Originality isn’t required for fun. While the Book Club’s cast of four senior citizen women was out of the ordinary, nothing else was. There were still the outrageous lies by omission that are basically a requirement for romantic comedies. There were obviously terrible decisions that would obviously be reversed. And there were climaxes stuffed with unsurprising surprises. Continue reading
If we don’t “play God,” we will go extinct. Did we get to our current life expectancy of 70.5 years by letting nature run its course? Most certainly not as the entire field of medicine is essentially man’s fight against nature. This will become even truer in this century as we harness the power of gene editing.
There are dangers, no doubt. But the wholesale dismissal of anything that attempts to improve the human condition through creative means is a position that can’t – for the sake of our survival – be taken seriously. Continue reading
Gunshots and car chases don’t usually produce beauty. There may be touching scenes mixed in with the action – a child being saved or true loves being reunited – but these moments are mere respites rather than standalone products; the transition from relentlessness to the careful attention required for true beauty is simply too hard.
Mission Impossible: Fallout grappled with the quandary of a human life’s value: should individuals be disposable if that disposability saves a greater number of lives? If it’s really a certainty like press this button and kill a single person or press this other button and kill millions, the answer seems obvious. Life, though, is devoid of this level of certainty. Continue reading
Kids, like adults, are special, important and unique.
Of course someone would dispute this. Of course someone would actually blame Mr. Rogers’ philosophy for the demise of today’s youth. And of course these people would be doing what’s become increasingly popular – arguing against someone for something that person doesn’t actually believe. Continue reading
This is not about winning an argument through exhaustion. You know, the type of “victory” so many claim these days after yelling louder than an opponent, the opponent disengaging, and the screamer becoming, alarmingly, convinced of his/her own superiority on account of the disengagement.
Incredibles 2 was about an actual victory, even if the film fought hard against acknowledging it as such. Continue reading
Can you afford a Ferrari?
If your answer is “no” then you shouldn’t have a child. Or so my friend’s simple algorithm states.
The Greatest Showman was a nice reminder of why this algorithm is right: kids are expensive, kids are demanding, kids are adorable, kids are about the largest responsibility a human can undertake, and all reasonable parents will want to provide their kids pleasant lives. Continue reading
I need to rewatch Song to Song.
That thought filled my head as the film concluded. Song to Song was beautiful, immersive, intimate, moving, and yes, a little weird, in ways that few films are. Those facts alone are not enough to compel a rewatch. This one is: Song to Song contained themes that provided me that feeling that fuller absorption would teach something important about life.
So I rewatched and yup, that feeling was accurate. Continue reading
Thinking how to think is a primary benefit of a good education. You might never have to use the Pythagorean theorem again, but those math problems involved a level of learning that will, in fact, be used again.
Like how to control your emotional response when something is a bit challenging and/or frustrating and/or pointless. Continue reading
First get a handle on safety, hunger and health. Then deal with loneliness.
Because if you can solve loneliness after knocking out the first three, what more do you really need? “Love” you may say. “Meaning” you may say. “Purpose” you may say.
I say those are just manifestations of anti-loneliness. Take love for instance. Take a single moment. If you really, truly feel loved in that moment, can you feel lonely? I say “no.” Continue reading
“Stop. Don’t tell me.”
It’s not that you doubt the veracity of what comes next; it’s that there are certain parts of reality you’d rather not learn about.
One of those parts for me is the gruesomeness of true violence. Continue reading
Poor people aren’t necessarily voting against their own self-interest when they support tax cuts for the rich.
America is built on the idea that individuals can build themselves a better future. Even if social mobility has declined, that fundamental ideal remains. With it in place, one can believe that his/her current tax bracket isn’t static, so a vote for lower taxes across the board could very well be beneficial for that voter in the future. (Note: Basically all tax cuts “for the rich” are just across-the-board tax cuts; it’s not as if marginal rates are being raised on people in the $9,326 – $37,950 bracket while being cut for people in the highest bracket. In an environment of general reductions, of course rich people benefit since they pay so much tax. For instance, in 2014 the top 1% paid 45.7% of income taxes. This is more than the entire bottom 90% combined.) Continue reading
You ignore someone and it’s totally fine. Not ideal, but not the end-of-the-world either. Someone starts talking about, say delayed public transportation, and your mind begins wandering because that’s what minds do when the current subject isn’t interesting enough. We all do this on a daily basis. Continue reading
There’s a single, simple reason that other people frustrate us. It’s really the same reason we frustrate ourselves, but it doesn’t feel the same when directed at others. No, our frustration toward others is about altruism, morals, respect, decency or any number of dressings that makes the frustration feel good in ways that self-loathing rarely does. Continue reading
The Post was the movie equivalent of the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers acquired two all-stars in Dwight Howard and Steve Nash before the season. That meant a starting line-up of Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Howard and Nash. That meant the Lakers appeared to be headed for a fantastic season. Continue reading
Endless entertainment is derived from watching people do things we wish we could do. In sports, it’s the physical things. In celebrity, it’s the aesthetic things. In art, it’s the creative things. And in business, it’s the bold things.
