Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Movies I'm Really Looking Forward to In The Next Few Months

It's that wonderful time of year where the pyro and explosions of summer are a blissfully low volume as they spin in my DVD player. As much as I loved the kaiju-fightin' Khan catchin', Mandarin impersonatin' of the movies this summer, I'm ready to get to some good indies and Oscar contenders. It's like my job or something. Anyway, before my Southern accent makes a sudden re-appearance, let's get down to business.

1. Ender's Game (November 1st). Orson Scott Card's sci-fi classic is finally going to the big screen. It has a super stellar cast, with Harrison Ford, Viola Davis, Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, so on so forth (I'm nearly positive I've already enthused about this movie in another post). I am a little less enthusastic about Gavin Hood (X Men Origins: Wolverine) directing, but hey, one bad movie does not a bad director make. So far, all talk of the movie has been focused more on Card's admittedly sketchy anti-gay politics, but that ain't gonna stop me from seeing this movie.

2. Inside Llewyn Davis (No wide release date yet)- The Coen Brothers (True Grit, Fargo) take on 1961 New York with a great cast and an even better soundtrack. Especially looking forward to seeing Stark Sands in an off-Broadway role (he's currently Charlie Price in one of my new favorites, Kinky Boots).

3. The Book Thief (November ???). Geoffery Rush and Emily Watson star in an adaptation of one of my favorite books pretty much ever. The Book Thief is told from the point of view of Death. Sound pretentious and boring? Not really. The voice of the novel is extremely engaging, and the story that unfolds matches it's intensity. Since the book works so well in it's original format, it's going to be interesting to see how it can work on just as much of a powerful level as on the big screen.

4. Catching Fire. Cinna yadda yadda yadda Katniss does stuf yadda yadda. Everything I could possibly say about my anticipation for this movie has been said, both by me and other people with better writing skills. Moving on.

5. Thor 2. I have so many questions about this movie. Will the Game of Thrones director make it darker? Is Loki going to die? How will Jane fare in Asgard? Will we get ANY Darcy? Will I finish my Loki in Suttutgart cosplay in time? Probably not, but as for the rest, we'll just have to wait and see.

6. This doesn't count but.... SHERLOCK SEASON 3 IS COMING TO PBS ON JANUARY 19th GET PUMPED.

7.  The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. With an overly pretentious title. this next Hobbit movie is make it or break it for me. As much as I cried seeing the title sprawled out on the big screen after eight, count 'em eight years of waiting, I'm still not sold. I really enjoyed Unexpected Journey, but like it's parallel Fellowship of the Ring, it was mostly exposition and getting to the part where the getting gets going. Jackson has got to bring it with this next chapter to convince the new generation that Hobbits are still worth their time. To be fair though, Benedict Cumberbatch playing a vindictive dragon is enough for me.

8.Only Lovers Left Alive. (Still no official date) Why so many cheesy titles this year? Anyway, Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton are two vampires who have been in a relationship for pretty much forever. They take an exisential  walk through the modern day world. Good music ensues. Apparently almost nothing happens in this movie, but I'm interested to take a look.

9.Wolf of Wallstreet. You said DiCaprio and Scorsese and I listened.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Short-ish Breakdown of What Is Wrong With Heroes of Cosplay

  • Syfy’s reality show centered around a past time of geeks around the world caused a stir right from the beginning. The season finale featured a group cosplay contest that quickly went South for many reasons. 
  • First, some fans were upset that the Alice: Madness Returns group featured an inaccurate Cheshire Cat and a fight between Alice and Yaya Han’s Red Queen that never ocurrs in the game. This is not a central part of the discussion of the finale at the moment, but some people have brought it it up. 
  • To the point: While the judges were deliberating, apparently a group of Doctor Who cosplayers, who did all eleven doctors, started shouting some rude things.
  • These rude things may or may not have been spliced together by Syfy.
  • Then, later on backstage, apparently some nasty comments were thrown about and, while most people blame the Doctor Who group, made both the HTTYD and DWho’s look pretty rude.
  • Not even an hour after the episode premiered (The Who group winning something, The Alice group winning something, and the HTTYD group walking away (I think) empty handed) one of the ladies from the Who group posted something like the following:
  • The Who group was frustrated for a myriad of reasons that day. One being that not only them, but everybody else, had only found out that the contest required a skit the day before the contest. They rushed to put something together.
  • This of course gives Yaya and the Crabcat girls unfair advantage as they had pre-planned sets, dialog, music, lighting, and special effects.
  • Which leads to the fact that Syfy is probably rigging all of the contests.
  • The Dwho group says that while they did make some impolite remarks, Syfy cut together some other remarks that they did not actually make to pump the drama, and that the Crabcat girls came after them with the cameras in tow to cause drama.
  • The Crabcat girls asked for fans to cut Dwho a break as they were just having a bad day.
  • However, probably the biggest issue is not even one of opinion here. 
  • It all comes back to Syfy for trying to manufacture drama and using coventions, usually a peaceful place for geeks to hang out and enjoy things together, as their own personal reality TV playground.
  • Not to mention the incredibly illegal point of telling everyone they’re shooting a documentary, meaning that nothing will be tampered with or edited to make it seem different, and shooting a reality tv show, where words are rearranged, drama is manufactured, etc.
  • Hopefuls for the cosplay contest were told that if they didn’t agree to be on the show, they couldn’t compete. To be told that unless you’re okay with going on a doctored TV show after working hard on elaborate costumes seems like a no-brainer.
  • However, Syfy telling everyone it’s a documentary than shooting a reality show is not only creatively a betrayal, but also illegal because there is the business of signing a waiver, which gives over all creative rights to Syfy and whatnot. 
  • Nobody in the history of Heroes of Cosplay has said that they have had to sign a waiver.
  • That’s actually really illegal.
  • So I think that if we’re going to blame anyone, it should be 51 Minds, the production company, and Syfy, for putting words in mouths and taking over conventions they had no legal right to mess with.
  • -Randi

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yeah, I'm Gonna Talk About The VMA's (But not just Miley)

Alright, in the midst of all the controversy over a certain child star's fall from what was not even grace, I'm going to review an entire awards show that was, frankly, probably one of the weirdest things I've seen in my life. BULLET LIST TIME!

-Let's start from the top (and leave Miley at the bottom) with Lady Gaga. I really liked her performance up until the sea shell bra, which just made me kind of uncomfortable. Her vocals sounded good, and her various costumes changes were pretty cool. I loved her set too. Let's give it a three and a half out of five.

-20 minutes of pure perfection by Justin Timberlake. He has such a gift for performing and really made that clear. One disappointment: The Social Network cast was not in the video for Suit and Tie. SORRY MY PRADA'S AT THE CLEANERS.

-Kanye was.....not offending????? I don't know, I couldn't really understand anything he was saying, but his performance was pretty low-key for him. Props, I guess.

-Bruno Mars was lackluster at best, although his vocals were quite good. I didn't mind his performance.

-Katy Perry was just meh as well. I don't think her voice sounds great live and I just feel like I've heard Roar like six bajillion times before Roar even came out. It not only bears an almost plagiarist resemblance to Sara Bareille's "Brave", it really just sounds like ten other songs that came out before Brave, and so on so forth. If Perry had a more diverse style, I'd probably like her more.

-Kevin Hart was not funny. Why they felt the need to bring him out twice is beyond me.

-Taylor Swift also needs to get out. She was really rude about winning her award and taunting ex Harry Styles,  who was sitting right there. She also mouthed shall we say rude things when One Direction won their surprisingly single award for the night. For shame, T Swizzle, for shame.

-Alright, okay, I'll do it. I'll talk about Miley Cyrus. I know you've all been waiting for it.

Look, this is not the first time Miley Cyrus has done the whole "I'm not a middle schooler in a blonde wig singing for a two camera sit-com on the most corporate sell out of corporate sell out channels." She did it with "Can't Be Tamed", and clubbing, and taking risque' photos for Vogue, and so on, most of which was still while she was on the Disney channel. But never on the scale of what she did on live TV. I'm not condoning her actions, and I think what she did was disgusting. I do however think the concern that "small children were watching" was pretty obsolete. MTV marketed this show to older teens like everything else they do, I really doubt a WHOLE lot of small children were watching. Also, Hannah Montana almost never airs anymore, and I haven't seen merchandising for it in ages. Most truly younger kids probably don't hold Miley Cyrus in regard at this point.

That being said, I really wish I could say I didn't see this coming. I would like to be as shocked and surprised as the rest of you. But I figured this was coming, not on the scale that it came, but something like this was always coming.

