Science Fiction Double Feature

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Neither of these can really considered “Science Fiction”, but they were a double-feature nonetheless.

A few weeks ago, some friends and I drove up to Warwick, New York for our annual drive-in trip. Unfortunately we did not plan this trip well around the new releases, but our impossible schedules. Just when we thought that we were going to seize a chance to see Pacific Rim in the full glory of the countryside and night sky, the weekend’s movies were posted and we were left with…pretty uninteresting and unusual pairings. Of the choices, we opted to stick with screen 3, which was showing a billing of The Wolverine and Turbo.

Usually the drive-in pairs similarly-rated or genre-ed movies together, but this was one pairing we could not figure out. The Wolverine is the sequel of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), and as the title indicates, took a great departure from everything related to the X-Men. Being a familiar and generally well-versed with comic book lore and characters, The Wolverine confused me to no end in plot and execution. Canon characters and plot points were used independently and poorly. Fleeting references were made to the Wolverine’s canon background and history, but it was otherwise disappointing to see them not built-up with the utilized history. The events of The Wolverine take place after X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), a movie that one cared for and really wished to re-live again with any follow-ups. That being said, the best of this came in the credits where a clip alluded to the 2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past movie, the next addition to the X-Men series – which also marks the return of early X-Men film director Bryan Singer and utilizing one of the most epic stories in comic book history (To be as big of a comic book nerd as possible…).

Coincidentally, at the same time that Turbo was playing, Ryan Reynolds’ other summer movie R.I.P.D. was playing on screen 2 and we enjoyed flipping the radio stations in-between the two audio broadcastings as we weren’t invested in Turbo. Granted, Turbo is marketed for an audience a bit below our age ranges, but I’ve watched plenty of other G-rated movies that made clear, interesting and logical sense. Turbo was clunky and contrived. Some fun could be found in the throwback references to Youtube sensations and autotuning, but otherwise it was definitely not for us.

And like that, the annual drive-in pilgrimage was made and remembered. We’ll always have a lasting memory of watching the strangest movie pairing ever.

The Wolverine: 0 re-watches

Turbo: 0 re-watches

Dirty Girl

Dirty Girl

“Nobody likes a dirty girl”

I was apprehensive about this movie. I wasn’t familiar with Juno Temple from anything else, and I wasn’t intrigued by the plot of “high school harlot and gay classmate (Jeremy Dozier) team-up to learn some life lessons with a Home Economics flour sack baby” frame in 1987 Oklahoma. Still, the movie passed over the circulation desk frequently and my co-worker wasn’t familiar with it either to give any review. The case indicated that the film’s supporting cast was stacked – William H. Macy, Milla Jovovich, Mary Steenburgen, Tim McGraw(?)… – someone needed to give it a chance.

Juno Temple’s character, Danielle, goes on a mission to find the biological father she never knew after being placed into the Challengers remedial education program at school, more based on her promiscuous behavior and attitude than her intelligence. It is in the Challengers program that she meets Clarke, a shy gay classmate, who has an emotionally and physically abusive father and a loving but strained mother (strained in terms of being pulled in both the directions of her duty to her husband and love her son). Clarke and Danielle are paired together in a Home Economics project where they must “take care” of a flour sack as it was their own child. As each of them has very a unstable family life, they ponder the identities they’ve created themselves – the “dirty girl” and the “shy homo kid”. With the assemblage of cast, there are quite a few twists and turns to get to the end – which have been negatively reviewed. Temple and Dozier give the characters depth and anchor the story from flying off into space. I was delighted by the peaks and pits of the conclusion. Remember — life isn’t a fairy tale, but bad moments are often outweighed by the bad.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

Have you seen anything with Juno Temple in it?

Silver Linings Playbook

Silver Linings Playbook

Look for the signs

Every year, my sister and I go to the movies on Christmas Day. We’ve gotten all of our Christmas-y activities done by Noon of that day and we rarely go to the movies the rest of the year. This year the pickings were slim for Christmas blockbusters. We weren’t interested in Les Miserables or The Hobbit so we might as well have gone home. But we were determined (by boredom) to go to the movies. We picked Silver Linings Playbook primarily based on intrigue.

IMDB labels Silver Linings as a comedy and it hardly is. At times it is funny, but there are never moments of prime comedy or laughter. The story is heavy, raw, dramatic, and refreshing, but not refreshing like Young Adult. I was very happy with the ending. I thought it was an excellent stroke to a very real depiction of mental illness and nailed the silver lining.