To the relief of viewers, an element of this wishing is guilt-free; one may long to jump like Lebron James, but it’s easy to console oneself with the correct logic that ‘Bron ‘Bron was bestowed with special gifts at birth that almost nobody else possesses. Continue reading
Thirty-eight films consumed in 2017. The breakdown:
- 58% made me THINK
- 42% made me LAUGH
- 50% made me CRY
- 16% were EMOTIONALLY DEVOID
- 21% were TRIFECTAS
Men have had a rough go of it lately. Good. As Yoda banally told us in The Last Jedi, “The greatest teacher, failure is .”
This movie had a mission to pile-on. Again, good. There are tons of legitimate flaws to point out in men. Continue reading
Emotional decision-making (EDM) has become a pejorative in an era of efficiency and logic; in the quest for optimal, there is little room for something amorphous like “emotion.”
So we ridicule those, including ourselves, who make emotional decisions. As if possessed by a demon, we explain away errors with gosh I’m sorry that I wasn’t thinking – I was just being emotional. We react like these emotions aren’t “me,” and since they aren’t “me,” there is no control. Let’s be clear: this type of thinking and decision-making is worthy of condemnation. Continue reading
English teachers everywhere rejoice! Somebody has fully absorbed the lesson of show, don’t tell. And that somebody is director Luca Guadagnino and the original writer André Aciman of Call Me by Your Name.
Teenagers, and to a lesser extent all humans, occupy two competing spaces simultaneously. At once they want to discuss and figure out their extreme emotional states. At the same time, though, they want to project confidence and thus avoid vulnerable topics. To adult observers, this confidence is often seen as the thin veneer it is. Since these observations aren’t usually shared, the gap between how a teenager views himself and how the world views him can be quite large. Again, this is true for people of all ages, but teenagers are living with such unprecedented feelings that the peaks and valleys are greater than they will probably ever be. Continue reading
Give us the colors (see below), the charm and a nicely packaged ending from a Pixar studio that is known for delivering important messages dressed down as kid’s films, and it’s so easy to get sucked in. Coco just said something meaningful about family. Continue reading
Experienced people are often wise. The best type of wisdom usually comes from experience. Wisdom is desirable. You have limited time to experience everything, so one would be wise to listen to possessors of wisdom to help direct the allocation of time. Continue reading
It must be kind of annoying to be popular for certain things and yet to want to be more than just those things. It’s the band with monster hits that would rather play their new, introspective songs instead of decades-old singles.
Crowds can understand that artists evolve. Thus they will tolerate those new songs that never quite reach the peak of the old stuff so long as the artistic indulgences don’t break the unspoken covenant made at the moment of ticket purchase: the band is going to play the hits. Continue reading
It’s one of the worst forms of regret. You prejudge something as unappealing. But a wave of people who actually experienced the thing you prejudged say that something is great. You respect these people. So you take their judgments over your prejudgement and go see Thor: Ragnarok. Continue reading
Consider how much stress you feel on a daily basis. No, not the overwhelming what-the-hell-am-I-doing-with-my-life stress. Just the low hum that’s present in mindless, everyday living. Like when you think you are going to miss a train. Or when the checkout line is just a tad longer than expected. Or when someone wants to “split” a dinner bill even though he had three $14 cocktails to your none and you kinda want to say something but you don’t want it to be awkward. Continue reading
Winston Churchill said he never worried about action – only inaction. I have the same fear about movies, especially when I’m going to see a Terrence Malick film (a mistake I’ll never make again). That’s because most films follow a plot where something bad happens, and then there’s a reaction. Continue reading
In certain respects, writing a love song is harder than writing a song about trash collection. So much has already been said about love that there’s a vanishingly small chance of saying or doing something truly original. This invites a level of expectation – love songs give me goosebumps – and comparison – that song was good, but not as good as that other love song – that challenges the most talented of artists. Continue reading
You think you know. You’ll list reasons and form a tightly-wound narrative. You’ll sound so sure.
