Friday, September 19, 2014

"Labor Day" (2014)

In another case of “viewer remorse” this week, I was let down by one of my most anticipated films of the year. I had said “Labor Day” looked like a melodramatic soap opera of a movie, but I was sure the filmmaker, known for good work in the past, would rise to the occasion and break the mold.

He didn’t.

Not only is this an example of the most typical, and unbelievable, love stories; it claims to be a “coming of age” tale as well. The end product is so amorphous, so unfocused, it fails to really deliver any poignant teen development, we don’t ever see anyone fall in love either. Not in any convincing, absorbing way.

The trailer suffices for anyone who has any interest in this story. The other 109 minutes do nothing to expand on the romance or the teen awakening. Everything you assume will happen does, and to be honest the trailer with its soundtrack elicits more emotion.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Doctor Who 8.4 "Listen"

The latest episode of Doctor Who may be one of the best in years, but it is hard to say. There is a lot here that feels familiar, reused by Moffat, the tried and true chiller techniques. Instead of “Don’t blink,” we get, “Don’t turn around.” A creature that you can’t see—the perfect hider—seems very similar to the Silence. And a whole story built around one really scary set-piece… that is what Moffat has excelled at in Who.

But there is more here. Or maybe less is more here. After all, we never really know if there is anything to be scared about in this story. In fact, I suspect the point is that there is nothing really there. It is all in the mind. The Doctor’s mind in this case. It seems as though the Doctor—this big, seemingly invincible hero of space and time—is afraid of the dark. That fear has been his motivation, his super power, the secret to his success.

One can argue whether or not Clara should have so much influence on the Doctor. This companion has already supposedly actively enabled every single successful victory the Doctor has accomplished throughout his timeline. Now we are supposed to believe that she triggered his formative moment that made him the man (timelord) he is today.

However, the scene in little Danny’s bedroom with the monster/prankster? Under the covers is perhaps the best scene in “Doctor Who” since “Blink.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Philomena" (2013)

In a classic case of buyer beware, “Philomena” is not what it is being sold as. If you watch the trailer (below) it looks like it is going to be a whimsical, heartwarming, funny story about a woman looking for her long-lost son. In reality, you are getting a harsh, heart-wrenching, expose of an evil convent that robbed teens of their babies and sold them for profit to Americans. Where the trailer very clearly conveys the son being found, the true story presented here is the much less inspiring discovery of a long-dead son. Every single laugh and grin is in the trailer. This is not the comedy promoted in the ad campaign.

Some may argue that it is still worthwhile as it exposes yet another evil of the institutional, Catholic church. True, but we don’t need a dower two-hour sermonizing movie to make us feel bad to know that such evils exist. Somehow, this film lacks an uplifting impulse to go with its exposé. The exemplary forgiveness of the titular character has very little if any impact.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Repertoire

(Poetry Scales 19)

My suspicion is
we each have a limited
list of ideas.

Quite scant in fact.

Most entertain
fewer than two,
at most maybe three,

Dozen sorts their whole life.

When was the last time
you encountered a new one?
Time to expand your range.

Discover something unthought.

Friday, September 12, 2014

"Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014)

Guardians of the Galaxy has become a bit of a summer phenomenon. Perhaps it is due in part to a poverty of decent film-fare (as the media seems to want to stress), but it is also due to the fact that it is a good entertainment. It relies a little bit on reference humor, but it also has moments of true wit. It also uses its eighties references and music to supply its emotional and dramatic weight, but that is done so well who can really complain?

Perhaps it is due to the fact that I fit squarely into the target demographic for this movie, but it is shaping up to be my favorite film of the year so far. Sometimes you simply want a fun story and exciting, creative imaginary world building. That being said, this film does have its messages, even if they feel cliché and trope-y.

All of our heroes in this film are loners who have legitimate reasons for hating the rest of the world. It is their decisions to come together and fight for something other than themselves that gives them the power—and luck/providence—to defeat the evil force that is threatening to destroy an entire galactic empire. As I said, cliché, but there is a reason such clichéd storylines persist and strike chords with us over and over again. There is truth at their core.


NonModernBlog written content is the copyrighted property of Jason Dietz. Header photos and photos in posts where indicated are the copyrighted property of Jason and Cheryl Dietz.
Promotional photos such as screenshots or posters and links to the trailers of reviewed content are the property of the companies that produced the original content and no copyright infringement is intended.
It is believed that the use of a limited number of such material for critical commentary and discussion qualifies as fair use under copyright law.

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