Sunday, December 23, 2012

Insert Pun About Christmas Here


Tradition is a word used a lot this time of the year. Obviously people have traditions during different times of the year, but Christmas is so big that it’s hard for anyone one year to just be like, “Oh, I think I’ll skip everything about Christmas this year.” It’s not like in the movies where the hard-working, non-observant parent tells the kid they won’t be home for Christmas and the squirt whines, “But it’s a traditioooonnnnn.” Even my helluva-inconsistent family keeps some things sacred in December.
For a few good years now, my family and I have had the tradition of, after Christmas Eve service at my church, getting Tomaso’s Pizza and watching a movie together. The pizza, I’m sure, is just so that my mom doesn't have to cook/put anything from the freezer in the big, hot box in the kitchen I don’t go near, but the movie is just something to keep the fam together for a little while during the most hectic season of the year.
These movies rarely have anything to do with the next day, although I’m pretty sure what we had in mind when this tradition was made is that every year it would be a Christmas movie. (But frankly, the only two holiday movies we owned would’ve gotten old very quickly). Since we usually need a consensus on the choice of movie, it can definitely take a while to choose one. (Ah, the traditional Christmas Eve pre-movie fight.)
A Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (both eighties movies that my parents swore were the bee’s knees when they showed us that were really just weird, if not slightly disturbing and awkward) were included in the first few years, I think. After that we ventured out to Over the Hedge, Wall-E, and Up. This isn’t a time for hard-hitters, but it’s still nice for us to all sit together and all of that sappy shit. Also, the fact that we’re pretty much just sitting and staring at a screen drastically minimizes the chance we’ll start fighting. After the movie ends everything is free game, though. (Ah, the traditional Christmas Eve post-movie fight.)
Traditions are a pretty awesome thing. They let us reflect on the good times we’ve had and, for all of you obsessive-compulsives out there, set up a pattern that shouldn’t be messed with. Otherwise you get things like silver Christmas trees, which are just a crime against nature.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Only a Last Resort


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live as equals with walking, talking bears? Well then maybe you should reassess your goals, because I, for one, have always and had a glimpse into what this life would be like when I watched Disney's The Country Bears.
I had seen it before, a few times actually, when I was younger. Even then I knew that it was an absolutely ridiculous movie. I mean, it's just Earth, but with some very evolved bears that are just like humans. Like humans, they speak the native language, wear clothes (except for pants, sometimes), and start bands.
The movie starts out with Beary, a young bear questioning his place in his family full of humans. For some reason he leaves without notice to go and see his the sight of his favorite band's, The Country Bears, last performance at Country Bear Hall. Beary finds out that the hall is about to be demolished, so he sets out again to get the band back together with hopes that they can play and save the building.
Being the first time I've watched it I-don't-know-how-many years, I was actually pretty surprised at how much it wasn't completely eye-gougingly bad (except for the music. That was still awful beyond belief). Even though TCB is rated-G, that didn't stop anyone from writing in jokes like how one of the bears “never got off the honey”, which I enjoyed. I think that the epic-ridiculousness of it added to the humor.
And okay, yeah, it's not a “thinker” like Inception or V for Vendetta, but you have to get past the fact that this so simple and filled with politically-incorrect bears who live like humans (now that I think about it, it's super disturbing. I mean, bears are still mauling people today and this movie just shows them living together. It's not a nice thought or hope for the future; it's just creepy) and just watch it. Or don't. I'm definitely not recommending anyone to watch this, because you'll probably end up coming to my house with armfuls of rotten tomatoes.
So maybe you shouldn't watch The Country Bears. And maybe you shouldn't show your kids because it's pretty freaky and possibly scarring. But if you ever just don't have any plans on a Friday night (as I often don't), don't spend it crying yourself to sleep; go ahead and watch the movie and you'll feel better about your life immediately because it's bound to be better than the writers' after The Country Bears came out.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Mom, you watched that last week...

In my basement there's a shelf stacked with dozens and dozens of movies that cover every genre and star almost every known actor and actress in Hollywood. Yet whenever my mom wants to watch a movie during the weekend, she pretty much always chooses the same two: The Mask of Zorro (1998) and The Mummy (1999).
I get it; we all have our favorite movies. But isn't there a point (possibly somewhere between the sixth and seventh rewatch in a year) when we just get sick of the same movie over and over? I mean, hell yes, I love Blood Diamond, but if I watched it more than once or twice a year I think I would just get sick of it. Seeing Elf even once a year is bordering on too much. My mom seems to have some immunity to this, though.
I interviewed her to try to find out what was up.

As it turns out, I'm an awful interviewer. Not only was I unprepared to the point where I kept repeating the same question over and over in different ways, hoping something new would come up, but I also didn't figure anything new out.
Pretty much the reason my mom watches The Mummy and The Mask of Zorro so often is because, “They're exciting...I like Antonio Banderas”. (Ummm, who doesn't?)
I asked her why she bought each movie in the first place. “I bought [The Mask of Zorro] because it was cheap. It's got...historical fiction and it's funny and there's romance it in and action and adventure.”
When asked what her favorite thing about The Mummy was, she said “the mummies”. (How fascinating!)
My mom claimed that she actually doesn't watch Zorro that often, which I totally don't believe. I've only watched it with her half of the times she has and I can recognize the soundtrack from a different room. (Okay, maybe I've seen the movie a few too many times.) She said her favorite movie was more along the lines of Ever After. (All right, that's a pretty good one she watches a lot, but it's way too far into this post to add it in.)

So whether it's just an immunity to getting tired of the same movie over and over or maybe just my mom getting too old to remember what the movies are about, I didn't figure a lot out. As she said, “You suck at this for sure.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2014 in Film

Are they really making
Another Godzilla?
Something called
Robopocalypse?
RoboCop?
What’s the deal with robots?
All You Need is Kill
I won’t be seeing.

Some epic sequels
Will make their way out.
Mockingjay Part 1,
Transformers 4
(Thought unnecessary by all),
How to Train Your Dragon 2,
And Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,
Which I just might see.

Marvel can expect billions
With their four new movies:
X-Men: Days of Future Past,
The Amazing Spider-Man 2,
Guardians of the Galaxy,
And Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
All these men?
Oh Lord, I’ll see.


(Blogger’s note: It’s called po-I-needed-a-really-short-post-etry.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

And You Thought Spending Time with Relatives Was Bad


Less than two weeks until Christmas!
Along with the presents, the cookies, the carols, and the poker (oh, wait. Is that just with my family?), come another tradition of the holiday season. It’s about two weeks into December, so naturally the awfully stereotypical, made-for-television Christmas movies have begun to trickle onto the weekend line-up.
Usually theater-released Christmas movies (aka real movies) are legends. They survive the test of time to be rewatched again and again by people like me. It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and Elf are just a few of the many that find themselves being played over and over by people, young and old, wanting to relive the ghost of memories past.
Unfortunately this epidemic of TV movies is hard to escape, and this year I sat myself down on the couch and decided to actually watch one.
It’s called The Mistle-Tones, about an a capella group competing for a spot to sing at a holiday show at the local mall. Amongst other groups, their main competitors are the Snow Belles (must every a capella group’s name be a pun? No, really. Is this some unspoken rule you learn when you start one?), led by the straight-up bitch Marci (Tori Spelling), who has it out for the completely good, angel-voiced Holly (Tia Mowry).
Holly has to put together an awesome arrangement for her group (of coworkers: her possibly-gay, wise-cracking male friend, the over-weight, supposedly-straight male acquaintance, the pretty-but-completely-timid HR rep who has to stick her nose in everything, and the uptight-at-first, karaoke-loving boss). The Snow Belles consist of supposedly pretty, pick jumpsuit-wearing, perky middle-aged women, not unlike their leader.
For a full plot description just add “predictable” before every noun.
 
