Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The VMA's: The Best and the Worst

I know I am a few days late to discuss the VMA's but there was this whole hurricane thing going on that kept me a little preoccupied. Luckily, I am home now...safe and dry. I was able to watch the VMA's - power went back on just as the show aired - overall the show itself has been on a steep decline, but this years wasn't as bad a the past few years.

Here are the highlights -

1. Adele - Probably the biggest highlight of the night - the only performer who didn't feel the need to go over the top. She just stood up there and sung her heart out and it gave me chills. 'Someone Like You' is my favorite song on her album - I often burst into tears while listening to it so I actually have to turn it off sometimes. She got a well-deserved standing O from the audience and made the entire show worth watching.

2. Jessie J - Yes, it totally sucked that the poor girl was in a leg cast and had to sit through the entire show. It was awkward to see her writhe around in that weird electric chair-slash-throne. Yet, I give her props for going through with show at all - if her leg is in a cast then she must be in some pain (I'm not even sure what her injury was and don't care enough to look it up...). She became a highlight for me when she sang 'Firework' after Katy Perry & Kanye won for 'E.T' and she sounded a million times better than Katy. I found that hilarious. Then Jessie won my heart by busting out with TLC's 'Scrubs'.

3. Twitter - It is totally more entertaining to watch a bad awards show while reading hilarious tweets - my favorites were from @questlove (which for some reason have vanished from his twitterfeed) - my favorite was while Britney was accepting her MJ Vanguard award he tweeted "I. Can. Read." He also made a funny comment on Kanye rooting for Chris Brown as JayZ sat in his chair and pretended like he didn't exist but I can't remember the exact phrasing. I also loved @EWTimStack who wrote "I have no idea who Young the Giant is but I do know that Jared Leto played Jordan Catalano. #neverforget #imreallyold" - Because that is exactly what was going on in my head at that moment. Also, you can officially call me a Demi Lovato fan - I love her for calling out all of the people who were commenting on her weight gain - the girl just got out of an institution for having an eating disorder. We should be worried if she wasn't gaining weight. People are just jealous - because dayum she looked good.

4. The Amy Winehouse Tribute - Two people I am not a fan of: Russell Brand & Bruno Mars. Yet, I have to admit that they did a stand-up job in paying tribute to the late Amy Winehouse. Russell is completely annoying to listen to and he speaks too fast - so it was hard to hear exactly what he was saying - but the gist of it was that yes, she had a horrible disease of addiction but that didn't define her. She also had this incredible talent that made her special. He used the terms "loose canon" and "crazy" which I think some might find disrespectful but I appreciate his candor. Bruno Mars performed an amazing rendition of 'Valerie' (although I would have rather seen the Glee kids doing it). He sounded fantastic and the whole theme was very fitting and respectful.

and the lowlights:

1. The Britney Tribute - The blink-and-you-miss-it tribute was pretty painful. First, why not get well-known artists to pay tribute to her? Instead of a bunch of back-up dancers (no offense to them - they danced their asses off) - I just think she deserved a bit more respect. Speaking of RESPECT - back the fuck up Lady Gaga or Jo or whatever you want to be called when someone is accepting a lifetime achievement award. Stealing the spotlight is not cool - have we learned nothing from Kanye? AND don't even get me started on the poor girls "speech" which she read from a teleprompter. My friend says that Britney reminds her of a marionette now - with everyone else pulling strings controlling her every move and this whole disaster proves her right. Can the poor girl not even have enough freedom to speak her own words from her own heart? Are they scared that she might go batshit crazy again? The speech got even more awkward when it turned into her introducing Beyonce who quickly stole her thunder by announcing her pregnancy in the most adorable way possible.

2. Katy Perry - This girl gets on my last nerve. I enjoy both 'E.T' and 'Firework' so I have no problem with them winning...but "Video of the Year" really? Does she deserve that much credit? 'Rolling in the Deep' should have won (clearly...) but then again I haven't watched either video....because I honestly haven't seen a video in YEARS. Do they actually even exist anymore? Anyway, back to Katy - I just don't see the talent and I consistently read bad things about her from critics - so I am not sure why she is winning awards. Plus, seriously what was with the cube on her head.

