Movies

Road To Gold: Final Predictions

It’s finally my Super Bowl and while I haven’t written much about the movies I saw and (mostly) loved this year, I’d be remiss not to make my final guesses on who I thought would win what at tonight’s Academy Awards. Since I’m not Jimmy Kimmel I’ll skip the intro and just get started.

Best Supporting Actor
Will Win: Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Want to Win: Dev Patel – Lion
Honestly, I’ll be shocked if Ali doesn’t take away the big prize tonight. Not only was he fantastic, but he’s been an award season favorite all along. Patel’s win at the BAFTA’s indicates favor in his direction too, I’m not sure there’s enough for the trophy, though I’m still pulling for him – while Ali’s Juan shaped Moonlight in a way that a lot of supporting characters don’t, Patel got to do some serious leading-man material in Lion. It doesn’t hurt that I think he’d give the most endearing acceptance speech.

Best Supporting Actress
Will Win: Viola Davis – Fences
Want to Win: Naomi Harris – Moonlight
Viola Davis can and does do anything. She’s fantastic, and was the ultimate scene-stealer in Fences, but I just didn’t see her as a supporting character. She’s a star in anything she does, which is why I’d love to see a win for Naomi Harris, who not only completely transformed for her Moonlight role but also filmed all her scenes in just three days, which I think is absolutely incredible.

Best Actor
Will Win: Casey Affleck – Manchester By The Sea
Want to Win: Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Though Denzel Washington’s SAG Award win for Fences bodes well, I don’t see anybody but Casey Affleck walking away with the Oscar tonight. He’s won nearly every award this season, and has been a front-runner for what feels like a full year. There’s no way Andrew Garfield will win but it would be nice, right?

Best Actress
Will Win: Emma Stone – La La Land
There’s nothing I can say here that hasn’t already been said a million times. If Emma Stone’s not accepting an award tonight, I’ll be completely stunned.

Best Director
It’s Damien Chazelle v. Barry Jenkins, and honestly I’m not confident enough to bet in any direction. So I’m cheating here and saying both.

Best Picture
Can anything beat La La Land here either? Moonlight cleaned up at the Spirit Awards yesterday but with so much leaning in the musical’s favor it’s hard to tell where tonight will land. I think either is deserving of the big win, though Lion and Arrival ended up being unexpected favorites of mine this season, and I believe Hidden Figures should be required viewing for all Americans this year. I don’t see the quiet Hell or High Water or violent Hacksaw Ridge making waves, though Fences or Manchester By The Sea could potentially break through to the finish. Whoever wins, in a few hours nobody’s guesses will matter, and we’ll already looking ahead to 2018.

 

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Movies

Road To Gold: Alternate Universe America

Zootopia
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Animated Feature Film

Much like Deadpool I only just sat down to watch Disney’s Zootopia. And very much like Deadpool I was still pleasantly surprised despite the hype that followed for the better half of the year. Zootopia is a movie that should genuinely be shown in schools, an enjoyable cautionary tale about where things in America are headed with an ending that gives a glimpse at how we might act if we didn’t have to focus all our energy on a reality star who tweets about meetings with Anna Wintour. Kids always have a better grasp on humanity than adults, and Zootopia taking away a top prize would just be a reminder that we should all take a step back from ourselves and join hands at a Shakira concert. Things really aren’t all bad, unless we want them to be.
Lion
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Picture, Drama + Best Supporting Actor + Best Supporting Actress + Best Original Score
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

Completely unrelated to Zootopia‘s animal theme but falling in line with a nice picture of how the world could be is Lion, which brought several tears to my eyes despite the man who was snoring loudly beside me for the entire two hours. Based on a true story, Lion was maybe a little heavy on the ads for Google Earth and a little light on the character development. But for a minute, it’s a reminder of family, and how good things could come out of the internet if we didn’t have to focus all our energy on a reality star who tweets about meetings with – wait, did I already say that? Anyway… Dev Patel is charming as always, and Sunny Pawar is an adorable actor in the making. You’d have to be made of stone to not get a little joy from this.

