Movies in which people are stranded somewhere and other people sit in a control room trying to save them

Everest 4 stars

This movie literally depicted my worst nightmare. Everything was cold and wet, and the wind was just blowing the coldness and wetness around while everyone was carrying really heavy bags and occasionally just dropping off the mountain to their death. It’s based on the 1996 Mt. Everest disasterJason Clarke, Jake Gyllenhaal (in his second groundbreaking mountain expedition), et al. are trying to summit Mt. Everest in the midst of an impending storm.

Jon Krakauer makes an appearance, played by his doppleganger Michael Kelly, but the movie isn’t based on Into Thin Air, the book Krakauer wrote about the expedition (he also wrote Into the Wild). Apparently there are conflicting reports about what happened on the mountain. On a related note, Keira Knightley drops her British accent and I felt betrayed by this.

It’s hard to criticize the story on this one, not just because it’s based on a true story, but because it was SO GOOD. There was a perfect balance between drama and adventure. Coming into it, I had no idea the whole Mt. Everest climbing situation was so structured/commercialized, so the whole thing was a foreign concept for me. I also didn’t know that once you get going from the camp (after your altitude training), you can reach the summit in like a day. I pictured it being like a month-long journey to the top. The good news is that, after watching Everest, I feel like I personally climbed Mt. Everest, minus the windburn and frozen snot, so now I don’t ever have to experience it. Maybe I should’ve given the movie five stars.

PS: Turns out that dead bodies on Mt. Everest are a thing. I Wikipedia surfed for like two days straight after seeing this…there is some seriously interesting stuff going on on that mountain.

The Martian 3 stars

Basically this is a one-man show about Matt Damon being abandoned by his space crew, then fucking around on Mars for a few months (years? I can’t remember) until NASA gets its shit together and rescues him. He lives off potatoes that he grows in his own shit and vlogs to no one to pass the time, which is lucky for us because otherwise there would be no dialogue.

There is no way in hell this would’ve worked out in real life. There were way too many opportunities for things to go wrong and there is no way that so many people and technologies and the U.S. and China could cooperate long enough to save this guy. But maybe I should be more open-minded.

All implausibilities aside, I feel like this movie would’ve been better if Matt Damon had someone to come home to…a wife or a kid or even a parent. I really didn’t feel like it mattered if he died, because he didn’t have a family waiting for him. Maybe I’m undervaluing his life though. I guess single, lonely people matter too.

Kristen Wiig had my dream job in this movie…she was the public relations person for NASA, but seeing her in a “serious” role was an out-of-body experience. On the positive side, Kate Mara was there and she is a perfect human being. Also, the mean guy from National Treasure was there!

Long story short: stay on earth.


“The Mechanics of Love”

I’ve been intrigued by this short film by Willard Maas and Ben Moore since I watched it in an experimental film class last fall. It was made in 1955 and the whole thing is a metaphor for sex. There are a bunch of phallic/fertility symbols (my personal favorite being a cactus) and shots of objects entering others (letters being pushed into a mailbox, a knife slicing bread) and the pace of the music and shots is rhythmic, then speeds up (apparently for orgasm) and comes to a rest. What I really like is the dialogue that is read over the images – it’s kind of haunting in a way. I’ve been feeling off lately, but there is still something about this film that appeals to me.

Warning: You will see boobs, and a woman with armpit hair and a hint of a mustache.

“Love, in some ways, is not always simple.”

Some Summer 2015 Movie Reviews

Pitch Perfect 2 3 stars

Image via Pars Movie

I saw this one a while ago, so my memory might be a little foggy. It was okay, but for me it didn’t feel as “magical” as the first one. Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, and Anna Camp still delivered. The songs were good, and there was a decent mix of newer music and older music. But since when do the Bellas live in a sorority house? Who are these new randos in the group? Is Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) going to bump Bumper (Adam Devine) or not? This movie raised all these questions and more.

I didn’t really love the new girl Emily (Hailee Steinfeld – oh my god, someone younger than me playing a college freshman in a movie makes me want to die) that they were shoving down our throats, but that might be because she was eerily similar to someone I went to high school with. She seemed way too innocent and clean-cut, and she wrote one mediocre song and everyone hailed her as a genius. I wanted to see more of Jesse (Skylar Astin), but his character was pretty much wiped out and diminished to a cheerleader on the sidelines.

John (John Michael Higgins) and Gail (Elizabeth Banks) were still funny, too, but I think the best part of this movie was the Green Bay Packers. I think I cried from laughter when they were introduced in the Riff-Off. Also, Snoop Dogg was in there somewhere.

