Saturday, October 11, 2014

At the Cinema: The Maze Runner

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I'm not going to lie: my main motivation for seeing this movie was Stiles. Stilessssssss. He's the best. I'm also inherently interested in all YA book to movie adaptations because a) I like reading YA and b) YA movies are either great (The Hunger Games) or hilariously bad (Twilight series) and even though I prefer a great movie experience I am also usually down for a hilariously bad one. So which was The Maze Runner?

Somehow, it was both.

The beginning was pretty great. Just confused Stiles in an elevator. In that moment, we were all confused Stiles in an elevator. Great. The set up is interesting too: a bunch of boys are all stuck in 'the Glade', which is surrounded by a man-made maze that changes every night. None of the boys remember who they are beyond their own names. They have to explore the maze to find a way out. There are also giant mechanical spider things in the maze that want to kill them. Cool. Cool cool cool.

They set a good pace for revealing info and moving the story along, and I thought the scenes in the maze were both interesting and filled with tension. The robot spiders, or 'Grievers' as the boys call them for some unexplained reason, were creepy and the CGI looked pretty good because they were only seen in darkness. I was intrigued from the start to know why the boys were in the maze and why their memories were wiped, so it had that going for it.

But for all that good, there was also some not so good, including Stiles--who's character is actually named Thomas so I guess I will call him that from now on--and Teresa...and that ending.

But let's start with Thomas.

He's one of those YA super special snowflake characters that for no particular reason is inherently better than everyone else. But he's curious, everyone keeps saying. So what? I'm confused as to why more of those boys aren't also curious. What the hell else are they doing all day living inside a single square mile? I know he has his Super Secret Backstory, but that really isn't expanded on enough to be relevant. Also: Thomas is milquetoast to the max. The only thing I know about Thomas's personality is he's curious, and that's because all the other characters tell me he is. He is so bland I think I might have fallen asleep while writing this paragraph. Cute but bland.

This leads to my next point: Teresa. From the trailers--and the book synopsis--Teresa's arrival as the first female to the Glade appeared to be a major plot point, an upset of the fragile ecosystem the boys have built as well as a turning point in the story. Nope. She was utterly pointless. She came up in the elevator with a piece of paper that said She's the last one ever, and my friend pointed out that they could have literally sent the elevator up with just the piece of paper in it and it would have had the same impact on the story. Teresa and Thomas have a ~connection~ right away, and I was really hoping they were brother and sister (hell, they actually look like twins) so Teresa wouldn't end up being just a weak ass love interest for our curious hero. But alas, tis not so. She is simply there too stare longingly at Thomas until we get back to the real story.

Side note: I think this Thomas/Teresa problem could have been resolved if Thomas simply didn't exist and Teresa was the hero. Think about it. Way cooler story, right? Yes.

So both Thomas and Teresa don't quite fall into that YA hilariously bad category, but the ending does, to which all I can say is: ??? There are so many layers of what the fuckery in that ending that I actually feel like I know less about what's going on than I did before the movie started. I don't want to spoil anything, but I do have one question: who the heck edited that suicide video after the maker of it was you know, dead?? Did the maker edit in all that supplemental video footage posthumously? Lol.

So basically I liked this movie up until that clusterfuck of an ending. I am down for the sequel though, because I am expecting it to veer head on into hilariously bad territory, which will be fun times.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

At the Cinema: Gone Girl

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I've been looking forward to this movie for a long time, and it feels really great to say that I was not disappointed by it. The only thing that disappointed me was the lady next to me who would not shut up and the fact that I had to pee like half way through and had to hold it until the end. And this movie is over two and a half hours. I guess that basically makes me Amazing Rachel (buh dum dum tish).

I read the book by Gillian Flynn a while back so I knew what was going to happen, right down to the ending that you either hate or hate (amirite?), so my viewing experience was certainly different than someone who didn't know where it was headed. I kind of wonder what I would have thought of the ending if I hadn't read the book, because I think it was actually more believable on film? I dunno, maybe my annoyance has just dulled and I've accepted it and moved on. But I would love to hear how other readers of the book thought the ending played on film. The same? Better? Worse (if applicable)?

And now since I'm not really sure how to actually continue this review without spoiling anything, and I'm just going to list some highlights in vague terms that viewers/readers will understand without spoiling GG virgins:

the scene with the box cutter that made everyone in the audience v upset
Trent Reznor's score
the casting in general, Ben Affleck in particular
the use of cut-to-black scene editing
all the junk food
them fancy pencils
Tyler Perry?????
the fact that the most competent cop is female & rad

In short, this was a great movie and I liked it a lot and David Fincher is the best.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Little Things V

What I've been up to lately...