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Movies

Road To Gold: Tis The Season For Depression

Manchester By The Sea
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Picture, Drama + Best Director + Best Actor, Drama + Best Supporting Actress + Best Screenplay
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture + Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role + Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role

I live on Earth and read movie reviews, so I knew that this movie would be tragic, and yet I was still surprised at how deep that tragedy went. At the risk of describing it like any generic drama, Manchester By The Sea really is a sad, simple story that’s beautifully told. But with a surprising twist in the middle and excellent acting by the entire cast, there’s a lot more at stake here than it seems. Movies don’t need to be hugely scaled to influence, which Manchester by the Sea easily proves. I haven’t yet seen Moonlight, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes away with most of it’s potential awards on Sunday.
The Lobster
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Actor, Comedy

You know the feeling you get when you watch a movie and have to just sit there a few minutes after it ends, wallowing in it’s strangeness? That’s how I felt after The Lobster, which is billed as a comedy but made me feel deeply sad. Maybe I would have felt differently if I hadn’t watched it directly after the delight that is La La Land, and just didn’t give it the right attention. It wasn’t exactly the funniest movie I’d ever seen, despite the refreshingly original concept and the way that Colin Farrell and co. spoke clipped phrases like bad actors reading a script. I’m thinking Hugh Grant or dark-horse Ryan Reynolds already have this award, but it would be interesting if Farrell won. Maybe I should just tune in to Seven Psychopaths.

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Movies

Road To Gold: Singing In The Rain

La La Land
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Picture, Comedy or Musical + Best Director + Best Actor, Comedy + Best Actress, Comedy + Best Screenplay + Best Original Score + Best Original Song
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role

When did we as a society get so cynical? Surely it was before the storm that was 2016, which wasn’t the world that La La Land was born from but one that it felt appropriate to be brought into. We needed a little optimism, and yet half of the press La La Land started to get was Twitter trolls talking about overrated and unnecessary the movie was. Really? Since when was highway dancing, mood lighting and tap shoes anything but underrated. It’s easy to say “they don’t make movies like this anymore,” but I don’t think Sebastian and Mia would mind the cliche – it’s the truth. Two people find each other while chasing their dreams. They interact over the course of a year. They sing a song about disliking each other, and then get together. You might be inclined to call all this cheesy, and that would be fine. But I don’t think a little bit of cheese is ever a bad thing, especially when it’s as beautiful as this. We watch movies because we want an escape, and though the ending may not be the escape you look forward to, La La Land gives you hope to go out there and try to do whatever it is you’ve always wanted. It’s like an old friend poking you to pick a New Year’s resolution and stick to it. It’s old-Hollywood familiar with a freshness that reminds you there isn’t color and song like this outside of live musicals on NBC. Sure, the world sucks sometimes. But we don’t need to be so down about it. I walked out of the movies feeling all that and then some, with “City of Stars” stuck in my head. Get out your tap shoes and enjoy the movie. It’s what it’s there for.

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Movies

Road To Gold: I Finally Watched Deadpool

I don’t ski. I don’t travel. So the saving grace of the winter months for me is simple: Awards season. From Globes to SAGs to Oscars nothing brings me more joy than attempting to watch every bit of film released between December and January within one week of time off work, so that I can sit on my couch and make guesses about who’s taking home the trophies. Here’s my attempt to watch the most buzzed about television and movies and maybe take some semblance of hope away from 2016. Because seriously, this year needs to end.

