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Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page

And the Oscar Goes to…….

In Awards on February 25, 2013 at 10:28 am

Last night was the Oscars and unless you live under a rock, have no interest in movies, or are in a loony bin, you would know this. I was pleasantly surprised with the winners, saddened by the losers, and dismayed as to who didn’t get nominated. For goodness sake where was my “Cloud Atlas” nomination? Despite having an amazing makeup team and an amazing score, this film wasn’t nominated for anything. And no Leo or Samuel? What? Why the heck not. Seriously though, when Leo wins an Academy, mark my words he will, I will go nuts. Like footprints on the ceiling nuts.

So I’m going to offer you, my amazing audience, my take on the Academy Awards and who I thought should have won or who most certainly deserved to win. I will only offer my take on movies I have seen or feel very strongly about.

Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for “The Silver Linings Playbook”.

Did she deserve this? 100% yes. She was absolutely great in this film. She portrayed a manic individual to a t and God help me I love Sally Field but Jennifer totally deserved this. I seriously hope that she gets some hella great work following this because I am super excited to her career.

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Mis

Did she deserve this? Sadly, I cannot say. I didn’t see the movie but from what my girlfriend said, she totally did. And I’m going to agree with her on this. A lot of people don’t like Anne for some reason, no idea why she was an amazing Catwoman, but from what I saw from her singing and acting, I too believe that she deserved this win.

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz for D’Jango Unchained

Did he deserve this? Oh hell yes. This man was phenomenal in D’Jango and when he is given a Tarantino script, he can do no wrong. Seriously, he was great in “Inglorious Basterds” and he completely became Schultz for this movie. I don’t have any qualms with who should have won for this one because I completely believe that Waltz deserved this.

Best Original Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino for D’Jango Unchained

Did he deserve this? Absolutely. Without a doubt. My girlfriend and I had the pleasure of watching “Pulp Fiction” this past weekend and I can never get over how wonderful that script is. Tarantino has a thorough understanding for how people talk, how people sound, and what a damn good conversation sounds like. He is able to insert this funny quips while also containing some hellishly dramatic dialogue as well. Congratulations Tarantino, you absolutely deserve this.

Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln

Did he deserve this? My man Daniel Day-Lewis deserves every damn award he reserves. Ever scrap of recognition that is thrown his way. Any bit of praise that this man receives, he deserves. He was wonderful in “Lincoln” truly becoming our 16th president. He had the gait down, he had the speeches down, he was good ol’ honest Abe and I truly believe that he deserved this win.

Best Animated Feature: Brave

Did this deserve it? I’m going to say no, however know this I did not see this film. One of the reasons I say no was because many believe that this film won simply for the design of the hair for the main character. Now, if this was a deciding factor, then I would have to say I don’t agree with it because there are other categories where this could have been featured. I was pulling for “Wreck it Ralph” because that was such a great story with an amazing cast set in amazing universe, but sadly this did not get the win. If “Brave” won for its story and its design, then I congratulate it.

Best Adapted Screenplay: Chris Terrio for Argo

Did he deserve this win? I would go with a slight yes, because I do love Tony Kushner and I though the screenplay he wrote for “Lincoln” was incredible. That being said, I did like the screenplay for Argo but I do feel that it wasn’t a strong screenplay because, currently, it doesn’t stand out in my mind.

Best Director: Ang Lee for Life of Pi

Did he deserve this? Sadly, I did not see the film and I do regret it. I was pulling for “Silver Linings Playbook” as well as “Lincoln” but I’m nice enough to admit defeat. Ang Lee was modest on stage and appeared truly grateful for the award he received. Because of this, I will see “Life of Pi” to see just how good this film was and he deserved this win.

Best Song: Adele for Skyfall

Did she deserve this? Yes. A resounding yes. This song is not only catchy but is possibly one of the best Bond songs I have ever listened to. And her voice. Sweet Jesus her voice is incredible. She completely deserved this win. Congratulations Adele.

