Sunday, September 30, 2012

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. God Bless America - Well-written, witty, dark, twisted and surprisingly touching.  The film is commentary on the current obsession with celebrities, reality television and other trash that has resulted in people regurgitating information instead of having their own thoughts.  It's not subtle either.  After being told that he has a terminal brain tumor, Frank (played by Joel Murray) decides to release some of his frustration by killing a very popular reality TV star.  This leads him on a spree, killing all the "rude" people in his path, which in all honesty, is very satisfying.  American Idol doesn't make me want to kill, but it does make me hate pretty much everyone around me.  Bobcat Goldthwait delivers a strong script that really just goes for it, with no apologies or remorse.  My biggest (and only) problem with the movie is the character of Roxy.  I think the actress over-played her part a bit, but the actual character isn't very cohesive either. *spoilers*  Roxy would have made a more resonating impact if her "story" was true.  The revelation (that was clear from the beginning) that she lied is offensive and a disservice to females that have actually lived the life that she described.  The fact that she is just another spoiled girl, who is desperately seeking excitement in her life, is terribly disappointing.  I know that this is the point; that she is just another product of her environment and now we can feel Franks disappointment in, yet, another person.  But then, he easily forgives her and, even more frustrating, he reassures her that she is "pretty".  Like I said, it was my only problem with the film and I can easily look past it.  It will most likely land in my top 10 of the year. 

2. The Dictator - Some comedies are provocative, outrageous and offensive all for the sake of a laugh.  The Dictator tries too hard to accomplish this and it fails.  I sat staring at the screen, thinking "wow....this really isn't funny"  and the odd thing is that I really didn't think it was offensive either.  As an American, as a woman, as a New Yorker and as a human being, I should be offended, so in that way it failed as well. I can appreciate Sacha Baron Cohen's humor and his "characters".  Borat made me laugh and I just now realized that I've never seen Bruno.  I assumed that I did.  Weird.  Also, why, Anna Faris, why???  Dumb comedies are totally her thing, but even this was beneath her.  Her dumb blond thing works when she is playing a dumb blond.  It doesn't work when she is supposed to be a smart, independent business owner.  There wasn't even a cohesive plot to follow, just one ridiculously unfunny scene after the next.  A very pathetic attempt at comedy. 

3. Abduction - I'm sorry, I don't get Taylor Lautner.  Why is he famous again?  Because he has nice abs?  And?  Aside from said abs, he isn't hot (at all) and he has absolutely no acting ability.  He lacks charisma and facial expressions.  He looks like he struggles to even walk naturally.  Abduction easily belongs on the worst films of 2011 list, which is a shame because it actually has a somewhat original idea.  This idea, however, becomes so contrived and unbelievable that it negates any positives. The catalyst in the film is that Nathon (Lautner) discovers his own picture on missing children's website, leading him on a quest to discover who he is. Even when I saw the trailer, I thought "ooooh, that is interesting", but I wish someone could take this idea and do it well.  This film was empty and boring and forgettable.  Although, my absolute favorite part was the BMW commercial in the middle.

4. A Separation - Incredible film.  Powerful but still subtle and intimate.  It's interesting to see the justice system in Iran, but the domestic story made the film easy to relate to.  There were political and religious undertones throughout, but it was never really the focus.  I didn't really know what the film was about before watching it, other than a couple getting divorced.  It's so much more than that and becomes a very complex tale of human conflict.  It is unclear on who the audience should root for (if anyone?).  I loved the way it was shot and the narrative felt like a thriller instead of a drama.  The ending will leave some frustrated, but I thought it was perfect.  The acting was superb, especially Peyman Moadi.  I was shocked to learn that this is only his second film.  I can clearly see why the film won the Oscar for Foreign Language film (although, my pick, The Skin I Live In, was not nominated). 

