Monday, October 26, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 1--El laberinto del fauno

Guillermo del Toro’s absolute genius magical realism film Pan's Labyrinth is a fairytale that simultaneously occurs in the harsh reality of a violent World War II. In reality the lost princess forgets her way and is in danger by her villainous step-father. Best performance by a child actor…ever. Ivana Baquero shines as she goes one step further than Natalie Portman ever did as a child. And Doug Jones gives the character performance of a lifetime, without ever showing his true face. Poor guy AND lucky guy. He can walk down the street without anyone knowing who the hell he is. I had the fortunate chance to talk to him a while at the Mid-Ohio Con last year, and he was the most sociable, personable, affectionate celebrity (maybe....?) I've met. He loves hugs, and his legs are very chickenish. He's proud of his roots and doesn't forget them. You guys! You can't see it, but I'm raising a glass to del Toro in his future endeavors, surely being awesome!

Side note: Look for motifs of images, symbols, colors, etc. It's fascinating how del Toro ties everything together.

“I'm not some old man! Or a wounded prisoner! Motherfucker, don't you dare touch the girl. You won't be the first pig I've gutted!” -Mercedes (Maribel Verdu)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

DVD Review: Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

If you've never watched the re-imagined BSG, do not watch this first. Actually this should be watched last of all things because it would ruin so much of what makes BSG great the first time around.

Sooooooo this was a little disappointing. I think it could've been better. EJ Olmos, come on! I think the writing was great. Although I do wonder if Jane Espenson wrote in her script "ZOOM IN ON NAKED PENIS." Not sure why they did that but it made me laugh. The nudity though I think was fine. I would expect people to be naked in the locker room. And I think a bar where the bartender is topless says something about where Ellen Tigh hangs out and even says something about the culture of that colony. Anyway, getting the nudity out of the way.

The background stories of the cylons like Cavil and Number Four really bring in character development for some cylons that needed it. I never thought I'd like Four, but he turned out to be very humany. Impressive. And The Plan makes you hate Cavil even more. In The Plan we find out what the cylons were doing when the bombs when off, who was with whom, what the cylons knew about themselves before the blast. We see the beginning of Anders' insurgency, which was the best part of The Plan. That and Four's marriage to a human, whom he actually developed feelings for. It's awesome to think that the cylons really loved, aside from Cavil (I geuss we don't see much origin on Doral). D'Anna's love was a different love, but nonetheless she loved. But Cavil hates. The thing is, though, which cylons embrace love and which deny it and stick with Cavil? This is what leads to the cylon civil war. Sharon's storyline was a bit strange. I guess it makes sense, but I didn't care for it.

We don't get Number 7 in it at all, which is what I was hoping for. I wanted to see how all the cylons interacted together when they were first born and all that jazz. (Let's hope for that though!) Rather, this is comprised of vignettes that fill in gaps of why cylons did certain things throughout the first three seasons. This makes it very un-movie like, so don't expect to be watching a perfectly flowing movie. It jumps around with somewhat of a semblance of storylines in itself, but if you've never seen the series, it would be confusing.

The Plan comes out on DVD this Tuesday. Buy it if you're a hardcore BSG fan.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Feminist Feature: Legend of the Seeker

I thought it appropriate to highlight the feminist Sam Raimi’s Legend of the Seeker, as its premiere is nearing. Weirdly, many of the directors have done many Power Rangers series, but the show is quality. Sam Raimi’s given us the Evil Dead/Army of Darkness, Spider-man, and Drag Me to Hell, in which Drag Me to Hell (written by him too) is a feminist film as well. But he’s most known for Hercules, Xena, Young Hercules, and Starz’ upcoming Spartacus, starring Lucy Lawless. And he loves to reuse his actors, which is something a lot of sci-fi and fantasy creators love to do, such as Joss Whedon, and it makes the fans really happy, but it also limits the exposure of other fans coming in because of a certain actor. In Seeker’s case, Raimi got unknowns and Bruce Spence to star. I guarantee you Bridget Regan and Craig Horner will be huge in a few years. The acting is great, except for occasional slips of the Aussie and Kiwi accents from actors, including Horner, as everyone is supposed to have American-English accents.

