Thursday, November 25, 2010
Two movies opened yesterday that I want to see, Love & Other Drugs and Disney's Tangled. You can guess by the title of this post which one prevailed. I was in the mood for an animated princess, the tug of nostalgia was too great, and I wasn't disappointed. It was exactly what I thought it would be. It's sweet and inoffensive. It's not really laugh out loud funny like Pixar movies tend to be. This is much more staying in the Disney tradtion of safe, but cute.
The only major issue with it was that it kind of had this unbalanced use of music. It wasn't a traditional musical like The Little Mermaid or Beauty & The Beast, only a few songs, but really downplayed. It might have been better to not have them sing in character and just have a couple of songs play over the scenes instead. A weird mix. not sure what it wants to be, just animated or a musical animated film.
Mandy Moore is good, and delivers vocally as Rapunzel and she is matched well with Zachary Levi who plays the thief, Flynn Ryder (not his real name, his real name is much less menacing, but cue the word of the day, CUTE!).
Tangled is a modern day take on the fairy tale of Rapunzel. In order to bring boys into the theatre, Disney switched up the trailers making it seem as though the main character would be Flynn Ryder, but don't be fooled. This is Rapunzel's story, and is good enough for both boys and girls. But don't be fooled again, because it is kind of girlie, but in a good way! Rapunzel isn't a damsel in distress in the traditional sense. She's got spunk and dreams and goes for it. Rapunzel was kidnapped as a baby from the King and Queen by Gothel (the villain, who could have been a bit more villainous) who wants Rapunzel's magical hair to keep herself young. So she tells Rapunzel that she is her mother and keeps her locked up in the tower for her own safety and makes the outside world sound horribly barbaric. She plays the guilt card to perfection. But Rapunzel wants to go out and see the Floating lights, which are set free every year on her birthday. She doesn't know that they are floating lanterns set out by her real mother and father in honor of their lost daughter.
Ultimately, Rapunzel finds out the truth and must battle her evil witch of a fake mother, and also save Flynn from certain death. It's not a Disney movie unless someone falls in love with someone! Maybe one day there'll be a leading gal who doesn't need a man to live happily ever after. She will sacrifice her own happiness and freedom if she can save Flynn, but Flynn has other plans. And let's just say that Rapunzel goes from a blonde to a brunette in record time! For a while there I thought this was going to be how great blondes have it, but brunettes do really have it better in the end!
I am also glad that Rapunzel didn't get married as a teenager, a creepy thing that happens a lot in fairy tales. I love Disney's The Little Mermaid, but my biggest issue with that movie is she gets married at 16 years old. Ewwww. With Rapunzel, she's a bit ahead of her time, and through voice over narration we know that Flynn (Or Eugene as she likes to call him) asks her to marry him for many many years until she says yes. Showing that this leading lady has a head on her shoulders that involves more than just hair.
Towards the end I did get a bit teary eyed. When a kidnapped daughter finally comes home to her parents after being missing for 18 years, the reunion is a sweet one with no words spoken. Sigh. Melt this cold spinster's dark, dark heart!
Overall, it's a nice film and I think it's a good addition to the Disney canon.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
If you've read the books, and or seen all the movies then Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows is a must see. If you haven't then it might be a tad on the boring side. (if you know nothing of the series then stop reading as there will be some spoilers, but nothing new to fans)
As with the book, the first part of this final installment is racked with a lot of camping, and for those who know me, they know I hate camping. But Wizarding camping, at least, entails magical sized tents that fit beds, but no toilets, so still on my NOT to do list! The film involves a lot of hiding out from Death Eaters, and finding, and figuring out how to destroy a horcrux (an object that a Dark wizard/witch has hidden a fragment of their soul for the purpose of attaining immortality). Something the evil Lord Voldermort has done 6 times over! Ack! Things are definitely going to get darker in Part 2.
And that's what Part 1 is, it's a giant build up to the epic battle between good and evil, and I for one, am revved up for its conclusion (next July 2011). I'm not the type of Harry Potter fan who rereads the books before the movies come out, so they tend to be almost new to me as I forget most of what has happened. People die, and I miss Mad Eye Moody's presence quickly and Dobby's death is a sweet and heartbreaking scene, but this is a war that takes no prisoners and more carnage awaits us.
Most of the film centers around our main three characters (Harry, Ron and Hermione) and the turmoil and teenage angst that they're going through while trying to survive. There is jealousy and quiet moments and looks of longing and fear that really make you feel for their predicament. These actors, who we've watched grow on screen, really showcase their acting chops. As always, I want Hermione's hair and wizarding skills (I also wouldn't mind Emma Watson's bank account) But alas, am too old for such dreams to come true.
