Monday, December 31, 2012

Spoiler Alert 2012: The 1st Annual Year-End Movie Blowout Extravaganza PT. 2

If you missed PT. 1, check it out here.

Paris: True. That dude is amazing. What about the best supporting role you saw this year?

10) Silver Linings Playbook
Greg: Christopher Waltz was absolutely amazing in Django Unchained. But if I had to pick someone else, I'd say Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Which I'd actually replace Les Misérables with in my top ten. (This is the first time Greg changes his mind. Notice, I said "first time".) She plays a cop's widow who is a friend of a friend and she's also a bit crazy like Bradley Cooper's character. After seeing her in The Hunger Games and believing that she was Katniss Everdeen, I was surprised to also believe her as a crazy girl who just wants to participate in a dancing competition.

Paris:  Like I said, I haven't seen it but everyone is raving about her performance in that film. I kind of want to see it more now, but I thought she was a “crazy girl” in The Hunger Games too. I love my brothers and sisters, but no way I'm taking either of their places in a battle royal to the death. My love as a brother only goes so far and “Replacing you in a battle royal to the death” is on my “Things I'd do for mama and a child"list not the "things I'd do for my siblings" list.

Greg: You should see Battle Royal, it's a Japanese "hunger games" but it's a better story/movie.

Paris: Don't get me started on The Hunger Games. When we talk about most disappointing films I'm sure I'll have a thing or two to say. But back to supporting roles--

Greg: Leo DiCaprio should also be mentioned. His role in Django Unchained was so disgusting that I started to hate him so much after the movie I had to remind myself it was Leo DiCaprio to calm me down. (Yep it’s happening again and he's cutting me off to do it.Wait for it.)

Paris: There were a lot of really good supporting roles this year. John Goodman was great in Argo and Flight. I'd say he was the best “scene-stealer” of the year. Alan Arkin was money in Argo, but I’d go back to Django Unchained. Waltz, DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson were all amazing but I'll go with DiCaprio. Why? Because he's NEVER BEEN THE BAD GUY and he played it so well! When guys like him do roles like that, they kill it. They get to have fun and let loose. The role is so far from what we normally see from them, that they seem even more amazing then they really are. Think Denzel in training day. By the way, as a Black man, I can lead any discussion about movies back to Denzel Washington. It's kind of a superpower. I’ll end my thoughts on Leo’s chances with this. There’s a scene where he, Leo, holds Kerry Washington (who was NOT GOOD AT ALL IN DJANGO. Not because she was bad, but because Tarantino didn't have anything for her to do but cry and cower.) by her head and he's threatening her with a hammer. You honestly don't know if he's going to kill her or not. You see, it's not the crazy things bad guys do, its when they DON’T do something crazy and you think THEY WERE is when you know someone is really "killing" a role as a bad guy. That scene, for me anyway, was the moment when I gave the award to Leo.

Greg: Oh yeah, that was a brilliant moment and that "shake his hand part" too. I got the creeps from that. Okay you've convinced me. DiCaprio for the win! (And there it is! He changes his mind ladies and gents. But wait, there's more!)

Paris: Okay, next up is the most disappointing film of the year.

Greg: Flight *cough* *cough*

Paris: That's cold. We already have your thoughts so I'll give you mine and it wasn't very hard but I did have a few choices this year. Prometheus. This is 40The Hunger Games. Quick rant about The Hunger Games. One, the effects sucked. The fire was about as real as Donald Trump’s hair. In fact, I think it's what they used.

Greg: I'll believe that.

Paris: Two, I didn't get to see anyone “fight to the death”. I know it was PG13 and all that, but if the movie is about a tournament of kids "fighting to the death" and you don't SHOW them “fighting to the death” it'd be like making a movie about Lincoln's last days and NOT showing him getting assassinated. See, I knew I'd have somewhere to use that analogy.

