Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Movies: Harder to Find Than a Sober Aunt at Dinner

As I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I repeatedly saw (like many of you, I'm sure) my friends wishing all their family and friends a Happy Easter.  I ate more than I should, and I was incredibly lazy all day.  A thought came to me as the day was drawing to a close.  Easter might be one of the only major holidays that can't be associated with shitty, beyond-awful movies.  

Mel Gibson's controversial The Passion of the Christ is probably the go-to movie when it comes to the religious aspect of the holiday, but there are very few movies that deal with the commercial, Easter Bunny side of it.  Hop, that turd of a flick from 2011, is the only one I can think of that specifically deals with today's chocolate-crazed culture.  Did Easter somehow come out unscathed?  None of the other holidays did, that's for damn sure.  Let's take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly, shall we?

Christmas is obviously the biggest holiday, so, naturally, it has the biggest range of quality.  For every It's a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, and Home Alone, you have a Christmas with the Kranks, Deck the Halls, and Four Christmases.  I would actually argue that they should stop making yuletide movies for a while, because they are always so grating and annoying.  I already have to deal with that during the holidays, so I don't want to spend $10 to be assaulted by it.  I think I actually like movies that are set around Christmas, but aren't really about the holiday.  Case in point:

I think we can all agree that Christmas covers the widest spectrum of taste and quality.  For me, the two best are A Christmas Story (coincidentally my mom's favorite) and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (happens to be a favorite of my dad's).  You can't argue with me with those two, right? 

Ahhh.  Thanksgiving.  Time for turkey and dysfunction.  Thanksgiving isn't my favorite holiday, so I don't have much of an opinion about Thanksgiving movies, either.  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is a classic, Home for the Holidays is hilarious, and Pieces of April features a lovely performance by Patricia Clarkson.  I will warn you, though, that you get a great performance from Clarkson, but it comes at the cost of having to watch Katie Holmes.  My favorite example of Thanksgiving in a movie, however, comes from Addams Family Values

Ang Lee's The Ice Storm comes in a close second.  Ironically, both feature Christina Ricci.  Shout out to Woody Allen's Hannah and Her Sisters as well.  

Valentine's Day is the Jessica Simpson (awkward and unnecessary) of holidays, so I will be brief.  Valentine's Day (starring everyone in the entire effing world...I am pretty sure I am in there somewhere) is the most literal movie about a Hallmark holiday in the history of movies.  It should die.  Valentine is a horror movie about a bitter, pre-It-Gets-Better psycho who kills the women who taunted him as a pre-teen.  People get shot with Cupid's arrows, and Denise Richards gets killed in a hot tub.  With a drill.  Seriously, it's her finest work to date.  I included Blue Valentine in there just because it has the word in the title.  That's my kind of romantic drama.  Enough romantic comedies come out throughout the year that, thankfully, not very many are made about the actual holiday. 

When it comes to the Fourth of July, I always think of Roland Emmerich blowing stuff up in Independence Day (or iD4 as it was labelled on all my brother's alien toys).  Surely, I am not alone here.  You could watch any late 80's or mid-90's action movie and feel good about America (Street Fighter...anyone...anyone?), or pop in Steven Spielberg's Jaws if you are in for a good scare.  See also Born on the Fourth of July.  There you have it.  Sharks, Tom Cruise in a wheelchair and Bill Pullman inspiring our troops.  Ahhh, America! 

America..FUCK YEAH!!!

If you are looking for something mindless, you could always watch Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar get hunted down by the Gorton's fisherman a vengeful man with a hook over the Fourth of July in I Know What You Did Last Summer.  I don't recommend it, though. 

Halloween is kind of tricky because you automatically associate horror movies with Halloween, but the majority of them don't take place on Halloween.  John Carpenter's classic Halloween stands the test of time much better than horror movies that came out a few years ago.  A relatively unknown gem is Trick r Treat.  More people are finding this one, so that makes me happy.  Four stories intertwine (including a teacher that moonlights as a serial killer) on Halloween night, and it stars Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, Leslie Bibb and Brian Cox. 

