Hello, everyone! A month ago I started watching a show on Hulu called Parenthood, a “dramedy” that follows the Braverman clan as they navigate the ups and downs of family life in suburban America. Parenthood is probably one of the smuggest television shows I’ve ever watched, where each of the parents is incredibly insufferable and the kids are nightmares, but I still find myself tuning in episode after episode, if only to hope that Max Braverman, the most poorly-written autistic kid to grace television, might get punched in the face. This post isn’t about my qualms with the show, however, it’s about Adam Braverman, one of the show’s main characters and the perfect example of the “over-protective man.”
The “over protective man,” or OPM as I will call him in the rest of the post, is pervasive in American pop-culture and in American life. He’s the dad who takes “hilarious” pictures with his daughter’s homecoming date warning him to keep his hands to himself, or makes his tween daughter wear a shirt emblazoned with a picture of himself to keep any potential suitors away. He’s Scarface‘s Tony Montana dragging his sister Gina out of a bathroom because she kissed a man he didn’t like. And he’s Parenthood’s Adam Braverman in his every interaction with his daughter Haddie, or pretty much any woman he deems himself worthy of controlling.
The OPM is common enough to warrant its own page on TV Tropes, but I’m going to limit this post to discussing the characters Tony Montana and Adam Braverman, mainly because I find it equally hilarious and distressing that the trope is so embedded in American culture that it pops up in the characters of an über-violent gangster and a mild-mannered white-collar dad. These two characters wouldn’t be able to have even a civil conversation over coffee, but they’re on the same page when it comes to controlling the women around them. The most disturbing aspect? Tony Montana was written in 1983 and Adam Braverman’s character started in 2010. If pop-culture’s portrayal of protective men has changed that little in the past 27 years, then equality between men and women has suffered an equal setback.
Hello, everyone! Let me preface this review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi by saying that I’m a casual viewer of the franchise. It’d be a stretch to even say that I’m a fan, since the only time I’ve watched a Star Wars film is at someone else’s behest or for a family outing. I view the films with pleasant indifference. The series is fun, and its contribution to pop culture is staggering, so if a friend suggests that we see The Force Awakens or Rogue One, I’m game and I don’t regret it. I didn’t plan on seeing The Last Jedi and I would have skipped it altogether if it wasn’t playing for $5 at my local college theater. I expected an easy night with an exciting, sentimental, and yes, formulaic film. But what I got was an in-cohesive, nostalgia-drenched mess that was so trite and boring that my boyfriend and I left the theater with twenty minutes left until the end.
How did a Star Wars film, especially one directed by Rian Johnson (the fantastic Looper), fail so badly at being a quality film? It all comes down to the dilution of character in service of promoting nostalgia and sticking to a formula that long ago wore out its welcome.
Hello, everyone! I recently watched William Oldroyd’s bloody drama Lady Macbeth. I expected a beautiful period piece with murder and mayhem, and what I got was just that and an intoxicating glimpse into a teenage girl’s psyche. I haven’t been this terrified of a teenage girl’s intentions since I watched Ellen Page in Hard Candy. And in fact, Lady‘s Katherine and Hard’s Hayley aren’t so different. They both enjoy having control over men, using their sexuality like a weapon, and lying through their teeth. Coincidentally, both characters might verge on being psychopaths. And in a cinematic world full of Patrick Batemans and Hannibal Lecters, they’re a much needed breath of fresh air.
Horror movies have a habit of reflecting society’s darkest fears. Invasion of the Body Snatchers had its heroes fighting a futile battle against communists in the guise of soulless aliens, while films like The Strangers and Funny Games explore the average American’s helplessness against a new generation of adolescents whose apathy can cross the line into sociopathic violence. When considering which horror movies best exemplify America’s greatest fear from the 2010s to the present, I could point to films such as Unfriended, The Den, Friend Request, Dark Summer, and #Horror, which all paint the dangers of social media as this generation’s biggest epidemic. And while these films point to a grave societal problem, I think I’ve found a film that encapsulates modern America’s deepest fear: the American healthcare system. The film responsible is Would You Rather, a mediocre horror movie that seems oblivious to its true source of scares. Sometimes the best societal commentary is accidental.
