11.27.2011

The Muppets and... Film Fashion?

So on Saturday I got to go see The Muppets with my two nephews, my mom, sister, and brother-in-law. The movie was extremely clever and appealed to me on too many levels! It starred and was also co-written by the clever Jason Segel, who I just adore in everything he's in (but particularly his lovable goofball counterpart Marshall Eriksen on How I Met Your Mother.) The songs were written by Flight of the Conchords' Bret McKenzie (and happily, it showed.) It had segments in Los Angeles and Paris. It broke the fourth wall of filmmaking in very hilarious ways. AND watching my nephew watch it was priceless. Honestly, it's very funny and heartwarming and I would completely recommend it to anyone. Ohhhh and also it pretty much featured everyone from all the shows I've ever loved (Jim from The Office...even though it's meh now, his character will always be a love of mine. Troy and Senor Chang from the hilarious show everyone should watch, Community. And another HIMYM star Neil Patrick Harris.) I would recommend it to anyone and give it a solid 8.7 to tie with Hugo. But what I'm gonna write about in this here blog is about Amy Adams' character and a blog topic Laurie wanted me to write about a long, long time ago (but in this galaxy..)



Back when I first was starting this blog Laurie was saying how I should write a blog about film fashion and if I could choose any movie characters' wardrobe to completely steal, whose would it be? That there was a pretty tough question! Especially when you consider all the genres of film costumes there are to pick from. I've always been an ardent appreciator of all things costume related in film whether it be in a period piece, space opera or contemporary film. I've loved Padme's costumes in the latter two Star Wars prequels, (even some of Leia's dresses were cool...like the one at the end of A New Hope) and I've coveted Kate Winslet's closet in Titanic, as well as Gwyneth Paltrow's in Emma. When Laurie had asked the question a year ago I just answered without thinking, "Summer's." from you know what. Then she challenged me and pointed out that I'd have to wear EVERYTHING. When I re-examined the outfits, I concluded that while Zooey can pull off those vintage-y high waisted pants, I could not. She did own a lot of the color blue, and very cute dresses and shirts.... but the style-- though adorable, really wasn't the one I would straight up steal.



My next thought was its gotta be Breakfast at Tiffany's or Sabrina. Audrey Hepburn wears the most beautiful gowns in those films. But again....when do I have the occasion to wear gowns all the time? When I saw The Muppets and every time Amy Adams walked on the screen in a new outfit I was freaking out. This is the one. This is the wardrobe! A similar style to summer with the vintage dresses, but more applicable to anyone. She just looked so put together in every single scene. There was only one outfit I didn't care for, but not because it wasn't adorable...just because it was in peach. So, if I could just exchange the outfit in another color...we're in business. And even if I couldn't, I'd just try and see if I could pull off the color peach anyway because the shirt and skirt were cute enough.



My very very close runner-up would be Michelle Monaghan's wardrobe in the terrible rom-com Made of Honor. All I really remember about that dumb movie was thinking that the only good thing about it was waiting to see what her character would wear next time she would be on screen... and every time I would utter, like the lady in Napolean Dynamite, "I want that!" Honestly, Adams' wardrobe probably only got the edge because the movie that wardrobe was in was so dumb. So anyway... whose would you pick? I know my mom kept mentioning while I was talking about Amy Adams' wardrobe, how much she liked Miss Piggy's. Haha! Oh and the second runner up goes to Alexis Bledel's Lena in the second half of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and its sequel (other than the dreadful pants that are...) But again...dumb movies so they shall not take the top honors.



Sorry, ladies. Get rid of those ugly pants and get out of your terrible films and then we'll talk.

11.26.2011

Movies about movies for lovers of movies

So a few days ago I checked Rotten Tomatoes as I tend to do everyday, and I was astonished to see two new releases at 97 and 98% respectively. I was already planning to see The Muppets, (and did, I'll write briefly about it in another blog..) but I had no plans or intentions to see Hugo until I read the hype. While I loved Martin Scorsese's last film Shutter Island as well as all of star Chloe Moretz's films, I found the trailer somewhat amusing but pretty underwhelming. If I saw it at all it'd be in a $ theater or on redbox...and I certainly wouldn't be paying to see it in 3D. But then I read the reviews... And so, I got myself to the cinema and paid the price for a 3D matinee to see what all the fuss was about....and honestly, I had no idea really what to expect.

For some reason, the trailer gave me the impression that this would be some magical type film in the vein of Narnia...but more like some sort of weird magical rip off haha. What I found was that the film was much more rooted in reality. In fact, it was rooted in a few aspects of my favorite realities :) The first was that the film was so incredibly beautiful to look at. Why? Because it was set in my second home Paris...and the 3D just lit it up. Secondly, I was actually completely unaware that the movie was basically a huge homage to the history of cinema. I'm not gonna lie, I was kind of freaking out at seeing all these things I've learned about in classes on how my beloved medium came to be and then seeing it up there on a modern screen...it was amazing. (Actually, the moments in The Muppets where they broke the rule of addressing the audience directly and talked about film elements were among my favorites..I just love films and I love talking films in movies...if that makes sense haha) I don't know that I'd call the film a masterpiece because it certainly could have been a bit tighter. I really struggled with the pacing....but once it finally hit its movie loving rhythm I just ate it up.

