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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Suicide Squad

Greetings one and all. There is a legitimate reason for writing on this humid evening, believe it or not. There will be many tangents and digressions, as per usual, but just know that there is a single focus to this post. Tonight, I exited my local theater completely enthralled by a film my friend asked me to go see with her, and that film, my dearies, is Suicide Squad. Already, I feel there is controversy around that film, not due to senseless PC bullshit but due to the vastly mixed reviews it has gotten thus far. The movie had garnered massive buzz since the release of its trailer and even before that, so the stakes were high. They rose even higher or even further? when the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice received shit reviews after years of unbridled, fanatic enthusiasm. Yes, I concur with the shit reviews because the Batman/Superman film was utterly exhausting and unentertaining. Not that I expected much, given that Ben Affleck was cast as Batman and Jesse fucking Eisenberg was cast as Lex Luthor. Really, DC Comics? That squirrelly Woody Allen wannabe is the choice for a calculating villain previously portrayed by the likes of Kevin Spacey and Gene Hackman? I get it, this is supposed to be young Lex Luthor, but Jesse fucking Eisenberg? I am unconvinced by his capabilities and ultimately disgusted by the performance that was given. As for the Batman, I am pleased to say that Ben Affleck was not that bad. He's no Christian Bale, but I'll give Affleck a pat on the back for his effort. In such a convoluted mess of a film, he was somewhat of a consolation to its horridness. The movie's horridness, that is. One more thing: Wonder Woman was totally unnecessary other than to introduce the Justice League franchise that is to come. Actually, this entire clusterfuck of a movie is just a prelude to the Justice League franchise. Dawn of Justice? Fuck off.
Alright, now for the main event that is Suicide Squad. Be warned that there will be spoilers as the movie is pretty fresh in my mind, though I will mostly be concentrating on the film's quality overall and not specifics. As I continue to write, the ability to form coherent sentences dissolves into psychobabble. What am I saying right now? Must be the voices. To start us off, I'd like to express how much I genuinely enjoyed this movie. As far as superhero movies go, this was very unconventional and flat-out entertaining. I, myself, am not a superhero or comic book connoisseur, so I can't really comment on whether the film did justice to the comics or not. Even if I was that kind of nerd, I don't think I'd care that much, at least I hope I wouldn't. Movies have one primary objective and that is to entertain, and as far as I can see Suicide Squad accomplished that. It was chaotic, vivid, and absolutely thrilling. This sounds like a conclusion, but I assure you it is not. Consider this an inverted post. I'll even end it with a hello. I'm losing my mind. There is one mixed review that I can actually reason with as it is not a "this movie is awful and that's all I can say about it" kind of review. Screen International praises the film as possessing a dark, nihilistic streak as well as kinky pleasures and amusing nastiness; however, they claim that the film congratulates itself for how edgy it thinks it is based on the general badassery it has marketed prior to release. True, the film does deem itself as a vibrant ode to misfits, accentuating on the giddy villainy of its characters, which is kind of the point of the film isn't it? I understand that the critic is saying that Suicide Squad was not as edgy as it thinks it is, which is debatable I suppose depending on one's definition of edgy. Personally, I thought the film was plenty edgy, particularly the batshit insanity of Harley Quinn and the Joker. I'm exaggerating, perhaps, but that does not diminish their awe-inspiring portrayals of insane. I exaggerated again, didn't I? Let's move on to the nitty gritty of the thing.
The introduction of the members of the Suicide Squad was phenomenal. I always love these scenes in movies when there is a group...and there are members with credentials being introduced.... That was a silly and simple sentence, but I assure you I am a whopping twenty years old. Movies like Ocean's 11 are especially entertaining because of the gang that comes to the table. That's my go-to ensemble movie where that sort of intro scene takes place and it's honestly one of my favorite scenes in that whole trilogy. It's as if we're meeting a family of very good friends for the first time. Or am I just getting far too sentimental for what's actually happening? One by one, key characters are introduced in vivid fashion (we're back to Suicide Squad now, apologies for my insanity) and the audience becomes enraptured by this assembly of misfits. There are multiple scenes where the audience has the pleasure of watching these antiheroes interact as an ensemble, like when they equip and get into their Squad gear or when they have a drink at some deserted bar. Those scenes are just delightful, among the reasons why I smile when I think about the movie. Also, the film opens with "House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals, and it was then that I knew I was in for a treat. I want to emphasize this now rather than continue bringing it up: the music in this movie was outstanding, each song seemed ideal for the situation and I loved the variety of musical fare that was offered. Moving on. I actually put on the soundtrack for inspiration and just plain enjoyment. I'll try to stay focused I promise.
Onto the characters. We have Will Smith as Deadshot, the brooding hitman with the trademark Will Smith sense of humor; Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, the beautifully psychotic psychopath all psychopaths are psychotic and the Joker's other half; Jared Leto as the Joker himself; Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, the boisterous Aussie who doesn't seem do give many fucks then again none of them do; Jay Hernandez as Diabolo, the tattooed flame conjurer; Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Killer Croc, the deep-down sensitive reptilian; Karen Fukuhara as Katana, the Kill Bill-esque blade-wielder; and Cara Delevingne as Enchantress, the sincerely eerie villainess of the movie. Col. Rick Flag and Amanda Waller are technically also part of the Squad, from what I am told, but they aren't criminals so I'm going to gloss over them. Viola Davis played Amanda Waller and she portrayed a decent sociopath, that's all I have to say. The characters whose company I enjoyed most were all of them except Enchantress. Her appearance was appropriately creepy, though I am not a fan of the actress. It's probably because I've never seen her in a movie, and I just have a predisposition to dislike actors I'm unfamiliar with. Her acting was truly uneven though, which is why I took an immediate dislike to her. Or maybe I'm just saying that to justify my irrational hatred.
The one actor I really want to praise here is Margot Robbie because she absolutely shined in this film. Beyond her indisputable beauty and comic-book radiance, her performance truly embodied the looniness of Harley Quinn. The outfitting and make-up was simply perfection, such an innovative rendition of the comic book character. Deeper still, her manifestation of Harley Quinn was a spectacular mix of quirky, affectionate, and psychotic. The love she possesses for the Joker is mesmerizing to observe in moments such as when she's dancing with the Joker in her harlequin jumpsuit and when she's practically floating towards him in a hail of gunfire. As disturbing as their love is, the devotion present in their eyes is infatuating. In case you were wondering, Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn is the main attraction of this wild ride of a movie. I honestly thought the Joker would steal the show but he was hardly on screen anyway. Cue the knowing laughter of those who have seen the movie and complained about that. I'll admit, I wish there would have been more of him, especially scenes between him and Harley Quinn. Or Harley Quinn and he? Grammar can be a bitch.
I have been anticipating greatness from Jared Leto's portrayal and--I'll be completely honest here--I was a tad underwhelmed when he first came on the screen. It wasn't until I saw the irrefutable chemistry between Harley Quinn and the Joker that I began to grow on him. I think it was the metal teeth and his mobster get-up that threw me off, but then again that was the unique rendition this movie had for the character. Not every Joker is a carbon copy of the previous one, nor should it be. Jack Nicholson, who will forever be my favorite Joker until further notice, was an exceptional comic book representation of the Joker, while Heath Ledger was a grittier, more realistic villain in terms of his terrorist tendencies. Jared Leto was simply a different kind of criminal, more like the head of a criminal syndicate in modern times, and he definitely had an individualistic take on the infamous villain. Of course, the level of disinhibited insanity was shocking, so kudos to Leto for staying true to the Joker in his own way. Once again, I loved the exchanges between Harley Quinn and the Joker so naturally I just love them both.
Here is the part of post where I wrap things up. I need to because otherwise this post will be exiled to the drafts I forget to post. There's only one I haven't posted actually, so it's not as foreboding as it sounds. I write as if there are people out there who read this, it's funny. Overall, I really enjoyed Suicide Squad. The style of the film, that way it was shot so haphazardly but in a visually pleasing manner, reminded me of the way Matthew Vaughn directs his movies. The scene in Kingsman, for example, where Colin Firth commits a bloody massacre in a church, was very reminiscent in the way Suicide Squad was shot. That's just my opinion of course, as is everything I've said thus far. Except for the fact that Batman v. Superman was absolute horseshit, that's a fact. Until next time. Hello.

