99 Homes

“Andrew Garfield. Michael Shannon. ‘Nuff said. For me at least. I’m assuming you’ll need a little more to go on here.

Okay, so we’re in the middle of the housing crisis, and Garfield is mercilessly evicted by Shannon. Out of work, homeless, and desperate to support his mom and his son, Garfield ends up taking a job with Shannon, displacing other people from their homes. So now he’s facing the moral dilemma of dishing out the same injustice to others, and he’s finding that some of the ways his boss makes money aren’t exactly legit.

October tends to be a month for horror films. Now, while I wouldn’t classify this as such, it is rather scary, in a true life sort of way. The early sequence where cops show up at Garfield’s doorstep, demanding that he vacate is kinda scary because it’s something that actually happens. Watching it play out is so unsettling. For me, I think what really got me was the loud arguments back and forth, and how these helpless people couldn’t even get a word out without being shut down and talked over. I felt my social anxieties tensing up at those interactions, and it was hard to watch. I mean that in the good way as in it was effective.

Unfortunately, the biggest hit against this was that I couldn’t follow half of the schemes Shannon’s duplicitous real estate broker cooked up. I knew he was in the wrong and somehow stood to profit greatly, but I couldn’t follow the logistics of it all. I guess its the same way with how people in those foreclosure situations couldn’t parse out what was happening or what their options were. Again, real life scary.

I knew what to expect from Shannon. We’ve seen him in these type of roles before and he excels at it. For Garfield, this was a much stronger turn that we’ve seen from him in a while. I think he’ll recover from the whole Spiderman fiasco just fine, as long as he keeps on delivering strong performances in substantial films like this one. Without thinking too hard about it, possibly his best performance to date.

I kind of wish I hadn’t been so off balance watching it, getting confused by the details. It was kind of a heavy handed film, and maybe even a little self righteous in its intent, but I did enjoy the performances. For me, that’s usually enough.

99 Homes – \m/ \m/ \m/”

The Martian

“Note to self: when contemplating a Thur evening movie, if I want to go straight from yoga, 8:30 is the absolute earliest and only when necessary. 8:45 is ideal or 9:00 if it’s not too long. I know this because that’s how I made my way to the Martian, the first of what would be 5 movies over the course of the weekend. Bring. it. on!

I’m just gonna come right out with it. I’ve seen nearly 100 movies this year so far. The Martian is easily my favorite. No contest whatsoever. Science and sarcasm. This movie was so made just for me.

Matt Damon stars as astronaut Mark Watney. Soon after landing on Mars, his crew is faced with an emergency situation and forced to immediately evacuate the planet. In the chaos, there’s an accident and Mark is assumed dead as the crew hightail it back to Earth. Not long after they’ve left, Watney regains consciousness to find that he’s been stranded on Mars. It’ll be about four years until anyone can retrieve him, and the habitat housing the astronauts on the planet was only designed to survive about 30 days. But it’s okay because Watney knows science!

Yes, I am a science nerd. I think my degree from MIT in Earth, Atmosphere and Planetary Science proves that. So of course, I had a doofy grin on my face the whole time Watney was engineering solutions to his problems. Even if you’re not to that level of nerd-dom, there is no possible way you can sit thru this movie and not think that science is wicked cool. Seriously, this movie was practically science porn, hitting on so many specializations: botany, chemistry, astrodynamics, any flavor you’re into.

Two reasons Damon has said he had for taking on the role. One, he’d never met director extraordinaire Ridley Scott, let alone worked with him. Two, he wanted the challenge of carrying much of the film solo. He was certainly an excellent choice. He’s proven many times before that he can command a screen, with a powerful presence and a wink of mischief in his eye. Watney has this great sense of humor about him, and I loved how Damon brought that out. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. Heck, even in the promotion leading up to the film, Damon was bringing the funny, showing he’s a good sport and up for anything. Basically, he just showed us why he’s an A-lister. Also, anyone else seeing that thing going around on the internet about how much America has spent to save Matt Damon between movies like this and Saving Private Ryan and Interstellar, etc? Srsly, dude is a troublemaker

Scott also managed to put together an impeccable supporting cast, filling out the rest of the crew as well as the NASA team back on earth. Jessica Chastain, Michael Pena, Kate Mara, Sebastian Stan in space, with Jeff Daniels, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Sean Bean, Donald Glover, Kristin Wiig on Earth. Those names alone should be reason enough to see this movie.