I really enjoyed Bill Nighy's small role as Rufus Scrimgeour as he's new to the Potter universe. And as always, Helena Bonham Carter plays Bellatrix Lestrange with such excitement and craziness that she pops off screen. I look forward to returning to Hogwarts as it'll be a bitter sweet experience for all Potter fans out there. An end to a certain kind of era.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I wonder how such an obvious straight to dvd film makes it to the big screen. I wonder because the plot is thin, the acting bad, the pacing even worse, and the dialogue (the little that was) atrocious. As in really really unbelievable bad, and laughable. The saving grace, I suppose and why it's in theatres and not on rental shelves, is that the production value looks quite high. The alien ships look great, the weird vapor blood thing that happens to a human when they look into the light looks realistic and the space alien/monsters look great and scary.
One might ask why would I go and see such a film. I had a two for one coupon (so it was cheap) and I was in the mood for something bad, so I went in with no expectations. I also liked the first teaser trailer, thought it was really good and did a fine job of setting up the intrigue. The second trailer was terrible, and hinted at how bad it would actually be. Oh, and an added bonus was that we were the only two in the entire cinema so we got to talk back to the screen and each other and laugh really loud at the stupidity of the dialogue.
The basic plot, and I can't stress enough how basic it is, is aliens come down and start taking people. We follow a group of friends, who really don't know much about nor do we really care, so when people start getting beamed up, who the hell cares, right? We don't really know what's going on as we wouldn't know if we were the characters and this was happening to us, so I understand why the writers chose to do that, but when you have characters who are pretty much nameless then we have no vested interest in rooting for them. I was actually rooting for the aliens and why not! Ultimately, we realize that the aliens are taking humans for our brains (I think they'd skip out on Sarah Palin) and use them as fuel or something. Whatever, doesn't much matter. The thing that gets me though, was if these aliens who traveled light years to get into our solar system and are here only for our brains because they need it as energy/gasoline etc. then how the hell did they make it all the way out here in the first place? And how would they know our brains would work for them? Anyway, there's a silly ending up in the bowels of the mothership involving pregnant women and a brain that remembers. Let's just say that if we get invaded, we're all screwed!
The film stars, and use the word stars loosely, a bunch of television actors, some looking worse for wear. Brittany Daniel has not aged well, and I hate being mean, but, oh, who am I kidding! She looks ragged and haggard and bloated and tanned and it makes me realize just how old I have become and makes me think, do I think this ratty? Sigh. Back to the cosmetic counter!
I've just done some research and now I know why the film looked good because all involved are known for special effects, not directing or writing. Makes sense. But It's kind of annoying because movies need to have something more than flash. And as a writer, it's just another shot to the heart.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I picked up The Hunger Games and I couldn't put it down. It was an intense, page turner full of emotional turmoil. The plot is tight and well thought out, one can tell that there was definitely an outline and not written on a whim, characters were strong and developed, dialogue felt realistic and the description was full of visual imagery. This is how a YA novel should be written. This book, trilogy, is in fact, for all ages. Just because the protagonist is a teenage girl doesn't mean that it has to only be read by teenagers.
Out of the three, my favourite is The Hunger Games (the first book) followed by Catching Fire and then Mockingjay. All were books that I had to get through. I had to know what happened to these people in this futuristic Dystopia in the country of Panem. A country made up of 12 districts all under the iron clad rule of The Capital.
The Capital controls the 12 districts after a brutal war some 75 years prior, and to keep its people in check, every year, by lottery, they take a boy and girl from each district (ages 12-18) and throw them into a high tech deadly arena where it is a fight to the death. The person who lives is crowned the victor and is then allowed to have a life of luxury, or are they? It gets more complicated than that as we find out further into the series. just know that this game to the death is broadcast around the country and is a form of entertainment for those in the Capital.
What the evil President Snow doesn't realize is that this year's games will be different when our protagonist Katniss Everdeen, 16, challenges the game without even realizing it, which sparks the idea of revolution among Panem's people. Let's just say that for the 3 books Katniss is put through the wringer as she goes from the arena into the victor's village, back into the arena, then underground as the revolution begins, becoming a reluctant hero/rebel known as Mockingjay.
Katniss is our anti-hero. She has issues, and anger and deep rooted pain. Sometimes, it's difficult to like her, but that's what makes her real. She's human. And she doesn't like bullshit, and hates when she has to play not only the literal game, but the other kind of games that all humans play. Katniss is someone to root for because she's honest. Perhaps, to a fault. We also root for her because she loves her little sister, Prim. She would kill and, or die for her sister. This kind of love is what connects the reader to her, and allows us to forgive her foibles.