That being said, I would like to also point attention to equally disgusting cohort Robin Thicke. Between all the butt-less twerking and condom-esque bikini business, take a look at the lyrics to Blurred Lines. Those blurred lines are the lines of sexual consent. THIS SONG IS ABOUT RAPE. And not only that, it's glorifying rape. What Miley did was gross, but what Robin Thicke does is just as bad. And yet, we only talk about what Miley did. Is it because she's woman? Is it because Robin Thicke is not as much of established figure in the pop community, or a former child star? All are valid questions. I've been trying to point out the absolute absurd obscenity that is Blurred Lines ever since it hit top of the pop charts. Make no mistake, Miley was not the only one presenting an image of distaste and ugliness.

-But now I'm going to end this on a bright note. Like I said, One Direction were largely booed and hated upon at the awards, for absolutely no reason. Sure, they're a heavily merchandised boy band, but hey, what have they done wrong? Their songs are catchy, they're very sweet, down to earth people, and are incredibly kind to their sometimes overbearing fan base. And apparently, Lady Gaga agrees with me, because this happened when they started booing:

But before she left, she went backstage, and told the boys that......

"I just want to tell you that they deserve every bit of success they have and not to let these people humiliate them. I put that bullying in my own show because I wanted to comment on that … and I want to go now. Already I do not want be here, because I will not be in a room where people are like that. They deserve that. "

Say what you will about seashell bras and meat dresses, but you cannot deny the heart under that has good intentions.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Pacific Rim Is The Best Movie of the Summer and You Need To See It Now

Yeah yeah, I know, pretty much everybody is back in school, and it's not SUMMER anymore it's just really hot.
But guess what's probably still playing at your local theater? Pacific Rim. And guess what else? It's the best movie I've seen in FOREVER.

But first some context. I grew up on old monster movies, lots of Tokyo-destroying and crazy impossible science. I more frequently messed up my dollhouse with a Godzilla figure than actually played pre-computer SIMS with it. So Pacific Rim was right up my alley from the beginning.

The story is not the strong point of the film, but it's serviceable. In 2020, Kaiju, giant monsters along the lines of Gamera and the like, are destroying cities across the world. To stop them, the world creates Jaegers, giant robots with the capacity to take down the Kaiju. Each Jeager is piloted by two people who "drift" and share a collective memory in order to pilot the robots. They move, think, and feel as one person. Our main hero, Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam), blonde, American, and golden in every way, lost his brother in the Jaeger Gipsy Danger a couple years prior to the story. He's been travelling around working on "the wall" that provides menial labor jobs to millions, and is supposed to keep Kaiju out, but really isn't working. The Kaiju have evolved and have learned how to fight back against the Jeagers, and the project is going to be shut down soon. It's then that Raleigh is brought back to the Jaeger program by Stacker Pentacost (an on top Idris Elba, hardly ever better). Awesome ensues.

One of the many great things about Pacific Rim is it's great characters. Raleigh is not even the focal point. Perhaps the greatest in this movie is Mako Mori. Everyone, prepare to meet your new queen. The great thing about Mako (played by the wonderful Rinko Kikuchi) is that she is a fully developed character, with a storyline that does not revolve around a man,  and she kicks butt on her own terms. She has real pathos and a great backstory. This is Mako's movie, we just had to market it as a movie about a white American man so it would sell. And while that's a shame, it's still a wonderful thing to see an Asian woman leading a movie so greatly.

But there's not a bad performance in the movie. Frequent Del Toro collaborator Ron Pearlman (ugh, spelling) is back, and turns in a great, comic relief preformance. Burn Gorman makes yet another mark on American cinema in the past year. If I bring up Idris Elba again, we'll be here all night. And Charlie Day is show stealing, as Newt Gieszler, a kind of sillier version of Ben Whishaw's Q. Don't get me wrong, he's his own character though. He's one of my favorites as well.

The design and visual effects of the movie also deserve an essay. Very creative, clean cut, and great to look at. I'm especially fond of the Mako flashback, and the stark contrasts of colors there.

Please just go see this movie, you won't regret. A talented cast, great action scenes, and wonderful characters. You won't regret it.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Heroes of Cosplay (And My Problems With It)

I'm a cosplayer. It's something I enjoy doing, I'm not competitive about it, I just do it for fun. That being said, I really respect others who make their stuff from scratch and create something truly amazing, and compete at conventions and the like.

Bearing that in mind, let's talk about this show.

So SyFy decides, hey, nerds are cool now, cosplay is becoming cooler, let's put a show about it on after Sharknado made a metric crap ton of money.

The format of the show is really weird. It's one part documentary, one part reality show, one part competition show, but it doesn't work. And also, there were a lot of really staged drama bits and obvious editing to make some of the people look  more bitter about other contestants.

And also, I had no idea who Yaya Han was before this show, but oh my gosh, she was really rude on the show! And of course, we have to keep in mind that this might be because SyFy producers are clearly looking to amp up the drama, but some of the things she said to people on this show were completely not okay.

Especially when Ms. Han berated contestents for running out of time TO PLASTER THEIR HEADS AND MAKE HORNS for a cosplay and going out to buy some horns, and that it made them lesser cosplayers for doing so. I'm not going to lie, a good eighty percent of the things I use in my cosplays came from a store. I've had to modify some things, and I'm working on a "from scratch" cosplay. But to think that cosplayers have ranks, and that buying stuff demotes you, is completely ridiculous.

Also, I had no idea "professional" cosplay was even a thing?

I guess my problem with the show is that it reflects a really tiny minority of the cosplay community that go to really extreme lengths for competitions. If the show were more varied, not only in that respect, but also in featuring more men and other types of women, I might like it a tad bit better.

But yeah, I really don't feel like this show reflects cosplay at all, especially not the great times I've had with it.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

In Which I Discuss The 500 Days of Summer Complex

If you've been around the Internet lately, you've probably seen little things like


or this

or this

or maybe even this

And I have a really really really really big problem with it.

As much as I love a good John Green novel, or The Perks of Being A Wallflower, there's this weird culture that's developed around those things and their counterparts.

It's the concept that sadness and angst and self-loathing are beautiful and will make some other self-loathing and angsty person fall in love with you.

This goes hand in hand with what I like to call the 500 Days of Summer complex, which is based off of this quote from the film.

              "Just because some girl likes the same weird crap as you do doesn't make her your soul mate".
The movie depicts a relationship that looks sweet and romantic on the surface, but it's actually pretty messed up under further inspection. Tom, Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, is projecting his ideal relationship onto Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who explicitly stated that she wasn't looking for a relationship. Tom takes offense every time Summer asks for time alone, and their relationship is all consuming to the point of obsession. Like I said, not exactly healthy.

The 500 Days of Summer complex is the idea that the basic plotline of the film is the healthy relationship outline for "damaged" teenagers looking for a relationship. Unfortunately, they often don't realize the destructive details.

This culture of self-loathing and the 5DOS complex just seem to go together. And that is not okay.

Remember kids, your sadness is not beautiful. You have to be your own hero, and make sure YOU are the one who is taking care of you. Living life in fear and loathing is the worst possible way to spend your teenage years, or any years in your life. I know it's hard, but we need to lose this glamour on sadness and depression. Go be your own hero.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

In Which I Talk About Comic Con

That fateful weekend in San Diego has come and gone, SDCC '13. The cosplayers, the panels, the surprises, the footage, has all gone away from the convention center that I politely asked to drive past whilst in San Diego last year.

So here's what we missed seeing in the flesh.

The reveal of the title of the next Avengers movie.

Tom Hiddleston in character and costume introducing Thor 2 footage (and ruling Comic Con)

All of THESE panels (these are links to all of them by the way! as well as the CoC)

And some AMAZING cosplays

And you know who else got to see those? Nobody who was actually at Comic Con.

You see the thing about SDCC is that if you want to see a panel, and most people have at least five they want to see more than they want to eat in the next six hours, you absolutely have to camp out. SDCC doesn't clear the room after panels. You can literally camp all day to see the panel you want, and you often have to.

So if you want to see Matt Smith from a crappy seat at the back of Hall H, you had to come 21 hours before the panel and stick in a line while Comic Con moved on without you.

And if you didn't sell your soul to get into a panel, even just wandering the floor can be hazardous. There is literally nowhere you can go without being around thousands of people. If you have social anxiety or anything of that sort, it must be some kind of cruel torture.

Also food is pretty expensive from what I understand. No me gusta.

And yet every year, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, youtube, wherever fangirls exist, there are a plethora of posts like this:


I can't believe I'm sitting at home while EVERYONE is partying with Joss Whedon ughhhh

And this year, I wasn't at Comic Con, but I can tell you this from not even being there:

You on the Internet have the best seat for panels and the Conversations for A Cause this year, not even kidding. And in a way, we are there. There are tons of livestreams and livetweets for "unfilmable" events. I remember sitting in my living room jumping up and down when Loki took over the Thor footage, and it was one of the best moments I've had in a while.

