So Many Heathers... Reviews of the Movie

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Review of Heathers:
I can see why this movie is a cult classic, but I did find it kind of disturbing. I guess that that’s why it’s a cult classic—because it subverts the norms of teen movies and messes with your expectations. Christian Slater was actually really good in this movie, which made me briefly wonder why he isn’t in more things today. I thought about it and my (admittedly silly) hypothesis is that he is cutely creepy here—he’s still young—but grown up, he just looks creepy, which undermines his roles if the whole time you’re just thinking “He looks creepy! Creepy!” It works well in this movie, though. Winona Ryder was fine. The girl who played Martha was good and I’m sad that she only seems to have had two other roles. That’s a shame.
I liked the fact that each of the girls had a color, although I wish that it was better explained. Along with the “lunchtime question,” it’s not really explained for something that I thought was so important to the plot. Is the question for the school newspaper, as seems to be implied later on? Is it just to mess with people?
There is a moment where Winona Ryder’s character makes eye contact with the sister of the boy she killed, and she seems to briefly realize the pain that she’s causing people. This poignant moment is ignored and never mentioned again, which seems sort of a shame for a moment that I thought really grounded the movie. I suppose that you could argue that this moment makes her decide to stop killing people, who knows.
I didn’t love this movie whole-heartedly because it rubbed me the wrong way with all of the murders/attempted suicides and the way that neither of them are caught, but that is really just my tendency to like murderers brought to justice, even in a satire. I have a weirdly old-fashioned sense of morals a lot of the time, so that may be why I didn’t fall in love with the film; this is the sort of film that I would love and tell everyone to watch, but something about it made me uncomfortable. Overall, it was fine.

Review of Heathers:
I think this movie was excellent in some ways and definitely screwball in others. First of all, why does every single character say such strange lines? "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw?" Really? But, after a while, I got used to the entire idea that this world was not so literal and some things would go unnoticed/unexplained. I felt like the movie had a really great storyline that came together in some shocking ways; I wanted to trust the cute Christian Slater as J.D., for example, but he turned out to be a nutcase. I liked the use of color throughout the movie from its beginning with croquet balls and further use of scenic design. I must admit, I love Winona Ryder and her roles - the smart girl who wants to be popular in this movie, the goth girl that befriends a pair of ghosts in Beetlejuice - and in Heathers I felt like her character really expressed the conflict of emotions needed in this satire. Overall, I believe that the main "theme" was the conflict between inner desires and polite society; while we all want the nerds to inherit the earth (or at least have everyone respect each other), polite society sets up all sorts of constraints against that. Thus, this satirical film appealed to my broader intellectual side as well.

Make sure to take a look at the other movie reviews Liberty and I wrote and our other collaborative work: comic alterna-history zine The Bearniverse.

Movie Reviews (Now With Lists!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Here are the reviews for this week! Three in-theaters movies for me and a joint review of The Saint from Liberty and I. She has opted for a creative list review style, which is actually quite fetching because it brings new life to the older titles that we are watching. As always, if you don't like spoilers, you may not want to read on.

The Saint: Ways in Which This Movie is UTTERLY RIDICULOUS (A List Review):

1) He wears disguises, but is always recognizably Val Kilmer. Even when he is in his most effective disguise, the nerd one, he is still clearly Val Kilmer. However, his Russian maid outfit is just awesome. His accents are also pretty terrible. They slide all over the place and are ridiculous, especially his British one. And his Southern one. And his weird Swiss one…

2) The bad guy’s son carries a cane for no reason. He doesn’t even use it as a weapon, so why does he have it? Is that what the sons of Russian mobsters do to be cool? He is pretty clearly trying so hard to be cool, with his ponytail and his smarmy attitude.

3) Apparently Russian mobsters gather in fancy clubs and listen to traditional folk music while watching RAT RACES??? Seriously? I’d banned that from my mind, so it was a surprise when I re-watched it. They don’t have anything better to do with their time and money? I would think that they would play poker or something gangster-y, but no. Apparently I am not cut out to be a gangster, because I do not see the appeal of RAT RACES. (Well, I can see it a little…maybe.)

4) Sex scene: there is a weird song playing in the background that sounds like a Alanis Morrisete song, but extremely grating…then they play soft “ooh, this is a sex scene” music over it, which just makes an odd contrast that made it even more awkward.

5) Russia as our usual American enemy. Surely we could find another enemy? Although there are actually some good Russians in this, so that’s a decent change…

6) Whore with a heart of gold trope rears its head again.

7) One black character in the entire movie, but at least he doesn’t die!

8) Attacking someone with a chandelier: always a valid life choice.

