Skip to content

Tag: movies

Spoilers and Mary Sues

I want to talk about Star Wars, but that’s dangerous for me, because I don’t want to deliver any spoilers, but apparently I don’t know what a spoiler is. I think a spoiler is “a shocking or unexpected plot twist that’s important to the story.” Gandalf dying, then coming back from the dead — those are spoilers, except they’re not, because they were in a book that was published in 1954. That’s another part of the “spoiler” definition, for me — the story has to be recent. There are things in The Force Awakens that would be spoilers now, but won’t…

Continue reading Spoilers and Mary Sues

Under the Skin

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Short answer: atmospheric dark fantasy with some memorable scenes and Scarlett Johansson naked, but slow and lacking in story. Cautiously recommended, as long as you’re prepared to be kinda bored.

Longer thoughts below — spoilers ahead.

Continue reading Under the Skin

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Room 237 and The Shining

A few months ago I saw the movie Room 237, a documentary about obsessive super-fans of Stanley Kubrick’s movie The Shining, who have watched it more times than you’ve seen Star Wars and developed interesting interpretive theories about Kubrick’s film. These range from the relatively plausible (small incongruities aren’t continuity errors — they Mean Something) to the jaw-droppingly bizarre (it’s Kubrick’s way of confessing that he helped fake the moon landing). Most movies of that type would really be about the fans — showing them, letting us into their lives — but this movie is focused on explicating their ideas.…

Continue reading Room 237 and The Shining

From the vault: The new Tron movie

(Now that I have updated the website, I am doing some electronic housecleaning. Sometimes I run into a fairly complete, but unpublished essay, such as this one.) So, we saw the new Tron movie. I have inexplicably fond feelings for the old one. I saw it as a teenager, but even then I realized 1. It wasn’t very good, and 2. Jeff Bridges was great. Sure, it was kinda stupid, but it looked cool and it had David Warner as the villain. The new movie is stupid, and still looks cool. But it doesn’t look new and innovative cool. It…

Continue reading From the vault: The new Tron movie

Pacific Rim

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Saw Pacific Rim on Sunday… another movie I wanted to love, and unfortunately didn’t. Guillermo del Toro! Nerd obsessions! Giant monsters! Mako Mori! Idris Elba! It looks pretty and there are some parts of it that work great, but overall I was bored too often and surprised and delighted too little.

(Spoilers, I’m sure, follow.)

Continue reading Pacific Rim

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The little story engine that could

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

This recent Slate article [Save the movie!] suggests that an over-reliance on the beat sheet from Blake Snyder’s “Save the Cat” books is ruining Hollywood movies, but I think it’s completely wrong. The problem with dull blockbusters isn’t that they are following Snyder’s beat sheet — it’s that they aren’t following it.

I admit, when I read the first book, I was a bit skeptical. Sure, the dumb “family comedies” that Snyder was talking about, and that represent what he himself liked to write, follow that formula to the letter — I had observed this ages ago. And I certainly believed he was giving good advice for people seeking to write spec scripts, where we can assume a studio executive will flip to a particular page, hunt for the “correct” element, and toss the script aside if it isn’t found.

But good movies, especially movies in their final form after editing and rewrites, those were surely more varied… weren’t they?

(break for length)

Continue reading The little story engine that could

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Conjuring

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

As part of my birthday shenanigans, we visited the newly remodeled Sundance Cinema in the U-district. (It used to be the Metro) It is now 21-and-over, and you can get a cheese plate and beer and drink in the theater. Also, reserved seats, and really nice big seats with lots of elbow room between them.

Two thumbs up for the theater, although I imagine it will be a disappointment to 18-20 year old UW students.

We saw The Conjuring. I wanted to love it, I really did. I was promised good, old-fashioned haunted house scares, plus Lili Taylor, in a horror movie with nearly universally good reviews. The early scenes, which featured the creepiest of all creepy dolls (who always follows you…), an engaging early-seventies style, and a likable and natural-feeling family moving into the eerie house (the dog won’t come inside!) kept my expectations high. Then…

.

.

.

(spoilers follow)

.

.

.

Continue reading The Conjuring

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail