Nostalgia Ultra

Nostalgia can be a very powerful emotion or affectation, especially if you think you were happier in a previous time. Me personally, I can say that I am nostalgic about many things at this point in my life.

 

Movie Producers know this. And they feed off of it.

If you’ve been to the movies in the last couples years, you’ve seen plenty of rehashed/rebranded/redone movies that bring us back to a time in our past, or rather movies that have been made that bring back toys or characters from our childhoods.

Transformers, for example.

Another example of this phenomenon would be Spider Man, which is now about to be rebranded for the third time in 15 years. Yes, third.

spider-man-2002

amazing-spiderman

new-spiderman

And you know why?

Because it keeps making money.

 

Plenty more examples include any superhero movie, bringing us back to any range of years from World War II to whenever the superhero was first created, or Fantastic Beasts, the newest “Harry Potter universe” movie, or the least successful of them all, “Ben Hur”, a remake of a 1959 movie that no one really asked for.

 

Now don’t get me wrong. This can get a tad annoying, especially when the same idea gets thrown around a thousand times when all I want to see is something new. BUT, there comes a time when movie execs get it right.

 

One of the best examples of this is

The Lego Movie (2014)

the lego movie.jpg

 

and now more recently,

The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

lego-batman

 

After seeing the first movie a couple years ago and laughing all the way through it, I had high expectations for this movie.

And they weren’t disappointed.

 

This kind of Nostalgia is the purest. I was never a huge Lego person, from what I can remember, but this movie put together the humor of a child and added many references, twists, and and action shots (yes, action shots with Legos), that kept a 21 year old happy.

It even *spoiler alert* added many characters from previous loved movies, like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, King Kong, and many more.

 

Will Arnett (the voice of Batman) was the best and funniest part of The Lego Movie, and he didn’t hold back in this performance. His gruff and gravelly accent throughout the movie only added to the “friends are family” vibe that appears throughout.

To put it simply, this movie is very enjoyable for a huge range of fans. Anywhere from say 8-66, in my unsolicited opinion.

 

Sometimes nostalgia can be kinda alright.

Singing in the Street

For my next post, I will write about what I believe was the best movie of the year. While I haven’t seen the big Oscar contenders (“La la Land”, “Moonlight,” “Arrival,” etc), I genuinely don’t think that this movie can be topped. So, before I give it any more of an introduction, my favorite/best movie of the (last) year is/was….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, Sing Street. Written and directed by John Carney, previous writer/director of “Once” and “Begin Again,” it gives off the same type of feel. It is very musically focused, and there is obviously the love theme as well.

As the poster states, the story can be summed up as the following:

 

Boy sees girl in schoolyard, wants to impress her, walks up to her, and makes up the fact that he is in a band. Needing to back up his braggadocio, he goes back to his new friend at school and tells him that they need to form a band. So they do it.

 

And it is fantastic.

sing-street-poster

Lead actor and singer Ferdia Walsh-Peelo was good, probably even great. He performed all of the songs in the movie instead of lip-synching, and he portrayed the emotional love stricken teen boy very well. But the best part of the movie was, without a doubt, his brother Brendan, played by Jack Reynor.

 

The main themes of this movie were the young coming of age love, but also the lower-middle class family going through divorce. And they were weaved together almost perfectly, going from a song-writing scene between bandmates to a brother to brother conversation about what they’re going to do when their parents finally pull the trigger.

sing-street-brothers

This is where the movie succeeds. The music is absolutely top notch. In fact, I was rather hoping one of them would get nominated for Best Original Song in the Oscars (“Drive It Like You Stole It,” and “Up” were the two best), but alas, the Oscars came up short.

 

BUT where this movie truly hits home is in the relationship between the brothers. The older brother, who was once a trailblazer for the younger one and made all the mistakes, only wants what’s best for his younger brother, and roots for him to succeed like only the best brothers do.

 

 

The last scene of the movie, which ends in Connor attempting to sail away to England for a shot at a record deal with this love on his side, is one of the best scenes I saw, in any movie last year. Jack Reynor sells the emotion that he feels for his brother so well that you absolutely forget you are watching a movie and it makes you remember any kind of brother relationship you have ever had.

 

 

 

I won’t lie, I teared up in this one too.

 

 

 

An Overlooked Gem

 

a-monster-calls

Just as some background information, I’m a huge movie person. I mean huge. Posters and movie tickets line the walls in my room, and I have a projector there instead of a television because I think it recreates the feel of the movies that much more.

In accordance with this, I recently went to the local Carmike Theaters on a Tuesday night (last Tuesday, January 10th, to be exact), because I had seen a trailer for a movie that I had heard literally nothing about, but had gotten very positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Quite frankly, the trailer blew me away.

 

Here it is, for the curious

It was absolutely, unequivocally, heartbreaking. But in a good way. I guess. If you’re into that kinda thing.

The idea was taken from a book. a-monster-calls-book

^^ That book, up there, to be exact. If you can’t read the fine print, the words “Johnathan Ness is an insanely beautiful writer” line the top, and these words were spoken (or perhaps written) by John Green himself. Author of my favorite book, “Looking For Alaska,” as well as “The Fault in our Stars,” and “Paper Towns.” Basically, yeah, that’s high praise.

The two awards must’ve been for “Most tissues used during a reading” and “Most souls altered,” because man, this movie blew me away. It is the story of a young boy named Connor, who’s mom has fallen ill to cancer, and he has the distinct duty of dealing with it. Already dealing with a somewhat absentee father, he slips into loneliness. The kind of loneliness that results in him “calling” for a monster, or dreaming of one and having it appear in his nightmares, or reality. The movie wasn’t quite clear which was which, but that wasn’t the important part.

The monster was there to tell three truths, or three stories, each giving a respective lesson. The fourth truth was Connor’s to tell, and only when he was ready to tell it. The movie is the weaving of Connor’s realities with his nightmares, where he takes these lessons he has learned from the monster (one being that people are complicated, and  what motivates people is subjective from person to person) and applies them to real life, eventually coming to an understanding.

An understanding that he has felt extremely guilty about his mother’s pain, and wants it to go away. But not just for her, for him too. He has felt guilty that his mother’s pain was causing him grief as well.

The movie so delicately paints this relationship between boy and ailing mother, and boy and father, and boy and grandmother (played by Sigourney Weaver), that you almost entirely forget that these are all actors that are paid to perform. I have never lost a close loved one, so I cannot speak for that crowd and I will not try to, but from what I have read, this movie does a nearly flawless imagining of it, and all of the emotional baggage that comes with it. Without giving too much of the plot away for those who haven’t had a chance to view it and are no doubt reading this extremely popular blog post, I will leave some holes.

 

My only advice: go watch it. As soon as you can.

 

And bring tissues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s get it started in here

For my second post, since I have gathered incredible amounts of fame and glory from the first one, I am going to review a movie that I believe the critics got wrong. That movie, dear friends and readers alike, is….

*drum roll*

 

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

If someone were to ask me which movie I differ with critics most, I would answer with this movie. 

Sitting at a solid if underwhelming 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and 54% on Metacritic, this movie stars and is directed by Ben Stiller.

The idea is that Walter Mitty is a guy who works for Life Magazine and is currently looking for love. Trouble is, he’s pretty shy. So shy in fact that he struggles hitting a “wink” button on an online dating website. He also struggles with the fact that his life hasn’t really measured up to much, and this leads to him having next to nothing filled out on his online dating profile.

But all that is about to change.

With a solid supporting cast that includes Kristin Wiig as the divorced love interest, Adam Scott as the dickhead merging boss, Sean Penn as the mysterious if talented photographer, Shirley McLaine and Kathryn Hahn as the mom and sister, and Patton Oswalt as the dating profile assistant who calls him multiple times, urging him to complete his profile.

An interesting aspect of this movie that is both visually interesting and striking to the story itself is that Walter Mitty is prone to day dreams. Instead of living real adventures, he plays them out in his head, with vivid detail, which is acted out on screen.

This scene, for example, is an imagination of Walter that he has created in his own head of him being some kind of ice climber, which ends in him talking of his adventures and exploits to Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig).

An entire fight/action scene is played out on screen, where Walter and Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott) fight over a stretchy action figure.

Here we have a bit more of a subtle day-dream, as the camera pans past the images of Life Magazine that Walter has helped create, in which he includes one of his imagined adventures as a cover photo.

Another chief complaint that I have read time and again is that the dialogue in this movie isn’t realistic. Specifically, that the boss character (Adam Scott) is entirely too dickish to Walter, and that that kind of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in the professional world. For instance, Hendricks calls out Walter for his many day dreams that occur during work, sarcastically calling him Major Tom, which actually plays out later in the film.

While the over-the-top dickishness can be seen as a flaw, I think it is one of the top plot points of the movie. Walter sets out to prove everyone wrong, including himself, and in doing so he goes on many real adventures.

With this in mind, the best part about this movie was the cinematography, and you can thank none other than Stuart Dryburgh for this.

Just look at some of these scenes:

(This one’s a real adventure)

The words superimposed in the image represent Walter’s writing in his travel journal, of which he can finally fill out after years of sitting in storage.

This image, which I have scene recreated multiple times, is one of the best.

This one includes Sean Penn’s character Sean O’Connell, seemingly asking Walter with two fingers to come along on a real adventure.

I’ll end this long-ish post with this thought: you’ll be hard-pressed to find a movie that is as beautifully shot, as seamlessly transitioned (who knew Ben Stiller had some directing chops too), or as thoughtfully imagined (or re-imagined, I suppose) as this one.

While I usually try to stay away from totally giving away the plot in my reviews, I will say that I actually believe the denouement in this one gives the audience a bit of a twist, and that is just another strong aspect of it that I admire.

Final Score: 8.5/10

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To whomever it may concern, whether you are a dear friend of mine and are reading out of pity or stumbled onto this website with no clue how to turn back, this is my blog. My thoughts on anything, although specifically sports, music, and movies. I’m a pop culture nerd, what can I say? I’ve been interested in writing ever since I can remember, and can add “Eighth Grade English Award” to my not-so-long list of accomplishments in the field. But I’m not on here to be professional, these are my thoughts as they pop into my head, so discretion is advised. As the name of the blog suggests, I take myself very seriously, and you should too.