Oh My Darling, Clementine

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a total mind trip, both literally and figuratively. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a movie that I’d been meaning to check out for a while. Whether for its confusing premise, cast of characters, or absurdly lengthy title. My parents always told me that they didn’t like the movie as much as most people do. That just made me want to check it out even more. What makes Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind so special is its way of storytelling. In this world, people have the ability to purge bad memories from a person’s head. In Particular, the memories of a certain individual. For this process to work, a person must throw out anything that belongs to or reminds them of that person. Then relive every memory they have of that person from the end to the beginning…

Joel (right) and Clementine (left) lay on the ice together

Jim Carrey stars as Joel, a somber every man who likes to draw. Which is the exact opposite of the kind of characters Jim Carrey is known for (I’ve never seen him so reserved). In contrast, Kate Winslet plays Clementine, a “manic pixie dream girl” with a quirky personality and colorful hair. Which is definitely different from the kinds of characters Kate Winslet plays. The two date, break up, and decide to have their memories of each other erased. However, Joel realizes midway through the procedure, that he wants to remember Clementine. So he devises a plan to travel through his childhood memories with a version of Clementine, in an effort to conceal her. It’s actually quite poetic in a tragic yet bizarre sort of way. My only real problem with the movie is the subplot involving the people performing the mind erasing procedure. Which involves two separate love triangles. I felt it was kind of unnecessary, but it did end up being important at the end of the movie. So I guess I can’t fault the movie too much for including it. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a bit of an acquired taste, but one that benefits from originality and dedicate performances from both Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet. It’s a movie that I’m not likely to ever forget.

Joel (bottom) and Clementine (top) wake up on a beach

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Game Over

Ender’s Game had no real effect on me. This review is really more for my brother’s benefit. He’s the one who read the book, saw the movie in theaters, and told me to watch it. So I watched Ender’s Game and had no real opinion. Some movies feel like they were tailor made for my brother, as opposed to movies that feel like they were made especially for me. But enough about that. I’ll try to explain Ender’s Game as best I can. Ender’s Game is about an advanced kid named Ender Wiggin who gets enlisted into something called Battle School. Which teaches him to use his skills to fight aliens or something like that. The so called “games” that he plays, teach him to work with a team and give orders. I think the premise was just a little too weird for me, and that’s why I didn’t get much out of it. There are plenty of brilliant actors in the movie and their color choices are eye-catching. There was even supposed to be a sequel/ franchise. Despite all that, Ender’s Game was just okay in my opinion. I’m glad my brother got more out of it.

Col. Graff (right) prepares Ender (center) for his mission

The Prince of Zamunda

Coming to America is probably my favorite movie with a primarily african american cast. There are many famous black actors in this movie. Including some that would become famous later on like Cuba Gooding Jr. and Samuel L. Jackson. Coming to America tells the story of an african prince who gets tired of all his privilege. Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall both play multiple characters. Each one more hilarious than the last, but my favorite is the old jewish man. Coming to America is filled with iconic moments, from Soul Glo to McDowell’s restaurant. Under the surface is a sweet romance that feels like it could happen in real life. James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair play the king and queen and the king wears a lion skin in one scene. Which went on to inspire The Lion King. There’s also a cameo from two characters in Trading Places. I watched Coming to America before Trading Places, so I didn’t get the joke the first time. All in all, Coming to America is a hilarious yet sincere comedy about royalty.

Prince Akeem and Semmi arrive in New York

A Valentine Christmas

Trading Places is your classic Prince and Pauper set up. Eddie Murphy plays the poor street smart con artist and Dan Aykroyd plays the wealthy snobbish business man. They switch places when two wealthy stock market operators make a wager to see if they can adjust to their new roles. You’ll never guess how much money they bet. Eddie Murphy is as hilarious as he was in the 80’s, working well in both roles. I wouldn’t call Dan Aykroyd the funniest comedian, but he works well as the straight man. However, one of the more memorable parts of Trading Places is Jamie Lee Curtis making her nude debut. But there is more to talk about. Trading Places has a lot of talk about the stock market. They try to explain it to you using small words, but I’m still lost. Even the climax of the movie still leaves me confused. Still, Trading Places is a hilarious satire on social class individuals. Showing it’s not about how much money you have, it’s what you’re willing to do with it. Yeah!

Louis (left) presents Billy Ray (right) with a dollar

Possessed House You Say

Monster House was a lot better than what I expected. When I first heard about the movie, I thought it sounded ridiculous. Houses are sedentary and monsters are not. I had no idea how a movie called Monster House would work. Plus the motion capture animation threw me off a little bit. It’s not that it looked creepy, I just wasn’t used to it. I avoided watching the movie for a little while, until it got nominated for Best Animated Feature. I figured it was worth watching after that. Monster House is set before Halloween and centers on a group of kids who discover that the house across the street is alive. Windows for eyes, door for a mouth, carpet for a tongue, you get the picture. The chemistry between the kids is a highlight for the movie. It’s funny, but also quite scary. There’s a lot of genuinely dark moments for a kids movie, but they work well together. Monster House is a horror that the whole family can enjoy this October.

