3.25.2014

Cough Cough...I'm sick!

Is it just me or has everyone you know (including yourself) gotten sick recently? Yep, it's that time of year and it inspired a post from me. Initially I was just gonna present ten films about being sick and unfortunately the options are kind of low so eventually that lead me to a bunch of terminally ill dramas...and well I wanted more variety than that. So instead I decided to present a list of symptoms you might be experiencing and my movie prescription that will make you feel better.

Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off gets it.

Fever - Outbreak, Contagion. Have you ever seen Outbreak? It's basically the 90's version of Contagion. And what a 90's movie it is! The cast consists of Dustin Hoffman, Morgan Freeman, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Spacey, Renee Russo and a younger goofier looking Patrick Dempsey who is to blame for the spread of the virus (by smuggling in an African monkey to the country no joke...) It's like Contagion except with less style and more well-rounded characters....and monkeys. As for Contagion, the first time I saw it I found it incredibly gripping and made me completely aware of GERMS EVERYWHERE. But....the second time I fell asleep. There's really a lot of pointless story lines here so if you have a fever this movie is a win/win....you can snooze and not really miss much AND you can watch something that depicts the utter hell you're in.

Sneezing & Sore throat - Sense and Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion - Jane Austen gave us some fabulous commentary on human nature and, of course, some of the best love stories ever written. But one thing fails to be mentioned...and that's how much the woman understood how awful being sick is (I guess it helped that it was a bit more life threatening then too...) One of my favorite lines comes from Mr. Elton in Emma "There's nothing worse than a sore throat. Its effects are exceedingly bleak." Amen, Elton. In Sense and Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice Marianne and Jane look as bad as we feel! And of course younger annoying sister Mary in Persuasion has turned complaining about being sick into an art form...so if you want tips on how to make people feel sorry for you, there's a lot you can learn from Persuasion.


Achoo!

Cough - Moulin Rouge! Whenever Nicole Kidman starts up a coughing fest in this movie my soul screams out in terror. If you've got a cough that won't quit put this movie on and be glad that yours isn't resulting in blood.....or [SPOILER highlight to read] DEATH [/SPOILER] And uh...if you are coughing up blood you should probably go see someone about that. 



Vertigo - Vertigo. Obviously. I mean come on could I put anything else here? If you got a touch of the dizzies don't you even fear. Old Hitchcock has got you. Actually watching Vertigo might make you more dizzy in fact. So...scratch that. Maybe you should watch Arrested Development and you can commiserate with Lucille Austero AKA Lucille II because she, like Jimmy Stewart, understands what you suffer. 



Food Poisoning - Airplane! The comfort of this movie is knowing that I would never have chosen fish for dinner and thus I would not have spit out an egg from my mouth? This movie is pure silliness, but it GETS how serious food poisoning can be

Nausea - Mean Girls. Whether it's word vomit or actual vomit....Mean Girls has you covered in terms of unwanted contents spewing from your mouth. Is it better to calm your stomach or just let it out?....Maybe Mean Girls can help you decide. And it can help you come up with good excuses to not hang out with your friends (or blog titles for that matter!)



Light-headed - A Walk to Remember/Love Story/Now is Good/Restless/Fill in the blank movie about a guy falling for a dying girl. I was originally gonna put this under nausea, but I decided to put it here meaning you need to have a light head to stomach any of these schmaltzy predictable movies. For this list I specifically watched Now is Good about a terminally ill Dakota Fanning with a British accent who wants to accomplish some things before she dies (like losing her virginity...how noble!) I know this is probably perhaps one of the worst things I've ever written but...I hated her emo annoying character so much I was gleefully looking forward to her death. Seriously, I've never seen a more unlikable sick person in a film.

Loss of energy - 50/50. Look. I like this movie and if I'm making a list of movies being sick I'm gonna put it on here! This is one of the more serious films about illness on our list so I had to think of a fitting symptom it could work for. When I think about 50/50 I think it's about an independent person having to be dependent on the people he doesn't expect much from, or he's taken for granted because he can't do things himself. Through his sickness life drains out of him and so much energy is lost he has to accept help from people he wouldn't have before.

