Singleton + Writer + Book Lover + Moviegoer = Screen Spinster

Welcome to the loneliest blog on the web. I have no words of wisdom to espouse. (why does espouse sound so much like spouse? Is that word trying to rub it into my spinster brain?) Anyway, I don't own a cat. Never will. I don't cook, nor do I sew or knit, but I do spin a yarn (tale) from time to time. I have no domestic talents, I am not a domestic engineer/goddess, nor do I want to be. I'll sometimes post my views on scripts, (mine & yours or theirs) movies, television shows and maybe theatre, along with my own musings usually in the style of a poem. So pull up a rocking chair, sit back as your cherry pie bakes and stay a while if you like.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The best thing about MI4




Tom Cruise's dirty undershirt in the opening scene that exposed his very large man nipples. They were HUGE, and distracting and awesome at the same time. Oh, and I love it when he RUNS on screen.

See? I don't hate Tom Cruise. (That much) He can still bring me joy.

Writingisms: #4




When introducing your leading man, don't compare him to famous actors.

He shuffled in with a swagger reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart. He was tall, dark and handsome, sort of like Marlon Brando before he got fat.

Make the character your own.

NATHAN SINCLAIR slinks up to the bar, and orders a beer. He is an ordinary man with an ordinary face, which lets him blend into his surroundings without notice. Being invisible in this town is a talent he's mastered and if he wants to be noticed all he has to do is smile.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Movies of 2011 (that I've seen in the theatres)












BRIDESMAIDS

Laughed my ass off. Loved every minute of it. Strong female characters who are flawed and funny and smart and sexy and stupid too!

THE MUPPETS

They're baaaaack! Great film with lots of funny moments and a sweet nostalgic feel.

HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2

It's the end. A fitting send off to a great franchise. Strong characters and stories that were well told and acted. I'm going to miss this world.

50/50

A sweet gem of a film. Well written. An honest and sometimes funny look at cancer. It's realistic and pulls you in. I laughed and I cried.

DRIVE

Not what I was expecting at all! This was a rush. It took me on a ride that was intense. It had deeply disturbing moments to it.

THE KING'S SPEECH

Colin Firth won the oscar. Nuff said.

SHAME

A very realistic portrayal of addiction and selfish behaviour.

LITTLE WHITE LIES (Les Petits Mouchoirs)

A good French film about a group of friends who are in denial about oh, so many things.

THE ARTIST

A visually lovely film. The plot is simple, but it works because of its look.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN

See it for Michelle Williams's performance. She was fantastic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Worst Movies of 2011



MOST DISAPPOINTING


The Adjustment Bureau


I expected a lot from this film, but it didn't quite live up to its potential.


WORST USE OF SPECIAL EFFECTS

The Botox in Scream 4 was distracting and unkillable.


WORST ACTRESS IN A BAD FILM

January Jones in UNKNOWN. She was stiff and dry and talentless in a film that was a convoluted mess. Is Liam Neeson doing every film that comes his way now?

OVERALL WORST FILM of 2011

PRIEST


A cliche ridden mess that was dark and dreary.


WORST MOVIES THAT I HAVEN'T SEEN BECAUSE I KNOW THEY WILL SUCK

Twilight: Breaking Dawn
Jack and Jill

In Time and Friends with Benefits (anything with Timberlake)


WORST MOVIES ON DVD

The Resident. A direct to DVD crap fest with Hilary Swank. How did this get made?

Conan the Barbarian.
Bad. And not good bad. Just bad bad. Boring too.

My personal Best and Favourite things of 2011



Carrot Cupcake at Life is Sweet- a Cupcake House on Queen East
Chicken Congee at Goldstone in Chinatown
My nephew being born
Bridesmaids
Muppets kicking ass on the big screen
Ben and Leslie Knopp kissing on Parks & Rec
Crywolf Clothing
Sarah Slean live in concert
London Fog from Second Cup
Jelly Babies from The Nutty Chocolatier

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Worst Trend of 2011



This one doesn't seem to be waning, which makes my skin crawl.

Reality Stars or Lazy Actors thinking they are authors.


The Kardashian sisters wrote a novel. haha. My fingertips are burning from just writing that.

Snooki wrote a chick lit book and I think people actually bought it. So those people suck more than she does.

Hilary Duff doesn't act anymore so she's taken pen to paper, with captivating sentences like this “In dreams, and in love, there are no impossibilities.”


And now I am tired of writing about this trend as the list goes on and on with the lifestyle book section.

Top Books of 2011



I have a few that I loved this year and some I liked. I don't have anything that I hated as I don't read books that I hate. If i don't like a book within the first chapter I stop reading and forget about it.

So here's my list! I hope you'll get to enjoy some of these titles.


OVERALL BEST OF 2011

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay


Honorable mentions...

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


BEST YA or KIDS BOOK

Divergent by Veronica Roth

followed closely by...

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick


BEST NONFICTION or MEMOIR

BOSSYPANTS by Tina Fey


Honorable mentions by


Your voice in my head by Emma Forrest
Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein

Movie Review: TINTIN CAN CAN


I'll start off by saying that I didn't grow up with Tintin, so I have no preconceived notions about him and his adventures. All I remember is that it was a cartoon about a boy with red hair. I actually thought he was a boy, but apparently he's older than a boy and a reporter. Who knew?!

I saw The Adventures of Tintin in 2D (I hate 3D) and I enjoyed it. It's full of adventure and swashbuckling sword fights with lots of violence and drunkenness! Definitely not for young kids.

Tintin stumbles upon an adventure when he is kidnapped by a man, Sakharine, (Daniel Craig) in search of a clue to a treasure buried deep in the ocean. He escapes, along with Captain Haddock, and ends up in Morocco in pursuit of more clues.

It really is a nonstop animated action adventure. The energy levels are very high and you're along for the ride no matter what. The look of the film is clean and crisp, and looks realistic. The landscapes and sets are lush and full of colour, and pop off the screen. This type of animation still has work to do on the human faces, but it's getting there.

This film feels like it was made by an enthusiastic bunch of filmmakers. I think the cast and crew and director, Stephen Spielberg, try very hard to keep it full of life. They take great care with the details to make sure that the fans of the original are pleased.

It has some laugh out loud moments, mainly due to said drunkenness, and the voice acting is great. I particularly liked Captain Haddock, voiced by Andy Serkis, and his drunken brogue. I also loved the chase scene in Morocco. It was nonstop fun and full of suspense, and it looked fantastic on the big screen.

Also try to get to the cinema on time as the opening title sequence is great and the music that goes along with it sets the tone for the whole film.

7.5
B

Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review: WHEN SHE WOKE by Hillary Jordan


Hannah Payne has had an abortion, and in the USA abortions are illegal. It's considered a form of murder. And as punishment her skin is turned red. All criminals convicted of a crime are put through the process of chroming. Depending on your crime, you get a certain colour. Hannah refuses to name the father of her baby, which adds 3 more years to her sentence. A sentence of 16 years. And the death rates for chromes living in the community is high. Most don't make it to the end of their sentence as they are routinely attacked by vigilantes.

