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Hot Takes: A Quiet Place II

If Emily Blunt is doing a dramatic reading of a Bell South telephone book from 1987, I will have a ticket to the show.

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1. Who woulda thunk Jim from the Office would be the horror writer/director I would be most looking forward to? I’m really interested to see what he comes up with next, because I like the fact that these monsters landed from outer space and simply started tearing up everything. No master plan. No higher purpose. Just violent pests. Sometimes a movie can just be an enjoyable experience based on the characters and how they react to their situations.

2. Since we’re on that — I got into an argument with a guy about how no world-building happened between the first and second movie. If you go into A Quiet Place II needing to know further details about the world at large, then you will be disappointed, because these are not those kinds of movies. Essentially this is a Very Tense Family Drama — the first was about parenting, and the second is about the independence of the children (mostly the daughter, because the son is completely burdensome). We’re watching character development with the backdrop of an apocalyptic horror movie.

3. Emily Blunt can do anything. I will watch anything with Emily Blunt in it. If Emily Blunt is doing a dramatic reading of a Bell South telephone book from 1987, I will have a ticket to the show.

4. What’s wrong with the marina people and why do they look like that? Of all the unanswered questions in this world of A Quiet Place, that is the one I’m most looking forward to getting an answer to in the next one.

5. Horror movies just refuse to let Black people be great!

6. If we are in an apocalyptic world where our safety depends on how quiet we can be and you show me a BABY IN A BOX, my reaction is not “aww, how cute, of course I’ll help you.” Does that make me a sociopath? I’m not risking my life for A BABY. I know my worth and what I can bring to society. I don’t know if that baby will grow up to be a doctor or an axe murderer. What if that baby gets me killed and then ends up working at GameStop? Was it worth it???

7. When are we getting Miss Millicent Simmonds in some more movies? I think she has such a unique face for Hollywood and I really enjoyed her in Wonderstruck.

8. When the movie started, we had this guy behind us talking to the screen. You know those people who just have to be heard, who think they’re so amusing that people want to hear their running commentary of every single thing. I honestly thought about leaving, because I knew from the first installment that part of the tension of the film would be the contrast between silence and horror movie noise. But he stopped talking. That’s how good it was. He forgot that he wanted to be talking through it and didn’t make a sound for the rest of the movie after a certain point. If you can make annoying people focus, you have made a good film.

Score: 7.5/10 

 

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Don’t Look Up and the anxiety of hyperrealist satire.

A satirical comedy shouldn’t make me nauseous.

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I didn’t know much about it, but the few bits of reviews I saw for Don’t Look Up said it was a satirical comedy. One review said it was the funniest movie of the year while also the most depressing. I turned it off at 30 minutes because I hadn’t cracked a smile.

Two things about me:

1) It is very hard to make me laugh.

2) I’m at a point in my life where I am not interested in doing anything I do not enjoy.

To point one, I don’t think I’m necessarily surly, but my experience with humor tends to lean more toward me saying “oh that was clever” as opposed to laughing out loud. The things that make me laugh out loud are usually unexpected mishaps or unexpected jokes. Surprises make me laugh. I’m shocked by some of the one liners on The Golden Girls, and it makes me laugh out loud. I am shocked by the faces babies make when they eat lemons, and it makes me laugh out loud.

Clever writing rarely makes me laugh out loud, but I can very much enjoy it. You’ll never see me hootin and hollerin at Erma Bombeck, but I’ve read at least ten of her books. I don’t go to stand-up shows, because it’s hard to make me laugh out loud, and it’s rude not to laugh at a comedy show — but I’ll watch stand-up specials on Netflix because I enjoy the jokes if they’re smart and performed well.

I cannot find the jokes in Don’t Look Up. It felt like a documentary.

To the second point, up until recently I would say I suffer from depression and anxiety, but I’ve been dealing with it quite well as of late (with the realization being that much of my mental health has been tied to financial instability and I currently have a job I like).  But! Because I am always teetering close to the edge in some ways, I only want to enjoy things. I have no desire to voluntarily put myself in positions where I have to force myself to get through it. I don’t want to consume art that is a struggle for me to finish.

I cannot finish Don’t Look Up.

The experience of watching it was so strange for me because movies don’t really make me uncomfortable. I can watch just about anything even if I don’t like it that much. About 30 minutes into Don’t Look Up, I realized I had been sitting on my couch getting more and more wound up! My breaths were shorter. My stomach felt like I had just put ice cream into my lactose intolerant body. I have never physically disliked a movie so much! And that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. It’s just not for me at all.

I don’t really like the world that much. No part of me is optimistic about the future of the planet. I don’t go around shouting it from the rooftops, because I believe in spreading love and happiness and doing what I can to help those around me enjoy themselves, but I am very much in full support of Team Asteroid. People as a collective are not that great. They’re selfish, they’re mean, they don’t take care of each other. There’s so much torture and pain running through the history of humanity. Legal, common, and popular approval of setting people on fire, ripping them into pieces, starving them, working them until they die — that’s the history of mankind.