Deadpool
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Picture, Comedy or Musical + Best Actor, Comedy

I know. It’s nearly 2017 and I still hadn’t seen Deadpool. I’m the only one on my flight to Iceland who chose watching Love, Rosie over what’s being lauded as the most important superhero film of the year. Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those thinkpieces – there are enough of those without me weighing in. But despite witnessing Ryan Reynolds’ public transformation into Wade Wilson and knowing pretty much every punchline of the movie heading into it, sitting down to watch was really satisfying. It’s an action-comedy that’s exactly that, an origin story that manages to have a clear plot, and a story that’s stayed faithful to the source material. It’s a movie that I genuinely laughed at, which is more than I can say about half of the typical “Comedy or Musical” nominees. It’s nice when the voters get it right, and though I don’t see Deadpool coming away with the top prize, as a moviegoer I appreciate the inclusion. Not that Mr. Pool would give a shit.

Shortlist of nominees I’ve already seen:

Game Of Thrones
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Series, Drama + Best Supporting Actress
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series + Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Stranger Things
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Series, Drama + Best Actress, Drama
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series

This Is Us
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Series, Drama + Best Supporting Actress
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

Veep
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical + Best Actress, Comedy
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

Blackish
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical + Best Actor, Comedy + Best Actress, Comedy
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series + Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series

The Edge of Seventeen
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Actress, Comedy

Jane The Virgin
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Actress, Comedy

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Actress, Comedy

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Comedy Series + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series

 Transparent
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Series, Comedy/Musical + Best Actor, Comedy + Best Actress, Comedy

The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Miniseries or Movie + Best Supporting Actor + Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie + Best Actress, Mini-Series or TV Movie
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries + Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries

Black Mirror
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries

Mr. Robot
Golden Globes Nomination: Best Actor, Drama + Best Supporting Actor
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series

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Movies

Where Will ‘Doctor Strange’ Rank In The Marvel Cinematic Universe?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, are more of a DC fan, or don’t stan Benedict Cumberbatch, you probably already know that Doctor Strange is out this weekend. But why should you care? It’s not about Chris Pratt’s alien gang and there’s no sign of Chris Evans for miles. In fact, there aren’t any Hollywood Chrises! Is it even a superhero movie!?

I’ll admit that while I’m not running to go see it (I actually don’t stan Cumberbatch, or like white washing, though it is getting great reviews), I’m intrigued by what it’s setting up for the future, especially how it will connect to Infinity War. Regardless of my personal thoughts on the movie, the release of a new Marvel Cinematic Universe movie really means one thing: time to look back and prematurely judge where it’ll rank! I and the rest of the world am taking a look back at the rest of the MCU movies we already know, love and hate. Because why watch a super hero movie if you’re not going to compare it to all the other ones you’ve already seen?

Disclaimer: this is, obviously, limited to the Paramount/Disney MCU and therefore will not include absolute gems like X-Men: First Class and 2004’s Fantastic Four.

13. The Incredible Hulk (2008)

#NoDisrespectToEdNorton, but it’s very easy to forget having ever seen this movie. Honestly, it’s not The Incredible Hulk’s fault that a casting change and early release makes it feel like it doesn’t belong in the MCU. But when my family rewatched the series in order, we went to Wikipedia to find out what happened in the end-credits scene. Tony Stark meets up with future Secretary Ross! At the time even this was an exciting button, but it’s not as cool now since we already know the Avengers are a thing, you know?

12. Iron Man 2 (2010)

Ugh. Did we peak too soon? Was the original Iron Man just too perfect of an introduction to keep the rolling? Because I really dislike this movie. It’s just about the opposite of the clean fun that is Tony Stark’s origin story, and gives us a villain who’s best friend is a parakeet- honestly, I’m still a little confused. At least this movie gives us Don Cheadle as Terrence Howard’s War Machine replacement, and the introduction of Black Widow, who needs her solo movie stat.

11. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Age of Ultron isn’t a terrible movie. It’s just a movie that I have a lot of problems with. I have to give credit where credit is due. Sequels are a tough business, and this movie does at least give us the whole gang (including The Avengers Lite Division) hanging out, fighting the crime I’m assuming they deal with together between Cap rescuing Bucky and Tony building suits. But it’s predecessor was so great that I (possibly unfairly) wanted it to be so much more. A lot of the plot is just plain odd- Black Widow and Hulk’s hasty romance, Hawkeye’s hidden family, and Aaron Taylor Johnson’s accent for example. Without the hint of Captain America being able to lift Thor’s hammer, and the fact that the destruction in this movie sets up the MCU future, it would be pretty forgettable.

10. Thor (2011)

Thor is a romantic comedy. There’s nothing wrong with that- I love romantic comedies. But it’s a romcom stuck inside a completely different movie, and the flipping back and forth between both movies with weird cuts and deep contrasts between the darkness of space and the light of Earth is jarring and unexpected. When your villain, in this case Loki, is more well-received than your hero, it’s not always the best sign.

9. Thor: The Dark World (2013)

Listen, I don’t want to do Chris Hemsworth like this. He’s a fantastic dancer and a really enjoyable Thor. But these standalones are just alright, which kind of sucks considering how important the Tesseract and Infinity Stones are to the rest of the MCU plot. The Dark World is a step up for me, given the couple of plot twists and some dimension science that’s actually kind of cool. Overall you have to admit it’s hard for any space movie to compete against Guardians of the Galaxy.

8. Ant-Man (2015)

I’d hate to describe this movie as small because of, you know, the ant puns. But I really do love how small scale this movie gets. Yes, Ant-Man saves the world and fights another Avenger, like the squad is known to do. But he’s also more focused on just saving his daughter, so while their suburban street ends up getting wrecked it’s a nice change of pace from skyscrapers falling out of the sky. The fight scenes in a briefcase and on toy trains are genius, though I’d honestly give high marks to anything Paul Rudd is in.

7. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Was the MCU saving the best for last on purpose, or what? Captain America is the final core Avenger to be introduced, and while it might fit better in a lineup of war dramas it’s pretty exciting to see the world start to get laid out. It’s also incredibly depressing, since Steve loses his best friend and the love of his life, and as if that wasn’t bad enough the first thing he sees after being in an ice-induced coma is Times Square. I’d be depressed too, bud.

6. Iron Man 3 (2013)

Why didn’t anyone tell me how good Iron Man 3 is? I didn’t see it for the longest time, mostly because I was still stung by Iron Man 2’s nonsense. I made sense of the MCU without it (in other words, I’m not an idiot), but watching it fills in some nice blanks about Tony Stark. Tony’s kid sidekick is actually really cute, and the twist is wild. There’s that whole thing where Gwenyth Paltrow is on fire, but we’ll look past it.

5. Iron Man (2008)

Imagine if Iron Man had been a flop? Either we’d remember it like we remember The Incredible Hulk, or worse- there’d be no MCU at all. Iron Man managed to pull off jump-starting an entire universe starring a superhero who wasn’t yet commercially well-known, and on top of that was a really great movie. Tony Stark was cool, and the movie’s soundtrack and big fight scenes prove it. Plus, it’s nice to see a superhero who’s known to the public, which we hadn’t seen in the Spiderman and Batman movies- and it doesn’t get more iconic than “I’m Iron Man.”

4. Captain America: Civil War (2016)

More than fighting aliens or locking up bad guys, I want to see our Avengers together. That’s what makes Civil War so good: the introductions of Spiderman (!!) and Ant Man to the rest of the group are hilarious, and the final fight scene between Tony and Steve hurts. Our antagonist Zemo is a little much at times (I get you want revenge, but at what cost?), but overall it pulls off the seemingly impossible task of introducing characters, laying out motivations, and still feeling like a Captain America movie.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

What happens when you take a post-Zero Dark Thirty-buff Chris Pratt, a fire mix tape, and a tree that warms everyone’s heart, and put them together? You get Guardians, a movie that non-comic readers thought was going to be totally strange until they saw the trailer and pretty immediately got on board. I wouldn’t have expected a movie about “a bunch of assholes” to work so well, but it just goes to show you that the MCU can tap into the unexpected worlds of comic books and still succeed.

