The Film Itself

Gonna be honest, didn’t care for this film.

I was excited to see it because it’s such an interesting topic and who doesn’t love Bryan Cranston. I love a movie that has great writing, and as this movie is about a great writer, I thought it would have great writing. Not so much the case.

Going into this movie, I knew it was about a screenwriter in the Hollywood Ten and that’s about all I knew so I figured this would probably focus on the trial and that part of Trumbo’s life. Not so much the case. The trial happened and Trumbo went to jail in maybe the first third of the movie. So at this point I was confused as to what the point of this movie was. I think maybe the writers were too.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it is sprawling and directionless. I recently listened to the “Biopics” episode of the Maltin at the Movies podcast where they discussed J. Edgar, saying that it lacked a thesis. In many ways, including this one, Trumbo had very similar problems to those they pointed out in J. Edgar. Was this movie about Trumbo’s quirky personality? Was it about freedom of speech? Was it about the unjust persecution of harmless communists? Was it about Trumbo’s relationship with his family? Was it about the secret writing he did while blacklisted? Yes. The movie was about all of these but I wouldn’t be able to pinpoint which one was the pinnacle. This really held the movie back.

It’s really upsetting because this movie held so much potential. It could have been a really interesting period piece. However the lighting was terrible and made the movie feel like it was definitely not the 1940’s. It could have been a very powerful statement about freedom of speech. The movie came closest to achieving this, but only really in the first half. It could have been an interesting portrait of a quirky, strong character. While Bryan Cranston pulled this off to an extent, the writing really held him back from nabbing that Oscar. All of the writing in this movie should have been so much sharper and wittier and less… didactic? The movie could have been about persisting in the face of oppression, but no. Trumbo just entirely lacked focus and that was really upsetting.

Also, the aging makeup was terrible. Bryan Cranston looked the same age throughout the film, spanning at least three decades, except towards the end they threw some baby powder in his hair. Also, Louis C.K.’s character had to have been older or at the very least the same age as Bryan Cranston’s, seeing as his grandkids were the age of Trumbo’s kids. That idea is downright laughable.

There were still parts of this movie that were enjoyable, for instance, the middle third of the movie or Elle Fanning. But overall I just grieve for what this movie should have been.

The Bechdel Test

This movie almost passes, but I’m gonna say it doesn’t. There is one scene in which Nikola and Cleo talk about using a punching bag or whatever, but it’s really a conversation about Nikola’s anger toward her father. I mean I guess it’s not surprising since this movie centers on the life of a man in the 1940’s but still. You could give your female characters a little more credit.

Fun Fact

Louis C.K.’s character, Arlen Hird, was not a real person, but was instead a mashup of a bunch of blacklisted writers apparently.

Best Part

All scenes containing John Goodman. Hilarious and wonderful.

Worst Part

Actual* conversation from Trumbo:

Louis C.K.: *coughs*

Trumbo: What’s wrong?

Louie: It’s cancer.




The Film Itself

So this movie was quite a ride in a way that I was definitely not expecting. I’m a big Michael Fassbender fan and I’m a really big Domhnall Gleeson fan. (Everyone needs to go watch About Time.) I was expecting Dom to play the same character he has played in Ex Machina and About Time and Anna Karenina. Quiet and charmingly awkward and bumbling. The first two minutes of the movie made it seem that was exactly what was going to happen. I absolutely loved those first few minutes. (WATCH THIS MOVIE IN STEREO/SURROUND SOUND PEOPLE.) I loved the playfulness of just starting with Dom’s beautiful voice and there were some great shots in the opening of this movie.

However, immediately after the first three minutes, I was repulsed by Dom’s character. I think his name was Jon but I’m going to call him Dom. It just felt like both Dom and the movie were trying too hard to be something. More specifically a quirky and creative something. Quirky and creative are both things that come off as tacky if you have to try at them.

