For years, teen Boggy held the Netflix queue hostage, moving the rest of the family's selections around like chess pieces on a board, or deleting them as heartlessly as toppling pawns. Then he magnanimously created the Boggy Movie Tournament, and a meta game was born. The playing field is finally open. The competition is fierce. You'll never recommend another movie without asking yourself, "But, is it a winner?"

Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: The Tracey Fragments and An Education

by Eric

The Tracy Fragments (B-)

An Education (D)

You'd think that, when choosing a movie, the members of our family would look for a movie they want to see, hoping they might convert others to their choice. Unfortunately this tournament has turned us into a group of sycophantic whores. I speak for everyone when I say that I would gladly sit through The Star Wars Christmas Special or watch whatever experimental films Alex Lake sleeps through at Doc Films if only it meant I could beat Gene at a movie tournament. An example of the basest pandering of all is the choice of The Tracey Fragments and An Education in the first round of The Tournament. Lydia did not choose The Tracey Fragments because she cares about avant-garde cinema -- they could keep re-animating Dragon Ball Z and she would watch it every time -- and I certainly don't care about period pieces. In both cases, the movies were nominated solely to pander to another player. For my part, I thought, "If I can get Gene to vote for An Education because Carey Mulligan is cute, I only need to pick up another vote from John, Beth, or Sally, who love historical shit." Meanwhile Lydia knows that I want nothing more in the world than to meet Ellen Page in person and not have the balls to ask her on a date (my fantasies can be pretty mundane).

These movies represent the failure of sycophants, though. Neither got the votes of the horny teenagers they were intended for. There was nothing in these movies for a Carey Mulligan fan or an Ellen Page stalker to latch on to. It turns out that in An Education, Carey Mulligan was not playing a 1950s Sally Sparrow (Doctor Who: Blink). There was no puzzle-solving, no enigmatic Doctor, no evil alien-statues and no crappy love interest. (The crappy love interest is an important lie to convince male audiences that they could get a girl like Sally Sparrow.) With all those essential elements missing, Carey Mulligan was reduced to a female Holden Caulfield who was a chore to watch.

Sally "Cute as a Button" Sparrow (Carey Mulligan)

Similarly, Ellen Page does nothing to make you fall in glove with her in Tracy Fragments. In Inception, she is thrown into a giant dream ocean and comes up, wet, salty, and choking for air. In Juno she gives birth drenched in sweat and gasping for air. In Whip It she's thrown in a hot tub and -- oh my God what is wrong with me this is revealing a dreadful pattern.

Ellen Page, the way I like her.

The point is, there is nothing attractive about watching Ellen Page wander around with only a blanket on after being date-raped by a hipster. Maybe Gene and I just hated seeing our celebrity crushes playing weak, abused women instead of being their usual badass selves. Maybe I need to see Ellen Page wet and oxygen-deprived to have any fun. In Whip It she also had sex under water. Whip It is a pretty great movie.



  2. Whip It was entertaining, but Ellen Page was never better than she was in Hard Candy. I disagree with you that An Education is 'D' worthy. Really? Because Carey Mulligan plays a teen that can't recognize a dirtbag at 10 paces? She may have been used, but is hardly a weak character. By the ending, the viewer is assured she will never play the fool again. A 'D' film is something you forget AS you're watching it because everything about it is just plain awful. Ummmm, Going the Distance, The Break Up, Marley & Me and so on.

  3. For me An Education was an A for authentic and awesome period clothes and setting, and a D for writing. It had promise, and then crashed in on the unfortunate "chic lit" ending. Mulligan's character makes a monumental mistake that looks on the surface like it will have permanent ramifications with her family and her school, but then -- hey! -- she does a little homework on the side, her parents and coolest teacher forgive her, and she comes out on top. It was a sort of Mary-Sue ending where the writer (maybe because this was a memoir?) favors the character (namely, herself) and is too afraid to hurt her.

  4. Lucky for you, you haven't seen enough bad films. 'C' covers predictable endings, cliches, gimmicks and exposition. 'D' is really a grade for low-budget pulp, where the writer IS the director or star and so on. An Education might receive a 'D' from the mattress brigade, but nowhere else.
    I believe every happy ending favors the character.

  5. This isn't Spanish class! You can't bargain with the teacher for a higher grade!

  6. Heh. It's the principle! If An Education rates a 'D', then giving an 'F' to something like 'Road Trip' carries no weight.