3. Lady Gaga/ Jo - Not a fan of this "alter ego" crap but that isn't the part that bothers me. It bothers me that she sounded so fantastic (one of the best of the night) yet, NO ONE is talking about that because they are focused on her "dramatics" instead of her "talent". But that is her own fault. AND yes, she reminded me of a bad impersonation of Adam Goldberg and no, she can't act so I hope she doesn't think she is going to be an actress now...

4. Chris Brown - I am sad for the Chris Brown situation. He is an incredible dancer and performer - I just can't support him. I am someone who loves to believe that people can change - just because someone makes a horrible mistake doesn't make them a bad person right? But every time I give someone the opportunity to change my mind - 90% of the time they fail (but the 10% is worth it....like Mark Wahlberg for example). Chris Brown started off in the right direction - public apologies, anger management but none of it seemed to work instead of proving that he is in fact a "decent guy" he instead further pushes himself towards the "angry black male" stereo-type (throwing chairs through windows, going on homophobic tirades on twitter). So, Chris - You had your second chance and you blew it. Now get off of my television.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

4 Reasons to Watch 'Trust'

I completely forgot about this film that I was so excited to see this past Spring. 'Trust' was directed by David Schwimmer (I am a fan) starring Clive Owen and Katherine Keener (can't go wrong!). I watched it on DVD the other day and I was really happy with the outcome (well..not exactly 'happy'....disgusted is a more appropriate term) - here are reasons you should watch it:

1. It’s more compelling than a Lifetime movie – I thought the topic seemed a little like LMN territory. The story is a creepy tale of a teenage girl who gets involved with an online sexual predator. You can totally picture that film right? Predictable plots, clichéd teenagers and melodrama galore. However, this film was as far from those things as you can get. The film relies on the believable vulnerability of this young girl. Most films paint teenagers as stupid and gullible – tricking the audience into believing that something like this would never happen to their smart and confident teenage daughter. Annie, played brilliantly by newcomer Liana Liberato, seems like “normal” teenager – a bit naïve but ultimately very realistic. The fact that someone like her falls into this trap should scare the shit out of you – especially if you are a parent.

2. It focuses on the “grey” area – The sad part of the whole film is that Annie believes that she is in love with this man and that he is in love with her. At first, I was a little baffled – how could she really believe that? But the film paints a picture of what it’s like being a teenager these days and it seems pretty isolating. When other girls your age are talking about blow jobs and taking their tops off at parties – you would easily get confused about what is “right” and what is “wrong”. I think part of her knew that it was wrong but admitting that isn’t the easiest thing to do. It is a hard thing to deal with when the entire world (your best friend, your parents and the authorities) tell you that you are wrong. Her teenage stubbornness persists until the end.

3. The acting will knock your socks off – Clive Owen was fantastic – best I have seen him yet. There are two scenes that stand-out- The first one is when he goes to his work event and realizes that he is part responsible for sexualizing teenagers (he is in advertising and is behind a very sexy American Apparel type ad campaign featuring young girls in their underwear). The scene has very little dialogue – it is just all in his facial expressions and it is breathtaking and heartbreaking at the same time. The other scene is the last scene he has with his daughter – when he apologizes to her for not protecting her – seriously I was bawling. Katherine Keener was also great as always - but the story never really focused on her that much.

4. The ending will make you sick to your stomach – Ok…that is not really a good reason to see it but it is true. Besides the fact that you will likely feel queasy through it’s entirety, you will in fact want to vomit after the last scene. I can’t imagine watching it if I was a parent of a teenage girl, yet I would recommend it to all parents – it teaches a strong lesson awful things can happen to anyone- even good girls with loving parents.