Movies about the power of movies always hold a special place in my heart, and this one did make me tear up a few times because of how thankful I really am for it....cheesy I know, but it's true. Hugo joins the likes of films such as the beautiful Cinema Paradiso, the goofy and ridiculous Be Kind Rewind, the brilliant Kaufman film Adaptation, Tim Burton's classic Ed Wood and the Woody Allen ode to the cinema, The Purple Rose of Cairo. There's just something special to me when filmmakers show how much they really love the product they're making, and that to them...it's more than a product. It's art, and it has a purpose. Whether the purpose is to entertain, teach or inspire, it makes me happy when I know that the person making it sincerely cares about their craft and the ways they can connect with an audience through it. Because when I know they care, it makes it a lot easier for me to care about what they have to say too...and any message that praises the true potential of film is pretty okay in my book.

So as for Hugo, seeing film history up on the screen that I've both been learning about and watching for years was pretty amazing....especially seeing them in such a modern medium as 3D. The film was beautiful enough to warrant a viewing on its own, but for any lover of film it's a must see. You just gotta be patient during the film's lulls. I think I shall give it a 8.5/10. So....what are your favorite movies about movies? Sunset Boulevard? Singin' in the Rain? Something else not mentioned here? Do tell!

The Art of Timelessness

For as long as I can remember, every Thanksgiving in the Mackay household has ended with the viewing of the film A Christmas Story to ring in the Christmas season. Not only is the film a family favorite, it also happens to be an American Christmas classic. The older I get, the more I appreciate its humor and overall portrayal of the holiday season. It really captures what it feels like to be a kid at Christmas time...and not just during the 1940's...but during any era! Everything is built up in your own little world towards that one day and the presents that you might receive during it! Most Christmas films focus on the holiday itself, but it really is the whole month and the events that surround it that make up a kid's Christmas and the movie gets that. The cast is all very talented and the movie never really seems to get old. I've seen it 25 some odd times now and I only like it more and more. (It may just be because I can really relate to Randy, but who knows...)

Anyway, aside from all the strengths of the writing and performances, [quick side note before I move onto the main topic of the blog.... On the topic of performances: I just love seeing the joy on The Old Man's face when Ralphie finally opens his beloved present... it just shows the depth of his character and the joy he does get in the simple moments... okay side note over] one thing that always impresses me about A Christmas Story is how much it just nails the look of the period. I mean not that I was there, but it feels authentic...and every time I watch it I think of it as the 40's, and NOT the 80's in which it was made. The only flaw and the sign of the 80's was the mom's hair, but even so...it doesn't detract from the film. Unlike say.... Dirty Dancing, which is probably the worst period movie I can ever think of. I can't believe it tries to pass off that it was set in the 60's with all that 80's hair and music. But back to the authentic side, Back to the Future's 1950's sequences also always really impress me too.

Seriously? Did People dress like this in the 1960's? I don think so.

One the upcoming movies I'm looking forward to is a black & white silent film called The Artist set in the 20's era...and most of it looks so amazing, but every time I see the lead actress she kind of takes me out of it. Not 1920's at all. But, it's been getting fantastic reviews all across the board, so of course I'll be seeing it anyway. So this all leads to the question of what period films work and which have their time imprinted on them, AND which actors and actresses are great in period films and which aren't? It's funny to me how well some people like Johnny Depp, Kate Winslet, and Keira Knightley seem to be able to slip into any decade or era at ease, but you throw a Kirsten Dunst into something like Marie Antoinette and you think "this feels wrong..." (though that movie felt wrong for a myriad of reasons..) More questions I guess could be: what are the best timeless films featuring stories that anyone can relate to at any time? What are the best Christmas films? and..... What are the best timeless Christmas films? Oh and who are the best timeless, or can fit into anytime, actors and actresses? Did you get all that? Now discuss.

11.19.2011

Reality vs. Expectations

Yesterday I was finally able to see the movie I've most been anticipating for months: the indie rom-dram, Like Crazy. I've gotten into a really bad habit lately of falling in love with trailers and setting up my expectations sky high. What can I say? For me, ever since (500) Days of Summer, the bar has been set unbelievably high..and I've been craving another like unto it. I've just really been waiting to fall in love with a film like that again...one that takes a fearless and truthful approach to examining relationships. Every time a new one emerges I start to hope, but when I see it....there's just always something that's just off. The flaws have ranged from too much melodrama, unlikable characters, second rate production skills, or not enough of the whimsy of being in love. But this gorgeous trailer with its likable cast, real to life plot, and beautiful imagery of two young lovers, as well as its Sundance awards and national critical acclaim to boot meant that this was a guarantee that I was gonna love this movie like crazy right? Well....that's the thing about expectations: nothing is a guarantee. BUT...that's not to say I didn't enjoy the film. I actually liked it a lot....I just didn't love it, and I really really wanted to.

