Movie Moments – by Alice X. Zhang

Some of my favourite characters and movie moments captured by http://alicexz.deviantart.com with selected quotes.

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Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!

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I don’t give a shit about sleeping, Leon. I want love, or death. That’s it.

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Let me go home.

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I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.

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These days, there are angry ghosts all around us – dead from wars, sickness, starvation – and nobody cares. So you say you’re under a curse? So what? So’s the whole damn world.

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I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.

Film Adaptation. Done Right.

You know how people say: “You should’ve seen it on the big screen“? I have discovered recently this also applies to The Silence of the Lambs, one of my favourite movies of all times.

The Silence of the Lambs is one of those movies which I have watched enough times to have memorized not only all the lines, but also the way those lines are delivered as well as facial expressions of characters as they deliver them. I guess this tends to happen when a movie is directed masterfully, the casting is freakishly good and the script kicks ass. So, not very often.

I’ve seen the movie a billion times and I thought I appreciated it for all its worth. However, I was wrong. Only on big screen can you appreciate the sheer genius of Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Demme. For the first time I was able to fully appreciate how good Jodie Foster is as Clarice Starling.

Aside from the obvious reasons for loving this movie, I also love it because it is the best film adaptation I have ever seen. It is the epitome of film adaptation. It’s film adaptation, done the right way. You take the source material (which is awesome, requires no tweaking and needs not be tampered with) and you give it a dimension only the medium you’re adapting it to can give it.

You give it a voice, you give it a face. You use a simple thing as a look to convey a thousand words that a book cannot communicate. You use the camera and sound the way a book uses words and descriptions – to draw in the audience, make it a part of the scene, make it feel the story, make them live it and suffer it. The Silence of the Lambs is proof that Demme understood his medium and had respect for the source material.

It’s a fucking masterpiece, this movie. It’s also one of the rare film adaptations that I actually like more than I the source material.

The only thing that would make me appreciate it more would be hearing the lambs scream as they are being slaughtered. But I think the current level of appreciation will have to suffice.

When Stars Align in Marvel Universe

I was fifteen when the first X-Men movie came out. I think it’s no wonder that Wolverine has had a special place in my heart ever since. I was young and impressionable, and Wolverine was well… I was fifteen.

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Two days ago, before I’ve watched Logan, I still loved Wolverine. I might not be fifteen anymore, and I might be on the old side of the cosmetics-industry timeline, but hey, I’m still alive.

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And then Logan happened. And, lo, I’m not so crazy about Wolverine. But I sure as hell love Logan.

I think Logan is a result of some serious celestial alignment. When James Mangold talked to the Marvel people, they were probably too busy counting the millions they’ve made and they just told him to do whatever the hell he wanted with the story.

And he did an awesome thing. He made a great movie, which is, coincidentally, based on a comic book character.

I can’t believe I’m writing this, but it was painful watching Logan. My two favourite superheroes were not only reduced to mere men, but reduced to feeble, old men, fighting their last fight which wasn’t even a big fight. I had to look away from the screen more than once because what the story was doing to Logan and Charles was just a bit too much to bear.

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The fact that Hugh Jackman decided he was done with Wolverine was probably the best thing that could have happened to this movie. Because Logan is done with Wolverine. Fact and fiction are perfectly reflected in Jackman’s acting, in his physique, and the script uses this mercilessly.

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A great movie, indeed.

Featured image taken from Animus Vox.

GotG Vol. 2 – or let’s talk about plot, baby

Three things that saved GotG Vol. 2 from total bust:

  1. The characters and their relationships – namely, the first movie;
  2. The Chain by Fleetwood Mac;
  3. Nebula and Yondu.

I also have to give them credit for avoiding a giant hole in the sky and opting for a subterranean climax.

Twice as many things due to which it sucked:

  1. The unbearable pointlessness of the Sovereign;
  2. Forced humour;
  3. Yes, we get it. Little Groot is cute.
  4. Angst overload;
  5. Drax as a comic relief character;
  6. The James Bondian “let’s pause so I can explain my evil plan to you”.

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Let’s Talk About Plot

Recently, there has been an influx of “big” movies without plot. This post was in my head after the remake of the Fantastic Four. It was there after Dr Strange. Suicide Squad, anyone? I’m really really sorry that it was Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 that has prompted me to finally write it.

