Downsizing - ★★½☆☆
Boy, Matt Damon’s having a hard time lately. As soon as Suburbicon came down from that billboard by LACMA that movies only get when they know they’re in trouble, Downsizing went up in its place. And the sheer volume of trailer plays this thing got. Yeesh. I was willing to go see it from the beginning, and then it felt like the studio spent two months trying to talk me out of it with all their terrible ads.
Speaking of, I think this is the big trend in movie trailers this season: making a selling point out of a moment that the script totally thought was going to be a big reveal. It’s like if the trailer for Psycho wasn’t tracking well and then the whole marketing campaign shifted to be focused on the shower scene. Thor: Ragnarok doesn’t lay any hints that the Hulk is coming, because they thought you were going to be so pumped to see him, and Downsizing was planning on surprising you with the fact that Kristin Wiig isn’t going to be in this movie, which is in fact a shaggy dog story about Matt Damon learning that he needed to step away from his old life of taking care of his loved ones and struggling to make ends meet in his career where he improves his clients’ quality of life, so that he can, um, worry about money and help people, but in a way that requires less specialized knowledge? I don’t know. I had fun in the last act of the movie trying to imagine what the actual scale of everything we were seeing would have been.
Molly's Game - ★★★★☆
I was on board just to go see a couple hours of Sorkin dialogue, and of course Jessica Chastain as The Competent Woman. I think it's neat that the movie is in some ways a sequel to the book. I hope they get an Oscar nod for editing, as well as the inevitable screenplay nomination.
As soon as I heard there would be a movie I was wondering how they were going to depict Tobey Macguire.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - ★★★★☆
Well, first things first, having seen this twice in very different theaters, I’ve come to a conclusion: I think the first reel is out of sync. Like the whole scene with Hux on the bridge / space battle thing. Just a frame or two or three.
Other stuff: (Caution: extensive nerdery ensues)
- I’m surprised at all the ire. It’s a fun cynical thing to say that of course the internet hates things, but I don’t really understand it. It’s everything everyone said they wished The Force Awakens had been.
- I’m so happy about Rey. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a weird kind of Star Wars elitist about what was intended in the original movie and so I like the Force being for everyone. I’ve read posts from goofs about how Luke already represented the random anykid using the force, which is true, but that was before 30 years of waxy lore buildup.
- You can draw a parallel between the practical necessity of scrubbing the EU and the line about burning down the past, sure, but that’s not what Ren is talking about. Your Star Wars isn’t gone. You’re not actually meant to destroy the past. Why? Well, there’s this little trick that people who have seen a movie before might be able to pass on, which is that the villain is often wrong. Sometimes art is used to explore a wrongheaded idea or philosophy by putting it in the mouth of antagonistic characters.
- I should probably emphasize that this is mainly in reference to ideas, and not like, every word out of the villain’s mouth. (Although, Iago.) There’s a thing about Empire where supposedly younger children were more likely to think Vader was lying to Luke. I know I was in that camp myself. I’m not sure what it says that it’s apparently such a popular opinion that Rey and Ren were lying about her parents. (That said, if any writer was going ever going to try to pull a reversal here, it would be JJ.)
- Canto Bight. Sure, with the hindsight that the plan didn’t work, you can say they might as well not have tried, but the rebellion is all about making these million-to-one shots. They can’t all pay off. Besides which, embodying the theme of the movie is a worthwhile thing to do in a movie. Do people not like Finn? Isn’t ‘seeing what adventures the characters are having’ another part of what folks want from Star Wars stories?
- On the other hand, the ‘how did Finn learn to fly since yesterday’ criticism is probably a valid one. We’re used to a gap of years between movies, but I think we’re only getting days this time.
- If I were snipping a plot thread out of this movie, it would be Captain Phasma. Is she a popular character? It feels like the Disneyiest, merch departmentiest fingerprint on these movies.
- Luke’s apparition. I wanted to say that it was how Luke thinks of himself, but I think the lightsaber is how we know it was meant to freak out Ben. The only reason I can think of for using the blue saber (besides giving the audience a clue) is that Luke is showing he’s met with Rey. The implication that Threepio can see the projection is really something. That means Luke is doing something to (at least) light on another planet, not just influencing the minds of the people there.
- Force ghost Luke! Luke’s hand should have clattered to the ground. Will the ghost have a robot hand? Real hand? No hand? Why isn’t anyone talking about the real issues?
- I would say that Luke did give Rey the most important training he could have. It’s not like he’s going to be drilling her on EU lightsaber forms. He probably doesn’t even know that kind of Republic era Jedi Academy stuff. Like Luke in Empire, what Rey learns in that dark side cave directly informs her approach to the force and evil and the rest of the movie.
- I wonder if audiences would gasp at Leia getting spaced if Carrie Fisher were alive. Maybe since they know the actress is gone, they’re just waiting for Leia to go somehow. I definitely thought it was possible her shuttle would be shot down until Poe boarded the same one.
- You just know they’re going to jam those dice into SOLO.
- I still like this movie. I liked it more this time.