Easy to Please (My love of splody and sappy cinema)

While I’m queuing up my next batch of book reviews, I’m going to share some thoughts on movies—what I have watched and enjoyed, watched and hated, and later this week, some of the weirdest stuff Netflix has dropped into my mailbox.

I’ve had a Netflix account about twelve years and in that time, I’ve watched thirteen hundred movies. That’s a lot! As you can imagine, not all of them were great. I’m a pretty forgiving audience, though. In fact, I’m absurdly easy to please. I often describe myself as the lowest common denominator. I’ll enjoy movies that others can’t muster even a lukewarm smile for. Part of it is that I don’t sit down with over-inflated expectations. If I rented the movie to watch gorgeous men lose their shirts in the first action scene and then ripple across the screen in a stunning display of sweaty abs and pecs, and they do just that, I’m happy. Who cares about plot when there are wonderfully sculpted shoulders and piercing blue eyes inviting me to come play? Not me.

I also like splody things. Yes, I’m a John Woo fan. If it can be blown up, it should be blown up, and the bigger and hotter the fireball, the better. Collateral damage? Bring it on. Pesky shirts singed into non-existence and conveniently glossy muscles smudged with soot. Mm-hmm.

My favourite John Woo film? Red Cliff. While typically violent, this one is all about the story, for me. I also enjoyed the rich rendering of Chinese history and culture, with the added dynamic of typical Chinese cinema; the exploration of legend and myth and stunts that require extreme suspension of disbelief.

More recently, I had a great time watching White House Down. Roland Emmerich has a reputation for blowing stuff up, especially the White House, so from the moment they released the trailer, I was in. For me, this movie was equal parts awesome explosions and good looking men. Jamie Foxx had his nerd on as president Sawyer, but still captured my heart. Channing Tatum has a wonderful physique. He also has impressive comic timing, which I felt he brought to bear with just the right touch—in between being a great dad and a kick-arse soldier. I also enjoyed the plot. Yes, there was a plot.

Anyone who went into this movie expecting more was going to be disappointed. What I don’t get is why expect more. Movies are designed to entertain. What’s the problem when they aim to do just that? Sometimes I don’t really want to think. Sometimes I just want to see things get blown up. My life is pretty normal—in so far as I live in a semi-rural area and enjoy weekly visits to the supermarket, library and karate studio. For more excitement, I go to the movies, rent an absurd amount of DVDs and read a lot of books. I also play video games and, yep, you guessed it, my favourites are the ones where you get to chop the enemy into little tiny pieces. Or decapitate them. Or find their heads in the sights of a long-range sniper rifle.

I’m also a fan of the Fat Boy.

Nothing like a little nuclear catastrophe. I never shot cactuses, though. I saved my nukes for super mutants. (Fall Out 3)
Nothing like a little nuclear catastrophe. I never shot cactuses, though. I saved my nukes for super mutants. (Fall Out 3)

Before I segue into a ramble about video games, or you worry further about my latent psychotic tendencies, let’s move on to the other sort of movie I shamelessly absorb: romantic comedies. The sappier, the better. My favourite? Too hard to choose, but the first that comes to mind is The Holiday.

I ADORE this film. If I was to peel away the usual squeals (Jude Law, anyone?) it’s about the characters, and the actors chosen to portray them could not have been more perfect. Jude Law exudes charm, even when he’s being a cad—which he’s not in this film. Not really. I loved Jack Black in his role here. I think we got to see the soft and fluffy side of a good comic actor. (Let’s not talk about King Kong, which I enjoyed, but… Right, we’re not talking about King Kong.) Kate Winslet is perfect, as always, and Cameron Diaz shows a lot of heart and soul. Eli Wallach as Arthur Abbott all but steals the show.

*happy sigh*

Pitch Perfect surprised the whole family—me most of all because my husband sat through the entire thing.

While not a typical romantic comedy, it fits pretty well into the genre, and then also spills out because of the wonderful performances from all involved, on stage and in the film. I picked this one up because I’d enjoyed Anna Kendrick’s performance in End of Watch, which is a movie that is far removed from the romantic comedy genre, and one of my favourite Jake Gyllenhaal performances. That one deserves a post all its own. Pitch Perfect also introduced me to Rebel Wilson. She is a funny lady and I had as much fun watching her in Pain & Gain, which is another movie I feel was badly maligned by critics. C’mon, that was gruesomely funny stuff with a cast that made it work.

Okay, that’s probably enough rambling for now. I could list about a hundred great action films—or splody stuff I personally enjoyed—and about another hundred heartwarming romantic comedies. A quick search of the ‘net shows that a lot of folks share my plebian tastes, however, which is comforting in a way. Not everyone feels the need to be a critic. Of course, there are films out there that annoyed, confounded and totally pissed me off. But that’s another blog post.

(Featured image is the delectable Channing Tatum in White House Down)

 

 

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