Tag Archives: movie

My Christmas Lights

I have a strand of Christmas lights in my room. I leave my Christmas lights up all year. I’m not lazy. I leave them up on purpose. I use them as mood lighting when I’m watching a movie or Netflix. I have them displayed around my TV. It makes for a more immersive viewing experience. The soft glow of the lights perfectly compliments the soft glow of the TV. It kind of looks like a shrine to mass media. They also give me enough light to see around the room without destroying my night vision. Plus they look decorative around the holidays and make me seem festive. I’m not though. I’m a grinch.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Home Videos

When I was a senior in high school I bought an iMac and a video camera and started filming my life for the next couple of years. I took my camera everywhere. I brought it when my friends and I would drive aimlessly around town staving off boredom. I brought it to school. I brought it on vacations. I brought it with me when I went to college. Literally everywhere. I would edit the footage and make home videos to give to friends and family. I’m glad  I did all that because I documented some of the best years of my life. 

My girlfriend saw some of my DVDs in my movie collection and begged me to show them to her. I popped one in and got to relive the last few months of high school when I was suffering from senioritis and filming Jackass-inspired stunts on campus instead of going to class. I got to relive my epic trip to Yosemite with twenty-something friends and remembered how grueling the hike to Half Dome was and how relaxing lounging riverside was. 

The memories came flooding back.  I saw friends that I’m still in touch with, some that I’ve lost contact with, and a few that are no longer with us. It was good to see them again. It’s a good thing I was nerdy enough to film my life for a few years. So many good times with good people caught on tape, preserved for as long as I have a working DVD player.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Deadpool (film)

I finally got around to seeing Deadpool a few days ago. Now I’m part of the Cool Kids Club again. Let’s start with some backstory before we start talking about the movie. Deadpool was originally created as a blatant rip-off of DC’s Deathstroke. Marvel has never tried to hide this fact, they talk about it openly. They have similar names, costumes, and both are mercenaries. They have different powers and skillsets, but the biggest difference between the two of them is that Deadpool knows that he’s a character in a comic book. He breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the reader. He knows that he’s not real. It’s all very meta.

My biggest fear about the movie is that it wouldn’t be able to capture the tone of the comics. I felt a great sense of relief as soon as the opening credits started to roll. Ryan Reynolds, director Tim Miller, and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick were able to bring the Deadpool to life the right way. They made the film as funny, violent, and raunchy as they could. They took a huge gamble by making it Rated R as opposed to PG-13. The gamble paid off. It’s already the highest grossing R-rated film of all time and it’s been out for less than two weeks. What’s more impressive is that it’s also the highest grossing X-Men movie.

The plot of the movie is pretty generic. It’s an origin story about how a regular guy became a superhero and then the bad guy kidnaps his girlfriend and he has to use his powers to get her back. The story structure is a little more advanced. They start in the middle of the action and then they tell the backstory through flashbacks. It’s as much of a comedy as it is a superhero action flick. The humor was witty and fresh and I was laughing hysterically every couple of minutes. There were also a few touching moments that I wasn’t expecting. It made a surreal character seem real, relatable, and likeable.

As strange as it sounds, I think Deadpool is a great date movie. There’s enough violence for the men, there’s enough romance for the ladies, and it’s funny enough to keep everyone entertained. It’s a solid flick all around. That’s hard to do these days. So go and see it if you were on the fence about it. It’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The First Time I Snuck Into a Movie

I used to be a child actor. My best job was a play at Berkeley Repertory Theatre when I was fourteen. Child labor laws are a bit tricky in the business, so I was double cast with another actor. That means we took turns playing the same role so we weren’t working fulltime and could still go to school and stuff. I was double cast with a kid named Eli Marienthal. He had solid career. He was in a bunch of movies and TV shows. You might not know his name, but you’ve seen him before. Anyway, we had a couple weeks of rehearsals together and one time we got out early and had the whole afternoon to spend in Berkeley before our moms came to pick us up. We decided to go to the movies and so we did.

There’s no good way of setting up this story so I will just say what fucking happened. We bought tickets to The Iron Giant because it was Rated PG and snuck into American Pie because it was Rated R and we wanted to see it. We were teenagers and teenagers are supposed to rebel. That was the first time I snuck into a movie. I felt like a badass. It wasn’t until a few years later that I realized how cool that situation actually was. I bought a ticket to a movie so I could sneak into another movie with a friend who was in both movies. Yessiree, Eli Marienthal was the voice of Hogarth Hughes, the animated protagonist in The Iron Giant, and he also played Stifler’s little brother in American Pie. It’s not as exciting as seeing Jim Carrey movies with Jim Carrey, but it’s still pretty cool. I’ll take it. It’s also kind of funny that people used to sneak into movies. Now we just download them.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Looking Forward to a Movie and Never Seeing It

