Movies of the moment

I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a film buff, but the fact remains that in the not-too-distant past, I once watched 100 movies in one year (precisely between August 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011). This is largely due to my relatively freer schedule during summer and winter vacations. When I hit my stride I’d watch 4-5 movies a week; one week apparently I hit 8 movies. I do not know how it happened. Unfortunately I studied abroad soon after, resulting in a near-drought in the movies department for three months.* My record never recovered, and as of today, I have watched a paltry 29 movies in the past year.

Let’s go over some of the movies I’ve watched recently, shall we? (Spoilers ahead!)

The Birds (1963)

The Birds has been on my to-watch list for awhile now, but being a wuss, I didn’t get around to watching it until now. (Rear Window and The Shining are next on my list, but I’m still too scared to see them. I think I could handle North by Northwest though.) The only things I knew about this movie going in was that it was a Hitchcock thriller, and that it was about birds attacking people. That was actually a pretty accurate reduction of this movie. Obviously, if you have ornithophobia you’d want to give this one a pass. I am personally not that creeped out by birds, so it thankfully didn’t affect me as much.

The soundtrack of this movie was interesting. There was no music score, just the sound of bird squawks and flapping wings at fitting points throughout the movie.  Even the opening credits were only accompanied by slightly threatening bird sounds. Notably, the only music in the movie was in the scene at the schoolhouse, where crows slowly gather on the jungle gym while the children are inside, singing a rather repetitive kid’s song in unison. (As anyone knows, the sound of children singing in a thriller is a harbinger of imminent doom.) Also, there was strangely little screaming throughout the movie. In the schoolhouse scene when the children are fleeing the attacking crows, you can kind of make out the high-pitched sound of children screaming, but it’s largely masked by the sounds of birds squawking and pecking. In the climatic attic scene, Melanie Daniels does not scream throughout as you might expect from the heroine of a thriller movie. Instead, she just grunts and moans a little while frantically batting away the birds making mincemeat out of her skin and clothes. I feel like that’s how I would also react if attacked by birds. “Yeah, I’m too busy trying to stay alive to waste my energy and breath screaming.” Also, I’d be afraid that a bird would fly into my mouth. Wouldn’t that be the absolute worst, given that you’re being pecked alive by birds?

I  appreciated the slower pace of the film, unlike those of movies today. I can’t keep track if there are too many characters and plotlines (lookin’ at you, Ocean’s Eleven). Also, San Francisco represent! (I realize the majority of the movie was set in Bodega Bay, but the opening shot was of Melanie walking into a pet shop in Union Square. So.) I was super excited that Vertigo was also set in San Francisco, but in retrospect that was probably because the hills in the city spotlighted Scottie Ferguson’s vertigo.

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

A huge number of summer movies were released in the past two months, and unfortunately I’ve only had the opportunity to watch two of them. (Curses, lab!) My to-watch list includes Iron Man 3, The InternshipThe Bling RingMan of Steel, Monsters University, and Despicable Me 2. I want to try to catch Iron Man 3 in theaters, but the others can be relegated to the computer screen. Now that I’ve graduated college, I kind of wish I had used one of the empty lecture halls in the quad to screen a movie or two on the projectors.

To be honest, sometimes action movies run together in my head. I mean, there’s just so many of them! 4 Spiderman movies, 3 Batman, 6 Star Wars, 2 Star Trek, 3 Transformers, a Green Lantern, 3 Iron Man, a Captain America, an Incredible Hulk, a Thor (or is it two?), an Avengers, 6 X-Men & co., and sequels and reboots popping up everywhere. Are you kidding me? This is why I can’t remember what happened in the first Star Trek! Did someone’s planet get blown up, or was that Star Wars I? Was it the good guy’s or the bad guy’s? Was London the city that got demolished, or New York, or San Francisco, or Los Angeles? Are they motivated by revenge, or just pre-empting the crazy megalomaniac bad guy? Is the sidekick the human, the humanoid alien, or the robot? Is there a team, or does the hero have to go it alone? I can’t keep this stuff straight!

However, Star Trek Into Darkness was quite enjoyable. (I see you San Francisco, again!) I already forgot the finer details of the plot already (don’t kill me, Amy!), but the cinematography and dialogue were both pretty great. Also, Cumberbatch!!**

My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

Oh my god. This movie is on drugs. I can’t even.

Attentively yours,

*I did watch The Tree of Life subtitled in Spanish while in Madrid, and it was probably as trippy as the original. I also watched The Help (Criadas y señoras) dubbed in Spanish, which was straight-up bizarre.

**I love Jimmy Fallon’s interview with Benedict Cumberbatch, when they discuss how Jimmy’s fans call themselves “FalPals.” Jimmy asks what Benedict’s fans call themselves, and he reluctantly admits, “…Cumberbitches…”



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