Monday, August 15, 2011

13 Films to See This Fall

I can't believe how fast the summer went by!! Are you ready for fall?? Here are the films I am excited for:

1. Shark Night 3D (9/2) – 2 reasons I want to see this film: 1. Dustin Milligan. He's the guy that played Ethan on the first season of the new 90210. I love all of the changes that they made for the second season of the series - except getting rid of his character. I think he is a solid actor, he's cute and I would like to see him succeed. 2. The film plays into my irrational fear of lakes. For some reason I have no problem swimming in oceans because they are so vast - what are the chances of running into something scary like a shark? However, a lake has boundaries and the water is dark - I am convinced that a shark somehow ended up in the very lake I am swimming in and is stalking me under the water. The best part is that it will play in 2D as well...woohoo!!

2. Contagion (9/9) – A film directed by Steven Soderbergh, starring Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, JUDE LAW, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne and Bryan Cranston?? I am all in. The trailer reminds me of The Stand but I doubt that this film will come close - it will probably be closer to Outbreak. I don't think a film like this is all that healthy for the human race - we are already paranoid enough - this film will inevitably make things worse. It does look interesting though - in all of it's melodramatic glory.

3. Drive (9/16) – I am not a big fan of "car" films but Ryan Gosling is sexy (and actually a good actor) so I am excited for most of his films. The trailer looks pretty good - and the car scenes are mixed with some pretty intense drama and action.

4. Money Ball (9/23) - Ugh! How boring does that poster look??!! But despite the poster Director Bennett Miller claims that the film is "not a Baseball movie" instead it is about the struggles of the sport. There have been a lot of set-backs in making the film, but Brad Pitt seemed intent on keeping it going so I have faith that it must be good...right? Plus I love Philip Seymour Hoffman!

5. Dream House (9/30) – At first glance, this film seems like yet another haunted house horror film revolving around creepy children but then the trailer gives a huge plot point away - the father (played by Daniel Craig) just got released from a mental hospital and he is imagining that he lives with his family in their home but his family is actually dead (they were murdered in the house and he was the prime suspect). I question why they would give so much away in the trailer but my conclusion is that they wanted to separate the film from a "horror" film and make it clearly a "psychological thriller" and there must be some other twist to the film that the audience will not be aware of (I am guessing the twist involves the mysterious neighbor played by Naomi Watts).

6. 50/50 (9/30) – Obviously, I will see this based on my love for JGL alone. But, I think the trailer looks really good - it is a combination of a touching film about a guy getting diagnosed with Cancer mixed with some humor (hopefully, they didn't show all of the funny in the trailer) and some hardcore bromance. It's a hard subject to make funny - but I have faith that JGL can pull anything off.

7. What’s Your Number (9/30) – So they turned the cancelled 2008 CBS television show called The Ex List (a show that I actually liked) into a film (although they have not admitted this at all). It's about a woman who learns that she has already dated her soul mate - so she revisits the past men in her life to find "the one". It's not exactly my type of film - and if it starred Kate Hudson/JLo/SJP or anyone of that nature I would not see it. But it is Anna Faris. I adore her. That is all.

8. The Ides of March (10/7) – This poster alone makes me want to see the film. Oh yah and George Clooney. And Ryan Gosling. And the rest of the awesome supporting cast. And the trailer.

9. In Time (10/28) – Aw look at that serious face my baby is making in that poster - isn't he adorable? The film looks.....interesting. At the very least it is original which is refreshing. The idea of "time" being given a monetary value is an interesting topic - it has a Gattaca feel to it (I loved Gattaca...). However, if it could very well turn out to be awful - borderline laughable.

10. A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (11/4) - I loved the original Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle it was ridiculous in plot but bountiful in laughs and entertainment. Plus it made NPH relevant again.
I saw the sequel (Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay) but I honestly don't remember a thing from it. I am a little confused as to why they are releasing a Christmas film almost 2 months before the Holiday (perhaps so it doesn't get confused with an actual family Holiday film. I also don't understand why it has to be in 3D!!?? Anyway, I am sure it will be hilarious (and possibly forgettable).

