Movies: The DUFF, Interstellar, Nightmare Before Christmas, The Grand Budapest Hotel

January 04, 2016

Hey friends!
Recently I discovered a site where I could watch movies, so I've been catching up on everything I did not have the chance to watch in cinemas.

SPOILERS EVERYWHERE, You have been Warned.

The DUFF


I loaded this first, because I love stories set in high school, no matter if they're American or Japanese or Thai. Yas.

Also, I've read this book by Kody Keplinger before, so since a movie was made, I definitely want in.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT:
The DUFF is a high school movie about a girl finding out that she is the DUFF of her clique. DUFF means Designated Ugly Fat Friend. You don't actually have to be ugly or fat, but it just happens that you are the least unattractive one in your social group.


Cue teen angst, widespread embarrassment and falling in love with the boy that is helping you chase another boy. Yep.

VERDICT: Though the plot differed, the main ideas and premise was present, and I thought that the movie did justice to the book. In fact, I think the main character is more likable in the movie rather than the book. (The movie was better than the book then, in my opinion.)

Special mention to the actress, Mae Whitman, who really carried things along in this movie. Other characters fell flat, or they may not have been given a chance to show off the acting chops much in their limited scenes. Also, props to a decently cool and nerdy Asian teacher, and props to diversity. Props to acknowledging the 'social media' life, to friendship, and etc.

Because of the 'commentary' on social life, The DUFF kinds of falls into the category of flicks that also houses Mean Girls and Easy A. Not as hard-hitting, visually pleasing or even witty, but The DUFF holds it own pretty well.

However, I've seen a lot of hate for this movie on tumblr, as people think that this movie propagates a very toxic idea that further causes negative perceptions of teen selves everywhere. As if the world needs more hurt, right?

This stems from the idea that hey, even if you're not fat or ugly, you can be the DUFF. There's nothing much you can do about it. It's apparently sending teens a bad message.

I believe this is not what the movie is trying to do though. It does try to preach acceptance of the self towards the end, though perhaps not convincingly enough for these critics.

But as another reviewer said, shedding light on cyberbullying in the midst of all an increasingly connected society, is not something to be taken lightly. Definitely props for even wanting to try to tackle such a sensitive matter. Also, I think people just get offended by everything nowadays. You really can't please everyone.

Maybe some people will be offended by the movie, but perhaps others will walk away realising how much damage they can cause others when they 'share irresponsibly'.

Favourite parts:
For me, it was probably the feel good moment when people read the DUFF article, found out that they were DUFFs, but nevertheless accepted it in a very nonchalant manner.

I don't think it's so easy to shake off the idea of being the DUFF in real life (trust me), but it is true that sparking a conversation of DUFFs (and also the iconic shirt of I'M A SOMEBODY'S DUFF) globally... may help people who think they are DUFFs and hate themselves over it.

Creating conversations is one way change can be brought about. Yes, action is better than talk, but just silence over a matter like this is even worse.

The DUFF forces you to confront the inner hierarchies of your social group. This is painful because these groups are supposed to be safe places where you can be yourself. Regardless of your appearance, what the DUFF is saying is that you can still be the 'loser' as long as people compare you with your companions.

Maybe the best thing to do if you think you're a DUFF, is probably to just acknowledge that these are just opinions of others, and that such one dimensional ideas do not define you. You're too complex as a human to be labelled like that. "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but labels society gives you should never hurt you."

Interstellar

I don't remember why I missed this movie. It's highly possible that I gave it a pass and watched some other blockbuster instead. Some help, my movie buddy Cha? Why didn't I watch this in cinemas?

Well, anyway.

WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Interstellar is set in an age where the Earth is gradually starving and suffocating to death. Ex-NASA pilot Cooper leaves his children, Murphy and who knows whats his name (the brother, basically), to go into space for a mission to follow up on possible worlds.

Enter Anne Hathaway, ie. Amelia Brand, one of his crew mates. Then enter things like wormholes, the theory of relativity, the bending of time and space, etc etc and you get Interstellar.

VERDICT: It was awesome.

I found the movie breath-taking and moving. I got the chills so many times. It started off rather like a horror movie, which I am very adverse to, and hence also very sensitive to 'creepy moments'.



It had harrowing experiences, emotional ones, hopeful ones. It captures the 'human experience'. The futility. The betrayals. Ah, mankind, you. (side notes: Literature has taught me so much, because it gave me the vocabulary and necessary words for me to express myself.)