The narrative is told in third person through Katniss' perspective, so throughout the story, we don't know what's going on with other characters unless Katniss is there. We're thrust into this world through one set of eyes, and one set of eyes only. We see what she sees. We know what she knows. We feel what she feels. The only real drawback is that sometimes, as a reader, it's not fun being left in the dark, but that's the way it would be. If we're truly meant to be seeing this world through one character then we have to find things out along the way just as she does.
The story is a roller coaster ride and doesn't really let up. The first 2 books are so intense that my heart actually skipped beats. I was in this world. I felt as though I were inside this arena. Inside District 12. That I could smell the sinister breath of President Snow's. I haven't felt this excited about a book since Harry Potter. I believe that this series will be taught in schools, or it should be at least. The metaphors, the symbolism, the nature of war and peace, man's inhumanity to man are timeless. This book is violent, but not off putting (some of the violence in book 3 is over the top) and war is violent and doesn't need sugar coating.
The weakest of the books is book 3, Mockingjay, it's still very good and finishes off the series rather nicely and remains fairly true to the themes and tone. I felt that the action in the third book was overwritten and Collins could have used more editing on those sequences because after a while, the violence gets to be too jumbled and I could no longer visualize what was happening. It became a bit repetitive towards the end. There's also the issue that our protagonist becomes a bit passive and those moments stop the momentum, but then again, she's a teenage girl being told what to do by the adults around her. A minor criticism in an otherwise, excellent piece of literature. And I think this series will stand the test of time, and is meant to be known as literature.
The movie rights have been bought, and I look forward to seeing Katniss battle it out on the big screen. I do hope that these books catch fire and that everyone is reading them, young and old. I won't even compare this to the phenomenon that is Twilight because that would be insulting to the mockingjay because Suzanne Collins knows how to string words together, knows how to use verbs and nouns and paint a story that is intelligent and challenging to the reader. And that kind of writing is respected and much appreciated.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I went to see MEGAMIND for one reason and that's Tina Fey! If she's is involved with a film then I'm there. No question. I used to go to every animated film out there, but that's changed over the years and I'm much more picky. Pixar tends to win out most of the time, along with Disney depending on the story. So I was on the fence about MEGAMIND until the Tina Fey connection so I went. It's an okay animated feature. But not a film that will stand the test of time. It had funny moments. The voice work was excellent, but the dialogue rather dull. Nothing really jumps. At least, it wasn't referencing pop culture every five minutes like the Shrek movies do. Will Ferrell did a good job as the protagonist, the evil villian. Brad Pitt's work was rather forgettable. It took me a while to figure out whose voice it was. His character, the superhero, of MetroMan was bland and he's barely in the film, which is a good thing. This story belongs to Megamind and to some degree Tina Fey's character, Roxanne Ritchi. I also have to give a shout out to David Cross who plays the alien fish, Minion, with such glee that it had me smiling whenever he was on screen.
The story is simple, Megamind came to earth as a baby (as did MetroMan) via an identical origin story to Superman. They sort of grow up together, one the good guy (so annoyingly good that he was kind of a jerk) and the other labeled the bad guy. So Megamind did what any self-respecting alien with no real superhero powers would do, he became the best villain that he could be by using his megamind! He creates gadgets, and lairs, and kidnaps Roxanne on what appears to be a weekly basis. But when Megamind finally "defeats" MetroMan, something he's dreamed of doing, well he's bored. There's nothing to do for him now that he has everything he's ever wanted. So he creates a new superhero that he can fight, but this hero is an antihero and Megamind is forced to become the Hero, a thought that he's non-too pleased about.
The film forces Megamind to change and grow and to not pigeonhole himself. Something we all do in real life. It's only when Megamind takes the chance of being something else that he truly finds himself.
It's a cute film. But a rental.
Monday, November 8, 2010
It has laughs. Some gross out humor. Cute dog. Prancing Zach Galifianakis in acid washed jeans. But it also has a mean spirit to it. There was just something mean about the characters and their situations. That being said, I did laugh and I enjoyed it for the most part, but nothing really new was said. It's a road trip film. Nothing much more than that.
Robert Downey Jr's Peter Highman gets kicked off a plane due to Zach Galifianakis' Ethan Tremblay. Without a wallet or money, Peter can't rent a car so he has to hitch a ride with Ethan as they're both heading to LA. Peter, to get home to his pregnant wife, and Ethan, to make it in Hollywood. And like all movie cliches, chaos ensues!
There's a pit stop for pot, a pot stop, Juliette Lewis making a pretty good cameo as the pot dealer. Then there's most of the money being spent on said pot, no motel money so they sleep in a car where the only thing that makes Ethan fall asleep is masturbating before bed. You get the gross out humor part, right? A shot of his dog masturbating could have been cut. Not sure why masturbating animals are funny. Anyway, more stuff happens. A car wreck. A gun shot. Truth is 2 days later, I don't remember much more.