So next year, count your blessings, and realize, paying 1000 dollars or more to sit in the same spot for literally ten hours is not all it's cracked up to be. Enjoy your spot from the Internet, where you can get a little bit of everything. Also, next year, I'll be livestreaming movies and whatnot during the SDCC after party hours so everybody can come talk about their findings on the Internet with other people who didn't get to go. Let's not have all this whining next year, okay?


Saturday, June 15, 2013

In Which I Review Man of Steel

Let me get one thing straight right off the bat: I don't consider myself a big fan of Superman. That being said, Man of Steel has definitely changed my opinion of him for the better.

It's been quite a while since the last Superman movie. We definitely don't have a case of Spiderman where it seems too soon, which definitely helps the likability of the film (not that I didn't like Amazing Spiderman). We have Zack Snyder at the helm, whose directed two comic book winners in 300 and Watchmen, and a couple stinkers elsewhere. He does a fine job with what he's got, and doesn't use any of his not so much trademark as dreaded slow motion. David Goyer's script could have been better, but it's not too shabby. I'll get to that in a minute.

Easily the greatest thing about this movie in Henry Cavill's performance as Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman (Man, what do we call this guy?).  He brings a lot of depth and humility to a role that I previously thought to be shallow and boring. It is impossible not to like him while watching the film. Complete and  utter props to doing what I thought impossible.

However, I thought a lot of the other characters, save for Russel Crowe who was actually quite awesome, were really underdeveloped and/or under-utilized. Lois Lane in particular was a bit annoying in parts of the film. I mean, it's the twenty first century, can we please stop throwing Lois into the air and having Supes catch her? Can't she have some weight? Amy Adams does an admirable job with what the script makes of her character, but it's obvious the Lois is lacking. And Michael Shannon's General Zod is lackluster at worst and mildly scary at best. I couldn't take him extremely seriously as the villain, which is not terrible because it's often his henchmen we're left to deal with. Christopher Melloni also has a small role, in which he does well. You remember him anyway.

The story is also mildly problematic, but has some really great moments. It is  your origin story, which is getting a tad tiresome after so many origin super hero stories in the last few years, but it's different enough from the ones previously brought to screen that it is exusable. The first half of the movie is largely a character piece, getting to know how Clark Kent gets to where he is now, mostly told using flashbacks. The second is what you were probably expecting, lots of action packed fight sequences and an overabundance of pyro. Now, as you guys know, I don't mind a bit of some good 'ole fashioned explosives. But at least half an hour of the big bang could have been cut from the film with no harm done. Metropolis is reduced to nothingness and it's not even sequel time yet (although one is already  in the works I'm sure). But I loved seeing Clark's relationship with his human parents, and the the oft-reality based struggles he had to deal with growing up. It lends more depth to the character.

The film also focuses on a lot of the more sci-fi elements. I was expecting more Clark Kent than Kal-El, but got the reverse instead, which is not a bad thing, but I'd like to see more humanization in the sequel, which  I know sounds weird in terms of Superman. But that's part of my problem with why I never liked Supes before: He never seemed human. Man of Steel does an amazing job of giving more depth to the character, but I still wanted more. This is definitely one of the times where I'm hoping the sequel delves into a lot more.

Despite a lot of problems, Man of Steel does an excellent job of revitalizing Superman in the same way that Christopher Nolan revitalized Batman, but with different characteristics. Whereas Nolan emphasized Batman's angst and vicious thirst for justice, Snyder emphasizes Superman's honesty and willingness to protect the people of Earth simply for the sake of good, while still starting on the path to humanizing the character. Don't miss it if you like super hero movies and can handle a solid hour of stuff exploding.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

In Which I Review Iron Man 3

Okay, okay, okay, sorry this has been so prolonged and whatnot.

I liked this one pretty well over all. It's definitely got a lot  to follow up on considering that it's predecessor was the almighty Avengers.

Tony Stark, the sharp witted, alcoholic, falling appart, genius billionaaire playboy philanthropist, is back along with the  wonderful Pepper Potts and best  bro Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes. Along for the ride here are Ben Kingsley in an, er, interesting hint hint hint role and Guy Pearce in one his best performances to date.

As far as story goes, it's not exactly faithful to comics. The Extremis storyline would have been inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the series as is, seeing as it is pretty dark,  and they fit it to be more consistent with the other films than to be exact, but it still makes for an excellent story. I do wish they'd included some of the Demon in a Bottle storyline however. As much as they clued us in on the toll of New York on Tony's psyche, I still needed more on that. Tony was almost stuck in space forever. Alcoholism has always been implied  with Mr. Stark, but I still felt that this was a tad lacking.

Acting is all great. Robert Downy Jr. truly is Tony Stark, but this time he adds a layer of depth acquired over the course of the Avengers film. Gwenyth Paltrow is on top her game here as the always enjoyable Pepper Potts. Ben Kingsley is also particularly memorable, and of course, Guy Pearce as I have already mentioned, is quite good. There's a little kid in the middle section of the movie whose name escapes me, but this kid is comedy gold. Easily one of the highlights of the film.

It's a bit of a darker take on the material that we're used to., and that's nothing to be ashamed of. A lot of people think Tony Stark is lacking in character development, but I beg to differ. He's come quite a long way since his first movie, and that is even more pronounced here in what might be the final Iron Man movie.

Would I want to see Iron Man 4?  I don't know, but I sure enjoyed the heck out of this one. Good summer blockbuster fun.


In Which I Review The Great Gatsby

I know I know, my Iron Man 3 review isn't even out yet, but hear me out.

I was looking forward to Gatsby. I adored the book, and the over the top production and soundtrack looked like pretty cool. I don't really know what I was expecting, but what can I tell you is that this movie completely blew me away in every possible sense.

Baz Luhrman, of Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge, directs Gatsby to near perfection. The first half of the movie is a little top heavy, the partying to excess and the mile a minute backstory, but the second half displays a true understanding of the novel's themes and a great skill for intensity and despair. I was expecting a party movie, despite all that unfolds at the end, and I was very happy to see that Luhrman chose not to gloss over the heart wrenching ending of Gatsby.

As far as acting, this one is right on the money. Leonardo Dicaprio, not normally one of my favorites, was absolutely born to play Gatsby. His mannerisms, his every utterance of "old sport", the very way he carries himself, are perfect. And while it still probably won't get him his Oscar, I'll be rooting for him. And Carey Mulligan as Daisy was a stroke of genius. I never quite understood what F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the novel, meant when he said that Daisy's voice sounded like money. Now I do. There will never be a more perfect Daisy. Joel Edgerton's Tom Buchanan is also pitch perfect for the story and a great contrast to Gatsby. Tobey McGuire seems a little lost as Nick Carroway, but when you think about  it, that's pretty appropriate in terms of his character and whatnot. Other than that, not one person is cast out of place in this film. Everyone is splendid.

A lot of fans were skeptical over the production and soundtrack of the film, which are both completely bonkers and wonderful, but definitely not of the jazz age. But here's what I say to that: They capture the jazz age ideals that Fitzgerald so embodied in his book. Yeah, it's more Las Vegas than West Egg, but that's kind of what Fitzgerald was aiming at.

I know some fans of the novel weren't into the words of the novel on screen or the heavy handed symbolism, i.e. the green light being so prominent, but for people who haven't read the book, like my dad who went with me, it was kind of necessary. It was a little overkill, but not everyone is on the same page regarding the book like a lot of the audience for things like Harry Potter and Hunger Games.

Speaking of the soundtrack, it sounds pretty darn good when used in the movie. I'm not a big Lana Del Rey fan like I said, and her song is pretty much the same as everything else she has ever released, but it works within the movie, especially the jazz version used in the last party sequence. And you gotta admit, getting her in on it was pretty cool, since she is a bit of a Gatsby: nobody knows anything real about her, the  rumors are all crazy, and she seemed to become wealthy out of nowhere. Interesting right? Byonce' and Andre 3000's cover of Amy Winehouse's classic Back To Black is a mixed result, but it's pretty groovy.  Jack White covering Love Is Blindness, a U2 song, is also lovely and one of my personal favorites. But of course, Florence + The Machine's original song, Over The Love, is beyond perfect for this film. The lyrics capture the themes of the book perfectly, even referencing the green light, and it's arguably Welch's best vocal performance to date. Brava!

I was surprised by the emotional depth of the second half of the movie especially. The actors understanding of the characters, the director's careful guidance of the build up and release, and the fact that they actually went there was unexpected. You do leave the whole affair feeling sad. The whole thing has the feel of a great machine winding down to a slow halting end, that the wheels that spun fast at the beginning of the movie, when Nick couldn't get a work in edgewise, have finally spun down. By the time the logo fades to black, you're disillusioned with the jazz age too. It was completely perfect.

