Margaret

“Continuing with the films that video store guy called out when ringing me up, we have Margaret. I’d actually spotted this one at the store on my first trip, but since they had two copies, I waited until the prices were lowered, figuring it’d still be there. And it was. Yay.

So there was actually some behind the scenes drama that affected the initial release of this one. I remember really wanting to see it, but I can’t quite remember why. I think it was that John Gallagher Jr (Tony winning actor from Spring Awakening, and more importantly American Idiot) was in it. But really, the ensemble assembled for this should be reason enough for excitement: Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Alison Janney, Matthew Broderick, Jean Reno, Kieran Culkin. I did some quick research to brush up on what the drama was, and it was between the director and the studio over final cut. Writer/Director Kenneth Lonergan wanted a far longer cut than the other guys wanted to let him have. Eventually it was pared down to 2.5 hours and released under the radar and quickly ushered onto DVD, where it was overpriced as most indie movies like this tend to be.

The story doesn’t sound like a whole lot. A young woman (not named Margaret) sees a woman (not named Margaret) hit by a bus. This girl, Lisa feels guilty as she was arguably at fault for the accident. She then spends the next indeterminate period of time (by which I mean I don’t remember how much story time passes in the film) agonizing and obsessing over it, as she tries to find a way to come to terms with the events and move on with her life. Kinda simple right?

Wrong. It was absolutely fascinating, in both the mundane and the extraordinary. The single biggest factor I can credit for that is Ms Paquin in possibly a career best performance. Kinda makes you remember that she won on Oscar as a kid (!), and that Ms Sookie Stackhouse is a legit powerhouse of an actress. She simply vibrant and engaging, and in a stellar cast of amazing actors, the standout strongest performance. Please, young actresses out there, if you’re ever playing a high school character, do your research and watch this. This is how you’re not annoying. This is how you carry a film. This is how you create a character we care about.

I don’t know if I wish it had been a longer cut, since 2.5 hours is very taxing on the attention span, but I don’t think I would have minded seeing more of her story. Apparently it’s a pretty polarizing movie. Critics and audience alike are apparently split on how much they like it (presumably the run time and the smaller more every day scenes are the dividing line). I think I’ve made it pretty clear on what side I stand.”

Terminator: Genisys

“I’ve been putting off writing this one. It’s now the very last few minutes, up against my self imposed deadline if I wanna keep my post-every-other-day schedule, and I’m distracting myself with surveys and candy crush. The reason I’m procrastinating is that in the 4 days since I’ve seen this movie, I still don’t know how I feel about it. And I don’t know how many \m/ it’s gonna earn, which let’s face it, that’s my least favorite part of the blog. Believe me, if there’s anyone who appreciates quantifiable values being applied to non-quantifiable things, it’s me. I just always hate to give a poor score to a film that clearly had a lot of work put into it, but I just didn’t get. Or I’m self conscious about giving high marks to ridiculously flawed films that were entertaining. And look, I’m rambling in a further attempt to stall. Maybe this’ll write itself? Doubtful.

Okay, let’s break this movie apart and really get into it (spoiler conscious, of course). To start, I love the Terminator franchise. The world and the characters and the threat and the mythology, all of it great. And I love that T2 is one of the rare sequels that outshines it’s predecessors. That movie alone is enough to represent the awesome that is terminator. I can often be heard saying things like “”Google is gonna go all Skynet on us someday”” or referring to them (or other corporations) as Cyberdine, or talking about liquid metal. I’ve seen the Terminator show at Universal so many times, and was devastated when they removed it from Universal Hollywood. I was then ecstatic to find it at Orlando, and proceeded to go to it for God knows what # it was for me watching it. I was one of the few girls at the sold out Terminator Salvation midnight screening. I even watched Sarah Connor Chronicles and will gladly sign any petition to get Summer Glau signed on for the movies.

Safe to say, I went into this with a healthy dose of anticipation, but also some skepticism (see again: T4, or also T3). There were things I liked and things I didn’t like. However, the more I think about it, the more things I find fall into the didn’t like column, and the more I realize the things I did like were all around the nostalgia factor.