For those of you who don’t know the premise of the first season: Kahlan Amnell (Regan) and her sister Dennee are on a mission to deliver a book to the Seeker, who has been hidden and secluded in a non-magical kingdom of Hartland, ignorant of prophecies and magic. When Kahlan enters their kingdom, trouble begins for the people, and they begin to accuse her of everything gone wrong, as well as Richard (Horner). Little does she know the first person to help her when she’s followed by soldiers tracking her is the Seeker. So when she confronts one of the three most powerful wizards left in the world Zeddicus Z’ul Zorander (Spence), she finds out the Seeker is none other than Richard and Zedd has hidden him since he was born. According to a prophecy, Richard would come to be the seeker and destroy the villainous, ruthless, iron-handed Darken Rahl (Craig Parker), so Rahl sends troops to destroy all the first born sons of the town of Brennidon, where the Seeker would be born, a Biblical allusion it seems.

So the first season is the adventures on their journey to kill Rahl. The show is a beautiful mix of action and humor, at which is what Raimi’s shows are great. My favorite episode may be the dark “Denna” or the uber-hilarious “Mirror” where all the actors get to expand their acting abilities: Spence gets to act like a whiny woman, Regan gets to be a crude glutton, and Horner gets to be a goofy failure at life.

Okay, so what makes this so darn feminist? At first it doesn’t seem so, when in the first couple episodes, Richard says to a D’Haran soldier something about it being unfair that there are five men against one woman. But in defense, Richard doesn’t know anything about the outside world where women are highly regarded as being powerful. You could say that where he was from, Hartland, women aren’t powerful or as highly regarded. But in the magical world…Kahlan and the Confessors and the Mord’Sith are all women and all the most powerful beings, aside from the first-order wizards and sorceresses. The funny thing is that if you go in depth enough, the women’s powers are to make people do whatever they want through torture (Mord’Sith) or loss of will (Confessors). Kahlan seems to be the most powerful of the Confessors, as her powers grow exponentially as the shows progresses. You’ll have to find out how! And it’s not just her powers, but her fighting abilities that make Kahlan a force to be reckoned with…and ogled over. With Regan’s dance background, her fighting is smooth and sexy. And she can wield mean double daggers! It takes talent to move in the corsety clothes that she wears too! And she does most of her own stunts and fight scenes. Most Hollywood actors wouldn’t be allowed to do half the stuff she does. And she stays very true to the book’s character, as she rigorously studies the books and takes notes, and it shows.
The natural-ginger-and-now-raven-haired-and-fair Bridget Regan tops my list of most beautiful women. She oozes sexy nerdiness as the ultimate dream of all nerds. And it helps that she’s not a skeleton; she has some meat on her bones…and nice legs! I’m in love! Check out her twitter, where she reveals her favorite music, season 2 guest stars, and things about her adorable cat that eats her Sword of Truth books.

Check out Season 1 on DVD and then watch Season 2, starting November 7 on WGN here in the U.S. I have no idea what channel it airs on in other countries, so…..find it yourselves.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 2--The Hours

Everyone finds this movie either confusing or boring (or both), but I found it highly enthralling. The unrecognizable (amazing makeup department) Nicole Kidman played Virginia Woolf with extreme accuracy, or so I’d think. Again, Kidman is in two of my top three, and I don’t even like her! So that shows how amazing she was in the movie. On top of that, Claire Danes plays Maryl Streep’s character’s daughter. Ed Harris as Julianne Moore’s son. Allison Janney, Miranda Richardson, John C. Reilly, Toni Collette, Allison Janney, Jeff Daniels. Everyone has a connection in some way or another, but all three women of Streep, Kidman, and Moore’s characters connect throughout time by Woolf’s book Mrs. Dalloway and the book’s reflection of their lives. The entire movie is complex in its symbolism, dialogue, and relationships. It’s everything an English major loves. It also stresses how Woolf placed her own thoughts in her books. One can see her state of mind in reading her books chronologically from the first to the last, and Mrs. Dalloway is one aspect showcased in this movie, though misleadingly not her final book as the movie suggests.

“Someone has to die in order that the rest of us should value life more. It's contrast.” -Virginia Woolf (Kidman)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NERD ALERT!!!! Whedon directs Glee!

Joss Whedon said it himself on This. Will. Be. Awesome. Maybe Sarah Michelle Gellar or
Emma Caulfield will guest star! Exciting! Whedon can write a mean musical! We have proof of that from the musical episode of Buffy and Dr. Horrible. You guys! Glee is great, and will continue to be even better!

