Archive for November, 2013

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Last Vegas (2013)

November 24, 2013

It would be nice if I could get to a point where I updated this blog on a daily basis. It really shouldn’t be that difficult to find 20 minutes a day (or even less) to write about something interesting that happened that day. My current excuses are that my schedule and my girlfriend keep me from doing much writing. I tend to work, hang out with Dina, stay up late, spend my free time playing or studying poker, and sleep away most mornings and early afternoons. Also, Dina doesn’t care much for sharing my attention, even with inanimate objects like computers and cell phones. Regardless, 20 minutes a day to write seems like a reasonable goal. But since I’ve had trouble updating this blog even a couple times a month, I’m starting smaller: one post a week and see if I can improve from there.

Obviously I like to write about movies, so what have I seen lately? Friday I saw Hunger Games: Catching Fire and I’m honestly not entirely sure how I felt about it. I read the first book, but lost interest very early into the second one so I have no basis to compare it to the source material. I will say I found it mostly enjoyable, even if it felt like it retread a lot of ground covered in the first movie. I was pretty excited when Jennifer Lawrence was cast as Katniss Everdeen, but this is probably the least interesting role I’ve seen her in. I’m looking forward to her next film American Hustle much more than I was this movie. Still, there are moments in Catching Fire that gave me goosebumps, particularly when Katniss and Peeta landed in Rue’s district on their victory tour. Truthfully, the story works best when Katniss is defying The Capital rather than when it focuses on it’s boring love triangle. The contestants in this Quarter Quell version of The Hunger Games which finds former victors facing off with one another are much more fleshed out and interesting than in the first film, but unfortunately, after quite a bit of build up the movie ends rather abruptly. I definitely thought: wait, where’s the climax? I wasn’t expecting too much of Catching Fire so overall, I found it enjoyable, but far from spectacular. Fans of the series will almost certainly enjoy it. 6/10

I also saw Last Vegas a couple weeks ago and it was also an okay movie. Obviously taking its cue from The Hangover, it’s a similar film for an older generation with a lighter sense of humor. Not many gross out gags, just a bunch of old guys gathering in Vegas for a wedding and shenanigans ensue that often play on their elderly state. The film is rather predictable, but I found it funny and liked it more than I thought it would. Older crowds with realistic expectations (i.e. recognizing none of these veteran actors are going to be on their A-game) should enjoy it quite a bit and even younger crowds should find it amusing. There’s not much meat to this movie so I don’t have too much to say about it. Worth a rental, I guess. 5.5/10

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Schizophrenia

November 18, 2013

My posts have always been so organized. I think I’ve come to realize that organization is one of the reasons I struggle to update my blog on a regular basis. Rather than just come in here and talk about recent stuff or what I’m feeling, I feel compelled to write out a complete movie review and well, quite frequently, it just doesn’t get done. So here’s to a new strategy.

This past week I watched The Heat starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. My biggest takeaways from the film were that a) Sandra Bullock was really fucking good in Gravity and b) Melissa McCarthy is extremely funny but this might as well be a continuation of her character in Bridesmaids as a police officer. I can’t say I’m a big fan of Bullock’s work and this is more of the same, which is why her performance in Gravity is so special; it’s completely unlike anything she’s ever done–or, in other words: good. The Heat is funny though, thanks to McCarthy carrying the film, but she’s obviously being typecast (as many rising comedic actors are) and one has to wonder how long before fans start tiring of her schtick. Overall, The Heat was funny and enjoyable, and ranks amongst 2013’s funniest films in a year of mostly unremarkable comedies. 6/10

I also had a long overdue viewing of Derek Cianfrance’s (Blue Valentine) The Place Beyond The Pines starring Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes. One of the more highly acclaimed films prior to awards season, I actually found Pines to be quite disappointing. Mostly it just didn’t live up to the hype built from one of my friends constantly praising it and urging me to watch it. It’s a three part story that stretches over a roughly 17 year time period and certainly has the running time of an epic, clocking in at nearly two and a half hours. Naturally, it’s quite boring at times and the pacing makes it difficult to watch. Ryan Gosling is great, as usual, and Bradley Cooper appears to be turning into a pretty respectable actor. I wasn’t a huge fan of the story though. I couldn’t help but feel it was a bit contrived, especially the third act when everything ties together in a way that isn’t all that believable. Pines isn’t a bad film, but it’s an overly ambitious one, with a story that doesn’t quite deserve its epic running time. Definitely not the must see film people are claiming it to be. 5.5/10

I revisited Man Of Steel last night and I have to say my opinion of the film has dropped somewhat. I initially gave it a 7/10, which is a must see on my scale, and I can’t say it’s that strong of a film. That’s what’s difficult about reviewing films. I can’t imagine that people that criticize movies for a living can really get a full grasp on a film after one viewing. For me, Man Of Steel was a bit overwrought. The aspects I liked in my earlier review remain the same, but some parts of the film are increasingly tedious upon a second viewing. The Smallville battle is still epic. I mean seriously awesome. But the next part of the climax is a big WTF. I’m talking about when Zod is creating Krypton on earth and Superman is battling some ship over the Indian Ocean. I mean, what the hell is really going on here? For some reason, I remembered the finale being incredibly epic, but really there’s the Smallville battle and the final battle with Zod and a huge gap in between that just sucks. Also, now that Superman vs Batman has been announced for a 2015 release, you have to think watching this movie that the filmmakers really had no idea what they were going to do next. After seeing Superman go toe-to-toe with Zod and other Kryptonians–and all the property destruction those fights caused–it’s difficult to imagine a human–even one as resourceful as Batman–being a formidable opponent for Superman. The writers seriously have their work cut out for them.