Ironically, the whole movie is about expectations, and loving the idea of something far more than the actual thing. I can get that that is what the characters are doing....but what's frustrating to me, is that as a viewer I can't see the WHY of their motives or actions. Now, it's possible I was negatively affected by the fact that I saw the trailer way too many times. I was disappointed when I found that every scene that established their relationship I had already seen beforehand....and so I was left wanting to learn more of why their connection was so unique and amazing. I was told it was so by characters many times, but I didn't really see scenes of some deep bond....instead, I saw two people in the early stages of infatuation. I can see how maybe that was the point, but for me to be sold on the type of connection portrayed here, I need just a little more. The two stars Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones both give terrific performances, and can almost make you forgive the weak establishment of their relationship...ALMOST. But not quite. Perhaps I would have been more forgiving of the lack of conversations between the two if I had felt that we as an audience were witnessing the sensation of love, and experiencing their firsts (I love you's, kisses, etc) along with them. But it was all just too fast and lacking substance (aka montagey).


Here's the thing. (And yes, this is where you knew the inevitable 5DOS comparison would come in,) In Summer, we came to find out in the end... SPOILER ALERT that Summer was all wrong for Tom. BUT, the film showed us why he thought that she was the only one for him, and what was unique and special about her to him. So we fell in love with the idea of them together too. Like Crazy showed a very realistic portrait of two people in love, but why they were in love we could not say. I get that might not have been the filmmakers goal to get into that, but if you're telling a story like this and you want it to stand out from the rest, this establishment is key. Why? Because it makes the audience feel there is something at risk, and it invests them in its protection. And, if you're using a line that one of the main characters Anna uses,"what I have with you, I don't have with any other person," you better back that up with clear cut examples...because she looked just as happy with love interest #2. Show me the difference, don't tell me the difference.

So that's the thing about expectations, they can kind of let you down when you've set them really high....or if you just happen to have a very tall measuring stick. HOWEVER, that doesn't mean they have to get in the way of noticing and appreciating the strengths. In fact, a part of me wants to go see the film again knowing full well what to expect and see if I feel a little bit differently...because the movie did have a lot to love about it. As I said, it felt very real...and I just loved that. Though not a lot of depth was really shown, the characters did feel lived in and authentic....I just wish I could have gotten to know them more. There were several scenes between them that really were just lovely, including the final scene which made the whole thing worth it. Seriously....it redeemed a LOT of the film and summarized the entire film beautifully. It had a very Graduate feel (haha even though I still haven't seen it...I just know.)


So anyway, I wanted to fall in love with the movie...but I just didn't. Maybe I will on subsequent viewings, but for now...I only like it as a friend :) I'd give it a 7.5 I think.

Also, I'd like to say I'm very interested in a lot of the cut footage from the film (the director said they had enough improvisations to create a whole other film...maybe there were a bit more conversational moments that would have improved it for me...) So, hopefully, a DVD version can shed some light for me. And even though I found the conversations in the film lacking in defining their bond, I have to say I really am impressed with the improvisations of these two actors who only had a script outline to work with. They really did become the characters and it showed...but a bit more dialogue between them while their relationship deepened couldn't have hurt. Improv that! Haha

11.06.2011

My blog's craziest hits


So sometimes I just love getting on and exploring my stats page on blogger. It's always extremely fascinating to see things like where my audience is coming from, how they came to the blog, and which posts seem to be the most popular. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to any of it, but it's certainly amusing.

Unsurprisingly, my main audience comes from the United States, but I do get quite a few hits from England, Canada, Germany, Australia....even a little from Argentina and Brazil. Oh...and France too of course :)

The most viewed blog? My final Back to the Future blog written back in April 2010...but not trailing it too far behind is my blog written a MONTH ago about unnecessary sequels. In fact, the most used search term that brings people to the blog is "Beetlejuice small head." three other Beetlejuice ones were on my list too, including "Beetlejuice small head guy" and "small head Beetlejuice" Who knew so many people were searching for that!? I'm not gonna lie....when I saw that picture in my initial google search I KNEW it was the one for my blog. It was meant to be. People also seem to find this blog because they search for that Back to the Future III clock picture. Random.

The third most viewed blog goes to my blog on Little Miss Sunshine. I almost didn't even write it...so it's pretty crazy that one of the blogs I thought not many people would want to read turns out to be one of my most popular ones. Finally, I'll also mention my blog on The Back-up Plan, which I jokingly titled The Break-up Plan because I kept wanting to call that movie that title...for no explicable reason. But, apparently others felt the same way because they searched for it exactly as I titled it :)