P.S. Don't waste your time.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Paranormal Perfection

Greetings and salutations. There is a torrential downpour happening right outside my window, so I figured what better opportunity to flesh out some meaningless writing? A torrential downpour of scattered thoughts, if you will. Do you ever get the feeling that you have an ingrown fingernail? I do. Inspired by this gloomy, menacing weather, I decided to write about a genre I normally don't explore: horror. When I think horror, images of Michael Myers and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre come to mind. And blood--lots of blood. These facets of cinema have always repelled me, especially that creepy, murderous Chucky doll. I absolutely despise that ginger menace. No, the films I will be looking at share a characteristic that is not blood or cheap thrills. While they do feature jump scares quite frequently, the following films are true masterpieces when it comes to the genre of horror. They are, ladies and gentlemen, the psychological horrors.

I write this fresh out of the theater, and by theater I mean my at-home movie theater. I have my own projector, you know, huge screen and all. Anyway, the film I just finished is called Insidious. No need for introduction, I'm sure, as it was immensely popular among audiences, even some critics. Recall that most horror movies rife with jump scares are typically disregarded as "annoying" and repetitive. I quoted "annoying" because that's an actual review Insidious received: "It was far more annoying than it was terrifying." I'm paraphrasing, but that's the gist of the review. How can anyone define this film as "annoying," I truly wonder. I am going to say it right now: Insidious is by far the most terrifying film I have ever seen. Considering that I am not a savant of the horror genre, this statement is not very powerful, certainly not requiring bold effects. Not sure if "powerful" was the right word to use there. Then again, neither was "annoying" to describe this movie. Critiquing a horror film is a challenge because it requires the utmost subtlety and vagueness. I cannot go about divulging spoilers as it would caution you that much more before immersing yourself into the experience. How exactly does one go about reviewing horror "flicks" without giving a walkthrough of what to expect? Adjectives come to mind right away, as always, for they provide vague yet impacting declarations of what a movie can be described as. When I think of what I just experienced with Insidious, I think of exactly that word: insidious. The film oozes such malice, such utter terror that you never know what to anticipate. Nevertheless you are anticipating something, you cannot even predict what's lurking about or if there even is anything there. Just the mere thought forces your imagination to run free and once the actuality reaches your line of vision, you are confronted with fears unimaginable to what you foresaw. Let's be honest, one can't really force anything with this film. Unless I'm an amateur when it comes to horror films and I fail to see through the "annoying" facade the director presents for his viewers. He must prey on the gullible weakness of novice viewers such as myself then, for this film frightened any of my sources. By sources, I mean my close friends. Just kidding, I don't have any friends. The film was very unsettling. The visions that appeared upon the screen were expected yet unexpected; they tease you with their absence, then attack you with their sudden entrance. Again, no spoilers. All I will do is highly recommend Insidious. Be warned that the level of sheer terror is frighteningly steep. See what I did there with the pun? There was no pun.

