Tag Archives: ang lee

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

billy-lynns-long-halftime-walk-joe-alswynOn a snowy Sunday afternoon, Jay and I found ourselves alone in a theatre watching Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. Having just been reminded on the way to the theatre that this was two time Oscar-winning director Ang Lee’s latest, I thought it was particularly odd for the theatre to be empty, even accounting for the fact that Fantastic Beasts was playing simultaneously on four or five other screens at the multiplex. But by the end of the film I got it. This is just a terrible movie.  We shouldn’t have been there either.

I can’t even begin to list all the things that are wrong with this movie. Well, okay, since you asked, I can start:

  1. The extreme facial closeups are horrible.  You will hate every single one and they make up at least 25% of the movie’s run time. I’m not sure whether Vin Diesel or Steve Martin had more facetime but I didn’t ask to see up either one’s nostrils.  The closeups detract from the movie to the point that Jay and I were compelled to imitate the viewpoint over and over, while the movie was still running.  Naturally, it’s hilarious when we do it but it’s not at all funny on the screen.  Okay, maybe a little but I don’t think the humour was intended.
  2. The characters are lame. They are completely flat and consistently struggle with dialogue that is almost Herzogian in its ridiculousness.  The only positive was we got another catchphrase from it.  Now when I tell Jay I love her, she says, “Roger that”.  Thanks, Ang Lee!
  3. The story is pointless.  The movie has nothing interesting to say about war.  Which is really too bad because they almost had a moment during the Destiny’s Child halftime show to show how insensitive our society is to PTSD, but then the film just dropped that idea without any payoff whatsoever.  Billy is then given the option to be taken to a doctor to get treated for his PTSD but instead he chooses to return to Iraq, in order to impress a cheerleader.  Hooah!
  4. And then there’s the stadium security team that picks several fights with the soldiers for no discernible reason.  Was there a point to that?  Was there a point to any of it?  Because there should have been, but the writers couldn’t put a complete thought together in the movie’s two hour runtime.  There’s no meaning to be found anywhere.

By the way, this movie does not feature any actual members sad-hulkof Destiny’s Child so don’t get your hopes up, Beyhive.  They couldn’t even get Michelle.  But since the real Destiny’s Child 2004 Thanksgiving halftime show doesn’t feature Billy Lynn, I guess that’s only fitting.   I watched all 6:22 of that clip looking for him.  Just one more letdown.  This whole experience was a bigger disappointment than Ang Lee’s Hulk.  Sean sad.

Against the Crowd

bannerfans_16176859Wendell at Dell On Movies has proposed this inspired idea for a blogathon: Against the Crowd. Basically, you name one movie that you love even though everyone else hates it, and one movie that everyone loves but you actually hate. I’m already licking my lips in anticipation! Thanks, Wendell, for letting us play!


Sean’s picks:

46a639ecd69330827bc6a3212bab82a0One I love that everyone else hates: Night at the Roxbury (11% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer) – Honestly, if you hate this movie, I don’t want to know you. It’s wonderful. It’s so funny and kind of sweet and somehow all came together out of a one-note SNL skit. It’s pure genius, like seriously, the wedding scene is the best possible way to break up your brother’s wedding to Molly Shannon. And casting Richard Greico as himself, and then having him give life advice to Dan Hedaya? Simply amazing.



One I hate that everyone else loves: Life of Pi (87% on the Tomatometer) – After reading the life-of-pi-01-1920x1080book, the movie was such a let-down, and somehow it still got a best picture nod? You know, I’m not much of a reader but this book is one for the ages and the movie simply does not do it justice, and butchers the end reveal which absolutely defines the book and makes you want to immediately read it again.


Jay’s picks:

One I love that everyone else hates: Mixed Nuts (7% on the Tomatometer) – This movie is not well-known, so let me paint you a picture: a small group of counsellors are running a crisis line on Christmas Eve while facing down joblessness (hello, funding cuts!), clients with no boundaries (but a transgendered Liev Schrieber does a mean tango), and of course, loads of their own personal shit. The counsellors include Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, and the esteemed Madeline Kahn. So when a certain counsellor (namely, myself) goes to work at her own crisis line on Christmas Eve, the blow is made that much softer by watching this movie that makes me feel just a little less alone, and a little more merry. The jokes are as cornball as they come, but once a year I want to see Adam Sandler play his ukulele, Jon Stewart get road rage on rollerblades, Garry Shandling dress as a Christmas tree, Anthony LaPaglia get high on tranquilizers meant for dogs. Is that so weird?

One I hate that everyone else loves: Can I possibly pick just one? Sean suggested “any thing comic book” which is almost but not quite true (maybe more “anything super hero” but even that’s not fair, because a couple have transcended the genre but otherwise, yes, I’m tired, and they’re clichéd and over-reliant on CGI), and then “anything franchise” which again is almost but not quite true – and I don’t think it’s fair for me to pick Lord of the Rings or Star Wars Or Hunger Games because the truth is, I haven’t seen them. I just hate them on principle. So I’m left with two movies that will assuredly get me into hot water: The Hurt Locker (98% on the Tomatometer), and 12 Years A Slave (96%). I hate them both for basically the same reason: while I wouldn’t say either is bad, I’d say both are derivative and listless. I’ve seen better, more memorable movies in both their respective genres. However, I suspect these particular movies garnered their excessive attention from the Academy for reasons other than strictly merit. And that’s really frustrating. I saw The Hurt Locker almost immediately upon release and was like: “meh.” I don’t like Jeremy Renner. I’m pretty sure this movie was supposed to be suspenseful but when you spend the whole time thinking, “God, why won’t he just die already”, it sort of cooks the goose. And I know it’s a proud American tradition to demonize one’s enemies, but the situation in Iraq was so much more complex than this movie knows how to give it credit for. It has no point of view. Yes, dismantling a bomb is a gruelling job. But where are these bombs coming from? Who is making them – and why? This movie wants to be important but congratulates itself for being “apolitical” when political context is exactly what’s needed. 12 Years A Slave I watched before the Oscars of course, but late enough after its release that I’d heard all the hype and went in believing it. There is one scene, one particular scene, where he is left hanging from a tree, with his toes just barely brushing the ground, left there for hours, constantly on the verge of death, and worse still (for me, the viewer anyway), all the other slaves witnessing this scene yet completely helpless to do anything about it – fuck. That scene went on WAY too long, which was exactly the right amount of way too long because it makes us the right amount of crazy uncomfortable. That scene was the only redeeming moment in the whole 12 years. The rest was torture porn, every bit as exploitative of Django Unchained was accused of being, only without Tarantino’s style. Chiwetel Ejiofor is sublime, communicating so much with his eyes – but he has to. The script sure isn’t giving him much more than the same trite lines that have already been recited. In fact, it almost feels like this movie belongs to the villains – Fassbender has the juiciest bits, that’s for sure. McQueen is intent on making us flinch, making this film feel like a slavery-themed edition of the Saw series. The Academy awarded what should have been a movie of hard truths, but in reality it was just hard to watch. (Dear white people: hating this movie doesn’t make you racist!) The gruesome images served to shock people into forgetting there was no emotional complexity here. And even if there was, it would come to a screeching halt with the Brad Pitt stunt-casting. How is it even possible to over-dramatize a movie about slavery? McQueen finds a way. I’ve read Solomon Northrup’s 12 Years a Slave and you know what? The material deserved a better treatment.

What about your picks? Half as juicy as mine?

p.s. Matt – you’re it!