Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thoughts on 6 Films

1. Our Idiot Brother - The film sets up Paul Rudd as the "idiot brother" right from the beginning (he sells weed to a police officer....who is in uniform) - after spending time in jail, he needs a place to stay so he sort of implants himself in the middle of the lives of his 3 sisters (played to perfection by Zooey Deshanel, Elizabeth Banks and Emily Mortimer) all of whom have problems of their own (they just don't know it yet). The story is cute, but ultimately forgettable. I enjoy all of the actors involved, so I was entertained the whole time but the film lacked emotional depth and had a somewhat predictable outcome. I can't say this enough - I am in love with Adam Scott. I think everything he does is hilarious and even when he is not being funny (like in The Vicious Kind) he still makes me smile.

2. Water for Elephants - I have a lot of problems with this film. First, I am no R.Patz fan...like at all. He lacks charisma, the ability to act and he is not even close to my definition of hot. Second, I don't like watching animals getting tortured (and I am sure not many people do, which is why there was a lack of box office appeal). Third, I felt like it was trying so hard to be an "epic romance" (i.e Jack and Rose from Titanic) but epic romances don't usually have happy endings. The film would have been light years better if it had ended with him imagining sharing his life with Reese Witherspoon's character but in reality she had died (at the hands of her husband). But I'm a sucker for a good tragedy. Fourth, R.Patz and Reese lack the most important aspect of an epic romance - chemistry and Last, Christopher Waltz was too one-sided as the ultimate bad guy (but he was fantastic at it as usual).

3. 30 Minutes or Less - I just watched this film and I already barely remember it. I remember being disappointed because they showed most of the funny parts in the trailer ( and the trailer wasn't even that funny...) and that Michael Pena was the most interesting part of the film, which is a compliment to him but also an insult to the actual comedic actors in the film like Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson. It actually had a good plot which is rare for comedies nowadays but they just did nothing with it. I do love the actress that played the love interest (Dilshad Vadsaria)- she's from the show Greek and she is absolutely beautiful. That is all I got...

4. Red Riding Hood - I was under the impression that this was a 'modern day' re-telling of the fairytale "Little Red Riding Hood" but it wasn't, which was disappointing. Also disappointing was the actual plot - which basically just revolved around guessing the identity of the wolf (if you didn't guess it within the first 1/2 hour there might be something wrong with you). So, the film continues by throwing some twists and turns but ultimately ends the way you expect it to. The film is also a bit of a love story, although the guy that she is in love with is her sisters 1/2 brother which sort of feels like incest to me. I will say that the cinematography and the music were both beautiful.

5. Fright Night - I enjoyed this film more than I was expecting to. I have never seen the original so I can't compare it, but this film felt fresh to me. There are so many vampire tales out right now, but it was nice to watch Colin Farrell remind us that vampires are supposed to scare the shit out of you. The film sort of reminded me of Disturbia (which is just a re-telling of Rear Window) since it is about a kid who begins to suspect that his neighbor is a serial killer. But then this film really separated itself by just jumping right into the action - and lots of it. My favorite scene was the beer scene where they are both testing each other to see how much the other knows - it was really well done and intense. Also, great supporting cast - McLovin, Dr. Who and Dave Franco!!! I have to admit that I would have hated the film if I had seen it in 3D in the theaters - You could tell they used the effects for cheesy blood splatter and wooden stakes flying at the audience. It wouldn't have been worth the headache.

6. Midnight in Paris - I knew before I started watching this film that I was going to fall in love with it. Woody Allen should really let his imagination run wild more often if it creates something as inspiring as this film. I wasn't sure how I felt about Allen turning his sights from NYC to Paris but I think he captured the city in a really beautiful way. I have to admit that I have never been fond of Paris but I was 17 at the time of my visit, spent the entire 48 hours drunk and it of course rained the entire time (and not the kind of rain that you would want to walk around in). Incidentally, I did get lost - wandering the streets drunk but unfortunately I did not get picked up by a car that brought me to the 1920's. This is what happens to our main character, Gil - he is brought to the golden era of Paris and meets such artistic icons as Hemingway, Picasso, Dali, Bunuel etc. It was incredibly entertaining and whimsical. I really enjoy films where the guy is the romantic (which I think is more true to life) and Gil's outlook on life was refreshing. It was the perfect contrast to Inez and Paul (who was an "expert" on everything - we all know a guy like this). My favorite quote of the film (and there were many) is the question asked by Inez in response to Gil quitting his job to follow his passion: "Do you really want to give it all up....just to struggle?". That is the question I ask myself everyday. Even though the last scene was predictable - it still made me smile. I do enjoy a happy ending now and then - it just has to be done to perfection like this film.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

3 Thoughts on 'My Week With Marilyn'

2011 is almost over and there are still so many films for me to see! This week I saw 'My Week With Marilyn' and was underwhelmed. Here are my thoughts:

1. Michelle Williams wasn't phenomenal - Sure it was a good performance, but to me she just seemed like she struggled to get it right (I think some see this as Marilyn struggling...but I just don't buy it). It felt very much like an impression to me (as opposed to embodying her personality) - and to be honest doing a Marilyn impression isn't that hard (raise your voice, don't blink and look confused - almost adolescent-like). Michelle was definitely aided by the incredible costume designers, makeup and hair team but I never for one second forgot the fact that it was Jen Lindley from 'Dawson's Creek' on the screen. She is pretty much a "sure thing" for an Oscar nod but I just don't think she deserves the honor.

2. It didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know - Considering I don't know much about Marilyn Monroe, this is a bit frustrating. I was under the impression that the film was supposed to expose a side of Marilyn that the people didn't get to see, but that didn't happen. The Marilyn that they exposed was an insecure, desperate for attention (male and female), selfish starlet who was controlled by other people (and drugs)- which was exactly what we already know. I was hoping to see the smart, independent woman who built a career on giving people what they want (the sexy siren). It sort of reminds me of how Paris Hilton claims that the "real" Paris is far different than the persona she portrays but she really isn't.

3. The story is actually interesting - Colin Clark's story was much more interesting than Marilyn's. I enjoyed the whole aspect of his first experience on a film set. I would have preferred more on this and less on how Marilyn was once again...late for her call time.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Thoughts on the Past 3 'Glee' Episodes

1. I Kissed a Girl –

Santana – So Santana has to deal with the fallout of smacking “Hamburgler” Finn (for outing her). Luckily for her, Finn is willing to lie and pretend like it was a “stage slap” on one condition – she gets the Troubletones to join them for their next Glee lesson: “Lady music week: by ladies, for ladies”. I was a little annoyed at Finn’s persistence for Santana to come out – why the fuck does he care anyway…right? That is until he unleashed his reasoning behind his actions: he cares for her, she was his first and he is scared that if she doesn’t deal with her issues she could internalize things and end up hurting herself. He needed to help her and although some might see this as him being a selfish teenager – I think if more people thought this way (selfish or not) there might be a little less tragedy in the world. I was literally mush after this admission from Finn and I never recovered….just about cried through the whole episode. Santana is forced to come out to her parents (since a smear campaign would be outing her via tv commercial) and luckily they are “ok with it”. Things aren’t so “ok” when she tells her grandmother – who tells her that she should have kept it a secret. She also calls Santana selfish for making her uncomfortable and also throws in a little “you’ve made your choice”. This is unfortunately a more realistic rendition of how these types of conversations go down and it is really heartbreaking. I appreciate that Glee decided to be a little realistic with the whole “coming out” issue – I freaking love Burt Hummel, how supportive he is to Kurt and I think that it is amazing the way that they portray this father/son relationship but it’s not always going to work out that way.

The elections – After all the build up between the Class President election and the Congressional election this is all we get? I actually missed the fact that Burt won because it was mentioned in passing and the fact that Brittany is class president is absolutely horrifying. I think it was pretty obvious that Burt would win (since the other candidates were insane). However, Brittany as the class president is pretty dumb. None of them should have won (out of the choices I guess that I would vote for Kurt – but even he didn’t seem that much into other than it looking good on his NYADA application). Rachel stuffing the ballots was predictable and ridiculous at the same time (she is much smarter than that) but her getting banned from Sectionals is extra juicy – how the fuck are they going to compete against the Troubletones now?

The Highlights – Oh there were so many but my biggest highlight by far is just 6 little words: ‘Girls Just Want to Have Finn’ (or Fun – same difference…). Absolutely stunning - Not only did Cory's voice sound incredible (as EW.com describes it “a gravelly Springsteen quality” ) – he also brought a very delicate emotion to the song. The song was enough to bring Santana to tears (I was already there from the previous scene…), but he also brought a little relevance to his own relationship with Rachel. When he looks up at Rachel as he sings the line “some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world” - I just about died (and for the record this little tiny moment was enough to officially solidify them as a couple for me – I was always on the cusp of liking them as a couple but that brought it home).

Actually, all the songs were pretty much awesome and all highlights of the episode – here is a run down:

'Fucking Perfect' – I actually suggested that Glee do this song last season (instead of 'Born This Way') but I never imagined it sung by Blaine & Kurt - which was fantastic. First, Kurt’s voice is perfect for it. Second Blaine’s preppy, white boy rapping was hilarious. Third, that ½ diagonal sweater thing that Kurt was wearing was probably my favorite thing he has ever worn. Oh and of course, Lastly, Santana’s reaction to the duet: “with all the horrible crap I’ve been through in my life…now I get to add that.” *mini clap*. It was fucking perfect.

