DON JON (2013)

don-jon09

Christopher (spoilers!)

I just wanted to see this since Joseph Gordon-Levitt directed it and Scarlett Johansson seemed to play a role I hadn’t seen her play before. I was surprised by how much I liked watching this movie. It’s weird though cause so much of the movie was very relatable where so much of it wasn’t. First off, of course porn is great. And of course I watch a fair amount of porn. But to say it’s better than actual sex is pretty crazy. Especially oral sex.

When this film started I was surprised what the movie was actually about. I have to say I didn’t really remember what the trailers showed and the fact that it was so based around sex/porn was surprising but nice. I really did think the whole story and idea was really interesting and held my attention all the way through.

The best part of the film to me was that Scarlet Johansson’s character just ended up being a terrible person. I think this is so great cause of course Jon had an addiction to porn but it was also just porn. When Scarlet Johansson first sees him masturbating she freaks the fuck out. I mean she like almost starts crying. That should of been the biggest sign that he should of just walked away but I guess there wouldn’t of been a movie had that happened.

If you’re interested totally check this out. I really enjoyed watching it.

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

I was surprised by Don Jon. I thought I had the whole movie figured out about a third of the way through, and then it started going in a different direction in a way that made sense and wasn’t distracting at all.

Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is basically a womanizer known for the amount of women he sleeps with. But what he holds dearest to his heart is porn; he loves it so much that he would rather watch porn and masturbate than have sex with a woman in real life. This is obviously alarming, but the movie does a great job of Jon explaining how he feels in a way that you actually understand him, even though when you really think about it it doesn’t make any sense. Then Jon meets Barbara (Scarlett Johansson) who finally seems to be exactly what he’s looking for. And to the audience, she also seems to be exactly what he’s looking for. She’s a good foil to him (and has a crazy New Jersey accent that is both insanely irritating and interesting because she still sounds like Scarlett Johansson). So I figured, Barbara was going to make Jon realize that real sex is better, he doesn’t need porn, etc. But being with Barbara doesn’t change Jon’s relationship with porn at all. Even though they seem to have an amazing sex life, he still thinks the porn is better. Barbara finds out and he promises what she saw him looking at was a joke, and she buys it until months later she sees his impressive internet history.

While all of this is happening, Jon is getting unwillingly and casually involved with Esther (Julianne Moore), a college classmate. At first I sort of hated Esther’s character. I thought she didn’t fit, seemed annoying, and I didn’t like that she was obviously the “better” woman over Barbara because she was more mature and kind of a hippy. But at a certain point in the movie, all at once Jon and Esther seem like a good match. And long after Barbara dumps him, he realizes after sleeping with Esther that his problem has always been that he’s never been with someone he could “lose” himself with. But with Esther he’s suddenly making love instead of fucking, and realizes that that’s what he needs, not someone like Barbara or constant porn.

I think what I liked the most is how Barbara and Jon’s relationship at first seems perfect. They’re such a good fit and make a gorgeous couple. But the longer the relationship goes and the more subtlely demanding Barbara is and the more Jon has to hide parts of his personality you realize that this is not just a not good relationship, it’s a destructive one. I still can’t really think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as sexy, which was kind of a roadblock for this particular movie, but considering it was also his directorial debut I thought Jon Don was pretty solid.

THE BIG WEDDING (2013)

The-Big-Wedding-trailer-thumbnail

Elizabeth

Let me just give you these lines from the beginning of the Wikipedia plot summary of The Big Wedding:

In preparation for Alejandro [Ben Barnes]’s wedding, Ellie [Diane Keaton] arrives at Don [Robert De Niro]’s (and her old) home, and lets herself in. She interrupts Don just as he is about to perform cunnilingus on Bebe [Susan Sarandon], his girlfriend of eight years (and Ellie’s former best friend).

That’s what we’re working with here. The kind of movie that makes a joke about older people having sex, because older people are SO GROSS AM I RIGHT?!? But yeah, that’s the level The Big Wedding is on: jokes about (old, rich, white) people being uncomfortable around each other for various reasons.

