Tag: film

Friday Five: Songs from Favorite Movies

Hey guys!  I hope you all have a fabulous Labor Day Weekend.  I’ve been having so much fun with my sister in town for a visit.

Today I posted my first video in the Youtube series- The Friday Five.  This was started by youtuber Sara Crawford where each week she picks a theme and you have to pick 5 songs to go with said them.  I’ve been wanting to participate but couldn’t quite fit it in.  Then I saw today’s theme and just had too.

The theme for the week is Songs from Favorite Movies.  The only hard part was narrowing it down to just 5! I could do hundreds.

Anyway, here’s what I came up with.  Check it out and let me know what you think and what your picks are.  I will try and post this series on the blog and channel each week so it should be a lot of fun.

Books Into Movies

Just thought I would share this video with you all of books I think would make good movies. Some of them were movies like The Chosen and Hiding Place but they could be much better movies or new versions.

I have also decided a cast I think would be good and director.

I think it turned out pretty well.  Have you read any of these?  What books do you think would make good movies?

 

Life Itself: A Movie Review

“We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.”

Roger Ebert

I bet if the great film critic Roger Ebert and I met we would have about 2 things in common.  We disagreed on religion, morality, philosophy and definitely politics.  Why then do I admire him so much? I love Roger because of the way he got me to think. My parents are big on thinking and not just doing, but they don’t watch movies or television.

Let’s face it- being a kid in the post Star Wars world, means movies are a huge part of most of our lives.  So, when Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were teaching me how to think about  movies, they were kind of teaching me how to think about life.  It was a building block to add on to what my parents demonstrated at home.

From 1975 to Siskel’s death in 1998 Gene and Roger reviewed movies on their PBS and then syndicated show under various titles, the longest being At the Movies.  They of course were famous for their thumbs up and thumbs down and their constant on air debates over the movies. Here’s one of their best

I have never seen Full Metal Jacket but I still find the review fascinating (and entertaining). In fact, I probably didn’t see 90% of the movies reviewed on Siskel and Ebert and yet I still loved watching the show.

Anyway, with that preface a new movie has come out about the life of Roger Ebert who died in 2013 after a long and painful battle with cancer. It is amazing to think one of the most verbose men in media became someone who could no longer speak. For the last 5 years of his life he communicated through a keyboard and laptop.  His blogging and twitter posts became his new voice and he taught many of us how to use the medium to enrich the world not simply criticize.

The film Life Itself is directed by Steve James of Hoop Dreams fame and it is a lovely film about a man that lived a unique, fascinating life.  He started filming as he was going into a final surgery several years before his death.  They are unflinching (at one point insistently so by Roger) in showing the damage which had been done to Roger’s face and neck.  Even his famous Esquire magazine shoot did not really show what had happened to his face.

They show him writing and then go through his life starting as a young journalism student who insisted on a page edit on his local paper the day Kennedy was shot.  Then it moves on to his first job at the Chicago Sun Times, his alcoholism, his Pulitzer prize winning writing, his time on the show, relationship with Gene Siskel, his marriage and then his illness and last chapter.

I learned a lot about Roger Ebert from the movie but it also reminded me of all of the lessons I’d learned from Roger over the years.  He taught me about movies but also subtely how to live.   Roger and Gene were a reminder to all of us that to share your opinion is not something to be fearful of and to avoid but it is a gift of knowledge and discussion to the world.  Through sharing we hopefully become better people.  I suspect Siskel and Ebert did that for a lot of people.  They made us better by sharing their perspective.

Life Itself is a loving piece but not a complete lovefest.  It makes it clear Siskel and Ebert really did not care for each other for most of their careers.  Roger was also an egotist and a perfectionist to a fault, but we all have our flaws don’t we?

I love learning about people’s lives and how they became who they are.  If you enjoy those types of documentaries than you will like Life Itself- even if you disagreed with Roger Ebert most of the time.  He had quite the life.

Getting back to the quote from above.  Roger Ebert says the movies create ‘shared empathy’.  I propose they do such a thing because he and Gene Siskel taught us to see that empathy.  To look beyond the moment and think about the art whether it was a blockbuster, a silly comedy or a war movie:

Siskel and Ebert showed all of us how to watch the movies.

I’m grateful.  Thumbs up!

Overall Grade A              Content Grade C   (There are a few photos briefly shown of naked women, and a few swears but not too bad)

roger ebert

This is perhaps their best reviews because they both hated it so much.  Love it.