Go see this movie. I can't praise it enough.

And yes, my Iron Man 3 review is coming soon, stop pestering me.


Saturday, May 4, 2013

I'm Going To Talk About Iron Man 3 (But This Is Not My Review)

Yesterday, my mom, my sister, and I squeezed into a crowded theater to see Iron Man 3 on opening day. I was beyond excited. Marvel's first follow up after Avengers, with good crowd reaction thus far. I had my stuffed pig, Agent Coulson, and a bottle of Diet Coke I managed to sneak in. The promos starts to roll, and I was expecting nothing more than an excellent summer blockbuster.

The movie starts to hit it's stride. I'm sitting back, rolling with it, laughing a lot. Then, Tony is in a discussion with Rohdey when something goes wrong. I think perhaps the arc reactor is spazzing out, that maybe the Mandarin is messing with him. And then Jarvis says it. Tony Stark, you just had a panic attack.

I cried right then and there in the theater. My mom and sister can attest to it.

I don't know if you guys know this, but I happen to have an anxiety disorder. I had my first panic attack on my birthday last year. It sucks. It's not cute, it's not a quirky personality trait. It sucks, a lot. In fact, when I went to see Angers on opening day last year, I had to leave in the middle of the film because I started panicking. I hate it. And I still have that going on.

But you know got me through a lot of the unbearable things? The first day of school, the field shows in the strait jacket of a marching uniform, the unidentifiable fear that plagued me when I least needed it? Superheroes. The Avengers in particular.

To see Tony Stark struggling through something I struggle with was immensely powerful for me. I could hardly believe it when I saw it, and I applaud that film makers for their choice to include it in the film, and I also applaud RDJ's accurate portrayal.

Needless to say, I feel a lot braver now.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Which I Review St. Vincent's "Strange Mercy"

Technically this album came out two years ago, but since I've only just discovered it, I think some reviewing is in order. This is probably going to become a regular thing here on le blog where I just review some favorites and whatnot. Something to keep my writing.

So St. Vincent, stage name of Annie Clark and her rotating backing band, have been around since about 2007, when debut album "Marry Me" was released. Then in 2009 came "Actor". And then in 2011 "Strange Mercy" was released, which is what I'm writing on here.

"Strange Mercy" is one of the most unique albums I've listened to, and is quickly working it's way into my top ten list. There are weird guitar sounds, string arrangements (but not in the cheesy way), gloriously abstract lyrics, and some amazing musicianship going on here. I gather more admiration for this band every time I listen to this masterpiece.

So bullet list? Bullet list.

1. I love Annie's guitar work on this album. The riff during the chorus in Surgeon is especially intricate, as well as the ongoing riff and disturbing first solo in Cruel, lead single from the album. The coolest thing is that no matter how complicated the guitar work gets, it doesn't take away from the music, like a lot of the stereotypical "shredders" out there. It's not just about the guitar, although it does take a spotlight most of the time.

2. The lyrics are quite excellent, and vague enough to be applied to just about any situation. Some favorites are from Champagne Year, Cruel, Cheerleader, Surgeon, Strange Mercy, and Dilettante. Particularly the opening lines of Champagne Year ("So I thought I'd learned my lesson/but I secretly expected/a choir at the shore and confetti through the falling air") or Cheerleader ("I've played dumb when I knew better/tried too hard just to be clever"). There's a witty lyricism at work here, but also a lot of depth and understanding of weird situations. There's a sense of loneliness too, which comes from how the  material was written. But either way it's absolutely marvelous.

3. Strings and synthesizers abound on Strange  Mercy, and they're used excellently. I'm especially fond of the fuzzy sounds on Year of the Tiger, the album's closing track that's a slight deviation from the rest of the sounds on the album. The effects on the guitars, marimba, and string section on Cruel add a lot too. And then Northern Lights comes along with sparse, almost punk-like, instrumentation and little more than a snare drum and some guitar with biting vocals and blows the whole thing to pieces. It's genius if you think about it.

So yeah, go listen to this album. And check out the rest of the St. Vincent catalog too, because it's amazing the range and depth this band go to to make good music.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Best of 2012 In Cinema

Welp, four months after 2013 has begun, and I'm posting my best-of lists. Here goes.

(These are in no particular order, by the way).

1. The Avengers. I'm pretty sure anyone who regularly reads this blog is tired of me going on about The Avengers, so I'll just stop with that for now. But yeah, best blockbuster of the year, hands down.

2. Argo. Yup. Even Oscar fame has done little to tarnish the reputation of this fantastic little movie. A nail biting, riveting, and altogether triumphant in just about every way, Argo lives up to the hype.

3. Silver Linings Playbook. A dysfunctional movie about dysfunctional people that made my dysfunctional side happy.

4. The Hobbit. Coming back home to Middle Earth after eight years was one of the best homecomings I've had the privilege to be there for. Desolation of Smaug is going to be the most amazing Middle Earth adventure yet.

5. Les Miserables. This also needs no more praise from me seeing as it's all I've talked about for the last two months. Or sang about really.

6. The Hunger Games. I admit it, I am a teenage girl who loooooves the Hunger Games. The action, the acting, the tension. It's all there with Hunger Games, despite a few problems I had with it. Catching Fire can't get here soon enough.

7. The Perks of Being A Wallflower. I fell head over heels in love with this book when I first read it, and I think like the movie even more. More than an adventure into mental illness, and also more than a teen movie. Emma Watson and Ezra Miller are the standouts here, but the rest of the cast does an excellent job as well.

8. Skyfall. Kick butt theme song, kick butt action sequences, witty dialog, and an excellent story. A triumphant return after the lopsided Quantum of Solace. The best Bond movie to date.

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild. A unique take on the urban fantasy genre with an astounding debut performance by then six year old Quevenzahne Wallis. I want to be her when I grow up.

10. Life of Pi. The philosophical journey of a boy named after a French swimming pool and an adult Royal Bengal Tiger, that may or may not in fact be a tiger. Ang Lee's take on Yann Martel's instant classic of a novel is intriguing, visually dazzling, and an extremely memorable adventure. I didn't think I would like this one nearly as much as I did.

There were more, but because I consider myself a film critic, I feel I must submit a top 10 list.

I would like to mention here that I am so so sorry to hear about the death of Roger Ebert. He was an amazing figure in the cinema community whose reviews have always been a pleasure to read. Rest in peace, Mr. Ebert.


Why Are You Not Watching Vikings?

Okay, aggresive title aside, if you haven't watched History Channel's Vikings yet, you're sorely missing out on the best epic show this side of Westeros. While there may be a few attempts to make this look like some Game of Thrones knock off, especially in terms of marketing, this show is actually pretty dang original for what it is. So here's an informative list of reasons why you should watch the most manly show you've ever seen (with sweet feminism).

1. Aforementioned awesome feminism. Female warrior vikings? Yup. Head queen in charge vikings? Yup. Having none of your stupidity today vikings? Yup.

2.  It is for the most part historically accurate, hence the History Channel thing. The attention to detail in the sets, costumes, and actions of the characters is amazing, and fits well with the tone of the story as well.

3. The story is intriguing, if a little scattered occasionally, but the writers usually get it back together by the end of the episode.  The last episode aired probably raised my blood pressure with all of it's tension.

4. A+ religious symbolism, especially in terms of Athelstan, one of the characters in the story.

5. It's actually funny amidst all of the darkness sometimes.

6.  Athelstan.

7. Doesn't gloss over much, which can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it. There's some blood, guts, and childbirth. But that's in keeping with the historical approach we're going for.

Seriously though, what are you waiting for. Vikings is gonna rock your history socks off. The last episode of the first season airs next Sunday, April 28, and I eagerly await the results. The most manly and awesome show on television just so happens to be one of my new favorites.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

In Which I Review Paramore's New Release

Four years ago, Paramore released Brand New Eyes. Any fan of the band knew that the five piece from Franklin, Tennessee had suffered a near break up in the years leading up the album. We thought maybe that everything had been put right and that the band was past their creative combat.

Two years ago, we found out that was not so, and that founding members Josh and Zac Farro had left the band. It was an especially bitter break-up on the Farro's end, calling the band a manufactured label product, and also citing religious problems within the band.

However, remaining members Taylor York (guitar), Jeremy Davis (bass), and Hayley Williams decided to keep on trucking, but decided to keep it as low key as you can when you're a legend in the rock community. They released a song for one of the Transformers films, toured South America a couple times, and recorded in the downtime. And then, almost out of the blue, the single "Now" was released with the album on the way.

I wasn't particularly impressed by "Now", but it's usually the case with Paramore that I don't like their singles as much as I like their album material.

That proves to be true with this album. Not only does "Now" work better in context with the album, but the songs form a future we could never have imagined of this band.