'The Only One' – Oh how I love this song….although I think it loses all meaning sung by a man but watching Puck sex up the song with some thrusting and inappropriate glaring at Shelby was well worth it. As was the slow reaction from Quinn when she starts to realize he isn’t singing to her.

'Jolene' – Wow…you go Coach Beiste. The song was perfect and such a refreshing choice for Glee. Loved it. I am a little annoyed at the Sue/Beiste/Cooter love triangle. It happened so fast and made Cooter look like a complete ass – so I don’t even want Beiste to pursue him (therefore making the drama of the triangle ineffective). But at least we got this moment of genius…right?

'I Kissed a Girl' – Ok…I admit that when I heard the episode title I was really hoping for the superior ‘I Kissed a Girl’ from one of my favorite female artists, Jill Sobule, but knew in my heart it was the Katy Perry version since Glee has some sort of love affair with Miss Perry – I guess this song was inevitable. I don’t really like that it is used as a ‘coming out’ song of sorts for Santana because the song is clearly stating that girls kissing girls is just for fun. However, the performance was super cute and sexy and Lea Michele always sounds so much better than Katy does – which I find hilarious. They should have given Tina a solo considering this was her original Glee audition song (aah the memories…).

'Constant Craving' – Again, a refreshing choice. Also, a great choice was giving some singing lines to Idina Menzel . Always a highlight.

Other highlights: The return of Sue’s journal was hilarious as was her confusion as to why people think she is a “friend of Ellen” then whipping out her “Booty Call” book to inject her campaign with man candy. Also, Santana keeps the insults coming – calling Finn “fetus Face” and her reply to Blaine’s request to stop being defensive: “I’m trying but your hideous bow ties are provoking me”. Puck was a big highlight for me in this episode. His response to Quinn’s invitation for sex was probably one of my favorite things he has ever said to her: “Turns out…you’re kinda nuts, higher maintenance than Berry and pretty much the most selfish person I’ve ever met in my life so thanks for the offer but I’d rather raw dog a beehive”. I also enjoyed that he knew the quadratic equation, that he asked for a plastic surgeon to take care of Beth’s stitches and that he realizes how much Quinn is messed up in the head. He is really stepping up his game…right?! I think it’s about time to change the hair though...

The Lowlights – Um….I got nothing.

2. Hold on to 16 –

The return of Sam Evans – If you read my past Glee posts then you know that I was never a big fan of Sam Evans (his character was always pretty pointless and boring) but I don’t hate him and I don’t mind his return but I also don’t think it was necessary. I disagree with Finn that they need his “star power” because he really doesn’t have any. I absolutely loved that he is found working at a strip club unbeknownst to Finn and Rachel who confuse it for a dinner theater. Their faces as they see “white chocolate” on stage were priceless. The whole talk with Sam and his parents was just a bit too melodramatic and unnecessary (and soo annoying that their house is about 100x nicer than the one I grew up in – they are still supposed to be poor right…?). His song ‘Red Solo Cup’ was not my favorite but it was saved by Finn’s background vocals and Kurt’s horrified expression through the whole thing. I also would much prefer Sam and Mercedes than the guy that she is with now so I look forward to that inevitable storyline.

The return of Quinn’s sanity – so Quinn has been spiraling into crazy town this season (although Puck’s statement that she has been messed up since she got pregnant is also very valid). Her final act of craziness was to spill the beans about Puck and Shelby (getting Shelby fired would somehow invalidate The Troubletones and also prove her to be an unfit mother). With some advice from Rachel, Sam & Shelby she decides against it and decides that she needs to start enjoying life instead of destroying other peoples lives. My favorite part of this was Sam telling her she has “rich, white girl problems” and quoting ‘Jack & Diane’ (more on this below). So Quinn is sane now and suddenly all is right in the world of Glee. Don't you wish real life was this easy?

Sectionals – Question: How do the New Directions win without Rachel? Answer: They perform an 8 minute Jackson family tribute complete with awesome choreography and a solo from pretty much every member (except the 3 band members who were there just as bodies). Considering they picked the absolute worst songs in the Jackson catalogue – it was still all kinds of awesome. Was it their best performance? Hardly. But it was better than the Unitards (I’m sorry that girl is mediocre at best) and the Troubletones (the mash up of ‘I Will Survive’ and ‘Survivor’ was AWESOME…but those arm waving dance moves were NOT). I never thought in a million years that Cory would sound the best in Jackson medley (as Kevin McHale’s voice is my favorite and is very Jackson-esque) but boy did he kill it. ‘Man In The Mirror’ was absolute perfection – currently on repeat on my Ipod. The best thing that I can say about the performance as a whole is that they did a fantastic job without Rachel – I honestly don’t think she would have enhanced that performance at all. They found a way to use everyone else and really showcase the talent that all the Glee members have(even Quinn – her raspy voice was perfect for the ‘Control’ intro) – which I think was the whole point of the Troubletones formation anyway.

The Highlights – The epic showdown between Kurt and Sebastian was probably my favorite part of the episode (aside from Finn attempting to mimic Sam’s body roll move of course…). Here is how it went down:

Kurt: I don’t like you.
Sebastian: Fine. I don’t like you either.
Kurt: I don’t like the way you talk to my boyfriend. I don’t like your smirky little meerkat face. I don’t like your obnoxious CW hair. I’m on to you.
Sebastian: Let’s get a few things straight: Blaine’s too good for you. New Directions is a joke. And one of us has a hard luck case of the gay face and it aint me. Odds are by the end of the school year I’ll have Blaine and a Nationals trophy and you will have khaki’s and a Lima Bean apron and that gay face.
Kurt: You smell like Craigslist.

I also loved the final performance of the episode – ‘We Are Young’ was one of the best ‘anthem’ songs that Glee has ever done(which apparently everyone loved - #1 on Itunes and stayed in the top ten for a whole week. It’s been a while since that has happened..). It’s also been a while since they have given Tina something to do and she really killed in this episode -standing up for her and Mike’s decision to choose to perform actually brought a tear to my eye.

Some of my favorite quotes (Finn edition):

I didn’t know 'Backdraft' was a musical” – Finn’s reaction to the stripper dressed as a fireman
“I’m really good at looking busy” – Finn
“Even homeless people have facebook” – Finn

The Lowlights – The fact that the song that the title came from was not in the episode!!! When I heard that the episodes title was “Hold on to Sixteen,” I literally started belting out “as long as you caaaan..changes come around real soon…make us women and men”. I was so ecstatic that they would be singing one of my all time favorite songs (‘Jack & Diane’ by John Cougar Mellencamp) but then the song titles were released and it was missing! Could they not get the rights for it? Or did they deem the song too depressing (“life goes on…long after the thrill of living is gone”)? Anyway, it was very disappointing. I was also hoping for a more epic showdown between Blaine and Finn – but they settled their differences rather anti-climatically in my opinion (it was super cute though). Finn’s admission of his jealousy over Blaine was the only thing holding him back from being 100% redeemed – but I am sure he will fuck up again somehow. I was also a little disappointed that the whole Mike Chang/Father issue is resolved already – seemed a little too easy in my opinion. Other than this and the few things mentioned above, this was another solid Glee episode (that is 5 in a row….keep the momentum going guys!!).

3. Extraordinary Merry Christmas

The Christmas theme - I am not a big fan of Holiday themed episodes, however Thanksgiving is just not the same anymore without Friends and I think Community might be the new king of Christmas episodes. Last years stop motion animated episode, 'Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas,' will go down in my book as a classic episode that is required viewing every year. This year they made another genius episode taking digs at our very own Glee ("What are Regionals??"). I seriously loved every minute of it. Glee's Christmas episodes are a little to cheesy for me but this years version was infinitely better than last years (which is my least favorite episode of Glee ever). It started out the same - the Glee club singing a Christmas tune as they decorate the choir room but at least the song was a better choice (Mercedes version of 'All I Want For Christmas Is You') and kudos to Director Matt Morrison for his nod to all the Gleeks for having the camera look through the infamous choir room window. The episode continued with the club doing a PBS Christmas special (more on that below) and learning the Christmas lesson that sometimes it isn't all good cheer for everyone and they need to help the less fortunate and be grateful for what they have...blah...blah...blah.

The PBS Special - While the special had its moments, overall I just wasn't a fan. Artie's vision of combining 'Star Wars' and a Judy Garland style Christmas special was a little underwhelming and actually quite boring. I think if it was shorter it would have been much funnier (the whole scene was a whopping 17 minutes long!!! It lost it's novelty after about 5 minutes) - plus there were 4 complete songs, which was just so unnecessary. I did love Rachel's overacting and Finn's bad acting though.

The Highlights - Sue being Sue again - calling Artie, Kurt and Blaine "wheels, porcelain, other gay" was a nice nod to season 1 Sue. Finn's gift to Rachel (no not the African sow pig that he gives to a Jewish vegan) - naming a star after himself so that he will always be with her (and the fact that he sucked it up and bought her diamond earrings as well).


"Aw...all I want for Christmas is you too. And 5 things on that list. - Rachel

"Christmas is a time for forgiveness, so I decided to forgive you for having no talent and ruining the American songbook one mash-up at a time" - Sue

"Can I be honest with you - Stumbles, Gelfing and young Burt Reynolds"? - Sue to Artie, Kurt and Blaine (who looks genuinely satisfied with his nickname).