2. The Avengers (2012)

It really doesn’t get much better than this one. The MCU was officially solidified as a series that demanded attention to detail while bringing together more superheroes than the average American could list off at once. It was a risky move basing a lot of the first Avengers movie on the world of Thor. But it really works, and he’s better here than his solo movies, plus Iron Man becomes a great team player and we all get good at pretending Mark Ruffalo has been there all along. Maybe DC’s Justice League movie will totally blow this one out of the water, but we’ll always know The Avengers did it first, and they had Shawarma.

1. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Maybe I’m biased, because Captain America is my favorite Avenger, but Winter Soldier is in a league of it’s own. Chris Evans threw some light shade at Joss Whedon saying that the Russo brothers, directors of Winter Solider and Civil War, make movies about people who happen to have powers, not movies about superheroes. And that’s exactly it. This movie has as many (if not more) fight scenes, shiny costumes and one-liners as any other movie in the MCU, but it doesn’t stop there; it throws in a compelling villain, strengthens character relationships and forces our hero to question his morals in a way that isn’t neatly wrapped up by the film’s end. Can Doctor Strange come close to beating it? Let’s see.

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Movies

Everybody Gets Some in Everybody Wants Some!!

My 17 year old sister gasped when Everybody Wants Some!! ended. Not because it ends on a cliffhanger (spoiler alert: the movie is the opposite of high stakes), but simply because it was over, like when you’re a kid playing at a party and your mom randomly yells down the stairs that it’s time to go home. Not much really happens, but this movie is so fun, you don’t want it to end.

I was born in 1993, my sister in 1999, and this movie was set in 1980- but it couldn’t be more relatable. Maybe it’s because I’m less than a year out of college, still riding on the high of all the memories Time Hop has to offer, but I knew these kids. You’re rolling your eyes at them one minute and wanting to join in the games the next. And it is all games, considering the movie takes place in the few days before classes and responsibilities start. College stories aren’t known for being groundbreaking, but this one just catches the feeling of being in a new place, trying to figure out where you fit in. There’s something to be said about a movie that kind of makes you wonder where you belong in the world and then disguises that feeling under a montage of athletes disco dancing. Freshman pitcher Jake calls the events of the plot “fuckwithery” and sure, that’s not a word, but you’re nodding along with them. It’s something you want to experience.

Going to an 11 PM, opening night showing of a movie that isn’t Harry Potter is an experience of it’s own- in our showing, there was just me, my little sister, a dad and his high school-aged son, and three bro’s sitting in the back. It couldn’t be more clear that everyone had different reasons for seeing the movie. My sister’s were cast members Blake Jenner (known for being catfished on Glee and delivering the line “Yeah yeah, it’s a Stevie Wonder week”), Tyler Hoechlin (known for never smiling on Teen Wolf) and Glen Powell (known for saving every scene on Scream Queens). I’m sure the dad was just there to relive the glory days. Maybe the boys were baseball fans or film students. Demographic differences aside, it’s to be noted that everyone in the theater cracked up at completely different parts of the movie (weirdly, the dad didn’t react to Tyler Hoechlin wearing a crop top like my sister did). But there was the fact that everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves by the end. There’s something for everyone in this movie, and it might not be what you expect, but you’re gonna want some.

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Movies

‘What If’ RomCom’s Weren’t All That Bad?