Best Picture: Argo

Did this film deserve it? I’m on the fence about this. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this film but I was rooting for “Lincoln” and “D’Jango Unchained” but I will have to hand this one over to Affleck. He was great in this movie and great behind the camera as well, however, I still have a huge problem with the fact that they did not put a Latin actor in front of the camera and tried to Italianize the main character, changed Antonio to Tony. Ben Affleck should have stepped aside and allowed someone closer to Antonio Mendez’s ethnicity to stand in the spotlight. If that happened, I would be absolutely fine with this film winning Best Picture.

A final thought, to all of those people out there commenting on Adele’s weight while she was singing. Grow up or drop it. One or the other. She’s a great singer and by only focusing on her weight you’re destroying only your own credibility. Women and men come in all different shapes and sizes and only little kids in school yards pick on each other because of it. So seriously, grow up.

Also apparently The Onion tweeted calling Quvenzhané Wallis a cunt. Seriously, there is a line to humor. Lines that keep comedians and writers from being offensive. Tweeting something like that to a nine-year old, the youngest nominee in history, is completely offensive. Completely uncalled for. Completely disgusting. Realizing that they did something wrong, The Onion deleted their tweet. Best part about Twitter, is that deleting a tweet doesn’t remove it completely. So way to go Onion. You found that line and you crossed it. Let’s hope you don’t cross it ever again. 

 

YOU WILL NEVER BE SAFE!

In Movies on February 18, 2013 at 5:24 pm

“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a indie comedy/sci-fi/dark comedy that stars Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, and Mark Duplass and is directed by Colin Trevorrow.

Darius, Plaza, is struggling through her Seattle post-grad life trying to find while interning at Seattle Magazine. Still reeling from a death in the family, Darius hardly interacts with others until she volunteers herself for a story for the magazine. Working with Arnau, Soni, and Jeff, Johnson, Darius absconds to Ocean View Washington where they hope to write a story covering a nut job who posted an ad in the paper looking for someone to travel back in time with. All is not what it appears to be as the Darius finds Kenneth the time traveler, Duplass, to be charming, while Jeff tries to get Arnau laid and rekindle a past romance within his life. This indie film shows love poignantly and displays just how far someone will go for it.

I found this movie fairly enjoyable. I like Plaza’s performance although she does act like April, Parks and Recreation, within this film and I would like to see her portray a different character. I also thought Duplass portrayed Kenneth decently although there are a few instances where some parts of his character could have been flushed out more.

I thought Johnson was really good in this film although he too appeared to be portraying Nick from “The New Girl”. I liked his story line the most and I like how he reacted to it. I felt that it was  authentic and the choices he made following the incident were true to form and made logical sense.

The ending of this movie is very unexpected but it isn’t better because of it. That is to say, it could have been flushed out a bit more and explained a bit further. A epilogue would have been nice.

So before I get into the spoilers, I would say if you’re into indie films then check this out because it is on Netflix. However, if you don’t like melodic songs and shaky camera work, then give this film a miss.

*SPOILERS*

So the one huge problem I had from this film was the fact that they didn’t flush out the occurrence of Belinda, Kristen Bell, being alive. The whole reason Kenneth is building the time machine is to go back and save Belinda and yet she is still alive. Darius and Jeff barely question this and then Darius steps on the time machine with Kenneth and whoosh, they are gone. When questioned, Kenneth evades the question by proclaiming that the time machine worked because she is alive, but there in lines the problem. He wouldn’t have built the time machine to go back in time, if she was dead. A quandary that was portrayed quite well in the awful movie, “The Time Machine” starring Guy Pearce.

Another problem I had with this movie was lack of closure for Jeff’s story line. That’s not to say I wish it worked out between him and Liz but I would have liked it if they remained friends or if he changed his life somehow. I really enjoyed his character and I didn’t like how this movie left his story line up in the air.

Other then those two aspects of the film, I found it to be fairly enjoyable. It was funny at times saddening at others but still a movie that was enjoyable to watch.

Spider-Man, Turn On Those Lights Bro!