We really do not need to refer to Aristotle to know that every story needs to have three parts: the beginning, the middle and the end. Logic entails that the beginning serves as an introduction to the story and its characters, the middle is in fact plot development which introduces the conflict and where the story reaches its climax, while the end gives us resolution and conclusion (we should be so lucky).

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Boys and girls who are writing superhero movies as of recently have decided to forgo introduction and plot development for something I will call a reminder. For approximately one hour (if we’re lucky, it’s just one hour) we are reminded about how cool the characters are, how familiar we are with them and the “universe” and how much we love it all. The reminder is also full of WHAM! BAM! KAPOW!

And then WHAM! BAM! KAPOW! – the climax of the movie. The end.

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Pretty much like the structure of this post.

5 Freak-out Films

Movies, books, TV shows… Even those which seem as nothing more than mindless entertainment, if positioned properly within a life-cycle, can leave an indelible mark. Maybe it is not the dictionary definition of experience (every language should have a word equivalent to vicarious, btw), but it is nonetheless something you’ve been through. As with any and all experiences, the effect often depends on how much of yourself you put into the process, but sometimes you simply have no choice.

I believe I would not be who I am today if I haven’t read certain books at a certain point in my life. The same goes for movies. The best examples are probably Star Wars and Star Trek which have shaped the way my imagination works in space. However, when I am tasked with imagining a robot, the first thing that pops up is that very chic guy from the Forbidden Planet.

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I was prompted to write a post about movies which freaked me out by the recent release of the live action Ghost in the Shell and the first IT trailer.

Think. Which movies freaked you out so much you still shudder when you think of them? (NOTE: I’m not talking about Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo).

1. Stephen King (beyond time)

Long before I even knew what a Stephen King was, I developed an epic distaste for clowns, and I never managed to develop a balloon fancy – something which most kids seem to have had at one point or the other. Sewage and drains have held no appeal for decades due to fear of floating. Needless to say, there is Misery and Kathy Bates who decided to use a sledge hammer and mash Jimmy’s legs. No blood. No gore. And I was physically sick. The fact that both books were disturbing on a whole other level is a matter for a different post.

2. Enemy Mine (1987)

Some years ago Boyfriend Mine and I were discussing 80s and 90s movies and he mentioned Enemy Mine at which point I had an epiphany because I realized that he was talking about one of THE movies.

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In this movie, one of the main characters is an alien, which is in itself perfectly normal. Now this alien, who I’d considered a dude, turns out not only not to be a dude but to be pregnant, because it’s “that time”. I think this movie was a major step on my road to realization that being different is cool, that you just need to try and understand and accept those differences.

Jurassic Park paraphrased it nicely in 1993: “Life finds a way”. Then Feyerabend expanded on it: “The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes”, after which Le Guin pretty much nailed it (as she usually does, the vixen): “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty: not knowing what comes next.”

3. Waterland (1992)

I’ve had disturbing dreams for years. Sometimes I thought those were caused by repressed memories. Then one day, some years ago, I stumbled upon Waterland on TV. It would seem that it is not very good to watch it when you’re 7 or 8 because it causes serious mental scarring. I’d thought there was something seriously wrong with me. Ok. It’s possible that there is something very wrong with me, but at least I know a part of it was caused by Waterland.

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I really don’t want to go into the specifics because to date I prefer not to think about those.

4. Monster (2003)

Back in early 2000s when I watched Monster I decided that I am done with drama, tragedy and “difficult” movies. I decided nothing is worth the misery and anguish, no matter how good or how true it was. I think it took me a month to recuperate from the desolation and hopelessness of the world and “human” beings depicted in this movie. This one really f#$%&d me up.

5. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

I’ve saved this one for the end because it might debunk the tentative claim I have made about not being crazy. I’ve had this dream when I was in high school. It was all cyberpunk-y and totally cool. It was one of those that stick with you because it’s as realistic as it is improbable. And there I am, walking around town and I notice a DVD of something called Ghost in the Shell. Mind you, this was before I was into anime and all things Japanese (now you’re thinking about hentai, aren’t you?). The moment I’ve noticed the cover I knew that was what I’ve dreamt about. It was extra weird. The conviction that I’ve dreamt a movie that someone actually made. Now, I’m a rational person and I’m aware that it is possible that this was the same situation as with the Waterland. But I could not recall ever having seen Ghost in the Shell and the weirdness of that moment, the certainty of that particular déjà vu still disturbs me.

