3.27.2013

Viva Las Vegas!

Sorry readers for the neglect! Unfortunately, I have had a bad case of blogger's block! I came up too late with the idea of a movie genre March Madness...so I think that on Friday I will simplify it to just doing Sports movies. But, unfortunately, there are still a few I feel like I should see before making that post! So instead I have decided to give you a little recap of my trip to Las Vegas earlier in the month and how it compares to some famous cinematic trips to Sin City. This wasn't my first time in the city (nor likely my last since it's a reasonably close destination) and I basically was only there a day...but I did do a few movie-related things that I felt like were worth sharing. But what does Hollywood think can and does happen in Vegas?

WIN A FORTUNE - gambling gambling gambling. You can't go anywhere in Vegas without going through a casino first. And in the movies, that always means someone is gonna hit the jackpot. Realistically though people sit there for hours on end either losing everything they came with or otherwise barely making a profit. Me? I thought about putting a buck in, but I actually completely forgot! AS SEEN IN: Vegas Vacation, The Hangover, 21, What Happens in Vegas. And if you can't win the fortune by luck...you steal it in an elaborate heist or just cheat.. (So we'll add Ocean's 11 to the list....as well as Jane Austen's Mafia haha)

QUICKIE MARRIAGES AND FINDING UNEXPECTED LOVE - Very often in film and especially tv, people wind up married on accident whenever they spend time in Vegas...and somehow whether it was a stranger or someone they already had hidden feelings for, it almost always was "meant to be" Or else they are just a couple that wants a no fuss, no muss quick marriage! OR they are a couple who the audience does not root for and someone must search through every casino until they're stopped! Me? Yeah...nothing. The closest thing I found to love was admiring the wax version of Ben Affleck. AS SEEN IN: What Happens In Vegas, The Hangover, The Wedding Singer, Pride & Prejudice 2003, Fools Rush In, Friends, Saved By The Bell, Full House.


TOTAL COMPLETE UTTER MAYHEM AND CHAOS - In Vegas ANYTHING can happen. This is basically the entire plot of the Hangover and the best example of it. The fortune and quickie marriage tropes come into play here, but really it's just so much more than that! This is cinema and television's way of portraying Vegas as such a magical and mystical place? But...in my opinion it's just a tacky playground trying to copy the class of other cities for "fun" There certainly is a lot to see and do, but I'll be honest it isn't my favorite city by a long shot. But hey I like shopping, going crazy in candy stores, visiting wax museums and admiring the Bellagio interior, as well as its fountains! Oh and I did manage to win an oscar...or three. But that other stuff is just a little too crazy for my tastes. Someday though I really would like to go to a show...say...the Blue Man group? AS SEEN IN: The Hangover, Vegas Vacation, Honeymoon In Vegas, Knocked Up, How I Met Your Mother (even though it was Atlantic City...), Friends, and basically everything else that was ever set in Las Vegas.



Well, I can think of a few more tropes like the gambler addict, crimes spree and being a part of the show...but none seem to warrant their own category. Anything I missed let me know!

3.15.2013

Luck o' the Irish!

Time for the monthly post at Courtney's site. This time for March, what else could I do but a list of movies that in their way, celebrate St. Patrick's day? (Hey, that rhymed!) Unfortunately, deciding to do a St. Patrick's Day movie blog and actually coming up with movies to include on said blog is a lot easier said than done. A LOT. So.... I must say this was my most challenging holiday themed post yet and, as a result, the films are very much spread across the board in terms of quality. So check them out! Some are great, some are mediocre, and some of them I haven't even seen, but their premises sounded St. Patty's enough. So from movies set in Ireland, celebrating Ireland, the idea of luck itself, or leprechauns...here are some suggestions to help you get in the Irish mood. As always, let me know your thoughts on my list and if I happened to miss anything else! These films are so random that I can't quite find any gifs for them....so instead we'll just keep this uncharacteristically short! So What are you waiting for?! Click the link and read the list!





3.13.2013

It Ain't Easy Being Green

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner! Here's a list of ten movie characters and creatures who don't ever have to worry about being pinched!