 

 

Offended by bad?

Michael-Bay-Movies-List-900Yesterday I had an interesting experience.  I was following the reviews for Transformers 4 (It’s like a car crash that you can’t help but look at).  Sometimes the bad reviews are the most entertaining and so as I was doing a rather boring project I put on podcasts and reviews and it all sounded pretty terrible.  It was funny as the day started the score on Rottentomatoes.com steadily declined from 53, 35, 26, 18, 13…

When my roommate got home I was telling her about it and how frustrating it is such junk gets made and that people go to see it!  The only reason 4 exists is because the 3rd one made over a billion dollars.  That makes it #7 in all time box office gross.

“Well, all movies are trying to make money”  my roommate responded, which is completely true.  However, I like to think people who create things for us to consume have at least an ounce of artistic integrity.  That they are at least trying to do something that is beautiful or funny or splashy to them.

Stephen Spielberg, James Cameron, Tim Burton, Wes Anderson, and even M Night Shyamalan are making money yes, and some junk, but what they think is beautiful or interesting or challenging.  Even George Lucas in those awful prequels can’t be faulted for trying to make something that he liked. It was terrible but not a complete cash grab.

The Simpsons is perhaps the greatest marketing machine there is.  Simpsons cups, toys, clothes, and everything else but the show is made with a certain degree of integrity.  Some could argue that the last 10 seasons have been unnecessary but I feel like they are at least trying to do something good.

Then we get to Michael Bay…

Michael Bay has made the same jaw droopingly bad movie over and over again.  They keep making money (why America?) but come on?  Wouldn’t a movie that is actually good also make a lot of money?  2 of Michael Bay’s movies made it on my Movies I Hate list Pearl Harbor and Armageddon.

I could easily put Transformers 2 and 3 on that list.  They all are explosions, objectified stupid Maxim cover girl women, and mind numbing special effects with horrible music.   To make matters worse Bay also always includes humor that is based on some type of ethnic stereotyping.

Some language in this clip but it shows throughout his movies the same cringe worthy treatment of Latinos, women, African Americans and any other non-alpha male group.

After talking a little with my roommate she said something interesting.

She said ‘well, I don’t like it.  I’m not really offended by it though’.

I said ‘well, I’m not offended by it either’

She said ‘Are you sure?’

It made me think.  Am I offended by it or is it just simply something I don’t like that others like?

offended- resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult.

Given the definition I guess I am a bit resentful that all the money spent on making and watching such trash and  it isn’t used to create something at least a little bit fun. Pacific Rim proved you can do ‘giant transformer movie takes over city’ without being so insulting to your audience.

I’ve long said that my most hated movies of all time are Drop Dead Gorgeous, Superstar, Brother”s Grimm, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, but I recognize DDG and Brothers Grimm were trying to do something different and it didn’t work.  So what is worse the lazy mediocrity or the ambitious flop?

Pearl Harbor gets a special place in offensively bad movies because it is takes a dump on the memories of our brave servicemen.  It’s one thing to see autobots and dicepticons  dodge explosions while humans engage in cringe worthy dialogue, but an entirely new level of nightmare when it is real people who sacrificed everything in those explosions.  They deserve better than an hour of Ben Affleck pining over a woman and another hour of mindless explosions.  It’s offensive to me…

Some language in this but the NC says it pretty well…

And what about other mediums?  For instance, last year’s Mixology definitely offended me.  I really hated the book Julie and Julia.  There was a little book called Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl that came out a few years ago, and I was really offended by that book.  (The author actually contacted me on goodreads after my review and we discussed my feelings.  Love her.  Hate the book).

But I also hated Austenland, but I’m not offended by that.  So where’s the balance?  Where does something tip the scale between not caring for something and finding it’s existence offensive?

I’m not sure. The Michael Bay movies make me nuts because I know he has every available resource and this is what we get?

http://www.torontosun.com/2014/06/26/transformers-age-of-extinction-review-has-michael-bay-lost-his-mind

I think where it crosses the line to offensive and not just bad is when it is mean spirited, cold, insulting, chauvinistic, degrading of any ethnic group/women.  That I just don’t get. That’s why Mixology made me so angry.  I like to think that over the years we have learned something about how to treat human beings and then something like that exists and it blows me away.

I actually hope that Michael Bay is just being lazy and stupid.  If he really see’s this as art then shame on him.  I do not get why people see it.  Why?

