Tis the season…

For screeners…

I am SO spoiled and fortunate to not have to wait for things like release dates in order to see the year’s big movies. Even more lucky to sometimes be able to enjoy movies from the comfort of my couch. That being said, some movies will ALWAYS be better on the big screen.

Case in point. Zero Dark Thirty. Its intensity is magnified by – and best experienced with – a big screen and theater-caliber surround sound. I love the way Kathryn Bigelow tells a story, and I want to be best friends with Jessica Chastain, so this was a win-win for me going in. I’m also a huge fan of Homeland, so the true – and compelling – story of this kick-ass female CIA agent who found Bin Laden engrossed me from the start. That and I fell for the guy who does the water boarding. They do a really good job of making the water boarding scene uber uncomfortable to watch, so it was a relief to have Jason Clarke – and his eyes – to focus on.

Side note: Kyle Chandler is also in this movie. Clear eyes full hearts can’t lose. Texas forever.

The story is phenomenal and it’s incredible to me how the timing worked out for the filmmakers. There is a lot of dispute over whether things were accurately portrayed, but that comes as no surprise. I found the movie interesting, and was so tense and emotionally involved that my entire body was stiff when I got up to leave the theater. A movie that is able to do that to me is a success in my book.

Which brings me to The Impossible. Another one I recommend seeing in the theater. As soon as it was over, I said to myself: “And I thought the water boarding was intense.” This movie puts you inside the tsunami in a way that literally had me gasping for breath. Because I was holding my breath without realizing it.

The story is incredible – and true! The movie is really graphic at times, but effectively so. Your heart will race. Your tears will run. But I’m pretty sure you know that from the trailer. I will add that the sight of Ewan McGregor crying is almost too much to bear.

I went to Thailand in 2009 and visited areas hit by the tsunami. We went to the memorials, saw the pictures (and in some cases the leftover devastation), and read the stories and I still can’t imagine the horror. But this movie does a phenomenal job of making you feel the fear.

Speaking of fear…Flight. I was warned against watching this movie in proximity to getting on a flight to go home for the holidays, but I decided to anyway. Big mistake. HUGE. Do not watch this movie within days of boarding a plane. Especially when you look at the weather and see it’s going to be raining not only in the city you’re departing from, but also in the city you’re flying to. I hope everyone doesn’t mind me showing up to Christmas high on Xanax because it’s happening. And it’s Denzel Washington’s fault.

When the movie began, I casually mentioned aloud: “I feel like it’s been a while since I’ve seen Denzel.” Where’s he been, anyway?

I obviously don’t want to give anything away, but if you’ve seen the trailer you know there is a plane crash involved. It’s like the plane crash scene in Forces of Nature on super crack. (I only mention that because once upon a time I was watching FoN on a plane, and they skipped the crash scene. I’m going to make an educated guess they won’t be showing Flight on a plane.)

I was seriously entertaining the idea of being a flight attendant like three days ago. It’s something I’ve thought about before, and I even checked in with a few airlines (Virgin, South African, Air France, and Hawaiian) to see if there were any openings. There weren’t. And about 20 minutes into this movie, I felt surer than ever that, despite the bennies, I might not be cut out for the job.

As far as the movie. It’s good, not great. I mean that crash sequence is phenomenal in a terrifying way, but the movie as a whole wasn’t my favorite. I did love John Goodman. And Kelly Reilly’s hairstyle made me think about getting bangs.

In the midst of all of this heavy fare, is the relief of This is 40. I loved Knocked Up. I also leurve Paul Rudd. It came as no surprise that I laughed out loud in this movie. I found it really enjoyable, even though it got a little long. I related despite the fact that I’m a- not married, and b- won’t have kids anywhere near double digits (much less puberty!) by the time I’m 40. If I’m being honest, it was that sudden realization I found most disturbing, but that has everything to do with the fact that I’m going to be 35 in six months and nothing to do with this movie.

Leslie Mann is terrific and looks great. I’ll refrain from discussing what I consider the biggest faux pas of this movie, because while it’s not a storyline spoiler or anything, it is something you don’t know until after you’ve seen it. Maybe it won’t bug everyone, but I definitely made note of it.

Moving on to Rust and Bone. I paid to see this one. Because I love me some French film and I was really excited about it. Marion Cotillard is fabulous. Better still is the fact that Katy Perry’s Firework is featured pretty heavily. Something about that felt awesome.

Despite the fact I’ve seen The Cove, and understand that marine parks are not the best place for dolphins and orcas to live, I am a sucker for those shows. When I lived in San Diego, I had an annual pass to Sea World and would go BY MYSELF just to watch the shows. To the point where I knew the shows and silly jokes. There’s something about watching those majestic creatures that gets me every time. I also believe the animal-trainer relationship is a loving one despite the other circumstances. This may have something to do with an unrealized dream of a younger MAB. (When I applied to college, I applied to exactly two schools: one for journalism and one for marine science. I only got into one of them…and am not very good at science anyway.) Since then (in addition to my journalistic accomplishments): I’ve swam with dolphins, sting rays, and Great White sharks; become SCUBA certified; and discovered I’m apt to puke when I’m on boats in the ocean. So maybe things DO happen for a reason. (I grew up in Middle America, far away from anything that would have made me think I could have been a marine park trainer. I didn’t discover them until my early 20s, and by that time I was already on my path.)

ALL OF THAT ASIDE. Rust and Bone. It’s good. I liked it better than Flight. (But it’s much more up my alley.) It kinda got slow, but recovered well. The lead guy is attractive and reminded me of an MMA fighter I dated a couple years ago. I’m not super into the uber muscle-y, body-builder bod, but there’s something incredibly sexy about a guy who can carry you around (and kick some ass when necessary). Oh! He’s also emotionally stunted and mysteriously damaged? SOLD.

Not surprisingly, this movie tugs at the heart strings and there are some tears and tense moments. But there were some laughs and heartwarming times too.

Finally, (for this entry anyway) The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I’m pretty sure the book is probably really good. You can see what must be bits of it shining through in the film version. I mean, it’s not horrible or anything. And the cast alone is a who’s who of British actors. It moved really slow for me, and I kept wanting the colors to be more vibrant and saturated. I mean, they were in India!!

The movie did make me want to go to India, but I basically always want to go somewhere, so that’s no great feat. It was also very good spirited and reflective, seemingly offering endless advice to younger people. The quote “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, then it’s not the end” plays a big role. I’m a fan of that quote. There are also several things Dame Judi Dench says that I’d like to keep engraved on my brain. I can’t remember them right now tho, so even more reason for me to read the book.

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