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Good Movies vs. Good Films

I love movies. Am I like most other people in that respect? Yes. Am I like other people in every way? No! I’m a unique little snowflake, damn it! My mom told me so when I was little. Anyway, back to movies, I’ve watched a lot of movies in my 21+ years. I’ve loved a lot and not loved just as many. Do I think Casablanca is a great film? Absolutely! Am I going to continue asking rhetorical questions to my 5 readers? Nah, this is probably the last time. (It’s getting overused).

Casablanca, The Godfather, and Citizen Kane, are arguably, the three best films of all time. The acting, directing, suspense, costumes, scenery… everything down to Marlon Brando’s Richard Nixon-esque jowls make those movies great. Now, do I also love to watch Beverly Hills Cop, Spacejam, or Ted? (last question, I promise) Yes I do, and am proud of it. My point is, every movie you watch doesn’t have to be a cinematic masterpiece that has Roger Ebert giving you a big ‘thumbs up’ from the afterlife. (Too soon?)

It’s definitely good to know and appreciate some of the classics, give them their time of day, but if you had a long day, I suggest sitting back and turn on Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and watch Ben Stiller slip deeper and deeper into obscurity (don’t worry he has a nice pile of money to land on). The real reason is, who cares what you watch, pick any Rob Schneider movie, go for it! It’s okay to like “bad movies.” For me, and for most people, the whole point is to feel something, to be entertained, to be scared, to just get a big ol’ cry out after a breakup. If the 90’s Batman movies really get you going, enjoy ‘em!

A ‘good film,’ is a lot more objective than a good movie. I think The Avengers was a great movie and Apocalypse Now was a great film. Now these aren’t mutually exclusive, Apocalypse Now, was both a great film and a great movie, while The Avengers was a good movie, but not a great film. If you’re still reading, I apologize for the confusion and convolutedness of this paragraph. I like to think of the square-rectangle paradox, where all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.

 

Can good films be bad movies? ….. My head is starting to hurt.

 

The distinction between a good movie and a good film is quite different. Although all are (obviously) subjective opinions, some films are just simply better, for lack of another expression. The way I judge if a movie is good, is if I walk out of the theater, my living room, or let’s face it, get out of bed, and my gut reaction is that it was good. I have a huge belief in first impressions, so I rarely change my opinion on a movie upon a second viewing. A good film is about so much more than whether it was good or not, it’s about the message it sent, how the actors performed, how it was cast, if there was a great twist. All of these questions and hundreds more are taken into consideration in my judgment of a movie. No two movies are great for the same reason; on top of having all the important, more obvious qualities, like good editing and acting, there is something new that it brings to the table. The reason sequels often perform so poorly is their heavy reliance on what made the first one great, while failing to create something ‘new.’ A successful sequel will bring back the charm and familiarity of the first one, while appropriately distancing itself in a new direction.

As I close this post, I realize how aptly named my blog is. A few thoughts to leave you with…. a TL: DR if you will… Don’t be embarrassed about that movie you love that everyone hates, good films can be boring, and good movies can suck.p

Car Crashes, Witches, and A Sleepless Night

The following is a true story, an event in my life that shook me to my core. It made me question my trust in humanity, my view on the homeless population, and ultimately, my own sanity.

“Let me paint you a picture ith my imagination brush.“(Shameless Obscure Scrubs Quote) Last year I lived in Washington, D.C., there are many lovely places to live, boasting beautiful views of the luscious parks and historic monuments. I lived on Washington circle, in the Northwest quadrant of the city. A large bronze statue dominated the circle: George Washington, the father of our country, astride a noble steed.

A cursory Google search performed after moving in revealed that the circle was a strategic military location for Union troops during the Civil War. (Proving that one can learn something every day.) Now, although my building offered a decent view of the city, my vantage point was a little different: my roommates and I lovingly referred to it as a ‘basement apartment,’ while other thoughts like “dump,” or “how is this legally a living space” often came to mind. Still, our living circumstances were better than the many homeless people populating the district. During the warm weather, a few even migrated to the circle.

Back to my life-altering event. On the particular night in question, I could not sleep. The usual dose of Netflix was not cutting it. As the clock turned from 1 to 2 to 3am, I heard the screech of tires and the unmistakable sounds of a car crash. I tossed a sweatshirt on, grabbed my phone, and raced outside Everything was happening so quickly it was hard to decide what to do first, but I know enough to call 9-11 immediately.

