I watched 5 movies over the holiday break.

Everyone in my family loves going to the movies. When we get together the movie plans are *almost* as important as the conversations about what mom is making to eat while we are visiting. 

I was feeling pretty good about my movie intake before heading to Charlotte to see my family. I'd just watched Birdman, Top Five and Boyhood, which were all excellent, and written up my Top Five rappers after seeing Top Five. Y'all know I like to make appreciation graphics (remember the ones I made for Bridesmaids and Pootie Tang?).  

 
 

Here are my recommendations based on the movies I saw over the break.

The Interview.

You've heard the controversy surrounding the movie (In fact, if you live in the US and have not heard about the controversy surrounding The Interview I would like to speak with you. You'd be a fascinating cultural study.). I would have never watched the movie without the controversy and the ability to rent the movie on YouTube on Christmas day. It's not my type of movie. I knew I wouldn't enjoy it. I wouldn't have wanted to spend the money to see it in the theater. Before watching I'd seen clips shared on Facebook and an interview/clip with Seth Rogan before the press tour was cancelled.

It is an adequate small screen movie. I'm glad I participated in the cultural phenomenon of watching a new release on YouTube on release day, but that's about it. It'd be a hilarious 30 minute sketch, but there wasn't enough substance for a two-hour feature film. 

My favorite scene:

 

Unbroken.  

Torture. This movie is one torture scene after another without a lot of character development or story. I'd like to say it was beautifully shot (ehhh), written (ehh) or that I could really understand the plight of Louis Zamperini after watching the movie but I can't. There was very little character development and the movie failed to do anything more than present a few long scenes of torturous events in Zamperini's life loosely strung together with a narrative.  

Zamperini had an interesting life and was more than an Olympian (which they barely touched on), a person marooned on a raft and a POW surviver. This movie failed to portray his life. Read a great review of the movie on Variety. 

My favorite scene? When Mac punches the shark (and it's not worth watching the movie to see that scene). 

The Theory of Everything

A beautiful portrayal of a families' struggle with ALS - it just happens the person with ALS is famed physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking

It's superbly acted and soulful but I also find the subject matter impossibly important. It was enlightening to see how the structure of this family changed as the disease manifested itself in Stephen. The love story portrayed is about Jane and Stephen but it also encompasses their individual families, their children and the people who helped them professionally and personally.

Even if you are not interested in Stephen Hawking's story, this tale is profoundly interesting. A must watch. See it on the big screen if you can and when Stephen says "everything will be okay" to Jane please think about Patrick O'Brien who has ALS and has been telling us everything will be okay for 10 years.  

Big Eyes.

Big Eyes is based on the story of Margaret and Walter Keane. The two made millions the 1960's with Margaret secretly doing all the art while Walter took all the credit and fame. It's easy to get caught up in the drama and deceit as it unfolds. Though the subject matter isn't fun (misogyny, entitlement, deceit) the movie is jaunty and fun. The way the story is told there are clear good guys and bad guys and justice is served as the story wraps into a nice, neat package.  

This movie works as the feel good movie of the holiday season. I'm now desperate to get my hands on a copy of the Keane book. Read more about Margaret Keane and Walter Keane

Wild.

Based on the autobiography of Cheryl Strayed this movie portrays Reese Witherspoon, as Strayed, taking a 1,000 mile journey up the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother (and the subsequent self-destruction of her life). She is unprepared for her grief and her hike.

Oh this movie has my heart. I get her story. Losing a parent does make you crazy. Her plight could have been my own if I hadn't had supportive friends and family who let me go crazy, on rails, after my father died. 

Sure, I wouldn't have understood this movie 10 years ago, but it totally has my heart now. If you see it and want to judge Strayed for her actions, I recommend you watch it again after you experience a trauma like hers. 

Witherspoon is amazing and the story exposes what we, as flawed humans, experience when we are ill-equipped to deal with a situation. See it on the big screen and bring tissues.   

Here is my fan graphic for Wild

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As Ariel and I plan to spend the next week in Knoxville we are already starting to plan our movie outings for the week. The top contenders are Foxcatcher (dying to see) and The Imitation Game. Though I'd really like to end up in a city that is playing Selma.