Looking forward to a movie and never seeing it seems to be the new trend. Movie theater attendance is the lowest that it’s been in twenty years according one article that I read on the internet but I believe it. I used to love going to the movies. I would see a new movie practically every week. Now I only see a new movie every few months, usually about three or four a year. Hollywood has gotten lazy, theaters have gotten more expensive, and there are plenty of better things to do on a Friday night. I still watch movie trailers online though. I like to know what’s coming out and who is in it. Most movies look interesting enough, but I find that my interest has waned when it finally comes out. You only have a two week window to see a new movie before it’s not a topic of discussion anymore and thus not worth watching. There were a lot of blockbusters that I wanted to see this summer like Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Mad Max: Fury Road, Inside Out, Straight Outta Compton, but I only ended up seeing Avengers: Age of Ultron. I saw one movie all summer and that’s it. I’m not the only one. It seems that more and more people are looking forward to a movie and never seeing it, at least not in the theaters. It’s not worth the time or the money to go to the movies anymore.

Critically Rated at 9/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Free Tickets

Every now and then the universe decides that I need to have some fun and it rewards me with free tickets. Sometimes I get free concert tickets. Sometimes it’s movie tickets. And everyone knows that I’m a huge SF Giants fan, so I can usually snag free tickets from friends during baseball season. A free ticket is almost always a good thing. It allows you to escape from reality and the mundane for a few hours. You can’t complain about having a bad seat if you got a free ticket. It’s a better view than not being there. And it’s free so you’ll have more money to spend on food, booze, and souvenirs. And if you have extra free tickets, you can scalp those and have even more money for food, booze, and souvenirs. You should accept free tickets whenever the opportunity comes knocking.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Post-Credits Scene

A post-credits scene is a bonus scene that pops up after the film credits roll. Most of the time it’s just a promotion for a potential sequel, but occasionally it adds some merit to the plotline of the film. It seems like a new gimmick made to establish the Marvel Universe these days, but post-credits scenes have been a part of Hollywood for decades now. Ferris Bueller told you that the movie was over and that it’s time to go home. Superman promised that Superman would return in Superman II. Post-credits scenes used to mean something and they get you revved up for a potential sequel. Now you wait for fifteen minutes to see the Avengers eating shawarma. Times have changed. But the post-credits scene is going to stick around for awhile. You better get used to it.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Pretending That You’ve Seen A Movie You Haven’t Seen

People are habitual liars. We lie all the time. We lie about important things and we lie about unimportant things. We lie just to lie. We even lie about the movies we’ve seen and the books we’ve read. Pretending that you’ve seen a movie you haven’t seen is one of the most common lies told. You’ll be at a party and everyone is talking about the new George Clooney flick that you haven’t seen or heard about, but you don’t want to feel left out. You join the conversation even though you have no idea what to say, so you just stammer out a bunch of bullshit about how you like the dialog and the chemistry between the actors. You’ll feel slightly ashamed that you’re lying about something so trivial, but not enough to prevent you from lying. Movies are a shared experience, they are a common bond, they connect people. People lie about seeing a movie because they just want to feel involved.

Critically Rated at 9/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Filming

So production is currently underway for the Critically Rated movie. What an exciting time to be alive. I can’t give you too many details, but it’s basically the story of a guy trying to get weed on his day off and it’s based on the hero’s journey. You know, when the hero goes out into the world and is presented with a quest and has to overcome three trials while dealing with archetypical characters like the guide, the mentor, the villain, and the princess. Codirector/Producer/Cinematographer Leonard Cohen and I are only a few weeks into production and there’s still a lot of work left to be done, but I feel confident that the movie that’s been in my head for years will finally make the transition to the screen.

Filming is hard. It’s so damn time consuming. You have to find a day when everyone can film. You have to decide where and when you’re going to film. You have to stage a scene and film it multiple times from multiple angles. You’re lucky to get a minute of usable footage from a few hours of filming. You have to worry about lighting, sound, the actors’ performances, and that’s the easy part. Eventually you have to edit the film to make it flow, and add music to enhance the emotion… that turns raw footage into a film. And even then you see things that you don’t like and think of things that you need to add. And that’s when you do reshoots and recut the movie to make it more cohesive. My film takes place in one day, but it will take more than two months to complete filming it, and then another couple of weeks to edit it. I can only hope that there are no glaring continuity errors. It’s hard work, but hopefully it will pay off in the end and I can put a shiny golden statue on my mantle.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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RunPee