The next film up for vague discussion is called The Conjuring, released three years after Insidious by the very same director. What is that you say? We have a skilled craftsman of horror that does not demand the need for senseless gore on screen? Other than Saw, James Wan seems to have a knack for original, genuinely chilling horror movies. I can actually watch and enjoy them, with my adrenaline levels spiking all the while of course. My craving for horror materialized out of nowhere, it seems. Perhaps I've matured to a point where films like The Shining aren't scary enough. Be advised that The Shining is one of my only experience with horror and that I very much appreciated that debut experience. The book was just as good as the movie, I reckon. Past horror movies I consider to be "horror movies" include Grindhouse productions, which were majorly bloody messes. Literally just a carousel of slaughters and cheap storylines. As a child, I was horrified by the onslaught of blood and guts, or at least that's what I recall from my youth. Since then, I've seen The Shining as well as 1408 and The Skeleton Key. The latter is worth mentioning for it was a truly creepy horror where the ending was everything. That's all I have to say about that. Though I will stress the importance of the ending when it comes to horror movies. A shitty ending will have you leave the theater with a rotten taste in your mouth, sometimes literally. The bile that formed was due to...unmet expectations? I thought I was going somewhere with that, some kind of metaphor. Oh well. Over the course of a horror film, you are left breathless yet your heart is pumping wildly--that's how it should be anyway--so when the ending is flat, you feel sick from all that wasted adrenaline. I feel my figurative language is all over the place there. Just like my train of thought. Let me return to The Conjuring now.

Aside from having an excellent title for a horror film, The Conjuring rests among the classics as one of the greatest among horror cinema. I hope that sentence wasn't too choppy. Loosely based on true events, the film follows famed spookologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. I definitely made up the word "spookologists," I'm sorry. Their official title is paranormal investigator, according to Wikipedia, which is a website that can be relied on when it comes to searching mundane facts, believe it or not. Ed is a self-taught demonologist (actual term), author, and lecturer, while Lorraine is a clairvoyant and light trance medium. Basically, he represents the clean-cut professionalism behind a case while she serves as the up-close and personal encounter with the haunting spirits. Personally, ghost stories triggered the shrug reaction for me, as I remained indifferent to these types of tales because I have never seen a ghost. I ain't afraid of no ghosts. I want to believe in ghosts because it implies prolonged life on this earth, which is somewhat appealing since I have a painstaking fear of mortality. But that's beside the point. Until The Conjuring, I steered clear of all things even remotely scary, including the frightful images of truly creepy ghosts. When it came to the paranormal, the most I've seen is Ghostbusters. The original one, obviously. Because the new one is a negatory as of now. I lose my train of thought so easily. For the last ten minutes, I was looking up attractive actors to see if they were single or not. As if I had a chance to hit up Bradley Cooper. Come on, get it together.

New paragraph. I watched The Conjuring before I watched Insidious, actually, because at the time of writing I had just watched Insidious so I figured it would be best to write about that one fresh from the mind. Therefore, a somewhat significant amount of time (about two or three weeks) has passed since I watched The Conjuring. Forgive me if my analysis and sentiments of the film are not adequately produced as they were for Insidious. What I really appreciated about The Conjuring was the time period; the seventies motif gives the film a vintage aura about it that makes the horror aspect a tad creepier because it conjures images of classic scary movies. Objectively speaking, this film was no where near as terrifying as Insidious; however, its period creepiness will cement The Conjuring in cinematic history nevertheless. I'm not saying The Conjuring was tame overall because it certainly frightened me multiple times. Unlike Insidious, this film relied more on the quiet tension that something might happen as opposed to blatantly horrifying jump scares. (I may have contradicted what I said earlier. What i mean to say is that, while there were moments of silent tension in Insidious, they were typically followed by jump scares. The Conjuring, on the other hand, gave less pay-off in terms of jump scares, as there were more moments of silent tension that were there for aesthetics, I think. Moving on.) The basement of the Perrons' home is where the chilling fear faces the shocking horrors you were anticipating. In other words, the most scary scenes happen down in the basement. Just a complimentary spoiler for the ill and weak-stomached. Oh, and the creepy tree with the noose hanging from a branch (pictured in the poster) is the setting for a heart-stopping moment of dread as well. That's actually a great word to describe the feeling I have when watching these two Wan films: heart-stopping. Not in the thrilling, roller coaster kind of way, of course. The combination of a score reminiscent of classic horror films; the tiptoe slow approach to the horrific reveal; the undeniable tension and shortness of breath; and finally the unsettling jump scare that feels as if the spirits reached from the screen and jolted you themselves. That sums up these two films incredibly well, in my opinion, explaining my newfound fascination with creepy-eerie horror films that do not rely on purely visuals and gore to get your attention.