"No. That's Copyright infringement - any resemblance to 'Star Wars' characters is purely coincidental". - Finn's response to Blaine asking if him and Puck were dressed as Han Solo and Luke Skywalker

The Lowlights - The overall theme and all the Christmas music was mind numbing (although I surprisingly enjoyed Rory's version of 'Blue Christmas' the best). Side note: Did anyone else notice that Santana's version of the sexy 'Santa Baby' was cut? One might assume it was just due to time restrictions but I think it might have to do with the fact that Community's Annie (the ever adorable, Alison Brie) did her own sexualized Christmas tune and it was one of the most disturbingly sexy performances I have ever seen. EVER. Sadly, Santana wouldn't have come close to such perfection. Maybe the Glee people realized this and cut it? Just a thought...

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Descendants: 3 Distractions

'The Descendants' is one of those films that falls above mediocrity but just isn't good enough to be described as "great". It was slightly too long, but the strong, solid story did have me hooked. The themes of forgiveness and the powerful bond amongst family were a bit heavy-handed, but the strength of the film lies in its complexity and mix of comedic moments. My problem with the film were it's distractions - my thoughts kept wandering to these 3 questions:

1. What the hell happened to Matthew Lillard? As a teenager in the 90's, I found Matthew Lillard to be all kinds of awesome (Scream, SLC Punk). I was excited that he was in this film, but was horrified when I saw him. He is officially an old man. It was also disturbing to see George Clooney with his old man high-waisted, pleated khaki pants but George has always been "older" to me so I wasn't as horrified. I think it was a little more jarring to see Matt's aging because he has been MIA for like 10 years or so. I always thought of him as someone in my age bracket (which technically he is) so I spent the beginning of the film thinking if people who haven't seen me in a while think the same thing about me. Then I spent the rest of the film feeling old and depressed.

2. Kaitlin Cooper, is that you? Serious props to Shailene Woodley for holding her own against such a strong cast. I read a few Oscar talks for her role in this film, while I wouldn't go that far - she did a fantastic job (that underwater crying scene was absolutely breathtaking). However, the entire time I could not stop picturing a young Kaitlin Cooper (from the greatest teen drama ever The O.C.) with her riding outfit on whining because her horse has Alopecia.

3. How have I not been to Hawaii yet? I love to travel and Hawaii has been at the top of my list for years now, but I never could justify the expense. There are a lot of beautiful places in the world that can be seen for 1/2 the price. This film might have changed my mind though- the scenery was magnificent. I think it was the quick shots of volcanoes in the background that truly captured my attention. I got home and googled Hawaii volcano tours for a few hours and am officially starting a Hawaii trip savings account.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thoughts on 7 Films

1. Super – The "average man turned superhero" story has been done quite a few times in the past few years (Defendor, Kick-Ass) but I think I enjoyed this one more than the rest. Rainn Wilson was really awesome in this role - his character is funny yet sympathetic. From the trailer, I was led to believe that this was a comedy (the tag line is "shut up crime!") but the story turned much darker than I expected - and actually became quite violent (and therefore AWESOME!!). I sat in shock after the whole 'guy cuts in line so he gets his head cracked open with a wrench' part and then never recovered. At first, Ellen Page and her fast-talking awkwardness just made me want to watch Juno again. But then, her character became somewhat demented and about as far from Juno as one can get - watching her laugh while slicing people open was hilarious and disturbing at the same time. No, it wasn't a spectacular film but it was unexpected and that is always welcome.

2. Bad Teacher – So, I’m pretty sure they copied Cameron’s 'bad teacher' character from Monica Potter in Lower Learning. I know no one has every heard of it...right? (well, it was a terrible film, but I was a production intern on it and I have to say that the character resemblance is really offensive). While, Potter's 'bad teacher' was just depressed over a recent breakup, Diaz is also getting over a recent break-up but is hardly heartbroken (she was just obsessed with his money). Newly single, she sets her sights on the new geeky teacher (played by the oddly miscast Justin Timberlake) and decides that she needs breast implants to get his attention. So to sum it up - our main character is a materialistic, selfish and insecure bitch and worst of all not the least bit likeable. I am a fan of Timberlake but it was a bit awkward to watch him play 'awkward' because he is just naturally sexy and confident - dude can't help it. The whole film was far from entertaining and flawed (like how in the world did this woman become a teacher to begin with?), but my biggest problem with the film is that this woman didn't end up in prison - instead she pretty much got everything that she (didn't know that she) wanted. Jason Segel was underused (he didn't have one funny line in the whole film). The best part of the film was Eric Stonestreet from Modern Family only because you can truly appreciate how great of an actor he is.

3. Hall Pass – Film stereotype that I hate: Marriage sucks. It is an overused and cliched plot device - most of the time the women are portrayed as evil shrews that suck the life force out of a guys having any sort of fun whatsoever. Personally, I think getting married is an archaic tradition that just doesn't work in our world anymore - but a lot of people still do it so it must have some appeal right? I just find it weird that movies and tv shows portray marriage so badly, but then we are supposed to root for them to stay together. The plot of Hall Pass is that the guys moan and complain about how awful their life is because they are married so the girls find the most passive-aggressive way to handle it by giving them a week off from marriage. In this week, they realize that life isn't much better without their wives (which is really just sad right?). The movie does attempt to give the female perspective by showing what the girls do during their week off as well, but it wasn't all that interesting. Anyway, I think I am philosophising too much about a film that is just meant to be fun but the problem is that is wasn't fun - at all. It was pretty stupid, predictable and unfunny - I was expecting more gross-out humor from the Farrelly brothers but overall it was pretty tame. Again, I don't see the appeal of Jason Sudekis – he is sort of a boring “everyman” character in my eyes.

4. Attack the Block – I love Edgar Wright (writer/director of Hot Fuzz and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World). When this film was in theaters, he tweeted constantly how amazing it is (I'm sure he was being a bit bias since he is a producer on it- but I still trust his judgement). I was disappointed that the film was never released near me. Finally, I was able to watch it on DVD and just like I was expecting - I loved every minute of it. It starts with a group of teenage thugs who mug a woman walking to her car (a woman they will later rely on). Quickly, the film jumps right into the action with mysterious asteroid-like collisions of aliens landing on Earth. Really big, really fast, really cool aliens with glow-in-the-dark teeth. At first, the gang thinks it is all fun and games when they kill one of them and brag to everyone in their neighborhood but it becomes apparent that now the rest of the aliens are after them (and more specifically their leader, Moses) and it is up to them to protect and defend their block. The film is perfect on many levels - the acting, the plot, the pace, the humor, the blatant social commentary. It's just really fun and it will likely make it into my top 10 films of this year.

5. Country Strong- I am not a fan of country music – like at all - so I knew this film would be hard for me to watch, but I heard that it had an ending that I would enjoy so I decided to give it a try. The story follows a country star (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) - basically, she’s like the Lindsey Lohan of country music (tabloid queen, in and out of rehab, etc – although getting arrested for being drunk and disorderly while she was 5 months preggo might beat out anything Lindsey has done…at least that we know of). It takes place after she is released from her latest rehab stint (too early) in order to perform in a sold out "comeback" tour. Her manager-slash-boyfriend insists that she is ready even though she is clearly not. The film was steadily boring and predictable (her jealousy over her opening act, her breakdown after she is criticized for ultimately killing her unborn child) but somehow entertaining enough to hold my attention. The cast was pretty good (Leighton Meester was an awesome beauty queen turned country starlet and Garrett Hedlund was charismatic enough for me to root for him). I wouldn't recommend this film to anyone I know, but I truly did love the ending - ****Spoiler Alert**** She kills herself, which is really the only option she has. I enjoy a miserable ending and appreciate when stories like this don't sugarcoat things. How could she possibly live with herself? I know people think of suicide as an act of weakness but she is absolutely correct that she has "the right to disappear”.

6. Tree of Life – My brain's reaction after watching this film: "what the fuck did I just watch?". I hadn't read any full reviews of this film, because I didn't want to be spoiled but I did read a few things about how complicated, abstract and frustrating it was. I don't think the film was any of those things. It was actually a simple but compelling story of a family in the 1950’s intertwined with a very artistic take on the creation of the universe. Some of it worked; The film's combination of both scientific/Atheist thought and the idea of God was done beautifully – but I would have appreciated a stronger stance on the matter. I feel as if Terrence avoided the big questions and simplified everything to “Love” and “Death”. Some of it didn't work; The actors were used more as props staring off into space, the whispers of poetic lines were downright mind-numbing and the cosmic shots of the Big Bang were a wonder at first, but after 5 minutes my brain shut off. The film, while simple and beautiful was pretentious and overtly "artistic".

7. Green Lantern - This movie was really ridiculous and incomprehensible - I had no idea that the flick was about aliens and such. The film was not properly set-up at all with a quick intro about a group of "Green Lanterns" that wear magical rings and therefore protect the world (that is all I got out of it). Then we are introduced to Hal, a fighter pilot who is reckless and irresponsible (and therefore a perfect superhero!). Bradley Cooper would have been better in this role (or at the very least, better to look at). Although, I am glad that he didn't get the part as this would be a bad career move for any actor. So Green Lantern's power is that his "will is as big as his imagination" - meaning that all he has to do is think about something and it will happen. His body turns green (along with a green eye mask) in order to keep him in disguise (cause you really can't tell who someone is if you cover their eyes...). He fights some big alien from destroying the Green Lantern Corps and that is the end. It's silly and unnecessarily complicated with a thin plot and some really cheesy CGI thrown in. What a waste of money.

