Looking at: (500) Days of Summer [Redux] (Spoilers)

So I already did a post for this a few years ago, but I’ve seen it a few more times since then and it’s come up in conversation with some friends every now and then. This film details the relationship between Tom and Summer and explores the idea of what love and romance is and what it means to different people. I love this film. I think it’s very well written and is a realistic view on modern romances, something much different to what is in Hollywood most of the time. However for this post, I would like to look at two things in particular, that is Tom’s and Summer’s relationship and our expectations from relationships and romance.

Tom and Summer
From countless conversations with people, something always comes up. Either Tom or Summer is seen as a bad person. Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt has come out to say that Tom is a selfish person. Some people I speak with think the other, that Summer is selfish. Personally, my opinion on this has changed every time I’ve watched this film. Prior to today I would’ve said that both characters are selfish in their own way, but now after seeing the film after the 7th time and grown up a bit more since I first saw it, I would say neither are selfish. They are just flawed and confused individuals, like everyone in real life. Let’s first look at Tom.

From Hollywood-esque romance films and pop songs, Tom grew up believing in “the one”, that one day he would find his perfect soul mate. This leads him to create that persona in his mind, the idea of the perfect women. When Summer shows up and there’s the first sign of some sort of compatibility (the “I love the Smiths” scene) he begins to obsess over her, building her up in his mind as that perfect women. All from her saying “I love the Smiths”. From here on in, everything he does is dedicated to make that dream a reality.

There’s more to look at in Tom’s behaviour but I want to look at Summer’s character first. Summer dismisses the idea of “the one”. She has commitment issues which makes it possible for her to make and break relationships very easily (symbolised by the scene of her cutting her hair without a care). She came to this city out of boredom, wanting to try something new, have some fun. She’s impulsive, fun loving, doesn’t want to be tied down. From an audience point of view, we can see from very early on that these two people are not compatible.

We move on to the karaoke bar scene where Tom and Summer talk about what they believe in in terms of romance and relationships. Something I found very interesting in this scene was that they are both children of divorce but came away with different ideas of relationships. However I would say that Summer saw the truth but Tom, blinded by the media’s idea of love, didn’t. Also, Summer goes on to say that “relationships are messy and people get hurt”, this foreshadows the entire film as following this, Summer starts to become attracted to Tom. The end of this scene shows Tom being outed by his friend for liking Summer. Summer asks if this is true but Tom denies it, probably out of awkwardness or just trying to brush it off. This leads to more ambiguity which is touched upon later in the film. But during this exchange, the camera is on Summer and her facial cues suggests that she knows the truth and that Tom does like her. The next scene is her, out of the blue, kissing Tom in the copy room at work. Now, from Tom’s point of view, this would be telling him that she likes him, and I would agree with this. But then we go to the Ikea scene. Now this is the first of a number of warning signs in the film for Tom. Here Summer tells Tom that she isn’t looking for anything serious, that she wants to keep things casual. Tom goes along with this. Here Summer has no reason to think Tom would want something more, that this is just casual and them having fun. This also brings up how Tom has no control in this relationship. He doesn’t instigate anything. Everything happens to him and Summer makes all the moves. At the end of this scene, Summer goes to hold his hand on their way out, and he goes along with it. Later, Summer instigates sex with him, and he goes along with. Immediately before, he is questioning this in the bathroom, about it being casual. At either of these points he could’ve questioned the “casual” nature, but he doesn’t, he goes along with it. He has no control.

Now earlier I said that these characters are both flawed and confused. Later on in the car, Tom asks what they are doing, wanting to put a label on it to which Summer refuses to give one. She just wants to have fun, doesn’t care about them. Right there, another warning sign. Summer doesn’t care, she doesn’t know what she wants, she just wants to have fun. This should be another clear indicator that this is just casual, which makes Tom uncomfortable, but again he goes along with it. Following this we have a scene in a bar where another guy tries to hit on Summer. She tells him to leave and as he insults Tom, Tom goes and punches him, an act which is depicted as a declaration of love in Hollywood romance movies. This leads to a fight between Tom and Summer. Note, this is the first time Tom takes control in their relationship, wanting to define what they are doing. Summer states that “they are just friends”. Tom protests this, saying “we are a couple” and leaves. I see this as the turning point for Summer. Up to this point she has been having fun, not wanting to commit but she lies awake that night staring at the phone. She clearly cares about Tom. She even goes to his apartment in the pouring rain to make up. This is the point where she’s considering an actual relationship and explores that avenue. But in this scene there is a very important line. Tom needs to know that Summer won’t “wake up in the morning and think differently”, to which Summer replies “I can’t give you that, nobody can”. This is so true. Like she mentioned earlier in the film, relationships are messy and unpredictable. Just as much as you can one day wake up, knowing you’ve met the one, you can also wake up one day and realise they’re not the one. That’s real life and where Hollywood films and pop music fail us.