Before I wrap things up, I would like to give some praise to the acting in each of the films because I just realized that I ignored that. Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson play the husband and wife in Insidious, where their son experiences the cursed art of dream traveling. In more technical terms, he "becomes a vessel for ghosts an astral dimension who want to inhabit his body." Thanks Wikipedia. As the mother of this special child, who gets lost in the Further and is therefore temporarily lost to the world, Rose Byrne gives an excellent scared-shitless performance. At first, you wonder if she is going mad since she seems to be the only one encountering the paranormal. This was a notion both my dad and I had, until "something" happened that I can't share for fear of TMI. Her performance was great in terms of the setting and the majority of her specific role, as she was just the right amount of hysterical. Patrick Wilson was fitting as the supportive husband of Byrne, though the significance of his role does not come into play until the "something" happens. (Editor's note: Wilson was phenomenal in the sequel to Insidious, which I won't go into because I need to finish this post. I've been putting this off for weeks. It's about time.)
Patrick Wilson returns in The Conjuring as the Ed Warren to Vera Farmiga's Lorraine. The pair gives an incredible duet as acting partners, more effective than Byrne and Wilson in my opinion. While both actresses have good faces for horror films (not an insult to their appearance in the slightest), I feel that Vera Farmiga is a tad stronger an actress. That's just my sentiment. Once again, Patrick Wilson delivers as a solid horror performer, redeeming himself as the douchebag in Morning Glory for sure. Vera Farmiga was superb as the clairvoyant Lorraine Warren, as she enveloped herself wholly in the role of a woman frightened by an other-worldly presence. Again, good actors give good performances. This time anyway.

For the past few days, I've felt utterly useless and despondent in this time of summer. When I have nothing to do, I regress into thinking of past regrets and mistakes I've made. This is a toxic habit, one that can be cured with accomplishment, even as simple as a writing a blog post. After I publish this, I will read over it and feel satisfied with the work and brainpower I put into it. Granted, it didn't require the same brainpower as a college thesis, but for me this blog is my sanctuary of creative output. Reading past posts remind me that I have potential to do something with my life while I stay dormant at home for the summer. I'm letting this out mostly as a reminder to myself so when I read this, I will hopefully be inspired to write. It can be about anything, I just need to write to feel something other than nothing. That's all I have to say about that. Have a good evening. P.S. It's not raining anymore.

Good night.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Female Ghost(ball)busters

Greetings and salutations. I am beginning this post with an utterly blank slate. I have absolutely no idea what to write about, yet I have an urge to write--to do something satisfying with myself. So here I am in my humid little room at home, listening to my Spotify playlist which I labeled "Writing." It took me about three hours to organize 93 songs in this playlist, a whopping six hours and forty-seven minutes of music. I call the playlist "Writing" because it helps get the words flowing, but this playlist could also be named "Contemplative" or "Crying." As sad as it sounds, I cry often. No particular reason either, though the past tends to creep into my daily thought processes, triggering an inconsequential waterfall of tears to come streaming down. I don't see it as a sign of depression and I certainly don't consider myself an elevated, philosophical individual for enjoying these tears. I know of people who lead a constant parade of self-pity solely for attention or even admiration. Think Tumblr bloggers. Not all of them, of course, for I have a close friend whose content is genuine and heart-wrenching. Of course, many Tumblr posts are genuine, but there are those who reblog for the sake of appearing cool and to be part of something. This is not what I had in mind to write about. To keep the words flowing, I'll talk about personal paraphernalia. I honestly could not think of another word other than "paraphernalia." In approximately one month, it will have been two years since I graduated from high school. I decided to mention this due to the song that started playing ("And the Winner Is..." from Little Miss Sunshine) which is sort of my graduation anthem. I listened to this song on the way to the stadium where I would celebrate my departure from the K-12 system. Little did I know that college was simply 13th grade. 


