Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Summer Movie Catch-Up!

Summer is a time when studios release, release, release and it's hard to stay on top of everything. For that reason, you need to tune in to Meet Me at the Movies to get the recap on the new Terminator movie. (Hey, we're available through streaming! Go to clevelandcc.edu, pick C19TV at the top of the screen - we're the first show on the top row of programming! Watch at your leisure - and there's a new show beginning each Friday morning!) See, this week Ensley and I split the viewing - he took Terminator and I took Magic Mike XXL. Who got the better end of the deal? Read on.

To complete the "catch up" portion of the blog, let me highly recommend - for two different audiences - both Inside Out and Dope

 Inside Out is the latest offering from Pixar and it's a winner. Not quite as transcendent as Up, but a cracking good view. The detail-oriented folks at Pixar consulted a number of actual brain scientists to get things right about how memories are formed and stored, and that attention to detail makes for a movie that will appeal to tweens and adults. At the heart of Inside Out is young Riley, who is dealing with being uprooted from her life in Minnesota to move to San Francisco with her parents. It's a huge change for her and she has some trouble adjusting to the change. Plus - she's eleven, which can be the start of some hard years. To help her through every day, she's got an internal "board of directors" made up of Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. (Well, we all do - stay 'til the end and you'll see what I mean.) The vocal talent is great - casting perpetually-angry Lewis Black as the personification of Anger was genius - and the story is captivating. Plus, Bing Bong. Fun on the big screen and definitely a rental afterward.

Dope seems to be this year's "independent film that could." After screening at Sundance, it was picked up for distribution by Open Road Films (interestingly, a company formed by two movie theatre chains - AMC and Regal). Dope centers on three high school seniors living in a rough area of Los Angeles who are joined together by their geeky outsider love for '90s hip-hop culture. Over the course of the film, we see Malcolm and his friends attempt to navigate staying on the straight and narrow while still being curious teenagers who want things. Deeply moving, laugh-out-loud funny, and uncomfortably questioning some notions of race and culture, Dope is worth seeking out. Please do.

Magic Mike XXL - well. First off, let me admit that I missed the original, although there's no need to have seen that to make sense of this sequel. The plot's thin - basically, it's a buddy-road movie with a lot of cussing and thongs. That I was expecting. What threw me were two things - first, the sheer level of raunch in this film, and I certainly don't consider myself to be a pearl-clutching prude. Let's just say that the dancing scenes are highly - interactive - with the onscreen female audience. This ain't your mama's Chippendales show. While attending such an evening's entertainment would not be my particular suggestive exploding bottle of water, I have to admit that women who do go know what they're getting into, which brings up my next, far more puzzling, point. Strangely, Magic Mike XXL is a celebration of the female. There is much talk about honoring and cherishing women and their desires - and let's face it, most movies see women only as a collection of parts and there's an entire (particularly icky) subgenre of horror films that seeks to punish women for even having sexuality. In this film, not only is desire accepted as natural, it's not limited to skinny white women - sadly unusual in mainstream films.  The lust in Magic Mike XXL is clearly depicted as being all in good fun, and the strippers are both profane and contemplative in turns. Yeah, it's nice to have a thousand women screaming to touch your well-oiled body, but there's nobody to go home to, which pains several of the "male entertainers." Plus, Myrtle Beach on the Fourth of July is apparently all yearning strippers and American flags. Weird, but just maybe worth a rental.

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