Hey all. This will be a new semi-regular piece on Moving Pictures where Zach and I have a bit of back and forth about whatever topic has gotten stuck in our heads recently. This is a bit of a longer article than you’re probably used to on this site but I hope you all like it.
P.S. I don’t have a name for these recurring pieces yet so please feel free to give me some suggestions.
Mike: Over complexity is something you and I have talked about a lot. It seems more and more I’m drawn towards movies with a concise, straight forward story but really interesting and well written characters.
Big budget and genre fair especially recently feels like it’s bogged down with over complicated, pace ruining plot points that don’t really add anything to the experience. What’s up with that?
Zach: I completely agree with your sentiment, so many filmmakers seem to not trust us to follow their plots without having a character stop, face the camera, and give us 5 minutes of bland exposition. It’s either they don’t trust us, or they write themselves into a plot that they think demands it. We don’t need it. We can typically follow what’s going on.
I recently saw Horns and almost groaned when I saw a similar scene set up, but then found myself elated when they didn’t do it. There was no exposition, no dumb pseudo-science techno-babble explanations, we didn’t need to know why Harry Potter was turning into a demon, we were along for the ride and we could piece it together from other dialogue and hints in the story.
I wish more writers and directors had the confidence to do that. I hate to blame current movies for everything, but this really does feel like a recent phenomenon. When did you first start noticing this trend?
M: It feels like the trend recently has been complexity = quality. What boggles my mind is that it’s happening in exactly the type of movies that you don’t want to be over-complicated. Big budget, event type fare that used to be a good excuse to turn your brain off for 90 -100 minutes and watch shit blow up has become bloated and almost unwatchable due to screenwriting by committee and just cramming plot into places where it doesn’t belong.
The day is finally here. The last entry of our Batman retrospective has arrived. And boy is it bad. This movie is widely reviled and rightfully so. There’s really nothing redeeming about it and it seems to be a series of misfires at every level of production from conception all the way to execution. It’s bad, you know this already. Now you get to listen to Zach and myself suffer through this monstrosity and revel in our pain.
Big thanks to Zach once again for taking this journey with me. I t was pretty excruciating by the end of it but it was a ton of fun and I can’t wait to do another project like this.
If, for some insane reason, you’d like to watch along with us, Batman and Robin is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Google Play.
Welcome to the third film in our Batman retrospective. I have to say that for as much guff as this movie gets it wasn’t as completely terrible as most people make it out to be. It gets unfavorably and unfairly lumped in with Batman and Robin due the shared director in Joel Schumacher. The more I watch Batman Forever the more I’m convinced that Schumacher had never read a Batman comic going into this project. Instead, his entire history with the character was pulled from the 60’s Batman TV show. While this candy-colored, campy take on the character wasn’t something that audiences wanted then , and probably don’t now either, I think taken in that light it fairs a bit better against the ravages of time than the Burton films.
As usual we’ll be continuing this Batman journey with Zach, who by the end of this movie was probably ready to pack it all up and call it a day. But there was still one giant mistake left to sit through….
With Valentines Day approaching I got to thinking about what my favorite romantic movies are, and I came to an odd realization. I could easily name my favorite romantic comedy: When Harry Met Sally obviously, and my favorite downer breakup movie: Eternal Sunshine, but what about a movie that’s just romantic? I found that most often a movie that’s romantic and about a couple falling in love tends to employ the romantic comedy genre, and I guess that makes sense, people want to laugh and smile at the prospect of early love, how could a movie about the honeymoon stage of a relationship not be cheerful? With that mulling over in mind I was reminded of one of my favorite movies, one that truly embraces the silliness of falling in love, and one you’ve surely not heard of (Unless I’ve made you watch it). So, I ask: have you seen Im Juli? Continue Reading
Here is the highly anticipated second installment of Batman month here at Moving Pictures. Today we’re talking about Batman Returns. If you haven’t seen this movie in a while you might be surprised to see how ridiculously insane it actually is. There is so much wild stuff happening in this movie. Death and resurrection by cats, missile-laden attack penguins, a baby stealing circus, and more. It’s almost hard to quantify just how over the top it all is, especially when packed into a 2 hour running time.
Of the four commentary tracks we did, this one might be my favorite. There is a ton of stuff to just lay into about this movie while also having enough good in there to cut through the bad from time to time. I hope you all dig it.
I’ve arbitrarily decided that it’s Batman month here at Moving Pictures. Over the next four weeks, we will be taking a look at the Burton/Schumacher era of Batman movies. The first in the series of course is Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. The movie that proved comic book movies were big business. Though it would take another two decades for Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. to really kick things into high gear, Batman was like religion in the early 90’s. It was such a massive part of the cultural zeitgeist on billboards, in Happy Meals, pretty much everywhere you looked there was a bat symbol. It’s difficult to look back on this movie without realizing the pop culture impact it had at the time.
Zach was game enough to sit down and record with me for all four of these movies and I can’t thank him enough. He’s a massive Batman fan but whereas my fandom comes from the comics, he comes to it more from the 90’s animated series which directly spun out of this first movie. It was a ton of fun to record these and I hope that comes across in the recordings.
What do you do when you’re responsible for kick-starting the largest film franchise in history? If you’re Jon Favreau you go and make a small personal movie about sandwiches….
Okay it’s not about sandwiches. It is about food though. Specifically one man’s love of food and how it affects all of his interpersonal relationships.
Favreau writes, directs, and stars as Carl Casper. The titular chef who, at the beginning of the film is divorced, barely communicating with his son, and laboring under a dictatorial owner who won’t let him cook the food he wants to cook. After a video of Carl verbally assaulting a food blog critic goes viral, he is fired and forced to re-evaluate his life. He acquires a run down food truck, a sous chef (John Leguizamo), and sets out cross country to serve awesome sandwiches and reconnect with his son (Emjay Anthony).
This is a straight forward and well told story about food and how it can bring people together, or tear them apart. The characters are all strong and very well acted. The cast is stellar and there are a few great cameos that I won’t spoil here. It is small and personal in a refreshing way. We all have Favreau to thank for the current Marvel cinematic monster that is tearing its way across every movie theatre on the planet. But I love seeing him return to these smaller character pieces.
There’s also a very interesting subplot about social media and the many ways it can be used to build a community, or destroy a reputation. Not a week goes by where some athlete or celebrity makes some terrible decision on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and it dominates the news cycle for the next week. I think they could all do themselves a service by watching this movie.
My one large issue is that the movie wraps up in a bit too nice of a bow and it comes off very saccharine and tropey (Is that a word? It’s a word now.) I recently watched Boyhood (I will also be writing about it soon) which presents such a beautiful, realistic picture of a modern family unit. Chef unfortunately chooses the “Hollywood” ending and it plays very false, especially right at the end. However, this one issue aside I think Chef is very well worth watching.
P.S. Roy Choi was the chef consultant on this movie and it shows. All of the cooking scenes are gorgeous and are probably some of the best I’ve ever seen on film.