KERMIT THE FROG - 

We have to start with the one whose song made my title possible (and a knock off song by Franklin from Arrested Development as well...) Kermit is such a lovable guy  frog! Seriously. Who doesn't like Kermit? He's practically always positive and extremely good hearted. I certainly can't imagine any of the Muppet movies without him....because well, there probably wouldn't be Muppet movies without him! Not only did he come first, but he's the glue that holds them all together!



YODA - 

Who else could I put next but Yoda!? This little green um....thing is indispensable to the Star Wars Saga. Making his mystical debut in The Empire Strikes Back, he helped make the scenes in Dagobah some of the most magical in the whole series...which instantly made him quite the unforgettable little Jedi Master. Technically he doesn't really always give the best advice....but he just delivers it with such style that who really cares!? He just seems so wise so let's just go with it!


THE HULK -

In the last ten years, the Hulk has seen the big screen 3 different times....and each played by 3 different actors! First in 2003, there was Ang Lee's Hulk starring Eric Bana which was critically reviled. Now....I might get stoned for saying this, but...I never really got the hate for this movie. In fact...I kinda liked it! Haha! I never did see the 2008 reboot The Incredible Hulk starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler, (can't see them as a couple!) but I've mostly heard positive things about it. For me though, I adored Mark Ruffalo's take on the character in The Avengers. On repeated viewings, I'm not sure the film holds up quite as well, but his take on Bruce Banner does remain a highlight for me.

WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST -

Most famous for her part in the 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz, you can see her again in theaters now in Oz: The Great and Powerful. Having recently watched both films, I must say that particularly in the original, Margaret Hamilton does such a great job playing cinema's most iconic witch. The look of her certainly was incredibly influential...but it's definitely her acting that makes her memorable. Who could forget that cackle!? Her performance is definitely nearly impossible...so it's best not to try and compare when it comes to the new film.

SLIMER - 

Who can forget Slimer? His appearance in Ghostbusters was very brief but the anxiety he caused the ghostbusters searching for him was all too memorable. That sequence is probably one of the funniest parts of Ghostbusters (but really there are far too many moments to count.) Slimer is just a good solid, green ghost ripe with hilarity! I mean....just look at that FACE! He sure is an ugly little thing! I think he can hear you, Ray...




GREEN GOBLIN -

 It seems to me that there are endless Green people in comic book lore! Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Green Goblin....I know there are more! But I'm gonna go with Gobbie since his performance has been the most lasting and memorable. Willem Dafoe must have had a blast with this role because you can just tell he's eating it up. His villainous turn almost feels like it's straight out of a comic strip...in a good way. In my opinion, he's a large part of the success of the first Spider-man film.


SHREK - Oh Shrek. The definition of too much success can be a bad thing. The first two Shrek films were fun and entertaining enough...but the need to churn out more and more films really hurt this franchise with the last couple films. Shrek himself was probably one of my lesser favorite characters from his own series, but hey it's an ode to green guys and he is a green guy. He has his moments to be sure, but as for a computer animated green guy I've always more preferred the next guy on the list.....

MIKE WAZOWSKI-

This silly little monster voiced by Billy Crystal in Pixar's Monster's Inc. is just so much fun. I can't wait to see him reprise his role in Monster's University because I just had such a good time with the characters in the original! Mike & Sully make a great team, but Mike's antics are certainly the more amusing of the pair. This little curmudgeon who secretly is a softie deep down acts as the much-needed relief in Inc. and more often than not steals the show. From the looks of University, it seems as though he is poised to do the same.


GODZILLA - 

Classically, this is a pretty fun monster and truly inspired the creature destroying a city genre. The 1998 one is pretty silly....I don't know when the last time was I watched that. Maybe I should watch it again for kicks. Film execs apparently think it's time to resurrect the "character" once more. In 2014, a new Godzilla film is due to appear. So far, the cast is all only in the "rumored" stage. But you can check it out HERE. My favorite incarnation of Godzilla? Probably this:



TOY ALIENS -

The squeeze toy aliens from Toy Story are a lovable group of naive followers. They'll worship anything different from them and....well they're good for quite a few laughs. They certainly serve as another way of influencing the preconceived notion of aliens since they are almost the perfect definition of "little green men"

That's all folks! I know I missed a few, so let me know in the comments which green guys or gals got slighted!

