My Month in Film: June 2014

On May 23, the “Isla Vista killings” occurred. Wikipedia describes killer Elliott Rodger’s motive as being “a desire to punish women for rejecting him and also a desire to punish sexually active men for living a better life than him.” This opened up what I’ll loosely define as “a conversation” on the subject of misogyny in American culture, with phrases like “#NotAllMen” and “#YesAllWomen” entering the vernacular.

The Isla Vista killings and the subsequent “discussion” (again, a loose definition of the word here) on the subject of rape culture informed my readings of several films this month. All Cheerleaders Die was a no-brainer, because Lucky McKee has a history of addressing feminist themes in his work, but I also saw it in Missing and Alyce Kills, and my write-ups of +1 and Heavy Metal also addressed misogyny.

I don’t think this is all that big of a coincidence, because independent horror films have been addressing feminist themes for quite some time, and mainstream horror movies are almost pathologically obsessed with “final girls.” But watching these films through the filter of current events made me see them a bit differently.

Lots of movies this month!

New or recent releases:

Retro reviews:

Episode 29 of the Forced Viewing Podcast dropped this month; the featured films were Attack the BlockGodzilla (the new version), Toad Road and Missing.

*   *   *

A scene from MISSING

Missing (Kim Sung-Hong, 2009)

This is, esssentially, a South Korean “torture-porn” movie, and while I appreciate some of the extreme lengths the murderer goes to make his victims suffer, this really didn’t strike me as anything other than typical fare.

However, on the podcast we started talking about Isla Vista-type things in connection with it, things I didn’t notice when I watched it. And Jori pointed out that Western viewers, familiar with things like “strong female leads” and “final girls,” might not notice how radical its take on gender politics is from a more traditional, conservative Asian point of view.

I enjoyed it, and thought the villain was awesome, but I think I need to rewatch at some point.

My rating: Pro.

Michael Cera, Alison Pill and Johnny Simmons in SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Edgar Wright, 2010)

This is one you either get or you don’t. I’m not familiar with all the video-game and anime references, but I’m familiar with indie rock and got most of the music jokes (I particularly dig the New Order Movement T-shirt Young Neil wears early on). When my knowledge of the influence flagged, the crackerjack performances and Edgar Wright’s limitless energy kept me engaged. Kieran Culkin’s performance as Wallace deserved an Oscar nod, I’m not even joking.

The one thing that didn’t work for me was Michael Cera. I don’t have anything against him, I’m an Arrested Development fan and don’t have much investment in his other work. But I think–I don’t know if this makes any sense or not–he’s too perfect for the role, because we only ever see Cera. We don’t see Scott Pilgrim.

Other than that, fantastic movie. Plus, it’s got Mary Elizabeth Winstead with short hair! I like women with short hair, even (especially?) when it’s blue!

And, of course, I got to discuss it with Bubbawheat on the Filmwhys podcast. Lots of fun, that.

My rating: Pro.

A scene from THE THING

The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982)

I used to think that I’d said pretty much everything I have to say about The Thing.

But one thing I only noticed on this rewatch is that the humans are the aggressors here, not the Thing. What does it spend most of its time in the film doing? Building an escape craft, although we don’t see that until the movie is almost over. It doesn’t want to reach human civilization and infect the entire world. It wants to leave.

Yes, it has to bodysnatch a few people to do that, but…it’s not like it can build a spaceship if it’s stuck as a huskie, is it?

My rating: Pro.

A scene from DESPICABLE ME 2

Despicable Me 2 (Pierre Coffin & Chris Renaud, 2013)

This is pretty much the same as the first one. I mean, the story’s a bit different, but it’s basically the same formula. It’s pretty funny, and Benjamin Bratt and Steve Coogan are hysterical. And “Happy” is a wonderful, wonderful song.

But, like the first one, the Minions make it worth watching. Their spinoff movie can’t come soon enough.

My rating: Pro.

A scene from FROZEN

Frozen (Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee, 2013)

This is a Disney Princess movie, not something I’d usually watch but I wanted to know what was with all the “Let It Go” parodies that showed up on my Facebook wall that obviously weren’t based on either the Voltaire or Prids songs. At any rate, it wouldn’t kill me to watch something different, would it?

My big problem with it is that it’s just too slow and the plot’s too busy. “Let It Go” wasn’t even that good. About forty minutes I was about to check out, and that’s when Olaf showed up. Olaf saved the movie for me. Olaf’s song, the one about doing “whatever snow does in summer,” was much better than “Let It Go.” Olaf said many funny things, such as “Oh, look! I’ve been impaled.”

Olaf deserves his own movie.

For that matter, Olaf deserves to be a Disney Princess.

My rating: Pro.

A scene from JERSEY BOYS

Jersey Boys (Clint Eastwood, 2014)

This is a biopic about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It does a decent enough job, as such, as nobody’s performance is too embarrassing and the guy who plays Frankie sounds enough like him to get a pass.

But it is, at the end of the day, a biopic about a rock band, and the characters do all the things that people in movie about rock bands do. If you are looking for a movie about rock stars who are good parents, don’t sleep around, and are fiscally responsible, I should warn you: this is not that movie.

Also, “Stay” is not given the attention it should have.

On the plus side, Christopher Walken is in it (he’s probably the only person you’ll recognize), and he dances.

My rating: Pro.

One thought on “My Month in Film: June 2014

  1. Nice list of reviews. I will agree with you that Olaf’s song about summer was way better then Let it Go. I liked Cera in Scott Pilgrim but he wasnt anything special. Yeah Winstead looks different and better with short color hair then she does with long hair. Great post.


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