The Mistle-Tones not only lacks originality, but also subtlety. From the beginning of the groups’ formation, it’s obvious the Mistle-Tones are having tons of fun practicing in comparison to the strictly-run Snow Belles. The romance between Holly and her boss was written from the beginning when he was still completely business and also somewhat of an asshole.
It’s one of those movies which you can guess what happens before it does; I feel like I’ve seen the movie dozens of times before. Even Spelling agreed that The Mistle-Tones is just a baby of two movie parents. And I paraphrase: “It's a combination of Mean Girls and Glee” [said in an interview with E! News]. I mean, these two things have each been spun in so many directions so many times because people think it’ll give their movie/TV show a freaking edge. Instead all it does is make me slightly nauseous and wish I was surrounded by my relatives as they ogled over how much I've grown.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tips on Living a Short Life


Movie theaters have dozens of things wrong with them. The tickets and food are effing pricy, the floors are sticky, the bathrooms smell awful, et cetera, but those can be ignored. What can't be ignored is the annoying person next to you in the theater commenting on every little thing or the person three rows down with the crying baby. Those are just movie killers. And more times than none it’ll get you dirty glares and angry whispers from all around. And maybe some death-plotting from the more serious movie-goers.
Most of the time I just want to watch a movie in perfect quiet. My mom, however, seems to have a need to comment on the littlest of things during a movie. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had come out on DVD, my family immediately bought it and made a movie night out of it (of course, only my mom, sister, and I were watching). Even though we had all seen the movie already, my sister and I watched it like it was our first time: fully engrossed with that glazed-over stare you can only get when two emotionally unstable teenage girls watch a movie about wizards defeating a dark lord with no nose. My mom almost completely ruined the night for us, though, with her, “This is my favorite part!” and “Oh, he is just perfect for this role” and “Actually this is my favorite part. Hmmm, no it’s probably tied with the scene where-”. Karalee and I were nice about it at first. She told our mother politely that, “We’d really just like to watch this movie without talking.” That didn’t work. Then, near the end right before Snape died, my mom decided it was the perfect time to put a load of laundry into the dryer, which also meant, unspokenly, that she would also be checking her email, Facebook, and cnn.com. Karalee and I refused to pause the movie (Rebel! Rebel!), which gained us the last twenty minutes in perfect, tear-filled silence.
Then, when I went to go see Skyfall with my mother, even though I had already seen it, I still wanted to just sit and watch. We didn't get through the first scene before she had gasped and “oh no”-ed when James Bond had gotten shot and fell off of a bridge (it’s in the freaking trailer, woman). It’s one of those things people do sometimes: they say something just to be heard saying it. “Oh no” is almost never a reflex like jumping during a scary movie or laughing when someone makes a joke. It was unnecessary, like when Bond was walking through an abandoned underground train station and she said, “I don’t want to watch. This is too scary.”
There are other ways to be freaking annoying at the movie theater than just talking. For example, when I went to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, someone had apparently thought it a good idea to bring their infant along with. I don't know if they couldn't get a babysitter or what, but when it started crying just during the title credits I didn't care. I wanted that baby out.
Another way to get pissy people like me to glare at you in a movie theater is to be super loud with that very expensive candy you just bought. Listen, there are ads before the movie for a reason: it's so that you can open up your Reese's Pieces then as opposed to while Jesus is being crucified in The Passion of the Christ, which is actually a true and very unfortunate story.
I mean, of course you can totally avoid all of these things. You could smuggle in your own, cheap drink and candy into the theater; you could just hold your pee until you get home; you could even go to the theater at such an obscure time by yourself that no one would be around to talk to you/cry/have problems opening a plastic bag/all of the above. Or, you know, you could just wait a few months and rent the thing for a few bucks.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Something for Which to Be Thankful


(Blogger's note: Yeah, I know Thanksgiving was weeks ago so the whole “being thankful” post is a little late. Whatevs.)

This past year I've been borrowing movies that I don't own/wouldn't be allowed to watch if I did/are super badass/all of the above from a friend. Earlier this year it was Boondock Saints, then I forced him to lend me Casino Royale after I saw (and became obsessed with) Skyfall, and just a few weeks ago, V for Vendetta.
Of course this was a little after all of the “Remember, remember the fifth of November” posts on Facebook that I was so damn confused about and wanted some clarification on. I got the movie and watched it over Thanksgiving break.
V for Vendetta may be more popular now than it was during its release in 2005. I had heard about Natalie Portman getting her head shaved for the movie before I knew what “the movie” was. Then there are the annual Facebook posts on November the fifth and those slightly unsettling Guy Fawkes masks.
I love movies like Vendetta. Movies in which you're totally engrossed throughout and, even when, for a split second, you think the main character's love interest was her dad, you still never doubt the ending won't kick ass. Yes, these.
Even when V, the mysterious, disfigured, always-masked hero does something completely unthinkable to Evey (Portman) (aka pretending to be a part of the secret police and kidnap and torture her for information about V and eventually shaves her head and then lets her go when she says that she would rather die than give up V; Evey walks out of the prison utterly confused and into V's lair, which she immediately recognizes since she's been there before and V's there just like, “Omg, girlfriend. Congrats, you passed the test. Your fears are gooonnneee!”), it was still a killer movie.
V for Vendetta and movies like it are little gems found in today's giant crap-hole of movies filled with typical romantic comedies and so-called “feel-good” movies that are about as deep as a kiddy pool and just as much full of piss. They're the ones worth blogging about the most. They're the ones for which I'm thankful.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's James Bond, Yo


You know the man in the perfectly-tailored suit, the catchphrases, the gadgets, the lady-loving, and the ass-kicking. It’s one of the most classic movie franchises, fifty years in the making. It’s James Bond.
During the weekend before finals I was super-stressed. Instead of treating the disease and actually studying, I treated the symptoms and decided to relax by watching a movie. I had plans to see the new movie, Skyfall, with a few friends later that weekend, so I thought it appropriate to go into my handy dandy DVR and watch Goldfinger, the third James Bond movie.
By the time the weekend was over, I was perfectly obsessed (the only kind I can be). I convinced my mom to see it and also pay for my ticket.
You almost can’t put Goldfinger and Skyfall in the same category. Yeah, they’re both Bond films, but time and money are huge advantages that the latter has over the earlier films in the franchise. In Skyfall, the budget was estimated at 175 million, probably spent on the dozens of fight scenes, CGI use, and a top-of-the-line tech crew. Goldfinger, however, only cost about three million. The most complex fight scenes here, though, were when Bond would kick the air and a bad guy would end up on the ground. The mastering of technology gave Craig’s Bond a lot more potential in the ass-kicking department/category.
Over the course of fifty years, though, James Bond is the same character. It’s hard to think that this is the same guy despite looking, acting, and speaking completely differently than before. I mean, the basics are the same; Bond is a handsome, always calm and collected ladies’ man. Skyfall, however, goes into his past as an orphan and makes him seem more human, even as he chases criminals on rooftops driving a motorcycle and crashes through the window of an indoor market to land perfectly up-right and continue the chase. (He’s just a normal guy, you know?)
Who knows when the James Bond franchise will end? Daniel Craig has signed up for two more films after his latest success and I'm sure there will be hundreds of handsome men who are able to say, “Shaken, not stirred” that'll be more than willing to take his place when he's done. (But now that I think about it, isn't the world supposed to end in like, fifteen days? I guess Bond will be over sooner than I thought.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sexy Spandex Syndrome