I just quickly want to bring up that Scoot McNairy is in this film. I first saw him in Halt and Catch Fire and I’ve had my eye on him since. There’s just something about his face and presence that pleases me. It’s simultaneously dopey yet somehow has this scary edge beneath it. That’s about all I have to say about his character though. Anyway…

I wasn’t sure how Michael Fassbender would be in this. I love all of his performances but he’s a bona fide movie star so I just was unsure how he would fit in this quirky little indie-type movie. I was sold about 10 seconds into the first song when he hit this amazing high note. It was perfect and his American accent was respectably good.

For the first third of this movie, I was not enjoying it. Like I said before, it was trying too hard to be quirky. There were so many strange characters floating around that you just didn’t really connect to them or find them interesting. Or at least I didn’t. It took me over twenty minutes to realize that Maggie Gyllenhaal was in this movie. But holy crap she was amazing. Such a bad ass.

Guys. I’m kicking myself. I wrote in my notes how much I loved the direction of this movie and I just looked it up and he also directed Room. Alright, need to see that and keep my eye on this guy.

The music was surprisingly good in this movie. Apparently all the actors were playing all the music live. So basically I don’t understand how Michael Fassbender is a human being with that much talent.

I NEED to talk about the hanging scene. Holy crap am I in love with this scene. So this is the point when the movie starts to subtly shift. I was still focused on trying to figure out what the movie was doing with Dom. Why would the movie focus on such a condescending character? Is he really supposed to be a hero? Dom walks out of the cabin on a silent gray morning and begins smoking. The camera slowly pans away and without bringing any focus to it, we see Frank hanging by a noose. So shocking a way to depict suicide but also fitting to the character. The band panics and carries his body to a table. Then Frank walks up to them confused. Now at this point I thought the dead body was an eccentricity of Frank’s world and was just a stuffed mannequin or something. They pull the head off to reveal dear old Scoot. It was just so many layers of surprise, none of which I genuinely saw coming. Delightful. And dark.

Now the genius of this movie is that its true motive is hidden. The first half of the movie focuses on Dom and almost makes you think he should be the hero. It seems like the movie is about inspiration and creating music and all that rot. Thank God it wasn’t. I’m not a fan of those movies. As this movie unfolds, you begin to realize that it’s a bait and switch. The movie centers around Dom but the true heroes are Frank and Maggie. They are authentic and have true talent. At first they come off as holier-than-thou characters but by the end of the movie you realize it’s the opposite. Dom is condescending towards real life and tries to make Maggie and Frank into something they’re not. Not only that, but a big part of this movie is a statement on how we look at mental illness. At least that’s the way it felt to me. When Dom meets Frank, he thinks he’s just eccentric, as we, the audience, do. The papier mache head is just a bit. But we eventually come to understand that Frank does in fact have a serious mental illness. Dom begins treating him as sort of a savant. He talks down to him and isn’t sure how to treat him. I honestly would probably act the same which makes me sad. I’d rather be like Maggie and the rest of the band and be able to treat him like a normal person. And it’s not sentimental about it which is awesome.

I also really love the way they used the face reveal against the audience. Everyone knows it’s Michael Fassbender under there so they trick you and Dom with a lookalike. Even after presenting the real Frank we don’t get a full view of his face until the peak of the emotional apologetic song. It’s beautiful and wonderful.

The Bechdel Test

Frank does not pass but it’s mainly because there’s only three characters that talk much at all, maybe four, and only one is female. Not upset about it. Maggie Gyllenhaal is a bad ass.

Fun Fact

One of my favorite scenes of the movie is when Frank is chasing Jon around a field and apparently that was totally improvised by Michael Fassbender.

Also, at Sundance, the entire audience received papier mache Frank heads.

Favorite Scene

It’s tied with the chase scene I mentioned just now and the hanging scene, but I’m going to have to go with the sex scene. I’ve noticed recently that I don’t usually laugh out loud at movies, especially when I’m watching alone. I suspect it’s because I don’t want to miss anything but holy crap I couldn’t help myself. The sexual tension was so palpable and Maggie Gylenhaal just absolutely went for it. Amazing.

