Her – The Perfect Companion

By now I have to assume that everyone has seen “Her”.  It stars Joaquin Phoenix as a man in the distant future named Theodore who falls in love with his computer’s operating system, Samantha.   The amazing screenplay was by Spike Jonze and he raises an interesting question – will computers become advanced enough to replicate human emotion?  Samantha was smart enough to read a book in less than a second, hold hundreds of conversations at once, develop human emotions, and form the desire to become human. Theodore takes Samantha on double dates where she is able to adapt to any type of situation. Samantha can learn and take an interest in any possible topic, making herself the perfect girlfriend. My only complaint is that the computer’s voice, Scarlett Johansson, ruined the experience of imagining what she really looked like.  I wish they picked a voice that was unknown.

My favorite part of the movie was when Theodore discovers that Samantha was talking to over a hundred people while she was talking with him, and she was in love with a portion of them.  Samantha had a different view of the meaning of the word love and didn’t believe it should be limited to one person.  She reveals all of her inhuman qualities and shows she will never be human, and is too smart for the human race. The ending was great, showing how advanced Samantha and the other operating systems had become to a point where they need to explore more of the world because they learned everything they could from us.  Short but sweet :)

Have a Heart

Have you noticed that supernatural creatures in movies and TV shows have become much more sympathetic lately?  In the past, these guys were pretty much pure evil, but lately movies are branching out more and giving their supernatural characters some heart and soul.

Let’s look at some “older” Vampire movies:

1.      Dracula – 1931

2.      Fright Night – 1985

3.      The Lost Boys – 1987

These vamps are evil and tortured and have no morals. They’re full of darkness and just an evil force to be defeated by the protagonist. Now check out these newer entries:

1.      Interview with a Vampire – 1994

2.      Twilight – 2008

3.      True Blood – 2008

4.      Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant – 2009

In these versions the vampires are the protagonists and the hero. Of course there are bad vampires, but the stories follows the good vampires and for once show their positive light.

Werewolves:

1.      American Werewolf in London – 1981

2.      Mom – 1991

3.      Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV show) – 1998

All of these werewolves are somewhat mindless, immoral characters pit against the good protagonist. Even if the werewolves are good people in their “natural human state” who regret what they have done in werewolf mode, they’re still killers.  Compared to…

1.      The Twilight Saga: New Moon – 2009

2.      Teen Wolf – 2011

In these movies the werewolves have the ability to control themselves as a werewolf and maintain their conscience.

Zombies:

1.      Dawn of the Dead – 1978

2.      Shaun of the Dead – 2004

3.      I Am Legend – 2007

4.      The Walking Dead – 2010

These zombie movies haven’t advanced as quickly as the others because it’s difficult to sympathize with a creature that is brain dead and is purely running on instinct. They have no personality, fear, feelings or thoughts.

1.      ParaNorman – 2012

2.      Warm Bodies – 2013

In Warm Bodies the main character is a zombie that is trying so hard to find his human side.  It’s almost impossible through the “zombie fog,” but he slowly starts to find his humanity again.  I love the movie ParaNorman, it should have done better at the box office.  Anyway, these zombies aren’t really bad.  They’re just people who made mistakes and are seeking to undo it.  It’s difficult to write a movie where lifeless creatures have emotions, but these movies manage to pull it off in a pretty spectacular fashion.

Aliens:

1.      Aliens – 1986

2.      Independence Day – 1996

3.      The Faculty – 1998

Great movies, but there isn’t any real background or attempt to show two sides of the story.  The aliens never really specify why they chose to colonize and take over Earth without any regard to the humans that they kill.  Even when the alien possessed Data (from the old Star Trek: The Next Generation, great casting!), and then the president, all we learned is that the aliens wanted us to die.

1.      District 9 – 2009

2.      Super 8 – 2011

3.      Star Trek – 2013

Now we’re getting somewhere with these three.  All these movies give the aliens a nice back-story and explain why they behave the way that they do. It’s hard to make the audience sympathize with the aliens because we obviously want to route for humans (well, I assume most of the audience does).  But showing the aliens’ true feelings and motives gives an all-around better story as opposed to one-sided as usual.

Time Travel Never Gets Old

I always thought it was kind of interesting that each movie has their own set of rules relating to time travel. Also, if you could pick any universe of time travel to live in, which one would you chose? Check it out…

1.      Back to the Future Part III

All three of these movies were amazing. I especially loved how in the third movie they were able to get the time machine to return to the current time period by riding on the rail road track even though it was only partially finished. But since they would be returning to the current time period the road would have been finished. Very smart!

