Monday, November 23, 2009

Feminist Feature: The Missing

Cate Blanchett, Evan Rachel Wood, and Jenna Boyd play a family of strong females in Ron Howard's The Missing. While the movie does play off some stereotypes of Native Americans (which I hate) only for certain characters, I love the feminist nature of it. Cate plays Maggie, the local doctor who’s lost her lover to Native Americans selling white girls as sex slaves in Mexico. Not only that they’ve taken her daughter Lilly for that very reason. Lilly is tired of working on the farm, doing hard labor and going without luxuries that all the city girls have. But her farm training ends up helping her during the kidnapping. She shows her strong nature in supporting the other kidnapped teenage girls and trying to help them escape. Dot displays similar personality features as her mother, and she actively seeks knowledge and can handle herself in a fight. She knows what to do in a sticky situation.

While the feminist aspect is a strong theme in the film, the theme of religion and faith come into play, as two opposing faiths learn to interweave with each other through character interactions and necessities. Healing also takes on the role of Native religion and Christian doctoring. You guys! this movie is intense!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: jPod

Maybe Canadian producers should’ve tried to sell their shows to American stations, like The IT Crowd on BBCA and Merlin on NBC. If they had done so with jPod, perhaps this dark, dry comedy would’ve survived. The show’s alumni now appear often in Canadian-friendly shows, often sci-fi, such as Battlestar Galactica and Psych. The show, based on Douglas Copeland's creative novel jPod, is about a group of video game designers, tucked away in the basement of an office building, in which they are not in contact with the rest of the company. For some reason the most crucial workers are unknown to everyone. It’s kind of like the IT Crowd but even dryer and incredibly dark and twisted. It definitely revolves around sex, secrets, and misunderstandings…and probably stupidity. And there's lots of marijuana-related jokes and scenes.

The characters were mysterious with shady pasts and complicated childhoods, but you begin to understand them episode by episode, especially after seeing their parents. Characters were diverse and incredibly interesting as backgrounds and secrets were revealed. Cowboy (Benjamin Ayres): the ladies’ man who often goes shirtless. John Doe (Torrance Coombs): the virgin man seemingly as general as his name, but is far from it. The normal…ish Ethan (David Kopp) with crazy-ass parents (played by Sherry Miller and Alan Thicke). Kaitlin (Emilie Ullerup): the young woman who used to work for Mac and is from the U.S., but keep it on the DL because her co-workers don’t know. Brie (Steph Song): the germophobic badass lady who loves gore…and sex. Then there’s their incompetent boss who knows nothing about video games, but wants to make the perfect video game for his son…minus the violence the team was originally making…and minus the humans…because his son likes turtles…and minus the gore. So the video game slowly morphs into something that it never was. Essentially jPod had to make a new game from scratch.

Here's the deal: the series is on DVD, but it's rare. And it's faulty. One of the episodes when played goes back to the menu. Not cool. But they're not bothering releasing it with corrections due to lack of interest. But how often have things been released to video/DVD and they have had major success in that form when not in theaters or TV. I only begin to hear about amazing things when they're off air.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Geek Chic: Hoop Skirts

Ladies, start walking the beaches in search of those whale bones! We’re going to bring back whale bone corsets and combs! I know they’re uncomfortable, but to look good, you have to feel terrible. I’m kidding, of course. But I do have a fascination for hoop skirts on the ladies. I don't care about the femininity of it; I only like the way it moves. It's a bell ringing. I think they could come back in style for formal evening wear. In most places, they would get in the way, but think about going to a ball where the ladies wear hoop skirts and the menfolk wear top hats! BRILLIANT! Colonial-style clothing was in just a few years ago, with ruffles and lacey shirts with floral print patterns. It can happen again. Even corsets came back with Amy Lee wearing them like she was a badass, but in reality, she sucked and did nothing to prove her badassness except sing fairly well, which doesn’t qualify you in a doctorate degree of badassery. Anyway, I think the 1800s style is coming back, especially with the vest-wearing and stylish caps for men and rimmed hats for women.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: Pushing Daisies

Sally and I finally got around to watching Pushing Daisies. I never picked up on it when it was on, well, frankly, because it seems it was doomed from the start. No matter how many commercials I saw and positive critical reviews, I think it hit the screen at the wrong time. They came in supposedly having 13 episodes scheduled, and then the writers strike happened, and the final 4 were cut. Then the second season happened. Maybe people forgot about it after nearly a year absence. Usually we only have to wait 4 months, but about 10 months sucks. From Fuller's genius mind of Dead Like Me-ness and Wonderfall-ness, comes this brilliant fairy tale noir crime show.

So let's talk about the scenery first. It's oddly dark, yet vibrant at the same time. The city is like that of old noir films or Batman's Metropolis, but then bright colors of green, orange, red, and yellow contrast the dull darkness. It seems like it's straight out of a storybook. It's a mix of the old and the future. Cars and buildings are antiquated. But it supposedly takes place around 2025, I'm assuming, since Chuck and Ned were born in the 1990s. Wardrobe is retro-inspired, anywhere from 1920s through 1960s. And the idea of a pie store called The Pie Hole is adorably 1950s.