But really, you have so little true insight into why you like so many of the things you like. Continue reading
Mooney was the funniest character I’ve encountered in 2017. For the first half of The Floria Project I laughed in every scene. That’s really not an exaggeration. Mooney so confidently captured the whimsical innocence of childhood summers that her lawlessness was charming instead of disturbing. Unfortunately, that would not last (see CRY below). Continue reading
I am so complicated. A “simple” decision about what I’ll eat for dinner can be explained in no less than seven single-spaced pages of thoughtful prose.
But other people? Oh, I know exactly why they do what they do. I also know what they should do. Continue reading
America loves to bastardize its own name. What, really, is “American”? What makes America great? If you add cranberry to apple pie, is it any less American? Or less delicious? I would argue it needs that bitter flavor to bring out its maximum flavor potential – its maximum Americanness! The word also just makes for a good move title, like American Sniper/Assassin/Gangster – each of the superlatives transform the definition slightly. To be an “American [INSERT WORD]” movie, you’re essentially making a statement from the get-go that what you’re about to see is something that should only be possible in this country, and thus it’s going to be a great story.
So that brings us to Tom Cruise’s latest film, American Made. What is director Doug Liman telling us from the get-go? Continue reading
Tennis is a great sport. On the one hand, it’s a hell of a physical challenge. And on the other, it’s a hell of a chess match. You need brains and brawn to be successful. And there’s only two of you out there (unless we’re talking doubles) while the world watches. Your flaws are on display. No helmet shields your face, no teammates for you to blame. It’s you and your opponent, and usually the better man or woman wins. For this reason, tennis has star athletes. And whether the athlete asks for it or not, the personal nature of the game makes you a character – a hero, a villain, or if you’re not enough of either, a boring character.
In Battle of the Sexes – a starring role for player/character Billie Jean King – she’s the latter. She carries all the emotional heft of a cruise ship ping pong match. And that’s only partially a knock on Emma Stone, who plays King. Try as she does to give life to a closeted lesbian uber-competitive national superstar, she can’t quite get it over the net. Continue reading
Wind River wasn’t content being a wonderfully paced, gripping film. No, it wanted to make some statements – the type of statements we so cherish at Think Laugh Cry. So we shall evaluate the movie’s three major claims on a 7-point scale. Continue reading
There was a time, not long ago, when the biggest bands were loud and angry virtuosic displays of guitar riffage played with screamable, trivial lyrics.
Now we get a bunch of people who can’t play instruments and “rock” bands that don’t actually rock. These headliners from New York City’s premiere summer music festival are a tragedy for anyone fond of that time not long ago (Nine Inch Nails is obviously fantastic – a true rock band led by a true rockstar – but their first album was released in 1989.): Continue reading
Atomic Blonde wants you to care. But you won’t. You’ll know that something went wrong with the mission and that someone is a double agent. These facts may be semi-intriguing at the beginning; they are irrelevant by the end. As in you won’t even muster a reaction when “important” people die and twists are unveiled.
Sometimes you care about a story’s characters. Other times you don’t. Which camp a story falls into, more than just about anything else, determines if the story is good. Continue reading
It’s two in the morning and you aren’t entirely sober. It’s the point in the night when pizza becomes far more appealing than another drink at the bar.
So you and your roommates grab food and retreat home. After finishing the food and debriefing the night, most are still not ready for sleep. The conversation turns to life philosophy. With the relaxed inhibitions induced by alcohol and fatigue, the conversation seems more real; it seems like you are solving big, important matters. Continue reading
There he is. The most racist, despicable man you can imagine. You want to say something. You have to say something.
Instead, you wait to act and continue eavesdropping on his conversation: “You will break up with him immediately. I never want to see you with him ever again. I give you a lot of freedom Catherine, but bringing a black boy around here is unacceptable.” Continue reading
This is the patented Think Laugh Cry system finally breaking.
The Handmaiden was the finest film I’ve witnessed all year. It was riveting in a way I imagine skydiving is riveting: You are so focused on what is happening in the moment that your mind doesn’t wander. Continue reading