Side note: I think Ryan Murphy's Popular was ahead of its time, considering no one watched when it was on, except me seemingly. I use clips of that show in studying body image and media influence. Now that people watch Glee and Nip/Tuck, they look back and say, Popular was awesome! Why did it get canceled then? Were people afraid to admit it? I wasn't. It was insanely hilarious.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: Sons & Daughters

This crisp show was a spark that never caught fire. Comedies without laugh tracks did not exist too often. This was around The Office’s surge in popularity, but before other comedies followed in witty dry humor. It was lost coming in midseason as a transition between a cancellation and a new show and irregular scheduling. ABC could have had a hit if they aired S&D the next fall season. To make things better, it wasn’t scripted but improvised, which makes the cast even more impressive in its delivery. The way they all play off each other like they were all actually related was truly special. The realistic portrayals, complete with stumbling, mumbling, and stuttering, make it relatable. Think: Modern Family but funnier and bigger family, creating more problems and more rumors that spin out of proportion! I love that it took place and actually filmed in mid-Ohio (around Hamilton) about middle class people, who often struggled for money, a problem which is not touched upon often. And some jokes were based up on that, which may seem funnier if you live in the area like me.

The show starred Fred Goss (creator, director, and writer) as Cameron Walker in his second marriage with Liz, played by the quick-witted slightly-insane Gillian Vigman, complete with his teenaged outcast and possibly crossdresser Henry played by Trevor Einhorn and their son together Ezra (Noah Matthews). The Geico Guy Jerry Lambert plays the extremely awkward and asexual Don Fenton, and his whiny wife Sharon is played by the brilliantly sharp Alison Quinn. Her slight lisp was adorable, and her lines were always delivered with perfection and reality. Eden Sher (who was completely awesome in The Middleman as a fowl-tongued alien mercenary of the highest rank) played their daughter Carrie, and Randy Wayne played their son Jeff. Amanda Walsh’s Jenna Halbert was constantly torn between her stupid ex Whitey played by Greg Pitts and her handsome, shy boss Wylie, played by the awesome Desmond Harrington. Max Gail and Dee Wallace played the siblings’ parents Wendall and Colleen, who announced the first episode their pending divorce. Lois Hall played the knee-slappingly-hilarious Aunt Rae. And there was even a guest spot by Step by Step alum Christine Lakin.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Nerdy News: Rachael Harris joins Cougar Town!!!

Just when Cougar Town was digging a rut, unable to get itself out of a snowy ditch, it just may pick up with Rachael Harris coming to town for a little competition against Jules, as Harris's character's husband begins to crush on Jules. Awesome. Even though Christa Miller is funny on the show, her extreme plastic surgeries have made me not want to look at her. Did she get a Michael Jackson nose to honor his death? I hope the classy AND nerdy Rachael Harris gets to take some of her screen time. Even Courteney Cox's botox didn't look bad, just noticeable. Now if we got Kristen Bell to guest star on any show at all, I'd watch it.

And look forward to Sally's upcoming post about Glee. Bust time for her having her brother's wedding this weekend. Now that I've posted this Sally must post about Glee or she sucks hardcore. And look for a feminist post from me and a highlight about Legend of the Seeker, as well as wrapping up my top 10 movies.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 3--Cold Mountain

Cold Mountain

I’m not typically a Nicole Kidman or Jude Law fan. At all. BUT I loved this movie? Why, when I don’t care for the two main actors? Number one: the Civil War. I’m a Civil War buff. And I love the Civil-War-era South, for a number of reasons. It’s complicated. I may get into this in later blogs. Number two: THE MUSIC!!!! The same Oscar year that my favorites were all up against each other for best original song (including Annie Lennox for “Into the West” in Lord of the Rings and A Mighty Wind’s Mitch and Mickey for “Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” in A Mighty Wind) Alison Krauss was nominated TWICE as performer for Elvis Costello and T-Bone Burnett’s war song “The Scarlet Tide” and the Sting-penned-and-co-performed Scottish-lilted “You Will Be My Ain True Love.” The bone-chilling sacred harp singing, as well as every other song, is used to its full potential as an emotional layer, adding to the incredible complexities that went into the book and the movie. Three: the acting!!! Renee Zellweger was over-the-top, in a good way, that really added to the psychological intrigue of the character. Kidman and Law were excellent, in an occasional creepy way. Brenden Gleeson, Natalie Portman, Kathy Baker, Giovanni Ribisi, and Philip Seymour Hoffman offered stellar performances as supporting cast members. Perfect villain in Ray Winstone’s Teague, inducing terror and suspense. Portman's part was emotionally intense, and Kathy Baker's was heartbreaking.