This new world order is wrought with religious fervor. It's as though the religious police have taken over in an Orwellian not-too-distant future.

Hannah's family is religious and she really has no place to go. Eventually she finds herself in a religious half-way house that is full of religious doctrine and shame and guilt therapy. She doesn't last long in there as she slowly begins to question religion and also the existence of God. Before long Hannah is on the run and aided by a secret revolutionary group. I won't give too much away as it's part of the journey, you as the reader, have to discover.

The book is well written, and it has moments of tension and conflict. I hated her brother-in-law with a passion who is a religious zealot who treats women like second class citizens. I found it a bit slow to start, but once Hannah is out in the real world things start to pick up. I found parts of the book to be unrealistic in the sense that Hannah, although she is changing and growing and questioning her entire world, acts out of character. I also wasn't a fan of the new age spiritual angle of the book, but that's just my own bias. But it does make you think about the danger extreme religious thinking can lead to, and how some parts of the world (which is closer to home than you think) are not far off from this kind of new world order.

7 out of 10
B-

Movie Review: YOUNG ADULT is a dark stunted adolescent train wreck


I've been a boomerang kid. I live somewhat in a state of arrested development. I have a tendency to lean towards a prolonged adolescence. But I am nowhere near as messed up as Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), as she's not really 37 going on 17, but mentally ill instead.

Mavis is a ghost writer who lives in the big city. With her life in disarray, she gets an idea in her head that her high school sweetheart is the love of her life and that they belong together. It doesn't matter to her that he's married with a brand new baby girl. Mavis is delusional, a narcissist, and an alcoholic with deep seeded mental problems. I would say she pretty much has some kind of patholoyg (psycho or socio). That being said, I still kind of liked her for her complete and utter bitchiness because at times, despite her craziness, she can touch upon the truth. Not always, but sometimes.

The film is dark comedy and doesn't end things with a neat little bow, which is refreshing because sometimes people don't change. Sometimes people are bitches, sometimes people are drunks, and sometimes people don't learn from their mistakes. Mavis, may or may not, learn a thing or two from her brief visit to her hometown, but I venture to guess that she won't, but the tiniest glimmer of hope might say otherwise.

Theron is great as Mavis. She lays it out there for the audience. We can either feel empathy for Mavis, or not. It can go both ways. We catch glimpses of vulnerability, but we aren't quite sure if they're legit because one never knows if a narcissist can be legit, or would even know how to. The one scene with her parents reveals a lot about why she is so neurotic. Her parents are harmless, but when Mavis tells them that she might be an alcoholic, they dismiss it in seconds and the subject is never mentioned again. It's a moment that shows Mavis might want help and tries to be truthful about herself, but her parents don't want to see it. They, too, may be delusional. Their daughter has been trying to be perfect probably her whole life, but she is nowhere near it.

I also liked Matt Freehauf, played by Patton Oswalt. He went to school with Mavis, and Mavis doesn't remember him, despite having her locker next to his for years. He drinks a lot and is also stuck in his life. He still lives at home and uses the fact that he was attacked in high school and left for dead, as a crutch to keep him in a state of arrested development. He is the film's moral compass.

The film is written by Diablo Cody and directed by Jason Reitman, who teamed up before for Juno. This is a lesser film, but still good. I really enjoyed the opening scene and the title sequence is now one of my favourites ever.

7.5 out of 10
B

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Book Review: The Virgin Cure written by Ami McKay and Read by me!


Moth is 12. She is bright and beautiful. She is also dirt poor with no prospects. Her mother sells her off to be a maid to a rich wicked woman, and then from there she is scooped up into a brothel that specializes in selling virgins to the highest gentleman bidder.

That premise might sound depressing, but it isn't. Moth is a wonderful character, and one can't help but root for her, and wish the best for her. She goes through her ups and downs, witnessing horrifying things along the way. But she continues to believe in herself, and not in a delusional way that will only lead to more heartache. Moth is well aware of her surroundings and who she is. She has experience beyond her years, and her wits are about her. I fell in love with this girl. She is one of the best literary characters out there today.

McKay has captured the voice of a 12-year-old in 1870's New York City perfectly. I believed that this girl was real and her experiences were genuine. There is not a false note to be had in the book. I was transported to NYC. I could smell Chrystie Street from where Moth came from. I could taste the apples that Moth would sometimes have the pleasure of eating. I saw the rough and callused hands of Dr. Sadie clear as day.

The writing is clear and crisp, and the story is a page turner. And not because it has bells and whistles, and twists and turns. It's a page turner because of Moth. I wanted to know where the path she was on was going to take her, whether it was a happy or sad ending, which I won't give away, didn't matter to me because I knew that wherever she ended up was going to be true. And that's all one can really take away from a book. It's the truth. Moth was true to herself. New York City in 1871 was true to itself. McKay was true to her story.

A Must Read.
A+
9/10

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Somebody that I used to Know

One thing I love about the internet is when friends post music that you might not have found on your own and you love it. Discovering a whole new musician or band or style of music can be a magical experience. When music is universal and touches on themes that we all relate to it's a connecting force.

I hope you enjoy this one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVNT4wvIGY


SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW by Gotye featuring Kimbra.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Silent Film: The Artist



The Artist is a silent film with English title cards made in France with an American and French cast where music helps tell the story.

George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent film star unaware that just around the corner talkies will take over and his career will be over. He meets an up and coming starlet, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) who transitions into talkies with tremendous success. As her star rises, his fades, but the two of them remain connected with unspoken love and kickass silent chemistry.

The Artist
is a black and white silent film. An actual silent film. The soundtrack brings characters to life, and the title cards that pop up from time to time help to clarify some plot points. It's a wonderfully shot film and beautifully creates a bygone era.

The subject matter, silent film star facing talkies, isn't anything new nor does it delve too deep with it. The film is more a tribute to an era that is long gone, and is really fun to watch.

Now there is sound in the film, but very little and used for effect in deliberate ways. Act One is completely silent and ends with a few sound effects as Valentin realizes that talkies are coming, sending him into panic mode. At the end, well I won't ruin it for you, but it's a great ending to a wonderful and unique modern film going experience.

8
A-

P.S. Be warned that there is a cute dog in the film that will make you laugh.
P.S.S. Due to the silent nature of this film you will be able to hear popcorn chewing more so than usual

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review: Brian Selznick’s Wonderstruck



Ben is a boy in the 1970's grieving over the loss of his mother and searching for a father he never knew, and Rose is a girl in the 1920's longing for her mother, a world famous silent film actress. Ben's story is told with words and Rose's is told with pictures and eventually the two stories intersect somehow.

Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabaret) has once again written and illustrated a wonderful children's book (for adults too!). His books are fat and hearty and full of luscious drawings. He's also not a slouch in the prose department. He's created a world that is unique and also a bit mysterious. Both Ben and Rose have hearing impairments, which adds a rich layer of characterization, and opens up the reader to different people and situations.

I really enjoyed this book. It kept my interest as I wanted to know how and why these two stories connected. Brian writes about longing and wanting to belong to something or someone, whether it's friendship, family or our place in this world. It's something that we all relate to. We all want to be accepted and to have a sense of home. This book feels like coming home.

