Thursday, May 31, 2012
Let's just be honest, not only is Brad Pitt a very attractive man, he's also a pretty darn good actor. In Moneyball he doesn't disappoint.
This film chronicles the 2001-2002 Oakland A's MLB team, a bottom market team, and their GM Billie Beane. It's an amazing story because the Oakland A's challenged everything that baseball was in 2002. It was a money game. Those with most money always won, those without could have good streaks, but end up losing in the playoffs. After losing three All-Star talent players, the A's GM created a team based on percentages (mostly OBP, on base percentage) and ended up putting a team together that, on paper, shouldn't have competed with anyone in the league, but went on a 20 game winning streak, won their division, and made the playoffs. So obviously this is a good sports story. What made it a good movie was Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill and how well they helped retell the story. The best part of the movie is the end, when Billy Beane gets an offer from the Boston Red Sox for $12.5 million. How could someone turn that down? The problem with the offer is that it challenges the whole premise of the story: that money doesn't always mean wins, that there is a way to cheat the tradition baseball system where Boston and New York always win. Billy turned down the offer and remains the GM for the Oakland A's.
Great story, great acting, great movie. Must see.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Well, several things have happened since then.
1) University of Arizona basketball one a National Championship. Beardown! (completely unrelated but I can't see 1997 without thinking of it)
2) Leonardo starred in movies like Blood Diamond and Inception.
3) I grew up. My movie tastes have expanded and I have come to terms with the fact that I actually kind of like sappy love stories (even though society tries to take away my manhood for it, I checked this morning in the shower, still a dude)
4) I married Diane Christine Richardson Spaite who cried when she saw it the first time and couldn't believe I hadn't seen it. (She also claims to not be attracted to Leonardo, but after he starred in the above movies I have to admit I have a man-crush)
Well because of these I saw the Titanic. And of course, it was extremely well done. I enjoyed the history, the critique of classism and gender roles, the sappy love story, and the amazing cinematography. I will defend Rose and say while maybe she should have tried to let Jack on the floating door they most certainly would have sunk it. Against all my childhood prejudices this movie is a classic. (Although it is depressing knowing from the beginning that 1500 people will die).
If you haven't seen it, you should, men included.
Rating: 4.5 scarves
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Hunger Games
Review by: Diane Richardson Spaite, Guest Blogger
As someone who typically drags my feet with great resistance to any fad or box-office-mind-blowing movie, silently rebelling without a cause against unnamed enemies, I admit, with a bit of embarrassment that I jumped on the Hunger Games bandwagon quite willingly. For the time being, I blame TweetTaftstic, the cleverly named Twitter patron I follow for wit & banter otherwise known as, my brother, for my persuasion to join in.
Begrudgingly, I obliged to go with my intelligent & incredibly good looking husband Dave to the flick. After a busy week, I strongly doubted this movie would bring the sort of peace and satisfaction I was craving. I’ll just say it out loud: I was a doubter. Arms crossed & bracing myself for needless violence, gruesome fight scenes & a scantily clad dame or two, I tried to relax and enjoy the newly renovated movie theater complete with “cushy” chairs.
As the plot unfolded I began to unclench my fists and my arms started to relax. This wasn’t so bad nor was it anywhere close to what I was dreading. After all, I had survived Transformers, Cowboys & Aliens and even a Twlight movie at the hand of my doting sister. What could be worse? The cinematography captured my attention briefly but more intriguing was my interest in the story. This movie was more than the “let’s show you how bad our society is” sort of plot. Symbolism, courage & even glimpse of hope whisped in & out of the film. And then it happened, I left the theater and the first words out of my mouth were, “I would really like to read the book…”
Now for those of you scholarly folks who swear by the book over the movie no matter what, I respect you. I’ve often times been among you, drank coffee at your shops & sometimes even made an appearance at your parties. But amidst my respect, lies dueling respect for the movie maker’s camp. Sometimes a good movie can knock you off your feet & be so faithful to the book that the viewer makes a bee line for Barnes & Noble after viewing the adventure. Hunger Games, was one such movie.
Now-a week and a half later, I’ve read the first book; become enthralled with Katniss, Rue & and even Peeta & am on the edge of my seat wondering how Katniss will be able to re-enter District 12 with courage, with the sinking knowledge, that she will never been the same. My guess is Susan Collins is proud, too & the knowledge that her work, her important reflection & critique of how violence in our society impacts the weak & is somehow intermixed into our everyday lives has reached multiple modes of communication be it written work or cinema has to be satisfying. For now, stay tuned for further reflection from a former Hunger Games doubter & admitted band-wagon rider & feel free to hitch a ride on the wagon….you won’t be disappointed.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
As a dedicated film watcher I must be a voice for the people of planet earth (I thought about saying universe, but that seems a little arrogant) and bring to you my concerns over the violence that you did to cinema and the human race by writing, producing, directing and distributing Horrible Bosses to the masses. Here are four things that you may want to consider:
First, Sex and profanity are not in of themselves funny. They can be funny but they are not intrinsically funny like fart noises, the word sack, and people falling over. Please take this into consideration if you attempt to make another comedy.