The battle scenes are beautifully shot and bone-chilling, especially due to the scoring. Everything is perioded down to the last detail of every scene, every actor. The literary allusions: Brontes, Odyssey, Shakespeare. AGH! My mind! Everything about this movie is awesome.

“They call this war a cloud over the land. But they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say 'Shit, it's raining!'” -Ruby (Zellweger)

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 4--Christopher Guest movies

Waiting for Guffman/Best in Show/A Mighty Wind/For Your Consideration

Christopher Guest is a comedy genius. Jennifer Coolidge and Fred Willard steal each scene in every movie, which is hard to do when every single person is uproariously funny. Aside from songs in the movies, the dialogue is unscripted and the actors ramble on and on in character. Nothing tends to happen, but comedy gold is struck solely in dialogue. No one else can do that. There’s no way for me to separate the movies in rank. There are all pure genius.

Waiting for Guffman is waiting to actually make it to Broadway and shine a spotlight on the fictional town of Blaine, Missouri. It’s a town of idiots founded by idiots. The best part is the dinner double date and the circumcision discussion. Eugene Levy was fantastic as a two-left-footed, cross-eyed dentist with a wish for being a stand-up comedian when he is clearly unfunny.
"'Cause you people are BASTARD PEOPLE!" -Corky St. Claire (Guest)

Christopher Guest’s second directorial/authorial movie, the one that went…sort of mainstream…a mockumentary about a dog show? Best in Show is the first Guest movie with Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge in it. It couldn’t get any better for people who love to laugh at ridiculous dry humor. Every person in the cast was absolutely poop-from-laughing-too-hard hilarious. And Parker Posey even got real braces just for the role!
“Leslie and I have an amazing relationship and it's very physical, he still pushes all my buttons. People say 'oh but he's so much older than you' and you know what, I'm the one having to push him away. We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.” -Sherri Ann Cabot (Coolidge)

A Mighty Wind was the Guest movie I saw first and fell instantly in love with it. That may be because I’m a folkie, and it’s a mockumentary about folk musicians. It’s amazing that every actor sang and played for their parts. Who knew Eugene Levy could sing so wonderfully? His song with Catherine O’Hara “Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” sounds like it could be a real song. No wonder why the song was nominated for a Grammy. And the songs are ridiculously twisted and often sexually undertoned. Each character is subtly ridiculous and delivery of jokes are natural and precise.
“Thank God for the model trains, you know? If they didn't have the model trains they wouldn't have gotten the idea for the big trains.” -Amber Cole (Coolidge)

The underappreciated For Your Consideration is brilliant as well. With the addition of Rachel Harris to the main spotlight, Guest movies could still go strong. A satire of the film industry—its advertising methods, interviews, celebrity status, awards, production changes, and so much more—FYC is more polished than the other films. Less interviewing and more action. But still unscripted, despite rumor.
"Someone's killed their children and made them into cookies, and I want to go see that." -Whitney Taylor Brown (Coolidge)

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 5--Stardust


I like how when Sally and I went to see this in the theater, everyone else either never heard of it or saw a preview and thought it looked stupid. We were made fun of for it being fantasy and/or a fairytale. People, it’s so much more! I’d consider it a comedy over anything. Robert DeNiro’s performance was stellar as the flamboyantly gay Captain Shakespeare. Claire Danes is a literal fallen star and shines in her fitting role. Michelle Pfeiffer is an evil witch, obsessed with devouring the heart of a star to gain youth for a period of time. It was also my first exposure to Sienna Miller, who coincidentally was the same person in every movie she’s been in: a bitchy whore (often drunken as well). When it came out on DVD, people saw it, especially after I hyped it up, and guess what! They loved it! Don’t mock a movie until you see it! Oh, yeah, and Sir Ian McKellan narrates!

“You know... an interesting fact, actually - the first champagne glass was molded on the left breast of Marie Antoinette. I don't know if there was something wrong... with her right one.” -Tristan (Charlie Cox)

Crazy Cancellations: ROAR!

