Auto-Play Will Always Be a Maybe

One of the most annoying features on Netflix is how it auto-plays trailers for movies and shows as you are scrolling through its vast library of content. On the surface, this doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. Auto-playing a trailer for something that I’m not sure I even want to watch sounds like a classic first-world problem, and oftentimes you can simply move on and completely forget about that new Adam Sandler movie. I’ve been doing that for years anyway.

No, what really bothers me about auto-play has more to do with the nature of trailers these days. There have been too many instances recently where I will watch a teaser and come away feeling like I just saw the whole movie. In a digital world where spoilers are waiting for us at every turn, it’s downright disheartening that movie studios willingly give away plot details like free tickets to a WWE pay-per-view. It’s gotten so bad that rarely do I ever watch more than a single trailer for a film that I want to see, and even then I hesitate before I hit the play button. Netflix’s auto-play function makes it that much harder to sidestep those previews, and as a result, all the more difficult to go into a new movie completely blind.

Lovers of film know this plight all too well, which is why after my fiance and I finished watching a movie on Netflix, and then it immediately jumped into the trailer for Always Be My Maybe, I was certain that I knew all the ins and outs of this “new” romantic comedy: childhood friends Sasha and Marcus hit adulthood and have an awkward sexual encounter, contact between them is severed, they randomly encounter each others years later and feelings are rekindled, but then Keanu Reeves (playing himself) emerges as a romantic rival for Marcus, creating a huge obstacle to win Sasha’s heart (seriously, that is all in the trailer). To be fair, romantic comedies all more or less hit the same beats (minus Keanu playing a sardonic version of himself), but if you feel like you know the outcome before you even start the movie, then it just feels like a waste of time.

Regardless, we both found ourselves home sick one day and decided to give Always Be My Maybe a chance. The upside to rolling the dice on a Netflix film is you can always stop watching 20 minutes in if you don’t like it, and my fiance is a fan of Ali Wong’s standup, so we figured why the hell not? Much to my surprise, this latest romcom had more depth than I was expecting and featured great chemistry between Wong and co-star Randall Park. There were also (gasp!) many key scenes and developments that were NOT highlighted in the trailer. Had I not been feeling so rotten that day, I would’ve done a victory dance in my living room in celebration of a trailer that actually did its job: provide the audience with an idea of what to expect and pique our interest so that we’ll actually tune in.

Thank you Always Be My Maybe. You were not only a refreshingly fun and poignant romantic comedy, but you also didn’t ruin any of that for me beforehand. If only all of the other trailers would follow suit (or, ya know, Netflix could do away with its intrusive auto-play). Neither of these seem likely, so continue to tread lightly when it comes to previews, friends.

There be monsters out there.

The Necessity and Justification of Toy Story 4

My feelings about Disney and Pixar going back to the toy chest for a fourth time around were not dissimilar to Jesse’s. I recall the first time I read that Toy Story 4 was in production. I, too, was filled with disbelief. I, too, believed Toy Story 3 concluded the trilogy with perfection and grace. I, too, didn’t want to cry at another movie about animated inanimate objects.

Eventually I came around. I started to rally behind the idea because I realized that, while any sequel is really just a cash grab, I trust the team behind Toy Story. They earned the trust with the exquisite Toy Story 3. However when I tried sharing this opinion with my many friends that were NOT behind the sequel, I continually got shot down. People really didn’t want this movie to exist.

Which means, I couldn’t help but go into Toy Story 4 with the need of it justifying it’s existence. I needed the film to prove everyone wrong. I needed the film to come through for me like Woody came through for Andy time and time again. Like a kid I needed my toys. And like any good toy, they pulled through and made me feel like a kid again.

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Have You Ever Taken the 3:10 to Yuma?

I spent last Christmas in Arizona with my fiance and her family. On Christmas Eve, her parents suggested that we venture down to Tombstone because I had never been there before and they knew that I was a fan of that Western. Pretty good family to marry into, right?

On the way, we passed the turnoff to Bisbee and I excitedly pointed out, “Bisbee?! That’s the first town they went to in 3:10 to Yuma!” My fiance laughed, rolled her eyes a little and said, “I love how you know where places are solely because of movies you watch.” She’s not wrong, but it’s simply the catch that comes with being engaged to a film lover. To her credit, she always takes it in stride and even sits through movies that I want to review and that she could care less about because she wants to be supportive. That’s true love folks, and another example of how lucky I am and that I made the right decision by proposing.

But while I could talk about my wonderful fiance from dawn til dusk, the point is that I will forever associate Bisbee with 3:10 to Yuma, the 2007 remake of the 1957 film of the same name. And when I’m reminded of that movie, I instantly recall the clever direction, expert pacing and superb acting. I then find myself yearning to experience it all over again, and that’s the mark of a tremendous motion picture: one that you can revisit repeatedly without tiring of it or being able to spot any flaws.

I’ve certainly never been able to find any, friends, and that’s why I declare that 3:10 to Yuma is a perfect film and one of the finest Westerns ever made.

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How Did 20-Year Old Me Feel About Toy Story 3?

