Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Shape of Water

The description for this movie: A lonely janitor at a government facility forms a relationship with an aquatic creature at the facility.


Despite the film getting great reviews, it wasn't until my friend Stephanie recommended it to me as she was taking me to the train station that I decided I wanted to see it. Pam and I made plans to see it while I was in SLC, and we were not disappointed!

The film takes place in the 1960s at a government facility. Elisa (a luminous Sally Hawkins) and Zelda (Octavia Spencer) are janitors at this facility. Oh, and Elisa is mute. She is friends with her next door neighbor, and artist and closeted-gay man who just wants to live a regular life. When the facility becomes home to a strange aquatic creature, Elisa recognizes it/him as a being worth getting to know (rather than examining, cutting open, and then discarding).

In the hands of inventive filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the film is magical and beautiful. Every set and camera movement and color choice contributes to the world of the story. I love that the characters live above a movie theater, and that film canisters can be seen in the hallway. The joy of films is ever-present in the movie, and I love the scene of the creature standing in an empty movie theater, found by Elisa as he stares at the movie on the screen.

It's a truly lovely, magical film that brings together misfits and those who don't "fit" into society.

All the Money in the World

There weren't very many movies this year that I was excited about seeing on Christmas Day. Even less ones that I would be able to convince my sister to see with me. I'm fine with going to movies alone, but on Christmas Day I generally want to go with family and/or friends. Plus we had to see one that didn't start too late, since Em had to be to work the next day at 5 a.m.

We settled on All the Money in the World, the story of the kidnapping of the grandson of John Paul Getty, richest person in the world, in the 1970s. Turns out being rich doesn't preclude one from being a completely terrible person, as Getty doesn't want to pay the ransom. He makes a semi-good point that if he pays this ransom, it puts his other 14 grandchildren at risk. However, he continues to be completely awful when negotiating with his former daughter-in-law, requesting things that no normal human being would.

The film starts out a little slow, and I was concerned my nephews would be bored and Em would fall asleep. But then it picked up some steam and was rather suspenseful. There are several tense scenes with the abductors and their abductee, so much so that I may have said words out loud to the screen. The film ends on a weird and highly improbable set piece (turns out that was all made up by the filmmakers).

However, the performances are all stellar - particularly Michelle Williams as the mom of the abducted, and Christopher Plummer as Getty, who came to the film after it had already wrapped to replace Kevin Spacey. If you're looking for a smart, suspenseful thriller give this one a go.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Last Jedi

It's been two weeks since I saw The Last Jedi. Normally by this time I would have seen the movie at least one more time, but this is the rare time where I have only seen it once. Not because it was terrible; an opportunity to see it again just hasn't come up.

And, honestly, I didn't love it. It's probably in that "Good, not great" category.

First of all, it didn't feel like a Star Wars movie to me. Sure, there were the same characters, and the well-know phrases, and the galaxy we have come to know over forty years. But it never really came together for me in a way that made me feel like I was seeing a Star Wars movie.

I'm still not on board with Poe's apparent humor, and it still feels out of place to me for the Star Wars universe. Star Wars movies definitely have humor in them, but not like this.

The talk about being low on fuel took me completely out of the movie. Fuel has never been an issue in the Star Wars universe and it all of a sudden being the reason the Resistance and their ships can't escape seemed like it was there just as a plot device - "Hmm, how can we create tension??? Let's make it so they don't have enough fuel to go into hyperspace so they will have to sit around and figure out a plan. Then we can send Finn and Rose on a mission that doesn't matter, have Poe act like a petulant child, and then have Holdo sacrifice herself! Genius!"

I don't care at all for the character of Finn. His story was boring to me. Even Poe annoyed me. Snoke is SO ridiculous and not scary at all like the Emperor or Darth Vader. He wears a ridiculous gold outfit and then is quite easily killed.

I still do not believe Luke would abandon everything because of the one miscommunication with Kylo Ren. They just had that weird moment, and then instead of even talking about it, they decide to fight and kill people?! Really?! Luke fought to save freakin' Darth Vader because he knew there was good in him. No way he runs away from his family and the Jedis and the Republic after one incident.

Parts of it I really liked though. The mind melding of Rey and Kylo was fantastic! I loved the play of good and bad between them. I even liked that Rey ended up being a nobody. They're fight scene where they joined forces was pretty fantastic. I think it would have been a better story choice to have Kylo choose to be good and join with Rey, since that would have been unexpected. But I suspect the filmmakers and Disney want to tease that out through the third film.

Also, Yoda. Dude is awesome.

The Force Awakens got by on the sheer nostalgia of having Star Wars back in my life. But it does obliterate the happy ending of Return of the Jedi. A part of me just wishes we had left well enough alone.

I was disappointed there wasn't a trailer for the upcoming Han Solo film!

Christmas 2017

Since I was in SLC just over a week ago, my trip for Christmas this year was short and sweet. I got in a little after midnight on Christmas Eve and left at 5:30 a.m. on December 27th for just three days with family and friends.

But I made the most of those days! Emily and I enjoyed watching several (some good, some not so good) made-for-tv Christmas movies.

Christmas Eve was spent with my mom and, later, Jorge, Jose and Athena. We all went to Olive Garden to fill ourselves with food. When the waiter brought the after-dinner minutes, Athena quickly opened about ten of them and stuffed them in her mouth! I was wearing my light-up cat sweater from my work Secret Santa and everyone loved it (the waiter made cat-puns, and other waiters told me they loved it).

Em, my mom, and I watched the Sound of Music while eating Harmon's cheeseball and intermittently falling asleep. It started to snow a little bit Christmas Eve night, but nothing like last year. We had opened presents earlier in the day - Em was excited for the Soul 2 Soul tickets I bought for her! Em bought mom a new purse.

My dad and Debbie came up from Vegas to open presents and have lunch at my brother's home. Athena loves dinosaurs and has lots of them!

To close out the night, Em and I took Jorge and Jose to the movies. We saw All the Money in the World.

The next day I was lucky enough to get to hang out with two awesome friends - breakfast with my Kansas friend Janae, and then lunch, a movie and the afternoon with Pam. Pam and I went to the Broadway (my favorite theater!) to see The Shape of Water, then checked out Barnes and Noble. 

Then the next morning I was off, very early, to the airport to head home to Denton. I love being with family and getting to see friends, but Denton is my home. Quite literally, my home is here. Along with Biscuit and Chance, friends, my work, and everything I love in this charming little town.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Quick Trip

This year's Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi, was released two weeks before Christmas. Which meant there was no way Lindsay and I could wait to see it to coordinate with me going home for Christmas. So I decided I would just fly out for the premiere and come right back.

It ended up working out perfectly. I got into Salt Lake early enough to see my sister at work (actually ran into her in the bathroom) and get lunch with her at Toaster's. Toaster's is my favorite place in SLC and I cant' visit without going there.

Then I was off to Pocatello to see the 6 p.m. Fan Event showing with Lindsay and her husband, Scott. I will write a review of the film later. I can't imagine not seeing the premiere of a Star Wars movie without Lindsay. We have seen all of them together at a theater in Pocatello since the prequels were released in 1999 (although that theater has since been tore down).

It was great seeing Lindsay and her daughter, Sydney, who was one when I last saw her two years ago. She is so much fun and I loved getting to spend time with her.

The nice thing about being in town before Christmas was being able to get together with old friends. Everyone is always so busy when I'm home for Christmas because of the season that I don't get to see everyone. This trip I was able to see my dear friend Holli in Pocatello (we worked together at Wendy's) and my friend Kate in SLC (we worked together at Myriad).

It was a super quick trip, but it was just right and just what I needed.

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