5. Girl in Progress - So much potential, but hardly amounts to anything.  In the beginning, the daughter states that she is inspired by her mother, meaning she is "inspired to be nothing like her".   This is something that I can relate to, but I was disappointed that the daughter then spends the entire film becoming exactly like her mother.  She becomes selfish, irresponsible and spends her time rebelling and trying to get attention - setting a goal of losing her virginity, which will suddenly make her an adult and therefore independent (and no one seemed concerned about that flawed logic?).  I seriously hope that young girls aren't that stupid.  The movie becomes a contradiction of itself and it hits all the cliches of mother/daughter relationships (and of course, a happy ending). Eva Mendes did a decent job; much better than the rest of the cast, but still nothing spectacular. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

3 Thoughts on The Words

*slight spoilers*

1. The three stories - From the trailer, we can see that there is more to the movie than the main story.  I thought that even though the main story, of a writer who steals a manuscript and passes it off as his own, was a bit dull, at least there seemed to be more intriguing parts to it.  Unfortunately, the three stories are all part of one story and it's really not that interesting.  I'm not sure if we are supposed to be surprised by the events as they unfold, but I doubt anyone was.  It only took a few seconds to "get it" and then I was kind of left with this feeling of "what next?".  Only there isn't anything next.  It's not intellectual or clever or the least bit exciting.  The acting ranged from decent (Bradley Cooper) to horrible (Olivia Wilde).  My biggest problems with the film were Zoe Saldana's character, as the supportive wife, and the pace of the film. 

2. The supportive wife - Even though Zoe wasn't the worst actor/actress in the film, her character was probably the most annoying (though to be fair, everyone was pretty annoying).  At first, I liked that her character seemed to be supportive of her partner's passion for writing.  Most women in this situation are portrayed as nagging, "get a real job" dream-crushers, so I was relieved that they opted to go a different route. Things started to disappoint me when she becomes the catalyst for Rory (Cooper) to pass off this found novel as his own.  She finds it on his laptop (WHY ARE YOU GOING THROUGH HIS PERSONAL THINGS!) and then tells him how this novel is the best thing he's ever done.  By the end, as Rory confronts her, he says something to the effect of "you knew it wasn't mine", which she denies.  But if you think about it, if she really was as supportive as she is portrayed, then, he is right, she should have known.  If she read his other work and then read something that is completely different (complete with spelling and grammatical errors that he admitted to keeping), why would she assume that it was his?  That's a bit ridiculous right?  So, in the end, she's the same manipulative shrew character that I despise.  Also, as my friend pointed out, she spent the entire film smothering him.  I admit, if I were in Zoe's shoes, acting along with Bradley Cooper, I might have trouble keeping my hands off of him, but it is really up to the Director to "direct" her to back the fuck up.  Seriously, she was touching him in every scene.  It was uncomfortable.

3. The pace - The three stories (that were really one story) felt very disjointed, but that wasn't the only problem.  First, I am not a big fan of voice-overs and this film starts off with Dennis Quaid narrating and then it doesn't stop.  His voice became grating.  There was an awkward break in the film where we get narration from Jeremy Irons, in which we get details of what the actual book was about. This was told through these almost silent flashbacks that were probably the most boring sequences I've seen in a while.  Hard to believe that this tepid love story is the subject of this supposedly amazing book.  Then we get scenes with Olivia Wilde and Dennis Quaid painfully trying to seduce each other by endlessly talking.  Talk about a lack of chemistry - I could almost feel her cringe anytime Dennis Quaid got too close to her.  Also, it's not all that interesting to watch someone type for a long period of time, nor is it interesting to watch someone read, nor is it interesting to have words appear on the screen that the audience can't even read.  All of these elements made for a really lengthy cinematic experience.  I was sure the film was more than 2 hours, so I'm shocked to learn it was only 1 hour and 36 minutes.  96 minutes of torture. 

**Attention Alias fans: There is a very short scene with Bradley Cooper and Ron Rifkin (aka Arvin Sloane).  I actually squealed out loud. 

4 Thoughts on the Emmy Awards

1. The Host - Jimmy Kimmel wasn't a bad choice for hosting the Emmys, but I don't think he was the best choice, either.  I don't watch his talk show, but I've seen plenty of clips and yes, I usually laugh.  He's never really wowed me though.  I was worried with the opening sketch that consisted of Botox humor, fake punches and a naked Lena Dunham; especially if you compare that opening sketch with my favorite opening sketch from a few years ago with host Jimmy Fallon recruiting Jon Hamm, Cory Monteith, Tina Fey, Joel McHale and others to bust out on stage with Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run (if you don't know what I'm talking about, watch it: ).  I smiled for days after watching that.  This years opening fell flat and it set the tone for the rest of the show.  I didn't laugh out loud at any of Kimmel's jokes.  He didn't seem to be having any fun up there, but in his defense, he did keep the show moving smoothly. 