There’s a bunch of people in this movie, and it doesn’t help whatsoever. In addition to the above, there’s also Katherine Heigl, Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, and Topher Grace to round out the cast. Robin Williams is barely in it as a priest, which is just really distracting. Ben Barnes, Katherine Heigl, and Topher Grace play siblings, except they have no chemistry and could never be in the same family. Amanda Seyfried plays the wide-eyed fiance, because that is all she ever plays. It’s also kind of amazing to me how Diane Keaton seems to play the exact same character in every movie in the last 20 years or so.

Look at these posters and try to honestly tell me that there is no way Diane Keaton is playing the same character every time:

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2f/Hangingupposter.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/7d/Somethings_gotta_give.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e7/Because_I_Said_So_Poster.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/e1/Morning_Glory_Poster.jpghttps://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/8d/Darling_companion_poster.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/08/The_Big_Wedding_Poster.jpghttps://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/a/a4/And_So_It_Goes_poster.jpg

I mean, for real.

Overall, there’s not much to say about The Big Wedding because there really isn’t much going on. But a few points:

  • Katherine Heigl is upset because she recently separated from her husband, because he “said terrible things” to her. She repeats this multiple times, including to the said husband when he shows up at the end. But it also turns out she’s pregnant, so that magically solves everything and they get back together, because that’s how that works. And we never find out what those terrible things were.
  • How disgustingly rich this family is was a huge turn-off to me. One of the first shots of the whole movie was of the humble family home:https://i1.wp.com/betweennapsontheporch.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/1.jpgNow I’m not saying a family that lives in a house like that can’t have problems, but I can say I probably don’t care. And considering the wealth came from Robert De Niro being a sculptor, and they explain that with every piece he sold they added a room to the house, it makes the whole thing seem even more like a weird fantasy that I wouldn’t want any part of.
  • At one point, Susan Sarandon feels out of place in all the family stuff and basically removes herself from everything. So, the morning of their son’s wedding, Robert De Niro and Diane Keaton have sex loud enough for all of their awake family members to hear. BECAUSE THAT MAKES A WHOLE LOT OF FUCKING SENSE? Susan Sarandon finds out, but is totally okay with it. He apologizes for not including her and shit, but I kept waiting for her to say “Yeah okay but remember when you fucked your ex-wife THIS MORNING?” Didn’t happen, unfortunately.

Christopher

Getting back to our old movie ways we came across The Big Wedding and I have to say, I don’t think it disappointed. When we first started watching this I was a little nervous it would be just a fine movie. Nothing really out of the ordinary. There are so many stars in this film you would of thought one of their agents had read the script, but luckily for us that was not the case. This movie is bad and there really isn’t anything about it that makes it different than any other romantic comedy about a son getting married.

There are so many plots going on in this movie and there are so many characters that you really never feel like you know anyone. Especially Susan Sarandon. She plays the stepmother of all three grown kids in the film. Diane Keaton is the mother. This film has a kind of Birdcage type plot where they pretend that the original parents are back together so that the kid who is getting married, who was adopted by Diane Keaton and Robert De Niro, can pretend to his biological mother that he wasn’t raised by people who were divorced. She is not American and very strict. Just the son trying to accommodate for a mother he knows nothing about while at the same time so much about. He was not raised by this woman but he apparently knows so much about how religious and uptight she is. It’s very confusing.

This movie makes you feel like the writer has never met any human in their life. All the characters feel very unrelated and again, communication is a big part of the issues in this film. An absolute terrible movie. I wouldn’t recommend this over other bad romantic comedies but I enjoyed watching this one. It can just be fun watching such a train wreck.

IDA (2013)

ida_01-2

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

  • Best Cinematography – Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
  • Best Foreign Language Film – Pawel Pawlikowski

Christopher

We watched this movie based off the Oscars but also cause a friend recommend it to us. And FINALLY, we get back into a great Oscar nomination. Kind of to the point where I have no idea why this isn’t nominated for Best Picture over more than half the nominations. Ida is fantastic and it brings a lot of elements to the table. It’s like this movie was directed by Bergman and Jarmusch.

