Archive for December, 2018

There’s been a lot of Captain Marvel-related stuff going on lately, with the second trailer debuting, revealing tiny bits about the plot, and getting everyone, including myself, very excited. So, with all that, I thought I’d better chime in with something, so here it is.

Captain Marvel is going to be awesome.

Oh, you wanted more. Oh, fine. Well, if you’re like me and you live for these Marvel movies, you’d be pretty excited about this one, too. I picked up this nugget on eBay recently: Ms. Marvel #2, the second issue of Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel, the precursor to her re-branding as Captain Marvel. It was only $20 at the time, but that price is sure to go up before the release of the movie. Keep your eyes peeled.

But as I’ve said before, this is not just a Captain Marvel fan site. The plan is to write about the career of Brie Larson, and through that, write down some hopefully-funny observations about movies, in general. To that end, I give you the Mark Wahlberg film, The Gambler.

I will try to remain unbiased here, actually, because, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really like Mark Wahlberg. I obviously never met the guy, even though he keeps coming back to my state to shoot his movies, possibly because we’re the only state that will have him. He never struck me as a very good person, and I admit that this opinion largely stems from his racial assaults in the 80’s, one of them being splitting a Vietnamese kid’s head open with a stick. When he was arrested for this, when the police brought in the victim to identify him, he told them, “You don’t have to let him identify me, I’ll tell you now that’s the mother-fucker whose head I split open.” Good dude. By the way, he was charged with attempted murder, and sentenced to two years in prison, of which he served … 45 days. How’s that for our legal system? I guess being a former New Kid opens doors.

Aside from his time as a thug, Wahlberg’s range as an actor has never really impressed me. I will say that I love Boogie Nights. Not so much for him since there were about a billion people in it, but he definitely held his own. It’s been his more recent run of movies, where he pretty much only plays dirtbags from Boston, that has given me enough reason to dislike him. Patriots Day was the last straw for me. If you’re not from the Boston area, it probably doesn’t matter, but here’s the skinny; Wahlberg’s character, Officer Tommy Saunders (or, more appropriately, “Awfficah Tawmmy Sawndahs”), who is a made-up person. Just about everyone else in the movie played a real person, but Wahlberg wanted to play a cop who impossibly managed to be everywhere during the 4- day manhunt for the bombers, so they made up a character for him. Like the saga wasn’t dramatic enough, and there weren’t enough heroes combing the streets of Boston over during that time, that they had to make up a character for him to play? And the bombing was only in 2015, man. Just too soon,

Point is, I suffered through this one in my quest to see all of Brie Larson’s movies (which, ok, I still haven’t done.) I will say that it is not a bad movie, even though there’s not much to it. The gist of it is that Wahlberg plays a literature professor who is also a compulsive gambler, and he gets in trouble because he borrows money from both his mother and a loan shark (I’m not sure which is worse.) As far as I know, this movie wasn’t based on anything, and it is not a remake, and yet I feel like I’ve seen it a hundred times. It’s your basic “Male protagonist screws up his whole life and you watch to see how he gets out of it” story. We’ve all seen it a hundred times, and there’s no real twist that makes this one stand out, and yet I can’t say I hated it.

Larson plays one of his students, Amy Phillips, who ends up having a fling with him, which is really just a side plot thrown in to give this guy one more thing that he can’t do right. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that, because in my screenwriting classes I was always taught to pile the horrible things on your characters to add to the drama. Still, as bad things you can heap on a character go, sleeping with your student is pretty tame. Maybe if she had reported him and sued him and he lost his job or something like that, it would have made for some more drama. But in the end, Amy is nothing more than a pawn in the loan shark storyline, as they threaten to kill her if Marky-Mark doesn’t pay up. Other than that, Amy has no real purpose. It would have been cool if she somehow helped him out of the whole mess, or helped redeem him in some way, but nope. See, it’s fine to pile bad things on your characters, but they really should somehow relate to the actual story somehow. Otherwise, it’s just an excuse to have a cute girl in your movie.

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The thing that really bothered me, though, was Wahlberg’s character, Jim Bennett (Even the name sounds cliche’). Bennett is one of those movie tropes that doesn’t exist anywhere but the screen: the rock star professor. I’ve worked in a University for many years, and I’ve known some fun professors, some nice professors, some professors who can toss a few drinks back, and even some who can sing. But I’ve never met a rock star professor. Probably because he doesn’t exist!

Now, of course there have been professors that have affairs with their students, and there are probably professors who are compulsive gamblers with mommy issues, but there are very likely no Literature professors who walk around thinking that they are this cool. In fact, most of them are probably really nerdy, because they have spent hours and hours with their faces in books, earning the necessary degrees to become a college professor. You don’t see a lot of people who just sort of fall into the profession. You do see a lot of people who get into it because they like to have their summers off.

I hate to play this card again, but Jim Bennet is probably an amalgamation of different people that the screenwriters knew, and he they threw in the Lit professor bit to make him seem like a smart guy who is throwing his life away, and to give him students to talk down to. Honestly, the movie wouldn’t have been any different if he was a fry cook. Actually, it maybe would have increased the desperation, because we all know that college professor is ranked as one of the least stressful job in America (apparently it’s right behind Audiologist, which is a career I’m not familiar with, but the median salary is $75,000 a year and it’s not very stressful, so sign me up.) Anyway, for the Jim Bennett character, in addition to all the other cliches’, this movie gets The Deadpool Meme:

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Maybe it’s just lazy on my part to dismiss this movie and not really delve deeper into the themes, but really, beyond Brie Larson, with all the entertainment vying for our attention, there’s really no need to watch this. But good things are coming for Ms. Larson.

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