Least Favorite Scene

The whole social media thing. I think my hatred of it is an extension of my hatred for Jon but ugh. I guess it was used really well to show the contradiction between what was actually happening and what Jon wanted to be happening. I just really didn’t like it.


Captain America: Civil War

The Film Itself

So ultimately this was the same exact premise of Batman Vs. Superman. I feel like the film studios were trying to appease fans (something I hate) with these movies. For years fans have been sarcastically commenting on the fact that super heroes get away with destroying entire cities with no consequences and finally Marvel and DC have responded. Except Marvel did it so much better!!! This movie was SO GOOD!

I’m going to be honest, I’ve come into this phase where I always want to hate Marvel movies. I don’t know why. And I always like them anyways. As formulaic and cheesy as they seem they are always enjoyable. And clearly this movie had its formulaic and cheesy moments but it was still surprisingly good.

The writing was actually really amazing. The movie brought up a really interesting philosophical debate. On the one hand, the secretary of state with the great mustache brings up a great point: When the Avengers operate on their own they are imposing their own will on others. And the will of the few can often be skewed. Is it more correct than the will of the many? But at the same time can the UN privatize people? Take away their free will? My heart tells me no but my brain tells me yes. Which is why I don’t like the fact that Tony Stark was made out to be the bad guy the whole time. Like sure the Accords didn’t work out this time but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea overall. I think a happy medium needs to be found. I also really respect the fact that this movie could have easily been pushing a political agenda through this plot but they didn’t.

Now let’s talk about Tony Stark because holy crap his character was so juicy in this movie. Don’t get me freaking started on that scene  when Captain America leaves with Bucky and leaves his shield behind. And Tony Stark is left alone with his pride and his baggage and no friends and it’s amazing and I LOVE IT. He’s such a tortured character with his guilt over everything and this movie is like his final breaking point. Hopefully he’s finally been pushed far enough to tame his ego. Also I love that they introduced the whole parents’ death thing earlier in the movie then brought it back as one of the main plot reveals.

I really like the Black Panther character and his fighting style. So cool. I thought the scene with his father was really touching until I realized it was just emotional manipulation cause his dad was about to die. Emotional Manipulation is not authentic and needs to stop (I’m looking at you N. Sparks). I get that the after-credits scene was setting up the Black Panther movie but it was uneventful and totally not worth it. I was also very upset at how long it took me to figure out who Black Panther was. It was before he took his mask off but not much sooner.

The Stan Lee cameo was cheesy and stupid.

The dialogue during the big Avengers fight scene was amazing and the new Spiderman is perfect. By the way, he was in The Impossible which is a really beautiful movie that you should all watch.

Elizabeth Olsen seems like she’s probably a really good actress beneath that oft-faltering Russian accent. Paul Bettany was also amazing and perfect as Vision. I guess Vision is ageless so it’s not creepy but I know that underneath it all Paul Bettany is waaay older than Elizabeth Olsen so it is creepy. Also, feel free to fight me on this, but I’d be hard pressed to say that Wanda isn’t the strongest Avenger. Also is she already completely over the fact that her twin brother is dead…?

I didn’t like the chemistry between the girl from Everwood and Cap and I also don’t like it when blonde people date because they look like siblings. But the chemistry between literally everyone else was amazing.

There is no way you could convince me that Chris Evans is not on steroids.

Martin Freeman’s non-Wisconsin American accent makes me upset but it’s okay because it’s Martin Freeman.

Bechdel Test

There’s some debate over whether this movie passes. Scarlet Witch and Black Widow share about two lines with each other at the beginning of the movie over surveillance and that’s it. However, I’m not too bothered by it because there are multiple badass female characters in this movie who fight and kick ass and they really don’t talk about guys. It’s awesome. Of course only two out of ten Avengers are women but progress I guess.

