Monthly Archives: November 2015

THG: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review

(MINOR SPOILERS)

The last film in a franchise is nearly always the hardest film in the lot to make, and the hardest to watch.  It has the burden of being the “goodbye” that we know we won’t be satisfied with, but we won’t be satisfied without either.  Ultimately, we want a sense of completion, but we also need a sense that, after the credits roll, everything will stay as it should be in the world of the film.  Good characters are rewarded and satisfied, bad characters are punished, and the scope/nature of any character’s death fits the scope/nature of his or her life.  Whatever part of the movie’s finale the viewers are pondering while leaving the theater becomes what the franchise means to them.  This is a task of gigantic proportions that must be handled with extreme care, and I say The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -Part 2 is a good example of a conclusion that feels just about right.

The most impressive thing, however, is that we spend the whole movie (as we have for the whole franchise) rooting for Katniss to kill Snow, but once she has the chance to shoot him, we don’t want her to.  This is an incredible feat to pull off, and it serves to turn the saying “remember who the real enemy is” into a question of what  the real enemy is.  A series that started as a controversial story about children going to war has evolved into a timeless fable about human nature.  The dangers of history repeating itself offer more powerful terror than any of the horrific moments seen previously in the franchise, and the entire history of their dystopia is called into question during just one conversation.  Our view of some of the characters change entirely, but I was happy to see that the most important characters got just about the endings they deserved, with hope in the future for the characters we care about most.

So, it pulls off the sequel game well, but setting my sequel standards aside, what do I think of it as a film?  Well, the acting is just right, as usual, and the script seems largely well-written.  The soundtrack is pretty standard, but I seem to recall enjoying some unique parts of the score here and there.  The visuals seem even more gray than usual in this one, which is a pity, but I suppose I’m used to all that by now.  Sadly, this movie did not have the kind of moving moments that nearly brought me to tears in the second and third films, but it did have one moment (the one captured in the image below) that had me on the edge of my seat trying to keep from cheering.  This moment, however, is what makes it a great wrap-up, so I must conclude that this is not my favorite film in the Hunger Games franchise, but as a franchise finale, I adore it.

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The Passion of the Christ Review

Ew.

82 The Passion of the Christ

JD’s Favorite Movies – November, 2015

Ah, Thanksgiving. It’s a good time to celebrate the movies for which I’m most thankful! Here’s the updated list (as opposed to the one I posted in May) of my favorite movies.

  1. The Muppet movie series (’79, Caper or MTI, MMW, 2011, MTM or Carol, then Space)
  2. Labyrinth
  3. Duck Soup (1933)
  4. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  5. The Gremlins series
  6. Little Shop of Horrors
  7. Mary Poppins
  8. High Anxiety
  9. The Back to the Future series (1, then 2 and 3)
  10. The Dark Crystal
  11. The Naked Gun series (1, then 2, then 3)
  12. The Truman Show
  13. The Wizard of Oz
  14. Play It Again, Sam
  15. The Ghostbusters series (1, then 2)
  16. Some Like It Hot
  17. The Breakfast Club
  18. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
  19. Young Frankenstein
  20. Casablanca
  21. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (MST3Ked)
  22. Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  23. Annie Hall
  24. The Princess Bride
  25. I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story
  26. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  27. Beetlejuice
  28. Airplane
  29. Silver Linings Playbook
  30. CLUE
  31. The Lego Movie
  32. Hot Fuzz
  33. Ever After
  34. Carrie (2013)
  35. Follow That Bird
  36. Citizen Kane
  37. Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  38. Wayne’s World
  39. The Harry Potter series (5 or 2 first, then 1, 8 or 7, 4 or 6, then 3)
  40. Prince of Space (MST3Ked)
  41. The Pink Panther
  42. Magic in the Moonlight
  43. Being Elmo
  44. Spaceballs: The Movie
  45. Silent Movie
  46. Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan
  47. The Hunger Games series (3 first, then 2, then 1)
  48. Inside Out
  49. Batman (1989)
  50. The Graduate
  51. Sleeper
  52. The Lion King 1½
  53. Blazing Saddles
  54. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
  55. Batman: The Movie (1966)
  56. Hook
  57. Crazy People
  58. Scoop
  59. Doctor Who: The Movie
  60. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  61. Singin’ in the Rain
  62. Robin Hood: Men in Tights
  63. Metropolis (Giorgio Moroder version)
  64. Shaun of the Dead
  65. The Sound of Music
  66. Back to the Beach
  67. Matinee
  68. The Road to El Dorado
  69. The People vs. George Lucas
  70. The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story
  71. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle
  72. Amelie
  73. Her (2013)
  74. The Parent Trap (1961)
  75. Twelve Angry Men
  76. Cinderella (1950)
  77. Charlotte’s Web (1973)
  78. A Night at Casablanca
  79. With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story
  80. The Little Mermaid
  81. Strike Up the Band
  82. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (MST3Ked)
  83. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
  84. The Lion King
  85. Comic Book Confidential
  86. Beauty and the Beast
  87. Babes in Arms
  88. Alice (1990)
  89. The Unbelievers
  90. Ed Wood (1994)
  91. Guardians of the Galaxy
  92. Flushed Away
  93. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex
  94. Delirious (1991)
  95. I Know That Voice
  96. Haunted Honeymoon
  97. The Spy Kids series (probably 2, 1 or 4, then 3)
  98. Annie (1982)
  99. Aladdin
  100. A Shot in the Dark
  101. Forbidden Planet

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone . . . and happy anniversary to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Birdman Review

I need to start with a spoiler warning since I don’t want to hold myself back from writing about whatever I find is most worth writing about, and this film has many interesting elements that I could focus on for much of the review if I chose to do so: it has a unique, seamless editing style that effectively creates the illusion of one continuous shot for the vast majority of the film (which eventually gets annoying since we humans need breaks in what we experience, but for most of the film it’s more of a spectacle than a burden), it has excellent performances from its superb cast, and its visuals are often very pleasing and impressive, but I think those who know my tastes well can guess that I want to talk about the ambiguity factor – after all, I am known for my issues with needless ambiguity, and this a perfect example, because, if given some thought, it becomes clear that either interpretation of the ending is stupid: either Keaton jumps to his death, meaning Stone has no reason to smile the way she does, or he randomly possesses the ability to magically fly like a bird for some reason; and to think, this all could have been avoided if not for the fact that critics love ambiguity, which makes sense in a way – it offers the viewer the chance to write a little portion of the film that makes it meaningful to him/her as an individual, but it relies on the erroneous assumption that the meaning the viewer projects onto the work of art actually matters, but here’s the catch – you, the viewer, don’t matter.

Your two cents are worthless.

If a work of art lacks definition and meaning to the extent that an observer can project his own meaning onto it without being right or wrong, it’s not deep.

It’s shallow, but with style.  It gestures towards possible meanings, but does not commit to any of them.

I can best explain it this way: a film that challenges it audience intelligently says, “when life gives you lemons, should you give them to the poor and hungry?”  An ambiguous film, on the other hand, just has a blind man hold up a coconut and say, “when life gives you melons,” and then it ends.  The second film in my example may leave the viewer asking more questions, which creates an illusion of thoughtfulness, but I’d say the first film is more important.

In other words, no matter how amazing the visuals may be, how perfect the editing may be, how smart the writing may be, or how spot-on the performances may be, it is important for a film that wants to add to any discussion to use complete sentences, or else it isn’t much of a contribution, it’s just a

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