A 27 movie salute
There was a time when my most vivid memories were not of moments in my life but of scenes from movies.
My father used to joke that I should get married in a movie theater. The groom and I could walk down separate aisles to the front, have the ceremony and then settle down with our nearest and dearest for the mother of all film festivals with excellent nonstop catered food and snacks in the lobby. Future Beaux, you have been warned. I laughed it off then, but remembering and relaying it here, I see the charm in this.
On moving to New York, I decided to stop watching movies. There is so much to see and do here, when would I find the time. I went to live shows and attended events and gatherings, reasoning that I should do so while I had the energy. Eventually when I ran out of steam, I could sit still and watch all the movies that my eyeballs could handle.
I am nearing that point. I dream less of rock festivals and more of chilling on a rocking chair. These days, I see a lot of movies on planes. When I see something in the theater it’s often on a date which means that it probably has explosions in it.
Here, in no particular order are some movies I have seen and enjoyed on and off planes. There might be spoilers ahead.
Gravity – NASA is super cautious for a reason. Things can go very wrong in space. See this in IMAX 3D. It proves that a movie can have a compelling story worth and stunning effects that are story-appropriate.
Moonrise Kingdom – Two troubled youths find each other on a small island in New England. Wes Anderson’s visual style is distinctive and richly mannered. His dialogue is as stilted as my prose and conversation, which makes me feel very much at home. This story also happens to be quirky and super sweet.
Now You See Me – Four magicians join forces to perform astounding feats of magic and criminality as the Four Horsemen. Isla Fisher was underutlized and the end of the ending was cheesy. That being said, it was very amusing. I am starting to see the appeal of Jesse Eisenberg.
Iron Man 3 – Tony Stark’s past comes back to put his life and everything he loves in peril. I do enjoy this franchise. Love Robert Downey Jr.
This Is 40 – Turning 40 is tough in this bittersweet comedy. Paul Rudd might have a thing for being filmed on the can. (I hope that is not a spoiler.)
Frances Ha – A young dancer in New York is on a journey of self-discovery in New York. So, so delightful. It captures the best girlfriend dynamic so well and that feeling of being broke, adrift and confused – whether in your 20’s or 30’s or even your 40’s.
Blue Jasmine – Jasmine, widowed and down on her luck, moves to SF to stay with her sister and turn her life around. This funny, sad movie holds a gentle echo of Streetcar.
The Host – This movie is fresh, complex and nuanced in its exploration of the all too familiar Body Snatchers premise from a “day after” perspective. Yes, there is some adolescent emo stuff in there too.
The Five-Year Engagement – Violet and Tom want to get married. Easier said than done as they struggle to establish their lives as individuals and as a couple. More serious than I had imagined it would be. It also has the most hilarious sibling heart to heart scene between Emily Blunt and Alison Brie.
World War Z – Brad Pitt is called to figure out what happened and what to do about the Zombies. Nowhere near as good as the book. But it has a nice balance between grand zombie apocalypse and spooking around the corner.
A Cat in Paris – Dino the cat is a beloved pet by day and cat burglar by night in this adorable animated french film.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – This is the high school experience that I wish that I had had. The music is good. This is also the movie that made me wonder if I am reaching my limit for high school coming-of-age movies. Perhaps I have had enough of a good thing.
Cloud Atlas – Very long and very uneven but worth seeing. The excessive make up changes were really distracting. I understand the necessity in the context of the themes of the piece but seeing Hugh Grant and others made up as Asian people and in other incarnations was irritating.
Django Unchained – Django is a former slave turned bounty hunter on a mission to save his wife. This over the top movie gave me a heart attack several times. It also gave me pause twice. First, seeing the Candie Land estate, I was struck by the enormous amount of human effort needed to maintain the gracious quality of life of a southern plantation which made it seem obscene. Second, seeing characters use the “N” word in that historical context makes me wish that the use of that word would die forever.
Safety Not Guaranteed – A man puts an ad in the paper seeking a time travel companion. Three reporters go investigate the story. I have a crush on Mark Duplass. He brings a raw, fresh energy to the screen. Aubrey Plaza also did a commendable job.
Anna Karenina – Gorgeous. The highly stylized, stagey presentation was trippy and fabulous. Both restricting and miniaturizing and glamorous and larger than life. Jude Law did a smashup job. It looses a bit of its shine towards the end, stepping away from that aesthetic. But good overall.
Life of Pi – Pi Patel has the survival adventure of a lifetime. I could never get through the book. But the movie was magical.
Battleship – The naval forces of the world fight an alien invasion. I may be a minority of one on this one. This movie rocked. The way they contorted the plot to justify and include the actual game in it was impressive. It actually makes sense.
John Dies at the End – This movie is hard to summarize, so I won’t. If you liked Crank, Shawn of the Dead, and Cabin in the Woods, you might like this one too. It’s a smart, ridiculous schticky horror sci-fi gem. There’s a dog in it. Just sayin’.
Wreck-It Ralph – Ralph is a video arcade villain but he’s not a bad guy. Chafing at his lonely programmed part, he sets off on a quest to become a hero. It must have been written by stoner gamers in their 40’s. It’s a lot of fun.
Argo – A rescue mission to extract six Americans stranded in Iran during the hostage crisis. So much suspense! So much! And classic 70’s facial hair. So much!
Happythankyoumoreplease – This movie made me cry and cry and cry for so many reasons, happy and sad.
Much Ado About Nothing – In Joss Whedon’s hands, this play is laugh out loud funny. Amy Acker’s big scene as Beatrice is worth the price of admission.
Butter – Competitive butter sculpting at the Iowa State Fair is no joke. Jennifer Garner delivers an amazing performance and Yara Shahiri makes a worthy adversary.
Jeff, Who Lives at Home – Jeff is a pot smoking slacker looking for signs from the Universe to guide him. Charming, low-key and heartfelt.
The Heat – Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy play and FBI agent / tough city cop odd couple. OMG. This movie is hilarious. McCarthy is pure genius. The car parking scene is one of the funniest things I have seen.
Bridesmaids – I thought this movie would be The Hangover on estrogen. But it’s more movie than that. It balances hilarious embarrassment with sharp observations about female friendship. Maybe that does make it The Hangover on estrogen.