Blockbusters, Indies, Art, Films, Trash Films — They’re All Movies

I hate movie snobs. Whenever I catch wind of some blowhard spitting movie snobbery, I just want to crush their skull in, which would make me a murderer, which is arguably much worse than a movie snob. I get the same violent urges towards art snobs in general. I’m talking about the kind of people who like to rank mediums of art.

“Painting is the highest form of art. Music is a close second, but only if it’s orchestral music, not rap. Rap isn’t art at all. And movies and TV are the lowest forms of art, if you can even call them that.”

Their reasons for not respecting certain mediums of art are usually steeped in ignorance.

“Movies are all explosions and superheroes.” Cherry-picking to denigrate the whole medium (and what’s so bad about explosions anyway?)

Or, “rap is all about drugs and violence.” Yes, and I suppose sculpting is all about men with small penises.

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That same poisonous thinking permeates movie lovers as well. The cinephiles who scoff at whatever new blockbuster is playing at the mainstream theaters. Or the blowhards who would laugh in your face if you so much as suggest that they see the newest comedy starring a former wrestler (may this trend never die). These are the people who pat themselves on the back for watching foreign films. The people who won’t dare watch a horror movie if it isn’t directed by Ari Aster.

Netflix? Never. The Criterion Channel? Always.

It’s not personal taste I’m attacking here either. It’s when someone can’t appreciate a genre on its own merit. Instead they judge all movies on the merits of their favorite genre. A goopy, soupy horror movie like Society won’t hold a candle to Lost in Translation in terms of character depth and emotional resonance, but as a goopy, soupy horror movie, it’s really damn good.

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Let me address my own blind spots here. All you need to see is my iTunes library to known my tastes fall heavily towards Junkfood movies. Give me Big Trouble in Little China. Give me any Fast and Furious. Anything with Rutger Hauer (RIP). But that’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good slow burn, a foreign film, or something drastically outside of my tastes. And most of all, I believe they’re all valuable in their own way.

You’ll often hear movies snobs say things like:

A movie should be a deeply serious work.

A movie needs to be about something important.

A movie needs to make you think.

A movie needs to challenge you.

Those are all great qualities to strive for, but in no way a prerequisite to be a valuable film. Usually what these people are really saying is, “a movie needs to do all of those things in the exact way that connects with me, no matter the genre.” But I don’t want the same thing out of a Coppola movie that I get out of a John Carpenter movie.

I’m not saying you have to love every single movie. I certainly don’t. Like I said, this isn’t about taste. This is about the asshole who scoffs at you for loving Hocus Pocus. Or the dickhead who thinks there’s a competition between art films and popcorn movies, and that art films are the clear-cut winner of said competition. Or that there’s even needs to be a winner at all.

Movies that make me think. Movies that make me zone-out. Movies with explosions. Movies with quiet moments of brilliance. Action movies. Horror movies. Character studies. They’re all movies, or film, or cinema, or whatever you want to call them. Those are just umbrella terms for endless possibilities. Movies are like people. You don’t have to like them all, but for god’s sake, respect them.

Except for Jean-Luc Goddard’s The Image Book. That movie fucking sucks

 

Pacific Rim: Uprising – A Sequel Better than Its Predecessor that Could Not Work Without It

Note: I’l be talking a lot about the first Pacific Rim. I will clearly notate Pacific Rim 2 if talking about 2.

I’m a fanboy of a lot of the ingredients in the stew that is Pacific Rim – Mech, monsters, campy sci-fi action-adventure – but the first movie has always left a bad taste in my mouth (to keep the stew analogy). For a movie designed for my tastes, Pacific Rim is barely fun for me. The uninspired mech design and bad casting set it back for me (they had to cast only the boring white people?). Guillermo Del Toro can do monster design like nobody else, but his lack of imagination with the robots was apparent.

Bow down to the king, everyone. This is Gundam from Ready Player One, which in the half a second that its shown in the RPO trailer, it is already more exhilarating than anything Pacific Rim has given us.

I can’t say that I don’t leave it on whenever I scroll past it on TV (Hell, I was watching it before I watched Pacific Rim 2). Still, it’s a movie that, in some ways, I wish didn’t exist. I love movies with mech, monsters, and all the aforementioned, but it has to be good or else you just wasted one of our bullets. I think a lot about the diminishing appeal of failed properties, like I had talked about in my Tomb Raider movie review. How many Spider Man (or any other property) movies until we give up and stop showing up? And how many failures until the studios simply stop making them?  If you’re gong to give us a mech movie, make it count. I don’t feel Pacific Rim was what it needed to be to make it count. (note: on an artistic level. The movie obviously did well enough to warrant a sequel).

Pacific Rim 2 is a better movie in every way, and I’d even go as far as to say it’s a very good movie, but only because of its predecessor. Certainly that’s true of any sequel to a degree, and it’s not as if you can’t watch this without having seen the first, but what makes the meaningful moments of the film actually feel meaningful has less to do with what we’ve seen on screen, and more to do with knowing the history of the first film. The first movie never felt especially emotionally resonant, for example when Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Becket loses his father (brother?), we know this is, and should be, sad, but do we actually feel it? No. Pacific Rim 2 keys into emotion in a much more effective way, but I think a lot of that does come from the relationships from the first.I can’t say that’s a bad thing, or a knock on the movie, and I’d be interested to see the opinion of someone who had never seen the first.

I dipped my toe into calling it a “very good movie,” which I hesitate to completely dive into. There are issues, personal taste aside (I thought the mech design was even less inspired, but its’ amazing how much good story and acting counteracts that, though they are unrelated qualities). The movie is spread a little thin across its main characters. I actually think it could use an additional 20 or 30 minutes, but even in saying that, it doesn’t need it. That extra 20 minutes might add some welcome depth to some of the characters, but it’s not as if that would put the movie in the Oscar running. Ultimately, I think the genre/style of the movie allows for some rushed elements. We just want to see the fights with enough emotional backup to care about the outcome.

This one is an easy movie to decipher. If you liked the first one, you’re going to like this one. I don’t see how you couldn’t.

If you’ve never seen either movie, and this seems like your kind of thing, start with the first and move up from there.

If you’ve never seen either movie, and you’re in any way hesitant, I’d start with Pacific Rim 2 or I fear you may never give it a chance after seeing the first.

I also wanted to mention that this has been a great year for women in film. Cailee Spaeny who plays Amara Namani (awesome name) and Tian Jing who plays Liwen Shao will have little girls wanting to jump in a mech and pilot one themselves. So take your daughters, step daughters, cousins – whoever – to see this movie! I’m glad we’re slowly getting past strong female characters whose main obstacle is their womanhood. Both Spaeny and Jing play strong women whose judgement is never questioned (at least not for their gender). Stories that deal specifically with gender are important, but equally as important is seeing women in robust roles traditionally held for men without questioning it. I’m excited to see Cailee Spaeny’s next projects, as she was surprisingly great (only because I hadn’t heard of her prior to this).


I have a lot more thoughts about this movie, but honestly, no one’s paying me for this so 800 words sounds about good lol. Thanks for reading!

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