Up until a few months ago, I didn't really go to the theater to see movies unless my mom took and paid for me. This is slightly because my friends and I had only been driving for a little bit, but mostly because I was dirt poor and movie tickets are so Goddamn expensive these days.
This summer especially, I started seeing a bunch of superhero movies. When I was younger, action films didn't really interest me. Recently I started thinking, “Well, why, all of the sudden, have I started liking these violent movies about orphans who fight crime in spandex?” Then it hit me: these aren't just orphans in spandex, these are orphans who grow up to be sexy men in spandex. It's really quite simple, no? It's like some sort of...Sexy Spandex Syndrome.
I think it started somewhere around May of this year. My sister (whom had already been hit by Sexy Spandex Syndrome) went to see The Avengers with her friends. She was so horned-up about it that she convinced my dad to take her to see it again. I was also invited. At first I didn't want to go. It was a Friday night in which my house was completely empty; I didn't want to go outside and maybe have to interact with people. Gross.
Somehow I still ended up in a crowded movie theater, though, and had to sit next to a girl I go to church with and make awkward small-talk with her (this is what happens when you leave your room).
Not only was The Avengers full of attractive men, though, it was really funny and had some sort of a plot. I think that the latter surprised me the most. I had always thought that superhero movies were always guy-saves-girl-and-defeats-villain; cookie-cutter. I guess at some point in this last decade or so, these movies have actually had to develop plots to swim in the industry.
Anyway, that one night at the theater would soon cause me to spend fifty dollars and countless hours (actually like, fifteen) of the next few months in a dark room, fawning over these crime-fighting, significant glance-giving heroes. I started to watch older superhero films, too. Thor and Captain America followed by the lesser-received Fantastic Four and it's even worse sequel.
I even went back to certain movies twice, not being sure I was doing it because of the plots I found myself engrossed in or the sexy men I also found myself engrossed in. I guess some people just go to superhero films because they're huge Marvel fans or something. It sort of looks like this:

Interest in actual plot + Interest in attractive men in movie = Overall movie-going experience

Where a higher number means that you find yourself enjoying the movie more. In the equation, people with Sexy Spandex Syndrome who also find themselves liking the plot are more likely to enjoy the movie more than someone who has interest in just one of the variables.
There's an equation. It's math. It makes sense no matter what you say.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Those Damn Yankees (and I Don't Mean the Baseball Team)


When I was in seventh grade, my Social Studies teacher set up a simulation in our class, dividing us into the North and South armies as we learned about the Civil War. I've mentioned before that I was put in charge of the South thereby making me General Robert E. Lee (or so my character card said). I was pretty stoked about the whole thing.
As the weeks went on, though, I found myself saying things like, “Lincoln will rue the day he emancipated that proclamation!” and “I will lead the South to victory!”. In my farewell speech, even (which I wish the teacher would've let me read to the class), I said that it was an honor serving for my country for such a noble cause.
It's not that I felt that I was getting too far into character, but I was saying things that sort of went against everything I've been taught, mostly that the South was doing all evil during this time and the North was just trying to help.
I didn't really think a lot about after that, but my team did defeat the North in the end. It wasn't until I was in ninth grade and read Gone with the Wind, that I got a deeper insight into the South during the Civil War.

The story follows Scarlett O' Hara, the beautiful, charming, slightly crazy daughter of Gerald and Ellen. In the beginning, she tries to court Ashley (apparently a boy's name at the time) and kind of snaps when he instead marries his cousin, Melanie. Scarlett is driven to marry someone she doesn't love to get back at him, and when he dies in the war, she marries again, all while managing to scowl at the deliriously handsome Rhett Bulter, running a business, and birthing two children.
There's a lot more plot, too, in the thousand-page-long book, but what really interested me about it was, like I said, the other side of the story of the war. Those-damn-Yankees-stole-our-chickens-and-burned-our-farms-and-are-real-assholes side of the story.
It was something they'd never teach in school (even at the book's release in 1936, I'm sure some people refused to call it historical fiction). Not to say that our curriculum is incorrect or completely biased, we just like the story that the holy North was able to defeat the slave-driving South with their heads held high.

After reading GwtW, I borrowed the 1939 movie from my grandparents. When it was originally shown in theaters, they had to have an intermission because IT'S FOUR HOURS LONG. Yes. (This is why Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was split into two movies, people.) And if you're thinking that they couldn't possibly work one thousand pages of love, hate, war, rebuilding, marriage, birth, death, crying, and drinking (did I mention Scarlett liked her whiskey?) in even four hours, you're right. The movie just couldn't recreate the daring story, no matter how pretty their Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) or mustached their Rhett (Clark Gable) were. (I also could totally not get over the fact that the guy who played Ashley had the biggest forehead I have ever seen and in no way would be considered attractive by any woman with dozens of other men courting her. I expected more of a Gabriel Aubry, pre-Thanksgiving, type.)

Those years were pretty big for me. Not only did I learn how to control my mane of hair, but also two very different sides to an important story in American history. And you know what? I will never be as proud of myself as the day my troops defeated Grant at Appomattox.

[Bloggers note: So this isn't exactly true, but it seemed like a good ending, am I right?]

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Smell of the Season


Something’s in the air, and it’s not spring fever, whooping cough, or love.
A few days ago my mom said something to me about all of the positively rated movies in theaters now. A popular movie review site that I’ve mentioned frequently in posts, rottentomatoes.com, as of November 28th has eight positively-reviewed movies that are included in the top box office, which includes ten total. That’s a really strong percentage but, for this time of the year, completely normal.
Do you smell that, Mom?” I asked. “It’s Oscar season.” (She answered with a, “What the hell are you talking about, Mason?”, but that’s not important. I was right.)
Any movie that wants a good chance at winning an Oscar in February is released a month or two before the deadline for nominations is. That way, the movie (actors, script, director, even the sound-mixing and cinematography (whatever the hell that is)) is fresh in the voters’ memory when they get their ballot in the mail.
I mean, imagine if Obama had only campaigned for the 2012 election at the beginning of his first term of office and Mitt Romney campaigned for a year up to voting day. Hardly anyone would even remember Obama’s campaign, Romney would’ve probably won, and we would now be getting ready for that.
 
Since late October, the number of movies certified as “rotten” (meaning less than 60% of critics gave it a good review) on RT has gone down each week. The weekend of the 26th, the number of “fresh” movies was only three (two of them barely making the cut). The first weekend of November had four, then there were two weeks of six. Now the number is eight.
 
I have sort of a love-hate relationship with this pattern. I go to the movie theater a lot more often during this time of the year and my parents leave me home alone to do the same (which I totally love because then I can do whatever I want, which usually ends up being watching movies on TV or going on Tumblr; this is ironic because it’s what I do when they’re home, too). The hate part comes in when I open my wallet to see if I have enough money to see a fourth or fifth movie for that month. I don’t. (About the worst time for a bunch of awesome movies to be released is during the buy-a-gift-for-everyone-you’ve-ever-talked-to (pronounced kris-muh s) season.) Instead I have to sit in my house, watching movies on TV or going on Tumblr.
 
