2017: Tʜᴇ Mᴏᴠɪᴇs
part one


In theaters:

The General (1926): This is absolutely one of the greatest comedies ever made. It is a bit weird to watch a movie and be on the sides of the Confederates---that frisson never goes away---but maybe it's all the better a movie for that.

Silence (2016): This is a hard movie. It is true movie and it is a good movie, but it is a hard movie. This is not a movie where you hope the protagonists make certain decisions---because you don't know any better than they do what is right. Perhaps nothing is right. Perhaps we can only choose a lesser wrong. And in those circumstances, will God yet be with us? This movie gives us hope that he will. But it does not suggest his presence will make our pathways easy. No. This is a hard movie. (For further evidence, look away from the protagonists, to the lay Christians around them.)

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017): As funny as I was counting on. I thought it would be a bit emotional and, being a sucker, I thought I might tear up. But baby I cried. Sadly, our theater's speakers were half out so we didn't get the fully involved experience, but even so the sound design was good. One sound effect got perhaps the biggest laugh out of me. Which is why the diminished sound was so very very frustrating.

Get Out (2017): The theater comped us tickets to rewatch LEGO Batman, but Lady Steed and I walked into this instead. So glad we did. From what I'd heard, I was thinking Stepford Wives, and it did me good to hear Jordan Peele plugging it as an influence (although Terry Gross had been tricked by the people too good for that film). This movie didn't affect me as strongly, but that's not to say I think it's a lesser effort. Not at all. In fact, I think it is very much the film of our moment. It's a terrific film. Beautifully shot and tightly constructed. I think this Peele guy may have a future.

At home:

Room (2015): Emma Donoghue's script is a perfect adaptation of her novel. It's been five years since I read the novel so I can't be too precise, but I can't complain about anything left out (the only things I know were missing were fine to leave out---adaptation generally requires some of that). The editing is marvelous and steady; the sound is impeccable (and not just the music). Brie Larson deserved her Oscar nomination, but let's not neglect the performance of Jacob Tremblay who played her son and narrated the dang thing. That's a lot to ask of a kid and he was up to the task. A moving film.

The Hidden Fortress (1958): I checked it out because of its influence on Star Wars---and the DNA is easy to see. Not just the peasants who inspired the droids, but the wipes and Obi-Wan and Tatooine and Leia and more. Though to suggest that this movie is that movie would be wrong. Everything is slippery and changing and not what it seems. The film is shot beautifully---the framing! And it takes a long time to do certain things (climbing a hill, fighting a duel)---but that extra time creates a greater sense of place and measure. It's hard to get used to all the yelling in Kurosawa's films, but no question they are great rides. Why not spend the extra time with them?

The Karate Kid (1984): Since the Relief Society president talked about this film in her sacrament-meeting talk, my seven-year-old has not ceased asking to watch it. The thing is: I hated this movie as a kid. While the rest of America was flocking to dojos, I became more uninterested in karate than I was before. Which wasn't any. (That said, I will cop to trying to crane kick while alone and bored.) The problem was, I hated the bullying in '80s movies, and this one's no exception. And the fighting at the end wasn't much better. But, of course, I liked Mr Miyagi. And I don't know but that this movie is what introduced me to Japanese Internment. Anyway, I was unthrilled about letting the kids watch this but neither would I let them watch it without me. I think because of my transparently bad attitude, they couldn't enjoy it as much as they would have anyway (although the requisite '80s romance was also a turnoff), but they did enjoy it. And, to my surprise, I did too. I mean---I don't love it and I have no regrets about the almost thirty years spent not watching Karate Kid, but it wasn't so bad. One question though: am I crazy or did the scoring change between all the initial matches and the final match between Daniel and Johnny? It did, right? From best of three to best of seven? Am I wrong?

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993): I haven't seen this in about twenty years and my only memory is the twist (don't look it up---my family was surprised by it), but I have it on good authority that it is the greatest Batman film ever, and I understand the argument. It is a fine, fine Batman movie. I don't know if it's my favorite, but it's great to have the character introduced without having to watch his parents get shot.

Pitch Perfect 2 (2015): Hey. It's a straight-up crowdpleaser and well crafted to boot. Who's complaining? UPDATE: I considered including a parenthetical modifying "well crafted" to note problems with plot- and character-development and the objective excellence of the alleged showstoppers but decided not to. By the time I woke the next morning. I realized the real issue. The dialogue is sharp enough and the actors excellent enough that, for all its flaws, PP2 still feels well crafted. Cast well, filmmakers!

Storks (2016): Watching this while holding a baby might be ideal. Sure it's underbaked in a couple spots, but mostly this is a very funny and visually clever and susprisingly moving film. As an aside, I wonder if the reason I never heard about a boycott of this film is because its alternative-families-are-legitimate-families agenda was balanced our by its pro-life agenda? Ha ha! Modern culture!


The Princess Bride (1987): This class was too cool not to be bored by this pathetic oldtime piece of crap

Mean Girls (2004): I'm teaching Julius Caesar and bumped into gifs of a certain JC-related scene I had forgotten exists (it's probably been ten years since I've seen this film). So I watched it. Still good.

The Princess Bride (1987): This class was utterly delighted.

Orc Wars (2013): I have some technical complaints, sure, but many of those can be placed squarely on the budget. What I would rather talk about is the storytelling beats which I thought were quite good. It had a few surprises that were justified by what had preceded and although some of the characters were decidedly less developed than others, they all made sense. Also, the film surprised me with such things as the good-guy bodycount. So yeah, it's a low-budget affair (and the constraints upon the writing were absurd), but it works.

Previous films watched





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