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[personal profile] scorpiofire
 Going to take this directly from my LJ on this one, where I basically talk about things I've watched on Netflix and/or outside of it that I personally find interesting enough to write about. I don't do this literally every week but every now and again.

This is Spinal Tap (1984)--Weirdly, not as funny as I remember it being from when I saw it a few years ago. I think it suffers a little bit from length (it's not even 90 minutes, guys), because I think there could have been so many more rock band stereotypes to make fun of. As it is, the interchangeable drummer gimmick from their interviews was great...And I mean Stonehenge. Just Stonehenge--probably one of the funniest gags I've seen in ANY movie! But, then there's the "Yoko Ono" stuff with lead singer David's girlfriend Janine, and the manager just quitting halfway through the movie...I swear after that manager left, the movie just dragged a little bit more, because oops, there goes your biggest source of conflict right there (between him and the band)! I think the main cast playing the band did more than a convincing job of nailing their roles as "rock gods (in their own minds)", especially Christopher Guest. The faces he makes when playing guitar, just pure physical comedy at its finest! Or perhaps pure rubberfaced comedy. Either way.

People to watch for: Fran Drescher before she became "The Nanny" and Dana Carvey as a mime--you will recognize him when you see him, trust me! And one more I'd never noticed before and can't believe I didn't, but I'll leave that for you to find out.

Although I do enjoy this movie and appreciate that it was the first of its kind, it's definitely not the best mockumentary I've watched. I think, for my money, I'd pick "A Mighty Wind"...Really, you can't go wrong with Christopher Guest movies in general if dry humor's more to your liking. His movies also tend to delve deep into the subject matter, you will almost think you're watching a real documentary and not a comedic fake one. He's comedy's Ken Burns, is what I'm saying. 

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (1982)--Believe it or not, a movie I haven't watched since childhood. Yes, it's been that long. I think I tried catching it on TV a few years ago, but the 10-minute long commercial breaks obviously put me off watching movies on cable in general. Otherwise....yeah, I think it's been a good 15 years since I'd seen it. What pushed my lazy ass to finally rewatch it was the fact that it was going to be off Netflix very soon (my reasoning behind half the stuff I watched this week). And man, talk about a movie that is just an experience.

I mean, I feel like everyone knows all about it--the iconic shot of E.T. and Elliot flying the bike by the moon, John Williams' score (probably my favorite score of his to be honest--yes, I'd rank it over his Star Wars stuff), the perfect cast,  that traumatizing quarantine scene that personally scared the crap out of me....

But, what's struck me rewatching it as an adult is just how interesting they make the slice-of-life stuff when Elliot and his siblings (Mike and Gertie) introduce so many Earth concepts to E.T. Seriously, slice-of-life stuff is hard to pull off effectively in a movie, especially a live-action family movie. It's either too dragged-out or too schmaltzy or just plain too boring. The screenwriter(s) or director might not even *get* kids, and that throws a real wrench in things. But, I always got the sense that Spielberg *got* kids, and this movie is the ultimate proof of that. There's no doubt that these are real kids with realistic sibling relationships--Elliot may be the precocious one, but at least he's the only precocious kid and not surrounded by the schmaltz of multiple precocious kids. Some might argue that the kids' interactions with E.T. get to be on the cutesy side, but I think they're fine. Some of them are still genuinely funny and hold up after all this time. The whole movie does, no doubt about it. And if it doesn't make you cry at some point, well, I won't say you don't have a soul but maybe you don't have emotions? I kid, sort of. ;)

Not surprising, a great movie, and those last ten minutes are PERFECT.

Things to look for: holy shit, all the Star Wars stuff. Yeah, I remembered the Yoda costume, but there were a few other Star Wars references here and there that surprised me. There's also a director cameo, but given this director's history with doesn't look so rosy now, let's just say that. If you know your film history at all (more specifically, your big on-set disaster history), you'll be like me and be "hey, it's that guy!", then you'll remember and be all "oh yeah...that didn't end well."