B+
7.5

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Movie Review: SHAME: Raw. Real. Emotional.


Brandon (Michael Fassbender) lives in NYC, has a nice apartment, and a well paying job. He seems to have friends and goes out. He also has sex a lot. He's an addict, and his routine is thrown into a disarray when his talented, yet messed up younger sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), needs a place to stay and moves in with him.

Shame is a complicated story that is told in a quiet way with sometimes just a look or a hand movement. Steve McQueen directs with a keen eye to character and development. The build up is slow and requires our full attention. We are watching deeply flawed characters who lash out, act out, judge one another, hurt themselves, are charming, and full of pain. The way they behave is frightening. They hit what we would think is rock bottom, but is it? Rock bottoms are all personal experiences. So the ending is left open because these characters feel very real and real people don't always have an ending that is tied up neatly with a bow.

There is one scene that was absolutely beautifully shot. It's a scene in a fancy lounge bar where Sissy sings a song. The camera stays close to her face and we watch her transform before us. In that one song, we see all her hopes and dreams and failures. We see her brother's too.

Shame is a film for mature audiences. It has graphic scenes, but the most uncomfortable moments are those scenes where we don't know what will happen. The quiet ones. The ones where we sense a rage or addiction is boiling over. The fear of what will happen if or when it does.

This film is for moviegoers who want to be challenged, and who aren't uncomfortable with being a fly on the wall. It is a voyeuristic journey into the deepest and sometimes darkest recesses of the human psyche.

8.5.
A

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

At The Movies: HUGO. Martin Scorsese's Family Film


Hugo is a film adapted from the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and it's Martin Scorsese's first foray into family friendly entertainment. And he's done a good job. Hugo is about an orphan boy, named Hugo, who lives inside the walls of the Train Station in 1930's Paris. He steals mechanical parts so he can fix the automaton his father was working on before he died, and it's not easy to find parts, live in the walls, keep the clocks running, and stay out of the way of the Station Inspector's sights. Hugo believes if he can make the automaton work then somehow his father will be able to send him a message.

For those who may have read my blog before, you might have read my thoughts on the book, which I loved!( http://screenspinster.blogspot.com/2011/08/in-books-invention-of-hugo-cabret-by.html ) So I was naturally curious about the film version. The book had captured my imagination and transported me into this world. Would the movie do the same? Well, yes, and no. I liked the film. It is beautifully shot (I skipped the 3D version as I hate 3D) and it's a feast for the senses. The train station, where much of the story takes place, looks fantastic, and the automaton came to life on screen, and the giant clocks and all their mechanisms looks realistic and magical. That being said, I wish I had liked it more, or loved it. It's a fine film, well made, with a heart warming story. I was really drawn to Ben Kingsley's character, Papa Georges, and his backstory was told with tenderness and was full of colour.

I think my problem with the film is the casting of the lead character. I didn't particularly believe Asa Butterfield as Hugo. For me, there was just something off about his acting. I felt he was trying to be Hugo, instead of actually being Hugo. There was a lot of eyeball, eyebrow, and lip acting. If you see the film you'll understand what I mean. I can't help thinking that if someone else had been cast in this important role that I would have loved the film instead of kind of liking it.

That being said, a film that I kind of liked that was made by Scorsese is still one of the best films currently playing.

7/10
B

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Week with Marilyn: A Love Letter to Miss Monroe


My Week with Marilyn is a small film about a true event. Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) goes to England to film The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, (Kenneth Branagh), and there she meets a young man by the name of Colin Clark, and she lets him into her world. She flirts with him. She's vulnerable with him. She's sexy with him. She's coy. She's destructive. She's pathetic. She's irrational. She's all encompassing, and he can't resist her. She's also married to Arthur Miller (played by an unrecognizable Dougray Scott). But this brief love affair doesn't go further than a few kisses, and is all rather innocent.

The film's plot is simple and on the thin side, but what it lacks for story more than makes up for it with the performances. Everyone is great in their roles. The era and look of a 1950's film set is perfect. The costumes are rich and textured, and the look of the film sucks you into a bygone era. And as almost all critics have noted, Michelle Williams does a superb job as Marilyn Monroe. (An Oscar nomination is sure to come). Williams embodies the spirit of Marilyn, and she disappears into the role. Even though she's not technically the lead, she takes over whenever she's on screen. Perhaps a fault of the film is that the lead, Colin Clark, played by Eddie Redmayne, is a bit of a bore and he's more reactive in the role than active. It's really all about Marilyn and when Williams is on screen, you can't take your eyes off her.

Overall the film is sweet and has a delicate touch towards its characters and its look. It doesn't shed any real new ground on Monroe's life, so if you're a die hard fan you probably learn nothing new, and if you're newer to Marilyn, you might get a better understanding into why she was so intoxicating to those around her, and why she's stood the test of time to become an icon.

7.5
B+

P.S. Emma Watson does a great job in a small role as a wardrobe girl who falls for Colin. She's slowly inching away from her Hermione persona.

THE MUPPETS 2011: Maniacal Laugh. Maniacal Laugh. Maniacal Laugh.


The Muppets are back! The Muppets are back! The Muppets are back! Did you hear about The Muppets? They're Baaaaaaaaack! (waves arms in the air ala Kermit)

I've been waiting for the return of The Muppets for a while now, even though they haven't really gone anywhere. They still do Television movies and are plastered all over merchandise, but they haven't been on the big screen since the 90's with Muppets from Space. And it is a welcome return. There's just something so innocent and sweet and yes, of course, nostalgic, about these felt creatures. I can't even bring myself to call them puppets because puppets aren't real, but somehow The Muppets seem real and the delusion must live on.

The Muppets are no longer famous and have gone their separate ways. The Muppet Studios is in disarray full of debris and cobwebs, and it's going to be destroyed by an evil Oil Tycoon, played with delightful evil pleasure by Oscar Winner Chris Cooper. Walter, a muppet who lives in Smalltown with his brother, Gary (Jason Segel) learns of this diabolical plot point and he, along with Gary and Gary's girlfriend Mary (the lovely Amy Adams channeling a 1950's housewife), find Kermit and the gang to save the theatre with a live telethon. And the gang is indeed back! All the originals are there, along with Walter (the new guy), and they're as fun and silly as ever (I do miss that Ratzo Rizzo didn't have any lines).

The jokes are the same with lots of in-jokes about the old Muppets, the tv show, and the thin plot of even this movie. There are musical numbers that are fun, but not very memorable. There is no Rainbow Connection type of song, but a couple do linger after the credits have rolled.

Overall, the film is a lot of fun. It's a trip down memory lane. I laughed out loud a lot. I even got teary eyed toward the end. Jason Segel has written a love letter to the muppets, and we are lucky that he's such a bona fide fan as well. It's not perfect, but if you love the muppets, or even like them (and who doesn't?) then you can't be cynical about it, and you just let yourself exist in its presence.

Go see The Muppets. Recapture your childhood memories, or make news ones. The film is magical because it makes you believe that muppets do exist. That being kind and earnest are noble things to be. That good guys do have their moments in the sun, and on an extremely personal note, I've realized that I am a muppet in human clothing.