Because most of the hard-hitting, amazingly-written, well-acted, perfectly edited movies are released in the last few months of the year, this leads January and February to be kind of a crap sack. And not that great movies don’t get released during the first nine months of the year (after all, Inception came out in July of 2010 and won for visual effects, cinematography, sound editing, and sound mixing at the following Oscars), these gems are just slightly rare.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Citizen Kane, Only Not

Citizen Kane is one of those movies I've always heard about. A classic. It's been referenced relentlessly in popular cultural for its famous “Rosebud” and got great reviews. So, this week, when I really had no idea of what to write about for this last blog post for a while, I thought, “Why not just watch Citizen Kane?” just like that.
Of course, though, with me being completely lazy, I really didn't want to get off of my ass and drive five minutes to the video store. So then I thought, “Why not just watch it illegally online?” Unfortunately, though, watching movies illegally online is not as easy as everyone probably says. I couldn't find any sites that weren't blocked on my computer to watch the movie, but I did find one that kept playing these Chinese videos and I started to feel fuzzy after a while and suspected brainwash, so I gave up on my search to find Citizen Kane on the interwebs.
I've already gone through all of the movies in my house, and although we have a lot, I just didn't think I could pull out four hundred words for any of them. I guess I could go back down to my basement and look again, but that would require me getting up, and...no. Just no.
From what I've seen of short clips on Youtube of the 1941 film, it would definitely be classified as an oldie but goodie. I mean, movies back then were in black in white, the shots crowded, and the sound off. For someone born over half a century after the film was released, I can't really talk about how old the movie seems; it's a given. But hopefully soon I can find the time and energy to rent Citizen Kane. My mom always talks to me about culturing myself and watching old movies is the easiest way I can think of doing that. So yeah. Fin.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Door is Not a Jar

Yes. It’s another Halloween post.
My childhood was a magical time. Disney movies were still original and Lindsay Lohan wasn’t a cracked-up whore mess. Bush was still president and I’m pretty sure most paints still contained lead. Just…magical.
As Halloween approached every year, besides making the ever-important decision to what my costume would be (starting in 1996: jack-o-lantern, clown, Simba, witch, M &M, devil, devil, gypsy, devil, witch, robber, car crash victim, Hannah Montana, robber, robber, robber. Okay, yeah. I was getting lazy with my costumes and my mom, chagrin about me leaving the house wielding a fake gun), was the rising anticipation for the great Mainframe Entertainment movie, Scary Godmother.
Based on the 1997 book by Jill Thompson, this movie was originally only released in Europe, Canada, and Latin America. Eventually it got around to the United States and has showed on Cartoon Network every Halloween since 2004.
Growing up, I wasn’t really allowed to watch Cartoon Network because of its somewhat violent and scary shows (I’m talking Courage the Cowardly Dog, The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, and even The Powerpuff Girls. Yes, I blame my parents for the deprived childhood I had), so watching Scary Godmother was kind of a big deal for me.
My sister and I love the movie. We love it. Even to this day when it’s on we call the other up to inform them. We’re pretty legitimate teenagers.
It’s not scary, nor is it supposed to be (the vampires are kind of creepy, though. Remember when vampires weren’t sexy, sparkly heartthrobs?), but it’s funny and sort of dorky and terribly animated. Scary Godmother is just a cute move that my sister and I don’t want to leave behind as we grow up. (It’s the same reason she still sleeps with her giant Dill doll from Rugrats even though the doll it’s completely freaky.)
I probably like watching this movie more now than I did as a kid; I get some of the jokes I was too stupid to understand when I was eight. One of the kids in the movie, Bert, dresses as a baseball player in an SUV for Halloween. Throughout the movie, he pretends to really be in a car, rolling down the “window” so that he can hear what people are saying and even repeating, “Door is ajar” over and over until someone closes the pretend door. Of course, when I was younger I thought Bert was calling the door a jar. Yeah…
Whether it’s freaky-ass vampires or confusing door-jars, Spooky Godmother is pretty awesome. When I’m older, I’ll show it to my kids and they better love it or I’ll refuse to feed them until they do. Oh, motherhood.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Others: Best Scary Movie (from a Girl Who's Only Seen Three)

It shouldn't be any surprise to you that it's fall. The weather's changing; you find yourself less disgusted by over-weight girls in short-shorts but more in over-weight girls in yoga pants. Everyone is updating their Facebook statuses to express their love for this season and I sort of agree. I mean, the trees are pretty, the bugs are dying, and I don't have to shave my legs anymore. It's pretty great. But around early October all of the new scary movie promotions start and I'm left debating whether I was wrong.
I hate scary movies. They're just awful and that's why I've only seen like three of them.
It's been said before (by me,nonetheless) how, these days, scary movies unoriginal and uninspired. I definitely also don't want to spend ten dollars to get the crap scared out of me for two hours (because no matter how stupid the scary movie is, it'll still scare the bejesus out of me). The same goes for haunted houses.
I will admit that I've seen a few of these movies that are good over the years, though. A few. Those are the exception, not the rule.
Like The Others. It's a pretty kick-ass movie. Starring Nicole Kidman, the movie was nominated for the BAFTA Best Original Screenplay Award (for a horror film that's a pretty big feat). I was pretty reluctant to watch it at first (see above paragraph), but my mom convinced me and I found myself pleasantly surprised.
During the whole movie, Grace Stewart (Kidman) thinks her new house is haunted by ghosts. Some crazy and creepy stuff goes down that I can't remember but there's something to do with a piano and a room filled with things covered in white sheets (aren't I the best at blogging?). Stuff gets really creepy when Grace finds a book of the dead in the house's attic that includes a picture of, oh no big deal, just the house-hands that have been helping her family move in for the past few weeks. IN THE BOOK OF THE DEAD.
As it turns out, Grace herself is really dead, along with her children (whom she killed in hysteria after her husband was lost, or something). The “ghosts” in the house are actually living people trying to get rid of the ghosts that haunt their new house. The house Grace thought was her new house that was haunted by ghosts. It's pretty trippy.
I know my summary of this movie is completely subpar, but it's seriously the best scary movie I've ever seen. And the best out of three is pretty good, I would say.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Teach Your Children How to Avoid Being Eaten by Evil Spirits

Most people my age have never heard the name Hayao Miyazaki, or if they have, it was because of his film, Ponyo, released in 2008. But Miyazaki has had a number of films released in Japan and the United States (which he’s written/produced/directed/animated and any combination of those) since the early sixties.
I first heard of Hayao Miyazaki through my sister, a lover of everything and anything Japanese. She showed me one of his films, Spirited Away (2001), and I instantly fell in love. Unlike Disney and Pixar, Miyazaki’s films have somewhat of a dark sense to them. And by somewhat, I mean some of them are pretty messed up. In a good way, though.
Like in Spirited Away, Chihiro finds herself stuck in another world which includes a bath house for spirits. She sells herself away to the evil witch, Yubaba, to save her parents (who were turned into pigs), and ends up having to save the bath house from an evil spirit, aptly named No Face, that keeps eating the other workers, the whole time trying to make sure her parents aren’t eaten.
It's one of my favorite movies, obviously.
Another one of Miyazaki’s movies that I love is Howl's Moving Castle, whose American version includes the voices of Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, and Josh Hutcherson. This one is a little less dark, but there is a witch that turns a girl into an old woman and a guy who occasionally turns into a bird and something about eating hearts. So yeah.
Then there’s Castle in the Sky (which I’m pretty sure I watched at one point, but can’t remember anything about except for some giant robots covered in plants) and My Neighbor Tortoro (giant fluffy bear-thing? I should really re-watch these).