Greg: I wasn't too disappointed about that. I actually enjoyed the movie, aside from who ever that cameraman was. I wanted to kill that man! Made me sick to my stomach! "Oh look, someone's moving on the other side of the room, follow me!" The story was entertaining enough that I thought it was better than Flight. I was more disappointed with Les Misérables, even though it was in my top ten before I removed it for Silver Linings Playbook.

Paris: Anyway, the most disappointing film to me was The Hobbit.

Greg: Not The Hobbit.

Paris: Yep, The Hobbit.  I saw it in 48FPS (Frames Per Second) and for those who don't know, most films are shot in 24FPS. It’s what makes a movie look like… well a “movie”. The Hobbit looked like a BBC TV show. A very, very, expensive BBC TV show.

Greg: What's wrong with a BBC show? I like Doctor Who.

Paris: Nothing, but I don't expect to see one in a movie theater. It takes you out of the film and the actors seem to be moving too fast at first glance because they are moving too fast. Even after getting past that, the movie was way too damn long.

Greg: It didn't feel that long to me.

Paris: I don't know anything about the "lore" of LOTR (Lord of the Rings) so I didn't know this was the first of three movies. I also had to see it twice because the projector overheated, the NUMBER ONE SIGN A MOVIE IS TOO LONG,  and I thought I missed out on the big dragon battle. So I went to see it again and all I missed was the dragon opening his eye! Literally all I missed!

Greg: All right, I'll give you that one.

Paris: The dinner scene in the beginning was about 35-45 minutes too long and one more thing, if Gandalf knew the “butterflies can go get giant eagles trick” the whole time why didn't they use it in the beginning?! If I was Bilbo, I would have kicked him in the balls for all the walking we did.  Plus the eagles dropped them off at the TOP OF A MOUNTAIN... LIKE 60 MILES FROM WHERE THEY NEEDED TO BE!

Greg: Well, while you were sulking at having shilled out more money to see The Hobbit again. I saw Les Misérables twice and paid for it FOUR TIMES and it wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be. I saw it Christmas night with my friends. I was sitting in the theater waiting for them when they told me to go to the other theater across town because they were going to miss that showing. Lucky for them, not for me, that I had accidentally purchased a ticket for that showing before I bought the ticket for the theater I was in. So I get to the second theater, I wait in line again, get to my seat and I can't hear the movie. So I miss a lot and the movie seems boring to me, taking into account that I usually enjoy musicals. So I go back again, a few days later, and I take my little sister with me. I get bored during Anne Hathaway's big moment, so I order a hot dog and agree to wait while it cooks.

Paris: Damn! Seems like someone was more disappointed in a movie that was once in their top-ten than the movie they picked, Flight. (And the circle is almost complete.)

Greg: Hugh Jackman sounded like a goat at one point. I know because I lived on a goat farm and Russell Crowes character, my favorite character in the movie, dies off and so it was painful. That said, it was better than most other movies I've seen this year and I have the soundtrack on repeat as we speak, so it was really good, but I was disappointed that it wasn't my favorite movie of the year. (There we go, the final flip-flop.)

Paris: True. One last thing about my top-ten list. I added The Avengers because I do really think it was one of the ten best films of the year. I don't like that "summer popcorn flicks" or "superhero flicks" never get the love from critics on that "award winning" level. The Avengers is one the years best reviewed flicks so why wouldn't you put it in your top ten? And again, The Dark Knight Rises goes in my top-ten because Batman fans are crazy and they're still pissed about TDK not getting love in '08.

Greg: First off, The Avengers was a good movie, but wasn't a top-ten movie for me. Mostly because the writing wasn't the best. Yes it was entertaining, but just throwing special effects at you shouldn't be a reason for being top-ten. I know there have been movies that have won for that, but I don't agree with those either, unless they make more effort to tell a great story. As for TDKR, wasn't nearly as good as The Dark Knight. Mostly because Bane didn't feel like the real bad guy in the story. Batman seemed to be defeating himself more than anything else and it was boring.

