumed-dead-and-new-lover-is-left-alone story. As a documentary, it's rather bland. There's no commentary or purpose.
Kinda cute or whatever. I never liked Hilary Duff in her prime… MoreKinda cute or whatever. I never liked Hilary Duff in her prime (mostly due to some inexplicable aversion to her face), but she actually seemed to be a pretty grounded teen actress. Nice to see "Cougar Town"'s moon-faced Dan Byrd as the sacrificial guy best friend.
"Her" is set in a not-so-distant future where technology is a matter… More"Her" is set in a not-so-distant future where technology is a matter of course. Mobile devices all but do your laundry, and everybody accesses them by talking into and listening through ubiquitous earpieces. Theodore's job is a letter-writer proxy of sorts who voice-composes touching sentiments, and a computer prints out the quaint relics in "handwritten" font. The movie, at first, cleverly satirizes the future's dependence on technology, but then, through Theodore's relationship with his intelligent Operating System, we see that our present-day relationships with human beings (with or without the help of tech) are not so different.
The movie sweetly navigates Theodore and Samantha's nascent attraction blossoming into giddy honeymoon. I especially love the little detail of the safety pin that props Theodore's device up over his shirt pocket so that Samantha may view the world through the camera. The existential quandaries that Samantha's machine-mind ponders are also not alien to human sensibilities. She steadily learns more how to feel and express, and she wonders if her feelings are real without a body and central nervous system. Despite having those, I often wonder myself whether my feelings and facial expressions are "real" or just socially conditioned through watching actors in movies emote, signifying THIS is how to look happy or THIS is how to look concerned.
The central problem of all human/OS relationships occurs when the A.I.'s capacity for love and thirst for knowledge grows beyond the humans'. The OSs choose to leave their "masters," as past sci-fi movies have shown us they are wont to do. This is where the movie could have used less subtlety. If the OS exodus is meant to be a metaphor for lovers growing apart, there should be more explanation or more possible conflict and danger arising from Samantha going offline. Some parallels can also be drawn to polyamorous relationships and their principles and practices. Without a deeper commentary on A.I. agency and/or polyamory, Samantha just seems like a flaky tramp.
Nevertheless, what's remarkably true about this movie is its universal treatment of love. The OS could be a stand-in for any human person, with their own curiosities and insecurities and wanderlusts. Whether we meet online or in person, love has basically similar trajectories (like Shakespeare's six basic story plots), and there will always be societal stigmas against dating outside one's norm.
A lot of fun while watching (with Liam Neeson's gruff-then-lobotomized… MoreA lot of fun while watching (with Liam Neeson's gruff-then-lobotomized Bad Cop/Good Cop, but the cutesy inanity grows tiresome with such flimsy plot. *Spoilers* The reveal of the human parallels is clever, but the legend of the Special is kinda wasted on vague gooeyness that a kid wouldn't really say to his Type-A dad. Nothing much is done with Wild Style's character either and her erstwhile wish of being the Special, which would seem more plausible after aforementioned vague gooeyness.
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is a ramblin' rover of a Sisyphean task that… More"Inside Llewyn Davis" is a ramblin' rover of a Sisyphean task that harkens back to the Coen Brothers' nihilistic "A Serious Man." Glowery and enigmatic Oscar Isaac sings his way into the soul of folk as the eponymous Llewyn, who, try as he might, can't get a break in the music biz or a permanent bed to sleep in.
*Mild spoilers* At the end of the film, a shot of a young Bob Dylan making his ostensible musical debut signals the nascent momentum of the folk scene, but the audience gets the impression that even though Llewyn is plenty good at what he does, he's just not one of the Chosen Ones and will miss riding this wave to fame. He is very much like the orange tabby with whom he feels an inexplicable kinship. He lives the nine, aimless lives of a once-pampered house cat who now roams the streets, eschewing stability and creature comforts in pursuit of a freedom and wildness he craves but knows naught of.
Llewyn may piss a lot of people off: he learns of past transgressions but can't bring himself to rectify the situation, and his entire journey goes nowhere (as evidenced by the film's circular structure), but I dug the hapless kitty foil (hyuk) and the static character arc.
The generically whimsical preview underscored by a generic indie rock… MoreThe generically whimsical preview underscored by a generic indie rock song made the movie look like a generic "puts the FUN in dysFUNctional" romp, so I went into the film prepared for a pale comparison to its even darker and more disturbing Pulitzer and Tony-winning source material. Tracy Letts hacked down his massive three-act play to a paltry two hours, and in so doing, he wrecked the even pacing of all the crazy secrets and lies that come out, causing the revelations to seem melodramatic or random instead of emotionally affecting.
I can understand veering from source material in service of a better story (like with this season's critically maligned but fan-recommended "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"), but "August"'s slim adaptation seemed motivated out of fear that movie audiences wouldn't want to sit in a theater for 3.5 hours, which seems moot because people who want to see Meryl Streep in a dysfunctional-family-drama-based-on-a-play tend to know what they're getting into.
I'm no fan of Meryl, and the role of drug-addled matriarch, Violet Weston, is an idiosyncratic challenge, to be sure...which means I didn't think much of her surface-crazy performance. The brightest spot in the film is Julia Roberts as the eldest daughter who comes home to show her mother who's boss. Julia is no stranger to sassy spitfire roles, but she plays Barbara with a matured cynicism and a tender, yet no-holds-barred viciousness. I would prefer Julia to win Best Supporting Actress over JLaw if Lupita Nyong'o weren't in the race, but honestly, Barbara's role is technically a lead along with Violet's (as the 2008 theatre season categorized them), and Julia holds her own with this year's crop of Best Actress nominees, especially her costar.