Ask yourself, are you a muppet or a (wo)man?

A
8.5 out of 10

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Book Review: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern


I want to run away and join the circus, and not just any circus. I want to be a part of Erin Morgenstern's black and white magical circus with its countless number of tents, its caramel apples, mulled cider, and the infinite bonfire.
The Night Circus is a fantastic first novel, and I was intrigued by the premise. A circus wanders the globe, mysteriously showing up in fields,

and is only open from sunset to sunrise, hence the title of the book, and it is called Le Cirque des Reves. Behind the circus there is a game going on, a game of life and death (although the players don't yet know this) between the Illusionist Celia, an innate magical being, and Marco, a man taught how to be magical. They eventually fall in love and the circus becomes jeopardized.

Morgenstern paints a lovely and imaginative picture of what this circus would look like, and smell like. It's a page turner, but not in a suspenseful way, it's more about the layers she's created. We get to experience the circus as a bystander sometimes, then a circus goer, then as a member of the troupe. It's an ensemble piece, and there are a few characters to get to know. I really was drawn to Herr Friedrick Thiessen, the clockmaker who becomes a Reveurs (someone who loves the circus, a hardcore fan). I also really enjoyed Poppet and Widget, babies born of the circus, in the circus, the night of its opening.

The story itself spans about thirty years, but continues long after the main events have concluded. But I do have a quibble about the ending. It's a bit unsatisfying. I felt as though more would be revealed, or at least a a better reason as to why the main characters, Celia and Marco, were thrust into this fame by their mentors. The reason given was rather lame, and disappointing. I also think that the book could have used more editing. At times, the descriptions were a bit convoluted and the image that was trying to be conveyed was a bit messy (at least in my mind, I suppose I could blame my spinster brain for that). I also found the two main characters to be aloof, which, at times, made it difficult for me to connect to them, and to really, truly care about their journey and subsequent destiny. That being said The Night Circus is still a wondrous read and should not be skipped.

8 out of 10.
A-

Monday, October 31, 2011

Television Shows to Watch (currently on the air)




Walking Dead
Grimm
Castle
Modern Family
Parks and Rec
The Office
Ringer
Parenthood
Community
Being Erica
Revenge



I watch more than these (30 Rock isn't airing until the new year), but this is just a sampling of some good television. Revenge is a guilty pleasure with some of the worst voice over narration to ever hit the small screen, but it works! It's a deliciously well thought-out soap opera with more depth than what you find in the daytime.

Ringer is a silly stolen identity story about twins run amuck. But it has Sarah Michelle Geller, who will always have a soft spot in my heart as she is Buffy. She belongs on television, and I'm glad she's back.

Being Erica is one of the best shows on television. It's set in Toronto, and its quirky blending of science fiction, drama and comedy is a hit every week. It doesn't hurt that I sometimes, if not all the time, feel like I'm Erica.

Castle has Nathan Fillion, and if you're a Joss Whedon fan then that's enough.

Grimm just aired, and I think I might love it! It's dark and fantastical, but at its core it's also a detective show.

The Walking Dead is still going strong. Just when I think it's losing steam, or is too boring in parts. Wham! It gets ya when you least expect it.

Parenthood is a wonderfully rich, and well written show about a family. It's dramatic and funny in a very natural way. I got to the show late, as I missed the first season, and almost half of the second season, but I stumbled upon it one night last year and boom! I was hooked.

As for comedy shows it's Parks and Rec, The Office and Community (not to mention, how i met your mother, 2 broke girls, happy endings, up all night etc) as they embody wit and sarcasm, and an overall sense of joy.

So that's my short list. Take it or leave it. But I hope you at least watch one.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Writingisms #3


When writing a horror, don't be a cliche. Kill the virgin first!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

DRIVE: Driven to excellence


I wasn't sure if I wanted to see this film. It was on my radar, but I wasn't entirely convinced, and not because I didn't like the trailer, or the storyline. I actually didn't know much about the film, and I'm glad I wasn't spoiled either. It's an excellent ride to be taken on.

Ryan Gosling
plays a stunt driver and mechanic who gets involved in a robbery that goes horribly wrong, and as he tries to set things right, things spiral out of control, but not in a contrived or predictable manner. The film starts off in a way that you think is one film, but it builds and builds into another kind of film that is darker, and grittier and full of tension and surprising moments that are so realistic that I had to sometimes look away.

I highly recommend this film. It's one of the year's best. I also don't want to reveal anymore of the film as I think not knowing too much about it is its secret to success. It's not about twists and turns. It's a film that is so quiet and visually engrossing that makes it timeless, and every word is perfectly uttered, and each performer (Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, and Ron Perlman) is perfect in their role.

If you don't drive then run to see this film. It deserves a wider audience. I'm off to buy the soundtrack, as the music (instrumental and songs) was sublime, and was its own character.

9 out of 10
A+


Screenplay written by Hossein Amini from the book by James Sallis.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Writingisms #2


When describing the romantic female lead, please refrain from using the term, Femme Fatale, or bombshell. Find a way to make the female lead unique and intelligent with descriptive words about her mannerisms, the way she holds herself in a way that also describes what she could look like.

Movie Review: 50/50 is 100% successful.


Most movies about cancer are tragedies. Gut wrenching stories about mother who die (One True Thing), or daughters who die too young (Terms of Endearment), but rarely, from my recollection, have there been movies about friends who get cancer and their journey told through humor with a positive end result. 50/50 is that kind of movie. Adam, played by the adorable, delicious (and my sometimes pretend boyfriend) Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He's in his 20's and shocked by this diagnosis, and the prognosis of a 50/50 shot at beating it. His best friend, Kyle, played by Seth Rogen who is basically playing Seth Rogen tells him that 50/50 are great odds, and he vows to be there for his friend, which basically consists of telling jokes, trying to get him laid, and ridding his friend of his spineless, weakass girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard).

This movie works so well because it feels real. I didn't sense any false moments. I think there is humor when going through a life or death situation. The humor comes naturally from these situations. I laughed out loud throughout, and I also cried. I held back most of the tears since I was in a public place, but there is one moment in particular that just about did me in. The scene involved Adam and his mother, Angelica Houston doing a great job once again, at the hospital. I had to stop myself from going into the ugly cry. It was just one of the most genuine moments that I've ever seen on screen. The actors are these characters, and as with good acting, it rings true. I also enjoyed the scenes between Adam and his therapist in training, Katherine, (Anna Kendrick doing a good job in showing her character's nervousness and imperfections)

The film was written by Will Reiser who based his script on his own real life story. He battled cancer and beat it, and Seth Rogen, yes, the real Seth Rogen, was there to help his friend through it all.

I highly recommend this film. Please see it. It's one of the best of the year. It's funny, heart warming without talking down to its audience, and it hits its target without being sappy.