Paris: Fair points but lets wrap this puppy up. I'll say that Life of Pi and Skyfall were the best looking films of the year. Both of those films “popped” off the screen to me. I'm not a big cinematography guy, but you can't help but notice the way those films LOOK on the screen. Moonrise Kingdom was the best love story I saw, although I'm not totally sure they shouldn't be checking to see if a person is a registered sex offender or not before they're allowed to watch it. As I already said, Zero Dark Thirty gets my nod. It's so visceral, so real that I, as an Iraq War vet, got physically uncomfortable watching it more than once. It was that real to me. It wasn't "pretty" but it was shot just the way it needed to be. The performances where all top notch and I'm sure Jessica Chastain will give Jennifer Lawrence a run for her money.

Greg: I wish I could comment on that.

Paris: If you've seen Homeland think Carrie, but more "believable crazy". If that makes sense.

Greg: I haven't seen Homeland.

Paris: Carrie is the show’s lead played by actress Claire Danes. She’s actually won a few awards for her performance but she’s a little "TV over-The-Top” and “no one THAT crazy would be in the CIA" crazy. Overall, I still choose Zero Dark Thirty because, like Django Unchained, it held my attention the whole time and because I'm Black, I have to give the nod to Zero Dark Thirty.

Greg: Now I feel racist if I say I give the nod to Django Unchained because I'm white Hispanic. But I give it to Django Unchained because while it was silly, it still had real moments. That's important to making a good film, how believable it is to an audience and it had that.

Paris: "Real" is a word that I would use "lightly" when talking about that movie. Let’s just say the shootouts at the end of ZDT and DU were very different.

Greg: I think the word I'm searching for is "believable". Within the constraints of the universe that Tarantino created anyway.

Paris: I've seen people get shot and trust me, they don't bleed like that.

Greg: You mean they don't bleed like that?! I don't understand this world anymore!

Thanks for reading and don't forget to subscribe and share the blog. Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below. Follow me on twitter @ParisLay. Until next time... Enjoy the View!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spoiler Alert 2012: The 1st Annual Year-End Movie Blowout Extravaganza PT. 1

Someone once asked if I listened to critics as it pertains to me seeing a film or not. I said, “Yes. For the most part, I let “Rotten Tomatoes” determine my movie going.” That person then replied, “Not me. I like to think for myself and go off the beaten path. I went to see Battleship just because everyone was crushing it. Same with Red Dawn and Alex Cross.” I laughed and said, “Life is short. You only live once and I don’t like to waste time. So why waste time, that I’ll never get back mind you, seeing a bad movie?” “But don’t you like to think for yourself? Don’t you like to try things?” they replied. I put my hand on the person’s shoulder and said, “If you ate at a restaurant and got diarrhea from the food, why the hell would I go there? Just to "try it for myself" and see how it works out? I’d rather not think for myself on that one.” That’s what critics do. They get diarrhea so we don’t have to.

2012 has been a great year for movies. No seriously, a really great year for movies. This link proves it. I've seen more movies in the theater this year than I have in any year of my life. I saw some really great films and there are still so many more great films I still haven't seen. Some “good” films I just refuse to see. Les Miserables. Some, I can’t find a showing for. The Master. And some, I just don’t want to see in a theater. Silver Linings Playbook. With all the great films this year there’s no way I can see them all, so I enlisted the help of my good buddy and fellow screenwriter Greg “Doza” Mendoza. What follows is our breakdown of all things movies in 2012. Enjoy!

Greg: Come to think about it, I’ve avoided a lot of those “diarrhea” movies thanks to critics, but there were some I had to see, solely out of interest on my part. The new Silent Hill, which was so bad I don’t remember the full name.

Paris: Well, first thing’s first, would you say 2012 has been a strong year for movies? 

Greg: I’ve always gone to the movies a lot. Going back to before I went to Full Sail (The film school we both graduated from), I use to watch as many movies as I could in the theater but this year, they could’ve just set me up in one of those theaters, because I was practically paying rent, if you pro-rate the ticket prices out over a month that is.