Watching a movie that is telling me people are too stupid to save themselves doesn’t make me feel good. I can’t laugh at that, because that’s how I feel every day, and when I think about it, I feel awful. It makes me feel awful that people suck. It makes me feel awful to be reminded that there are a few people trying to save the world against an never-ending onslaught of purposefully ignorant bureaucracies.

I think Don’t Look Up is probably done well. Meryl Streep fully inhabited her character and I could feel Leonardo DiCaprio’s anxiety through the screen. Mark Rylance once again proved too many Best Of lists leave him out of the conversation for acting talents of a generation. It just stressed me out too much, so I’m going to watch something else instead. If you’re a mildly depressed, anxious, pessimist with a disdain for leadership who does not enjoy the feeling of “yep, that’s exactly how it’d happen” when you see the world play out on screen the way it does in your head, this probably isn’t the movie for you either.

(Or you can keep watching it and see if there’s a huge payoff! I’ve rarely suffered through 30 minutes of something only to get to the end and be like “wow, I’m glad I put myself through that for the amazing experience this turned out to be.”)

 

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Hot Takes: Spiderman – No Way Home

Big on fan service but lacking in plot, it’s a “meh” from me.

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1. I’m about as obsessed with Tom Holland and Zendaya as any grown as millennial can be…which means I don’t care all that much, but I think they’re adorable and I will pinch their lil cheeks if given the chance. Oh, and I randomly watch clips of their interviews when they pop up on Twitter. Such delightful young people.

2. Y’all. They are acting in this movie. Dare I say, as a whole, this may be the best acted Marvel film? Andrew Garfield is clearly the best Spiderman and he very nearly made me cry three times I think. Tobey Maguire is a little shit, but he was holding his own as well. Tom and Zendaya rose to the occasion. Willem Dafoe! My god. Best comic villain I think? They were all acting for the back of the theater.

3. I hope Dr. Strange gets to go on vacation soon. They really wearing dude out.

4. Seventeen-year-olds are annoying. But they are not stupid. Especially the ones on their way to MIT who have been to space and saved the world. I cannot believe they wrote Peter Parker the way they did. If I don’t like a main character, I don’t like the movie. And I could not stand the Peter they wrote for this movie. (more in the spoilers)

5. They giving Happy a lil too much. I don’t actually need him to have so much screen time.

6. There’s too much screen time in general! I was ready to gooooooo. I didn’t think Marvel could make a movie feel longer than Eternals but I stand corrected.

7. Fan service is a tricky thing to pull off successfully. You have to satiate the loyalists’ desire while keeping the attention of the casual viewers. I’ve never seen a pre-MCU Spiderman so I didn’t know Tobey or Andrew or any of their villains. I thought they did a good job. There was chemistry between the three of them (or at least, faked chemistry) that I didn’t expect and I got a decent sense of who they were in their respective franchises. I wasn’t applauding or cheering, because I didn’t care, but I was impressed that I was invested in the two previous Peter Parkers with so little exposure to them.

8. Something feels wrong about seeing Tom Holland in his underwear.

9. Something feels right about seeing Tom Holland in his underwear.

10. Is anybody going to address the fact that Peter Parker is a 17-year-old science nerd who can perfectly tailor spandex without a serger? I have watched Project Runway for two decades. And I can sew. That child is not making performance activewear.

11. My problem with this movie is the plot. I feel like the writers knew the beats they wanted to hit and slacked off with the journeys between the beats. Nothing Peter did felt in character with what he would do given what he’s been through, how smart he is, and how a rational human being processes information. They wanted a cool battle sequence for Dr. Strange to show off and a cool battle sequence for the three Spideys to get together, but nobody put much thought into how those things should happen. (more in the spoilers)

12. Somebody fill me in on why the InfoWars Alex Jones guy hates Spiderman so much. That much fixation does not seem healthy to me.

Score: 6.5

Spoilers!

13. So, I think you can give this movie an extra point or two if you have some sort of investment in Spiderman because everyone seems to be universally over the moon about it. I don’t care about Spiderman and I’ve only watched the Tom Holland ones because I’m invested in the serial nature of the MCU. I like a sprawling interconnected story — I grew up on NBC soap operas. I think that attachment to the character’s three iterations and the excitement of seeing them together is honestly clouding the fact that this plot is weak y’all.

14. If I have someone in front of me who is an expert in their field doing something extremely dangerous and they tell me to shut up, do you what I’m gonna do? I’ma shut up and let them do their work. In no universe is this kid, who has been to space with Dr. Strange and who has seen what he can do and knows how serious he is about his shit, gonna keep interrupting him while he’s doing his work. MJ only knew he was Spiderman for a week. So what if she forgets? Just tell her! This man is holding the universe in his hands and you are bothering him about your GF and your BFF forgetting you’re a superhero? You can literally just tell them. That right there sent me out of the movie and I really never got back in.