The sound is definitely different than what we're used to with quite a few throwbacks to Riot!. There's a lot of poppy sounding licks, but the lyrics are brutally honest, occasionally somber, and also what we're not quite used to.

The lyrical tone is in turns bitter, fun, and matured from past releases. Hayley sounds less like a teenager now, probably because she's not anymore, and that really shows in the tone of the album. And the band certainly aren't skirting around their near break-up. There are quite a few songs on the record that are almost personal jabs at the brothers Farro. Songs like "Fast In My Car", "Anklebiters", and the aptly titled "Grow Up" along with "Now" are easily the most angry on the album, recalling in part the teenage angst of albums past.

The band's musical prowess has definitely increased in the midst of the breakup. Jeremy exhibits some pretty tasty bass licks throughout and the guitar riffs have a distinctly different taste than Josh's, but still are interestingly musically and to the casual listener. It's different. And the production is smooth, and really puts the new pace and tone into the spotlight.

Then there are some more slowpaced, and even sweetly romantic songs on the album, like "Hate To See Your Heartbreak" which experiments with a gorgeous string section and takes a few cues from the band's biggest mega hit "The Only Exception", and the more upbeat "Still Into You", which is probably the happiest song the band has ever put out.

There are tinges of electronica on this record, and that's definitely going to turn some longtime fans off to the album, but it almost feels like the band is challenging you to grow up with them too. The teenagers who found Paramore in their Riot! and even Brand New Eyes cycles are now older. They're growing up too. It's strange how the audience is mirroring the band.

I won't deny that I miss the old Paramore, but this new album is definitely one of my favorite recent releases. For all you hesitant fans out there, give it a shot, you might find some startlingly good, catchy, and utterly awesome new songs. Two thumbs up.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Movies I'm Excited For In 2013

It's 2013 right? Most of these are Blockbusters with a capitol B, but I'll have an indie list out here soon.

1. Ender's Game. Oh my gosh, you guys, how are more people not excited by this? Ender's Game, Orson Scott Card's class novel, did Young Adult Sci-fi before Hunger Games was a sparkle in Suzanne Collins eyes. The cast alone should make you want to see this movie: Asa Butterfield (Hugo), Harrison fladoodling Ford (Do I really need to list films he's done?),  Viola David (The Help), Ben Kingsley (soon to be seen in the upcoming Iron Man 3, also in Hugo), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Abigail Breslin....seriously, do I need to go on? Virtual reality, battle games, pyschological intrigue, and some crazy action go down in the book. I can't wait for the movie.

2.  The Great Gatsby. From the man who brought us Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet. There was a never a more perfect match made in heaven.  The trailers look crazy, and of course, we're all rooting for Leo to get his Oscar, which might happen, you never know. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and I'm really hoping it's done justice here.

3. Thor 2. Loki. Loki Loki Loki Loki Loki Loki. I need some more Loki. I mean seriously, I'm not just saying that because I looove Tom Hiddleston, I'm saying that because I honestly care more about how they're going to treat Loki in this film after he blew up New York last summer. Redemption? Further insanity? I'm curious beyond belief. But I do care about Thor and Jane and Darcy. And COULSON BABY WHERE ARE YOU?

4. Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. Shot in four days in Whedon's house in Santa Monica, this looks like it's going to be quite the Shakespeare adaptation. It's interesting that Whedon's first move after the massive Avengers is to do a small Shakespeare play that didn't even start with a major studio funding it. Some Whedon regulars are back as well, like Nathan Fillion and Clark Gregg, amongst others. I love Kenneth Branagh, but I think his Much Ado has some competition coming up here this summer.

5. THE HOBBIT! The Desolation of Smaug. Man, Unexpected Journey was so good, this one has a lot of expectations. I was a little hesitant going into UJ, but Peter Jackson proces once again that we should never let anybody else interpret Middle Earth for the big screen. His first installmen tin the Hobbit trilogy, was funny, frightening, warm, and utterly amazing. Part 2, now with dragons, is going to rock this hobbits non-existant socks off, I can tell already.

6. You didn't think I wasn't going to mention Catching Fire did you? While the new Capitol Portraits definitely did not float my boat, and I'm a little iffy on one or two of th new actors who are joining the cast, I am still uncontrollably excited. Let's see what Francis Lawrence can do with Panem.

7.  The Butler. The first indie besides Much Ado to make it onto the list. It's a biopic about a butler who servede in the White House for a really long time, which doesn't sound like much, I know, but bear with me. The cast is also incredible, boasting Alan Rickman, John Cusack, Robin Williams, Jane Fonda, and Melissa Leo.

8. The Wolverine. Don't judge me, I swear to God, I'm not crazy. I wasn't too hot on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, like most people who saw it, but Hugh Jackman's Jean Valjean sort of restored my faith in humanity in general, and with some new creative talents on board, I'm hoping that this is a Wolverine film that won't me make want to throw my laptop against a brick wall.

9. Iron Man 3. While I absolutely loved the first Iron Man, I didn't really like the second. So perhaps the third time's the charm? Any chance to see Pepper Potts and Tony Stark proceed to have a battle of wits is reason enough for an eight dollar movie ticket.

10. Star Trek Into Darkness. JJ Abrams' next film is probably going to be his biggest ever.  Moviegoers will most likely come out in droves to gauge whether or not this sci-fi wizard will deliver with the next Star Wars film, still shrouded in mystery.  However, I was going to  see this anyway because BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH'S GORGEOUS VOICE OVER A MOVIE THEATER SOUND SYSTEM!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscars 2013

Well well well, here we are again. This post needs no introduction, as I have done an Oscars post every year sine I have started watching movies like it's my  job. So here goes nothing.

-Hosting was terrible awful horrible and evil. Seth McFarlene needs to be banished from the face of the planet.
-However, I was okay with everything else. In fact, I was more than okay with the musical tribute during the show. It was really cool to see the Les Miserables cast on stage again, and Jennifer Hudson and the cast from Chicago killed it too. Also, shout out to Aaron Tviet for having the best entrance ever. Side note: red pocket square. You can take the boy out of the barricade, but you can't take the barricade out of the boy, I suppose.

-I AM SO HAPPY FOR ANNE! Her dedication to the role of Fantine (cutting off her hair, losing weight, and being very honest about her role) really paid off and I don't think there had been a time that I've listened to her rendition of I Dreamed A Dream and haven't at least wanted to cry. She's a great person and a great actress and her winning was so cool to me.

-Adele completely blew the roof off with Skyfall. That was a really great performance, and her Oscar is also well deserved. Sidenote: Skyfall is the first Oscar-winning James Bond movie! (that wasn't for original song)

-A little bit disappointed that Alan Arkin didn't win for Argo, as he was easily one of my favorite characters in the film, but Christoph is cool too. And I'll assume his performance was excellent, because really, have you ever seen Christoph Waltz do badly at something?

-You do not know how disappointed I am that Anna Karenina did not win best soundtrack. Or Skyfall for that matter. What's really cool about Anna though is that an Italian composed that score, but it doesn't sounds Italian at all. It sounds like some lifelong Russian from the time period composed it, it's perfect in every way. And Skyfall's soundtrack went way further than simply using the original Bond theme and Adele's song and created some wonderfully tension filled music for a tension filled movie. And we give it to Life of Pi because we gave little else to Life of Pi. Think on your sins, Academy.

-THE CUT OFF MUSIC WAS JAWS. That was a really welcome touch that I loved.

-Quentin Tarantino cutting off the cut off music was also really funny. That man is a favorite personality of mine.

-ARGO WON BEST PICTURE THIS PLEASES ME.  I mean really, that movie is, as my brother put it, an excellent example of heroism in the modern day and age that gave me a lot of hope when I was just about ready to give up. Four for you Argo. You deserve it.

-KATNISS EVERDEEN WON AN OSCAR YOU GUYS! I'm so happy for Jennifer and Silver Linings Playbook was such a brilliant movie. Also, how adorable was it when she fell and Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman came to help her up?

-JGL and Daniel Radcliffe singing and dancing was awesome.

-I wish Wreck it Ralph had won  Best Picture. Brave was okay, but I think Pixar has done better. Wreck it Ralph had a better concept to me.

-I'm a big fan of the lovely Quevenzhane Wallis and am so happy that she was there. I mean seriously, this girl has mad skillz with the acting. Keep watching her, 'cause she's gonna keep doing big things.

What did you guys think?


Friday, February 22, 2013

More Songs That Help You Get Stuff Done

I'm baaaack. The more I thought about it, the more I needed to share these with you guys.

Anna Karenina Suite from Anna Karenina by Dario Marinelli
This movie was pretty cool, definitely favoring a stylistic rather than story approach, but the soundtrack compliments everything so perfectly. Ugh. Beautiful.