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Glee' : Thoughts On The Past 3 Episodes

Pot O' Gold

1. Heavy on the plots: This episode had a lot going on but they handled the many different plots very well (unlike the 'Night of Neglect' episode from last season - where all the plots were pointless and nothing related to each other). Most of the plot points were inter-weaved with each other (except the Puck/Quinn/Shelby disaster) and the pace of the episode moved rather quickly. Here is my take on things:

  • The new kid – ok I was never sold on the whole 'Glee Project' thing but I admit that the kid isn’t terrible (although his hair is really hard to get past). I like the whole foreign exchange student plot, I like his relationship with Brittany and I like that he is going to give Kurt a run for his money on hitting those ridiculous high notes. I’m a little annoyed with them creating a “little brother” relationship with him and Finn – only because we’ve seen it before with Kurt (and since Kurt became his actual brother – I would like to see more of that instead of a reincarnated plot). Speaking of….

  • Finn – Why do the writers constantly regress his character? Every time we get a Finn focused plot line – it’s always the same one: He’s a douche but then he learns that he is wrong, becomes a better person by the end. This was done well in season one with one of my favorite episodes 'Theatricality' (the one where Finn used the derogatory “F” word and was faced with the wrath of Papa Hummel – by episodes end he wears a shower curtain dress, declaring that they are all freaks that need to stick together). This time we see him stand on the sidelines and watch as the new kid (name?) gets bullied, he tells Brittany to stop being an “idiot” to which she feels “bullied” by (yet her GF Santana is the biggest bully of all…) and of course by episodes end he is taking said new kid under his wings and apologizing to Brittany. Can we please give the boy something better to do? And as hilarious as the comments about Finn being fat are – it really doesn’t make any sense. I feel like they are going to give him (as in Cory) a complex.

  • Hummel vs Sylvester – Even thought this plot was spoiled months ago, I freaking love it. It is giving new purpose to Sue (and new life to Glee). Obviously, I am on team Hummel and -OMG- when he tells Will that the Glee club saved his kids life….that just about broke my heart. Sue now has someone else other than Will to torment (and her insults are already EPIC – like calling him “cheese grits” and “baboon heart”). Sue decides to run a campaign about funding special needs programs in schools because that will be hard for Papa Hummel to fight against (but really can't he just throw all the money she wastes on the Cheerios in her face???).

  • Quinn/Puck/Shelby – Oh this plot is just ridiculous on so many levels. First, they are giving Quinn the most awful reason for wanting her baby back (because it is the only thing that Quinn has done that is “perfect”). Way to give the girl zero redeeming qualities. Then she decides the best way to get her baby back is to prove that Shelby is unfit (by planting horrible things in her apartment like books on baby sacrifice) but this would just get the baby sent into “the system” not into Quinns arms. Last – and this one is the doozy, Puck feels bad and tries to gather the planted items only to make out with Shelby (which seems like the best way to make her look like an unfit parent!!! Not to mention - FIRED). On a side note: I actually like Puck & Shelby together - they make a cute and somewhat believable couple. However, teacher/student romances are always juicy but the fact that she is also the legal mother of his child makes it all a bit icky.

  • Santana & Brittany – Officially a couple, but just not in public – even though I am pretty sure everyone knows about it..right? Anyway, I love that Santana is still her bitch self – although I am unsure of how she is allowed to bully everyone and get away with it? She tore apart the new kid, Sugar and Finn in this episode alone. Doesn't Brittany see the way she treats other people? Or is she really an idiot?

2. Light on the music: I am really disappointed in this season so far on a musical level – I have still bought a total of ZERO songs from this season. For the past 2 years, I always notice Glee singles on the top ten chart consistently – this year I haven’t seen any. I enjoy Broadway songs, but nothing has been spectacular so far and I am getting really sick of the whole “West Side Story”. My biggest complaint though is that all of the new people are singing more than our core characters. The new kids version of 'It Ain't Easy Being Green' was a nice introduction to his voice, but also a little too obvious (everyone else is wearing red...I'm such an outsider...feel bad for me...blahblahblah). AND then the new kid got ANOTHER song to sing (the only highlight was Kurt's reaction to this new threat). Blaine singing ‘Last Friday Night’ was super fun but I would have preferred Artie’s voice (and a different song – it’s like Glee doesn’t know that Katy Perry sucks). I enjoyed Puck’s rendition of ‘Waiting for a Girl Like You’ – more for the fact that he was singing it to his daughter (although it could have been better vocally and emotionally). It also made me a little sad for Cory since he has really been pushing to sing a Foreigners song on the show (You have know idea how much I would bawl if Finn sings ‘I Want to Know What Love is’ to Rachel and I won’t even be ashamed).

3. The Highlights: I love the subtle but still there competitiveness between Rachel and Kurt (“did you airbrush out your jowls?”). I am intrigued by the newly formed Troubletones because I adore Santana and Mercedes voices together, but I still don't think they compare to Rachel. I am disappointed in Finn’s storyline but was super pleased that he was in most of the episode (as opposed to the last 3) – he always makes me smile. I loved him trying to eavesdrop on Santana and Mercedes in the hallway, I loved his little dance with Rachel during Blaine’s impromptu song, I love that he is a bit jealous of Blaine taking over the Glee club and I especially loved when the new kid asked if “Hudson” was an Irish name – his response “no, my mom’s from Toledo”. Other quotables:

"She’s kinda like Rain Man with boobs". – Finn’s perfect description of Brittany
"Why couldn’t she have just wished for Lord Tubbington to quit smoking"? – Brittany
"You made me look 26, I asked you to make me look 22". – Sue to her make-up artist

4. The lowlights: Brittany believing in leprechauns. Again, this plot has been done (Santa, the stork, unicorns) – I agree with Finn, it’s just idiotic. I also did not enjoy the glimmer in Finn’s eye when Burt talked about him running the auto shop (Nooooooo! Glee writers, I beg of you do not do this to him! He’s not a Lima loser….remember?!!). There also was very little Rachel – always a mistake.

The First Time

1. Finchel & Klaine – I really like that equal weight was given to each couple’s “first time” – although I am not sure I appreciate that it happens because Artie inappropriately claims it will make them better “artists”. I guess it makes sense to give them a catalyst so to speak for all the sex talk to begin but it was just a little contrived for my taste. In my opinion, the episode was done really well simply because they don’t really focus on the sex (really, it was actually one of the less controversial episode’s in regards to sexual scenarios), instead it focused on the couples being “in love” and “ready” to take their relationships to the next level. Teens have sex – I think the world would be a better place if everyone just admitted that and moved on to the important stuff (like protection, education etc). The meeting amongst the girls was a really great scene (and utterly ridiculous at the same time) because usually Glee is pretty flippant when it comes to teen sex (as proven by the cheeky rape joke about Brittany’s first time – officially “the first time” Glee has offended me….well done.). Tina’s point of view about her and Mike’s first time was a fresh perspective that Glee has sort of avoided until now and it is very relevant to Rachel. Season 1 Rachel was the girl that claimed that the celibacy club was not realistic, she is the girl that claimed girls want sex as much as guys and she also claims to be in love with Finn – so I think it is perfectly fitting that she see fit to have sex with him. It did seem a little out of place for Rachel to comfort Finn (after being rejected by the Ohio State football coach) by giving him “something special”, but the scene was really beautiful so I will just pretend like Rachel planned on having sex with him that night before she even got to his house. Blaine and Kurt were super adorable in the beginning – Blaine’s excuse for resisting the urge to tear off Kurt's clothes? “Because of the layers”. I adore their relationship and this episode was obviously a huge step for network television and gay equality. I loved the whole Blaine, Kurt, Sebastian triangle (although as much as love Kurt – dayum Sebastian is H.O.T). Kurt’s reaction to Sebastian trying to steal his man was spot on – shimmying his way in between them dancing together. I know we haven’t seen the last of Sebastian and I can’t wait for a Kurt/Sebastian showdown.

2. The sub-plots – Although most of the ep was focused on the two couples, we also got quite a bit of other good stuff – Artie bossing everyone around (aka “directing”), Mike Chang standing up to his dad, Coach Beiste finding love (thanks to an extremely inappropriate meddling from Artie), and a very satisfying appearance from Karofsky – who we learn goes to another school and also goes to gay bars to feel accepted. All of it was awesome.

3. Highlights – Cory, Cory, Cory…..did I mention Cory? His acting was freakin’ impeccable in this episode (as expected). I wish there weren’t so many spoilers about this episode (I tried to avoid but it was damn near impossible) – I already knew Finn’s dreams were going to be crushed, but he still managed to kill me anyway with that breakdown scene. He is perfection and so far the biggest highlight of this season.

The best lines:

As for the condoms…no idea…never used them. It’s worked out for me about 99% of the time”. - Puck's sex advice to Finn
I don’t know who this Blaine guy is, but apparently he’s sex on a stick and sings like a dream”. - Sebastian
You take my breath away” – Kurt to Blaine (cut to me…bawling).