Come on! This show rocked! It was a different angle than the usual Roman times. Mostly we get the viewpoint of the Romans and, hence, a support for them. BUT in this case we get the underdogs of Ireland, fighting off the invading Romans. Not only do we get to root for the underdogs, but we get themes of the religious dichotomies of paganism versus Christianity and nature versus civilization, among many other things. And there’s messed up love triangles. I guess its cancellation was good for Heath Ledger, considering he got to be a pretty big film actor after this show.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not-so-Movie-of-the-Week: Couples Retreat

I excepted more when I shouldn't have, since Vince Vaughn and Jon Favreau. But I was hoping Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell, who should be leads in a movie by themselves, would excel in it, but their talent was put to waste by bland writing. Jokes were not hilarious, only mediocre. Really, why would you make jokes out of "ball cancer?" That's just unfunny and distasteful. Jon Favreau is disgusting in his attempt to try to get a handjob or sex with younger women the entire movie. Kristen Davis's character was also annoying in her wanting to jump every shirtless man on the island. Oh, and there was a whole part that involved Guitar Hero--Vince Vaughn playing a whole Guitar Hero song. Why? Don't ask me. People were laughing, so I think Guitar Hero must be fun and funny, but I never got that game either. The orgiastic yoga session was completely awkward and crude. Why did Jean Reno do this movie? I can't believe that he'd be out of work, not after Leon the Professional. Maybe he just wanted to go to Bora Bora really bad and agreed to do the movie. Malin Ackerman was great, diversifying her range lately. Kali Hawk was ridiculously goofy. At first she was annoying, but she provided the only quotable lines. The children were cute and hilarious. They had good lines, better lines than the adults. And Jason Bateman and Kristen Bell, my future wife, were simply adorable. While I respect that the couples' situations are entirely realistic, they weren't as funny as intended. I think there might have been too many cast members for anyone to shine. It ended up turning into a sloppy mess. You will want to go Bora Bora after seeing the movie. Unfortunately that's 9 bucks a person you can't get back in saving up for that trip to Bora Bora. It was terrible how the advertisers also led everyone to believe it was a movie starring Vince Vaughn and no one else. It was an ensemble cast with Vaughn being in it maybe a minute or two more than the rest. Advertising Vince Vaughn draws in a certain crowd. I'm not in that crowd. I went to see it for the Bateman and Bell. Instead a potentially good movie was made at a sub-par level. I appreciate Vaughn's attempt to expand outside of the high school/college movies, but maybe he should stick to that, since it's apparently what he knows how to do best, where his annoying diatribes are more loved. To sum up my review: Vince Vaughn is a stupid turd. My grade: C+

PS--I'm sorry, Kristen. I wanted to love everything you've been in, but I find that I can't.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

TV Time: Ike is Growing Up!

So the past couple days have been awesome, you guys!

Holy crap!!! The mash ups were excellent and so fun. I loved all the crazy "mash ups" of the adult couples. But best of all was Jane Lynch's dialogue. That's what's brilliant about the show other than the music: the witty, insane, off-the-wall dialogue!

Cougar Town
Disappointing. That is all.

Modern Family
I loved all the relationships going on but most of all Alex and Gloria bonding and Claire and Manny. Manny offers advice to Claire, who is considerably older than him (since he's what...ten?), which in itself is hilarious that she takes him so seriously. I'm madly in lvoe with this show and its dry humor.

South Park
I was hoping this would happen, and it did. Figures Cartman would be a Billy Mays fan and that Michael Jackson would hold everyone up in Purgatory. I was disappointed, though, that Bea Arthur didn't have any lines. Even Swayze had a line! Somehow, South Park combines so much criticism all in one episode: child beauty pageants, ghost hunters, infomercials, Chipotle-induced bloody stool, and dead celebrities. It all blended well together; I loved the beauty pageant and Chipotle jokes. And Ike has had more lines than ever. And he sounded like he was starting to get older! Exciting!
Dead celebrities include: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Patrick Swayze, Natasha Richardson, Billy Mays, Bea Arthur, Tom DeLuise, Ted Kennedy, John Hughes, Walter Cronkite, Ed McMahon, David Carradine, and Les Paul.

Meh. This show is still not impressing me, although I did like the bonding between Jeff and Shirley. By far the best part, making me roll on the floor laughing, especially at the small nipples part. Coming in close is the credits with Troy and Abed doing something stupid or insane.