Now let's move onto the characters and actors. Oh. My. Lordy. Every single character is lovable and adorable beyond belief. Ned, played by Lee Pace, is perhaps the most adorable adult man ever (hence my mancrush on him). When Ned gets shy or awkward or embarrassed, he blushes and looks down and his shoulders shrink into his body. It's adorable. ADORABLE, I SAY! Lee Pace does a fantastic job at making this character lovable, a character who has lost so much in his life and is afraid to attach himself to anyone. When he lies, his eye twitches. Adorable? Yup. Ned has the power to awaken the dead for one minute before something else dies of similar size in proximity. And those the things that revives, like Chuck and his dog Digsby, he can't touch or they die again. Unfortunately these are the two things he now loves most. How sad!

Kristin Chenoweth. That should be all I need to say, but I won't. She's brilliant. She's her. She's godsent. She plays the character Olive Snook, who is and has been in love with Ned. She might be certifiably insane, but, damn, is she hilarious, especially in the second season when she becomes sidekick to the private detective. She also breaks out into song when overwhelmed with emotion. One includes a duet on "Birdhouse in Your Soul."

Charlotte "Chuck" Charles, played by Anna Friel, is Ned's childhood crush, and she dies in the first episode, but he wakes her up. And allows her to live. This has repercussions throughout the series. Her clothes are always super fantastic, complete with hair bows and ribbons.

Chi McBride's private investigator Emerson Cod also has an adorable quirk: knitting. He likes to knit sweater vests! He adopts Ned as his sidekick in investigating deaths. And then he adopts Chuck, as she tags along with Ned everywhere he goes. He's not keen on that until the second season, but he is keen on Olive joining him. And they make an adorable couple, which I would've loved to see, but it didn't happen.

Chuck's aunts are played by Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene, and you couldn't ask for better casting for a series. Together these two are a retired synchronized swimming duo The Darling Mermaid Darlings. Kurtz's Lily is a drunken hardass, and Greene's Vivian is adorably sweet and naive.

The guest stars galore, especially second season, have you stoked and squealing in excitement, like Molly Shannon, Fred Willard, and loads of others.

The writing is witty, snappy, and intelligent. It's not natural dialogue, but the relationships are, which is what makes it relatable. But the dialogue is brilliantly different. It's fresh, like a good apple, not the cardboardy mushy apples that I hate. The crisp apples that have that piercing sweet and sour taste that lasts on your tongue.

And best of all, you want to eat a lot of pie with a side of coffee after watching it.

But on a little brighter side...the third season (or the rest of the second seasons, if you will) will be in the form of a comic book! Bryan Fuller has already submitted a script for the first issue and the next two should be coming in soon. So hopefully we'll see the first issue by the summer of 2010 (if Daisies doesn't return to the screen by then, which it would be a nice summer show anyway).

Saturday, November 7, 2009


DON'T FORGET TO WATCH TONIGHT!!!! WGN! Check local listings! It's a two-parter, airing the season finale of season 1 and the premiere of season 2 back to back!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Bah Humbug

Disney's A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carey, releases today in theaters. Anyone else think it's too soon? Last weekend the streets were filled with ghosts, hobos and the like and now we're being invaded by Father Christmas himself, a few days shy of three weeks before Thanksgiving.

I'm a holiday fan and no Scrooge, so don't get me wrong. It's actually because I love holidays so much that this upsets me. Granted there are few Thanksgiving movies, but really people? Poor Thanksgiving once again being overshadowed by Christmas. You couldn't release the movie that weekend? I'd even be okay with the Wednesday before Turkey Day, but the first weekend in November is too soon.

I plan to see this film as I adore the Christmas Carol story and any adaptation I can get my hands on, but I won't see it until the actual Christmas season begins (November 27). Who's with me, nerds?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nerdtastic idea!

When you go home today or before good TV comes on, watch your favorite movie while cooking dinner, finishing up work, exercising, whatever! But there's a catch, watch it with commentary. I'm surprised by how many people don't watch commentary. It seems only my nerdy friends do so. Sometimes the commentary is hilarious depending on the people recording it. Most often it's informative, especially if it's a director and/or a writer. You see aspects of a movie you never noticed. You'll understand how the film-making process occurs form different points of view.

I just finished watching/listening to Little Women's commentary by Aussie director Gillian Armstrong. Incredibly fascinating! I had to watch it rather than just listen, which you can normally get away with and do other things, but she was so specific to each scene and detail that I had to watch. She's very informative of what it was like working with the cast, how they came to even greenlight this movie and why they did certain things rather than stick to the book at certain things. Yes, I love Little Women! This is the feminist feature guy! And it seems at the comment I'm the only blogger...hooray! I'm sorry for those who read it not for my psychotic ramblings but for the sophisticated stylings of Sally or Bogie.