Are You Ready For This? Vanity Fair’s 10 Best Movies of 2015

And self has only seen three of them.

Time was when self had seen all. All of the movies nominated for 10 Best.

Self is kinda shocked that three of the movies she really liked this year are nowhere: Pawn Sacrifice and Bridge of Spies. And Mockingjay 2!

Starting in reverse order (10th to 1st):

10.  The Martian: YAY for Matt Damon! Absolutely!

9.  Steve Jobs: God, NO! But if you want to see Steve Jobs’s life transformed into a Lifetime movie, complete with angst-ridden assistant played by Kate Winslet in her most painfully sappy performance to date, then this is the movie for you!

8.  Eden: Self has yet to see. YAY that it’s directed by a woman, though. Triple-YAY.

7.  The End of the Tour: Self has yet to see. She’d see it for Jesse Eisenberg alone.

6.  Tangerine: Self has yet to see. A movie about “pimps, johns, donut shops, and laundromats.” (Sounds like a Mary Gaitskill short story. The part about donut shops and laundromats sounds also like self’s current life) Shot entirely on iPhone. YAY for technology!

5.  Ex Machina: Everyone, but EVERYONE says self has to see this. And self loves Alicia Vikander. So, yes.

4.  Carol: Self has yet to see. But — Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett? The twins of serious acting? Will it be boring?

3.  Spotlight: Self has yet to see. One thing she’s never understood about the Church sex-abuse scandal is, she remembers a wave of sex-abuse Church scandals at least 20 years ago. The Archbishop of Boston was forced to resign. Remember him? Bernardin? Do we never learn? 20 years from now, will there be another Church sex-abuse scandal? Judging from the present: YES!

2.  Clouds of Sils Maria: Self has yet to see. But Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, the twins of really serious acting without being obvious about it. Yes!

1. Mad Max: Fury Road: God, yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Tom Hardy playing Max. Charlize playing Imperator Furiosa. Five pretty girls in white dresses. Nicholas Hoult saying Oh what a day. What a lovely daaaaay!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The White Guy Trapped in a Den of Iniquity: J-Hutch’s New Movie

Don’t get self wrong:  she is a huge Josh Hutcherson aka Peeta Mellark fan.  So huge that it took her a year to get to Catching Fire (the book) because she was under the impression Peeta would be off-ed.  A day after she saw the Catching Fire movie, she went to B & N and bought the book. Then she bought Mockingjay. And since it’s been a long time since she’s seen Josh Hutcherson (All of 21. Or 22. Whatever) in anything other than SNL, which he hosted November 2013, she’s been reading fan fiction about Peeta Mellark. Like crazes.

Apparently, J-Hutch has a new movie coming out that is NOT Hunger Games. In Escobar: Paradise Lost, he has to play the innocent seduced by exotica. Which is, admittedly, quite a stretch from the Hunger Games LOL.

The film also stars Benicio del Toro and a lovely, scorching hot babe who is a much better match for Hutcherson as she is way more petite than Jennifer Lawrence.

Anyhoo, the Escobar movie has been making the rounds of the Film Festival circuit, and was recently at Telluride.

The writer assigned to review the movie on Indiewire is obviously a man (even without having to read his by-line, which self just did), because only a man would need to ask such an obvious question:

At some point you may wonder why we’ve devoted an entire first paragraph to Josh Hutcherson when the title character is played by Benicio freaking del Toro . . .

Self will dispense with the movie’s plot points, as it is so obvious that the only reason to make this movie was — EXACTLY. Josh Hutcherson.

LOL!

And to provide J-Hutch with a new love interest because, ya know, J-Law has given her heart to another!

Musing over the current crop of screen hunks, self would have to say that Channing is quickly losing her interest (Those ears! Why did self never notice until now?), and Liam (Hemsworth, not Neeson, Neeson still totally rocks) just never did it for her, and Loki is fine but damn could they hurry up with another movie, and she was never into Ben Affleck, not even after Good Will Hunting, and Bourne was for a while the epitome of hotness but now they’ve replaced Damon with Renner (albeit playing different characters in the Bourne universe) and self still can’t get over the sense of betrayal, not to mention the fact that Josh is just so cute, especially in hijacked Peeta mode. Let’s just say self can understand 100% why Katniss, with Gale standing right by her side, completely loses it when she sees Peeta’s face projected on a large screen in the District 13 cafeteria — self means that it makes complete rational sense, and she thinks she’ll get a big kick out of Josh trying to evade Benicio del Toro. Because Benicio del Toro. Man. It’s enough to give self all sorts of FEELZ.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