As the film is told out of order we’ve already actually had their break up scene. Leading up to this is the deterioration of their relationship, and Summer comes to realise that Tom is not the one. Now this is something that I’ve just noticed watching it again today. People’s perception of Summer is that she is cold and selfish, doesn’t care for Tom’s feelings and just does what she wants with no regards for others. But now, I see the exact opposite. With the idea that she is now seeing if Tom is a suitable long term mate and deciding to end it when she confirms he isn’t, she is doing the compassionate thing. It is thought by many that Summer strings Tom along, but she doesn’t. She was just unsure of where they stood. We’ve all been in situations where we’re unsure about someone, but the only way to find out is to actually give it a go. If it works great, if it doesn’t then get out of it. Sometimes it takes longer than others but once you realise it’s not going to work, then break it off. It’s the best thing to do for either party. Now Tom comes away from this upset, confused and just in disbelief. He is determined to win her back. But now Summer is being clear that they are only friends, with none of the added stuff. This is where another one of their flaws come up and is something that happens in pretty much every relationship, lack of clear communication. Now this is a problem I personally have with casual relationships as you just don’t know where you stand and things can get confusing and messy, which is exactly the mindset of Tom. With that mindset, whenever something gets to a point where he’s not sure where things are going, he should ask, sit down and talk about it with Summer, and if it’s not going somewhere, get out! Jesus, there were times where I was yelling at the screen for Tom to get out of it, there’s only so much ambiguity one man can take.

Some time passes and things have seemed to have moved on. Summer left the job and Tom is on his way to a colleague’s wedding and who does he bump into on the train, Summer. They end up catching up and just hanging out at the wedding, general friend stuff. I want to stress that everything Summer does from here on in is as friends, none of it can be mistaken as anything else. She invites Tom to a part at her apartment and what follows is my favourite part of the film. The screen splits into two and we have “expectations vs reality” from Tom’s point of view. His expectations are that he’s gonna turn up to this party and him and Summer are gonna rekindle their relationship and have a very romantic time. What actually happens is they are just friends, Summer tries to big him up to some of her friends, he’s mostly alone…and he sees that Summer is engaged. Ouch. That’s gotta hurt. Now again, I stress that Summer has done nothing to lead him on, but man, you can’t help but feel for the guy. It’s a feeling that every guy would’ve had, and it’s painful as shit. Tom then leaves and cue a series of depression (just a quick aside, the party is day 408 and the depression scenes start on day 440. Tom hasn’t been going to work. What he’s been away from work for 32 days?). Now a lot of people would think that her not telling Tom she was engaged was a dick move, I did too, I even wrote it down when I was making notes today. But later in the film we find out that she wasn’t engaged at that point, to which Tom says “but he was in your life?” Summer has no reason (or duty) to tell him she was seeing someone casually. No commitment has been made so why would she tell him this?

At the end of the film, Tom and Summer meet up once more and they clear the air. During this scene are two of the best lines in the film. First, Tom asks Summer why she did all she did with him and she replies “because I wanted to” and Tom says, “you just do what you want?” Well yeah, of course she does. It’s what we all do. Again, a problem with mainstream music and films about romance, we are sold this entitled view of love and relationships, where we “deserve” happiness. Here, Tom believes the same thing. Summer was this dream girl and when she doesn’t act like it, Tom gets angry. Of course she isn’t going to act like that, no one does. Also, this cements the idea that Tom had no control in the entire relationship. He didn’t do anything, things happened to him. Summer did what she wants. Tom just went along with everything. When things were ambiguous or going in a direction he doesn’t want, he should speak up and say “hey, this isn’t what I want”, and if they can’t find a common path, then break it off. The other line is that Tom asks Summer how she knew her husband was the one, she says “one morning I woke up and I knew”, Tom asks “what?”, Summer ends with “what I was never sure of with you”. That hits it right on the head. Summer wasn’t sure of Tom. She engaged in this relationship to see what can happen. Some of it worked, some of it didn’t. But all the way through, she never had the “yes, he’s the one” moment. So she left. You can call that selfish if you want but it’s the nicest thing anyone can do. Otherwise you and your partner will never be happy. They end things on a high note, with Tom sincerely being happy for Summer. In my previous post, I initially was annoyed by this as it just seemed faked providing everything that happened, that the film didn’t have the balls to end things badly, but then I grew up and watched the film properly.