9) And yet…I really do love this movie. It is terrible and ridiculous, but it is endearing. I mock it because I love it, even though I don’t know why. The weird mix of 90s action movie silliness combined with Val Kilmer being handsome and dressed in silly disguises makes something in my brain very happy. I hadn’t watched this movie in a long time, and its flaws are more apparent to me now, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Review of Despicable Me:
First of all, congratulations Illuminations Studios on your first film! Second, it was really good! While both my boyfriend and I agree that the ending was a little rushed, Despicable Me took me on another sophisticated romp in the land of animated films. It was reminiscent of the quirkiness of Up (which is my all-time favorite animated movie) and the kiddy jokes that attract kids in the first place. I also think that Steve Carrell really did not sound like himself, but was consistent enough to create a believable Gru character with his accent. I really loved this movie because it was an alternative tale about the competition between supervillains rather than heroes and also showed some complex relationships. Gru, a single man, adopts three orphan girls, which was interesting, and the bank teller (from the Bank of Evil: formerly Lehman Brothers, haha) has a derelict son that he tries to bring up as a strong supervillain. Overall, the little girls were also extremely interesting and had distinct personalities to satisfy my desire for movies not to stereotype women. I suggest, however, not to see this movie in 3D because I was already reeling from the graphics in a 2D theater.

Review of The Sorcerer's Apprentice:
This movie was strangely entertaining, but only because of the special effects and fighting scenes. There were a lot of pretty scenes and interesting characters, but I felt that the acting was phoned in and often terrible. I cringed at the "dramatic teacher voice" that Nicholas Cage put on whenever he wanted to say something. Although I am happy that he is paying his bills, this movie was not made better by his presence. And the student to Nicholas Cage's teacher was very annoying at moments; I wanted to get to know his girlfriend more, but she was made into an accent character. Basically all the sorcerers were made into accent characters as well - when I wanted to get to know someone, they were killed within 3 minutes. So, though the movie had an interesting premise and there were a lot of cool cinematic tricks tossed in, I felt like The Sorcerer's Apprentice was really just an excuse to throw together all of Hollywood's special effects and not pay any attention to the storyline or character acting.

Review of Inception:
This was such a complex movie. If you are in the mood for a sit-back movie where you don't have to think, this is not the one for you. But I found it amazing because it kept me involved the whole way through. There were layers of dreams and interesting plot twists and the director allowed you to choose your ending, almost as if you were in a really well-written book. Leonardo DiCaprio has been doing some stellar work with psychological dramas these days and I think that it suits him well; others said that he was phoning in this performance because it was typical of him to be the dramatic man in a tortured lifestyle, but this performance blew me away. I think that the support cast was also great - Ellen Page really came into her own in this movie, separating herself from lighter dramas such as Juno and Whip It. And Michael Caine was just a nice touch (I say this because I love him, even when he doesn't do too much). Anyway, the movie overall was full of great and believable special effects coupled with great action and an awesome concept. I felt that the complexity was great and that the movie was well-timed, so you had enough time to think through all the previous scenes as you were watching. However, I think I will watch this movie again just to see what my new interpretations are. If you like to re-watch movies, this is also one of those that you can see again and again with a new feeling.

Review of The Saint:
Wow, this movie was confusing at first! I didn't understand the relationship between Val Kilmer's orphanage past and his present con-man actions until mid-way through the movie. I think that there is a nice tie-in with the name thing, but those scenes seem to be questionable at best. Also, this movie had the MOST AWKWARD RELATIONSHIP EVER. When he was attracting the woman to con her, I felt like the movie was diving slowly into a soft-core porn. And, in the end, it seemed again like the smart woman was tempted by sex into going for the bad boy, as often Hollywood movies go. There were just some bizarre choices that were made in this movie - he falls in the river and gets hypothermia, the Russians are watching rat races, and everyone is freaking out about Americans. Weird... times... In the end, I didn't feel a particular draw to this movie or a particular dislike. It was just a movie, plain and simple, and so I think if you wanted to watch it when you are very bored, then it might be entertaining with its absurdity.

Make sure to take a look at the other movie reviews Liberty and I wrote and our other collaborative work: comic alterna-history zine The Bearniverse.