11. J. Edgar (11/9) – I actually don't really want to see this film - I feel like it will be really long and drawn out (as most Clint Eastwood films are) but I think that it is definite "Oscar bait" material so I feel obligated to see it. At least the screenplay was written by Dustin Lance Black (who did a fantastic job at turning Harvey Milk's life into a big Hollywood biopic), so it could be interesting. Leo is sure to give a fantastic performance as always.

12. Breaking Dawn (11/18) - Totally kidding you guys....

13. The Descendants (11/23) – Alexander Payne's films always have a nice balance of drama and comedy. Plus Matthew Lillard. Love. Him.

4 Reasons I Didn't Want See 'Glee: The 3D Concert Movie'

So 'Glee: The 3D Concert Movie' bombed at the box office this weekend. While the expectations were never really that high - I think at the very least the producers expected to get their money back from opening weekend (which they will eventually). I really don't think anyone doubted that it would crack the 'top 10' (it came in at 11). The funny thing is - I am a huge fan of 'Glee' yet I wasn't all that excited about the film. So if I (someone who can practically recite every episode) don't want to see it, then who does? Here are some reasons why I wasn't excited (and yes, I did actually go see it out of obligation as a fan of the series...my thoughts on the film are also below):

1. I've already seen it - As most fans of the show have - either in concert or via the endless video clips on the Internet. I didn't go to the concert. The sole reason for this was that as much as I would love to see Lea Michele sing 'Don't Rain on My Parade' live, I simply can't handle the hoards of screaming teenagers. Luckily for me, the wonders of the Internet allow me to watch it anyway.

2. It panders to teens - Remember when Glee first aired - it focused on Mr. Shue taking over the Glee club?? He was a huge presence on the show, as were the other teachers. The show, although partly about a group of kids, was an ADULT show. Obviously, plenty of teens watched it and enjoyed it - but it bothers me that they are also controlling it. When the first episode of season 2 aired - the character, Jacob, very memorably "reported" on the Glee clubs "gay summer" and said to Mr. Shue "Did you know there is a forum on my blog begging you to stop rapping" and he responds "wait, kids don't like it when I rap?" and Jacob shakes his head no. Then, guess what happened?? - a whole season went by without any of Mr. Shue's awesome rapping!! When did the creators start caring about what the "kids" liked? This film is aimed towards "kids" in the same vein as the Justin Beiber and Hannah Montana concert films and it makes me feel old! Stop it Glee!

3. The actors stay "in character" - Honestly, this is probably the biggest reason that I didn't want to see it. When I read that this film would be a faux-documentary style about the McKinley Glee club making a 3D concert film - I was dumbfounded. That doesn't even make sense - why on earth would they be making a film let alone be performing a sold-out concert at a huge venue? I want to see behind the scenes footage of what it takes to put this tour on. Forget that, I want the world to see how much work these actors have committed themselves to because I adore every single one of them. I want to see them interact with each other and their fans. This is a film that I would be excited about. The "in character" thing is bullshit and to make matters worse, my favorite "character", Finn, isn't even in the film aside from the performances (because the actor, Cory Monteith, was recovering from food poisoning the day it was filmed). That totally blows.

4. 3D - Like I have said before, 3D films give me a headache - it's usually not worth the trouble for me (and I have spoken to many others who feel the same way). The film should have been released in good ole 2D so that it was more viewer friendly.

Overall, I think the film is borderline mediocre - I have more bad than good things to say about it. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone even 'Glee' fans.

Here are my highlights of the film -

1. Most of the performances - I would say that about 85% of the performances were awesome. Lea Michele's performance was stunning (of course she was brilliant in 'Don't Rain on My Parade' but she also shined along side Chris Colfer in their duet 'Happy Days are Here Again/Get Happy'). It made me crave for the future when she is back on Broadway. Harry Shum Jr's dancing was a big stand-out (as always). The most surprising highlight for me was The Warblers. I was so over them on Glee but they sounded fantastic (along with Darren Criss). I was very impressed. They "owned" that stage more than The New Directions did....