The movie is very quiet but what stands out the most is the cinematography. Everything looks so beautiful and almost everything looks like a well-composed photograph. No person is ever really placed in the center of the screen. There are multiple shots where individuals dwell in the corners of a shot and when emotions run extra high, faces are sometimes cut in half so you can only see the eyes of the actors. And that is completely fine cause this movie easily captures how everyone is feeling and thinking, for the most part. It’s the exact opposite of The Theory of Everything. You actually hear how people feel from the characters. You know why events are happening cause everyone lets you know what their motivation is. It’s fantastic! (Also no montages which was really nice!!!!)

I think this might be my favorite Oscar movie yet, maybe even more than Birdman and Grand Budapest. Definitely watch this if you love movies, it’s on Netflix and a few other streaming sites right now so it’s easy to see.

Elizabeth

A lot of fuss has been made over the 2015 Oscar nominees being extremely male and extremely white. And for good reason, especially once you start watching the nominees back to back like we have. I have to say, at this point I’m getting real sick of watching “brilliant” men and their flaws and the women who just react to them. All of the movies we’ve watched so far have been men, men, men, men, more men. And while Ida doesn’t do anything for the white criticism that the nominations have gotten, it blows all that man bullshit out of the water.

In fact, we figured out that if there were a reverse Bechdel test, Ida would fail. By that I mean Ida never has two men speaking to each other. It’s kind of incredible, and really refreshing. I obviously don’t have anything against movies about men, because if I did I wouldn’t be able to watch anything. But it’s just so nice for men to not be the focus for once.

I loved Ida. If I didn’t know any better (and thought Polish was Swedish) I would have said this was a Criterion-restored Ingmar Bergman movie. It’s just so beautiful, and looks beautiful in black and white in a way that I thought only Bergman could really do. But what I loved the most was Ida herself and her story. In the end, Ida makes all of her own decisions. They may not have been my decisions had I been in the same situation, but she’s under the influence of pretty much no one by the end of the movie and chooses her fate. Considering her character is an almost-nun (are you a nun before you take final vows?), the fact that Ida actually turns out to be really independent makes not only her character that much more interesting, but it makes you believe that she actually wants to be a nun, and didn’t just run out of options.

Ida was such a nice break from the other Oscar movies we’ve been watching. It’s such a stark contrast to the other movies and their characters, it really makes me ache for more good female-driven movies.

ESCAPE PLAN (2013)

large_escape_plan_08_blu-ray_

Christopher

This film is exactly what you think it is. Absolutely nothing about this movie was particularly interesting or cool. It wasn’t even really so bad that it was fun to make fun of. Although the funniest part about this movie is how useless Arnold’s character is, which only adds to being able to see every twist in this movie coming a mile away. If you’re going to watch a movie with either of these guys this is not the one!

Elizabeth

Yeah, Escape Plan is bad. It’s one of those movies where you watch it and afterward you don’t know what it was trying to say or what the point was of it being made at all. Starring Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger!

It is sort of funny to me that Stallone and Schwarzenegger were obviously cast together so they could be “STALLONE & SCHWARZENEGGER!” but in reality they’re just two grossly beefy old guys who are nearly impossible to understand. So Stallone plays Ray Breslin, who owns a company that tests how escapable prisons are. How does he do this? By getting put in prison and escaping. It’s never explained why such an extreme measure has to be taken, considering this job causes Breslin to be incarcerated for no reason for a good chunk of his life. But whatever! Also working for him is Abigail, (played by Amy Ryan, who is on The Wire, which I’m watching for the first time right now, and that makes me sad) and Hush (?) played by fucking 50 Cent.

