4.24.2010

The Break-up Plan...I mean The Back-Up...I mean the Back-Up Plan...or another silly rom-com

I'm finally back with a new blog! That's what happens with the freedom that comes from being released from school and into summer. After all the finals, I needed to take somewhat of a breather from writing papers! So that's why I haven't really written anything yet. I wrote some pretty interesting papers for school though. One was comparing two M. Night Shyamalan films, Signs and The Happening and examining how one works and the other doesn't. The other one was a ten pager on the problems with the modern day romantic comedy. I wrote about all the generic crap Hollywood makes for women and came down pretty hard on them. [If y'all would like, I may even post some excerpts from the paper (and maybe the Shyamalan one too.)]

So along comes yet another generic romantic comedy featuring Jennifer Lopez (honestly the only movie I've ever really enjoyed that she was in was probably Monster-in-Law, and that is solely due to the comic talents of Jane Fonda.) I saw the previews..and I knew exactly what to expect. I read the reviews...I knew it was going to be terrible. But still...still I wanted to see it. One reviewer wrote: "Please, ladies, stay away or movies like this will never stop" Haha. And I knew it was true. But, I still went anyway and saw it this weekend...and I was unsurprised to find how awful it truly was. Still, as weird as it is, I like going to movies...all movies. I like the experience and I like being in the know...I like being able to form opinions.

That said, I still certainly crave the well-made ones, much more than the derivative fluff that comes out nowadays (I'm looking at you The Proposal and The Back-Up Plan) Good films last, and they satisfy :) When you can have something like (500) Days of Summer, why settle for less? Well I can promise you I'm not settling, just trying to stay informed. That's my excuse anyway. But, my answer for seeing the movie is simply because I like the experience of seeing movies...even if the only thing I get out of it is just to be able to rag on a product. Or maybe they're just my guilty pleasure...like good ice cream or something. That said, it pays to know when you're being indulgent.

I think what it comes down to though is that I just have a love-hate relationship with the romantic comedy. They are the easiest films for me to watch, yet they can be the most offensive with their ridiculous portrayals too. My brother Clayton says it all began with Sleepless in Seattle where after that point, nothing was too far fetched in terms of plot. This is true. The strength of (500) Days of Summer is that it doesn't examine some silly plot...it examines an actual relationship. There's no catch....it just shows us how a guy fell in love and dealt with all of the feelings that brought. I think more romantic comedies would be better if they focused on that.

As for the movie... Well, it was completely predictable, and not very funny at all. It also made me never want to become pregnant (far too much gross-out humor.) It relied very heavily on reaction shots from a tiny dog for laughs from the audience...so you always know that's a good sign (I hope the sarcasm is noted.) My roommate Laura remarked that it was just trying too hard the whole time. I would agree. I think what makes the run-of-the-mill rom-coms a bit better, is if the audience can buy the two characters together and their romance, and/or if the film is funny enough to compensate for the formula. But neither of these factors was present in The Back-Up Plan. I would probably have to give this about 1.5/4


However, there are some rom-com releases I'm looking forward to: Letters to Juliet - yes, this is probably going to be more of the same of what I'm complaining about.. but I like Amanda Seyfried. Also, I came across the trailer for a movie called TiMER on apple's trailer page. It sounds fascinating to me, and I think it's got a lot of potential (along the lines of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) Here's the synopsis:

What if a clock could count down to the moment you meet your soul mate? In this alternate version of present day Los Angeles, a revolutionary device called the TiMER fulfills this very fantasy. For a reasonable installation fee and a moderate monthly charge, a TiMER is implanted in the wrist and promises to accurately display the number of days, hours, minutes and seconds until the owner’s date with destiny. However, things aren’t so easy for Oona O’Leary (EMMA CAULFIELD, Buffy the Vampire Slayer). Oona faces the rare dilemma of a blank TiMER; her soul mate—whoever and wherever he is—doesn’t have a TiMER. While her family and friends move through life with predetermined romantic fates, Oona searches for her perfect match via the process of elimination, tentatively dating TiMER—less men, but never getting emotionally invested. Often, Oona even convinces her suitors to get TiMERs, only to have her hopes crushed time and time again. Staring down the barrel of thirty and tired of waiting for her would—be life partner to get off the dime, Oona breaks her own rules and falls for Mikey (JOHN PATRICK AMEDORI, Gossip Girl), a charming and inappropriately young supermarket clerk with a countdown of four months. But what will happen when those four months are up? Only when Oona ignores the ticking clock can she finally experience the exhilarating and unpredictable hot mess that is love.