9 out of 10
5 *****
A+

Friday, October 7, 2011

Writingisms: #1


Starting a comedy with an awkward sex scene is a good way to begin.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

YA FICTION: 2 Books. ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE



Despite being busy with work and going to TIFF this month, I managed to read two books, and yet again, YA FICTION. They aren't exactly dystopian books, but they are set in the future. Across the Universe by Beth Revis is set on a ship that is headed towards a new planet. It houses a working crew and its main cargo, cryogenically frozen humans who will help run the new planet. The crew have been on the ship for generations as the original travel time was to be 300 years, but we'll eventually discover that might not be the case. Amy is 17 when she was frozen hundreds of years ago with her parents, and isn't meant to be unfrozen until they reach the planet, but something happens and she is released from her liquid dreams and right into a strange new world that she doesn't understand and fears. The book is a science fiction tale with elements of romance as Amy finds herself attracted to Elder, the teenage boy in training who will one day take over the ship. The ship is full of secrets that Amy and Elder will eventually uncover.

I thought the book was well written, and I liked how Revis chose to go back and forth with the chapters. One chapter would be from Elder's point of view and the other one would be from Amy's. It gave the story perspective from all angles. But I did feel it was building up to a different kind of ending. The ending works, but I wanted more from it. The description of the ship, which is their home away from home, was vivid and painted with a great amount of detail. (the book's main website shows what the ship looks like) I could feel the claustrophobia and the hopelessness. What would it feel like floating through space? What would it feel like knowing you're hundreds of years old and should really be dead? What would it feel like knowing that when your parents wake up that you, their child, will be older than they are? Those questions can mess with one's head.

The other book I just finished was The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, a debut novel. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic America that had been ravaged by a plague that killed millions along with a war against China. The story centers around 15 year old Stephen Quinn struggling to survive with his father after they just buried his grandfather, a tough old, mean man who kept his family alive. Stephen's father gets injured and eventually they find themselves in this hidden away small town where life is trying hard to be normal. He is met with acceptance by some, but disdain by others as some of the townsfolk don't like newbies, and trust nobody. The East coast of America is mainly desolate and Stephen has had to stay clear of slavers, a group of weapon clad men who kidnap people to sell as slaves. Eventually, Stephen begins to like his new town, which makes him confused as all he's ever known is the open road. He connects with Jenny, a Chinese teenager who was raised by her white family, and who has a giant chip on her shoulders and is desperate to get out of this town and explore, especially what is west, and beyond the mountains.

The book is a quick read, and well written. I would have liked more information about the eleventh plague, or moments where it still exists, and what the actual Chinese threat was or still is. It's a western set in the future. Most post-apocalyptic stories feel like westerns as they are about a new frontier. It's a good first book. I don't know if there is a sequel, but I'm sure if it's a success there will be.

Across the Universe-B
The Eleventh Plague-B

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Why I don't like Cats


Cats hiss and piss all over the place
If you're not careful they'll scratch your face.
They prance, and prowl with their ass high in the air,
showing off their nuts, and bits, and their hair down there!
Sure, they snuggle and cuddle, and purr,
and sometimes they have soft, silky fur,
but they act like they own everything in the house,
and they'd rather drink milk than run, and catch a mouse.
They're waiting to take over the planet.
They're evil, and I swear they killed Janet!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Her Boyfriend Wrote a book about Her


Hilary Winston's ex wrote a "fiction" book about her, the fat-assed girlfriend was her moniker. So Hilary decided to write a non-fiction book about her ex, and other men she's dated. It's not a revenge tale, just her version of the truth of her love life. Hilary is a sitcom writer so I expected to laugh out loud, but I didn't really find the book that funny. That being said, I think it was well written, and I enjoyed reading it. But if you're expecting gut wrenching laughter like Tina Fey's Bossypants, well then you'll be disappointed. But if you just want to read about a woman's dating woes then this is the right book for you.

In My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About me (and other stories I shouldn't share with acquaintances, coworkers, taxi drivers, assistants, job interviewers, bikini waxers, and ex/current.future boyfriends but have), Hilary shares with us her dating ups and downs, her weight ups and downs, and her one true love, her cat, Emmett. Hilary is a cat person. I am not. In fact, I am the opposite of a cat person. If I ever buy a cat and live alone with one then please just put me out of my misery. Hilary has dated a lot of men, some okay, some meh, some suck, but not many are great. The one who she thought was great ended up writing a book about their relationship (apparently, he was too lazy to use his imagination) and this book forces Hilary to take stock of her love life.

And as she does, we hear about her gay boyfriends, her jerk boyfriends, her peeing cat, and her desire to become a successful writer (which she has done). Overall, I am glad that I've not had Hilary's dating life (too depressing), but I have my own fair share of crappy men in my life (maybe I'll write a book about them one day if I am not too lazy). But one thing I take from this book is that I should definitely date men who can't read or write, so I won't ever be brought to life in a novel as the small breasted girlfriend.

by the way, the title of her ex's novel is The Average American Male: A Novel by Chad Kultgen. I think I'll skip that book, and wait for Hilary to one day write a novel of her own. I'm sure the lead will be an atheist catwoman from outerspace.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

In Film. ONE DAY, the book, comes to the big screen


I've been awaiting the arrival of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew to the big screen for a year, and I'm glad they finally arrived. ONE DAY, a book by David Nicholls, is a book that I loved. It was an emotional powerhouse of a novel, and the movie, written by Nicholls as well, delivers. Is it as good as the book? No. Most adaptations pale in comparison to the literary source, but it does a pretty damn good job.

I went into the film with low expectations, as I didn't want to be disappointed, and I wasn't. I really enjoyed the film. Anne Hathaway does a good job as Emma. Her accent, as some critics have criticized, was fine. I was more interested in her character. If she could encapsulate Emma's inner turmoil, her sweetness, her smarts, her love for Dexter, and she does. But it's Jim Sturgess who really shines in his role as Dexter. The cocky kid with addictions and narcissism, but who is so much more than what we see. His journey towards a stable adult was handled well. I really felt for him, and even though I knew what the ending was, I couldn't help rooting for him.

I think this adaptation is for those of us who read the book. If you're coming into this movie, without the background knowledge, it might not resonate as well with you. The beginning is a bit rough and jumpy, and it had me concerned that it would be too episodic. By having read the book, I knew exactly how the characters felt and where they were coming from, which makes for a more well rounded cinematic experience.

If you don't know, the basic plot is a relationship is shown between two people on the same day, July 15, for 20 years. We watch these characters be almost lovers, to friends, to not friends, to perhaps lovers, and so on. The book and film both capture the reality of such a relationship. It isn't glamorized. It is so real to read and watch that one can't help but be pulled into it emotionally. And that's what happened to me. I cried, once again, at the story of Dexter and Emma. I had to hold back a lot of the tears, as I was teetering on the brink of going into the ugly cry. When I read the book, I sobbed, and it was a full body experience. Since I was watching the film in a public place, I forced myself NOT to sob too much.

If you can get your hands on the book, and give it a read then I suggest reading it first then heading off to the movie on the weekend to experience it again!

Overall, I give it an 8 out of 10 as it was an emotionally satisfying time at the cinema.



