2014 in Film: My View

I’ll admit it, our household is all about stories.  We read them, watch them, occasionally write them, dream up really funny ones, play games built around them…. and go see them on the big screen.

I don’t know how The Man lucked out to get a wife as awesome as me, who loves action movies, war films, sci-fi, drama, superhero movies, and honestly funny & ironic comedies, while eschewing rom-com nonsense and chick flicks.  (Mindnumpingly dull!)  But he did.  🙂 So we go see movies.

Late December apparently inserts a nostalgic gene into the water, so here were some of our favorite bit-screen experiences of 2014 (in no particular order):

Fury. A film starring the only ruminating German Tiger tank, also starring Brad Pitt.   Saw it twice.  There’s a long scene in an apartment with two women and the tank crew that’s just stunning – displays the utter brokenness of war, in the civilian victims as well as the soldiers who had to wield the weaponry.  Genuinely violent, but that’s what you should expect in one of the most accurate war movies I’ve ever seen.
Interstellar. I *felt* that movie as much as watched it. Yeah, some parts were cheesy (5th dimensional Morse code, anyone?) but I thought the overall effect was masterful.  I felt that movie in my soul for days after seeing it….  it sat there, in my mind, and brooded. Loneliness, exploration, love, time.   Can’t get enough of the soundtrack (we listen to it regularly now, especially when playing board games; makes every move So Epic).  Helped that we saw it in IMAX to appreciate the gorgeous cinematics.
Birdman. Laughed out loud several times at this witty, ironic, “meta” film. The drum soundtrack got on my nerves (sorry, Stevo!) but Edward Norton was a dream. Laughed so hard I snorted at one point ….
Snowpiercer. We had to go all the way to NYC to see this one. Seriously. I don’t know if it ever came to SC. Stupid state.  This was a great thriller of a tale all the way until the last 5 minutes. Then I was like, “What?” Still not sure sure if we were left with two frozen popsicle people or a polar bear snack, but I guess I’ll be the American optimist and assume they made it.  “Captain America” (never remember his name) was the star; Tilda Swindon was pure genius. The scene in the kindergarten was ridiculous.
Lego Movie. Brilliant.  We quoted this for weeks.  I still make fun of Batman and shout SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP! SPACESHIP! awkwardly in social situations.
Guardians of the Galaxy. Dude. This movie hit all the right points for a summer comic book blockbuster. I cried when Groot made his tree-nest at the end. “We are Groot.” Yes, Groot, we are. I cried. Right there in the theater.  Unashamed.   I don’t know that a sequel will live up to this film, but I’m happy to see them try.  And that soundtrack!
Edge of Tomorrow. Because in my heart, Tom Cruise is still a teen heartthrob and I’m still 16. Also, Emily Blount is badass. And it was sci-fi. Support the cause…. Woulda been a better film (to me) if the damn trailers hadn’t given away the story before we got to see it – I dunno why the film companies have to beat us to death with a review of the story before feeling assured enough to release a film.  *rolls eyes*
Grand Budapest Hotel.  I’m lukewarm when it comes to Wes Anderson (I just can’t take The Royal Tennanbaums, sorry Joey) but Moonrise Kingdom and GBH are winners in my book.  The story is a lovely one and told with the precision of a watch maker.
The Theory of Everything.  One of the best biography films I’ve seen, plus a constant interplay of faith vs science questions, and the realities of loving someone with a significant disability.
Fun films that really aren’t that important to Life And Stuff but we saw them and liked them anyway:
  • Mockingjay (hey, I like the books. Go read them)
  • The Mazerunner (felt pretty adolescent, but it’s a good tale)
  • Divergent (because somehow we need three teen dystopian movie series out for it to be a normal year)
  • The Hobbit part 3 (finally done with Peter Jackson’s masturbatory return to Middle Earth in the guise of telling a Tolkien Story)
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past (because I’ll never pass up a chance to see Patrick Stewart & Ian McKellen & that cute guy who plays the young Professor X)
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier (would have been un-American to miss it, right?)
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 (still cute; great use of 3D)
  • Into the Woods (funny to me how many people are pissed because this “happy ending” fairy tale actually makes them think)
  • Godzilla (I thought it was a good monster story, and I’m not particularly a Godzilla fan)
  • John Wick (what? Keanu Reeves still has a career??)
  • Jack Reacher (see note re: Tom Cruise, above)
  • The Legend of Hercules (more faithful to the mythology than any Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series, and probably more fun)

Yawns of the Year:

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  300: Birth of an Empire (*sighs*); Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (doesn’t have the magic of the original); Non-Stop (why is every Liam Neeson story the same now?); A Walk Among the Tombstones (ditto)

Missed These and Hope to See on DVD:

Noah (I’m curious);  Maleficent (ditto); Lucy (ScarJo); Under the skin (more ScarJo); Robocop (old time’s sake); Muppets Most Wanted (it’s the MUPPETS!);  Foxcatcher;  Monuments Men;  The Drop; A Most Wanted Man (goodbye, PSH :/ ); Only Lovers Left Alive (it’s showing up on a lot of “best movies” lists).

On my list for right now in theaters:   Big Eyes; The Imitation Game; Big Hero 6; Unbroken.

OH AND — not to be overlooked —

Best film by local filmmakers:
Cinema Purgatorio, by Chris & Emily White.  A pair of indie filmmakers (who are husband & wife) set out to impress Bill Murray at a 48-hour film festival where he happens to be judging, in hopes of launching into the big leagues…. or they’re giving it up for good. It’s funny and warm and quirky and delightful and YOU SHOULD TOTALLY SEE IT.  (Trailer below; the featured image for this post is a still from the film.)

The Ways Women’s Magazines Convinced Me I Must Earn My (Inherent) Worth | Thought Catalog

The problem is that you’re not supposed to linger in a perpetual state of “reaching for something more.”

You don’t divide your life between “periods in which you are transforming” and “periods in which you are living.” There is healing and experiencing, there is rest and adventure, but there is no behind the scenes, there is no show, there is no performance that you put on for anybody but yourself and your illusions.

via The Ways Women’s Magazines Convinced Me I Must Earn My (Inherent) Worth | Thought Catalog.

Link: Long-Range Writing (Sometimes A Light)

“People—particularly women—need to hear that you can start late.”
~Ursula LeGuin

My friend Hannah wrote a great post on her blog about the long-range view of being a writer, She’s wrangling several kids, the full-time job of being a pastor’s wife, and a budding writing career. So yeah, I’m sure it gets discouraging.

You can read Hannah’s post on her blog, Sometimes A Light.
“Long-Range Writing”

What really struck me was this: As Hannah notes, we glorify youth in American culture. The Silicon Valley startup culture exacerbates the need to “accomplish something” by the time you’re 30. Maybe 35. At the latest.

I’m always thankful for my husband who’s been a beacon of common sense in my life since I first met him, challenging people to let go of dumb, popular ideas in favor of better, more thoughtful approaches.  I remember when we were still short of 30, he observed that most of us will hit our best stride in our 50s. By then, you’ve lived long enough to know something; you’ve gained experience that makes problem solving a little more efficient.  Sure, you aren’t spry and bouncy anymore…. but that’s the point.

Our consuming culture taunts us with the New and the Now so we throw away our good-but-familiar stuff to buy new-and-somehow-“needed” stuff.  We do the same with people.

We all need to hear the truth, so eloquently stated by Ursula LeGuin, that you can “start late.”  It’s never too late to recognize the Big Thing That Matters, and go do it.