The link to the trailer is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ug3UjEhkpg8
Here's hoping it's good!. Also...this entire post made me remember, that I wanted to do a post on When Harry Met Sally...so I gotta do that.

4.08.2010

To Be Concluded

All right. Finally, after much delay, I will conclude my thoughts on the Back to the Future trilogy by reviewing Back to the Future III. First off, I gotta say that ever since I was young, this film has always been the least interesting of the trilogy for me. Seeing the 50's and "the future" was simply amazing. The idea of an alternate 80's was pretty cool too. But the wild west... eh... somehow I feel like there must have been somewhere cooler to go. But hey that probably has something to do with the fact that I'm not totally crazy for the genre of westerns.

Anyway though, I thought I might feel different about it now as I'm older and more experienced/educated (me? haha yeah right.)

So what did I find revisiting the third film? Eh....well...I found that I hold pretty much the same opinion now as I did then. What can I say? I was a smart little girl. That's not to say that the third movie isn't fun-- after all, the movie does have the same characters with similar adventures...so how can we not have some fun? So generally I would say, we do have a good time touring the wild west with Marty McFly (I mean...when do we not enjoy the time we spend with Marty?) But even with the new setting, it still feels a little too familiar (even though that is sort of one of the inside jokes of the series, that we constantly see history repeating itself regardless of the period....it still might be nice if some of the plot lines varied a little more.) But as always, the final action sequence is particularly suspenseful, fun and thrilling.


But what really doesn't work for me in this movie is the inclusion of the character Clara Clayton. For me, her numerous scenes easily make this the weakest of the bunch. Honestly, she's just really annoying. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Growing up, I know my older brother Nephi also had a problem with her. I remember the young Nephi saying things like "she ruined the trilogy by coming between the relationship of Doc and Marty." and "It's her fault there aren't any more sequels."As fate would have it, when Nephi and Shandie were recently having difficulty naming their daughter, the name Clara was one of two names that Shandie would agree to. But Nephi told my mom that he just couldn't name her Clara because of Clara Clayton. hehe. And sure enough now I have a niece named Mckinlie.

One of the other things to note that I had never observed before is the cameo appearance of Marty's sister Linda in the end. Now remember, this movie is supposed to take place within a day (or less) of the original film. But Linda looks like she's gained....a significant amount of weight. I guess they changed something in the past that caused his sister's future to be one that caused her to be heavier? I looked her up on IMDB, and she's actually passed away now. That's too bad.



So finally, to conclude my thoughts on the trilogy as a whole, I do think it's one of the better trilogies out there. The first film is flawless and one of my favorite films of all time. The sequels are inferior, but they're still solidly fun and entertaining in their own right (and because they have the help of some pretty awesome characters in making them just a little more special than your average action adventure.) The third film resolves the story well enough (though perhaps not to the complete satisfaction of Nephi) and the series has been able to rest in dignity. Let's just pray they don't reboot it.

Two random thoughts: 1- that song played at the dance just gets in your head like crazy. 2- I found this picture on the net. I wish I had made a thousand copies and handed them out on campus on April Fool's Day.

4.03.2010

In Theaters: Clash of the Titans

One of the reasons I really wanted to start a blog was so that I could share my feelings on new movies as they are in released theaters. While I have seen some films in theaters recently, I didn't feel that they were too blog worthy (The meh Bounty Hunter comes to mind.) But with the release of Clash of the Titans, and season of blockbusters fast approaching, now is as good a time as any to start dishing on the films that are in theaters.



Now to begin, I must say that Clash of the Titans is certainly not a good movie. But is it an entertaining movie? I would say it sure is. Now for me, Greek mythology has always been a fascinating subject (although I took a course on it as a requirement for my major last year, now I've almost forgotten everything...oops). So seeing a lot of these characters and locations from myths on screen was actually pretty of exciting for me (I must admit though, I have not seen the original film so I can't say if this remake was needed or not.) For example, the underworld of Hedes, the lair of Medusa, Mt. Olympus and seeing the 3 fates were all pretty cool. The other thing about the movie is that it is pretty much non-stop action. There's always something going on, so if you're looking for that, I don't think the movie disappoints. While it was no masterpiece, I thought it was good, dumb fun as opposed to bad,
dumb bores of a film, but perhaps many of you will disagree with me and put it in that category anyway. But I enjoyed it and sometimes that silliness is just what you crave. Also of note, this film features the kid who played Marcus in About A Boy all grown up.

 No, not him.. that's Liam Neeson.