Aloha 5 stars

Image via Wikipedia

I really loved this one. It has gotten some hate on Rotten Tomatoes, but I don’t understand why. Aloha is honestly one of the first “romantic” movies where I couldn’t tell who was going to end up with who. It could’ve gone either way, but somehow they managed to wrap the story up without any of the characters ending up hurt. There’s some military mumbo-gumbo that I didn’t care about, but it didn’t take away from the love story at all.

Bradley Cooper was great. He is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors; he’s so dynamic. I had never imagined seeing Emma Stone as a fighter pilot, but she was absolutely fabulous. So were Rachel McAdams and the sassa-frass Alec Baldwin.

This was the first time I saw John Krasinski outside of The Office and I was worried that I would have a hard time processing him as someone other than Jim, but I was pleasantly surprised. Bill Murray could honestly play a pile of dirt and I would still love him. The emotional range of Danielle Rose Russell, who played Grace – Bradley Cooper/Rachel McAdams/John Krasinski’s daughter – was also outstanding, especially considering that this is only her second film credit. There were so many “stars” in this movie, but none of them took away from the plot. I honestly can’t say enough about how good everyone’s performance was.

Aloha left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside…and like getting revenge on my mom because she never signed me up for hula dancing lessons.

Inside Out 5 stars

Image via Screen Rant

Holy cow, Inside Out was fantastic too. Of course, I knew that it would be going in because it’s by Disney/Pixar. I don’t really know how else to describe it besides “smart.” I honestly don’t know how they continue to come up with stuff that is exciting for children but makes adults think, too. Also, I think this was the first time I’ve seen a butt (albeit animated) in a Disney film!

You can tell that they learned from Toy Story 3. There’s a similar theme of growing up and loss of innocence. The death of Riley’s (the little girl whose head the audience is inside of) imaginary friend in a dark pit of doom mirrored when Woody, Buzz, and company were almost incinerated.

I loved that the voices were recognizable, too. Amy Poehler (Joy, who was extremely similar to Leslie Knope), my one true love Mindy Kaling (Disgust), Phyllis Smith (Sadness), Lewis Black (Anger), and Bill Hader (Fear) killed it.

All in all, Inside Out is a great concept and it’s executed beautifully. It speaks volumes about growing up, and even though it’s animated, the storyline seems “real” and reflects a common human experience. I can’t wait to see it again!

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl 4 stars

Image via What’s After the Credits?

Putting his Project X party days behind him, Thomas Mann stars as Greg, a high school loner whose mom makes him hang out with an acquaintance who has been diagnosed with leukemia (Olivia Cooke). His “co-worker” Earl (RJ Cyler), who comes from the other side of the tracks, tags along. Also, the lovely Nick Offerman appears as Greg’s dad. 3/4 movies on this list have someone from The OfficeParks and Recreation, or both. Is that some sort of sign? If anyone figures it out, please tell me.

I feel like this movie turned out exactly the way it was supposed to. It’s quirky, emotional, and has enough comic relief to get the audience through the depressing storyline. The soundtrack was moving, and the characters were honest.

The only thing that really pissed me off was that Olivia Cooke’s character kept her eyebrows through chemo. If you’re gonna shave your head for a role, just take the eyebrows off too. For God’s sake!

Now that I’ve seen the movie, I really want to read the book. That’s backwards from usual for me, but hopefully I’ll enjoy it just the same.

5 Netflix Documentaries to Watch Before You Die

1. Blackfish

“Blackfish” (2013) is hands-down the best, most moving documentary that I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure it made me cry. It gives a thorough history of SeaWorld’s capture and mistreatment of orcas, and focuses specifically on Tilikum – an orca who has been involved in three deaths during his captivity at SeaWorld.

The film caused a lot of controversy, and although SeaWorld has refuted the filmmakers’ claims, one of the biggest things “Blackfish” has going for it is employee testimony.

You’re going to want to pull a “Free Willy” after this. Also, be prepared to have your heart broken when you hear baby and mama whales crying as they are separated. This thing could make Hitler want to save the whales

2. Crazy Love

“Crazy Love” (2007) is truly bizarre biography of Burt and Linda Pugach. It’s a classic love story.

You know how it goes. Boy meets girl, boy hires someone to dump acid in girl’s face and goes to prison, and then somewhere in there, there’s a wedding. This shit makes the stalker ex who goes through your trash at night seem perfectly harmless and lovable.

Don’t make the same mistake I did for the first half of this movie and mentally scoff at the fact that Linda is wearing sunglasses for all of her interviews. Spoiler alert: she’s blind – from, you know, having acid dumped in her face.