A very distressed man rushed past me to hail a cab, after banging on the door of the taxi, it was clear the he wasn’t going to be let in because the cabbie had seen what I had not. After my 9-11 call, I started conversing with the crash victims, and discovered the distressed man was responsible for the accident. The man had T-boned the station wagon into the circle. There was a woman screaming bloody murder at her probably broken leg. (I think I forgot how awful this story was until I started piecing the night together now, a year later.) Even now, I can still remember the screams of a woman appearing to have a broken leg.

After some questionable medical decisions by the victims (one of the passengers pulling her screaming friend haphazardly out of the smashed car), the ambulances showed up from the hospital, conveniently placed across the street. I provided a brief statement to the police, and then stood with neighbors, I had never met. Everyone was visibly shaken, and rightfully so. How many people ever witness the results of an auto accident in the immediate aftermath?

I was standing beside two neighbors lighting cigarettes. From the way their hands shook, I assumed they really need them. I declined a smoke, as more people crowded in. It’s interesting (in hindsight) to see how people react to such an awful situation. Thankfully, while no one appeared to be mortally wounded or dead, it was still a sight to behold. Broken glass was everywhere, plus dozens of emergency response vehicles and personnel. Not to mention the agonizing screams of the injured woman being carted off to the hospital. It was surreal; an experience unlike any other in my life. This is where the night turned from sad and scary to piss your pants terrifying.

In addition to the Washington statue, the park boasted a large homeless population. I had seen many of these (mostly) men after 9+ months of living there and easily picked out one person I didn’t recognize: a woman was standing close to the smokers and myself. She had a very calm look on her face, yet exuded an anxious, distraught vibe that was as troubling as it was perplexing. Then she spoke to us—and what she said is permanently scorched into my mind. In my memory she begins to look who I picture more and more like a cross between the witch from Snow White and the oracle from Game of Thrones.

She giggled, a giggle that transported me to a dark place, filled with the twins from The Shining and the girl from The Ring, and said, “he-he-he, I told them!!!!”

I think I was able to squeak out a, ‘what?’ but its hard to be certain, due to the spell I was under. She finished with, “I told them! He-he! I told them something bad would happen!” Then she skipped away, as if she hadn’t a care in the world, as if nothing tragic was happening around her.

I turned to my neighbors, blinking a few times as I tried understanding what had happened. Then I looked back to see the woman skipping away into the dark of the night, before she faded from sight.

At the time, I gave a laugh that said everything was fine, despite being shaken to the core, before walking back to my apartment as quickly and casually as possible. I locked every available lock and continued my restless night, albeit with a more tangible reason… just what I needed.

 

I don’t even remember falling asleep.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passive Aggression: The LeBron James Story

LeChoke James and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Celtics 120-103 on Saturday. This would have been markedly more exciting if this were any Celtic team in the 1960s, 1980s, or even 2008. However, beating Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas and the rest of Brad Steven’s rag tag squad should be the piece of cake it was for LeBron and friends this past weekend. They didn’t celebrate, understandably enough, but the most dramatic man-child in sports shared some harsh words via Twitter—presumably for his teammates.

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LeBron and the “Big Three” (*laugh) in Cleveland have notoriously bad chemistry both on and off the court. Instead of handling this situation like the adults they are (and the role models they should be), they decided to take a more juvenile approach, exchanging subtweets.

Subtweeting, according to Urban Dictionary, is “Indirectly tweeting something about someone without mentioning their name. Even though their name is not mentioned, it is clear who the person tweeting is referring to.” Essentially, this is passive aggressive bullshit is usually reserved for angsty tweens and heartbroken teens.

This is the same team who fired their second year coach who not only helped them to the NBA Finals last year, but also had them in first place this year. It certainly appears the team has a clear problem with King Diva trying to control the entire operation. LeBron’s manipulative tactics off the court via his agent and throughout the Cavs organization is more reminiscent of a middle schooler rather than an (overly) grown man, and supposed role model for young children and adolescents.

Hell, the real problem is the millions of people taking social and political cues from these celebrities, not the shenanigans of a bunch of athletes. Young children are learning to solve problems through manipulation and passive aggressive tactics.

I wonder if the Cavalier’s petty behavior are the equivalent of this generation’s version of the late 80’s, overly aggressive style of the Detroit ‘Bad Boys,’ or maybe it is something worse.

Guilty Pleasures

This blog post isn’t about sex, unfortunately. It is a fairly misleading title, but it’s really about doing the things you like to do, and being proud of them.

 

I love bowling. It may not be the most conventional sport, or even the ‘coolest’ one, but I really enjoy it and it’s different.

Instead of hiding your ‘guilty pleasures’ away, I believe people should put them on display! Even I am guilty (pun always intended) of hiding away the things I enjoy. While I do like mainstream activities like following the NBA or avidly following what’s current in television and film, what I love isn’t obvious at first glance. You see, I am an intense board game player as well as a pretty great bowler. Both are things my close friends may know, but not many outside of them are aware.