3.08.2013

Popcorn & Kids

The screening of Oz was one of the more memorable theater experiences in recent memory and not just because of the movie. Being a theater rewards member, I earned a free candy....so long as I bought a large popcorn. I was perfectly fine with that since I was utterly craving popcorn and left plenty of room in my stomach to have said popcorn be my dinner. But since it was a screening. I had to be searched and...wanded. So I put down my popcorn, handed over my cell phone and then went to the theater to find my seat. Hey, where'd my popcorn go!? I must have left it at the search station....so I went out, saw the popcorn still there and was very relieved. But...I also had to pee. Since I didn't want to make two trips back to the theater I decided to run to the restroom realllllly quick (because who wants to take popcorn to the bathroom? gross). I made record time but when I came back??? SOMEONE STOLE MY POPCORN! A huge tub of popcorn and someone stole it. I asked the people at the search station if they'd seen it...and they played dumb. "There was popcorn here?! Maybe your friend took it." No. My friend did not. I wanted to interrogate every dang person in the theater holding a huge tub. If I had it would have gone a little something like this:





Then Courtney felt bad and bought us a replacement popcorn. But when she was looking for her 3D glasses....something like this happened.


No...not that...THIS:





Actually, we only lost maybe a fourth or third of it....but being as hungry as we were....it was a great loss. But that wasn't the only noteworthy experience. Let me just say this. Parents...please don't bring kids to a theater that can't sit still. To a SCREENING. Yes, I know it's a free movie....but have some courtesy to the people around you. This kid behind me kept trying to play peek-a-boo by pushing my seat and sticking his head in between the space....then of course he'd scream and cry at the drop of a hat. I like kids just fine and have no problem playing with them (I like a good game of peek-a-boo as much as the next person)....but during a first run screening? I felt much like Buster here at about :19 seconds in.


What's the craziest or most annoying thing that's ever happened to you during a movie?

We're Off To See The Wizard!

Tuesday night I was lucky to catch a screening of Oz: The Great and Powerful. And well...I'm not going to beat around the bush. So I'll just say it now: I LOVED it!! Don't get me wrong....I too had my reservations from the advertising; from the trailers the film certainly looked like it had the potential to be awful. And who knows...maybe you will find it to be (many of the reviews I'm seeing so far seem to be decidedly split)...but I liked it and I'll tell you some of the reasons why.


One review I read said that the viewer's appreciation of this movie might be directly linked to how they feel about James Franco...and that could indeed be an accurate statement. For me, he just worked in this role. His smarminess had me constantly cracking up. His character is a cad and he knows it. Franco is called upon to carry a great deal of this movie, but at the same time it is also quite an ensemble piece. All of the female leads seem to be having fun (and their costumes are fabulous I must say), but I must say my unexpected favorite had to be Zach Braff's monkey character Finley.

 Seriously. You have no idea how much that monkey made me laugh.

The production design was a lot of fun too. Ar first though I worried that it would be too much spectacle and hardly any story. All eye candy no substance. But that wasn't the case at all. For one thing, humor can go a long way. And for me the goofy humor that Sam Raimi seems to be so fond of yet only works half of the time...seemed to really be working for me here. But Oz seems like a perfect place for Raimi to show all the tricks up his sleeve...and I must say a lot of those tricks are quite clever. For me it was really refreshing to see the way the end played out because the obligatory climactic battle wasn't really a battle at all...it felt a lot fresher and creative to me. It's fun seeing how the characters end up in the places we know they'll go, especially with the wizard.

That takes us to "How COULD they make a prequel to such a beloved film!?!?" If you love and revere The Wizard of Oz...depending on your expectations you might just be outraged by this movie and will feel the need to compare them non-stop. But the truth is that they're not comparable! Just enjoy Oz for what it is and look at it as its own film. It is pretty audacious to make a prequel to such a film and you might not think it succeeds...but then you're missing the whole point. This movie is just a bit of fun. You can allow yourself to get lost in that and enjoy the ride or you can bog yourself down on its supposed flaws. The choice is up to you. For me though? Oz was without a doubt my favorite movie to have come out so far this year (but that isn't saying much since the year is still young and all we've gotten are duds!) MY RATING: 8.3/10

 But...for the theater EXPERIENCE as told by gifs/memes and youtube videos. I'm posting that next. Just for fun :)

3.06.2013

The Blah Factor

 As a followup to my list last Friday HERE regarding a few choice actors and actresses who manage to brighten up the screen in every movie they're in through their sheer likability, I've decided now to spotlight a few who do just the opposite. Here are just a few stars that I just can't seem to figure out their appeal.  There are probably far more that can fit into this category than into the last...but once again I've chosen to keep it short. Since I mentioned her as the shining example in the last blog, we might as well start off with her again here.

