‘Crawl’ is the Perfect Horror Summer Blockbuster

First, there was Godzilla, the king of the monsters, and his arch nemesis, a giant three-headed dragon named King Ghidorah. Then, there were the gators of Alexander Aja’s Crawl. It is a summer of reptilian fear and I, for one, am 100% for it. Give me big scaly boys who snap their jaws, whip their tails, and gnash their giant teeth. Aja’s latest foray into aquatic horror is a heart-racing, tense, and absolutely fun creature feature that is the perfect summer film. Crawl seems like it ripped every gator and hurricane-related “Florida man” headline and smashed it together into an unrelenting journey that will make you scream and laugh in fear.

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‘The Lion King’ Sucks the Life Out of the Proverbial Circle

As soon as we left our screening, my friend turned to me in the car and said, “I feel like we both just went on a Disneyland dark ride, where it’s pretty but it’s all really fast and doesn’t really tell the story of the movie that well. It ended and I’m just like, ‘how did we get here?'”

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To me, that accurately describes the experience of watching The Lion King (2019), the hyperrealistic remains of the golden age Disney animation. A remake that evokes the feeling of an unknown stranger breaking into your home to move the furniture just a little bit; enough to gaslight you into thinking everything is cozy and familiar and then you trip over a misplaced carpet. Everything about the movie is exactly the same save for minorly altered scenes, and the story is told infinitely worse— a collection of numbingly boring and non-emotive Kingdom Hearts cutscenes stitched together to make up a two-hour piece of content. Modern Disney remakes have always struggled with justifying their motive to reimagine these beloved classics, and even though I have criticized many of these blockbusters for their lack of new perspective or artistic flair in the past, not a single one tries as little as The Lion King (2019) does.

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Much Ado’s Best Films of 2019 So Far

Believe it or not, we are halfway through 2019. We’ve seen Brie Larson kick ass as Captain Marvel, we’ve witnessed the end of an era with Avengers: End Game, Julia Hart gave us a new kind of superhero film in Fast Color, Ari Aster has scarred us all with Midsommar, and Olivia Wilde has given us the teen comedy we’ve been waiting for with Booksmart. It’s already been a wild year for film, and we still have five months left. With that in mind, here is Much Ado’s favorite films of 2019 so far and why we love them.

Booksmart, dir. Olivia Wilde

‘The night to end all nights’ is a tagline often found attached to tales of raucous frat bros, to the pursuit of the loss of their virginities, and to their final evening of partying, which comes just before the dawn of adulthood. Rarely, in teen comedies that revolve around sex and physical frankness, is said semi-mythical night centered on two rather awkward high school girls. More often than not, it has been the boys in Superbad and American Pie that have not only been permitted but openly encouraged to discuss their sexual desires, appetites, and experiences without so much as a hint of a blush on their cheeks. In Olivia Wilde’s Booksmart, this kind of agency is transferred from the obnoxious characters found in the aforementioned teen classics and awarded to Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein): two friends on the eve of high school graduation, for whom discussion of Malala Yousafzai and intersectional feminism sits as comfortably in conversation as the topic of masturbation. After realising that they have spent their entire adolescence burying their heads in their studies — in a fruitless attempt to gain the upper hand over their popular peers in search of places at prestigious universities — Molly and Amy decide that they must embark on the wildest evening of all if they are to truly ‘experience’ teenage-hood. And thus, absurdity, wild goose chases, and chaotic sexual encounters ensue. 

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Negotiating New Masculinities in ‘The Art of Self Defense’

As a transgender man, I have a complicated, strange, and usually arduous relationship with masculinity. Why are men so obsessed with the fact that they are men? For people who claim to be independent and strong, why is is validation from someone they perceive as superior (read; more powerful) so important to them? Why is violence, hatred, and ugliness seen as so essential to being a man in mainstream society? I ask myself these questions constantly. They keep me up at night. The same questions seem to keep Riley Stearns up at night as well, as indicated in his new film, The Art of Self Defense.

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Jesse Eisenberg in ‘The Art of Self Defense’

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Podcast #7: Re-Watchability in Film

The seventh episode of the Much Ado About Cinema podcast is here!

In this episode, we talk about why we obsessively watch particular movies. Mia Vicino, Mary Beth McAndrews, and Lucy May join me as we wonder what makes a film re-watchable, why some are hard to revisit, and whether any of it matters!

Hope you enjoy!

Available on Spotify, iTunes, Sticher, Google Play, or wherever you listen to your podcasts!

On our Patreon page, we set a goal of $75 to start working on our podcast and four months ago we hit that goal, thanks to your help! Every time we gain a new Patron, we come one step closer to saving enough money to pay to our writers. You can help us with as little as $1.

Horror, OCD, and Me

Last year, I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD as many of us know it. While the label was slapped on me at 25, I think I’ve been dealing with it in at least some form for most of my life. Simply put, it is a disorder where people have obsessions and compulsions. It can be quite nebulous in its manifestations, but when it comes to onscreen depictions, OCD is seen as a fear of contamination and a need for cleanliness. Characters such as Tony Sheloub’s Monk from Monk or Jack Nicholson’s Melvin from As Good As It Gets are prime examples of stereotypical representations of OCD; they must wash their hands constantly, they obsessively count, they can’t step on cracks in the sidewalk, they are afraid of everything. These rituals and fears then make them weird and their OCD makes them unrelatable. But that’s not how OCD manifests for everyone; for some people, contamination fears are a large part of their compulsion. That’s not the case for me. If I never have to hear someone say to me, “but you’re messy, you can’t be OCD,” I’d be so elated. My OCD is much more internal, meaning I don’t have many visual compulsions. My mind is constantly flooded with obsessive thoughts about harm coming to myself and others, which means I’m always trying to find ways to avoid that harm. This can manifest through planned walking routes, constantly checking the oven, counting my steps, biting my nails, the list goes on and often changes depending on my stress levels.

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A phenomenal and hilarious wikiHow image of what OCD looks like to this artist.

A large part of figuring out how to cope with my OCD has involved recognizing the deeper meaning of my personal relationship to the horror genre. Horror has always been a part of my life. I have devoured horror films and books since an inappropriate age, finding a strange solace in the violence. Slumber parties always involved horror movies. I owned almost all of R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike’s books. I watched horror trailers obsessively. I dove into the world of pirated movies so I could watch the latest horror indies. It’s always just been part of who I am, so when I was diagnosed with OCD, I didn’t think at all about how this could link to my love of horror.

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EIFF ’19 Review: Bludgeon: Orcas of the Land

Directed by Andy Deere and Ryan Heron, Bludgeon is a documentary which invites the viewer into the fiercely competitive and misunderstood sport of medieval combat in rural New Zealand. Ardently committed to enacting these fantasy battles, players of the sport don antiquated armour and wield handmade swords and battleaxes. Unlike LARPing however, the sport is full contact – players hit hard, and wear costumes weighing almost 30kg. While the film tries to offer insight into the sport and the community who participate in it, what it does instead is covertly invite the audience to laugh at its subjects. 

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