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Captain America: The Winter Soldier (viewed in theaters 16 April 2014)
A pretty decent superhero film, definitely better than the first one, though I understand the need for the latter for the former to make sense. There weren’t really any surprises in this film, though Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) managed to get through a third entire full length feature film without unnecessarily becoming some other character’s love interest. (Ugh; can you imagine? Uuuuugh.) I like that Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is portrayed as chaotic good, more or less. Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson’s) car chase scene seemed unnecessary, but it was nonetheless fun. (Though I admit it would’ve been less fun if he hadn’t survived it.) The Winter Soldier doesn’t break out of the superhero/villain mold, but it doesn’t try to, and that’s okay.

Mulan (viewed 06 April 2014 at home)
Mom’s choice for family night after she discovered that Dad had never seen it. (The rest of us were also properly offended, of course.) Good movie, though I had forgotten how violent and creepy the Huns actually were. Watching the film makes me want to learn more about the legend of the woman who inspired it, though I’d prefer reading a book for children at first since my knowledge of Chinese history is at a very primary school level at this point. Watched the deleted scenes for the first time and realized that some things are deleted for a reason. Also, I was perturbed that the main directors and artists, etc., were all white men. It irritates me that they took a Chinese legend and basically appropriated it into Western culture. Ugh.

The Littlest Rebel (watched 30 March 2014 at home)
Grandma’s family night choice, “in memory of Shirley Temple” (who died in February). Now, I realize that it was produced in 1935, but honestly, the racism apparent in this film is atrocious. The use of black face, the slaves afraid of being freed by the Union, and the slaves as part of the family is just… too romantic for me to swallow. The only half-decent thing about it was that it made me think about my education in regards to the Civil War, which was strongly biased toward the Union and against the Confederacy… and for good reason, you’d think. In this film, the Confederates are the good guys (or, at least, the title character’s father, who is a Confederate officer, is a good guy) and the Union soldiers don’t do anything for their cause by ransacking and then burning down the family home. Oh, and also, the mother dies, and nobody ever ever looks that good on their deathbed.

Gravity in 3D: see One Paragraph 18
Though I’d have liked to watch this through again, I already saw Gravity in October, and since it started at 10:15 PM after having watched three movies that day already and I had work the next morning at 7 AM, I decided to cut and run while I was still feeling not terrible.

American Hustle (viewed 01 March 2014 in theaters as part of AMC Best Picture Showcase 2014)
Best disclaimer a movie’s ever had: “Some of this actually happened.” Seriously. The costumes were amazing; the story was ridiculous. Don’t know how I feel about Christian Bale with a combover, but he certainly acted the skeevy-car-salesman type well. Reminded me of a lower class version of the guy Leonardo DiCaprio played in The Wolf of Wall Street. By this point, I had also noticed that seven of the nine Oscar nominees for Best Picture were based on true stories, and the remaining two (Nebraska and Gravity) were films that could’ve easily been based on true stories; they were all basically realistic/historical fiction.

Her (viewed 01 March 2014 in theaters as part of AMC Best Picture Showcase 2014)
You know what? This film was actually pretty good. Weird, but good. I really like the actress Scarlett Johansson (who voiced the intelligent AI Samantha), though I didn’t realize she was in the film until afterward. I seriously identified with the relationship talk that Theodore and Samantha had about loving someone and loving other people at the same time. That was difficult for him to take and it showed, but I truly, deeply believe what Samantha said is true: “The heart is not like a box that gets filled up; it expands in size the more you love. I’m different from you. This doesn’t make me love you any less. It actually makes me love even more.” See also the discussion at Feministing.

Captain Phillips: see One Paragraph 17
I skipped this film because I didn’t want to get seasick all over again, especially when it was only the second of five films on the second day of AMC’s Best Picture Showcase this year. Ugh.

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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