2. The Mini-Warbler - Seriously, who found that kid? He is freaking adorable.

and some lowlights -

1. The 3 fan "stories" - To be blunt - I could give a fuck about these people. I have a lot of harsh words for this whole premise but I don't want to seem hateful. So the nicest thing that I could possibly say is that the stories are too contrived and I agree with Entertainment Weekly that it felt very "self-congratulatory" on behalf of the creators of Glee. I think they need to stop trying to change the world and go back to being a funny, bitterly sarcastic show with awesome white guy raps.

2. Cory - It breaks my heart to say anything bad about someone so perfect...so I won't. Ok...maybe just one thing - as I said above, I am under the impression that he was sick while this was filming so kudos to him for even getting on a stage and performing in front of a camera and thousands of people. However, 'Jessie's Girl' was probably the worst performance of the show. He did sound fantastic in all of the group numbers (especially 'Somebody to Love' which they shoved in after the credits so most people already left the theater). And I really wish they focused more on him during "Born This Way" and "River Deep, Mountain High" because in the Internet clips I have seen he is really funny in them (which is what the film needed some more of). Ok....I am done. That hurt my insides.

3. The fans - After watching so many Internet videos of the concert, I did regret not actually going. But then I saw this film and thanked the skies above. Fans are crazy!! I admit that as a teen I went to numerous *NSYNC concerts - and even had second row seats but us *NSYNC fans weren't nearly as crazy as fans nowadays. Or Maybe they were and I just was too enchanted by Justin Timberlake to notice. However, I have never been the type of fan that wants autographs or anything - I would never wait in one of those meet and greet lines because I have nothing to say. I also would never reach my hand up and want a performer to touch me in the middle of a concert - do you know how sweaty they are under all those lights dancing around?? EW. Do not touch me with those sweaty hands. Plus the performers should probably think twice about reaching their hands out - I watched a video of some lady pulling Darren off the stage (which was hilarious and scary at the same time). Also, the fans were distracting once the 3D camera panned out the audience members were in focus and it was really annoying. My friend who came with me also mentioned how annoying the camera angles were. It didn't bother me that much until I winced when I thought we were going to see directly up Naya Rivera's short mini-dress number she wore during 'River Deep, Mountain High'.

4. The "in character" concept - So I already stated my dislike for the concept - but the actual "in character" moments were really annoying. The biggest problem is that these actors are not great improv actors and I am pretty sure they didn't get lines to memorize - so the whole thing fell really flat. None of them seemed "in character" at all. How great would it have been to have Mark Salling teach us how to disc golf (which is what he did during downtime) or have the audience join Cory and Naya interacting with fans at one of their AT&T meet and greets? That is what real fans want to see!! I'm calling for a re-do of the whole film.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

4 Films That I am Glad I Skipped in the Theater

I caught up on some DVD's this week - all of which were disappointing. Here are my thoughts...

1. The Green Hornet - I admit that I am not familiar with the original but the idea of a superhero film starring Seth Rogen directed by Michel Gondry was very appealing to me. Then the trailer features them rapping along to Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise' and I was sold. Unfortunately, this little scene is probably the only entertaining part of the whole film. My biggest problem with the film was probably the acting. First, it is a good thing that James Franco was only in the beginning because his over-acting was off the chart. Second, Seth Rogen is not the best actor and like I have said before - he is better in smaller doses (like Superbad) and his voice becomes grating after about an hour. Also, he spends the film wondering why he can't nail Cameron Diaz - it's because she is Cameron Fucking Diaz and you are....you. Third, the guy that played Kato gave possibly the worst performance I have seen all year. Broken English is not funny unless you are Chang from The Hangover. I did appreciate that they gave Edward Furlong a job - poor guy is such a mess. I miss his talent and am rooting for a comeback. Other than the acting issues, the overall film was pretty dull - there was one really cool fight scene (the first one where Kato identifies all of the items that can be used for potential weapons). I got really bored after about an hour and the film just never recovered.