The Prince and Me (2004)--OK, coming from someone who actually likes this cheesefest (and also really likes Julia Stiles movies), I never understood why they made an entire series out of this one movie. I liked the ending, it left no doubt what they would do or where they would go in their relationship (not technically spoilers, because that's almost every chick flick's ending), only when they would actually be together forever. But, I LIKED that about this movie. The direct-to-DVD sequels are so terrible, and they couldn't even find an actress who even remotely looked like Julia!! Ridiculous.

Anyway, I have to admit, I do have a soft spot for this movie. It takes me back to a weird place of nostalgia where yeah, middle school sucked for me and I didn't really do anything on the weekends, but you would probably find me in a room watching chick flicks on ABC Family. And I'd watch them all--Dirty Dancing, Ever After, Chasing Liberty, 13 Going on 30--this list goes on forever! ABC Family will never be that great for me again (no, not calling it "Freeform"), if only because I learned to appreciate chick flicks during this time. And I realize it's because I was seeing all these women-focused stories, even though we're not talking high quality with most of these movies. But, that's still really important.

OK, so is this movie some feminist masterpiece? No. That would be When Harry Met Sally for the record. But, what I really like about this movie is how driven main character Paige Morgan is and that she has all these goals and ambitions in life that she still wants to achieve, even AFTER she gets the guy. And that's actually, really, really important, because I feel like a lot of chick flicks will either skim that concept or not touch it with a ten foot pole. Like, oh, she got the guy, it's over. But, not in Paige's story. Granted, it's one of those cliche, overblown Cinderella stories, but it never loses its heart or its focus on what the female lead really wants out of life. Romance is a bonus, not a necessity to her. I think that's why my soft spot for the movie is as big as it is. And between this and 10 Things I Hate about You, there's no doubt at all that Julia Stiles is more than capable of playing a character with that kind of fire about her. Also, yes, the lead guy Prince Edvard (Luke Mably) is very hot--and I'm not a huge blond fan, usually. He's aged well by the way, for all of you curious Googlers.

I really liked the little references that only Midwesterners will get, since Paige is from Wisconsin--like how so many young women get engaged before 21 because they want to be wives and mommies immediately without considering all the options, how we will make the most random thing a sport (in this movie's case, riding lawn mower racing), and that there is room to dream big and get the hell out. But, it's always good to have your roots. OK, so things get a little folksy at times but not super obnoxious.

But, OK, I do still have problems with this one--like how pretty much all of Paige's female friends are introduced then dropped as if to show Paige isn't *like other girls*, so she's just meant for something bigger. That really bothers me sometimes in chick flicks, like, hello, your boyfriend shouldn't be your only friend or even the only person who truly understands you. I guess this is why Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants resonates with me so much. I also thought it gets awkward with how sloppily the movie transitions from being your typical slick, early 2000s rom-com to a Roman Holiday rip-off (almost). It's just a jarring transition and makes you feel like you're watching two different movies. Possibly three, if we're counting the Wisconsin vacation. I don't know, I just feel like we're talking a whole different caliber here where Miranda Richardson's involved--she's too good for this movie, and it shows. Not that that's meant to be an insult--but for real, Miranda Richardson deserves a better career. 

But, other than that, eh, I still really like it. I appreciated the Windsor family parallels to this fictional Danish royal family's. And it has enough endearing moments for me to save it from being....honestly, Chasing Liberty, a movie I loved when I was younger but now am almost too embarrassed to revisit. It's just a fun bit of fluff.

Christine (2016)
--I don't think I'll be watching this movie again any time soon. Not that it isn't good--it is, and Rebecca Hall's performance is just stunningly brilliant--but it's massively triggering for me as a depression/anxiety sufferer. Now, I know people like to make fun of that word "trigger" these days, but there's a reason it's used when talking about mental health. But, yes, there's one scene I did not expect to even be included in this movie--it's based on a real life anchorwoman and her story--that they outright showed. It's honestly haunted my thoughts ever since, it is so brutal, so graphic, and, I think, unnecessary. No wonder this woman's family was against this movie ever being made, I'm sure it would have brought up a lot of bad memories for them.