The monster house comes to life

Use Your Words

Speak is proof that Kristen Stewart can act, as long as she’s in an independent movie that no one will see. I first watched the movie when I was in my Junior health class. We were discussing mental health and the effect it has on our lives. It’s based on a novel that I haven’t read, but I might read it one day. Speak deals with a girl who decides to stop talking after she was raped at a party. She hasn’t told anyone and the entire school rejects her, because she called the cops at the party. It can get really depressing. I was a very quiet and creative person when I was in school, so I can relate to that part of the movie. I said before that this movie proves Kristen Stewart can act. My entire class was yelling “Is that the girl from Twilight?” Speak is definitely not Twilight. Kristen Stewart is perfect in this role (maybe its cause she barely speaks). Regardless, Speak is an important and surprisingly relevant movie for students to watch.

Melinda’s mouth is sewn shut

Bittersweet Symphony

Cruel Intentions is a modern retelling of Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons to those who don’t know french). I don’t know much about the original story, but I know it has something to do with seduction. Cruel Intentions takes the setting from France to New York. As well as replacing high class adults with wealthy high school students. Cruel Intentions came out in the 90’s and while it does date itself with story, it is filled with actors who were really popular at the time. Seduction is the key word in this movie. Snobbish step-siblings Kathryn and Sebastian have nothing better to do than mess with people’s lives for their own amusement. They make a wager to see if Sebastian can seduce a studious virgin. If he fails, he has to give up his vintage car, and if he succeeds, Kathryn will sleep with him. It’s all very messed up. While Cruel Intentions isn’t a masterpiece, it does benefit from sexy performances by its young leads. The kiss between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair is one of the most iconic lesbian kisses in film. I think my only complaint would be the ending. It’s too abrupt and comes out of nowhere. SPOILER ALERT! Somebody dies, but at least the song “Bittersweet Symphony” makes up for it. So if Cruel Intentions sounds like your kind of teen movie, give it watch.

Kathryn (right) teaches Cecile (left) how to kiss

Shut Up Crime!

Super is the story of an ordinary man who decides to become a real life super hero. If that premise sounds exactly like Kick-Ass, it’s because it is. They both have a hard R rating which includes excessive violence, swearing, and adult themes. However, Super has a quality that Kick-Ass doesn’t have. Super is completely unwatchable. In my whole life, there are only a handful of movies that are so disturbing that I refuse to ever watch again. Rainn Wilson stars as the ordinary guy who becomes a superhero and Ellen Page stars as his sidekick. Ellen Page is the most interesting character in the movie, but it gets overshadowed by all the horrible things she has to do. Super is probably the most realistic real life superhero movie there is. A lot of what happens is what probably would happen if we had costumed characters running around. It did elicit a few laughs out of me, but it’s not enough. I find it hard to believe that this is the same guy that directed Guardians of the Galaxy. Super is just too dark and disturbing. Don’t ever watch it.

The Crimson Bolt (left) and Boltie (right) wait for crime

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Patch Adams is bound to put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. I’m not going to act like every movie Robin Williams did was a masterpiece. The man was a supreme talent who will forever be missed. However, I think Patch Adams deserves a reevaluation. I don’t think the reviewers saw the movie as I did. I wasn’t familiar with the real life Patch Adams before seeing the movie. So I couldn’t watch the movie with that prior knowledge. So my review is purely based on what I saw. Hunter Adams is a suicidal man who’s just checked into a mental hospital (don’t worry, he doesn’t stay long). After gaining the nickname “Patch,” he decides to upgrade to a real hospital by applying to medical school. Patch Adams learns he has a gift for making people, especially children, laugh. Robin Williams is his usual charming self. At first you think you’re watching a purely comedic film, then suddenly *bam!* the movie gets really depressing really fast. I won’t say what happens, but I’m positive you’ll cry. Most critics gave Patch Adams a hard time for either being too sappy or not faithful enough to the source material. What’s wrong with being too sappy? I think the critics could all benefit from a little excessive happiness.

Patch Adams (left) brightens a child’s (right) day

It Was a Monster Mash

The Monster Squad is a profane, overly violent, innuendo filled 80’s kids movie. I’m familiar with both genres the movie is trying to juggle. The cliche filled boys only adventure group movie. And the classic “Universal” monster team up movie. They don’t really blend well together. It’s hard to what the demographic is, because of the PG-13 rating. Every kind of 80’s trope is being exploited here. Plus the movie is only an hour and 22 minutes long. To be honest, it doesn’t leave that big of an impression. Not that it isn’t so bad its good. The monster makeup is alright and the action is pretty creative. I wouldn’t read too much into it. If you like classic movie monster, then The Monster Squad is worth its short runtime.

The monsters: (left to right) Gillman, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy, and The Wolf Man