Going to the movies these days is a big deal. Tickets are expensive, the snacks and candy are expensive, the sodas are expensive… a 3-D IMAX movie for two people plus food can easily set you back fifty bucks. So it sucks when you’re watching a movie and you have to go to the bathroom. You don’t know when to get up and go. You paid and arm and a leg to watch this blockbuster and don’t want to miss the part where Superman destroys Metropolis. RunPee solves this problem. It’s a website and a downloadable app that tells you when to go. You select which movie you’re seeing, and it gives you a few options for the best time to go, like 47 minutes into the film when so-and-so says something, or an hour and twelve minutes into the film when another character makes a quip. And then it will tell you if you have three minutes or five minutes to use the bathroom. It even gives you a brief summary of what you missed. The app costs 99 cents. It’s worth every penny (yes, all 99 of them). The app comes with a timer so you don’t have to be glancing at your phone constantly. It will also tell you if there’s anything after the credits. It even dims your phone so you don’t disturb anyone else while using it. It’s a pretty handy app, and well worth getting if you’re a film junkie with a small bladder.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Best Way to Watch a 3-D Movies

3-D movies are the best way to watch a movie, but only if it’s done right. The biggest problem with 3-D films is that the three dimensions become commonplace. It becomes mundane, it becomes boring. You need something to break up the spectacle, or the spectacle loses all meaning.  The best way to watch a 3-D movie is to take the glasses off. Seriously. Take them off whenever there is a lot of dialog or whenever the camera remains stationary. Let your eyes take a break. Then put your glasses back on when the action picks up. Suddenly the movie pops. Suddenly the 3-D means something. It literally adds depth to the film. The action becomes more immersive and more intense. It draws you into the film if it’s done right. It distracts you heavily if it’s done wrong. 3-D might be a marketing ploy, but its sticking around, so you better get used to it. But remember that those glasses aren’t required.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Spoilers

You’re looking forward to that new TV episode or blockbuster sequel to your favorite movie, you’re so excited and the anticipation is through the roof… and then you go on Facebook and see half a dozen spoilers and everything is seemingly ruined. Fucking spoilers. The weird thing is that people love spoilers almost as much as they hate them. They want to know that Harrison Ford is in the new Star Wars movie but they don’t want to know what he does. Spoilers are inevitable. As soon as someone sees something they want to talk about it, it doesn’t matter who is listening. The Internet makes it even easier to make people listen to what they don’t want to hear. I didn’t mean to tell you that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, it just slipped out. Get over it. It doesn’t matter what happens, it only matters how it happened. A good spoiler only gets you more excited if you want to see it. Everyone knew the Titanic was going to sink but they still saw it anyway. It’s the journey, the experience that makes it interesting. That’s what counts, not that Keyser Söze and Kevin Spacey were the same fucking guy.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Listening to Stupid People Talking About Movies

The other day I heard two old ladies talking about movies. One lady was telling the other about how she wanted to go see Django Unchained. But she didn’t know what it was called or who directed it: “I want to see that new cowboy movie from that guy who directed that ‘Basterd’ movie. Dee-jenga something.” I wanted to slap her in the fucking face. How can anyone talk about Tarantino films without knowing his name? You can’t talk about a movie if you don’t know what it’s called, who directed it, or the actors in it. You can’t talk about something that you know nothing about. You shouldn’t share your opinions if you don’t know anything. You should probably just shut the fuck up.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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TV Shows are Better than Movies

Movies used to be the premier form of Hollywood entertainment. They were the pinnacle. They had the best actors, the best directors, the best stories, and the best effects. But then HBO started making their own shows. They had the budget to hire quality actors to portray quality characters. Characters are the most important part of storytelling. If you don’t care about the character, then you don’t care about what happens to them. And a TV series allows a character to get developed over multiple episodes and seasons. You get to know their personality, their quirks, their pet peeves, and you feel like you truly know them.

AMC has a lot of amazing character based dramas, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, with interesting characters and intriguing storylines. The Walking Dead not only has great characters but also feels like a zombie movie that never ends. And it has more graphic and creative zombie deaths than anything in the movies. There are shows like True Blood that are extremely sexual and violent and Spartacus (which makes True Blood seem like a family show). The quality writing on television is extended to Cartoon Network. Even the worst season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is better than anything the prequel trilogy has to offer.

In the old days, any actor could be on TV but only a few actors could transition to the big screen and be a box office draw. Now movie stars want to be on television. The Simpsons and Scrubs are famous for their celebrity cameos and guest roles. Former Hollywood heavyweights like Keifer Sutherland got a career boost by turning to TV. Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, and Sean Bean put aside film opportunities to star in HBO shows. Kevin Spacey, Christian Slater, William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel, Danny DeVito, Christina Ricci, Laura Linney, Don Cheadle, and Glenn Close have all chosen television over film. Who needs to go to the theater with that kind of star power available on a weekly basis?

With HBO hits like The Sopranos and Sex in the City, other networks started paying more attention to quality programming. Premium cable channels like Starz and Showtime stepped up their game. Basic cable networks like FX and AMC had to keep up and they did. And the major networks took note and started taking more risks. We get shows as diverse as Lost and Community and everybody wins. The production quality and star power of television shows is only going to increase. It’s a good time to be a couch potato with a Netflix subscription.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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