Expectations From Relationships
A big part of this film is looking at how we as people have been brainwashed by the mainstream films and music about the idea of what love and relationships are. We expect there to be “the one”, that we will find happy and ever lasting love with no problem. We all grow up with this, hell, I grew up with this, but it’s not real. It’s not how real life works. There’s a great scene later in the film where Tom is having a rant about how the love cards they write at his company is part of this brainwashing, that it’s all lies and not healthy. And it’s all true. There is no girl of our dreams. There is a series of interviews held with some of the characters asking about their thoughts on what love is and one of them talks about his girlfriend from high school. He says “Robin’s better than the girl of my dreams, she’s real”. This is what we should be aspiring to. Not looking for the girl of our dreams, looking for someone real. This was the problem Tom had for the entire film. He wasn’t in love with Summer, he was in love with the idea of her, and this is something that I have seen in people I’ve known over the years and even in myself. We are conditioned to create this perfect dream girl in our minds as if it’s something to aspire to. But if we do this, then every relationship we have, every person we meet will never live up to those expectations as they are just unrealistic, leading towards toxic and unhealthy relationships. Speaking personally, I now think that the best anyone can do is just go out there, meet different people, and see who you click with. When you find the right person, you’ll know there and then. No checklists or absolutes, just go with it, because love and romance isn’t something you can put to a formula, no matter how much dating sites want you to think otherwise.

(500) Days of Summer is an excellent film and I think everyone should be shown this film, so that they can grow up with correct ideas on what real life and relationships are like.

Top 10: Black Mirror

I’ve just finished watching this amazing, and dark, show. Here’s my top 10.
Note, this is just what I think in terms of which I like and which had a lasting impact, not which I think is better made and etc. Also, this is probably the most time I’ve spent on a list as every episode in this show is fantastic. But these are the ones that stood out, but even then, getting them in the right slots was very difficult to do.

1. Hated in the Nation
2. Crocodile
3. Shut Up and Dance
4. Black Museum
5. San Junipero
6. White Christmas
7. The Entire History of You
8. Arkangel
9. Hang the DJ
10. White Bear

Looking at: Star Wars VIII – The Last Jedi (SPOILERS)

Is that time of year which can only mean one thing: new Star Wars movie!

This has been an interesting week. I saw this film on the opening Friday and came out thinking – “I need another viewing”. Cue a week of endless reviews and debates on youtube, among friends and all over the internet. I’ve never seen a film being this divisive before. People either hate it, love it or are just meh about it. For that first week I was in the meh camp. After watching it again today, a week later, I am still in the meh camp, but less meh as before. The short of it, I liked it. It wasn’t amazing nor was it terrible. I will go through the film though as there are some common elements among fans and critics that I feel I should give my two cents on. Instead of normally separating it into likes and dislikes, am just gonna go through the film, from start to finish and pick out the hot topics (these may not be in the right order as am doing this all from memory). In case it isn’t obvious, spoiler warning.

The Phone Call

So let’s start off with the opening joke. The resistance are escaping a base which is about to be destroyed by the First Order and their dreadnought, a big ship with big guns. Cue Poe flying in on his x-wing to deliver a message to General Hux. This is the first of many jokes in this film. Poe is playing with Hux here, giving a “your mum” joke and some others. First viewing I loved it, second viewing, pretty much the same. I thought it was funny and set the tone for the film. Now, the jokes have been heavily criticised online, and for some I agree, not well placed. But on the whole, I liked it, thought they fit well with the tone and were actually funny. However the person who played the guy on the bridge of the dreadnought should be in the role of General Hux, he gave a great performance.

Bombers

As part of the take down of the dreadnought, bombers (yes, bombers, useful in an environment where there’s no gravity) are coming in to destroy it. I loved this sequence. Filled with great action and set pieces. There was a very dramatic moment when at the end, the last bomber left had to sacrifice herself to release the bombs. Well shot and well performed. Following this is the beginning of Poe’s arc. Leia slaps him in anger to his operation which costed many lives. I really liked Poe in this film, I thought he showed great growth as a character over the course of the movie.

Snoke and Kylo Intro

Next (I think) we have Snoke and Kylo’s first scene. Following from the last film, Kylo has been defeated by a character who has never used the Force or a lightsaber. Obviously Snoke would be very upset, forcing Kylo to get rid of his mask (thank you!) and basically humiliating him, driving to be better. First watch, I wasn’t that convinced with Kylo this film, but now I think Adam Driver is doing so well with his character and portraying his conflict. Snoke…we’ll get to him later.

Finn’s Leaking Suit Thing

After that scene with Leia, we have Finn awakening from his coma (or whatever) in a suit filled with liquid and is suddenly leaking everywhere. First time I didn’t think much of it, but second time I would have to agree with the fans that this seemed out place during a moment where heavy losses are made. I don’t know what was suppose to be achieved by this scene but it didn’t work. Didn’t laugh, didn’t really react. It was just “oh look it’s Finn”. Unlike Poe, Finn’s arc seems to go backwards. In The Force Awakens, he was one of the main driving forces of the film. He went from being the coward who wants to run away to being a hero almost. In this film, he’s sort of still being a coward but then becomes a hot head fighter, like how Poe starts. But there is more to do with Finn much later.

Opening Luke Scene

So next we pick up where the last film left off with Rey and Luke on the island. Another hot topic, once presented with his (and his father’s) lightsaber, Luke just tossed it away as if it was nothing. Many a fans hated this moment, though to be out of character, stupid and etc, but I just laughed. I thought it was the perfect introduction to this version of Luke. It shows him as a broken man who has completely left behind the world of the Jedi. Great direction.