Number of re-watches: At least one more

Young Adult

Young Adult

“Young Adult – that’s industry-speak”

Young Adult was refreshing. Mavis is a complicated, self-centered, realistic character. Prom queen-turned-divorced young adult novelist, Mavis is already emotionally unstable and receiving the birth announcement for her high school boyfriend’s sends her reeling – all the way back to her small hometown. She makes quick work of her high school classmates and lets everyone know that she is better than them. Mavis got out of Mercury. Mavis is a successful writer with a cool apartment in the big city of Minneapolis.  Yet, you wonder through the movie why such a cool person would be hung-up on their townie high school boyfriend after all these years.

No spoilers, but the resolution is very well-done. The conclusion is realistic. Mavis is a complex character, and sometimes when we are faced with life lessons, we don’t learn anything at all.

Number of re-watches: None, because Mavis is a cringe-inducing train wreck to watch.

Ingredients: the local food movement takes root

Ingredients

“Sometimes I like to learn” I told my co-worker when I checked Ingredients out from work. I thought it was an insightful and beautifully documented film about the positive impacts of thinking about where your food comes from. The most interesting part was the history of food-producing agriculture. The historical traditions of immigrants was a component. Fascinating!

Right now I don’t buy locally, or even freshly, for two reasons. A) I don’t have control of my kitchen, and B) I am not aware of agriculture in northern New Jersey. I do care though. I care about food and preserving the environment. Perhaps my buying patterns will change in 2013.

Number of re-watches: A couple

Super 8

Super 8

Normally I don’t review movies, and I am not sure why. They are library material in the same way that books and graphic novels are. They circulate. They can be found in a book drop. Why not? Well, I am going to start smaller reviews of them.

Actually, I probably feel compelled because of Super 8. I am not sure why I put off seeing this movie for so long. It was incredible! Released in the summer of 2011, Super 8 was set to be a summer blockbuster and was just that. A science fiction-thriller set in 1970s Ohio, Joe is mourning the death of his mother and is navigating his fraught relationship with his father and his first crush that way that young teenagers do. Abrams more than made up for Cloverfield with this movie.

Abrams successfully balances a dramatic plot inside an action movie – never allowing for one solely takeover. Perfect symbiosis that doesn’t feel like an identity crisis. The watcher laughs when there are jokes, tears up when there’s reflection, and grips through seat through conflict. My only regret, like I mentioned earlier, is not having watched this sooner. I imagine that it would have been incredible to watch at the Harvest Moon Drive-In between Lock Haven and Williamsport on a warm summer’s night…

Peppered with dashes of humor, action, and friendship, I will re-watch Super 8 for years to come. Note: That how I judge whether or not I like a movie – if I could re-watch it or not. That being said…

Number of re-watches: Infinite

Derby Girl

Derby Girl

This summer’s reading goal is all about clearing house on my reading list.

Derby Girl, written by Shauna Cross, is an older entry on the list. Whip It! is the film version of this novel (novel-to-film is a running theme in my reading goals as well). Cross wrote the screenplay for the film, which I think is much better than the novel. No significant plot changes were made between the novel and the film, but the ending of the novel, which is the same as the film, leaves me very sour.

This is a spoilers-free blog, but the ending is not fulfilling. Cross did a better job in the film of making points and having meaning to the audience, but the ending trails off no matter what form of media you are into. All sub-plots receive closure, but…I want more. No way will this be a series. Cross created a world and characters that were interesting. There was not enough meat left on these bones to form a sequel even though the diner is left wanting more.

Getting back to the film, I found it a fantastic blend of adding further detail and staying true to the story. I believe that the characters of the roller derby team that 16 year-old Bliss Cavander, performed by Ellen Page, joined in the book are changed in the film for the benefit of the actors. Each actor brings some of themselves to their roles (My roller derby name would be Cass Tastrophe). Landon Pigg, who plays Bliss’s love interest, is incredible eye candy, and plays the role of Boy in a Band very well.

“Never date boys in bands” is an emerging theme in teen culture, as we saw in Jennifer’s Body last year, that Derby Girl helped originate. The only teen literature that I’ve read this year not emphasizing that point was the Scott Pilgrim series, but that point may inversely be “Don’t date delivery chicks with seven evil ex-boyfriends”.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2