My favorite Halloween movie, however, is Hocus Pocus.  You have the Divine Miss M, Carrie Bradshaw and Sister Mary Patrick camping it up while trying to steal the lives of children on Halloween night.  They are continually being thwarted by some meddling kids and their talking black cat.  Best.  Movie.  Ever. 

Honorable mention for a Halloween scene goes to Mean Girls just because of Amanda Seyfried.

"I'm a mouse.  Duh." 

It is only appropriate to close with the last holiday of the year, New Year's Eve.  Remember when everyone thought the entire cast of 200 Cigarettes was destined for superstardom?  Yeah, way to screw that one up 1999.  New Year's Eve is abysmal (not even Michelle Pfeiffer and Zac Efron could save that) and I still shudder when people bring that up to me.  I am anxiously waiting for Garry Marshall to run out of holidays.  Keeping my fingers crossed for Arbor Day starring Ryan Gosling, Sofia Vargara, Lea Michele, Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Garner, Justin Long, Ben Affleck, Hilary Swank and Ashton Kutcher. 

For me, the only movie that features a New Year's sequence is When Harry Met Sally...when Billy Crystal realizes he loves Meg Ryan.  By the way, even though everyone else broke up with Meg Ryan, I still adore her.  

Perhaps every single film executive should take a page from Charlie Brown.  Find me one person who doesn't love the holiday versions of every Charlie Brown special.  And they DO have an Easter installment. 

I am sure I missed a few.  I just think it's strange that Easter (a holiday that gets a lot of noise from both the religious and commercial sides) lacks the barrage of movies that the other major holidays do.  Are we still recovering from the end of the year holidays?  Do we just want to enjoy our Peeps with our families?  This is my favorite annual Easter presentation:

He's Got a Huge Talent (And He Doesn't Want to Share It)

In case you didn't know Jon Hamm stars in AMC's mega-popular Mad Men.  You may also know that Hamm is packing some serious heat south of the belt line thanks to images like this:

Apparently, there is even a Tumblr devoted to Hamm's accomplishments.  A few weeks back, it was reported that Mad Men producers asked Hamm to wear underwear while shooting because the suits in the 60s are a lot more snug...enhancing Hamm' know.  Hamm was offended by all the attention his member has been receiving (in the press, I mean), and he confronted the issue in the upcoming issue of Rolling Stone:

"They're called 'privates' for a reason.  I'm wearing pants, for fuck's sake.  Lay off.  I mean, it's not like I'm a fucking lead miner.  There are harder jobs in the world.  But when people feel the freedom to create Tumblr accounts about my cock, I feel like that wasn't part of the deal.  But whatever.  I guess it's better than being called out for the opposite." 

This isn't dying down.  Jockey offered him a lifetime supply of underwear.  Today, Jonah Falcon (the most "gifted man") offered his own legit advice for Mr. Hamm.  I am sure Mr. Don Draper wants to be appreciated for his acting on Mad Men as well as the smaller film roles that he takes on (he's great in Friends with Kids, directed by longtime girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt).  The man has yet to win an Emmy.  Blasphemy!!! 

I wonder if Jon Hamm feels objectified like so many actresses have been in the past.  Is it fair to make such light fun out of a man going commando, or should we all just lay off, especially since said party isn't happy about the comments being made?  No matter what you think, I know I will be be content with staring at Mr. Hamm.  Here's some more pictures!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Tyler Perry Is Tempting Me...

A Kardashian is trying to act!!!  Red alert!  Red alert!

Kim Kardashian's presence is, surprisingly, not the most troubling thing about Tyler Perry's newest melodrama.  She doesn't calm anyone's nerves, don't get me wrong.  Every time I see her on a movie screen, I wonder if she accidentally walked onto a movie set, and the producers are just too scared to tell her to leave. 

The full title of this movie is Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor.  For reals.  That is the worst Lifetime title I have ever heard.  I sometimes see a banner for this movie on a website and just stare at the title because it is soooo wretched.  Did Ms. Kardashian also suggest the title? 

