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.