I go to the movies pretty often, usually once a weekend unless there’s absolutely nothing I want to see or I have other plans. I’ve had this habit for the past few years now, always asking around for friends to join me, but it’s rare that people want to spend the money anymore as ticket prices climb ever higher. Or they only want to go when it’s raining. Or only when there’s something mind-blowingly awesome out, worthy of a big screen night out. Not me. I’ll see anything. With anyone. Or with no one. Hell, I go alone more often than not these days.
You can find me strolling the halls of the Carmike Cinema up on Airport Road on a Sunday afternoon during their discount hours—from 4 to 5:30 p.m. the price drops to just $5.75 per ticket! It doesn’t bother me, in fact, it’s become my me time: I plop down in a practically empty theater, stretch my legs, enjoy my snack, and toss a sheepish grin over to the other people who are there by themselves, as if to say, I get it. We’re the film nuts. The ones who avoid the date nights, the late nights, the crowds, the kids, the squealing teens. We just want to enjoy a good movie. Or a not-so-good movie. We’re there for the experience of it. (Or because we have no social lives, but whatever, who’s judging.)
So, with all that movie-going, I can usually tell you what’s good and what to avoid. I get texts from my long-distance friends asking for my opinions and suggestions. And I’ve got ‘em. So I figured it was time to put that to good use for this column and give you all a run-down of what I’ve seen over the past couple of months, in order of release date ...
EVEREST | 9/25/15
I saw this one with my mom. (It was either this or The Walk starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and she’s afraid of heights—this movie didn’t really do anything to help that either.) It’s the harrowing story of a group of climbers caught in one of the worst storms Nepal had ever seen back in 1996. I’m trying to remain spoiler-free this issue, so if you’re unfamiliar with the tale, just consider this: If you’re afraid of heights, frostbite, freezing to death, or suffocation, maybe skip it. Looking for a triumphant survival story? Wellllll ... the cinematography was beautiful and the film had the added bonus (for me) of Jake Gyllenhaal in a minor role. Keira Knightley delivered a couple gut-punches with her tearful phone calls and by the end, I was just grateful I’d never had the urge to climb a mountain. But it was still worth seeing.
See it? If you’re a hiker, thrill-seeker, or into unflinching biopics, sure.
THE INTERN | 9/25/15
This was a solo Sunday afternoon. I enjoy Nancy Meyers’ work; she puts out the sort of films that are just ... pleasant, if I had to sum it up. This definitely wasn’t either actor’s best work ever, but it was a harmless comedy about breaking society’s limitations on seniors and introducing a new kind of friendship. The plot was weak, but sweet.
See it? Why not?
THE MARTIAN | 10/2/15
I met up with an old college friend halfway between her home outside of Philly and mine a couple weekends ago for this one. I really had no desire to see it, but I’d seen all of her other suggestions already, so I forfeited. And I’m glad I did. I don’t really care for space movies (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around Interstellar), but this felt more like a comedy at times than a drama. After reading Cat Stroh’s review of the book, I felt like Damon was the perfect actor to pull off the main character’s snarky sense of survival. He’s in the most desolate place imaginable and has to fend for himself in every way. I don’t know what I would’ve done in such a situation, but I surely wouldn’t have handled it with his simplistic “it is what it is” attitude. He gets it done. And the suspense that hangs in the air—or lack thereof—of whether he will ever make it home speeds up the film’s lengthy runtime.
See it? If you’re looking to fill your space movie quota for the year, go for it. Or if you’re a fan of Damon and want to spend 2.5 hours watching him grow potatoes and narrate his daily life. But if you have an irrational fear of free-falling through space and the very thought gives you heart palpitations, like movies like this have given me, take a pass.
CRIMSON PEAK | 10/16/15
I keep in touch with precisely one friend from high school and she and I get together every so often for dinner, shopping, and updates to my hair (go visit her at Azure Salon in Nazareth!) ... she’s my go-to girl for quirky horror stuff, so I knew this visual horrorfest from Guillermo del Toro would be on our to-see list. And here’s the thing: It wasn’t really that scary. It featured some super creepy ghosts, that’s for sure, but as the story within the story says, it wasn’t a ghost story. It was a story about ghosts. The visual effects were stunning and I hope you know what I mean when I say it was a truly beautiful film. But the plot’s final twist left much to be desired and no matter how stunning the cinematography was, it left a flat aftertaste by having the story falter in the conclusion.
See it? If you’re a fan of Gothic period pieces, you’ll enjoy it ... I’d watch it again just to hear Hiddleston talk to me for two hours.
BURNT | 10/30/15
I didn’t hear a whole lot of buzz about this, but Bradley was on Ellen and she raved about it, so this was another solo Sunday. I try to avoid reviews before I see a movie—I may be one of the few who does that, actually—because I don’t want it to color my own perceptions of a film. I usually find the critics to be far too harsh anyway. But I skimmed one by Entertainment Weekly, and it definitely influenced how I saw the film. To be blunt, Bradley’s character is a stark-raving lunatic. He’s a chef trying to make an epic comeback and in doing so, he makes Gordon Ramsay look like a mewling kitten. He’s certainly hard to root for and because we hear, rather than see, most of his backstory, it makes it too difficult for his ambition to feel genuine. But it certainly put American restaurants to shame—every minute detail is accounted for and I definitely wanted to go on a culinary tour of London when it was over.
See it? If you like movies about food. (Who doesn’t, am I right?) Die-hard fans of Bradley Cooper will probably enjoy, as will anyone who just wants to see a movie set somewhere other than on our own soil for a change. (Accents!)