Sunday, August 30, 2009

11 Films I Want to See This Fall

I have to admit, the fall movie schedule looks pretty bleak. However, there are some films that peak my interest...

1. All About Steve (9/4) - Obviously. Bradley Cooper and Sandra Bullock. Comedic match made in heaven.

2. Extract (9/4) - The trailer doesn't really look that funny, nor does Ben Affleck as a stoner. Yet, it is written by Mike Judge and has a dream cast (Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, J.k Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr and Kristen Wiig!) so I have high hopes for the film.

3. Jennifer's Body (9/18) - I already wrote about the trailer, which is the whole reason why I have to see this film.

4. The Informant (9/18) - I don't know much about this film, other than it involves Matt Damon gaining a lot of weight, is directed by Steven Soderbergh and has Joel McHale in it. That is all I needed to know.

5. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (9/25) - It is written and directed by John Krasinski (Jim from The Office). I am excited to see what he has to offer. Plus I really like Julianne Nicholson.

6. The Invention of Lying (9/25)- Ricky Gervais is a comedic genius - so a film written, directed and starring him has to be the funniest movie of the fall.

7. Whip it (10/9) - When I first heard about this film, I thought it sounded completely ridiculous (roller derby? really?), but the trailer makes the film look cute. Plus, I enjoy Drew Barrymore.

8. New York, I Love You (10/16) - This is the film that I am most excited to see this fall simply because I adored Paris Je T'aime tremendously. It was a collection of short films about the heart and soul of Paris, I expect the NYC version to be just as good. Plus the cast is ridiculous...Bradley Cooper, Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Rachel Bilson, Christina Ricci, Ethan Hawke, Chris Cooper, Julie Christie, Orlando Bloom...seriously the list goes on forever.

9. The Road (10/16)- I was excited to see this film last fall when it was supposed to be released. I don't remember much about it, but i do remember it looked good...

10. Broken Embraces (11/20)- Penelope Cruz and Pedro Almodovar's fourth collaboration. So far, they just keep getting better with each film.

11. Nine (11/25)- I enjoy a musical when it is done well (i.e Chicago), so I am looking forward to another great one. I also want to see Daniel Day Lewis sing and dance, because I simply can't picture it.

some notable films absent from my list -

1. Surrogates - Hasn't this film been done already? A.I, I Robot etc.. Plus Bruce Willis looks creepy and not in a good way.

2. Couples Retreat - First of all, Jason Bateman overload (3 comedies in 2 months)- the other 2 films look funnier. Second, the trailer is not funny at all. Third, I don't like Malin Ackerman.

3. Where the Wild Things Are - I'm probably the only person my age who is not excited by this film. Although I might see it anyway...I mean it is Spike Jonze.

4. New Moon - I still haven't seen Twilight! I know, I's in my netflix queue somewhere.

5. 2012 - Is this really necessary?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

6 Shows That Were Cancelled Too Soon

The fall pilot season is approaching and I have to admit I always get nervous watching new shows - only because all the good ones seem to get cancelled!! Here are a few examples...

1 & 2. Dead Like Me & Pushing Daisies - Bryan Fuller has a gift for creating ingenious television. Both of these shows had the same universal theme of life and death, yet they were both light, fresh, intelligent and comedic. They were both incredibly innovative ideas (maybe that is the problem?) - Dead Like Me was a story about an 18 year old girl, George, who suddenly dies only to be told that she has surprisingly been chosen to be a grim reaper. She takes the souls of the dead right before they die. Her fellow grim reapers are colorful characters, my favorite being Mason (played with hilarity by Callum Blue) - a sarcastic pill popper who is so pathetic you just want to give him a big hug. Pushing Daisies is equally original - it's about Ned, who discovers that he has the ability to bring the dead back to life with a simple touch of his finger, although only for a few moments - otherwise someone else will die. Both shows offer a fresh, vibrant story with every episode, amazingly unique characters, a gruesome death and a lesson to be learned. They ask the hard questions about the meaning of life and death, love and loss and the idiosyncrasy's of everything in between. Unfortunately both shows were cancelled after only 2 seasons. Dead Like Me was rumored to be cancelled due to creative differences (Fuller left the show very early in the first season), while I am still in shock over the cancellation of Pushing Daisies - said to be cancelled due to a combination of production cost and the writers strike. You would think that being nominated for 12 Emmy's in its first season and 5 Emmy's in its second season would account for something but I guess not...