There’s a fine line between passionate and obsessive, and Burt Pugach definitely crosses that line. Nobody panic – he still gets the girl in the end.

3. Jesus Camp

Speaking of crazy, if there is anything more terrifying than religious fanatics, it’s the influence that these fanatics have over their children. “Jesus Camp” (2006) documents the brainwashing and manipulation that goes on at a particularly controversial Christian summer camp.

This one can be kind of tough to stomach, as it’s basically an hour and a half of watching children undergo psychological torture.

And don’t worry, this horror movie documentary isn’t a bash on your average Christian. The leaders of the camp are definitely extremists, and are so far to the right that they have the kids lay hands on and pray to a cardboard cut-out of a particular U.S. president (hint: it’s George W. Bush). So, don’t get offended. Just get angry.

4. Sound and Fury

Continuing with the theme of abusive questionable treatment of children, we turn now to “Sound and Fury” (2000), which explores two brothers’ decisions about giving their deaf children cochlear implants that would allow them to hear.

One of the brothers is super adamant about keeping his 5-year-old daughter deaf, even when she specifically asks for the implant.

Apparently this is a thing in the deaf community, so we aren’t really supposed to be mad about it. As a group, they have a very strong sense of culture and see the cochlear implant as a rejection of this identity. The debate gets pretty heated, and the documentary is pretty intriguing.

Also, if you like this one, there is a follow-up on YouTube called “Sound and Fury: Six Years Later,” and a TEDx Talk by Heather Artinian (the little girl who wanted the implant), which is also available on YouTube.

5. It’s a Girl

I’m don’t really consider myself to be hugely interested in the feminist movement, so I put this one off for a long time. After watching it, I feel stupid for doing that. “It’s a Girl” (2012) is about gendercide and violence toward women and girls in India and China, not straight up feminism.

It’s a super serious subject – one Indian woman emotionlessly describes how she killed her multiple (I think it was eight) infant daughters. The only weird thing about this documentary is that these hard-hitting stories are paired up with cutesy animations that I could have done without.

“It’s a Girl” is a good one to watch if you just want to stay updated on what’s going on in the world. I feel like I’ve heard about China’s one-child policy a million times, but I didn’t really know how it affected people on an individual level until I watched this.

“Candle on the Water”

Did anyone else forget about this gem, sung by Helen Reddy in Pete’s Dragon? Makes me think about The Great Gatsby, too.

I went to a wedding yesterday, and it got me thinking a lot about my relationship and how we’re handling this long-distance business. I thought I was doing really well, but there will always be moments when I feel powerless. I guess tonight is one of those nights. I just have to keep reminding myself that I would probably feel that way sometimes, even if he wasn’t across the ocean living in a parallel dimension that exists six hours into the future (that’s how time zones work, right?). I really do believe that everything will be okay in the long run, but there is a lot of time standing between now and then. I just have to stay focused on that candle (or green light) in the distance!

Also, I threw away my ex-boyfriend’s bathing suit. Didn’t even ask if he wanted it back.

The Age of Adaline was Extremely Underwhelming

1 star**Spoiler Alerts**

I saw The Age of Adaline with my boyfriend last week before he left. I was hopeful, but walked away unimpressed.

Every plot “twist” was predictable from miles away. Adaline’s (Blake Lively) part basically consisted of dropping dramatic one-liners and smirking. And there’s the typical boy-stalks-girl, girl-falls-in-love storyline. Like, this guy Ellis (Michiel Huisman) sees Adaline reading in braille one day so he shows up at a New Year’s party that she attends, tracks her to the elevator, follows her to her cab, shows up to her workplace the next day, persistently asks her out, and WILL NOT TAKE “NO” FOR AN ANSWER. Naturally, she falls in love, which leads her to tell him the secret that she has kept for a bazillion years after knowing him for a grand total of like two weeks.

Also, it is revealed that Ellis’ dad (Harrison Ford, why?) is actually Adaline’s ex-boyfriend from back in the day…AND NO ONE EVER ACKNOWLEDGES THE FACT THAT SHE HAD SEX WITH BOTH THE FATHER AND HIS SON. Shouldn’t that be addressed somehow? Like, the son just doesn’t care at all? There has to be some kind of comparison going on.

There’s also a bunch of pseudo-science thrown in, which I can forgive. The movie was just too Nicholas Sparksy to leave room for an actual scientific explanation. The non-aging concept was cool and kind of reminded me of Benjamin Button, but it didn’t really reach its full potential.

Anyway, I’m not going to rush out and buy it when it comes out on DVD/Blu-ray.