David Denby on Jack Ryan (The New Yorker, 20 January 2014)

How self loves an article such as this, the one Denby wrote on Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, a review that seems to span all the great movie heroes of self’s life (excepting the science fiction ones like Neo and Ripley.  And mugging, self-deprecating ones like Indiana Jones.  And even puppy-ish ones like Luke Skywalker.  But, self, one cannot have everything.  If there’s a lemon meringue pie in front of you, stop pining for rhubarb because whatever)

So, self knows the Jack Ryan movie came out months and months ago.  Maybe even prior to Christmas. Cut her some slack here, dear blog readers.  Since December, self has:

Been to Claremont

Been to Seattle

Been to North Hollywood

And now she’s about to go to the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Ireland.

Not to mention, two writers groups meetings, driving around in a car that failed a smog test four times (white-knuckling all the way) falling into passionate love with fanfiction, applying to a summer writing conference, and writing poems/stories/novellas and anything and everything under the sun involving words.  And of course, madly taking pictures of her garden and so forth.  No wonder it’s taken her six weeks to get just a third of the way through The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, by Annette Gordon-Reed.

Now to the Denby article.

Chris Pine, he says, is “an enjoyably talented actor” who “gives a successful impression of a man frightened to death.” (And she knows exactly what scene Denby is referring to.  It comes early.  Self will not tell.  Rent the movie on Netflix)

When Denby thoughtfully summarizes the plot (Ryan is in Afghanistan, “his helicopter goes down”), self realized with a shock that she had absolutely no memory of any of these scenes.  She even forgot how Ryan and Keira Knightley’s character met.  But now Denby tells her that Knightley plays “a medical student who is holding out for a date until” Ryan “can overcome the excruciating pain and run like a track star,” which sort of reminds self of Katniss holding back her love until Peeta gets over wanting to kill her.  Ehem!  Kevin Costner is also in this movie (Again, self almost forgot).  Here, according to Denby, he tries “to look mysterious and dangerous by not doing much.” (Note to self: Examine Laurence Fishburne’s performance in the Matrix movies to tease out possible parallels?)

The movie “is set in the new Moscow, which, despite many cutting-edge skyscrapers and a glass-and-metal office of icy brilliance . . . ” (and which, self might add, is flooding the pages of The New Yorker and the New York Times Book Review with literary product, which means it will be years — even, decades — before writers from marginalized communities and 3rd world countries like the Philippines manage to break through) “is pretty much like the perfidious old Moscow that Clancy prized in Cold War days.”

And now, this being David Denby, some background on Tom Clancy:

Tom Clancy was an insurance salesman in Maryland when, in the early nineteen-eighties, he wrote a book, The Hunt for Red October, that Ronald Reagan, with a handsome public mention, turned into a best-seller . . .  He died last October.

Oh. Self didn’t know.

Somewhere in this review is the million-dollar question:  How do the Jack Ryan films stack up against James Bond and Jason Bourne?

James Bond, “no matter who plays him, and no matter what the actor’s age, always seems about forty . . . ”  In contrast, “Jason Bourne does age — his story, as recorded in the three movies starring Matt Damon, was consecutive and heart-wrenching.  Bond and Bourne, one playful, one serious, are both genuine franchise heroes.  Ryan is just a property.”

Denby goes through the list of actors who have played Jack Ryan:  Alec Baldwin (arguably the most handsome Jack Ryan), Harrison Ford (the sturdiest Jack Ryan), and Ben Affleck (Self totally forgot that Affleck even played Jack Ryan).

He also gives credit where credit is due:  to Paul Greengrass, the master of shaky-cam technique, who honed it to such great effect in the first Bourne movie and inspired a whole group of shaky cam practitioners like Doug Liman and Gary Ross. (Self knows there will never ben another like Paul Greengrass.  She saw United 93 in the old Bayshore Century 20, by herself in the middle of the day, and the last five minutes of that movie were as incoherent as food mixed up in a blender. And yet, she groaned. Not out of frustration, but out of sympathy.  Because that is probably what it felt like to be on a plane pointing straight down to the ground.  Anything else — a steady cam, say, with close-ups on the unknown actors who played the passengers — would have been grossly insulting)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

And Since Self Seems To Be in the Mood For Discussing Movies —

Here’s something by Anthony Lane, The New Yorker movie critic, in the double issue of Aug. 12 & Aug. 19, 2013.  Self has probably missed any number of good reviews (which is how she describes reviews she agrees with, LOL) in the past few months.  The summer Read the rest of this entry »

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