If there’s one thing I can remember about being 15 it’s that I became obsessed with romantic comedies. I’m sure I’m not alone in this; it’s like suddenly the thought of buying a PG-13 movie ticket on your own is the single coolest thing to happen, and almost everyone just assumes they’ll be getting a significant other in high school so romcom’s are kind of like a practice-run into relationships, right? What I didn’t remember, and what took my own 15 year-old sister asking for recommendations to make me realize, is that a large amount of romcom’s are not all that great. This isn’t breaking news; people have always been largely unimpressed with the ‘chick flick’ genre (are you as surprised as me to remember Ryan Gosling got a Golden Globe nod for Crazy Stupid Love?). But as a person who has seen (and loved) a lot of romcom’s, it’s depressing that a lot of the most recent movies are incredibly forgettable and so cliche I wonder why I haven’t written and produced one yet. If you just take them for what they are- cute, funny, harmless- romcom’s are great, but now they’ve just gotten a bad rap for people who are watching them over the age of 17 (and the amount of times I’ve said the word “romcom” is furthering this point).

The last romantic comedy I saw in theaters was the guy-oriented That Awkward Moment (which hurt my brain so much I wished I was watching High School Musical 4 instead), so when my sister begged me to take her to see What If, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan, I was sort of expecting the worst. I originally thought it would just be another movie with “darn, I’ve been friend-zoned” undertones, though with Radcliffe involved I should have known better. I’m a huge Harry Potter fan, and I was really interested in seeing him do a completely different role, knowing he would probably be hilarious considering how well he did on Broadway in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. So I take back what I originally said- I was expecting the worst, but also just really wanted to see Daniel Radcliffe in a romcom.

And I ended up being pleasantly surprised. What If was a fresher look at friendships between men and women. The characters were great; Radcliffe is really charming and Kazan was incredibly sweet and sympathetic. As their best friends, Adam Driver and Mackenzie Davis were hilarious (Davis also starred in That Awkward Moment so it was nice to see her here), and Megan Park of The Secret Life of the American Teenager was perfectly cast as Kazan’s crazier sister. Parts of the script admittedly threw me for a loop; in one scene, Kazan’s Chantry gives Radcliffe’s Wallace her number on a sheet of paper and it just might have been so Wallace could dramatically let it fly away in the wind, but it would have felt more appropriate in a movie set a few years back? You will probably guess the ending to this movie, but before you get there there’s a unique script, interesting characters, a couple of twists and moments of real awkwardness and relatable tension. The movie didn’t try to push any agendas, just pose the real question of whether or not you should take a chance on something as life-changing and difficult as love. 

What If was humorous and well-acted, and not in the same league of movies as say, Failure to Launch, except that it is. Maybe all it takes is a few more well-done movies before people can stop knocking the genre for what it is. Granted, first we actually need a few more well-done movies, but What If gave me hope in a world where people think the upcoming romcom’s are going to involve people going on Tinder dates. The day that happens is the day I give up completely and go back to John Hughes.

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Books, Movies

Take Your Little Sibling to See Divergent

ImageDivergent, the latest in dystopian-teen-literature-turned-film-franchise, opened this weekend, and while it’s no Catching Fire, I would highly recommend seeing it and taking every young (and old) girl and boy you know. Set in an ambiguous future where people are separated into factions based on traits (honesty, selflessness, bravery, knowledge and kindness), Divergent focuses on 16 year old Tris, who’s inability to fit into one single faction makes her a threat to the government. Constantly compared to The Hunger Games series, it’s undeniable that the two share a lot in common, probably making a lot of people want to skip out on the Divergent craze entirely. But trust me, if you see the movie and aren’t struck by the intense fight scenes, Shailene Woodley’s performance, or Theo James’ face, you will remember one small but very important scene that I think everyone should see.

Tris, who chooses to join the “brave” faction known as Dauntless, has to pass a series of tests in order to complete initiation and join the Dauntless for life. Without giving too much away, one of these tests involves taking a serum that forces you to combat your fears, and allows the people around you to look inside your mind. Tris’ more insignificant fears involve being attacked by birds and being trapped in a glass case filled with water. But her deepest fear is of intimacy with her new boyfriend Four. Though Four and Tris have a good relationship in real life, she that Four will take advantage of her and force her to go too far without her consent. Under the serum, Tris manages to escape by physically fighting back, and when she awakes she is greeted with applause and Four’s acceptance. Yes, it was just a simulation, but the message is clear: Tris can defend herself against an attacker that she knows and loves, and people will be proud of her. It’s a small scene altogether, but the most important in the film, and will probably be the most important in its following two sequels.