Second, your movie was not funny.
Third, Here is a list of bad movies I would rather watch than yours: Hellboy I and II (back to back), Crossroads (yes, the Brittany Spears movie), Land Before Time 9 (I may have made this one up but there are a lot of them), Glitter (if you don't know what this is you are lucky), and Left Behind (this was almost a tie, but it does have that guy from Growing Pains in it). I could go on, but I won't.
Concerned Movie Watcher
PS Redbox, I want my $5 back. (Diane and I never return movies on time)
Rating: 1 scarf
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
After reading all the books in the Hunger Game series, I think everyone had set super high standards for the first movie. Honestly, the movie peeps had a really tough challenge ahead of them on this one and after hearing all the negative responses I was interested to see how the book translated into movie form. I agree with some “critics” that they definitely took out or changed some of what Collins had included in the books, but I think those little things are so small that they didn’t ruin anything for me at all. The movie was amazing!
Here’s why: They accomplished something that I didn’t think was they would – they did an amazing job of conveying the feelings of the characters from the book. The terror of facing death on national television, the horror of 12 – 18 yr olds killing each other for sport, and the anger at an unjust and inhumane government/system where they rich and the strong dominate the poor and the weak. It was one of those movies (and books) that makes you look critically at systems and institutions that take advantage of those who are weaker and disadvantaged. That’s why the movie was so good. It carried that same message that the books carried and nailed it with the amazing work of the directors and (mostly) the actors (especially Lenny K, the guy who played Peeta, and the girl who played Katniss).
This one is easy: 5 Scarves
This was one of the most hyped movies of 2012. Not a suprise with such a huge following from Suzanne Collins best selling books. As you read this it is important to know that when I saw the movie I had not read the books (I am currently reading them now). So if you have read them and have a different opinion I won't be offended. With that said here it goes.
I thought Hunger Games was a fantastic movie. I'll quickly go through some of the movie blah blah stuff and end with a deeper look at the story which I think is what makes this so good.
First, the characters were likable because of the audience's ability to relate to them. Katniss is a great example. Katniss Everdeen is supposed to be boring on the big screen. That is one of the major problems with her. This obviously could not bode well for a blockbuster movie. But Jennifer Lawrence did a great job to have this be a very likable part of her character and what ordinary folks like myself can relate too.
Second, the plot was excellent. It is hard to come up with something new and different in films these days and I thought this was pretty close to that. Love, betrayal, sadness, suspense, and joy were wonderfully weaved together to draw the audience into something unique. The only part that was confusing was Peeta and Katniss's prior relationship, but this wasn't a movie breaker.
Last, I thought the cinematography was pretty cool. The scenery was beautiful and the Capitol was very well done.
Okay so I'm getting bored writing about this stuff so I'll move on to what I thought was the best part of this movie.
I think that it made accessible to very important issues in our world: violence and poverty. This movie was entertaining, well acted, and just cool, but behind that was a pretty profound message.
First, it made accessible to a generation the real issues of poverty and affluence. The difference between the "have" and the "have nots" could not be ignored. This was a society built on systematic oppression. The Capitol not only had more than the districts. It had more because the districts had less. Try bringing this up in a conversation with the average American and you will get shut down pretty quickly. However, this movie was able to say something true about the world in a way that was not threatening and I think quite moving. We need to be able to have civil, honest conversations about poverty and affluence and our response to it. I am part of the Capitol by the way. What area to you identify with? Be honest...
Second, it de-glorified violence. We live in a violent society. I don' t think this is a mystery to most. It effects much of our lives but none more than film. Many movies treat violence as normal, not to be cared about part of life or worse yet make it something that is championed and glorified. The Hunger Games was violent. The whole plot revolved around kids trying to kill each other for entertainment (probably closer to our society than we'd like to think). But this movie (and now that I'm reading the book most definitely) exposes our understanding of violence. Too many movies I have seen I talk about how cool the fight scenes were or how inspired I felt to fight. This movie was different. When I walked out of the theatre I wanted to be happy, but couldn't. The movie ended just like I wanted it too, the "good guys" won. But something didn't feel right. Twenty-two children were killed and that sucked. Some were even villainized, but I still couldn't be happy. It was stylistic and "cool" but at its core this violence was ugly.
Maybe this is how I should feel after any scene of violence I witness. It got me thinking...
Well, if you got to the end thanks for listening or at least skimming.
To sum up: great movie, thought provoking and yes entertaining.
Rating: 4.5 Scarfs
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Go See This Movie Now!
I usually wouldn't give you the rating right away, but this movie is too good to play around and make you wait for the rating. This movie has it all: it's hilarious, serious, sad, and is a good look at a bit of our countries troubled past. If you cry and laugh hysterically during the same movie it's probably a 5 scarfer. Great acting and great lines. I'll end this with the best line and then hope that you are inspired to go see it soon.
"Eat my sh*t!" Minny Jackson