Paris: I say outside of animation, which was kind of weak this year, every genre did very well. The summer blockbusters, the Indies, the comedies, it's been a banner year all around. So lets kick this thing off by listing our top ten list. I'll go first.

1) Zero Dark Thirty
2) Django Unchained
3) Life of Pi
4) Moonrise Kingdom
5) Skyfall
6) Lincoln
7) Argo
8) The Avengers

9) The Dark Knight Rises

10) Flight

In that order, those are the best films I've seen this year. Moonrise Kingdom was added late but it was worth it and to avoid death threats from fanboys, I added TDKR.

Greg: Here’s my list.
1) Django Unchained

2) Lincoln

3) Argo

4) Life of Pi

5) The Perks of Being a Wallflower

6) Moonrise Kingdom

7) Skyfall

8)The Sessions

9) Cloud Atlas

10) Les Misérables

Paris: Really, Jack Reacher? I'd say Looper for me, honorable mention that is. Well, we got some differences, but some flicks are just universal this year. Why so high on Lincoln though?

Greg: Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Lincoln. That and it was a beautifully written movie about Lincoln and his party trying to pass an amendment to the constitution. I felt like I was really watching that event in American history happen. It’s the first movie where Lincoln was played as a real person and not just deified. He’s a real person that has people mad at him for real human reasons. He makes mistakes, he annoys people, his wife gets mad at him, and his son disobeys him. He’s just a regular guy for the first time. Also the Civil War isn’t just black or white, excuse the pun, this time around. It doesn’t play out like the “battle of good versus evil” like it is always portrayed. We finally see the “gray area” that some people had to deal with when it came to slavery. As for Looper, it was good, but for me, there were too many plot holes or things that would have made the story illogical.

Paris: Lincoln was very good. If it was not for Moonrise Kingdom, it'd still be in my top five. It was a bit of a chore to watch in some spots and the ending sucked.

Greg: What was so bad about it?

Paris: Not because Lincoln died at the end, but how are you going to make a movie about Lincoln's last days, show a theater scene at the end and have it NOT BE THE THEATER SCENE WE ALL WANT TO SEE! I felt so cheated that I wanted to ask for my money back. Steven Spielberg, you sir are a tease. It was like making a movie about Lincoln's final days and NOT SHOWING HIM GETTING ASSASSINATED! There is currently no analogy for how much that sucked!

Greg: I think Spielberg wanted some of the emotional connection with Lincoln's son because we all know what's going to happen in Ford's Theater. He was just trying to show us something that we don't already know, but I agree the assassination could have been a better climax than that ending.

Paris: Anyway, let's talk about the flick that's your number one film and my number two film, Django Unchained. You didn't get to see Zero Dark Thirty, but I'm sure when you do it'll be very high on your list. I have it above Django Unchained  because it has the same thing going for it that Argo does, another film that was in both of our lists by the way. It’s hard to tell a story that we all know the ending to and make it suspenseful and BOTH films pull it off. Zero Dark Thirty more so than Argo. That and there's a Black law that says I can't make it my favorite film of the year.

Greg: Because of slavery huh?  I'm guessing you also got the pay off in ZDT that you were looking for in Lincoln, the assassination of Bin Laden. By the way, Bin Laden should have been assassinated in Lincoln.