4. Lowlights – Again, not into the whole ‘West Side Story’ thing so none of the music appealed to me, but I did enjoy Santana’s version of ‘America’- not enough to purchase it…but it was still entertaining. The return of the Warblers was unnecessary. Also, Sebastian…..can’t sing (still so hot). Artie’s entire arc was really annoying – I enjoy him as a director, but him suddenly giving sex advice to everyone (because he had sex once with Brittany) was just plain stupid (although I did like his little speech at the end about how he is usually coddled by people and has never been treated like an adult before).


1. The songs

– Finally!! I enjoyed most of the music in this episode (even bought a few songs).

  • 'Hot For Teacher' – so inappropriate as Rachel states (but then again she sang an inappropriate song or two – specifically when she had a crush on Mr. Shuester). But I loved that they did something different AND they looked like they had a ton of fun which always makes it fun for the audience. Plus, Cory + drums is what I dream about at night….

  • 'You and I/You and I' – The songs went together beautifully. Plus I love Idina Menzel – her singing is always a highlight (bigger highlight was Sugar Matta swaying in the background).

  • 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot/One Way or Another' – enjoyed the dodgeball – it was cute and fun. Although a little pathetic that The New Directions would lose (3 of them are football players…). Cory and Naya sounded fantastic together though. Purchased!!

  • ‘You Make My Dreams Come True/I Can’t go for that’ – The song actually sounded really good, but they just looked way too ridiculous – it was hard to stop laughing. Proof that a haircut effects how old you look – because they all aged 10+ years for that performance.

  • ‘Someone Like You/Rumour Has It’ – Freaking perfection. The tone, the dancing, the mash-up of the two songs - the whole thing was nothing short of sublime. Especially Naya's interjection of the “Don’t Forget Me” line – it is almost haunting. I’ve heard a few covers of 'Someone Like You' and none of them have impressed me (actually Amber Reilly posted a video of herself singing it months back – yes she sounds great but the tone of the song was missing). Purchased!

2. Finn vs Santana - In one of the most epic showdowns ever – it is truly hard to take a side (ok…not so much for me….Finn is my favorite always) but I do understand the huge impact that his “outing” of her in a public space will have on her life. As much of a BULLY as Santana is – she did not deserve to have the right of coming out on her own terms taken away from her. I use the term “bully” on purpose because Glee seems to take on the issue but they never give Santana any consequences for her actions ….I guess if you’re flinging hilarious (and downright genius) insults at people then it is A-Okay. I actually LOVE Santana as a character and Naya has been perfection with her story arc since last season. She is a character that one “loves to hate”. Finn on the other hand doesn’t really have a mean bone in his body. He may be a bit na├»ve and sometimes jealous but I don’t think he would intentionally hurt anyone. His “outing” her was never out of a malicious intent – he was more calling her out for being a coward and trying to tear others down because of her own insecurities (aligning her in the same league as the big bad bully of the school Kurofsky). After Santana pretty much insults Finn’s entire existence (kudos to Cory for being the brunt of some pretty harsh punch lines – none of which are true in real life), he understandably snaps. He stayed calm for most of her put downs and even after it all – he still complimented her singing in the brilliantly done Adele mash-off. I did not see that smack coming, but I was not surprised by it.

3. The Highlights – Most of everything that came out of Santana’s mouth was epic – especially her digs at “soft serve” Finn. Here is a sampling:

“Guys…Hurry up..go get some moist towels. We have to keep Finn wet before we roll him back into the sea”.
“At one point I must’ve liked that you looked like a taco addict who has had one too many back alley liposuctions”
“I’m trying to apologize to lumps the clown”.
“I’m sorry that you have no talent, I’m sorry that you sing like you’re getting your prostate checked and you dance like you’ve been asleep for years and someone just woke you up. Have fun riding on Rachel’s coattails for the rest of your life”.
“Manatees have really thick skin”.

But one of my favorite lines was from Rory (as he sweetly tries to back Finn up by “trash talking” Santana) – “You’re skinny like all the crops failed on your family’s farm”. HILARIOUS.

I also find myself enjoying the Shelby & Puck storyline – The three of them make a really cute family. I am just nervous if they get together (and get caught) that Beth might actually get taken away from her. I will NOT like that storyline. I also love the tension between Finn and Blaine – waiting for that to explode. My favorite “little moment” was the self-referential "stop the violence" line that Brittany sings (she memorably said this line last season during an epic Santana/Quinn fight. It was also nice to see Santana laugh - I feel like it's been a while since that has happened.

4. The Lowlights – Not many, as this was my favorite episode of the season so far. I did think the whole Sue vs Burt plot was overdone. The ad campaigns were just plain stupid and ridiculous – and obviously would never fly in the real world. The candidate speeches for student class presidents were just as stupid – none of the candidates had anything important to say. Rick “the Stick” wants the teachers to stop talking, Brittany wants to stop tornadoes and pledges to go topless on Tuesdays, Kurt vows to end dodge ball (and thus bullying?) and Rachel wants to stop book covers (but then decides to opt out of the race and back Kurt instead). Please, McKinley High - don't vote for any of them!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

3 Problems I Had With 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

I saw 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' last week and was extremely disappointed. I had heard some positive buzz about the film (mostly about Elizabeth Olsen's "career making performance"). The film is described as a "psychological thriller" about a girl who escaped a cult - but the film was nowhere near thrilling nor did it involve any kind of thought at all. Here are the problems that I had with the film:

1. The simplicity - I think the biggest mistake of the film is that it simplified the cult by representing it as pure evil. The cult leader (played brilliantly by the perfectly casted John Hawkes) was never given any redeemable qualities whatsover which discredits the idea that living in the cult is appealing to Martha. They never give us Martha's motivation in joining these people except that her mother passed away and that her sister "abondoned" her by going off to college leaving her to live with her aunt. Is her aunt evil? Does her aunt abuse her? I would assume she was living in a bad situation and ran away - this cult being a better option, but I for one was never convinced of this.

2. Martha's inner demons - The plot mostly takes place after Martha has escaped from the cult, living now in "normal" society with her sister (played by the always delightful Sarah Paulson) and her husband (Hugh Dancy). We get a sense of her past cult life through a series of flash backs that lead Martha spiraling into a world of paranoia. This would be a fantastic character study if it was at all believable. My problem exists with the fact that Martha was only missing for 2 years (they never give her age but I am guessing she joined the cult in her late teens - which means she already has a sense of "normal" and can sense what is "right" and "wrong"). I don't think I would have been as frustrated if she had been forced into the cult at a younger age or if she had been in it for much longer.

3. The ending - I ususally love ambiguity in films but it irked me in this film. It attempts at what I can best describe as a Black Swan type feeling where the audience isn't supposed to know what is "real" and what is just part of Martha's "paranoia" but it fails miserably - because in reality I for one never fully understand her paranoia to begin with. The audience that was in my theater didn't seem to appreciate the cut to black ending either.

I will admit that Elizabeth Olsen did a decent job but I think she is just getting credit because it is clearly the best Olsen performance ever. However, she didn't have much to really do except stare blankly and/or look confused. I was more excited by the supporting cast.

Holiday Film Preview: 6 Films I am Excited About

It was a smack in the face when my "Holiday Movie Preview" issue of Entertainment Weekly arrived in the mail this week. I haven't even seen 1/2 of my fall movie picks yet!! Usually, this is my favorite time of year (film wise) but this year very few films peak my interest. Here are the films that I am excited about:

1. My Week with Marilyn 11/23 - I can't say I am a fan of Marilyn Monroe - and to be honest I don't know much about her. The only film I ever saw her in was Some Like it Hot (a brilliant comedy) and I know she had a bit of a tumultuous upbringing. However, my interest in the film peaked for a few reasons - first, Michelle Williams was an interesting casting choice and she seemingly knocked it out of the park. Her performance is being hailed as "mesmerizing", "flawless" and "Oscar worthy". Second, to me Marilyn Monroe is the original "celebrity" - her life was surrounded by reporters and fans wanting to know the most intimate details of her life and she played into their curiosity which in turn made her a star (and one of the most iconic figures in celebrity history). I think it will be fascinating to see how this has evolved. Third, I appreciate that this is "a week" in the life instead of a biopic - it is pretty impossible to capture someones entire life in 120 minutes but we can certainly get a sense of Marilyn's essence by spending a week in her life.

2. Shame 12/2 - I recently watched Hunger, which was also directed by Steve McQueen and starred Michael Fassbender and it sort of left me speechless. Even though the subject matter was heavy and I am completely ignorant to political happenings in Ireland in the 80's, the film was really disturbing yet sublimely beautiful. The subject matter of Shame seems a bit more light (sex addiction) - but from the trailer I think the film will still be just as heavy and disturbing (and hopefully just as beautiful). It seems like I can't read a film article that doesn't mention Michael Fassbender these days - I didn't really understand the X-Men hype but I think I was just distracted by my love for James McAvoy. I have also been swayed into appreciating Carey Mulligan as an actress (thanks to Drive).

3. We Need to Talk About Kevin 12/9 - Tilda Swinton and John C. Reilly in a film together; I am sold already. I know the subject matter will be tough - the description is that a teenage boy goes on a killing spree. However, the trailer paints a much different story - it focuses on Tilda Swinton's character (Kevin's mother) and how even from his birth, she felt as if something was off about her own child. This is obviously a mothers worst nightmare and admitting that your child might be evil would be heartbreaking. Tilda is one of the only actresses that I can think of that could succeed at portraying such pain.