Parks & Recreation
This show is impressing me like crazy. I love everyone on the cast. I think it's less interesting that Tom is married to a bombshell only so she could get her green card since she was from Canada. Leslie was adorably hilarious, especially with all her date screw-ups. I hope there's more on the DVD's deleted scenes. So far every one of April's lines this season have had me crying from laughing so hard. It's the "less is more" tactic. She was great last week, but this week her last line on the episode was so fantastic about her being completely ignored by her co-workers and she's done the most outrageous things. The office's competition to see who had the least dirt on them in case any of them ran for office was brilliant. This show is quickly climbing to the top of my top show list.

The Office
You guys, this is was I was hoping for! Again, I hope there's more dancing on the DVD's deleted scenes, since the dancing makes me crack up. The episode had the right mixture of suspense, hilarity, romance, awkwardness, and DANCING! And Andy's sexuality comes into play again, as he now has a possible Oedipal complex on top of his possible homosexuality and flirtation with his lady cousin. But really, Andy really was awesome in his orange clothes and his injury. Kevin and Oscar--a couple...could it happen? Also very funny. I love how the cast copied the wedding party entrance video. So good, especially when Dwight kicks his ex-lover in the face and Angela walks down the isle stiffly. I think this episode worked out well for everyone and really shined in characterization. I also think the beginning was one of the best and grossest openings yet. The chain reaction had me cackling like a witch on helium. Good job, Pam!

Paris Hilton gets her head chopped off. Nice. It's like older episodes where they are standalones and there's demon problems that arise in small towns all over the U.S. The brothers are back in full swing. It's funny: Supernatural tends to have a lot of social criticism these days. This episode's is celebrity idolatry. And I love the snarky reference to House of Wax as Paris and Jared are in the same scene together. Hilarious. Big swollen thumbs up to this episode.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Awesome episode tonight. The gang tries to intervene with Fran's drug and alcohol problem, and as they do, they all find fault with each other and try to have interventions with every character. It turns into a sloppy fiasco. Surprisingly the intervention director doesn't fall off the edge with them or try to intervene in all their lives, since they all are now drinking wine out of a diet cola can because it doesn't spill and no one can tell you're drinking wine. I think I might try that...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 6--Atonement


This movie. Agh! This movie! Its cinematography is truly the best part of it. Keira Knightly in the green dress? Hell yes! The story is heartbreaking and intriguing. Ironic fate weaves a story of a love that can never quite be due to circumstances beyond their control: lies and war. You guys, check it out!

“Dearest Cecilia, the story can resume. The one I had been planning on that evening walk. I can become again the man who once crossed the surrey park at dusk, in my best suit, swaggering on the promise of life. The man who, with the clarity of passion, made love to you in the library. The story can resume. I will return. Find you, love you, marry you and live without shame.” How can you not fall in love with that dialogue?! How?!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Things That Annoy Me: Celebrity Gossip Shows

Celebrity gossip shows. Why do these exist? Access Hollywood, Extra, whatever else there is…I’m watching the news, don’t pay attention when commercials come on and all of the sudden obnoxious sounds are blaring into my ears, like a mix of howler monkeys, malfunctioning machines, pooping babies, and rocket ships, interchanging with strange voices that mock news anchors in a William Shatner voice. I cringe in utter annoyance and run to the TV to turn it off. Why do I care about celebrities’ personal lives unless I actually know them? I don’t care who’s married or who’s cheated on whom. I didn’t even know who these John and Kate people were until a few months ago when John was having an affair and it’s was all over the news (REALLY?! National News?!).

Reviewing Readings: Final Crisis

I normally wouldn't pick up DC Comics, though Wonder Woman looks pretty good. (I just don't want to pick up another comic right now. In fact, I might drop Cable because it seems to be going nowhere.) I picked it out to sample DC in the arc that "killed Batman" when picking out books to review in Reviewers of Young Adult Literature. We send our reviews to publishers; after all that's why they send them to us! I then saw that Grant Morrison wrote it. I was never a fan of his twisted, convoluted storylines and odd characterizations when he took over X-Men. Here's what I wrote for the summary and criticism:

In the Final Crisis arc, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the JLA and DC characters team up against the ultimate evil: Darkseid, who declares himself a god and possesses the human population and superhumans to do his will and worship him. While simultaneous plots of murdering the New Gods, framing Green Lantern Hal Jordan, using Wonder Woman, Catwoman, Batwoman, and Giganta as furies, Apokolips is trying to build a superhuman army, the Daily Planet is bombed and Lois Lane’s life is in danger, and the evil masterminds plot together to take down the superheroes once and for all, Darkseid attempts to overthrow reality. Really.