One month later, I decided to continue this topic-less post. I actually have a remnant of a subject to write about, one that has no connection to the previous paragraphs. However, I hate to cut out meaningful words I carefully chose. In order to divide two separate thoughts, I'll apply a different font to the musings I made a month ago. Now onto my semi-fully formed topic: feminism. My reason for writing about feminism stems from the backlash against the new Ghostbusters movie--the "female Ghostbusters" movie. As of now, the movie's trailer has 880,154 dislikes on YouTube. The ratio of likes to dislikes is unprecedented as far as movie trailers go. The immediate reaction to this enormous disdain? Obviously sexism. My reaction to this reaction? Eye-rolling frustration. I find it amusing and utterly ludicrous that feminists are taking this YouTube campaign against the film so seriously. The fact that feminists are up in arms over the negative reception of just a trailer of a movie. For the most part, people are pushing the dislike button because it's sort of amazing and funny that there are so many dislikes. I, myself, have pressed dislike because it's funny and because the trailer did not put the movie in a flattering light. The reason so many people disliked it is because the movie not only pales in comparison to the original--it simply does not look good. The effects alone are shoddy and borderline campy. For a 2016 reboot of a science fiction classic, the visual "magic" is rather embarrassing; it's as if their inspiration was the 2002 Scooby Doo. The jokes that were in the trailer fell flat, to the ears of many, which is disappointing because the women here are truly funny. Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig at least. I haven't watched Saturday Night Live since Jason Sudekis left, so I can't say anything positive or negative about Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. What I will say about Jones is that her performance in the trailer seemed more racist than self-aware, as the director intended I'm sure. Also, it's interesting that she is not a brilliant scientist/engineer like the other ladies. No, Jones is a subway attendant (not sure what the correct job title would be) who is an asset to the team solely based on her knowledge of New York. She even said it: "I know New York," says the sassy, aggressive black woman. One joke that was actually pretty funny was when Wiig and McCarthy both said "let's go" as a dramatic statement and they awkwardly jinxed. I admit I chuckled there. The rest of the trailer just beckons staples of Nickelodeon movies--and not the early 2000s Nick movies that were good. Another point to make is that the original Ghostbusters make an appearance; however, they do not revive their roles, from what I've heard. This is upsetting because the director could have made an epic face-off between the past and present Ghostbusters. No, Paul Feig chose to make his own movie.
According to the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, Kristen Wiig said, "You can't get better than the original. But it's a different movie, it's a different cast, it's many years later, and we've also done things that are different. It's not just about it starring women. There is a lot of action. The special effects are insane. And it's really funny." Alright. The first statement comes off as false humility. I honestly feel that women will deem this reboot better than the original solely because "women are better than men." I believe critics will take to this idea as well because they do not want to be perceived as anti-feminist. Of course, feminists will say those reviews will be genuine, an "in your face" to sexists out there. Of course, I believe critics are too afraid to be honest sometimes. When the reviews come out rotten? Sexism prevails. Eye roll. The whole "it's not just about it starring women" comment. If it isn't just about that, then why are people treating it as "the female Ghostbusters"? Why are women defending this movie if this is a movie for everyone? Why aren't men refuting the negative backlash as much as women? Oh right, sexism. "The special effects are insane[ly awful]."
The EW interview actually provoked me to write. The cover was the four new Ghostbusters and the caption is as follows: "It's slime [it's a pun] for a new Ghostbusters! The stars dish on old cameos, new proton packs--and that sexist backlash." And that sexist backlash. It's truly remarkable how feminists think the world revolves around them, how every little negativity in the world has some sexist roots. No. People, for the most part, hated the trailer because the movie just did not look entertaining. If it were a stand-alone picture, I'm sure the backlash would not have been as brutal. However, fans of the original Ghostbusters were crushed when they saw their beloved classic rebooted à la Fantastic Four. Sorry not sorry, it's true. Also, the majority of Ghostbusters fans are, indeed, men. For example, on IMDb, 180,626 men voted an average score of 7.8/10 for Ghostbusters (1984). This compares to a mere 33,062 women who voted an average of 7.6/10. Granted this may be construed as a petty statistic, but it's present. Interestingly, more non-US users voted for Ghostbusters than US users. Because men represent a larger percentage of the Ghostbusters' fanbase, this negative reception of the new Ghostbusters is taken as sexist backlash. It's truly annoying that feminists are concentrating their toxic hate on a fucking movie. It's just a movie, and the backlash is coming from YouTubers! They have no influence on domestic politics, they do not push forward sexist agendas in the U.S. I won't delve into feminism too much because, well, it's exhausting. It's an argument that will always be met with irrational fury on the feminist side. One last point and I'll be done. If the movie turns out to be hilarious and plot-drivenly good, I will not deny it. I will admit I was wrong and prematurely critical. I will not, however, say that feminists were right. If I enjoy the film, it will be due to the talented director and his collaboration with the cast and script. Movies are movies, people.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dream in Gold

Greetings one and all. The title of this post refers to the "catchphrase" of this past Academy Awards ceremony. It certainly provides a pleasing visual, especially at the conclusion of the ceremony when a mass of gold confetti drowned this year's Best Picture producer-winners. I will try to stay on task here and discuss only the 2016 Oscars and nothing else. Here, you will find my thoughts on everything about the ceremony, primarily the winners and snubbed nominees. What I will not be discussing is Chris Rock's performance as the host. Why, you may wonder? Well, this entire year for the Oscars was shrouded in controversy and scandal, coined by the Twitter hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. I will not comment on this issue because it is an extremely touchy subject. What I will say is that centering the race issue on the Academy Awards is absurd because all actors in question (i.e. Will Smith and his wife who started the buzz) are successful, wealthy individuals. This issue should be addressed in areas where racism actually affects individuals. Sorry, but getting snubbed for an Oscar does not tarnish the golden wealth they already possess. That's the end of my thought. Every year, when awards season rolls around, I feel the delightful bliss of a holiday approaching, and that holiday is the Academy Awards. No matter who is hosting, no matter who is nominated, I always look forward to the Oscars with an unwavering ecstasy that rivals those who anticipate the Super Bowl. For my father and I, the Oscars is a massive celebration that demands undivided attention and untainted vision. That is to say, until we watch the Oscars, we avoid all media and social contact to avoid being spoiled with the results. Call us weird, antisocial hermits, but that is our devotion to the Academy Awards. Anyway, here is an organized paragraph-list of the highlights of the evening. Ready, set, let's begin.