Leia Poppins

Fast forwarding a bit. Two things to talk about here. First is Kylo’s bit. Kylo is flying into the ship (I hope you spotted the visual references to Phantom Menace) and is going to destroy the bridge to the resistance cruiser, but he senses Leia on there. He hesitates. Fantastic acting here. Loved it both times. But then, his flanking TIE fighters bomb the bridge and out shoots Leia. Now this is another hot topic. Leia managed to use the force to put herself in a bubble and then, no word of a lie, use it to fly back to the bridge. This looked silly. Very very silly. Now, obviously we had the unfortunate demise of Carrie Fisher, essentially bringing an end to her portrayal of Leia. Now in interviews it has been said that she would not be resurrected with CGI in the next film which hints at the possibility of her being killed off in this movie. When I first saw this, I thought that’s it, she’s dead. How unceremonious but hey, that’s war. But no, she just fly backs. Another thing I thought when I first saw it, which I think would be much better, is that Kylo actually saved her with the force. I thought that would be fantastic for his character, he’s so conflicted that he went and saved his mother in secret, but no, Leia used the force and flew back to the ship. I don’t know, it was just very silly and I didn’t buy it. To quickly note on another hot topic which was Admiral Akbar’s almost looked over demise…and? It’s war, this stuff happens.

Porgs

Hate them. Absolutely hate them. Didn’t mind them at first but they are so distracting. No, don’t like it.

Luke Milking a … Thing

Yeah that was pretty disgusting. Rather not see that again.

Vice Admiral Holdo (Hodor?)

Literally, I kept hearing her name as Hodor. Hold the door! Anyway…I like Laura Dern. I think she does well as an actor and does quite well here. But, withholding her plan from Poe? I mean, I get it, it’s done to put him in his place and so that he can go and develop in his arc, but man, so much could’ve been avoided because of it. Such as….

Canto Bight

Ok, this entire section, this entire Finn/Rose subplot…terrible. Let’s start off with Rose. A maintenance worker from what I can remember? A very naive and idealistic character, trying to do the best by her late sister and be the best rebel she can be. She stops Finn from running away (yep, clearly he didn’t learn anything from the last film) and then they end up going on a mission to Canto Bight. So the First Order has this technology which can track through hyperspace (Rogue One easter egg anyone?). The team would need to sneak aboard their ship to turn it off. To do so they need a master code break to hack their systems. Where can they find one? Poe goes to ask Maz Kanata, a person whom he never met before…ok. I didn’t really think much of her in The Force Awakens and still don’t here. It’s like in a game, she’s the quest giver and that’s her only purpose. Be sure to get back to her at the end to pick up your experience points. Anyway, so they have to go Canto Bight to find this mystical code breaker. On this planet (city?) is a casino filled with the very wealthy and big horse like creatures. This place is like watching the prequels CGI again, just ugly to look at. Now I know there’s a message in this sequence about animal cruelty and evil existing in the good but it just doesn’t work with the rest of the film. It’s placing feels so artificial and it doesn’t even amount to anything. Finn and Rose end up getting thrown in jail where they bump into another code breaker played by Benicio Del Toro. I actually liked his character, he’s a man who doesn’t pick a side as he would rather live free and not committed to a cause. Living in the balance as it were. But they then escape, but not before rescuing those horse things and wreaking the casino. More bad CGI and ugliness. Now I ended up clock watching in this film. For me, that’s never a good sign and I reckon shave this sequence down (or cut it completely) and the film will be perfectly timed. It was definitely too long and dragged in parts, particularly this sequence. On a side note, I loved BB8 in this bit. Taking out those guards with the coins and helping DJ steal ship, bad ass droid right there.

Rey Reaching Out

Sorry, but I thought this was funny, especially sarcastic Luke. I love sarcastic Luke.

