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Eighth Grade – Loving Doesn’t Always Include Liking
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Eighth Grade – Loving Doesn’t Always Include Liking

I really want to believe the father Mark (Josh Hamilton). There he is pouring his heart out, trying to convince his daughter Kayla (Elsie Fisher) that, despite her very reasonable fears, she makes him happy. If I can believe him in this moment, then most concerns I have of being a parent are erased. That chief concern being how terrible it would be if your kid, who you are helplessly attached to, sucks. So again, I really want to believe him.

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Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Courageous Choices
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Mission: Impossible – Fallout – Courageous Choices

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

Incredibles 2 – Winning While Losing
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Incredibles 2 – Winning While Losing

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

Song to Song – Universal Needs
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Song to Song – Universal Needs

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

The Way, Way Back – Solving Loneliness
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The Way, Way Back – Solving Loneliness

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

Fifty Shades – Risks, Just Not Sexual Ones
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Fifty Shades – Risks, Just Not Sexual Ones

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

The Phantom Thread – Why People Are Frustrating
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The Phantom Thread – Why People Are Frustrating

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

Coco – Why Family Matters
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Coco – Why Family Matters

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

Thor: Ragnarok – Regret Averted
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Thor: Ragnarok – Regret Averted

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

Spider-Man: Homecoming – The Strong Logic Behind the Endless Run of Superhero Movies
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Spider-Man: Homecoming – The Strong Logic Behind the Endless Run of Superhero Movies

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

The Florida Project – The Truth About Disney Endings
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The Florida Project – The Truth About Disney Endings

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

Everybody Wants Some!! – Know What You Are
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Everybody Wants Some!! – Know What You Are

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

The Big Sick – Stand for Something
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The Big Sick – Stand for Something

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

Baby Driver – Stick to Music
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Baby Driver – Stick to Music

I don’t want a concert. I don’t want Sonos. I don’t want earbuds on the subway.

If I’m given one chance to consume music, I want to be in a car, with the windows down, and my hands alternating between shifting gears, air drumming, air strumming, and steering.

Baby Driver captured the powerful joy of music in this environment. Continue reading

Spring Breakers – Escaping Escapism
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Spring Breakers – Escaping Escapism

Barring some sort of apocalypse, the day is coming when virtual reality will be more compelling than reality; when you only ever exit a fake world for food and sleep.

This already happens in a lesser form as millions of people spend millions of hours locked inside the current iteration of video games.

This seems bad. Certainly to the adults who beseech their children to “go get some fresh air,” and even to the gamers who experience social consequences from the habit. If given the choice between success in the “real world” and success in a video game, I can’t imagine many would choose the latter. Continue reading

One and Not Done – Debates That Shouldn’t Exist
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One and Not Done – Debates That Shouldn’t Exist

There are debates that persist because smart, well-intentioned people exist on both sides. These debates are useful in a world that strives to progress.

Then there are the debates that persist because one side cares more about institutions than freedom and will fight against logic just to preserve power. These debates are most annoying because no debate should be necessary – we already know the correct answer. Continue reading

Logan – Moral Incompetence
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Logan – Moral Incompetence

I totally get why someone would choose to kill 1000 innocent lives instead of the life of a single loved one. But at the earliest opportunity, that someone should be killed.

Wolverine and the rest of the X-Men in Logan are this morally compromised someone. I get why they aren’t presented as evil, but could we get just a little gray area? Even as Professor X injures hundreds in Las Vegas due to a mind that has been correctly classified as a WMD? Why, again, are we cheering for these mutants? If only there was an Uncle Ben appearance to remind them what comes with great power.
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Becoming Warren Buffett – Being Better Than Jesus
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Becoming Warren Buffett – Being Better Than Jesus

Jesus is problematic for many reasons. One of those reasons is that they didn’t stop at “Jesus.” By adding “Christ,” by intentionally making him a human deity, falling short of his standard became entirely defensible. Where there are few substantial excuses for failing to live up to a role model of similar likeness, a sibling for instance, there are endless excuses for failing to live up to a god. Continue reading

Get Out

Get Out

    

Critics love genre-blending films, given the film blends the right ones. Dramedies and rom-coms are a dime a dozen, but the com-hor, or horredies, are still few and far between. They tend to bend in one direction too far, like Shawn of the Dead or the Evil Dead series, to still be considered horror to me. Continue reading

The Color of Money

The Color of Money

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THINK

You are confronted with a choice that will forever alter your life:

  1. Flip a coin. “Heads” means you win $1 million. “Tails” means you win nothing.
  2. Don’t play the game and accept a guaranteed sum of money (“X”) that is less than $500,000.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

   

THINK

Star Wars films aren’t supposed to make you think. That’s the beauty of them – the greatest question in each film is who will win the battle of good v evil? You could argue that good won in A New Hope and Return of the Jedi and Continue reading

La La Land

La La Land

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THINK

It was there for the taking. Greatness and chasing dreams are topics worthy of nearly endless thought, and given that La La Land was about these very topics, a THINK was all but assured.