Because there’s so much going on in the arc, the story actually lacks well-developed plot and characterization, other than maybe Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and Superman. It’s confusing and not entertaining. If anything it’s really a power struggle to be God between Superman and Darkseid. Grant Morrison has never been great at storytelling, and this proves that he can’t handle a big event. Batman died, and I don’t even know how. If you want quality writing look to Marvel, where women are treated with respect and honored as being highly valued members of the superhuman community. Wonder Woman or Supergirl didn’t even make it onto the hardback cover, beautiful though it is. I don’t recommend it unless you’re a huge DC fan or maybe if you read all the tie-ins, then perhaps it might make sense. A well constructed comic consists not only of good writing but of good art that assists the story. In this story, neither exist. The art jumps around and seems to skip panels, though visually stunning some panels may be.

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 7--The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

This movie makes me so angry and so sad at the same time. It’s a film I hold dear to me, as a subject I study closely on both sides: the Irish and English war that’s been nearly non-stop for centuries and has largely been ignored outside the British Isles. This particular snapshot takes place during the Rebellion of the 1920s. I won’t talk about my stance on the subject, as it’s an awfully controversial subject and not really for a nerdy blog. To talk about the technical aspects of the film… It’s a perfect realism film. There’s only maybe one or two scenes that do have score to them, but the rest is natural music made on screen. Dialogue is the most realistic and natural in its delivery. There’s stumbling, stuttering, pure emotion, and seemingly improv at times. Cillian Murphy and co. are perfectly cast, especially Liam Cunningham.

“Mercenaries! That were paid to come over here to make us crawl and to wipe us out. We've just sent a message to the British cabinet that will echo and reverberate around the world! If they bring their savagery over here, we will meet it with a savagery of our own!”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Awesome Movie Highlight: No. 8--Songcatcher


Emmy Rossum debuts in this film about preserving the old British Isle tunes and preserving them with accuracy and heart. None knew how the songs originally sounded, but because of the seclusion of the Appalachian mountain folk, the songs are preserved in the form closest to their origin and in their purest form. The music makes the movie. It also shows us that sometimes scholars, those who are so highly regarded, are also the most ignorant of the subjects they specialize in. With themes of nature vs. urbanization, ignorance and intolerance vs. sexuality and individual freedom, responsibility vs. irresponsibility, formal education vs. experienced education, greed vs. happiness, among so many others, Songcatcher. PS--Check out all the soundtracks. Dolly Parton sings a self-penned duet with Rossum, and Sara Evans sings "Mary of the Wild Moor."

“Alice, you're gonna have to keep Reese away from you. Well, if you don't want butter, you gotta pull the dasher out in time.” -Viney Butler (Pat Carroll)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Movie of the Week: Pandorum

The race to find a new planet due diminishing and extinct earth resources seem to be a popular theme these days, and Pandorum excels in this category. The film follows Ben Foster's character Bower and his supervisor Payton, played by Dennis Quaid, when they wake up from cryogenic freezing. In the thriller film, Pandorum is a disorder triggered by a reaction to space travel. Knowing that information leads us on a goose chase to figure out who has Pandorum. Not only is that going on, but there are creatures on board killing and eating everyone that moves. How did they get on board? What are they? We find out bits and pieces as we progress through the film. I was on edge the entire film and was very surprised in its ending. It's genius! I love the movie like crazy, and I can't wait to watch it again. It's one of those thrillers where the characters are intriguing and the plot intricate and layered.

And I can't not talk about the acting. Anything with Ben Foster is AMAZING, just because he makes it so. This guy....ah! He's a brilliant actor! And the newbie Antje Traue makes her mark on American cinema as Nadia, the uber-awesome badass that's been awake from frozen slumber for a few months. She knows the ropes on how to evade the creatures and how to protect life, as that was her original duty on board to carry Earth's habitation to the new planet. Dennis Quaid has always been an okay actor to me, and this continues to prove that. I mean, he's good, but not fantastic. He's the same character in every movie. But despite that, it's all still awesome. You guys! Go see this movie!