Luke’s Portrayal

Another hot topic. Luke is a much more defeated and darker character in this film. After Return of the Jedi, he took Ben Solo and a bunch of others to start a new Jedi order. However it all came crashing down when Ben went over to the dark side and destroyed the temple and killed some of the other padawans. This causes Luke to go in exile and give up the Jedi way. I love this. I thought Mark Hamil did great acting here and this character’s journey feels so real. During the sequence on the island, Luke comes to criticize the Jedi. He refers to the events of the prequels where at the height of their power, they allowed the Sith to grow and take over. Vadar was discovered and trained by the Jedi. This is great stuff and it leads to his belief in why the Jedi should end; and I agree. We are at a point where having the Sith and Jedi shouldn’t be anymore. No more good and evil but just Force users. When I first saw the title “The Last Jedi” I didn’t think no more force users or the end of days, I thought, this is the end of good and bad. No more stark contrasts and typical hero stories but layered and interesting characters. Overall, I was happy with Luke’s portrayal, except for one bit. Now I’m still unsure about this bit having seen it again, but this is the part where Luke decided to kill Ben. A man, who sought to seek and try bring his father, the second most evil man in the galaxy, to the light. A family loving man who decided to go and kill his sister’s and best friend’s son, his own nephew. Albeit a “fleeting thought” but I find this very unbelievable for his character. Now I get that character’s change over time and such, but Luke’s characterization was so defined in the original trilogy, and at the height of peace time without any known major conflicts Luke decides to act like this? If this is was a D&D game and a player did this, it would be seen as out of character and the other players would be like “what the hell man, what are you doing?!”. But I have thought of a scenario where maybe this could work. So during this whole build up of the Jedi order, Luke became too big for this boots. He was overwhelmed with pride in what he is doing that he sees Ben turning as tarnishing his beautiful school, making it a selfish act to kill so easily. That I think I can live with. It also fits with what he was saying later on about being a legend and how unfulfilling it actually is. To quickly mention however, R2D2 playing the clip of Leia, brilliant. Totally on board.

Rey’s Training

Wait that was training? Did they forget to film some of it?

The Force Link

I don’t know why people are getting angry at this use of the force, it’s brilliant, and we had people in the past be able to connect via the force so why not have this be a more advanced version of it?

Snoke’s Death
Ok, the big one. Basically, Snoke dies, about half way through the film. Moving on…

No, kidding. Kylo brings Rey to Snoke and whilst he’s toying with Rey, Kylo straight up murders Snoke. Cuts him in half like Darth Maul was. He does this by moving a lightsaber that was RIGHT NEXT TO ALL POWERFUL SNOKE! Now, I am very mixed on this. I liked that the film had the balls to kill off a character like Snoke and it furthers Kylo’s ascension (see Kylo’s Ascension), but dude, the way it happened was not that cool. Here we have a menacing and evil being who can connect Kylo and Rey through systems (yeah, the force link was a result of Snoke) and just flap them about like rag dolls, and then Kylo just kills him like a punk. I don’t know, it just really undermines his character. The whole not knowing much about didn’t really bother me that much, but I must point out something. So there is a point here that some are trying to make about in Return of the Jedi we are introduced to Darth Sidious without any backstory or anything, and he also dies in the same film, due to over confidence and not fully knowing his apprentice…huh, that sounds familiar. Anyway, similarities aside, they make this point against the people who are complaining about how there’s no backstory on Snoke. But, Darth Sidious did things in Return of the Jedi. The way he manipulates Luke and Vadar, his many mind games, amazing performance and a cool force lightning scene. So when he was killed, it was satisfying. Here, a dude just died and no one really cares. Just, feels like a wasted character, he could’ve been more. I will talk about the build up from the Force Awakens later on, that’s a much bigger topic.

Saying all of this though, there is one bit of backstory I would’ve liked to have seen. How the hell did Kylo and Snoke meet? You have Kylo training with Luke and Snoke manages to turn him? How? Did Kylo go to normal school one day and there was that weird science teacher showing him strange experiments who turns out to be Snoke?

Kylo’s Ascension

First time I didn’t think Kylo going full dark side was enough for the final film. He didn’t seem to have the presence or maturity to be an adequate antagonist. Then I watched it a bit differently the second time around. I began to appreciate his journey through the film a bit more (also, what fantastic acting). My next point also makes me agree with the decision to kill off Snoke more. So in traditional Sith lore there is the rule of two. There is always a master and an apprentice. No more, no less (see, the prequels had some good dialogue). Typically, the greatest test for the apprentice is to face off against their master and take over. This is exactly what Kylo does in the throne room with Snoke. He is fulfilling his role in the rule of two which works well. Another thing is that I think Kylo’s motivation is to be better than the expectations that have been put on him. Through his life there are pressures on him. Jedi training, he is a Skywalker, he has to be the best. Snoke’s apprentice, the endless berating and pressure from his master, he has to be the best, goes to the length of killing his father to do so. But that’s not good enough. Next step is to take over from Snoke, become the Sith. Now in the scene, he notes that he wants to kill of the Sith (and the past in general it seems) which I love the idea of, but that’s another section. To finish off my point here, I think Kylo was great until he comes through after the throne room fight. He then goes from promising leader to a whiny kid, like he was at the end (or for most of) the first movie and that’s why from the first time I didn’t think he could carry a whole movie as it’s main villain. When he’s like that, he’s just not convincing enough of a villain, he’s almost like a cartoon character, him and Hux both.

Throne Room Fight

Man that was awesome. More of that please!

Rey’s Parents

Haha, haha, HAHA! Oh I am loving the reactions to this. I remember after The Force Awakens came out, I think I was speculating with some friends as to who the parents were. Typicals came out, she’s a Skywalker, Obi’s kid etc. But I just really, really wanted her to be unremarkable. I was bored of the Skywalker story, we had 6 films of Skywalker, let’s do something new. And hot damn they did. Her parents were nobodies! Now, this is pretty much only hinted at from Kylo, which leaves JJ to turn around and say “actually they are important, they are Jedi legends after all” which I would hate, so very much. I love her coming from nothing.