2. The Winners - AARON PAUL!!  I was actually rooting for Giancarlo Esposito but Aaron is still a win for Breaking Bad and he is just as deserving.  I think Aaron was as surprised as everyone else that he beat out Gus Fring and I loved their little exchange of hugs and kisses (Also, HOLY FUCK, Aaron Paul's fiance is gorgeous.).  I was hoping that his win was just the beginning of the Breaking Bad sweep, but unfortunately it all went to shit after that.  I haven't seen Homeland yet. I have read a ton of great things about the series and about Claire Danes, but I've never read or heard anyone claim that it is the *best* drama on television.  I have heard best *new* drama.  Breaking Bad season 4 and Mad Men season 5 consisted of some of the most brilliant drama I've ever witnessed on television. Mad Men has been on an Emmy winning streak, so I understand the need to move on.  It's just ironic that the past season was its best (plus if The Daily Show can win 10 times, then so can Mad Men).  It should have, at least, won the writing category, while Breaking Bad should have swept the directing and acting categories.  Although, I always go back and forth between Bryan Cranston and Michael C. Hall, I would have been happy with Jon Hamm winning (he still hasn't won an Emmy).  On the comedy side of things, I've read a lot of people upset over Modern Family winning, which I think is odd.  It's a consistently funny show, with a great cast.  Out of the nominated shows, it is the best.  Louis C.K. won for writing Louie, which I think is enough (he doesn't deserve the acting nod since he PLAYS HIMSELF and the show, while brilliantly written, is not better than Modern Family).  I did not realize that Pamela Adlon helped write some Louie episodes.  I adore her. Also surprising, the winning writer for Game Change was the kid that played Jonathon on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!!  That blew my mind.  I would have loved to see Merritt Wever win for Nurse Jackie, but I knew that was a long shot and I would have preferred ANYONE else over Jon Cryer. 

3. The Show - It wasn't just the host that was flat; the skits, the presenters, the winners speeches, everything about it was just plain blah.  I won't remember a single thing from the show a week from now.  There was a cute Modern Family sketch and a really funny Breaking Bad sketch (that seemed like it was cut short) but they were followed by a really awful Big Bang Theory sketch (it baffles me that people actually find that show amusing).  There were some funny presenters; Seth Macfarlane not knowing where the microphone was; Stephen Colbert joking about the "war on women" noting that out of the 7 women up for Lead Actress in a Comedy, 5 of them are great (side note: there were 7 nominees for this category!!); Aziz Ansari doing a British accent so people think he is a better actor (I don't know why but when he said "fish and chips", I giggled); Ricky Gervais proving that he only needs a few minutes to prove that he is the best comedian in the room, while also acknowledging that Louis C.K. is the "second best".   There were some really awkward presenters as well - the worst being Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton, both seemed aggravated and gave off a weird vibe (doesn't bode well for their new show).  All of the speeches were dull, but leave it to Amy Poehler to liven things up by switching speeches with the winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus (we all know that was Amy's idea).  I can't believe that they cut off the acceptance speech for Modern Family (and to think, the guy who directed the show won a freakin' Emmy!!).  That was really tasteless. 

4. The Fashion - Most of the fashion was boring this year.  Apparently, the banana look is the big trend this year.  While, Julianne Moore and Claire Danes made this trend a disaster, Leslie Mann was absolutely stunning.  She looked comfortable, effortless, fun and still sexy (and not in the cleavage-baring kind of way).  Perfection.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

3 Thoughts on Lawless

1. My interest - I expected to wait to watch Lawless until the DVD release.  I had very little interest in it.  From the trailer it looked like another mediocre gangster story during prohibition; not exactly new territory.  My intention was to see The Bourne Legacy, but the lovely NJ traffic dictated otherwise.  I've been told by several people that Legacy is quite disappointing, so I guess some things happen for a reason.  I doubt Lawless will make it on my "Best of the Year" list, but I'm pretty satisfied with the it.  The "based on a true story" tale of the Bondurant boys was a little more personal than other films like it, there were some nice bloody "shoot 'em up" scenes, some nail-biting suspense and, best of all, a fantastic ensemble of actors. 