Even though this plot is stupid, don’t you already kind of know what’s going to happen? Breslin gets offered double his usual pay to be put into a super secret prison, where no one, including his co-workers, can know where he is. Pretty risky . . . but that money! So he goes, meets up with Rottmayer (Schwarzenegger) and tries to figure everything out. Eventually they realize the prison is on a ship, which I thought was sort of really obvious considering the way every talked about how totally impossible it was to ever escape. The prison warden figures out who Breslin is and vows to keep him in prison, for some reason. Meanwhile, turns out Breslin’s partner is in on it, too, and is also secretly evil. Of course, eventually Breslin and Rottmayer escape via helicopters and gunfire, and then we find out that Rottmayer was in on it the whole time. But was a good guy? Somehow? Does it matter?

The best part of this movie is seeing Schwarzenegger follow Stallone everywhere like a weird Austrian puppy. He acts like he’ll do anything for Stallone just so Stallone will think he’s cool. I can only hope this is based on real life.

BAGGAGE CLAIM (2013)

vibe-vixen-paula-patton-and-affion-crockett-in-baggage-claim

Elizabeth

At what age do you think it’s so unacceptable for a woman to be unmarried that she should stop her life and do whatever she needs to do to get married immediately, to whomever is closest to her? The answer should be that that age doesn’t exist. But let’s say that it does, as it clearly does in the world of Baggage Claim. What age would that be? 45? 50? 65? It’s hard to even imagine. But does 30 come to mind? Ever? In 2013 (when this movie came out), did you ever really look at a gorgeous, successful, single 30-year-old woman and think, “All I know is that woman needs a husband,” and were just disgusted? If the answer is no, you probably won’t like Baggage Claim because the entire movie is based around the idea that a single 30-year-old woman is a disgusting concept.

Paula Patton plays Montana, a flight attendant who has a terrible mother that only cares about marriage. Montana is in a happy relationship until she finds out the inevitable (he’s married). She find this out by following her boyfriend around, including hiding in his trash can, by the way. Montana has friends/co-workers, Sam (Adam Brody), who is a caricature of a gay man, and Gail (Jill Scott), who is a caricature of a promiscuous woman. I want to point out that Sam gave Montana a necklace given to him by his dead grandmother in hopes that it will help her find love. I’m sure Sam’s grandmother would have really appreciated him giving away an heirloom to a co-worker whose definition of love doesn’t exist without a wedding.

We also learn that Montana has a best friend named William (Derek Luke) who lives across the hall and has a girlfriend. Montana and William are clearly perfect for each other . . . but whatever, you’re not supposed to think that yet. When Montana’s younger sister gets engaged and her mom makes her feel like shit about it for no reason, Montana decides she cannot go to the wedding alone. This leads Montana to conclude that she has 30 days to find a husband.

My first issue with that, besides the obvious just flat-out craziness of it, is that she’s not trying to find a boyfriend in 30 days, but a husband. Montana is presented to us as a woman whose relationships never work out, so what would make her (or us) think that in 30 days she’ll meet a man, they’ll date and fall and love and be married (or at least engaged) in 30 days? That shit only happens on Bachelor in Paradise.

So I guess to sort of remedy that issue, Montana decides to go after her exes. That’s right, she decides the best thing to do would be to revisit previous boyfriends and see if maybe now, for some reason, they’re worth dating and quickly marrying. To execute this, Sam, Gail, and a network of airline employees find all of Montana’s exes, who happen to be all be flying on this one airline at some point in these 30 days, and put Montana on their planes, either as a flight attendant or a passenger (this part is really unclear; apparently Montana can just start and stop working whenever?).

Unsurprisingly, Montana finds out that her exes should indeed stay her exes through a series of frustrating and stereotypical misfortunes (one guy pretends to be rich but Montana finds out he’s broke, one guy is pathologically focused on his political career, etc etc). Throughout all of this, Montana and William continually act like a couple and I guess as an audience we’re supposed to ignore that as she continues to meet her exes. Eventually, Montana learns that William’s girlfriend is cheating on him because they’re on Montana’s flight, because again everyone in this movie flies everywhere and only on this one airline. So now the movie really could end, because Montana is single and William is soon-to-be single. Unfortunately for us, it goes on for a while and Montana maybe chooses someone else (except we know from the beginning she won’t), until William surprises her by randomly leaving a plane ticket to France with her in a present that Montana conveniently doesn’t open until like an hour before the flight leaves. She misses the plane but so does William so instead of going to France they get engaged in the airport, the end.