Hyperspace is Dangerous

This! This was seriously cool.

Betrayed By a Codebreaker

Argh! See, there’s a lot of bait and switch in this film (trilogy) and it’s frustrating at times. But I felt that DJ’s motivations were already defined by what he said to Finn in the stolen ship; talking about don’t be good or bad, just live free and survive. But it would’ve all ended better if Holdo just told Poe the plan and then none of them would’ve gotten killed, although it probably wouldn’t have taken the First Order long to find them on that planet…ah well.

Phasma

This I’m annoyed at. From the trailer, I was looking forward to the fight between Phasma and Finn the most. I thought “this is going to be bad ass”. It started happening and I was with it, it was cool, exciting and….oh, over really quickly. Underwhelming and wasted. Oh and The Force Awakens doesn’t get off lightly with this either, what with that shot of her walking down that corridor like a complete bad ass in the trailer only to get punked in the film? Get the hell out!

Finn-Rose Love

Worst love story ever! Seriously, it makes Twilight seem like a Shakespearean classic. Just stop it. Bring back Anakin and Padme. To add to this, the hint of flirting between Poe and Rey…do not go there JJ!

Kylo vs Luke

Oh god we have to talk about this don’t we. I really don’t want to , but we have to. How could Kylo not tell that Luke was a projection?! One: with the force. Two: the lightsaber he just destroyed is being used by Luke. Three: the lack of footprints in the salt from Luke. Four: surviving that barrage of lasers. This is where I start to lose respect from Kylo and can’t see him carrying a movie as a villain on his own.

Luke’s End

….meh. I didn’t hate or love it, it was, meh. I would’ve preferred it if he was actually there on the planet but..meh. It was ok. But I liked his wink to C3P0. He’s the only one who’s actually nice to the droid.

The Kid and The Force

Couldn’t care less. Probably someone for Johnson’s trilogy.

My Initial Hopes Going In

Now like most I had my hopes going in, but they weren’t like most. My dream plot would’ve been something on the lines of, Kylo and Rey teaming up BUT not as Jedi or Sith, but just Force users. Being the balance. Then you had Snoke and Luke as the old school players but as a result of the conflict they were damaging the galaxy (similar in though to where Luke was talking about the rise of the Sith from the prequels) and it would take this new age of Force users to change everything for the better. We’ve seen through the history of the lore that the stark contrasts only brings war, you need balance to have peace. But no, there is no balance here. You have Kylo going all bad and even Rey is now going all good. People say there was conflict in these characters. For Kylo, yeah ok there was some, especially with Leia, and he made his choice in the end. On the second viewing I came on board with this and think for the next film, he should stay there with him growing his power and abilities. With Rey, egh, it wasn’t as good. The performance, the arc, just her overall. I don’t actually like Rey that much. She’s just…underwhelming. This entire film on the whole has been underwhelming. Had some cool moments, but just meh overall.

Episode 7 Connections

The main reason I think so many are being hostile with this movie is because The Force Awakens had set up so many plot points and characters and most of them didn’t get paid off in this film. Now, I think this is a fair criticism. We have three films here, all of which are connected. Three parts to a story. With the plot points and characters not paying off, The Last Jedi feels like a separate film and story all together. Now personally I didn’t mind most of it, in some cases I thought it was great, but this actually hurts The Force Awakens more. The times where there are hints or flashbacks to scenes that causes speculations are now just nothing; they have no meaning. Also what happened to C3P0’s red arm? It’s just gone!

Episode 9 Thoughts

JJ is back to direct -sigh- So, probably won’t be on my radar until the trailer comes out. Other thoughts:
Kylo should stay evil and be more powerful and an actual leader.
Bigger time jump between films so the rebels can be built up again.
Not have Leia killed off screen, that would be a disgrace to the character.
Make. Rey. More. Interesting.
No more Maz, please no more Maz.
Leave Phasma dead, I can’t face more disappointments.
Rose actually died at the end of the Last Jedi so we don’t have to put enough with that god awful love story.
Give Finn more to do, more him and Poe together, I love that bromance.
Anakin force ghost. Which leads me to…

Anakin

I think Kylo needs a visit from Anakin. Kylo worships Vadar, that’s all he wants to be. I want just one scene, one scene where Anakin comes in and gives Kylo some insight or advice or something. Please JJ, if you do anything with episode 9, please be a scene between Kylo and Anakin.