The film fills you up in the moment, but like msg filled food, it's forgotten hours later. The saving grace really are the two leads. If it weren't for them this film would not have been made or even enjoyable. Don't get me wrong, I laughed and a couple of times I laughed hard, I just can't remember the scenes.
The issue might be that there are 4 writers credited on the film, one of which is the director. Too many writers means too many cooks in that cliched kitchen. This film needed John Hughes because it's a poor man's Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (a movie I need to rent asap)
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Not only was it RAINING MEN when I saw this musical, but it was also raining confetti! I love confetti (environment be damned!). Priscilla, based on the film, and now a successful musical in its native Australia, has travelled across the world and hunkered down in Toronto, before it makes its Broadway debut next year. And this "fag hag" is happy, well ecstatic, that I saw it. What a Deeeelightful night at the theatre.
I don't remember the movie very well, it's been ages since I saw it. It slowly came back to me in tiny pieces during the musical, but overall it was fresh and new to me. The plot's the same, pretty basic, a gay man travels to the outback to finally meet his son, and he takes along two drag queens with him so they can do a show! It's a road trip! How does one show a road trip on a single stage? By having a bus that rotates on wheels and a conveyer belt with passing road signs, and roadkill! (RIP Purple Teletubbie).
The musical is nonstop action from start to finish. I don't think I've ever been to a show with such energy. It starts off with the 3 Divas as they descend from the rafters, singing. They're like a modern day chorus via pop/disco songs. I won't go over the plot point by point because well, who cares! Because the plot, although there is one, is minor here. This show is about the COSTUMES and the MUSIC and the DANCING, and the rock hard BODIES on stage. Dear God! The bodies. The muscles. The abs. The asses. The legs. I could go on and on. These performers are intense. They are disciplined actors and singers and dancers and they transform into these wonderfully crafted characters who just pop and fill the theatre with excitement. I could feel their passion with every step they took and every note they sung.
I tapped my feet, clapped my hands and bopped my head along to the classic anthems of "I will survive," "We belong," and "Go West" (naming just a few), and screw the old fart behind me who gave me a glare at the end of the night. It's not my fault that I am tall and like gay singing drag queens! Stay home, old man if you can't handle this "fag hag's" enthusiasm.
Remember to buy your beverage and pastry separately. You'll save yourself money due to our crazy tax system. For example. If you buy a Tall Chai and get a banana Choc. cake, it comes to $6.05. BUT, if you purchase them separately, you pay 3.57 for the drink and 2.05 for the cake, which adds up to 5.62. So you save .43 cents. It adds up! So don't give away your money to the government, keep it in your pocket :) peace.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
The Walking Dead premiered this past Sunday night on AMC. It's the first of its kind. A show about zombies, or rather about humans battling for survival against a zombie apocalypse. It's based on a comic series. And here I thought comics were only about the exploits of Archie and his gang.
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln, the cutie from Love, Actually), a sheriff's deputy, wakes up in an abandoned hospital, after he was wounded at a shootout. His awakening is reminiscent of the opening of 28 Days Later. He wanders through the hospital, confused, the chaos surrounds him. A dead body, no longer bearing intestines, shocks him, and yet he continues on. He wanders towards a locked room marked "Dead Inside. Do not Open." A pair of pale death-like hands tries to break through. It's all rather creepy and set up nicely. We are in this world, and death is at its door.
Eventually, he makes his way back home to find his wife and son gone. He's then befriended by a father and son, who are hold up in their home. He receives information on what has happened. Not all of it. Just that a virus came and now the dead walk. The basic elements that make up most zombie stories are there. Noise and light attract them, and don't get bit or scratched.
Rick makes his way to Atlanta in search of his family, but unbeknownst to him, Atlanta is a dead zone. The Walking Dead "live" there. It was meant to be a place with military protection, but it was overrun by the dead. Rick's family are alive and live in the country, away from the city, with a group of fellow survivors. But when will Rick find them? It's safe to say that for the first part of the season, they'll be separated and battling their own zombies. But once they reunite will it be a happy reunion? Not so sure.
The premiere episode ends with Rick trapped in the city, but not all hope is lost as a distant voice from a CB radio calls out to him. It's a good hook and definitely makes me want to watch more as I'm a fan of post apocalyptic stories. Finally, a new show that I'm actually excited about. I think post apocalyptic stories intrigue most people because it allows us to think "what would I do?" "How would I behave/react?" "Could I kill?" "How would I survive?"
It airs Sunday nights at 10pm on AMC.