Listening to chamber music

I've been listening to oodles & oodles of chamber music like the baddest 18th century bitch in town. You should try it, you'll like it.

getting into The Strain??

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I have no idea why I like this show. I really don't. A co-worker of mine really likes it too and she has no idea why either (she's a 40-something mother of two, just for reference). It's mostly gross and often has me questioning the competence of the characters, but I like it still?? Ok, well I can definitely say that I like Corey Stoll. And his wig, which is quite convincing most of the time. (He also had a pretty magnificent wig as Hemingway in Midnight in Paris.) I think my favorite is when he's wearing a beanie though, because you just know baby is bald under there.

obsessing over the knits on Outlander

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Why oh why haven't I learned to knit? I want the whole range of Outlander knits, plus one Scottish Highlander hunk please.

researching eats in New Orleans

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I am going to visit New Orleans at the end of the month, a city I've wanted to explore for ages. My friend and I are going, and as two foodies we will eat & drink our way through the city. Beignets will be devoured. Absinthe will be tried. Commander's Palace will be conquered. And it will be glorious. If anyone out there reads this and has some recommendations for food or sightseeing TELL ME.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Road Trip Adventure, Part III: New Mexico

This is part three in a series about my travels on Route 66 (and beyond) in July 2012. See Part I here & Part II here.

This part covers Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Shamrock, Texas.

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"The Americans have found the healing of God in a variety of things, the most pleasant of which is probably automobile drives." - William Saroyan

We motored on through the vast desert, past old hand painted billboards & great red rocks, the sky an ever-changing constellation of clouds. 

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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

At the cinema: Mud

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I saw Mud absolutely ages ago, and I've had bits of this review written and sitting in my drafts for so long that it's out on dvd now, whoops. For some reason I had a difficult time expressing my feelings about this movie; when I reopened this post I found a bunch of half finished sentences and partial paragraphs and ramblings about the setting and Ellis and the Mississippi River. I think I came back to it a few times and then just gave up. The thing is, I really liked this film, and the things I liked about it are hard to put into words. So much of what I liked has to do with the feeling of it all. There was just a certain quiet authenticity to the characters and the rural Arkansas setting and the way they interacted and shaped each other. It just felt so true to the midwest I've experienced, in all its faults and beauty, and I like--no, love--that. There's something so comforting and beautiful and free about the wide open spaces of middle America, and they really do have a particular feeling to them, and if you want to know what that feeling is, watch Mud. (Or Jeff Nichol's previous film, Take Shelter.)

Okay, now that I've got that out of the way, I want to talk about my other favorite thing about this movie, which are the two kids. In a nutshell, Mud is about these two kids who happen upon a fugitive named Mud, and decide to help him reunite with his girlfriend. First there's Ellis, the more strong-willed and passionate, and then there's Neckbone, who is, as the woman sitting next to me said many times throughout the film, the 'smart one.'

Ellis is an old soul, a staunch believer in True Love and doing the right thing. He yearns for the day when he'll fall in love, which he seems to think will render all his problems obsolete. He's a kid who will rush a man twice his size when he sees him hit a woman, and will risk everything to reunite a stranger with his true love because if he didn't, he'd be turning his back on love as a concept. He feels that by helping Mud reunite with Juniper, he's proving to himself that real love exists, and that someday he'll have it too. He also says things like, "I ain't no townie!" when faced with the prospect of moving away from his beloved houseboat on the Mississippi River, which is rad and only makes me love him more.

Neckbone, on the other hand, is less trusting and more wary of abstract concepts like True Love; he deals in logic, in things he can see and touch. He would just as soon not involve himself in Mud's problems--as a kid who's lost both his parents and lives with his well-meaning but clueless uncle, he knows how to take care of himself and figures others can do the same. He saves both Ellis and Mud on more than one occasion, proving they could benefit from taking their heads out of the clouds every once in a while.

But these kids, different as they are, need each other; Ellis needs Neckbone's grounding, his ability to look past his feelings and take care of the present, while Neckbone needs Ellis's wild abandon, his willingness to follow his heart no matter the consequences. I thought their relationship was completely perfect and really quite beautiful. And I can't help but have this weird crush on Ellis as a person, and if he was ten years older I think I would ask him to marry me.

That's all.