Where is My Mind by The Vitamin String Quartet (Original Pixies song was used in Fight Club)
I looooove Vitamin String Quartet, they do really well with classics from films and top of the charts pop songs. This is song has been used in a lot of movies, Fight Club being the first and foremost.

The Thieving Magpie by Rossini, used in BBC Sherlock (and A Clockwork Orange).
Okay, so I found out about this song from Sherlock, so pardon to link to the Clockwork Orange score video. This song brings out your inner evil mad genius perfectly. And Andrew Scott is an excellent dancer.

The Avengers (Main Theme) by Alan Silvestri, from Marve's The Avengers
Did you really think I WASN'T going to post this? No explanation needed.

Just a few more. This is probably going to be a periodic thing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Songs That Make You Get Stuff Done

I made a playlist post like forever ago for improving your self confidence, but since I'm currenly sitting in the lecture hall of my school waiting for my free period to be over, let's get some stuff done. Here are a couple of movie soundtrack tunes that have helped me clean kitchens, windows, cars, get homework done, and some other stuff that involves bring productive.

Briony, from Atonement by Dario Marinelli
Atonement was a love it or hate it movie for most viewers, but the soundtrack was pretty much universally acknowledged as amazing. This track is cool because it features the type writer as a sort of percussion instrument. Now that's innovative.

In Motion, from The Social Nework, by Trent Reznor and Atticuss Ross
Add Jesse Eisenberg's soliloquy/hacking spiel if you wish.

The Entire Skyfall soundtrack by Thomas Newman
Look, ain't nothing better than pretending to have your own quartermaster and going on super awesome top secret classified stranger than fiction missions. That's why the entire Skyfall soundtrack goes on the list. Helpful if you also don't feel like skipping songs you don't want to listen to 'cause this whole thing is brilliant.

Dream is Collapsing by Hans Zimmer from Inception
If you want some sci-fi with your James Bond, here ya go.

Immigrant Song, from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross feat. Karen O
Okay, so I haven't seen TGWTDT but seriously, this is how you re-work a Zeppelin song. Short, sweet, dark, and one to listen to when trying to get the homeworks done. Might inspire some pretty sweet doodles on the margins too. Also, this is one of the only songs with vocals that I can listen to while studying.

Helpful? I'll probably do some more in the near future. Soundtrack is great for studying bceause A) it makes you feel pretty cool, B) It's interesting to listen to, and C) most of it doesn't have vocals so as to distract you. If I put on Florence and the Machine whilst trying to study, I'll be dancing around my room like a drunk woodland pixie by track 5. These help me get stuff done. Cool? Cool.


In Which I Delve Into Fan Fiction (Or, The Post I Am Never Going To Talk About Again)

The more I think about posting this the more I think I shouldn't. But then again, I'm kind of proud of the fact that I, Randi Eversole, back-of-the-book critiquer and costume help for Huntsville High's production of Wizard of Oz, have.....

Written nothing other than James Bond (More specifically Skyfall)/Sherlock crossover fanfic.

Fanfic was the one area of fandom I said I was never ever going to go into ever.  But then Tumblr persuaded me to give it a shot after reading some original stuff I'd done. So the result was this totally embarrassing fabfic that has the following Awesome Things going on:

-Q is the third Holmes brother!
-John and James totally knew each other in the military because that's definitely probably according to canon!
-Moriarty and Silva have taken over 221B!
-Mycroft owes M a date!
-Some awesome Holmes brothers angst!
-John being sassy!
-Some other awesome stuff your inner geek is psyched about!

So without further ado, here is a link:

What have I gotten myself into?


Monday, February 18, 2013

Parce que je suis un hipster ce poste sera en grench.
La plupart du temps de toute facon. Pas depromesses sur la qualite' de cette traduction sera.
Donc, je vais parler de facon dont les films etrangers ne vont pas gagner des recompenses aux Oscars.
Je suis deja epuise  la traduction ce message. Donc il ya un film en langue' trangere en nomination. Haneke's Amour.
Je suppose qu'on peut compter Les Mis en tant etrangere, meme si elle a ete dirigee par les Britanniques. Life of Pi etait aussi etrangere techniquement. Mais il ya beaucoup de films americains tres grands pacquet cette annee. Zero Dark Thirty, Argo, Lincoln, et meme Beasts of the Southern Wild sont sacrement americain.
Et parce que deux films estrangers ont remporte consecutivement les deux dernieres annees, je predis quecette annee l'Oscar ira a un film americain. Il sera tres' probablement Argo a mon avis. Je na'ai pas de probeleme aven ca. C'etait  un tres' bon film. Mais helas, l'Academie doit avoir un moyen de se faire sentir patiortique en cette annee historique pour l'Amerique (?).
Ainsi, toutes les predictions intelligentes Oscars aura lieu le Spielberg's Lincoln, Affleck's Argo, or Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty.
Ca vous plait?


Monday, February 11, 2013

This Blog Is On Hiatus

Due to ongoing problems, this blog is probably not going to be active for at least a couple of months, if not ever again. I'm sorry. I just don't think I can do this and try to please everyone else too. Bye everybody.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Blockbuster Oscars

It's no secret that the Academy favors art-house, complex, artsy with a capitol A films to nominate. But this year, there were a lot of really good mainstream blockbusters So here's me giving some awards to some cool movies that the Academy thought too mainstream to nominate.

Best Supporting Actors
Tom Hardy as Bane (The Dark Knight Rises)
Tom Hiddleston as Loki (The Avengers)
Javier Bardem as Silva (Skyfall)
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernanthy (The Hunger Games)
Chris Tucker for Silver Linings Playbook

And the winner would probably be Javier Bardem, because he is half of the reason Skyfall succeeds in my opinion. Or at least a quarter. If I had to pick a second choice it'd be either Hardy or Hiddleston.  I'm also aware that Silver Linings is an indie movie that is nominated for a lot of Oscars but Chris Tucker was too good in that movie and ignored by everybody else, so yeah, he gets a nod from me for being downright hilarious. Seriously, Silver Linings wouldn't have been nearly as funny without him.

Best Supporting Actress
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman (The Dark Knight Rises)
Judi Dench as M (Skfall)
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (The Avengers)
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket (The Hunger Games)
Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect)

As odd as it is to say, I think Anne Hathaway would get this one from me too. Her Catwoman was actually really fantastic. If not Hathaway, the Scarlett. She brought a really cool character to life in Avengers, improving leaps and bounds over her portrayal in Iron Man 2. Or Rebel Wilson, who was hilarious and also one of the main reasons Pitch Perfect worked.

Best Actor
Daniel Craig for as James Bond (Skyfall)
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey)
Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spiderman (The Amazing Spiderman)
Tony Stark as  Robert Downy Jr. (The Avengers) (yeah, I know, I did that on purpose, because think about it: they're the same person)

Martin Freeman gets this one from me.I thought he was really under appreciated.

Best Actress
Anna Kendrick for Pitch Perfect
Marion Cotillard for Dark Knight Rises
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
Emma Watson as Sam (The Perks of Being A Wallflower)

Jennifer Lawrence is my first pick. Her portrayal of Katniss is accurate to the book and still just a bit different to keep it interesting. I've said this a lot, but she is the reason this movie succeeds.
 After that Emma Watson, for taking my favorite character in Perks and playing her perfectly.

Best Direction
Joss Whedon (The Avengers)
 Gary Ross (The Hunger Games
Sam Mendes (Skyfall
Marc Webb (The Amazing Spiderman)

Joss Whedon wins. He did something unprecedented in Avengers, taking six main characters, a villain, three secondary characters, and getting them to form a coherent plot line that wasn't just coherent, but amazing. Props Joss. Honorary mention for Sam Mendes in directing Skyfall, ad reviving a fifty year old film franchise. That takes mad skillz.

Thoughts? Comments? Brilliant Insights? Rebuttals?

Friday, February 1, 2013

In Which I Review Silver Linings Playbook

If you can't tell, I'm trying to watch all the films nominated for Best Picture this year, a task that is proving to be easier than I thought. And at that, I'm really enjoying all of the films this year. I have a couple other movies in the review queue today, so there will be more of this.

Silver Linings Playbook sort of hit the world out of nowhere. I had heard of it only because every Hunger Games fansite I like to check in with every once in a while posted a lot of coverage for it, seeing as Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss, has a major role in the film.