Literally the most flattering picture I could find of her in this movie

TPT:CoaMC (even the acronym is lame) focuses on a married woman who is tempted by another man.  All that title for a two dollar generic premise.  The tempted woman in question is Judith played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell.  Now if you are looking at the picture above and thought, "I know her...but where..."  I shall tell you!  That is no one other than Denise from Full House.  YES!!!  Mi-cheeeeelle's best friend is flirting with adultery, everyone!!!

All grown up.  And making this guy uncomfortable.

A lot of people don't like Perry's films, and this might be because he churns something crappy out almost every year.  He's kind of like Woody Allen.  Without the integrity.  Or talent.  Yes, I know Allen's movies are critical misses most of the time, but I love him all the same.  Perry's movies are obvious and leaden, but, for some reason, I really want to see this TPT:CoaMC.  Is it because I just want to see gorgeous people behaving badly?  The trailer is SOOOOO DRAMAAAAATIC.  I love me a good melodrama no matter who is behind the camera.

The two men fighting for Judith's affections are her husband, Brice (Lance Gross, left) and Harley (yes, Harley, played by Robbie Jones, right).  Now if you ask me, Harley looks like a two-wheeler.  Brice is a much better catch than the little weasel who woos her.  In the trailer, Brice forgets their anniversary and she suggests to Harley that Brice neglects her to watch sports.  Welcome to every portrayal of marriage I've ever seen on television, Judith!  I am pretty sure one of the Tanner men forgot an anniversary on Full House.  Open your eyes!!! 

Is anyone up for a little Temptation?  Anyone?  Perhaps you need a little convincing...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fifty Shades of Suck

My friend over at Megoblog and I bought a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey with the idea that we could read it, and then give our bitchy, snarky take on it.  Instead, we decided to read it aloud and make a podcast about it.  We are going to try and do a chapter/podcast a week, so we shall see how it goes.

Check it out!

Three Reasons Why White House Down Will Be Awesome

The trailer for White House Down dropped last night, and there are 3 very good reasons as to why it will be awesome.  

And probably most importantly...

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Your Loss, Will Smith

It was announced yesterday that Will Smith turned down the title role in Quentin Tarantino's Oscar-winning spaghetti western Django Unchained.  The role eventually went to Jamie Foxx, and he received some of the best reviews of his career.  Smith made a statement saying: : "Django wasn't the lead, so I was like, I need to be the lead.  The other character was the lead!"  Smith even tried to convince Tarantino to change the script so he could SPOILER kill Leonardo DiCaprio's slaveowner character.

Even though he turned it down, Smith is a big fan of the film.  "I thought it was brilliant.  Just not for me," he said. 

Does that strike anyone as kind of whiny?  Smith hasn't been anything but front and center since, what?  The Legend of Bagger Vance in 2000?  Six Degrees of Separation in 1993?  He would have unspoken shared lead status with Christoph Waltz (even though he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar), and maybe Smith doesn't like to share. 

If you ask me, Smith should have done Django Unchained if only to try something different.  It would have been great to see him step out of his "Welcome to Earth!" action hero comfort zone and try something that actually garnered some serious conversation.  If Smith knocked it out of the park, he could have landed himself a Best Actor nomination.  Or it could have been a trainwreck.  Who knows!  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Trailer Tracker: Animated Sequel Edition

I went online to catch up on movie trailers, when I noticed there were a bunch for successful animated features.  Let's dive right in, shall we?

Despicable Me was a surprise delight for me back in the summer of 2010, so I am kind of looking forward t this.  The plot sounds like a kid-friendly version of The Silence of the Lambs (the Anti-Villain League seeks Gru's help as a former villain to catch a new bad guy).  Points for using that Eminem song in the trailer

Am I the only one who would legit watch a Minions origin story?  It wouldn't have to have a plot.  Someone work on that. 

I want to say that I fell asleep during the first Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movie.  This trailer has a case of the Carrie Bradshaws.  Too many puns.  I was rolling my eyes at the 2 minute trailer, so it might take a village just to get me into the theater. 

