The Shallows: Bought It Before I Watched It

Here is a well-known, irrefutable fact about myself: I am old.

Now you might be thinking, “But Jesse, you’re only 29! You’re still a young man,” and that’s exactly what you would think given my age and appearance, but that’s without taking the following into account: I listen to a ton of classic rock, I still pay for cable, I try to avoid long lines and crowds, I’m just as content with a quiet night inside as I am going out and doing something fun, and I still buy physical copies of movies.

That’s right, every single movie I own is perched upon a bookshelf in my guest room. Whenever I have to move (which thankfully isn’t very often), I have to take them down, pack them up and put them all back up again when I get to my new place. That probably sounds awful to you, which is why most people who still collect movies (instead of just streaming everything) opt for digital copies, so they don’t have to deal with all of the clutter. Marie Kondo would definitely prefer the latter approach.

And I wish I could tell you that I have a bulletproof reason for buying and storing all of these optical discs, like that they provide me with superior audio and video quality (which is somewhat true) or that I don’t like relying on the internet to have access to good movies (for the two times a year that my internet doesn’t work), but maybe it just brings me to joy to see all those plastic cases twinkling at me from their respective positions on my shelf.

If you think that sounds crazy, then this little nugget will really blow your mind: I will sometimes buy movies that I haven’t even SEEN yet. Now in my defense, I do look at the reviews for a film to determine how well it was received and if it might be unique, but that’s still weird, right? Why pay money to own something that I’m not even sure I’ll enjoy?

I won’t even attempt to come up with a good answer for that question, but what I am going to attempt to do is start a series of posts where I watch a movie that I bought without seeing it first, and then write about whether I regret it or not. I’ll even do a mock interview of myself. We’ll see if I regret that.

First up, The Shallows.

Why did I buy The Shallows?

You can count the number of good shark movies on one hand, or maybe even one finger. On a side note, I bet you thought my answer was going to be, “Blake Lively in a bikini.” Get your mind out of the gutter, pervs.

Really, people are expected to believe that?

Hey, I love Jaws. It’s one of the greatest feats in film history and the piece of cinema that put Steven Spielberg on the map. I loathe virtually every other shark movie I’ve seen, although I do respect the Sharknado franchise for fully embracing its own ridiculousness and just running with it (they released a sixth one just last year!). The point is, I wanted to believe that The Shallows brought the survival horror element of Jaws without the stupidity of all its sequels, so I took the plunge… erm, the dive.

Alright alright, so what did you think?

Much to my relief, The Shallows is a perfectly watchable summertime horror flick. Lively makes for a compelling lead, as she’s proven in some of her more recent work, and the great white shark is a force of nature that lays waste to anyone stupid enough to be in the water (basically everyone). I don’t think a bigger boat would’ve helped Lively in this one, or a bigger surfboard for that matter (unless the Silver Surfer let her borrow his and she could just fly out of there). Director Jaume Collet-Serra tried his hand at horror previously, including the graphic 2005 remake of House of Wax, but he seems to have tightened the reigns a little bit here by favoring suspense over gore. The mere threat of the shark is equally as imposing as when it’s actually chowing down on something, which I found rather effective.

He also found a pretty clever way to visualize Lively’s smartphone on the screen, which is something we’re seeing more and more of in film with things like texting and Facetime.

Do you think you’ll come back to it again?

I’m sure I will someday, but it was brutal to watch by myself (my fault for putting on a scary movie while I was home alone). My fiance also hates survival horror, so the chances of getting her to sit through it someday are between slim to none. Maybe I can convince Kevin to fly back from New York for it? You never know.

Moment of truth… do you regret purchasing it?

Thankfully, no. While it’s certainly not on the level of Jaws, all I wanted was something to shock me, awe me and make me scared to get in the water. You can check all three boxes for The Shallows. On top of that, there is a seagull in this movie named Steven Seagull. How could I ever regret buying a film that features a bird named after a 90’s action star?

What’s next in this series?

Good question. Kevin has been badgering me to watch Enemy and Sorry to Bother You, so probably one of those two. Stay tuned!

12 Angry Men

I’ve been selected for jury duty once in my life. While I shan’t reveal any details here, mainly because most of them elude me at this point, I do remember feeling the weight of responsibility in making my decision. If the parties involved decided that they wanted me to sit in on their jury, I felt that I owed it to them to carefully consider all the arguments and ensure that I had my facts straight. Plus they gave me free food. What kind of monster would I be if I didn’t hold up my end of the bargain?

So imagine my surprise during my first viewing of 12 Angry Men when a young man will be sentenced to die if the jury reaches a guilty verdict, and yet some of the jurors just want to hurry up and vote so they can get out of there. If Henry Fonda’s juror was as shocked as I was, he hid it well, merely suggesting that it’s worth talking about the trial because he has “reasonable doubt.” A few of these other men are annoyed and don’t see the point in discussing anything. The kid is guilty and that’s that. Fonda remains steadfast in his belief and the jurors have no choice but to reluctantly oblige him. The seeds have been planted for 90+ plus minutes of required viewing for anyone curious about the filmmaking process, and the importance of dialogue, camerawork and body language.

And I suppose I should mention we’re going to get into some spoilers here, so if you are lucky enough to have the chance to see 12 Angry Men for the first time, do yourself a huge favor and go check it out before you read this. I promise you won’t regret it.

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Spielberg Introduces “The BFG” to the Next Generation

I remember being in second grade and listening intently as The BFG was read aloud to our class. This was somewhat of a trend, you see, as our teacher had already shared several classic Roald Dahl tales with us: Fantastic Mr. Fox, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, you name it. While those readings have faded from my memory, for whatever reason I can clearly picture hearing about Sophie and her Big Friendly Giant for the first time.

To be honest, I’m surprised it took this long for BFG to receive the big screen treatment. Nonetheless, I was admittedly nervous when I heard that it was finally happening, despite the fact that Steven Spielberg was chosen to helm the voyage into giant country. Adapting children’s novels into a feature length film is tricky. There is rarely enough material for a complete screenplay, which usually means that a lot of new scenes have to be added to get us from Point A to Point B. Sometimes this enhances the story and makes for a wonderful experience and other times you wonder why the filmmakers didn’t just leave well enough alone.

So did Spielberg pull it off? Well, that depends on what you’re looking for. Allow me to explain.

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