Guest Reply to “Take Me Out to the Movies”

**This is Kenny’s guest reply to my earlier post “Take Me Out to the Movies”**

My lovely girlfriend is perhaps too generous in her assessment of my taste in movies. Insofar as I think awards provide a good place to start looking for movies to see, I’m the kind of person for whom you write movies that win awards. Insofar as a good, exciting preview can get me in the theatre, I’m the kind of person for whom Michael Bay writes (Armageddon and Transformers are some of my not-so-guilty pleasures).

I’m not sure I see movies for the sake of the art; it’s more for the sake of enjoyment. Of all the movies discussed below, the only one I would classify as a movie I saw looking for “art” would be Shame. Going into the movie, I had a decent idea of what tone to expect, and so I knew to focus and think while I watched, something I would typically hope not to do after a week of law school. Usually, I go to the movies looking to be entertained and so that come award season, I don’t find myself thinking “damn, I really have a lot of movies to catch up on.”

I’ll provide my comments on the same films as Emily, and I think all will find we agree more than she expects. After these short reviews I’ll discuss the roots of the areas where we don’t agree.


I liked it.

When Emily first wrote her post, it had my feelings on the movies, and she branded me a lover of Steve McQueen’s cinematic tale of a sex addict on the brink of self-destruction. I liked it, but didn’t love it. I loved the realism of the long shots, and unlike Emily, I enjoy the feelings of tension brought on by the awkward scenes. Most importantly, I thought the climax of the film was wonderfully structured. Where some will no doubt see shock-value scenes, I saw a brilliantly directed depiction of a man on a bender. It walked a fine line, but I thought it walked the line well.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

I thought it was okay.

Tinker is quite noir, which was my least favorite aspect of it. I didn’t find myself connecting with any of the characters or caring about them beyond what was told to me. I enjoyed the spy story though! I’m a geek for this spy stuff, it really is as simple as that.

The Descendants

I thought it was okay.

I cared more about the characters in The Descendants than in Tinker, but the plot was lacking. Clooney did an impressive, but not award-worthy job. Moreover, as Emily pointed out after the film, his skills weren’t used to anything near their full range. What’s worst is that I believe I missed the big metaphor in the film, and if I didn’t then I just have no idea what the writers were going for.

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

I loved it.

(See Emily’s description.)

Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I liked it.

I read the book. Didn’t like the pacing too much, but generally it was an exciting thriller worthy of a watch. Good books like this probably deserve the two-part treatment more than they get it. I thought the Harry Potter 7 breakup — a slow road movie for the first part and an epic battle for the second part was ideal. Something similar for Dragon Tattoo would have been good. A more emotional drama culminating with Lisbeth branding her attacker as the climax of the first part (which could end on a cliffhanger revelation) and a fast-paced, more detailed thriller mystery for the second part would have been how I went.

Arthur Christmas

I liked it.

Great kid movie. The eponymous (*proper use*)  Arthur is annoying, but the supporting characters make it a funny and enjoyable movie.

New Year’s Eve

I thought it was okay.

My comments must be getting boring by now. These movies with six stories at once are pretty much guaranteed to give you exactly what you expect. With that many stories, they can’t go deep into the characters, but they’re given 12 characters for whom to write 6 relationships, and that guarantees enough room for some one-liners and for every audience member to fall in love with one story (even if it is the one where the nurse shows off her sexy dress via webcam to her boyfriend serving overseas — only in a movie like this could that catchall be thrown in to win over any doubting audience members).

J. Edgar

I liked it.

Jeez, I’m forgetting these older ones. I’m not a Clint Eastwood fanatic, so I went into this one unsure what kind of style to expect. I was disappointed with the make-up for making the characters look older, and this film provides a great example of where I found a scene many probably thought cinematically masterful to be awkward and misplayed. Why a “like” then? J. Edgar was a deep character, and while Eastwood might have displayed his depth more subtly (perhaps I missed the subtlety), I found myself intrigued throughout the film.

The Ides of March

I loved it.

I’m a philosopher at heart, and that means I ignore most of the grime in the pipes when I analyze politics — I look at the machine as an ideal, abstract system. Unfortunately, politics is about people, and people are imperfect; we’re corruptible. Ides of March captures the dark side of politics in such a fashion that we can’t help but believe the story is at its heart rooted in truth. Idealism clashes with pragmatism, and both clash with the most basic flaws of man.


I loved it.

What isn’t to love? 

It should be a bit clearer now that while Emily and I don’t see eye-to-eye on every film, we also aren’t so far from each other. I have a higher tolerance for the awkward, the out there, the uncomfortable, which helps explain why I liked Shame much more than Emily. I also recognized the film as one to be appreciated through reflection, something Emily doesn’t care much for when it comes to movies. Like she said, I like the game of analysis. I’m interested in why a cartoon plays on a TV in the background during one of the more tense scenes of the film. She simply doesn’t care, it doesn’t interest her. I don’t think my interests make me more thoughtful, however. 

Finally, you might look at how our differences reflect our backgrounds in other areas of life. I, for example, have spent my adult life studying mathematics, philosophy, and law — three of the disciplines most concerned with abstract structures. I see many, many pieces all around me and have a great passion for understanding the rules that govern their fitting together. Emily is a journalist, she sees stories to be told in the world around her. It is with good reason, then, that she should be frustrated when a storyteller makes it painstaking to pull some meaning from his work.

I hope this has been enjoyable — er, “emjoyable”. Hopefully Emily will have me guest post in the future, but on the off chance that you’re interested in my take on current events or the law, you can visit me over at


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