It’s sort of unfortunate because these are all really great movies that follow absolutely no archetypes, but have their own crazy plot and characters. They have strong themes between the dark events. The thing is, not a lot of people in this country have seen more than one or so of Miyazaki’s movies. Other than Ponyo and maybe Spirited Away (which won Best Animated Feature in 2002), these films are pretty unknown to most Americans.
I can't imagine growing up not seeing his films, but I sort of see why maybe some parents maybe aren't lining up at the video store to buy them so that they can show their kids. Miyazaki films don't have the cookie cutter themes that Disney and Pixar films have: always be yourself, don't judge others, treat them the way you want to be treated. Mostly Miyazaki's films teach children how to avoid being eaten by spirits.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not Another "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas"

I’ve laughed at a lot of things I shouldn’t have (see title). A lot. It’s hard not to. I’ll be watching somebody cry over their son’s dead body in a movie and I’ll be sad, but then think, “Man, wouldn’t it be awful if I started laughing right now?” And immediately, as if I said the magic words, I’ll start laughing. It’s like when someone tells you not to think about elephants. You immediately start thinking about elephants, right? You can’t help it, and I can’t help the fact that I’m an awful person.
So recently, when I watched the 2008 movie, Tropic Thunder, and there were gruesome images of blown-to-pieces hands and decapitated heads, offensive terms used frequently, and babies thrown, what could be funnier to a girl like me?
Although these don't seem like the most light-hearted, let alone funny, things for a comedy to include, Tropic Thunder is hilarious. Co-written (along with Justin Theroux) and directed by Ben Stiller and starring a plethora of other funny actors (Robert Downey Jr., Jack Black, Bill Hader) and some not known for their comedy-chops, but still plenty good (Tom Cruise, Matthew McConaughey, Nick Nolte), this movie is makes it hard not to laugh at the awful things that go down in it.
The film is based around a group of actors (Stiller himself, Downey Jr., Black, and others) attempting to make a movie based on the true story of a Vietnam War veteran (Nolte), but find themselves instead trapped in Southeast Asia in the middle of a heroin-producing gang’s territory.

Tropic Thunder received its share of criticism for its controversial content before being released for a few reasons. First was the offensive terms. I mean, there were a few, one of which was used about a thousand times. When I first watched this movie, it was on TV, so not only were there lots of “freaking”s, but also “simple”s and “stupid”s. In the straight-up movie version they weren't so nice.
More criticism of the movie surrounded the character Kirk Lazarus (Downey Jr.), who got skin-pigmentation alteration surgery to darken his skin for the movie in order to play a black character. Downey Jr. ended up being nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Tropic Thunder, though, so it seems as though he was doing something right.

Seriously, though, this movie is hilarious. In an industry filled with over-used jokes and writers being afraid of going “too far” with the ones that are original, it was nice just to sit down with friends, eat my weight in sugar, and laugh at the horribly funny jokes that were wonderfully delivered by an all-star cast.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I Don't Get About Anna Kendrick


Blogger's note: When I first started writing this post, there were a lot of numbers that I didn't want to deal with, so I combined my laziness with my love of graphs and made a few that analyze the numbers so that I didn't have to.

There are many roller coasters one can have in their lifetime: emotional, the literal, amusement park, kind. Also, apparently, one that applies to movie success.
I've been aware of actress Anna Kendrick since probably around when she was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Up in the Air in 2010. Since then I've sort of followed her and what movies she's been in, only to be really confused because of such. Most actors and actresses have a diverse range of movie success, but Kendrick has been involved in almost polar-opposites. It's not just that a seemingly-good movie of hers does poorly, but every one that does so looks awful to begin with (I'm talking about you, Twilight Saga).
Anna Kendrick got her start in two low budget films, Camp (2003) and Rocket Science (2007), but no one really cares about those two because, like I said, low budget. Then in 2008, you could say that she got her break-out role in Twilight.
Since then, Kendrick has been on a critical roller coaster, moving from critically-acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated films to The Twilight Saga (I like to think that she was under contract and had to star in the remaining Twilight films, but I really have no idea) and a few others that tanked.
It's not only that, but some of the good movies she's been in have also starred some of Hollywood's dreamiest men (and I'm not talking about Robert Pattinson, you guys). It started in 2009, almost two years after her breakthrough; the role she was nominated for an Oscar was also the role where she costarred with George Clooney (there's a reason he was named People's Sexiest Man Alive twice).
After more hills, she starred in the 2011 comedy-drama, 50/50, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt. You know the deal: hot costar, awesome reviews, more fame, goes back to sucky movies the next year. (Realize that when I say "sucky movies", I mostly mean The Twilight Saga, but she was also in What to Expect When You're Expecting (2012) and that bombed, too.)
This past year, Kendrick has been pretty good. With the exception of WtEWYE, she's starred in three well-received movies: ParaNorman, End of Watch (hot costar number three: Jake Gyllenhaal), and Pitch Perfect. Don't hold your breath, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2 comes out later this year and she'll take a dip again. (Update: Hey, well it turns out that she isn't in the final Twilight film. Good for you, Kendrick. You made it out alive.)

Another thing that I noticed is that there seems to be no middle-ground with her movies; either they do really well critically and gross less than one hundred million dollars or they are the worst of the worst and gross hundreds of millions of dollars (I'm talking about you, Twilight Saga). It's an unfortunate correlation.

I really just think that Anna Kendrick needs to get out of Twilight. I mean, yeah, she already is. After this year, she'll be free and hopefully stay away from these freaking teen-romance films and stick with her critically-acclaimed, Academy Award-nominated, hot guy-costarring films that seem to do her well.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Movie Bucket List


I have a list of movies, which I add to frequently, that I want to see, over seventy percent of them being rated-R (about fifty total). My sixteen-year-old status is the only thing keeping me from actually seeing them. Correction: my mom is the only thing keeping me, her sixteen-and-a-half-year-old, from seeing them.
I don't quite know what's keeping me from watching the other, lesser-rated ones. There are about fifteen, but the fact is that I'm too lazy to ever get myself to go to Family Video and too forgetful to ever remember to go there when I'm already out of the house. It's a problem.
These movies cover all genres for decades. There are new releases (The Master) and old classics (Casablanca), cheesy romcoms (Going the Distance) and violent horror films (The Exorcist), indie-hits (Like Crazy) and box office winners (Black Swan). They include a few from Mark Duplass (Baghead, Cyrus, Sideways), Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road, The Aviator, The Man in the Iron Mask), and some issue-tackling (Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, Thank You for Smoking) films.
The point of this post can be pretty loosely interpreted. You could say that I have a problem; that I'm some sort of movie-name hoarder or will never watch any of these at all and die with a thirty-page list of movies I never watched. I like to think of it, though, that I need post only a few hundred words long and this would do.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Please Stop, M. Night Shyamalan (aka Scary Movies Suck)