The Big Short fell short - I hope that caption isn't too repulsive of a pun. Or whatever that is, whatever I just did. This thing I did with the caption refers to the performance of The Big Short at the Oscar ceremony, for it received, regrettably, only one Oscar. I recently watched The Big Short, just in time for the Oscars, which is extremely fortunate because it gave me my tentative frontrunner. Not only was the film phenomenal overall, but the Guilds Awards over the past few weeks gave the impression that it was, indeed, in the front-running. Allow me to give a brief review of The Big Short. Directed by the Wall St. skeptic, Adam McKay--whose previous film, The Other Guys, featured an illuminating presentation that showed the excessive greed of Wall St. executives and CEOs--guides the film with such remarkable agility. The mechanics of Wall St. and the economy are notoriously regarded as being impossible to understand for average people. I believe the system is challenging to comprehend because that's exactly how those grimy executives want it. If the system is complicated, people will not bother with trying to understand, giving those executives indirect permission to continue doing what they're doing. What are they doing? To paraphrase, they are swindling the American people and using the government as a puppet to accomplish this more effectively. This topic may be the only politically-centric topic I feel comfortable and not at all ashamed for discussing. I am bold enough to discuss this because (1) having conversations about this will hopefully expand my knowledge on the subject, and (2) I believe it is the crime of the century and the culprits and getting away with it.
The end of The Big Short features narration by Ryan Gosling (he narrates the film throughout, just to clarify) and, once the financial bubble pops, he explains what became of the Wall St. executives who were part of this scheme. Basically, all the executives were prosecuted and new laws were created to combat the possibility of another crisis on Wall St....just kidding. No, according to Ryan Gosling and my own belief, Wall St. executives faced no charges and actually received a $700 billion bailout from the government. They were rewarded for their outrageous blunder and given leeway to restart the cycle of financial thievery. I call it financial thievery because they do not directly reach into the pockets of people and steal, but they utilize mechanisms to achieve their wealth. Again, my knowledge on the subject is limited to what I saw in The Big Short and various documentaries. (Capitalism: A Love Story is a great one, explained profoundly by Michael Moore.) I feel I jumped into talking about the evil of Wall St. as opposed to discussing the film itself. That's exactly what I did. One-sentence review: The Big Short was directed/written in a way that appeals to average audiences who do not understand the economy. Despite the complicated terminology involved on Wall St., Adam McKay managed to engage viewers, luring them to root against Big Business yet revealing to them what caused the economy to crumble. My dad, for example, watched the film with aching bewilderment. While he loved the movie as much as I did, it was painful for him to examine the smugness, the conceited disregard, that business executives expressed during their scheme. Right before the 2008 crisis, my dad bought a house with my mom, an investment that, as the movie demonstrated, would prove to be unwise and heartbreaking. Other externalities aside, this crisis injured my dad greatly. These pompous executives kept making shitty deals involving synthetic CDOs (which I still do not understand) and their greed caused lives to be ruined. Not their lives, of course, but the lives of people who were not even involved in these sinister machinations. They had no idea what was happening, and the shock and consequences fell on them and they were devastating. It's honestly painful even to write all this out. It's sad that The Big Short received just this one Oscar. I was really hoping it would win Best Picture because it gives a message that is relevant and ongoing today. What's happening behind closed doors led to the 2008 financial crisis and it's still going on. As seemingly insignificant as the Oscars may be, I hope that this single recognition might open the country's eyes to the corruption occurring--and I feel confident in saying this--on Wall St.

Leo - This caption defines this past Oscars, and I'm sure everyone can agree with me on that. Sure, Mad Max: Fury Road can be coined the catchphrase of the Oscars as it won award after award; however, Leonardo DiCaprio owned the night as he won his very first Academy Award. Although I disagree with the movie that accompanied his honor, I cannot help feeling bliss at the event itself. Leo finally won an Oscar. True, I hated The Revenant just as much (or even more than) Birdman. Calling Leo's win a glorious event may make me sound like a hypocrite in that sense because I hated the movie he won for. Here is my rationale for being happy for Leo: Fuck the director. As crass as that may appear, it justifies my happiness for Leo. No apologies, I hope that director never returns to the Oscars. Also, two Best Director wins in a row? Fuck that. Anyway, back to Leo. As the evening approached the Best Actor category, the room was abundant with anticipation. It was pretty much a sure thing that Leo would be accepting the statuette, yet even viewers at home felt the tension. This was not the year to snub Leo yet again, though Oscar history has shown that they are a dick to Leo. Fortunately, Julianne Moore was able to announce his name with joy as literally every single person in the theater jumped up for a standing ovation. Watching Leo's acceptance speech truly was an historic moment. (Note: I hesitate in saying "an historic" as opposed to "a historic" because elementary grammar has taught me to use "an" only for words beginning with a vowel. Yet everywhere I turn, people write "an historic." Moving on.)  His speech was a dignified as anyone can imagine from this long-awaited victory. Leo's speeches throughout the awards season were gracious and humble, so it is logical that his Oscar speech would top them all. What made his speech absolutely remarkable was his politically-charged conclusion where he acknowledged the threat of climate change. Usually, these comments make me cringe because they feel provoked by political bribes. You know, "mention this important issue and we'll give you money," sort of like sponsoring or in-movie advertising. I shouldn't make any additional political conspiracy observations after the previous paragraph, right? Knowing Leo's active activism, however, makes his cogent comments incredibly admirable and, most importantly, genuine. He used this precious, momentous occasion to bring to light a significant global issue, and that is simply astounding, in a good way. In case the message hasn't gotten across, I could not be more ecstatic for Leonardo DiCaprio. A long overdue congratulations is in order, for sure. Cheers, Leo.


