July 25, 2015: Things you notice when you go to the movies as much as I do

Via filmescape.com
Via filmescape.com

This week, I saw “Trainwreck” (★★★) and “Southpaw” (★★).

Both were films I had looked forward to for some time, mostly because I had seen the trailers at least once a week for about two months now. I had been looking forward to the Antoine Fuqua boxing flick more than the latest irreverent Judd Apatow gross-out comedy. Turns out, my anticipation was misplaced: sloppy writing that all but KO’d “Southpaw” does not hold a candle to the amazing script Amy Schumer turned in for “Trainwreck.”

“Southpaw” does have heart, and it does show from start to finish. The problem is the writers took the main theme, picking yourself up no matter how hard the fall, a little too seriously.

Billy Hope, the started-from-the-bottom-now-we-here boxer who has it all and then loses it all, really falls during the first half of the movie. And falls hard. We see his life go from one of luxury, privilege and ease to one of sadness, emptiness and struggle. It’s not that this set up is unrealistic by any means. It just all seems to happen so hastily on screen.

The second half of the movie focuses on redemption — a phoenix rising from the ashes — and it takes its time doing so. This is what makes the second half better filmmaking.

As I type this, I think about how hard it is to get something you want and how easy it is to lose it (e.g., how hard it is to earn a 4.0 grade point average, but how easy it is to lose that perfect mark). If “Southpaw” was trying to mimic this sentiment, it did not master its goal.

Fuqua seems very aware of how great the rise of Billy Hope is, but he doesn’t seem to take the same level of care with the main character’s demise. To the detriment to the film itself and its message, the movie has a pretty sloppy start and no amount of acting finesse from Jake Gyllenhaal, Rachel McAdams or Forest Whitaker can really make up for it.

* * * * * * * * *

I didn’t mean for this post to be a movie review but I was so disappointed with “Southpaw” (which I think I would still consider a pretty decent movie, but not on the level I expected from the director of “Training Day”) that I got distracted. I wanted to write more about the things that make the movies home for me.

I love movies, but I think I love the movie-going experience more. Here are some things that I’ve observed this summer:

  • This commercial, no matter how many time you look at it, probably will make you think of a crush from middle school or high school.
  • This Regal intro: 
    was recently replaced with this one:
    .
  • Get here early for your “First Look”
    at cable TV shows you were never going to watch anyway, like “The Last Ship.”
  • AMC got a new intro, with these red dots with faces, like a year or two ago. Can it bring back this one?
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