Pixar has a lot to prove to me when it comes to making another installment of one of their movie.  Cars 2 sucks my mother's rain boots.  Sure, Toy Story 2 and 3 were heartwarmers, but can they pull off a Monsters, Inc. prequel with Monsters University

We get to meet our favorite monsters when they are introduced in college.  Mike Wazowski and James P. "Sulley" Sullivan (Billy Crystal and John Goodman, respectively) spark an Odd Couple relationship and rivalry when they become roommates at Monsters University. 

Is anyone else getting a 21 Jump Street vibe from this?  One is smarter (Mike W. and Jonah Hill from 21JS) while one is brawny (Sulley and Channing Tatum), and they end up helping each other out to become better a their jobs.  I assume this one will have less F-bombs and less gratuitous drug use?  I could be wrong.  Maybe Pixar is taking Monsters University in an edgy direction.  Perhaps Sulley gets accused of raping a co-ed monster and they have to deal with it in Monsters People's Court.  It could happen. 

All I do know is that Helen Mirren voices the dean of Monsters University, and this little guy made me laugh out loud in the trailer.

Triple Take: Admission, Spring Breakers, Stoker

Yesterday, I had a full-blown movie day, and I saw three movies: Admission, Spring Breakers, and Stoker.    A crazy boy like me couldn't ask for such different films!

I figured I would like Admission because I love Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.  They seem perfectly matched for anything.  Fey plays Portia Nathan, a Princeton admissions adviser who starts taking professional risks after she learns that a current applicant, Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) might be the son she gave up for adoptions years ago.  Rudd costars as John Pressman, Jeremiah's teacher and mentor.  

Admission was directed by Paul Weitz who also helmed In Good Company, American Dreamz and About a Boy.  I found Admission to be very placid.  Not boring or bad, but frustratingly calm and pleasant.  I was waiting for something major to happen, but it never came.  If the screenplay was sharper or Weitz took it in a more satirical direction, the film would have been better. 

Totally lost on me.  

Ever since I saw MTV's Spring Break as a young teen, I've wondered if the grinding, drunken bodies were true to life.  Spring Breakers opens with ten minutes of slow motion debauchery as college kids guzzle beer and strip their bikini tops on a gorgeous beach as house music assaults your senses.  If you aren't amused or entertained by this you are in for a long two hours.  

The plot is simple.  Four college girls (Ashley Benson, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and Rachel Korine, pictured above) rob a diner with hammers and a squirt gun in order to drink and snort their boring lives away.  James Franco enters the picture as Alien, a rapper drug dealer who changes the course of their party-filled vacay.  He promises the girls the life they've been dreaming of after he introduces them to a different world fill of guns and gang violence.  The relationship between Alien and the girls grows absurd and disturbing.

Spring Breakers is incredibly excessive (motifs and sequences are repeated several times) and colorful.  I couldn't tear my eyes away from it, and the slight foreshadowing kept me completely interested.  I found the movie to be over-the-top, ridiculous, vibrant, and utterly captivativing.  I will say this.  I will never listen to "Everytime" by Britney Spears the same way ever again. 

I have beeb excited to see Park Chan-wook's Stoker since the first trailer debuted (don't watch the international trailer because I think it shows too much of the movie).  Stoker is moody and beautifully shot, and features strong performances from all three main leads.  The mixture of atmosphere and restraint for the first two thirds make it something worth checking out. 

India Stoker's father, Richard (Dermott Mulroney, hunky as ever) dies in a car accident, and his brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode) suddenly arrives to stay with India (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman).  Something is off about Charlie from the get-go and Evelyn is getting a little too chummy to quickly.  India also becomes strangely drawn to her uncle, but she seems conflicted.  She is drawn to his mysterious presence.  Something is rotten in the Stoker estate? 

