Archives for the month of: May, 2015

Heap big sigh.

Though I appreciate watching Cap chop wood in some 501s, I think I’m over comic book movies. Or perhaps: precisely because I appreciate watching Cap chop wood in some 501s, I’m definitely over Avengers movies. I can only deal with so many insane global threats thwarted by a rag-tag, internally-divided, ceaselessly-quipping band of misfits. I prefer the limited scope of the single-hero movies. Partly because they can engage in character development beyond thirty seconds of troubling and clumsy exposition. Even at nearly two and a half hours, this was rushed and did not engage my emotions at all. More is not always better.

Stray notes:

  • This is the second movie in which I’ve seen Aaron Taylor-Johnson, but the first was Anna Karenina, so I think this was a lot more jarring for me than for everyone else.
  • I want Hayley Atwell’s dress and hair.
  • Still just want Cobie Smulders to go away.

Director: Joss Whedon
Rating: PG-13
Length: 141 min.
Score: 2/5.

If I’m mad at this movie, which I sort of am, it’s mostly because I am permanently mad at Bathsheba Everdene, and only slightly because of a joint incompetence on the part of the editing and continuity people, who either never bothered to tell us time had passed or paid no attention to time of day and what people were wearing.

Anyway, as Thomas Hardy adaptations go, it’s adequate shading to good. Scenery lush, costuming slightly mannered but handsome, casting decent, writing heavy-handed and slightly more feminist than the source material. Is “feminist” the right word? Is maybe “less deeply misogynist” the phrase I seek?

Carey Mulligan smirks constantly, which I hate, and Bathsheba never struck me as a smirker, but it’s not wrong. Matthias Schoenaerts is handsome, solid, and a total fucking nitwit, but that’s Gabriel Oak for you. Michael Sheen as Boldwood is convincingly unbalanced; Tom Sturridge is…not the man I would have cast as Francis Troy, but, again, effete isn’t an incorrect direction to go. Juno Temple’s Fanny Robin is not as heart-breaking as she ought to be.

Stray notes:

  • Seriously, Gabriel Oak: fiction’s greatest nitwit.
  • I was idly mapping Hunger Games people onto this, prompted by the Everdene/Everdeen thing, and if Suzanne Collins meant that… Finnick is Troy, Gale is Boldwood? Because Peeta sure as shootin’ is Gabriel, and I just managed to make myself hate both Bathsheba and Katniss even more than I already did, which is impressive.

Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Rating: PG-13
Length: 119 min.
Score: 3/5.

I saw Jerry Maguire in cinemas, which is pretty amazing because I was way too young to see it. But I think I like it more for that precise reason. See, if you’re way too young to see Jerry Maguire, you have no idea what’s going on with Kelly Preston (on any level) or Renée Zellweger (again, on any level). But, if you’re way too young to see Jerry Maguire AND you love sports, you still know exactly what is going on with Cuba Gooding, Jr., and the film is just a great sports movie with vestigial romantic drama. Also the little kid is amazing.

As a grown-up, different things come to the fore–Ms. Zellweger’s sadly bygone charm, the amazing Regina King, and Bonnie Hunt as the superbly judgemental older sister. You understand about medical insurance and also about what a sports agent is (sort of). You notice that the logo and uniform transition in Philadelphia was not seamless–the Eagles stuff has the new logo but they’re still wearing the (infinitely better) kelly greens (as far as I can tell/remember, this is accurate, and was happening precisely when this movie was being made). Real Al Michaels!

But, all that said: I still think this is a great movie. It’s funny, it’s touching, it has peak Cuba Gooding, Jr. as well as near-peak Tom Cruise and very-near-peak Renée Zellweger. There’s a reason that “You complete me” and “You had me at hello” have entered our consciousness–they work.

Also, for all that this movie is nearly twenty years old… The clothes have aged horribly, but the football stuff is either oddly prescient or has a sad air of plus ça change. Concussions, squirrelly deals, the general treatment of athletes like so many pieces of meat, it’s all there. Not sure how I feel about this.

Stray notes:

  • If given the pair Jay Mohr/Tom Cruise, is Jay Mohr really going to be the asshole?
  • Donal Logue and Eric Stoltz both have tiny parts in this movie. Oh, the 90s.
  • Relatedly, Mel Kiper has not aged; still terrifying.

Director: Cameron Crowe
Rating: R
Length: 139 min.
Score: 5/5.  REVISED: Because on consideration, with the exception of Dorothy’s inexplicable shoelessness en route to her big date, this movie is basically perfect. Solid sports movie, solid romance, solidly humorous, solid performances, all adding up to more than the sum of its parts.