Okay so you admit you’re in the non science nerd camp, and you’re not sure if you can handle this level of science fiction? On some level, it’s basically Apollo 13 on steroids. I bring that up because that film was pretty universally well received, and it has a similar solve-our-space-problem-with-science kind of plot. If you could handle that, you can handle this.

I left the movie wanting so bad to watch it again, trying to think of when/how to make that happen. I hadn’t even taken ten steps out of the auditorium when my buddy who I’m visiting in LA this week suggest we go see it then. Mission (soon to be) accomplished!

The Martian – \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/”

Everest

“Something that threw a wrench in my movie watching plans was that Everest was only being released to IMAX theaters (more like LIE-MAX for the not full size ones) this week. By the time I got the memo that I would have only needed to wait a week to not have to pay nearly twenty bucks for my tickets, I’d already decided on my movie schedule and I knew that the following weekend wouldn’t have much movie time. I was mostly okay with this since it’s just an occassional thing and I thought it might lend itself pretty well to the format.

Confession time. I actually missed about the last ten minutes or so. I had to run out to an open call dance audition i’d signed up for on a whim, and I wasn’t sure how long it’d take me to get there. Luckily, since this film was based on a true story with real characters, wikipedia was able to confirm for me who survived and who didn’t. Unluckily, my train took about 20 min to arrive (*shakes fist at MBTA*) so I could have stayed thru the end and been just fine. *grumble*

The film is about two expeditions attempting to climb Everest who were caught up in a blizzard, resulting in one of the largest disasters for the mountain. Incidentally, while filming, there was a similar recurrence that was even more disastrous, though it didn’t affect the film crew. The cast includes such names as Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, and John Hawkes as well as people whose names don’t start with J, such as Keira Knightly, Sam Worthington, and Emily Watson. Pretty awesome group of peeps.

Two thoughts were primarily running thru my brain while I watched. One was how beautiful everything is. I’ve always preferred the cold, and I suppose my fascination with snow comes from growing up without it. While I may not have specifically chosen to watch with the fancy screen, if you’re one who does care about such things, the upcharge would be worth it.

The other thought running thru my mind is that climbing Mount Everest is not something I’d ever want to do. Sure, it’s the ultimate bragging rights, but the cost and the risk aren’t worth it. And by cost, I don’t just mean the fact that the expedition would run me about a year’s salary. I hadn’t realized how much work and preparation goes into a trip. You’d actually have to be there for a couple weeks, training and acclimating before the climb. And there’s a million reasons why you might not even make it all the way up the mountain, at which point you’re just SOL. And all that’s without even calculating the risk of death or major injury. For me, I’m perfectly happy to just sit and watch it on a nice shiny screen.

This was a movie whose main star was mother nature. No matter what anybody else had planned, the mountain had final say in what happened. Understandably, there wasn’t really a whole lot to the plot other than “”get them up the mountain””. I don’t think it really needed much else. I even questioned whether the few interactions with family back home were necessary. I suppose they did add a little more depth to the characters and raise the stakes for all involved. Regardless, the true star was the mountain herself.

Everest – \m/ \m/ \m/ \n”

What We Do Is Secret

“Back to the movie wall! For one day at least. Let’s just get right to it.

Here we’ve got a bit of a rock-umentary about The Germs, an explosive and influential LA punk band in the late 70s. They were fronted by the unstable and unpredictable Darby Crash (played here by Shane West), and they lived to break every rule in the books.

To be honest, while the specifics around the band were new, the film felt like we’ve been here before. It had the same kind of vibe as Sid and Nancy, The Runaways or even Velvet Goldmine. Just exchange one band for another, real or otherwise, and they all feel similar. I guess that’s why on this viewing I didn’t really remember much from the previous time I’d seen it. That said, kinda cool to see Shane West go punk, even if I kept thinking he was Devon Sawa circa SLC Punk. So even that didn’t really feel too fresh. Still, I do believe in paying respects to the punk bands of old, that influenced the bands of today, so props for the rock education. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming

Oh and also, I keep getting this movie’s title confused with What We Do In the Shadows. Two completely different movies, but I still keep switching titles in my head”