In Plays/Broadway Shows on February 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” the infamous musical with songs composed by Bono and The Edge, formerly known as David Evans who decided that he wanted to be cool like Bono and also have a catchy awesome name but sadly the awesomist guitarist in the world was taken by me.

“Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark” directed by Phillip Wm. McKinley, sings the story of Peter Parker, played by Reeve Carney, who gets bitten by a spider in Norman Osborn’s, played by Robert Cuccioli, lab and turns into Spider-Man! Pete tries to balance his super hero life and his boring life while trying to keep the attention of Mary Jane, played by Rebecca Faulkenberry, and protect his Uncle Ben, played by Stephen Lee Anderson, and his Aunt May, played by Isabel Keating. Osborne  however, has other ideas. Pressured by this group of henchman known as the Viper Executives, Osborne pushes the limits of his body and his mind to become the Green Goblin. He also creates the Sinister Six which consists of  Swarm, played by Drew Heflin, The Lizard, played by Julius C. Carter, Electro, played by Maxx Reed, Kraven the Huntder, played by Emmanuel Brown, Carnage, played by Adam Roberts, and Swiss Miss, played by Brandon Rubendal. With the Sinister Six at his side, the Green Goblin sets out to destroy New York City and Spider-Man.

This show was great, but there were a few parts that held it back. First off, the sound appeared to be off or unorganized. I don’t know a lot about the production of a Broadway play but I do know that whoever was in charge of the microphones could have done a better job. There were parts in which the cast was singing and I had trouble understanding them or hearing them. It appeared as though they didn’t articulate their words as well enough as they should have, which may not have been the fault of those working on the production end.

I also felt that this show could have benefited from more high flying action sequences. I enjoyed the show for the stuff that they did accomplish but in fight scenes between the Sinister Six and Spider-Man, I felt that the show let the audience down. The fight scene between the Green Goblin and Spider-man was excellent and it would have been nice to see that replicated with a few of the Sinister Six members.

The backdrops for this show was excellent. It was painted in a comic book fashion often utilizing forced perspective and other devices to amaze the audience. There were also a few scenes where the backdrops turned into screens in which certain scenes were shown and that was really unique and well done.  The amount of work that went into some of the scene changes was astounding and just really well implemented. The cast members didn’t have a lot of space to tell this tremendous story but they used every bit of it that they could and it was amazing because of it.

The stunts were excellent. Spider-man would often fly across the stage and out over the audience while often jumping from one of the balconies on stage. There were also scenes in which some cast members were floating above the audience while another scene was occurring below them. It was a lot of fun and made it appear as though you were at a trapeze show and not a Broadway musical.

The music was also good but not great. There were a few songs that were very well composed and others that simply fell flat or evoked nothing from the audience. Bono also made sure you knew he composed the music by inserting a little U2 here and there which was a bit much.

All in all, “Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark” was fairly decent and could have benefited from some articulate singers and some better sound production.

Don’t Be Ashamed to Watch Shameless

In Television on February 13, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I just finished the first season of “Shameless”, I know I am a little slow on the uptake, and found it to be a damn good show, with wonderful characters, a great story line, some amazing music, and a truly authentic script.

For those of you who don’t know what “Shameless” is, it’s a Showtime, they honestly can do no wrong, based around a family living on the south side of Chicago. William H. Macy plays Frank Gallagher a drunk who deserves the title of the show because he is truly awful. Emmy Rossum plays Fiona Gallagher, Frank’s daughter who picks up the slack left behind by her parents and becomes to mother of the household. Jeremy Allen White and Cameron Monaghan play Lip, short for Phillipe, and Ian Gallagher, respectively. Lip is extremely smart while Ian struggles with his sexual identity. Ethan Cutkosky and Emma Kenney play Carl and Debbie Gallagher, the runts of the little but by no means insignificant because of it . Debbie cares for everyone when no one else does while Carl just wants to cause chaos and make people bleed, ying and yang I guess. Shanola Hampton and Steve Howey play Veronica and Kev, next door sex crazed neighbors to the Gallaghers who offer some more diversity to the story arc and are pretty damn funny. Kev is my favorites character on the show and the way he plays of off Veronica is really really great. Joan Cusack also stars in this show as Sheila Jackson an agoraphobic who is also a sex maniac. Finally, there is Justin Chatwin who plays Steve, Fiona’s lover with a back story that isn’t necessarily out of this world but it does make for a damn story.