4. Young Adult 12/9 - This is the film that I am most excited about this Holiday season- I love everything about it: Written by Diablo Cody, Directed by Jason Reitman, Starring Charlize Theron and Patrick Wilson plus the trailer actually looks hilarious. Ordinarily I would say that the story seems pretty generic but in the hands of Reitman & Cody - the combined sarcasm and dry wit will undoubtedly keep this film from falling into a cliche.

5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 12/21 - Watching the original Swedish version has been on my list for years now but it somehow has never made it to the top. I intend on watching it before I see this film. I always hate when they make unnecessary "American" version of films just because American audiences are too lazy to sit through foreign language films (like when they remade Let the Right One In) but I am torn by the fact that the trailer is freakin' fantastic. Everything is just working for me - from the poster, to the cast (I love Kate Mara - so if her sister is even 1/2 as awesome I will be satisfied), the music (it's been a while since I bought a film soundtrack but I am pretty sure this will be purchased soon) and obviously the director.

6. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 12/25 - I am fairly confident that my mother will make me see this with her this holiday season and I can't really complain. Yes, it looks a bit too melodramatic and sappy for my taste but it does have Sandy B. (one of my favorite actresses) plus I know I will instantly shed tears at the sight of the towers falling (as I got choked up from the trailer already - genius move with the U2 music). I like that the story isn't really about 9/11 per say but more about the aftermath and also seeing such a tragic event through the eyes of a child will put a new perspective on things.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Thoughts on 4 Films

1. Hesher - This is a perfect example of why I describe JGL as a "fearless" actor. He's always done a lot of independent films that some would describe as "odd" (Brick, Mysterious Skin and Manic come to mind) but after some career highs like Inception and 500 Days of Summer - he still chooses to pursue complicated, less-flashier roles like this one. Hesher took me by surprise because I thought it would be sort of a "stoner" type dramedy that would have very little impact or point - but instead it was an oddly compelling tale of a young boy, TJ, who is trying to cope with the death of his mother. His father (played by Rainn Wilson) is dealing with the situation via self-medication - he sleeps all day and ignores the fact that his son is bullied at school. Then comes Hesher, who is the oddest "hero" type character to ever appear on film - due mostly to the likeability of JGL as an actor. As awful as Hesher is, you can't really hate him - instead it just makes you curious as to who this guy is (we never get the answer, which is brilliant and frustrating at the same time). He invites himself into the family and looks out for TJ but he also gets him into more trouble - which inevitably makes TJ stronger. The ending to the film is really brilliant - it is refreshingly rebellious on all levels.

2. Last Night - Hollow story. Hollow acting. Hollow film. The film is about the complications of a monogamous relationship - the temptations, the lies etc. However, the film Closer did it a million times better - so the point of the film is sort of wasted. There is no depth or chemistry between the main couple (Sam Worthington and Kiera Knightley), so there is no reason to root for them as a couple. For me, the film quickly became about who was hotter - Kiera or Eva Mendes (Seriously, does anyone feel bad for this guy choosing between these two?). The funny part was that I started to lose interest about 1/2 way through (I blame twitter for the distraction) - so I'm not even sure if either of them actually followed through with adultery. I was going to rewind, but I decided that I kind of like the "not knowing" - I don't think it was the point of the film anyway.

3. Scre4m - I watched the film with super low expectations - having loved all 3 Scream films (yes, even the 3rd one...), I had mixed emotion about an unnecessary addition to what felt like a complete trilogy. I was excited by the cast - Emma Roberts, Allison Brie, Adam Brody - but once the awful reviews came out, I decided to skip it in theaters. I admit, it was better than I was expecting - but it still doesn't compare to the other films in the series. I hated the beginning - I enjoy the comedy in these films, but usually the beginning sets up the "horror". This one was just plain stupid. Then, the film continues by way of "remake" over "sequel" - with it's usual self-aware characters discussing how "meta" they are. The redeeming quality of the film was the ending (the first ending, not the silly "alternate ending") - I was actually surprised by who the "killer/s" turned out to be. Although, the only reason it was "surprising" was because of how utterly ridiculous it is.

4. Hanna - The cinematography of the film was breathtaking, the rest of the film was decent but also annoyingly predictable. Saoirse Ronan is one of my favorite young actresses - her performance in Atonement was mesmerizing. In this film, she was just as brilliant - cold and unfeeling yet her emotions were just sitting right below the surface waiting to explode. I would have loved to see more from Eric Bana and Cate Blanchette - both are great actors but just underused. The story was also a little bland and not very original - the only parts that were interesting were watching Hanna interact with a "normal" teenager. I can't say that I was bored at all, but I don't think I will remember the film a year from now.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Thoughts On The Past 2 Episodes of 'Glee'

'Glee' is already on a mini-hiatus (will be back in November). I'm already missing it, but I have to admit I am a little disappointed with the season so far. Here are my thoughts on the past 2 episodes:

I am Unicorn

1. Quinn/Puck/Shelby
– I am disappointed that the “skanks” storyline is being dropped so quickly, but am intrigued by Quinn’s sabotage of Shelby to get her daughter back – although last season, Quinn was ALL talk (remember how many threats she made – she never followed through with any of them). I know a lot of fans of the show were disappointed that season 2 dropped the whole “baby” thing – but I actually appreciated it. In the real world when you give your baby up for adoption – that is the end of the story. I do think Quinn and Puck have unresolved issues but I don’t think it was necessary to bring the baby back into the picture (although I love Idina Menzel, so I won’t really complain). The scenes with Puck were done really well, because Puck was always very supportive of Quinn keeping the baby and promised that he would take care of both of them – so it was great to see some emotion from him as part of the aftermath. He never wanted to be like his dad and abandon his child. The promos are now hinting at a Puck/Shelby relationship which would be really interesting and weird at the same time.

2. The 'West Side Story' auditions – I’ve never seen it…at least that I can remember. But now that I know it’s basically Romeo & Juliet, I feel like I don't really need to see it. I really like that they are giving Artie something else to do by co-directing the play (along with Beiste & Emma). I enjoyed the 3 “audition” songs, but I would have appreciated at least 1 “glee” song. ‘Somewhere There is A Place For Us’ was outstanding - again I don’t know the play so I am not familiar with this song, but it fit the whole Shelby/Rachel storyline very nicely. And I can officially forgive them for their last duet together (‘Poker Face’). Kurt's audition was...interesting. 'I’m the greatest star' is an annoying song, but the theatricality of it was entertaining (and I love the Sai swords – which is a hobby of Chris Colfer's). Finally, Blaine's audition was super boring. I almost pressed fast-forward. The whole romantic lead aspect of Kurt and Blaine was pretty ridiculous – they are both pretty flamboyant and neither are believable as a being an “alpha gang member”. The Romeo and Juliet scene with Kurt and Rachel was also so overdone and not really funny at all. Them all laughing at him was not very Glee at all.

3. Finn's potential storyline – So, even though he had minimal screen time (again) – his scenes are setting up a potentially great storyline. I would like that to be explored….soon. Where has all his confidence gone? He seems like he is the least confident when he is with Rachel – probably because she eclipses everyone. But then again, Rachel is the one that is going to push him the hardest to become something great. Also succeeding in pushing Finn, is Mr. Shue – which makes me very happy. Poor Finn is not the best dancer, but the fact that he doesn’t give up is very telling for his future. He may be “lost” right now, but I think he’s going to figure out some things about himself soon. No, not everyone needs to go to college to be successful (proven by Cory himself) so it is nice to see that explored – I personally think his best option is to be a drummer. He’s good at it, it makes him smile and he could still potentially follow Rachel & Kurt to NYC to pursue his dream. Plus, drummers are hot. I am nervous that he is working in Burt’s auto shop (as Quinn predicted that he would) – he may not be the most talented kid in the Glee club but from the very beginning of this show the whole point of “Finn” as a character was him wanting to be something and NOT end up a Lima loser. I hope the writers remember that.

4. The Highlights – Of course there were some funny lines like:

- “What’s the Capitol of Ohio” to which Brittany replies “O” – it’s sort of genius if you think about it.

- "I'm glad that you're so concerned with our special needs members but what about me?" - Rachels response to Mr. Shue's "Booty Camp" idea.

-"Will Shuester never did appreciate the gentle tremble of your thin, forgettable alto" - Sue to Quinn (I love it and agree with her assessment wholeheartedly...).

-"Finn, you look like you are stomping on bees". - Mr. Shue to Finn

Other highlights were Mr. Shue tearing Quinn a new one. His speech to her being selfish and immature was brilliant. I also love his "booty camp" idea - because they definitely need to step up their game. I feel like they are definitely going back to a season 1 Will - you know where he actually cares about his students.

5. The Lowlights – Aside from the the focus being more on the play than the club and the lack of Finn, I don't really have too many complaints. Usually I love Brittany, but her whole “you’re a unicorn” shtick to Kurt was seriously cheesy.

Asian F

1. The anticipation vs. the reality
– So according to several critics, this was supposed to be “the best episode of Glee ever”. The promo declared that Glee has found it’s heart again. The cast spent the day tweeting about how proud they are of the episode, how talented everyone is and how everyone must watch. It was also described as a “game changer” for the Mercedes plot line and we were teased with an epic Brittany performance. I was looking forward to it (although from the episode descriptions and promo’s it was clear that Finn was once again being side-lined) mostly for the ultimate diva off between Mercedes and Rachel and also for Mike Chang getting an actual plot. The episode aired and I was stunned by it's mediocrity. First, this isn’t the first time that Mercedes and Rachel have competed – and it obviously won’t be the last. It wasn’t all that interesting and I’ve seen better performances from both of them (specifically in last seasons 'Night of Neglect' episode) . Second, it was obvious from before the episode even aired that Mercedes “big decision” would be that she was joining the other club. Third, I agree that Glee has found it’s heart but I don’t watch Glee for it’s “heart”. I watch it because it is hilarious – the show is usually inspiring because it is able to combine “heart” and it’s subversive comedy perfectly. I am disappointed that this season hasn’t exactly been laugh out loud funny.