Mia Wasikowska, I admit, has never really done it for me.  Alice in Wonderland haunted me for weeks (months, even), and I was still getting over my Tim Burton toothache when I saw her in Jane Eyre and The Kids Are All Right.  Here she is quiet and still, a predator constantly watching her prey.  India took numerous hunting trips with her father, and she allows her hunting lessons to casually permeate into her every day life.  I would argue that she should have been cast as the title character of Kimberly Pierce's remake of Carrie

The cinematography and editing of the movie are enticing.  So far this year, there isn't a movie as visually captivating as Stoker.  As we learn more about Charlie, however, the movie loses somethig.  The climax seems like something out of a standard thriller, and the rest of the movie is better than that. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Kate Winslet Is Turning Me Into a Tween


Let me get this out of the way.  I will see Kate Winslet in anything.  Anything.  Did you hear Kate Winslet is in an Arabic-language Raisin Bran commercial?  What channel is it on?!  Kate Winslet to star in a one-woman, live-action Furry remake of Happy Feet.  Sign me up! 

It was announed yesterday that Winslet joined the adaptation of young adult series Divergent.  She has been in talks since January, and I somehow missed it.  I remember seeing the book series around Barnes & Noble a few times, but I never picked it up or learned anything about it.  The first two chapters of the Veronica Roth trilogy are available now, but the final volume isn't due until October. 

I am fickle when it comes to reading YA fiction.  I was up for The Hunger Games, but not TwilightBeautiful Creatures seems pretty wretched to me after seeing the movie (although, I hear the book is completely different) and City of Bones (a gift from a friend) is staring at me from my bookcase in my room.  I can't bring myself to pick up that lofty volume since I saw the trailer for the film adaptation for it, and I can't wrap my head around Anthony from Sweeney Todd getting it on with Snow White from Mirror Mirror.  It looks too hokey for me. 

"I don't feel you, Johanna."

I wandered over to Barnes & Nobles's website to check out the book's synopsis:

Beatrice "Tris" Prior has reached the fateful age of sixteen, the stage at which teenagers in Veronica Roth's dystopian Chicago must select which of five factions to join for life. Each faction represents a virtue: Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite. To the surprise of herself and her selfless Abnegation family, she chooses Dauntless, the path of courage. Her choice exposes her to the demanding, violent initiation rites of this group, but it also threatens to expose a personal secret that could place in mortal danger. Veronica Roth's young adult Divergent trilogy launches with a captivating adventure about love and loyalty playing out under most extreme circumstances.

Kate Winslet has been cast in the villainess role of Jeanine Matthews, the leader of the Erudite faction.  Are we going to see Ms. Winslet channel her inner villain here?  Sign me the eff up!  Winslet hasn't really played a straight up manipulator before (you could make arguments for Heavenly Creatures, but I don't consider that a villain really), so I am super excited to watch her manipulate some people.  I am wondering if she is going to be more like Nicole Kidman in The Golden Compass?  Kidman didn't get the props she really deserved for that role. 

Shailene Woodley (The Descenedants) won the coveted role of Beatrice in the film.  Wouldn't it be awesome to see Rose from Titanic beating down the whiny girl from The Secret Life of an American Teenager?  That thought alone guarantees my money to see it.  

Bring it, baby.  Bring it. 

It's Only March...Right?

There I was, reading my Friday New York Times and minding my own business, when I came across a full-page ad for Olympus Has Fallen.  I rolled my eyes at this subpar actioner when I noticed the ostentatious quote at the top. 

"THE FIRST SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER HAS ARRIVED!!!"'s March...shouldn't bother me...but it does.  I am aware that Nancy Jay from Daybreak USA just thinks Olympus is like a summer blockbuster, but I bet this ad has some Times subscribers checking their calendars. 

You can read how I feel about this movie here.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

We Need To Talk About Jane

Director Lynne Ramsay impressed art-house audiences with We Need to Talk About Kevin, and Natalie Portman signed on for her first starring role since killing Mila Kunis and hiding her body in a broom closet winning an Oscar for Black Swan with Ramsay's next project, Jane Got a Gun.  Portman plays the title character in ths western about a woman who enlists the help of her ex-lover in order to save her husband from a gang who is out to kill him. 

Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin.  Not the saddest Campbell's commercial.

