8.30.2013

An Ideal (Themed) World

Sometimes, objectively speaking, you know something isn't reallllly good, but you just like it anyway. You could see how someone else would tear it apart, but somehow though you see its flaws it just doesn't matter to you and you can't help but like (or even love it.) Such is the case with the film Austenland. I've been wanting to see this since Sundance and last night I finally got my chance. It took awhile to get its footing, but eventually the film was just a ball...a ball that would never be just anyone's cup of tea (Jane Austen world puns intended.) What do I mean? Well I would only ever recommend it to fluffy rom-com loving females (the rom-coms being fluffy, not the females.) My advice to men: it's best to stay far far away. [Example: Courtney told me her Dad's review was something akin to.. "Meh, I was kind of hoping that Austenland was more like Dollywood, where there would be rides like "Mr. Darcy's Wild Ride" or"Haunted Pemberly" but no."] That would definitely be an interesting twist!

What I loved about the film contains spoilers...but basically I really liked how I couldn't quite tell which way they were leaning the whole time and I legitimately felt that the movie could have ended in several ways; there wasn't just one destination they had to take. Be patient with the film. Once it stops relying on Jennifer Coolidge for all the entertainment (who I must admit did get quite a few laughs from me...though others fell flat,) it really picks up and becomes much more well rounded. To be honest, it's just nice to see a romantic comedy at all these days! They've almost become extinct in the last 2 years! 

EMILY RATING: As a critic I'd probably say 6/10...but as a Jane Austen loving girl with a silly sense of humor I'd bump it up to 7/10 and I can't admit I didn't love it...even if moments made me shudder.

But the film got me pondering...what WOULD be a movie or book experience that you'd pay to recreate? The fantasy films are the easiest to think of: Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are all pretty obvious contenders (and even have some real life counterparts.) So let's think a little outside the box. What about Lost? Dump you and a bunch of people on an island and let's all pretend we're survivors of a plane crash and learn survival tactics! What about a Hitchcock world that wherever you turned something sinister was about? Or a Twilight Zone land where you woke up and you were the same but everyone else was different (they were all like that right Jerry?) What about a Mamma Mia? Set in Greece you enter a contest to try and figure out which one of 3 strangers is your Dad? Or John Hughes' land. Travel back to the 80's and come of age...complete with teenage romance! Or just get left Home Alone with a house full of burglars if you're not looking for love and want to get some aggression out. Maybe a weekend stay on Shutter Island would be mind-numbingly (pun intended) relaxing?? And finally, become head of the mafia if you play your cards right in Godfatherville. The possibilities are endless. A special thanks to Courtney for helping me come up with so many! Now give me some of yours!


8.22.2013

Movies in the Park: A How To Guide

Most summers I try really hard to see as many movies in the Drive-in as I can, but this year I only went twice. For some reason, the matches were hardly to my liking. But I made up for this lack of drive-ins by indulging in another cinema specialty exclusive to summer. This year, I've been much more about going to the free screenings of movies in the park! And it's an absolutely marvelous experience... that is if all the pieces fall into place. From all my screenings I've learned that that doesn't always happen...so I'm here to impart what I've learned in a set of do's and don'ts in hopes to one day find the perfect movie in the park experience...I mean seriously, look at that picture. How cool is that? Who wouldn't want to go? Something pretty amazing about the city setting! But onto the list...

DO:

BRING PILLOWS!!! Of any piece of advice I've learned...this may be the very most important. Your entire comfort depends on this. Yes blankets are important but you're still just gonna be laying on the ground...and soon enough it will feel like torture! Unless of course you were smart enough to bring a pillow. And might I add, the prop up pillows are best. This way you get to see AND be comfy.

Something like this would suffice.