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I will, however, like to end this one with a hearty recommendation: I, Daniel Blake. I cannot remember how long has it been since I’ve seen a movie so beautiful and so heartbreakingly painful. A masterpiece.

 

Jason Bourne or David Webb?

Driving in a car.
Matt Damon without a shirt.
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Fight. Anguished Matt Damon/flashback.
JESUS CHRIST IT’S JULIA STILES.
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Computer mumbo jumbo.
Fight. Fast walking.
Some conversation. Driving in a car.
Fight. Fast walking. Flashback.
The Greek love Molotov cocktails.
Computer mumbo jumbo.
Fight.
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Matt Damon without a shirt.
High speed chase.
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Fight.
CIA is useless. It’s not even clear how they keep on existing.
High speed chase.
Tommy Lee Jones looking old and bored.
Fight.
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Attempt at raising the issue of privacy vs security. Failing.
Creative use of weaponry.

A boring, never-ending high speed chase which finally gives you an opportunity to think about the movie and realise Jason Bourne is not much of a movie. It really isn’t. The plot, non-existent as it is, is flimsy, unnecessarily sappy and very convenient. They invested minimum effort in the story.

Jason Bourne is a wild ride (no pun intended, but still – that’s what she said). Until the very end, It doesn’t let you think about the plot and about what’s actually happening. Until that car chase which seems even worse than the one in the Dawn of Justice (yaaaaaaaaawn).

Still, if you expect nothing more than a movie with Matt Damon in it, you’re not gonna be disappointed.

Would you look at that?

I liked the first Bourne movie. I liked it because I love Damon (that should be LOVE, but let’s be subtle and pretend that I am, in fact, objective). I liked it because seeing the sweet puppy-like Matt go around kicking serious ass was a sight to see.

Matt Damon and the LOVE were not enough for me to like Supremacy, and there was no amount of LOVE that could have made me like Ultimatum. Even so, I was giddy as a schoolgirl when I saw the teaser trailer.

How much am I looking forward to it? I’m looking forward to it more than I looked forward to Star Wars (just to clarify I was really looking forward to Star Wars, but I look forward to Jason Bourne the way crazy people like my boyfriend looked forward to Star Wars).

So why on Earth am I looking forward to Jason Bourne (2016) as much as I am?

Let’s get physical.

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See this?

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And this?

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How ’bout this?

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Yes, I’m looking forward to Jason Bourne enough to find time in my busy schedule as a socialite to make gifs. Also, I AM aware that there are other actors in this movie. I, however, do not care.

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Frowny Faces, Sparkly Eyes and Grey Stuff

The first movie I remember watching in the cinema is The Fisher King. It wasn’t a really sound decision my mother made when she decided to take my brother and me to see it. I had nightmares about the headless rider for years.

Being a cinema-goer for 25 years I’ve pretty much seen it all. When I was watching The Mummy, at one point the reel skipped a half an hour of the movie and simply went on. Then the movie was started again. Took us three hours to see a two-hour movie. I’ve seen a movie during which my cinema-going partner fell asleep three times (Skyfall – can you blame him?).

During Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, I’ve witnessed three fellow cinema-goers whip out Tupperware filled with deep-fried chicken and assorted side-dishes. I suffered through Deuce Bigelow (secret première).

With two of my friends, I’ve managed to convince a reluctant cinema manager to play a movie just for the three of us. I went to the midnight première of Miami Vice. Alone. I sat in the first row between two love seats. That was fun.

One time, it took the cinema people half an hour to realize they were playing the wrong movie.

Once an employer made a phone call during the movie to curse and swear at some colleague telling him (or her) that the movie was too loud and that the air-conditioning sucked.

I have never spaced out during a movie. Never. Not until Dawn of Justice (or as someone renamed it – Yawn of Justice). I was staring at the screen, not seeing what was going on. I have also never taken the time to count all the ceiling lights in the hall. Which is, as I have learnt, rather tricky in the dark. Also there were air vents on the ceiling, round like the lights. It was an arduous task, especially having in mind that I did not sit in the last row so I had to crane my neck. I also never thought about Matt Damon and Jason Bourne during a superhero movie, thinking how I would love to see that fight from the first movie and whether I could watch the teaser trailer for Jason Bourne 5 for 150 minutes consecutively and if that would bore me as much as Batman v Superman. I did not test that one, but I did watch the trailer as soon as BvS finished.