Fun Fact

Anthony Mackie (Falcon) and Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes) raced each other in costume at some point.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

The Film Itself

I feel kind of like I’m cheating by doing a post about this movie because I’ve seen it before but it’s been long enough that I didn’t really remember what happened so you can all shut up. Even though you weren’t saying anything. Also weighing on my conscience: I recently watched Men, Women & Children and started a blog post but it didn’t save so screw that. All I have to say is I do not recommend it. It’s like an after school special on steroids. The only reason I could possibly recommend this is if you want to break your own sympathetic heart or if you want to see a couple of moments of really honest acting (specifically from Kaitlyn Dever and Rosemarie DeWitt).

Anyways, I love this movie. So good. It’s so unabashedly smart. It’s not witty and clever in a very deep and inspirational way. It’s in your face about how smart it is. Which is why Robert Downey Jr. is about as close as you can get to perfect casting. And don’t even get me started on Val Kilmer! Holy Crap! I want Gay Perry in my life. He needs to be at the top of every list of the most sarcastic characters in cinema. So great.

I will also say that my roommate is one of the worst people to watch movies with. However because of that, it teaches me more about the movie. For instance, my roommate has a habit of asking a lot of questions, mostly about what’s going to happen next. She was confused throughout this whole movie. But honestly it’s just cause she wasn’t paying attention. So pay attention if you watch this movie. Her review: Robert Downey Jr. is a sweetie, 8/10.

I don’t even know how to organize this post. I’m sorry. Bear with me. So let’s go with the writing first cause that’s by far the best part of the movie. God. So good and smart and sarcastic. I don’t even know what else to say. I love when movies use fourth wall breaks really well like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang does. Not only do they create an unreliable narrator, they also make fun of themselves and their audience. It’s “so meta”. They make fun of all the tropes they use, like (spoiler alert) Harry and Harmony being the kids from the home video and Gay Perry surviving in the end. They also make fun of the crime genre. I mean I think that’s what the cheesy music was all about. And that scene when Robert Downey Jr. plays Russian Rouelette!!! I love it when a movie can shock me. Very reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino and Wes Anderson. The only negative thing I will say about the writing is I feel like there was some discontinuity in the Harry character. He was smart sometimes and stupid other times? I mean I think maybe they were going for smart but uneducated or maybe he was smart but didn’t care? I don’t know. I feel Robert Downey Jr. was very fitting for this part but was maybe too smart for the character.

Now for my passion piece. Frickin Harmony. She makes me ashamed of womankind. Kind of. I mean she’s pretty much a bimbo but she is really smart I guess. I feel bad for calling her a bimbo because she’s had a tough life but COME ON! Have some self respect! I mean really?! You’ll give a guy a hand job just because it’s uncomfortable for him to have a boner ? What???? Jesus. I guess this is a good movie for girls to watch so they learn some self respect hopefully. And Harmony does provide a good foil to Harry, making him a surprisingly moral and sweet guy. Which was cool and unexpected and wonderful.

Quick word on the direction. I didn’t catch too much of it but I’m pretty sure it was good. I love indirect shots and there was this great one of Harry and Harmony having a conversation in the hotel room and the shot was focused on Harry with Harmony’s reflection to the side while she undressed. Soo cool.

Bechdel Test

This movie does not pass. I guess it’s kind of feminist through Harry, at least. Sigh. I guess Harmony’s a relatively actiony female character. Still a bimbo though.

Fun Fact

Gay Perry is generally considered the first openly gay character to lead an action film.

Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

The Film Itself

I thank God every day for Hans Zimmer. And now I might have to add Jesse Eisenberg to that list. He was a shining beacon in a very muddy movie.

