Movie Mix-Ups (There’s a surprise inside)

To wrap up my week of movie posts, I’m going to share some of the weirdest stuff I’ve ordered from Netflix, accidentally on purpose. Yes, that phrase takes on an actual meaning when applied to my method of selecting movies. Here’s what happens: inspired to see a particular movie, I hit Netflix and conduct a quick search. I find a match and add it to my queue. Most often, the movies in my queue work their way up from the bottom. I’m a patient woman, which is why I still subscribe to the DVD delivery in addition to streaming. I don’t mind waiting a few months for a movie to hit Netflix and I don’t mind waiting another few days for it to land in my mailbox.

As an aside, this patience is tested when I’m burning my way through a TV series and must have the next disk YESTERDAY.

So, sometimes a delivery will confound me. I either don’t remember adding the movie to my list, or I wonder why I added it. Then there are the movies that I mistake for others. Yep. I order the wrong movie. How does this happen? I dunno—I either don’t look at the blurb or don’t have a clear idea of what the cover of the DVD should look like, or I’ve got the name so wrong, only one movie pops up so that must be it!

crash 2The first of these mistakes was a truly memorable experience. I ordered a film called Crash. I wanted to see Crash in theatres and had finally convinced my husband it was something we should watch together at home. (He likes to avoid movies with tear potential as he’s a guy and hates being caught with a tissue clutched in his hand.) We were very soon puzzled. What we were watching did not seem likely to elicit positive buzz with critics and crowds, or worthy of Best Picture. In fact, I was pretty sure people becoming sexually excited by car accidents and their victims skirted the Academy’s tastes altogether.

Not surprisingly, we were watching the wrong movie.

crash 1I like J.G. Ballard. I’ve read a lot of his books. He pushes boundaries and explores uncomfortable ideas. I had never read Crash, though. I didn’t finish the movie adaptation, either. In fact, I don’t think we got more than twenty minutes into the film before abandoning it. Later, I rented the other Crash, starring Don Cheadle and Sandra Bullock. I loved it. I sobbed horribly. Understandably, my husband refused to watch it with me. To this day I think he’s scarred, but that didn’t stop him from joining me in the next mix up.

This time, I hadn’t actually confused two movies with the same title. I selected a movie thinking it was based on a book I hadn’t read, but reckoned I’d like.

I know. I know!

 

whiteoutI like Ken Follet. I’ve read a few of his thrillers and thought Whiteout would be one of them. After renting a movie called Whiteout, which is not based on his book, but on a graphic novel of a graphically violent nature, I looked it up. I’m almost grateful they haven’t made a film of Ken Follet’s Whiteout. My husband might have left me after I insisted he watch it. As it was, we both still have recurring nightmares about the surgical removal of a frostbitten finger in the movie we did watch, and abandoned right about there.

We both reached for the remote at the same time. No way, no how. We’d already survived watching them turn over a body that had fallen from an ice shelf to splat on the frozen ground, a scene which had some of the most awful (skin-ripping) sound effects I’ve ever had the misfortune to experience. We had also watched some pull their hand hand off a frozen door. And on it went. We were so done.

Could I top that? I could, but my husband has refused to adventure with me anymore, so the next two mistakes were mine alone. The first is… Hell, both of these mix-ups are ridiculous. I did actually catch my mistakes before watching, but decided to “experience” the wrong movies, anyway.

They couldn’t be that bad, right?

 

grandmasterWe missed The Grandmaster in theatres. I put it on my list and when it arrived, I quickly realised my mistake. I’d ordered The Master. Really not my sort of movie, but, tragically, Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away while the red envelope collected dust on the TV console, so I decided to watch it as a sort of tribute. I have adored his performances in other films, particularly Doubt.

masterI tossed The Master, which had failed to capture my interest from beginning, after the scene where Amy Adams jerks Hoffman off in the bathroom. I couldn’t remember if she was his wife or his daughter, but suspected the latter. Either way, I was horribly disturbed, which is unusual as I don’t normally have an issue with sex or sensuality in films. I watched Shame and American Psycho. This scene didn’t approach anything in either of those films. I think at that point I’d just had enough, and the question on the relationship between the two characters was enough for me to halt the madness.

 

amourThe final mix-up might be the most serendipitous. I wanted to see Amour, which guaranteed to be a tear jerker. Accordingly, I did not invite my husband to view with me. Probably just as well, as I had rented Adore which is a completely different movie. Amour is the story of a man coping with his wife’s deteriorating health. Adore is the story of two women who conduct affairs with each other’s sons.

I know. I know!adore

Based on a novella by Doris Lessing, Adore was actually a pretty good film. I made it to the end this time. I did find the subject somewhat disturbing, but I really liked the questions posed and the performances by both Naomi Watts and Robin Wright.

And there ends my list of movie mix-ups, and my week of movie rambles. 🙂

 

(Featured image is from Crash, and sort of matches my expression on experiencing some of my mix-ups)

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)

 

 

2001: A Space Odyssey

This is not a review of the film. More, this is a story about my daughter and I watching 2001: A Space Odyssey together and what we both gained from it.

Petra is eleven years old. She’ll be twelve at the end of the summer. I think she’s a bright spark, but she’s my child, so I’m biased. We do enjoy reading similar types of stories, however, and we do like to watch films together. We often have great conversations about character and plot. We are both intrigued by tragic figures and ‘evil with a kernel of good inside’ types.

Given that we normally watch something light or adventure themed, I was surprised when she asked me if I had heard of a movie called 2001: A Space Odyssey. Well, I was delighted to inform her that not only was it one of my favourite films, but that we had a copy on the shelf. Shamefully shrink-wrapped. I’d bought it when released on Blu-Ray and had not got around to watching it.

I remember the first time I saw it. It was with my dad, and I didn’t really understand it. I recall being bored and then somewhat alarmed by the sequence of events best described as Beyond the Infinite. I have since watched the movie about ten times. Maybe twenty. A lot. I can quote dialogue and every time I hear The Blue Danube waltz, I imagine a dance of space ships and planets rather than elegantly attired men and women traversing a ballroom. I have come to love the film, but I’m not sure I could have adequately explained why without watching it again.

Continue reading “2001: A Space Odyssey”