In 2016, I argued that if “movies can impact a moviegoer’s worldview (by stimulating creativity, encouraging empathy, and raising awareness), then moviegoers should thoughtfully consider which movies they choose to watch.” And I stand by that argument.
Below are Mo’ Money’s top films of 2018 only including films that premiered anywhere in the world in the calendar year.
2018 was a great year for me, but one way that it really shone was all the great movies I was able to access via streaming and physical media. My war against theaters continues, and yet I was able to see 57 movies that premiered in 2018 including a number of independent Midwestern productions. While I missed a lot of films that only played in festivals or haven’t released in the United States yet, and my list may change over the years, I believe the following movies are great and worth watching if you can access them. Continue reading →
Hello and welcome to Jeremiah Trotter’s top 10 movies of 2016. Now, let’s be clear: these are the top 10 movies that I enjoyed the most from 2016… that I saw. So, of course you will have different opinions and different ideas of what is “the best” of 2016, but maybe you discover something on this list that you’d like to check out. And I’m definitely not opposed to debating the merits of individual films. Anyway, let me know how you feel in the comments if you get the urge.Continue reading →
Earlier, I posted my ten favorite movies from 2016. But a “best of” list provides only a snapshot of a yearlong collection of movie-going experiences. If movies can impact a moviegoer’s worldview (by stimulating creativity, encouraging empathy, and raising awareness), then moviegoers should thoughtfully consider which movies they choose to watch. With this in mind, I have posted a list below of every movie I watched for the first time in 2016. Continue reading →
Some films contain flawed logic, trains of thought that, at some point, hop off of the tracks and barrel through fields of plot. This occasional lapse of sound reasoning does not necessarily decrease the value of a film (in fact, some plots thrive on lapses of logic), but audiences should be aware of these deduction deficits so that similar logic pitfalls do not occur in their own lives. Enjoy the stupidity of movie characters, but don’t pretend that it’s not stupidity.
I, Robot (2004)
Flaw: Shia LaBeouf should lead you into battle. In this sci-fi action movie, Shia LaBeouf plays Farber, a teenage punk who cusses and objectifies women. He is also the protagonist’s friend. Though Farber really has no reason to exist in the film aside from providing some awkward and arguably unnecessary comic relief, director Alex Proyas includes a few scenes in which Farber and Detective Spooner discuss ladies and Farber’s poor use of profanity. During these conversations, nothing redeeming is revealed about LaBeouf’s character. Farber has no depth. He is a hormonal teenager who has managed, for some unknown reason, to befriend a renegade cop. Other than his friendship with Will Smith, Farber has absolutely no qualities that should inspire a mob to follow him into battle against a hoard of assertive robots. In fact, logic should dictate that when Farber starts to mock the robots, everyone else should back away, leaving Farber to deal with his own poor life decisions. In the movie, however, a large crowd of people, apparently unaware of Farber’s substandard leadership qualifications, stand behind the teenager, ready to charge. The result is pandemonium and pain for the humans as the robots toss people into the air like confetti. Farber, however, escapes unharmed, like a cockroach after a nuclear apocalypse. Continue reading →
When I watch a movie for the first time, I try to experience it. I allow the colors and sounds to guide my thoughts. I set my brain to autopilot and repress the part of my mind that prides itself on analysis and critical thought. I forget about financial woes, annoying friends, and other daily stresses and immerse myself in whatever world is on the screen. My goal is to create memories, not brain wrinkles.
But that is the first time. If I watch the movie again, the gloves are off. My brain cracks its knuckles and prepares to pick apart the film. No scene, motif, or character escapes my analysis. My mind becomes a warrior of intellect, attacking ignorance and feeding on subtlety and nuance.
Some friends have told me that they don’t appreciate casual film analysis. “Chicago is not a social commentary.” “I don’t like to think of Aslan as Jesus.” “I don’t care if WALL-E wants me to save the planet.” But these friends are missing a crucial element of movie-watching. There is nothing wrong with intelligent responses to film.
Many films offer viewers guided tours through various philosophical musings and sociopolitical statements, and those messages demand critical thought. Like literature, music, and other forms of art, the burden of interpretation falls to the viewer. Films cannot easily be divided into groups based on the existence of a moral or social statement—those with messages and those without—and moviegoers who are only willing to analyze films that advertise as social commentaries (like FernGully: The Last Rainforestand Sicko) hide themselves from deeper understandings of their favorite movies. Analyzing film does not somehow ruin the simple pleasures of movie-watching, and thinking about the more profound aspects of a specific movie does not lessen the movie’s initial impact. Instead, injecting critical thought into the movie-watching experience enhances the adventure. The Lord of the Rings is better when considering Tolkien’s background. 30 Rock is funnier with an understanding of the show’s social commentary. And appreciating Reefer Madness: The Movie Musicalas social satire brings the music to life.
So, the next time a friends tells you to stop analyzing movies, just remember that critical thought is film’s best friend. Feel free to tell your friend something like, “I’ll stop analyzing movies when you start paying for my movie tickets. Until then, I pay for these experiences, and I’m going to make the most of them.”
After a long sabbatical, Big B and Mo’ Money are back, and we are pumped to talk about movies. And we will talk about movies. Eventually. But instead of talking about specific movies right now, we’d like to discuss something else.
Ladies and gentleman, fan fiction is powerful. It allows devout followers to keep their favorite shows and movies alive. It encourages unpaid writers to continue their trade. And it creates communities of like-minded individuals, lost souls who cannot quench their thirst for scenes simply by watching television. The world of fan fiction is an ever-changing world, a malleable universe that sits atop layers and layers of fabricated content.
Big B has written some fan fiction.
That’s right. Big B has created his own unique fan fiction. You have seen fan fiction for everything from RENT to Charlie Brown, from Ace Ventura to Happy Feet, from Scrubs to Green Lantern. But you have perhaps never seen fan fiction for this State Farm commercial:
The Vengeful and Well-Insured Falcon
Gregory, the man with the falcon, and his wife, Liz, return home. Liz is obviously displeased with her husband’s purchase, but Gregory doesn’t seem to notice. As Liz washes the dishes, Gregory attempts to teach his falcon how to play foosball. Gregory’s loud attempts to high-five his falcon irritate Liz. After a few minutes, she walks to the living room to confront Gregory.
Are you going to help me with these dishes?
Let me just finish this game. I can’t believe he’s beating me!
(Lauging) It sounds like you love that falcon more than me.
That’s it. We’re getting rid of the falcon. We’re going to take him to an animal shelter tomorrow. I don’t care if we get our money back.
(Turning quickly to Liz) Maybe I should get my money back from marrying you!
Gregory picks up his falcon and runs to the door. Liz, shocked, places one hand over her mouth and lets the other fall to her side. Gregory grabs his coat from the coat rack. Liz mumbles something as Gregory, maneuvering the bird from hand to hand, quickly puts on his coat.
You know what really kills me, Liz? We could have been happy together. The three of us. We could have been happy.
(Standing in the doorway) That’s fine. You don’t need to say anything. You just haven’t found your falcon yet.
Gregory stands in the doorway holding his falcon and looking at Liz for nearly a minute. Just before Gregory turns to leave, Liz’s expression changes. As the door closes, Liz speaks.