2. Mercedes vs. Rachel – I love Mercedes – I really do. Her voice is amazing but when compared to Rachel – I just don’t see it. Lea Michele’s voice and passion outshine everyone – if they really wanted the audience to see Mercedes as a comparable competitor then they should have had Lea tone down her talent a bit. She outshined Mercedes and undeniably won their “diva” off. Also, since when does no one want to hurt Rachels feelings (as Mercedes claims) – I am pretty sure she gets made fun of all the freaking time!! The whole plot was just a little hard for me to believe. The New Directions losing Mercedes is definitely going to hurt them (who is going to belt out the last note of songs?) but I am glad that she is joining the other club - creating some more drama. However, unless Sugar Matta has some talent hidden up her sleeve I don't see them as a threat to the New Directions.

3. The “other Asian” vs. his parents – Oh how I love Mike Chang. Seriously, it is about damn time that they give him something to do (aside from his awesome dancing). I enjoyed his storyline – and I think it is very relevant to what Glee is all about. Harry Shum Jr. did a great job (acting, singing and dancing). When his father claims that performing in Glee club is a waste of time and actually a detriment on his transcripts to get into Harvard, my heart broke a little because I think this is how a lot of parents feel. The scene with him dancing by himself with no music was really beautiful as was his imagining of the people in his life like Tina stating “you don’t talk that much but when I see you dance…it’s why I fell in love with you”. His audition was really great. I think they might want to consider him for the lead – right? He's much more of a heartthrob than Blaine in my opinion...

4. The Highlights – Emma’s parents were perfect!! I loved the bit of intrigue on why she was so hesitant on Will meeting them - claiming that she has "ghost parents". I would never guess in a million years that they are in fact......"ginger supremacists". Freaking hilarious. The dinner scene with the 4 of them was brilliant. The whole praying bit at the end was a little unnecessary and over-dramatic as was Will's intent to "fix" her. But overall, I appreciate some insight into Emma's life and why she is the way she is. The only other highlight was that Finn’s burst of excitement when Rachel won the coin toss was also adorable. His support of her is such a contrast of the way Mercedes bf treats her (see: The Lowlights).

5. The Lowlights – Oh there are so many… First, I seriously hated Mercedes in this episode – but I have even more hatred for her super annoying boyfriend. It’s great that he is supportive and pushes her to succeed but he is also encouraging her to be a self-righteous bitch who treats other people like garbage. And why is it ok that she suddenly needs a man in order to feel good about herself? Her quitting the Glee club was a little over dramatic and way too angry. Then the whole Dream Girls thing was really awkward. I didn’t like it at all (although I appreciate the attempt at something different). I was also disappointed that Rachel’s solution to possibly not getting the lead role was to run for student class president – it doesn’t even make sense plus is it really realistic that three people from a club that everyone hates are the only people running? Does no one else go to McKinley? Why is Santana suddenly back in the club already? The performances were lacking (for the third episode in a row – I haven’t bought a single track on itunes yet this season; I usually buy at least one song per episode). Brittany was sexy as hell singing Beyonce’s 'Run the World' but I absolutely hate the song. The performance wasn’t bad – but it just wasn’t that exciting either. I’m sorry but 'Fix You' started off really painful – it got better once the Glee club joined in. I've never heard Matt Morrison sound bad - but I guess there is a first for everything.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

4 Reasons to See '50/50'

1. It's emotional and unforgettable - I didn't realize it while watching it, but this is a film that I will remember for years to come. I was hesitant on the subject matter - cancer isn't exactly a funny subject and certainly not a subject that should be taken lightly (unless you are purposely trying to offend pretty much everyone). Typically films about cancer are dark, melodramatic, morbid and worst of all - unrelatable. 50/50 brilliantly lightens the subject not only by using comedy, but by using honesty (it helps that it is based on a true story). Nothing was really "sugar-coated" for the audience - his situation completely sucks and there is not one second of the film where we are not reminded of this. I think the "comedy" of the film and the focus on the relationships between the characters distracted me from the reality of cancer, but in all the right ways. I was on the verge of tears through the films entirety but surprisingly I didn't cry - that is until the next day. The film really sunk in and I was literally choked up the entire next day. Actually, I want to cry just thinking about it....

2. The relationships are honest - It's advertised as a "buddy comedy" with our main characters played by Joseph Gorden-Levitt and Seth Rogen but this is only 1/4 of the film. The other relationships that are featured are actually far more interesting. JGL's relationship with his therapist, played by Anna Kendrik, is fascinating- this is her 3rd patient so she is still in the "learning" phase of her career. Their interactions are painfully awkward as she tries to "comfort" him. His relationship with his girlfriend was a little one-sided for my taste, but still well done (it would have been a million times more interesting if she wasn't an intolerable shrew). The real gut-wrenching relationship that played out was between him and his mother. I have a good relationship with my mother, but I admit that it is a chore to talk to her sometimes - it takes me days to return her phone calls but after watching this film I realize how selfish that is. It's been a long time since a film has actually effected my life and led me to re-evaluate things a bit.

3. JGL is flawless- If you are not a fan of JGL, then you and I probably can't be friends. He is by far the best actor of my generation. I grew up watching him on 3rd Rock From the Sun and am ecstatic that he is still prominently featured in my life. Aside from the fact that I think he is a fantastic actor, I also respect him as a fearless actor. I don't think he has any particular plans for his career - he just does whatever the fuck he wants to do and it works.

4. The other actors aren't as annoying as usual - Seth Rogen is heavily featured in the trailer but he is definitely a supporting role in the film (which is where he should always be). He did an amazing job in this film breaking out from simple comedy to show some actual depth. I am not a fan of Bryce Dallas Howard (has she been good in anything? Really?) or Anna Kendrik (she was way over-rated in Up in the Air) but both were really fantastic in this film.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Thoughts on 14 New Shows

The new fall television season has arrived - I was really hoping for some winners, but most shows have landed with a big *thud*. Here are my thoughts:

1. The Secret Circle - Absolutely not what I was expecting... at all. First, the show is advertised as being by the creators of The Vampire Diaries (a show that gets better with every episode, that has jaw-dropping twists and turns with such strong character development that the audience connected with them from episode one) - yet displays none of the same qualities. Every second of every episode so far has been predictable and the characters are dull and forgettable. Second, I didn't realize the show was about "witches" - maybe from my lack of research or maybe the show was poorly advertised. I thought the show was about a group of teens that discovered they had "powers" as in each of them had a different "power" and they had to form this "circle" to keep their powers in check (I was thinking more of a Misfits type show - which was extremely appealing to me....witches...um not so much.). Third, I liked Britt Robertson on Life Unexpected but she is really awful on this show - which could be credited to the bad writing/directing because everyone on this show seems like they can't act (and I know that Gale Howard can in fact act). Still, out of the other new shows on the CW (Ringer and Hart of Dixie) - this one is actually the least offensive one.

2. New Girl - As of this moment, I am indifferent on this show. I think it has some memorable moments, some interesting characters and a sweetness to it that most comedies lack. However, it is also trying a little too hard to be "quirky" and Zoey or "Jess" if you are convinced they are different people becomes slightly annoying 1/2 way through each episode. The pilot episode was really hard to watch because there have been so many promos leading up to the episode that I felt like I was watching a repeat. The next episode definitely got better - so I am hopeful that it will work out a few kinks (like the guy that replaced Damon Wayans Jr. - he doesn't seem to fit into the show yet) and become a must watch show (I have faith - if Cougar Town can do it then any show can...). Side note: Hannah Simone is hot and I think they should make a law that every guy must keep a "douchebag jar" in their home. That is a genius idea.

3. Terra Nova - Finally, this show has aired!! I was convinced it didn't actually exist! And guess what??!! It totally blows! It's like Lost except the characters willingly went to the island instead of crashing on it and there are dinosaurs instead of polar bears and smoke monsters. I actually hesitate to make that comparison because Lost was actually interesting and this show is painfully not. I realize they are supposed to be creating a lot of Lost like "mysteries" like the cave drawings and the "sixers" but there are a lot of things that simply don't make sense - like the actual time traveling bit that was never given any real explanation except by the teenage girl that explains it as part of the whole "butterfly effect" (which just confuses me more...). Are we just supposed to go with it or are we going to be given a better explanation? Also, what happened to the little girl for 2 years? The father went to jail for violating the population control law ("2 kid maximum") but then he escapes from jail (a little too easily - which makes me wonder why he didn't just do it sooner) and they smuggle the girl into Terra Nova. It seems like she has been with the mother (because she is hesitant towards the father) but then why did they have to smuggle her in - when it was already known that the third kid exists? I have a lot more of these type questions - but I will leave you with just one more...the main couple have been apart for 2 years due to his incarceration - yet spend their first night together in separate beds. Which makes me think that there is absolutely zero passion between them, which in turns makes me not care about them at all as a couple. Was that on purpose??