Other than the plot, the worst thing about this movie was Paula Patton. Pretty much everything about her, in fact. Her attempts at acting “awkward” and really her attempts at acting in general were so beyond pathetic that it was distracting. She apparently has a complete inability to hold her neck and chin still; it’s as if someone told her that acting was just moving your head and neck back and forth as you talked. It’s seriously all she does; she pretty much cannot say a line with her head still. What the hell is that?

This movie is the biggest waste of – everything really. This movie hates women and makes me want to hate Paula Patton. Just not good all around.

Christopher

This movie is crazy and super sad if you think about it too much. I think that’s the biggest surprise about these awful romantic comedies Elizabeth and I have been watching. Everything about the story, if I think about having a friend that went throughout the whole thing, just makes me super sad for them as an individual. This whole movie is about finding the real love that’s right in front of you the whole time but before our main character can do that she decides to track down old boyfriends to see how they are doing? She’s a flight attendant so she uses that power, by the help of a gay Adam Brody (similar to Jamie Kennedy’s character in Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds), to find flights that her exes are on trying trying to find a lot spark. Most of them are still awful….what would she expect? Don’t people break up cause the relationship sucks? I mean if I ran into my ex I would probably just say hello as I kept walking. When I think about that I don’t really remember anything good about that relationship, it just seems crazy to me that she wouldn’t feel the same way? She talks about all these guys before she tries to get back with them and they all sound like they were borderline insane and guess what, when she sees them again they still are!!

This movie is pretty weird but I really liked watching it!

ESCAPE FROM TOMORROW (2013)

escape-from-tomorrow-11

Christopher

Unfortunately I did not love this movie like I was hoping. It’s actually pretty bad. That being said, it does pull off the hardest part. They actually film in Disney and it looks great, other than a few green screen shots. What falls flat is the story. It’s too bad this is the story that came out of something like this. At times it reminds me of a Jim Jarmusch film but as the story unfolds it just kind of reminds me of something I would have thought of in middle school. In terms of movies with people going crazy, I just want to watch Hour of The Wolf with Elizabeth next. That movie does it right cause I remember wanting to watching it over again right when I finished, when I watched it for the first time.

 

Elizabeth (spoilers!)

Man oh man. Bad movies are one thing, but disappointing movies are their own brand of upsetting. And Escape from Tomorrow might be one of the most disappointing movies I’ve ever seen.

If you don’t know anything about it, Escape from Tomorrow was filmed at Disney World and Disneyland using guerrilla filmmaking to keep from being caught. It was also edited very carefully to avoid copyright infringement (nothing licensed is ever used, they never actually say Disney, etc). I knew this going into the movie, but I assumed it was more of a Blair Witch-style of single-camera filmmaking. But Escape from Tomorrow is really beautifully shot and you would never know that they didn’t have permission to film there.

Given how incredible the movie looks and feels thanks to being filmed that way, it’s super disappointing that the story actually really sucks. It follows Jim (Roy Abramsohn) and his wife Emily (Elena Schuber) on a family vacation to Disney World. In the opening of the movie, Jim gets fired over the phone on the last day of the vacation. As they go through the park, Jim both hallucinates evil imagery and follows (in real life) two very young teenage French girls as they also go through the park. At one point, Jim’s daughter is pushed down and he takes her to an infirmary for a scraped knee; there a nurse tells him to be careful of “cat flu.” Throughout the day, Jim continues to follow the girls, fight with Emily, and at one point blacks out during a conversation with a strange woman and wakes up to her on top of him, having sex, while his daughter waits in the woman’s hotel room. At this point, I think we’re supposed to think that Jim is just going insane and most of this is in his head, until Emily sees one of the French girl’s face transform into a weird demon face. That’s where the movie really lost me.