KRISTEN STEWART - Has there ever been such a sourpuss as this in Hollywood? I can't imagine that there has. I admit I haven't seen her in any of the Twilight films...but I don't really need to since she plays the same angsty moody brooding girl in everything she has ever been in. The only thing I even remotely liked her in was Adventureland...and even that I felt like it was somehow mostly due to being paired with a likable Jesse Eisenberg. She even made the character of Snow White someone you could root for the Queen (who was far fairer than snow btw...) killing.



ASHTON KUTCHER -I feel like this one is pretty self-explanatory. Does anyone really like Ashton Kutcher besides Mila Kunis? (Why Mila?? She must have awful taste in men...) The guy's range goes from bumbling idiot to loud-mouthed jerk yet supposedly romantic leading man. Recently I read a quote of his saying something to the effect of he knows which movies of his suck. The question is which films does he actually think were good!?

KATIE HOLMES - Well...in case you didn't know about my feelings regarding her Batman Begins character you can read a whole blog dedicated to it HERE. Her ex-husband doesn't fair too well either...but lately seems to have bounced back in picking some good roles. There's something about Katie though that just seems so unconvincing in almost everything she plays. Every now and then she surprises (Pieces of April) but often she seems to be the weak link in an otherwise good film (Thank You For Smoking and Batman Begins.) Maybe now that things in her personal life has changed her work will improve ...but that remains to be seen.

MILEY CYRUS - All right. I admit the only work of her's I've seen is The Last Song...but trust me that was enough to make me want to steer clear of anything she makes for the rest of her life! Her performance in that movie was absolutely ghastly and somehow she landed her hunky co-star in the film and turned him into her fiancé in REAL LIFE. What is going on here!? It's not right I tell you. Every time I see them together I can't help but think "her?"And I know she can't possibly be funny...


NICOLAS CAGE - I can count on one hand the roles that I have loved or at the very least, didn't mind Nicolas Cage in. 1. Raising Arizona 2. Adaptation 3. Kick-Ass 4. Moonstruck. That is all. But for each one of those four movies there's a Wicker Man, Knowing, Season of the Witch and Ghost Rider to make you forget all about that. It's come to a point now where if you see that Nicolas Cage is in it, you can expect the film's quality to be pretty low. Why? Because as this video illustrates below, Nicolas Cage will say YES to anything. (Warning, some of the movie titles and descriptions get pretty crude..) But at least the video HERE shows Nic is a good sport about it all.


         

ADAM SANDLER - At first I was going to include Matthew McConaughey, but then I thought, "Nah I finally really liked a performance of his in Bernie." My next thought was the mimbo Channing Tatum. But after playing differently than his norm roles in 21 Jump Street and 10 Years I find myself coming around to him. So instead I went with Adam Sandler, a man who isn't always 100% guaranteed to be unlikable in his films (to be honest, he has quite a few roles that I really do like him in...) but as of late is pretty much guaranteed to be in awful unlikable film itself....and as a result probably doesn't fare too well either.

Well, that's all for now. I know there are many more that were quite worthy of this list....so tell me in the comments below who you can't stand in film (or television.) Also be sure on Friday to look for my review of Oz: The Great and Powerful.

3.04.2013

Fee Fi Fo Fum

I smell the blood of a box-office bomb :(  Shame too because though far from perfect, I thought Jack the Giant Slayer was a perfectly fun, entertaining and enjoyable time. I have always felt that this was a fairy tale with a lot of rich cinematic potential. After all, Mickey and the Beanstalk was one of my favorite Disney animated short films growing up, and even to this day holds up remarkably well. With so much wonderful mythology to draw from how can it go wrong? Well...in a few ways actually. I'm not sure how best to tackle my thoughts on this movie, so I'll just break it up by the good, the bad, and the ugly.