It is even worse when it is geared towards children. The Smurfs was such cynical film making.  It exists only for the money.  The second Smurfs was  literally a giant Sony product placement.  This makes me sad because it discourages people from participating in modern storytelling.  You have a bad experience with a Smurfs or Transformers and you assume it’s all a waste of time.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

I agree with Chris Stuckmann.  Certainly our kids deserve better

So, yes these kinds of things offend me.  Not often but it does happen. I know many are cynical about pop culture, literature, movies, television and it’s no wonder when you have this kind of cash grab.  It’s discouraging, but I refused to let such junk sink me down.  I believe in storytelling in all it’s mediums.

And perhaps that is why such garbage does offend me.  I know the power it has and it is being used to give us less than nothing.  Roger Ebert once said about a film ‘this was the first time I’ve been to a movie where staring at a blank wall would have been preferable’.

That’s a pretty low standard to be setting and yet I’d agree with him.  At least then you could come up with your own stories.

It’s summer.  Please do something outside or rent The Lego movie.  Don’t reward this behavior.

If you don’t believe me here’s a lot of smart people who do.  Don’t’ see Transformers 4. Please!!!!

I guarantee you these reviews have more wit and thought than the mess for nearly 3 hours on screen. (some of these have strong language)

there I said it!  🙂

Clean Reviews

Hi guys!

I’m really excited about a new feature I am adding to my youtube channel.  It kind of goes with the personal standard I mentioned in my recent post  How to be Mormon and Like Movies.

My goal is to share with all of you not only movies I like but also what type of content a movie has.  That way you can easily know if something is worth your time or not.

This is the rating system I came up with for offensive content

content

The rating will not be a quality of movie grade, just the amount of adult content in the movie.  Some of my favorite movies may get a D on content, but hopefully I will explain what type it is and what you should consider before viewing. This will make your movie going experience more pleasant and even inspiring.

What do you think of the idea? What movies would you like me to review?  Anything you’ve been wondering about and would like more detail?  As long it is possible I will give it a watch through and review. Here is a video of me explaining more about the feature.

Youtube All Stars

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog I have been working hard on my videography skills lately and having a blast while doing it.  I have also had the chance to get to know youtube very well as I’ve been working on my channel making it better each day.  Naturally this means I have seen a lot of other contributors and created a running tally of what I call the ‘Youtube All Stars’.

So, you don’t have to do the same kind of work let me share what channels I think are worth your time.

Movies- 

There are a lot of movie review channels and to be honest most of them are pretty good.  Film criticism has basically gone away from television and moved to youtube/rotten tomatoes.  In some ways this is a good thing as someone ordinary like me can make a review and some ways it’s a bad thing because someone ordinary like me can make a review…

Some of the best are Chris Stuckmann, Jeremy Jahns, and Schmoes Knows.  Sometimes the bad movie reviews are the most entertaining.  Here’s a funny review of Batman and Robin with both the Schmoes and Stuckmann

I also really like the Nostalgia Critic but the language is bad .  However,  if you can handle  the language  I think you will laugh.  Check it out.

TV-

My favorite TV youtubers are

Rob Cesternino for reality TV analysis.  He’s a good interviewer and it’s fun to hear the backstory on Survivor, Amazing Race, Big Brother and more.  The last few seasons of Survivor have been very entertaining and Rob’s site have made it even more so.

Another one I like is the After Buzz channels.  They have roundtable discussions on all kinds of shows and they are a lot of fun.

Subscription Boxes/Beauty-

There are a lot of great youtubers on boxes but 2 of my favorite, aside from myself, are Mort3mr and Jen Luvs Reviews.

Mormon Messages-

If you are a member of my faith or just like nice messages The Mormon Messages channel is great

Given my history of bullying this video is very moving. There are lots like these on the page on a variety of topics.

———-

So there are a lot of other great sites to subscribe too.  Go and explore.  There is comedy, make up tutorials, crafts, cooking videos, etc.  Youtube has managed to remain corporate and still have the user friendly amateur level.

My Aunt has a channel for her business some of you might be interested in and Poler has a site showing some of their gear.

https://www.youtube.com/user/CarolTuttleVideos

https://www.youtube.com/user/polerstuff

What are some of your favorite channels?  Do you like youtube?