2.      Field of Dreams

Coolest time travel concept – Dead baseball players emerge from the crops to play baseball in Iowa. I loved the scenes with Doc. The first was when Kevin Costner unknowingly traveled back in time to meet the old Doc, and ended up driving the young Doc to Iowa to fulfill his dream of playing baseball. The second was when Doc had to make the decision to cross over the line to save a kid choking, which means he can’t play anymore, or simply ignore the kid and keep living his dream. Of course he chose to save the kid, great moment!

3.      Looper

The idea of sending criminals back in time to be executed by looper’s was very clever. The most interesting part to me was that when young Joe cut himself with a knife, the scar would appear on older Joe’s arm. Also older Joe would receive the memories as younger Joe went off the path due to him coming back in time. Another great scene was when younger Joe sacrificed himself to save Cid from being killed, and his older self literally disappeared.

4.      Groundhog’s Day

It was intriguing how in this movie Phil kept on re-living Feb. 2 over and over even after he tried to killing himself in a bunch of amusing ways. He was time traveling back to the same day after the night ended and eventually he figured out it wasn’t a curse, but a gift. He used it to help people and save lives, and learn all of the qualities that Rita would want in a man.

5.      Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

J.K. Rowling is such an amazing and creative writer. She has Harry and Hermione go back in time, but when they see their “other selves,” they need to be careful not to run into themselves. In most movies you don’t see yourself while you’re back in time (yep, I know, Back to the Future when Marty was singing), but it worked really well here.

6.      Midnight in Paris

I found it fascinating that the overall message was that everyone wants to live in a different time period, but you just have to enjoy your own. He time traveled every night to his desirable time period in Paris, but ended up falling in love with a girl who was also time-skipping because she desired another time.

7.      Men in Black 3

This was my favorite in the series because of the twist ending of finding who J’s father is. It tied the other movies together really well because it showed that throughout J’s life Kay was watching out for him since his father was killed helping Kay. Great twist ending!

8.      Click

As a big fan of remotes (Jessie, pass the remote!), I enjoyed this movie since the remote is the power source. The cool part of time travel that this movie capitalized on was what happens to your body when you fast forward in time. Apparently your body is on auto pilot when you fast forward, which was a cool point to establish in the movie.

9.      About Time

I recently saw this movie and I found it so interesting that Tim can’t go to the future, but only back in time to points in his own lifetime. Most movie characters can go as far back in time as they want. I loved that he couldn’t go back in time after his children were born because then the same child wouldn’t have been born as a result. This movie used the basic principles of time travel, but made it very unique.

10.      Minutemen

I liked this movie, but I don’t really agree with the part when Virgil went back in time with the DVD of Derek getting tackled in the football game and changed the past, but the DVD still existed. If he went back in time and changed it then the DVD should be erased from history even if he did bring the DVD back with him.

Top Ten Best Death Scenes

Random food for thought. Top Ten Best Death Scenes. What do you think?

1.      Jaws – Quint

I love Steven Spielberg and this movie is a classic. What a way to go! An awesome but tragic ending for Quint.

2.      Alien – Kane

The alien popping out of his stomach – no one saw that coming!

3.      There Will Be Blood – Eli

I found this scene to be hilarious because Eli’s screams were so high pitched and Daniel was so weak and old, but he was still very intimidating.

4.      Star Wars: in Return of the Jedi – Emperor Palpatine

This was when Darth Vader threw Emperor Palpatine down the energy shaft to his death. (Tangent, I love the hilarious banter about the name Darth Vader in Pitch Perfect. Jesse is amazed that Anna Kendrick knew that Darth Vader was Luke’s father. She coolly explains that his name literally means Dark Father in German).

5.      Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark – Sword swinger

This was such a funny scene. The sword swinger demonstrates his skills by waving around his sword ready for a fight and Indiana Jones just casually takes out his gun and shots him.

6.      Looper – Younger Joe

I loved how younger Joe sacrificed himself to save Cid and reset time to a world where he doesn’t have a future and prevented Cid from turning into the Rainmaker.

7.      Lord of the Rings – Gollum

Gollum falls into the lava holding his beloved ring feeling truly happy for once.

8.      Saving Private Ryan – Private Stanley Mellish

He dies with a knife slowly penetrating his skin and giving him the most painful death. It was a total Hunger Games moment and really showed how war can turn people into monsters and change you for the worse.