THE GOOD: The best thing this film has going for it is without a doubt its likable cast. All of the humans, even the bad ones are great. It's the giants that I'm not so sure about. But back to the cast.... as villains, Stanley Tucci, and his lackey are very fun to watch. On the side of the heroes, you can tell that Ewan McGregor is having a blast too. He may be the best part of this movie. Nicholas Hoult as Jack and Eleanor Tomlinson as the princess maybe aren't as memorable....but they do the job just fine. And Hoult is really showing promise which makes me happy. All I can say is its a lot more fun to watch a movie featuring actors who want to be there than when you know they're only doing it for the paycheck. This cast was having fun and that energy really could be felt.

Technically speaking, this was a well-made film (which makes sense because it reportedly had a huuuuge budget.) I don't know that I was 100% sold on ALL of the CGI, but a lot of it looked pretty good. The costume, sets and how they expanded the story were all pretty well done (minus a few gaping plot holes...but we'll get to that.) I loved how the story was both a myth at the beginning and end...the story weaved that in nicely. You could really feel the characters' fear in entering such a different world than theirs. I almost wish more of the film explored that instead of the inevitable giant battle at the end of the film. Also, the parts exploring the beanstalk itself were quite good. It was like its own planet and I liked that. I guess if I were to sum it up, my favorite part of this movie aside from the cast, was the setup. Unfortunately, the payoff while entertaining....probably wasn't as good as the first half.

THE BAD: I think my problem with this movie is I'm not entirely sure that a POPULATION of giants was needed. Sure it sets up a huge battle and they do even more damage than one single giant could. But....I don't think more is always better. Plus.... Stanley Tucci was far more interesting than all of the giants combined and [SPOILER] they killed him far too early on (as well as his toadie who was giving me a lot of laughs)...and I think the movie suffered for it. If there had been only a handful of giants or just one, they could have focused more on making them more interesting as individuals...and perhaps spent more time trying to escape them in the giant realm. [/SPOILER]

THE UGLY:  Okay Hollywood. I don't know how to break it to you....and I'm sorry that you couldn't figure this out on your own....but fart and booger jokes are NOT. FUNNY. They're a cheap joke that doesn't work for anyone anymore minus young children....and really let's try and get their humor to be a little more refined shall we? Seriously I can't even say enough how sick I am of this type of humor. There weren't too many of these jokes....but one elicited an eye roll from me while the other made me gag (I'm not even joking.) So come on....it's time to shoot for some high brow humor for once. It would be a public service to everyone.

All in all, I did enjoy the film. It's not perfect, but in the middle of winter (even though fake spring is in sight don't be fooled we still have another 2 months...) I thought it was a fun enough way to pass the time and might as well be seen in theaters (a matinee is about right...if not check it in the dollar theaters). I'd give it a 6.5/10.

3.01.2013

The Amiable Factor

I don't know about you....but I've sure got spring fever REALLY bad. The reappearance of the sun has given me an illness that only the month of May (regrettably 2 months away) can cure. But that's not the only fever that seems to be sweeping the nation... J-Law fever has erupted to unforeseen levels! What? You don't know what or who J-Law is? Well, it's Jennifer Lawrence of course: the newest Best Actress Oscar Winner. The love that the world has for this girl is absolutely off the charts! She is EVERYWHERE. Why? Because she's hilarious and down to earth, yet talented. She's just likable. It's an insanely rare quality for an actress to possess! After all, Anne Hathaway herself reportedly studied how to be more likable so it would show when she won her award....but whether or not that worked seems to be divided as always. Some people just have it! Others can't really get people to like them if they tried as hard as they could (*cough* K STEW *cough*)



It's been awhile since America had a sweetheart. Reese Witherspoon seemed prime to take the crown at one time....but for some reason just fell back in line with the rest of the actress pack. Lindsay Lohan pre-meltdown was on her way to this as well.....but then, well there was the meltdowns. Then in the '90's we had the rom-com queens battling it out. But in the 80's we had stars that were as likable! Molly Ringwald, John Cusack, and Matthew Broderick just seemed like people you could know. So it seems with Jennifer Lawrence and the people of America. So it got me thinking.....who else is nearly this likable, and how has this likability affected the movies they were in?