2. The cast - Let's start with Tom Hardy.  In the past 3 films that I have seen him in (Warrior, The Dark Knight Rises and this film - I'll ignore This Means War, for now) he has successfully conveyed heartbreaking emotion through his eyes and body language instead of relying on dialogue.  This amazes me.  He literally just grunted his way through the film and it was utterly brilliant to watch.  Shia LaBeouf is a little less subtle, but I've always stood by him as far as his acting is concerned.  Yes, in real life he's quite a douche, but on the big screen he has a charm to him that is hard to ignore.  He uses this charm well in this film, especially when courting Mia Wasikowska's character.   Guy Pearce is perfectly evil as a corrupt Government Agent, although the character is a bit overkill and probably the weakest link in the film. I would have preferred less of Guy Pearce and more of Gary Oldman (barely in the film at all). Dane DeHaan still reminds me of a young Leo DiCaprio, as he did in Chronicle (that's a good thing).  And Jessica Chastain.....Oh.....Jessica Chastain.  Simply stunning.  As an actress and, let's be honest, as a female specimen, she is just absolute perfection.  I'm not complaining that she spent a good portion of the film in very little clothing, but it was a little confusing when Tom Hardy was dressed in 3 layers of grandpa cardigans.  Is it cold? Hot?  Who knows! 

3. The running joke - *slight spoilers*  The film is based around the running joke that the Bondurant brothers were invincible.  A legend that started when they were kids, but became strong after certain events in the film.  I think this legend is what keeps the film interesting up until the very end; especially the end.  That last little scene with Forrest (Hardy) was a nice touch.  I think I will remember it for years to come. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fall TV Preview: 5 New Shows

The Fall television season has arrived!!  I admit that I watch an obscene amount of television, but I'm tired of investing my time on a new show and then having it cancelled after one season.  Last year, I picked 16 shows.  In 2010, I picked 14 shows.  Only 12 of these shows still exist and I only watch 7 of them.  So this year, I decided to be very limited in the amount of new shows I watch; I narrowed it down to 5. 

1. Elementary - The show had me at Jonny Lee Miller.  I was a big fan of the show Eli Stone (which was cancelled after 2 seasons) and he was superb as a psychopath on Dexter.  I think he'll make a damn fine Sherlock.  Adding Lucy Lui as a female Watson is an interesting move (but does that mean she's not on Southland anymore?  I can't remember what happened to her character. Help!).  I'm really not a fan of CBS shows.  Over the past few years, I've tried to give them a chance with Blue Bloods and Person of Interest but both have disappointed me.  I feel like CBS airs shows that you don't really have to pay attention to; there is no depth or full character development.  For Elementary to work, there needs to be some depth (like the BBC's Sherlock).  Here's hoping they try something new.

2. 666 Park Avenue - I really enjoy horror TV shows and with the success of American Horror Story and The Walking Dead, it's a perfect time for this show.  Set in an apartment building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the residents all are seemingly having their dreams come true, but they may have unknowingly made a deal with the Devil.  I'm going to throw it out there and predict that Terry O'Quinn (aka John Locke, aka Kendall) will probably be revealed as the Devil.  Or is that too obvious? I do know that would be perfect casting, but I guess we'll see. Other cast members include Dave Annable (HOT) and Rachael Taylor (HOTTER).  Also, it's being compared to The Shining, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's ridiculous. I'm just hoping for a fun, creepy, campy, soap-like drama.

3. The New Normal - Oh Ryan Murphy.  I love him and I hate him.  I love him for his crazy, brilliant mind that created Nip/Tuck and Glee and I hate him for being an arrogant, stubborn asshole that turned both those shows to outrageous trash (the jury is still out on American Horror Story, but I think it is very telling that he is doing the show as a "mini-series" each year which basically allows him to do whatever the fuck he wants, instead of a show that has to have consistency).  I think The New Normal will likely be funny, in the same vein as Modern Family.  Justin Bartha makes me laugh with his goofiness, Ellen Barkin is bat-shit crazy (in a good way) and NeNe Leakes was surprisingly funny on Glee, so I am expecting some good humor.  At least for the first 2 seasons. 

4. Revolution - I think everyone is tired of high-concept TV shows being introduced as "the next Lost".  After the failure of so many shows (Six Degrees, FlashForward, The Event), we should just accept the fact that such a thing will never exist.  Just like there will never be another Friends, there will never be another Lost.  J.J. Abrams is an Executive Producer on Revolution, but that doesn't mean much to me (especially since I don't like Person of Interest or Alcatraz).  I prefer him being involved in a writing capacity (Alias and Fringe are amongst my favorite shows of all time).  So, I will watch the show but with hesitation.  It seems like a really cool concept- set 15 years after an epic blackout.  There is the mystery of why the power was turned off, but also whether it should be turned back on.  I don't could work. 