9.      The Princess Bride – Vizzini

Vizzini was a cocky jerk who thought he had Westley outplayed. He didn’t realize that Westley had built up an immunity to the poison and Vizzini died laughing about how clever he was.

10.      The Faculty – Professor Edward Furlong

I saw this movie recently and it was so fun to see these stars at such a young age. This scene was awesome; Zeke killed his teacher by stabbing him in the eye with a drug that killed him due to its ability to suck up the water in your body.

Taking One For The Plot

Needed to Depart:

1.      The Walking Dead – Shane Walsh

Shane is a great villain and reminded the audience that just because you aren’t a zombie doesn’t mean that you have basic human compassion.  But his death was necessary because he served his purpose as the bad guy.

2.      Game of Thrones – Ned Stark

I hated to say goodbye to Ned Stark, but his death was a huge leap of faith on the part of HBO.  The show stayed very true to the book and didn’t alter the script (much) to satisfy the audience.  Ned Stark’s death really advanced the plot by putting Joffrey in charge and setting everything in chaos.

3.      Homeland – Nicholas Brody

Brody has survived too many near death situations.  His suicide vest didn’t explode, he killed the vice president, was accused of blowing up Langley, he was shot and he also killed Akbari by suffocating him with a pillow.  Wherever Brody goes people die while he remains relatively untouched.  Brody needed to go because it wouldn’t be fair for him and Carrie to live happily ever after while everyone else involved died.

4.      Game of Thrones – Khal Drogo

Khal Drogo was one of my favorite characters.  It was great to see him and Daenerys Targaryen together.  I found his death to be so ironic because he is so strong and a very dominant character.  You never thought anyone could defeat him, he was even confident enough to drop his sword in a fight.  But he dies because he presses his chest up against his opponent’s sword and that leads to an infection.  If he only had Neosporin! It was interesting that something so small took him down, which was a great way to put Daenerys into power.  If he had lived then Daenerys would keep relying on men to guide her, but she was ready to take the next step, which she never would have done if Khal Drogo remained in power.

5.      True Blood – Steve Newlin

I really liked Steve Newlin because there’s a point when you come to terms with the fact that he is such a wimp and only thinks of himself that you just laugh about it.  He screwed over James after he warned him not to drink the infected V-Blood.   The character’s demise was very much necessary for the plot.  And he did get a great send-off when Eric burned him in the sun and Steve confesses his true love for Jason, which in the world of True Blood, is an awesome way to go.

Didn’t Need To Die:

1.       How I Met Your Mother – Marvin Eriksen Sr.

I love Marshall.  He is the sweetest character in the whole show, so of course his father had to be killed off.  The worst part of it was Marshall was going to tell his father about how he was healthy and would be able to have children, which his father would have loved to hear.  I don’t think killing Marshall’s father was necessary or really advanced the plot besides giving the season a continuous episode of pity.

2.      Dawson’s Creek – Mitch Leery

I don’t understand why Mitch had to die, Dawson didn’t deserve that.  Also his death was written in a way that would haunt Dawson forever, he feels indirectly responsible for causing his father’s death.  The writers were clearly running on fumes when they wrote this and had to keep the series interesting.

3.       Andrea – The Walking Dead

She tried so hard to make peace between the Governor and Rick, but she was stuck in the middle.  She didn’t deserve to die being strapped in a chair killed by her friend waiting for him to turn into a zombie and kill her.  There are many other necessary deaths on the show that needed to happen, but Andrea’s death wasn’t one of them.

4.      The White Queen – Jacquetta Woodville

Since the show is based off of real life events she had to die to stay true to history, but I don’t think her death helped the plot or added depth to any other characters as a result.  Let’s change history!  I loved Jacquetta.  She was a very witty and clever character who knew what to say to get out of any unsettling situation.  She was a great mother to Elizabeth and really helped to guide her through her life as the queen.

5.      Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Joyce Summers

I was always kind of indifferent about Joyce.  She was a fine mother to Buffy, but I hated how she reacted when she found out she was the Slayer.  She could have been more supportive and been there for her.  But I saw no point in having her die; maybe it showed that even with all of Buffy’s powers she still can’t always save the people that she loves most.

My Favorite Top 10 Movie Quotes

1. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

  • When Harry Met Sally

2. “If you build it, he will come.”

  • Field of Dreams

3.  “I’ll be back.”

  • The Terminator

4. “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man.  I get older, they stay the same age.”

  • Dazed and Confused

5. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

  • Jaws

6. “Round up the usual suspects.”

  • Casablanca

7. “Dude, no.  This is serious.  I just sharted.”