This film centers around a guy, called Pat, who has just been released from a mental hospital. He has had undiagnosed bipolar up until this point, just diagnosed as the film begins. Anyway, the world is not as it once was for Pat. His wife has put a restraining order on him, due to the fact that he beat up her lover when he found them in the shower. Pat still believes he and his wife might get back together one day, even though it's painfully obvious how delusional this belief is, to his parents, to his friends, and to the audience. Then, at a dinner with old friends, he meets Tiffany. Tiffany is recently widowed, brash, and crazy. And somehow, these two can't seem to leave each other alone. Tiffany says she can help get a letter to his wife, in return for helping her out in a dance competition. The rest? Watch the movie, it'll tell it much better than I ever could.

If that story sounds a little weird, the movie makes it work. The characters feel very real, despite their oddities, and in the end, you do like most of them. I also enjoyed how even the characters without an official diagnosis aren't portrayed as "normal people". They have their problems and idiosyncrasies too. There is no textbook normal person in the movie. That's nice to see too. There is no voice of reason who's only purpose is to be the voice of reason. Everyone is shown in all of their flaws.

This is a very well put together movie that tell it's story effectively. The portrayal of bipolar disorder is startlingly accurate and not glamorized, something that is very rare in modern Hollywood. Silver Linings doesn't glamorize a mental disorder. It tells it like it is, something I'm sure a lot of people are appluading, myself included.

In terms of actors,  this is quite a treat. As I mentioned before, Jennifer Lawrence is sort of the show stealer here. Tiffany is brilliant character, the only one who doesn't try to tread softly around Pat, and speaks her mind no matter how vulgar or strange it might be considered. Bradley Cooper in the role of Pat is also wonderful. Like I said, he plays bipolar accurately and without sugar coating anything. Deniro and Jacki Weaver are good as well. Seriously, there's not a bad performance in the bunch, I'm running out of adjectives.

Silver Linings Playbook made me laugh, cry, and empathize, as any good movie should. Highly recommended.

10 Ways Catching Fire Could Be Better Than The Hunger Games

Oooh a list! Haven't done one of these in a while.
Alrighty here, I know I initially said I really liked the adaptation of The Hunger Games to the big screen, but the more I've really scrutinized the film, the more I'm less enraptured with it. So here are some ways the next installment could make some improvements.

10. Lose the shaky cam. I cannot tell you how much this bothered me. I waited months and months for this movie, and when I get there, I get a shaky view of the action. Also, it made a lot of people feel sick or get a headache not from the cruel injustice of the Captiol, but because shaky cam messes up your equilibrium.

9. Better dialog. One thing that is largely absent from The Hunger Games film is the snarky dialog of Katniss, Haymitch's bleakly comic brutality, and Peeta's sweetness. I mean, there isn't even a whole lot of dialog on the character's parts in Hunger Games either, so that might be helpful. I mean, maybe I think that because the book was narrated by Katniss, so we get her inner monologue. But I felt the dialog present in the movie didn't capture the inner workings of these characters correctly, although it was a lot better than say, the Potter films.

8. Speaking of Katniss' narration, could we maybe have some of that? Just in different places or for short amounts of time, because I usually cannot stand full time narration (there are exceptions, i.e. The Princess Bride), but I really like Katniss as a character, and I feel like she's the most interesting version of herself in terms in of narration in Catching Fire. Quote a passage from the book every now and then, that would make a lot of fans happy.

7. More time in the arena. As much as I don't like blood and guts, we didn't get to the actual Hunger Games part of The Hunger Games until about the one hour point in the movie. There isn't a whole lot of fascinating stuff at the beginning of Catching Fire, save for the District 11 and Capitol stops on the Victory Tour. This would be an excellent to employ a nicely cut montage with some of the excellent music I know must be in store for Catching Fire.

6. Aforementioned excellent music. I liked the score for The Hunger Games, but felt it borrowed too much from other things. For example, the track that plays over (SPOILERS) Seneca Crane's death scene and the other last few bits of the movie is a track from an action movie called Hanna, composed by the Chemical Brothers. While that score is one of my favorite movie scores of all time, and the track is used nicely, the rest of the score felt like almost too minimalist for me. I like all the music in the District 12 scenes, but otherwise, it felt very lacking, although Rue's Farewell and the train scene were well done too. I don't know. I'm just iffy on the score. And you could do so much for a movie like Hunger Games in terms of score.

5. Character development. Let's look at Peeta. If you try and graph out the character development for Hunger Games, a la my English class, you'll see Peeta, and most of the characters really, don't develop like they did in the book. And this is in part because Katniss' narration is missing, but there are so many ways they could have done this. But as I mentioned in my original review of the film, there wasn't a whole lot of time for that, and they did the best they could with what they had. However, I felt Peeta especially was veeeeery underdeveloped. He's more than just a sweet little blond kid.

4. I NEED MORE HAYMITCH. I felt like Woody Harrelson's excellent portrayal was vastly underplayed. Haymitch is easily one of the most interesting characters in the whole series, and I really can't wait to see them delve into his character, as I hope they will. It would make my year to see this happen. The same could be said for Cinna as well, but SPOILER SPOILER he doesn't last very long SPOILER SPOILER.

3.Alright. I haven't mentioned Finnick. I'll mention Finnick. And this is something that has worried me ever since they released the promo pics for Finnick. I really hope they know when to make Finnick a real person and not a sex symbol like in the book. I just really hope they develop him like they should, or otherwise, that character will be nothing.

2. Make me care more about the tributes. It seemed like every tribute besides Cato and Clove were downplayed, even Rue and Thresh.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

In Which I Review Argo

You know, maybe I should just call this blog, In Which I Do Stuff, because that's all my posts seem to be titled with. It's not even a conscious decision, it just sort of happens.
Anyway, on to the point at hand: Argo.
Well, let's see here.
So I saw the movie, and in short, I really really liked it. A lot. This is some quality cinema.
Ben Affleck, who stars in the movie as well as taking on directing duties, takes a subject that some might find boring or pretentious and makes a genuinely interesting and intense movie.
The film takes place during the Iranian hostage crisis, something most people under the age of 20 or 25 know next to nothing about. I myself had little knowledge of the actual event when I went to the theater, but luckily, the film does a great job telling the story from the beginning. Everyone starts the movie on the same page.
The basic plot is that there are six refugees who escaped the American embassy in Iran when the protestors broke in. These six refugees are currently staying in the Canadian ambassadors house. The CIA has to find a way to get them out. One bad idea after another, and then one man comes up with the best bad idea: Sneak into Iran on the pretense that we're filming a sci-fi movie. What follows is a tense race against time, with a surprising amount of laughs, and wonderful catharsis.
The coolest thing about Argo is that it doesn't resort to loud pounding music or lots of blood and guts to make the movie feel intense and thrilling. The score, composed by the brilliant Alexandre Desplat, is quiet and intense, with lots of Middle Eastern influences, which greatly adds to the atmosphere and makes the movie. It's interesting, because in all technicality, this is a very quiet movie, but I was consistently on the edge of my seat.
The acting is all fantastic. John Goodman, Bryan Cranston, and the always fantastic Alan Arkin are some highlights, although Affleck does well here too. All the actors portraying the six refugees are very good as well (I don't really feel like listing off six more names, but please check them out, their pretty sweet).
Oh, and a very small side note, since most of the people who are reading this are probably my freind's mothers, this is another one of those R-rated movies that would've been PG-13 had it not been for the language. Take that into consideration if you go. There is very little violence, and it's not bloody at that, but it's pretty intense.
Anyway, really good stuff here, one of my favorite movies of the year, easily. Don't miss it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

In Which I Review Les Miserables (While Crying)

Tom Hooper, director of Les Mis, also directed one of my favorite movies ever, The King's Speech. So going into Les Mis, I had a lot of expectations. Having read Victor Hugo's masterpiece and never seeing the musical, I was pretty curious how this was going to turn out. I am so so relieved and glad to tell you that I loved it.

The singing is all great, emphasis on Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman. For those who have heard harsh criticism for Russel Crowe, he is not as bad as everyone is saying. Amanda Seyfried is also surprisingly good, considering I only ever see her as her character from Mean Girls. Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks are perfect. Aaron Tviet is also lovely. Seriously, it is harder to imagine a better cast for this movie, they handle the material so well. And Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen add just enough humor to remind you to stop crying, if only for five minutes.

There is a grand sweeping epicness to Les Mis even when it's at it's most wretched. That by no means softens the blows these characters take, but makes the story more effective to the audience. I can honestly say I've never sobbed more at a movie in my life. As I mentioned before, Anne Hathaway delivers the most heart-wrenching performance of any sort I have ever seen. There was not a dry eye in the theater when she sang I Dreamed A Dream. Samantha Barks is also another excellent performance, and from what I understand, she's been playing Eponine for quite a while now. And really, there are not enough words for Hugh Jackman's excellence. Jean Valjean is no easy task to take on as an actor and he aces it.