Hallucinations and/or chest pain - Mood Indigo. I put this movie on because A) I'd been looking forward to the collaboration of Amelie's Audrey Tautou and director Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) since I saw the trailer and B) since I read it was about a woman who falls ill with "an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs." I thought this would spice up our list so I gave it a shot. This movie is definitely a combination of Amelie and Eternal Sunshine (and weirdly even a little Beetlejuice) in the best possible way.....in the first half of the film that is. Once she gets sick well...maybe you can fall asleep and create a better ending. I mean, I appreciated it in a visual and somewhat tonal way...but it just felt as though it fell apart. That first half though you'll feel like you're on drugs so if you're experiencing hallucinations...THEY'LL seem normal!

If all else fails... Visit The Doctor. I couldn't think of a symptom to assign this, so I guess it will just be the cure for everything. This movie about a doctor who falls ill and has to deal with being on the other side of his job is pretty fascinating and features a great performance by William Hurt.

...or maybe you just have hypochondria like What about Bob?

Just accept it and take some baby steps towards being well.



Elaine will cheer you on towards your wellness too.

3.21.2014

March Mildness

Wanting a night out at the movies this weekend? Well, you're in luck! Today marks the gradual beginning of more major films starting to be released with not one, but TWO wide releases (whose trailers have been plastered everywhere for MONTHS so I'm sure you're not unfamiliar with them....): Divergent and Muppets Most Wanted. I was able to see both films earlier this week, so naturally 2 mini reviews shall follow.

Option number one this weekend: The NEW YA adaptation of a dystopian future featuring teeny boppers: Ender's Game? The Giver? Hunger Games? NO! Divergent. Poor Divergent. It's not looking very good at Rotten Tomatoes right now is it? So is it THAT bad? Well...I think if you let it be then it is. In the beginning, I found myself chuckling and generally feeling incredulous at the things I was seeing on the screen. But then at one point I just figured I might as well enjoy it, and to be fair once it was done I don't remember much of what I was disliking in the beginning (however I still can't forget SOME headscratching moments like weird tonal shifts, odd musical choices, the general teen feel, and people inexplicably shifting reliances). Now I'll be honest, a large part of my enjoyment was due to the leading man who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Franco brothers, and if in fact is a secret Franco brother might be the most attractive of the lot. This may cloud much of my judgement. So, in short, Divergent is entertaining enough...but there's not a whole lot of originality to it. It's Hunger Games (or fill in the blank dystopian future movie) + Harry Potter + Inception. You can embrace that or hate for its lack of originality. The choice is yours, and I in fact....chose both. However, most of the plot needn't exist when she just should have [SPOILER ALERT] stayed with her family in the lame zone and figured out the plot eventually. all of her training was essentially pointless except for finding love...but she would have saved her mum's life. [/SPOILER] EMILY RATING: 6.3/10

 Hey. Give them props. They found love in a hopeless place!

Option two: The sequel to the 2011 Muppet resurgence: Muppets Most Wanted. Of course there's more Muppet movies than the last, but this one will likely be most compared to the 2011 film that somewhat rebooted the Muppets. I don't feel like this movie has the same broad appeal that one did (which also apparently wasn't even that broad since while I loved it, members of my own family detested it.) So uh yeah. The Muppets aren't for everyone. This isn't the Lego Movie here. But once again, I myself happen to love the weird kooky humor that the Muppets represent so I happily find myself in the category of people that enjoy these movies. I found myself giggling and chuckling all the way through at the efforts of Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Ricky Gervais and the Muppets (the imposter Kermit particularly got a lot of guilty laughs from me). It has some really nice moments, but once again...it's hard not to compare it to the last and remember that something is missing (Jason Segel probably...) and well... it's not as effortless. But I did appreciate its many meta moments and thought that generally it was an enjoyable enough time. And if you ever wanted to know what Tom Hiddleston or Jemaine Clement look like in long johns...well there's that. Plus it features a pretty clever Monster's U short at the beginning that I happened to love. EMILY RATING: 6.8/10 (6.5 on a bad day and 7 on a good ha!)