In 2011, up-and-coming actress Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actress in a Lead Role for her work in Winter's Bone. The film itself was a critical hit, earning 94% on rottentomatoes.com. Lawrence went on to star in The Hunger Games (2012), which turned her into one of the sought-after young actresses of today. Many anticipated her next move, what would her next project be? The answer to that question is an unfortunate House at the End of the Street. It bombed, earning 12% on RT.
About a year ago, little sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Elizabeth, took her first step towards fame with the hit Indie film, Martha Marcy May Marlene (90%, RT). She was nominated for several best actress and breakthrough performance awards and, again, people asked the same question they did with Lawrence. In 2012, Olsen's next film, Silent House, was released; it earned 41% on RT.
What makes these young actresses want to go from acting nominations, award shows, nights of glamor and celebrities, and people you don't know handing you glasses filled with expensive wine (that probably happens, right?) to running from demons in forests at night in the absolute worst scary movies? Nine out of ten of theses that are released do awful critically, if not slightly better than that in theaters.
Maybe these actresses think scary movies will jump-start their careers as stars (in 2013, actress Anna Hutchison will have starred in three scary movies out of four movies total. By the same year, Sara Paxton will have starred in six scary movies just since 2009. Even Chloe Grace Moretz, an established fifteen-year-old actress, has starred in ten scary movies since 2005.) but don't Best Actress nominations already do that? I hardly doubt that these movies were the only ones Lawrence and Olsen could get.
Go back a few decades and, yeah, scary movies could've made you famous. That's only because, back then, these types of movies were scarce and original.
Take Jennifer Aniston. Her acting career was launched after playing Tory Redding in Leprechaun in 1993; since then she hasn't starred in another scary movie. Jamie Lee Curtis had the same thing happen to her with 1978's Halloween. Sandra Bullock has only starred in one horror film since the beginning of her career in 1987 and Meryl Streep, none, since hers a decade earlier. Yet these actresses have won countless awards and earned millions of dollars...weird.
This is the way to go: not starring in several scary movies over the course of a few years, or at all. Nowadays, all of these movies are about vampire-hunters or exorcisms or it's a Paranormal Activity sequel.
Hopefully Lawrence and Olsen will get this. I mean, Lawrence has TIFF-hit Silver Linings Playbook coming out soon, along with the much-anticipated, Catching Fire in 2013. Olsen is now starring in the independent film written and directed by Josh Radnor, Liberal Arts (now 68%, RT).
Now we just have to work on Chloe Grace Moretz.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

John Lithgow: Doting Father


Some actors are known for their variety. Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brando, and Leonardo DiCaprio (yes, I did) all have this in common, Variety. They star in completely different movies as completely different character for decades. Even when some actors repeatedly play characters with something in common (Joaquin Phoenix’s character descriptions must include on word: troubled), they can still be stunningly different from one another (from a troubled country musician in the mid-twentieth century to a troubled World War II veteran fighting PTSD to a troubled photographer who attempts suicide in the first scene of the movie). I guess that also classifies as variety. Some actors, though, they’re one-note. Not one-hit, one-note. They can be in several good or bad movies for decades, while still playing the almost exact same character. Classic example: John Lithgow.
I love John Lithgow. Not a Leonardo DiCaprio love, but a I’ve-grown-up-watching-him-and-he-hasn’t-done-anything-stupid-so-he’s-pretty-cool-I-guess love. He’s a good actor, but I’ve only seen him as one guy: the doting (sometimes dorky, sometimes over-protective, always doting) father.
In 1984, Lithgow began his reign as such in the original Footloose. As the reverend of a small town stern father (doting, over-protective) against dancing and rock music. It’s a good movie and just the beginning for the actor.
Just this past week, I watched Harry and the Hendersons (1987) with some kids I babysit. It tells the story of a father (doting, dorky) who changes his see-animal-kill-animal ways after discovering Bigfoot. It’s definitely an eighties movie.
Let's move on to television for a little bit. Between the years 1996-2001, John Lithgow starred in 3rd Rock from the Sun, a series about extraterrestrial creatures traveling in space (or something. I've never watched the show and am too lazy to read a synopsis). Although older than the other characters in the main cast, he was actually younger than them, often getting into trouble that everyone had to work together to solve. (Yup. Never watched it.) Definitely dorky, doting, sort-of father.
After a brief stint in movies, again, as the doting father of Amy Adams in 2010's Leap Year, John Lithgow returned to television with How I Met You Mother. Do I have to say it? He was doting and dorky, okay? He was the doting, dorky father of playboy Barney Stinson.
I mean, it's not like this is especially bad (and he did actually play a cop once). He'll still get hired because people will still need this type of character in their movies, which is fine.
I was once told that, if someone plays a stupid character on TV, chances are they're stupid in real-life, too. Now, I'm not sure I can exactly agree with that; maybe sometimes, but not always. People probably think that this correlation of “character equals actor” is always true because that's the only way they know the actor, from their film/television work (as I think about it now, the one word that comes to my head about the actor Joaquin Phoenix is “troubled”, which is probably because of his role choices. Or maybe because of the alcoholism and incoherent interviews.) But now that I've watched so many of these John Lithgow films, that's what I think of him as: a doting (sometimes dorky, sometimes over-protective, always doting) father. Is that really a bad thing?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Joseph Gordon-Levitt Love Story Part II: 10 Things I Hate About You

(Blogger's note: Titles don't get much longer than that, huh?)


Don't let anyone ever make you feel like you don't deserve what you want.”

Spoken by Heath Ledger's character in the 1999 film, 10 Things I Hate About You (based on Shakespeare’s, The Taming of the Shrew), this quote can be spoken in every cookie-cutter, coming-of-age, romantic comedy, but it means so much more, for me, coming from this extremely attractive, bad boy-playing, sweetheart.
Maybe it was the fact that the writers of this film left this quote in one scene and didn't play on it throughout, like most other movies with strong themes of “being yourself”, but it was a nice little gem in this hour-and-a-half of teenage angst, Coffee Kids (“Very on edge; don't make any sudden movements around them”), and penis jokes (so, two minutes with my friends?)
Referring to “the shrew”, Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) is an unsociable, strong-minded feminist against any form of teenage conformity out there. Her sister, Bianca, is the exact opposite and completely dumbfounded by Kat’s anti-socialness. Played by little Joseph Gordon-Levitt is new student, Cameron James, who finds himself utterly infatuated with Bianca and pays the dangerously hot, bad boy Patrick Verona (Ledger) to date Kat so that he can date her sister.
It’s all very hard to explain on paper while still making seem interesting and uncomplicated, especially when you bring in the douchebag “model”, Joey, who finances Cameron to pay Patrick so that he can date Bianca. Yeah.
At first the doting, dorky, teenage Cameron is passed off by Bianca, like Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character in (500) Days of Summer is, but she eventually comes around, like every other woman with the chance to get with JGL (except for Summer, but she's just a bitch).
10 Things I Hate About You is a great movie; it's funny and sweet and sometimes a little but cheesy, but always awesome. It's also one of the only movies that can make me cry when Kat recites her poem, “10 Things I Hate About You” in front of her class to Patrick, for whom she’s fallen. Every. Time.
But every time I watch it, that quote still sticks out at me. Don't let anyone ever make you feel like you don't deserve what you want. They're strong words to live by.
Strong words coming from a smoking, rumored-to-be-ex-con, flashing Patrick Verona to a young, amiable, although impressionable Cameron James in this Joseph Gordon-Levitt love story.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Joseph Gordon-Levitt Love Story Part I: (500) Days of Summer


Here we go again:
This post contains spoilers about the 2009 movie, (500) Days of Summer.