As I write this post, I am watching The Grand Budapest Hotel for what I would estimate to be the seventh time. It feels so cleansing and wonderful to watch a movie with such beautifully- and smartly-crafted dialogue after watching a movie with SUCH terrible writing and storytelling. It has been said that you can make a crappy movie from a good script, but that you can’t make a good movie from a crappy script. I feel the truth of that statement in my bones after watching Batman V Superman. There were so many good things about this movie. The cinematography was AMAZING. Jesse Eisenberg was AMAZING. Henry Cavill was pretty good and so was Gal Gadot. I loved Laurence Fishburne. The score was great. I guess the fight scenes were pretty good. But none of this could begin to  make up for the horrendous script, which, by the way, I am so very confused about. Pretty much the only other movie this writer has written was Argo which won best screenplay? How do you go from winning an Oscar to writing lines like, “There was a time above… A time before… There were perfect things… diamond absolutes. But things fall… things on Earth. And what falls… is fallen.”? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?? There were so many lines like this that I just could not decode. Also, I feel like you know the movie is bad anytime it contains the line, “May God have mercy on us all.” Not to mention the movie left me with a lot of unanswered questions. How does Superman always, ALWAYS know where Lois Lane is? Does he have a tracker on her? Does Superman have any respect for other people’s property? Why were there so many dream sequences? Why did Batman use so many guns? Why did this movie need to be two and a half hours long?

Look. I had high hopes for this movie. I like superhero movies, I like Ben Affleck. I really tried to like it. There was the scene where Bruce Wayne’s parents die and the cinematography was UNREAL and I was so ready. But then baby Bruce Wayne fell into the Batcave and started levitating via bat tornado?! Thank God this was just a dream sequence, of which there were about three, all of which I hated relatively equally. They pretty much all contained unnecessary jump scares that just annoyed me. After that, the movie started going downhill, VERY quickly. By about 30 minutes in, I was just done.

Other thoughts:

Why is Superman’s outfit made of sequins? I like it.

I watch Halt and Catch Fire so I’m a big fan of Scoot McNairy and he’s in almost nothing so I was super excited when I recognized him in this but he was barely in it!

Jesse Eisenberg is an absolute ray of sunshine. When he came on screen, my boyfriend chuckled, shook his head, and said, “F*cking Jesse Eisenberg”, which is pretty much the best description of Jesse Eisenberg I’ve heard. He was the perfect level of unstable, ridiculous, buttwipe-y teenager. I found myself frequently gaping at the screen in awe when he appeared. It honestly seemed like the writer saved all his best stuff for Lex Luthor because he actually had a few good lines. Which leads me to my conspiracy theory: Somebody out there is trying to sabotage Ben Affleck’s career just the way Lex Luthor did Superman’s. That’s what you get for sleeping with the nanny.

Why is Alfred the same age as Bruce Wayne? Is this one of those situations that they talked about in The Help where you become a servant at the age of 12 and have to raise a child who is 10 years younger than you?

If you had told me this movie was directed by Michael Bay, I would have believed you in a heartbeat.

I was upset that there was no batsuit reveal shot. The style of the batsuit has been very important to the film anthology over the years. The batsuit is to Batman as the Bond girl is to James Bond. We never got a real clear shot of what they went with for this movie.

Bruce Wayne and Alfred are both such jerks in this movie. It was explained to me that this is accurate to the comic that this movie was based on. I guess I respect that they didn’t dumb down the lore just to make it accessible to a larger audience though.

I really hate that a major plot point was that both Batman’s and Superman’s moms were named Martha. “What’s that? Oh you have a mom too? We can totally be friends now. Maybe we can share yours since mine is dead.” I mean I guess this moment was probably supposed to be like Batman sees Superman as being more human because he has a mom but it did not come across that way. It just seemed super corny and stupid.

The Bechdel Test

This movie definitely does not pass. I mean there are plenty of strong female characters, which I really respect, but the only ones that talk to each other are Lois Lane and Martha Kent and all they talk about is Superman so…

Fun Fact

So apparently the executives at Warner Bros. liked the rough cut of the movie they saw so much that they gave it a standing ovation and immediately tried to negotiate two more solo batman movies with Affleck, in addition to the one that’s already in the works. I’d like to see what they saw.

