Movies and Memories

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“Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.” – Leonard Shelby, Memento

I recently got sucked into one of those “Bourne” marathons that are cable every so often, and I started thinking about the concept of memory as it applies to movies. My friends often tell me that I have a very good memory, with one even saying that I remember his own life better than he does. And yet somehow, I am drawn to characters who are the opposite – amnesiacs and people who have willfully twisted or deleted their own memories. I had an English teacher in high school who said that the two most important things you could give a character that you were writing were a name and a birthdate; without those, a character didn’t have an identity. Yet in a movie like “Drive,” where Ryan Gosling’s protagonist is known only as “Driver,” or “Fight Club,” where Edward Norton’s protagonist is essentially nameless (though 18-year-old spoiler alert notwithstanding, he really is Tyler Durden), the character’s lack of identity isn’t detrimental; in fact, it’s essential to how they act. If Gosling’s character were tied down in any way, he wouldn’t be able to, well, drive as well as he does. If Edward Norton’s character were more fully formed, you wouldn’t believe that he’d invent a Brad Pitt alter ego to change the world.

With that in mind, I think the three movies/franchises that best deal with a lack of memory are the aforementioned “Bourne” movies, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and, of course, “Memento.” Continue reading

The Best Movies of the 21st Century

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A few months ago, the BBC published a list of the “best” movies of the 21st century. While these lists are nothing if not subjective, let’s be clear: that list is wrong. Way wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong. So, why not come up with my own list? It may not have the seal of approval from the Queen’s official network, but it’s certainly better than the drivel they published. (Seriously – check out that list. It’s atrocious, or as I would say to my friend Kim, “atrosh.”) N.B. that the BBC’s list considers the 21st century as starting in 2000, so I will use that format. Read that ridiculous list and then check out mine, below, and you tell me (in the comments or on twitter or Facebook) which movies you’d actually rather (re-)watch. Without further ado, the real 100 best movies of the 21st century, presented in alphabetical order: Continue reading

Oscars 2017: Who Will (and Should) Win

The morning of Oscar nominations is one of my favorite of the entertainment year. As always, I make my choices morning-of, so as to not be too swayed by narrative. The past few years, that’s become more difficult, as Oscar punditry has become more popular (and started earlier in the year to boot.) Some of these choices are shoo-ins, some of these are dark horses, and each contains who *should* win as well. As always, feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments.

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If I had an Emmy Ballot 2016

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Emmy nominations are nearly out for the 2016 telecast, so I thought I’d make a quick post for what shows and actors I would nominate, if I were lucky enough to have a ballot. Feel free to disagree or make suggestions in the comments. Continue reading

Comedy Sequels Prove Lightning Won’t Strike Twice

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For my movie-going entertainment, nothing is better than a good comedy. And so, when announcements of sequels to my favorite funny movies are made, I get excited. I hope the key members of the original will be back, and that random throw-away lines will be expounded upon. I hope that the movie recaptures the magic of the original, and provides its own laugh. And, generally speaking, that doesn’t happen.

Recently, Nicholas Stoller, director of funny movies such as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “The Five-Year Engagement,” and “Neighbors,” spoke to Entertainment Weekly about the art of directing a comedy sequel and crafted rules for directing a comedy sequel, rules which include “the story should be different, but the themes should be the same” and “cut out the fan service.” While I respect Mr. Stoller’s work, both “Get Him to the Greek” and “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” show that directing a comedy sequel inevitably leads to these fatal flaws. Let’s take a look. Continue reading

MCU Films, Ranked (Updated May 2017)

This post is updated as I’ve now seen the second “Guardians of the Galaxy” movie, aka “Baby Groot and Drax Variety Hour.” I wanted to give my quick thoughts as to what the best Marvel Cinematic Universe (“MCU”) movies are. Please note that the list below is in worst-to-first order. Sorry, Thor. Feel free to disagree or tell me how wrong I am in the comments! Continue reading

Reboot Fever

As I’ve mentioned in the past, reboots (like, say, “Girl Meets World“) never match the expectations of a rabid fan base, usually because they’re trying to please the original fans while also attempting to woo new fans and cater interest in new characters. But, since reboots are de rigueur these days, I thought I’d throw out a few that I’d like to see (or certainly would watch before I’d ever come near the new “Gilmore Girls.”) Continue reading