Paris: The payoff was definitely there. That last act in ZDT was shot very well. Very real, no slow-mo, just raw, real action. I mean who, outside of a terrorist that is, doesn't want to see Bin Laden get shot in the face. My friend Al said that part with Bin Laden could have been shot CSI-style. You know, bullet goes into the body, rips through the skin, travels in and out of him, microscope view. Let's just say that part was pretty sweet. But back to Django, one of my real problems with it is the "n-word" is used a lot in this film. I'd say borderline too much. Almost overkill. It was a little disjointed as well. While, there were some flat out gut-busting laughs in the film, there was also some "What the hell am I watching this for, I'm black and I need to leave the theater right now” moments. I saw it with two other Black people and we all leaned over and looked at each other several times as if to say, "Okay this is it goddamn it! This is the part we walk out on"

Greg: Hmm, I really can't wait to see ZDT then. I was hoping for that payoff because that would be one of the reasons to see that movie. For me, Lincoln's assassination wasn't as important to see, but to see a guy that most of the world sees as pure evil get killed is needed. I think that shows us how violent we are towards people we don't like. I also think the "n-word" was necessary. Would you have plantation owners call their slaves, people they treated like dirt, “African-Americans”? It added a harsh realism to the movie that I think’s missing from movies about Nazi's. Which is why Nazism seems to be reviving in parts of Europe. Lincoln's story didn't spark the outrage and the need to talk about slavery and racial issues that still exist in this country, like Django Unchained has done.

Paris: Now, I'm not as mad about the use of the word as some people are, but I do think it was a little much at times. I'm sure the word was used a lot back then, but damn! Put it this way, I heard the “n-word” so much in Django Unchained, when I heard it the one time they used it in Lincoln I was really pissed off.  They were fighting a war about Black people and they're not using that word like that and I'm going to guess that the “n-word” was used a lot during the Civil War. I mean, we use the word “terrorist” a lot because of the "war on terror" we’re currently involved in, so if the same is true of the Civil War, Lincoln should have said it, the “n-word”, as much as Calvin Candie. (Leonardo DiCaprio's character in Django Unchained) Before we move on, anything on my list stand out to you?

Greg: Flight stood out. I didn't like it.

Paris: Flight is the weakest of all the films on my list, but I really think that opening sequence, with the plane crashing, was the best opening scene I saw all year. The part with the chick doing drugs intercut throws you off because she ultimately proves not to be that important to the story to be set-up in the beginning like she was. They really could’ve cut that part out and just stuck with the crash itself. It was the only time my heart was literally pounding in the theater this year. No way I could leave that film off my list. Plus Goodman was money and so was Denzel.

Greg: Not only wasn't she not important, but nothing in that story was important. His relationship with his family was an after thought and the ending "Who are you?" question from his son was incredibly dumb. Throw his family in there for some pointless personal conflict and that druggy girlfriend too. Goodman was only money because he played a version of “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski and Denzel was money because it was another “Denzel Character”. I'm tired of watching “Can We Trust Denzel's Character” movies.

Paris: Fair enough, which leads us to the best performance. I'm sure we both agree Day-Lewis was the best, but I'll give an argument for Denzel because he played both the protagonist and the antagonist in the same character. When you see that, it's usually from a “split personality” or an “evil twin”, but one character and one personality embodied both protagonist and antagonist in one story. You love him and hate him equally. There was a loud gasp from the whole theater when Denzel falls of the wagon at the end. The guy was his own worst enemy without being someone different and I've never really seen that before.

Greg: I get what you're saying, but I think it could have been done a lot better. I didn't feel his character was believable. I get that good people have vices that destroy their lives, but the situations he ends up in the movie are not done to the extent they needed to be done to explain his reactions. Nor does it do anything to explain that he's an “over reactor”. I would have focused on the family, since that's the direction they wanted to take at the end. Replace the girlfriend with his son and have the son be an addict as well. Anything would have been better than what they went with.

Paris: Day-Lewis gets the nod over Denzel because while Denzel was great, I had this thought a few times watching Flight; "Damn Denzel is killing it." I never thought that about Day-Lewis. Yes, Day-Lewis had the help of Lincoln being a period piece, which always pulls you in if the costumes and sets are on point, which they were, but I never thought of Day-Lewis as an actor when I watched Lincoln. He became the 16th President to me.

Greg: As I was watching Flight, all I could think about was Denzel. “Lincoln had a Looper as a son?” That was an actual thought I had during Lincoln.