There are a lot of bad reviews of BvS. Understandably so. I’m not going to repeat what has already been said. I will however tell you that if you go see this movie, there is a good possibility you will be shocked, confused, bored, unimpressed and that you’ll probably experience all that on a wholly new level.

P.S. Why THE HELL did Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill spend all that time buffing up for the movie, when they even didn’t try to use that to make the movie bearable?

Why Does the Universe Hate Aaron Sorkin?

I really don’t know, I hope someone knows the answer, so I decided to put it out there. But this isn’t a post about Aaron Sorkin (not entirely). This is a post about Steve Jobs. Not the man. The movie.

The movie is truly amazing. Loved every moment, was sorry to see it end. I loved its structure and its symmetry. I loved the fact that Sorkin’s dialogue still plays out like the best fucking action scene you’ve ever witnessed, making you sit a little closer to the edge of your seat. I love the fact that Sorkin’s dialogue always leaves victims.

The fact that the life of a complex man was summed up into four words blows me away.

I don’t care about the truth about Steve Jobs. I don’t care about which part of the movie was true to the life of the man. It shouldn’t matter. You do not need to recreate someone’s life to tell a story about the man who lived it.

There is one thing wrong with this movie. Michael Fassbender. Don’t get me wrong. He was good. But he could not turn the sexy off. He tried. He failed.

And there’s another thing wrong with the universe:

Who is Jeff Daniels?
It’s the guy from Dumb and Dumber who’s not Jim Carrey.” – still the easiest way to answer.

It’s my mission to make it: “He’s that guy from the only show  Sorkin managed to finish.

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Grey & Steele Do Hollywood

To say that I am not a fan of the 50 Shades of Grey (book) would be an understatement. Still, I’ve watched the movie. Call it masochism or using every opportunity to get self-righteous, but there, I did it.

The movie transfers the book to the screen almost perfectly. Dialogue swerves left and right with no rhyme or reason (reminded me of The Room on more than one occasion). The motivation of the characters is completely mysterious and baffling and the effect does not seem to have absolutely anything to the with the cause.

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Dakota Johnson is perfect as Anastasia Steele. She has that clueless look about her and she stares stupidly at Christian just the way I’ve imagined it while reading the book. Dakota’s Ana is flustered, all over the place. At one point she’s all for some power play, and then she’s this empowered woman who will not be pushed around.

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Y so funny?

Jamie Dornan is a decent Christian Grey because throughout most of the movie he lacks definition (not talking about his muscle tone, that’s acceptable) and he seems to be a guy controlled by an invisible string and not by any recognizable human desires or emotions. He fails at a couple of instances and exhibits smidges of a third dimension, but not enough to diminish the adherence to the book. He’s also good in showing that one of the most important parts of Grey’s personality is actually a joke to him, even though it causes great social and emotional pain. For instance whenever he asks Anastasia to obey him, he slips in a smirk or something, showing that he doesn’t really mean it that way.

One thing that the movie does better than the book is sex. But that really isn’t difficult. However, even in the movie there’s no chemistry between the protagonists and the hotness level is pretty much down there with the one in the book (minus the need to answer the question: What he fuck? Does she have three legs or something?).

Maybe the biggest fault with the adaptation is the fact that we don’t get an opportunity to experience the rich internal life of Anastasia Steele where things like Holy crap! and Holy cow! come into play during intercourse. I think that they should have introduced a third character (the movie just pretends to have more than two characters, just like the book) called Inner Goddess. Imagine that! Anastasia and Christian are talking and …. PUFF! Inner Goddess appears and does some idiotic dance.

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All in all, 50 Shades of Grey, the movie, is all it can be. If you don’t agree, consider this:

It was based on a book which was based on an AU fanfiction (partly written on a mobile phone) about the characters from young adult novels about glittering vampires and werewolves, whose main protagonist has a blank stare and is unable to close her mouth.  

Blackberry is mightier than the sword
The Blackberry is mightier than the sword

So, haters gonna hate, but if you were given a job to make a movie which was supposed satisfy millions of fans, this is how you would do it. Myself, I’d have probably hired James Spader to play Mr. Grey, having in mind that me being in charge of making any movie is as likely as James Spader rejuvenation.

One good thing came from this experience – I remembered that I haven’t seen The Secretary in a while and I remedied that immediately. You should too.

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