A scene like this is featured in no other film in this genre. It goes without saying that Twilight portrays nearly the exact opposite, with Bella completely helpless around Edward- maybe they were in love, but who wants a heroine who physically can’t control herself around her boyfriend? And I’m completely Team Katniss, but half of The Hunger Games features Katniss forcing herself to get close to Peeta and act out the “star crossed lovers” bit so that she gets sponsors and becomes a fan favorite. It’s a survival tactic, no doubt about it, but when you really think about it, it’s pretty gross that either of them had to experience that. Divergent is a completely new outlook on this situation. Four isn’t a hero for respecting Tris’ wishes, but is just an example for how all boys should act. It’s not revolutionary, and maybe Divergent isn’t the next huge hit, but if it should be remembered for anything, it should be for this. You can be a badass heroine, and get the guy, and still feel safe about it. It’s your choice, and it’s a choice I’m happy to see portrayed on the big screen. Well done.

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Books, Movies, TV

What’s a “Guilty Pleasure,” Anyway?

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Since I was a little kid, I’ve had an obsessive personality when it came to books, movies, and TV shows. Caught between my older and younger sisters, you could also say my taste was eclectic when it came to the things that my peers were paying attention to.

And for some reason that is still beyond me, people have constantly used this trait as a way to taunt me. When I was little, I read too much Harry Potter. I was still watching Lizzie McGuire when everyone else graduated to Laguna Beach. In high school, it was absolutely ridiculous that I listened to the Jonas Brothers, and why in the world am I currently obsessed with One Direction? As if it was something that could infect the people around me, my “bad” tastes have been the target for teasing for as long as I can remember.

As an adult, I couldn’t care less what people have to say about my interests. And though it never extensively bugged me much as a kid, it did make me feel embarrassed whenever people asked me to play my iPod or started talking about what they watched on TV the night before. Any interview I watched with a celebrity would include the question, “whats your guilty pleasure?” and for a while it felt to me like everyone was on the same page: you could like whatever you wanted if it was popular, or if it wasn’t popular you could admit that it wasn’t cool and feel bad about it, or it was cool because it wasn’t popular. Plain and simple.

But if thats the case, then what is pop-culture? If everyone is going to either go along with the often-trivialized mainstream media that defines our society or hate it for everything that it is, than what is its point? Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t movies and TV shows made for people to think, and for people to enjoy themselves? Sure, the making of films is becoming all about making money (which is an entirely different post all together), but I can’t be the only one who turns on the TV or opens up a book to at least learn something. Whether that “something” is educational, thought provoking, or just something else I’ve learned makes me laugh, it seems like it should be all about just enjoying yourself.

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Which brings me back to my original point. Harry Potter, apart of the mainstream pop-culture since the 90’s, is something that made me happy and made me want to read as a seven year old. Lizzie McGuire, one of Disney’s most popular shows, gave me a role model in Hilary Duff. And One Direction’s music is catchy as anything, and they’re talented, and cute. Who cares? Why has it been put in our heads that we should feel guilty for liking something that someone distributed for widespread enjoyment or education? As long as it’s not hurting anyone, and as long as any problematic issues are being acknowledged, then why should a third party be given the right to make me regret something that makes me happy?

I’m not saying that I walk around forcing the people around me to dissect the Jonas Brothers break-up with me, or bring up High School Musical in job interviews. But I am saying that this whole “guilty pleasure” idea needs to stop. Stop feeling guilty about the things you like! If people take issue with the things that make you happy, then they’re probably just jealous their taste isn’t as original as yours.

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