See, it was one thing when everything was in Jim’s mind (so we thought). But as soon as Emily saw the demon face, too, the movie suddenly turned from “it’s all in Jim’s mind” to “it’s all a conspiracy perpetrated by Disney.” Because that’s what it turns into: Jim’s not actually crazy, he’s just part of a crazy, shoddily-explained conspiracy that Disney is, for whatever reason, involved in. And then, for one last blow, Escape from Tomorrow ends on a Don’t Look Now-esque resolution: Jim starts having violent diarrhea, then starts coughing up hairballs, and we discover that he’s contracted the once-mentioned-a-long-time-ago cat flu. Emily finds him the next morning dead in the bathroom, with blood and scratches on the wall, and with an erection and cat eyes. Uhhhhhh.

Maybe this isn’t a good comparison, but I couldn’t help but think of Pi the whole time we watched Escape from Tomorrow. I sort of went through a mild Pi obsession in high school. If you don’t know, Pi is basically about a math genius going insane, mostly just in his apartment. I just sooooo badly wanted the story of Pi transplanted into the setting of Escape from Tomorrow.

I guess I don’t know who should see this movie. If I had known how shitty the story was, I probably wouldn’t have seen it, but then I would have missed seeing the end product of how it was filmed, which was still pretty amazing.

RUSH (2013) – WITH SUPER SPECIAL GUEST MOM POST!

chris_hemsworth_daniel_bruhl_rush_movie_still_1280x800_62412

Recently, my mom was in town and she watched a few movies with Chris and me. Here’s what she had to say! – Elizabeth

Elizabeth’s Mom

I enjoyed watching Rush.  I vaguely remember when all of this happened.  The film was so detailed and Elizabeth verified this when she found film of the actual crash.  Ron Howard evidently reproduced it item by item.  I thought it was a good story of two strong men with such different attitudes about racing.  A very interesting study of them both.

Elizabeth

I really liked this movie. It wasn’t the greatest movie ever or anything, but it was certainly interesting and enjoyable. And I sort of hate race car driving, so I think that’s a pretty good compliment. What was interesting to me in Rush was not so much the driving, which I really couldn’t care less about, but more about the two drivers’ approach to it. It follows Briton James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl); Hunt is a playboy who is more reckless and obviously races car for the pleasure of it, while Lauda is very meticulous and seems to mostly race cars just because he understands it more than for enjoyment. I really identified with Lauda on that, and as I’ve gotten older I really enjoy movies that show different jobs and workplaces, because everyone deals with the same kind of shit, no matter what. I’m sure a lot of people could identify with Hunt and Lauda both. At first, Hunt’s approach is sort of presented to us in a way that makes it seem less than Lauda’s. But in the end, as Lauda explains, it’s just different: Lauda drives to win, but Hunt also drives to win and when he does, that’s all he needs. His career more or less doesn’t move forward after he wins the big championship thing (whatever that’s called), which obviously appalls Lauda at first until he realizes it’s just what Hunt wants to do. I don’t know, it’s sort of sweet.

Watch out for Daniel Brühl’s crazy fake teeth here. Not crazy in that they’re really bad or obvious; in fact, when we first started watching it, I couldn’t figure out why the usually-attractive Brühl looked so bad. The teeth definitely change the way his lower face is shaped, but it also genuinely makes him look more like Nikki Lauda. After seeing pictures and videos of the actual people and events afterward, the whole makeup department in general was really impressive with everything they showed and its accuracy.

Also, if you’re like me, you may think this is a Disney movie, or at least a family movie. But there’s sex. With boobs and Thor’s butt. So, you know, just something to be aware of when you’re watching this with your mom.

Christopher

This movie was fine and interesting.

I think that’s as high a compliment I have ever given to a Ron Howard movie and I think that’s why I’ve never really been a fan. He just makes fine moves or terrible movies, there has never been a moment in a Howard film that made me want to go out and do art myself and that is the reason I can never really enjoy his work.

Rush was interesting and fine, but it is just a period piece based around real people. The story is interesting but nothing more to me.