ARRIVE EARLY! It's hard to know when exactly your movie will start since dusk is a pretty broad term....and besides that the definition constantly changes throughout the course of a summer anyway! In this case, it's best to err on the side of being too early than being too late for two very important reasons. It's a rookie mistake to underestimate the importance of a good seat. Arriving early ensures you can get a prime spot with a good view. But more importantly, arriving early is crucial so you don't miss necessary exposition in your movie! Missing the beginning of Vertigo, and American Graffiti (which I had seen before, but my mind was foggy on the setup,) as well as Touch of Evil which I'd never seen, really took me a long time to figure out what was going on...and hindered my viewing of the film. Best to be there early so you don't miss anything!


KNOW YOUR MOVIE! Parents, before dragging your kid to an outdoor screening, do some research to see if the film you're seeing is actually appropriate for them. Yes, these things usually have family-friendly films, but even so... you should never assume. It was pretty irritating hearing the commentary of some nervous parents during American Graffiti. Newsflash, this movie has been around for 40 years! I'm sure there are ways to find out if you think your precious "little ones" should be subjected to it (hint, you're on it right now. it's called the internet.) But besides them... think of what the people around you are being subjected to! We are stuck hearing your kids whining because this movie isn't capturing their attention and your "well this is inappropriate..." comments that can't be restrained to a whisper. Everyone involved wins when you do your research. 

KNOW YOUR WEATHER! My favorite showing of the summer would have been Vertigo...had we not been caught in a huge thunderstorm in the middle of it (who am I kidding? That only added to the fun...) However, it might have been a good idea if I had brought a jacket, poncho, and umbrella to prepare for the flood so I could have prevented looking like a drowned rat....or you know I could have stayed home (since we were all sent home eventually anyway!) Going along with that, besides knowing the weather beforehand...it's good to know your venue. Like if, for example, the Sandlot's original lot  might give you an allergy attack and almost kill you, you might want to stay home.


DON'T!

FORGET TO BRING TREATS! Luckily most venues have some pretty cheap concession stands, but movies are always more fun with treats. Plus this along with the drive in, are one of the few venues where you can bring as much food as you want. So take advantage of it!

EAT A HUGE MEAL BEFOREHAND.  You never know how you're gonna have to position your body to get comfortable with these things. In the case of American Graffiti, I had to lay on one side the entire movie just to see the screen. That might not have been a big deal if I hadn't just eaten a very delicious and filling meal at a restaurant not too long before. I don't think food is supposed to digest laying on your side like that...so to avoid a case of sore guts, you might as well bring your dinner with you!

SIT TOO CLOSE OR TOO FAR FROM A SPEAKER. This one is a huge make or break to the outdoor cinema experience. As I mentioned before, you have to find JUST the right spot....but in terms of sound this is critical. If you sit too close, you'll get blasted. But if you sit too far, and the movie is a quiet one (Touch of Evil, I'm looking at you..) it will be really hard to pay attention. Sit near a speaker, but not RIGHT next to it for best results.

Yep. That's what I learned. Sure the season is almost over...but take advantage of this knowledge I learned the hard way while it lasts...or tuck it away for next year. 


8.16.2013

It Could Be Worse...

Hi readers. Sorry again for my absence. The combination of bloggers block and a very busy workload has kept me from coming up with a lot of fresh ideas. And then...life happened and suddenly I found the inspiration again. For you see, this is my unintended sequel to THIS POST...the one where I wrote about having to evacuate my (old)  apartment due to a flood. Apparently life felt that one flood wasn't enough and decided to flood my brand NEW apartment as well. Yeah.....life is a female dog, and once again I'm feeling like Kristen Wiig's life in Bridesmaids isn't too far off from my own. So to make myself feel better I went in search of ten movie characters who have it worse than me...MUCH WORSE.

LES MISERABLES - Hmm. So many characters to choose from. Which one has the worst life? Is it Jean Valjean who can never escape his past no matter how reformed he tries to be? Could it be Marius who loses all his friends and kinsmen in one fell swoop? What about Eponine, the poverty-stricken girl forever stuck in the friend zone ( the story of my life, kindred fictional spirit...minus the poverty part,)? All good choices, but my money has to be on Fantine, whose life sinks so low she has to sell her teeth, hair and her whole self (putting it nicely) just to make some money. Yeah, her life sucks, and she sings a whole song about how awful it is. So...at least it hasn't come to that.