As someone who had never heard the songs before the movie, I was blown away by how amazing this music is. Again, this isn't so much a note on this version as the musical itself. This music is wonderful and powerful and fits together beautifully. It manages to strike the balance between honesty and theatricality. Go listen to "I Dreamed A Dream" or "On My Own" or "Stars" or even "Drink With Me". It's perfect for the musical. Fun to listen to, and provides  perfect insight into these characters. I was a complete wreck when the Barricade Babes who have a much more fancy, dignified, and French name  in the book and musical, sang "Drink With Me" because it was perfect. I especially loved reading the latter chapters at the barricade in the book, which only makes it more sad. But moving on. I'm not going to cry again writing this.

I was also really surprised how well some of these characters were done despite this being a two and a half musical. Victor Hugo created a lot of characters that I spent about 1500 pages with prior to the movie (two years ago to be exact). Like I said, Jean Valjean is no easy task, and Javert is done very well too. This isn't so much a note on Hooper as it is a note on the original musical. I'm impressed with how well you're acquainted with these characters even though you only get to see them for short amounts on time, i.e. Fantine. Effective characterization is always helpful, and it's employed usefully here.

Anyway, whereas Hooper's King Speech was quietly minimalistic, Les Mis is  big in every sense of the word, and that's not a bad thing. Go see it, because there will never be a better musical set in post-revolution France ever.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Suppose I Should Discuss The Oscar Nominations

Actually caring about the Oscars is kind of turning out to be the worst relationship of my life.
Because they don't matter. They don't. And yet, I care.
Which is why I am making this post.
Here goes nothing.

As I sit here in my currently crippled state (theater audition; long story, not one for this blog), depressed, anxious about going back to aforementioned terrible horrible school, and a bit sad that I definitely did not make the cut for also aforementioned musical, I am looking at this list, smiling, gasping, and in all honesty, caring.

So predictions and thoughts and whatnot.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

So let's see here, this is a pretty predictable bunch.  A lot of these are directed by people who have before, or have been nominated, i.e. Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hooper, Quentin Tarantino. However, my money is on Lincoln or Argo to win. Possible upsets are Zero Dark Thirty and Les Miserables. If I could have picked these, Skyfall would have been put into a tenth slot. I really had hopes for that one. Also, I'm a little surprised to see The Dark Knight Rises snubbed. I'm not the biggest Nolan fan, but I thought it was a commendable and thought-provoking movie. Also, where is The Hobbit? Rarely have I enjoyed a film more. I know I'm a super fan, but coooome ooooooooooon.

Bradly Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables
Joaquin Pheonix for The Master
Denzel Washington for Flight

Okay, anybody who does not feel like losing twenty bucks has their money of Daniel Day-Lewis. And if it's not himn, it'll be Hugh Jackman or Denzell Washington, no question.

Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Emanuelle Riva for Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild (She's only 9!)
Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Alrighty, let's see here. Jessica Chastain is definitely the forerunner here, with Jennifer Lawrence and Quvenzhane for second and third choices. Also, was Silver Linings Playbook really that good? I mean, really? I thought it kind of looked liked a chick flick. Maybe I'll have to go see it now. Side note: The Actress category is interesting because it contains both the youngest, Wallis, and oldest, Riva, actresses to be nominated ever. Pretty interesting.


Alan Arkin for Argo
Robert de Nero for Silver Linings Playbook
Phillip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained

Yeah, okay, nothing unusual here either. Tommy Lee Jones or Christoph Waltz will get it. I would've liked to see Tom Hardy's Bane from Dark Knight Rises here though. In the words of another critic, Tom Hardy can do more with 20% of his face than most actors can do with all of theirs. I thought it was a truly interesting take on an interesting character, one that deserves recognition more than for just a weird voice. Also, wher eis Javier Bardem for his performance in Skyfall. I was genuinely scared and fascinated of his character when ever he was on screen. That guys got mad skill. Sad to see it snubbed.

Amy Adams for The Master
Sally Field for Lincoln
Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
Helen Hunt for The Sessions
Jacki Weaver for Silver Linings Playbook

If Anne Hathaway does not win this, there is no justice in the world. I have not seen Les Miserables (yet), but I listened to Anne Hathaway sing I Dreamed A Dream one night, sitting alone in my bedroom, and I literally was sobbing by the end of her solo. She deserves it. Also, she was extremely dedicated to her role as Fantine, facing a lot of scrutiny in the media and handling it all very well. I think she has this one in the bag.

Michael Haneke for Amour
Ang Lee for Life of Pi
David O. Russel for Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Benh Zeitland for Beasts of the Southern Wild

While Lincoln is a front runner for nearly everything right now, I'm going to be a rebel and say the Ang Lee will probably get this one. Life of Pi was once deemed unfilmable. Well, obviously it's not. So yeah. Ang Lee. Props. Even though I haven't seen the movie.

I'm going to skip around here. There are somethings that I know you guys are more interested in. So if I skip your favorite category, comment, and we'll pick each other's brains.

Wreck-It Ralph

While Brave will probably win this one, I myself was not very impressed with it, so I'm going to be a rebel once again and put Wreck-It Ralph down for this one. Frankenweenie also stands a good chance, especially since it seemed to have redeemed the legendary Tim Burton from his two remakes, Alice in Wonderland and Dark Shadows.

Anna Karenina by Dario Marinelli
Argo by Alexendre Desplat
Life of Pi by Michael Danna
Lincoln by John Williams
Skyfall by Thomas Newman

It'll probably end up being John Williams (seriously, how old is that guy?), but I'd like to see either Desplat or Newman win. Skyfall had a score that, like the rest of the movie, was better than expected. I'm a bit sad to see Hunger Games snubbed here. I thought the score for that was actually perfect for the film and an interesting experiment in that Appalachian versus futuristic style. It mixed those two styles perfectly for the film.

"Before my Time" from Chasing Ice, by J. Ralph
"Everybody Needs A Best Friend" from Ted, by Norah Jones
"Pi's Lullaby" from Life of Pi, by Bombay Jayashiri
"Skyfall" from Skyfall, by Adele
"Suddenly" from Les Miserables, sung by Hugh Jackman.

Skyfall. The end. Good-bye. Everybody go home.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
The Avengers
Snow White and the Huntsman

Again, I'm surprised TDKR was snubbed here. That had excellent effects! I would like to hope that Avengers will one thing, but Prometheus, The Hobbit, or Life of Pi are the most likely contenders, with Snow White and the Huntsman being the clear under dog.

Welp, there. I cared. Sue me.
See you on awards night.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

In Which I Review Skyfall

Que theme music.

After listening to Adele's beautiful song on repeat, accidentally developing a huge crush on Ben Whishaw's portrayal of Q without having seen the film, sat through rave review after rave review, and seeing The Hobbit first, I can now boast that I have seen Skyfall.

Being a British culture junky, I kind of had a precursory knowledge of James Bond. You know, Sean Connery, sexy women, weird gadgets, cool music. But I decided if I was going to do this properly, I should probably watch a few of the films prior to this one.

So one viewing  of Live and Let Die, Casino Royale, and Quantum of Solace later, I considered myself ready-ish.

Okay, FINALLY, I sit down and watch the thing. And I liked it quite  a lot. It is rare that a movie lives up to it's hype. Skyfall manages it.
I feel a bullet list coming on.

-Okay, action sequences are superb. Very easy to follow, while still being impressively done. I especially liked the back-lit sequence. In a world where fight sequences are a dime a dozen, these manage to stand out.

-Acting wise we have a veritable primer in British actors doing what they do best. Judi Dench in her bajillionth turn as the grumpy and yet kind of likeable M.  Ralph Fiennes also has a small part to play that has so many spoilers attached to it that I can't even say anything about it, but he does well. As I already mentioned, Ben Whishaw's take on Q was getting a lot of buzz on tumblr, so no surprise here when he nails it and manages to add himself to my list of Geeky British Boys Whom I Will Watch In Anything, Especially Shakespeare (I will post that list some other time). Daniel Craig finally gets into the swing of things around here, with great results. Javier Bardem is especially hammy, but in a good way, as it's what the character requires. He's great to watch. You're always curious as to what his character is going to do next. Albert Finney does great with his ten minutes as well.

-Storyline wise, there's actually quite a bit going on, but also plenty of chances to showcase the fantastic action sequences. I especially enjoyed the Skyfall revelation. This movie revolves quite a bit around M, so be prepared for that. There's actually quite a bit of quiet drama thrown in to balance everything out, which is cool in my opinion.

-If there is one thing to complain about, I thought the holding tank scene with Silva and M is perhaps a bit too Avengers influenced. I mean, Avengers is not the only film to have an interrogation scene with one person behind glass, but the tanks looked basically the same and there was a lot of the same elements to it. I don't know, maybe that was just me. I mean look at it.

But either way, go see it! Really well done, and I can't wait to see where we go from here.