5. Animal Practice -  I admit, I am really unsure about this show, but I really, really love JoAnna Garcia and I really, really want her to find a project that showcases her talent.  Plus, Justin Kirk is hilarious in that perfectly dry and sarcastic sort of way (although him starring in this show is just a reminder that Weeds is ending.....sad face).  Wednesday night is sort of lacking on television shows (seriously, EVERYTHING I watch is on Thursday night) so I figure I could give it a shot.  I watched the preview episode that aired a few weeks ago and it was decent.  I didn't really laugh, but there was a nice set up of characters and plot.   I used to want to be a veterinarian so it's sort of interesting territory for me. 

Thoughts on 5 Films

1. American Reunion -  American Pie arrived in theaters the summer after I graduated from high school (1999 - the greatest graduation year ever!).  Along with 10 Things I Hate About You and Can't Hardly Wait, it was a film that sort of defined my high school years.  Not that my high school experience was anything like these films, but I think they represented what I wanted high school to be like.  The problem with the American Pie films is that, as they continued with the sequels, it became a sad reminder of how much time has gone by.  American Reunion was made for my age group as its target audience, yet it panders to a younger one.  It's no longer fun to watch and it certainly doesn't represent what I want my life to be like now.  There were no big laugh-out-loud moments, no memorable scenes, no quotable lines etc.  I did appreciate that they managed to get everyone from the original film, even if some of the characters only had a minute of screen time (Natasha Lyonne!!).

2. The Iron Lady - Not in the least bit interesting.  It's a bland biopic that tries to gain sympathy for a woman that is unsympathetic.  It doesn't succeed.  I love that the poster for the film has the words "Never Compromise". That really tells you everything you need to know about Margaret Thatcher.  As far as Meryl Streep's "phenomenal" Oscar-winning performance, I call "bullshit".  Meryl should have handed her Oscar over to Olivia Colman or Tilda Swinton (neither of them were even nominated for fuck's sake!!!). 

3. Wrath of the Titans - A significant improvement over the Clash of the Titans remake.  The effects were cooler and it had a bit of wit that the first was lacking (like how the supporting characters make fun of Perseus "release the Kraken and all that...").  My knowledge of Greek mythology is getting rusty because I had to look up the character Agenor, only to realize that his actual place in mythology has nothing to do with the movie.  It's probably better if you don't know the roots of the characters, at least it's less frustrating.  It's more enjoyable if you just go along with this pseudo-mythology that the film creates.  Sam Worthington is pretty lifeless as a demigod, but it's not as noticeable as it was with Clash because the supporting characters are given more screen time.  Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes) had some electrifying scenes together. I'm not sure why they replaced Alexa Davalos with Rosamund Pike for the role of Andromeda; neither are very memorable. 

4. Silent House - First, and foremost, kudos to the production team - the technical aspects of the film are fantastic.  Completing a film with one long take has to be a nightmare for all involved and it was extremely successful in creating a truly claustrophobic atmosphere. Had I seen it in the theater, I think I would have been grasping for air. Kudos to Elizabeth Olsen for her performance; she portrayed genuine terror brilliantly.  Her performance here solidified her acting abilities more so than Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene.  It's a shame that the filmmakers found it necessary to focus on her cleavage for most of the film (big distraction...I could not take my eyes off of her boobs).   My problem with the film is that it has one of the most frustrating plots of any recent horror film.  It made me so angry, that I forgot about everything that made it special and am left with what made it a disaster.  It should be said that the entire film has been done before, with the original Uruguayan film, La casa muda.  I do wish I watched the original instead of this version, but I have no interest now that I know how stupid the plot is.  I don't want to delve into it because I don't want to give it away, but if you really pay attention to the film, it is just one big foreshadow of events.   

5. Wrecked - This is one of those 127 Hours/Buried type movies with the actor trapped in a confined space with no one else to act off of.  Adrien Brody is a solid enough actor to pull it off (as opposed to Ryan Reynolds).  The story revolves around him, trapped in a car after an accident that has left the car seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  He wakes up, not only does he not know where he is, but who he is, along with 2 other passengers who are dead.  It's actually an interesting concept and the beginning is really intense, but the intrigue starts to wear off and the film becomes dull.  It's hard for me to watch these types of survival instinct type movies because I just wouldn't have the energy or will.  That sounds depressing, but it is totally true.  I liked that the film had a bit of a twist ending, even if it was a little predictable.