The Film Me Vs The Star Wars Fan Me

I think a big part of why I had trouble formulating my thoughts on this film was because I am seeing it from two different perspectives. There is the film nerd side of me who thinks it’s a well directed and interestingly put together piece of sci-fi with some great set pieces, albeit with some inconsistencies. Then there’s the Star Wars fan side of me who is really underwhelmed by the movie. Yeah some of the action was great and liked some of the callbacks (force ghost Yoda) but it wasn’t that exciting for me. The space chase wasn’t that interesting in the end, the conflict on the salt planet was meh, really didn’t like those speeder things and the casino scene was some of the worst Star Wars I’ve seen. In the end, this was average. Had some cool moments, some interesting character bits but overall, average. If I had to give it a rating I would say 6/10.

Star Wars Ranked

So where does this sit among the other Star Wars films, from best to worst we have:

Empire Strikes Back
Rogue One
A New Hope
Return of the Jedi
The Last Jedi
Revenge of the Sith
The Force Awakens
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones

Controversial I know. I love Rogue One the more I watch it and I hate The Force Awakens the more I watch that. Revenge of the Sith has some redeeming factors, more so than some may think, but that’s for another blog post.

Looking at: Spotlight

There is a certain talent involved with making a cinematic experience out of a story that features a lot of people standing around talking. Aaron Sorkin made a career of writing engaging films about people standing (sometimes sitting) around talking. The advantage of a story set around investigation is the added drama of the subject matter. All The President’s Men was the last great investigative drama and set the template for future films to follow in it’s stead, however nothing has come to stand up against it. Until this year. Spotlight not only stands with All The President’s Men, but I think goes beyond it. All The President’s Men was the spectacle of it’s time and was a story that focused a lot more on the actual story, the investigation, and how it affect those directly involved. Spotlight has a much larger focus on how the story impacted the people around it. It was about how the story affected the community which made it all that more powerful. Now you can say that All The President’s Men was a much stronger film that depicted the investigation process, which I agree with, it defiantly is, but I feel that Spotlight makes up for this by it being about the community and the betrayal of the church. It would be hard not to as the church is seen as a symbol of all that is good and is of God’s will. So to say something against the church is to say something against God, and it’s not something that happens in one place, it’s worldwide, so it has a much bigger scope.

But with subject matters aside, Spotlight is a much more cinematic film, heavily affected by Howard Shore’s soundtrack and stronger cinematography. The cast bring their A game, being another example that there should be a Best Ensemble category at the awards, and it was them that added the much needed emotional tone to the film. This is a very delicate part of the world’s history and to have the performers not engaged emotionally (or even angered) would’ve been a big misstep. All The President’s Men shows the reporters engaged with the story and uncovering the truth, but the performance shows it as where their investment ends. I didn’t get the sense that they were in it to put the bad guys away, just to put out a great story. Spotlight excels at that. You felt their investment, you know they cared and are deeply affected by the story. It is this kind of direction which takes from an ok film, to one of the greats. Looking at the best picture category, this is not only a contender, but I think it will win.

Looking at: Joy

Right, I wasn’t originally going to see this, I didn’t like American Hustle and probably one of the very few human beings to not rate Jennifer Lawrence as an actor, no I haven’t seen Silver Linings Playbook, yes I’ll get around to it but haven’t seen much in other films she’s been in. So it’s safe to say I had very little expectations with this film. When the film started with this sudo soap drama setting and messy introduction of the characters, I can’t help but feel my expectations were being met. But, at the same time the Joy character had enough, so did the film and became better. By the end of it I’m glad to say that I not only enjoyed the film, but can now see what everyone was on about with Jennifer Lawrence.

Joy is the rags-to-riches/underdog story of Joy Mangano, a divorced mother of two, living in a hellish soap opera who becomes a success with her invention, the Miracle Mop. She is surrounded by endless naysayers who try to stop her reaching the top and put her in her place. But she keeps on fighting and against all odds with very little support manages to get where she wants to be.

Now I did enjoy the film, I’m a sucker for rags-to-riches stories, but it does have it’s flaws. Every character that isn’t Joy, are your very typical plot devices. They are all one note characters who are there to guide the Joy story along. They bring very little value to the film and you can’t help but think that the film would be no different if Joy was talking to post-it notes with their archetypes written on it. But take away the one note characters and meandering that is the first act, you are left with Joy, a well rounded and excellently performed character with an interesting core story. Seeing her succeed and to paraphrase of the characters “live in a mans world” was wonderful to watch. I was truly behind the character all the way. When things went well, I cheered, when things went bad, I cried, always with the character. I believed in her ability and when she went down and people put those barriers around her, I felt her rage and urged her to break them down.

If however there was something to criticize about the character and her portrayal it would be that part way through the story, Joy turns from a caring, hard working mother to a take no prisoners business kingpin in very quick succession which I didn’t find convincing at all. She does go back on track later but it feels more of a step backwards at the point.

But that aside I did enjoy Joy’s tale and performance but it is dragged down by it’s very lacking supporting characters which is a great shame.