Honestly I can't wait for Interstellar 2 because I want to know what happened to Brand in the other world. And I'm just so thankful for such space flicks- they really inspire emotions in me.



To feel so humbled that there's such a world out there, that there are such brilliant and brave people out there willing to go the distance simply to explore. The courage involved, the sacrifices...it's amazing. And the science, the possibilities of it all, absolutely mind boggling. I cannot even begin to comprehend it all.

THINGS I LIKED:

I liked how the trippy time warp thing was done. I liked it more than how Ant-Man portrayed its' "quantum theory" moments. I liked the "future", and I liked the silences, because hello, space. Where loneliness and quiet really takes on a new meaning. I liked the "beings“. I can only barely stand the betrayal, but it's also understandable because humans are selfish like that.



I liked how things were not dumbed down for the audiences, how things that were planted were duly addressed. (Not everything, but things that were obvious to me anyway. How can you nit-pick a sci-fi film so much?)

There wasn't as much as humour as there was in The Martian, but I think Interstellar definitely rocked my socks more. This movie was directed by Christopher Nolan, who did Inception, The Prestige and the Dark Knight series.

YAS from me.

P.S. Also, after watching this I googled Digital vs Film because I was curious about Nolan's methods, and ended up with this pretty insightful article. Click here to read.

The Nightmare Before Christmas


So I've always been wanting to know more about Jack Skellington and Sally. I think in Secondary One one of my classmates was very into this, to the point where I even received a Nightmare Before Xmas coffin box-pouch thing as a present though I've never watched it.

Lately Peggs mentioned it was one of her favourite movies, and it seeing that it was Christmastime, I thought, perhaps it's high time I should check this thing out.

Nightmare (as I will abbrev.) is a 1993 stop-motion flick by Tim Burton. Right from the start it heaps on the 'horror' and ghouls. Disney is probably right when they said this was not okay for child audiences.



Which makes me glad because I think I definitely appreciate it more as an older person. Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty was so scary to me as a kid. Nightmare would probably be...a real nightmare? *cringe at unintentional puns*

There's lots of singing and etc. Honestly I didn't expect Jack's voice to be like this, but it's all good. What was really annoying though, was how he was so selfish the whole time! Although, yes, with good intentions perhaps, but really? :(

The love from the villagers though. So trusting and so loving. Is Jack not manipulating them just to satisfy his own whim? Dudeeee.

WHAT I LIKED AND DIDN'T:

I liked the ideas of different worlds, and the story telling was fun and vivid. Stop motion rocks, and Tim and team did a great job. Visually the film is very beautiful, haunting, and cute in a charming way.

And what? There isn't a legit romance thing going on? It felt very one sided. Aww, c'mon. Sally is such a great, selfless and brave heroine. Jack doesn't really deserve you...



Either way the film left me rather depressed. All that effort for nothing? T_T
I'm the kind of person that likes to see kind people and their hard work pay off, so this hurts me.


Watching this, I am reminded of another 'horror' animation ie. Coraline, based on Neil Gaiman's book. I've read it, but I'm not sure if I've watched it. Everyone tells me it is creepy af. We'll know soon enough.

The Grand Budapest Hotel
I was first introduced to Wes Anderson and The Moonrise Kingdom, probably by Tumblr and Dorisa (two most hipster sources , hmm?)

Finally got to catch this charming, curious, and visually enchanting film. So pretty, so appealing, humorous, and absolutely lovely. I find this even more enjoyable than The Moonrise Kingdom! Anderson's style is indeed very distinctive. His storytelling is very precious & beautiful too, and the many elements of old film narrative styles (separating the films into 'acts' etc,  are nice tributes while simultaneously lending a good touch of 'authenticity' and perhaps, era-appropriate flair to the film.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT:
A bespectacled guest of the hotel (plot device, lol) finds out the enthralling story behind how Zero, an old man now, came to own the Grand Budapest Hotel.

It's hard to explain the magic of Wes Anderson, so I'll just let the screencaps do the talking.








Is this not beautiful? They look like they're dancing.

The Grand Budapest Hotel won 4 awards at the Oscars 2015, for best costume design, makeup, production design and score.

I recommend that you watch Moonrise Kingdom before Grand Budapest Hotel if you're interested. Next up for me, Fantastic Mr Fox.

Further reading:
7 Deep Thoughts About 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

Will be watching & reviewing more movies soon so stay tuned :) Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy these films too!

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