EMMA STONE - She was without a doubt the first actress that came to mind. In addition to J-Law, pretty much every girl I know has a girl crush on Emma Stone. She's insanely funny and quick. In all the movies, she's in she definitely brings a certain presence to it. Very frequently, she's the best part of any movie she's in (The Help being the lone exception I can think of...and Zombieland because that's a bit more even.) Easy A was her chance to shine, and shine she did. Her career has skyrocketed because of this likability factor...and she if nothing else happens in her career (not very likely...) she'll always remain the best of Peter Parker's girlfriends.




ELIJAH WOOD - 

Elijah Wood has always been the boy next door ever since he was a kid. That quality has stayed with him throughout his entire career (and somewhere along the way he kind of became a lovable goofball too, but that's another story for another day.) He's turned in some fine roles as an adult too, including his star-making turn as Frodo in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that just cemented him as a likable guy. He's an everyman. And even when his character is a little crazy, he's Elijah Wood! (see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.) Elijah still appears in stuff once in awhile...usually in supporting roles for some reason, or doing voice work....which is probably the drawback to him. I don't know if I think he always chooses the best roles....or gets as much exposure as he should. But maybe that's his prerogative to stay out of the limelight. But my FAVORITE thing he's ever done that makes me just love him....has to be the video below.




ANNA KENDRICK - How could someone this likable have come from Twilight!? Nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 2010 for her fantastic performance in Up in the Air is when people really first started taking notice of her. She played a character so rigid and calculating (not in the evil sense though haha!)....yet SOMEHOW you didn't hate her. This happens time and time again in the roles she plays....she makes these people far nicer and relatable than they should be. There was NO reason for me to like her character in Pitch Perfect...but it's just hard to hate a role played by Anna Kendrick! She makes the unlikable human...she gives depth; she humanizes her characters. Unless in the case of a film as cartoony as Scott Pilgrim vs The World, because then she delightfully revels in her brattiness.



JUSTIN LONG - Justin Long started his career as the adorable nerd from Galaxy Quest and later became the ultra cool human representation of the Mac. Nowadays though he makes a likable leading man, trusty sidekick or ensemble player. But with every appearance he makes, you can't help but feel the nice factor he brings to his roles. He just seems like an everyman. Randomly, I maybe like him best in Drag Me to Hell where he plays the dutiful boyfriend down to perfection. But honestly he's great in everything, no matter big or small. He even proved to be the funniest and best match (besides Nick of course...) that Zooey Deschanel ever had on New Girl.



KRISTEN WIIG - Here's another actress that almost everyone seems to love. She's talented and hilarious. Who wouldn't want to be friends with her? Her comic timing absolutely MAKES the film Bridesmaids....as well as any sketch she was ever in on Saturday Night Live. The show is definitely suffering without her presence on screen, and perhaps more importantly in the writer's room. She's a double threat as a performer in her ability to craft hilarity in both word and action. I'm excited to see what else she does! I'm incredibly nervous to see her take on the part of a young Lucille in Arrested Development....but if there were any actress to pull it off...it'd be her.



JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT - Okay okay. I know I'm incredibly biased....but it's not just me! He is without a doubt Hollywood's "it boy" right now too! JGL is EVERYWHERE. After he played the most relatable guy in the world in (500) Days of Summer, Christopher Nolan came calling his name.....and later everyone in Hollywood. Gordon-Levitt had 4 big movies last year alone! And not just minor films....he was in 3 of the biggest films last year! Okay...Looper is more arguable...but it was sure one of the biggest movies in critics eyes! He turned in supporting roles in The Dark Knight Rises, as well as Lincoln. Haha....and then there was Premium Rush, an admittedly silly movie that benefited from his performance. And hey that's not even mentioning 50/50! The guy is just everywhere...and there's a reason for that!



I was debating between making this list reach 10....but the only other actor and actress I could think of to include were James Franco and Mila Kunis. I'll let you know if they make the cut after I see Oz! This could make or break both of them....at least for awhile! Well that ought to do it! Do you agree with my list or does someone on it just BUG the heck out of you? Or...who did I miss?