It also can't decide whether it wants to be a movie that addresses/delves deep into mental health issues, a movie that calls out "blood and guts" journalism that really took off in the 70s, or, weirdly, a thriller ala All the President's Men. I think it tries at all three but doesn't quite succeed except maybe in the mental health category. And even though it halfway does, the screenwriter(s) still resort to stereotypes that seem to paint Christine Chubbuck as a one-dimensional "crazy person" and not someone a little more layered. It's kind of the same problem I had with Last Days, a not-so-subtle allegorical story similar to Kurt Cobain's: it focuses on the tragedy of the person and how this person was so *doomed* and things didn't look up, not once, you're supposed to see the subject as dead person walking....I think Hollywood definitely needs to think about mental health portrayals more often than they actually do.

It's not quite as bad here as in Last Days in my opinion: you do see moments where, even though Christine is going through a well-defined rough patch, there's still hope for her. She has co-workers who genuinely care about her, even though their boss is a major dick...almost to parody levels. She does volunteer work and clearly enjoys working with children. She's trying to really get her career on the up and up, so she's very driven. However, the movie does show that she can also be her worst enemy at the least opportune times...almost to the point of melodrama with outbursts that make me wonder ever actually happened in real life. I get the nature of bipolar disorder, but even then, I feel like this movie's understanding of it is so, so limited. But, better than most, dare I say it. Which is a sad state of affairs, but there you go.

And God, I don't even want to talk about that scene...I had some heavy dreams that night that didn't necessarily have anything to do with it, but that scene briefly took me to a dark place.

But, this movie is at least worth watching for Rebecca Hall. She carries this movie so well, and this is a way more suitable role for her than that literal throwaway character she played in Iron Man 3. She shines here, and her American accent is pitch-perfect. I'd love to see her in more things. I wish this movie had been thought out better and gotten more buzz, she would have been nominated for an Oscar for sure!

Unfortunately, I just can't get past the fact that this movie very much wanted to focus on someone inherently "doomed" as one is watching her descent into madness, so to speak. Fall from grace might be more accurate, maybe. And when they go into such graphic detail with that one scene, there's no question that that is what this movie's intention is. And that, ironically, makes it just as exploitative as the violent stories that Christine is so reluctant to cover on the news. There were all these rich themes and concepts that this movie could have extrapolated but just couldn't quite get there. Shame, this is a good cast involved, too.

Justice League (2001-2006)--
I really can't believe I didn't get into this show sooner. I think when it was initially on the air, I was going through a superhero backlash similar to the anime backlash I had pretty much around the same time. I didn't want to let on at school that I was actually this total nerd and adjusted my tastes accordingly. So, while I became totally obsessed with Teen Titans, I figured, that's it, this is the one exception I'm making for superhero shows. It was a weird time. That and watching a show like this where almost every episode is one part of a two- or three- episode arc made it really hard to just jump into right away. I can't imagine even watching it live now, having to wait for the next week for the follow-up episode--that would have made me so mad! Especially if it was a suspenseful ending.

I got through most of the first season this past weekend (and have since finished it up today), and I really enjoy it so far. It's one of those shows with a good ensemble cast that makes it really hard to pick a favorite character. As far as the comics world goes, I'm pretty much a Batman fan by default, but like I said, every character is awesome on this show. Wonder Woman might actually be my favorite, although Martian Manhunter is also pretty cool...And it really tickles me that Michael Rosenbaum was the voice of the Flash, considering how much I loved his Lex Luthor on Smallville

What makes this show very special is not only is it a Bruce Timm show but it's one that takes time to develop characters as well as showing the usual fight sequences. This is not Superfriends, thank god (how I was exposed to that crap before Justice League will forever be a mystery to me....). It also makes me think how, even though this is an animated show, it never dumbs itself down just for kids, because the writers seemed to know that it wasn't just kids watching this at the time. Older audiences were into it, too, though I didn't see too much JL-related merch on anyone at my school back then. Maybe this show--at least, my impressions so far--didn't consistently "go there" like Batman: The Animated Series often did, but there were moments just watching that have given me pause. This is definitely a smart show. And I miss animated shows like that--not to say they don't exist now, but they seem fewer and far between now than they've ever been.

So, really liking it so far. I hope to get through this and Unlimited by the end of the week.


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July 2017


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