2. Sucker Punch - The best way I can describe this film is by quoting from The Australian Sun Times "consider yourself punched, sucker". That is exactly how I feel - because the film started out with such beauty and emotion - it was sort of breath taking. Then it turned into something so truly awful I don't even know how to describe it - it was like being punched in the stomach. The film revolves around "Baby Doll" who while trying to protect her sister from her evil step-father ends up killing her by accident. Her step-father then puts her into a mental institution. Then the film turns into another film about a group of dancers (which is really just the girls in the mental institution - imagining a different reality for themselves). Then a third film comes into play - the video game, eye candy extraordinaire. While "Baby Doll" dances - she imagines a world where she is fighting off dragons and robots in order to acquire things she will need to escape. I think I am making the film sound more interesting than it is because in theory it sounds awesome. In reality, it is painful - the action sequences are beautiful and boring at the same time, the acting is non-existent (although I think Emily Browning did a fantastic job at the beginning and the end of the film. On a side note: doesn't she look like Dianna Agron? The resemblance was distracting) and the film really had no point - like at all.

3. Source Code - This film wasn't actually that bad - I just read some really good reviews so I was expecting better. The plot was weird but not as original as it pretends to be (it reminded me of Premonition and Deja Vu). Instead of time travel they use fancy terms like "time reassignment" and "parallel reality". The problem with these types of films is that you are forced to sit through the same scenes over and over again. Yes, they are all a little different each time - but none of it is all that interesting. I predicted who the bad guy was after the second go around - it is pretty obvious. I do love both Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga - but both were underutilized. It was pretty mediocre on all accounts.

4. Insidious - The most disappointing of all - I had heard nothing but great things about this film. Reviewers claiming it to be a throwback to great horror films like Poltergeist and The Omen. The opening credits were nothing short of brilliant - the beautiful and creepy black and white still shots of the house each with something askew like a swinging ceiling light or a crooked picture. I could literally just watch 2 hours of that. It definitely set an incredibly high expectation for the rest of the film. The turning point of the film happened when the family became stupid (wouldn't you call the police when your house alarm goes off and the door that you just locked is suddenly opened???!). Then my attention for the film completely disappeared when they started talking about "travelers" and "astral projection" - it just became a silly ghost movie that was hardly scary. Even my theory that "kids are always creepy" is ruined here because the kid spends most of the film in a coma. I do love Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson - they are the only reason I continued to watch.

Monday, August 8, 2011

3 Things That Surprised Me About 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'

Even though I listed 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' as a film that I would not be seeing this summer because of its sheer ridiculousness - I ended up seeing it (blame it on convenient timing). Here is what surprised me about the film:

1. It was better than I expected - I wasn't expecting much, so that doesn't really mean anything. I guess I just had such a bad taste in my mouth from the 'Planet of the Apes' remake that I assumed this would be just as bad. However, this prequel had a whole lot of heart, impressive special effects and such an intriguing story that it actually left me wanting more.

2. The apes outshined the humans - Taking the Avatar route, this film uses motion capture to "create" the apes. Andy Serkis portrays the main ape, Caesar, with a heartbreaking emotional resonance that has never been done before. The humans, however, were a complete contrast - completely lifeless, most of them downright evil and cold. It would have been nice to blur the lines between good and evil, but this film decided to go the way of a very clear right and wrong which was ultimately the only problem I had with it (oh and it dragged a little in the middle - I think it could have gotten to the point a bit quicker).

3. It had no voice - The original film was a sociopolitical allegory for racism and equality, while also debating the theory of evolution versus creationism. This film is just a linear tale of the literal rise of the apes that involved a science experiment gone wrong. I am not sure if it was meant to raise questions about the cruelty of animal testing - if that was the goal then they failed. As an animal lover, I am sad to admit that I fully believe in the use of animals for testing because I also believe in survival of the fittest. We will never find cures for anything if we didn't use animal testing as a resource. The film will surely pull at your heart strings but it doesn't really raise any new questions or lend a voice to anti-animal testing. The reasons that things go wrong is because the humans in the film are dumb and make incredibly careless mistakes NOT because they went against "nature".