There are also many other cast members to this show which is something  “Shameless” benefits from because if there is one thing that viewers hate it is, monotony. “The Walking Dead” is a good illustration of this, where the second season, I believe it was the second season, just took place on a far and many viewers found it to be an extremely boring season. But they quickly changed that, introduced some new characters, included dual story lines and BAM they are back. So if the size of the cast of “Shameless” doesn’t pique your interest, well the story line should.

The Gallaghers struggle. They struggle to pay money, to not get caught by the cops, to get into ROTC, to be themselves. This whole show is one big struggle and who doesn’t love a struggle. A show where the downtrodden fight to get on top, where the weak struggle against strong-armed society. Alright, maybe I took that a bit far, BUT, this show does depict some heartbreak that makes it very good.

The music is also worth noting for this show because it was implemented with such an understanding of how to move an audience, that I want to find whoever was in charge of this and make them come up with the playlist for my life. There are some artists I have never heard of featured within the first season and some great songs that I have never heard of either. Seriously, this is another aspect of this show that should make you interested.

The script and the dialogue of this show should also tune you in. Fiona’s accent sounds completely genuine but what she says sounds perfect. There isn’t a minute within this show where I ask myself, “Would he really have said that?” The screenwriters for this show have a complete grasp on who their characters are and how they would react. The actors do as well. Emmy Rossum nearly breaks my heart when she gets that pouty look on her face and tears begin to well up in her eyes. Jeremey Allen White displays Lip’s anger and determination so well that he becomes that character. And William H. Macy, well he plays a drunk to a t. I just want to know how the hell he can run so fast if all he does is drink and smoke.

This show is a must see. Seriously, you have to watch it. Not just for all the other stuff, there’s boobs as well. Lots and lots of boobs.

James Garfield Dies In The End

In Books on February 11, 2013 at 10:11 am

This past week I was perusing my Kindle looking for a decent book to read and came across Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President. I thought right from the get go, this sounded like a damn good story and boy was I not disappointed.

Destiny of the Republic, written by Candace Miller, tells the story of James Garfield the 20th President of the United States who was extremely reluctant to become President, so reluctant in fact that while he was being nominated for the Republican party he did not vote for himself and tried to get others to vote against him. Sweet Jesus this guy was modest. The novel connects the life and work of Alexander Graham Bell, Joseph Lister, the guy who pioneered antiseptics and created LISTERINE SWEET JESUS, and Charles J. Guiteau the psychotic assassin that would fire the bullet taking the life of President Garfield. All of these individuals come together in this gripping novel showing just how little we knew back then.

Miller’s writing is extremely well researched but not historically boring. Much like Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck or The Devil in the White City, Miller paints an amazing narrative linking the lives of the four aforementioned men. Describing the conviction that Bell had to his cause as well as describing just how well Garfield experienced his wound and his eventual death. It is very well written keeping me tuned in page after page until the very tragic ending.

This brings me to another point, I am an idiot. Knowing nothing of Garfield’s presidency, I thought he would get shot and get better with the help of modern medicine. Damn you Hollywood for making me yearn for amazing endings where everything ends up in a happy conclusion! Sadly, this does not happen, as many of you who know anything about history, Garfield became the second President to be assassinated. However, this is not the most tragic part of the story because it wouldn’t be a very good story if it was. The most tragic part concerns the relationship doctors had with modern medicine and some of the extremely awful beliefs that they had regarding the healing process. Pus? That’s great! Let’s  not wrap that gash in a nice clean cloth, let’s take that dirty one off the floor and just soak it. That should do the trick. Germs? They don’t exist! I knew medicine was bad, but I did not know that it was this bad.

