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Week in Review: 3/30/14

Movies I Watched in the Last Week

1) The Wolverine - This was okay, I guess.  I'm not big on comic book movies (you might have guessed), so it usually takes a bit for me to get into them.  I appreciated that they played a lot with limiting Logan's powers, because that's really the only way you can introduce tension in a superhero story, but I didn't like how predictable everything was.  Logan's inner conflict is ultimately hollow, too.

(Spoiler alert.)  He starts out being an aimless warrior ("A ronin," many Japanese people tell him with forced accents), and in the end he learns that he has a purpose after all and decides to quit hiding from his past.  Except... he doesn't have a purpose.  The final scene is him boarding an airplane without any plan or goals whatsoever.  Either he should have stayed in Japan with his new girlfriend and vowed to be her protector, or he should have been like, "I've got to get back to Professor Xavier's Academy!  I realize now that they need me!"  Or... they could have played up that his inner conflict isn't resolved, and he's just as empty as ever.  This ending just kind of felt like a cheat.

My Rating:  3.5 / 5

2) Escape Plan - A proudly dumb movie that's well-paced and fun nonetheless.  Escape Plan was almost perfectly crafted to appeal to me; it's a prison-themed thriller, which means it's really just a hostage/siege movie at heart, and I pretty much always enjoy hostage/siege movies.  But on top of that, the crew on this movie seems to understand that the difference between "fun" and "obnoxious" is when you have a silly idea and you play it out sincerely instead of sarcastically.

My Rating:  4 / 5

3) Stephen Tobolowsky's Birthday Party - I'm of two minds of this movie.  Overall I really liked it and I think the visual format allowed Stephen to add some depth to a few of his stories.  But ultimately I still think the Tobolowsky Files is a better format for his storytelling to shine.  It might just be the context of his story-telling; presented in the film, it seems almost self-centered, meandering, and thematically scrambled.  The podcasts are much more refined and cohesive.  Regardless, if you're the kind of person who would seek out STBP, then you're the kind of person who'll enjoy it.

My Rating:  4 / 5

4) The City Dark - This was a short, concise documentary about an interesting and often-overlooked topic, so for that reason I liked it.  But I thought the overall visual styling, pacing, and editing was less than stellar.  It's a shame, too, because the topic it's covering is one that really demands a lot more attention.  Maybe I should look for a good book about light pollution to recommend.

My Rating:  3 / 5

5) A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy - Sex comedies are a tricky thing to get right.  You have to walk such a precarious balance without falling into either exploitation or sentimentality, and on top of that, you have to be funny.  I think this one overall did a fine job, but I'd have probably gone in a different direction in the last act.  Or, at the very least, the last ten minutes.  I'll have to write about this more some other time.

My Rating:  3.5 / 5

Total: 5 Movies

Minutes I Spent Writing in the Last Week

1) Born Loser - About four hours of story planning and three hours of writing.  Current first draft length: 4,000 words.

2) Tale of 100 Stories - About one hour of revisions.

Total: 8 Hours

The Winner:  Minutes!

I should be more focused on 100 Stories, but sometimes, when you've got a good idea, you just have to run with it.  Born Loser (working title) is a new story about board gamers who plan a bank robbery.  It's kind of outside of my typical genres, which is probably why I'm having fun with it.