 

 

Entertainment

Any teen of the 90’s can sing this refrain:

With the lights out, it’s less dangerous
Here we are now, entertain us
I feel stupid and contagious
Here we are now, entertain us…

If you were living under a rock you might not know this is the chorus of Smells Like Teen Spirit by Nirvana.  With the song Kurt Cobain welcomed in the age of grunge and commented on the general laziness of Generation X and the desire to be entertained instead of creating entertainment.

This is something I have thought about a lot in my life as I love to be entertained.  I can’t think of anything that excites me more than a great movie with spectacular visuals like Gravity or wonderful writing like Midnight in Paris.  I also have a fondness for television, music, books, theater, concerts, dance, games, and the list could go on.

In addition to merely experiencing the media I love commenting and discussing it.  I love the art of criticism and one thing that makes a movie like Inception special is the joy of talking about it with my friends.  I think that’s what I enjoy the most about book club is talking about characters, stories and ideas that are usually near and dear to my heart (as I have for the most part picked the book or suggested them).

Entertainment that handles the big questions or is boldly different such as Defending Your Life (film), The Book Thief (book) or Viva La Vida (music) is easy to talk about but so is less challenging work like While You Were Sleeping or Twilight (yes, I’ve had many a great discussion back and forth with girls on the merits or lack there of on twilight).

Even an experience that is a stinker can provide for great conversation.  Some of my favorite reviews to listen or read are the bad one’s.  In that sense the criticism and discussion becomes part of the entertainment value. Most of the time, thankfully, the only exposure I have to the bad product is the review and yet a good writer/pundit can be wildly entertaining with what he or she likes and dislikes.

I’ve also had the experience of being challenged by both general public opinion and critics.  For example, there may be a movie that everyone else seemingly loves that I didn’t care for (Dark Knight, Godfather, The Graduate) and on the other hand one’s that I like that most dislike (Drop Dead Diva, Hallmark movies, Miss Congeniality, The Blind Side).  Last year some of my favorite film critics hated Les Miserables and I examined my own thoughts on the film while listening to theirs and I still loved it. Not all parts but really liked it.   Critics panned the comedy Super Fun Night but I have really enjoyed it- very funny.

I also got very excited about a movie that others were favorable towards but not effusive about- Holes, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Source Code, all come to mind.

Anyway, there are two things that made me think about this topic.  The first was a twitter discussion today with friends about Gone with the Wind.  I had watched The American Masters piece on Margaret Mitchell and commented that the idealistic depictions of slave era south and the black characters in the film are hard for me to stomach.  Then followed a fun back and forth with friends on the merits of the movie (I like many things about the movie especially Clark Gable)

I guess I’ve kept thinking about the piece I saw last week about Catcher in the Rye author JD Salinger.  That book didn’t move me.  I didn’t enjoy it and it fascinates me that some love it so much they literally stalked Salinger’s home for days to get the recluse to impart some wisdom to them.  It’s fascinating to me that humans can experience things so differently?

This sort of brings me back to the Nirvana song.  Are we becoming less participatory in our entertainment choices?  Less open to debate and conversation?  Sometimes I feel a real resistance from peers when talking about such things beyond a base rudimentary level.

It’s interesting because I was raised to talk about things, to discuss my  opinions and not just absorb entertainment.  I don’t think my parents did this as a conscientious parenting choice but it is just part of their nature as question askers and ponderers.  It bothers me sometime that people can watch a movie like The Smurfs and not be annoyed at all of the Sony product placement or the lack of an original idea.  This is the kind of thing I was taught to notice and discuss from an early age.

When I was in college I remember going to see the movie Chocolat which is about a woman who makes tempting chocolates designed to arouse the simple townspeople away from their observance of the fasting period of lent.  To me, the Reverend of the town was portrayed as bumbling and the religious people as repressed.  This annoyed me.  I brought up my feelings to my friends and they were very annoyed with me and one said ‘why can’t you just enjoy the movie?’.  Well, to me the discussion is part of that enjoyment.

Growing up one of the few things my older brother and I had in common is we both loved The Simpsons.  I couldn’t even tell you how many cheerful conversations have started with ‘remember that episode’…I think I partly still watch it every Sunday because just the opening theme brings back great memories with my family. You’d be amazed how many political, religious and ethical discussions have begun with or included a reference to the Simpsons.  25 years of entertainment. 25 years!