15. Are we to believe that bad guys aren’t bad anymore and we can just fix them all with a little science? Your lil girlfriend’s dad from two movies ago wanted to kill you, and judging from that creepy Jared Leto Bat-Villain trailer, he still does. You gonna do a little science and make him sweet? The sandman in this movie allegedly just wanted to go home, and yet did everything in his power to make sure Team Spidey could not succeed. Sparky didn’t have a coming to Jesus — y’all just took his batteries. You broke the entire universe for five people? Do y’all realize how many innocents are about to die during this story arc because Peter Parker couldn’t send five supervillains home to die? Where they had been dead? Because they were running around killing people?

16. I remember the Sokovia Accords. The Avengers were kneecapped a bit because they kept blowing stuff up and accidentally killing people. And they have recovered from that black eye to become universally loved again. They have a whole Broadway show dedicated to them in Hawkeye. Spiderman is in that Broadway show even though he wasn’t even present at the battle depicted in said Broadway show. They all just brought half the population of the universe back. But a SWAT team showed up to an apartment building on the sayso of a rightwing nutjob who hates Spiderman? With no investigation? No second guessing?

17. No Way Home made Peter Parker into a bratty little incompetent with no sense of responsibility or logic so he could break the world in order to get three Spidermen on screen. He made a stupid decision to save five villains in order for Aunt May to die. And Aunt May died because Marisa Tomei told writers she wanted there to be more focus on her community organizing. They had these beats to hit and some really lazy writing to get us there.

 

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Hot Takes: House of Gucci

This is the longest, prettiest, Lifetime movie I’ve ever seen.

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1. I don’t understand movies set outside the Anglosphere where everyone is speaking English with an accent but slip into their native language randomly. This is Italy. Everybody would be speaking Italian, but it’s made for Hollywood, so they speak English. I get that. But then there is no need for anyone to ever say anything in Italian if we’re going with the illusion that they all speak English with a thick accent. I wish every director would stop doing this.

2. Everybody is in the same movie, except Jeremy Irons. He came to work on a run-of-the-mill Hollywood adaptation of a true story, and everybody else came to a community theater production of Fashion Godfather. It’s like he doesn’t realize what kind of movie he’s in until he’s in the room with Jared Leto and thinks, “oh…we’re doing this kind of acting.”

3. Jared Leto’s Paolo Gucci is one of my least favorite movie characters of all time because he’s unnecessarily buffoonish and there was no need to make him that way. And because they wrote the character as an utterly incompetent manchild, they put Jared in fat prosthetics to drive the point home. For what? It is 2021. There was so much outrage of Sarah Paulson wearing a fatsuit to play Linda Tripp because they could’ve just gotten a larger actress to play her. Where is the outrage for Jared Leto doing fat cosplay to portray a character that wasn’t even fat and is only depicted that way to make him stand out from his fashionable family?

4. Lady Gaga is not a good actress. She’s not a bad actress, but y’all give Stefani a lot. She was fine in A Star is Born and she’s fine in House of Gucci. Literally just fine.

5. The first 10 or 15 minutes are actually charming. I didn’t expect Stefani to be good at that kind of character, but she actually pulls off Doe Eyed and Besotted quite well.

6. Everyone is laughing while watching the movie, but are you having a good time? No really — do you want to be laughing? That’s my thing with the tone. It is very clear that these people are making a very serious film about Gucci and the shoehorned bits of levity are meant to break the tension of this very serious film. But you’re only supposed to laugh then. If you are giggling throughout, the movie has missed its mark. Unintentional camp is just bad moviemaking. It’s bad direction and it’s bad screenwriting.

7. There are plenty of height differences more extreme than Lady Gaga at 5’1 and Adam Driver at 6’2. I’m not sure why that became a story, but it’s really not that notable. Plenty of short women star in movies with tall men. Kristen Bell is 5’1 and Jason Segel is 6’4 in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, plus Jason gets his big ol’ hog out for it. I don’t need breathless reporting about any other category of inches.

8. Kind of more interested in a Tom Ford biopic . I didn’t know he was from Texas and I didn’t really know what Gucci was like before he took over the reigns.

9. Al Pacino is having a great time and for me, he’s the only one who managed to be over the top without going over the edge. Everyone else is either playing it safe or jumping off a cliff, but Al is comfortably perched upon the precipice of taste without going over.

10. Stunning cinematography. Fantastic wardrobe choices. It’s very pretty to watch.

11. I would like a movie survey from the people who loved this movie where they also list their top ten films, because I’m not sure who this is for. People who I assumed would hate it seem to either love it or at least not be bothered, and people I assumed would love it wanted to walk out. I feel like there’s some overlap of people who liked Austin Powers and A Star is Born with this movie in the middle and I can’t think of a more painful Venn Diagram.

Score: 4/10

 

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