I ran a poll on Instagram/Twitter, asking everyone whose director's work they wanted to see me do a ranking off, the popular vote went to David Fincher. Although I personally never cared for his work that much, nor have I even heard of some of the films he's done in the past before doing this, it's proven to be a decent challenge to analyze his work, which shockingly has not been limited to just thrillers! In fact, it turns out his best work is not at all in the mystery/suspense category! What is that work though? Well, take a look:
I don't think you ever asked this question before, but if you have followed the Oscars lately, you should know that its viewership has reached an all-time low in recent years. With the new "Best Popular Film" category recently announced, it got me back to wondering, what if instead of forcing crowd pleasers into a corner, they actually gave them the same amount of love and attention as the other Oscar bait features? Basically, here is what I had in mind: for each category, half the films nominated are films that made at least $100,000,000 at the Box Office, the other half is whatever else deserves to make it in. That way, deserving films that people have actually seen and heard of get in and they also notice those smaller art house films. Everybody wins! I'll show you what I have in mind with the last two Oscar ceremonies. For your reference:
The real 2017 Academy Award winners.
The real 2016 Academy Award winners.
Although, I won't cover these categories for obvious reasons:
Best Popular Film
What do these three have in common? The latest changes the Academy has made, with the inclusion of a 25th category: Best Popular Film. What does that mean? Well, to be honest, nobody knows, not even the Academy themselves! They're still working out the details...
Another significant change they made includes condensing the ceremony to a much stricter 3 hour run time, which means the winners of the smaller categories will only be able to have their speeches condensed into a shorter montage run during commercial break, kind of like how the Tony Awards works.
If you've been on social media a lot since yesterday, I'm sure you saw that the response has been overwhelmingly negative. As in, I have not seen even one person who's happy about these changes. At first, I didn't really care much about the Best Popular Film category, but after thinking about it more, and hearing other people's reactions, I do have some things to say.
It is a celebration of what makes animals different, thus, a celebration of what makes us people different. We all know good and clear that Zootopia is a very child-friendly allegory to racism and prejudice in America, but how is this feature from a Christian perspective?
The main thing I can tell you is that it does get some things wrong about the Bible’s teachings. The key thing to address is how this movie depicts a future where mammals have grown into the world’s dominant species, suggesting evolution and the death of man, which goes against God’s promise. Now, obviously, that’s a no brainer considering this is coming from such a secular company, but it’s using theories of evolution as our means of existentialism, and thus, our standard on how to love each other. While this isn’t an inherently bad message, the mindset of the message is wrong.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Click here to read my review of The Angry Birds Movie.
The original iPhone game was harmless and straightforward, but this movie, with the added power of narrative storytelling, teaches a dangerous message that says anger is proper motivation to accomplish goals. While it may be true in some respects, the way this movie explains it suggests that disrespecting others is okay in the process, as long as you follow your impulse.
It’s true especially today in our millennial culture of mobile devices and streaming options on-the-go, but I know of several parents who are not good at surveying what their kids watch, and how little they know about the media they are taking in. I even knew of a couple who let their six-year-old daughter watch the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie alone, a PG-13 movie which opens with hundreds of people getting hanged—not appropriate stuff for little girls to be watching.
While all parents must be cautious as to what they let their kids watch, there is an even greater threat to wrong morals getting picked up by kids with autism.
Over these last few years, horror movies have suddenly stepped into a renaissance, where not only such films have gotten more technical with their scares, but they also won several awards. Get Out may first come to mind for you, but it goes on to include It Comes at Night, The Witch, Hereditary, and A Quiet Place. These films have achieved social commentary about much deeper issues than just serial killers in hockey masks, including racial tension and the death of a traditional patriarchal family. Although A Quiet Place certainly has the usual monsters that create jump scares, they serve purpose that represents the rebirth of the new matriarchal family, our future reality.
Obviously this fear about our future lands very personal to many people, not just Americans. Thus, I’d like to discuss this big hit from a Christian perspective, in how it depicts a family’s fear of the end times, which includes God’s judgment that scares us into silence.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Click here to read my review of The Incredibles.
There are two different messages communicated in The Incredibles: remain in what’s happening now, and everyone should use their unique abilities. Together, they generate the essence of what makes a family great. One thing that I love about this movie is how the two leads, Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl, each value one of the two things while giving no care to the other. In the end, they each get what they want, but not without learning from the other, just as a marriage in real life works.
Mr. Incredible, or Bob Parr, is like any other man facing a mid-life crisis; he wishes to go back to the old days, and eventually finds a way to escape and live like the old days. It may be paradise to him, but it costs him a tremendous deal: his high-paying job, the trust of his wife, and the safety of everybody he loves. Elastigirl, or Helen Parr, likewise resembles any woman in that same stage of life; she is so worked up by the rules that she won’t even let her kids feel special in their abilities.
Many people can relate to Mr. Incredible in the struggle to remain in the present moment, or Elastigirl in the struggle to encourage kids to be special. It truly requires a mastery of knowing how to relate to the other family members by meeting their needs. If somebody has autism, even finding the desire to meet the needs of the family can almost feel impossible.
Click here to read my review of Tully.
Tully explores quite a bit about the emotional and physical toll a newborn can take on a mother. It also shows how much mental health is improved when someone is there to help, as the night nanny demonstrates. But the thing about Charlize Theron’s character, Marlo, is that she stated she suffered from depression since around the time her second child, Jonah was born. There are numerous other signs throughout the film that indicate the people behind this project intended for him to have autism.
The first sign is in the opening scene, when Marlo starts her routine of scrubbing Jonah’s body as if he were a horse. She takes a brush, turns on some music, and scrubs his arms, legs, and back, because it calms him. This is not uncommon with autism, many children on the spectrum have found peculiar ways to calm their overloading senses. In my own experience, when I was little, I rocked back and forth in my bed every night to help me get to sleep and would run around the living room while verbalizing some fantasized story I was coming up with as a way of letting out my imagination. It goes on for many others in similar cases, some rock in their seats, some spin on the swing set real fast, some step into a hug machine, if you met a child with autism, odds are he or she has discovered an odd way of calming down.
Click here to read my review of The Accountant.
Of the few cinematic portrayals of autism I have seen, I have never seen one quite like this one.
He’s an accountant, but he’s also a thief, and a murderer. Specifically, his autism is what contributes to his abilities to avoid capture by the law. It’s very different from the hopeless dependent depictions (Rain Man) or the inspirational redemptive depictions (Temple Grandin), but at the same time, this is a darker side to autism that we might as well consider, as people with autism despised by the law is a definite possibility.
I realize that it is not something we like to think about, but anyone on the autism spectrum who grew up with a traumatic childhood could easily lose insight on what’s right and wrong, using his abnormal abilities for his selfish purposes. If you ask me, this falls completely underneath the responsibility of the parents.
In this movie, the character played by Ben Affleck grew up under a broken household: his father spent more time in the Army than with his family, and had completely irrational ideas to prepare his son for the real world. He taught him that he should stand up to bullies by physical means, and literally torture himself in order to face reality in a “normal” way.
I am an author who loves to talk about movies. I enjoy Seattle, cats, cookie dough ice cream, and photography. Subscribe to my site for autism lessons in your favorite movies!
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