Imagine starting a new job and finding out that Joseph Gordon-Levitt works there. Pretty awesome, right? It’s every girl’s dream. Well, except for Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) to whom, in (500) Days of Summer, that actually happens when she starts a job at a greeting card company and meets Tom Hansen (Gordon-Levitt). She just shrugs him off, though, and completely friend-zones him.
I know. What an idiot.
Then, when they actually start a relationship, she’s kind of a bitch. She gets angry at him for the stupidest things and, around day two hundred and ninety, Summer tells Tom things are “too serious” before breaking his heart.
I mean, it’s JOSEPH GORDON-FREAKING-LEVITT. I get that these are characters, but still. If the director wanted it to be believable, he should have at least cast a guy with a wart, a stutter, a twitch; any sort of flaw. Anything to make it easier to conceive why anyone would dump a perfect creature like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, er…Tom Hansen.
Or maybe a flaw written in would do. Tom has almost-flaws. Like, he studied to be an architect but found himself writing greeting cards, unable to make a move towards his dreams. Or that he’s got a smile that kills.
(Despite this minor lapse in writing, the script is pretty brilliant. Based on a nonlinear narrative, each scene begins with a slide that shows what day in the five hundred it is. It might go from Day 291 to Day 1, which can make it a little hard put the events together chronologically.)
During a brief meeting together after the break-up, Summer reveals that she’s engaged (not looking for a serious relationship, eh?). But like the gentleman Tom is, he says that he wants her to be happy (which is a lie we all know).
At the end of the movie, Nick goes into an interview at an architecture firm and makes short conversation, then a date, with another interviewee: a girl named Autumn. Thus, the five hundred days ends.
While subtlety may not be the writers’ strong point, (500) Days of Summer still has three things that I love: shit jokes, a surprise ending, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The French Connection: Midnight in Paris

My basic rule is, once the movie's been out for five years, the spoiler alert warning is unnecessary. I mean, you've had five years. But since I'm taking about 2011, here it is:
This post contains spoilers about the movie Midnight in Paris.

There are lots of factors going into a movie that can make or break it. These can broken down into three basic categories: writing, acting, and editing. If even one of these is lacking, the movie can't be successful, whether critically or theatrically.
So when I was watching the Oscars this past year and I see Midnight in Paris win for Best Original Screenplay, the movie is immediately put on my radar. Not only does that check off the “writing” part of the process, but with Woody Allen on the team doubling as director (and his sister one of the producers. Hopefully awesomeness is hereditary in their family), you can also check off “editing”.
With two out of three requirements, a PG-13 rating, and a slight love for Owen Wilson (with Marion Cotillard and Tom Hiddleston along for the ride (check off “acting”)), I didn't hesitate to record Midnight in Paris on my TV when it was showing on Starz.
This Woody Allen directed and written film centers around struggling writer, Gil Pender (Wilson), when he's on vacation in Paris with his unsupportive fiancee. While trying to find his way back to the hotel after one-too-many drinks, he's picked up by some seemingly-friendly carriage riders.
At first you think that Gil is about to be put on the morning news, but no. These Parisians are friendly and drop the semi-intoxicated Gil off...in the 1920s.
Upon realization of what has happened, the slightly-more-sober-now Gil takes full advantage of what's around him. He talks with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald (Hiddleston), and Pablo Picasso and his mistress, Adriana (Cotillard). His writer's block seems to be fading but his troubled relationship with his fiancee, worsening.
One night as Adriana and Gil walk the streets of 1920s Paris, they're taken by another carriage to what is discovered to be the 1890s. Adriana exclaims her excitement; this is her favorite era, the 20s are so bland. Surprised and confused, Gil asks some locals what their favorite era is and they answer with a congenial “Renaissance”. Thus he realizes what he's been missing this whole time: it's best to accept the present for what it is.
He breaks it off with Inez (which is also caused by learning of her affair with a friend of her families) and stays in Paris.
2010 Paris.

This movie meets all the requirements for gold. And if I have to make a cliched sandwich analogy, I would say that Allen's fabulous script is some great Vienna bread, the actors are the delicious sun-dried tomato turkey, and the spotless editing would be whatever's left: a few spinach leaves and a little bit of spicy mustard. Without any one of these components, a sandwich isn't a sandwich. A movie isn't a movie. Especially if you take away the bread, because that's what we call a salad those are just WRONG.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Ugly: He's Just Not That into You


Finishing up my fourth week of this, I've realized that I haven't held up my promise of the good, the bad, and the ugly. I mean, how much longer can I go before I have to write about a film that's really, really awful? I don't like writing about bad movies; I'd much rather write about the good ones. But frankly, I can't write about three of them a week until June without throwing a few dumpster films in the mix. And luckily, I've seen several.

Justin Long holds Ginnifer Goodwin in a Scarlett-and-Rhett embrace as he confesses to her, "You're my exception."

And it's all uphill from there, because the credits start to roll. (Pop a cork. You'll definitely need some wine after all of this cheese.)
He's Just Not That Into You has a lot of problems with it. It's not the acting (I totally believe that Ginnifer Goodwin's character is a sad, desperate dame willing to do anything for love and Bradley Cooper's character is a lying douchebag), it's the writing, the plot, the actions of the characters that makes me cringe every time I watch it.
And this is why romantic comedies have such a bad rap. It's the epitome of why romantic comedies suck so much because it follows the same archetypes as most other ones do.
From the chase to the fall, romantic comedies usually follow a set of points that people feel they need to hit in order to be a good movie. In fact, though, following these points does the opposite.
Some filmmakers are able to break the spell, though, and make a romantic comedy worth sitting through (10 Things I Hate About You, The Princess Bride, Never Been Kissed, Something's Gotta Give, Lars and the Real Girl, for example). These give me hope that one day, the good will outweigh the bad and writers will stop following the archetypes that most screenwriters can't seem to get away from.
Another problem filmmakers seem to make is the classic put-more-stars-in-the-movie-to-make-it-seem-less-awful tactic. He's Just Not That Into You is a perfect example with Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Ginnifer Goodwin, Bradly Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, and Kevin Connolly. They intertwine all of the characters' stories to make it almost impossible to follow who is longing after whom. Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve followed in these footsteps and got both of them 18% and 7% of Rotten Tomatoes, respectively.
It's not working, people.