I’m going to be upfront and admit that I have some pretty big misgivings about Toy Story 4. Sure, on the one hand, Pixar has crafted three outstanding entries for its most popular franchise. On the other hand, Toy Story 3 wrapped up the trilogy beautifully and left the story on a high note. Sometimes, you have to know when to leave well enough alone.

But regardless of how much I am or am not looking forward to the continuation of the franchise, that doesn’t really matter. Toy Story 4 hits theaters on Friday and hopefully any worries I have will be put to rest by another worthy follow-up. That really would be the best case scenario here. While we’re waiting, I thought it would fun to revisit Toy Story 3 and analyze what worked so well for that movie. The twist is that it won’t be me providing the analysis, or at least not present day me.

Back in the days before we had a blog for publishing our film reviews on the internet, Kevin and I would share our opinions with each other on Facebook messenger. Let’s just say it was the beginning of a shared appreciation for filmmaking and the first step towards pursuing a mutual passion. One of the movies I reviewed back then was indeed Toy Story 3, which Kevin and I saw together in 2010.

It’s crazy to think that it’s been that long since the last Toy Story hit theaters. It’s even crazier to me that we’ve been writing about films for almost a decade. That’s why I thought it be worthwhile, and just a little terrifying, to publish my original review and let 20-year old Jesse have his day in the sun.

That’s what we have to do, right? Take some time to remember where we’ve been, and the truth is the Toy Story movies have always been part of my life. My original review is after the jump.

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Wes Anderson’s Criterion Journey: Rushmore

Coming-of-age stories are one of the most overused archetypes in Hollywood: familiar, relatable and uplifting. In other words, it’s a proven formula that works. So when Wes Anderson revealed that his second feature film was going to follow that outline after Bottle Rocket bombed at the box office, I’m sure his producers were thrilled.

They might’ve been less enthusiastic when they read the script and found that the hero fakes injuries to try and win the heart of the woman he loves (one of the teachers at his school, nonetheless) and when his best friend starts dating that woman, he jealously tries to cut the brakes on his friend’s car. How are people supposed to get behind this guy if he’s trying to take us to all of these dark places?

The simple answer is that we have all been to those places before, because part of growing up is learning to cope with the injustices that life throws at you without succumbing to our worst impulses. That’s why we forgive the protagonist when he tries to exact terrible revenge on the friend who betrayed him. We’ve all felt that way before, only most of us haven’t acted on it.

You see, Anderson does adhere to the coming-of-age formula: he just does it in his unique, off-brand sort of way.

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Let’s Talk About Avengers: Endgame

(Update: As of May 29, 2019, Endgame is the second highest grossing film of all-time worldwide. You’ve got some ground to make up there, DC)

We’re back again with another entry in our “Let’s Talk About” series. It feels like we’ve done more of these for Marvel movies than anything else. I’m not sure if that’s true or not (Kevin will rake me over the coals for not double-checking), but it probably has something to do with the fact that we started this blog in 2013. The Avengers was almost a year old at that point and the MCU had grown into a juggernaut that owned the box office and earned all the praise from critics. Even Thor: The Dark World did well later that year, scoring the largest opening weekend in November ever for a Disney movie (that I did look up).

If that piece of crap could do so well, the writing was on the wall that there was no stopping the MCU. To be fair, I own that piece of crap and that’s just another sign of how Marvel has us by the balls: I buy all of their movies, even if I don’t like them that much.

Kevin and I have certainly been fans this whole time and that’s why it seemed fitting that he just happened to be in Denver so that we could see Avengers: Endgame together. Marvel’s behemoth of a finale for its Infinity Saga promised to be epic. It promised to resolve years worth of storylines. But did it live up to the ridiculous level of hype surrounding it?

Now that everyone on the planet has checked this movie out, I think we are safe to dive into some spoilers and nitpick the shit out of this thing. Well, not really. We’re nicer than that and have compliments to give out too, but I promise you that nits will be picked.

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For Game of Thrones, Our Watch Has Ended… For Now

I needed to give it about a week. When you are fixated on a television series that lasts for eight years, and it ends, I think it’s hard to provide an objective opinion right away. Your thoughts on how the story wrapped up get mixed together with your disappointment that it’s over, and those emotions can cloud our judgment. That’s one reason why so many people derided season eight of Game of Thrones as the worst finale of all-time: they were pissed about how it ended and maybe even more pissed that it had really ended. Saying goodbye is always hard to do.

That’s why I didn’t want to put this out there right away. I figured that any kneejerk reactions wouldn’t do this show’s legacy justice, and so I would wait for those emotions to subside until I was sure that there was no bias in my opinions. Now I’m sure, and what I truly believe is that the last six episodes were in keeping with the spirit and themes of Game of Thrones. They weren’t perfect but I enjoyed them for what they were. There just weren’t enough episodes to truly stick that landing.

So if you were devastated by the events that transpired in season eight and feel that the entire series was ruined as a result of where your favorite characters wound up, maybe take a moment and see what I have to say. Perhaps I can talk you down from the ledge a little bit. Obviously, spoilers are coming, but if you haven’t watched the series from beginning to end by now, odds are you aren’t going to. Carry on ye who enter.

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