Three-legged Race to Best Picture - Not a very clever caption, I realize. My intention was to highlight that there were three films in the running for Best Picture. This happens every year, of course: a few films are at the top while the remaining films nominated are simply happy to be nominated. This year was an anomaly however, as there were three major contenders. This made predicting the winner difficult. I started those last three sentences with "this." In a previous post, I declared that The Big Short would win because it triumphed at the Producers Guild Awards and because I loved the movie. Well, in time, I hadn't watched it yet, but the topic was enough for me to root for the film. Sadly, if you read the first caption, The Big Short disappointed. Actually, the Academy disappointed and pissed off viewers such as I because they failed to honor the best picture of the year. Fortunately, The Revenant did not shine either, despite winning for Best Actor and Best Director. The winner of the evening--the individuals lucky enough to be showered in gold confetti--was the Spotlight group. Here is an instance where I am pleased solely because it surpassed a film I disliked. This is not how winning should feel. One should feel inner bliss at hearing a film they truly loved win the bestowed honor. (Bestowed?) I was relatively happy when Spotlight won just because it was not The Revenant. And that just makes me a bitter, hateful person, doesn't it? (Ennio Morricone won his first Oscar for Best Original Score for The Hateful Eight.) Anyway, Spotlight does not deserve the Best Picture title either, even though it was slightly better than The Revenant in my opinion. Nevertheless, standing alone, Spotlight was not an impressive film. I was honestly looking forward to watching it because I have an interest in journalism as well as a sick curiosity in the Catholic Priest Scandal. (All caps.) However, the film fell well below expectations. As I said, The Big Short deserved that Oscar, making me upset that Spotlight did win, even if The Revenant didn't. I just stated the three Best Picture contenders there because I realized that I didn't state them clearly in the beginning. Anyway, despite the disappointment, this entire Oscar race was indeed very intriguing to follow and predict. It sort of mirrors a certain other race occurring in the United States at the moment. Not really.

Here is the part where I apologize for the sheer, unforgivable lateness of this post. The Oscars were on February 29, and here I am, two months later, posting this. Shame on me. I do love writing, please never forget that. For those of you who actually read this, (1) I'm sorry for the gaps between posts, and (2) I'm sorry for alluding to how few people read this. I'll end things here for now. Until next time. Hopefully soon. Cheers, everyone, especially Kate and Leo.

The Big Four
(Should have been Kate Winslet next to Leo)


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Gone into Digressing

Good evening one and all. I bid thee a gracious hello on this freezing yet beautiful day. This contradicts the "good evening" I just said, but I am not completely sure when I'll be posting this. As always, I write for weeks before officially posting. Anyway. This post won't be anything special. As if any other post is magical. I say "post" often.) Currently, I am in my accounting class, writing this old-fashioned with a pen and paper. Obviously, I'll be transferring this online for your reading pleasure. I'm not really sure why I decided to write, therefore I have no specific topic in mind. I should be judiciously taking notes since I am, after all, in class, but it's accounting and the professor is shit at lecturing. I digress. This entire post will probably consist solely of digressions.

To remain true to the nature of this blog, I will talk about the movie, Gone Girl. I don't mean to say that the nature of this blog is the movie Gone Girl, just movies in general. You understand. I was about to write cunderstand, that would've been bad. Because it sounds like cun...berbatch. Benedict Cumberbatch. Wow, this is terrible. I just watched it for a second time, and my dad and I agree that it was just as good, if not better, as the first time. Watching it again also reminds me of my seething rage that Rosamund Pike failed to receive the Best Actress Oscar for her performance. While I recall her role as a beautifully psychotic (or psychotically beautiful) wife, the second time watching her was absolutely entrancing. Indeed, now that I knew what her plan was and what she's capable of, I could overlook the plot and savor in the majesty of her performance. Beyond her stunning portrayal as Amazing Amy, the movie as a whole was magnificent. Granted, it was based on a best-selling novel, so most of the work put into the film was, objectively speaking, already finished. However, adapting a well-made book into a well-made movie is challenging. Just look at Twilight. Because of Gone Girl's popularity, the anticipation for the adaptation was immeasurable and the pressure to satisfy fans is even more considerable. Fortunately, Gillian Flynn, the author of Gone Girl, wrote the screenplay, and David Fincher, fortunately, directed one hell of a picture. I place emphasis on "fortunately" because David Fincher's track record with movies is split, in my opinion. On one hand, we have Fight Club and The Game (and Zodiac, which was excellent until it turned into a drag of three unnecessary hours); on the other hand, we have Se7en, Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Social Network. I realize that those last three films I mentioned were critically acclaimed and adored by general audiences. However, I truly did not like them. The direction of Se7en, as I've said in the post about the movie I wrote long ago, was slow yet chaotic, accompanied by a disturbing buzzing-of-flies sound in the background. Benjamin Button was a film I sorely wanted to enjoy, but the pacing of the film was tedious and the chemistry between the actors on screen was poorly directed by Fincher. The Social Network is simply a pretentious film, written by the very pretentious Aaron Sorkin. Overall, it was a solid movie, but the reception for the movie was exaggerated: it was not that good. I digress.
The film is masterfully constructed, divided into "parts" that give the viewer a satiating feeling of constant shock and mesmerization. Not memorization, that wouldn't make sense. Part One of the film, as I see it, is the mystery behind the disappearance of Amy Dunne. Another component to Part One is the rising suspicion that Nick Dunne, her husband, murdered her. As the husband, Ben Affleck gives a solid performance, which is an improvement from his earlier Razzie-worthy performances. Seriously, who would have imagined that Gigli and Daredevil could give a decent performance in Gone Girl, let alone direct an Oscar-worthy movie like Argo? Back to the film, the evidence that Nick had murdered his wife was considerable. Add the fact that Nick was having an affair with a student, there's motive. A classy motive at that--sarcasm. The first part ends with the arrest of Nick Dunne and the discovery, to the audience, that Amy was alive and kicking. Part Two begins with Amy's chilling explanation of how she framed her husband. This entire reasoning alone is deserving of an Oscar. Rosamund Pike did a complete switch. From a frightened and sympathetic wife to a sinister, calculating villain. Her transformation is a beauty to watch; she is utterly hypnotic.
I get the feeling that many women hate Amy Dunne. She may be considered a bane to female existence because she took advantage of the media with deceit and misrepresentation. Also part of this deceit was exploiting her femininity and fragility to gain sympathy from the world. When in reality women should be masculine and rigid...I guess? Because I am not a feminist--not a radical one anyway--I'd have to go ahead and say fuck that. See, I can curse like ladies aren't supposed to. First of all, this is a movie and Rosamund Pike was portraying a fictional character. Second, the film was merely delineating the theme that the general public is a mob and that a single person can manipulate the media and therefore shape the minds of the people. While this is a pessimistic view of the public and could very likely be taken as insulting...it's kind of true. The media is an extremely powerful device. And its mystery is only exceeded by its power. Sorry. I won't get into the why and how of the machinations of the media because that's a tad too political for this environment. Also, I think I piss of people a sufficient amount already. British people say "piss off" the way Americans say "fuck off." Fun fact I learned from Guy Ritchie movies. Although the British do say "fuck off" as well.)