3. Arrested Development - When this show was cancelled I heavily considered protesting FOX by never watching another one of their shows ever again (I couldn't follow thru when I heard about Dollhouse, Glee and Fringe). The fact that they cancelled the most original, funny and intelligent show on television is disturbing and I feel that someone should be held accountable (and appropriately fired!). The critically acclaimed show was about the Bluth family - a dysfunctional, excessive and captivating family. What made the show so genius is it's ability to be self-reflexive, topical, dry and completely insensitive. It was laugh out loud funny as well as darkly satirical. The cast led by Jason Bateman was impressive, as was the hilarious slew of guest actors. The show was cancelled due to what the network called "low ratings". So I guess it is really America's fault for not watching such an arresting show.

4. Rome - Had this series continued it's originally intended 5 seasons, it would probably be considered my favorite show, however HBO cancelled the series after a mere 2 seasons (said to be due to production cost) causing the series to end in mediocrity. The series is a historical account of the rise of the Roman Empire, although often inaccurate in it's plot, it was extremely entertaining, beautifully detailed and highly stylized (at least the high production cost was appreciated and showered with awards). I am slightly more educated on Roman culture than the average viewer might be (I studied Latin for 6 years), but I can tell you that the inaccuracies don't bother me in the least because it is supposed to be a fictional account - not a documentary. The facts were blurred in order to increase the drama, intensity and tension between characters. The 2 main characters are Titus Pullo and Lucius Vorenus - soldiers who just happen to be at the right place at the right time (i.e - all of the key historical events in Roman history...). They are extremely flawed characters, who make very poor decisions - yet they are the heart of the show. This is a hard task for an actor to manage, but Kevin McKidd and Ray Stevenson are flawless. The fact that neither were nominated for any major awards for their performance on this series is astounding. Sadly, when the series was cancelled, the creators scrambled to fit as much history into the last half of season 2 which ultimately diminished the quality of the show.

5. American Dreams - Set in Philadelphia during the mid-60's, American Dreams was about the Pryor family- mostly following the adventures of Meg Pryor (the absolutely adorable Brittany Snow). The show wasn't the most creative show on t.v, but it did keep my interest. I loved the way it combined fact with fiction, history with the individual and the past with the present. I loved that they had present day music acts portray past acts on "American Bandstand" (such as Third Eye Blind playing The Kinks etc). I loved watching Meg transform from an innocent teen ingenue to an intelligent feminist speaking her mind and protesting for what she believes in. I equally loved watching her brother JJ (cutie-pie Will Estes) go from high school football player to Vietnam war soldier. The show was well-acted, cute and wholesome. It's a shame that NBC gave up on it so fast - it was cancelled due to low ratings which was an obvious outcome when you move the show up against Lost and Survivor.

6. D!rt - When D!rt first premiered on F/X, I admit that I was skeptical. I didn't believe that a show about a tabloid reporter could be anything but trashy nor could Courtney Cox pull off such a distinctively different character from her perfect portrayal of Monica Gellar. The show, although completely ridiculous, was entertaining and edgy with colorful characters including Cox as the seemingly cold-hearted, workaholic Lucy Spiller. Cox was so good at being Lucy that I now find myself wondering how she can pull off playing a well-liked single mom in her new show Couger Town. Lucy's only friend is a schizophrenic paparazzo photographer, Don Konkey - played terrifically by Ian Hart. The supporting characters included the celebrity couple, Holt Mclaren and Julia Mallory, and the eager tabloid writer Willa McPhereson. I often found myself surprised at the acting talent, which I think grounded the show - keeping it respectable. The shows plot points were often based on real-life celebrity gossip, just more absurd and exaggerated (similar to the way Nip/Tuck gets its plot points). I would often roll my eyes at the absurdity, but continued to watch every episode - proving that it was absolutely addicting t.v. I feel like the second season was finally finding a dramatic balance, when it was cancelled - largely due to the writer's strike and low ratings.

Friday, August 14, 2009

3 Reasons Why I Don't Recommend Watching "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

So far the biggest disappointment this summer is "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra". I was really hoping to enjoy this film, but had a strong feeling that I wouldn't...I should always trust my instincts. Here is why you should avoid seeing this film.