Likes. I did like Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, although she wasn’t quite the self sufficient badass as Linda Hamilton in T2. I liked that T3 and T4 were essentially ignored, thus keeping the confusion from being even great than it was (more later). I really liked the explanation for why Ahnold’s T-800 looks older (the living tissue ages like, well, living tissue). I liked the inclusion of Matt Smith, even if it was minimal, but assuming this franchise goes forward, he should be pretty important later on. I liked any nod to T1 and T2, especially when given a slight twist (ie, Sarah Connor saying “”Come with me if you want to live). I liked the terror and suspense that was built, particularly in some of the more climactic fights. I really liked some of the early scenes where we got to see John Connor sending Kyle Reese back in time, getting a glimpse of what their post Judgement Day life is like.

Didn’t likes. Top of the list is that the biggest problem with continuing the franchise past T2 is that soon our calendar passed Judgement Day. So now you have to do weird time travel thingies to explain how judgement day is in our future. Part of me would go so far as to wish that there was never anything after T2, but short of that, just suspend disbelief a bit more to have a firm Judgement Day date. Really didn’t like how confusing all the timelines were. I found a very helpful article on EW that attempts to explain and reconcile all of the various timelines. Even their post its and white board arrows weren’t enough to un jumble it all.

That paragraph is getting long. Additional didn’t likes. While the twist about John Connor was new and original, it felt a little forced and just made things that much more confusing. And I didn’t like how overall unmemorable this movie is. It’s already starting to fade.

So there we have it. More likes than unlikes as far as sheer quantity, but the unlikes were far more egregious. Because I love this world, I would very much love to see it continue into the planned trilogy, assuming the logistical things work out. But also my love for this franchise makes me fear that further films will tarnish it’s awesomeness (Matrix anyone?). Uggghhh I hate this part. How am I gonna score it?

Terminator: Genisys – \m/ \m/ \n”

Magic Mike XXL

“Back in mid-April, I got a Facebook invite from a friend. The title was “”Girls Night Out–With Strippers!!”” Um what? Turns out, she was sending a wicked early invite for Magic Mike XXL. Now normally, I’m not into the whole “”girls night”” thing, but these gals are pretty cool. I see most of them at the yearly pub crawl I go on every summer along Boston’s Freedom Trail. Besides, watching this movie while slightly intoxicated in a group of friends beats watching it alone in the theater any day. The unexpected best part of it was that we used the event to share various articles/videos/pictures/memes of hot guys (not just limited to the XXL cast) for three months.

So after stuffing ourselves with copious amounts of guacamole and pitchers of margaritas, the time had come. And man oh (deliciously hot) man was that fun! The first time around, I feel like people didn’t really know what to make of it. It was known for the strippers, but the story actually had some darker turns. There were a couple of amazing dances, but that’s not where the focus was. Still, in the 3 years since, the story faded away, and it was just those moves on stage that people remembered. This time around, they didn’t even kid themselves with a big, intricate meaningful plot. The folks behind this movie have flat out admitted that they purposely built a storyline that would allow for as much dancing and gyrating males as they could fit in.

The “”story”” is that for a variety of reasons, the guys are going to have to step away from the stripping game, but before they do, they’re off to a male strippers convention for one last hurrah. Yes, a convention. That part always seemed a little hokey to me, but it allows this to be a fun road trip film, bringing us to new locations and introducing us to new characters. My personal favorite addition was Stephen Boss, AKA Twitch of SYTYCD fame, and DJ to Ellen Degeneres. In other words, someone just as gorgeous as the other boys who can actually impress me with his dancing. I call that a win. (His mirror dance with Channing Tatum was my favorite, purely based on skill)

Anyways, there were so many fun scenes, and all the guys had a moment to shine. Joe Manganiello in particular got to stand out a bit more. Or maybe I just noticed him more. Sure, the plot was thin, but it didn’t matter. And no, it may barely pass the Bechdel test (Elizabeth Banks greeting Jada Pinkett-Smith is enough to pass, I think), but I feel like this movie was ultimately made for the ladies (and the boys of a certain persuasion). Similar to how last month I said that despite its flaws, Jurassic World is a perfect summer movie, this is the perfect movie for a girls night out. The proof was in the ridiculous grins we all walked out with