Being weird is an important part of my life. I find it to ask someone what TV shows they watch and have their response be Breaking Bad.* While it’s obviously a good show, but it doesn’t tell me anything about you. Having interests outside the box is a good thing!

I love learning about new things from passionate people. So when I meet someone who tells me of a love for Irish hurling, Korean action movies, or deer hunting, I am all ears. Do I want to hear 2 hours of a topic I may be interested in? No. It is important to realize that not everyone will be as fascinated by your unique hobby as you are.

Trying new things is an important part of life, and has opened me up to things I would have never even known existed. I used to tease one of my friends because he was trying out for our high school bowling team. After accepting an invite to join him, I realized it was a lot of fun and I was pretty good at it.

Fast forward seven years and here I am, writing a blog about writing about the same thing that my other friends are now making fun of me for. Life is a circle, huh?

 

 

 

*I think Breaking Bad is one of the best shows ever made.

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How Bad Was Batman vs. Superman, Really?

First off…. it wasn’t thaaaaat bad.

Although I never thought I would agree with Ben Affleck, I think he said it best when discussing his new comic book blockbuster on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, “Don’t scare people into thinking this is a critical film. We aren’t going for the Film Critic’s Circle award. Its an audience movie.”

 

Was this movie bad? I mean yeah its not f!#@ing Citizen Kane. Was it even as good as the Christopher Nolan trilogy? No. But it doesn’t deserve the media shitstorm that the movie has found itself in. I went in with very low expectations and aside from the kids narrating the story behind me; I have to say it wasn’t as bad as I had been lead to believe.

We pay a ludicrous amount of money to sit in a large room dominated by strangers, and watch a movie together; lets all follow some simple social etiquette, folks.

That being said, one of my initial reactions after seeing this movie was parents should realize that being a superhero movie does not necessarily make a ‘kids movie.’ (Many realized this when the ‘R’ rated Deadpool came out this winter and made this mistake.)

When your kid talks loudly the first few times, I’m okay with that, I’m not a monster. Kids are kids, man. But once we hit the 4th or 5th inane question or super obvious plot point, the chatter gets annoying. But I don’t blame the kids. Why? Uncaring parents allow it.

If I was at the house of this family and the kids were asking questions, that’s okay! They are in the privacy of their own home enjoying some family time. That’s fine by me! I am in your home, pass me that Pop Secret and I will help them understand the movie as best as I can! When you bring this nonsense into the public sphere, you messed up. I didn’t ask you to reproduce.

 

Back to the movie…. It was two and a half hours that felt like four. One of the biggest complaints of critics (that I wholeheartedly agree with after seeing this) was the reintroduction of the origin story. It was not a new or innovative take on Bruce Wayne’s past. It was a rehashing of a very, very well known story, which only seemed to provide Affleck’s Batman with the classic violent flashbacks that only a brooding and disturbed character like Batman could have.

My opinion on Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor may be an unpopular one, but I believe he did the character justice. I think Bryan Cranston would have absolutely done a better job, but Eisenberg brought a younger and creepier vibe to the character than Cranston would have or even could have. Lex Luthor is a complex person and Eisenberg was really able to show that.

His Lex Luthor reminded me of a mix between, Heath Ledger’s Joker, Jesse Eisenberg himself, Dennis from It’s Always Sunny, and Eisenberg’s Mark Zuckerberg. This combined to make a psychotic, brilliant, conniving, billionaire bent on changing the world.

I’m tired of Henry Cavill as Superman. Or maybe I’m tired of Superman. I know he is an alien, but other versions of the man of steel have been more ‘human.’ Cavill’s Superman can be distant and cold, yet seems to have a raging fire of emotions for his family and of course, Lois. His undying love for Lois and it’s effect on the rest of the world seems to be a pivotal plot point in both movies. He makes mind-bogglingly bad decisions on her behalf that lead to a big heap of troubles. Take what I say with a grain of salt however, I am just a mere mortal riding shotgun and watching him struggle to save humanity. (At what cost though?)

The highly anticipated introduction of Wonder Woman into the DC Universe definitely met and may have even exceeded my expectations. Although she only was on screen for a short amount of time, Gal Gadot left movie-goers ready for more.

Overall, this movie was an action packed, budget-bloated-blockbuster that had some of my favorite and most recognizable characters on the planet duking it out. If you want to watch a proper film, go watch The Artist and write your thesis on it. Its okay to want to go see Superman beat the snot out of Batman.