Tag Archives: alex hiatt
Directed by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Written by Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, and Shane Morris
When I reviewed How To Train Your Dragon, I drew a line in some imaginary sand separating it from the cynically produced schlock that gets dumped on the kid demographic these days. As much as I love that movie though, I have to admit that it only seems so great because everything else is so bad. For a long time, CG movies were too annoying to even endure, Pixar’s output aside. But now Pixar sucks too. Go ahead, admit it. They haven’t made a great movie since Wall-E, and everything since has been worse than what came before it—Monsters University in particular is downright abysmal.
Strangely enough, as Pixar has declined, Disney Animation has experienced a resurgence. Bolt was way better than anyone expected, and, for the most part, Tangled feels about as effortless as any Disney 90’s hit did. Wreck-It Ralph was terrible, and The Princess and the Frog was a bit too paint-by-numbers, but whatever—all upward trends have their occasional dips. Now we have Frozen, which, despite its stupid title, is without a doubt the peak of this new renaissance. I have a feeling this all has something to do with Pixar legend John Lasseter’s appointment as Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney Animation Studios following Disney’s buyout of Pixar in 2006, but I’ll leave that speculation for someone more informed and just get back to Frozen.
While y’all are recovering from food comas, why not catch up on your Smug Film reading? This week, we reached 150 posts, and chances are, you haven’t read all of them. Back when we hit the 100 post mark, we made a list of 10 Must-Read Smug Film Posts, so if you haven’t read the ones on there, definitely do so. And if you have, here’s 10 more, culled from our 50 posts since then:
Ender’s Game (2013)
Written and Directed by Gavin Hood
Very minor spoilers ahead.
I read Ender’s Game a week before seeing the movie, and now I almost wish I hadn’t, because the book is fucking great. I don’t know whether I would have liked the movie more, or less, if I hadn’t read the book first, but I do know that I won’t be able to talk about the movie without talking about the book.
Don’t worry, though—I’m not going to make a checklist of everything the book did right that the movie did wrong. In fact, I’ll say up front that I don’t think that movie adaptations of books have any business being ‘faithful’. Or rather, I think they should be faithful in specific ways, and not in others. For instance, it’s important that an adaptation captures the themes, character arcs, and, whenever possible, the tone of its source. It’s not important that it hits every plot beat, or revisits every location, or namedrops every side character. That sort of keeping faith does little beyond providing little jolts of recognition to fans of the source material. A movie can get bogged down in superfluous details, or tripped up in its pacing, if it just methodically ticks off a checklist of things that happened to have happened in the book. And this, unfortunately, is what happened with Ender’s Game.
In my earliest Smug Film piece, I reviewed a movie called ATM and introduced this idea of ‘Roomies’—movies where the characters are trapped in some kind of room and the whole point is figuring out why they’re there and how to get out. Exam, The Breakfast Club, and Cube are some popular examples. Now I’m going to introduce you to Twisties, which have become quite prevalent lately.
I saw the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion in the theater by myself. I like going to the movies by myself. It’s cool. There’s something about being by yourself in the grandeur of the theater that always reminds me how much I want to make movies.
There is a moment in Fargo (I’ll never stop talking about Fargo) that makes me die with laughter every single time I watch it. The movie is packed with black comedy and irony and brilliant deadpans (the license plate joke, holy shit) and some basic but perfect physical gags (Jean Lundegaard bursting out of the shower draped in its curtain like a kid in a homemade ghost costume), but I ain’t talking abaout all that stuff. I’m talking about the stills above. This moment seems to be more of an editorial in-joke than an actual written joke, but of course you never can tell with the Coen brothers. After Jean’s dad and Stan Grossman and Jerry discuss the plot’s central ransom over breakfast, Jerry is at the counter. The beaming cashier asks how Jerry’s meal was. After he answers rather shortly, he comes back with an affable “How you doin’” and when it cuts back to her, we see her cock her head to the side before it cuts again. All she does is cock her head to the side. No response, no change in expression, just a slight pitch. It’s hilarious. It’s insanely funny.