'Crazy, Stupid, Love': 2 Reasons to See it; 2 Reasons to Skip it

I had high hopes for this film - the trailer was super cute, Emma Stone continues her career high and Ryan Gosling gets naked (I'm there!). Ultimately the film fell a little short of my expectations but overall I thought it was still super cute - it just could have been much better.

Reasons to see it:

1. The acting - Ryan Gosling has been one of my favorite actors since The Believer. I love that he chose to try something different - like a romantic comedy (especially since most "serious" actors try to avoid the genre). I think he did a fantastic job - he created a very "real" ladies man character while avoiding all cliches (mostly due to the fact that it is totally believable that most women would go home with him) but he also had the daunting task of taking that character and realistically changing him into a man who falls head over heals in love with Emma Stone's character (who wouldn't fall in love with her?) Julianne Moore was also great at creating sympathy for her character that normally would be seen as a cheating shrew. I didn't hate her at all. Very impressive work from everyone.

2. The surprises - The one thing that I LOVED was the fact that it had 2 "big" revelations that were not anticipated. While, I would hate to give anything away - I just want to discuss one thing....***minor spoiler*** I really should have seen the biggest shock coming, and I am somewhat mad at myself for not putting 2 and 2 together. In the beginning of the film, I thought to myself how refreshing it was to see 2 non-traditionally beautiful women (i.e - not blond, not tan, not scary thin) as the center of the film. Then the film smacked me in the face with the explanation. Very well done.

Reasons to skip it:

1. The kids - I completely hated the whole kids plot. The 13 year old "in love" with his 17 year old babysitter was really over done. Who cares that the age difference won't matter in a few years...it matters now and right now it is gross. Even more disturbing was the 17 year old babysitter "in love" with this kids father. Sure, I know of girls who develop crushes on older men - but I hardly find it funny (I would call it dangerous). AND do we really need a film encouraging young girls to take naked photos of themselves?? Not cool.

2. The lack of comedy - Blame it on the trailer - there are no laugh out loud moments except the ones featured in the trailer. It was "cute" in its entirety but with such great comedic actors like Steve Carell and Emma Stone - I expect them to be fully utilized for their talents and they weren't. The film needed to move a little bit quicker, have some lighter comedic moments and add a touch of whimsy to be considered a "great" romantic comedy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

3 Reasons to See 'Another Earth'

I hadn't heard much about 'Another Earth' except that it won some festival prizes and was creating some buzz around the film industry. I purposely did not watch the trailer (which I think definitely heightened my enjoyment of the film) so I went in the theater a blank slate. It was a beautiful film, with an incredible mix of indie drama and science fiction that was downright perfection. A few minor plot problems exist, but overall the film is a delight.

1. It's a 'small' story inside a 'big' story - At the heart of the film, it is about a girl who as a teenager makes a mistake (drives drunk) that ends up killing 2 people and forever changing the lives of herself and the survivor of the crash. On that level - it is a fairly simple story - and has been done before. Yet, in the "world" of this film - a big discovery has been made. Another Earth has been discovered and the human race will also be forever changed. The films success lies in its ability to merge these 2 stories together - focusing more on the two characters while utilizing the science fiction tale to fill the background.

2. It asks the 'big' questions but doesn't answer them- What if there was an actual parallel world with a parallel you living a parallel life? What if you had the chance to meet him/her? What would you say to yourself? What happens when these parallel worlds start to deviate? Is one better than the other? All of these HUGE questions are almost nothing compared to the questions in the smaller story. What would you do if you took 2 lives (a child and his mother)? How would you be able to live with yourself? Rhoda's answer is to become invisible - she gets a job as a school janitor and keeps to herself. She realizes that she needs to apologize to John (the husband/father who survived the crash), but when she sees that this once successful man is on a downward spiral - she decides to help him instead of being honest with him. Is this an attempt to make things better for him or an attempt to feel some sort of atonement for herself? Brit Marling did a beautiful job at portraying pain and confusion with a glimpse of subtle hope (she also co-wrote the film).