Bonus feature: My initial book review from almost a year ago.
http://screenspinster.blogspot.com/2010/09/short-and-sweet-and-to-point-book.html

Monday, August 15, 2011

In Books: The Invention of Hugo Cabret By Brian Selznick


The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a wonderful literary experience. It's part picture book, novel, graphic novel with cinematic images. The work of art by Brian Selznick is being made into a film by Martin Scorcese, but do yourself a favour and read the book first. It's a thick book, but can be read within a couple of hours, as a majority of the book is filled with Selznick's pencil drawings. Images that look timeless and transport you into the world he's created.

Hugo lives in the train station, inside its walls, and he takes care of the clocks, and steals food to stay alive. He's had a tough life, but he holds onto hope in the form of a notebook his father left behind. It shows him how to fix an automaton* that his father had rescued from the attic of the museum he worked at before he died. Hugo dreams that the automaton has one last message for him from his father. But the crotchety old Toy Maker who sells his creations at the station gets in his way and this is where the mystery of the book comes alive.

The book is written in a way that is sweet and, dare I say it again, timeless. It's perfect for young and old as it captures the innocence, not just of a time long gone (the 1930's in Paris) but the beginnings of new things. When we were young and full of dreams. The story, for me, was like a time machine. It took me right into this busy train station, it made me believe in elements of magic, and the possibilities of our dreams coming true (the cynic in me liked the reprieve). If you have a couple of hours, or even if you don't, make the time to read this book. In its simplicity you'll find something worthwhile even if it only lasts the afternoon.


* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automaton

3 Movies in a Nuthsell: Apes, stupid love, all under 30 minutes or less




I've seen a few films in the last couple of weeks, but I've been too lazy to write about them, so I'll just put them all under one review.

What do Apes, Ryan Gosling's abs, and pizza have in common? Nothing much. All three movies are relatively new to the theatres, with Rise of the Planet of the Apes being the breakout hit amongst the three. The ape movie is good, not great. But it has its moments. Andy Serkis, who plays the lead chimp, Caesar, is the best actor in the entire film. He, and John Lithgow do a good job, but James Franco, the human lead, phones in his performance. I'm not sure if his eyes are stoned, or just dead. Anyway, the film is a prequel of sorts to to the planet of the apes, and it's an interesting idea. Will Rodman, played by Franco, is a scientist who is experimenting on apes with a new drug to fight alzheimer's. He creates a drug that works on chimps, making them smarter, but it might actually be a detriment to human kind. It's leaps and bounds better than the Tim Burton remake of 2001. That movie was a horrible mess with no redeeming quality. This latest installment, at least, tries to respect its audience and take itself seriously. If you're a fan of the ape movies and the book that inspired them then it's definitely a must see. I give it a solid 7 out of 10.

Crazy, Stupid, Love (which I think has an extra comma, as you can be crazy, and you can be stupid, but you can't be love, but love can be crazy and stupid, just without a comma. Confused?) is meant to be a comedy, but it comes across as a drama with comedic moment. I didn't really laugh until the end of Act Two where physical comedy takes over in a scene of chaos and twists and turns. But up until then the film is rather boring. It's not a bad boring, it's just very predictable with characters who sometimes come across as caricatures. Steve Carell is sweet in his role as a father who gets recently dumped by his wife, Julianne Moore, who is bored. They're a boring couple who got together much too young, but who may still be soulmates. Ugh. Soulmates? That word makes me cringe. It's an overused word, and theme, and it's contrived and rings false, not just in movies, but in real life too. Anyway, Ryan Gosling is good in his role as a womanizer who teaches Carell how to be a ladies' man, and who eventually falls in love with Emma Stone's character. (Stone is everywhere, see previous blog posts on her) Gosling's body is absolutely stunning. Kudos to him on making it fat free, now please go have a chocolate sundae with extra toppings. The film is harmless, but there's nothing new to discover in these relationships. A renter. 6.5 out of 10.

The latest film that I've seen is 30 Minutes or Less. A slacker, low brow type of comedy about a serious situation. A pizza delivery man (Jesse Eisenberg) is going nowhere in his life, then one night he is kidnapped and a bomb is strapped to his body and he's told to rob a bank, or else he dies. The kidnappers are two buttheads played by Nick Swardson and Danny McBride. They, too, are slackers, but slackers with a panache for bombs and violence. They need the bank money to hire a hitman to kill McBride's dad, so that they can claim a large inheritance, They want the money so that they can open a tanning salon that is a front for prostitution. Phew. Got that? The film has some funny moments, but overall, it doesn't have enough of a plot to fuel a full length film. There is a lot of talking in this film, and the kind of talking that feels like filler rather than plot driven or character revealing. I like the actors who are involved, and the Director made Zomebieland, which I enjoyed. But this time around, it just doesn't work as well. It's also loosely based on a real life event where the pizza guy was actually killed by the bomb. 6 out of 10.

And that sums up the last two weeks at the movie for me. Overall, this summer has been disappointing at the cinema.

Monday, July 25, 2011

An excerpt from something I am working on. CHICK LIT.


Date # 76 and #77, with the same man, Seth, lead to an important discovery. On our second date, which we had because the first one was such a success, he took me to a reunion concert of The Guess Who. Not really my generation of music, but fantastic nonetheless. Since we got along like gangbusters, I agreed to a second date and he agreed to cook me dinner. After almost eighty dates, no man had ever offered to cook me dinner, so I jumped at the chance. Dinner was wonderful. He baked the feathers off a chicken. Since my mom is a Martha Stewart fan, I knew right away that he was using her recipe for buttermilk baked chicken. I also noticed a Martha cookbook on the bookshelf.

I drank lots of white wine and gingerale, a great combo with baked chicken. I excused myself to use the bathroom before dessert was brought out, which he informed me was strawberry shortcake. Dinner and dessert? I almost had an orgasm right there.

The bathroom, blue and orange, with a plastic shower curtain was your standard bachelor pad lavatory. And there it was before me. The all-knowing medicine cabinet. The crystal ball of relationships. It beckoned me. It promised me riches of gold and a fountain of information. He had Flintstones vitamin, along with unscented shaving cream for sensitive skin, toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and Old Spice aftershave. Nothing out of the ordinary, or so I thought. I opened the Flintstones vitamins. I felt like a Wilma fix, and low and behold, inside the Flintstones bottle was a string of glow-in-the-dark anal beads! I made an excuse about cramps and left. And since then I’ve always looked in medicine cabinets.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Is Emma Stone the new Julia Roberts?



Once upon a time, the biggest name in Hollywood was Julia Roberts. She was in almost every movie in the 1990's, on every magazine cover, she was tabloid fodder, commanded top salary and adored by fans the world over. But we all know that in Hollywood, age isn't kind to women. Men, unfair as it is, in Hollywood, don't have to suffer as much with ageism as their female acting counterparts. Hollywood is fickle, but so is fan adoration.

Julia Roberts
has an oscar, and commanded the silver screen for the better part of a decade, but as a mother to three young children, acting has taken a back seat. And in that time, many younger and talented actresses have taken up the gauntlet. Emma Stone stands out in that group (Carey Mulligan is a talent to be reckoned with as well). I suppose the comparison can come down to hair colour? I told you Hollywood is fickle. Mind you, both Roberts and Stone aren't natural red heads, but the colour suits them well.