On the other hand, my parents make very little time for entertainment in their lives.  Most people I know have some type of music, movie, tv show that they are passionate about.  My Mother is a great reader and plays the piano and my Dad enjoys theater, opera and symphony but I think those things are more of a tertiary pleasure and not something that takes a lot of their time, which admittedly they don’t have much of, especially my Dad.  I think they’d agree that participating in entertainment is not a priority for them and doesn’t excite them like it does for their kids.

It is certainly true that movies and television are not a source of entertainment for my parents.  Neither of them follow any TV shows regularly and go to a movie or two a year. I think this is partly due to the fact that entertainment is so much more available now than it was when my parents were young.  It wasn’t that long ago that you went to a movie once, maybe twice if it was re-released in the theater.  Movies could also be expensive- certainly more so than reading a book from the library or playing with friends.

Now we have so many ways to view entertainment it’s kind of nuts.  Just my house I have dvr, cable, movie theater, amazon prime, hulu, youtube, dvds, cds, mp3s, ebooks, regular books and the list goes on.  On the other hand, there are also so many ways to comment on entertainment , so in some ways the whole experience has become richer and more interesting.

It used to be that aside from personal conversations only newspaper columnists like Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (who I love by the way) could share their feelings on movies, art, music etc.  Now anyone can make a youtube channel, write a blog, tweet, podcast for free or at very low costs, and believe me nothing gets people talking more than a blog on movies (nearly 100 comments on my overrated movie blog!).  https://smilingldsgirl.com/2013/06/17/10-most-overrated-movies/

Kids can also create their own entertainment so easily. Things like digital photography and video have made it possible for basically anyone to try their hand at photography and movie-making but on the flip side ebooks are rapidly making the once universally available book a technological status symbol.

Creative, independently minded content is easier to produce than ever before and yet we have seemingly endless sequels, prequels and remakes.  Sometimes I feel frustrated at the language and violence in modern entertainment and yet there is clearly an amazing amount that comes out I can and do see, listen to or read.  Plus there is an unending number of things to entertain us from the past. It seems every day I hear of a movie or tv show that I just have to check out, a classic that is new to me!

Clearly I go back and forth.  What do you think?  Was Kurt Cobain right?  Are we just standing back and seeking to be entertained or are we more active in analyzing, discussing entertainment than in the past?  Are we absorbers of entertainment or creators?  Do you enjoy reading, viewing criticism?  Are you nostalgic about entertainment and feel the best has already happened and we’ll never have another Mozart, Kathrine Hepburn or the Beatles? I am at times and then I am not.

I would love to hear what you think about my ramblings.  Have a great week everyone!

that's entertainment

Movies I Hate

badmovies00intro

The other day I was talking to my sister and she said ‘He’s Just Not That Into You’ was her least favorite movie of all time.  I was shocked by this because while it is not perfect there are definitely things I like about that movie.  For one, I think some of the writing is good, and a lot of the performances I like.   Really if you took out the Scarlet Johansen plot line it would be a favorite rom com of mine. Maybe part of it is I liked the original non-fiction book.

This discussion made me think of what movies I hate and wouldn’t watch again unless dragged in by gunpoint.  Just to be clear, most notoriously bad movies I am smart enough to stay away from so you will notice there is no Battlefield Earth or scores of lame horror or  Adam Sandler movies on my list.   I am grateful to the critics out there who take that bullet for me and warn me from the horror.

Most terrible movies are from my college years because I was less particular back then and the $1 movie theater steered me wrong many a time.  So here goes.

My most hated movies (in no particular order)

1. Contact- I know many love it but I hated it.  I have never looked at my watch so much.  Unbearably long and completely condescending to anyone of faith, even as a high schooler my eyes rolled throughout the screening and I wanted to leave after about 20 minutes.  Science is treated as perfect and religion as the folly of the foolish and simple-minded.  Please! This is also the most boring alien movie ever made (although, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind would be a close second). In fact, I think it is the most boring movie ever made.  Contact is the first movie I remember seeing that I truly hated.

2. Superstar- I have walked out of 2 movies in my life and both will be on this list.  I made it through about 20 minutes of this awful SNL movie before my friends and I looked at each other and all left.  I don’t think I’m much of a prude but when you have a character in your movie dressed like Jesus and openly mock Him that is where I draw the line.  You can make fun of my faith’s idiosyncrasies and strange beliefs but do not mock my Lord.