Magic Mike XXL – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

Team America: World Police

“Earlier this week, someone asked me (partly joking, partly serious) if I had plans to see any particular movie on the 4th of July. “”Independence Day!”” I replied enthusiastically. I’d noticed in the couple days before that I didn’t have it blogged, so I was excited about the task. I had an anecdote ready about seeing it in theaters with my Daddy, and how I have this distinct memory of it being for his bday, but his bday is in Sept, so I’m not sure if it stayed that long in the theaters or if I’m mixing up memories. Most years, I usually post something on FB from that film, usually referencing the big “”It’s our Independence Day”” speech. But then, late last night, inspiration struck. And I left myself a reminder on my comp that his year I should post America \m/ yeah from Team America. After I did that this morning, I realized it’s been years since I’ve seen this (whereas it’s likely been a year, two max since ID-4) and I really wanted to watch Team America. So now I’m watching Team America.

Oh man, I’m finding it just as funny as I did 11 years ago. Just so random and clever. Having been a fan of South Park since college, hearing the voices of Trey Parker and Matt Stone as whole new characters is such a trip.

There’s so much I’ve forgotten, but so many little things I remember. The songs, of course, are permanently etched in my brain. And there’s quotes that seem to make their way into my daily vocab. (“”I need you more than Ben Affleck needs acting school””, or Matt Damon!)

As a straight up comedy it’d be funny, but marionettes were a beyond brilliant idea! Sadly, the boys have said that it was so much work to shoot, that they’d never go this route again, but I guess that makes this little gem all the more special.”

Crocodile Dundee

“What I think was my third trip to the video store, I had a new strategy. I’d already picked thru the inventory for stuff on my wish list. There was still far too much to really dig into everything, and the majority was still $5. I knew that’d be knocked down soon. So after chasing down a couple movies that I had added to my list in the past week, I noticed a rack of their “”previously viewed DVDs””. For those of you who are too young to remember how these things work, when a new DVD hit, the stores would have a whole bunch of copies. You’d see entire shelves with the latest blockbuster. Then, as the new release became less new, they’d sell off the excess, (hence previously viewed) until they only had one or two copies, which fit better into their shelves.

So when a store is selling off everything, there isn’t really a whole lot of difference which ones you’re getting (although their actual new releases were still priced a little higher). But this particular rack had them for $2 instead of $5. For the most part, these were the bottom of the barrel. I hadn’t heard of most of them, which didn’t stop me from grabbing a couple wild cards that at least had someone in the cast that I liked. Once in a while, if you’re patient, you’ll find a real gem in these bargain bins (To date, Frailty is probably my favorite bargain bin buy. $5 for the movie I hafta watch every Halloween). This time, the hidden gem was Crocodile Dundee, classic 80s comedy.

This was one of the times that the owner guy (I think his name was Joe) rang me up. Those were always the best (and not just because he often knocked off a couple bucks or rounded down) because he’d have commentary about different DVDs. I always tried to guess which ones he’d have something to say about, and I usually guessed wrong. When he got to this one, he exclaimed about how great it was. I admitted that I had somehow never managed to see it. He reiterated its greatness.

And yeah, it’s a pretty fun movie. Paul Hogan plays the titular Michael J “”Crocodile”” Dundee, a native Australian who thrives in the outback. He’s brought to the wilds of NYC by a reporter, and this fish out of water discovers what life is like for the big game in the big city.

It was equally refreshing and offsetting that most of his stranger in a stranger world reactions were mostly realistic. Given the similarities in the basic plot (minus the character framework), I was comparing most of his experiences to Elf’s Buddy’s first adventures in the big city. I’m so used to that kind of Will Ferrell comedy, where the interactions and reactions are exaggerated for comedic effect. I kept expecting Dundee to do something really crazy, and his only slightly strange actions always caught me off balance.

I can see why this movie is so beloved. Its fun and heartfelt. I couldn’t help but think of the episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Marshall realizes that his father’s last words to him were that he should rent Crocodile Dundee 3. Well, I don’t know about 3, but I did find 2 still on the shelves at my final trip to the video store. That’s currently waiting in the watch queue!”