Now go forth and cinemize! And next week we get Noah. 

3.18.2014

The Pre-Fame Game

Hello readers! My apologies for my absence. I've had a bad case of bronchitis coupled with bloggers block to keep me from posting anything substantial. But now I'm back. And later this week I'll probably have a post dedicated to being sick since it seems I'm not the only one to have fallen ill lately! But today I bring you a random post that I've been thinking about for awhile but was sidetracked by Sundance, Valentines and Oscars. Sometime back in January (maybe I had just seen Anchorman 2 or Paul Rudd hosting SNL or something;) my mind thought back to Clueless and how crazy it was that Paul Rudd would not only become the biggest star to emerge out of that vastly popular film that was poised to make Alicia Silverstone THE star....but he also would have a pretty long lasting and ongoing career. It made me think of other stars who played side roles (not that Josh in Clueless was a side role, being the romantic lead...) emerged to become bigger than the leads. Not everyone on this list did become bigger than their co-stars, but it's always fun to go back and watch a movie to see someone who is a big star now, who wasn't famous then. So this post is a mix of that. A list of famous actors in small roles before they hit it big. I know I'm leaving off some great ones like Scarlett Johansson in North and Keira Knightley in The Phantom Menace...I just decided as much as I love catching celebs in kid roles, that might be better suited for a sequel post of its own. Let me know if I missed any else!


PAUL RUDD - CLUELESS, ROMEO + JULIET - We'll start with the one that inspired the post. For a long long time Paul Rudd was just "Josh from Clueless," now he's either a generic leading man (hey I still love the guy...) or in an Apatow-esque comedy. Whatever the case, he seems to make it work for him and he's everywhere. One of my favorite "oh yeah he was in that..." moments would have to be playing Paris, the would-be suitor to Juliet in Baz Lurhmann's Romeo + Juliet (I know the title is technically William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, but come on this one is Baz's. haha) I definitely wouldn't say Rudd eclipsed DiCaprio (Danes probably...) but it's fun to see him and think "he's been around forever." That and the man never ages...


AMY ADAMS - CATCH ME IF YOU CAN, SMALLVILLE, THE OFFICE - I first saw Amy Adams in Catch Me If You Can. Did I REMEMBER that was where I first saw her? Oh no. She hasn't eclipsed Leo (really who could?) but she's definitely one of the biggest actresses right now and it's fun to go back and see her playing a role unlike anything we see her in now. What's even MORE fun is seeing her on Smallville playing a "freak of the week" in the show's first season. Who could guess that eventually SHE would be playing Lois Lane (even though I still think that one was a miscast..) Also, it's noteworthy to mention she did a brief stint as one of Jim Halpert's girlfriends on The Office.


JENNIFER GARNER - PEARL HARBOR - Remember when Jennifer Garner played the nerdy uptight nurse that hardly anyone would give a second glance at? Funny she ends up married to the lead in real life. She has not reached the fame of her husband, but perhaps she's at least equaled or topped Kate Beckinsale (what do you think readers?) Oh and she definitely has Josh Hartnett beat...so at least she has that.

BRADLEY COOPER - ALIAS, WEDDING CRASHERS - From Jennifer Garner we go to Bradley Cooper who played her friend zoned friend on Alias and the jerk in Wedding Crashers. I don't think I took notice of him until He's Just Not That Into You...but he'd been around a LOT longer than that. Now thanks to Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle now he's one to watch. Oh and then of course there was The Hangover which also helped make him famous...but whether or not the sequels helped his image who really knows. Now is he BIGGER than his co-stars in Alias and Wedding Crashers? I'll let you debate that one.