Body Image Acceptance: A Journey, Not Just a Goal

Thursday, July 8, 2010

It takes quite a bit of time to appreciate my body sometimes. I look at myself in the mirror, typically from the side, and cringe at the droop in my belly. I look at my face and pick out all the small pimples. And, some days, my hair just makes me want to shave the whole thing off and start anew (if I had the guts, that is).
So I definitely echo the sentiment that body image acceptance is a journey with ups and downs - you can't expect a quick fix with simple positive thinking. But you can commit to it. And committing to accepting your body can be one of the most beautiful radiant things that you can do for yourself.
As I was looking at myself in that mirror just a few minutes ago, standing with my feet spread apart and rubbing my belly as if it were a sobbing child, I had an amazing thought. I turned to face the mirror straight on. I looked at the other parts of my body that I know make me happy. Slowly, I ran my hands over the waist that I love having (it makes me into a nice hourglass shape, just not as dramatic as the girls on Top Model). I looked at the way my face is put together and the way my hair cascades down. I thought of my best moments, when I really enjoyed the outfit I was wearing or I felt strong after a great workout. And, I started to heal.
My body image woes are similar to a lot of girls that have grown up with the expectation that you will be loved and appreciated only based on the way that you look and the shape of your body. And, in some ways, the socialization to believe this idea is more powerful than the thin reality of it. There is no sense in believing that you are unworthy because of your body, yet everyone has those moments (yes, even my boyfriend and other men!).
When you begin something, even something as wonderful as the journey to body image acceptance, you might get into a blame game of "not feeling the right way." I know that sometimes I have these crazy thoughts like "shouldn't I accept this body right now?" and "if I am really trying to accept my body, why am I so unsatisfied right now?" The key to getting over these thoughts is to be gentle with yourself. For me, that is to appreciate the small things. And to continue on my workout regimen so that I can feel strong in what my body does rather than what it looks like.
But, on occasion, I still get the urge to ask my boyfriend whether he thinks I'm pretty or not. And there's no shame in that. It just reminds me that I am on a pathway towards self-acceptance and there will be some potholes along the way.

You may also be interested in my post Why Eating Can Make Me Depressed and my insights into How to Deal with Negative Comments.

Blue Lagoon & Shutter Island Reviews

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review of The Blue Lagoon:
Throwing it back to 1980, we watched The Blue Lagoon. I remember that the first time I encountered this film was on I Love the 80s, a VH1 special that led me to believe it was all about two teens having sex on an island. But this movie was so much more than that - although Brooke Shields definitely played a smokin' hot leading lady (and made me wonder whether how she still knew how to shave her legs having grown up on an island...), I really enjoyed the characters because it was both funny and thought-provoking to watch their progression from children to youth to parents. It left my imagination reeling about what it would be like with limited or no socialization from other people and society. Some parts of this film made me laugh at their absurdity; a lot of the scenes seemed to be B-roll from island shots, such as all the images of sea life. And, while watching the natives perform their sacrifice was life-altering for Richard (played by Christopher Atkins), it did not seem to be a necessary scene. Overall, I really enjoyed this movie as a creative spark and as a form of simple entertainment.

Review of Shutter Island:
This movie was a great psychological performance. I really enjoyed the twist at the end and I was thrilled that it recalled movies such as The Sixth Sense and The Matrix in its cleverness. I really didn't care for the soundtrack as much, but the storyline was engrossing and I found myself following the movie all the way to the end, always hoping that there would be yet another twist to satisfy my curious brain. I won't let too much of the movie go, but I think that it was a tight storyline and made sense in most of the applicable points. It does creep me out though, so this movie might be a good one to watch with other people - and to spend the night huddled close to them if you're a 'fraidy cat like me.

Review of The Blue Lagoon:
This wasn't my sort of movie. I can see why people like it, but there was something weird about the whole thing, especially all of the naked children (that could just be my natural prudence speaking, but there were way too many underwater shots of naked swimming). I think that I tend to like movies that move at a slightly faster pace, and there were long scenes where nothing really happens and there is no dialogue. I ended fast forwarding through most of the second half of the movie and watching the parts with dialogue. I also wished that Richard and Em would have just talked more to each other. It would have solved a lot of their problems. The scene where Em gets her first period was just confusing--first she calls to him for help and then she tells him to go away? Although I guess I can understand her stress over the whole issue--if I were in a similar situation, I would have freaked out as well. But it's odd to introduce that topic and then not talk about it for the rest of the movie. I thought that the movie would have ended perfectly when they were covered in mud and then walked back into the jungle. They clearly wanted to stay on the island--why suddenly have them found? I suppose that at least their son won't have to die alone. I just don't think that they're going to have a good life back in the real world--it will be like the reception that Tarzan had. I may be over thinking the whole thing, though. In any event, not my movie--too slow and an unsatisfying ending.

Make sure to take a look at the other movie reviews Liberty and I wrote and our other collaborative work: comic alterna-history zine The Bearniverse.