Smile Politely

What to Watch: December 16-19


The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (Savoy 16 and Carmike 13): Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin’s company of dwarves continue on their adventure to reclaim their home from the evil dragon Smaug.

Why to Watch: It is true that the Lord of the Rings franchise has a certain built-in fan base. The reason I am so keen to see this film has nothing to do with my feelings about the first Hobbit film or the original trilogy based on Tolkien’s books. I want to see Desolation of Smaug for the atmosphere. When I watch these Hobbit films, I know for certain that, whether I like the film or not, I will always be taken somewhere in the environment where my mind can be engaged and make me curious about the world Tolkien created for readers years ago. The performances of Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin will keep me engaged throughout the film, but I’m more interested in watching Bilbo’s courage develop as a person and how deep and dark his selfishness is once he spends too much time wearing the ring. Go see this film not just to go on an adventure but to honor the themes Tolkien wrote in his literature and watch them come to life.

Kill Your Darlings (The Art Theater Co-op): This film is a biopic of poet Allen Ginsberg set during the time he was in college. A murder occurs, and Ginsberg is at the center of it and has to find a way to escape clean. 

Why to Watch: Harry Potter fans will most likely rejoice at the thought that Daniel Radcliffe is in another movie. The actor’s popularity should not be a reason to see this film. I think what audiences might be engaged by most is the language and verbiage that this film uses for the era it is set in. All the language is very technical, and while most audiences may find the new way of speaking a struggle, I think it adds to the authenticity of trying to represent such a complicated era in history. People should watch this film and focus on Ginsberg’s relationship with Carr as it both sets his imagination alight and helps spawn the Beat Movement. This film casts a spell all its own; I hope audiences fall under it.

White Christmas (The Art Theater Co-op): A pair of song-and-dance men team up with a sister act to save a struggling inn.

Why to Watch: I have to confess I have never seen White Christmas. How can I suggest you go see the film, you ask? It’s because Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye are involved in it. I have seen them do separate performances in different films and know that their caliber of talent is so high Sinatra barely reached it in his historic career. It’s one of the best sincere comedy/drama musicals and, from what I heard, has wonderful songs and performances. It’s something I have personally been eager to watch as I always see it at bookstores and Best Buys. I think audiences will find it charming. I know I did, and that was just from watching the trailer.

Blue Is The Warmest Color (The Art Theater Co-op): Adele meets a blue-haired art student named Emma.  Emma sparks Adele’s individuality, and the two embark on a romantic relationship that spans the space of several years.

Why to Watch: I don’t look at this film as a lesbian drama. I look at it as these characters taking us on a journey to understand what a relationship is to them and how their definition of a relationship changes over the course of the film. I already know that the actors will do a stellar job at portraying their characters because they separately won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. I’m looking for this film to show me raw, honest moments in the life of these people. No matter what side of the fence you may be on in the conversation about homosexuality, this film communicates people going through hard struggles to understand how to love and what it takes to feel love. For this couple, I will most be interested in why did their love fade and how did it affect both of them. It may be three hours in length, but it is definitely a cinematic experience that needs to be seen.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Savoy 16 and Carmike 13): After surviving the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Malark are still reeling from the deaths that occurred in competition. How Katniss deals with her PTSD and being placed in an all-star version of the Hunger Games is when the stage is set.

Why to Watch: The first film, directed by Gary Ross, suffered from two major problems. The first problem was that I don’t think audiences were given enough time to invest in the other tributes involved in the games. The second issue was that the games involved far too much shaky cam. I personally couldn’t process the action going on around me when Katniss was inside the Games. Thankfully, both major problems have been addressed. Francis Lawrence directs the second film in this quadrology, and he shows a much steadier hand with the action scenes, which heightens the tension of every moment on screen. Jennifer Lawrence again gives an incredibly strong performance as Katniss, and the parallels between the expectations Katniss is supposed to live up to and the ones faced by Lawrence in her daily life seem to be emotionally present on Lawrence throughout the film. Phillip Seymour Hoffman is great as the new architect of the all-star Hunger Games. See this film for Lawrence’s dynamic performance, strong story, and better use of stillness throughout the film.

Frozen (Savoy 16 and Carmike 13): This film is based on Hans Christen Anderson’s The Snow Queen. The story involves a woman who is chosen to be queen but is ostracized because she has the power to freeze things. Her sister is the only one capable of breaking the spell that froze the entire kingdom indefinitely.

Why to Watch: Frozen is the second feature by Disney to be a mixture between handdrawn animation and CGI (the first being Tangled). This new approach worked well for Disney, and it succeeds again here, but only because the film has such a strong story to tell. Kristen Bell voices the heroine Anna who is out to rescue her sister Elsa, voiced by Tony Award Winner Idina Menzel. This film again harkens back to the 90s Disney feature catalog and reminds us why we love those movies so much. For me, it’s the fact that the characters stand for something and seem like people who could learn from if they existed in reality.  Most of the film’s comedic moments are provided by a snowman named Olaf (voiced by Josh Gad). Olaf is a Disney supporting character treasure, and I’d be more than happy to see this film multiple times just for his antics. See this film with the whole family. You’ll have a great time.


Anchorman 2 The Legend Continues: What can I say about this film other than Ron Burgundy returns to help New York stay classy by joining its 24-hour news team. Will Ferrell, Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and their numberless posse of guest stars are destined to knock this one out of the park.

American Hustle: This crime drama directed by Silver Linings Playbook visionaryDavid O. Russell tells the story of Sydney Prosser being forced to work for the FBI. What will make this film great is the performances from the entire cast which features Bradley Cooper (perm), Jennifer Lawrence (cleavage), Amy Adams (even more cleavage), Christian Bale (combover), and Jeremy Renner (John Davidson’s rug). I dare you to find one person in this film you aren’t curious about.

Saving Mr. Banks: The compelling tale of how Mary Poppins almost didn’t get made. Tom Hanks looks nothing like Walt Disney, but I am really interested to learn about the life led by Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson.

Her: Everyone knows this movie as the film where the guy falls in love with thecomputer. Trust me when I say the film is much deeper than that and brings to light what will happen to society socially if we remain dependent on technology as a means of communication and companionship. Directed by Spike Jonze and starring Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson.

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