EMMA STONE - THE HOUSE BUNNY, GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST  - Emma Stone definitely would be the biggest star to come out of The House Bunny passing Anna Faris with ease. Not sure I can say the same for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past now that it features an Oscar winner.... but that one is definitely more fun to go back in retrospect and say "hey that's Emma Stone!" On second thought....I'm really not sure I'd ever go back and watch that movie again. People may have remembered her from Superbad, but she definitely was far from being labeled an "it girl."


VINCE VAUGHN - THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK - I actually just went back and re-watched this earlier this month and completely forgot about a young Vince Vaughn having somewhat of a major role in the silly sequel to Jurassic Park. Vince Vaughn vs. Jeff Goldblum (national treasure?) vs. Julianne Moore? I would guess that probably most people would know Vince Vaughn of the 3.


CAREY MULLIGAN - PRIDE & PREJUDICE - It's so weird going back and watching this now knowing that Carey Mulligan plays Kitty Bennet. She almost looks (and acts) like an entirely different person than who she has become now. Sure the role doesn't require her to be the elegant and beautiful actress she is now (in fact it does call for the opposite..) but still it's almost shocking to think they're the same person. Do I think she's more famous than Keira? Nah. But she's probably the second most famous person in the movie and there's a pretty big cast!


RYAN GOSLING - REMEMBER THE TITANS, BREAKER HIGH, YOUNG HERCULES - This is another one where I can't believe this is the same person I saw acting back in the mid to late 90's. Ryan Gosling has been around for a LONG time...and I must say it took me a long time to board the Ryan Gosling train. People started gushing about him in The Notebook, but I was still unconvinced having remembered the gawky kid from before. Somewhere along the way he bulked up and became a solid and dependable actor. Tell that to my younger self who used to watch Breaker High: Whaaaaaat?


JOHN & JOAN CUSACK - 16 CANDLES - John Cusack is undisputedly the biggest and most long lasting talent to come out of 16 Candles....and who knew? He simply played one of the nerd's sidekicks! Not even cool enough (...or lame enough?) to be THE nerd. His sister Joan also makes an appearance, and though we haven't seen much of her lately it's fun to go back and see them both in side roles in this movie!


RYAN REYNOLDS - DICK, 2 GUYS A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE - The OTHER Ryan who has ALSO been around forever. Most people didn't take notice of him until either Definitely Maybe or The Proposal but really he'd been doing minor roles since the early 90's! Like Gosling, he too bulked up to become a leading man that gals everywhere could drool over. But every once in awhile it's fun to go back and watch something like Dick and see his silly pre-fame interactions with Kirsten Dunst (who on the flip side has ALWAYS been famous. Isn't it funny how it goes?) Also remember that 90's show 2 Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place? Oh yeah he was one of the leads.



3.03.2014

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Hollywood's big night has come and gone once more. This year's festivities? Pretty darned predictable. Yawn. The liveliest thing that happened during the three and a half hours would have to have been Ellen and all her selfies. But being so predictable as the awards were, I got 20/24 right for my Oscar Predictions which ain't bad as far as I'm concerned. I only wish it had been 22/24 (because the shorts I picked to win were robbed!) This year of the BP nominees, I saw 6 out of the 9 films....and I must say the most deserving film was crowned last night as 12 Years a Slave took home Oscar gold. As per my annual custom, here are my thoughts on it, as well as it's fellow nominees!

12 YEARS A SLAVE - This was far and away to me, the strongest film among a field of weak nominees (though I cannot speak for all the films nominated.) But here everything was in place. The performances were soulful and gut-wrenching from everyone involved (minus perhaps Brad who maybe arrogantly gives himself a small but crucial role,) the direction key, the cinematography top notch, the score affecting and most importantly the story was incredibly gripping. A powerful film that though by no means revolutionary, still manages to seem very important. Plus these types of stories are all the better when they tell about someone who really existed.