Then it never happened. Yes, the acting was great. Yes, it was all a lot of fun. No, La La Land didn’t offer new takes on “trying to make it” or even offer a different perspective from what is so often conveyed in these types of movies: just work harder and you’ll succeed. Continue reading

The Edge of Seventeen

The Edge of Seventeen

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LAUGH

The Edge of Seventeen  falls far short of the standard set by recent coming-of-age stories that were actually enjoyable.

Did it still bring some laughs? Yea, yea it did. But don’t give any of that credit to the protagonist Nadine who was a realistic portrayal of an annoying, unlikable high schooler – annoying, unlikable high schoolers aren’t funny. Continue reading

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

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LAUGH

Girls are simply less funny than guys. Attribute this to social standards that have only started to really change in the last half century. Societies and norms were mostly built by men (they were/are in power), and humor (apparently) is one of those norms. Continue reading

Hell or High Water

Hell or High Water

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THINK

I think I need to live in Oklahoma or West Texas. There was plenty else to consider in Hell or High Water, but that thought was the most persistent. I’m fascinated by the vistas, the temperature, the community, the manual labor, the clothes, the ruggedness and the types of people who live there.

But maybe those reasons will be letdowns. Continue reading

Magic Mike XXL

Magic Mike XXL

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LAUGH

“Trying too hard” is an interesting insult. We want great performances, but we want those performances to appear natural – in certain ways we value the kid who got a “95” without studying more than the kid who pulled an all-nighter to capture the same grade.

What’s missed in this paradigm is that seeming natural is very much the product of trying too hard. Yes, some people are naturally predisposed to be good at certain things. But most of what we witness is merely a kid who seems like he didn’t have to study, but has actually been trying extremely hard through endless practice/repetition to give that very appearance. Continue reading

Weiner

Weiner

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THINK

Weiner posed so many questions. The major driving one, from which all the other questions stemmed, was this: What explains really smart people doing reckless things?

Weiner didn’t provide a definitive answer because there isn’t a clean, obvious one. The film did, however, force one to think about the many possibilities. Continue reading

Demolition

Demolition

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THINK

While some may find certain plot devices in Demolition as striving too hard to say something grand, they all seemed quite realistic to me, and the film, in fact, accomplished a certain grandness as a result.

There simply shouldn’t be a “realistic” response to death. It’s relatively rare, unpredictable and enormously significant – getting “reps” dealing with it are some of the hardest and least desirable reps to obtain. Continue reading

Green Room

Green Room

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THINK

Green Room never should have been a THINK. Though this type of thinking is, in fact, the exact reason Green Room is a THINK.

See, Green Room offered what I thought was the same type of question I’ve heard countless times before. “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only listen to one band/artist, who would it be?” My answer to this question is probably Led Zeppelin. Every album by Led Zeppelin is incredible, there is plenty of diversity in sound (see Led Zeppelin III), they generally rock hard enough to satisfy my intensity, the guitar-work is just masterful, and they have written some of the best songs ever in my favorite genre of music. Continue reading

The Big Chill

The Big Chill

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THINK

Given the unprecedented safety humans now enjoy, we have the luxury of evaluating our lives in ways that were never before possible when survival was an everyday struggle. But this often doesn’t feel anything like a luxury because life reconsideration is usually linked with negativity: I hate my job, my girlfriend, my house, my body, my religion, my family, my friends, my city – what am I to do?  Continue reading

Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed

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THINK

Maybe Safety Not Guaranteed would have been more thought-provoking if we had not just covered the craziness that naturally rises from being unable to convince anyone else of a “secret” truth you alone know.

Safety Not Guaranteed didn’t posses the intelligence and depth required to add anything to this interesting subject. Continue reading

The Hudsucker Proxy

The Hudsucker Proxy

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THINK

I had almost done it. A few people simultaneously recommended this film. I value their collective opinion enough that I wanted to know absolutely nothing more about The Hudsucker Proxy. 

And I knew nothing more before hitting a trip wire just before the finish line. The normal movie poster, which I have undoubtedly omitted from Think Laugh Cry, reveals a huge plot point (and I happened to see this poster prior to commencement of the video stream). You don’t know it’s a huge plot point until you do, and this effectively sucks a lot of potentially cool intrigue from the film. Continue reading