Hello, everyone! I watched Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread twice last week. The first viewing left be impressed but emotionally unmoved, the second viewing left me more impressed, but still unmoved. But I was at last able to grasp the themes from the film that eluded me on first viewing, so I must say, if you watch Phantom Thread once, you’re going to need to watch it again, since it’s a quiet, ethereal, and somewhat vague film that deserves to be appreciated. If you like films with the pacing and beauty of a slow waltz, you’ll probably love this film. If you’re expecting a movie about the intricacies of the world of 1950s haute couture, prepare to be disappointed. Phantom Thread isn’t a film about fashion, but a film about artistry and control. As a backdrop, however, you could do worse than a 2 hour movie filled with the stunning Vicky Krieps swanning around in ball gowns.
Hello, everyone! Praise be, I’m getting back into the swing of things with semi-weekly blog posts. That means I have my shit together, guys. What a day to be me. Anyway, today I’m reviewing the new Netflix original horror movie Before I Wake, directed by Mike Flanagan (Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil) and starring Jacob Tremblay (child star and precocious devil) and Kate Bosworth (moonlights as a mannequin). The film started off semi-promisingly, then slowly unravelled into a sappy, gooey mess with a stack of unanswered questions. From the director of Hush, my favorite home invasion movie, and Ouija, which had a gruesome, unsettling ending, I expected a lot more than Before I Wake‘s tepid scares and cheesy resolution.
Hello, everyone! A new movie review, just in time for a new year! Today I watched Julia Ducournau’s horror Raw, a 100 minute gut-punch of blood, guts, and sisterhood. One of those things is not like the others, but Raw never lets its twisted premise come unravelled. Did I enjoy Raw? Yes. Did I also find it disgusting? Yes, yes, and yes. But who says those qualities are mutually exclusive? Sometimes the best films are the ones that are so hard to watch, you can’t turn away.
Hello, everyone! I’m back at home for Thanksgiving break, which means I’ve had lots of time to sleep all day and write all night, and of course, catch up on my movie viewing. Last night I watched The Hateful Eight, Quentin Tarantino’s eighth film and also his most self-indulgent. Now I love Inglourious Basterds and Django and the Kill Bills because they have a slick, stylized violence to them, as well as clever dialogue and dynamic characters you can’t help but root for, even in their debauchery. But Hateful Eight is like a recipe gone wrong. On the surface you have all of the Tarantino trademarks, the blood, the punchy dialogue, the memorable protagonists, but the end of the film leaves you feeling empty and a tad robbed. Why, you may ask, does Tarantino’s latest film fail to satisfy? I say it’s because of bad editing, both of the actual footage and of the concept. Tarantino is certainly an auteur, and usually his quirky touch is heavy in all the right ways, but in this film I finally felt the weight of his ideas crashing down. So let’s dive into some of the reasons that Hateful Eight succeeds, and some of the reasons it really, really fails.
Hello, everyone! More than a year ago, I wrote a review of Jeannette Walls’ memoir The Glass Castle, which I praised for being a straight-forward recollection of Walls’ neglectful and border-line abusive childhood. While the film adaptation, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton of Short Term 12, is a lovingly made, often touching film, it doesn’t carry the same boldness of its source material. Neither work points fingers, but Cretton’s adaptation tries to find forgiveness in a story that doesn’t deserve it. In trying to force a sappy happy ending, Cretton turns a blunt, complex memoir into a boilerplate Hollywood sob story.
Hello, everyone! Having just seen The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola’s latest film for which she won Best Director at Cannes, I’m left feeling confused. To say the film is good or bad oversimplifies the matter; it simply feels half baked. Coppola’s take on author Thomas Cullinan’s novel is lush, beautiful to behold, and potent with tension, but it’s held back by flawed pacing. Coppola is skilled at crafting slow, atmospheric movies like Lost in Translation, but while that film’s anti-climactic ending was a perfect period to its meandering plot, The Beguiled has an explosion of climax with too much rising action and almost no resolution balance to it out. Whether the fault in pacing is due to the source material (I’ve never read the book so I can’t comment) or due to Coppola’s own directorial choices remains to be seen, but the result is a film that feels as incomplete as General McBurney’s amputated leg.