  • Along Came Polly

8.  “There’s no crying in baseball!”

  • A League of Their Own

9. “Toga! Toga!”

  • Animal House

10. “Do or do not.  There is no try.”

  • Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Girl Power or Lack Thereof

I was discussing movies with my friend Kate, and she told me about the Bechdel Test. I never heard of it.  But, as I now know, the Bechdel Test applies to movies and the rules are:

  1. It has to have at least two women in it.
  2. Who talk to each other.
  3. About something besides a man.

Check out the link here: http://bechdeltest.com/

Kate’s favorite movie is the Princess Bride, and it received 2/3 on the test because the old lady boos Buttercup in her dream, but she is mad at her for leaving Wesley, so their conversation was about a man.

I was surprised to learn that a majority of my favorite movies failed the test, which led me to wonder how important the test really was.  Passing or failing the Bechdel Test doesn’t mean the movie is bad.  In fact, a majority of the movies that failed are some of my favorite movies of all time.

I made a list and categorized the movies based on what movies passed and failed that had a female protagonist.  Then another list on movies that passed and failed with a male protagonist.

It was pretty easy to find movies that had a female protagonist who passed the Bechdel Test and just as easy to find a male protagonist who failed the test.  It was really hard to find women protagonists who failed the test, and somewhat difficult to find movies with a male protagonist that passed the test.

In my opinion this shows that only when women are the protagonists in movies will there be interaction between women.  But when there is a male protagonist it’s very unlikely for that movie to be capable of passing the test due to a lack of women characters.  I found the results to be very interesting, but, again just because a movie “fails,” doesn’t mean that it’s bad in any way.  Weird little exercise, but here it goes.

 

Female Protagonists that Passed:

1. Beautiful Creatures – Lena 3/3

2. Enough Said – Eva 3/3

3. Freaky Friday – Anna 3/3

4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Katniss 3/3

5. Sixteen Candles – Samantha 3/3

6. My Big Fat Greek Wedding – Toula 3/3

7. Mean Girls – Cady 3/3

8. Pan’s Labyrinth – Ofelia 3/3

9. The Wizard of Oz – Dorothy 3/3

10. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Bridget 3/3

11. Aliens – Ellen Ripley 3/3

12. Clueless – Cher 3/3

13. The Devil Wears Prada – Andrea 3/3

14. A League of their Own – Dottie 3/3

15. Pitch Perfect – Beca 3/3

16. Bridesmaids – Annie 3/3

17. Bring it on – Torrance 3/3

18. Bend it like Beckham – Jess 3/3

19. Twilight – Bella 3/3

20. The Help – Skeeter 3/3

21. Admission – Portia 3/3

22. The Host – Melanie 3/3

23. Baby Mama – Kate 3/3

24. Alice in Wonderland – Alice 3/3

25. Whip It – Bliss 3/3

26. Titanic – Rose 3/3

27. Zero Dark Thirty – Maya 3/3

28. Mary Poppins – Mary 3/3

29. Soul Surfer – Bethany 3/3

30. Akeelah and the bee – Akeelah 3/3

31. Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth 3/3

32. Never Been Kissed – Josie 3/3

33. 27 dresses – Jane 3/3

34. Miss Congeniality – Gracie 3/3

35. To Kill a Mockingbird – Scout 3/3

 

Female Protagonist that Failed:

1. Trouble with the Curve – Mickey 0/3

 

Male Protagonists that Passed:

1. The Karate Kid – Daniel 3/3

2. The Matrix – Neo 3/3

3. Stardust – Tristan 3/3

4. Pleasantville – David 3/3

5. Shaun of the Dead – Shaun 3/3

6. The Spectacular Now – Sutter 3/3

7. Almost Famous – William 3/3

8. Midnight in Paris – Gil 3/3

9. Elysium – Max 3/3

10. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – Walter 3/3

 

Male Protagonists that Failed:

1. Ender’s Game – Ender 1/3

2. The Social Network – Mark 1/3

3. Captain Phillips – Richard Phillips 1/3

4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Ferris 2/3

5. Ocean’s 11 – Danny 1/3

6. Slumdog Millionaire – Jamal 1/3

7. Interview with a Vampire – Louis 1/3

8. Back to the Future – Marty 1/3

9.  Point Break – Johnny 0/3

10. Home Alone – Kevin 2/3

11. Ghostbusters – Peter 1/3

12. The Fifth Element – Korben 1/3

13. The Truman Show – Truman 1/3

14. Mud – Ellis 1/3

15. The Fifth Estate – Julian 1/3