3. The ending - ***Spoilerish****- In my mind, the film gives a very clear (and very unexpected) ending - the theory that is presented is the "shattered glass" theory. When the two worlds discovered each other (which happened the exact day of the accident) - the two worlds began to deviate. Rhoda believes that if this theory is true then the 2 people she killed could possibly still be alive. The fact that the "other" Rhoda appears in the end is a definitive answer for me that this is in fact true. She didn't send John in her place because she didn't need to. This still leaves some questions - like how did the "other" her get a seat on the shuttle to "Earth 1"? The reason "our" Rhoda gained the seat was because she was considered a felon - someone who has nothing else. Surely, the "other" Rhoda (if she didn't kill anyone) would have continued a successful life - went to MIT like she planned, etc (you can tell just by looking at her that she is supposed to be more polished than our Rhoda) - but would that be enough to gain a seat on the shuttle? I would have loved to see more from the "Earth 2". Maybe a sequel?

3 Thoughts on 'Friends With Benefits'

I am pretty indifferent about the film…it was far more entertaining than I expected but overall also pretty forgettable. Here are my thoughts:

1. The beginning was rough
– the first 30 minutes had me in doubt. It was filled with romantic comedy shtick that bored me to tears - My eyes started to hurt from rolling them so much. Our two main characters meet – she is a corporate head hunter, he is her new target – trying to convince him to accept a job at GQ magazine in NYC (like one would really need convincing to accept a job like that). She shows him the “real” NY – which is exactly what you would expect (and much more like that “tourist” version…but whatevs). Their banter is supposed to be witty - like how silly he is for waiting for the "walk" symbol to cross the street!! Come on a real New Yorker power walks through the city with no concern for speeding cars!! I bet you never heart that joke before!! I don’t know how to pin point it but the dialogue was off, the chemistry was off and the plot was irritating….but only for the first 30, then things started to come together.

2. It’s not believable – it is not very easy to relate to characters who have perfect lives but complain about their lives not being perfect. Yes, his characters father is going through the beginning stages of Alzheimer's (which is heartbreaking – Richard Jenkins is a genius), while her characters mother is a bit loopy and free spirited – but the fact is they both have parents that love them, they are both gorgeous human beings and they both have success in their professional career (and therefore money). Stop complaining!!! It makes my stomach turn. Also, as funny as Andy Samberg is – there is no way in America he can get someone as hot as Mila Kunis let alone would he be the one to dump her….not believable at all!!

3. It makes fun of itself, its actors and its characters – One of the things that I enjoyed was that it doesn’t take itself to seriously. It sort of made fun of itself in all of its romantic clichéd glory (yet, I think the creators were attempting to do something different and they did not succeed). The characters weren’t exactly the most original – as they point out in the film several times – he is emotionally closed off and she is emotionally damaged. It points out the “rough” beginning I referred to by comparing her to Grace from Will and Grace. (Look at me!! I’m a strong, powerful woman but I am also clumsy and soo adorable!!!) My absolute favorite part of the film is when they make fun of the actors – Justin is lucky enough in H-Wood to have a lot of friends…like Shawn White, Andy Samberg and John Mayer. Shawn White took most of the punches – all of it was hilarious (unless you don’t know who he is). John Mayer wasn't in the film but he took a pretty good beating. Justin was also a pretty good sport – showing an actual picture of him with his Kriss Kross braids (I totally remember when he used to dress like that). This scene where he fully busts out with his favorite Kriss Kross song is Justin at his best - which is why I think he should focus on things like SNL and hosting gigs (and go back to making some music!!).