Looking at: The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl, welcome to this years Oscar bait and boy does it show. When I first saw the trailer to this film in the cinema my first thoughts were: “here we go, theory of everything all over again.” When I came to watch the film, I was expecting the same shallow and distant mis-telling of an interesting and wonderful story, moved along only by the fantastic performances of the lead stars. What I got? Well…what I got wasn’t that but I’m not sure if it’s much better.

The Danish Girl is a film that is already riddled in controversy due to the lack of a trans actor playing the title role. To touch on it slightly, my concerns with the film has nothing to do with that, on the whole I thought Eddie Redmayne’s performance was rather good and he fitted really well into the role. To call this film transphobic because it didn’t cast a trans actor in the role is ridiculous and I urge people to not label it as so.

The title character is Einar Wegener, a painter who was born a man but identifies as a women. We meet the character in the midst of her success alongside her struggling wife’s (Gerda Wegener played by Alicia Vikander) career, also as a painter. One day when a sitter is late to appear in one of Gerda’s paintings, Einar sits in, donning stockings and a dress. This is the pivotal scene where we first see Einar’s realisation that she was born in the wrong body. Initially, Gerda goes along excitably with Einar’s exploration into this side of her; willingly going out to pick out dresses and teaching Einar how to appear and act as a women. It’s painted as a game the married couple share and enjoy, however things become too real for the two when Einar is approached by an admirer, played by Ben Whishaw, whilst in the Lili persona. So starts Einar’s journey to become a women, and so begins the breakdown of the Wegener marriage.

With the story aside, my concerns lie with how shallow the film’s telling of that story is. We are watching the first man to transform into a women and the complications it can bring to a marriage. The film is urging us, no, begging us to be on Einar’s side, to be gushing over the personal conflict she’s going through, and it thinks that it being a film about a trans person is enough. That we are obliged to be on their side. As much as I want to, and I really do, the film does a very poor job of getting me to do that. Now this isn’t the fault of Redmayne, his performance is really well done and you believe the conflict within the character, but is directed to be selfish and quite frankly harsh to others around her. Throughout the film, we see Einar being given tremendous amounts of support from others around her, no one (with the exception of some doctors and a couple of bystanders) rejects her choice or belief. Even her wife Gerda, who’s probably in one of the most difficult and testing situations one can find themselves, comes to fully support Einar. But time and time again, we see this support thrown back into the faces of the characters, more so than others Gerda. She endlessly tries to please Einar and do what she can for her but essentially gets burned for the efforts. However, there are points where the film becomes aware of this fact and tries amend Einar’s attitude, however it is handled so badly and rushed it just comes across as manipulative more than anything else.

But with that aside the performances are really good, but it isn’t Redmayne that should be collecting an Oscar this year, it is Vikander. Not only does she outperforms Redmayne, but she essentially carries the whole film. Every emotion, every conflict and every reaction can be seen in her performance alone. She brings great depth into the character and overall, you truly do side with her. You feel her pain and tragedy she goes through and you want to be at her side through it all.

Going on however, the film also greatly lacks ambition. Again it thinks because of it’s subject matter is enough to win the heart of the audience, but painting this tragedy as a glossy and whimsical tale shows how much the film doesn’t understand the story it’s telling. Even when we eventually get to the operation, there is no sense of struggle or hardship. The first ever gender reassignment surgery and it comes across as routine. The film makers attitude towards the topic is the same as the characters attitude towards Einar. They pussyfoot around the issue, they see it on the surface and they don’t want to understand, they just want to please and keep people happy. No ambition, no balls, no conflict. A shallow story kept abreast solely by Vikander’s performance.

Looking at: Entourage

Well I spent a lot of this laughing. Not with the film, but at the film. It was that bad.

Story: bunch friends want to make it big in Hollywood. Lead guy is a big shot actor and is directing his first feature, and boom it’s a success.

Now I haven’t seen the TV show, nor will I, and I heard pretty bad stuff anyway so I had low expectations. But man this is so bad, it didn’t even meet those. This is the most racist and sexist piece of cinema I have seen in a very long time. It’s not funny, the characters are all horrible people and the film is on their side. When you have a film with horrible people, they are suppose to satirized not praised. The director goes to say that this is the male fantasy. I am offended to think that this guy would go to say that every male living would fantasize about being hollow idiots with no respect for the people that surround them. There are even points in the film where the characters were to be taught a lesson due to their misdealings, but it just glosses over it all. The film looks on smuggly and allows these vile creatures to get away with anything. If they had killed someone the film would’ve let them get away with it through the power of believing they are better than everyone and that they should all bow at their knees. There are some cameos which are somewhat funny but that’s not enough to save this film.

If there were some explosions in this it would be a Michael Bay film. It has the same level of offensive and disgusting material as Transformers. There are racist stereotypes, women treated as objects and morally bankrupt characters. All the cameos that happened looked as if they were embarrassed to be there.

Don’t watch this, it’s worse than Transformers, it’s worse than Movie 43, it’s worse than anything that’s made it to the big screen. If it weren’t for the TV show, I feel it wouldn’t even made it there.