They both started off as supporting actors, and eventually took to being the lead. Roberts did that a bit quicker with the breakout hit, Pretty Woman, and Stone has done that with the film, Easy A. And they pretty much did it around the same age, 22. What was I doing at 22? Trying to write a proper paragraph for my English paper. I'm still trying to write properly. Both of those films were turning points for their careers. Roberts could star in anything, some failed (Mary Reilly) and others were huge successes (Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding). Stone has a string of films coming out in the next year. She plays the romantic interest opposite Ryan Gosling (hubba, hubba) in Crazy, Stupid, Love and she's the lead in the best selling novel turned film,, The Help, and, of course, the revamped, Spiderman movie.

Roberts has yet to star in a superhero action film, and I doubt that's in the cards for her now. Smart move on her part. Playing the romantic lead in a superhero movie is a boring choice for an actor. It gives them major exposure, but the role tends to lack real range (ie. Kirsten Dunst and Katie Holmes). Hopefully, Stone will make challenging choices as an actor in order to sustain longevity because no matter what one thinks of Roberts, she is standing the test of time, even if people don't go to her movies in droves like before. Because for every Larry Crowne, there's an Eat, Pray, Love. She has the ability to bounce back at her own leisure.

Hopefully, with the onslaught of Spiderman, Stone can keep the tabloid fodder to a minimum, and make smart choices. Hollywood takes about having "it" more so with female actors than with males. But that "it" factor can vanish as quickly as it comes (ie. Gretchen Moll, Lindsay Lohan). Stone, so far, has made the right career choices, and if she continues to pick the right screenplays, and directors and costars, she can be around for a long time. Ultimately, the goal isn't to have a career like Julia Roberts, it's to have a career like Meryl Streep, or Helen Mirren, even Roberts would agree to that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

YA Fiction: BUMPED by Megan McCafferty


And my YA fiction reading continues. BUMPED is set in the near future, but not dystopia, so at least that's a bit different from the slew of books that I've been reading. Melody and Harmony are twins, separated at birth. Harmony was raised in a religious cult, The Church, groomed to wed at 13 and have has many babies as possible. Whereas, Melody was raised in the more secular world, groomed by her parents to be the best at everything in order to secure a birthing contract with a rich couple. In this future, a virus has made most of mankind infertile and only teenagers can get pregnant and give birth. Making them a commodity. Girls willing to pregg out for a price and have good DNA are hot on the market. They can pay for their education. They get gifts. It's a sweet deal. You just have to have sex, (for some reason, invitro doesn't work in the future due to the virus), with either your boyfriend or someone who's been paid to be the male counterpart.

Melody leaves her home, in fact, she sneaks off. She wants to convert her secular sister, at least that's what she thinks she wants. Both Melody and Harmony aren't what they appear to be.

The world Melody and Harmony inhabit is fairly standard teenage fair apart from the pregnancy thing. Kids go to school. They have clubs. They party. They drink. They have sex (for procreation, as condoms are banned), and they obsess over celebrity culture like most teens do now. But their obsession isn't about actors and musicians, it's for prolific teen birth mothers and hot studs like Jondoe.

McCafferty's style is simple and accessible, and her prose flows well. It's easy to get inside her protagonists' heads. Each chapter alternates between the twin's perspective. By doing that, we get a unique insight into how the story unfolds. I really enjoyed that part of the book. There were times that the religious aspect got to be a bit too much and at times, cliched. And I could have done without an ending that left us hanging. Am growing a bit tired of so many YA Fiction books being a part of a trilogy. Why can't stories be told in one book? I think this idea could have been finished and done with without a sequel.

Grade: B

Monday, July 18, 2011

Non-Fiction Book Review: Cinderella Ate my Daughter by Peggy Orenstein


Cinderella Ate My Daughter got me thinking. what would I do if I had daughters? How would I raise them to be healthy, happy and courageous people in this consumer, internet and celebrity obsessed culture? No matter how much you love and protect a child, the world is still out there, and it can be big, and bad and scary, as well as lovely and inspiring. You shelter them too much and you screw them up. You let them be free to discover their own way and they can get screwed up. Striking a balance is difficult to do, but not impossible, right?

Peggy Orenstein chronicles the ups and downs of raising her own young daughter, while researching and commenting on what it's like out there for girls today. She hits upon the princess identity, and how Disney has made billions off of telling our daughters that they are princesses in expensive, yet cheaply made costume dresses with tiaras and fake plastic heels. Are we doing a disservice by telling little girls that they're a princess? What does it even mean to be a princess? Is it about accessories? The right hair? The perfect complexion? Can we make girls feel beautiful on the inside without hinting at all to the external shell that they inhabit?

Orenstein balances her objective and subjective voice throughout the book. She isn't afraid to reveal her own downfalls in motherhood, succumbing to doll buying sometimes. Her happiness at her daughter liking Wonder Woman, but the irony that although she's a superhero and not Cinderella, she is, in fact, still an Amazonian Princess. She can't win, can she? Her writing style is accessible to all, and isn't preachy. She observes mothers who enroll their daughters in toddler pageants, but doesn't poke fun at them. She can see the damage such a childhood can do to a child, but she can glimpse a good thing about it too.

Girls love the colour pink. I do too. I liked it when I was little, but I remember for a while that I even hated it. I thought it was too babyish at one time. I made my way toward loving blue, all shades except royal (decades later, I now love royal blue, but still enjoy my hot pink pillows). When did pink become synonymous with girls? Orenstein wants to know how to avoid pink, but how can we when it's everywhere in girl's clothing and toys. There are pink baseball bats that ensure consumers will buy two bats, one regular one for a boy, and a pink one for a girl. But pink was once a man's colour. It is interesting to note that Orenstein's cover for this book is pink.

The book touches upon the Miley Cryus of the world. The cyberbully. The oversexualization of pre-teens and so on and so forth. It's kind of scary out there for girls and for their parents. Because no matter how much we protect our daughters, we can't close off the media. The media's influence is powerful and everywhere. I guess the only thing parents can do, and aunts and uncles, and grandparents, who help to raise little girls, is to be the bigger and more loving influence.

If you have daughters, or nieces, or goddaughters in your life, give this book a read. It could prove to be interesting, and might make you rethink that Ariel costume (after all, she is a 16 year old princess who gives up her voice for a man and gets married much too young) (oh, how I do love The Little Mermaid. But this book has made me rethink some parts of it)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2: The end of Pottermania?



When the final book of the Harry Potter series was released four years ago I was eager to read it and find out what happens to the magical wizard, but at the same time, I didn't want it to end. I had treasured this world for years, and wanted it to keep going. I took solace in knowing that there were still movies to come, which extended my potterworld for four more years. That extension has now passed as Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part 2 hits theatres this weekend.

I am not an uber Potter Nerd, more like a fond geek. I skipped the midnight screening, much too old for such things, as I would have fallen asleep during the previews. Instead, I went to a Friday matinee. It's much more pleasant that way as it tends not to be sold out. I had my drink and my M&M's and was ready to be transported. I had gone into this film with high expectations, maybe too high, hence why I was slightly disappointed. That doesn't mean that I didn't like the film. I just wanted some of the things to be different. At times, things felt rushed, despite its two hour running time.