Principal photography was supposed to start on this week, but, suddenly Ramsay abandoned the project.  Apparently, she just never showed up.  Hmmm.  Is someone dropping out of a movie kind of like when you work at a movie theater on a Friday night where the ticket seller doesn't show up?  Is there a "no call no show" policy in Hollywood?  I am genuinely curious. 

The casting changeups are more confusing than a Shakespearean comedy.  Or a really bad episode of Three's Company.  I'm not exactly sure I have it all straightened out, so please bear with me. 

Michael Dick-Hypnotizer Fassbender was attached to the project (as the ex-love, I think) but, due to scheduling conflicts with the new X-Men film, had to drop out (I've also read that he had a falling out with the director, so who knows).  Jude Law (still hot, but not as hypnotizing) replaced Fassy but his role was given to Joel Edgerton (confused yet?).  Not so fast!  Law wanted to work with Ramsey, so when she dropped out of the project, so did he.  Gavin O'Connor (director of Warrior) replaced Ramsey with Portman still on board as producer.  Portman has been silent on the matter, but this is a circus.  Who knows what's going to happen next. 

I want Ramsey and O'Connor to direct the movie and then release it as a double feature.  Wouldn't it be interesting to see two completely different directorial takes on the same script with the same cast? 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Enlighten Me With More Laura Dern

Last night, HBO announced they were cancelling Enlightened, the Mike White self-improvement comedy-drama (lot of hyphens here) after only 2 seasons.  I occasionally tuned in, and, while I found the writing really sharp, I was mainly watching for Laura Dern.  With HBO's announcement, I realized how little I see of Dern.  This saddens me. 

I always associate my favorite actors with the first thing I've seen them in.  In the back of my head, William H. Macy will always be George from Pleasantville, and Alan Rickman will always be Severus Snape.  I was first introduced to Laura Dern when I know...Jurassic Park.  I always gravitated towards the lone female character in an ensemble full of men (I just saved my mother thousands of dollars on therapy), and I was even determined to get the Dr. Ellie Sattler cup from McDonalds when they had promotional cups for it back in 1993. 

Enlightened allowed Dern to really shine with a really complicated character.  Dern played Amy Jellicoe, an executive who has a personal awakening after she has an incredibly embarrassing nervous breakdown at work.  After her successful stint in rehab, Amy strives to leave her self-destructive ways and cultivate a meaningful life for herself. 

Is it wrong that I love her even more because of this moment in the pilot?

Amy isn't a role that any actress could do well.  Dern wasn't required to take her clothes off, so I'm sure men didn't even know Enlightened existed.  Was it overshadowed by the buzzier Lena Dunham-Girls train?  As far as I know, the marketing for the show wasn't that strong.  Since I no longer have HBO, I wasn't even aware the show was still on, let alone what season they were on.  Why hasn't anyone talked about picking the show up?  Is it too dead in the water?

In the meantime, Dern will be seen in theaters again when Jurassic Park 3D is released in April.  Never fear, general public!  Laura Dern will save us all from raptors and angry tyrannosaurs!!!  Her human role in that is sadly what she will be most remembered for.  Can someone PLEASE cast her in something?  Where is David Lynch when you really need him? 

As far as feature films go, Dern was most recently seen in a tiny part in The Master ("She was in that?!"), as well as wasting her time in the Little Fockers movies.  Her only new credit is Mothers Day, a "Skype/WebChat" drama (what the fuck?) that centers on ten sets of mother-daughter relationships over the course of one Mother's Day.  At least it's not being directed by Garry Marshall.  Dern will star alongside Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, Andie MacDowell, and Sharon Stone. 

Dern is an actress who doesn't shy away from controversial topics (see: Citizen Ruth) and can be incredibly raw (see: We Don't Live Here Anymore), and she doesn't receive the commericial chances she deserves.  Does Dern just want to stay low key?  She is gorgeous, but, of course, no one pays real attention to women over the age of 40 in Hollywood, no matter how hot they are. 

In the meantime, everyone should find Enlightened and see how great Dern is.  It is a slow at first, but you will be rewarded with a great character.