Miller depicts the state of medicine with a vivid cringeworthyness. It will make you queasy at some points. But one thing it won’t do, is make you want to stop reading it. It is a damn good book and you will burn through it, especially if you like historical novels.

Kevin Bacon Tries to Grow Facial Hair

In Television on February 7, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Kevin Bacon has returned! And he’s trying very hard to grow facial hair and look like a degenerate in “The Following”

Kevin Bacon plays Ryan Hardy former F.B.I. agent who tracked down Joe Carroll, played by James Purefoy, a serial killer who targeted women and cut out their eyes, YUCK! Ryan Hardy took a knife to the chest but managed to get Carroll in jail and sleep with Carroll’s wife, Claire Matthews, played by Natalie Zea, which eventually led to him being dismissed from the F.B.I., apparently, they frown on that. However, all is not well as Carroll makes his escape, enlisting the help of Emma Hill, played by Valorie Curry, Paul Torres, played by Adan Canto, Will Wilson, really that’s the best name they could come up with, played by Nico Tortorella, to kidnap his son, Joey, played by Kyle Catlett. That’s not all! Carroll is so smart and mischievous that while in prison he has created a following, THEY SAID THE TITLE!, to commit atrocities in his name while he is in prison. Hardy is swept back into the F.B.I. fold in order to help Mike Weston, played by Shawn Ashmore, and Debra Parker, played by Annie Parisse, and stop the following from killing more innocent lives, DAH DUH DUHHHH.

Despite Kevin Bacon’s attempts at growing facial hair, this show is alright. I have only watched the first few episodes and I am intrigued. I like how it is shot and I do like the flashbacks, although I am already sick of the F.B.I. being the last ones to figure something out. I also think the story line can continue, because they could simply reveal more individuals in this cult and they could show them killing people in more heinous ways, disturbing as that sounds, it will generate an audience.

The problem I have with this show is the relationships that some of the writers chose to establish. Spoiler, but as if killing wasn’t enough, they had to create a love triangle, semi-homosexual tension between three characters. I won’t say which but it’s pushing it a bit too far with me. I mean, the audience is witnessing bizarre and tragic deaths, the writers didn’t need to throw relationship drama into the mix.

Despite that, and despite the fact that I keep on including the fact that Kevin Bacon’s face is struggling, I am glad to see him doing something and I hope for his sake this show doesn’t get panned. He’s a good actor, I loved him in “Mystic River” and “Sleepers” and I hope he can keep this show going.

So, in conclusion, if you’re interested in serial killers and relationship drama, you’ll love this show. If you’re interested in only either the former or the latter, then you’ll kind of like this show. Take a gander and let me know what you think.

Kevin Spacey Plays With Cards

In Television on February 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

And no, this review doesn’t concern “21” the movie involving car counting, Jim Sturgess, and Kevin Spacey. This review concerns the new show “House of Cards” a Netflix production directed by David Fincher.

Surprised by this show? You should be. I didn’t hear anything about this show until I saw an ad for it on Netflix. I watched the first few episodes interested, and then I found myself captivated.

“House of Cards” is the anti- “West Wing”, which is great because Netflix has the entire “West Wing” series and you can literally compare the two. Where Sorkin is hopefully, displaying a profound belief in government, Fincher is not. He shows back door dealing, blackmailing, drugs, sex, and the power of the internet. Where the “West Wing” is powerful displaying this wonderful message of what government could be and should be, “House of Cards” is that reality.

Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood, the House Majority Whip, meaning he keeps his party in line, who believes that his dreams of working within the White House have been made a reality. Sadly, this is not the case. Underwood is told by President Garrett Walker, played by Michael Gill, that he will not be Secretary of State despite getting Walker elected as well as his Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez, played by Sakina Jeffrey, her job. Underwood works with his wife Claire Underwood, played by Robin Wright, and Zoe Barnes,  played by Kate Mara,an unsatisfied Twitter obsessed journalist at the Washington Herald, to begin, what I believe, is his attempt to become the President. Underwood uses blackmailing tactics, sex, and the release of information to push his agenda which is to halt or change whatever it is that President Walker wants done.