GRAVITY - Original review HERE. It's really hard to make my feelings about this film understood. On the one hand, I absolutely respect it and admire it as a film experience, but as something I love and adore as a film? That's another matter entirely. As a film, I can't help but feel that it is more spectacle and style over any sort of lasting or important substance. Sandra was fine. But............I feel any of the other Best Actress noms (particularly Amy Adams or Cate Blanchett) could have taken the film to a truly amazing level and actually made you care. Sandra just never pulled it off for me. So deserving it was of its technical awards and even direction...but I'm glad it didn't take anything TOO substantial.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS - A fine film with great acting performances. It is my belief that Tom Hanks was snubbed, but I guess which guy do you cut out? It was a pretty good year for performances all the way around! (Shouldn't that mean it was also a good year for FILMS?? Weirdly it wasn't.) Anyway back to Cap Phillips. This film was pretty solid and in my opinion one of the better nominees. Kind of predictably good though if that makes any sense. It was pretty much just what I expected and nothing more. Not in a bad way or anything. It just never truly surprised me. Hanks certainly gave it his all though.

NEBRASKA - I enjoyed and respected this film. (Even more so after June Squibb favorited a tweet I made about it where I called her character "the quintessential old bag") Who doesn't love a good Daddy issues movie now and then? Like many of the other BP noms the acting here is all on display, but again...I don't know how it leaves me feeling about the actual FILM. Maybe it's just that so much stuff this year was Oscar bait in the acting categories? I really did like the feel of this movie and the characters, but I gotta be honest here: I feel that the use of black and white here was pure gimmick, and kind of distracting for me. Maybe it did serve some purpose to show these people in a colorless existence...but eh. So what. Just makes it somewhat drabber for the audience too.

PHILOMENA - Oh the influence of trailers. I must say I expected quite another film going into this one than the one I saw. While it was a very well told and interesting story (and also featured a very solid performance from Judi Dench,) it felt like the type of film that is there to hit you on the head with an agenda. And a lazy agnostic agenda at that. Some may think it clever or respectable to appeal to all by creating two characters of opposing faiths and temperaments; basically having the audience merely pick which side they think is right without committing to it themselves. It's an "everybody wins" type philosophy that to me kind of came off as cowardly. Trying to pose questions but refusing to take a stance so as not to offend anyone. It's pretty much exactly the type of film we can be used to seeing in our PC culture each and every year into the future.

DALLAS BUYER'S CLUB - This film more than any other of these nominees is way more about the performance than the movie. Once again, trailers have ruined me. The trailer had so much style and looked so entertaining. The movie? The first half was interesting and then it quickly slips into a formula. To be honest, the story kind of bored me to tears. Had it been told in an outrageous and bold way, I'd have enjoyed it a lot more. I understand there's a lot of heaviness in this story, but not everything has to be so solemnly told the entire time.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET - I loved the trailer for this film....but after hearing about it's content I probably won't ever see this nom. Unless through a tv edit replacing 500 or so f-bombs and a whole lotta nudity. Shame. I love me some Leo.

AMERICAN HUSTLE - Dying to see this one and I shall once it hits DVD in mere weeks.

HER - Her? Also anxiously awaiting this to come out on DVD. Hopefully within the next month or two it will be out and I can report back.

Thoughts on the rest of the awards? Well, I'm glad Gatsby's fabulous costume and production design got some love! Cate Blanchett was incredible in Blue Jasmine so I'm so glad she came out on top. I only wish Sally Hawkins could have gotten the same love; I feel that as great as Lupita was, Sally Hawkins impressed me more. Supporting actor may also have been one of the toughest categories. Michael Fassbender amazed me in 12 Years a Slave, but Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips was great as well. But Jared Leto pretty much left me stunned. Matthew McConaughey was pretty amazing (and honestly I'm still amazed that this guy suddenly decided to REALLY start acting after YEARS) but I almost would have given it to 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor since the film, though packed with stars really relies on him for its soul. The shorts films winners were a travesty and we'll leave it at that.