3.  Armageddon- Another movie from high school that I loathed. There is no real plot just one blast and lofty speech after another. The romance is so stupid with a love scene involving animal crackers.  Really? I hated it so much I went into another room and talked to my friends parents for the last 30 minutes or so.

4. Drop Dead Gorgeous- This is the other movie I walked out of.  It actually made me cry. Everything from the anorexic beauty queen rolled out in a wheel chair, to the shrill contestants, to the cold and callous murder of young girls, the whole movie was incredibly cold, unfeeling and creepy.  And what makes it more disturbing  is that it is supposed to be funny.  Who thinks such disgusting behavior and images are funny? It’s beyond me. What made it over the top for me is a scene where a contestant dances on a cross with a Jesus doll surrounded by crosses and is carried off the stage as if she was Jesus.  I was on a date and I started to cry and had to leave the theater and went into the lobby for the rest of the date. I still remember some of the disturbing images and it was 12 years ago!

5. Lizzie McGuire Movie- I took my sister to this movie and I think even she knew it was a dud.  Perhaps I should give it a break because its a dopey kids movie but no, Pixar has proven that kids movies can be twice as smart and engaging.  The thing that gets me is why not make a movie about a girl going to Europe and experiencing a new culture, having a neat experience? That could actually be a good movie.  Why do you have to make her into some pop tart/celebrity? It’s like Princess Diaries was a hit so studios have been remaking it for the last decade.  Move on.  Write a good script!  Teens and young girls deserve better than the shlock that is served to them. You saw the same thing with the recent Monte Carlo, which was actually kind of cute with some engaging characters until they went all Hollywood on it. So lame.

6. What Happens in Vegas- Of all the terrible rom com’s I’ve been dragged to by friends this one is the worst (Ugly Truth, 27 Dresses, and any Jennifer Aniston movie comes to mind as well).  The thing that makes this one especially bad is you have 2 characters that are so unlikable, forced into the most strained premise imaginable and then they are completely hateful to each other.  Why would anyone these people to be happy individually, let alone together?  It was painful to sit through.  Every performance and line of dialogue was awful.  If I wasn’t there for a friends birthday I would have left.  Tip to Hollywood- stop turning board games, catch phrases, lame TV shows from the past, into movies.  If you don’t have a good script donate the 30 million to make the movie to a good charity and make a movie about that!

7. Good Will Hunting- I figured I had to pick one movie that everyone else loves.  I hated this movie . First of all, the plot is completely obvious and predictable.  How many hundreds of movies are made about the struggling genius who finds his way through an inspirational teacher (in this case a shrink. Sigh…).  The performances are tired, wooden and mundane, and evidently Oscar’s idea of a good script is profanity every sentence (and I mean every sentence).  I can handle some profanity but when it is just done for no reason and at such extremes it drives me crazy.  So lame! I actually found it to be boring and stupid.  Definitely most overrated movie I can think of (although I thought the Breakfast Club was way overrated, but, it does have some good performances).

8. Pearl Harbor- While the attack on the harbor is well done, it goes on forever, until it just starts to deaden your senses.  The romance is SO STUPID and obvious.  The acting is terrible.  The dialogue is wooden and dumb.    What those people went through and the sacrifice they made deserves better than this long, overwrought, idiotic ‘blockbuster’.

9. All Dr Seuss Movies- Aside from the short animated special made in the 60’s every attempt to turn Dr. Seuss’s brilliance into a feature film have been awful.  They are definitely the worst kids movies I’ve seen. First, we were horrified with The Grinch, with Jim Carey looking like some kind of large weed that had just been pulled out of the ground.  Then we got the Cat in the Hat with Mike Meyers as a bizarre amusement park character tormenting 2 rotten kids (such a strange, unsettling movie).  Horton Hears a Who was the best of the attempts but still strained and full of glaring colors.  Then recently we got The Lorax which I hated.  It is way too long, with boring, putrid colors, the music stinks, and  it feels like a 17 page book stretched to 90 minutes, which it is.  It can’t be done!  Stop trying and leave the poor man’s legacy alone.   Next we will see Oh the Places You’ll Go in movie form.

10.  An Inconvenient Truth- Al Gore standing in front of a power point for 2 hours with intermittent clips of global disaster= Oscar! If anything should make you discount the academy’s opinion, that is it.  So boring and did I really hear anything I couldn’t get from a quick search on google?  Boring, condescending and overly-simplistic.  Amazing California hasn’t sunk into the ocean yet?