Kevin Spacey plays this southern politician disturbingly well, shocking the audience from the very beginning. He also breaks the fourth wall, looking directly into the camera to convene with the audience his thoughts and beliefs, regarding what is currently happening. Don Cheadle commits this same act in “House of Lies” but Spacey’s is so much darker, talking to the audience in that reassuringly slow southern accent, putting a spin on whatever he is doing.

Robin Wright is great as Spacey’s equal, both of them appear to be powerful, unapologetic, and terrifying. At one point, Claire even pushes Frank to do something and despite him proclaiming that he will not be controlled, he is controlled. Their relationship is extremely captivating, showing moments where they are honest and open with one another where others might not have been. I am only on episode four, but the relationship between these two is something I feel compelled to see until the very end.

Kate Mara is good, although there are a few instances where I felt her character would benefit from a little more explanation, a little more development. Don’t get me wrong, her character is interesting but I feel that her connection with Underwood is a little forced. I do like her use of the internet to get what she wants, I think this is a great critique as to what is becoming news now a days and how everything can be made public in a matter of seconds. I am intrigued to see what happens to her has the show progresses.

Corey Stoll, playing Senator Russo a pawn that is harshly used by Underwood, also does a great job within this show. His resemblance to Paul Scheer, of “The League” is creepy at times, given the role he has within this show, but he does a wonderful job showing what happens when you put a man between a rock and a hard place. This is, I believe, that first time I have seen this actor but he does a damn good job.

Also worth noting, is that this show doesn’t feel like a show. Rather it feels like an extremely long movie cut into several parts. I think this is an aspect of both, David Fincher’s directing and the fact that you can make it one long movie because it is on Netflix. This aspect of it, makes it a damn good show.

If you like political dramas, Kevin Spacey, and a more realistic view on politics, compared to the “West Wing”, watch this show. It is captivating and phenomenally directed.

These Guys Fall Flat

In Movies on February 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to watch “Stand Up Guys” a movie directed by Fisher Stevens starring Al Pacino, as Val, an old time thug who just got released from prison, Christopher Walken as Doc, Val’s friend who has been pushed to kill him, and Alan Arkin as Hirsch, the last of the three that completes this three amigos ensemble. The movie begins with Val being released from prison after serving 28 years for a robbery that went wrong. Val, being the stand up guy that he is yuck yuck yuck, didn’t say a word to anyone regarding the robbery. However, Claphands, what a terrible name by the way, played by Mark Margolis, still wants Val dead for Val accidentally shooting his only son and he wants Doc to do it. The movie continues with Val snorting prescription meds, constantly saying that he wants to party, stealing a car, getting a hard on, and breaking Hirsch out of his retirement home/prison.

This movie was clunky, poorly written, and it didn’t appear to know what it wanted to be. Oh we are going to be sentimental now…okay…oh wait, now you’re  shooting a hole in a guys hand. Oh now we are going to the funny bits, I get it….oh wait, now you’re going to show me a tear jerking scene involving Christopher Walken.

The interaction between Walken and Pacino, two great actors, was painstakingly amateur at some points. I felt like these two Hollywood greats didn’t have a complete grasp as to who their characters were. They seemed uncomfortable with who they were playing and as a result of this, their interactions were just uncomfortable.

This movie also suffered from a few instances in which you needed to suspend your belief in reality. I won’t spoil it but for a guy who has such a short time to live, he is able to do a lot. I mean a lot, he is also able to eat a lot.

I was thoroughly disappointed in this film and it could have been a lot better. I feel that if this movie was made a bit longer and the characters were flushed out a bit more. I would be able to stand Val’s ill placed humor at random moments if I was able to see a bit more of him when he was caring and wasn’t coming straight out of prison.

So, in summation, this movie was not worth it. Don’t bother with this one at the theater, just see something else. It’s a very disappointing Pacino film