Movie Confusion Part II: Boondock Saints


Luckily I didn't get as far as I did with Monty Python and the Holy Grail when I decided (was told) to watch Boondock Saints.
Since the beginning of this school year, a friend of mine, Finley, has been telling me to watch what he call the greatest movie ever, Boondock Saints. I immediately thought of The Last of the Mohicans (which I, as you can guess, haven't seen and therefore know zilch about). Something in my mind morphed the two and I didn't realize that they were different movies until this unfortunate conversation (paraphrased for convenience):
Finley: Have you seen Boondock Saints?
Me: No, but I know it's like, the best movie. My family owns it and I have the soundtrack on my mp3 player.
Kendall: What's it about?
Finley: Two Irish badasses killing people and some cop trying to-
It was about this time that I realized that I had my movies completely mixed up, but just kept my mouth shut and nodded my head.
A little while later I watched the movie with Kendall and realized just how wrong I was. While The Last of the Mohicans is about white Indian, Nathaniel Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis), during the French and Indian War in America, Boondock Saints follows Irish twins, Connor and Murphy McManus, as they turn into vigilantes and try to rid their city of crime. They're followed by the closeted, bat-shit crazy FBI agent, Smecker, as he recreates their crimes in his head in attempt to catch them.
One of the best parts in this movie (along with when the cat is shot. Sorry, PETA) is the tense changes. At points, Smecker would walk in on a crime scene, then explain what had happened as the brothers are shown committing it.
As you can see, this movie is only slightly different than TLotM. But either way, it was pretty awesome and I'm not likely to get it mixed up with a French and Indian War movie again. Probably.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Movie Confusion Part I: Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Once I watch a movie, I can't forget it. It stays there in my head: the actors, their roles, the plot, the minutest of details in the movie because surely one day I'll be on a game show and win a million dollars for knowing that the Starbucks worker in The Devil Wears Prada is the actress who plays the antagonist's (Meryl Streep) daughter. This is bound to happen.
Unfortunately, though, before I see and research a movie and all I know is the title, I'm pretty clueless. I'll make weird assumptions based on its name that sometimes includes what the plot is. Or I'll get it mixed up with another movie. A great (and at the same time horrible, on my part) example of both of these is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Up until a few years ago, I thought that MPatHG was an Indiana Jones movie. I know, I know. It doesn't even have Indiana's name in the title (to be fair, the trilogy did have a movie that included a search for the Holy Grail), but that didn't stop younger, stupider me from assuming that it was.
Even when I found out that this movie was in it's own denomination, I still imagined the opening scene to include a sexy man running out of a temple so as to not get run over by a giant boulder. It included some sort of snake sidekick that would spout out words of wisdom like, “Life will never turn out as you thought it would.” as he swallowed someone whole. He would be voiced by Idris Elba. The treasure-seeking hunk would be played by some sort of lesser Harrison Ford (obviously this version would be a lower budget version of Indiana Jones), so maybe Daniel Craig.
I just didn't get it. (But frankly, my version seems much better. I'll look into it.)
But that's okay, because I finally watched the movie, and, to my surprise, found out that it's a comedy. A quite old one, at that.
From the minds of the British comedy group, Monty Python (hence the title; not referring to a snake as I had thought), this 1975 film is pretty awesome. It seems almost ahead of its time; I haven't seen anything like it and that's probably the only reason I could get through it. The jokes are simple, but enjoyable. It has an almost Saturday Night Live-esque nature (I guess the fact that SNL premiered later the same year the movie came out was just a coincidence, right?).
And although I would've enjoyed Daniel Craig and Monty the Python fighting Nazis and finding treasure of all sorts, this was pretty great too. And now I'm a little less confused.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Movie Reviews, Like Carpal Tunnel, Are Silent Killers

One of the hardest things about watching a movie is watching it with a clear mind. I know it's a little clich├ęd, but we seldom ever do it. You see previews for a film you want to see, make a note of the release date, and think of whom to see it with. Then you either hear or read a bad, a really bad, review for the movie you thought you wanted to see but now you're not so sure.
It's a total bummer.
My mom does this all the time. Every season in an entertainment magazine a list of movies is printed; she'll tear it out and highlight the ones she wants to see. As each date approaches, she'll read the magazine's review for it. Most of the time it's not what she was hoping for (because her choice in movies can really suck sometimes, like the reviews for the Kevin-James-is-an-adorable-chubby-guy or Adam-Sandler-makes-a-bunch-of-boob-jokes movies she looks forward to seeing. Sometimes the two will even be put together and somehow push out a sequel, which she'll want to see until she reads the bad reviews it will so obviously get. This is very true.)
Then my mom will sigh hopelessly and tell me, “Well, I guess your father and I won't go see Grown Ups tonight, it got such bad reviews. There's really no point in even going to dinner. We'll just stay home.” And then I give her a look because I totally love it when they're out of the house.

Looking at reviews is a bad idea.
Critics' definition of a review is telling everything bad about how a movie was written, directed, produced, and acted-out. But movie-goers seldom walk out of theaters saying, “The movie's last hour or so squanders these rich narrative possibilities in an incoherently plotted, generically action-packed anticlimax.” (Dana Stevens on The Bourne Legacy, Slate) or “[It] feels like a retreat - into manufactured drama shellacked with sticky sentimentality, into risk-free storytelling full of coldly contrived conflict.” (Stephen Whitty on The Odd Life of Timothy Green, Newark Star-Ledger). People go to see movies because it looks like two hours of fun cheaper and more legal than heroine. (Really, Macy? Heroine? This is your AP Lang blog. Oh, whatever. It's all downhill from here.)
Anyway, if someone is getting paid, either by you or an employer, to give you advice it's not what you should listen to (exception: therapists...maybe). And if I have to give out advice now, it would be to (1) just go see the movie without looking at the reviews (besides, who wants to be told how bad the gift is before opening it?), (2) like better movies, or (3) ask a friend who's seen it, unless they're a movie critic because did you not just read this blog?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Literarily Obsessed: The Great Gatsby

Since 1926, a year after F. Scott Fitzgerald's book, The Great Gatsby, was published, film-makers have been trying to immortalize the characters of the book into a movie. According to director and screenwriter, Baz Luhrmann, none have succeeded.

In late 2010, when I was in ninth grade, I heard that my favorite actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, would be starring in a film-adaptation of the novel, The Great Gatsby. I had heard of the book before, and my affection towards the actor made me go straight to the school's library and check it out.
A while later, after several chapter re-readings and lots of skull-scratching, I finally finished the 218 page book and loved it. Maybe it was because I always pictured DiCaprio as the title character, Jay Gatsby, but I also thought that the 1920's style writing was really interesting. I decided to read it again, and again, and a fourth, fifth, and sixth time.
Narrated by Nick Carraway, the novel follows him after he moves into a new house next to the party-throwing, mysterious millionaire Gatsby. What Nick doesn't know is that he's more connected to his neighbor than he knows, and as Gatsby's past unravels, Nick finds himself stuck in the middle of it all.
Each time I read it, I picked up something that I hadn't before. Like the first four times I read it, I thought that Gatsby was alive for a bit after Wilson had shot him (you can't be angry if I just spoiled the ending for you; this book has been out for more than eighty years). Then I realized that Gatsby died immediately from the wound and when Nick had described him as lying in the bed protesting to him, “Look here, old sport, you’ve got to get somebody for me. You’ve got to try hard. I can’t go through this alone.” it was more metaphoric than literal. Quite a difference, no?
Perhaps the most interesting thing about this book it that it doesn't really have a set genre. There's some romance, some mystery, a little violence, and a pinch of historical fiction.

Filming for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby began on September 5, 2011 and continued into the early months of the next year.
So in the summer of 2012, when I practically had the book memorized by heart and had been counting down the days until the movie was released (on Christmas day), and I heard that The Great Gatsby's release date had been pushed back to the summer of 2013, I was completely crushed. Like, you don't understand.
Imagine being pregnant: the deal is that the baby will be born in nine months and that the burden will be lifted off your shoulders then, no matter how good or bad the birth is. But seven months in, the doctor tell you that, instead of just nine months, you'll be pregnant for an additional three months because of some “complications”. It sucks, right? And I had been looking forward to my baby for two years, almost the amount of time I've been in this hell hole they call “high school”. Can you see now why I was heart-broken?
And now I'm being made to wait another nine months to see what Baz Luhrmann has accomplished and it totally sucks ass.