11. My Dinner with Andre- I’m all for artsy, strange, inventive movies but this movie is so dumb and boring I couldn’t believe it was even made.  I had heard it was a hipster gem and that people loved it.  I kid you not the whole movie is a dinner with Andre.  It is 2 men eating dinner for 2 hours.  That’s it.  Nothing happens.  The conversation isn’t even interesting.  They aren’t good friends and they spend most the movie talking about the various plays they’ve been in. Kill me now.  I fell asleep for long stretches.  For the life of me I don’t understand what could be so great about this movie?  I thought it was awful.

12. I have to include Film Socialism a completely baffling art piece of bizarre images and strange captions that is supposed to be existential and moving but is merely maddening.  To read more of my thoughts on this movie read this post https://smilingldsgirl.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/good-artbad-art/

So there you go.  My least favorite movies.  What are some of yours?

Lincoln

So I just got back from viewing the recent Steven Spielberg movie- Lincoln staring Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Ford as the Lincolns.  My feelings are decidedly mixed on the movie.

To begin with it is a very well made movie.  The costumes, sets, lighting, and cinematography are all first rate.  It also goes without saying that Daniel Day Lewis was amazing as the President.  I also loved Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens, who is a fascinating character of the time to study.  David Strathaim was also excellent as Secretary of State William Seward.

What didn’t work for me was Sally Field’s performance as Mary Todd Lincoln.  I’m sorry but she looked old and haggard.  I just didn’t buy her as the elitist slightly nutty first lady.  I also thought the subplot with Joseph Gordon Leavitt as Lincoln’s son Robert was unnecessary and distracting.

There were too many moments like that in Lincoln where storylines were scattered all over the place.  It honestly would have been better as a mini-series rather than a movie.  In that format time would have been given to fully develop all of the characters introduced.  As it is you get to meet a dizzying number of congressman, General Grant, all of Lincoln’s cabinet, a Southern delegation coming for supposed peace, General Lee is seen briefly, 2 men are hired by Lincoln to drum up votes, Hal Holbrook plays influential republican Francis Blair and I could go on.  It is too much and the story tries to pull you through it all and it ends up dragging.

What needed to happen is for the script to be tighter with a real narrative of a building, climax and ending.  As it is, at times it felt more like a viewing of the Hall of Presidents.  All interesting, but no real story to draw you into the history- no narrative arc to keep you engaged.  If it had stuck to the incidents of 13th amendment and more briefly discussed some of the other factors I think it would have been more compelling and easier to follow.  It ends up feeling more like a text book than a story.

It also has some Spielbergian features in the film such as the wide panning shots and the towering music by John Williams.  He loves turning moments that shouldn’t be dramatic into high emotion and then there are so many of those moments that you don’t know when the top moment has come and you are supposed to be the most excited. When the 13th amendment is passed you want to stand up and cheer but I think I could have cheered more loudly if I had not already been wrung out by Spielberg and especially Williams music.

That said, I did learn a lot about the passage of the 13th amendment that I’m grateful for.  Lincoln was a master leader.  Someone that people either loved or hated and don’t all good leaders inspire one or the other?  He listened but also led with a decisiveness I find impressive and which I’m sure was especially needed during a time of Civil War.  A time when compromising had led to so much bloodshed.

Daniel Day Lewis plays Lincoln as a thoughtful, endearing, quiet, even funny man who looks weary from the weight of trying to do the right thing.  I think the actual Lincoln is probably more complicated in his positions than Spielberg would allow us to see but it is not the grand, perfect pontificator you see in some movies.  He even slaps his son in frustration at one point.   It is a great performance and worthy of seeing the movie just for it alone.

I also appreciated that it did not try to translate the story to modern issues of the day such as was done in the obnoxious 2010 movie The Conspirator, which told the story of Mary Surratt, the only women executed for the assassination of Lincoln.  That movie rammed home the message of political prisoners and the analogies of Guantanamo Bay  so loud it drove me crazy.  It also suffered from a script that dragged and got too bogged down in historical detail and legal explanations.   I don’t need to be lectured to when I go to see a movie.  I just want a good STORY!

So, in the end I have mixed feelings about Lincoln.  Go see it for the acting and to learn something about history but just know it is slow in portions and could have either been longer or shorter. As it is, the story drags and the multitude of characters is a bit overwhelming. Still worthy of a rental for sure.   I’d give it 3 stars.

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