Part 2 picks up where the other one ended, and this finale is action packed with barely a moment to breathe. But don't fret. There were still quiet moments, reflection, and a bit of kissing to be done. Harry, Hermione, and Ron find themselves back at Hogwarts to find the final horcruxes and to do battle with Voldermort's followers. In this world there are way more baddies than goodies. Hence why the film is so jam packed.

There might be some SPOILER talk, but I will warn you about it...

The battle sequences are brilliantly done. They look real, and if wand combat were an actual thing then I'm sure it would look exactly like the ones in the film. The CGI was top notch, and didn't feel fake (SPOILER WARNING: Except for the silly CGI at the end when they aged the characters. It could have been better done, but also it could have been worse. The biggest highlight was Ron's potbelly. haha SPOILER ENDING).

The big set pieces are pretty much limited to two places, Gringotts Bank and Hogwarts. The bank sequence is a fun ride as Harry, Hermione and Ron set out to find a horcrux, and along the way get into trouble and release an imprisoned dragon. (Hermione is after, all still, an advocate for magical animal rights). Once we get back to Hogwarts where the new headmaster, Snape, has created a Nazi like atmosphere, things really heat up and don't cool down under the final embers fade amongst the ruins of the school.

I expected to bawl like a baby during the film, as I tend to be an emotional mess most of the time, but perhaps over the years, my cold, cold heart has finally turned into coal. Except, there is some hope for me, as I did get teary eyed during Snape's demise and how all was revealed about his motives and his true love for Lily Potter (Harry's mother). Unrequited love sucks, but at the same time, it can turn any cold hearted slytherin into an emotional pile of goo. Alan Rickman is a genius and has been a great Snape, if a bit too old to play the character. (SPOILER WARNING: His CGI'd cheeks during the flashback scene were a bit jarring. SPOILER ENDING)

I haven't read the book in years, so some of my memories of what happened on the page are blurry, but I do know that I was more emotionally struck by reading the book than watching the film. (SPOILER TALK: I felt that the deaths of certain characters during the battle scenes were overlooked and weren't given their due respect and time. SPOILER ENDING) That being said, I was still invested in our hero's journey and was absolutely delighted by Ron and Hermione's hand holding as they finally became a couple. (SPOILER TALK: The kiss between them was good and sweet, but Ron's giant head was in the way of the whole thing. SPOILER ENDING) I will say that Ron and Hermione have way more chemistry than Harry and Ginny. Poor Ginny comes across as just so wooden. Not sure if that's an actor's choice or just her personality.

I may have to see the film again, and this time just go in with no expectations, and let the potterworld transport me to somewhere else, and leave my opinions on how I would have made the film at the door. The film is a success. It's a true testament to how much love and dedication that the entire cast and crew has given to this production. A labor of love for a decade, and if JK Rowling approves then that's all right with me. I'll always be a fan, and the potterworld will live on with old and new fans. I'll continue to watch the films throughout the years, and I'll even reread the books someday. And I know I'll get my butt down to Florida and visit the Harry Potter themepark and have myself a few glasses of butterbeer. Mmmmm, butterbeer.

Grade: A-

Skip the 3D versions. 2D is perfect just as it is. I hear the film's stock is already dark, so the 3D conversion just makes it darker and muddier. With the 3 bucks you save by seeing the 2D, you can then buy yourself some Harry Potter memorabilia instead.

Monday, July 11, 2011

To-Do List



I've been thinking about writing a To-Do list since I read The Single Girl's Guide To-Do List. I have had lists in the past, and carried through on many things on said lists. But I am not that organized anymore and I sort of just let life flow and take me where it's going to take me. Lists have been on the back burner for a long time. I've also developed a huge procrastination problem, and lists are a big no-no :)

How about a list for anyone, boy, or girl, single or married, broke, or not. A list that doesn't discriminate? Hmmmm, let's see.

1. Eat Ice Cream Cake for breakfast at least once a year. Preferably, the day after your own birthday or that of a child (daughter, son, niece, nephew etc). Please don't go out and steal some kid's birthday cake.

2. Visit an art gallery, and when nobody is looking, skip through the gallery like you once did as a kid. (Even if someone is looking, skip anyway. It's not like you'll be back to that gallery)

3. Have a movie-a-thon with friends. Whether it's a Die Hard Extravaganza, or a Pride & Prejudice fawn fest. Invite some friends over, eat candy, chips, and popcorn, and have fun!

4. Walk in the rain without an umbrella, (not a T-shower as you don't want to get struck by lightning).

5. Get a book, and read it in a 24 hour span. Read it while you're eating, lying down, walking, or on the toilet. Just you and that book all day long.

6. Go to a traditional tea party. The Royal York in Toronto has one, or the Plaza in NYC. If money is tight (which it always is) then make your own tea party. (finger sandwiches area a must, or crumpets, but you can hold off the clotted cream if you want)

7. Go to a concert by yourself.

8. Swim in an ocean, or a sea, and if you already have but haven't swum in a lake then swim there. Bays are good too.

9. Play a board game from your childhood. Hungry Hungry Hippo, Uno, Trouble, Sorry...Do it and don't keep score, or if you do keep score, Kick ass in it!

HORRIBLE BOSSES: Do you hate your boss this much?


Do you have a boss you hate? Do you want to punch them in the face? Do you hate your job? I'm sure sometimes we've all felt these things at one time or another. In Horrible Bosses, three friends, feel it all the time, and decide to do something about it. They're going to kill their bosses. And that's when things take off into chaos as these three friends are pretty much bumbling idiots.

The film stars Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis as the put upon underlings up against their crass, crazy and slutty bosses: Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, and Jennifer Aniston (who instead of acting with her hair, acts with her body this time around). Out of all the bosses, Kevin Spacey is the most evil. From my seat, I wanted to punch his smug face into the ground. Farrell's character could have been used more, but the little screen time that he has, he goes for it. I'm not a big Aniston fan, but for her role as the one note nympho, she does a good job and goes for it sexually.

The film is okay. I didn't love it, nor did I hate it. I'm just "meh" to lukewarm about it. I laughed out loud a few times (the biggest laugh came from a set piece of a poster that hangs above the bed of Colin Farrell's character.) I enjoyed the physical humor, and wished there was more of that. It's a film that is better suited as a rental than on the big screen. But it's harmless fun, and you won't feel insulted afterward (unless you don't like the word c*ck because c*ck is used a lot).

Even though I enjoyed myself while watching it, I couldn't help thinking that it could have been funnier and even darker. It makes me wonder if the original script was darker, and the producers decided to hold back a bit. I left the theatre light hearted, but I also couldn't remember much of the dialogue, and the ending felt rushed. I do remember, however, that Jamie Foxx has some funny moments as the potential hitman, but they all came from his eyes. The eye rolls, and side glances were pitch perfect. It goes to show that a little can go a long way. I also thought that Charlie Day was delightful! I loved his performance. He's the quintessential bumbling idiot.


Grade: B-