1. It's boring - Even writing about it bores me to death, so I'm not even going to get into how boring it was, just trust me.

2. The dialogue - Really, really bad. Not even laughably bad. In fact, I didn't find myself laughing once. I feel really bad for the actors, because I truly feel like it wasn't their fault - they did the best with what they had to work with. The most offensive dialogue came from Marlon Wayans - not because it was actually offensive, but because it was dull and awkward which is obviously not Marlon's fault - he's a pretty funny guy. They had several decent actors - JGL, Rachel Nichols, Christopher Eccleston (DR.WHO - it took me the entire length of the film to figure out where I knew him from), Channing Tatum and Sienna Miller (I actually forgot that I do like her as an actress - not so much as a tabloid staple). It's just a shame that they couldn't put their skills to better use.

3. It's predictable - I was really baffled by the sounds of shock from my surrounding audience at the ending of the film, because it was not a surprise at all, but it was the perfect set-up for an equally awful sequel.

4 Reasons Why "(500) Days of Summer" is a Perfect Film

So i saw "(500) Days of Summer" last week and was incredibly impressed. It is by far my favorite film of the year. I could probably write a book on why I loved it so much, but I wouldn't want to bore you, so I will just limit it to 4 reasons...

1. The Romance - It's not often that I relate to the female character in a romantic comedy. Summer is a girl who is a quirkier (and much more awesome) version of myself - in that she likes to maintain a sense of mystery and is perfectly happy being alone. Summer is not actively searching for her soul-mate, she quite simply is a non-believer in that thing called love. Tom is more of an open book. He is the smart, good-looking, sensitive "catch" that girls like Summer would definitely find attractive. When they are together it is refreshingly real, yet magnificently magical. It's also rare that I feel like I am watching people my age. With most rom-coms I feel like I am watching people at least 10 years older than me (I mean, they are always successful Lawyers, Doctors, Executives etc. and they always have amazingly unaffordable apartments or even houses...all at 27 years old!!), yet Tom and Summer felt like struggling young adults that I would actually hang out with.

2. The Gimmicks - Most filmmakers rely on gimmicks to keep their films interesting when they lack a strong story. However, this film would be just as awesome without the non-linear story telling, the split screen, the mock interviews and that amazing musical dance sequence (!!). All of these things just add to the brilliance of the film. I love that the story is told completely out of order - it just made the contrast of the beginning of their relationship and the end of it stronger. There is that famous quote "We do not remember days...we remember moments" by Cesare Pavese that I was reminded of while watching this film because it really doesn't matter what day things happened, we only remember these little moments that made the whole day memorable. This film captures these little moments of a relationship that no other film has (that I can think of...). I also loved the use of a split screen to show the party scene, it simultaneously shows how Tom imagines it will be and also how it actually turns out. Oh and that scene where Tom is standing in the middle of the city and the city gets erased slowly and then turns into one of Tom's drawings - absolutely beautiful. I'm just in love with this film and I really can't wait for the DVD so that I can analyze every second of it.

3. Zoey and Joe - Although, I am convinced the reason Zoey plays these eccentric characters so well is because she is that eccentric girl in person. She is not actually a great actress (as you can see in The Happening). But, in this film she is perfectly casted - her wide-eyed sweetness keeps the audience from hating her. And JGL is obviously amazing, adding romantic lead to his already diverse acting career. The chemistry between them together is the real achievement though. Make sure you watch the music video that compliments the film. Although it really has nothing to do with the film, you can witness their chemistry without a single spoken word.

4. The point - So, it can't really be called a romantic comedy if the 2 main characters don't make it in the end right? This really isn't even a spoiler alert either, since the narrator in the beginning declares "This is not a love story". So what exactly is it? What was the point of us watching this relationship disintegrate? Everyone is going to form their own opinion on what lesson is to be learned- but here is mine. You are never going to find love if you don't love yourself. Tom put all of his energy into his relationship with Summer, not realizing that he still hadn't discovered who he was yet. The real reason Summer couldn't fall in love with him (as devastating as that is) is simply because Tom was looking for Summer to complete him, while Summer was looking for someone to compliment her as an already secure person. That's a great lesson for everyone to learn right?