As to its flaws, the film certainly didn't make much room in the way of character development, or anything other than cliched figures of heroes. Everything here, you've seen before. Also, the special effects were definitely disappointing. The scorpions looked all right, and the Kraken was fine. I only wish they hadn't gone the CGI route with Medusa. She had so much potential. I only wished they'd have used a real woman and just gone crazy with her makeup. But alas, they did not and she just looked fake. There was such buildup with her too, she had a fabulous evil laugh and I enjoyed the legend that Io related of her. I also must mention that the costumes in this film were very poor (like take you out of it poor). I'm curious what my costume designing roommate Anna would think. A lot of wasted opportunity there, which is a shame. I always love a good costume epic.

Finally, I must say my biggest (and shallowest) pet peeve. Spoiler alert for those who don't want to know....but... NO KISS?? No kiss at the end? COME ON! Sam Worthington and Gemma Arterton are two of the most attractive people on the planet right now, and they had two perfect opportunities for a nice cinematic kiss. Plus I swear I saw one in the trailer, but maybe my eyes deceived me. Call me crazy, but adventure epics just call for it. I hate it in movies when it doesn't happen (Superman Returns and Iron Man come to mind). Come on! Sometimes I just gotta live vicariously through others. :) Haha, so after the film, I read the accounts of the real mythologies of the characters. Perseus actually marries Andromeda (another character in the movie) and Io, who in the film was "cursed" with neverending youthfulness for resisting a God's advances was turned into a heifer in true mythology. Sucks for her. Ah well, all the mythological inaccuracies just made me want to watch Disney's Hercules.



So again, just gotta say. Good movie? Nope. Entertaining? I think so. (Just watch out for some of the awful dialogue and acting, haha) It's worth a watch in the dollar theater...in fact, it's the type of movie dollar theaters were made for. My final rating: 2/4 stars.

4.01.2010

Oh What A Beautiful Shot: Little Miss Sunshine

I'm a sucker for good cinematography. Any of my friends or family can tell you that many times during the viewing of a film with great cinematography I will likely utter the words "Oh what a beautiful shot." I feel that one of the film's greatest advantages is its ability to tell a story in a visual medium, so I usually tend to gravitate towards films that are beautiful to look at.



Recently I watched the film Little Miss Sunshine again. This film definitely gets better for me with every viewing. The first time I saw it I think I was expecting it to be a lot different than it was, so I didn't really know what to do with it. But the more I watch it, the more I like it. It has got a lot to say, but also a lot to show. I tell you what, if I were teaching an intro film class to new students, this would definitely be one of the films I would make them watch to illustrate the power of good cinematography. In the film, it is the cinematography that is what enables the audience to feel like they're on the same trip with a bunch of characters who they probably could never have related with in the first place. I say if you're gonna do a road trip movie you might as well let the audience enjoy the scenery so they feel like they're there too. Wow...that was pretty diagnostic for a blog post...blame all the freaking papers I've been having to write for school. They are taking over my life! One final thought: this film has a terrific cast. Seriously. They all just give outstanding performances. That is all.

Good to Know: One time I was driving down to Provo on a beautiful sunny day, admiring the scenery and listening to Sufjan Stevens' Chicago (A song featured in Little Miss Sunshine) as a yellow VW bus passed me. It was one of the greatest moments of my life, haha. This movie has a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and is currently ranked #226 on IMDB's top 250. It was nominated for 4 Oscars and won 2. (Nominated for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress- Abigail Breslin. Won for Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor - Alan Arkin who upset then frontrunner, Eddie Murphy for Dream Girls. Haha Norbit being released around the time of the Oscars certainly did him in. I haven't seen Dream Girls, but Alan Arkin's part was pretty small to have won the award (not that he didn't do a great job) so Eddie Murphy really must have screwed up big to have missed that one. But no nomination for cinematography!?



Quotes: Dwayne: [on notepad] Welcome to hell.
Frank
: Thanks, Dwayne. Coming from you that means a lot.

Grandpa: Losers are people who are so afraid of not winning, they don't even try


Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap-high school and everything-just skip it.
Frank: Do you know who Marcel Proust is?
Dwayne: He's the guy you teach.
Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he's also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh... he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, 'cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know total waste. Didn't learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you're 18... Ah, think of the suffering you're gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don't get better suffering than that.

I'll do my concluding thoughts on the Back to the Future trilogy soon, I just wanted to break up all the Back to the Future posts so it doesn't look like my blog is exclusively devoted to BTTF :)

ETA: This picture is purely for Anna's enjoyment.