By Ezra Stead
In case you missed it, there was a fun little game trending on Twitter over the weekend, with the hashtag “Explain A Film Plot Badly.” It’s kind of similar to this old thing I wrote. Here are the ones I came up with, in order of when they were tweeted (answers can be found in the tags for this article, but I think you’ll get ’em all):
Kevin Spacey has a nice time drinking coffee and telling stories to a grumpy policeman.
Sigourney Weaver risks her life to save a cat.
Sam Neill learns to like children after being forced to keep two of them from being eaten. Read More
By Ezra Stead
Super, USA, 2010
Written and Directed by James Gunn
I don’t want to sound like anybody’s grandma here, but I long ago abandoned the conversational defense that movies and other popular media have no part in encouraging real-life violence. Some movies definitely glorify violence to the point of actively promoting it as a righteous lifestyle choice, and James Gunn’s pseudo-realistic costumed avenger film Super is decidedly one of these. There are many other prime examples of this phenomenon – Troy Duffy’s The Boondock Saints (1999), Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted (2008), Bobcat Goldthwait’s God Bless America (2011) – and while I find all of these films plenty entertaining, my level of comfort about enjoying them seems to be directly proportional to how well I can relate to the worldview of the avenging angel protagonists. In other words, I feel a lot less guilty enjoying God Bless America than The Boondock Saints, despite the fact that the latter is no more mean-spirited or simplistic than the former. Super exists somewhere between these two, a surprisingly conservative and reactionary film made by a well-known counterculture auteur. Read More
By Scott Martin
Young Adult, USA, 2011
Directed by Jason Reitman
Meet Mavis Gary. Peculiar name, sure, but consider the woman: she’s an alcoholic, forever single, 40-year-old former beauty queen for Minnesota (Mercury, to be exact). Fitting that someone so alienating comes from a place named after a planet. It’s worth noting that Young Adult doesn’t follow any sort of conventional formula (even if that’s becoming a bit conventional these days). Diablo Cody, who won a well-deserved Oscar for writing Juno, and Jason Reitman, who received a well-deserved nomination for directing it, team up again to bring us this divisive film. That’s probably the best way of putting it. It seems to be something you either fall in love with or hate from the moment it starts. I’m happy to say that I fell in love with it, and its characters. Even Mavis. Read More
By Alice Shindelar
About a month ago, I made the dramatic decision to limit my film and television consumption to only women writers and directors. This isn’t out of distaste for male directors and writers. I love movies of all kinds, for countless reasons. I would never allow my opinion of a film or TV series to be influenced by the gender of the creative force behind it. That said, women writers and directors are few and far between. Their struggle for recognition in the industry and the funds to make their films is well-known (although, not well-known enough). Still, even the most ingenious amongst them tends to fade into the background before they’ve weathered a full career.
As an aspiring writer-director myself, I’ve always kept my ear closely trained on the life events that lead people in this field to success, or even just a career that pays the bills. I look for myself in their stories. I imagine how my flat feet could follow their huge strides. Or, at least, I try. It’s next to impossible to picture myself following in the footsteps of any Kubrick, or Coppola, or Scorsese. My inability to grow facial hair puts a stop to that. So I watch for the women, and this project is an attempt to do that more acutely. Read More
By Ezra Stead
Transformers, USA, 2007
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, USA, 2009
Directed by Michael Bay
With the latest Michael Bay monstrosity, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, taking more than a billion dollars at the box office and potentially remaining the top-grossing movie of this year (please, please, prove me wrong, awards season), now would be a good time to revisit the first two, which might help explain why I have sworn off the third one, or any future editions. I hope no one thinks I’m a snob just for occasionally displaying some standard of good taste. Remember, I love The Toxic Avenger (1984) and The Lost Boys (1987), not to mention much lower quality films like The Room (2003) and Birdemic: Shock and Terror, so I’m not always too pretentious for a good time with a bad movie. Read More
By Stuart Nachbar
Juno, USA, 2007
Directed by Jason Reitman
Since I wrote a novel based around sex education, I’ve tried to pay attention to other books and movies that do the same. I reviewed Tom Perrotta’s The Abstinence Teacher, which I thoroughly enjoyed. This time, I’m reviewing Juno, a movie I enjoyed so much I saw it twice, the first time with my wife, the second time alone, so I could take a more insightful look at the story.
Juno is the story of a pregnant teenager who is trying to make sense of her difficult circumstances. Ellen Page, who plays Juno, makes the movie. She’s not only funny, but she appears wise without taking things too seriously. Juno is the geeky guy’s best friend, someone you can talk to, jam with, but you’d forget she was a girl unless she reminded you – and that’s how she gets pregnant. She reminded the cheese on her macaroni, before he ever knew he was. Read More