4. Suburgatory - Before the show aired I commented that the promo's had a Mean Girls feel to them - which was super exciting. I am happy to report that the show definitely has some Mean Girls spirit to it. So far, I would say this is my favorite new comedy. I love the cast - and not just Jeremy Sisto (who succeeds at being funny....who knew?) but also Alan Tudyk (Firefly/Dollhouse fans, like me, will jump for joy). I didn't realize he was in this so that was a nice surprise. Aside from the awesomeness of the cast - I really like the father/daughter relationship that is portrayed in the show. It feels very genuine so far and I have high hopes that the show only gets better.

5. Ringer - Probably the most disappointing of all the new shows. I admit that SMG was never really known for her acting skills - but she seriously rocked as Buffy (so much so that she hasn't successfully moved past this iconic character). I was hoping that her painful foray into films would come to an end and she found her way back to a great series. Ringer is NOT a great series. Annoyingly, in the first scene I found myself questioning why Buffy was hiding from this guy who was trying to kill her because c'mon really she can kick that guys ass. Sadly, I didn't have to keep reminding myself that I wasn't watching "Buffy" because the show became so painfully bad - the comparisons disappeared quickly. I think the worst part of the show is that it treats it's audience like we are stupid by over-explaining everything. We didn't need the longest montage ever to explain that she took her sisters identity - any "good" actress can pull that off with a single crooked smile and a mischievous shimmer in her eye. We don't need the flashbacks of the sister that I will refer to as the "hot mess"sister being drunk and disorderly - we understood her "hot mess-ness" from the very first mention of prostitution charges and the AA meeting. We also don't need the cliched misconstrued "perfect" sister - did anyone think that she actually lived the "perfect life"? Of course, she lived in a miserable, loveless marriage and was having an affair with her best friend's husband. There has been absolutely nothing about this show that has surprised me, in fact I bet can probably draw out an outline of every new episode within the first 5 minutes of airing (and I am guessing only a few more eps will air before the big "C" word hits).

6. Revenge - I would say that out of all the new shows that I watched this season - this is the show that I knew the least about. Which might account for part of the reason why I enjoy it so much. It is by far my favorite new drama of the season. The pilot episode was absolute perfection - and succeeded in everything that a "pilot" episode should do...which is to create enough intrigue about characters and plot that the audience actually wants more (crazy concept...right?!). I like that it is a show that seems to not make any apologies and reminds me of a Breaking Bad type series - to be clear I am not comparing it to the best show on t.v, I am just saying that it is a series that will not have a "happy" or "resolved" outcome. What I enjoy most is that it is about a girl who could best be described as "cute as a button" but is actually downright evil (for understandable reasons - which makes us root for her to succeed in her evil acts). It also reminds me a bit of Damages - in the way that the audience knows more than the characters do (like how it will end). I am really looking forward to see where the show takes us.

7. Hart of Dixie - I am hoping that by the time I publish this post, the show will be officially canceled. It is the worst of the season. I knew from the ads that it would be bad, but there was a small glimmer of hope (Rachel Bilson and Josh Schwartz together again...) that it might be at least a guilty pleasure - you know like 90210. I adore Rachel Bilson, I really do - but she is not the best actress. Thinking back to the greatest show ever, The O.C, I don't think it was noticeable because she wasn't the worst actress on the show (ahem...Mischa Barton...) and because the show didn't ride on her shoulders - she had a mini role that evolved into something bigger. Plus, if Seth Cohen loved her then we had no choice but to love her as well...right? And because I love her, I find it very hard to say anything bad about her. So, I will keep it short and (un)sweet - the show is not funny in the slightest and is bordering on offensive to anyone who aint "city folk". The premise is unoriginal and lacks credibility because someone that stupid can't possibly be a doctor. And the acting....oh the acting....is...cringeworthy.

8. Person of Interest - So far, this show is not bad but it is extremely boring. The story is interesting and the characters are strong but the pace of each episode has been painfully slow. I think it is very typical of a CBS show (which tend to be very straight-forward and simple) which isn't necessarily a bad thing (I enjoy Blue Bloods because of it's simplicity) but it was not what I was expecting from a JJ Abrams creation. Plus, aside from the ability to predict a crime - the rest of the technology relies on phone tapping which doesn't really make for interesting television. I'm not quite sure if Michael Emerson is supposed to be "creepy" in this show or if it is his "Ben" persona that will inevitably follow him everywhere. I also hope that they give Taraji P. Henson something more interesting to do soon. It always irks me when great actresses are under-utilized.

9. Pan Am - I'm not quite sure what to make of this show yet - it has some interesting parts, particularly the CIA mystery and the whole early feminist ideals of our Pan Am stewardesses. However, the dialogue is quite moronic (Ricci's characters response to a passenger hitting on her: "I am not included in the price of the ticket" - which is not exactly something a feminist would say because it implies that she is in fact an object that can be bought.) and after 2 episodes - absolutely nothing has happened. I have to say that my whole annoyance with the series relies on Christina Ricci's hair - did anyone else notice the discrepancies with the length of her hair in the pilot episode? It was so distracting that I can't get past it. I have nothing else to say because so far there isn't a much of a plot to critique yet.

10. Charlie's Angels - I am disappointed that my only interest in the show (Carlos Bernard) is not a series regular, instead just a guest in the pilot. I am also disappointed that someone as established as Victor Garber would participate in this garbage (he is the voice of Charlie). Only 1 out of the 3 girls has a smidgen of charisma (Rachael Taylor) - the other 2 are bland. They are not given any depth except for the fact that they are all former "bad girls" - which we are hit over the head with over and over again. I am guessing that this will be among the first causalities of the season so I won't waste any more time writing about it.

11. A Gifted Man - I literally knew nothing about this show other than Patrick Wilson was in it - and I am a huge fan of his so obviously I had to watch. I also love Julie Benz so that was an added bonus. It turns out that the show is about a douchebag surgeon who starts seeing ghosts (specifically the ghost of his ex-wife - who is also a doctor, but the kind-hearted type). These apparitions are apparently there to make him less of a douche, but I'm not convinced yet. I am not really a fan of "ghost" type stories, but I do love a good supernatural show if it is done well. The show reminds me of Eli Stone, just with doctors instead of lawyers (and it is not nearly as good). It moved way too slow (which is the problem I have with most shows this year). I will watch one more just out of curiosity and loyalty to these actors, but if it doesn't get much better I will have to stop.

12. Up All Night - Again, I miss Samantha Who? so freaking much!! Especially with the sudden popularity of Melissa McCarthy - I feel like the show would be much more successful if it aired now - but alas I guess I just have to get over it...right? Up All Night is exactly what I was expecting (except that I thought Christina Applegate was the host of the talk show and Maya Rudolph was her producer/boss - which I think would have been more interesting...). Will Arnett and Christina make a really cute couple - there is definite chemistry between them. I think it is a cute idea that they are parents but that they are still trying to remain "hip". It's sort of an untapped market right now. The best way to describe it is "cute" but it's not really laugh-out -loud funny yet.

13. The Playboy Club - So, this show isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be - although I wouldn't call it "good" or even "mediocre". I was disappointed that the so-called mysteries are not actually mysterious. It starts with a murder - but we know who did it, therefore the intrigue is lacking. It's also not really a "murder" it is more "self-defense". Then there is one "bunny" who is "not who she says she is" but instead of creating intrigue - they tell us right away that her mystery is that she is a lesbian and that her "husband" is also gay. The whole underground gay movement is actually interesting (as is the African American "bunny" who is trying to overcome her race as well as her gender). Of course, the misogyny is blatant like the guy who brags that he got his wife "pregnant and ugly" so other guys wouldn't look at her. But it does have a hint of feminist thought (when a customer says to one of the "bunnies" "ain't you a thing of beauty" she responds with "I'm not a thing" - the writers of Pan Am should take note...). Overall, I think the show has the best shot at filling my guilty pleasure quota - but it will likely get cancelled before it becomes pleasurable. I guess I will just have to settle for watching Kendra on E!. Side note: The comparisons between Mad Men and this show are simply ridiculous. They are in such completely different leagues that they shouldn't even be put in the same sentence. Also, the character comparisons between Don Draper and Eddie Cibrian's character (don't know his name yet) are also dumb because Don Draper would have "rescued" Amber Heard's character (again...name?) but he also would have fucked her. Proof that they are 2 very different characters.

14. 2 Broke Girls - How can any executive watch this

show and not see the blatant over-use of the laugh track? It is odd because I thought I might just be over-sensitive to the horrible noise because it has been so long since I have watched a show with an actual laugh track (I would like to thank Arrested Development for kicking off the no laugh track trend - awkward pauses are much funnier than actual laughter) - but then I read several reviews that commented the same thing. It's an easy fix but after the 3rd episode it still hasn't changed. I think Whitney Cummings idea of comedy and my idea of comedy are 2 very different things (the same can be said for Michael Patrick King - I literally feel like I want to vomit when I see anything related to Sex and the City). Aside, from the laugh track - the show is not really that funny. Kat Dennings does the best she can with the material but I feel like she is probably cringing inside at some of the crass dialogue she has to make work. The other girl is amusing as the "Paris Hilton" type heiress who suddenly finds herself broke. The chemistry between them works but it just needs to be toned down (drastically). Oh - and get rid of the horse.

***American Horror Story and Once Upon a Time have not aired yet...