What you just read was originally written on December 2, 2015, on my mom's birthday as a matter of fact. No particular correlation between her and the movie. Two months ago, I was in my accounting class writing down my thoughts on Gone Girl, a movie I had just watched. Now, I sit in my dad's computer room writing yet again, only this time on Superbowl Sunday. This day has absolutely no sentimental or significant value to me, other than the fact that it gives me an excuse to watch movies about football. I'm torn between Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday and The Blind Side. Oliver Stone only directed the former, in case there was confusion in that sentence. At the moment, I am listening to the amazing Goodfellas soundtrack, which is excellent enough to inspire me to write. What to write about is the question at hand. Since this post is called "Gone into Digressing," I feel it appropriate to just vent out the things on my mind. Movie-related, of course.
One thought that comes to mind is the idea that Star Wars: The Force Awakens may beat Avatar in the ultimate box-office record. That is, the worldwide box-office record. Thus far, Star Wars has already kicked Avatar from the domestic box-office record, which was a thrill for me. Why do I care so much, you may ask? Well, I hate Avatar. Pure and simple explanation. One major reason of my dislike for the movie is how hyped up it still is, seven years later. If it was truly that great, it would hold a spot on IMDb's Top 250, would it not? This is a petty justification for hatred, for I should enjoy a movie in and of itself, not depend on what others think. Usually, my hate for a movie is amplified, not caused, by a general audience's praise. Take The Revenant for instance. I cannot fathom what is so extraordinary about Leonardo DiCaprio, hardly audible, trekking through the frigid wilderness set out on revenge. Now, if Quentin Tarantino directed it and manipulated the film in his special way, I might see some value. Tarantino can direct DiCaprio splendidly (see Django Unchained) and I feel he has an expert grasp on the whole "revenge" theme. Discussing the "what-ifs" is futile, since The Revenant was already released as a pretentious, naturalistic bore. My opinion. Clearly not shared by anyone else. Anyway, Avatar was very impressive to watch regarding visual effects. The setting was, indeed, beautiful and adventurous, but it was all thanks to visual effects. One could argue that Star Wars also abuses its visual effects to lure viewers in; however, the story of Star Wars is truly epic and multi-generational as well. Another box-office argument: James Cameron has two movies at the top spots, and it is unfair to J.J. Abrams who is trying to make a name for himself. As if he hadn't already with Lost and Star Trek. Either way, James Cameron is a greedy bastard and I am rooting for Star Wars to get to number one. Consider it a wish for a devoted fan to the beloved Star Wars saga.
Well, the song, "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos, is playing from the Goodfellas soundtrack. That means it is time to wrap things up. I must express how much I love this song and the scene in Goodfellas where the song is played. You all remember--spoilers ahead. Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta, who I miss dearly) narrates the explanation behind the uncovered bodies. You see, he and his gang executed a lucrative criminal scheme that rewarded all involved with a pretty penny. Clearly, I am not as photographically talented as I would like to be with a movie as magnificent as Goodfellas. Do not be mistaken, I absolutely love this movie, and I consider it my all-time favorite. No question, Gone With The Wind is the greatest movie of all time. My personal favorite--one I've watched countless times, yet still can't remember the details--has to be Goodfellas. Digressing is a dangerous habit to dive into. Anyway, for those watching the Superbowl tonight, I hope your team wins! For the time being, have a wonderful evening.