THE IMPOSSIBLE - Again, another movie where almost every single character has been through something unspeakably horrible. This film, based off of a real tragedy, showcases physical and emotional suffering at it's absolute worst and gut-wrenchingly most painful. Whether it's losing a loved one or breaking every bone in my body, I must admit I'm very fortunate not to have suffered anything these people did.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL - The only other life I can fathom being as horrible or worse as any from The Impossible would be one from Life is Beautiful or Schindler's List. Guido, in Life is Beautiful in particular is called upon to be strong and put on a happy face in the absolute darkest of times, just so his son can be shielded from the outright ugliness of the worst war in human history. But if his suffering isn't enough, like I said you can always put on Schindler's List.


THE DUCHESS - Now for a different kind of suffering. The depressingly repressed kind. Wouldn't it be nice to be in an arranged marriage where your husband constantly cheats on you and everyone knows it. If that isn't mortifying enough, he decides to cheat on you with your only friend. Meanwhile your one true love you can never be with or else your husband will ruin your life and take your kids away from you. Ouch.

THE ELEPHANT MAN -

Or you could have a disease that distorts your face and body and makes everyone think you're a freak. Then the only work you can get is in a circus where you scare people...not the ideal life. I saw this film in college and while a great film, was one of the hardest movies I've ever had to watch. As always, knowing this was based on a real man's life (even if they took a few liberties..) makes it all the more difficult to watch.

RESCUE DAWN - Okay I can't really remember the span this movie covers...but being stuck in a Prisoner of War camp for any amount of time would be beyond awful. Plus I only can imagine how terrible it would be if you became as deathly thin as any of the inmates did. Food is so scarce that you have to just settle for a SNIFF from a can. Yeah...life could definitely be worse.

AMOUR - Back to some more emotional suffering. What about having to care for your dying wife for so long that she barely resembles the person you once knew. That she's become so miserable and that living is a burden. You have to see her suffering not just once, but all day every day....that the only thing you can think to do is [SPOILER highlight to read} smother her with a pillow to end her suffering. yikes....[ SPOILER]





WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE - If caring for your dying wife isn't enough, how about the life of Gilbert Grape? Having to constantly care for your morbidly obese mother and mentally challenged brother would probably eat at anyone! Neither can help themselves and you're barely an adult, but the responsibility and burden is ALL on you. And everyone is always mad at you for something. Pro? You look like Johnny Depp in his 90's prime.



HOPE FLOATS -  Again a jerk husband is cheating on his perfect wife with her best friend. This time though? She gets to be humiliated on a daytime t.v. show where her husband informs her he's leaving her. To make matters worse, now you have to move in with your eccentric mother and your daughter somehow blames the whole thing on you....and still prefers her father.

MY LIFE - If all else fails, you could get diagnosed with a terminally fatal disease. I saw this film when I was a kid and remember it being one of the saddest shows I'd ever seen... (next to Go Toward the Light.) My brother Sean took away a much more lasting message: "Anger poisons."



Now please don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to be flippant with this post because I know these scenarios are things many people have had to suffer through, and I don't want to make light of anyone's suffering. Life can be absolutely horrible and hard in every sense of the word. There are a million kinds of suffering and absolutely none should be belittled. My goal was only to find the ten most depressing movies I could think of...but not with the purpose of making a downer post...rather remind myself that I'm not alone in my suffering. For me, that's one of the comforts of cinema, is that people create art to convey their life experiences...and many times that includes their suffering. There's something wonderful about being able to suffer collectively with people who understand your pain. And if nothing else, a film is always a good way to get your mind off of your problems.

ETA: Totally forgot about 127 Hours. That'd make my list too I think.