The Big Short


The Film Itself

I was so excited to see this movie! Five Oscar nominations, Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, AND Adam McKay?! Not to mention I love a true story. Mind you, not one of those cheesy, inspiring true stories (Miracles From Heaven, barf.). And it was pretty good! Not as good as I had hoped, but still good. I’d watched Inside the Actor’s Studio featuring Steve Carell before seeing this movie, and James Lipton talked about how this wasn’t a horror movie but it was still terrifying. He was soo right. So scary! How could the entire government and housing market not know about this?!?!?! Well I guess they said in the end that the government did know, they just didn’t care, which is almost worse. I hate to say it, but I think “The Academy” was right in only giving this movie the Oscar for best adapted screenplay and nothing else. The storytelling aspect of this movie is definitely where it shines. You guys, THIS STORY IS SO CRAZY. Seriously. How was everything so messed up and no one knew about it?! And they told it so well! The cameos explaining all the real technical stuff, the fourth wall breaks, the time jump narration, so so stylish! Love it. And I think I actually understand on a very basic level what a CDO is (Although Selena Gomez would not have been my first pick to explain it). The thing that impressed me the most about the storytelling was how bad it made me feel. The whole time I was rooting for all these characters to be right and to win against all these people who said they were wrong. I gotta tell ya, I love me an underdog. However, as it started to dawn on the characters what they are actually betting against, it started to dawn on me that I was rooting for the economy to collapse and for thousands of people to lose their jobs and homes. It made me sick to my stomach, horrified, and completely awed. Thank you Adam McKay. You pulled one over on me. I still can’t get over it. That’s why I am so disappointed with the movie as a whole. There was so much potential here! The cinematography was awesome, all of the actors were great, a lot of the direction was really cool but none of it seemed fleshed out fully. I felt like there could have been a lot more development with the characters. There could have been so much more done with Steve Carell’s anger and Ryan Gosling’s assertiveness and Christian Bale’s … Asperger’s… I also felt like the direction was kind of unfocused. My guess is McKay was going for a documentary/not documentary mash-up, but it just felt like he couldn’t decide which way he wanted to go and just did both, fully committing to neither. I’m just going to chalk it all up to this being Adam McKay’s first crack at dramatic directing. Overall, lots of great stuff. If you’re looking for a really cool, smart, true story, definitely worth a watch.

Bechdel Test

This movie was far from passing the Bechdel test. I don’t think there were even two named female characters in the whole movie. The only one I remember is Marisa Tomei and I sure don’t remember her name. Oh I guess there was that pregnant boss lady. Kristen? I don’t know, still doesn’t pass. I mean I guess you can’t really blame them since this is a true story.

Fun Fact

Paramount Studios would only let Adam McKay do this movie if he made an Anchorman sequel. Many people probably disagree with me, but Thank you Paramount!

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya.

The Blog Itself

Just kidding my name is Emma. I’m here because I really like movies and I have a lot of thoughts about them. If you like what I have to say, that’s awesome. If you don’t, that’s cool too, but 1) I’m not an omnipotent superhuman who’s always right about everything and 2) this isn’t really about you. No offense or anything, but this is just a place for me to put my thoughts down. It’s not really a review site, well I guess it sort of is, I don’t know. Just know that there are major spoilers ahead.

The Bechdel Test

So this is how I plan to format all my blogs. I promise I’m not some crazy third wave feminist, but I do think there is a problem with sexism in our country. But mostly I just think the Bechdel test is really interesting. Well, I guess I find it really interesting that the majority of movies don’t pass the Bechdel test. Which says a lot about our society, but what can you do? I think if I were a director or something I would make sure all of my movies passed this test because it’s such a small thing that seems relatively easy to accomplish.

If you don’t know what the Bechdel test is, let me explain. A movie passes the Bechdel test if it meets the following qualifications:

  1. There must be two named female characters
  2. They must talk to each other
  3. They must talk about something other than a man

Fun Fact

My all-time favorite movie is The Princess Bride.